Chapter 28- Assets

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When Joe woke with Ella in his arms he pulled her closer. He didn't want to wake her, but remembering how he had felt her pulling away from him, he needed her close. How did he ever survive months without her when three days almost killed him? Some days he felt ready to go out and buy her the ring that was a year and a half overdue and others he was petrified of Tim Burke. Ella was convinced that her father would come around, but Joe was skeptical.

When Joe came out of his shower, he heard Ella talking to Caleb.

"Hey what's the deal with you and Gaby?"

"No deal... why?"

"I don't know... You're always going to her house, but in my class, you two never talk."

"We talk some. We're friends... I guess."

"I thought you were going out..."

"What is this... an interrogation? She's got some other guy."

"But..."

"I'm not answering." Turning to Joe, he asked, "Did you get all that?" Then he retreated to his room.

Joe looked at Ella and said, "I don't get it."

"Neither do I. Why is he there all the time?"

"One more thing for me to worry about... Caleb and your father."

"Speaking of my father, I want to be there when Ava makes her announcement. Maybe I'll pick up some pointers."

"El honey, I don't think Ava and Tony are anything like us. Seriously haven't you said that everyone loves him."

"Yeah, but..."

"But? Go if you want."

Joe had no intention of keeping Ella from her family no matter what the reason.

When Ella arrived at the house, Ava eyed her and whispered, "Why are you here?"

"To support you of course..." Ella said sounding quite innocent. "Where is Tony?"

"He's telling Uncle Michael."

"Oh..." If anyone has a concern it would be Michael only because he could face some blame for introducing them. His family never liked Clare so they may not be happy about her niece.

Ella's arrival meant Julie's attention was focused on her as her mother assessed her. Ella knew that she was worried about her. Would finding out about Joe make her worry more or less?

The family was having a casual lunch. Granny was there since the lake house had been closed for the winter. Julie was smiling most likely because it wasn't often that both of her daughters were home at the same time, except on Sundays when the house was full.

"Did you girls have a nice night?" Julie asked.

Ella momentarily forgot that Ava had told their mother that she was staying over. Ella smiled at Ava knowing that her own night was perfect as she and Joe made up for her foolishness that week.

When neither responded, she asked, "Did you girls stay up all night talking?"

Ella replied, "Yeah, talking..."

Ava rolled her eyes and was most likely wishing that Ella wasn't there.

"El dear, are you singing tonight?" Ella nodded and Julie turned to Ava. "Will you be cheering your sister on?"

"Tony and I are planning on going," Ava confirmed.

"It's nice that he's a good friend to both of you," Julie said.

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