I stared blankly at the movie playing, my focus elsewhere. Ella and I were having our ritual Saturday movie night, but she was almost asleep and I wasn't even paying attention. We'd been together for almost six months and with our busy schedules, sometimes Saturday night was the only time we got to see each other in a week.
Her head was resting in my lap and I was too preoccupied with playing with her dark hair to watch the third movie we'd played. I couldn't help but wonder how the amazing, small girl lying across the couch had put up with me for so long.
"Nate," she called sleepily, prodding my thigh.
"The movie is over."
I looked up to find credits scrolling. "Oh." I lightly slid her off of me and stood up. "What do you wanna watch now?" Out of the corner of my eye I spied the clock displaying two in the dark room.
"Nothing," she groaned. "Let's go to bed."
With a tired grin I turned off the TV and scooped her into my arms, carrying her out of the room. "Alright, baby." I hit the light switch with my forehead and she giggled quietly.
We alternated between our apartments, and it was her week, so when I laid her down it was in her own bed. "Do you want to change?"
She shook her head, already settling on her pillow. "Come here," she mumbled.
I knew she would want me to sleep in her bed, but the request still made my heart beat a little faster. Instantly, she moved her head to my chest and got comfortable with a contented sigh. "Hm," she hummed.
I pressed a kiss to her hair before affectionately whispering to her, "Goodnight, Ella-bell."
A smile broke her face but her eyes stayed closed. "I love it when you call me that," she whispered.
I couldn't help the bit of pride that bubbled in me at her admission. I always considered it an accomplishment when I did something right in our relationship, especially if I did it without noticing. "Then maybe I should do it more often."
Her smile faded and her breathing evened out as I watched her fall asleep before she could respond.
The next morning we were rudely awakened by a loud door slam and a shout of "Ella!" as someone came down the hall.
Ella groaned and turned to bury her face in my chest. "Go away," she mumbled.
"Wake up sleepy head. Ooh, Nate's here." My eyes cracked open just enough to see my brother and bandmate, Shane, smirk from the bedroom doorway. "Late night, lovebirds?"
"Shut up," I grumbled. I moved to get up and let Ella leave, but she held me back.
"No, stay. I'm comfortable."
I had already known that this morning Shane was picking her up at 10:30 so Ella could take Shane's girlfriend, Mitchie, dress shopping. Ella was the favorite fashion consultant of the group. We hadn't set an alarm, but unfortunately Shane apparently had borrowed Mitchie's key to Ella's apartment and let himself in, thus waking us up at 10:30 on the dot.
"You have to go," I told her.
"No," she whined, looking to Shane. "Can't we do it later? What's with you and Mitchie? 10:30, really?"
Shane smirked with a shrug. "What can I say, we're morning people. It's one reason we get along."
When Ella continued to stay in bed, Shane marched over to us. "Come on, Ella-bell, we've got places to be."
I felt her tense in my arms and roll over slightly to face Shane. "What did you call me?"
He shrugged. "Ella-bell. I heard Nate call you it when we all went out a few weeks ago. I thought it was cute."
She glared slightly at him. "Only Nate is allowed to call me that."
I grinned brightly and turned to her. "Really?"
She nodded. "I'm only okay with it if you're the only one with the privilege. Shane, if you want me to get ready, go in the living room. You are also not privy to watching me change."
"Why does Nate get to watch you change?"
Her brow raised and I tensed just a little. "One, he's my boyfriend, you moron." I held back a laugh. "Two, why do you want to watch me change?"
"Mitchie doesn't let me watch her change," he pouted. I barely bit my tongue. Luckily Ella spoke before I could.
"That's your problem. Now get out of my room."
He grumbled and went back into the living room. I grinned and let her up. "I love that I'm the only one who gets to call you Ella-bell."
She smiled back at me. "Good. I do too."
Her shirt fell on the floor as she turned around, not caring a bit I was still lying there looking at her. "And I love that I'm privy to watching you change."
She turned to glare playfully at me and I winked back at her.