Instinctively, your mind became locked and loaded, your eyes narrowed, refusing to break contact with the entrance. No turning back now. It was time.
It all happened in slow motion
The door creaked open.
Ethan stepped in, halting at the sight of your battle stance and the broken glass on the ground.
“What the hell is going on?”
The relentless swirling of vertigo dragged your mind out of its much needed REM sleep. Prying your eyes open into nothing more than small slits was enough for your head to absorb the sudden impact of a debilitating migraine. Bringing the duvet you were wrapped in up and over your head in an agonizing slow pace, you willed the pain to stop. You mentally begged any higher power to have mercy on you just this once. You’ll never drink again. Okay, maybe not never.. But you promised not to drink that much again. It wasn’t like you to overdo it with alcohol. What could have possibly been the reason behind-
Bits and pieces displaying the early events of last night came drifting back. Flash cut to the stunning black bodycon dress you adorned, your favorite stilettos, dark and smoky makeup, and perfectly messy hair. You could almost feel last night’s thin layer of sweat on your skin created by your body’s reaction to your intoxicated dancing and the start of your alcohol intake. How much did you drink? Why the hell didn’t your friends stop you from drinking so much? Did you do anything stupid with someone you didn’t even know, or worse, someone you did know?
How the hell did you even get home?
As you took a deep breath, the familiar scent of laundry detergent mixed with warm musk filled your nostrils. Slowly pulling down the covers from over your head, you warily opened your eyes and allowed your pupils to adjust to the light as you took in your surroundings. Framed family pictures were stacked on a wooden desk to the right of the bed, none of them belonging to you. A surfboard hung on the wall to your left definitely wasn’t yours. Cautiously, you twisted your head to the left to investigate the other half of the bed, only to find it empty. You brought a shaking hand to the empty space. Your nerves tingled at the warmth still gracing the wrinkled sheets.
Where was Ethan? And why were you in his room?
Doing your best to ignore the pounding of your head, you took your time unraveling yourself from the duvet and padded into the attached bathroom. What you weren’t prepared for was the sight the large mirror offered you once the lights were switched on. Your breath caught in your throat as you took in your worn out figure. For the life of you, you couldn’t remember how you ended up wearing an old T-shirt of Ethan’s and a pair of sweats. There wasn’t the slightest flush or healthy glow to your skin. Your hair resembled a rat’s nest, holding a faint smell of alcohol. Red veins invaded the once clear whites of your eyes. The bags of darkened skin underneath them were no doubt atrocious, but were hidden from sight due to your raccoon-like, smeared, stale makeup. The outline of tear stains were highlighted by the dried eyeliner and mascara that had dripped down your cheeks. Glancing back at the bed, you noticed black blotches covering the pillow case.
Great. You probably made a complete ass of yourself as a crying drunk.
Cringing at the thought, you turned on the tap and splashed the cold water running from the faucet onto your buzzing skin, in hopes of washing away the cloudiness that loomed over your head. You rubbed harshly at your delicate eye area, attempting to remove the black streaks and stains. As you continued to rid your face of the unwanted black pigment, you noticed the chill of metal on your left ring finger. You pulled back slightly and examined your hand, water still dripping off your face and down the drain of the sink. Much to your surprise, you were wearing Ethan’s favorite black band.
Momentarily shaking the confusion from your mind, you quickly dried your skin and threw your hair up. You glanced at your frail, makeup-free reflection one last time before tiptoeing back through Ethan’s bedroom, and into the hallway.
Nothing could have prepared you for what was waiting for you at the end of the hallway. Jaw dropping and sunken eyes widening, your dizzy gaze scanned the living room as it came into view.
What. The. Hell?
Glass littered the once cozy and quaint space.The floor lamp originally placed on the left side of the sofa looks as if it came crashing down by some strong force with every bulb being completely smashed. The glass coffee table was flipped upside down in front of the same couch. A large trash bin stood in the middle of the chaos with a broom leaning against it. Yet again, you were met with the faint stench of alcohol as you took in your surroundings. You silently prayed your drunk self had nothing to do with the state of your living room. There’s no way you could have trashed this place by yourself for any reason.
You were almost too lost in your thoughts to hear Ethan’s voice echo from the end of the hallway behind you.
“There’s extra strength aspirin, water, and your favorite pancakes waiting for you in the kitchen,” he spoke softly as he walked right past your frozen body and carefully into the destroyed living room. Even though he was clearly trying his best to talk quietly, his voice still intensified the pounding in your head.
“Fuck,” you whispered hoarsely to yourself, bringing your hands up to rub your face and head.
Ethan was freshly showered in a pair of faded black jeans, a white hoodie, and black docs; most likely to protect himself from any glass penetrating the skin of his feet. The juxtaposition between his appearance and yours was almost comical.
“Don’t go anywhere else besides the back hallway and the kitchen. There’s glass everywhere else and I don’t want you getting hurt,” he warned as he carefully set the coffee table onto its legs and began sweeping its glass remains. “I also put your Vans in the kitchen. Wear those until I get everything cleaned up.”
Bile rose in your throat when you couldn’t place what emotion was behind Ethan’s voice.
“Was… was this me?” you asked Ethan, taking in the mess around you as you carefully made your way into the open kitchen to put on your shoes. Ethan glanced up at you briefly through his dark eyelashes and sighed heavily before pursing his lips.
“You don’t remember do you?”
Your heart skipped a beat at his question.
“Ethan, you’re scaring me.”
“No, of course you don’t remember,” he grumbles before grabbing the broom and dustpan.
“When did you get home last night? When did I get home?” you inquired, slipping the black shoes on your feet. Ethan motioned to the food waiting on the stove.
“You should eat. It will help with your hangover.”
You cautiously approached the massive plate of chocolate chip pancakes piled on an unlit burner, working tirelessly to piece together any memories of last night. Why wasn’t Ethan answering any of your questions? Why was he avoiding eye contact with you? Why couldn’t you place your finger on that damn tone in his voice?
One bite into the pancakes sent bile up your throat again, and as you reached out for the roll of paper towels nearby to spit the food into, tears began to well in your bloodshot eyes. Ethan had disappeared further into the family room, presumably to clean up more of the glass, and as you followed suit, you wiped away the drops falling down your cheeks. Once again, your eyes caught sight of the black band.
Where in the hell did that ring come from?
“Ethan,” your voice was as small as your ego, barely escaping your throat as you glanced around at the damage done. He was crouched on the ground, working shards of glass into the dustpan, when he looked up to meet your gaze, mouth slightly agape. Oh man, that gaze: that hazeled brown-eyed gaze that never failed to make your knees weak ever since the first time it bore itself into your soul…
“Oh, my love,” he murmured, standing up to dump the dustpan in the trash bin nearby. My love? That was not a term of endearment you’ve ever heard him utter before. Not to you. “Come here, come with me and sit down.”
Ethan dropped the pan and leaned the broom against the bin before taking your hand in his delicate touch and leading you to his bedroom. An unwelcoming sensation of déjà vu washed over you as you heard the clicking of crunching glass under your feet. You plopped down on the edge of the mattress nervously, watching Ethan pace back and forth across the hardwood floor in front of you, his head in his hands. You twirled the ring around your finger absentmindedly while you studied his behavior and tried not to let his quick movements increase your hangover induced nausea. Vomit threatened to expel itself from your body again as you waited.
God, what is taking him so long to speak?!
“I guess…” Ethan trailed off, planting himself in a standing position directly in front of you, eyeing the piece of jewelry on your hand. “I guess I need to start at the beginning, huh?”
“Yeah,” you breathed. “Yeah the beginning would be nice.”
“You’re the biggest son of a bitch I’ve ever met in my entire
life,” you spat through gritted teeth, balling your fists until your knuckles
were numb and white.
“Excuse me?” Ethan raised his eyebrows and wrapped his fingers
around the house keys as if to use them as a sword in the lingering inevitable
battle soon to begin between the two of you.
“That blonde bimbo? That disgusting excuse for a girl you
oh-so-easily decided to fuck at the club tonight? You thought you could just
whisk her off her feet and I wouldn’t notice? You didn’t think I’d notice
you giving yourself to someone else?”
Ethan scoffed as you took a step toward him, the sound of glass
shards crackling like firecrackers beneath your heels becoming amplified,
slicing the tension filled air.
“Since when has it been any of your damn
business who I fuck and who I don’t, sweetheart?”
Ethan’s voice dripping in sarcasm only fueled the inferno blazing in your chest, begging to spread.
“Hmm, I don’t know. Maybe since we made our little pact to save
ourselves for each other?” With another step came another crack of glass, Ethan
looked down to your feet to find the source of the noise.
“I thought you saw the pact as absolute bullshit.”
“Well, I’m standing here now, aren’t I?”
Ethan fell silent, his lips pressing into a hard line as he stared
at the mess underneath you.
“What happened here?” He inquired with a softened voice.
“No, you didn’t answer any of my questions, Ethan. Don’t change the subject.”
“I thought they were rhetorical.”
“It doesn’t matter if they were. Answer anyway.” You reached for
another shot glass out of the cabinet underneath you, growing more and more
unsteady with each passing second. Your doubled vision slowly but surely
tripling and you could feel the various veins and nerves underneath your skin
burning with alcohol.
“Why should I?” Ethan shrugged, cautiously approaching you and
reaching for your glass in an attempt to take it from you. You were too quick
though, sloppily pouring more alcohol into the glass before downing the poison
with a wince.
“Because. I. Asked. You. To,” you growled, a blinding rage
suddenly surging through your body at warped speed. Your body and its entirety
began to convulse as you reached for another shot, but this time your grip
missed the frosted glass bottle, tipping it over and sending its contents splashing all over the
counter. Ethan jumped back to avoid being splashed, exhaling forcefully and
quickly becoming tired and frustrated with your drunken games.
“What in the hell has gotten into you? You never drink this much!”
“Just answer my fucking questions, Ethan!” Your rage suddenly
possessed your body, winding your arm back and hurling the shot glass at Ethan,
missing him by more than a margin and forcing him to duck out of instinct.
Your face remain emotionless as you stared at the ground, not wanting to believe what you were hearing.
“You have to know,” he spoke softly as he carefully sat next to you, hesitantly taking your hands in his. “I didn’t sleep with that girl, hell, I didn’t even go home with her. She was wasted, so I took her outside to call her friend to take her home. I made sure she got picked up before I went looking for you. Apparently you had called an Uber and left without me.”
“Can you blame me?” You mumbled, keeping your eyes low.
“No,” he sighed again, gently rubbing the back of your hands with the pad of his thumbs. “I shouldn’t have kissed her. I just didn’t think it would hurt you. And I’m so sorry for that.”
You bit the inside of your cheek as the fuzzy memory played in your head. How could you forget how your heart broke witnessing him with someone else?
“I didn’t think you wanted me,” Ethan muttered under his breath, breaking you from your thoughts. Your eyes immediately shot to his face, his eyes trained on your interlocked hands. Suddenly, your mouth became dry.
“What did you say?”
He thought you didn’t want him? He had to have been out of his mind.
But… Did he want you?
Abruptly, Ethan dropped your hands, walking away from the bed and running his hands through his hair in frustration. He placed his elbows on his dresser, running his hands down his face while keeping his back to you.
“I even fucking proposed to you when you were blackout drunk. Who does that?”
If your eyes widened anymore, they would no doubt explode out of your head. Was he serious? Your hands began to shake as you lifted the hand adorning the black band. You stared. You simply stared.
“You probably don’t even remember that either,” he dryly chuckled to himself out of frustration.
“That’s what this ring is?”
“I have to go buy a real one, if you’re still okay with this that is. But yeah, that’s what the ring is.” He shoved his hands into the front pockets of his jeans before turning to face you again, leaning back on the dresser.
You locked eyes and held each other’s gazes for what felt like an eternity before he spoke again. Your ears rang as he spoke his next truth, your eyes intently reading his lips:
“You said yes. You said yes without even blinking.”
“I swear to God, if you don’t stop breaking shit, we’re gonna get kicked out!” Ethan yelled as you knocked over the floor lamp, sending it crashing to the floor. “You’re going to get hurt, fucking stop!”
“So now you care huh, Dolan?” You sneered, a twisted smile creeping onto your face.
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Don’t act like you don’t know!”
With one swift and hard kick to its side, you sent the coffee table in front of you flipping forward, its glass top shattering against the hardwood underneath it. Ethan jumped back with a loud curse to avoid being hit with shards.
“Goddamn it, what?! What the hell don’t I know?”
You stood on top of a pile of glass, satisfying crunching sounds coming from underneath your heels.
“Get away from the glass, you’ll hurt yourself.”
“You want me to catch you up, E? Fill you in on what the fuck you’ve been so blind to this entire time?” You slurred, not budging from your battle stance. Ethan folded his arms across his chest and stood up straight, staring you down while taking a battle stance of his own.
“I’m afraid of love Ethan,” you spat. “There, I admit it. But you know what? I’m more afraid of the idea of a love without you.”
Shock and confusion flashed behind his eyes for a split second before he composed himself.
“If you were ‘so afraid’ of losing me, why didn’t you work to keep me?”
“Because I didn’t think you wanted any part of me above my stomach!”
Ethan’s jaw clenched as his arms fell to his sides, large hands easily balling into fists. He took prolonged, steady strides towards you, the sound of glass gradually crumbling under his feet taunting you. Your bodies were so close, you felt the heat radiating off his skin, your faces mere inches apart.
“I thought plowing you every night was the only way to get you to understand,” he seethed.
“Understand what?” you pressed, eyes narrowing.
“Fuck, we live together, I’m constantly asking you to sleep in my bed, I make you breakfast every morning, you’re my fucking date to every ridiculous event, and you honestly think I never wanted you? That I didn’t crave you every second you were away from me? With all due respect, baby, that’s fucked.”
“Really? You think I’m lying?” he deadpanned, neither of you backing down from your standoff.
You raised an eyebrow in response. Ethan bit the inside of his cheek before twisting off his favorite black band wrapped around his pinky finger, never looking away from your eyes. He held the band between his ring finger and thumb in the small space between your bodies. The sight of the ring in your peripheral spiked your heart rate.
“Marry me, then. Marry me and tell me if you still think I’m lying.”
You slowly stood from your spot at the edge of the bed and took a few steps forward, turning your back to Ethan, lost in your thoughts. Habitually, you began twisting the ring around your finger once again. You had gotten engaged to the man of your dreams and you didn’t even remember. On top of that, you were terrified.
Months of masked pain began to bubble and seep out of your pores. The ice in your veins melted as every crack in your heart rose through the layer of numbness caused by your own manipulation and twisting of the thoughts in your head. The breathing through your nose picked up as you clamped your jaw closed, willing the sob caught in your throat to sink back into your body. The redness in your eyes intensified as the inevitable tears threatened to fall onto your cheeks. Your shoulders tensed as you crossed your arms over your chest in an X formation, in a sad attempt to hold yourself together.
Picking up on the learned external cues of your body, Ethan wasted no time crossing the room, and pulling your shaking body into the warmth of his own. He wrapped his arms tightly around your torso from behind in hopes of offering the comfort you needed.
Despite your current state of weakness, you remained the strongest, yet most stubborn woman he’d ever met. It absolutely tore him apart to see such a fragile, involuntarily vulnerable version of you. At the same time, seeing you finally succumbing to your emotions further validated his view. You were without a doubt, the strongest woman he’d ever met. Ethan could almost feel his chest cave in when the broken, heart wrenching sob tore from your throat.
“I’m sorry,” you whimpered, ignoring the throbbing of your head as you cried. “I’m sorry for destroying the apartment and I’m just so fucking sorry.”
“No, don’t you start. Do you hear me? Do not apologize to me,” he coaxed, desperately grasping at the material of the T-shirt covering your abdomen. “The furniture can be replaced. What matters is that you’re alright. No more crying.”
You turned in his arms and buried your face into the crook of his neck, no longer holding back your cries.
“I want to marry you,” you confessed through your tears. “I love you.”
The words tasted sour, yet so sweet falling from your lips. You never thought you’d ever mutter the phrase. Not to anyone. Nor did you believe you’d ever be given the opportunity to confess them to Ethan out loud.
“I love you baby,” Ethan whispered into your hair through gritted teeth. “God, I fucking love you. How could you not see that? How?”
You cried and cried in the comfort of his arms until you had absolutely no tears left. Dry sobs continued to explode from your throat long after the tears had stopped. And still, he held you. His grip never loosened. He held you even when your knees became weak. And that’s how it’s always been. He was your rock; your support system when everything caved around you. He was your light at the end of the long and dark tunnel, and you were his. Now, he was officially your forever.
An unfamiliar, yet warming and comforting sensation engulfed your heart at the thought. But it didn’t take long before you realized what it was:
“I know people always want to see Amy with Katie, but I personally wish we would have seen more Ty with Katie before his daughter was born. Has he even interacted with her since season 7 (and even then she didn’t talk back)? Now I fear that his baby will take all his attention (understandably, but still) and whatever interaction there could have been between Ty and Katie is now reserved for his own daughter.“