“Just please come down.” He looked around the yard as if he were embarrassed.
“Fine. Give me a minute!” I took a deep breath and went downstairs, passing Millie on the way. She’d heard everything and gave me an encouraging look.
“Be easy on him and hear him out. Don’t let those twins knock you out of something wonderful. He came all this way.”
“He’s playing games.” I wasn’t in the mood for more games, secrets, or lies.
“How do you know that? He seems pretty serious to me.” She gave me a lingering glance and then turned to walk back upstairs.
I walked to the front door and opened it, crossing my arms and leaning back against the jamb. “Where’s my ring?”
He searched my eyes a moment and then looked to the ground. “I came because I want a chance to explain.”
“I’ll give you a chance to talk, but I want my ring. And after you’ve said your piece, you can go.” I met his eyes and kept my tone hard. I wasn’t going to give him room to play any more games with me. My heart couldn’t take it.
He reached into his pocket and stepped forward, offering it to me, but as I reached to take it, he grabbed my wrist and pulled me close. I tugged back, but couldn’t break loose of his grip.
“Ella, don’t.” I searched his eyes, and he took my hand, then he lifted to his mouth and kissed it.
She didn’t pull away from me kissing her hand, so I held it gently in mine and placed the ring on her finger. It fit perfectly in connection with the others there like the whole set had been custom-made just for her.
“Ella, I’m sorry. I don’t know everything that was said because my mother pulled me away, but Zep told me what happened.”
“They told me about your plans for after the party, so if you hurry, you can still make that date.” She turned to walk away, but I didn’t let go of her hand.
Instead, I tugged it, holding her hostage. “Hear me out. I wasn’t going to do that.”
“Yeah, right. Even your buddy didn’t deny you’d made those plans.” She glared at my sideways with narrowed eyes and tried to pull away once again.
“No, he didn’t, and if you stop fighting me, I can tell you why.” I tugged her hand, and she lost her footing, stumbling into me.
We were no more than a breath apart, but I didn’t dare kiss her. She was as angry as a wild animal, and there was no sense poking the bear.
“Fine,” she said through gritted teeth. She tugged hard, so I let go not wanting to hurt her hand, so then she led me to a small room off the foyer, a music library from the collection of vinyl albums and gold records on the wall. She plopped down on a distressed leather couch that was so comfortable I wanted it for my bedroom and crossed her arms in front of her.
She was closed up so tight I didn’t know if she’d ever let me into her space ever again, but I knew I owed her the truth and an explanation.
“Zep couldn’t tell you that we didn’t plan that because he’d had given the real plan away and the twins would have been pissed off at him. You see, it’s his goal to have them both, but so far, Sadie’s not been cooperative to his plans.”
“So you did make plans to go upstairs and have sex with them when the party was over, but only so your friend could score Sadie?” She shook her head like she wasn’t buying it. “How does that make any of this any better?”
“No, I never planned to go up. We lied to them so they’d get started without me and I was going to be a no show.”
“So you lied to them?”
“Would you rather I had been telling the truth?” She was being irrational and missing the point.
“No. I’d rather you not have anything to do with anything like that in the first place.”
“And I just explained that I wasn’t. I don’t like the twins. In fact, I hate them. I think they’re spoiled, slutty, brats who are much too young for me, and I’ve tried to deter Zep from them more than once. But he’s got this fantasy in his head and...” I waved my hand around and let the explanation go. I didn’t want to get into Zep and his fantasies. I’d be there all night. “It was never going to happen. I only lied to them and went along with it so they’d leave me alone all night and I could have more time with you.”