Chapter 13 - Boston

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Ella couldn't wait to get out of town. Summer vacation had started two days before, but more importantly, the following day was Owen and Natalie's wedding. She imagined that Owen's best man was already in Maine drinking with him. The idea of Joe being so close constricted her chest and made her eyes sting. She drove out of town before a moment of weakness tempted her to search him out so she could practice her dramatic slap.

After stopping for Tony at his office building, Ella finally breathed when they were on the turnpike heading south - not that she didn't still think of Joe. She spent a good part of the drive wondering if maybe he was passing her on the northbound side. Tony sensed her mood and knew enough to keep quiet. She was about to snap at him when he plugged his phone into her aux cord, but the song that filled the air was from her set list so instead she began to sing. It calmed her and she turned to smile at him and he smiled back. Shit, the man is gorgeous, she admitted to herself.

Ella actually hoped that the weekend would be fun. She loved hanging out with Tony and Ava so she vowed to be optimistic as she crossed the Maine state line into New Hampshire. She amended her mental vision to Owen and Joe having a drink together. She imagined Owen telling Joe about her hot boyfriend. The question was would he feel a pang of jealousy or perhaps sadness that he let her go? She wasn't sure which she preferred, but the one thing she wouldn't want him to feel was indifference. He had said, I'll always love you, more than words.

"Fuck," she cursed under her breath.

"What's wrong?" Tony asked.

Ella didn't tell him anything about Joe and the wedding, but Tony was acting like he knew something was on her mind. Did he somehow figure it out? She hadn't even told him that Owen was Joe's friend.

"Nothing, I thought I might have forgotten something. It's not a big deal." She was good at lying, but the curse came out in frustration because she was close to tears again.

Traffic slowed as they got closer to the city. Ava lived in a neighborhood, called Brighton. Her apartment was small in the basement of a three-story house with one apartment on each level. The location was great because it was a bus ride away from the subway which would take them anywhere in Boston.

Ava was waiting for them when they arrived and after hugging Ella, she quickly hugged Tony. Ava was clearly excited to have company and rattled off a list of restaurants for dinner.

Tony spoke up and said, "You decide. We'll go anywhere right, El."

Ella felt Ava's scrutiny. She might be able to deceive the rest of her family, but Ava knew her too well. Ava had been comforting her for over a year and was smart enough to know that she wasn't going to just fall for Tony. Her sister had heard her pledge too often that she was never going to care about another man again.

"How about the best Chinese food ever?" Ava asked.

It was a beautiful warm summer night. Ella felt content as they walked the three blocks. The front of the restaurant didn't look impressive with a neon light flashing open. Ava explained, "It's cheap but delicious. Boston College kids come here."

Once inside the place was bigger than Ella expected and packed especially around the bar. They were told to wait and after about ten minutes they were escorted to a table in the corner of a rather dark room with Buddhas and various Chinese items on display.

Ella said, "Are you sure we're not going to get sick from this place."

Ava replied, "No, it just looks like a dive."

They ordered drinks. Ella's was sweet with an umbrella and as it went down easy, she began to feel even better. They let Ava order and when the food came, Ella was on her second drink. The table was covered with dishes and Tony insisted that they could only use chopsticks. Ava was much better than Ella who laughed every time she dropped the food before it reached her mouth.

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