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Ella and Micha: Infinitely and Always, Page 6

Jessica Sorensen

  Chapter 10


  It’s a few days before Christmas Eve, and I’m coming home from work late, something I’m not happy about, but I couldn’t help it. I’ve been working really hard to get on my own feet and get my own studio running, which means sacrificing time with Ella. I hate that I have to do it and hate how sad she’s been about it, even though she pretends not to be. She’s been sad a lot the last couple of weeks, and it’s starting to worry me. Although, on the positive side, at least I’m home every night to try to cheer her up.

  On my way home, I decide to stop and pick up a bottle of wine to surprise her. Not just for Christmas, but because almost six years ago from today, I asked her to unofficially marry me.(

  After I leave the liquor store, I drive home yet pause before I turn into the driveway. Lights are strung up on the trim and a few strings have been hung up around the windows. The strangest part, though, is that there’s a small inflatable Santa on the front lawn that looks like he’s waving at me. It creeps the heck out of me.

  Shuddering, I park the car in the garage. When I enter the house, the smell of apple pie engulfs my nostrils. It’s not like Ella to bake anything, so the fact that she’s making a pie throws me off a little.

  “Honey, I’m home,” I jokingly call out, setting my guitar case down by the back door. I then slip my jacket off and hang it on the coat rack.

  Wandering into the kitchen, I inhale the apple pie scent. Moments later, I start to laugh as I take in the sight of the mess Ella’s made in the kitchen. Flour practically dusts every inch of the countertops, and bowls, spoons, and pans are piled up in the sink. Plus, the air smells the slightest bit smoky. It’s like a tornado swept through the place and scattered all of our cooking supplies everywhere, and in the middle of it, right on the stove, it left a single apple pie, all golden and crispy.

  “Hey, you.” Ella unexpectedly hurries through the doorway, looking a little flushed. Her auburn hair is braided to the side, a black dress hugs her body, and her porcelain skin is dotted with fresh paint. She’s wearing no makeup at all.

  She’s fucking perfect. I’m so glad I get to see her like this.

  “I’m really starting to enjoy coming home every night,” I tell her, crossing the kitchen, excited to touch her.

  She wipes her hands on the side of her dress. “Me, too. You’re home late, though. Is everything okay?”

  “Everything’s fine. I just spent a little bit longer than I wanted to looking for places.” I slip my arm around her waist and pull her against me, burying my face into the crook of her neck. “Tomorrow, you should come with me.”

  “I might be able to do that. I have to go to the gallery for a couple of hours, but we could meet up afterwards.” She hooks her arms around me, and her fingers tremble as she traces the nape of my neck.

  “Are you feeling better yet?” I dare ask. Every time I ask Ella about being sad or sick, she gets all twitchy.

  She wavers, biting on her bottom lip. “Kind of.”

  “Maybe you should chill on the baking and take it easy.”

  She shakes her head. “Nah, I’m fine. Or, at least, I’m going to be.” She contemplates something. “Did you like the decorations outside?”

  “I did. Although, the Santa kind of creeped me out. Reminds me of that time when we were kids and I got stuck under the inflatable Santa when we were trying to deflate the one in front of the store.”

  She giggles, the warmth of her breath tickling my cheeks. “Ethan put it up just because of that.”

  “What a douche. I so need to get him back.” I slide my hands down her body and cup her ass. “But later. Right now, I want something else.” I grip her ass cheeks and push her closer to me, smiling when her eyelids flutter and her knees start to buckle.

  “Later,” she whispers in an unsteady voice. “Right now, I need to give you something.”

  I perk up. “Like a present?”

  She nods. “But don’t get too excited. It’s nothing I bought or anything.” When her voice gets all off-pitch, she clears her throat. “Just something we—I made.”

  Her offish behavior is a little weird, even for her, but I still play along.

  “Awe, you made me a present.” I wink at her. “How very sweet of you.”

  She laughs nervously, and I kiss her, pressing my hand against the small of her back. She whole-heartedly kisses me back, pushing her chest against me, as if she can’t get enough.

  We stay that way for a while but finally have to break apart to come up for air.

  I lift up the wine I’m carrying. “How about we pour a glass of this, and then you can show me the present. I bought this to pre-celebrate our ring anniversary.”(

  She glances down at the black-stone ring on her finger and then warily stares at the bottle of wine. “How about I show you the present first?”

  “Okay…?” I’m having trouble reading her, which is unusual. My confusion only amplifies as she takes my hand, and I notice her fingers are trembling.

  Still, I follow her as she guides me out of the kitchen and upstairs to her art studio. The space is equally as messy as the kitchen. Paint supplies, pencils, and canvases are everywhere, and the air smells of fresh paint. The lamp in the corner is on, but the shade is off and on the floor. There are also a few scraps of torn wrapping paper piled about and tape stuck to the hardwood floor.

  Before I can say anything, she releases my hand and slowly walks over to the corner of the room where a present shaped an awfully lot like a canvas is propped against the wall.

  “Okay, this present comes with warnings,” she says, crossing her arms as she faces me.

  I cautiously cross the room toward her. “And what warnings are those?”(

  “Well, the first is that Lila was actually behind the present idea, so I’m blaming any cheesiness factor on her. And the pie ordeal. She said I should bake for you as part of the surprise, even though I told her I’d end up burning the pie.” She pauses, rubbing her hand across her face anxiously. “And the second is that I’m not really sure if this”—she waves her hand at the wrapped object—“is a present or not.” She frowns as she stares off into empty space. “I’m still trying to figure it out.”

  She’s got me fucking worried, but I attempt to remain calm as I reach her. “Can I open it?”

  Her chest rises and falls as she breathes in and out. Then her gaze collides with mine. She doesn’t utter a word, just nods.

  I reach out to rip the paper off. “I feel so nervous,” I admit as my fingers brush across the paper.

  “I feel like I’m going to throw up,” she mutters quietly.

  My heart is hammering in my chest and blood rushes in my eardrums. I’m so freaking worried I seriously expect to find an ‘I’m Divorcing You’ painted on the canvas hidden behind the green and gold paper. But, as I rip the paper off, I discover a canvas painted with a very intriguing map. Well, not necessarily a map, but a row of images that make up a map of our lives together.

  “It tells you a story,” she whispers, watching me as I study the painting. “A story that leads to an infinitely and always ending, I hope.”

  I feel a shift in the air as my gaze skims across the map. The first image is of her and me standing on opposite sides of the fence when we’re four years old. Then the paint brightens and alters in deeper colors as it creates our first kiss on a swing set when we were fourteen. Then the shades darken to greys, blacks, and charcoals as the scene transforms into us kissing on the bridge in the rain that night that changed our lives forever. After that, the lines sweep up and brighten at the replay of our wedding day in the snow, in our spot on the shore of the lake. I smile at that one, basking in the emotions connected to one of the best memories of my life. Finally, I arrive the end, but as soon as I see it, it doesn’t feel like an end. It feels like a beginning.

  My expression falters at the soft colors created with delicacy, as if each stroke of the brush meant something. The picture is of Ella an
d me in front of our house, but we’re not alone. Standing between us is a little girl with red hair like Ella’s and aqua eyes the same shade as mine.

  “I don’t know if it’s going to be a girl,” she says quietly as I stare at the painting in astonishment. “In fact, I was originally going to paint a boy, but when I actually started to paint it, it came out a girl, probably because I keep dreaming it’s going to be a girl.”(

  That’s when what she’s telling me really clicks.

  I turn my head and look at her with uncertainty. Not because of my own feelings, but because I fear what’s going on with her. She’s been so afraid of being a mother, and I’m not sure if she’s happy, sad, scared, or what.

  “This is…” I trail off, clearing my throat. “When did this happen?”(

  She blows out an uneven breath. “Remember that night about two months ago on the piano? Well, I got a little off whack with my pills, and we got so caught in the moment I sort of forgot.” Her chest heaves as she struggles to breathe. “I’ve known for a couple of weeks. That’s why Lila went to the doctor with me that day, to find out for sure. Sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. I was just freaking out that I’d be too sad and ruin everything for you.”

  “But you don’t seem sad now.” Anxious, yes. Scared, sure. Sad, not really.

  She shrugs. “I’m coming to terms with it... Caroline kind of helped me this morning with a few things.”(

  I swallow the lump in my throat. “So, you’re for sure… pregnant?”(

  She swiftly nods. “Lila thought it’d be fun if I told you in some way special, so we came up with the painting idea.” She fidgets with the hem of her dress. “I’m not so sure now that it was a good idea, springing it on you like this. You look… a little pale.”

  “I feel a little pale, but only because I’m trying to read you. I mean, we’ve talked about this enough that I was seriously starting to wonder if you’d ever be okay with having kids. And then it accidentally happened…” I trail off as I battle down my excitement. The last thing I want to do is celebrate if she’s not ready for that.

  “I’ll be fine, Micha,” she assures me, tangling her fingers with mine. “I’m not going to lie; I freaked the fuck out when Lila first suggested it to me. But, the more time goes by, the more… I don’t know… I could see myself getting really into this.”

  Smashing my lips together, I press back a smile, not wanting to get too excited until I know that she’s one-hundred percent okay with this. “Are you sure you’re good with this? Because you can always tell me how you feel. You know that, right?”(

  She nods. “I do. And I’m not going to lie; I’m still scared as hell, but the idea of this”—she gestures at the last image on the canvas—“it makes me feel kind of bubbly inside sometimes when I think about it.”(

  I let my smile slip through. “Good, because it makes me really, really happy.”(

  “Are you sure?”

  “Of course. I mean, I’m terrified as shit, but in a good, nervous, scared sort of way.”

  When she smiles, I scoop her up in my arms and hug her tightly.

  “Best Christmas present ever,” I say then press my lips to hers.

  Chapter 11

  A little less than two months later…


  As I stand in front of the alter, waiting for the minister to pronounce Ethan and Lila husband and wife, all I can think is, my feet hurt so bad.

  At a little over four months pregnant, heels were not the best choice of footwear. But, I love Lila enough that I’m trying to be a good sport and suck it up. Besides, she did have to go to over five stores to find the perfect bridesmaid’s dress that would fit over my little belly.

  To endure the pain, I focus on the best man standing across from me, looking smoking hot in a black tux. I never really thought a tux could be sexy, but I’ll admit, I think my mind was changed today.

  When Micha catches me checking him out, he winks at me. My stomach flutters with butterflies as I think about the time we stood up in front of our friends and swore our love for each other.

  Lila and Ethan decided to keep it pretty simple—well, simple for Lila. There are maybe fifty guests tops, consisting of her friends and family. She didn’t invite her mother or father and seemed pretty content about that. Ethan’s family did show up, though, which is a little surprising.

  Lila’s dress, on the other hand, is anything other than simple. The silk and lace trails down half the aisle, and the corset top is embellished with flowers and diamonds that weave around her waistline. Her blonde hair is pinned up and curled, and a tiara glitters from the top of her head.

  “And I now pronounce you husband and wife,” the minster announces, drawing my attention back to the ceremony. “You may now kiss the bride.”

  Ethan and Lila lean in for a kiss, giggling under their breaths, which makes me giggle and Micha laugh. Lila glances at me perplexedly when she notices my laughter. I simply shrug then point to my stomach, blaming it on my hormones.

  Shaking her head, she grins then links arms with Ethan and heads down the aisle. Micha and I do the same, following them, but unlike Ethan, Micha reaches behind me and sneakily pinches my ass.

  I snort a laugh, although thankfully, we’re out of the chapel and in the hallway by then.

  “Not fair.” I pinch Micha’s ass back.

  He laughs, wiggling his arm out of mine so he can skitter out of my reach. “That was way harder than mine.”

  Lila sets her bouquet of roses down and places her hands on her hips. “You two are relentless. Seriously, it’s my wedding day. Can’t you just chill for like a couple of hours and stop fondling each other?”

  Micha and I exchange a wary look. “Maybe,” we say simultaneously then sputter a laugh.

  Ethan steps up to the side of Lila and swings his arm around her. “Relax, wife.” The word causes a grin to spread across Lila’s face.

  Moments later, Ethan pinches her ass then bolts out the door toward the limo parked outside.

  “Oh, he’s so dead for that.” She marches after him, the train of her dress swishing behind her.

  Micha and I take hands and follow them out, getting into the limo that will drive us to the reception. On the way there, Ethan pops open a bottle of champagne to celebrate. He pours everyone a glass except for me. As if he’s planned it, he reaches into his jacket pocket and retrieves a juice box.

  When he offers it to me, I take it. “Did you seriously carry this around in your pocket the entire day?”

  He shrugs. “I wanted to make sure you didn’t feel left out.”

  I roll my eyes. “Oh, you did not.”

  “I did, too.” He presses his hand to his chest, offended. “I’m being genuine right now. I promise.” When I arch a brow at him, a conniving grin curls at his lips. “Okay, I’ll admit, I thought it’d be funny to make you drink out of a juice box while the rest of us get to sip champagne. Call it payback for that stupid prank you pulled on me the other day.”

  Squaring my shoulders, I stab the straw into the top of the drink and take a sip as dignified as one can when drinking from a juice box. Micha chuckles under his breath then raises his glass.

  “Okay, I have to make a toast. To the bride and groom, who are two of the best people I’ve ever met. I’m so glad they finally got married”—he pauses—“because it was about damn time.”

  Ethan rolls his eyes as the three of them clink glasses, and just so I won’t feel left out, I tap my juice box against their glasses. By the time the champagne is finished, we’ve arrived at the reception hall.

  “Are you ready to play?” Ethan asks as he grabs his drumsticks from the floor.

  Micha nods as he pushes open the door. “But, just so you know, I’m not planning on making it a habit of jamming out at wedding receptions. I’m only doing this because I love the two of you so much.”

  Ethan makes gagging noises as he hops out while Lila throws her arms around Micha’s neck and hugs the living daylight
s out of him. “You’re so wonderful, Micha,” she says, on the verge of crying.

  He moves the heavy amounts of fabric from her dress out of the way so he can hug her back. With a soft pat on the back, the two of them break apart, and then Ethan helps Lila and her dress out of the car.

  Micha ducks outside and offers his hand to me. Taking it, I very ungracefully get myself out of the limo, trying not to flash anyone as my short green dress threatens to flip up.

  “Have I told you lately how beautiful you are?” he asks as he shuts the door, still holding my hand.

  I nod as we head for the door of the building. “In fact, I’m pretty sure you told me that just an hour ago when we were walking up the aisle.”

  He grins and drops a kiss on my mouth as we step inside the entryway. Then he lowers himself to his knees and places his hands on my stomach. The first time he did this in public, I got extremely uncomfortable and made him stop. But, now, it’s growing on me, and I actually kind of find it sweet.

  “You’re going to be just as beautiful as your mother,” he whispers to my bump. His fingers spread across my stomach, and he starts singing an unfamiliar song under his breath. “Words will never be able to describe how much I love you.”

  “What is that?” I ask, staring down at him. “Is that one of your new songs?”

  He shrugs as he rises back to his feet. “I actually wrote it for her the other day when we found out it’s a girl. I’m still working on it, though.”

  “What are you going to call the song?”

  “I was thinking about calling it, ‘Lyric.’ ” He tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. “And I was kind of thinking we could give her the same name.”

  I rest a hand on my belly. “You want to name our daughter Lyric?”

  He shrugs. “It kind of seems fitting.” His lips expand to an enormous grin. “I mean, she was created on a piano.”