The Prelude of Ella and Micha, Page 6Jessica Sorensen
“I have to see if he’s okay.” Ella rounds the back of my car and exits the garage. “Dad, where have you been?” Ella calls out as she walks up to the fence dividing our properties.
He blinks around until he finally spots her then staggers to a sloppy halt. “What? Who are you …? Oh, Ella, is that you?”
“Yeah, um …” She glances back at me. I already know what’s coming before she even says it. “Micha, I think I need to stay home tonight to take care of my mom and dad. You just go, okay?”
I move up beside her. “I already told you I’m not going out without you.”
“What the hell is your problem?” Her dad shouts over me, tripping backwards until his back hits the side of the house. “Why aren’t you in the house?”
Ella clutches the top of the fence until her knuckles turn white. “Dad, you aren’t—”
“Shut up!” he screams so loudly the neighbor’s dog starts howling. “You stupid little bitch!”
My blood boils. I swear to God, I want to punch the asshole in the face. Every fucking time he gets this drunk, this shit happens. And Ella always looks like a wounded dog, ready to curl up in a ball. The girl can fight like no other with everyone else, but put her in front of her verbally abusive dad, and she shuts down.
It fucking hurts to watch her die inside.
“Fuck off, Mr. Daniels!” I snap, enraged. “You’re drunk, and you need to go inside before you say anything else you’ll regret.” Like the fucking douche ever regrets anything. He’s never sober long enough to feel regret.
“All I regret is having this family,” he slurs, flinging his arm at us as he stumbles for the back stairs and lands on his ass. “You and your little shit brother ruined my life.”
I hold my breath and stab my nails into my palms until he gets to his feet and stumbles back down the driveway, probably heading to the bar again, a typical Saturday night for him.
“I’ll be back in a bit!” he shouts as he zigzags across the front lawn.
Once he’s vanished down the sidewalk, I let out a deafening breath. Then, with one more inhale, I face Ella. She hasn’t spoken a word since her father yelled at her, and her eyes are glued to the ground.
“Are you okay?” I ask, daring to place my hand on the small of her back.
She stiffens from my touch yet doesn’t move away. “I should stay and keep an eye on stuff …” She releases a loud breath and then finally looks up at me. “You know what? Never mind. I’m going to go with you tonight and have some fun. My mother has her cell phone. I just have to make sure I check up on her. Although, I doubt she’ll be awake tonight. The meds she’s on are pretty heavy.”
“Aterre you sure? Because I don’t mind—”
She conceals my mouth with her hand. “Nope, you and I are going out tonight. No buts.”
“Yes, boss.” Then, just because I know it’ll make her smile, I lick the palm of her hand.
“Micha!” she squeals, laughing as she backs away, bumping her hip against the fence. “That’s so gross.”
I artfully grin. “My tongue’s been inside your mouth before. How could that be any grosser?”
She puts her hands on her hips. “Hey, who said I didn’t think the kiss was gross?”
“My kisses aren’t gross,” I assure her.
“At fourteen, maybe they were.”
I mock being offended, pressing a hand to my chest like she’s wounded my heart. Really, she has the complete power to do so. “Wow, way to ruin my ego. For four years, I thought I rocked your world, and now you’re telling me I didn’t.”
She flashes me a haughty smile. “No way. I’ve had way better kisses.” She whirls around, and I watch her ass as she saunters over to my car.
“That’s such bullshit.” I chase after her, no longer pretending I’m offended anymore—I am offended. That kiss rocked my fucking world. Hell, it might have been the starting point of the obsession I’ve developed for her.
When I reach her, I dodge around and barricade her path to the passenger side of the car. “That kiss was the best you’ve ever had. Admit it.”
She crosses her arms, giving me a glimpse of my very favorite side of her—the bold, spitfire side. “So you want me to lie to you?”
“Wow,” I say sullenly, massaging my aching chest with my balled fist. “That fucking hurts, Ella. You seriously just broke my heart.”
“What can I say?” She puts her lips close to my face, eliciting a stutter from my aching heart. “Payback’s a bitch,” she whispers then licks my neck, giggling under her breath as she steps back, totally proud of herself. “That was for the hand lick.” She smirks then veers around me to get into the Chevelle, leaving me speechless.
And fucking rock hard.
I adjust my cock then take about one more minute to compose myself before slamming the hood of the car down and climbing in the driver’s seat. Then I rev up the engine, telling myself not to ask, but my need to know overcomes me.
“So, was the payback just the lick?” I rotate in my seat to look at her. “Or was the remark about the kiss part of your evil, heart breaking plan, too?”
Her green eyes sparkle with amusement. “What do you think?”
“I think it was a great fucking kiss, especially for being only fourteen.” I drape my arm on the seat behind her head and play with her hair. “But I want to know what you think.”
She slumps her head against the seat, chewing on her bottom lip as she struggles with something internally, her playful mood shifting. “I think the kiss was … great,” she whispers softly. “You’re great, Micha.” With that, she turns away from me and stares out the window.
“You’re great, too.” And I love you. I’m in love with you, Ella.
My tongue burns to utter the last words, the thing I’ve wanted to tell her for almost two years now, but like always, I chicken out. I can’t have my relationship with Ella end. Can’t—won’t—live my life without her. And, if it means we have to stay friends, then we have to stay friends. I just hope, with time, she’ll finally be able to feel the same way toward me. Maybe when we get out of this shitty town and start our life together, like we’ve been planning since age fourteen.
Burying my emotions, I instead say exactly what she needs to hear. “You ready for some fun tonight?” I pump the gas pedal and the engine roars to life.
Her attention whips back to me. She attempts not to smile, but when I playfully waggle my eyebrows at her and floor the gas pedal again, her laughter bursts through.
“God, what would I do without you?” she says, and my heart ceases in my chest.
“Probably be way less horny,” I tease then laugh when she punches me in the arm.
“I’m never horny for you.” Her cheeks tint red. I have to wonder if sometimes, when I’m sneaking touches, she secretly likes it.
“Whatever you have to say to get yourself through the day.” I release my foot off the brake and peel down the driveway and onto the road.
Then we fly through town with the windows rolled down and a breeze blowing in, heading for the party. We stay there for about forty-five minutes then bail because the cops show up. Ella seems mildly disappointed so I silently vow to make sure she has fun tonight. I drive toward the mountains with music playing from the car speakers. Both of us remain quiet, content.
When we reach the foothills, Ella scoots forward in her seat and spreads her arms out to the side, angling her head back and shutting her eyes. “I wish everything could stay like this forever, just you and me in this car. No parents. No big, scary world. No responsibilities.”
“Things can stay this way.” I glance back and forth between her and the road, mesmerized by the arch of her chest, her relaxed body, her parted lips. “As long as we’re together, we can always have this, no matter where we are.”
Usually, she’d agree with me but, like the last couple of weeks, she stays silent.
“Ella, are you sure you’re okay?” I ask, gripping the steering wheel. “
You’ve seemed kind of—I don’t know—different lately.”
She nods but doesn’t say anything. I’d press for more, but I don’t want to sidetrack her from the few moments of freedom she has, so I bite down on my tongue and bottle up my emotions, telling myself everything will be okay.
We have a plan to stay together forever, and as long as we stick to that plan, everything will be fine.
I’m having way too much fun. I’m having way too much fun, and I feel guilty. I’m having way too much fun, and I feel guilty about it because I bailed out and left my mother home unsupervised. And the air smells like it’s going to rain. It might not seem like much, but every time I have fun and it rains, disaster happens. Like in eleventh grade when I broke my arm snowboarding off the roof. I was having fun and rain was pouring down from the clouds, melting the snow into sleet, making it slippery and causing me to wipe out epically during the landing. Or like when I wrecked my dad’s car racing. Then there was the time Micha and I snuck into the local swimming pool and got caught. All rain, rain, rain.
I just hope tonight isn’t a repeat of history.
I probably wouldn’t be having that much fun, but Micha is … well, Micha. He knows how to get under my skin and work his way into my psyche. When I was about eight, I seriously thought he could read my mind. Sometimes, I still do.
When we finally pull up to The Hitch—a neglected restaurant that’s tucked away near a back road in the middle of the mountains—I know right away that the fun I was having is going to go up to a whole other level, making my guilt soar.
Because we’re racing tonight.
And racing equals adrenaline rush.
And adrenaline rush equals tons of fun in drunken Ella land.
Micha slams on the brakes as we near the other cars parked around the flat, dirt area, skidding to a stop right before we run over a crowd of people. A cloud of dust coughs up around the car as Micha shifts into park.
“Are you feeling better?” he asks as he turns the keys and silences the engine.
The hour drive up here has effectively cleared my head of the clutter usually occupying it. “Yep. Much better.”
“Good, then I’ve done my job.” He unbuckles his seatbelt then turns to get out of the car. But then he pauses and twists back to face me. “I’m really glad you came with me,” he says before he leans over the console to brush his lips across my cheek.
Sober Ella would ream his ass for the move, but drunk Ella kind of likes it. He must not realize I’m that drunk, either, because he quickly hops out of the car before I have a chance to scold him. I hurry after him, reaching for the small bottle of Vodka I stashed in the pocket of my leather jacket as we stride across the gravel and past the parked cars.
Micha eyeballs me as I throw my head back to take a swig. “Where’d you get that?”
“From my house.” I screw the cap back on.
He frowns. “How much are you planning on drinking tonight?”
I shrug, maneuvering around so I’m walking backwards in front of him. “As much as it takes to keep the fun going.” I do a funky little dance move, and he snorts a laugh.
“Fine.” He moves up beside me and drapes an arm around me, navigating me toward a gathered crowd. “But, if I win the race, I’m so joining you.”
“Then who will be DD?”
“Guess we’ll be spending the night in my car again.”
“You know what? That doesn’t bother me.”
He grins, still staring around as we approach the crowd, the headlights of running cars beaming across the darkness around us. I breathe in the comforting scent of him—cologne mixed with mint and something else that only belongs to Micha.
The rustle of voices and excitement in the air instantly pumps up my adrenaline. I must be shaking with excitement or something because Micha whispers in my ear, “Relax, baby. We’ll get to the good part soon.”
I roll my eyes yet can’t brush off the wild, uncontrollable, fluttering feeling inside my body. I try to keep the sensation contained as we near the group, but it becomes too much, and I finally give up and allow myself to get all bouncy.
Micha laughs at me as I dance to the music playing out of one of the speakers. “And there’s my feisty girl. I was worried she wasn’t going to come out tonight.”
When I let out a playful growl while nipping at him, he chokes on a laugh, nearly buckling over.
“Okay, hand over the bottle,” he says, sticking out his hand, still chuckling.
I jut out my lip. “How come?”
“Because you just tried to bite me.”
“So? I heard you like to get bit.”
He skids to a halt in the dirt. “Where did you hear that from?”
I nonchalantly shrug as I stop in front of him. “There’s a rumor going around town that you let Ditzy bite you while you two were messing around.”
His jaw drops. “That’s so not fucking true.”
“So you’re saying you don’t like it?” I’m totally entertained by his uneasiness since he never gets unsettled. Usually, he’s the un-settler.
“No …” He squirms. “I’m not saying that … but I am saying that you’re super drunk right now.”
“Yeah, maybe I am.” I try to see clearly through my drunken mind, but it’s a lost cause, and I quickly give up. “So you have been bit by a girl, then?”
He crosses his arms, appearing tense. “Yeah, by you.”
My lips part in shock. “When did that happen?”
“We were fifteen and wrestling.” He cups his neck. “You bit me right here so I’d let you go. You’re such a dirty, little cheat.”
I wave him off. “That wasn’t a bite. That was a mere teeth nick.”
He stares at me unfathomably as his hand falls to his side. “How the hell did we end up in this conversation?”
“Because I’m drunk, and it’s funny watching you get all squirmy.” Then, just because I can, I spring forward, dip my head, and gently bite his neck. “Ha, ha.” I move back, smiling proudly. “Now I stole your first real neck bite.”
His jaw is practically hanging to the ground. “I can’t believe you just did that.”
I bat my eyelashes. “I’m sorry, did you not want to play?”
“No … that’s not it.” He glances from left to right. When I follow his gaze, I get blindsided by him as he jumps at me. His arms circle my waist, and before I can react, his teeth graze the skin of my throat. “What was that thing you were saying earlier?” He bites at the side of my neck again, and something inside my body explodes. “Payback’s a bitch.” He pulls away, grinning.
And I stand there, breathless and stunned as I cup my neck.
“Don’t start something you can’t finish, Ella May.” He raises the bottle of vodka he must have stolen from my pocket while he was biting me. “And you can have this back after I win the race.” Then he stuffs the bottle into the back pocket of his jeans and starts for the crowd again, doing his swagger walk.
I chase after him, pouting over the bottle and confused over my tingling body.
“What the fuck took you so long?” Ethan Gregory suddenly shoves his way out of the crowd. He is tall and slightly sturdier than Micha with dark hair and lots of tattoos on his arms, and he adds to that growing collection monthly. “You left the shop like three hours ago.”
“I had stuff to take care of,” Micha replies evasively. He knows that, if he says it has to do with me, Ethan will give me shit. “Besides, I’m here now, so quit getting your panties in a bunch.”
“I’m not.” Ethan crosses his arms and targets a glare at me. “I just know why you’re late because it’s always the same reason.”
“Fuck you, Gregory,” I say, marching toward him.
Micha grabs my hand and pulls me back. “Easy, feisty girl. No fights until after the race.”
“Shut the fuck up, Ella,” Ethan retorts, and Micha scowls at him.
ass,” I snap at Ethan.
“And you’re a bitch,” Ethan bites back.
I step forward again with my fists balled at my side, but Micha draws me back by the shoulders
“Okay, you two”—he raises his voice over the bustle of the crowd—“chill the fuck out. I need to focus on racing, not on keeping you two away from each other.”
Ethan and I shoot one last death glare at each other but keep our traps shut. Neither of us wants to distract Micha. Drag racing is intense, and if he’s frazzled or not in the right place, he could end up crashing into a tree or flipping the car over.
“Thank you,” Micha says to both of us before he steers me toward the front of the crowd with his chest pressed against my back.
While I push people out of my way, making a path for us, a few girls scowl at me, but then they notice I’m with Micha and bat their eyelashes at him. When we passed Ditzy, her eyes light up.
“Hey, Micha.” She shoots me a dirty look then waves her hand in the air, pressing her boobs against everyone as she makes her way up to us.
I roll my eyes at her and look up at Micha, who dazzles me with a charming grin.
“What?” he says innocently. “Is something bothering you, pretty girl?”
“No.” I know I should stop there, or I’m going to end up sounding jealous, but like usual, my mouth takes on a life of its own. “It’s just that I don’t get it. How can you sleep with someone like her?” I point over my shoulder at Ditzy, who’s gotten distracted by a guy with a ponytail.
“Who said I slept with her?” he questions, tapping his chin like he’s actually forgotten.
I slap his arm, and he laughs. “You did, last weekend at your party.”
He shakes his head, causing strands of his blond hair to fall into his eyes. The moonlight and the headlights highlight his aqua eyes, making them look hauntingly beautiful. If I could have a day where I could draw whatever the hell I wanted to, I would spend hours drawing his eyes.
“I never said I slept with her. You just implied it the next morning when I snuck into your room, and you told me you didn’t want me in your bed when I still smelled like skank.”