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Home > Lila and Ethan: Forever and Always(6)

Lila and Ethan: Forever and Always(6)
Author: Jessica Sorensen

She shakes her head and inches across the seat toward me. “I wasn’t, though… I was just frustrated because I worry… about stuff…”

My eyebrows furrow as I downshift for a steep hill. “About what? Marriage stuff?”

She shrugs and then looks down at her hands as she picks at her fingernails. “I just don’t want to end up alone. That’s all. I mean, if I don’t have you, then all I really have is my sister, but you know how she is—she barely even has time to talk to me on the phone. And Ella’s got her own life now.”

“You won’t ever be alone,” I promise, reaching over and taking her hand. “You’ll always have me, no matter what happens.”

She presses her lips together and it looks like she’s on the verge of crying. “I just want to make sure that I have you forever… that you and I”—she glances up at me, gesturing her hand between us—“that this will never change because I don’t want it to change. I love being with you, Ethan. Even when I’m filthy and smell like a garbage can.”

It’s midafternoon and the sunlight reflects in her blue eyes, her blond hair is pulled up in a messy bun on her head, and she’s wearing a tank top with no bra and cutoffs. Her eyes are a little wide and have the slightest bit of fear in them because she’s basically handing me her emotions to do with as I please.

She’s f**king perfect and hearing her say that she doesn’t want anything to change between us makes me want to pull the car over and f**k her again and again. Whether I’ll admit it aloud or not, I want this—her and I. I want to travel with her. Kiss her. Touch her. Whenever I want. But at the same time I’m terrified. And I hate that I’m so scared of the idea, the idea of wanting someone so much. Yet, I can’t help it. I’ve been through too much—seen too much with my parents—that I get what comes with wanting someone so much. I’d basically be opening myself up to anything, even heartbreak. And Lila too. And the last thing I ever want to do is hurt her. “I want it too,” I admit, and she releases a trapped breath in her chest. “But I’m also worried… about what we could become. I just don’t want to rush stuff, you know. I don’t want to get so caught up in doing what people think they’re supposed to do, like…” I trail off, getting a little uncomfortable. “Like getting married and settling down… I don’t want to do it too fast and ruin the perfect we have right now.”

She nods, understanding, because I’ve told her enough about my mom and dad and their shitty relationship that she gets my fear of becoming like them. “I know… I’m worried too.” She sits back in the seat and faces forward. “My parents weren’t that great and the last thing I want to do is become them.” She pauses and it makes me nervous, wondering what else she’s going to say. “However, at the same time, I look at Ella and Micha and they’re so happy.”

“I know,” I say, and then frown. “But how do we know that we’ll be happy instead of angry and sad all the time, like our parents? I just want to make sure that I—that we—don’t turn out like them. Hating each other… yelling at each other… hurting each other… I want to make sure that we’re in the right place where we both want the same things.” And I’m not sure I’m there yet.

She swallows hard. “Well, we can’t know for sure—no one can see the future. We just have to be willing to take the risk.”

She waits for me to agree and I want to tell her right then and there that I’m ready to take that risk. That I want to be with her forever, because I know I do, but images of my mom and dad screaming at each other surface and then I picture Lila and me in the same place, yelling at each other because I want one thing and she wants something else. My lips end up staying sealed, refusing to part and just finally say what I want.

I stew in my own regrets for the rest of our journey down the mountain while Lila stares out the window, looking sadder the more time goes by. By the time we reach the small town at the foothills, it’s getting late. The sky is bright orange and pink as the sun sets behind us. The few buildings, gas stations, and houses lining the street are shadowed by the mountains and the town is pretty quiet, only a few vehicles driving up and down the street.

“Do you want to stop at that café up there?” I ask, pointing at a small neon sign at the entry to Dina’s Café and Diner. Then I force a smile, even though it hurts. “I’m sure you’re getting sick of canned food and Pop-Tarts.”

She shrugs, finally looking at me for the first time since we stopped talking. I realize she’s had her head turned because she’s been crying. The evidence of it is all over her bloodshot eyes and red, streaked cheeks and it’s all my fault.

“Dinner sounds good, I guess,” she says, her voice strained.

I pull the truck into the parking lot and turn off the engine. As she turns to get out of the car, I reach for her arm and stop her. She freezes but doesn’t look at me.

“Baby, look at me,” I say. Lila is actually the only person I’ve ever called that, but mainly because she’s the only girl I’ve ever genuinely been in love with, at least in a way that using endearing pet names doesn’t seem totally cheesy.

She wipes her eyes with her free hand and then reluctantly turns to me in the seat. It kills me to see the sadness in her eyes. Any other girl and I’d probably have bailed out by now. Too much pressure and heavy emotions, but with Lila, I don’t want to lose her. Ever.

I pull her across the seat toward me, not stopping until she’s right beside me. Then I take a deep breath and do the best I can to explain how I feel. “I promise I’m not going anywhere. You and I have lots of road trips and fights and hot steamy sex ahead of us.” I mentally shake my head at myself. If I was writing it down, it would have sounded a hell of a lot better. “You can even come on the road trip with me to Star Grove if you want. Granted, you’ll have to put up with my mom and dad’s arguing and shit.”

The corners of her lips quirk into an almost smile. “You want me to go with you?”

“I always want you to go with me,” I say. “I just hate taking you up there around all the fighting.”

“I can handle fighting,” she insists, seeming so much happier. “I just want to make sure that you want me to come with you.”

“Of course I do,” I say, tucking a strand of her hair behind her ear. Then I aim a teasing grin at her. “And I’m not going anywhere. As much as you’re a pain in the ass, I always want you with me.”

Her smile breaks through and she cups my face in her hands and pulls my lips to hers. She kisses me until I become breathless, which is the f**king pussiest thing to say, yet it’s f**king happening.

Then she’s pulling away, blinking her eyes with a small smile on her lips and all I want to do is hold on to her. “All right, you won me over. I’ll drop the whole marriage and future talk for a while.”

“You’re just going to drop it like that?” I ask, stunned she’s making it that easy.

Her shoulders rise and fall as she shrugs. “Yeah, I mean, you said we have a lot of road trips ahead of us and that’s all I really wanted to know.”

“Yeah, but…” I drift off, wondering why I’m not letting it go, when she’s dropping it like I wanted… or thought I’d wanted. But she’s got me thinking about stuff and now it seems hard just to stop processing where I see us down the road together. Taking trips. Kissing. Talking. Living in a cabin somewhere in the mountains where I could watch her bathe in a pond all the time. Is that where I see myself? Is that where I see us?

Dammit, where is my head going?

She slides over to the passenger door and hops out of the truck with a spring in her walk and her ass shaking in the pair of cutoffs she’s wearing. And I’m left watching her and wondering what the f**k is wrong with my head.

Chapter 3

Lila

I’m feeling a little bit better, despite the fact that I’m starving. I’ve never been a fan of cafés but right now I’d settle for anything that didn’t come in a box or a can. After we’re seated in a booth, I search the menu, my belly grumbling as the waitress fills up our waters. We order our drinks and then I run my fingers along the list of appetizers, singing along with the song playing through the speakers, one that I don’t know the name of but have heard a ton of times.

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