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Home > The Secret of Ella and Micha (The Secret #1)(14)

The Secret of Ella and Micha (The Secret #1)(14)
Author: Jessica Sorensen

"It'll be okay," Micha says. "And I'm here for you."

Time's up.

"Where is he?" I take a deep breath, move away from Micha, and smother the old Ella away. He points over my shoulder. I turn around and my heart drops to my stomach. The medium build, tall man, with bright blue eyes and a head full of hair, has shifted into a frail, skeletal figure, with sunken eyes and his head shaved. His plaid jacket drowns his body and the belt around his jeans has holes added to it.

I hesitate to hug him. "How are you? Are you okay?"

"I'm always okay. You know that. Not even a little cancer can bring me down." He smiles and it's just as bright as it was. Using his cane, he hobbles toward me. I meet him halfway, in front of the tattered leather recliner and give him a gentle hug, afraid I might break him.

"How have you been, my little Ella May?" He steps back to take a look at me. "You look different."

I self-consciously touch my hair. "I changed my looks a little. Thought I could use a change or two."

He shakes his head contemplatively. "No, it's not that. There's something else. You seem sad."

"I'm fine," I deny and not very well. "I feel great."

He offers me a tolerant smile. "You've never been a good liar, you know that. I always knew it was you who broke the vase."

From behind me, Micha nods concurring. "It's her eyes. They show way too much. Although she thinks differently."

"If you knew I broke the vase," I say, "then why didn't you call me out on it?"

Grady laughs and exchanges a look with Micha. "Because the elaborate story you made up won my heart over, I guess. Besides, it was just a vase."

The tension resolves, except with Lila who looks like she doesn't know what to do with herself. She dawdles near the door, fidgeting with her watch and her hair as she glances around the snug trailer.

"Grady, this is Lila," I introduce, motioning her to come closer. "She was my college roommate."

Lila steps forward and gives him a small wave. "It's nice to meet you."

"Same here." Grady nods his head welcomingly and then arches his eyebrows at me. "So college? That's where you ran off to."

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you when I called," I apologize. "I just needed a break. From everything."

"I'm not going to lie and say it didn't hurt a little." He rests his weight on the cane, and his arms and legs look too thin to be moving. "You're like a daughter to me and I thought you trusted me enough to come to me if you were going through something."

His eyes dart to Micha and I wonder if he's told Grady about that night eight months ago on the bridge.

"I need to make a phone call." Micha holds up his phone as he backs for the door. "Lila, why don't you come outside with me?"

Lila gladly obliges and the door swings shut behind them, rocking the house.

Grady collapses into the recliner, sighing with relief. "We need to talk."

Preparing myself for a lecture, I drop into the concaved sofa across from him. "I'm in trouble, aren't I?"

"Do you think you need to be in trouble?" He props his cane against the coffee table.

I pull a throw pillow on my lap and slump back into the couch. "I don't know. It's hard to tell what's right and what's wrong anymore or what's up and what's down even."

He rocks in the recliner. "You've always had a good grasp on what's right and wrong. You just have a hard time admitting that sometimes you choose the wrong."

"I know that." I gesture at myself. "That's why I changed into an Ella who doesn't do any wrong and who can keep control of her life."

"That's not what this is. This is you running from life and you can't control everything. Even if you want to." His words send a chill through my spine.

I pluck at a loose thread on the pillow. "Did Micha tell you about the night before I left... did he tell you what happened - what I did?"

He presses his cracked lips together. "He did."

"So then you understand why I ran away. If I don't change, then I'll turn out like her - I'll turn out just like my mother," I admit aloud for the first time and a weight lifts from my chest, but falls right back on it, seeming ten times heavier. "I'll lose control."

He hunches forward with a sad expression on his exhausted face. "You know I knew your mother really well."

"But only because you always had to come fix everything after she had one of her episodes."

"Sweetie, you're not her. Your mother was sick - she had a mental illness."

"Bipolar Disorder is hereditary," I say quietly. There is a higher chance that I have it just because she had it."

"But it doesn't mean you will." With unsteady legs, he pushes up from the chair and sits down next to me on the sofa. "I think you're so afraid that you'll end up like your mom that you're hiding who you really are, but you can't control everything - no one can."

"But I can try," I mutter and sit up, tossing the pillow off my lap. "You remember what I was like. All the crap I did. The stupid, irresponsible crap. I was a wreck waiting to happen and that night proved it. I almost... I... I almost killed myself."

"No, you didn't. I heard the story and you would have never gone through with it," he says confidently. "You were just trying to sort through some stuff. You still are."

"No, I was going to do it," I tell him, but it's a lie. "My mind may have been hindered, but I remember enough to know that when I climbed on top of that bridge, I was going to jump."

He shakes his head. "Then you don't remember what happened afterward with Micha."

"Yeah, I do." I take a faltering breath. "I kissed him and then left him on the bridge. Then I went home, packed up my stuff, and ran away."

"No, something else happened that night." His forehead scrunches. "Micha took you somewhere else. At least that's what he told me."

I scratch at my wrist, trying to recollect, but the events of that day are hazy. "I don't remember this at all."

"From what I understand you were out of it and pretty upset. Those two are not a good combination. Trust me, I've been there." His fingers seek his cane. "Micha saved you from jumping, but there's more to it than that."

"When you say you've been there, what do you mean exactly?"

"I mean, I've been at the place where it seems like the only way left is down."

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