Serenity Falls reached #46 on Teen Fiction today! Highest I've ever got, so thank you so so much! Proper author's note at end, so enjoy!
Olivia was frozen to the spot, unable to move or do anything other than stand there like an idiot. Ethan had now stepped off the stage, still holding the microphone in his hand. The crowd parted immediately, as if they had rehearsed, leaving a pathway up to where Olivia was standing.
It seemed to take an eternity for Ethan to approach her, even though in reality it was probably more like ten seconds. It was as if time had slowed down completely, and Olivia’s body was still frozen up, rendering her incapable of moving or even opening her mouth to speak. Ethan stopped in front of her, his gaze locked onto hers, looking at her so intently he may have been having a deep conversation through them. He paused, studying her expression closely, before reaching out and taking her hand in his.
"Since you stopped speaking to me, I have thought of nothing else," he said softly, his quiet voice projected around the room. "I couldn’t cope without you. I spent my time racking my brains thinking of what I could do to make it up to you."
Olivia was breathing deeply now, her heart fluttering uncontrollably in her chest. How was she supposed to react to this? The intensity of Ethan’s gaze was overpowering, and yet she couldn’t look away.
"From the bottom of my heart, I am deeply and sincerely sorry. Because I love you, Olivia. And I am going to prove it to you."
The entire population of the gym was standing there, looking at them. Some of them were murmuring soft ‘aww’s, some of them had smiles on their faces and some of them were just standing there, watching intently to see how the situation would play out.
Ethan turned around to face everyone, his hand still holding Olivia’s. He had no intention of letting it go, and he did not even see the surprised expressions of everyone was watching them. He was oblivious, blissfully unaware, and not caring about the aftermath of what he was about to do.
All he cared about was making Olivia happy.
"The entire time I’ve been here, I’ve been hiding something," he said, his voice unnaturally calm, considering what he was about to announce. "I hid it because I was ashamed, and because I wanted to fit in. But now I realise... that’s not what I want."
He turned to look at Olivia again, but by now she had emerged from her frozen state. Realising what he was about to do, she gripped his hand tighter and pulled him closer.
"You don’t have to do this," she murmured, trying to avoid her voice being picked up by the microphone. "Honestly, you don’t have to."
But he merely shook his head, smiling down at her. "Yes, I do."
"Seriously," Olivia said, looking up at him, her eyes glazed with worry. He didn’t have to do this. If he did, she was sure that she would be overcome with guilt that she was the reason he had been thrown out of the popular crowd. "You don’t need to do this. Not for me."
"I’m doing it for myself as well," he told her, before raising his voice again. A smirk was playing on his lips. "Some of you may be shocked to hear this, but it is true. Start spreading the rumours now because... guess what, folks? Ethan Shaw is on scholarship."
A few startled gasps escaped from the crowd, but Olivia didn’t have any time to process what happened next. Before she was even aware of it, Ethan had thrown the microphone somewhere in the crowd, wrapped his arms around her and pressed his lips to hers.
Honestly, as cheesy as it sounded, it felt like it was a scene from a movie, or at least a cliché romance novel. However, this was reality, and the feeling of his soft lips that she had missed so dearly was as real as you could get.
When they finally broke apart, Olivia’s face spread into a smile as she realised that their classmates had now broken into a round of loud applause. On everyone’s faces was also a smile, something that only made her own grin even wider. She took the opportunity to look up at Ethan, who was gazing intently at her.
"I’ve missed you," she managed to breathe.
"Me too," Ethan said, pulling her closer so they were able to sway in time to the slow music that the DJ had just started to play through the speakers. The crowd around them began to disperse, finding their partners and joining them to dance. "I am so sorry."