I hope everyone enjoys this. I had major writers block and the only reason this chapter is even finished is because of TheCelticOne. She (I am assuming you are a girl, if you aren't take no offense, just let me know and I'll change this :) was extremely helpful and is entirely to thank for this chapter. Go give her some love people. Enjoy.
"What is that insistent buzzing noise?" Ezra's voice was the first thing I heard the next morning.
"What do you-," I opened my eyes slowly and started to respond groggily, but my phone vibrated again. "It's my phone," I told him.
"Can you just shut it off?" he asked from behind his pillow, which his head was currently buried under. I quickly reached over him and grabbed the device from the nightstand.
Sliding my thumb over the screen to unlock it, the missed calls page came up immediately. The recording I had received was from Hanna, and I could feel my face pale as I listened to it.
"Ezra, get up. We have a problem." My tone made him uncover his head and as soon as he caught my expression he grasped how serious I was being.
"What is it?" he questioned, fully awake now and pushing himself into a sitting position with concern printed across his features.
I pushed the replay option when it was offered and put my phone on speaker.
Hanna's voice came through loud and clear, "Hey it's me, I have something to tell you, and I wanted to meet up in person, but you won't answer any of my phone calls and you need to hear this, like, right now. I overheard my mom talking on the phone to someone about you. She was saying that she had passed you on the highway on her way to Philly last weekend. She said that Mr. Fitz was driving and you were sitting next to him, laughing. She would have waved , but she couldn't catch your attention. You need to be more careful Aria. Do you know how badly this would have turned out if you had, say, kissed him, while my mom was watching! Like I said, Mom was on the phone but she turned around and saw me before I could figure out who was on the other line. Please get back to-," then my phone had cut her off mid-sentence.
Ezra's eyes had never left the phone throughout the entire message but when the beep sounded, signifying the end, his face instantly turned stare at me. When he did, he caught his first look at my face. I wasn't holding back tears exactly, but they were there, just a burning sensation in my eyes. I wiped my eyes angrily, stupid betraying tears. The truth was that I was afraid. I climbed over Ezra and off the bed; I needed to pace.
"It didn't sound like Mrs. Marin suspected anything, but what if…," my voice trailed off, the strange way Mrs. Hastings had behaved around me coming to mind. "What if Ashley wasn't the only one who saw us last weekend? It would totally explain why Mrs. Hastings was acting so weird on Monday night."
"Hey, hey, Aria, it's going to be fine. Let's not jump to conclusions, okay? The chances that Mrs. Hastings saw us are extremely thin, and we don't even know if Hanna's mom suspects anything." Ezra had stood up and hugged me, forcing me to stand still, to calm down. "I wouldn't let anyone hurt you, I promise."
I sighed as I looked up at him, blinking back tears again "but what about you? Anyone of them could ruin your reputation," Ezra just smiled down at me endearingly.
"If something were to happen and we were discovered and ridiculed, I would want the blame to fall on my shoulders." He sat me back onto the bed before kneeling in front of me. "I vowed to you that I would never let anyone, including myself, hurt you, and I will keep that promise until I die," he said. Afterwards he joined me on the bed and wrapped me up in his arms again.
A comforting silence settled over us then and seemed to stretch endlessly. But, of course, when Ezra's alarm clocked starting blaring, the magic was broken. His arms constricted tightly around my body one last time before, still holding me, he swung off the bed, set me on my feet, then promptly leading me into the bathroom with him, saying, "I think we still have time for a much needed shower before school," with a wink, as we went.
I pulled into the school parking lot just before Ezra, which wouldn't mean anything to anyone. Of course, they didn't know I had just spent the night in his apartment. After circling for a few minutes trying to find a parking spot in the student lot and seriously considering breaking the rules and parking in the teacher lot, I spotted an empty space next to Hanna's red Toyota Camry and realized the girls were standing there, holding it for me.
As I pulled into the space, Hanna immediately ran up to my still closed door, asking through the window, "did you get my message? Please say you did?"
I reached behind me to grab my bag, and Hanna impatiently as ever, ripped my door open and said, directly into my ear, "answer me, woman!"
"Yes, I got your message and while I overreacted at first, Ezra talked some sense into me eventually. I'm sure it's nothing to worry about," I reassured her. Hanna was about to reply but the warning bell rang, cutting her off.
"A dozen eggs or half a dozen?" I asked myself while standing in the diary aisle at the grocery story. I was currently in the process of completing the promise I made Ezra about buying him food. After another moments thought I placed the carton of a dozen eggs in the cart and pushed it to my next stop.
It was in the bread aisle that I overheard two women, moms most likely, discussing their summer plans.
My mind drifted as the afternoon sun shone through the blinds, creating slates on my bare skin. Ezra's fingertips traced nameless patterns across my exposed stomach and thighs. The warmth of the sun made my body feel groggy, but just as I was drifting off Ezra's voice reached my ears.
"What are your plans for the summer," he asked, the question catching me off guard.
"I don't know. Do you have any ideas?" was my grumbled response. The hand on my thigh stopped moving as he considered how to answer.
"I was thinking that we could maybe go and see my family?" It came out of his mouth like a question and I could feel the nervous tension radiating off his body. Did he honestly think I didn't want to meet his family? Not that I wasn't terrified by the idea...
"I think that is a great idea."
"Really?" his shocked tone almost hurt, but the boyish excitement that leaked into his voice smoothed my feelings over. "I can't wait for you to meet them. They'll love you." I had my doubts about that last statement, but I didn't want to ruin the moment by expressing my concerns.
I grabbed a loaf of bread off the shelf and started walking towards the register. Ezra and I had decided to go and visit with his family two weeks after my graduation on June 9th. By that time I need to have either told my parents the truth or come up with one huge lie to explain away my absence. Both options looked grim.
"Aria? What are you doing here?"
"Shit," I muttered under my breath. Speaking of parents, I turned to face my mother. "Hey Mom."
"Hello Honey." Mom glanced down at my full cart, "Did Mike eat you out of the house again? I swear, I don't know where he puts it."
"Uh, yeah, something like that." I smiled awkwardly at my mom waiting for her to leave.
The silence expanded until it was almost unbearably. Finally, I cleared my throat and stated, "well, I have to get going. I'll see you later, Mom. Love you," before walking away.
I turned into an open register, but just before I disappeared behind the rack, I glanced back to look at my mom. She was standing there, just standing there, in the middle of the main aisle. People pushed around her, but her gaze remained fixed on me. I shot her a look, but she continued to stare at me. At last, the employee manning the register caught my attention and impatiently waved me forward. I looked back just in time to see my mother's shoes vanish behind a tortilla chips display. A sick feeling slithered its way into my stomach, making me wish that I had never turned back to look at Ella. The expression on her face was one of curiosity and frustration, but most importantly, it was filled with suspicion.
My mom suspected something was up with me, and knowing her, she would try and investigate. Probably involve Dad, which was the last thing I needed. I could already feel the onslaught of a migraine building in my head, so I quickly paid for the groceries and headed to my car.
Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I knew that going to Ezra's apartment was risky for more than a few reasons, one being that I had just spent the night there and I needed to go home so as to not raise anyone suspicions, or at least not raise them anymore than they already were. But a larger part of me was screaming, painfully loud, to screw it. So I did.