Saturday afternoon, Danny approached his dad as he made lunch.
“Dad, can I ask you a question?”
“Yes, Danny. Is everything alright?” Edmund asked glancing over at his son.
“Yeah, everything’s fine. I just wanted to ask you a question about you and Ava.” He said. Edmund paused before slowly continuing to cut the lettuce.
“What’s your question?” He asked after a moment.
“Do you like her, Dad? I thought Katie was just daydreaming but you two seem to be spending more and more time together as the days go by.” Danny said looking at his feet.
“Of course, I like Ava, I see her as a dear friend of mine.” Edmund said rinsing the lettuce off.
“No, not like that, I mean in a different way. As in um..”
“Are you asking if I feel the same way about her as you feel about Lucas?”
“Daaad. I mean, yeah, but you didn’t have to say it like that.” Danny whined. Edmund softly chuckled at his gay disaster of a son before leaning against the counter.
“Well…..do you?” Danny asked after regaining himself. Edmund was quiet for a moment, deep in thought.
“I certainly feel more for her than any of my other friends, but since we just met last week, it is too early to tell.” he explained.
“Maybe you two could go out and do something together. Go out for coffee or go out to eat. Maybe watch a movie together or something like that.” Danny said. Katie ran into the kitchen.
“That’s it! We could have a movie night tonight so you guys can get a bit closer and you can see if you really do like her!” she said, jumping at Edmund’s feet.
“We can have a movie night, if you wish but although I appreciate it, if Ava and I wish to pursue a relationship, we will pursue it ourselves. As I said, it is too early to tell if a relationship is possible.” Edmund said as he turned around to resume preparations for lunch.
“Alright, Sorry for prying; we just noticed that you and Ava were getting closer and we got curious.” Danny apologized.
“It’s quite alright; I understand your curiosity.”
“Besides, if you and Ava get together, that means we get a really nice mom which we’ve never had. Well, besides Ben, of course” Katie said.
Ava leaned into the swinging hammock with one leg hanging off the side and a sleeping Fluffers in her lap. She stared up at the sky, thinking. She’s been at the mansion for nearly two weeks which meant she had to go home that Tuesday to get ready for work on Wednesday. She missed Shari and Mr. Geraldine but she genuinely did not want to leave the Lucilius family behind. She would visit, sure but she wasn’t ready to go back to being alone. If it were up to her, she would stay here but she knew that wasn’t an option. She loved her job and her landlady was really nice despite being nosy; the only downside was the quiet solitude. She couldn’t keep her TV all the time or her electricity bill would empty her pockets before her other bills had the chance to and every time she tried to play music, her playlist spiraled into sad shit since she was sad shit. She couldn’t hang out with someone every day since she had a job and so did everyone around her.
Fluffers kicked in his sleep before rolling on his back and kicking his back leg when Ava scratched his tummy. She smiled at the pup before leaning back and closing her eyes.
She wished she could stay with Ed and the kids. The kids made her feel like she was part of the family. They made her feel like the mother she had hoped to be one day. They were different than other kids, that was obvious and even though she felt like there was more to the kids than she had originally thought, she still loved those kids more than anything. Danny made her feel like she was truly a good person who he could trust; Jo brought out the protective mother in her, Ben had opened up to her relatively quickly despite how shy he seemed when she first go here and holding Katie in her arms that day at the park made Ava feel the same way that Emma felt about her daughter, Calliope. She felt proud of all of them. She had no idea what went on in their training rooms, but she was proud of then when they finished a course. When she heard about their old families and how they were treated or why they ended up calling the mansion home, it filled her with intense rage towards their parents and an immense respect for Edmund. He could’ve left them on the street, returned them to their parents or even dropped them off at an orphanage, but he didn’t. Instead, he made sure they were well fed and that they had a place to call home. Edmund took these kids in and gave them a family instead of leaving them to figure it out.
He told her that he came from a rough background, but Ava couldn’t help but be curious as to what exactly happened in his childhood to make him the man he is today. Ava glanced over to the house before closing her eyes and facing the sky once more.
Edmund was an interesting man. Kind. Gentle. Caring. Handsome. He was everything a girl could ever ask for. Sure, he may have some skeletons in his closet, but Ava loved mysteries and she was determined to find out who the man she’s staying with really is. Though she doubted that he’d done anything worrying. Edmund could’ve done a lot of unspeakable things by now, but the only thing he’s done is flirt with her and tease her for being short. Her slight smiled faded.
She wondered if he meant the flirts at all or if they were just for fun. Edmund was so much more different than the guys she dated in the past. He was sweet and showed more care for her than her ex, Jason did while they while they were dating. His smile, though subtle, was warm and kind. She wanted to see more of that smile and hear more of his laugh. Edmund hardly showed any emotions through his face, but when it came to the look in his eyes while they talked or when he talked about his kids, Ava could practically see him grinning from ear to ear. His touch was always so gentle and soft and when he hugged her, she wanted to stay in his arms forever. Being in his arms made her feel safe and happy. His embrace felt like home, like she was meant to be there.
“Ava, are you alright?” Edmund asked, making her jolt up and slam her head into his. As Ava swore in pain, Edmund let out a simple “Ow.” Fluffers yelped and skittered off, most likely to find Katie.
“Jesus fucking Christ, Ed. Warn a girl next time.” Ava said holding her head.
“Language, but I apologize for sneaking up on you. Is your head okay?” he asked lightly touching the spot on her head where they collided. “Do you need an ice pack?”
“Maybe, or else I’m gonna have a knot on my head the size of your fist. So why exactly were you leaning over me?” she asked as she followed him inside.
“I came out here to check on you and to ask you if you’d like to join us for a movie night. The selection is unknown, but we will have popcorn.” Edmund explained, handing her an ice pack.
“Thanks. A movie night sounds good; it’s been awhile since I’ve had one of those. My sister and I used to have movie nights all the time before adulthood hit us hard and we hardly had free time.” Ava said sitting down.
“I’m sorry to hear that. Frankly, I didn’t know what movie nights were before the children came into my life. My brother and I would watch movies if we had the money or if it was the only interesting thing on TV, but we never had “movie nights” with popcorn, sweets and soda, though I don’t really care for soda or sweets as much.” He said sitting across from her.
“When I was little, we had a good few movie nights. Mostly drive in theaters or staying home and watching whatever was showing on TV that night. We never had soda or sweets during movie nights because Emma was hyper enough as a kid, instead we had popcorn and hot cocoa.”
“Popcorn and hot chocolate?” Edmund asked, cocking an eyebrow.
“Weird combo, I know, but it’s really good, I swear. Whipped cream with a little cinnamon on top makes it taste like heaven.”
“I guess I’ll have to see for myself tonight.” Edmund said with a small smirk.
“I guess you will.” Ava said smiling.
Later that night as the kids were setting things up in the living room, Ava and Edmund were in the kitchen making the popcorn and drinks. Ava glanced back at Edmund as he made the popcorn and set sweets onto a small platter. Her mind was still on the dumb topic from earlier; she didn’t have feelings for Edmund, she couldn’t. She’d only met him last week so there was no way that she could’ve caught feelings so soon. She was being desperate, and touch starved and because she was lonely, she thought she was catching feelings for a man who showed her basic human kindness. Edmund actually gave a shit, that’s all. Ava needed to realize that.
“Ava” Edmund said softly touching her arm. “Are you sure you’re alright?”
“Y-Yeah, I’m fine. Sorry, I just zoned out, that’s it.” She said turning off the heat and pouring the hot cocoa into everyone’s cups. She took the whipped cream out of the fridge and made a nice little swirl on top each cup before finishing with a little cinnamon on top. She glanced over to Edmund who turned his attention back to the popcorn.
“Ava, you are aware that you can talk to me if something is bothering you, right?” he asked. “No matter the topic.”
“Yeah, Ed. I know I can. I’m alright, promise. Now come on, the kids are probably getting antsy.” Ava said picking the platter up and heading to the living room.
“Ugh! It’s about time. I was beginning to wonder if you two were making out or something.”
“Jo!” Edmund scolded.
“Keep on and you won’t get any hot cocoa. Did you guys pick out a movie?” Ava asked.
“Yeah! The first on the list is Treasure Planet and then we’ll go from there.” Katie said as she took her hot cocoa and settled into her and Ben’s blanket fort. Danny set himself at the end of the couch and Jo curled up next to Ava. Edmund sat beside Ava and handed her cocoa to her.
A few movies and almost 2 bowls of popcorn later, all 4 kids were passed out leaving Ava and Edmund awake. Edmund was leaned against the couch with his legs crossed but still somehow retaining his perfect posture.
“Were you sitting like that the entire time?” Ava asked quietly as to not wake the kids up.
“Yes, it’s rather comfortable.” He answered.
“Have you ever slouched?”
“Of course not, it’s bad for your posture and it’s quite uncomfortable.”
“Even your body maintains your propriety.”
A moment of silence went by before Edmund cleared his throat and spoke up once more.
“This was quite enjoyable. I will admit your combination is quite delectable.”
“I told you so. This was nice, I wouldn’t mind doing this again.”
“If you wish to have a movie night, you can let me know and I can set everything up. Whether it be with the children or just the two of us.” Edmund said with a small smile. Ava cleared her throat and looked away.
“I didn’t mean it in that way! I simply meant by us sitting down and watching a movie together, no intentions of um” he stuttered and cleared his throat. “that.”
“I-I know what you meant, Ed. Don’t worry. I’d like that. Watching a movie with you.” She said smiling up at him. Edmund smiled back and chose another movie. Ava hesitated for a moment before curling closer to him and resting her head on his shoulder. He froze for just a second before scooting a little closer to her. She smiled and let out a blissful sigh.
Tonight was honestly one of the best nights she’s had in a while. She didn’t get very far into the movie before drifting off to sleep with a smile still on her face.