Ave's Ace

"What an asshole."

"What, did Charlie not call you back last night?"

Avery looked up from her turkey club sandwich the next afternoon and glared across the metal table and Eden. She was on her lunch break, and all she seemed to be thinking about was the encounter with the rude owner's son.

When he caught her glare, Eden just grinned innocently at her and stole one of her French fries. At least there was something sort of nice about Maureen – she'd given Eden and Avery the same lunch break this summer, which would be the first time ever that they got to eat together.

And Avery didn't mind eating the food from the country club, either – it was good food, and she got it for free. Who in their right mind would pass up free food?

"No," she replied, taking a sip of her chocolate shake. "I'm not thinking about him – I keep thinking about what happened yesterday at the pool."

"Oh, you mean with Ryan Emerson?" Eden asked knowingly.

She blinked several times. So Ryan was his name – she knew it was some kind of 'R' name. But she thought it was something annoying like Reginald or Roderick or something – but Ryan was surprisingly normal for a rich kid like him.

Wait. Why the hell did she care so much what his name was??

It would have been something to make fun of him for, she thought.

"How do you know him?"

"Please, Ave – everyone knows him. Besides, I was serving breakfast to Mr. Emerson the other morning and Ryan was down there with Janna," he said. "I think he was trying to set them up or something."

Avery snorted. "I bet Janna loved that…"

She could remember countless times when her best girl friend would tell her stories of when Mr. Roberts had tried to set his daughter up with some rich suitor. Janna wasn't like most rich girls, though – she liked to be as normal as possible, which was why she preferred hanging out with Avery, Cal, and Eden instead of the rich and popular. She was also very down-to-earth and exceedingly sarcastic.

That was why Avery and Janna got along so well.

"Oh yes. Though I'm not sure, she looked pretty comfortable around Ryan," Eden said with a shrug. "Doubt Cal would like to hear that…"

She laughed. "He'd probably go on some jealous rampage and do something ridiculous like kill Ryan or something," she replied, mostly joking.

But there was a little piece of her that was serious, too – Cal had some serious jealousy problems, and was pretty possessive of his two girls. Mostly of Janna, and even though he tried to brush it off like he was like a brother to her, everyone seemed to know it was because he was in love with her.

"Would do us all a favor, wouldn't it?" Eden asked, grinning.

"Well, yes, for the most part," she agreed.

"For the most part?"

She shrugged. "You know, until Mr. Emerson found out that we were the reason that his son is dead, he'd probably throw us all in prison or something."

Eden laughed. "Probably."

Avery smiled and continued to eat her sandwich when her cell phone buzzed. She swallowed and pulled it out, before typing a quick response to her boyfriend, while ignoring her best friend's obvious stare of disapproval.

"What?" she asked innocently.

"Nothing, nothing…" he mumbled, waving his hand in dismissal. He took a sip of the Coke that was in front of him.

She quirked an eyebrow at him. "Eden…" she began warningly, knowing that he wanted to say something. She just wasn't sure what was holding him back, because Eden was generally pretty good at saying what was on his mind without further prompts.

He shook his head. "Nothing, Ave. While your phone is out, what time is it?"

"12:35," she answered without hesitation. "We have another twenty-five minutes for lunch, if that's what you're wondering."

"Yeah…" he mumbled, running a hand down his face. "You know, I'm surprised Maureen gave me lunch at noon this summer. Normally I'm working now, because noon is one of the busiest hours…"

Avery shrugged. "Maybe she does have a heart," she mused.

"Or maybe she's just going to fire me soon and is letting me down easy," he grumbled, taking a few fries from her plate.

She snorted, and smacked his wrist when he stole the fries.

"What!?" he asked innocently, smiling at her.

"You have your own plate of fries!"

He grinned. "But yours just taste so much better."


"It's true!! Mine have a lot more salt on them!!" he whined.

Avery rolled her eyes. "That's because you added extra salt, you idiot."

"Oh yeah…" he mumbled, glancing at his plate.

Honestly – sometimes she wondered how he even got into college at all.

"I know. I miss you too…"

"Avery!!" a female voice yelled, trying to catch her attention. Avery whipped her head around, holding her cell phone slightly away from her head. She smiled when a tall brunette came running in her direction, smiling.

"Hey, Janna. What are you doing here?" she asked.

Janna shrugged and pushed her big sunglasses onto the top of her head. "Just looking for you. Eden said you'd be out here… and, as he suspected, on your cell talking to Charlie," she replied, grinning.

Avery shrugged. "Well, I mean, you guys did make a bet with me. How am I supposed to hang on to my boyfriend if I never talk to him?"

"That's true. But, even still!! You talk to him all the time – you always have your cell phone out, even at work! What would Maureen say if she caught you right now?"

"Janna, there's, like, ten minutes before I clock out for the day. I don't think that she's going to care too much if I'm on my cell phone or not. Besides, no one's in the pool."

"I could change that," she said with a grin. "And you could join me!"

"But I'm at work!"

"You could be life guarding in the pool! C'mon, Ave – it's hot and I want to go swimming!" Janna whined, rocking back and forth on the balls of her feet.

She shrugged. "So go swimming by yourself. I'll watch you."

"Aren't you on the phone with your boyfriend?" Janna questioned suddenly.

"Oh yeah," she mumbled, going back to her phone. "Charlie?"

"I thought you'd forgotten about me," her boyfriend said from the other line.

She smiled. "I couldn't forget you," she promised.

Janna snorted. Avery smacked her arm, and Janna glared at her.

"Well, that's good to know…"

"Anyway, listen – I should get going. I'm at work, and if Maureen comes out and sees or hears me talking to you, I'm basically screwed."

Charlie laughed. "Well, I wouldn't want to get you in trouble."

"Yeah…Mom wouldn't like that too much," she agreed, smiling.

"Alright. Call me when you get out of work, okay?"

"I will. I should be done at five, so expect a call around then."

"Always. I love you, Avery."

Avery tensed – and paused. That awkward silence enveloped the phone again. "I'll be sure to call you later," she said before hanging up.

Janna was looking over at her with a quirked eyebrow. "What was that about?"

"What do you mean?" she asked innocently, walking over to the pool again. She slipped her big sunglasses over her eyes when the sun nearly blinded her.

"That whole… silence. You tensed, and it was like Charlie actually said something that you didn't want to hear or something."

She sighed. "We'll talk about it later," she promised.

Janna's dark brown eyes widened as she grinned. "Ooh, drama!! Aren't you supposed to be like, the Cory and Topanga of your freshman class?!"

"Jan, how can we be the Cory and Topanga if we met freshman year?"

She shrugged. "Dunno, but you know what I mean."

"I guess I do," Avery agreed. "We'll get dinner tonight or something. Does that sound good?"

"What about the boys?" she questioned.

She shook her head. "No boys – this is strictly girl talk."

"Wait, so… I'm confused," Janna confessed a few hours later. They were seated at one of Ogunquit's most popular pizza parlors, near the door. It was very crowded, as it was nearly seven-thirty on a Friday evening, but Avery was happy for the distractions.

"How are you confused? I just explained everything to you."

"I know. I think I'm still trying to grasp this whole situation," she replied, taking a bite of her pizza. "So… Charlie says he loves you, but you don't know what to say back to him?"

"Basically. How complicated is that?" she replied, reaching for a garlic knot.

"Not very. Have you considered saying that you love him too? I mean, I see the way your eyes light up whenever you talk about him – or whenever your phone goes off, and you have a message from him, or even this afternoon. I mean, it's not like it's impossible that you're in love with him," she reasoned.

Avery nodded and finished chewing before responding. "I never said it was impossible, I just don't think that I am."

"Why?" she challenged.

"Ace!!" someone exclaimed loudly over the crowd.

"I don't know," Avery replied, ignoring whoever had screamed 'Ace'. "I just… I mean, yeah, I think about him a lot. And I really like him and I really care about him, and he means a lot to me. I just don't think that it's love. At least, not in the way that the story books and movies make love to be."


Janna sighed. "You can't judge your feelings by what books and movies say, Ave. You just have to go by your instincts."


"And my instincts are screaming that I don't love him," she responded.


She jumped out of her skin and turned around – and groaned. It was too late to hide, because Ryan Emerson was already making his way over to their table, surprisingly alone, and not with any of the boys that she'd recognized from the pool. The blonde haired girl seemed to be with him, though, and she was getting them a table.

"Didn't you hear me calling you before?" he questioned when he was within earshot.

"No," she answered honestly.

"Please, I think the entire parlor heard me, Ace," he replied, grinning and sitting down uninvited at their table. He even had to pull up an extra chair – Avery scrunched her nose. "Are you deaf?"

"No, but apparently you have a speech impediment," she answered coolly. "Or, you're just trying to be like Logan Huntsberger."

He blinked. "Logan Who?"

"Her boyfriend," Janna teased, grinning at Avery.

Avery blushed. "No, he's not my boyfriend."

"You're just madly obsessed with him."

"It's not my fault he's hot!!"

"…I'm missing something here," Ryan cut in.

"Yeah. An invitation to sit down at our table," Avery replied.

"Oh, chill, Ave. He's not doing anything wrong."

"He's breathing," she grumbled.

Ryan shook his head and looked at her. "You're extremely hostile this evening," he commented, studying her face. "But you also look extremely hot."

Avery rolled her eyes.

"Anyway, I wanted to thank you, Avery Lennox."

She quirked her eyebrow. "For what, exactly?"

Ryan smirked. "That amazing time we had in the pool the other day. That moment – it was completely breathtaking. I trust you felt the same way?"

"No, I was actually hoping that you drowned."

"Well you didn't have to save me – Emily could have done it. I know I'm pretty hard to resist, though – especially when I'm wet."

Avery rolled her eyes and ignored his last comment. "Emily was busy, and yes, I did have to save you. Otherwise, I wouldn't have."

He put a hand to his heart and looked at her. "Ouch. Can I get a marshmallow to roast that burn?"

She rolled her eyes. "You're lucky you're an Emerson. Otherwise I'd punch you in the face right now."

"Ace, be nice," Ryan replied, grinning at her. "You know, I could just go ahead and tell Maureen that her choice of staff isn't… well, you know. Adequate enough to be working at the Cherry Brook for much longer."

Avery stiffened, but tried not to let it show.

But much to her chagrin, Ryan saw.

"I'd watch what you say to me, Miss Lennox. I have more power over you than you even realize," he said with a smirk.

"Whatever, Emerson."

"It's Ryan, actually – last I checked, I wasn't my father."

Avery wasn't sure, but she thought she could detect that his voice had gotten a little darker when he'd said that. She shrugged, though – she didn't see why it mattered to her.

"It looks like your flavor of the week isn't too happy," she commented, seeing the blonde haired girl tapping her foot with her arms over her chest, glaring at them. Well, she was pretty sure that she was glaring at Ryan.

Ryan visibly tensed. "Actually," he said in a tone of voice that immediately reminded her of Andrew and Tyler. "She's my sister."

She snorted. "If that's your excuse."

He glared at her. "Don't make me angry, Lennox."

"Why not?" she challenged.

"Because –" He was cut off when a familiar ringtone sounded in the restaurant. Avery smirked, hearing her phone go off. Saved.

"I'd love to stay and chat, Ryan, but I've gotta take this," she said.

He rolled his eyes. "Whatever, Ace. I think you should change your attitude the next time we run into reach other," Ryan remarked.

"I'll change my attitude if you change your nickname."

"Not going to happen."

"Then I don't think my attitude is going to change either."

He shrugged. "Fine. I'll speak with Maureen in the morning," he replied before smirking at her. "Always a pleasure, Janna." He winked at her, and then walked away to where the blonde girl was still tapping her foot.

Avery looked at the caller ID and smiled before finally answering.

"Couldn't you have called, like, two seconds ago?"

"I did," he answered smugly. "You just didn't answer."

"Well, I was kind of distracted."

"Then you can't yell at me."

She laughed. "I always knew I loved you."

She ignored Janna's questioning stare from across the table.

A/N: I'm sorry for the wait again guys!! Here's the thing, though: we both started our sophomore year at college, so things are going to get pretty hectic due to work (and we enjoy being social every once and a while!!), so updates may not be as frequent. Try not to blame us!! Anyway, I hoped you liked this chapter and I'm sorry it was short in comparsion to the others... but while you're all the way down here, you might as well hit that little button and leave us a REVIEW! Seriously, reviews are like brownies. And we love brownies )