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Perfect Love Story (Love 1) Natasha Madison 2022/8/3 13:48:48

“We had pizza, and then we went on a mission,” Mila tells me. “We found fifty-eight seashells.”

Hailey crosses her legs, the coldness from her separation now getting to my leg. “Sixty-two.” She grabs her juice and takes a sip. The waitress brings some crayons for Mila. She says thank you and turns over her placemat to color.

“Your mother comes over sometimes with Hailey during the week for lunch,” she says softly from beside me, her thumbs hitting the table nervously. “I finally got my stitches out and could walk or at least limp. It’s still tender when I put too much pressure on it.”

“Then why the fuck were you walking here?” I ask her, angry that she is not listening to orders.

“Um …” she says, taken aback by my harsh tone. “Crystal left this morning for her weekend retreat, and she took my car,” she says, looking down, then up again. “Besides, I wanted to get some fresh air.”

“You shouldn’t put that much pressure on it if it hurts. It will most likely take longer to heal,” I tell her as I hear a voice being cleared beside me. Turning, I come face to face with Norma.

“Grandma Norma,” Mila says as she waves. “We are having pizza,” she informs her.

“I see that,” she says as she looks over at Hailey. “Who is your friend?” Her voice drips with accusations, and my spine goes straight.

“This is Hailey,” I tell her. “The one who carried Mila down the beach the day of the accident.”

Norma looks over at her and just smirks. “I didn’t realize you two knew each other personally.” That pisses me off, but it makes Hailey start to get up.

“I should go,” she starts, and I see that her chest is moving fast now. “I’m not feeling well.” But I grab her hand before she stands all the way up.

“No.” I raise my voice a touch and look over at her. “We are going to eat pizza.” I look back at Norma, asking her, “Is that all?”

She nods at me and then leans down to kiss Mila. “I will see you tomorrow. I have everything ready for our mani-pedi party.” This makes Mila squeal and clap her hands. She walks away from us, not stopping, and heads straight out the front door. The waitress arrives and places the pizza in front of us. I grab a slice to cut up for Mila. Looking over at Hailey, I see her just sitting there, blinking at her empty plate.

“Eat.” I place a slice of pizza on her plate, prompting her to look up at me.

“I’m not hungry,” she says quietly. “I really don’t feel well.” Her face has gone from happy two seconds ago to ash white. Her eyes blink furiously, and I know Mila does the same thing when she tries to be brave and not cry. I place the plate in front of Mila, and she grabs her fork and starts eating.

“I’m sorry about Norma,” I tell her quietly. “That was uncalled for.” I look at Mila to make sure she isn’t listening to us. “Please eat.” The plea leaves my mouth before I can snatch it back.

She shakes her head. “I …” She looks over and is about to tell me something when Luigi comes over.

“Hey, if it isn’t my two favorite girls,” he says as he winks at Mila and then smiles at Hailey. “I didn’t see you guys come in.”

“You must have been busy, but I was just going to head out,” Hailey says as she stands, and I see her wince. “I think I overdid it with the walking today.” She smiles at Luigi and then hobbles to Mila’s side. “I’m going to go home now. My foot hurts a little.” Mila nods at her as she leans in to kiss Hailey’s cheek. “I’ll see you next week for another treasure hunt.” She smiles at us as she says bye, and I watch as she limps out the door.

“She’s a beauty, that one,” Luigi says. I just glare at him.

“Don’t even think about it,” I tell him. I’m not sure why since it’s not my business. I get up and say, “Mila, wait here with Luigi. I’m going to tell Hailey we will bring the pizza to her house.” I run out and look down the street to see her limping her way down Main Street, her head down, shoulders slumped. I jog up to her, startling her. “Hailey.”

Her hand flies to her chest. “Jesus fuck, you scared me,” she says as I look at her and see the tears that have been washed away.

“Are you hurt?” I ask her, looking at her foot. “Sit down,” I tell her as I direct her to the chair right in front of the hairdresser’s. I don’t wait for her to answer. “I’m going to go get Mila, and we can eat at my house,” I tell her as she shakes her head.