Read Lila and Ethan: Forever and Always: A Short Story Online
Authors: Jessica Sorensen
Tags: #Fiction / Contemporary Women, #Fiction / Coming Of Age, #Fiction / Romance - Contemporary, #Fiction / Short Stories (Single Author)
Lila and Ethan
Forever and Always
This one’s for all my readers. Thanks for all your support!
A huge thanks to my family for supporting me and my dream. You guys are awesome!
And an extra thanks to my agent, Erica Silverman, and my editor, Amy Pierpont, for all your help and input.
And to everyone who reads this book, an endless amount of thank-yous.
There are four things I’ve learned about the outdoors over the last month since Ethan and I first began our cross-country road trip: (1) It always feels cold living outdoors, even when it’s July and we’re in Virginia; (2) the mountains seem to breed pine needles and dirt; (3) the camping food (heavy sigh)… I’m not even sure what to say about it. Pop-Tarts and fruit snacks that don’t even taste like fruit. Beans in a can—gross. And s’mores; they’re nothing but burnt marshmallows, crackers, and messy chocolate that makes me wish I was eating the delicious s’mores cake made by Delina’s Bakery and Simple Cakes that was on the corner of the street I grew up on. The chocolate there was divine.
There is one thing, though, that I can certainly admit is a plus about being outdoors—and it’s the fourth thing I’ve learned during this trip and the one thing that I’ll miss when we head back to Vegas tomorrow—the beauty of the night sky. Nothing I’ve ever seen before can compare to it. It’s so open and full of stars and the moon is so bluntly bright, way more than in the city, since there’s no city lights to outshine it. It’s simplistically beautiful. Plus Ethan loves looking at the stars and being with him while he lies on the ground and stares up at them makes me love the sight even more… Okay, so maybe I’ve learned five things and have one more thing that I’ll miss: (5) Being with Ethan all the time—as long as Ethan’s with me, I’m fine with being cold, getting covered in pine needles, and eating beans straight from a can. I could do all those things with him forever.
I just wish I knew that he felt the same way. But I don’t know what he thinks about our future because he doesn’t like talking about it and it makes me sad and bummed out whenever I think about the unknown that lies before me. About him and I and where we’ll end up.
“What are you thinking about?” Ethan asks as he holds a stick with a marshmallow attached to the end of it, heating it just above the fire. It’s his third one and it seems like he’s never going to stop, like he’s never going to get enough of getting his fingers sticky.
“How gross melted marshmallows are,” I tell him the partial truth, relaxing back on my hands. I’m sitting on a log and my hair hasn’t been washed in days. There’s a tent behind me, a cooler to the side of me, and campfire in front of me, blowing smoke in my face. And when I rub my thumb across my forearm, a layer of black comes off. Not one of my finest moments, but with the way Ethan’s looking at me—with want and love in his eyes—it makes me feel very attractive, even in a hoodie and dirt-stained jeans.
Ethan cocks a dark eyebrow at me, his black hair falling into his eyes as he leans down to pick up a piece of wood by his feet and toss it into the fire. “Only you would be thinking that,” he says over the crackle of the flames as he stretches his legs out and relaxes back against the cooler. He continues to roast the marshmallow in the fire, the outer part turning black and smoking. I don’t say anything about him burning it, because I know that’s how he likes them. Instead I just watch him, feeling myself warm inside like the melted goo on the end of his stick as he chews on his lip and observes the flames.
He’s so sexy, even when he hasn’t showered in days. The unshaven face, torn jeans, and wrinkled black T-shirt work so well on him. Plus his tattoos… God he’s so gorgeous, all grungy and manly. I could practically have an orgasm just looking at him.
Suddenly he smirks at me, totally busting me for checking him out, and I blink my gaze off him and focus back on the conversation.
“What do you mean only I would think that?” I ask, tucking a strand of my chin-length blond and black hair behind my ear. “Lots of people don’t like melted marshmallows.”
“Not true. A lot of people like them,” he says, rotating the stick in his hand. “You just have weird taste in food.” A teasing look rises on his face as he grins. “Or maybe I should just say bad taste in food.”
Scowling, I reach over to the bag of marshmallows between us, pick one up, and throw it at him. It’s dark enough that he has a hard time seeing me and it ends up pegging him in the forehead. I laugh as I dust the dirt off my hands and sit up straight, feeling a little bit better.
“You’re going to pay for that one,” Ethan warns, and through the glow of the fire, his eyes look as black as the smoldering wood. He removes the stick from the flames as he gets to his feet. After blowing on it a few times, he carefully plucks the marshmallow from the end of the stick and mushes it between his fingers. At first I think he’s going to eat it, but instead he winds around the fire pit between us, heading toward me.
“Don’t even think about it.” I start to get to my feet but by the time I stand up, he’s within arm’s reach. I stumble back, shaking my head. “Don’t,” I plead as he stretches his hand out toward me, the gooey marshmallow all over his fingers inching closer to my face. “Please, I don’t want to get sticky.”
“I think you need to get sticky.” He takes another step toward me and I match his movement, stepping back, my heels bumping against a log on the ground.
“Ethan, I swear to God, please don’t,” I plead with my hands out in front of me. “They taste so gross and my mouth will feel gross for the rest of the night.”
He sighs, lowering his hand to his side. “I won’t just as long as you tell me what you were really thinking about earlier,” he says. I open my mouth to lie to him again, but he holds up his hand. “And don’t tell me marshmallows, because I know that’s not true. You had that look on your face, the one you get when you’re thinking about something that upsets you.”
I frown at the fact that he can read me that well and I don’t want to tell him what I was thinking about. How I’m worried about our future because I have no idea what’s going to happen today, tomorrow, whether we’ll be together or whether he even wants to be with me in the future since he refuses to talk about it. I know he loves me and sometimes I think he can’t even help it. Ethan’s never been one for planning much of anything and I think talking about our future means he’d be planning for the future. I also think he might be scared of what we might become if we did commit—what would happen to our relationship.
“You’ve been so mopey ever since Chicago,” he adds through my silence.
My frown deepens. He’s right. I have been really mopey ever since we visited Ella and Micha in Chicago. Micha had been there for a few days playing at a concert. Seeing Ella and Micha again made me start really wondering about my future with Ethan.
It was Ella and Micha’s six-month anniversary as husband and wife and they seemed so happy. It makes me sad, because even though I’m happy with my relationship with Ethan, I want to be his forever, and Ethan has already made it pretty clear how he feels about weddings and marriage and all that “ridiculous nonsense” (his words not mine).
It’s not like I want to get married today or even in a year because I don’t. I’m not ready for that yet,
I want to know that five or ten years down the road we could be standing up in front of a minister, saying our “I dos.” That we could end up having what Ella and Micha have.
“Just tell me what’s bothering you,” he interrupts my thoughts with a fake sexy pout. “Or else I’m going to have to stuff this marshmallow in your mouth and then you’re going to be grumpy because you’ll be all sticky.”
I narrow my eyes with my hands on my hips. “You wouldn’t dare.”
“You don’t think so?” he questions, elevating his eyebrows.
I sigh, knowing he would do it in a heartbeat and laugh at me. But it’s part of why I love him, because in the end I’d laugh too. “Fine,” I say, searching for a way around this without telling the truth to avoid him getting uncomfortable and weird like he always does whenever anyone starts talking about life and the future. “I’m mopey because we’ve been in the mountains for too long and I need a shower.”
He studies me intently with his head cocked to the side. I think he’s buying it until suddenly his tattooed arm springs forward and he stuffs melted marshmallow into my mouth.
“Dammit, Ethan!” I shout, my voice muffled by the goo. I lick my lips and wipe them with the back of my hand, trying to get rid of the stickiness while Ethan grins at me, completely proud of himself.
“That’s a good look for you,” he says, brushing his fingers along my bottom lip and wiping off some of the goo. He licks his fingers and I pull a face because I really do hate melted marshmallows. “Tastes good too,” he mutters, his humor shifting to desire as he eyes my lips. Then suddenly he’s cupping the back of my head and drawing me in for a kiss. The moment his lips crash into mine, I forget what we were talking about or even that we’re in the mountains. I just kiss him back, willingly parting my lips to let his wet tongue slide into my sticky mouth.
“Really good,” he whispers against my mouth, and then kisses me again, his fingers threading through my hair and pulling gently at the roots, making my skin tingle.
My fingers wander up his back, my hands trembling with the abundance of emotions I feel for him. Want. Desire. Need. It’s so terrifying. Knowing how bad I want this. Want him. And that one day maybe it could be all gone.
In almost a desperate move, I pull him closer to me, clinging on to him, the heat of his body warming up the chilly breeze of the mountains. It also warms up my heart, makes me feel the slightest bit better and content, and reminds me that despite the fact that I might never get married—that I have no idea where we’re headed—having moments like these with Ethan is completely and utterly worth drifting into the unknown.
I just wish it could be different.
* * *
We’ve been on the road for almost a month now, living off of the money we saved up after five months of working—me in construction and working part-time as a bartender, and Lila waitressing and working at a clothing store on the weekends. We were supposed to go earlier but it took longer to save up than I’d planned. But we busted our asses off, saving everything we could so we could live on the road for a month straight. It’s been amazing—every day is with Lila. The only thing that sucks is that we’re heading back to Vegas tomorrow, back to life and the real world, popping the secluded, quiet bubble we’ve built around us during our road trip.
Still, I’m trying to make the best of our last night here, especially because she seems sort of down and I hate seeing her down. It worries me a little, since in the past she used pills as a way not to feel her sadness. She was addicted to them for a very long time and I was the one who helped her with the addiction, watched her struggle with it, but conquer it. She’s had such a hard life and I want her to be happy all the time, even though that’s impossible… I wish I could find a way to make it possible.
After I push the marshmallow into Lila’s mouth, I feel her mood lighten, which was what I was trying to accomplish. But my playfulness quickly turns to desire as she tries to lick the goo off her lips. I want to taste it—taste her—so I kiss her fiercely while I start to back us toward the tent. My hands travel up the back of her shirt and I savor the softness of her skin as I try to find the zipper to the door of the tent with my other hand. I manage to get the tent unzipped without disconnecting our lips; then I guide her inside and down onto her back onto the sleeping bags before covering her body with mine. I kiss her until she becomes breathless, until she’s clutching my arms so tightly her fingernails are scraping my skin and she begs me to be inside her.