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The Prelude of Ella and Micha, Page 7

Jessica Sorensen

  I frown as I remember. “But you never denied that you did.”

  He shrugs. “I never said it was true, either.”

  Don’t ask it. “Is it true?” Damn mouth.

  The corners of his mouth threaten to turn upward. “What would you do if I said yes?”

  “Nothing.” Deep down, though, I know it would annoy the hell out of me, even when I’m drunk. Maybe even more so in my intoxicated state.

  He hesitates, his eyes fastened on me, and the intensity dripping from him is unnerving. “Well, I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t even kiss her.”

  I eyeball him over, trying to tell if he’s lying. He rarely lies to me, though, and never about the girls he hooks up with. The fact that he hasn’t slept with Ditzy makes me stupidly feel better.

  “You flirted with her, though,” I point out, though it’s a moot point. Flirting doesn’t matter to Micha. He flirts with everyone, even the sixty-year-old check out lady at the grocery store who smells like cat food.

  “So what?” He crooks an eyebrow at me. “I’ve already told you time and time again that I’m just passing time until you finally come around. Sometimes, I get bored and need to flirt.”

  I fight back a smile. I shouldn’t be glad about this.

  Stop it. STOP.

  My smile’s breaking through.

  “Don’t smile, pretty girl,” he teases as we reach the front of the crowd. “It’ll ruin your I don’t give a shit facade.”

  “Hey, you promised not to call me that tonight,” I remind him in a lame attempt to sidetrack the conversation.

  “I’m not forgetting your jealousy that easy,” he retorts, his lips tugging into a sexy half-grin.

  I chew on my thumbnail as I take in the cars parked around us, refusing to focus on him. There’s Danny’s 1971 Dodge Challenger, Mikey’s 1968 Camaro, and Benny’s 1970 GTO, which I’m secretly in love with, though I’ll never admit it to Micha, because it’ll hurt his feelings.

  “So, tell me this.” Micha steps up beside me and sketches circles on my upper arm as he stares at the line of cars across from us. “Why does the idea of me sleeping with her bother you so much?”

  “Because she’s not good enough for you,” I say truthfully with a shrug. Then I casually reach over and steal the bottle of vodka from his pocket.

  He gives me a suspicious sidelong glance. “Who is good enough for me? You?” He’s joking, but it triggers a hidden nerve. I think about how I’m about to bail on him and our plans in a month, just leave him in this dump of a town.

  It feels like invisible fingers have wrapped around my throat. “No, Micha, not me.” I slip out from under his arm. “I’m in no way good enough for you.” I back through the crowd, my heart throbbing in my chest. “I’ll be right back.” I reel around and run back to the car.

  After I hop into the backseat, I unscrew the cap from the bottle and take a few sips before resting back. One day, and hopefully soon, Micha is going to realize just how amazing he is and start looking for girls who have substance instead of girls like Ditzy. Then these little moments in this town—with me and everyone else—will just be moments that he’ll eventually forget about.

  I’ll become a fading memory along with everything I did. Even when I break my promise to him.

  Chapter 6


  I said the wrong damn thing. I knew I did as soon as I said it, but I get so sick of her thinking that I’m still sleeping around with everyone, because I’m not. I can’t anymore, not when I feel the way I do about her.

  I can’t think of a way to recover from my mess up, and she ends up running off somewhere. I don’t chase her down since she’ll keep running from me if I do. If I give her a few minutes to clear her head, she’ll more than likely come back and pretend nothing happened.

  I remain focused on the race, feeling a little better when I get challenged by Stanford and his Mustang because it’s gotta fucking weak sauce engine.

  I’m about to go back to my car, ready to roll, but Ella still hasn’t come back to me. My head is a little foggy as I scan the crowd for her and then by the rundown restaurant where a few people are getting high. Ella’s not usually into that, but she can also get really random and end up doing a lot of stupid shit sometimes. Still, she’s not back there. And, as I’m heading back to the crowd, Ethan finds me.

  “Just get in the damn car,” he says, giving me a shove in the back. He doesn’t race, but he’s obsessed with me winning. He puts a lot of work into my car and engine; therefore, ‘we share the win.’ “I’ll drive with you if you can’t find her.”

  Frowning, I hike across the dirt toward my car, swinging the keys around my finger. “Just look for her, okay? And don’t say anything stupid when you find her and piss her off.”

  “You know that’s not possible.” He backs toward the lineup area where two cars are parked side by side. “If I say anything to her, she’s going to get pissed at me. The only person she never does that with is you.”

  He’s right. The two of them clash more than my parents did before my dad bailed.

  Running out of time, I spin on my heels and jog back to my car, trying to tell myself that it’ll be okay.

  I can race without her in the car. I don’t have to worry about her.

  When I reach my car, though, I suddenly feel better.

  Ella’s lying on the backseat, staring up at the stars through the rolled down window with the bottle of Vodka in her hand.

  I rest my arms on windowsill. “Did you finish the bottle off?”

  She shakes her head without looking at me. “No.” She raises the bottle so I can see the liquid splashing inside it. “I took a few shots, though.”

  A breath eases from my lips as I open the door. “Do you want me to take you home so we can talk?”

  Her eyes cut in my direction. “What? No. Why?”

  My shoulders unravel as I hop into the seat and shut the door. “You just seem upset, and I have a feeling I might be making the night worse.”

  She eyes me for an eternity then finally sits up, screws the lid back on the bottle, and drops it onto the floor. She scoots forward in the seat and rests her elbows on the console. “I’m fine.” She tugs the elastic out of her hair and shakes it out. “Sorry for flipping out. I’m going to be chill for the rest of the night. I swear. And I totally get if you don’t want me to ride with you now. I’m being distracting.”

  “You’re perfectly fine …” I bite on my bottom lip as I watch her comb her fingers through her hair. My hands start to ache when she angles her head back, her chest arching forward as her eyelids slip shut. I could write a thousand songs just about the way she looks right now, and a thousand more about the way she makes me feel.

  When she lifts her head up again, her eyes open, and she encounters my hungry gaze.

  I quickly clear my throat and look away before I end up doing something stupid. “You know I always want you to ride with me, even when you’re upset. And when you’re being distracting.”

  She remains silent for a while, and when she does speak again, her voice is soft, almost breathless. “Micha?”

  I grip the steering wheel, staring at the trees enclosing the area, praying she’ll finally reveal that she loves me, too.

  But all she says is, “Nothing. Never mind. I’ll tell you later.”

  I can barely breathe, let alone press her. “Okay, sounds good.” I shift the car into drive. “Are you ready for this?”

  Nodding, she drunkenly dives over the console, eliciting a laugh from me. She pushes up and gets situated before waving me forward. “Let’s get this show on the road.”

  “Seat belt first,” I say. When she frowns, I add, “Your safety always comes first, beautiful.”

  She sighs then pulls the strap over her chest. “Fine, but the same goes for you.”

  I do as she asks, buckling myself in. “Thanks. Glad my safety does come first and that you think I’m beautiful.”

  She shakes her head yet d
oesn’t disagree.

  I drive up to the starting line, feeling a bit calmer. But, my nerves start to get rattled as I wait for Stanford’s girlfriend to flag us off. I thrum my fingers on my knees, fiddling with the stereo, doing just about everything to chill the fuck out.

  “Would you relax?” Ella says, placing a hand on my bouncing knee. “You’ll do well. You always do.”

  My gaze slides from her hand on my leg to her eyes. “I know, but I always get so fucking fidgety right before flag off. I get stuck in my own head.”

  “I know you do.” She ponders something then her green eyes light up. “I have an idea.” She reaches forward and picks up my iPod from the dock on the cracked dash. Scrolling through the songs, she selects, “The Distance” by Cake, and cranks it up full blast until the speakers crackle and the windshield vibrates.

  “Now you can’t hear your own thoughts!” she shouts over the music, laughing.

  I laugh with her. “Thank you!”

  Her gorgeous lips expand to a grin. “Anytime.” Then she places her hand on my knee as if it belongs there.

  And, in my opinion, it does.

  I bob my head as I wait for the flag to get dropped. Ella’s fingers tighten on my knee as Stanford’s girlfriend strolls up between the cars.

  “On your mark,” she starts with the flag raised. “Get set. Go!”

  We peel out of the parking lot and fly down the road toward the trees, side by side with the Mustang. There’s something unstably beautiful about racing, liberating even. But, what’s really beautiful about the scene is how much Ella gets turned on by the dangerous thrill of it. Put the girl in a car pressing a hundred miles an hour, and she damn near orgasms. It’s hard to pay attention as she lets go of my knee and sticks her arm out the window, as if she’s catching the air. Her other hand wanders to her stomach, her fingers grazing across the bottom of her shirt, like she’s considering touching herself.

  Yes, please touch yourself. Good God, touching you—

  “Micha, look out!” she shouts, her eyes widening as her arm shoots out for the dashboard.

  My attention whips to the road, which we’re reaching the end of. I brake hard and crane the wheel. The car spins wildly, the tires screeching and kicking up dirt. I manage to get it under control and head back toward the finish line, though.

  “Holy shit,” Ella breathes as the song ends. Then she busts up laughing, drunk and reckless and free. “That was intense.”

  I laugh with her, but I’m a bit distraught. The cruel, harsh reality of what just happened weighs heavily inside me. I damn near killed us, all because I couldn’t keep my dirty thoughts under control.

  This is getting out of hand.

  Maybe it’s time to tell her, just spell out how I feel. Because, if I don’t, I damn near might end up killing the both of us.

  Chapter 7


  “It’s celebration time!” I exclaim as I hop out of the Chevelle with the bottle of Vodka lifted in the air.

  Micha’s long legs stretch as he climbs out the car. “Celebrate away.” He doesn’t seem as happy as he should be, which makes me sad.

  “What’s wrong?” I ask as I round the car toward him.

  “Nothing’s wrong.” He watches me while I unscrew the lid off the vodka, slant my head back, and take a long gulp.

  “You look awfully upset for someone who just kicked some ass.” I wipe the burning liquid from my lips with the back of my hand and stare out at the bonfire someone started. “Is it because you almost wrecked at the end of the road? It happens to the best of us.”

  He studies me intently before snatching the bottle from my hand and downing a shot himself. “You and I need to talk later about something,” he says nervously as he removes the mouth of the bottle from his lips. “But, first, let’s celebrate.”

  I pause, wondering what the hell he wants to talk about, worried he might know what I want to talk to him about. That’s when the rush of alcohol hits me square in the brain, and all I want to do is have fun, not think.

  I grab the bottle from him, throw back another swallow, and then skip drunkenly toward the fire. He calls after me, laughing, but I continue to prance until I spot Renee, dancing on the tailgate of Ethan’s truck. It looks fun, so I jump up with her. She claps her hands together excitedly.

  “Yeah! Drunk Ella is out tonight!” she shouts as she pumps a hand up in the air and wiggles her hips.

  “Hell yeah, she is!” As I jiggle my ass to the music, the glow of the headlights and fire surrounding me, and the worries of the day dwindle away.

  What a perfect night, I think. And I thought it was going to be shitty.

  Then, moments later, I smell the rain.

  The fucking rain, like an omen.

  No, I’m not going to let it ruin my night.

  I throw back another shot. Then another. Until my mind is spinning and any thoughts of this night getting ruined fade away. I start to dance. And, I mean, really dance. The kind of dancing people only do behind closed doors, yet I’m out in the open, right in the spotlight, and I don’t give a shit.

  “Hey, I thought we were supposed to be sharing.” Micha suddenly appears beside the tailgate. His chin is tipped up and he’s staring at me as I rock out.

  “What? You want this?” I wiggle the bottle in his direction. When he extends his fingers for it, I whip my hand back out of his reach.

  “Oh, so you want to play dirty tonight, huh?” he teases with a playful smile.

  I smirk at him then throw back my head and suck down a swallow.

  His smile darkens, and without warning, he reaches up and snags me by the hips. A gasp escapes my lips as he jerks me forward and lifts me up and off the tailgate.

  “No fair!” I cry through my laughter as he sets me down on the tailgate with my legs dangling over the edge.

  “How is that not fair?” he asks, spreading my legs open and positioning himself between them.

  I shrug. There was no real logic behind my statement. “I have no idea.”

  “You’re so drunk.” He shakes his head as he reaches for the bottle in my hand.

  Again, I move it away from him, tucking my hand behind my back. He decides to play dirty and starts tickling my side. I let out a screech while I fall back into the bed of the truck, nearly landing on Renee’s feet. She skitters out of the way as Micha clambers up into the bed, chasing after me, his body gliding up mine until we’re hip to hip, chest to chest, face to face. Lip to lip.

  It feels like I should be fleeing from his nearness, but I’m too stupidly content at the moment to put up a fuss.

  “This feels nice,” I say with a content sigh, relaxing under Micha’s body.

  A pucker forms at his brow. “I think I might need to cut you off …” He trails off as I loop my arms around his neck.

  “No way. I’m having too much fun.”

  His breath catches in his throat as I graze my fingers up and down the nape of his neck. His reaction makes me giggle for some reason.

  “God, I love it when you’re like this,” he whispers, lowering his forehead to mine. “I just wish you weren’t so drunk.”

  “Me too,” I agree, but I’m not quite sure what I’m agreeing to.

  As his hot breath dusts my cheeks, I have the strongest urge to touch his lips.

  So I do.

  Moving my fingers around to his face, I graze the pad of my thumb across his lip ring, drawing a soft line over his bottom lip.

  His breath hitches. “Ella …” It almost sounds like he groans, but that’s probably the drunken side of my mind hearing things. My alcohol level is also more than likely the cause behind why it feels like he kisses my thumb and gently bites on it. Or maybe that’s just payback for the bite and lick I did to him earlier.

  Whatever. I don’t really care right now.

  “Can we go play?” I lean back and bat my eyelashes at him. “Pretty please.”

  His low chuckle reverberates through my body. “We can do wha
tever you want.” With a deep sigh, he pushes back. Then he steals the bottle from my hand before bounding off the tailgate.

  “Cheater!” I cry, flipping Renee the bird when she gives me the look. It’s the same one she’s been giving me for the entire summer every time Micha and I act like this, which yes, is a lot. But that’s what we do. Have fun. As friends. It makes me realize how much I truly need him, how much I don’t want to be a fading memory for him.

  Maybe this running off to Vegas thing will be harder than I thought.

  Maybe I could just ask him to come with me.

  Could I do that?

  Is it really that easy?

  With Micha, everything is easy.

  I run to the edge of the tailgate and jump onto Micha’s back mid-swig. He grunts from the contact as I fasten my arms and legs around him. “Don’t finish that off!” I try to reach for the bottle, but he spins around as he continues to drink. “Micha Scott! You are the biggest cheater ever!”

  Once he’s done with his drink, he screws the lid back on and then tosses the bottle to Ethan, who’s shaking his head at us.

  “You two are fucking crazy,” Ethan remarks, opening the bottle.

  “Ethan Gregory, don’t you dare finish that off!” I cry, but my plea fades as Micha holds onto my legs and hikes toward the fire with me on his back.

  “Are you going to carry me around like this all night?” I ask as he approaches Stanford, Benny, and Grantford along with a group of girls I used to go to school with.

  “Maybe.” He grips onto me tighter. “At least as long as you’ll let me.”

  “That might be a very long time because the stars are spinning a lot tonight.” I glance up at the sky and cringe at the thick clouds. I summon a deep breath. Even through the fogginess in my body, I can still smell it.

  Impending rain.

  An impending warning.

  Chapter 8


  There is no way in hell I’m going to put her down, not after what just happened. I don’t care if she’s drunk. Fuck, I’m feeling pretty drunk myself. With Ella on my back, I feel both high and drunk.