Sage listened as Kai explained what had happened to Ruby's mother. She felt so bad about what had happened but she was glad he was open to telling her, "I'm sorry, I didn't know.." she said quietly.
She looked over at Ruby as she nibbled at her pizza and sat with Sadie. She felt bad that the little girl would never know her mother but she was glad she at least still had Kai. "Looks to me like you're doing a good job as a parent though."
Sage leaned over to pet Sadie as she glanced up at the movie for a moment, "That clears up a few things I had been curious about though." she said as she went to look at their work, "Do you want to see about getting more work done or just sit around talking and watching movies with Ruby?" she said with a playful smile, trying to cheer him up a little bit.
"Ruby was five months old and I was driving us back to my house and Leah was in the front seat, Ruby was in her car seat behind me and a drunk driver came out of no where and hit us in the passenger's side. She died in my arms.... I walked away with a broken wrist and minor cuts and bruises... my wrist was shattered, it took months of therapy to get it back to normal thats why I can't play football anymore.... Ruby slept through the entire thing, her car seat wasn't touched. Leah's family blamed me and Ruby, saying if we weren't in the car this wouldn't have happened, they haven't talked to us since. I have sole custody of Ruby, they never even tried to see her. Leah was an amazing mom, I didn't deserve her... obviously Ruby wasn't planned but she changed my life." He said tapping his pen on the table.
Sage smiled as she watched the little girl and dog settle down until they could play. "I'm glad you're okay with her, she's basically just a furry teddy bear," she said as she began nibbling at her own slice of pizza.
She could definitely tell that Ruby was his child but she didn't know the details, nor would she ask for them. Sage looked up at Kai when he mentioned the accident and raised an eyebrow, "Accident? What happened, if you don't mind me asking."
She wasn't from anywhere near the same area so she hadn't had any way of knowing about what had happened to Kai, she'd heard a classmate whispering that his girlfriend had passed away and left him with a daughter but she still had no idea about the details. She wasn't one to go prying into someone else's personal business.
"It's really no problem though, thanks for not being afraid to work with the new girl, even if the teacher made you." She grinned at him, trying to lighten the mood a little bit. She didn't want him to feel bad about working with her and shook her head, "I just got here so I haven't really spoken to many people yet." she said with a shrug, it wasn't an issue to her if he wanted to talk about something other than their school work.
Kai nodded in approval and chuckled when Sadie wanted to play with Ruby. “She keeps asking for a puppy....this might just tire them both out.” He said nodding that Ruby could play with the dog. Ruby giggled and clapped, “Doggy doggy!” Kai smiled, “like I said, Thank You.” He helped her with the plates and got Ruby’s sippy cup out of her bag and sat it by her plate. He had made up two filled with juice in case she wanted them.
As soon as Ruby heard Mulan she squealed with approval but was distracted by Sadie. “If I knew you had a dog I wouldn’t have been worried at all....Ruby will play with her until she can’t play anymore and then maybe even some.” Once Ruby was sitting down and eating her pizza that Kai had cut up for her he sighed in relief. “That was easier than I thought it would be.” Sadie laid at Ruby’s feet waiting on her to play. Kai has been firm that she had to eat first. Ruby listened to him intently. The little girl looked so much like him but she was beautiful at the same time. There was no denying that Kai was her father.
Turning to Sage he smiled, “So about this project....again thanks for being so cool about Ruby....I haven’t taken her out to school events or anything since the accident just home and daycare...this is her first real outing since and she seems to be doing well....I thank God everyday that she doesn’t remember it. I’ll take the nightmares just so she doesn’t have to relive it.” He had tears in his eyes and was pouring out his heart to a complete stranger. What was wrong with him? Why did he feel like he could trust Sage so much? Why was she so pretty? He locked eyes with Sage for a moment before looking away. “I’m sorry...I just don’t talk to a lot of people....”
Sage answered the door and smiled, stepping out of their way so they could come in, "It's no problem." she said as she knelt down in front of Ruby once she was inside, "Hey, my name is Sage. Your braid is really pretty." she said, "Do you wanna watch Mulan or maybe another movie while you eat your pizza?" she glanced up at Kai to make sure he was okay with that before straightening leading them into the living room.
"Ruby, you can go ahead and pick anything you wanna watch, okay?" she said, leading her up to the movies she'd found for her. She set the pizza down on the coffee table and ran to get some plates from the kitchen.
"You can make yourself at home, Kai." she called to the other room but it was followed by a squeal and a laugh when the dog shoved passed her with a toy in her mouth and over to Ruby, wanting to play with her.
She followed the dog back into the room and sighed, "Sorry, that's Sadie, she's just a big teddy bear and she adores kids." she said as she moved to take a seat at the couch.
Kai knocked on the door. Ruby was tugging on her braid that held her silky black hair. The only hairstyle that Kai could handle was a braid and that had taken some practice. Usually she had her hair down but she had wanted a "princess" braid so Kai tried. It wasn't perfect but it passed. She was growing up with only Kai and her aging grandfather so things like braids and lipgloss usually were foreign territory but Kai had had more than his fair share of princesses since she was born.
When she answered the door he handed her the pizza before he dropped it. "Sorry I'm a little late, dad is working late tonight and Ruby had to make sure that I got the right pizza... she only eats cheese pizza, I hope thats not a problem.. shes really picky." He said sighing.
After school, Sage attempted to practice her a song on her cousin's little keyboard but she'd grown too used to playing on her upright piano that she just couldn't get it to sound right and ended up just pouting at the keys.
When she got the text message she sent a quick reply, "That sounds great. Just me and the dog at the house right now so no worries." she thought of something and then added, "Let me know if I need to move her to another room or something, she's harmless though." she said about the dog. Her aunt's family dog was just golden retriever who was getting up in age but she'd never heard the dog so much as bark at anyone unless they had a toy and were playing. The worst she could imagine that she could do to Ruby would be, love her.
At that, she went to return the borrowed keyboard to her cousin's room and then sit in the living room with her books and the book they had decided on for the project. She also pulled out the movies she'd dug up, all the old princess movies and some others that were her personal favorites from back in the day. Sage also set some coloring books and crayons down on the table with her books in case Ruby decided to play with those instead.
Kai chuckled, "coloring and movies are great, she loves Mulan so I don't think you'd have any trouble finding a princess movie or scooby doo. She loves Scooby too... I can bring pizza if thats okay." He wanted to make this as easy as possible and he needed a passing grade in English and this project was a quarter of their grade and could be the reason he passed or failed.
Later that day after school Kai texted her on his way home. "Picking up the pizza and then getting Ruby from daycare, thank you for understanding again.... not a lot of people do." The accident had been all over the news a year ago, all over the state. If you lived in the pacific northwest you knew about Leah Holt and the accident that left her dead and her boyfriend injured.... their daughter untouched though, thank God. Kai had escaped with minor injuries but had to endure a few months of physical therapy for his hand and wrist.... it was the reason he didn't play football anymore.
After picking his daughter up from daycare he explained to the 2 year old that he had to visit someone and she had to be on her best behavior. She was normally a well behaved little girl but he knew she could throw a tantrum from time to time. Knocking on the door he waited. He held the pizza in one hand and Ruby in the other arm with his backpack and hers slung over his shoulder.
Ruby was small for her age but she had long black silky hair that matched Kai's, her eyes were his perfectly copied into her little face and she had his cheek bones but other than that she must have gotten everything from her mother but she was a gorgeous little girl.... the perfect combination of Kai's native american and korean heritage and Leah's native american heritage as well.
Sage looked up when the bell rang and quickly gathered her things, shouldering her bag. She smiled and shook her head when he thanked her for understanding, it wasn't an issue for her at all and she knew her aunt would understand as well. She was allowing Sage to stay in her house for the year for free after all.
She walked out of the classroom with him, she thought through the list of classes she had and nodded, "I have that class too." she said.
Sage looked up at him when he said he could be there tonight and nodded, "THat's fine. I'll just give my aunt a heads up about it beforehand." she said with a smile. "I'll see if I can dig up some she can color with or an old movie or something just in case then." she paused and looked at him, "Well, if you're okay with that."
SHe'd had parents scold her for allowing their children to watch cartoons and the such so she couldn't be sure what Kai wanted for his daughter. It felt a little strange speaking to someone her own age about their parenting preferences.
Kai nodded, "Yeah I have a daughter.... shes 2 and half." He muttered taking her cell number and address. "Thank you for understanding." he said as the bell rang signaling it was time for their next class." Kai sighed, "What is your next class, I have study hall.... do you? Maybe we could talk about the project?"
He knew she was new but he hadn't seen her around here but a couple of days and he hadn't talked to her before today. Kai was honestly surprised he hadn't heard about the accident and Leah. There was a memorial stone with her picture on it in front of the school near the entrance. The school had made it after the accident. Leah had been in a million clubs at school and everyone loved her... especially Kai.
Kai checked his phone as they walked, making sure his dad had dropped Ruby off at daycare... "Since you don't mind... I can come over tonight... I might have to bring Ruby though... it depends if my dad can watch her or not, sometimes he runs late at work."
Sage thought she almost hadn't heard him correctly, "You have a little girl?" she asked out of curiosity but nodded in understanding. She tapped her chin a bit in thought.
"Well if we need to get some work done on days you don't have a babysitter, just bring her with you. I'm sure it wouldn't be too difficult to keep her entertained. Whatever works best for you is fine." she said.
It was her first day and the last thing she wanted to do was cause trouble for someone she'd just met for the first time, besides, it wouldn't be too hard for her to get work done with a kid running around since she spent most of her late middle school and early high school years babysitting anyway.
She pulled out a scrap piece of paper and jotted down her cell phone number and address before handing it over to him. "I'm not really busy, I have a little cousin I might have to keep an eye on occasionally but until I find a piano teacher here, I have nothing else to do." she admitted with a shrug, "So my place is pretty much always available for school work."
Kai nodded, "My house isn't the best for this." He said shyly. It wasn't that he didn't want her there but no one in his school had met Ruby since the accident and she was 2 1/2 now. "My daughter might not let us get anything done." He muttered almost in a whisper. He knew she was new and didn't want to scare her away because honestly he thought she was gorgeous and it was the first thought he had had about a girl since Leah died.
"I work on weekends so we will have to do things during the week and some days I don't have a babysitter for after school. " He said quickly.
Sage frowned a bit at the announcement and turned to look up at her neighbor when he spoke up to her. She hadn't really considered his reaction as an insult to her but she thought it was nice of him to clear it up anyway. She gave him a polite smile, "It's no problem. I'm not exactly an actress either." she admitted as she glanced down at the list in her hand.
There were a few books on the list that she thought was workable for a skit since she'd already read those books before.
She turned to look over at Kai as he introduced himself, "I'm Sage." she said with a smile before looking back down at the list again. "I'm not sure how the script will work yet but Jane Eyre, Scarlett Letter, The Count of Monte Cristo, or The Tale of Two Cities might be workable. What do you think?" she asked as she set the list down on her desk and reaching over to switch off her music and pull out her ear bud. She didn't want to seem rude or as if she weren't paying full attention to him.
She thought for a moment, "Oh, if we need to work on this outside of school, my aunt shouldn't mind if we use her house." she said.
Mr. Johnson spoke, "You will all be doing a class project, the person seated beside you will be your partner for the activity. It will take two weeks class time to complete and you may need to finish it outside of class. You will be reading a book of your choosing from the respected list and then you will be writing out a script and acting out a skit in front of the class." Kai groaned and didn't pay much attention to the girl sitting beside him. "I'm sorry its not a dislike for you, its a dislike that involves people watching me." He said to her as the teacher distrubuted the papers that held the list of approved books.
Kai looked at it and to the girl, "What one should we do?" He looked up and realized he had never met her, "I'm sorry, how rude of me, I'm Kai."
Sage watched the guy for a moment before turning her attention back to the teacher and resting her cheek in her hand as the free hand silently tapped in time with the music she listened to.
She intended to start applying to music universities soon, hoping for one of the bigger schools around the country.
She'd moved to this city after her parents decided to leave the country for a sabbatical. They were university professors and left to study in their respective fields, forcing Sage to live with an aunt here. This wasn't a situation she was super steller about but she didn't have any choice.
With a sigh and a stretch, she leaned back in her chair as she watched the teacher. Her blue eyes scanned the classroom full of students curiously. She was trying to figure out who, if anyone, that she could speak to and at least try to get to show her the ropes of the school, so to speak. She'd just barely made it to class on time this morning after having gotten lost in the building. But one thing was for sure, in her wandering around the school that morning, she'd found a music room. Of course, there would undoubtedly be classes in there but maybe they wouldn't mind if she borrowed the piano after school at least until her piano managed to be shipped to her aunt's house.
She heard the teacher clear his throat and quickly realized that she'd been caught daydreaming. She gave him an apologetic smile and straightened in her seat, her cheeks and ears burning from the embarrassment of being caught.
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