The Man in The Mansion

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Katie's Tea Party

At around 3PM, the kids were finished with their training. Edmund hadn’t gotten much work done since he’d been chatting with Ava, but he didn’t mind. The conversation had been pleasant, that is until a loud bang followed by an angry “FUCK” came from Jo’s training room. Edmund grabbed his coat, ready to take the girls shopping.

“Aren’t you gonna be hot?” Ava asked as she put her shoes on.

“Why would I be?” He asked, confused. Ava looked him up and down and motioned to his suit.

“You’re wearing a full suit in the middle of May. You don’t have any normal clothes?”

“This is my normal attire, Ms. Ava.” He said. Ava shook her head as she continued to tie her shoes.

“Daddy’s a gentleman. He always has to look his best.” Katie said as she walked over to the two.

“My dad’s a gentleman, but he is mostly definitely wearing his fishing shorts and a t-shirt. Then again, he is my dad after all” Ava said making Katie giggled.

“We’ll be back soon. Danny please help Ben with his schoolwork while we’re gone.” Edmund told Danny as he opened the door for the girls. Danny held a thumbs up to his dad from the couch.

~

Ava watched out the window as they drove to the store. She honestly couldn’t believe the position she’d put herself in. She was currently in a car with a man she just met yesterday, and the only thing holding her back from tucking and rolling was the toddler in the backseat. Ava had told Katie that she would attend her tea party and she intended to stay true to her word. Katie was a sweet girl and she would never forgive herself if she made that little angel cry. Sure, Ava should probably be grateful that this random stranger was offering to buy her something, but she has the common sense to know not to get into a car with a stranger with no knowledge of exactly where they were taking you.

“Are you coming, Ms. Ava?” Edmund asked, interrupting Ava train of thought. While she was deep in thought about how stupid she was being, they’d arrived at a rather fancy clothing store. Edmund had opened her door and the two were waiting for her.

“Oh, yeah. Sorry, I spaced out for a bit.” She apologized as she got out of the car. Ava followed the two into the store.

The store was like nothing Ava had ever seen before. It had two floors…TWO! There were many varieties of different dresses, suits, shirts, and pants. She even noticed that they had the kind of common casual clothes that she preferred to wear. Katie seemed to know this place like the back of her little hand as she led Ava to the dresses.

“Pick out anything you’d like! Ooh, maybe we could find something matching!!” Katie exclaimed, running off to find a dress of her own. Edmund followed after her, leaving Ava to choose for herself. She looked around at the dresses. They were really nice, but Ava had no idea how to pick out dresses. Katie most definitely had 110% more style than Ava. She usually just grabbed whatever was clean and made her look presentable enough to go out in public. Ava looked around at the dresses and tried to find one that looked decent on her and wasn’t too expensive.

“I was told by Katie to come help you pick something cute for her tea party.” Edmund said, once again scaring the absolute shit out of her. Luckily, she didn’t fall over this time.

“You need to walk louder or something, this is the 2nd time you’ve nearly give me a heart attack and I’ve only been around you for a day and a half.” Ava said as she regained her composure.

“My apologies, Ms. Ava. I will try to make my presence known from now on. As I said earlier, I’ve come to help you pick out something to wear for the tea party.” He explained.

“Shouldn’t you be watching Katie? She may be smart but she’s still a kid.” Ava said as she continued to look through the dresses.

“My friend is with her. She is in no danger, I assure you. I’ve known her for many years now, I would never leave my children with someone I do not deem trustworthy.” He said sounding a little offended.

“I didn’t mean to offend you, just asking. Besides, you don’t seem the type to be careless with your children.” She told him, assuring him that she didn’t think he was a bad parent. He seemed to relax with her comment.

“I understand your concerns, Ms. Ava. A child should never be left unattended, regardless of their IQ level.” He said looking at some of the dresses. He glanced at Ava before taking one off of the rack and holding it in front of Ava.

“I think this one would suit your figure quiet well. This color contrasts well with your complexion, but we can try to find a dress in your preferred style, if you wish” he said. Ava chuckled.

“What are you Nigel from The Devil Wears Prada?” she joked as she took the dress.

“Of course not. I’m not a fashion designer. Though, to work under Meryl Streep would indeed be an experience I wouldn’t mind undergoing.” He said looking at the dresses again.

“Damn right.” Ava said doing the same. She soon found a dress that she fell in love with. A casual blue, V-neck party dress. It probably wasn’t appropriate for a child’s tea party and it most likely would look horrible on her. Ava had a nice figure, just not nice enough for dresses. She put the dress back and continued to look through the others,

“Here. I found a few others that I think may look good on you. The dressing room is over there; if you need me, I will be over here.” Edmund said handing her dresses before going to sit down.

Ava walked into the dressing room, which was probably bigger than her bathroom at home and hung the dresses up. The first dress she tried on was too formal for her taste, but Edmund was right, it hugged her figure well. Dresses didn’t normal hug her figure in a good way but every dress she tried on did. Once she got to the last dress, she sighed. It was the dress from before. Edmund must’ve seen her looking at it and put it with the others. She put it on, and she couldn’t help but do a little twirl. She actually liked how the dress looked on her. She felt comfortable in the dress which didn’t happen. When she put on a dress, there was always something that she didn’t like but this dress almost felt perfect. The only issue was the price; $150 was way too much to pay for a dress this simple. She took it off and hung it back up before leaving the dressing room to be bombarded by Katie handing her two dresses.

“These dresses would look great! Daddy agreed that they’d be perfect for my tea party!” She said as she bounced up and down. “Did you find anything you liked??”

“Not yet” she lied taking a glance at the blue dress before hanging the dresses back up in their original spot. She took the dresses from Katie and went back into dressing room. She decided on the medium length light pink dress with a mesh over the skirt. It fit her well and she felt it was appropriate for Katie’s tea party. When she walked out in the dress, Katie’s eyes lit up.

“You look like a princess!” she exclaimed. Ava smiled and kneeled down to Katie’s height.

“I may look like a princess, but you are a little princess.” She said booping Katie’s nose making her giggle.

“Mr. Hoppington is my knight in shining armor.” She said making her bunny salute.

“That’s right” Ava said with a small laugh.

“That means Daddy’s the king!” she said looking at her dad. He smiled and nodded before looking back at Ava.

“I have to agree, Ms. Ava. You do look quite beautiful in that dress.” Edmund said.

“Thanks.” She said looking away before stepping back into the dressing room to change into her normal clothes. She draped the dress over the door, and she heard Katie jump before the dress disappeared. She smiled; Katie was a sweet kid and she was too pure and innocent to have a depressed piece of shit like Ava at her tea party. Ava shook her head in an attempt to ignore the bad thoughts, she could deal with them later. Right now, she needs to focus on having the tea party with Katie and going home.

Once they got back to the house, Edmund went off to make lunch while Katie went to go play with her siblings. Ava decided to go upstairs and give that one book another read. She found it back in the library which didn’t stop her from snatching it again and heading to the room with it. She hung the dress up and began reading it again. The story gave her the same feeling that The Boxcar Children gave her, except more mature and way more suspenseful. She had looked in the library to see if Estelle wrote anymore murder mystery books but to her dismay, she found nothing. The book is the type of book that once you pick it up, it’s nearly impossible to put it back down. This is the kind of book that she’d get lost in when she wanted a break from reality for a while. The book wasn’t incredibly long, but it wasn’t short either. Ava could read the book in a couple of hours depending on her mood.

“You know it’s incredibly rude to take someone’s things without their permission, Ms. Ava.” Edmund said from her doorway, making Ava fall off the bed with a yelp.

“Someone needs to put a bell on you!” Ava yelled as she got up and sat back down on the bed.

“My apologies, Ms. Ava, though I did knock on the door. You didn’t respond so I opened the door to make sure you were alright.” He explained.

“Well, I’m fine, just reading and technically, you didn’t tell me not to read the book so since it’s a library and I’m only “checking it out” since I have full intention to put it back when I’m done. In conclusion, I’m not actually taking it.” She said with enough sass to stun a drag queen. Edmund was quiet for a moment before he chuckled softly.

“Well played, Ms. Ava, well played.” He said an amused smirk.

“So, does that mean I can keep reading it.” Ava asked hopeful that her sass worked.

“No. Now, we’ll be combining lunch with Katie’s tea party, so Katie asked me to tell everyone to get ready.” He said walking over and taking the book, crushing Ava’s hope under his excellently polished shoe before leaving the room. She sighed in defeat as she got up to get dressed for the tea party.

Ava didn’t understand was why he was so anal about her reading a book. Maybe it was his favorite book and he didn’t want anyone to touch it. Then again, if he didn’t want anyone to touch it, he could’ve hidden it in a less obvious than the library. There was also the possibility that he didn’t trust her considering she was a stranger. If he didn’t trust her, he wasn’t making it too obvious. She put the dress on and did a small spin. They had good taste; Ava didn’t feel right taking the dress home afterwards considering she had done nothing to deserve something this nice. She smiled as she smoothed the dress out.

“It’s cute on you” Danny said from behind her. She yelped and whipped around causing him to laugh.

“You are just as bad as your dad! How long have you been sitting there?” she huffed,

“A few moments, I came in when you were doing your little spin. My dad asked me to give you this, but he said not to open it until after lunch.” He said patting the box beside him.

“You know your dad would kill you if he found out you came in without knocking.” She said crossing her arms.

“I peeked in to see if you were naked! Besides, I’m gayer than Freddie Mercury on a rainbow so it’s not like I’m trying to get a peek or anything. I was just waiting to see how long it would take until you noticed that I was in the room.” He said leaning back onto the bed.

“So, what’s in the box?” Ava asked walking over to grab it. Danny popped her hand.

“Ow, what the hell, Danny!”

“Dad said after lunch. Now, come on. If we don’t show up to the tea party soon, Katie’s gonna flip.” He said looping his arm through hers and walking out of the room.

Danny led her outside to a small gazebo in the garden where the others were waiting, all wearing clothes that weren’t as formal as Edmund’s casual wear but still formal enough for a tea party. She took her seat between Edmund and Ben.

“Welcome everyone, today’s menu consists of a lemon-ginger green tea paired with some yummy finger sandwiches that Daddy made. Enjoy everyone.” Katie said as Edmund poured tea into everyone’s cups. Ava was almost too scared to pick the cup up, she tended to be a bit of a klutz, especially when it came to china that most likely cost more than her car. Still, she picked it up as carefully as she could and took a sip. The tea was really good, and it took Ava everything not to down the rest like a fancy shot.

“Jo!! Pinky!” Katie yelled.

“No, I’m not sticking my stupid pinky up. Only fancy douche bags do that.” Jo said huffing.

“Are you calling me a fancy douche bag?” Danny said, with his pinky held high and his legs crossed.

“No, you’re gay so you have a reason. Dad’s not doing it either.” Jo said nodding towards Edmund who happened to be holding a coffee cup instead of a teacup.

“Daddy! You promised you wouldn’t bring coffee this time.” Katie pouted. Edmund froze mid-sip having been caught by his daughter. He put the cup down and picked the teacup up.

“I’m still drinking my tea, see?” He said taking a sip. Katie crossed her arms and Ava couldn’t help but smile. Her chubby cheeks puffed up like every other 3-year-old when they get mad and even Edmund was trying not to smile.

“Alright, alright.” Edmund said before drinking the rest of his coffee. “There, I have no more therefore, I can’t drink it.”

Katie sighed and looked around to make sure everyone else had their pinky up. Ava raised her cup (and pinky) high to show her and Ben copied what Ava did nearly making Ava tear up at how precious this kid was.

“Good, now before we all continue, I’d like to thank our guest for taking time out of her busy schedule and coming to keep us company. You are always welcome to join us for tea again, right, Daddy?” she asked looking at her dad who nodded at her.

“Thanks, kiddo. I might just take you up on that.” Ava said with smile.

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