"NOW we chop the apples." Ava mumbled to herself. The radio was on low in the background so her hips swayed to the music. She never thought she was the best dancer so made sure nobody was in the kitchen before moving her body to the soft beat.
Lucas had dropped her off at his house before going back to school for his football game. She hadn't been to any of his games before because he said it was too dangerous. The crowd would often get wild when cheering their team on so he didn't trust that Ava would be safe there. She told him she'd enjoy it but knew that deep inside, she would just want to go home. Crowds weren't her thing, surrounded by loud noises and people getting aggressive. She would've wanted to support Lucas though.
Bored with nothing to do, she decided to bake something as she hadn't done for a while. When she was home schooled, there had been much more time to bake tasty treats for Lucas but now, she barely had anytime to sleep with all the homework and stress from surprise quizzes.
She had also stayed awake thinking about the person who killed Lucas' mother. Veronica. It was the same name as her mothers. She remembered faintly that Veronica would be the name on their bills or who the neighbours called. The coincidence was weird to her and whenever she thought too hard about it, a painful headache grew, forcing her to have much happier thoughts.
Putting the apple slices in the ovenproof dish, she heard laughter and voices come through the door. Some girls, around the same age as her, walked in with smiles on their faces and bags of shopping on their arms. Ava recognised them as some of the girls that lived in the house with Lucas. His father was friends with a lot of people and rented rooms to them as the house was clearly big enough for many. They were all really nice to her but would never go out of their way to be friends. Or maybe they do but I'm just awkward and can't understand how friends are made.
"Hi Ava!" One of them said. Ava remembered her name was Jess.
The rest greeted her too so Ava paused baking and waved shyly, returning the hello.
"Whatcha' making?" Olivia eyed the food. People always did like her baked goods.
"Apple crumble. It's Lucas' favourite." She responded with a toothy smile, already excited thinking about his reaction.
The girls awed at how sweet she was. They didn't make it a secret that they thought Ava and Lucas would be a cute couple and whenever she ran into any one of them, a conversation about their relationship status would slip in.
"I'm sure he'd love it. We've just been shopping." Olivia smiled warmly at Ava but was forced to fake hers a little. Sometimes she wished she had some girl friends that would go shopping with her. Lucas would go but it wouldn't be the same as going with a group of girls that can tell you if the outfit looks terrible and what the latest trends are. Sometimes some female advice was desired but Ava couldn't do anything about it. She'd try to make female friends but then realise she enjoyed her time with Lucas a whole lot more.
"You look like you had fun." Ava replied, gesturing to the many shopping bags of different brands.
The girls nodded. "Yeah we did. You should come with us next time."
"Absolutely." Ava knew that she wouldn't.
They grabbed some water bottles out of the fridge and walked upstairs giggling. Letting out a sigh, Ava carried on making her apple crumble but just as the group of people left, Miss Lillian walked in to spot Ava.
"Ava my lovely. What are you making today?" The elderly lady put her hand on Ava's shoulder and kissed her head.
"Lucas' favourite!" She beamed at Miss Lillian, happy to see her.
"How wonderful. Mind if I help?" When Ava shook her head, they got the crumble mix ready.
Ava took the silence as an opportunity to get some more information. "May I ask you something Miss Lillian?"
"Of course dear. What is it?"
There was hesitation when Ava questioned whether it would be ok for her to ask but then decided on asking anyway. "What was Lucas' mother like?"
Miss Lillian spilt some of the flour on the counter from shock but quickly wiped it up with a cloth. She didn't expect a question regarding the late Mrs. Wells all of a sudden. Ava knew she shouldn't have mentioned her from the forlorn look on the dear woman's face and was about to apologise when Miss Lillian started saying, "she was such a wonderful person. A wonderful wife, mother and friend. Her death was the most unfortunate thing."
"It wasn't an accident though was it? Lucas said she was murdered. By a woman called Veronica?" Ava knew she was pushing her luck as she spoke. It was a sensitive topic and she knew she'd only be allowed to say so much.
The surprise on Miss Lillian's face was clear as day. Ava worried that the information was supposed to be a secret but luckily, the thoughts were stopped.
"I didn't think Lucas had told you." Her eyebrows raised in astonishment.
"Yeah it was a few days ago. I can't stop thinking about it." Ava told her quietly, almost ashamed of herself for being so curious. She couldn't help but want to know more. It felt like a mystery that she needed to solve.
"It was such a strange thing the murder. We had no idea. She was such a sweet girl but situations changed and it made her do things I'm sure she regrets now." She listened eagerly to the information as Miss Lillian explained. "I raised that girl like I raised Lucas. It's such a shame it all turned out like this." Miss Lillian shook her head slowly, looking into the distance with disappointment. She snapped out of whatever trance she was in and painted a smile on her face for Ava. "But, it's all in the past now."
Ava nodded in understand and put the apple crumble in the oven. Miss Lillian declared she was going to get started on dinner so of course, Ava offered another pair of hands but that was all that was said for the next few minutes. Wanting to break the deafening silence, Miss Lillian asked how school was going.
"It's alright." She shrugged. "I feel like I want to sleep all the time though." It wasn't even that she had to wake up early and come home late that made her sleepy. It was just the atmosphere in school where she'd see students sleeping in lessons and the teacher's monotone voice that would drain her completely.
"That's understandable." Miss Lillian turned to face her, her expertly chopping the potatoes on pause. "I hope that Ruby girl isn't bothering you anymore. I know I'm not Lucas but I've still got some fight in me." Ava giggled when she put her wrinkled hands into fists and stood in a fighting stance, although the elderly lady's face was completely serious.
"Oh no. It's fine. Lu Lu scared her off." Ava felt a little embarrassed that she needed saving. She could fight perfectly well with all the lessons that Lucas would give her but she just hated to use her fists against someone. Even if they deserve it.
Ruby and her group hadn't gotten in trouble with the principle or the police because Ava didn't want to press charges, no matter how much Lucas protested against the absurd idea. She didn't want to drag out the matter and felt there was no need since he had definitely scared her from ever talking to Ava again. Maybe even traumatised the little gang too.
"That's good. If anyone can protect you it's Lucas." Ava hummed knowing it was true. "So, been to see Joe recently?" Miss Lillian was meant to sound casual but Ava's eyes widened before a suggestive smirk danced on her lips.
"Yeah. We went to get ice cream yesterday and saw him." The maids eyes were focused on cooking a casserole, avoiding Ava's gaze. "He actually mentioned you."
Miss Lillian turned to her and saw an innocent smile on the girl. Ava was helping to cook but she was waiting for Miss Lillian to pry for details. It was quite a shock that she and Joe may have a crush on each other but after a thought, she realised how perfect they would be together. Lucas thought so too but was no where near as invested in match making as Ava was.
The cooked in silence with the music still in the background before Miss Lillian couldn't take it anymore and gave in. "What did he say?" She may pretend she wasn't interested by Ava saw straight through. The blush as she asked the question was evidence of that.
"He was wondering when you'd stop declining his dinner offers." Ava told her.
Miss Lillian grimaced. "I don't know dear."
"Do you like him?" The grin on Ava's face was wide as she looked at the woman with curiosity.
Shyly, she nodded but groaned, squeezing her eyes shut. "Gosh I'm too old for this. I shouldn't even be thinking about dating at my age. I haven't even considered it after Arthur passed away."
Ava's face fell and quickly reassured her. "No! It's never too late and you're definitely not too old. You've spent so much time alone and Arthur would've wanted you to move on. I know he would. You should pursue this and give Joe a chance. You both deserve happiness."
Arthur was who Miss Lillian was married to when she was much younger. She was even pregnant with a baby girl but when Arthur died due to a car crash, she had lost the baby due to the stress. She often said she imagined her daughter to have grown up to be just like Ava.
Miss Lillian gave her a wobbly smile, her eyes filling with tears a little, before hugging the small girl tightly. "Thank you dear. I love you so much. Maybe I will give it a chance."
They pulled away from each other and Ava fought the temptation to fist bump the air. Yes! I totally ship those two!
After a short while, the casserole was cooking nicely when the oven timer went off. Ava nervously opened the oven door, hoping for a perfectly baked apple crumble. Just as she did so, a sweaty topless Lucas walked through the door only to fall back as the smell hit him.
"Oh my gosh. That smell. Heaven just smacked me in the face and called me an angel." Ava giggled at him, briefly glancing over his bare torso, his gym bag hanging over his shoulder.
He dropped his bag on the floor and took an exaggerated sniff before striding towards Miss Lillian and giving her a kiss on the cheek, much to her annoyance as she complained about the sweaty boy. Ignoring her, he reached over to Ava and placed his large hands on her hips to spin her around.
"Lu Lu stop." She laughed as he smiled widely at her.
He placed her down but kept his hands on her hips. Her's were lightly placed on his chest, despite the shiny sheen. Does he not have a towel?!
"Hi baby." He whispered, his husky voice suddenly making Ava aware of how hot the room was.
She mumbled a hi and hugged him but immediately regretted it from the sweat. She made a face and pushed him away. "Ew. Gross. Take a shower."
A mischievous smiled played on his lips as he wiggled his eyebrows. Suddenly, Ava was crushed in a hug and smothered in his chest. She cringed away but giggled as he laughed. "This will teach you to push me away!"
Miss Lillian hit him on the shoulder with a kitchen towel. "Leave the poor girl alone Lucas." She reprimanded him but the smile didn't go unnoticed.
He waved her off and kept his eyes on Ava, who jumped up suddenly, remembering the apple crumble. "Guess what!" She didn't wait for him to respond as she said, "I made apple crumble!"
The dish was presented to him and Ava swore he had never looked happier. "That looks so good baby. I can't believe you made this."
"Lu Lu, you got a bit of drool." She trailed off, pointing to the corner of his mouth.
"I can't help it baby. It smells amazing. Thank you." He whispered with a voice full on awe.
She stood on her tip toes and kissed his cheek. "You're welcome. Miss Lillian helped."
"Oh no dear. This is all you. And Lucas, no dessert until after dinner." She told him, much to his and Ava's disappointment.
He groaned and pleaded, "oh please! Just one little slice."
Not being able to resist Lucas' puppy dog eyes, Miss Lillian gave in, to which he cheered and immediately cut a slice for him and Ava.
"Why are you so happy today? Game went well?" Ava asked him curiously. They sat on the sofa with her on his lap sideways. He was holding Ava while she held a plate of apple crumble and fed spoonfuls of the dessert to him, giving herself some too.
He rubbed circles on her thigh with his thumb and shook his head. "It went terrible. We lost because of those newbies thinking they know everything. They didn't listen to anything anyone told them and didn't work as a team at all. Everyone was annoyed and it was just bad overall. Stupid idiots." Ava offered him another spoonful, which he took happily.
"But this was such a good day." She looked at him in confusion. "How can it not be? I came home, ready to be all angry, when I was met with the most amazing sight. A beautiful girl baking my favourite dessert in one of my shirts, welcoming me home after a hard day. You in general just makes me so happy."
Ava hid her face in his chest so he didn't see her blush rising. "I don't understand why you like me in your shirts so much." She muttered.
He pinched her sides, making her squeal loudly. "You just look so darn adorable." Lucas said in a weird voice that made Ava laugh. This was definitely a good day.
Thank you for reading!
Some people don't like Ava, which is fine, but if you don't like one of the main characters, I can only imagine how annoying the book is going to be for you.
So you really don't have to read it and you really shouldn't force yourself to because that's not helping anyone.
Anyway, I'm craving some apple crumble right now. *sighs dreamily*
It's so hot where I live so I'm actually melting. Help me.
Much love <3