On the HOURGLASS timeline, it occurs during the NOT kiss between Emerson and Michael at the Renegade House (which originally was a kiss), just after Michael kicks Kaleb out of the room (where Kaleb originally was) so he and Em can have some privacy.
I COVET YOUR COMMENTS. I'd really love to know what you think about Ava and/or Kaleb.
"I flew out of the room, my head barely missing a direct hit against the rails of the polished wood banister that led up the stairs.
Not that I blamed Mike. He obviously had some personal business to attend to. Business I couldn’t deny I’d like to be attending to myself.
I sat down on the second step up and dropped my head into my hands, closing my eyes. Emerson. She was like a tiny little firecracker, with an attitude to match. I’d never met anyone like her. I finally meet a girl who qualifies for more than a hook up and she’s taken.
By my best friend.
Not that I planned to do anything about it, except get over it. They were exactly like my parents, the same kind of obstacle shattering, all in, forever kind of love. I’d seen it my whole life. I just didn’t understand it.
The lock on the door to the common area clicked.
Time to go plug my laptop into my surge protector.
* * * * * * * * * *
As she turned the corner carrying a full load of laundry, Ava ran right into me. Clothes went everywhere. She gripped a plastic basket in her hands, her expression displaying her desire to hit me with it.
“I so do not need this right now.” Huffing out a breath, she dropped to her knees and gathered up what appeared to be a load of skimpy underwear.
“I’d offer to help, but that stuff looks kind of personal.” I drew the next word out to annoy her. “Kinky.”
“Oh shut up, Kaleb.” Scooping up a pink pair of thongs that were the exact same color of her cheeks, she stood up and balanced the basket on her hip. “You’d never help me do anything. Except maybe jump off a cliff.”
I’d never seen Ava embarrassed. Reassessing the situation, I took in her long legs, tiny blue shorts and even tinier tank top. By the time I got to her face it was full blown red. She’d been serious about putting the moves on Mike.
This was too easy, and the perfect way to take out my current frustrations. I’d rather be a lover than a fighter, but sometimes a good fight could meet a need that love never could.
“Oh Ava, I don’t know,” I said, “I can think of a couple of things I could help you do.”
“You’re such a jerk.”
“That really hurts.” I poked out my lips in a pout. She stood and tried to go around me, but I blocked her. “Now that Mike is off the market don’t you need a new man to spend your time on?”
Ava made a choking sound, disgust and shock fighting for control. “Have you been drinking again? Spending time on you ranks below any horrible thing I could imagine, including,” she stuttered, searching for the right ammunition, “g- g- gathering stool samples from every living species.”
“Do I rank below Jonathan Landers?”
Her breath caught in her throat. “Low blow.”
“I give as good as I get, sweetheart.”
Her dark brown eyes were so full of anger that I should have stopped, taken a moment to dissect it. I should have been paying attention.
“What have I ever done to you, Kaleb, to make you hate me so much?”
“You have to ask? You’re a princess. Everyone else is just here to serve.” I curled my upper lip in disgust. “We’re lucky we don’t need a license to breathe the same air as you.”
“I never …” Ava took a step back, dropping the whole basket this time. “I’ve never acted like a princess. I take care of myself – I don’t ask anyone else for help – I do it all on my own … take care of myself… I …” She crossed her arms over her chest, her breathing shallow, hitching as she tried not to cry.
Despair. What was going on inside her was terrifying, the nasty, black, hate-filled pockets of self-loathing, the empty spaces where fear and doubt took up residence.
I’d crossed a line. I’d only wanted to spar with her, not break her down. I stepped forward, my hands up in a symbol of surrender. “Look, I’m sorry –
“Get out of my way. Move!” She tried to push past me, smacking my chest with both hands. Neither one of us expected it, but the second she touched me we connected, her emotions running through me like ice cold water and burning flame. I reached up to grab her wrists and closed my eyes, holding on, taking it in.
I’d never felt anyone so broken.
I physically hurt. My chest constricted, my head ached, my stomach twisted in knots. I wondered fleetingly if she felt like this all the time. Dark, hopeless. Empty. Her voice broke into my thoughts.
“Stop.” She twisted frantically to break my grasp. Her voice was a whisper, begging. “Stop. Please, please let me go.”
I forced myself to loosen my fingers. I’d just violated her in the worst way I could imagine. She knew about my ability. From the way she was shaking she knew that I’d just seen inside her, all the way to the bottom of her soul."
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