Now and Forever
For my readers.
You are all rock stars.
Thank you for making this life possible.
That’s how many times his new video has been viewed. That’s how many people went to his site, pressed PLAY, and watched the hottest musician in the world perform his latest single.
It wasn’t like this a year ago. No one even knew who he was back then. His website only had a few hundred hits. His music wasn’t playing on the radio every five minutes. His music wasn’t out there at all. And now it’s everywhere.
All these girls’ eyes on him. All these strangers singing along in their rooms, on the other side of all those screens all over the world.
He’s the world’s biggest rock star.
He’s the boy every girl wants.
He’s my boyfriend.
When I open my front door, Ethan is holding his phone over his head playing “In Your Eyes.”
“Happy anniversary,” he says.
“You remembered!” I’ve been wondering if Ethan was going to remember that our first date was one month ago today. He didn’t say anything at school. So I didn’t say anything, either. I didn’t want to come off like a total spaz over being together for a month. Now I’m so happy I didn’t ruin his surprise. I had no idea Ethan was planning this when he said he wanted to come over tonight.
He comes in and kisses me. Still holding his phone over his head. Still playing “In Your Eyes.”
“You rule,” I tell him.
“I don’t rule yet. Maybe I’ll rule when we get to where I’m taking you to celebrate. If you like what we’re doing.”
“You didn’t have to do all this.”
Ethan hugs me tight. “I wanted to make tonight special.”
It’s hard to believe we’ve only been together for one month. It feels like I’ve known him forever. Today at lunch we were talking about last Saturday night. We were driving around in Ethan’s car with no destination in mind. I was supposed to be home in half an hour. But I was desperately trying to block out the harsh reality of time. So was Ethan.
“What if we kept driving?” Ethan said. “Got a motel room in some random town? We could say we got lost.”
“And we got the motel room for safety. You were really tired and we were worried you might fall asleep at the wheel.”
“Exactly. Your mom would buy that, right?”
“As much as your mom would.”
We smirked at each other. Both moms would see right through that scam.
Ethan reached into my lap and held my hand. This was always the worst part of the night, when we knew we’d have to go home soon. I wanted to drive around all night. Holding hands in my lap or his. Singing along to the radio. Getting lost down side streets to make out. We’re both shocked by how much alone time we want together. Neither of us has ever felt this way before. Ethan loves having lots of people around. He’s a classic extrovert like me. We’re both into going out and meeting new people. But nothing compares to how happy I am when it’s just the two of us.
A David Bowie song came on. Ethan started laughing.
“What?” I asked.
“‘Hey Bowie, do you have one really funky sequined space suit?’”
“Flight of the Conchords! I love that show!”
“How are you so awesome?”
“How are you so awesome?”
“We’re both Flight of the Conchords geeks. That makes us both awesome.”
“I love our obscure awesomeness.”
“I love everything about you.”
Ethan made me melt when he said that. I was melting right into the passenger seat. My bones went soft and my heart swelled and I couldn’t imagine ever feeling happier than I did right that second. I knew he could see how much I loved him when he looked into my eyes. We haven’t said “I love you” to each other yet. But we both know it’s there.
That night in Ethan’s car feels like it was three weeks ago. But it was only three days ago. When we’re together, time dilates and stretches in mysterious ways. It’s like we enter our own private universe. Especially when we’re alone.
Especially when we’re making out.
When Ethan is touching me and kissing me and we’re pressed against each other in bed, I never want it to end. I wish we could stay together forever. We usually go to my apartment after school. One minute it’ll be three thirty and we’ll have three whole hours until Ethan has to be home for dinner. The next thing we know it’s after six. How do hours pass in a space of time that feels like minutes?
I suspect time is going to pass even faster tonight. I have no idea where Ethan’s taking me to celebrate. But something tells me it’s going to be really romantic.
“In Your Eyes” finishes playing. Ethan smiles in that way he has where his eyes sparkle like I’m the most important person to him.
“Are you ready?” he asks.
Why does it seem like he’s asking about more than just tonight?
Ethan won’t give me any hints in his car. He even takes a few random turns to fake me out. Our small town is already shut down for the night. The river, piers, and boats all seem like they’re sleeping. I’m surprised when we end up at his house.
“Didn’t see that coming,” I say.
“You have no idea.”
No one’s home at Ethan’s house. We go up to his room. Which is filled with candles. Candles in different shapes, sizes, and colors are on every available surface. Candles are on the windowsills, the dresser, the desk, the shelves, the night table. There are even some big pillar candles clustered in a corner on the floor.
Ethan turns the lights off. He starts lighting candles.
“Have a seat,” he says. “This might take a while.”
I lie back on Ethan’s big bed and watch him light the candles. I love watching him. One time he fell asleep in my room. I watched him for almost an hour, memorizing the slope of his nose, the curves of his cheeks, the shape of his lips.
Ethan Cross is the most gorgeous boy I’ve ever seen. And he picked me.
How did I get so lucky?
After he lights the last candle, Ethan grabs his iPod. He lies down next to me. Then he puts one earbud in my ear and the other in his.
“Thanks again for the song last night,” Ethan says. “I loved it.”
I was so nervous about sending Ethan “Everything” by Lifehouse. I’ve had that song on repeat ever since the day Ethan first asked me out. To me, it’s Ethan’s theme song. It sounds like him. It feels like him. I love losing myself in the sound of him. I’m so deep in the love haze I can’t remember what I used to think about before Ethan. Last night I was suddenly inspired to share the song with him. The message I wrote with it said that he’s all I want. He’s all I need. What we have is amazing.
The second I sent the song, I worried that it was too much. The last thing I want to do is scare him away. But Ethan isn’t a typical boy. He doesn’t get freaked out by strong emotions. And he’s so romantic.
“Your song inspired me to find one for you,” Ethan says. Haunting, resonant music starts playing in our earbuds. “Have you heard of Sigur Rós?”
“They’re Icelandic. They have an ambient, post-rock sound.” Ethan strokes my cheek. “Their music is beautiful. Just like you.”
Melting. On. The bed.
“I don’t have the words to tell you how I feel about you. So I found a song in another language to do it for me. I don’t know Icelandic, but I read that it’s about two people falling in love. How they spend the day together walking around downtown and enjoying being in their own world where they understand each other better than anyone ever has before. It’s called ‘An Alright Start.’”
“You always out-romantic me. I thought I was being all sweet sending you ‘Everything.’ You’re like, ‘I had to go to a whole other language to tell you how I feel!’”
“You were being sweet. You’re the sweetest girl I’ve ever known.”
I put my head on Ethan’s chest, breathing with him and listening to the music. Ethan slides his fingers through my hair over and over.
“Sterling,” Ethan says.
“I love you.”
I lift my head to look at Ethan. He glows in the candlelight. Just looking at him takes my breath away.
“I love you, too,” I tell him.
How could it be any better than this?
“What key is this in?” Drew asks.
“B-flat,” Gage tells him.
“My pages are messed up.” Drew makes some notations on his sheet music with a pencil.
“Let’s hit it,” Stefan says from behind the drums. Stefan is only happy when he’s behind the drums.
Drew, Gage, and Stefan are Ethan’s band mates. Those guys’ high school days are behind them. Now they’re working random jobs while waiting for the band to get megafamous. Their band is The Invincibles. Drew plays bass and Gage rocks the keyboard. Along with Ethan’s best friend, Miles, these guys are Ethan’s closest friends.
The band breaks into “Now and Forever.” Ethan’s hoping it will be their first single. He looks at me while he sings.
Don’t worry about tomorrow.
We always have today.
Right now is all that matters.
Right now is here to stay.
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