Chapter 27 - Your secret

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Joe paced the apartment alone and eventually texted Caleb.

Joe: Going out. Be home by 11

Caleb: You better beg. You don't deserve her.

He wanted to tell him off, but he was right. Joe didn't deserve her. He never had, but that didn't stop him from wanting her. He had never been to her apartment but she had told him where it was. He needed to convince her that he was her soft place and not to push him away.

Ella had no choice but to let Ava in. She knew her sister and she would never just give up.

Ava's eyes scanned Ella taking in her sweatpants and oversized t-shirt. It was Joe's but Ava wouldn't know that. Her eyes lingered on the ice cream. When she finally spoke she said, "What's he done to you?"

"What? Like you don't know."

"You can pretend and lie, but I know the truth. I know that Joe Walch is back and working at your school."

"So..." Ella didn't want to talk about Joe. She wanted to talk about Ava and Tony.

"So that man broke you and now you have to see him at work."

"How do you know that he's back?"

"Because I googled him. You've been acting strange and then I saw him and you lied to me last week so I googled him."

"Maybe I've been acting strange because you've been lying to me!" Ella was angry.

"What?"

So she could google Joe, but Ella wasn't smart enough to know about her and Tony.

"I know you're the mystery girlfriend. How long have the two of you been lying to me? Since September at least..."

"Joe Walch told you, didn't he? You've known for over a month?"

"No, he kept it from me too. He finally told me this week because I was upset that Tony was staying for a girl that was too good to want to meet me. You're my sister and he's my best friend. You lied to me... both of you."

"You were too fragile. I didn't want to hurt you," Ava admitted.

"Too late you did. So what you moved back because of Tony?"

"Yeah, but I was ready to come back anyway. I never planned to stay away from Maine forever."

Ella remembered Tony telling her that his girl would never move away from her family. He compared his girlfriend to Ella in that way.

'How long have you two been together?" Ella asked trying to remember when Tony first mentioned having a girlfriend.

"We learned we both had feelings that weekend that you came to visit me..."

Ella remembered that restless night when she had drunk too much. She kept hearing voices. They weren't just having small talk.

"El, you were a wreck that weekend. You were so vulnerable... We couldn't tell you."

"You didn't think I'd be happy for you?"

"Well, you obviously aren't..."

"Jesus Ave, you lied to me, both of you, and then Joe joined in by keeping your secret."

"Speaking of Joe... Why is he back and why are you talking to him?" Ava asked.

"He's divorced. He came back for me..."

"So you both got a job at the same school?"

"No that was a coincidence. No one was more shocked about that than me. He had shown up at my gig and I slapped him. Then a few days later he was walking the halls. He didn't know that I left Sebago, no one did."

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