Home > Lila and Ethan: Forever and Always(14)

Lila and Ethan: Forever and Always(14)
Author: Jessica Sorensen

I check her out for a little bit longer and then back up toward the driver’s side. “Why’s your dress undone?”

She shrugs, swinging her shoes in her hand. “I couldn’t get my fingers to work this morning.”

My lips threaten to turn upward into a full on smirk. “Why? Were they preoccupied too much last night or something?” I joke, and suddenly way too many images of her flood my head, her fingers sliding up her inner thigh and then slowly entering herself.

She jerks the door open, narrowing her eyes at me, and I add, “What? You’re the one who brought it up. If you don’t want me to tease you, then don’t set up the punch line.”

Shaking her head, she presses her lips together and hops into the truck. She’ll be pissed off at me for, like, the next ten minutes, but then she’ll get over it. She always does.

After I get in the truck, I pull out onto the road and turn up the stereo. We barely speak the entire drive and when I pull into the parking lot of her apartment, I figure she’ll bail and then call me in a few days when she needs me to rescue her again.

But when she opens the door, she says, “So are you coming in or what?”

“I guess, if you really want me to.” It’s not like I have anywhere else to be. Micha, my best friend and old roommate, is gone and I don’t work on the weekends anymore. “But I’m not sleeping with you no matter how much you beg.”

“I never beg,” she says and then her face contorts with confusion as she frowns down at the ground. “At least from what I can remember I don’t.”

I climb out of the truck and meet her around the front, aiming the keys over my shoulder to lock up the truck. We make our way across the parking lot beneath the heat of the sun and I pull my sunglasses down off my head to cover my eyes. I remain slightly behind her, checking out her ass and her lower back peeking out of her still-opened dress. Finally, I have to rip my gaze away and step up beside her, otherwise I’ll end up unable to keep my hands to myself.

“You need to stop blacking out when you get drunk,” I say, nudging her playfully with my shoulder. “Drunk is okay, but getting so shit-faced you have no idea what you’re doing is really f**king bad, Lila. Even I’m not that bad.”

“You’re not bad at all.” She attempts to smooth her hair down with her hand, but it only makes it stick up more. “You just pretend like you are. But deep down, you’re a really nice guy who likes to write in a journal.”

“Hey, I told you that in confidence.” I scowl at her as we make our way up the steps to her second-story apartment. “You were never supposed to utter that aloud.”

She pats her pockets for the keys. “Well, then you never should have told me because I kind of have a big mouth.” Her arms fall to her sides and her eyes scan around her feet and then down the steps behind her. “Crap, I think I lost my keys.”

“Okay… so go ask your landlord to unlock it for you. It’s not that complicated,” I say, shaking my head at her.

“I can’t ask him.”

“Why not?” I lean on the railing, squinting against the sunlight as I assess her.

She lowers her chin, allowing her hair to fall in her face, like she doesn’t want me to see her expression. “Because… if I do… then he’ll ask me for rent.”

“Why?” I ask. “Are you behind on it or something?”

She peers up at me through her eyelashes. “I may or may not have paid the last couple of months,” she discloses, her forehead furrowing.

“Why? You’re not broke.” I hate to say it, but it’s kind of obvious by the fancy clothes she’s always wearing. Hell, she’s got a platinum ring on her finger, for God’s sake.

“But I am,” she insists, crossing her arms over her chest. “My dad canceled all my credit cards a while ago and I have only, like, eight hundred bucks left.”

“Then pay your rent with it.” I gape at her. “Or pawn that ring on your finger.”

Shaking her head, she covers the ring on her hand, looking almost panicked. “No way. This was a gift from someone I used to know.”

“So you’d rather live on the streets than get rid of your gift?” I c*ck my eyebrow at her. “Really?”

“Yes, really,” she says simply, her arms falling to her sides.

I tighten my jaw, growing frustrated. “God damn it. You do this all the time, you know that. You need to start being more responsible…” My eyes widen. Holy f**king Jesus, I sound just like my father. Shit. He’s always lecturing my mom about her flaws. This is the reason why I don’t let myself get into relationships and I’m not in one with Lila, so why am I acting like this?

She laughs scathingly and jabs her finger against my chest. “Oh, and like you are. You get drunk and sleep around and work in construction.”

“Hey, I never claim to be responsible.” I lean in, lowering my voice, trying to shake off the feeling that I’m acting just like my dad. No, this is different. You’re trying to help her, not control her. “But I do work and pay my rent.”

She huffs, stomping her foot and crossing her arms. It’s not the first time I’ve witnessed her temper tantrums when I don’t give in to her, but it still gets on my nerves as bad as the first time I saw her do it. “Ethan, will you please just help me out?”

“How the f**k am I supposed to help you out?” I ask. “Pay your rent so you can get let in? Because I’m not doing that.” But a voice inside my head laughs at me, telling me I’m full of shit. That I would pay it for her if she asks, that I’d do anything for her if she flat out asked me to.

She sticks out her bottom lip and makes me soften just a little. “You can pick the lock,” she suggests, and when I start to frown, she grips the bottom of my shirt and clutches on to it. “Please, please, please. I’ll owe you big time.”

“You already owe me big time, for being a pain in the ass and calling me all the time to come pick you up from random guys’ houses,” I tell her, dragging my hand across my face. “And I don’t want you to owe me. I just want you to get a job or something so you won’t get kicked out of your apartment.”

“Okay, I’ll work on getting some cash.” She bats her damn eyelashes at me intentionally—I can tell because there’s a smirk forming at her lips.

Sighing, I stick out my hand. “Give me one of those pins in your hair.”

She releases my shirt, plucks a pin out of her hair, and hands it to me. Grunting and pretending I’m more annoyed than I really am, I bend down in front of the door and quickly pick the lock. When I shove the door open, she jumps up and down, clapping her hands.

“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” She throws her arms around my neck and embraces me tightly.

“Don’t thank me,” I tell her, uneasy and kind of turned on, something I always feel whenever she hugs me. Lila is off limits. She’s a friend. Just a friend. It’ll never work out. Relationships never work out. Look at the one that you had. “Just pay your damn rent and quit losing your keys.”

“Yes, boss.” She rushes into the house eagerly, leaving the door open behind her, and hurries toward the hallway. “I’m going to take a quick shower.”

“What the hell am I supposed to do?” I ask, standing in the entryway of her two-bedroom apartment, which is much nicer than mine: painted walls, a crack-free floor, and the carpet isn’t loose. “Sit around here and wait for you? Is that what you want me to do?”

“Don’t pretend like you’re totally not enjoying the idea.” She pauses at the corner of the hall and grins. “Besides, you could just come join me.”

I roll my eyes, suppressing a smile. “I’ve already told you a thousand times that you can’t handle me, baby.” I bite down on my tongue on the baby slipup. I don’t use endearing terms with women. Ever. My dad used to use them on my mom when he was trying to kiss up to her after he beat her and she’d always let him butter her up. It made me hate affectionate terms and affection in general.

She turns around and puts her hands on her hips, arching her eyebrows. “And vice versa.”

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