Home > The Secret of Ella and Micha (The Secret #1)(8)

The Secret of Ella and Micha (The Secret #1)(8)
Author: Jessica Sorensen

"Why do you have that look on your face? Like you're undressing someone with your eyes?" Lila asks, following my gaze. "Oh, is that - "

My eyes dart from Micha. "I wasn't looking at anyone, just the madness in the living room."

"Yeah, right," she says, elevating her eyebrows. "You totally want him. I can see it on your face."

"Well, I'll be damned if it isn't the infamous Ella May!" Ethan Gregory grins from the other side of the counter, just behind Lila. He stumbles around the corner, nearly clipping his head on the low ceiling. Before I can respond, he has me trapped in an awkward hug with his long arms that are tracked with tattoos. His grey shirt smells like an ash tray and his breath like beer. He pulls back, ruffling his black hair with his fingers. "Does Micha know you're here in his house?"

I lie breezily, very aware of where Micha is and what he's doing. "I'm pretty sure he saw me walk in."

"I doubt that. He's been looking for you for the past eight months." He glances over his shoulder and nods at Lila, then tips in toward me. "You know he's been a wreck ever since you took off. You really f**ked up his head, Ella."

"That's such a lie," I tell him. Ethan and I have never really gotten along very well, which is why the hug confused me so much. We both had the same blunt attitude and butted heads a lot. The only reason we were friends at all was because of Micha. Although, there was one time we did bond for a split second, but we never talk about it. "Micha doesn't fall apart over anyone. I know him better than that."

His face is flushed and his brown eyes are bloodshot. "I guess you don't know him as well as you think then, because he's been a wreck. In fact, all he's done for the last few months is search for you."

"Which explains the party," I retort. "I'm guessing that classifies as that."

"First one in five months," he says. "And I think he only did it because he found out where you were and needed a distraction."

"I know him better than you do, Ethan, and he doesn't fall apart over girls," I say, but cringe at the fact that I might not know him anymore. A lot can happen in eight months. "Hey, Lila, we should go. It's getting late."

She glances at her diamond encrusted Rolex and rolls her eyes. "It's like nine thirty."

"You're leaving already?" He waves his hand in the air. "That's nonsense talk right there. You haven't even seen Micha yet and he's gonna be super pissed if he misses seeing you, especially since you ran away from him in the driveway."

"Actually, I think we're going to hang out for a little while longer," Lila presses with unrelenting eyes. She mouths, he's hot. Then she fastens her hands together. Please, Ella. Pretty please.

Ethan isn't Lila's type. He's got baggage almost as heavy as mine. I start to protest when Micha's deep voice floats over my shoulder and tickles my skin like feathers. Without being able to help it, I let out a soft moan.

"Yeah, pretty girl, stay a little longer." He's so close that the heat of his body kisses my skin and my insides tremor. His fingers comb through my hair as he whispers, "You smell so good. God I've missed your smell."

"I have to get up really early in the morning." I clear my throat and Lila's eyebrows furrow. "I need to go home and get some sleep."

He places his hand on the counter, so the crook of his arm is touching my hip. "You can keep trying to avoid me," he breathes in my ear, taking a nip at my earlobe. "But sooner or later you're going to have to talk to me." His breath reeks of beer and his clothes of smoke.

Refusing to crack at the sound of his sexy voice, I turn and face him. "I don't have time to get drunk and act like a moron."

He's even more gorgeous under the light and more irresistible, even though his eyes are glossed over. "It's your fault I'm drunk - you drive me crazy." He descends his voice to a soft purr, the same voice he's used on me many times to get what he wants - the voice that makes me feel alive inside. "Baby, come on. Please. We need to talk." He leans in to kiss me.

The suddenness throws me off balance and I trip over my own feet. "Micha, stop it." I gently push him back and he staggers into the edge of the counter. "You're drunk. And I'm going home."

"She's acting weird... like she's way too calm," Ethan remarks, with a wave of his finger. "And she's dressed funny, like that girl we use to go to school with. What's her name?" He snaps his fingers. "Stacy.... Stacy..."

"Harris," I say exhausted. "And I look like a girl that went away to college and grew up."

Lila slants forward. "Ella's been this way since I've known her, but I'm really curious what she used to look like with the way everyone keeps talking about her because I can't picture her any other way besides this."

Micha and Ethan trade drunken looks and then howl with laughter. The room quiets down a little as people glance in our direction.

"What's so funny?" Lila frowns and looks to me for help. "I'm so lost."

"Nothing. They just think they're funny." I dodge around Micha, but he seizes my elbow and hauls me back against his chest. "Hey relax, baby." He kisses my forehead and gives me his innocent face. "Please don't go. I just got you back."

Before I took off, the boundaries of our friendship were starting to blur. I thought time would fix this, but it seems like we're back to where we started. As much as I would love to melt into him, it just can't happen. I can't open up like that and lose control. I need control.

"No one's got me back. I'm just here for summer break and only because I didn't have money to rent an apartment," I say and his expression falls. "The Ella you knew is gone. She died on that bridge eight months ago."

He blinks, as shocked as I am. His lips part then he clasps them shut, struck speechless.

"I didn't mean that," I say quickly. "I'm sorry, Micha. I just can't deal with this."

"Don't be sorry for being real," he says, rubbing his forehead with the back of his hand.

I force the lump in my throat down. "I'm sorry," I say again, and then weave through the crowd and out the back door, inhaling the fresh air.

"What's your problem?" Lila asks as she catches up with me at the edge of my driveway. She squashes her plastic cup and tosses it into the trash can on the back porch. "I'm so confused. What just happened?"

"I needed to get out of there before I lost it." I don't slow down until I'm in my room where I close the door and shut the window, locking away the world. I sigh back against the wall, breathing in the quiet.

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