Chapter 11

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Aria hated it. 

How had Mike managed to get out of this again?! 

Besides, he should enjoy the time he could spend with his family like it was right now. Because if Aria was right -- and she usually was - her feelings never had wronged her before -- then it wouldn't stay like that for long. 

Sure, the same thing could be said about her, but she knew. It hadn't been the same for over a year. And whilst she was able to put certain things aside in Iceland, now that they were back, it got harder and harder. 

And that was why she hated spending time with her family. She always was on edge. And her dad's attempts at making conversation we're exhausting. 

Didn't he get it? Well, obviously not. 

They were sitting at a table on the sidewalk in a restaurant -- or café? -- near Hollis. Aria had brought a book, only to avoid talking, but it didn't seem to work. Or her dad really wanted to talk to her. She kept ignoring him, he kept trying. Apparently he noticed she had stopped reading, so he started again. 

"Well, you're pretty far into it." 

It was a lame statement, but Aria decided to say something after all. Her mom knew something was up. True, she couldn't care less at this stage about what happened with her dad, but Ella didn't deserve this. 

"Yeah, I've got, like, 60-something pages left, and I don't want it to end." 

To say Byron looked surprised that his daughter had actually said something would be the understatement of the year. Fortunately Ella didn't notice as she was sitting next to and across from her husband. 

"You should read her biography next", he replied. "The father-worship thing becomes a lot clearer", Ella said. 

Oh, the irony. Better guide the conversation elsewhere, before it became too serious. 

"Well", she said teasingly. " I would worship both of you a lot more of you could get me another one of these." 

She gestured at the space in front of her. 

"Uh... the poppy seed?", her mother asked. "We'll split it. Make sure your father doesn't drink all my coffee, please." 

"Sure." 

Aria guided her attention back to her book, only to be interrupted by her father again. What was it today? 

"Do you like your teacher?", he asked. 

What?! She couldn't believe she had understood this right. How could he know? And even worse, what would he do? She looked up, trying to look oblivious. Maybe it was just a misunderstanding on her part, and Byron didn't know anything. 

Alright, just play it cool, she thought, directly followed by Please, let it be a misunderstanding! 

"What?" 

Hopefully that came out right. Her dad looked a little confused. 

"Your English teacher", he explained. "Do you like him?"

 Oh. False alarm. Good. 

"Oh. Yeah. He's okay. Why are you asking? I thought you already knew that." 

"I did. I wanted to know if it was still up-to-date what you said some weeks ago. Opinions can change you know. And it seems like it did. He went from perfect to okay after all." 

Aria rolled her eyes. 

"I never said he was perfect. Mom did." 

She explicitly didn't respond to the okay part. No need for Byron to get the hint she liked Ezra even more now, and she was just toning it down so he wouldn't notice. The more she stressed it, the more attention he would pay to it. She knew her dad. 

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