Ella and Micha: Infinitely and Always, Page 3Jessica Sorensen
“That’s good. It probably means you’re healed.”
“Well, I wouldn’t go that far. It just means I’ve come to terms with what is.”
“You sound so wise,” she remarks. “Seriously, Ella, I’m so proud of you. I wish I could let all my family shit go.”
“You can,” I tell her as I shut my eyes and breathe in the fresh air. “All you have to do is accept what is and let go.”
“You mean stop talking to my parents? Because I kind of have.”
I open my eyes. “I know, but you haven’t fully let go.”
“I’m working on it. It’s just hard with the inheritance. It was my mother’s mom who left it to me, and therefore, she thinks she’s entitled to occasionally call me up and see what I’m doing.”
“You could always stop answering the phone.” I turn around and lean against the railing.
“Yeah, I probably should.” She releases a stressed breath. “Okay, no more family talk. I called to chat about Ethan, not my crazy bitch of a mother. I just wish he’d change his mind about marriage, like you did.”
“Hey, I never was completely against marriage,” I argue. “Just getting that fully committed to someone.”
“His isn’t because of a commitment thing; he just doesn’t want to turn into his parents.”
“Which I can kind of understand, seeing as how I worried for years that I’d end up like my mother.” I pause, glancing at the next door neighbor’s two-story home. “Can I be really honest with you?”
“You know I prefer it that way.”
“Even if it stings?”
“Of course. If I didn’t want the truth, I would have never called you.”
I sink into a chair and spit it out. “The thing is, with as long as Ethan has dragged out this non-marriage idea, I’m kind of starting to believe that his mind may never change. Maybe he will remain unmarried for his entire life.” I bite down on my lip as I wait for her response. She’s silent for an eternity, and I worry I’ve said the wrong thing.
“I know,” she finally utters. “I think I’ve known that for a few years. I’m just too terrified to accept it.”
“And that’s understandable.” I rise to my feet when I hear the neighbor’s sliding glass door open. Moments later, Lila strolls out of the two-story house similar to mine and onto the deck that stretches out across the backyard. Our homes are so close, if we both extended our arms, we could hold hands.
Ethan and Lila moved in less than a year ago after Lila received her inheritance. Lila is content with staying at home most of the time, but Ethan had to find a job; otherwise, “he’d go mad crazy.” He ended up opening his own tour guide place with Lila’s help, and the two of them seem really happy except for the marriage thing.
“You know, you could have just come over,” I call out to her, hanging up the phone.
“I wasn’t sure if you were awake.” She pulls her long, blonde hair up into a messy bun then pads over to the edge of the balcony. She ties the sash of her satin robe, and rests her arms against the wooden railing. “Tell me what to do, Ella. I need to know what to do.”
I frown. “I’m probably one of the worst people to give advice.”
She swiftly shakes her head. “No, you’re not. You only think you are.”
“Yes, I am.” I offer an apologetic look when her mood plunges. “Sorry, but even if I was the most spectacular person in the world to give advice, it’s really about what you want. Either you can accept that you might just be Ethan’s girlfriend for forever and come to terms with that or you can’t and move on.”
Her shoulders sag. “I want to be okay with it. I mean, we’re basically like husband and wife. We’re even trying to have kids and everything.”
My lips part in shock. “Since when?!”
She shrugs. “For, like, the last year.”
I span my hands out to the side. “Why didn’t you tell me this?”
She snorts a laugh. “You, the queen of ‘I Never Want to Be a Mother.’ Yeah, I learned a long time ago that kid talk and you just don’t mix.”
I point a finger at her. “Hey, I’m not that bad anymore.”
She undecidedly wavers. “All right, I’ll give you that. But you still get really squimish over anything kid related.”
“True, but I did hold your sister’s baby the other day without getting too wigged out. And I talk with Caroline about her pregnancy on the phone all the time. In fact, I helped her plan how to surprise Dean with the news. I don’t really get why there’s a need to surprise a husband with the news that he’s procreated, but hey, whatever floats her boat.”
She stares me down. “Okay, yes, I’ll give it to you that you’ve kind of evolved. But I bet you’re getting uncomfortable just talking about it right now.”
I shake my head. “Nope.”
Her eyes sparkle mischievously. “Okay, Mrs. Calm, how about if I ask you when you and Micha are going to have your own kids.”
I suddenly grow extremely uncomfortable. I usually am when it comes to thinking about having kids of my own. “Fine, you win that one. But, seriously, that was a low blow.”
“What can I say? I know how to kick you where it counts.” She smiles, but it’s forced.
I glance back at my house, racking my brain for a way to cheer her up because it’s my friend duty to do so. As my gaze lands on my closet, an idea sparkles.
“I have an idea that will maybe clear your head.” I look back at her and grin.
She perks up, her posture straightening. “And what’s your idea? Please tell me it’s something epically fun because I need epically fun.”
“Well, I need a new outfit for the concert tonight if you’re interested in helping me find one.”
“Wow. You must really feel sorry for me if you’re suggesting we go shopping.” A grin lights up her face and it almost makes the next four hours of store time less painful to endure. “Meet me down at the car in like thirty?”
I nod as I back toward the door. “But we have to stop for coffee.”
She opens the back door to her house. “Of course. An Ella with no caffeine is never fun.”
Smiling, I retreat inside my bedroom and shut the door behind me. The inside of my house is almost as equally beautiful as the view of the city. Filled with antique furniture and art, the walls and rooms have character. The hardwood floors look purposefully old, and the walls are painted in various different colors that breathe life into the place. My favorite room is the attic, though, because it’s where I create my art.
After I take a quick shower, I pull on a pair of denim shorts and a black shirt then apply some kohl liner around my eyes. Right on cue, a spout of nausea slams against my stomach as I’m brushing my long, auburn hair.
“Shit.” I drop to my knees in front of the toilet. Since I haven’t had breakfast yet, I end up dry heaving for about a minute before my stomach settles, and I stumble to my feet again.
Dammit. This shit is getting really old. Between the overheating and the vomiting, I think it might be time to go to the doctor to make sure something’s not wrong.
I reapply my makeup then change into a fresh shirt before heading out of the house. The sun is gleaming in the sky, the air smells like cut grass, and my neighbor, Mrs. Flicking, waves to me as I round the fence to Lila’s driveway.
The garage door is open, and Lila is waiting for me by her shiny black Mercedes. She’s changed into a flowery sundress and a jacket, her long, blonde hair is down and wavy, and she’s texting someone as I approach her.
“Jesus, you look like shit,” she remarks when she glances up at me.
“Wow. Thanks. Exactly what every woman wants to hear right before they go shopping for something to make them look sexy for their husband, who they haven’t seen in two months.” I sling my purse over my shoulder as I open the passenger door of the car.
“I’m so sorry.” She ducks into the car and starts up the engine. “I didn’t mean to sound like such a bitch.” She squint
s at me. “But you do look really pale.”
“I got sick this morning,” I admit as I fan my hand in front of my face. “And can we please keep the heat off this time? I feel like I’m burning up all the damn time. I’m seriously wondering if I’ve had the longest flu ever or something.”
With a pucker at her brows, she reaches across the console and places the palm of her hand on my forehead. “You don’t feel like you have a fever.” She lowers her hand to the shifter and pushes it into reverse. “Are you sure you’re up for shopping today? Because, if you’re not feeling good, we can just sit home and watch a movie or something. That cheers me up, too, just as long as I can pick the movie.”
I motion for her to back up the car. “No way. We’re so doing this. I need a dress, and you need cheering up.”
“Thank you, best friend.” She beams as she backs down the driveway.
“No problem.” I draw the seatbelt over my shoulder. “I just wish I knew what was up with me.”
She adjusts her mirror as she nears the street. “Up with what?”
“These stupid nausea spouts I’ve been having for like a month.”
She abruptly slams on the brakes, sending the car lurching to a stop. I shoot forward in my seat, nearly banging my head on the dash.
“What the hell, Lila?” I brush stray strands of hair out of my eyes and turn my head to gape at her. “What was that about?”
Her blue eyes search mine. “You said you’ve been getting sick to your stomach for like a month?”
I nod, confused. “Yeah. So? It’s probably stress or the flu. But don’t worry, if it keeps up, I’ll go to the doctor.”
She scans my outfit over. “And you’re wearing shorts when it’s nearly Christmas.”
“Okay, that is a little bit weird,” I agree with her. “But I’m so freaking hot all the time I can’t stand wearing anything warmer.”
A slow grin expands across her face. “Oh, my God, Ella!” She claps her hands and squeals, “You’re pregnant!”
I deflate like a balloon. “Are you fucking crazy! No, I’m not!”
She flinches from the sharpness in my tone but continues to smile. “Ella, I know you and Micha haven’t really decided to try having kids yet, but trust me, you show signs of being pregnant. I search the internet all the time for this stuff.”
“So what?” I squeak, sounding very unlike me. “Just because the internet says something doesn’t mean it’s true.”
“Okay.” She pauses then decides to tread forward despite my horror over the subject. “When was your last period?”
I stare at the ceiling as I mentally calculate. When I finally realize it was a little over two months ago, right before Micha and I had hot, sweaty piano bench sex, fear soars through me so potently I can barely breathe. How is this freaking possible? I mean, I’m on the damn pill. There was that week that I missed a few and had to start over, though. Fuck, I forgot about that.
I bite at my fingernails. Shit.
“Things have been so intense at the gallery I can barely remember to eat, let alone when the last time I had my period was,” I lie, unable to accept the truth.
Lila pats my hand. “Oh, Ella.”
I jerk away from her. “Don’t you ‘oh Ella’ me.”
She surrenders, her hands in front of her. “Okay, Miss Hormones.”
“Lila!” I whine as tears sting my eyes. “Stop with the jokes. I’m freaking out here.”
Her hands fall to her lap. “Sorry. What do you need from me?”
“For you to help me. Please,” I practically beg her, but for what, I’m not even sure. Something that will help me handle this.
She must understand me because she nods and then backs out onto the road. “Okay, help is on the way.”
“Where are we going?” I ask, telling myself to breathe. That it can’t be true. That it’s a mistake. That it has to be a mistake. Because I was never supposed to be a mother.
She steers the car toward the city. “To find out the truth.”
Life has thrown me a curveball that’s hit me straight in the face. My brain aches so badly I can hardly think straight, much less process my emotions. I honestly wish I couldn’t think at all, then maybe I wouldn’t have to acknowledge the reality in front of me.
“How accurate are these things?” I ask Lila as I stare at the five pregnancy tests scattered on my bathroom countertop. All show positive, that yes, there’s a human growing in my stomach. Each time I think about it, I want to throw up. Mom? I’m not a mom.
“Pretty accurate,” Lila says as she reads the back of the box. Once she’s finished, she hops off the counter and tosses the box into the trashcan. “Face it, Ella, I think you have a bun in your oven.”
“Ew. Don’t ever say that.” I frown at the stupid tests again. “Are you sure there’s not a small chance that all of them could be wrong?”
She shrugs as she checks her reflection in the mirror, wiping a dab of lipstick from her teeth. “There might be, but with five positives, I doubt it.”
I squeeze my eyes shut, feeling the floor crumbling beneath me. “Now what do I do?” I whisper.
When she places her hands on my shoulders, my eyelids open. “You tell Micha.” She looks over my shoulder and at me in the mirror. “And then you two get to celebrate.”
Lila is obviously happy about this and thinks I should be equally as happy. She doesn’t know—doesn’t understand—my fear of being a mother. From the day Micha and I first started talking about having children, I worried I couldn’t be a mother. That, if I had a child of my own, I wouldn’t know what to do with it since my own mother never seemed to know what to do with me. I actually spent many years taking care of her until I was about seventeen, and she took her own life. Left this world.
And now I’m supposed to bring someone into this world?
“I think I need to get ready for the concert,” I mumble, offering Lila a fake smile when she narrows her eyes at me.
“Let me know how it goes,” she replies as she turns to leave. Then she pauses in the doorway and looks over her shoulder at me. “And, Ella, be happy. This is a happy thing, okay?”
My smile grows even faker. “Okay.”
Her smile seems as sad as mine, but at the moment, I don’t have the energy to pick us both up.
Once she leaves the bathroom, I slam the door shut and collapse to my knees on the tile floor. God, I wish I had someone a little more understanding to talk to, wish I had a mother to call up and ask for advice. But, all I have is a father who hardly ever was a father to me until I was about twenty.
Lila, even though she means well, is too excited over this. She doesn’t get the undiluted terror I feel just thinking those test could be true. The sheer and utter horror over the fact that I might be a mother soon, and I have absolutely no idea what that entails.
As the realization weighs on me, I lie down on the floor, and for the first time in a long time, I cry my heart out.
Ella doesn’t show up at my final performance for the tour, and her phone is sending me straight to voicemail every time I call her. I’m trying not to lose my shit over not being able to get a hold of her. More than likely, she’s locked herself up in the attic to paint and has lost track of time—it’s happened before.
I had such huge plans for us tonight. Dinner after the concert, dancing, sex, going home, sex, talking about what’s going on in my career. Sex. Sex. Sex. But, as I pull up to our house and see that all the lights are off, my worry rockets through the roof.
I quickly park the car in the garage, silence the engine, and then rush into the house. The alarm doesn’t go off, which means it wasn’t set, making my worry escalate.
“Ella!” I call out as I drop the car keys onto the kitchen counter and dash for the stairway. “Ella, baby, are you home?”
When I reach the top of the stairs, I hurry to our bedroom door and push it open. Immediately, my heart settles.
Ella is curled up in a ball on the bed, fast asleep.
I cross the room, sink down on the edge of the mattress beside her, and watch her sleep peacefully, softly breathing in and out.
“God, I’m so glad to be home,” I whisper as I kick my boots off.
As they thud against the floor, Ella’s eyelids flutter open. She glances up at me, bleary eyed and disoriented. “Am I dreaming?” she asks as her gaze skims the room then lands back on me.
I sweep her hair out of her eyes. “No, baby, this isn’t a dream. I’m here.”
“What about earlier today?” she mutters as she sits up in bed and stretches her arms above her head. “Was that a dream?”
My brows furrow. “What happened earlier today?”
Her gaze flicks to the bathroom door, then she blinks back to me. “Nothing. I just got sick.” She yawns then slumps against the headboard. “I feel so tired.”
“I’m sorry you’re sick.” I slip off my other boot then climb over her and lay down in the bed. “It feels so good to be in my own bed again.” I bury my head into the pillow and stretch out my arms.
She nods then suddenly her eyes widen. “Oh, my word, I missed your performance, didn’t I?” Her gaze darts to the midnight sky outside the window and the city lights that look like a thousand fireflies dusting the land. “I’m so sorry, Micha.” Shaking her head, she lies down in the bed beside me so we’re lying on the mattress, facing each other. “I can’t believe I missed it. One minute, I was getting ready, and the next, I got sick, and then…” She shudders. “Well, I guess I laid down and fell asleep.”
“It’s okay,” I assure her with an exhausted grin. “There are a thousand ways you can make it up to me.”
She smiles tiredly. “Oh, yeah?”
“Definitely,” I murmur, my gaze dropping to her lips.
I imagine I lean forward to kiss her, but the next thing I know, I’m opening my eyes to warm sunlight filtering through the bedroom.
“Rise and shine, beautiful boy,” Ella singsongs as she leans over me with the world’s most heart-stopping smile on her face.
“What happened? I swear I was talking to you like five seconds ago, and it was nighttime.” I blink up at her then leisurely take in her perky nipples through the fabric of her tank top. Unable to help myself, I reach up and graze one with my thumb.