(17) Broken Angel

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I woke up in the morning feeling energetic for some reason. I looked in the mirror and I had a healthy glow. My cheeks were flushed and my hair looked long and silky. I smiled at myself. I was starting to see that maybe I wasn't quite the ugly duckling I had thought I was. My parents had constantly put me down but I was the opposite of them. I didn't need their input at all.

Angelo had gone but I wasn't surprised, he said he had a lot on at the moment. I just wish he'd take some time out for himself. I wasn't going to get upset about him not being here. If I was going to do this whole mother thing, I'd do it the right way.

With that thought in my mind, I put on a light blue t-shirt and some black jogging bottoms and stepped outside. I stretched and then began to jog. I wasn't exactly a keen runner, but it was the only sport I was ok at and for some reason, running felt like the right thing to do right then.

I ran down the coast and the wind whipped my hair and the cool breeze blew over my face. It felt so relaxing.

After jogging for half an hour, I went to the local fruit and veg shop to buy some healthy food. I walked in and was immediately greeted by Darla, a woman in her sixties. She was still really active, running a shop and travelling from time to time - you couldn't call her lazy at all.

"Grace! You look so vibrant! Doesn't she John, she looks great doesn't she?" He nodded, not even really looking from his paper. John was Darla's husband. People thought he was rude because he barely spoke but I quite liked that about him. I knew he was just shy and didn't have much to say and I believe silence is golden.

Darla snorted at her husbands response then came over and gave me a hug. "So is there a little secret you're not sharing?" She grinned and winked.

A blush rose in my cheeks and I shook my head. "What do you mean?" I asked, confused. Surely she couldn't know?

"Well women normally glow when they are pregnant. Its a healthy mother glow!" She smiled.

I smiled back at her. "Well, yes it might be to do with that..."

Her face held pure shock and it made me laugh. "Who's the father?" She asked.

"Well, there is no father, I'm working on that." I smiled lightly. I didn't really want to talk about it.

"Just as well." She surprised me by saying. "You have a lovely young boy and you raise him together only for him to turn out just like his father." She muttered, joking sarcastically.

I laughed out loud. That was so typical of her to say. "Yeah, I'd like someone to be here but at least I have full control." I replied, quoting what Ryan had said.

Darla nodded. "Yeah don't tie yourself down yet love. Before you know it, your weekly entertainment will be watching the lotto on tv with your snoring husband!"

I giggled. "Well its better than sitting with your cat I guess." I shrugged.

"Oh I don't know pet, a cat is much quieter and probably more interesting!" I laughed again and shook my head. They were such a cliché old married couple but I loved them both.

"Look, if you ever need anything, you know where we are." Darla smiled warmly at me.

I smiled back. "Thanks Darla, you should come round for a meal sometime."

We chatted for a while longer about a new shop coming into town and I bought my groceries then left.

When I got home, Ryan was waiting for me. "Hey." He smiled and took my shopping off me then set me down in a chair with a cup of tea. "How are you feeling today?" He asked, watching my expression.

"I feel wonderful!" I grinned. His eyebrows raised and he relaxed. "I feel so healthy and alive. I want to work today." I sighed with contentment.

"You sure Gracie? I don't mind and if you're worried about money then you don't have to pay me, I like working there." He smiled at me.

I laughed and shook my head. "Seriously, I just went for a run - I feel brilliant."

Ryan grinned. "I'm really glad to hear that. I want to stay with you just in case though."

I didn't argue because I wanted company so we set off for the shop together.

When we arrived, we opened up the shutters and got to work. I started sewing the dresses and when I was tired of doing that, I greeted the customers. Lots of the customers commented on how much I was glowing and how healthy I looked. It made me feel more inspired to work somehow.

"You know, there is something different about you." Ryan commented as we sat on my sofa. He was drinking a beer and I made myself a fruit smoothie - a recipe Darla had given me. "I mean, you're really pretty" I rolled my eyes and he continued. "But obviously you've been ill recently and you've been quite pale and fragile. Now you look healthy and strong - like nothing can stop you."

I smiled and took a sip of my drink. "Thanks, I feel different too. I felt so weak and then I woke up today and I just felt so active. I practically jumped out of bed. Weird huh?"

His lips raised at one corner and he reminded me of Angelo so much. I wanted to reach out and touch those lips of his. I sighed.

"You OK Gracie?" Ryan asked looking concerned.

I nodded. "I just wish there was someone to share this with." I smiled sadly. The only person I'd want is Angelo.

"Hey, its like I said, you have your sisters and Hannah and me..."

I smiled and looked up. I was shocked by how close he was. He moved a strand of hair from my face. "I'm always here if you need me... Or if you want me..."

His breathing had picked up pace and he was really close to my face, so close I could smell the lovely scent of beer on his lips. Then he came even closer until our lips were touching...

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