[MBW]- Chapter 17.

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AFTER PUSHING PAST countless people and trying not to trip in my humongous heels, I finally found a door that led to the outdoors.

I took a deep breath of the fresh air. My eyes closed on their own accord and I tried to forget the last few minutes as I just inhaled the distant smell of the ocean paired with other tropical scents.

Overthinking was part of my nature. And, I was definitely doing the most overthinking with how the situation between Ethan and me had panned out. There was no other way for me to cope with it. We were complicated and he just had to accept it.

Suddenly, I heard familiar voices behind me and panicked when I saw Ethan, Vanessa, and Aiden approaching me. Had I been wearing any other color than red, they might have missed me under the moonlight.

With the way that Ethan's eyes were connected to mine, they were out to find me no matter what.

"Char! Where were you? I lost you in there." Vanessa claimed, crossing her arms over her chest.

I smiled, meekly.

"I just wanted some fresh air. It was getting really congested inside."

My eyes flickered over to Ethan and he smiled humorlessly at my excuse.

Vanessa didn't seem to care much about it and continued,

"So, we had a question?"

I looked at the three of them, wondering what they could possibly want to ask me.

"About what?" I replied, curiously. If it wasn't about Ethan and I then I would happily comply in indulging in it since I needed to get my mind off it.

"Bachelor party," Aiden said.

Ethan, just as confused as I was upon hearing this, faced Aiden with a WTF look.

"You said you didn't want one, dude. I had one heck of a party in mind if you recall." He said and his eyes were wide, willing Aiden to remember. From the way that Aiden grimaced, I was sure he more than just recalled Ethan's plans.

"I don't want some huge party. One of my cousins has just opened up a club and it sounds great." Aiden said and Vanessa nodded, sold on the idea.

"Wait. You want one too?" My eyes narrowed at Vanessa.

She had specifically told me she would never want one since she knew she would go crazy and end up doing something stupid. I agreed because I was planning on doing an unoriginal Vegas trip for the girls and that would not end pretty.

"I changed my mind." She shrugged her shoulders at me like a child and I rolled my eyes.

"I don't have anything planned since I used up all my ideas for your campfire party," I said.

The boys were all set with their club but we had nowhere to go. And, I was seriously getting tired of all these impromptu party ideas that they were getting. Why didn't they just want to sleep the night before their wedding? Any sane person would want to.

"We could just all go together, you know," Ethan suggested. The happy couple seemed impressed at the idea.

I, however, was not sold.

"That defeats the whole purpose of a bachelor party," I said.

"Do you really have any other options? High-end clubs are invite only and a pretty face and having Forde as your last name won't get you anywhere here." He winked at me, knowing he was winning.

Vanessa looked at me, the little devil with her puppy eyes.

"Fine. Whatever. I'm not planning anything, though. I'm done with that." I gave in and held up my hands to show I was well and truly done.

I had new found respect for wedding planners and people who planned a lot in general. I was only an amateur planner, I had found out during this week. People whose lives depended upon it must go crazy.

Vanessa and Aiden made their way inside once some of the details were smoothed out since there were hundreds of people inside waiting for them.

I was about to follow them too before Ethan grabbed my wrist and dragged me with him to go somewhere.

"What the hell?" I asked and tried to pry his hands off of me. But, that only made him tighten his grip, which pissed me off further.

"Let go, you asshole," I said, keeping my voice quiet in case any guest was lingering outside.

He just laughed before abruptly coming to a stop, which in turn made me run straight into him. That made me lose my balance but thankfully his arms curled around me protectively to stop the inevitable fall. He pulled me up still holding onto me. I felt my breath hitch when he looked at me. And, under the moonlight, it just seemed all the more romantic.

His eyes were roaming over my face but instead of the usual mischief, there was studied seriousness in his them.

"What do you want, Ethan?" I said, taken aback at how exhausted my voice sounded.

He stepped closer, for the nth time, invading my personal space. His hands came up to cup my cheeks and I hated how my body gave into his touch by leaning into him.

Get a grip, Charlotte.

"No, what do you want, Char?" He pressed on and looked at me, also seemingly exhausted.

I licked my lips nervously since I had no answer to that question. I knew what I didn't want. That list was endless.

"Because I'm dead serious. I know you refuse to believe me but I'm so tired of putting up with all these fights that are making this, whatever this is, worse." He said.

I didn't want to do this outside my best friend's rehearsal dinner where I was supposed to be around her and the other guests. Not tending to my fucked up love life.

"I don't know what I want, Ethan. I'm not ready to put up with all these bipolar moments we have when one moment we're fighting and then the next we're best friends. I need all in or all out. I can't do a fling with you, you know that. Our lives are too intertwined and I have a reputation and such mistakes only make things worse." I reasoned with him.

I remembered distinctly the lecture my mother gave me on my sixteenth birthday all about boys and relationships and how they affect my image. Definitely not the sweet sixteen I had in mind but she was right about some things.

"Such mistakes? Is that what all of this is to you? I thought...you were just putting up a defensive front." He said, so much hurt on his face as if someone had just run over a puppy.

I opened my mouth to say something and retract the word mistake since it was harsh but he didn't give me a chance and just cupped my cheek with his hands and pressed his lips to mine.

Once again, I responded as quickly as I could, my hormones getting the best of me. One of his hands left my cheek and he placed it on my back crushing me against him. It was as if we were never close enough to his liking.

With my heels giving me an added advantage, I could easily wrap my arms around his neck letting me tug his hair, which he seemed to love given the sound that escaped him.

My brain was on autopilot as it didn't know what to do with his kiss. The kiss was gentle and soft rather than borderline making out as it were last night. The feather-like caress of his fingers on my cheek almost made my knees buckle. He knew what he was doing and my heart felt like it would leap out of my chest at any given moment.

Surprisingly, Ethan was the first pull away and he looked at me but all traces of Ethan from the kiss we had just shared was gone. His eyes were closed off again. The eyes that I was surely in love with.

"Still the best mistake I made." He said jaw clenching and hands fisted as if he were trying to stop himself from doing something else.

With that, he turned around and walked away, a little bit of my lipstick on the corner of his mouth. But, once again, I was left standing in my spot as he walked away.


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