Day 8 of our holiday extravaganza celebrating not only our 1 year anniversary but this special time of year with our families and friends is an EXCLUSIVE scene from the THE SECRET SERIES by JESSICA SORENSEN!!!
It’s Christmas Eve and I’m coming home from work late, something I’m not proud of, but I couldn’t help it. My band and I have been working really hard on a new album which means sacrificing time away from 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.
On my way home, I decide to stop and pick up a bottle of wine to surprise her, not just for Christmas but because five years ago from today, I asked her to marry me and she said yes. A year after that we were married and life has been amazing since. Yeah, we’ve had our ups and downs, but every single bump in the road has been worth it.
After I leave the liquor store, I drive to our home that’s nestled in a quiet neighborhood where nothing too crazy ever happens. It’s completely different from where we grew up. Instead of drug dealers on the street corners, there are crossing guards. And instead of old cars decorating the yards, there is green grass and Christmas decorations.
Even though Ella’s never been that into Christmas, she still took the time to put up some lights in the window of our two story home and hang a wreath on the door. The lights are sparking as I pull up into the driveway and when I enter the house, the smell of apple pie overwhelms me. It’s not like Ella to make anything, unless it’s a painting or sculpture, so the fact that she’s making a pie throws me off a little.
“Honey, I’m home,” I jokingly call out as I set my guitar down by the door and slip my coat off. I hang it on the coat rack before I wander into the kitchen, breathing in the apple pie scent like a hungry dog. Then I start to laugh as I take in the sight of the mess she’s made in an attempt to bake the pie. Flour all over the countertops, bowls , spoons, and pans piled up in the sink. 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 crisp.
“Hey,” Ella says, stumbling through the doorway, looking a little flushed. Her bright red hair is braided to the side, her black dress has spots of blue paint on it, and she’s wearing no makeup at. All I can think is: she’s fucking perfect.
“You’re home late,” she says, crossing the kitchen toward me as she wipes her hands on the side of her dress. “I thought you were going to try and be home early today.”
“I know,” I say, slipping one of my arms around her waist. “I’m really sorry, but we’re almost done with the album so I can take a break soon.”
“No worries,” she says, hooking her arms around my neck and tipping her head back to look up at me. “It gave me enough time to finish the painting I’ve been working on.” She chews on her bottom lip. “It’s for you actually.”
“Awe, you made me a present.” I wink at her. “How very sweet of you.”
She laughs and then I kiss her, pressing my hand against the small of her back, needing her closer. And she whole-heartedly kisses me back, pushing up against me.
We stay that way for away, then when we finally come up for air, I lift up my hand holding the wine. “How about we pour a glass of this and then you can show me the present.”
She looks at the wine reluctantly. “How about I show you the present first.”
“Okay…” I’m having trouble at the moment reading her, which is unusual. The confusion only grows as she takes my hand and guides me out of the kitchen and upstairs to her art studio.
It’s about as messy as the kitchen, paint supplies, pencils, and canvases everywhere, the entire place smelling like fresh paint. There’s a lamp on in the corner, the shade taken off and lying on the floor, along with a few scraps of wrapping paper and tape. Before I can say anything, she lets go off my hand and walks over to the corner of the room where I notice there’s a canvas leaning up against the wall, wrapped in green paper and topped off with a green bow.
“Okay, this present comes with warnings,” she says as she stands beside it, crossing her arms nervously.
I slowly make my way over to her, nervous. “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,” she explains. “And the second is that I’m not really sure if it is a present or not…” She frowns down at the floor. “I’m still trying to figure it out.”
She’s got me worried, but I try to stay calm as I reach out to rip the paper off. “I feel so nervous.”
She glances up at me with apprehension. “I feel like I’m going to throw up,” she divulges quietly.
My heart starts hammering inside my chest and I seriously expect to pull off the paper and find I’m Divorcing You painted in the canvas. But instead I find the very intrigue map. Well, not necessarily a map, but a row of images that make up a map of our lives together. The first one starts out with her and I standing on opposite sides of the fence at four years-old. Then it moves to our first kiss on a swing set when we were teenagers. Then comes a scene of us kissing on the bridge in the rain, the night that changed our lives forever. The next one is of our wedding day, outside in the snow, in our spot on the shore of the lake. I smile at that one, basking in the emotions connected to the memory of one of the best days of my lives.
Finally, I come to the last one, but as soon as I see it, my expression falters. Soft strokes and colors that paint a picture of her and I in front of our house, but we’re not alone. Standing in 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.”
After it clicks what she’s telling me, I turn my head toward her, unsure how to react. Not because of me, 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, scare, or what. “This is… when?”
She blows out an unsteady breath and nods. “Remember that night about two months ago on the piano after you played at the club and then told everyone to clear out. I’m pretty sure that’s when it happened.”
“So you’re.” I swallow the nervous lump in my throat. “You’re pregnant.”
She nods her head swiftly, her eyes wide. “I found out a week ago, but Lila thought it’s be fun if I told you some way special, so we came up with the painting idea and that I would give it to you today, since it’s our five year anniversary.” She looks down at the ground, fidgeting with the bottom of her dress. “I’m realizing how stupid of an idea it was though. Just springing it on you like this.”
“It’s not stupid at all,” I say, leaning down to catch her eye. “I’m just trying to read you.”
“I’m fine,” she assures me, glancing up at me with a sparkle in her eye. “I mean, I was freaking out and everything, but the more time goes by the more… I don’t know… excited I get, I guess.”
I press back a smile, not wanting to get too excited until I know it’s okay. “Are you sure? 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 scared as hell, but the idea of this,” she gestures at the last image on the canvas, “It also makes me happy.”
I let my smile through. “Good, because it makes me happy too.”
“Are you sure?”
I nod. “Of course. I mean, I’m terrified as shit too, but in a good, nervous, scared sort of way,” I say. She smiles and then I scoop her up in my arms and hug her tightly. “Best Christmas present ever,” I whisper against her lips, and then smiling, I kiss her.
Series Reading Order
Book 1 – The Secret of Ella and Micha
Book 2 – The Forever of Ella and Micha
Book 3 – The Temptation of Lila and Ethan
Book 4 – The Ever After of Ella and Micha