A/N: rock-aya made three awesome covers for TEC and I am featuring two in this update (scroll down to the bottom for the second) and a third in the next update. This one below makes my heart go pitter-patter. Their expressions are perfect! Thank you Rokaya, I love them all!

 Their expressions are perfect! Thank you Rokaya, I love them all!

Oops! This image does not follow our content guidelines. To continue publishing, please remove it or upload a different image.


From the way Emmie and his sister were staring at him, his question as to why Emmie was here had come out a lot harsher than he'd meant it to. He'd been so surprised to see her next to Trisha in the audience, he could barely think of anything but her as he continued to smile at the cameras and shake hands with people as they pressed against the stage to introduce themselves. Really, they wanted an audience with UMA, not him, so as soon as it was socially acceptable, he'd handed control of UMA over to his project assistant, Zara, and then hurried backstage.

The sight of Emmie still moved him and he cursed himself for it. He was lost forever if he couldn't shake the gravitational pull she had on him, like he was a cold, lonely hunk of rock and she was the sun. It was in this burst of emotional recoil that he'd blurted out his question, meant simply as a friendly, "Oh, I didn't expect you here, what a nice surprise!" Instead, it was executed as an accusation of wrongdoing in which every issue between them—her secrecy, Sam, etc., was shot like a bullet through the room.

Emmie's smile fell and Trisha narrowed her eyes. He was a second away from what he was sure would be a brutal tongue lashing on Trisha's part when he managed to redeem himself. "That came out wrong. Completely. I'm just... winded from all the... robot conversing. What I meant to say is that I can't believe you would come all this way to see my talk and I'm deeply flattered." He contemplated reaching over to give her a friendly kiss on the cheek but didn't know how she'd take it. "I'm really glad you came – both of you. I just hope it didn't bore you."

Trisha shook her head and sighed, but her lips turned up into an amused grin. Just Ryker being Ryker – same oaf as always, she must be thinking. But it was Emmie's change of expression he was most interested in; her face glowed.

"Ryker, you have no idea how interesting all of it was – the whole talk, the demonstration with UMA. And the story you told about Mrs. Betty – did that all really happen? Poor woman!"

Trisha confirmed the incident. "I remember the whole town talking about it the day her daughter found her. She never made it back to the diner after that. Couldn't really get out of bed. So, Iola would pack lunches and bring them to her two or three times a week. She was a sweet woman. I wish she'd had an UMA in her life."

"Well at least she had her family. And you guys." Emmie's gaze focused on Ryker again. He shifted awkwardly. "I think it's wonderful, how that unfortunate situation propelled you to make something that would help people like her. You've done a good thing, Ryker."

"Yeah, underneath that ridiculous ego of his, my brother has had some shining moments."

"My ridiculous ego won't disagree with you. I often do shine." Ryker cleared his throat. "On another note, now that the TED talk is over, I'll, um... probably have a bit more time to come to Iola's for lunch, just like I used to."

The Entanglement Clause ✓Read this story for FREE!