Ella and Micha: Infinitely and Always, Page 5Jessica Sorensen
I glance from left to right, as if I’m searching for something. Like I guessed, she tracks my gaze. When she’s distracted, I lunge for her, catching her off guard.
“Micha!” she squeals as my arms circle around her. “This is cheating.”
“Cheating?” I question as I pick her up and carry her toward the bed. “This whole game of yours is cheating.”
I drop her down on the mattress and she laughs, unable to get mad at me. Her laughter silences, though, as I tear off her bra and cup her breasts.
“The bra was no fair,” I whisper as I dip my head toward her lips.
“So you’re really not going to tell me?” she asks in a breathy groan as I pinch a nipple.
“Tell you what?” I brush my lips against hers and then glance at the clock. “In four hours, I won’t tell you, but I’ll show you.”
“Oh, yeah?” She grins as her hand travels down the front of my jeans and her fingers stroke my hard-on. “Whatever will we do for those four hours?”
Laughing, I shake my head. “I have at least ten ideas.” Then I seal my lips to hers, kissing her fiercely, letting all my feelings for her pour out through that kiss: every second I’ve spent away from this house and her, every smile I’ve missed, every laugh I didn’t get to hear.
Minutes later, our clothes are off, and I’m sinking deep inside her. Her warmth engulfs me, calms me, lets me know I made the right choice. I nip at her lips, feel the softness of her flesh, the heat of her body as I thrust into her. She cries out my name over and over again as her head falls back against the pillow. Her glazed eyes, the halo of hair around her head, the want burning in her expression; they create lyrics and poetry through my head. When she starts moving with me, arching her hips to meet mine, the sensation is too much, and my head empties of all thoughts.
“I love you,” I whisper against her lips as I give one final thrust inside her.
She clutches onto me with everything she has in her. “I love you, too.”
I’ll admit, using sex was a dirty move. But it doesn’t matter, since it didn’t work. I still got to have sex, though, more than once. By the fourth time, I feel too exhausted to move.
I lie down on the bed, sweaty, tired, and breathless. “I feel like I should be asleep.” I look up at the clock. “But I want to stay awake so you’ll tell me your secret.”
He laughs at me as he pulls on his boxers then settles on the mattress beside me. “You only have about ten more minutes. Think you can make it?”
“Maybe.” I yawn. “You should talk to me, though, just to make sure I don’t doze off.”
He rolls to his side and props up on his elbow, staring down at me. “Well, I do have something… interesting to discuss with you.”
I tense, wondering if he knows. How could he, though? The only people who know I’m pregnant are the doctor and Lila, and she swore not to tell.
“Relax.” He traces my bottom lip with his finger. “It’s not a bad thing. It’s really good. At least, I hope you see it that way.”
I free a trapped breath. “Okay, lay it on me.”
He appears nervous as he withdraws his finger from my lips. “Well, I quit the label.”
My eyes pop wide. “What? When?”
He shrugs then sits up in the bed and reclines against the headboard. “I talked to Mike the last night you visited me on the road. My contract was coming to an end, anyway, and I just couldn’t stand stuff anymore. The image change. The pressure.” His gaze locks with mine. “Being away from you all the time.”
I offer him a tentative smile as I move to sit up beside him. “So, what are you going to do?”
“I think I’m going to go Indie for a while.” He stares over my shoulder at the sun descending in the sky, casting a shadow across the land. “I know some people that understand the Indie world, and I’m supposed to talk to them tomorrow. What I really want to do one day, though, is open my own studio.” When his eyes meet mine again, he looks absolutely scared. “I know it makes our future a little iffy, but I promise you that, no matter what, I’ll still take care of you. And I’ll be here way more.”
“Micha, if you’re talking about money, we’ll be fine.” I glance around at our spacious home that we own. “We’ve earned more than we’ll ever need. Plus, I have the art gallery.”
“I know, but I’m still going to take care of you.” He cups my cheek, and I lean against his palm, embracing his touch. “So, you’re not mad?”
“Of course I’m not mad. Like I said, you’ve taken way better care of me than you ever needed to, and I love the idea of you being home more. I just want you to be happy.”
He smiles at me. “I am happy. I just want to make sure you are.”
I suck in a discreet breath and nod. “I am.”
“Good.” Suddenly, his gaze darts to the windows. “And happiness is about to spread even more.”
“Why?” I start to turn my head to see what he’s staring at, yet he grabs my hand and pulls me from the bed, guiding me toward the window and out onto the patio.
Wrapping the sheet around my body, I follow him outside, and then my jaw nearly drops to the ground.
Sparkling across the back lawn of Lila and Ethan’s home is over a thousand white, twinkling lights that spell out Will You Marry Me? And standing next to the words is a very fidgety looking Ethan, decked out in a nice suit.
“That’s what you two were doing?” I peer up a Micha. “You could have told me. I wouldn’t have said anything to Lila.”
He shakes his head. “No way. I needed the secret for collateral, which, FYI, you still owe me a secret.”
I force a tense smile, but before I can say anything, he holds up a finger. “Wait for it.”
Moments later, the most delighted scream I’ve ever heard rings across the neighborhood.
“Oh, my God! Yes! Yes!” Lila cries, her voice getting louder and louder.
Micha and I are laughing as we lock eyes. But, his humor quickly vanishes.
“Remember when you said yes?” He tangles his fingers with mine and grazes his thumb across my ring. Only love fills his eyes, and it makes me feel wonderfully full.
“Of course.” As my guilt surfaces, I place my arm across my stomach. “It was one of the best days of my life.”
He gives me the most genuine smile then moves in to kiss me. When our lips connect, my guilt consumes me. I want to tell him, but I almost start to cry just thinking about what’s happening to me. Realizing how brutal and ugly the words would be if they poured out of me right now, I decide to keep my lips sealed, not wanting to ruin his happiness.
When I can be happy myself, then I’ll tell him.
I manage to keep the secret for almost two weeks. It’s not easy by any means, and I keep having a dream that I’m holding a little girl in my arms. On the thirteenth night of my secret keeping, though, I have the most terrible nightmare about the past and the day I ran out on Micha.
As I lie awake in bed the next morning after Micha has left to go search for a new studio, my guilt gnaws at me.
I need to tell him.
But, I need to be able to tell him without losing my shit.
I close my eyes and inhale and exhale like I was taught to do in therapy. Then I drag my ass out of bed and make the call I should have made two weeks ago when I got the news.
“Ella!” my sister-in-law Caroline cries as she answers the phone over the sound of cheery music. “I was just thinking about you.”
“Really?” I pull on a pair of shorts with one hand before I head downstairs to find something to eat.
“Yeah, it was so weird, but I had a dream about you last night,” she says. “It must have been a sign that you were going to call me.”
“I call you, like, once a week.” I enter the kitchen and throw open the fridge, rummaging for something that
looks tasty. I haven’t gone shopping in a couple of weeks—too busy—so there’s nothing in it that looks remotely good.
“But never this early,” she says, and then the music silences. “Why aren’t you at work?”
I close the fridge door. “I’ve been letting Gena run the place for the last couple of days.”
“Why? I thought you said she couldn’t handle it.”
“She can’t, but I’ve been… sick.”
“Oh, my God!” she exclaims. “You’re pregnant!”
My lips part in shock as I sink into a chair at the kitchen table. “How does everyone seem to know this when all I say is I’m sick. I didn’t even jump right to that conclusion.”
“You are twenty-five, Ella, and have been married for five years, so it was bound to happen soon. Plus, you have a glow in your voice.”
I pick up an apple from a bowl on the table and scrunch my nose at the brown spots on it. “You can’t hear a glow, Caroline.”
“Yes, you can. But you’re losing your glow right now, so what’s up?”
I drop the apple back into the bowl and sigh. “It’s nothing… I’m just… confused about this whole mother thing.”
“That’s understandable. I’m sure it has to be hard for you, especially with what happened to your mother.”
“But it’s not just that.”
“What is it, then?”
I’m reluctant to answer, but it is the reason I called, so… “You know what our mother and father were like growing up, right? Dean’s told you all about it, I’m assuming.”
“Yeah, he’s told me quite a bit. I’ve had to help him through some rough times.” She hesitates. “Is that why you sound upset? Are you worried about what kind of parent you’ll be?”
I nod as I whisper, “Yes… And I don’t…” I suck in a deep breath as tears bubble in the corner of my eyes. “I don’t know what to do.”
Silence stretches between us. Since no one can see me, I let the tears fall freely.
“Don’t tell him I told you this,” Caroline says softly, “but Dean actually had to go to the emergency room when he first found out I was pregnant. He had such a bad panic attack he could barely breathe.”
“Nothing, really. The doctors gave him a sedative and sent us home.”
“And then he was fine?” I’ve had enough panic attacks that I’m not buying it.
“Well, it took him some time, but then he got over it. I mean, you’ve seen him with Scarlett, Ella. He’s a fantastic father, just like you’re a fantastic aunt and will be a fantastic mother. Trust me, I’ve met some shitty parents who had the most fantastic mother and father growing up. It’s all about the person you grew into, and you are an amazing person who’s overcome a lot.”
“You sound like a mom,” I remark, amazed at how much freer I can breathe. Yeah, I’m still scared as shit, but it’s not eating away at me so much at the moment. I’m able to wipe the tears away, and my eyes remain dry.
“That’s because I am one to Scarlett and, soon, to this little one in my stomach.” She pauses. “And I’ll be there for you. Whatever you need, day or night, you call me. I don’t have sisters I’m close with, so I need to hand my pregnancy knowledge to someone.”
“Well, I’m going to need a lot of it.” I push back from the table. “Thanks for this, Caroline. This helped a lot.”
“Good, I’m glad.” Silence draws out between us again. “Ella, what does Micha have to say about all this? Considering how much he dotes over Scarlett, I’m betting he was really happy to hear the news.”
Guilt crushes against my chest, like it has for the last couple of weeks. “I actually haven’t told him about it.”
“What! How long have you known?”
“Almost two weeks.”
“Is he home?”
“Ella.” She sighs. “Go tell him. Right now. He deserves to know.”
“I know he does.” Leaving the kitchen, I march for the front door. “I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t super upset when I told him. He’s had to put up with me being really unstable during a lot of important moments, like when he proposed, said I love you, and right before we got married. I want, just for once, to tell him some life-changing news and be happy about it.”
“And are you happy now?” she asks as I’m reaching for the doorknob.
I dither, contemplating while I attempt to sort through my emotions, something that’s never an easy task. “I’m not sure if I’m happy yet, but it feels like I could get there. And I want to tell him.”
“Good. Call me tonight and tell me how it goes.”
“All right. I will,” I promise.
We say good-bye and hang up, and then I hurry outside and over to Lila’s house, not bothering to put any shoes on, way too nervous to even care.
“Are you nuts?” Lila says when she answers the door and notices my bare feet. “Ella, you’re going to freeze to death before this pregnancy is over.”
“I’ll be fine.” I squeeze by her and scurry into the house, doing a little dance on the carpet because the concrete did freeze the crap out of my feet on the way over here. I stop dancing, though, when I catch a whiff of the air. “Do I smell pancakes?”
Rolling her eyes, she closes the door then signals for me to follow her as she heads for the kitchen. “I think I should open my own restaurant or something with the way everyone acts around my food.”
I grab a plate from the cupboard and a fork from the drawer as she picks up a platter of buttermilk pancakes from beside the griddle.
“You totally should, as long as I get to eat there all the time.” I take a seat at the table while she collects the syrup from the fridge.
“You know what’s funny?” She sets the platter down on the table. “I never knew how to cook until a few years ago.” She drops down in a chair and places the syrup in front of me. “While I was growing up, we always had a cook on hand, and when I left home, I just ate out all the time.”
“I remember,” I tell her as I stab a pancake with my fork and put it on my plate. “You wouldn’t even clean up after yourself.” I glance around at her sparkling counters and shiny stainless steel appliances. “But you have the hang of it now.”
“That’s because of Ethan.” She looks down at the diamond ring on her finger, pink and sparkly, totally her. “He taught me how to take care of myself without falling apart.”
“You guys are good together,” I say, for some stupid reason feeling as though I’m going to cry. Before the waterworks spring free, I douse my pancakes with syrup and dive in.
“So, have you guys set a date yet?”
“February fourteenth.” She beams.
“Valentine’s day. Very you.”
“The day was actually Ethan’s suggestion.”
“You know, sometimes I wonder if the asshole side he shows everyone else is just a façade.” I wait for her to crack and tell me I’m correct.
She simply shrugs.
I cut my pancakes. “You know, I have to admit, I’m kind of sad.”
Her forehead creases. “Over what?”
I shrug as I take a bite. “Well, I was really looking forward to you and Chester the cat living in the guestroom.”
She laughs. “Sorry, but I was so not looking forward to that.” She reaches for a pancake herself. “But enough talk about me. Let’s talk about you.”
I stuff my mouth full of pancakes. “What do you want to talk about?”
She gives me a warning stare. “How about you telling Micha that you’re carrying his child. Seriously, Ella, it’s almost been two weeks. Even I’m starting to go crazy keeping the secret.”
“Yeah, sorry about that.” Sighing, I set the fork down. “Actually, that’s kind of why I came over, to have you give me some ideas on how to tell him.”
She eyes the stack of pancakes in front of me. “And to eat my food.”
I innocently shrug. “I can’t help
it if your food’s delicious.”
She rolls her eyes, yet her expression fills with joy. “You’re really going to tell him?”
I force down the lump in my throat. “Yeah, I think I’m ready.”
She smiles cheerfully as she rises from the chair. “Good, because I have the perfect idea. But it’s going to be intense.”
Later that afternoon, I stand in my studio. The air smells like fresh paint and promise. One of Micha’s songs plays from my iPod dock, and my heart dances to the rhythm as I sing the lyrics under my breath.
The ghost of your soul still thrives.
Deep in your eyes yet buried alive.
Ashes surround you, drown you in pain.
A memory begging to drive you insane.
Haunting your soul, scorching your veins.
Yet heart and desire fights to enflame.
The tempo of the guitar, drums, and violin are reckless, racing, alive, and escaping, exactly how I feel at this moment. I breathe life into my art as my hand moves wildly, my fingers gripping the handle of a paintbrush, tracing lines, shading shadows, splattering bright and deep colors of paint across the canvas. Sweat beads my skin with each stroke, sheer terror and excitement pulsating through my body as vibrantly as the sunlight sparkling right outside the window. Every movement, line, and angle I make means more to me than any other painting I’ve ever created. Lila was right when she said it was going to be intense.
I express my emotions through my artwork. Right now, tears pour out of my eyes. Not necessarily sad tears. Confused tears, yes—I feel so confused about everything. Terrified tears, of course—terror over being a mom. Terror as I remember when I read my mother’s journal and realized how terrified she was of being a mother.
But, through all the mixed emotions, there’s also a tiny hint of excitement hidden inside me. I didn’t think I could feel that way, but I do.
When I finally finish staining the canvas with my soul, I step back and stare at the creation. I not only feel confusion, terror, and excitement, I feel my life changing forever.