Song 11 ♪ This Is How You Charm Me

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I was proven right a couple of hours later.

We were in the kitchen taking our lunch break and going over the areas in the house we had left, when Ashton glided in. And that was what he did. The smooth entrance couldn't be attributed to the mere act of walking. It was also how my trouble-meter flared to life.

I was glad to not be the only person who found it strange. Ma looked at him like he was the second weirdest person she'd ever met, after me, and the other cleaning girl chocked on her sandwich as she saw him.

"Are you okay?" he asked her.

My ma plastered on a smile and set her food down on the plate, ignoring the other girl as she gulped large quantities of water down. "Can we help you with something?"

As the other girl recovered he shifted his attention to my ma. "Yes, well. I just a got call from the school. Vera and I have to go back, I'm afraid."

That caught me in the middle of taking a bite and I froze, my sandwich hovering just shy of my chompers.

I so wanted it to be true, but I was afraid that if I said anything my ma would dismiss it all as a lie.

Kudos to my ma for keeping the pleasant facade intact. Her teeth almost shone as she smiled. "What do you mean?"

Ashton slowly leaned on the kitchen island. He looked down and bit his lower lip. Then he looked up. That was what I had come to recognize as his killer look. From the corner of my eyes I saw the other two women visibly melt. Not even Victoria Cecilia de la Cruz Vazquez was immune.

"Mr. Burlington, the advisor for the senior year, just called me. It turns out that we've been fit in as a last minute replacement for a different orchestra that was supposed to play for the children's hospital benefit next weekend. We need to start rehearsals ASAP."

But my ma was stronger and more stubborn than anyone gave her credit for. She took a sip of water and asked him, "What does that have to do with my daughter?"

Ashton's eyebrows went up. He looked at me for only a second. "She's the lead singer of the orchestra."

My ma and the other girl turned to me. The latter with some admiration. The former couldn't care two shits.

"Is she," my ma said in a way that was not at all a question. She took a bite of her sandwich. I knew this tactic. She'd used it on me a million times when she wanted me to think she already knew what I'd done and make me panic on my own. It usually worked like a charm, but Ashton didn't seem to be crumbling under the pressure.

He pulled out his cellphone, tapped it a couple of times and handed it to her. "I'm dialing the school, feel free to confirm for yourself."

Skeptical as fuck, my ma took the phone from him, checked the number on it and I guessed she must have memorized it, because she seemed to trust it. She put the phone on her ear and started at whomever picked up on the other side.

"Yes, hi. This is Victoria de la Cruz, I'm Vera's mother," she said to it, turning her back to us. "May I speak with the Mother Superior?"

As she waited to speak with her, I turned to Ashton. The smile on his face was freaking me out a bit. When he winked at me I freaked out a lot more.

"Hello," my ma said, louder. "I just wanted to confirm — ah, yes. Is it true?"

My eyes went wide as saucers as my ma's face slid from polite to irritated, then to resigned.

"Okay, thank you. I will." After that she hung up and handed Ashton his phone in return. Without looking at me she said, "Vera Maria, grab your things from the car and go back to school. It seems they do need you."

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