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Home > The Secret of Ella and Micha (The Secret #1)(4)

The Secret of Ella and Micha (The Secret #1)(4)
Author: Jessica Sorensen

I was never a fan of Grantford. He always had a sleazebag attitude, which was part of the reason why I had him drive me to the bridge that night - he was the only one I knew who would leave me there alone.

I can't help myself. "Probably a lot faster than your pick up over there."

He has a shit-eating grin on his face. "Is that a challenge?"

I shake my head and motion for Lila to get in the car "Nope, that wasn't a challenge. Just a mere observation."

Recollection fills his eyes. "Wait a minute. Do I know you?" Ignoring him, I start to shut the door, but he catches it. "Holy crap! I do know you. You're Ella Daniels." His eyes mosey up my legs, cutoff jeans, lacy white tank top, and land on my eyes lined with frosty pink eyeliner. "You look... different."

"College will do that to you." I scale up his scuffed cowboy boots, his torn jeans, and stained shirt. "You haven't changed a bit."

"I see your mouth hasn't changed at all," he snaps. "And besides, you didn't change for the better. In fact, you look like you could be friends with Stacy Harris."

"Don't exaggerate the situation," I say. Stacy Harris was a popular girl in our grade; head cheerleader, homecoming queen, wore a lot of pink.

His face scrunches. "You didn't just change on the outside either. If anybody would have compared you to Stacy Harris, you'd have punched them in the face."

"Violence solves nothing." I begin to shut the door again. "I have to go."

He complements my move and seizes the door, prying it back open. "You ain't going anywhere until I get something out of you."

"Like a kick to the balls," I threaten, but my insides churn. I can talk tough, but when it all comes down to it he's a really big guy who could easily hurt me.

His grey eyes turn black as the sun sets behind the shallow hills. "I heard you bailed. Packed up your stuff one night and took off. Pissed off a lot of people, too. The ones that were always protecting you when that mouth of yours got you into trouble. Especially that one guy you were always with."

"Don't pretend like you don't know his name." My voice is slightly uneven. I feel out-of-control of the situation and I'm starting to panic. "You don't forget the names of the people whose fist have slammed into your face."

A vein bulges in his thick neck as he punches the window. "That night I was wasted and Micha was completely sober. And it was total bull shit that he sucker punched me for leaving you on the bridge. I mean, you asked me to take you there. How the hell was it my fault?"

Apparently, Micha hit him more than once because it's not the instance I'm referring to.

I tug at the door handle. "I'm going to close the door now and you're going to walk away."

"Who are you?" His eyes are all over me.

"I'm who I always was," I mutter. "Just without all the baggage." Calmly, I close the door. "You can drive away now, Lila."

She floors the car backwards and skids it onto the asphalt. I don't look back at Grantford or the bridge. I breathe through my nose, trying to stay composed and in possession of my feelings.

"What was that about?" Lila asks. "Who was that creep?"

I buckle my seatbelt and turn up the air conditioning. "Just some guy I used to know from high school."

"I thought he was going to kill you or something... Maybe we should call the police."

Flashbacks of my old life resurface. "That's just how things are around here. Besides, he was all bark and no bite. Trust me. He was just irritated with something I did."

Her eyes enlarge and she grips the steering wheel. "What did you do?"

I glance in the rearview mirror at the desolate road behind us. "Nothing I want to talk about."

She slows down as the speed limit decreases. "How did you do that? You were so calm even when he tried to hold the door open. I was freaking out."

"It was just instincts," I lie. If she knew the real reason we sure as hell wouldn't be friends.

***

The urge to make Lila flip a U-turn and floor it back to Vegas becomes more powerful the closer we get to my home. Lila relaxes about the Grantford ordeal when the outhouse is far behind us. We make the rest of the short drive talking about classes and frat parties, but when we pull into the driveway of my house, her fear and panic reemerges.

"This is... nice." She shudders as she peers through the windshield. "So this is where you grew up?"

The full moon shines in the starry sky, lighting up the trash piled in the driveway, the old cutlass balanced on cinderblocks in front of the garage, and the peeling paint off my two-story home trimmed with a broken rain gutter that's swaying in the wind. The tree beside my window looks like it's dying. It was once my gateway for sneaking out of my room, but the last time I snuck out was the night my mother died.

I'll never climb that damn tree again.

"Yep, this is home." I step out into the cool breeze. Rise Against "Like an Angel" blasts from the speakers next door. The lights are on in the house, and there's a lot of screaming and yelling going on. The driveway is lined bumper to bumper with cars and people are smoking on the dry front lawn and on the deck.

One of Micha's parties. It's like time has frozen and was waiting for me to return.

"God things never change around here." I round the back of the car. "Lila, can you pop the trunk, please."

The trunk pops open and Lila steps tentatively out of the car. Her eyes fasten on the party and she's chewing on her thumbnail, which is a nervous habit of hers. "Jeez, it's more intense than even a frat party. I didn't know that could be possible."

I sling a heavy bag over my shoulder. "Are you sure you want to sleep at my house tonight?" I rummage through the trunk for the bag holding all my toiletries. "There are some pretty decent hotels in the next town over."

"I'm just not used to this kind of a place. That's all... But I'm sure it's fine." She collects one of my pillows from the trunk and hugs it tightly.

"Are you absolutely sure?" I balance a small box under my arm. I don't want her to stay and witness this side of my life. "This place is a lot to take in for some people."

She narrows her eyes and points a finger at me. "I may come from an upper class town, but that doesn't mean I haven't been in rougher areas before. Besides, we went to that pawn store that one time in Vegas and that neighborhood was definitely sketchy."

It really wasn't that bad of an area, but I decide to let it go, since she'll only be staying here for one night.

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