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Chapter Thirty Two

"Brenna's been asking about you like crazy. She's driving me nuts."

I smiled. "When doesn't she drive you nuts?"

Shel sighed. "When she's sleeping. She's so damn cute when she's sleeping."

I laughed as I swung my bare legs over the side of the hospital bed. Sometimes having money was a pain; hospitals had no problem keeping you longer for observation when they knew they were going to get paid.

"After three days, I'm ready to go."

"Has our service been that bad?"

I smiled as Marquis walked through the door, holding my chart, and what I suspected were my release papers. He gave me a look of mock hurt.

"It wasn't that bad," I said softly. Marquis clicked his tongue and shook his head slightly.

"Don't think you will hurt my feelings. I know hospitals aren't for leisure stays."

"My husband sure seems to think so," Shel said. She made a show of zipping my bag and plopping down beside me. Marquis' grinned.

"All he's talking about is his birthday next weekend. I'd say he's ready to spend some time with you."

"Still trust me to babysit Beaner?" I asked. Shel nudged my side.

"Of course. It'll be a true test to see if that medication works."

I knew she was teasing, but a dozen little butterflies went off in my stomach. Now I wasn't only hearing impaired; I was mentally impaired.

The whole summer seemed to be a wash. Here I was thinking I was going to do something great and all I had managed to do was screw myself up even more.

"Can I have a moment?"

I blinked rapidly. Somehow I had just spaced out again. Shel gave me a look of quiet concern, but she nodded.

"I'm gonna take this down to the car. I'll be back in a minute."

I nodded. Marquis opened the door for Shel, letting it close slowly behind her. Then he did something I never would have suspected.

He sat right down next to me on the hospital bed.

"Where did you go just now?" he asked.

"Go? I haven't moved an inch," I said. I shook my head slightly, creating a curtain between him and me with my hair. Even so, it didn't stop me from being aware of his closeness.

"I don't mean physically."

"I know."


"I failed."

"At what?"


"More specific."

I found myself grabbing the end of my shirt, rolling the soft cotton between my thumb and forefinger. Like father, like daughter. At least it was one of dad's least offensive bad behaviors. I let my tongue moisten my lips.

"I wanted to do something great this summer. I wanted to--"

"You're not ready to save the world," Marquis said. He was succinct and to the point, but I knew he didn't say it to be hurtful. My breath caught as he brushed my hair away and turned my face so that I was looking right at him. I didn't know what the deal was with the French needing total eye contact but...I kinda liked it.

"Just be a teenager. Keep going to work, but start slacking off. And for the love of God, do something spontaneous at least once and don't overthink i--"

I don't know what happened. One minute I was getting doctor's orders to be more like, well, Joe, and the next minute...I was kissing him. After what must have been a stunned delay, he kissed back.

Maybe it's because it was so wrong, but there was no other way to describe it but fantastic. Unless you counted mind-blowing. Or star-inducing. His large hand slid across my cheek, finally coming to rest right under my chin. He pulled back and I could feel his breath on my face.

"Alexis," he whispered.

I didn't want to open my eyes. I wanted to stay in my bubble forever. But the slight pressure of his fingertips on my jaw couldn't be ignored. I looked at him, noticing the slight wetness on his lips.

"Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point," he whispered. The words rolled off his tongue quickly; it sounded like music.

"What does that mean?" I asked.

Marquis smiled. I almost felt like crying when he took his hand away.

"You're going to be just fine," he said. Somehow, I didn't think that was a direct translation. "Jusqu'à ce que nous nous reverrons."

I opened my mouth in protest as he rose from the bed. We had just kissed! How could that be it? But, I couldn't get a word out. He turned to look at me once more before leaving the room. His fingers drummed a little goodbye tap on the wood.

My lips were still tingling like crazy a minute later when mom walked through the door. She smiled at me, waving a piece of paper in the air.

"We've got your walking papers!" she said happily. "Are you ready to go?"

"I..." I trailed off. How could I explain to my mom that I had just fallen in love? I blinked rapidly.

"I'm ready," I agreed. I had a moment of jelly legs when I stood.

"Mom, do you have my cell?" I asked. Mom laughed, her arm wrapping around me warmly.

"Yes. Are you fingers lonely?"

It wasn't my fingers that felt lonely. I nodded.

"I need to look up something..."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know.

That was the translation of what he had told me. I had been back at Shelby and Mason's for two hours, and yet I couldn't tear my eyes off of the words.

"Okay, what's got you so wrapped up?" Shel asked. Mom was in the kitchen with Brenna. Every now and then I heard a squeal of laughter and the dropping of game pieces of the floor. No one won Candy Land except Bren...she made sure of it.

"Nothing," I said, sliding the phone under my thigh. Shel scooped down and easily yanked it out.

"Chicken legs," she teased. She sat on the arm of the couch and stared down at the website I had open.

"Learning French?" she asked. I leaned over ready to swipe the phone back, but she held it out of reach.

"I'm just looking!" she said with a laugh.

"It's nothing," I said quickly.

"Your face is a tomato, it's not nothing." Shel leaned closer to me, dropping her voice. "Does this have anything to do with a certain med student?"

I didn't answer, but I didn't have to. Shel's eyes sparkled.

"Too old for you," she sang. She kissed my forehead and handed me the phone back. "But it's a good start."

"A good start to what?"

"Salvaging your summer. Kevin and Addy have decided to postpone getting the camp running at full steam until after the baby is born. Kevin said you could still come and muck the stalls if you want, but..."

"I don't think I need the money that bad," I said. Shel smiled. "Agreed. So, you can keep working with Kim and then see what lovely Sadieville has to offer in the meantime."

"Besides Walmart?" I asked.

"Smartass," Shel shot back. She stood up, nudging my foot with hers.

"First one to the kitchen doesn't have to make dinner!" she yelled. I gasped, bouncing up from the cushion. I grabbed onto the back of her jeans. We struggled back and forth until we both collapsed at the doorway. Mom looked at us in surprise.

"Somehow, it suddenly seems like home," she said.

"Pizza has arrived!" dad called, banging through the back door. Joe was trailing behind him, carrying liters of pop. He looked at us and shook his head.

"Sisters," he muttered. Shel and I looked at each other and just smiled.

Now it seemed like home.