Chapter 24 - A reaction

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It was a good thing that Ella hadn't been planning on going back to Joe's because Ava had decided that she would crash with her for the night. From the moment Ella stepped off stage, Ava had acted strangely. She repeatedly asked her how she was and at one point she even asked if there had been any surprises.

Ella assured her that it was a great performance with a large, responsive audience. "Not that it matters, because I can never see past the first row. I always know where you are, but often can't even see your faces."

Her answers were mostly true because the few times she tried to look toward Joe she couldn't see him. She didn't even notice when he left. Still, she felt like she sang better than ever knowing that he was in the audience. She was relishing the jolt she felt every time she remembered their morning together. Every day she thought less about the past and more about their future.

The future meant that she would eventually have to tell her family and the way Ava was acting she wasn't in a hurry to do so. She was certain that Ava wanted to protect her. She certainly had been emotional the first time she saw Joe. She winced thinking about when she slapped him.

When they woke Ella hoped that Ava would be done questioning her, but over coffee, she asked, "Do you still hear from Owen and Natalie?"

She answered truthfully, "No. I switched schools to avoid him, remember?"

Although Joe talked to his friend, they had not made an effort to get together with the other couple. Ella wasn't ready to revert all the way back to how things used to be. She accumulated a lot of resentment towards Owen and needed to let it go too.

Ava's excitement over moving back to Maine superseded her Joe sighting and Ella listened as she discussed her plans which included giving two-weeks-notice on her current position. Ava was the center of attention with the entire family as they gathered that afternoon.

Ella found herself sitting next to Granny who said, "You seem content. Did you think about our talk on forgiveness?"

She smiled and said, "I did. Thank you, Granny. I do feel a lot better."

She was careful not to lie to her grandmother although she certainly omitted the fact she had actually forgiven him. Uncle Nick sat down beside her and pulled her in for a hug. "Do you still like the new school?"

She loved her uncle. When she and Ava were little he used to spend a lot of time with them. He was the fun one that came and played and took them out on adventures. Even as they grew up that bond that was formed early hadn't broken. He would be fine with Joe once he determined that she wasn't going to get hurt again.

When her phone vibrated in her pocket she stood up and walked away to check who had texted her. It wasn't Joe and she felt disappointment wash over her. It was from Christa who was going out with Dylan again. She walked over to Tony who was in a spirited debate about video games with their cousin, Andrew.

"I'm going to be hearing a lot about Dylan tomorrow. They're going out again."

Tony replied, "Good... She's nice... just a bit intense."

"She deserves to find someone."

"You do too El," Tony whispered.

"I know..." She wanted to ask about his mystery girlfriend but refrained since she didn't want him prying into her love life.

Ella left not long after Ava who was driving back to Boston. She admitted to herself that it didn't take a lot of persuasion from Joe as she pressed the buzzer for his apartment. Once again Caleb greeted her.

"Great my teacher is sleeping over again!" Caleb exclaimed.

"If it bothers you..." Ella began.

"Ignore him! He's just trying to cause a reaction. He likes having you around."

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