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Home > The Secret of Ella and Micha (The Secret #1)(7)

The Secret of Ella and Micha (The Secret #1)(7)
Author: Jessica Sorensen

"It means infinite." I tug the hem of my tank top down, hiding the tattoo on my lower back, and drape my arm over my forehead. "And I don't refuse to talk about it. I just can't remember how I got it."

She gives me a sad, puppy dog face and bats her eyelashes. "Pretty please, with a cherry on top. This might be my only chance to go to a party like this. The ones at my old neighborhood consist of limos, fancy dresses and tuxes, and a lot of champagne." When I don't respond, she adds, "You owe me."

"How do you figure?"

"For giving you a ride here."

"Please don't make me go down there," I plead, clasping my hands together. "Please."

She rolls onto her stomach and props up on her elbows. "He's an old boyfriend, isn't he? You were lying. I knew it. No one can draw a picture like that of someone they've never loved."

"Micha and I have never dated." I insist with a heavy sigh. "If you really want to go see what these parties are all about, I'll take you down there, but I'm not hanging around for more than five minutes." I give in because deep down I'm curious to check up on the world I left behind.

She claps her hands animatedly and squeals, looking out the window one last time. "Holy crap. Someone's standing on the roof."

They say curiosity killed the cat. "Come on, party girl. Let's get this over with."

***

About fifteen years ago, this town used to be a decent place to live. Then the factory that supplied jobs to almost the entire town shut down. People were laid off and slowly it began to dwindle into the bottomless pit that it is now. The houses across the street are painted in graffiti and I'm pretty sure my next door neighbor makes moonshine in his garage, or at least he did before I left.

Inside Micha's house, there are people loitering in the entryway. I push my way through them and into the kitchen, which is crammed with even more people. On the table is a kegger and enough bottles of alcohol to open a liquor store. The atmosphere is overflowing with the scent of sweat and there are a few girls dancing on the kitchen counters. People are making out in the corners of the living room where the sofas are shoved to the side, so the band can flare on their instruments, screaming lyrics of pain and misunderstanding at the top of their lungs. I'm surprised Micha isn't up there playing.

"Holy crap. This is..." Lila's blue eyes are round as she gawks at the people jumping up and down in the living room, shaking their bodies and thrashing their heads.

"Like a mosh pit," I finish for her, shoving a short girl with bleached hair out of my way.

"Hey," the girl whines as her drink spills down the front of her leather dress. "You did that on purpose."

For a split second, I forget who I am and turn around to blast her with a death glare. But then I remember that I'm the calm and rational Ella; one that doesn't get into fights and beat other girls up.

"What, preppy girl?" She pats her chest, ready to throw down. "You think you scare me."

Lila bites her thumbnail. "We're sorry. She didn't mean to."

Chants fill the living room and the chaos is giving me a headache. "Sorry," I strain an apology and squeeze between her and the wall.

She snickers at me and her friends join in with her laughter as they sashay to the back door. It takes everything I have not to turn around and tackle her to the floor.

Lila makes a beeline for the bar set up on the counter, dumps a drop of vodka into a cup, and mixes it with a splash of orange juice. "Okay, that was intense. I thought she was going to kick your ass."

"Welcome to Star Grove." I shout over the music. "The Land of the Intense and Poverty-stricken, where the adolescents roam free without sober parental supervision and try to start fights wherever they can."

She laughs, takes a gulp of her drink, and her face pinches at the bitterness. "Try - " She starts, then coughs. She pounds her hand against her chest.

"Are you going to make it?" I ask. Lila has never been a big drinker.

She nods and clears her throat. "I was going to say try growing up where you have to get permission to wear a certain style of shoes." I give her a mystified look and she adds, "If it wasn't up to my mother's stylish fashion standards I wasn't allowed to wear it."

I edge out of the way of a guy with blotchy skin and a beanie covering his head, who doesn't seem to mind that he knocks his shoulder into mine. "I'm sure it wasn't that bad growing up where you did. I mean, at least there was some control."

"Yeah, there was," she says uneasily and her eyes quickly scan the room. "I can't believe there's a live band. It's like being at an outside concert."

"What? They don't have live bands in California?" I joke with a small smile as I pour myself a cup of water. "One's that take place outside?"

She stirs her drink with a straw. "Not these kinds of bands. Think much more mellow, with a stage and seats to watch."

"Sounds like fun to me." I oblige a smile and glance at my watch. "Are you about ready to go?"

"Are you joking?" Sucking the drink out of the straw, she hops on the counter and crosses her legs. "We just got here. Why would we want to go? In fact, we should go dance."

My eyes find the living room, where a guy with dreads smashes his head against the glass plate of a cabinet in the corner and everyone cheers.

"You can if you want, but I'm good." I gulp my water. "I like all my bones intact."

Leaning against the counter, I scan through the crowd, curious to see where Micha is. I don't know why I'm so curious, but I am. Occasionally he would bail on his own parties, either to hook up or just get some quiet. I found him a couple of times hiding out on a lawn chair. Each time, he would pull me onto his lap and we would stare up at the night sky, talking about an unreachable future.

I spot him in the corner, sitting on the couch with his arm draped around some blonde girl with boobs popping out of her dress. His hair hangs in his eyes and he's nibbling at his lip ring, driving the girl crazy I'm sure. They're just talking, but the girl keeps flipping her hair off her shoulder and her hand is on his chest. It's hard to tell if Micha's enjoying her company or not. He was always difficult to read when it came to girls because he never really looked interested in any of them, but sometimes he would end up with them for the night.

I asked him about it once and he said it was all fun, but that he was just killing time until I gave into my inner desire to be with him. I tackled him to the ground for it and it made him laugh.

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