"Mother" is an ongoing fiction series about Avalyn Rosewood and her search for the truth about her history. You can read the first installments here: Part I, and Part II.
"Honey Citrus Green Tea."
Ava caught the drink the bored barista slid towards her and returned to her table. Blinking out of her haze, she realized the place had filled up quickly. She checked her watch, sighing. It was the middle of the afternoon, so of course it was busy. The afternoon wave of students leaving class had finally flooded in.
She returned her focus to the photo on her computer. Something was off about it, but she couldn't tell what that was yet. Was it the light or the focus? It seemed pretty sharp to her. Ava rapped her fingers on the table, frustrated with herself. If she couldn't get one picture perfectly edited, it wouldn't take long for Dominic to regret offering her the internship.
The coffee shop's door opened again, distracting her. Before she could refocus, the person walking through the door snagged her attention. His dark eyes seemed to make a beeline for hers, and she quickly looked away, taking a deep breath.
"Focus." Ava muttered to herself, sipping her tea. No matter how hard she looked at the picture, though, nothing changed.
Despite herself, she glanced up and once again met his eyes. He had a coffee in hand and was walking towards her. She cleared her throat awkwardly, not knowing where to look now.
He seemed to be just as nervous, but stopped in front of her just the same. "Do you mind if I sit with you?" He asked with a smile, gesturing around the room. "All the other seats are taken."
"Uh...sure. Yeah, of course." Ava winced internally at herself.
He chuckled, taking the seat across from her and pulling out his own computer. "It's Avalyn, right? We have Media Law together."
She blinked in surprise. So, he remembered her name. "Just Ava, actually. You sit in the front, right? William?"
He grinned. "Just Will, actually. Also known as the guy who talks too much in class."
Ava laughed, nodding. "No disagreement here. You've made quite a few enemies with how often you've held the class over asking questions."
Will shrugged, suppressing his own laughter. "Are you really living if you haven't made a few enemies?"
Ava raised her drink. "Here, here."
He stared at her a moment, as if trying to remember something, but couldn't. After a moment, he leaned forward, nodding at her drink. "What's your poison today?"
He raised an eyebrow. "Tea? You're in a coffee house drinking tea?"
Ava raised her chin defiantly. "And what's wrong with that?"
He raised his hands with a grin. "Nothing, it just seems a little blasphemous, that's all."
She raised her shoulder in a shrug, glancing around the room with admiration. "The ambience in here is perfect. Not too loud, not too quiet. The colors and smell are just right for concentrating, and I have enough room to work. Beats the library most days." She met his curious gaze again, taking in the moment.
He leaned back again. "But that doesn't explain why you're drinking tea instead of coffee in a coffee shop."
She smirked. "It's simple, I hate coffee."
Will's eyes went wide. "Well, that's it."
She laughed. "What?"
"That's where I draw the line. You're clearly not human." He gestured at her.
"Sometimes I wonder the same."
He shook his head, switching gears. "So, what are you working on?"
Bemused at the quick change in subject, it took her a moment to respond. "Er, a picture."
"A picture?" He smiled again. She wanted to kick herself. Now she sounded like an eight year old.
"Well no...yes, I'm editing some photos."
"Ah, yeah that makes more sense. Is this for a class?"
"No, I'm a photographer. You know that albino deer that made headlines a couple weeks ago?"
"Yeah, it's been impossible to find. The only pictures are from a distance and the quality is pretty bad."
She nodded. "I tracked it and shot it."
"PETA must hate you."
Ava sipped her tea. "I get a lot of hate mail."
Will snorted. "Can I see it?"
She grimaced. "Just don't judge, I'm still working on it."
"I'm sure you're just being hard on yourself." He said as he spun the screen around. His face lit up. "Wow, this is good! How did you find it, much less get that close?"
She watched him study the screen for a moment, taking in his dark brown curls and light brown eyes as they surveyed her work. There was something incredibly familiar about him.
"You seem familiar." She blurted.
His eyes flitted up to hers. "We do have class together. " He reminder her kindly.
Ava went red. "Of course." But that wasn't it. She had seen him before this class, walking around campus, coming through this little coffee shop, and even walking to work. They had acknowledged each other plenty of times. From the moment she laid eyes on him a year ago, something in her clicked. She felt as if she had known him her entire life, and she couldn't explain it. She didn't know him from Eve, yet she felt she did.
He returned the computer to her, his face solemn. "I think I know what you mean."
They sat there, staring at each other for a long minute, not knowing what to say. She had never felt so uncomfortable, and yet so...at peace. Finally, he broke the awkward silence.
"The image in the eye is brilliant, by the way. Where did you come up with that idea?"
She blinked. "What do you mean?"
He cleared his throat, motioning to the deer. "The face in the eye. Were you going for a trapped-in-your-own-freedom kind of theme here?"
Ava furrowed her brows, zooming in on the animal's eyes. She did a double-take. Will had found what was missing. There, hiding in plain sight, was a pale face with red eyes.