The Secret of Ella and Micha, Page 16Jessica Sorensen
8 months earlier. . .
"You're not seriously going to climb up that tree, are you?" Micha frowns at me through the dark. He's dressed in a pair of sexy jeans that make his butt look good and his black t-shirt fits him perfectly. "You're gonna break your neck. "
I rub my hands together and give him a devious look. "You know how much I love a challenge. "
From behind him, the moon shines from the sky and his blonde hair nearly glows. "Yeah, but you're a little out of it right now and I don't think you should be climbing up any trees. "
"I'll be fine. " I wave him off, pushing the sleeves of my leather jacket up. He always worries about me. I like that he does, but it doesn't mean I always listen to him. "Besides, if my dad catches me coming in, and he happens to be sober, I'm going to get chewed out for sneaking out and being drunk, especially because I was supposed to be on mom duty tonight. "
Gripping a branch, I attempt to wedge my foot up in the tree. But it falls to the ground and I grunt with frustration. Micha laughs, shaking his head as he walks around behind me.
"If you break your neck, pretty girl," he says. "It's not my fault. "
"You know your nickname for me is not fitting. " I grab the branch again. "You need to think of a new one. "
He sweeps my hair to the side and puts his lips beside my ear. "It's completely fitting. You're the most beautiful girl I know, Ella May. "
Through my foggy brain, I try to process what he's saying. "Are you trying to be funny?"
He shakes his head. "I'm being completely serious. But there's no need to panic. I'm sure you'll forget all about it by the time morning rolls around. "
I bob my head up and down. "You're probably right. "
He laughs again and his warm breath tickles my ear, sending a shiver through my body. I almost turn around, rip open his shirt, and thrust my tongue into his mouth, but I don't want to ruin our friendship. He's all I have at the moment and I need him more than air. So I bottle my feelings up the best I can.
He spreads his fingers across my waist where my shirt rides up, making the situation a little awkward. "Okay, on the count of three I'm going to boost you into the tree. Be Careful. One. . . Two. . . Three. . . " He lifts me up into the tree and I swing my legs up. The bark scratches at the back of my legs a little and the palms of Micha's hands cup my ass as he pushes me up the rest of the way. It makes me giggle.
Once I'm up, he climbs up himself. His hands reunite with my waist and he assists me up the tree and into my window. I tumble through it and onto the floor with his quiet laughter surrounding me.
"You're going to regret this in the morning," he says with laughter in his voice. "You're going to have a headache from hell. "
I kneel beside the window as he steps back out onto the branch. "Hey, Micha. " I crook my finger at him and he rolls his eyes, but tolerates me and returns to the windowsill. I throw my arms around his neck. "You're my hero. You know that?" I kiss his cheek. His skin is so soft. I start to move away when his head turns toward me and our lips connect briefly. When he pulls back, I can't read him at all.
"Sweet dreams, pretty girl. " He grins and climbs back down the tree.
My head becomes even foggier as I shut the window. Did he kiss me on purpose? I shake the thought away and wrestle my arms out of my jacket. The house is silent, except for the sound of flowing water coming from the bathroom. I head out into the hall, figuring my mom's left the bath running again. She does that sometimes when she's distracted. The door is locked, so I knock on it.
"Mom, are you in there?" I call out.
Water swishes from inside and I realize the carpet beneath my feet is sloshy. I sober up real quick, and rush to my closet to grab a hanger. Stretching it out, I shove the end into the lock of the bathroom. It clicks and I push the door open.
The scream that leaves my mouth could shatter the world's happiness into a thousand pieces. But the silence that follows it is enough to dissolve it completely.
"What are you so happy about tonight?" my mom questions when I walk into the house.
"I'm as happy as I always am. " I join her at the kitchen table and steal a cookie from a plate.
She takes off her glasses and rubs the sides of her nose. There's a calculator, a checkbook, and a whole lot of bills stacked in front of her. "No, I haven't seen you smile like this in a while. "
"I just had a really good night. " I take out my wallet and hand my mom a couple of twenties and a hundred dollar bill. "Here, this is what I got for working a weekend at the shop. "
My mom shakes her head and tosses the money in my direction. "Micha Scott, I'm not going to take my son's money. "
I throw it on top of the bills and push away from the table. "Yes, you are. I want to help out. "
"Micha I - "
"Stop arguing and take it young lady," I warn with humor in my tone.
She sighs, defeated, and collects the money. "You're a good son. Do you know that?"
"Only because I was taught to be. " I head for my room, but hear a scream from outside. I backtrack into the kitchen. "Did you just hear that?"
My mom's eyes are wide as she stares at the back door. "I think it came from the Daniel's house. "
A billion different scenarios rush through my head as I run outside, hop the fence, and burst into her house. "Ella!"
It's quiet, except for water running upstairs. I dash up the staircase, skipping steps. "Ella. . . " My body chills like ice. Ella is standing in the doorway and her mom is in the bathtub filled with red water that's spilling out all over the floor. "Ella, what happened?"
She flinches and then turns to me. Her pupils have taken over her eyes and the look on her face will haunt me for the rest of my life.
"I think she killed herself," she says numbly and holds out her hands, which are smudged with blood. "I checked her pulse and she doesn't have one. "
I take out my cell phone and call 911. When I hang up, Ella collapses into my arms and stays there, unmoving until the ambulance shows up. She doesn't cry - she barely breathes and it nearly kills me because I can't do anything to help her.