Chapter 8

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Ezra didn't know what bothered him more. The fact he had to let go of Aria's hand the moment the end credits started showing, or that he didn't like it. He knew he shouldn't. But that unfortunately didn't mean he didn't. It would have been so much easier if she just had pulled away. He had wanted her to. Even though he had to admit, in that moment he had been glad she held on. Now, not so much. Next to him, Ella was talking to Aria, who seemed to be as mentally absent as he was.
"Aria, are you even listening?", he heard her mother ask sharply. "What?", Aria asked confused. "Oh. Sorry mom."
She looked at him and their eyes met. He knew what she was thinking about. The same thing he couldn't distract himself from.
"Well...", he started. "I better go home now. It was nice meeting you, Ella." He turned towards Aria, her cheeks were once again a faint red. He couldn't stop the smile that crept on his face. She was just so cute when she was blushing.
"Aria. I'll see you Monday."
She nodded. It looked like she wanted to say something else, but choked on her words. He knew he was already smiling way to wide as would be appropriate for this situation, so he simply turned around and made his way back to his apartment. It was only three blocks from the movies, so he hadn't bothered taking his car and had just walked. Fresh air never was a bad thing. Also, it gave him more time to process before he returned home and had to do other things like writing a book, where he wanted to be fully concentrated. It was wrong. In his head he knew that. But it had felt so right. And that was exactly what he had been afraid of. Deep inside he knew he liked her. And he knew it was more than a silly crush. And he had been so stupid to think that by ignoring her it would just go away. Because today had definitely shown that it hadn't. He had to tell her it wouldn't work, that they had to break it off before it got over their heads and there was no going back anymore. She was still young. But he had to think of himself as well. He would jeopardize his career before it had even started. Sooner or later, people would find out. And then he would always be the disgusting pedophile, child abusing teacher no one wanted to hire. But wouldn't they be right? Maybe he did take advantage of Aria. She had probably no experience whatsoever, he was like a role model for her and she looked up to him. For her, it was exciting, but she didn't even realize what she was doing. And he, blinded by his silly feelings, led her on. It was wrong. It didn't matter whom he would ask, they would all confirm it. There was only one thing he could do and that was keep away. It didn't work the first time around, but he would just have to try harder. There was no other option, if he didn't want to destroy everything before he even had something.

"Morning", Aria said gruffly as she came down to the kitchen and mad herself a bowl of cereal.
"Well good morning to you too, honey", her mom answered way too upbeat for a Saturday morning.
"How can you be so awake?", Aria asked, but Ella ignored her, as Byron had just come in and she was talking to him.
"Don't you have time for breakfast?", she heard her mother say.
"No, I'm sorry", Byron replied. "I'm gonna be late tonight, too."
Aria couldn't believe what she just heard. And from the looks of it, her mom was just as surprised as she was. "Late nights already?", Ella asked. "But we just got here. And it's Saturday."
She had a point. A really good one. "Yeah. What's that about?", Aria joined the discussion. Byron looked at her.
"What's it about? Being gone for a year. Playing catch-up. Faculty meetings. Changing my curriculum. Demanding students. Aren't you doing the same?"
"Yeah. But I'm doing it at home. You know, maybe your family's demands should come first", Aria said coldly. "I have to go. I'm meeting up with the girls and I don't want to be late. Love you, Ella."
Walking out, she heard her mother ask:
"What was that about? You guys were getting along so well when we were away. I don't get it."
"Well, you know, she's... she's a teenage girl, Ella. Aren't they all moody and unpredictable?"
Hearing her dad say that just made Aria even more angry. That was  about more than just her. It was about her whole family. His family. Suddenly she was glad she had an excuse to leave the house and not come back until evening. She absolutely didn't want to deal with this crap on top of everything else. Her English teacher, for example. Or 'A'. Or Jenna. God knew she had enough on her plate already. Mike was still asleep, and her parents had moved to small talk, even though it was only a matter of seconds until Byron remembered he had somewhere to be. Then, Ella would go to work on her gallery and Mike would spend the day at home, playing video games either alone or with his friends. Aria supposed in a sick, twisted kind of way she should be grateful to 'A'. Because she wasn't sure that without that bitch, the four of them had become friends again. She liked to think so, but when it came down to it, she would never know for sure. She grabbed her keys and then left the house. She would just have to deal with it later. Or never if it went her way.

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