There was a fresh photograph on Pauline’s wall. And it meant the world to her. She may have lost the relationship she once had with her mother, but she finally had a father.
The last few days had been amazing. Granted, Candy was not sure how to take the news at first, but ultimately she’d decided to try to put the past behind her. After all, she and Paolo had been through enough already. So she gave him space to get to know his newfound daughter during their visit in Newcrest.
And even now, when they’d left back for Windenburg, Pauline couldn’t wipe the smile off her face. It seemed that everything was finally as it should be. And she had Peyton to thank for that.
“Cannoli and a latte, times two?” The barista smiled.
“You know us too well, Clare,” Peyton confirmed. Breakfast at Monty’s Goodies on Sundays has become the sisters’ tradition.
“So, sis, now that your family drama seems to be sorted, are you finally gonna go out with Leo?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Pauline blushed.
“Oh come on, did you forget that he legitimately likes you?” Peyton giggled.
“His words, not mine!”
“I don’t know if I’m buying it,” Pauline said simply. “He’s sending way too many mixed signals.”
“And you think you haven’t?” Peyton arched an eyebrow. “He’s probably as confused about whether you like him or not as you are about him being into you!”
Pauline wanted to change the subject. Luckily for her, the sisters were approached by a newcomer.
“Hi, I’m Cygnus,” the man introduced himself. “Mind if I sit with you?”
“Not at all,” Pauline replied. “You must be new in town, I don’t remember seeing you before! I’m Pauline.”
“I know who you are,” he nodded. “You’re the reason I moved here!”
“That seems to be a trend,” Peyton giggled.
“What do you mean?” Pauline looked at Cygnus.
“Well, you’re like me,” Cygnus answered. “Half alien, half human. Always stuck in the middle. I figured if I had a chance at fitting in anywhere, it would be here, in your town.”
“Oh Cygnus, we all have a chance at fitting in anywhere,” Pauline told him. “Our roots shouldn’t make a difference?”
“Do you really believe that?” Cygnus gave her a funny look.
“I want to,” Pauline sighed.
“Of course she believes it,” Peyton jumped in. “Because it’s the truth! Sure, you’ll come across the odd unaccepting person here and there, but that would happen regardless of whether you’re green, purple or rainbow coloured.”
They were interrupted by a man’s voice: “Hey girls, happy Sunday!”
“Hi Caleb,” Pauline waved at their fellow café regular. “I was wondering when you were going to show up!”
“Ah well you know me, nothing like a cup of freshly ground coffee to start the day!”
“You’re a wise man,” Peyton agreed.
Cygnus, who’d just been observing suddenly burst out with inexplicable rage: “Oh, of course you’re both going to ignore me now as soon as a human walks in! I see how it is!”
“Hey, calm down, bro,” Caleb tried to interject.
“I’m not your bro,” Cygnus said angrily. “Can’t you just find yourself a regular human skinned girl to hit on?”
“Don’t mind him Caleb,” Peyton stood up. “We’re leaving.”
Pauline stayed behind for a bit longer: “Cygnus, what the plum was that? I don’t know if you were trying to insult me, Peyton, Caleb or all three of us, but if it was the latter it definitely worked!”
“Sorry, it came out wrong,” Cygnus apologised. “I just felt like I was finally with my own people, and he was taking it away from me… I’m tired of being the odd one out.”
“Look Cygnus, this has to stop,” Pauline said resolutely. “If we single ourselves out, then of course we’ll never be accepted. If we automatically assume people will treat us differently because we’re alien from the get go, how can they prove us wrong? You need to give people a chance!”
Her own words kept replaying in her head on her way home. Was she a hypocrite for not taking her own advice? Before she could answer the question, her eyes rested on a very upset looking Leo.
Of course she was being a hypocrite. The poor guy outright said he liked her, and yet she still doubted it and refused to give him a chance. She’d been avoiding him ever since that day at the Garden of Eden Gym and Spa.
How self-indulgent to assume he was sad because of her, she interrupted her own stream of thought. He was probably just…
Oh, plum it, Pauline decided.
“Hi Leo, long time no see,” she approached him energetically.
“I was just thinking that,” he gave her a sad puppy smile.
What have you really got to lose, Pauline asked herself.
“You know Leo, for someone who supposedly legitimately likes me, you really need to step up your game. How about you take me on a legitimate date tomorrow? Your choice of venue. Pick me up at 7 – you know where I live, after all!”
She didn’t even wait to see what his response was, and just strutted off with newfound confidence.
Leo’s enthusiastic cheer gave her all the answers she needed. Perhaps she should take her own advice more often. Because people were worth being given a chance.