Chapter 23

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"Remind me again why we have so many books between us." Aria huffed as she bent down and shoved aside a couple of thick volumes to make room for the stack in the box at her feet.

"Because we do." Came the flippant reply as Ezra set down the last couple boxes.

"Clever." Aria replied, as she brushed off her hands on her shorts.

Ezra came over and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her close to him.

"How many more boxes do you have at the apartment?" He asked.

"Two or three." She responded. " I'll stop by after work tomorrow and get them. Right now, I just want to sleep. I'm exhausted." She complained.

Ezra leaned down and pecked her lips softly.

"Me too. Who knew you had so much in that tiny apartment?"

"I know. It seemed like I would never finish packing." She sighed. "Thank god Im done."

"Yes, and as soon as we get those boxes here, you're officially back home."

"I love you." She rested her hands on his shoulders.

He kissed her lips gently.

"I love you too." He replied, hugging her tightly.

"So you never did tell me, what finally convinced you to move back in? Hanna asked from the the cash register.

It was Monday again, and Hanna was currently sitting behind the counter flipping through a few magazines.

Aria hung up the last few dresses on the rack, before taking a seat next to her best friend.

"I just couldn't take it anymore." She confessed. "Not being able to be with them everyday, having Olivia going back and forth between us. It wasn't fair."

Hanna nodded.

"But if I'm being completely honest," She looked down briefly. "Truth is, before I was just afraid. Hurt and afraid. Confused even."

"Afraid of what?"

"What Ezra said to me," She swallowed the lump in her throat. " What he said to me was always on repeat in my head. And even though he apologized countless times and said he didn't mean it, those words were nailed into my brain. Reminding me everyday of the pain they caused."

Hanna placed her hand over hers.

"Part of me kept on believing that he did mean it, that a part of him really wished I was dead, that me being dead would uncomplicate so many things."

She picked at her nails.

"That part of me, didn't want to move in, knowing that in the future, things might not turn out well, and would only end up hurting Olivia. I didn't want that. I didn't want her to get her hopes up, only to crush them in the future."

"But as our relationship was slowly rebuilding, I realized that he really didn't mean it. That even after everything, he still loved me, and we really could go back to the happy couple we once were."

Hanna smiled.

"What really gave me the final push and made me realize that Olivia needed me, was something that happened Friday at the park."

"What happened?"

Aria paused as she recalled that afternoon.

"Katie, the girl that was talking about me that one time, likes Ezra. And as you might of realized that day, she's upset that I returned, claiming I'm a horrible mother and even convinced Olivia of that. Olivia had a breakdown that day that broke my heart to pieces."

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