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Home > The Secret of Ella and Micha (The Secret #1)(15)

The Secret of Ella and Micha (The Secret #1)(15)
Author: Jessica Sorensen

I sift through his words. "You know, I came here to see if you're okay, and somehow all we've talked about is me."

"And that's exactly what I need," he says. "I'm sick and tired of everyone wanting to talk about my death."

I open my mouth, but the front door squeaks open. I expect Micha, but a middle-aged woman in black sweat pants and a white t-shirt walks in. Her bleached hair is woven into a braid and she's carrying a large black bag.

She grins at Grady as she shuts the door. "You're being bad again. You know you're not supposed to get out of bed."

Grady rolls his eyes, but his face lights up. "Yep, I've been bad. I guess you'll have to punish me."

I try to ignore their disturbing comments the best that I can, but it's ridiculously awkward.

"Ella, this is Amy." His serious demeanor alleviates as he says her name.

I stand up from the couch to shake hands with Amy, noticing there's no ring on her finger. "Are you his nurse?"

Grady starts to balance to his feet and she moves to help him, but he waves her off. "I got this. I'm not crippled yet. "

She sighs and moves back. "Yes, I'm his nurse and I'm supposed to be taking care of him, but he's a stubborn man and refuses to let me do my job properly."

He growls and then chuckles. Using his cane, he heads toward the hall, his feet dragging along the orange shaggy carpet. "Ella, can you stop by tomorrow? I want to talk to you some more."

"Okay, I'll come back," I promise as he vanishes down the hall. I turn to the nurse. "How bad is he?"

She drops the bag on the counter and unzips it. "What did he tell you?"

"That he has cancer," I tell her as she takes out some baggies from the bag. "But that's all. He doesn't like to open up about himself."

Reaching into her bag, she extracts a handful of prescription bottles. "No, he doesn't, does he?" She shakes a bottle filled with clear liquid. "He has stage four bone cancer."

I nearly fall to the floor. "Stage four, but then that means that..."

"It means that he has a hard, short road ahead of him," she says frankly. "You're Ella Daniels, right? And your father is Raymond Daniels?"

My fingers grasp the fabric of the recliner like it's a lifeline. "Yeah, why?"

"No reason," she says with a shrug. "Grady just talks about you sometimes."

"But you know my father," I state warily.

She zips up her bag and shuffles to the kitchen sink with the medication. "I was the nurse on call the night he was run over."

Because he was drunk out of his mind and decided to ride his bike in the middle of the highway. "So you take care of Grady, here at his home?"

She turns on the faucet and fills up a glass of water. "I'm the home nurse he hired after he decided he didn't want to spend his last months in a hospital bed."

He only has months left? I need to regain control of the spiraling situation. I stumble for the door. "Tell Grady I'll see him tomorrow."

I trip down the steps and nearly eat dirt. Luckily Micha is at the bottom and he drops his phone to catch me.

He steadies me to my feet, his fingers digging into my hips as he looks me over with concern. "Okay, what happened?"

"He's dying," I whisper, staring out at the dry field. "He's really dying."

"I know." Micha holds onto me forcefully, the tips of his fingers touching my bare skin. "I told you this before we came over here."

My lungs restrict oxygen. "I thought when you said it... well, I don't know what I thought, but not this." I wave my hand at the door without looking at it. "Not a nurse. Not a few months left."

His hands move around to my back and he enfolds me against his chest. I rest my head against him, breathing in his comforting scent. I start to ask him what happened that night, but my fear of the truth shushes me. What if it's bad? What if it pushes me over the edge?

"What do you want to do today?" he whispers. "You name it and it's done."

I pull away, blinking back the tears. My gaze travels to Lila sitting in the car, reapplying her lip gloss in the rearview mirror. "I have to take her to the shop and get her on the road."

Against my protest, Micha cups the back of my head, and lures me against him. "You could just ditch her."

I slap his arm. "Since when are you mean to girls?"

"Since they keep complaining about the sheer drabness of the town," he says in a mocking cheerleader voice. "And the bugs. It's ridiculous. Ten minutes out here with her and I want to lead her into the crack house over there and run."

"That's not a crack house and you know it." I shake my head, forcing back a grin. "And I know you better than that. I'm sure you want to get in her pants."

He pauses, and then slowly his hand explores my back and sneaks to my ass. He grabs it, and bows my body into his, firing a heat deep inside my core and fumbling a moan from my lips. For a second, I forget where I am.

"The only thing I want to get in is you," he murmurs in my hair.

I regain control and shove back. "Seriously? You're going to start this? Here of all places."

He swings a hand at the trailer. "Why not? Because of Grady? He'd be happy to finally see us together. He's been saying for years that you and I will end up together."

I cover my ears. "I can't listen to this."

In three long strides, he's in my face, nearly stepping on my toes. "You think that just because you left, it would change how I feel? Well, guess what? You're wrong. I can't help how I feel. I'm still in - "

"Don't say it." I point a finger at him. "Don't you dare, Micha Scott."

He holds up his hands, wide-eyed and derisive. "Oh, now I'm in trouble. You used my last name and everything."

I glance at the car, checking if Lila's eavesdropping, then whirl back and hiss, "You are in trouble. I've been back for less than a day and everything I've worked on concealing is falling apart because of you."

His aqua eyes are a fierce blue. "Good. You're f**king crazy if you think that you can run off and change your identity. This unfeeling, preppy girl thing you got going on," he motions his hand at my tank top, white frilly skirt, and curly hair, "is nothing but bull shit. You can't just change who you are on the outside and expect it to change who you are on the inside."

Anger bubbles through me and I shove him. "You're wrong."

His boots scuff the dirt as he catches his balance and smiles haughtily. "Am I? Because right now that fire I love so much is burning pretty bright." He reaches for my cheek, to touch me -  entice me.

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