chapter 10.

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Holding Lexie in my arms whilst she cried made my heart break. I've known her for less than a week but she seems like the sweetest, most kind hearted young girl.

Something was very clearly upsetting her. It was more than the exhaustion and the fact that she hasn't been feeling well today, so I asked her what was wrong. The answer to my question was something I don't think I was prepared for.

"I don't want to go home. Please don't make me," she sobbed.

Those words are not what you want to hear come out of a child's mouth, ever.

Earlier in the week I had noticed a few things here and there about Lexie that on their own probably aren't anything to be concerned about, but together make cause for suspicion.
The bruises. The fact that she's never been picked up by her own mother. Or dropped off. The very clear anxiousness when both Lizzie and I dropped her home.

Lizzie actually brought it up to me - the anxiousness - before we started rehearsals yesterday, which made me think it wasn't just the fact that people were over at Lexie's house on Monday.

"Honey, why don't you want to go home?" I ask as gently as possible, holding her close. She doesn't answer, only clings to my shirt. "Honey, is there a reason I should be concerned?"

Lexie shakes her head, trying to control her crying. I adjust her in my lap and lift under her chin so that she's looking at me.
With a small smile, I gently wipe her tears and cup her cheeks with my hands. "Take a deep breath for me," I say.

The two of us take a few deep breaths together until her crying has stopped. "I'm sorry," she mumbles as I let go of her face and she stands up from the bed. "No, don't be sorry Lex," I tell her as she pours herself a glass of water. "I just need to know if it's safe for you to go home?"

"It's fine," she takes a drink, "it's mom is working on overnight shift and I don't want to be home alone."

The sudden change in her mood makes me concerned, but if she's lying, she's damn good at it. Also, if it's true, why on earth would you leave a fourteen year old in the house alone all night?
My mind runs through a thousand different possibilities and options until I offer, "We have a guest room if you want to come back to my house?"

"I-I mean, are you sure? You don't have—"
"Lex, it's okay. I'd be happy for you to stay the night. Just a warning about Rose, she'll probably want to be best friends the moment she sees you," I warn with a small chuckle which causes Lexie to smile. "Thank you," she says sheepishly.

I stand up from the bed and give her a quick kiss on her head before grabbing her bag, taking her hand and walking back to my car, not without telling Reese that she's coming with me first.

"Lexie, if you ever need to talk to someone about anything you can come to me. Okay?" I assure her as we begin the drive home. "Okay, thank you," she smiles shyly.

The drive home is about forty minutes and Lex had fallen asleep within ten. When I pulled up into the driveway, she started to wake up. "We're home now, sweetheart," I whisper.

Once we both get out the car and walk through the front door, my daughter comes running up to me. "Mommy!" She smiles, wrapping her arms around my legs. "Hi Rosie, why are you still awake, huh?" I smile, ruffling her hair up. "Colin said I could wait until you got home because I wanted to give you a kiss," she explains. "Is that right?" I laugh, picking her up. She nods and leans in to kiss my nose before turning her head to Lexie. "Who's that?"

"That's Lexie. She's working on a movie with me and she's going to sleep here tonight," I explain. "Is she a superhero like you?" She whispers, looking up at me. "She sure is," I giggle.

Rose wriggled out of my arms and the moment she's back on the ground she holds her arms out to Lexie. "Up," she orders.

Lex smiles and bend down slightly to pick up my daughter. "You're pretty, I like your eyes," Rose admits with a shy smile. Lexie giggles, "Thank you Rose, you're very pretty too."

My daughter rests her head against Lexie's shoulder. "Can we be friends?" She questions. "Of course we can."  My heart melts at their interaction.

As Lex tries to put Rose down, my daughter fights to stay in her arms. "Honey, Lexie's tired and needs to go to sleep, and so do you. It's way too late for you to be up," I tell her to which she just shakes her head. "I'm sorry about her," I apologise. "It's fine. I don't mind," Lexie smiles genuinely.

I take her bag from her and show her around the house quickly. "Colin, this is Lexie. Lexie, Colin," I introduce them as we walk into the living room. They say 'hi' to each other and we all chat for a few minutes until Rose starts yawning, still in Lexie's arms. "I'll put her to bed," my husband decides.

He carry's Rose up to her bedroom whilst I show Lexie the guest room. "Is there anything I can get you before you go to sleep?" I offer. "No, I'm think I'm okay thank you," she smiles tiredly. "Okay, well my rooms just across the hall if you need me," I say to which she nods.

"Goodnight sweetheart," I smile, kissing her forehead before pulling her in for a hug. "Goodnight Scarlett."

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