Chapter Fourteen: Illicit Activities (Aria's POV)

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I plop down next to him, my skirt fanning out all around me. My mom will probably be pissed, because it’s all wrinkled and blah blah blah. But she’s the one who told me to wear this skirt.

            I should move out.

            I really should. My mom is still controlling my life, and I’m nineteen. It’s time to go.

            “So, um, what do we do now?” Austin asks, tapping a beat out on his knees.

            I grab his hand to steady it. It’s so freaking annoying when people tap their fingers or something like that. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves.

            He looks at me.  “Control freak,” he says with a smirk.

            “I am not!” I yell, pouting like a little child.

            He slides a little closer, leaning in a bit and biting his lip.

            He’s driving you crazy. Get a grip, idiot.

            “Tell me, control freak,” he whispers. “How can I make you lose control?”

            Before I can think, I blurt out, “You already are.” Instantly, I feel like clamping a hand over my mouth. I shouldn’t have said that.

            Instantly, he’s everywhere. Surrounding me, pressing down on me, enveloping me. He smells kind of cologne-y, like musk and lavender. I’m fumbling, falling, drowning. Before I know it, I’m lying down, my hair fanning around me, feeling his chest and fumbling with his jacket.

            Without even thinking, I unbutton his shirt, fumbling and tripping. He’s kissing my neck when we hear a voice yell, “Guys, where are you?”

            It’s Ned. Ned, who has zero respect for privacy. Ned, who is right by my door. Ned, who just walked in.

            He’s standing in the doorway. “Um, come down,” he sputters.

            Austin sits up, buttoning his shirt. I hand him his jacket and a comb.

             “Comb out your hair. You look like you just woke up,” I say.

            Austin smirks. “Gee, I wonder why. It can’t be because we were making out when the Ned Rochester walked in on us.”

            “Ugh, don’t remind me. Does everything look normal?” I ask, twirling in front of him.


            We walk downstairs and take seats at the table. The food isn’t ready yet, so we’re just sitting there awkwardly. I can already see that Mom went all out. Champagne, the fancy glasses and silverware, everything.

            Eventually, I decide that I can’t handle anymore of this excruciating silence. I get up and proclaim, “Um, I’m going to help Mom in the kitchen. Can you two at least make a little bit of an effort to not be awkward?”

            Good idea, doofus.

            Austin just gives me a look, but I nod at him, as if to say, “Don’t worry. He’s safe.”

            I walk into the kitchen. “Hey, Mom.”

            She glares at me and turns around.


            Ned probably told her what happened already. Damn. “I heard what was going on between you and Austin. I knew not to trust that boy,” she says.

            “You can’t trust any guy to go to a room where there’s a half-naked girl getting dressed and not make a move,” I reply.

            “Still, this is my house. I would appreciate it if you didn’t practice…illicit activities under my roof.”

            “So it’s acceptable when you and Ned do it? But when I do it, it’s illicit and terrible.”

            “You’re still so young. I don’t want you to make any hasty decisions in the heat of the moment.”

            “Don’t worry, Mother. I’m still virtuous.” I physically feel the sarcasm dripping from my voice.

            “Stay that way.”

            “And also, it’s your house? Well, what if I move out?”

            “You wouldn’t.”

            “I will, if you try to control me any longer.”  Then, triumphant, I march out of the kitchen.

            Austin and Ned are talking a little bit when I come back. I suppose it’s a start.

            I sit down next to Austin. He sees the look on my face and asks, “What happened?”



            So I tell him about my discussion with Mom.

            Then the food starts coming out. This is going to be one long meal.

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