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"Antonia, where are you my dear? I turned around and you disappeared?"
Ava almost groaned into the phone, "I'm just trying something on, I'll be right back down" she quickly said before hanging up.
Then she grabbed the coat and matching trousers and headed to the dressing rooms. In the dressing room Ava stood staring at herself in the mirror. She had briefly glanced at the price tag of the outfit she was wearing and still couldn't believe how expensive it was. Although she loved nice things, she was never one to splurge on clothing. However, she couldn't help but smile as she ran her hands down the material, loving the way it accentuated her curves. It certainly looked great on her but she quickly shook away the vain thoughts and changed back into her regular clothing.
She decided not to take the coat, settling instead for a few accessories and some perfume. At the counter, she stood to the side as Max flashed her a smile before pulling out his credit card. He had added a few more items to the ones she had already picked and as the clerk slowly scanned each item Ava realized that she didn't want any of it. Her eyes glazed over as she slipped deep in thought. She would have given anything to have another night like the one she had spent with Theo at the beach weeks ago; it was simple and fun and she hadn't laughed that much in a long time. Nothing could compare to it, not even a mini Chanel shopping spree.
Although she now had Theo's number, she hadn't had the courage to call him, unsure of what to say and how to play down the events that took place at the bar. Irregardless, he still plagued her thoughts day and night. That evening, Max took Ava to a Spanish art gallery. He was leaving soon to spend Thanksgiving with his ex-wife and children and wanted to see Ava as much as possible beforehand.
In an attempt to impress her, he began a long speech about the history of Spanish art. Ava nodded every few seconds, pretending to be enthralled by the information but her thoughts couldn't be further away. She missed Theo and for reasons she couldn't fully comprehend, desperately wanted to see him again. His jet black hair and striking blue eyes... the way his gaze pierced right through her rendering her vulnerable yet making her feel protected... Little did she know that outside, Theo sat waiting in the parking lot. He had been following them around all day for the purpose of taking more pictures as requested by Elias whose desire for revenge was quickly turning into a sickening cocktail of hatred and obsession. He had boosted their pay in return for more closeup shots of Ava and although Theo felt uncomfortable with the request, he couldn't exactly refuse for fear of raising suspicion.
Ever since Ava had unexpectedly stopped by the other night, he had felt extremely guilty about lying to his best friend. He had known Cairo since they were both 18. Their time in the military had brought them even closer and they had formed a bond that wasn't easily broken. Or so he thought. Ava was quickly proving to be the first real test to their friendship. They had been in the art gallery for so long that Theo was beginning to fall asleep. He glanced at the clock, 10:50 PM.
*OK, I'll just wait ten more minutes* he thought to himself, but the thought of his warm bed waiting at home made it all the harder to wait.
Just then he heard laughter and footsteps and out emerged Ava and Max.
Although it was dark, he still slid lower down the seat and held his breath until they had walked past him.
As Ava hugged Max goodnight Theo watched from the rear-view mirror. Then as Ava turned to leave Max grabbed her wrist, pulled her back and forcefully planted a kiss on her lips. Ava tried pushing him away but the more she tried the tighter he held her.
It took Theo every single ounce of self-restraint not to get out of his car and punch Max in the face. All he could do was sit there watching and growing increasingly angry. Ava soon gave up struggling and gave in but as soon as he loosened his grip she pulled away and hurriedly said her goodbyes before running back to her car, still shaking.
Max got into his car and drove off and as badly as Theo wanted to follow him, corner him and beat the lights out of him, he once again resisted the urge. The last thing he needed was to draw unwanted attention to himself or possibly get sent to jail for assault and need Cairo to bail him out. That would be a tricky one to explain he thought to himself.
"You are one lucky guy Max Baker" he muttered under his breath as he put his car into gear and drove home. A week later, Theo stood in the produce aisle of the grocery store staring intently at the choices. He had forced himself to drive down to the store after opening his fridge to find a half empty bottle of milk and a few rotting nectarines.
Often too busy to eat, he could normally get by on just coffee and toast but Thanksgiving being just around the corner inspired him to at least get a few decent items into his cupboards. As with all the other Thanksgivings in the past few years, it would once again be spent alone in front of the TV with a warm TV dinner in his lap, remote control in one hand and a cold drink in the other.
He had a sudden flashback to his childhood; laughter in the kitchen as he and his older brother James dipped their greedy little fingers into the freshly baked pumpkin pies, leaving noticeable dents. Then came the look of disapproval on their father's face followed quickly by a wink as he continued reading his newspaper.
As soon as they heard their mother's footsteps coming back from the pantry they would hide under the table, giggling uncontrollably. Back from fetching canned goods and humming as she carefully arranged them on the counter, their mother would then walk past the pies before doing a comedic double take and placing her hands on her hips loudly exclaiming "Dear! Do you know what happened to the pies? I think those two little mice have been at it again!"
The giggling under the table would intensify as their father denied knowing anything about it.
Their mother would then sigh loudly "Hmm, they must still be in here somewhere"
She would then slowly tip toe around the table before quickly bending down to lift the table skirting.
"Ah ha! I found them!"
Theo and James would squeal in delight as she grabbed their hands exposing their greasy fingers "Evidence!"
He found himself looking down at his hands and smiling before quickly shaking away the memory.
Meanwhile, in another section of the store, Ava hummed along to the music while looking through the meat section. The store had unsurprisingly ran out of Turkeys given that it was a small store and Thanksgiving was only days away. Sighing, Ava wondered where she would get one on such short notice, this was the only grocery store she knew in the area and often stopped by it on her way home from jogging. She wondered if it was even worth the effort; both Kelly and Lauren were spending the day with their 'dates' and Joshua was unreachable.
*Not that I would ever consider spending the day with Josh anyways* she thought to herself. After tossing a few items in the cart she turned to head to the check out counter just as Theo walked past.
Her heart immediately began racing and she smiled feeling like a schoolgirl with a crush. After placing his items on the counter Theo patted his pockets making sure he hadn't left his wallet in the car. Then he cleared his throat, waiting for the clerk to finish scanning the items.
Meanwhile, Ava pulled up behind him, eager to say hi.
He didn't hear her so she said his name again before taking a step forward and gently poking him in the arm.
Theo turned around and his face momentarily lit up before he regained control of his emotions again.
"Oh hey A- Antonia"
He swallowed hard, relieved at having dodged a bullet for he had almost called her by her real name.
Ava smiled "We bump into each other everywhere don't we?" she laughed "If I didn't know any better I'd think you were stalking me"
Theo smiled uncomfortably.
"So, are you ready for Thanksgiving?"
"I don't really celebrate it anymore..." replied Theo
"Oh I see" she said glancing over at his items.
"Excuse me sir, will that be cash or credit?" came the clerk's irritated voice.
"Well, I guess I'll see you around then. Enjoy the holiday" Theo quickly said reaching for his wallet as the clerk went to fetch plastic bags.
Ava opened her mouth to speak but he had already turned back around.
As he left the store he gave her a little wave and she half-smiled back, disappointed.
Theo quickly drove home, determined not to confront the emotions brewing inside him. On Thanksgiving day Ava woke up early, showered and put on her favorite dress. Then sat at her vanity table, staring at her reflection, she suddenly felt the crushing weight of her loneliness.
As always the house was silent and from her open windows came even more silence. The usual sound of cars zooming by was absent, everyone was home with family or loved ones. Except for her. She closed her eyes as unwanted memories threatened to take over. The holiday season never failed to remind her of her own family and the painful memories she wished she could forget. As she opened her eyes again her thoughts turned to Theo. As usual, thinking of him gave her much needed comfort
'I don't really celebrate Thanksgiving anymore' he had said at the grocery store. She had wondered all day what he had meant by that.
*Well, you're celebrating it today* she thought to herself with a smile as she pulled out her phone and dialed his number. Back from jogging, Theo was in his backyard about to take out the trash when his phone rang.
Not recognizing the number he stared blankly at the screen for a few seconds before picking up. "Hello?"
"Theo? It's Antonia"
His heart skipped a beat "Hey, how are you?"
Although he had given her his number, it hadn't been reciprocated.
Hearing her voice now made him feel simultaneously elated and guilty at the same time.
*Giving her my private number, what was I thinking?* was quickly overshadowed by *God I've missed hearing that voice*
He smiled "Thank you, same to you"
"Are you home?"
"Well then I'd like to invite you to spend Thanksgiving with me... if you don't have other plans of course" she added
Theo was slightly surprised, he had assumed she would be spending the day with Lauren and Kelly.
He thought about it for a few seconds, weighing the options. It would be easy to come up with an excuse but on the other hand Cairo was back in Arizona spending Thanksgiving with his family and this lessened the risk.
"I'll be right over" he finally said.
An hour later, the doorbell rang and Ava rushed to let Theo in.
As soon as their eyes met, they both smiled.
Ava knew she was blushing and blushing hard so she was glad when he rolled up his sleeves and offered to help her out in the kitchen. She gladly led the way, needing a welcome distraction from the excitement of seeing him again.
Theo immediately got to work cutting up vegetables for the salad and side dishes. Ava stared at the Turkey she had left to defrost on the counter overnight. It had taken her ages to find a store that still had them in stock. Hearing Theo chop vegetables in the background made her glad she hadn't given up. As Theo finished chopping and set to work boiling some corn she gently massaged the Turkey with oil before stuffing it with her homemade apple and herb stuffing. Then she garnished it with spices... And placed it in the baking pan before sliding it into the oven.
Then they sat chatting in the living room, taking turns checking on the Turkey. A few hours later the meal was ready and placed on the table. The house was filled with a delicious melange of aromas; freshly baked bread rolls, roasted Turkey and Pecan pies cooling on the counter.
"We did a pretty good job" mused Ava, "My mouth's watering already"
"Well, let's get started then" Theo said standing up and reaching for the knife "May I do the honors?"
She smiled up at him "of course"
He sliced generous portions of Turkey before heading back to the kitchen and piling her plate with freshly mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and green beans before placing it on the table in front of her.
He flashed her a smile and picked up a plate to serve himself.
"Mmm it's delicious"
Theo nodded in agreement, the tastes bringing back more nostalgic childhood memories. He didn't push them away this time.
Ava's apple and herb stuffing tasted just like his mother's and he nearly teared up from the emotion.
He gazed at Ava between bites, glad he had accepted her invitation. Although he would never admit it to himself, it would have been hard to spend yet another Thanksgiving alone haunted by memories.
After clearing the table, they grabbed their drinks and went up to the sitting room to chat some more. It was starting to get dark as the day came to a close and outside the street lamps slowly lit up one by one. Ava was insatiably curious about Theo, much to his chagrin for he wasn't the best liar.
However he gave her his well rehearsed undercover story. He was a building contractor and had moved from Arizona to work on a few projects in Miami. The part about him being born and raised in Arizona was true but everything else that came out of his mouth was a carefully constructed lie.
Ava looked him up and down again, smiling to herself. He certainly didn't look the part of a contractor she thought. In turn she fed him her own undercover story as he nodded, gazing past her into the distance. A gust of wind flew in through the window, ruffling his hair and he briefly closed his eyes.
They had both had a little too much to drink and he was starting to feel the effects. His face was growing hot and he was struggling to stay focused.
Ava got up to close the window, her head was beginning to spin but she was still in control of her movements. She smiled, looking over her shoulder at Theo, "I think I had one glass too many"
"Same" replied Theo, then as he was about to stand up to thank her for the evening Ava's phone rang.
Ava pulled the window shut before looking down at the screen. It was Josh.
"One second" she told Theo before walking to another room.
"Hey, just wanted to check on you, I know you're spending the day alone. Is everything ok?"
"Yea, everything's fine" Ava said with lowered voice.
"Want me to come over? I'm in the area, if you need company"
"No don't be silly. I finished eating and I'm just about to get into bed" she lied.
"So soon?... Well ok then, suit yourself. Just wanted to be nice..."
"I appreciate it"
"Well... goodnight then"
Ava hung up, skeptical of Joshua's intentions. She dismissed the conversation as a case of him being bored and headed to her bedroom to freshen up and reapply her makeup. When she walked back into the sitting room she couldn't help but smile at the sight of Theo, head tossed back and asleep in the chair, soft whistling noises escaping his lips.
She stood there smiling for a few minutes before slowly walking over to him. "Hey" she whispered, leaning over him "Time to wake up"
"Mmm?" came his confused reply as his eyes shot open. Looking up he saw her face smiling down at him and his own lips curled into a smile.
It was a mix of drowsiness and the effects of the nectar that made him reach up and touch her face. His fingers gently combed through strands of her hair, pushing it away from her face.
"So beautiful" he whispered.
Ava, head spinning and heart racing, stood frozen in place before gently stroking his cheek.
Then as if pulled back into reality, Theo pulled his hand away, leaned forward and stood up to face her.
Ava didn't say anything, instead trying to catch his gaze but he refused to look her in the eye. "It's ok" she finally whispered.
Their eyes briefly met before he looked away again.
"Well, I better get going... it's-"
"late" she finished his sentence for him.
He cleared his throat "yea"
There was a moment of silence.
"What if I don't want you to go?"
Theo looked up, stunned.
"Stay" she whispered.
His eyes searched her face, she looked so incredibly sad that he couldn't help but reach out and take her hands into his. He squeezed them gently, noticing their softness and warmth.
She stepped closer and leaned against him, her head resting against his shoulder and his heart began beating so fast he could hardly stay upright. They stood like that for a few seconds before he simply had to sit down. His legs were getting weak. As he sat back down he pulled her along with him, lifting her up and onto his knees and holding her close. As he gazed into her eyes, he realized he had never wanted to kiss anyone more than in that moment. He desperately wanted to kiss away the sadness on her face, desperately needed to feel her closer to him. Ava, arm wrapped around his shoulders, leaned in closer. She gazed longingly at his lips before finally leaning in all the way. Their warm lips pressed against each other, softly and carefully at first... Then the kiss quickly grew hungrier, more passionate. They were both gasping for breath by the time Ava pulled away. She re-positioned herself so that she was straddling him then she tugged at his shirt, prompting him to pull it off and toss it on the ground in one swift movement. She smiled, running her hands down his chest before holding his face in her hands and leaning in for another kiss. A few minutes later, still kissing, he picked her up, her legs firmly wrapped around his torso. They managed to make their way to the bedroom where he gently dropped her on the bed. Ava kicked off her heels and scooted further up the bed as he removed his shoes as well. Then he leaned over her and she wrapped her arms around him once again. They stayed like that for a few seconds, him looking down lovingly at her and she smiling back.
"Kiss me" she finally whispered. He didn't need to be asked twice... Soon they were under the covers, breathing heavily, lost in the throes of passion... When Ava opened her eyes the next morning, Theo was already awake and looking at her.
"Good morning" he said with a smile.
"Morning" she said shyly, sinking lower into the sheets, a smile forming on her lips.
No Angels Here- Chapter 7
Oct 21, 2011 by rosenoire87
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