Chapter 21 - Move on

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Joe had been pacing the floor since the minute Ella sent a text to say that she would come over. He didn't care about her seeing their apartment since it was no worse than where he had lived with Owen. It was the first time they would spend time together outside of the school and Joe wasn't sure he could refrain from kissing her.

Caleb watched him and shook his head. "Jesus man, you've got it so bad for my teacher. It's so weird that she's coming here." He paused and looked at his phone. "I'm gonna go out later."

"Where? I didn't know you had friends already."

"Some kids are heading to the beach to hang out. I've got a ride."

"Yeah with who?" Joe asked.

"A girl in my music class asked Ms. Burke about her. Her name is Gaby..."

"You can't drink and this girl who is driving can't drink..."

"You don't trust me."

"You've been in enough trouble. No sneaking around and no alcohol and drugs or whatever shit you were into," Joe hated feeling responsible for this kid every waking moment.

"I don't get high!"

"Okay, but I want you home by eleven and not a minute after. When are you going?"

"Not until later, I want to watch you grovel a bit. Maybe when I leave you'll get some."

Joe had no intention of getting some when he wasn't certain she would even let him kiss her. Even if he thought he might, he wasn't going to discuss it with his little brother.

Luckily the buzzer rang. Caleb jumped up and ran to the intercom. "Come on up," he called and press the button to release the door.

Joe was halfway down the stairs to meet her when he heard the door open. She looked up at him and he tensed as her face looked drawn. He smiled nonetheless and as he ushered her in the door, he heard her let out her breath as he touched her back. He was glad to see that his touch still calmed her.

"Hey, Ella... Ms. Burke," Caleb said.

"Hi Caleb, and Ella is fine as long as you remember not to say it at school."

"Am I supposed to be calling him Mr. Walch?" he asked as he scowled at Joe.

Ella looked at Joe and he could tell that she was trying hard not to laugh. Joe replied, "Damn straight and show me respect too. I can give you detention and ground you at the same time."

Caleb sighed, "It's okay if you don't like him anymore. He is a jerk."

Ella laughed, "Is this the way it is all the time with you too?"

Joe said, "Pretty much."

"You're worse than Ava and me."

Joe added, "He and Leah get into it too. I was going to order Chinese delivery if that works for you?"

Joe wanted to tell Caleb to go to his room, but he didn't want the kid to feel unwelcome in his own home.

"Caleb is going to the beach later with a girl. When I asked him to go with me, he swore at me!"

"Shit man, she's my teacher don't tell her I swear," Caleb exclaimed.

"I think you just did," Ella laughed. She made eye contact with Joe and smiled. Joe missed their private jokes and those moments when they would both think something was funny and catch each other's' eye.

"She's in your class. What's her name, Gaby?"

"Oh yeah, she has a great voice," Ella answered.

Caleb murmured, "I'm not listening to this..." He turned and retreated to his room.

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