Title: Perfect Stranger
“Wow Susan the place looks great!” Elizabeth says as she comes through the door. I have been off for one of my three weeks already and have spent this time decorating the house and trying to get my sister and her family here for the holidays. Of course that meant I had to tell her about Alex, something she took quite well. It wasn't to say I didn't expect her to, but you never know. With all she did to me I can't see why she wouldn't really. So Chloe, Joe and Susie are coming in two days and I am picking Alex up today. She finally managed to eat something and keep it down yesterday and she went to the bathroom. We also went for a walk to the er where they had a party for her. She'll still be on the chemo but could get it as an outpatient. My life is looking up.
I make my way over the presents to Elizabeth and give her a hug. “Thanks Elizabeth. You'll be coming over for Christmas dinner of course?”
“Oh…no I couldn't. It's your families.”
“Well you're a part of our family now. I'd be hurt if you didn't.”
Elizabeth smiled and asked if I was ready to go. I nodded. We had to make a stop at the jewelers before we picked up Alex. A couple of days earlier I ordered the most beautiful ring ever. It was white gold with a beautiful cluster of pink and white diamonds making a little flower. Alex was going to love it. There had also been a surprise the night before under the tree. I was sitting on the sofa gazing at it when I noticed some extra presents underneath all with the same card, “to Susan. All my love, Alex” I knew she didn't know about the tree, but she must have wanted some gifts purchased for me, and obviously someone thought it would be nice if they were under the tree as well.
Elizabeth and I walk into the jewelers where I ask for my ring. He brings it out to show it to me before wrapping it up. I hear Elizabeth gasp behind me. “Susan, it's so beautiful!” I smile.
“Well I wanted to get her something to express my love. And she reminds me of a flower; always blossoming no matter what and so beautiful.” I am lost in my own little world, a world I come out of long enough to pay for the ring and slip it into my pocket. Elizabeth gives me a look when she sees the price but I just shrug. To me Alex is worth more than the amount on that register.
We make our way into the er a few minutes later, my purchase safely in my purse by this time as I don't really trust my pockets. I make my way up to Oncology to sign out my girl and take her home. She is sitting on her bed already dressed, packed and ready to go. “Hey, babe. You ready to come home with me?” I say as I give her a hug. She hugs me back and says, “You know it.”
First Elizabeth and I have to make three trips to the car and back with the abundance of flowers and such that Alex has received over the past month and a bit. The last set I carry out includes the roses I gave her and a picture of myself she insisted on putting next to her bed. I smile as I look at them and smile as I think about all the time we will finally have to begin a real relationship now that she is getting better.
I get back up to the room just in time to walk in the middle of an argument between Alex and the nurse. “I am not getting in that.”
“Its hospital policy Alex, you know that.”
“I don't care. I'm walking.”
I cut in, “Honey Please, just let me wheel you out. Hold on to your strength.” She gives in and lets me lift her into the wheel chair. I bring her out into Elizabeth's van and hop into the back seat with her. When we pull onto Dupott drive I instruct her to close her eyes. It's supper time and the sun is going down. That means the lights will be shining nicely in the freshly fallen snow. We pull up but Elizabeth doesn't pull into her driveway or Alex's, she just parks along the side. I put my hands over Alex's eyes and turn her towards the house. “Okay ready?”
She laughs, “Yes…”
“K here we go…one…two…three!”
I take my hands off and Alex just stares. She looks from me to the house and back to me again. “Susan…what's this?”
“Oh come on…you didn't expect me to do nothing with these days off I've had? Come on in…there's more.” I get out of the car and lift Alex out of her side. She puts an arm around my neck and lets me take her up the walk, but jut before we get to the door she tries to get down. “Alex, don't tire yourself out. I don't want you back in that hospital.”
“Just let me walk in the house. I haven't been home in a month. I miss it.”
I set her down and she smiles at me before planting another kiss on my lips. I make to deepen the kiss, then pull away. Alex whines. “I know but I want you to see the rest of the house.” I lead her in and she looks around with a smile on her face. We go into the living room where she gasps. The tree is standing there in all its glory, with the presents underneath. Alex gives me this beautiful smile of excitement, then goes over to examine them. “My God, Susan. Look at this! They even put the ones under there I got you. I can't believe this.”
“Yeah how did you do that anyway?”
“Susan, you can order anything over the internet these days.”
“I don't believe you.” I go over and take her in my arms for a long kiss. She kisses me back and then stops. “Where is everyone?”
“They're gone home for a week; they'll be back on Sunday.”
Alex smiles and kisses me again, this time sneaking her hands under my shirt. I start to respond, then stop abruptly. Alex protests again, but I say, “Honey, you're still sick. I know you're feeling a lot better but we do have to be careful. You've had a busy day today. We'll see how you're feeling later but for now I want you to rest and I'm going to cook some supper.”
“Okay.” Alex drops one more kiss on my forehead and then settles on the couch so that she's facing the window. I make my way to the kitchen and start cooking one of the many healthy, energy boosting recipes that Kerry has given me. The food is almost done when I hear some Christmas jazz start to float through the house. I smile. Alex has the most amazing sound system I have ever seen. She has two speakers in every room except the downstairs bathroom. I think about that first morning, when I found the bruises. Alex had music playing then and I hadn't turned it off for about three days afterwards. I only ever had a stereo in my office so I could listen to music while I worked. For about three days after I turned off the music here, even though there were a lot of people around all the time, I couldn't help but notice how quiet it was without it.
A pair of hands wrap themselves around my waste and Alex kisses me on the neck. I am reminded of that morning once again, when I did the same thing to Alex. I think about how I almost didn't do it, got shy for a minute. What if I hadn't? Would Alex be here right now? The thought scares me and tears start to fall. Alex stops kissing me when she hits them and turns me around. “Hey what's this? Honey, it's alright I'm home now. I'm going to be okay.” She takes me in a hug and I try to calm myself down enough to serve her supper. We sit down to a lovely stir-fry and talk about things that had been happening while Alex was in the hospital.
We don't do much that evening, and soon it turns into night as I see Alex's eyes get heavy. I smile and carry her up to her bedroom. I help her change into a night gown and help her into bed. Then I start to change into my own pj's, but Alex interrupts me. “Honey?”
“Um…could you…well it's just I miss you…you're skin…” She trails off, but I understand what she's saying. I take off the clothes I had started to put on and climb into bed. Alex puts her head on my chest and I wrap my arms around her. The thin silk material feels good against my skin and Alex plays with my nipples absently before falling asleep. I stare at her for a long time until sleep finally takes me over as well, and it becomes the best sleep I have had in a long time.