Chapter 8 - Part 2

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It'd been well over a week since Felix's conversation with Ella at the juice bar. Since then, they hadn't had a conversation where he felt as close to her as he had that day. He finally decided to address something he'd been wondering about. It might help him get his shit straight. If he at least had a schedule to work with, he could work out a way to casually run into her every day until he could figure out what the hell he was going to do about this. So far all this time he hadn't known if she was coming or going.

Over a month since he'd begun his informal training, Felix was still trying to figure it out, but by then he knew one thing for sure. He was very attracted to her now. Not just in that usual he-could-already-picture-her-under-him way. Not that the thought hadn't crossed his mind—more than once. Ella was constantly on his mind now, and he hadn't even kissed her. Aside from that one time he got to hold her hand for too short of time, there'd been nothing more than exchanged smiles and prolonged gazes. He was fairly certain she'd picked up on his attraction to her, but beyond that there was nothing more. How was it even possible that he could feel so hung on someone he'd yet to even kiss?

Not just that, he still wasn't even sure what, if anything, he should do about it. He couldn't even bring himself to ask for some kind of schedule from her. Not even something simple and innocent like are you usually here in the day or evenings. Half the time he had no idea if she'd be in that day or not. Asking her or anyone else still felt risky. Someone would wonder why he wanted to know, and he still wasn't sure of that answer. Why did he want to know so badly?

And then it happened.

He walked into the upstairs break room around lunch time, hoping it made sense that she'd be up there since there was no self-defense class between twelve and twelve forty-five. He started to smile when he saw her at one of the tables, giggling into her hand, until he saw who she was sitting with. Camera boy. The guy Drew had brought with her the day they'd filmed parts of Ella's class for her documentary on the gym. More grating than seeing her laugh so sweetly at whatever it was he was saying to her was that he knew they'd long ago finished the documentary.

That strange feeling in his gut—the one he'd felt even that first night at the pizza place—and the one he'd felt every single time he'd been around her since, was back. Only this time it felt different. This time there was a kick to it, and he gulped, deciding on whether or not he should go talk to her. He wasn't sure he could keep himself from being a dick to camera boy.

"You eating up here, Sanchez?"

Felix turned to see Noah and Hector walking toward him. "No, I was, uh . . . just looking for someone."

Hector turned to see who he'd been staring at. "And you found her?" He smirked.

Noah turned to look in Ella's direction too. Fucking great.

"Ella?" Noah asked.

"No, not Ella," he lied. "One of the guys I've been working with."

Hector turned to look at him, still smirking. "You sure? Because you looked like you were getting ready to go talk to Ella and, uh, her friend there. Who is that she's having lunch with?"

"I dunno," Felix lied again, looking around trying his damnedest to look uninterested in Ella and her friend. "The guy I'm looking for isn't here. I'll talk to him later," he said and started to walk away.

"Oh, I know who that is," he heard Hector say. "That's the guy working with Drew on the documentary: Conner. Charlee mentioned he had a thing for Ella and would be coming down to ask her out."

Felix stopped in his tracks and spun around. Hector's head fell back and he laughed. "I fucking knew it!" He shoved Noah in the arm. "Didn't I tell you?"

"Tell him what?" Felix asked, glaring past him at Ella and camera boy who were now joined by Drew. Drew sat down next to the guy, pecking his lips, and Felix knew he'd been had. "You're an asshole," he said, shoving Hector and feeling like an idiot but at the same time enormously relieved.

"What?" Noah asked confused as Hector continued to laugh, bringing his fist to his mouth.

"You should've seen your face." Hector was laughing so much now Drew and Ella were now looking their way.

Felix smiled, grabbing Hector by the shirt, and pulled him roughly out of the small break room.

"He's the sap Drew talked about at the pizza place," Hector explained, still laughing as Felix let go of his shirt but not before shoving him again. "The 'sweet guy' she was considering going out with. I guess they're a thing now."

Hector still laughed, and now Noah was smiling big too. "You into Ella, Sanchez?" he asked.

Felix glanced away, annoyed that he hadn't been able to make it even a few weeks without someone noticing. He shrugged. "I think she's cool."

Hector laughed again. "Charlee's gonna love this. She called it from day one."

Felix had been ready to jump all over him about not saying a damn thing to Charlee or anyone for that matter. It was bad enough these two knew now, but his second comment got him. "She did?"

Had he really been that obvious? Even back then? The smug smile on Hector's face was answer enough, but he went on anyway. "She said you looked struck that first night we all went to Barros. Man"—he shook his head in mock disappointment—"I even argued with her, saying you don't get struck, and she said everyone does sooner or later."

"You do know she's Nellie and Abel's little project, right?" Noah's voice warned. "They really like her, and Nellie's hoping she'll take her up on the offer of a full-time position here. If you screw this up—"

"I'm not gonna screw anything up," Felix said suddenly feeling defensive. "All I said was she's cool. I haven't even decided what, if anything, I wanna do about it. I told you about the Grecco meeting I had. I doubt I'll have any time for any kind of social life once that gets going, much less a relationship, and she's too sweet a girl for anything less."

Hector patted him on the shoulder. "If you're leaning on maybe going for it and let me tell you"—he laughed again—"that look on your face says you are, I'd make up my mind soon if I were you. According to Drew, she's considering going out to dinner with that cop friend of hers again, something she hasn't done in months."

Felix gave him a look, and Hector lifted his hands in the air, eyes full of humor. "I'm not lying this time. Drew was over last night. I heard her telling Charlee. Drew even offered to do a double date thing with her because she said Ella's not one hundred percent sold on the idea. But I guess the guy's been really persistent."

It suddenly dawned on Felix. "Is that why they're here today?"

Hector's brows jumped up. "Good question. I don't know. Could be."

Torn for a second, he glanced at Noah then back at Hector, who both looked at him blankly with no answers. He could hardly believe he was doing this, but he headed back toward the break room.

More to come!

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