Tied to the Tycoon

By: Chloe Cox


“Of course,” Lillian said.

“Send it back. I have a different idea.”





chapter 22



At a loss about what to do with a broken door and not wanting to stay at a place that no longer felt like home anyway—if it ever had—Ava called her sister. Together, the two women managed to move everything of immediate importance into Ellie’s living room out in Brooklyn, and Ava put the rest in temporary storage.

“What’s your roommate going to say?” Ava finally asked. She walked in circles around Ellie, who had collapsed on the couch. Ava felt like if she stopped moving, she’d have to think, and that was the last thing she wanted to do. There were too many dangerous thoughts lurking in her mind like giant, menacing icebergs, just waiting to sink her.

“About that,” Ellie said slowly. “You can have the spare room. It’s an office right now, but it’s got a futon, and you can set up your easel.”

Ava looked around. There were two bedrooms. “The spare room?”

“So, Colette isn’t my roommate,” Ellie said. “She’s my girlfriend.”

Now Ava sat down.

“What?”

Ellie cocked her head. “You don’t have, like, a problem…?”

“What? No, I just…how did I not know this?”

Ellie scrunched her feet up on the couch and picked at a thread coming out of her sock. She looked just like Ava did when she got uncomfortable. “None of us are so good at sharing personal stuff, Ava,” she said. She meant the Barnett women. “I was going to tell you at dinner. I told Mom. It’s not a big deal.”

“Not a big deal?” Ava said incredulously.

“Does it have to be?”

Ava thought about this. No, obviously, it wasn’t itself a big deal to her, but suddenly finding out there was this whole side you never knew about to someone you love, someone you’re supposed to know…

Ava couldn’t miss how that particular insight might be relevant to her own life, but she couldn’t quite go there yet, even in her own mind. Thar be icebergs, she thought, and looked up to find Ellie staring at her with big, scared eyes.

“I didn’t mean to lie to you, it just…” Ellie said, trailing off.

Ava sighed, and reached for her sister’s hand. “I think I actually get that part. I just can’t believe I didn’t see it.”

Now Ellie smiled. “Ava Barnett’s famous sixth sense,” she said. “Yeah, how’d that work out for you, mind reader? You didn’t see that one coming?”

“Shut up.”

“You know, you do have blind spots with some people.”

“That’s pretty obvious at the moment,” Ava said.

“No, but I mean it,” Ellie said, extending herself across the couch with her feet in her sister’s lap. She was noticeably more comfortable now than she had been just a moment ago. I guess coming out will do that, Ava thought, secretly shaking her head.

“You have a pretty big blind spot when it comes to Mom, too. No, Ava, listen, please,” Ellie said. Ava had stiffened immediately. “You’re great and perceptive with people, and you adapt immediately and just charm the pants off them because you see right through them—I know. I’ve always envied it, even though I know you got it from having to predict when Mom would fly off the handle, which actually sucks pretty hard. But I feel like that’s led you to think that you see everything, and you just don’t.”

“I’m actually pretty aware that I don’t see everything, El,” Ava said softly. “After today.”

Ellie winced. Ava hadn’t offered details about what had happened, and Ellie hadn’t asked, in the great reflexive Barnett tradition of Not Talking About It, but Ellie had seen the busted up door.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Ellie asked.

“Not yet.”

“Ok.” Ellie put an affectionate foot on Ava’s shoulder, just to gross her out. “I’m right about Mom, though.”

“Ellie, seriously. You didn’t take the brunt of it. I’m not saying that to, like, pull rank, but—”

“But you are. Shut up for a second, seriously, and listen to me.” Ellie got on her knees, leaned forward, and grasped Ava by the sides of her face. Ava was so startled that she actually did shut up.

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