You can't decide whether money changes things or not; it does. You can decide, however, whether it changes things for better or worse.


56. Fifty six

Alex and I stay completely separate on different sides of my bed but it's nice to have him there. I fall asleep at about six in the morning and wake up at seven. Alex is still asleep but I want to go and see Dad so I leave Alex a note and take his car to the hospital, sure that he won't mind me borrowing the car.

I don't know what I'm expecting to see when I walk into Dad's hospital room. Some kind of change, I guess. Some kind of improvement, maybe even something getting worse, but there's just no change. He's just exactly the same and I can't figure out whether that's good or bad. Even though nothing's happening with him, I sit by his bed all day. I just feel better being here, being around him. I send messages to Alice and Carrie explaining what's happening and they understand that I want to be alone without me having to tell them. I text Jem as well, just to let him know that everything is going okay. He understands that I want time to myself as well and says he'll give me some space but he also reminds me to call him. I promise I will. I don't tell him that Alex stayed the night because that'd just complicate things more.

I go home at nine pm and expect to go home to an empty house and I look forward to that but the TV is on in the living room and Alex is in the kitchen cooking. 

"Alex?" I frown, wandering into the kitchen. "You're still here."

"Yep." he says. "How's your dad?" 

"He's fine." I say, still confused. "Are you staying the night again?" 

"Yeah. And for a few more nights too." he says and then frowns. "I thought I told you that when we got home last night."

"You did but I didn't think you were being serious." I say and then smile as I give into him. He's just being kind, I shouldn't be annoyed with him. I stir the sauce he's cooking in the pan and laugh a little. "You could have just ordered take out."

"Nah, you need proper food when you're upset." he says, grinning at me. "And I happen to be great at making proper food."

"This is pasta. You're speaking like you're some culinary genius, I can cook pasta." I tease him. 

"Shut up and let me cook." he jokes.

I laugh and then pause. "Are your parents okay with you staying here?" 

"Of course they are."

I pause again. "Is Johanna okay with it?" 

He takes a deep breath in and then sighs quickly, shrugging. "I broke up with Johanna."

My eyes widen. "What? Why?" 

"Because I think I was just dating her for the wrong reasons. Sure, I liked her but I think I just liked her as a friend. At first I dated her because we had sex. Then I carried on dating her to get over you. Then I continued to date her to be spiteful to you. Then I kept dating her to make you jealous. It was all just petty drama, you know? And right now I don't want petty drama, I want to take care of you."

I look at him for a moment and remember something he said last night at the hospital. "Alex, you called me your girl last night."

He nods, stirring the sauce. "Yeah."

"Just because you're not with Johanna anymore doesn't mean I don't really like Jem." I remind him. 

"I'm not trying to get back together with you.We don't have room for all of that right now. It was just a natural thing to say." he looks at me and then back at the pan. "Whoever you're with, in my mind you're always going to be mine to look after, I'm always going to care about you. It might seem like a bit of a dick thing to say but seeing you with Jem now feels wrong. I feel like you and I were just natural."

I pull him into a hug because I'm not really sure what to say. He hugs me back and then we pull away at the exact same time and chat and joke and laugh like normal like it never happened.

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