She Taught Me How To Love

"If anyone asked me what impact Leigh had on my life, I could easily tell them. She taught me how to love." After four long years of a highly successful career, news of his childhood sweetheart sends international pop sensation Harry Styles into a whirlwind of emotions he believed had been forgotten all those years ago. As he struggles to become the person she always believed he could be, he learns once more that it is possible to love with the entirety of his heart.
©Ohhipstaplease 2014


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5. Paper Planes

 CHAPTER THREE

Paper Planes

Tonight like every night, Emma was sound asleep, her blonde head lying on my arm. I opened my eyes and stared at the ceiling. I laid awake once more, an internal struggle erupting within meHoping that I could get the strength to open the box that would possibly break me. I gently lifted my arm, letting Emma's head lay on the pillow. I slowly sit up and get up from the bed. I walk across to my table and turn on the desk lamp. Tentatively, I reach for the shoe box underneath. I  grasp it and put it on the desk. Finally I grab the top of the box and take it off, releasing Leigh's sweet perfume into the room. There are dozens of letters, dozens. I look at them nervously, and as I had so many nights, cowardly shuffle past them.  Instead, I thought that tonight I would finally open the baby book at the bottom of the box. I stare at the cover before tentatively opening it. The first page is a picture of us. It's Leigh and I on the grassy slope. It had been the summer we were in love, that beautiful summer. The clouds are behind us, the sun shining. She's wearing her favorite dress and a crown of flowers. I’m laughing as my arms are wrapped around her waist. Below the picture there was a caption in her handwriting.

Emma, mommy and daddy made you out of love. We will always love you.

I turn the page and see a sonogram. It was dated October 4th. She wrote underneath the picture another short caption.

Emma, here we were at 5 months old.

I feel tears prick my eyes. Could it be that the day that I had left Leigh, she was trying to tell me about Emma? This was only three months after she had left. She had to have known. I breathed in deeply as I flipped to the next page. It was a picture of our first album. She wrote in her tiny handwriting another inscription

This is your daddy, I've never been prouder of him, aren't you proud to be his baby?

I flip to the next page and see a picture of Leigh holding Emma in a hospital bed. I run a hand through my hair roughly. It pains me to see it.

Emma, today January 3, 2012 you were brought into the world. Thank you for letting me be your mommy, thank you for lighting up my world, thank you for being the perfect little mix of your daddy and I. I love you Emma Grace.

I close the book, not being able to take anymore. That was enough for one night.  When I put the box under the table once more I hear a rattling. Curious, I open the box once more and finds a small jewelry box under the letters. I open the teal colored jewelry box to find a paper plane charm necklace. I look at it and remember my own. I walk over to my drawer and take out the box where I had hidden it from myself. I pulled it out and laid it next to its twin. We had learned to fly together, but we went in separate directions.

–❈–

In the morning I awake to an empty bed. I sleepily feel around the bed for Emma, and in a panic realizes she’s no longer there. I hurriedly run down the hallway to the kitchen, only to see Louis already feeding my daughter breakfast.

I breathe a sigh of relief "Lou, did you go into my room and kidnap my child?"

Louis looked at me through his messy mop of brown hair and gave me a half-smile "I couldn't help it, it was already past her breakfast time. I figured she was hungry"

I patted him on the shoulder "Thanks mate"

Louis simply shrugged and continued pouring milk into Emma’s cereal. I opened the fridge and stared blankly, I could feel my thoughts running rampantly as Emma giggled in the background.

"Alright, what's wrong?" Louis asks as he lifts Emma from her seat and sets her down in front of the television.

"Nothing, I just...I finally opened the box Veronica gave me"

Louis arches an eyebrow "And?"

"I couldn't even open a letter, Louis. I just looked at a few pages in Emma's baby book"

"Harry, just give it some time alright? Nobody expects you to read through that right now. Hell, I don’t even know how you’re dealing with the situation at hand" He shook his head and looked at me

“Shouldn’t I…shouldn’t I be able to read at least one bloody letter by now”

“Harry, you aren’t going to get over it in a certain amount of time”

“There has to be a certain amount of time, this can't go on forever”

“Don’t be an arse, you know damn well there’s no set time. Grief takes its own course”

Harry sighs as he starts the kettle. “I just…I just thought that maybe it would take less time”

“One day at a time Harry, you've been doing alright til now mate. I think you just need to give it more time, don’t fret about it yeah?” Louis says as he cleans Emma’s mess off the wooden table. He’d had this conversation so many times with me,, he had already memorized the lines he had to say in order to stop one of my guilt trips.

"Daddy in TV!!" We hear Emma yell excitedly from the living room. We run into the room and see her standing and pointing at the TV. Her little fist waving excitedly at the picture of the lads and I. I lift her up into my embrace as Louis turns up the volume.

"It seems that Harry Styles of the band One Direction has been hiding a little secret from his fans. It appears that Styles and his former childhood friend Leigh Cunningham had a child. The child, Emma Styles, is now under the custody and care of Harry Styles"

I sigh and turn off the TV. "Louis how did they already find out?"

"Word travels fast mate”

"Damn it" I mutter. "I just...I thought i’d have a bit more time before it got out”

“It was bound to happen”

“Yeah” I look down at my pocket as I feel a vibration and hand Emma to Louis. “Hello?” I say answering the phone.

“Harry, it’s Simon”

“Hi”

He sighs loudly before continuing “I assume you’ve already heard?”

“Yeah”

“And?”

“And?”

“Harry, must I really do everything?”

“What do you want me to do?”

Simon sighs once more in frustration, “I’m going to set up a press conference for you and the boys. You can all go out there and talk about this subject, i’m going to guess you’ll need all the support you can get”

“When will it be?”

“Two hours is enough time, is it not?”

I look up at the clock and roll my eyes “Yeah”

“See you then, hanging up”

I sigh at the screen that has now turned black before Louis finally breaks the uncomfortable silence.”Spill”

“Press confrence in two hours”

“Better call the lads”

“Mmmhhmmm”

“Harry” Louis sets Emma down on the couch and hands her the rag doll. She hugs her tightly to her chest. “It will be fine, mate. You shouldn’t worry”

“"I don't know. I didn't want her to be completely exposed to this"

Louis sits down next to Emma and looks up at me "Harry, as long as she has you to protect her, I think she'll be alright.

I sigh, "I hope so".

–❈–

We sat in a line at a table with microphones lining every corner. Expressionless faces looked back at us, fueling my body with anxiety. I cringed a bit and Liam patted me on the shoulder "We'll be alright mate". Liam looked at his watch and turned to get the go ahead from one of the crew. They nodded in approval and he swiftly grabbed the microphone and began speaking in his calm, deep voice, "Thank you for joining us today ladies and gentlemen, we have gathered here today to address certain rumors that have been circulating around the media the past twenty four hours"

He nods to me and I begin. My hands shake as I pull my microphone close. "There have been rumors circulating that I have a child. Let me tell you that it is indeed correct, I do have a baby girl. I did not know about my child up until a few days ago. My baby girl, Emma, is now in my custody"

A woman in a long skirt with curly brown hair stands up "Mr. Styles? Where is this child's mother"

My mouth dries and I reach for the glass of water next to me. "Leigh Cunningham, the mother of my daughter, passed away recently" The room grows eerily quiet. Niall clears his throat and it reverberates throughout the room.

Liam finally speaks "We would like to ask for privacy during this time. Although it brings us joy that we have a new member to our family, we are still mourning the loss of someone very important, not only to Harry but to all of us"

I feel a clump in the back of my throat, but ignore it."I would greatly appreciate it if we could receive some privacy at this time, as Liam stated, as Emma is still adjusting to her new home and environment" The crowd looks at me wide-eyed. They didn't expect this. No one had.

Liam looks at me and nods. "Thank you for your time, and thank you for your continued support" We slowly get up from seats and walk off the stage. I finally collapse on a sofa in the backroom. The boys sit around me.

"Where's Emma?" I finally ask.

"Lou is taking care of her and Lux" Liam tells me. I rub my temples. At least Emma was with our hairdresser and her own little two year old girl.

"Lou?" I call

She pops her head into the room and holds a finger to her lips, her lavender hair swaying behind her, "They're sleeping love!" She whispers. We get up from our seats and walk over to see the two blonde headed girls. They're sharing a large seat, both curling into a side of it. We chuckle lightly watching the two angels smile lightly in the midst of their innocent slumbers. It hits me then, it hits me hard. As I watch her at such peace. The instinct to protect my daughter from the world.

As days passed it seemed as if reactions were mixed. Whether it be condolences or reprimands, my life was turned upside down. Our names were uttered in every aspect of the media, and baby pictures of Emma and Leigh had been leaked as well. Our fans, well our fans were the same as always. Although, I had expected some disappointment from them, they were only supportive. Everyday I pick up teddy bears and stuffed animals outside the flat. It makes me smile that these girls will love me despite the mistakes I make. Despite the fact they don't know who I truly am. Despite the lack of love I am able to return to them.

It seems as if love is always is given so easily to me, but I never know how to give it back. It breaks my heart to think that I am incapable of learning to love, but after everything I've been through, it seems as if loving someone will only cause me pain. But I look into Emma's eyes, and I hear her tinkling laugh and I can't help but want to love her. I want to give that little girl the world.

I hope I can.

 

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