2 | Metamorphosis

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It had begun to drizzle when the plane touched down at Reagan National Airport

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It had begun to drizzle when the plane touched down at Reagan National Airport.

Ominous gray storm clouds loomed off in the distance, promising a downpour in the near future. The small screen on the headrest in front of me proclaimed that the current temperature outside was a sweltering ninety-three degrees, an average number for D.C. in August, and also what turned a little bit of rain into a massive thunderstorm. Those summer storms were one of the things I missed desperately upon moving to LA, since the rolling thunder and bright cracks of lightning had always managed to lull me to sleep at night.

It was comforting to see that first bright strike splash across the sky as I strolled through the terminal, though I was glad I hadn't been stuck in the air during the storm. However, when I turned away from the windows and began my trek towards the baggage claim where my father was supposed to be waiting for me, any sense of calm instantly disappeared and reality set in.

Gone was the dry heat and drama of LA. Gone was my mother and the home I'd lived in for the past seven years. And gone was Lia Colton-Avilla, the girl I had become upon moving there.

This was my chance for a fresh start, to be Taliana Avilla again, just as I had been so many years ago. I'd been wanting that back for so long, but now that I was here, I wasn't so sure anymore.

I didn't linger on the subject for fear that I would turn around and get on the next flight back to LA, but I wasn't a wimp. I could do this.

At least, that's what I hoped.

With a heavy sigh, I adjusted the strap of my carry-on bag on my shoulder and trudged forward, scanning the crowd for the familiar face of my father, a task that was easily done.

Charles Avilla looked exactly as I remembered. He still sported the same meticulously combed back dark hair, a jaw that could have cut steel, and calculating ice blue eyes that I had snagged from the gene pool. I almost laughed at the fact I'd been worrying for the entire flight that I wouldn't be able to recognize him, but now all those doubts had flown out the window.

My pace quickened in an attempt to get to him, gently nudging people out of my way as I went. It wasn't until I was a few feet away that I managed to catch his eye. The look was fleeting, but he did a double take soon after.

"Talia?"

The laugh I'd been holding back finally surfaced when I reached him, stopping a foot or so away. "It's me, Dad."

"My God, kiddo," he breathed out. "You look so much like your mother."

A smile finally broke out across his face, the corners of his eyes crinkling, the only indication of his true age. Before I could even comprehend what was happening, he pulled me to him in a bone crushingly tight hug and the familiar scent of his cologne flooded my nose.

I hesitated briefly before bringing my arms up as well and hugging him back, my own shock slowly fading. It felt like an eternity before he pulled away, his grin wider than before.

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