britt-nicole

So don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not loved,
And don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not enough.
Yeah, there are days that we all feel like we’re messed up,
But the truth is that we’re all diamonds in the rough.
So don’t be ashamed to wear your crown.
You’re a king, you’re a queen inside and out.
You glow like the moon, you shine like the stars.
This is for you, wherever you are.
—  {Britt Nicole - Gold} - imperfectlyxo
Stressed Terezi Playlist

Talking To Myself -Watsky

And when you tripped and dropped you picked yourself up off the ground / And picked your scabs you knew you had to pick a plan to end what you began


Runs In The Family -Amanda Palmer

 I mean well, I’m well well I mean I’m in hell well I still have my health at least that’s what they tell me. / If wellness is this what in hell’s name is sickness? / But business is business and business runs in the family.


Stressed Out -Twenty One Pilots

 I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink / But now I’m insecure and I care what people think


Broad Shouldered Beasts -Mumford And Sons

These apartment walls are paper thin / And no one is trying to listen in / What to hear our doubts / Hear our whispered shouts, they don’t care


Don’t You Dare Forget The Sun -Get Scared

 Well, just look at what you’ve done. / Don’t you dare forget the sun, love!


King Of Anything -Sara Bareilles

Keep drinking coffee, stare me down across the table / While I look outside / So many things I’d say if only I were able / But I just keep quiet and count the cars that pass by 


Feel Good Inc -Gorillaz

You won’t get out the county ‘cause you’re damned and free / You got a new horizon, it’s ephemeral style / A melancholy town where we never smile


Headphones -Britt Nicole

Her mom says she’s great / The kids think she’s weird / Honestly she wish she could disappear

[art found here]

Road Between

Hi readers! this is an Ezria story I’ve had in the works since 2014 and decided to pick it up again. Please read and offer feedback as to whether you like and if I should continue it. (I have 13 chapters completed and another 10 outlined) Thank you! 😘

Chapter One: Last Ditch Effort

Life doesn’t always go as planned, that’s something Aria Montgomery knew all too well. At first impressions she looked like any other teenager, she had beautiful chocolate curls, doe eyes with a bright expression, and perfectly smooth skin. But that was Aria just over two years ago.

Now, you would barely recognize her…maybe if you look closely you can see the same doe like eyes hidden under her tangled dark hair and under the layer of dirt on her face you can see it’s just as flawless as before. That’s who Aria is now.

Her junior year of high school had started off just like any other year, spending the early morning hours scanning the stacks of books in the library alone, laughing with her four best friends at study hour, and meeting her mother’s eyes as she passed by her classroom every day. Just another typical year at Rosewood High, the same teens she saw every year and almost every day of her life. That’s how it was in a small town.

That was, until Aria met Ezra Fitz. A chance encounter to say the least, one she would ponder the rest of her life. The first time she ever laid eyes on him would forever change the course of her life, and still, she didn’t regret it.

{EZRIA}

“Luca no!” Aria ranted, for what felt like the hundredth time as she scolded her two-year-old son as he continued to throw the goldfish crackers the secretary at the front desk gave him onto the tile floor.

The Hope shelter they were currently staying at had a brochure for a free health care clinic, but to be honest this place looked more like an old warehouse with makeshift curtains for walls to allow for privacy. It was cold, and the buzzing of the lights above Aria made her head hurt, but it’s Luca she was more concerned about. She re- adjusted him so he didn’t slide off her lap as she fixed the red plaid shirt he had on.

With tired eyes and itchy handy- down clothes, Aria sat on a padded table trying to keep Luca calm as they waited for a doctor or at least a nurse to come into the room. It’s been over an hour since they arrived from the shelter, she knew this because it took a half an hour standing in line just to sign in, ten minutes to fill out the necessary forms, and another thirty minutes to be placed in this room, and now they wait. Luca’s dark curls fell into his face as he sniffled and rubbed his dark blue eyes, the signal Aria knew all too well that he is sleepy.

“Shh…shh…it’s going to be okay.” Aria tried to sooth Luca by rocking him. She kissed the top of his head to calm him down, but nothing seemed to help. For a two year old, he seemed much bigger in her thin arms and she pulled on her purple sweatshirt as it fell off her shoulder.

Once again Luca threw one of the crackers down onto the hard floor, it landing at the edge of the curtain, just inches away from the door. Frustrated, Aria took the package from his fisted grip and hid them behind her back. It was no use trying to fight with a fussy infant. At this point she wished she had at least gotten him down for a small nap before coming here, but by then it might have been too late seeing how the bus only makes three stops at the shelter a day.

The curtain slid open and a woman in her early thirties appeared before the two in the room. She reminded Aria of her mother, her smile warm as she stood tall and took in the sight before her. Her dirty blonde hair was drawn back in a ponytail and although she had on a white lab coat with her name Janette etched in cursive blue stitching, Aria could clearly see the peach t-shirt, blue jeans, and black flats she has on underneath. The look upon the woman’s face was one that Aria saw often, she figured she was thinking what most people think…

Here was another young clueless teenager who knows nothing about children.

Taking a step further into the cramped space, the women in white stopped when a crunching sound reaches her ears. Looking down, the nurse lifted her shoes and revealed a smashed goldfish cracker that Luca had thrown to the ground moments before.

“I’m so sorry, I promise to clean it up before we leave.” Aria apologized, feeling her cheeks burn with embarrassment.

“Oh, it’s no problem.” The nurse waved it off with a smile. “I’m Janette.” She stated the obvious. Looking down at her clipboard in hand, Aria watched as Janette flipped the pink sheet Aria had just filled out and cleared her throat.

“Is this Luca?” She asked, gesturing to the little boy in Aria’s arms.

“Yes, I call him Luc.” Aria swallows, taking a deep breath. “I’m his mom, Aria.” She flattened down Luca’s hair as she stared at the nurse.

Closing the white curtain behind her, Janette stepped around the small orange crackers on the floor as she maneuvered into the room.

“How old is he?” Janette asked, placing her clipboard and pen down onto the table next to Aria as she stood beside them.

“He’s two years old.” Aria lifted Luca onto her lap as she watched Janette take a pair of blue surgical gloves from her coat pocket and slipped them on, hearing the latex stretch and snap into place.

“I-I noticed he had a runny nose for about a week. I tried giving him cough medicine but it just won’t get better.” Aria detailed, as Janette placed her hands on top Luca’s forehead just before he sneezed all over Aria’s arm.

“Hmm…” Janette nodded as she scribbled down a small note onto the pink papers next to Aria. Aria squinted her eyes hard to try and read the writing but the chicken scratch was unreadable to Aria.

“He has a slight fever too.” Janette remarked. “Can I take a better look at you?” She held her arms out to see if Luca would come to her, but he was uninterested in her and just squirmed all the more in Aria’s lap.

Once again Janette tried to connect with the little boy.

“Hi there Luc…” She watched as he finally looked up at her and pointed to the lollypop in her coat pocket.

“He doesn’t talk much…” Aria confirmed, trying to draw Luca’s attention away from the candy by taking his hand into hers’ and kissing the back of it.

“Hey Luc, after this, why don’t we go to the park? You want to play on the swings?” She leaned down towards his ear.

Janette sighed and watched the two interact for a minutes. Taking a step back, she spotted Aria’s orange backpack seated on the floor next to the table and bit her lower lip in thought.

“How old are you?” Janette questioned, looking up to Aria as she turned her attention from Luca to the nurse and then down to her shoes, which were dirty and have a hole on the bottom.

“Eighteen…” Aria whispered shyly, licking her lips and squeezing Luca tighter.

“You don’t have any family who can help you?” Janette inquired further.

“I-I have my parents,” Aria stuttered. “And a brother, but they are out of the picture.” Aria shook her head. She missed her family so much.

“What about Luc’s father?” Janette watched for Aria’s reaction and for a brief moment she could see a flicker of emotion before it was gone.

“It’s just the two of us…” Aria answered shortly, leaving nothing more to be said. Janette quickly got the hint that it was a touchy subject and decided to move on. The subject she chose however still wasn’t much better than the first.

“Where do you live?” She questioned.

Aria took a moment to think; opening her mouth and closing it again quickly, debating on whether or not to tell the truth. She had quickly made friends on the streets, and the friends that she had gained warned her never to give out too much information away…especially to the authorities.

Coming to the clinic was a big step for Aria, not knowing what would happen if anyone found out about the conditions she and her baby son were living in. She had made the decision to come, despite the fact that she had run away from everything that had happened in her life…but she knew her son needed help.

“Right now we are staying at the Hope Shelter downtown.” Aria cleared her throat and eyed Janette carefully. “It’s not much, but we have each other.” She smiled; hoping desperately that her answer would silence the alarms that she knew were ringing in Janette's
mind.

“I see…” Janette nodded, noticing the tension quickly building between herself and Aria as the conversation progressed. She needed Aria to trust her, and if that meant not pushing the serious issues until later on, then that’s what she decided she would
do.

Getting back to the examination, she took her stethoscope from around her neck and the small buds into her ears. Lifting the front of Luca’s shirt, she’s surprised to find a red rash on the center of his stomach and touched it gently to get a closer look.

“How long has he had this rash for?” Janette glanced at Aria, watching as she thought back through their life to remember exactly when it appeared.

“Um…” Aria counted back in her head, “about a month.” She felt embarrassed again, realizing she should have put that down on the form that she had filled in while they were waiting. “I- I think it’s from his clothes.” Aria explained, she had been concerned about the rash at first, but it had been there so long she had almost forgotten about it.

She was desperately trying to convince Janette that she wasn’t a bad mother, but what could she do? With no money to buy new clothes and to have a safe roof over their heads, she was doing all that she could.

“People drop them off at the bin outside the shelter and then they wash them for us before handing them out. I figured he was just allergic to the soap or something.” Aria shook her head again, desperately hoping it was nothing serious that she had ignored all this time. Aria watched as Janette placed the round metal instrument upon Luca’s chest as he released a nasty cough.

“Okay, well if you don’t mind I’m going to get my collages opinion on something.” Janette explained, as she took the buds out of her ears and placed her stethoscope back around her neck. Aria gave a small nod and smiled, her nerves beginning to rise as she began to chew on the inside of her lip.

“Okay.” She agreed, watching as Janette swiftly walked to the curtain and peeked her head outside. She motioned with her hand for someone to come to their area and soon Aria saw the shadow of a tall body outside of the white curtain.

“Dr. Truman, this is Aria. Aria this is Dr. Matthew Truman.” She introduced the two as the tall doctor walked into the room. He was handsome; Aria had to give him that, with his hair dark brown, big brown eyes and closely shaven face.

“Hi.” Aria shyly whispered, pulling Luca close as the doctor approached them
slowly.

“Hello.” He acknowledged her back, as he pulled on a fresh pair of blue
gloves.

“This is Luc, her son. He is two years old and I can detect a low grade fever and cold, but I want your opinion about his breathing.” Janette ran through her assessment rather quickly, handing him the chart that was once next to Aria.

Dr. Truman glanced down at the chart before walking towards Aria and Luca as Aria held him still; he placed the chart down on the table and gave them a smile. Mirroring what Janette had done a few seconds’ earlier; Dr. Truman removed his stethoscope from around his neck and placed the buds in his ears.

“Hi, there buddy…” He lifted Luca’s shirt and listened tentatively to the breathing of the little boy before sighing and glancing at Janette who knew exactly what he was thinking. Aria watched the exchange between the two as Dr. Truman removed the earpieces from his ears and squeezed the instrument in his left hand.

“Is everything okay?” Aria asked concerned, her heart pounding in her chest as if she had just run a marathon at record speed.

“We should take him over to our private clinic as soon as possible…” Dr. Truman left no room for
discussion.

“Are you sure?” Aria responded terrified at his immediate decision and the consequences that it would lead to. “I-I don’t have the money right now but-”

“Don’t worry about that right now…” Janette cut her off, understanding the doctor’s urgency…they would sort finances later; there were more important matters at
hand.

“Yes, it would be best to get him there immediately.” Dr. Truman reiterated, handing Luca’s chart off to nurse Janette before helping Aria and Luca off the table.

“Do you have a ride?” Janette questioned, already knowing the answer without even having to ask.

“I-I took the bus, but-” Aria could barely even think, her mind swirling with all the possibilities of what’s going on. She knew Luca was sick, but not this bad. Would they try to take him from her? She was still in a fog as she bent down to pick up her backpack and heard Janette’s voice.

“Why don’t I drive you there in my car? It’s just outside…” She led Aria out of the room and towards the door. All Aria can do was walk behind her as Dr. Truman followed behind. She held Luca as close to her as she could, silently promising Luca she wouldn’t let anything bad happen to him.

{EZRIA}

A small army of people in lab coats and colorful scrubs scurried about the tiny building. Shoes stampeded against the hardwood floor, and muffled voices fell upon Aria’s deaf ears as she tried to keep her thoughts
straight.

Pacing back and forth in the Luca’s private hospital room Aria couldn’t help but turn to her nervous habit of biting her nails almost to the point of bleeding; it was all she could do to stop herself from breaking down.

Phones rang and machines beeped, but she was completely lost in her own little world, staring down at her baby lying in the big hospital bed. Starving and sleep deprived she could barely stand on her feet as she ignored the outside world and wondered how this all happened. She thought that she was a good mother, or at least she had always tried to keep him safe.

A white cotton blanket was draped around Luca’s tiny form as his head rested comfortably against the fluffy pillow as an oxygen mask rested against his tiny face to help his breathing.

Stepping closer to the bed, Aria placed her hands on the metal bed railing, her knuckles turning as white as the bed sheets as she watched the gentle rise and fall of her son’s chest, the mask over his nose fogging up every time he exhaled a shallow breath. Biting down on her tongue, hard, she suppressed the urge to cry. Over the past few years she had learned to push away her emotions to protect Luca and despite the fact that he was sleeping she didn’t want him to pick up on her mood.

A warm hand gently touched her shoulder, making Aria flinch at the sudden contact, though she didn’t bother to turn around to see who it was.

“I’m fine.” She sniffled, as she brushed the hand off her shoulder and proceeded to wipe her nose on her purple sweatshirt. She swallowed the lump forming in her throat, not taking her eyes off Luca for a moment.

“I just wanted to let you know that I have some things I need to deal with, but I will be back to check on you and Luc in a little bit.” She could hear Janette’s soft voice behind her, all Aria could do was nod her head.

Janette’s green eyes followed the young doctor’s steps as he emerged from a patient’s room and walked down the hall to his office, leaving the door slightly ajar. Glancing back at the short brunette staring down at her little boy, Janette left the room and walked towards Dr. Truman Truman's
office.

Not even bothering to knock, she entered the cozy wood panel office where she found him sitting in the black swivel chair behind his desk. Squeezing his stapler in his left hand, he looked down at a medical file. It wasn’t until Janette closed the door behind her that he looked up and noticed her standing there silently.

“That little boy is very sick.” He sighed, as he closed the file in his line of sight and pushed it away. “Where’s the girl?” He gestured to the people outside the four
walls.

“Aria?” Janette clarified, Dr. Truman nodded his head, as Janette stepped further into the room with her hands on her hips. “I told her she could stay with Luc.” She turned to look out the window and through the blinds she could see Aria still standing beside Luca.

“Did she say anything about family or where she lives?” Dr. Truman disturbed her from her staring and pulled her attention back into the room.

Spinning around towards the doctor’s voice, she watched as he pulled on his tie to loosen the knot at its center.

“Well she told me she has parents and a brother but they’re out of the picture, as is Luc’s father.” Janette detailed, as she circled the chair across from Dr. Truman and took a seat. “She told me she lives in the Hope Shelter downtown.” She added, leaning forward to take the medical file marked Luca Montgomery off his
desk.

“I think we should at least start him on IV fluids and see how he responds to medication.” Dr. Truman stated in his studious doctor’s tone of voice. “Maybe you can take her out for a burger or something while the kid rests and find out more.” He recommended.

At this Janette raised her eyes from the file, peeking over the top to spy him looking out the window in Aria’s direction. She knew what he’s thinking, there has to be more to Aria’s story and being near Luca is not only going to keep her choked up, but also sick with
worry.

“Maybe I can contact her parents; use her social security number to try and get her some help.” Janette flipped to the last page of Luca’s file where Aria’s basic information was neatly written down. Janette sighed, she shouldn’t have assumed finding information would have been that easy and should have guessed most of Aria’s detailed information would have been left blank.

“No.” Dr. Truman huffed as Janette scrunched her forehead in confusion. “We don’t even know what her past home life is like. For all we know she could have been abused or ran away.” He elaborated, his tone becoming more assertive as the conversation progressed.

“She’s only eighteen,” Janette sniped back, “She needs to be in high school.” Angrily she tossed Luca’s file down in front of the doctor. “That little boy should not be out on the streets in his condition.” Janette asserted as she pointed to the file in anger.

“I agree.” Dr. Truman commented, making Janette calm down as she sat back down. “But for now, just let her open up to you.” He said, offering advice and hoping Janette would take it.

{EZRIA}

The weather outside was rather crisp for early November so Janette and Aria opted to eat inside the small bar, sitting beside the window to appreciate how beautiful the streets of Philadelphia could be in wintertime.

“How is your burger?” Janette asked, taking a sip of her sweet tea. She watched the thin girl before her take yet another hardy bite before nodding her
head.

“It’s good.” Aria mumbled, swallowing and then washing it down with a long draw of her cherry coke. “Thank you, I really appreciate this.” She smiled. It had been the first time for a long time that someone had showed her any kind of care or compassion.

“It’s no problem, really.” Janette smiled back before popping a French-fry into her
mouth.

Staring down at the meat on her plate, Aria couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought that crossed her
mind. “I used to be vegetarian, but I’ve learned to just take what I can get, I guess.” Aria blushed slightly. Taking in what Aria just said, Janette was at a loss for words. What do you say to a child who has to fend for food when she had a freezer chocked full of food at
home?

“Well, what’s important is that you eat.” Janette encouraged as Aria finished her burger.

Watching Aria tuck a stand of hair behind her ear and proceed to pick up her burger again, she hoped that she could get Aria to open up to her more.

“I grew up here in Philly and I have yet to find a better burger joint than PitStop. Where did you grow up?” Janette gestured towards Aria, who looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Aria blinked a few times, the wheels practically turning in her head as she thought of what to say.

“Um…I um.” She squirmed in the leather booth. “I bounced around from place to place.” She closed her mouth and ran her tongue over her teeth as she saw the blonde across from her nod her head, waiting for Aria to elaborate further. “My dad works at a college and my mom at a high school when she’s not painting.” Aria wasn’t sure whether she had shared too much, but it was too late now.

So her parents are educators, and by the sound of it very smart Janette pondered to herself as she watched Aria, hoping she would continue.

Aria took a deep breath before she continued. “My dad-” she paused, “He took us to Iceland for his sabbatical when I was younger,” So she travelled too, Janette gathered. “But for the most part I lived here all my life.” Aria shrugged her shoulders.

Number one rule on the streets, never give out too much information. To Janette, Aria was like an old book, you have to read her nice and slowly, and carefully, to catch the details. Her pages worn and creased with age, age beyond her years and still she holds life and keeps you guessing.

“Really? Right here in Philly?” Janette asked.

“Um no.” Aria took a deep breath, glancing down at her empty plate. “I’ve moved around a lot.” She restated. “Rosewood…mainly.” She let out before she could even comprehend what she had
said.

Caught off guard, Aria shut her mouth. For the first time the two remained silent as Aria took in her surroundings. A jukebox sat dusty in the corner next to the bathroom and a long bar counter to the side of them where a few customers sat on swivel chairs. Music floated through speaks around them, but Aria couldn’t recognize the country tune. The atmosphere was dingy but sitting next to the window allowed for some light to peek
inside.

Glancing back at the nurse across from her, Aria realized she’d been looking at her, puzzled for the past few minutes, as if trying to uncover the enigma of who she was. Aria knew she has to say more, she knew she couldn’t just keep repeating herself over and over
again.

“Rosewood’s a small town not too far from here.” Aria smiled at the memories left behind. Janette once again could see that flicker of emotion evident in her hazel eyes, this time it lasted a little longer.

“Sounds like the perfect place to raise a family.” She remarked, hoping that it hadn’t cut off the subject completely. Aria’s smile slowly faded, as she tugged on the sleeves of her sweatshirt under the table in nervous habit.

“Is Luc okay?” Aria timidly asked. Janette could hear the unease in the young mother’s voice and held out a few minutes to gather her thoughts. She had to tell her the truth, but she needed Aria to realize that there was still hope for anything in
life.

“I will be honest with you, he is very sick.” She paused, assessing Aria’s reaction. She watched her take in a shaky breath as tears welled up in her eyes. “But the medication we gave him should be helping.” She gave a small smile, a sign of hope.

Taking another deep breath, Aria swallowed the tears down and nodded, giving a weak smile.

“Good.” She sighed, “I know what you must be thinking…” Aria stopped, placing her hands on her half empty glass of pop, her fingers running against the cool perspiration.

Janette furrowed her eyes together as she tried to understand what Aria meant by
that.

“I know I’m only eighteen, but Luc is everything I have.” Aria’s smile spread from ear to ear.

“You don’t think your parents are worried about you?” Janette eyed Aria, watching as she turned away to stare out the window.

A few people briskly walked down the asphalt streets, trying to beat the wind that whipped around them and dodge the people under winter
hats.

“No.” Aria shrugged, her eyes still focused on the outside world. “ I mean-” she paused. “I just-” she sighed. “I just had to get away.” Aria bit down on her tongue to keep herself from giving in to her
emotions.

Turning back towards Janette, Aria scanned for her reaction, wishing she could tell her the truth. The truth that if given the chance, she would jump at the chance to see her friends again…they were close, closer than close, they told each other secrets, but not this one.

“I had my friends, but I doubt they would even care about me now.” She stomached the thought, looking back at how much had changed in such a short time.

“Didn’t you say you have a brother?” Janette went back over their previous conversation in her head. Aria smiled at the thought of Mike, and the constant wonder of what he’s like now that he’s seventeen and almost done with school. She remembered just how close they use to be before everything went south in her life as well as her parent’s marriage.

“Yeah, his name is Mike. He is a year younger than me, but he was always protective.” Aria laughed, thinking back to fond memories of all the times Mike had stood between her and something or someone that was trying to hurt
her.

Janette’s idea of Aria staying with her brother was now shattered, seeing how he’s even younger than Aria, but she could see the happy memories in her
eyes.

“Sounds like you two were close.” She commented, watching as Aria smiled happily and
nodded.

“I’m not even sure he truly knows why I left or what happened. My dad probably made up some story.“ Aria’s voice turned to ice as she played with her straw in her drink.

Janette had never seen this side of Aria, and figured she had finally found the big secret; it had something to do with her father. Wanting to defuse the cold in Aria’s words, Janette thawed the tension by asking another question.

"What about your mother?” she asked, Aria quickly shook her head and wrinkled her nose in distaste of the
suggestion.

“I don’t know?” She cleared her throat. “My dad would never let her get a word in edgeways; she always just went along with whatever he would say.” Aria explained, the sour feelings she had towards her father building within her as the seconds ticked
by.

The round clock perched on the wall slowly ticked and Aria brought her fingers to her teeth, not even noticing as she chewed her already bitten nails. She didn’t like to think about the past, she had to be in the present and look towards the future for Luca’s sake.

“Can we go back to Luc?” Aria asked, her hands slightly covering her
mouth.

“Ye s, let’s go.” Janette nodded as she placed a twenty and a five down on the table before standing to her feet to follow behind Aria who was already swiftly walking towards the exit with her orange backpack on her shoulder.

Janette’s hands rested at two and ten o'clock on the steering wheel as she and Aria drove down the busy streets, with horns honking and people scurrying about. The car came to a halt at a red light and given the chance Janette turned towards Aria only to see her gazing out the window. Her elbow rested on the window ledge as she propped her head up to a comfortable height.

As a child Aria loved the long car rides and even the train while in Iceland, the smooth movements and scenery always seemed to relax her.

The light turned green and Janette removed her foot off the break and back onto the gas as she turned on her blinker and made a quick right hand turn into the parking lot. The medical clinic wasn’t as busy as usual so Janette easily found a parking spot close to the front of the building, relieved so Aria wouldn’t have to walk far in just a thin sweater.

Once the car was parked and the engine turned off Aria unbuckled her seatbelt and prepared herself to go back inside. Janette heard the sigh and placed a hand on Aria’s shoulder.

“It’s going to be okay. Walking through those doors and seeing the ones you love and care about sitting in a hospital bed is never easy, but Luc is getting the best possible care and we are all here for you.” Janette smiled; as she watched Aria’s nerves seem to
settle.

“I just never thought it would be like this…” Aria confessed, looking at the entrance of the clinic.

Janette knew this must be difficult and wanted to help anyway she could, but realized Aria would have to come to her. She could only do so much and then leave the rest up to divine intervention.

“Thin gs will get better; you just have to have hope.” Janette squeezed Aria’s shoulder gently before sliding her hand down Aria’s arm and to the cup holder were her cell phone and medical badge sat. With her items in hand she opened her car door and noticed Aria do the same, bracing herself for the wicked wind that engulfed them. Aria slammed the car door and rubbed her shoulders vigorously before stuffing her hands in her pockets to keep them as warm as
possible.

Janette walked around the front of her car and clicked the handheld remote as she heard the double beep of the locking mechanism. She saw the way Aria reacted as a gust of wind nearly knocked her over and wrapped her arm around her as they swiftly walked to the double door entrance.

The front entrance was warm and welcoming with potted plants by the sign-in sheet. The walls of the waiting area were a mixture of navy blue and gray, to offset the intensity the waiting period for a more comfortable setting. The wood paneling and soft cushion chairs lined the wall as they passed through the room and down a long corridor to the main patient rooms. The air was clean and sterile, something Aria wasn’t used to, but was thankful for the change. Passing room after room the pair finally reached an open door with Luca’s name taped to the outside.

“ Why don’t you go in and see Luc, I have to sign back in.” Janette directed, as they stood outside. Aria took another deep breath and nodded towards Janette before turning back towards Luca’s room.

Going their separate ways, Janette backtracked towards the front desk and tapped her medical badge on the counter while she waited for Suzie, the head secretary to finish her phone call before glancing up to see her.

“Hi, Janette. How was your break?” She greeted her with a smile as she took Janette’s card and swiped it through the system.

“It was good; Aria and I went to PitStop for a burger.” She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear before reaching for her badge.

“So unds good.” Suzie acknowledged as she rummaged around her desk until she found the small sticky note under a pile of paperwork. “Here is that phone number you asked for.” She handed the yellow square to Janette who beamed with delight.

“ You’re a miracle worker.” Janette praised the woman behind the desk. “Is Mathew still doing rounds?” She questioned. Suzie eyed the record sheet for the day and browsed the names until she found the T’s.

“Yes he is, but only for another hour an half.” Suzie replied
helpfully.

“Okay great, I should get back to work.” Janette tucked the paper inside her pocket and waved off to the woman before heading down the corridor.

{EZRIA}

Aria stood once again at her little boy’s bedside. Since leaving him earlier while he slept, she saw that the doctors had put him on some kind of medicine, one that runs through tiny tubes and into his small
arm. Aria couldn’t help but brush her hand gently against his arm, wanting him to know she was here for him and wasn’t going to leave.

She felt guilty going for a burger while he lay here in the bed all alone. She had promised to not leave him and yet her naive hunger and nerves had gotten the best of her. The little boy shifted in his slumber and managed to kick the covers off of himself in the process. Aria gave a small giggle at this and tucked the blanket back around him and brushed his curly locks from his face as she bent down to give him a kiss to the forehead. “I love you my little Luc.” She whispered in his ear, sniffling back tears again. She straightened her posture as she glanced out the hospital door and saw Dr. Truman walking down the hallway looking at a file in the process. He was just about to pass Luca’s door when Aria cut in front of him, nearly colliding with him as she stopped to gather her thoughts. “The tubes, they aren’t hurting him, right?” She begged for an answer.

Slightly taken aback, Mathew closed his file and looked in on the little boy. “No. No, they aren’t hurting him. It’s how he gets his medicine. He’s responding to it well.” He explained, Aria nodded as relief washed over her features.

At that moment Janette came to stand beside the two as she checked on Luca. Aria looked passed the two physicians and to the door outside, noticing how considerably dark it became over the last half hour. She realized she would never be able to get back to the shelter in time for closing, and quite frankly, she didn’t want to leave Luca all by himself for a whole night.

“Janette, I-I was wondering if…” Aria scratched her head, pausing as she took in a deep breath. She wasn’t one for admitting to needing help; it had been so long since she had to ask. “I mean…” Aria licked her lips, glancing down at her shoes. “Luc and I have never been apart and the shelter closes in an hour.” Aria rambled, praying she wouldn’t have to separate from her son.

“Don’t worry.” Janette’s words instantly calmed Aria, yet her head shot up in surprise. She thought for sure they would tell her to come back tomorrow or something. “You can stay here until Luc is better; I told you we would never come between you two.” Janette smiled, her tone serious yet still comforting in knowing how hard this must be for Aria. She wasn’t about to make her leave, only to worry about Luc all the more. “Why don’t you go back in with him and I will bring you a makeshift bed for the night.” Janette reassured her by once again placing a hand on Aria’s shoulder.

“Thank you. Thank you again, so much.” Aria glanced between the two people standing before her who she could only call as a God send and nodded before bolting back into Luca’s room.

Dr. Truman turned to walk away, but was stopped once again, but this time by Janette. He sighed in frustration at being pulled away again from his rounds, but one look in Janette’s eyes and he knew he had to speak with her. He gestured for her to follow him to his office and once the door was shut she went right down to business.

“How is he really?” She asked, afraid to know the truth. Afraid to hear that Aria had made a bigger mess than she thought she had.

“He’s going to get worse if he goes back out onto the streets in this cold weather.” He stated firmly, running a hand through his thin hair.

“That’s it…” Janette grumbled, removing the crumpled note from her pocket. “I’m doing what I should have done when I first saw them.” She walked towards his desk and picked up the
receiver

.

“Wh at? What are you doing?” He asked confused, turning towards her as he watched her punch in the numbers written on the note.

“I’m contacting Aria’s parents. From what I understand I might be able to reach her mother, it’s her father who was pushing her out.” She balanced the phone between her ear and shoulder and somehow managed to glance up at him.

“I told you-” Dr. Truman started, but the look on Janette’s face immediately shut him up.

“I know what you told me, but Aria can’t keep living like this and if her parents turn out to be the bad guys like she says they are-"she paused. "Then she can stay with me.” She
finished.

“You’ re serious?” Dr. Truman was stunned at the words that just came out of her mouth. He knew she was dedicated, but to take things this far was new
territory.

In their line of work the rule was to never get too attached because you never knew what would happen and yet here she was doing that very thing.

“I am…” Janette gave a small laugh, surprising even herself. “I asked the secretary earlier if she could possibly find Aria’s mother’s contact information just in case.” She
explained.

“ You shouldn’t have done that.” He ground his teeth together, but she just rolled her eyes as the phone rang and rang, until finally a groggy voice broke through the
line.

“Hello?” The muffled voice
spoke.

“Hi, Mrs. Montgomery?” Janette smiled, hoping her tone of voice was friendly
enough.

“This is she…” Ella answered.

“Hi, this is Janette Stevenson; I’m a nurse from Philadelphia’s Private Practice.” She licked her lips. She took a deep breath and prayed she was doing the right thing. “I believe your daughter Aria and her son Luca are here.” She declared.

“Is everything okay?” Janette could hear the urgency in her voice, and for Janette that sounded like a good
sign.

“Yes, Aria is fine.” She wanted to easy her mind, but she knew she had to ask. “Would you mind coming down here?” She embarked upon the question without thinking twice.

“Yes. I’m on my way now. I should be there by early morning.” She announced. Janette breathed a sigh of relief and glanced out the window at Aria.

“Okay, thank you so much. I look forward to seeing you soon.” She said before the line went
dead.

Hanging up the phone, Janette’s eyes met Dr. Truman’s and the look on his face was anything but pleased. Still she felt like this was the right thing to do and could only hope from the best. Dr. Truman continued to just stare at the young nurse and finally lifted his hands in defeat knowing there was nothing else he could say now that it was done except
for…

“I hope you know what you’re doing.” He remarked coldly.

Not wanting to discuss this any further, Janette nodded her head and walked past him as she left his office. She removed her medical keys from her coat pocket and inserted the correct key into the lock before turning the handle. Inside the storage closet were stacks upon stacks of medical supplies along with pillows, blankets, and other items. Taking a pillow in one hand and placing a few cotton blankets on top of that, she proceeded back out into the hallway and towards Luca’s room.

Janette tiptoed into the room hoping not to wake Luca, only to find Aria also passed out in the plastic chair beside Luca’s bed. Her dark curls fell over her face as her used her folded arms as a pillow to rest her head upon. Janette’s heart began to break all over again for the young girl and as she stepped closer she gave a small smile.

She carefully managed to lift Aria’s head without waking her and placed the pillow on top of her arms so she would be more comfortable. She then draped the cotton blankets over her bent body before glancing between Aria and
Luca.

For the rest of the night Janette popped in every now and then to make sure they were okay, although neither woke during the night. She stayed well passed the end of her shift and lounged in Dr. Truman’s office for catnaps as she waited until morning for when Aria’s mother would arrive.

Desperately she hoped that everything would work out for the best.

Thank you for reading the first chapter, I hope you enjoyed it. Please offer feedback so I know whether to continue this story or not. A song that heavily inspired this chapter was The Lost Get Found by Britt Nicole so check it. Again…please review this chapter. Thank you! 😘

6

So don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not loved, and don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not enough. Yeah there are days when we all feel like we’re messed up, but the truth is that we’re all diamonds in the rough. So don’t be ashamed to wear your crown, you’re a king you’re a queen, inside and out. You glow like the moon, you shine like the stars, this is for you, wherever you are.