Arizona Skies
Author: Isabella Darcy

Chapter 4
Talking

I walk into the town with Frank and he shows me where the tiny bookstore is (this is no Barnes & Noble) and the old, drive in movie-theatre which is actually kind of awesome. Then we go for pizza in a little place called Tony's Cafe- one of the few indoor, air conditioned establishments in Bitter Springs.

I clutch my Oreo milkshake and tentatively smile at Frank, who warmly grins back at me.

"You're going to Wilson, right?" he asks, eager.

I nod. Wilson is the school where everyone goes in Bitter Springs...probably because it's the only highschool here. 

"So you're...how old? 

"Seventeen." I clarify.

"Cool." he says. "I'm about to turn eighteen-we'll be in the same class."

"How big is Wilson?" I ask.

He meditates. "Um...about 300 kids, I'd say."

"In our class?"

Frank stares at me like I'm crazy. "In the whole school."

It's my turn to goggle. "Three hundred?"
He looks amused at my expression. "Yeah. How many were there back at your school in L.A?"

I pretend to ponder. "Um, only about four thousand or so."

His jaw drops, his blue eyes hugely incredulous. "How is that possible?"

I shrug and stir my milkshake. "L.A.'s big. There's a lot of people."

He continues to look flabbergasted, and I laugh. "Haven't you ever been to L.A.?"
Frank raises an eyebrow at me. "Come on Aurora, why would I? We have everything we need right here in Bitter Springs."

I take a sip. "I don't know- vacation?"

He shakes his head. "I've never been outside of Arizona. I've always wanted to go, though. And to New York."

"Well, maybe I can show you round L.A. when you do." I smile. "I know all the best spots."

"I'd like that." He shoots me a cute smile and I blush.

The bell jingles and a group of teenage boys enter. I recognize the bronze-haired one from Lindsey's, Aubrey I think his name is. They stand in front of the counter, joking,trying to order take out. They all look about my age, or a bit older. Suddenly Aubrey looks in my direction, and for a second his warm brown eyes lock onto mine with such a fierce flash of dislike? hatred? that I'm momentarily stunned. I feel myself color crimson and then he looks away, and I watch as the boys leave, his scowl imprinted on my eyelids.

Frank turns to me with a curious eye. "What's up with you and Aubrey?"

I tuck a strand of hair behind my ear and act innocent. "Who?"

"That red haired kid. I've never seen him look so pissed. Do you guys know each other or something?"

I shake my head. "No. I mean, I met him at my grandma's. I don't know what his problem is."

"Hmm." Frank considers it for a moment, then turns to another subject, for which I am grateful.

"So what do you normally do? I mean, for the last day or so you've been here?"

"Mostly draw. How bout you?"

He runs a hand through his thick curls and leans back against the seat. I notice his bronzed biceps- together with his broad shoulders, Frank would look pretty intimidating were it not for his boyish grin and snubbed nose.

"Somedays I have work. I help garden." He seems a bit embarrassed by it. "It's good money, though- and pretty easy, seeing as most of it's hauling rocks and cacti and such."

I laugh. "Yeah, it seems kind of hard to imagine any green gardens here."

The waitress comes over with the tab, and Frank gives her a twenty, no change. We exit the cafe and I'm greeted by a blast of hot, dry air. He laughs at my face.

"You'll get used to it."

Frank walks me back to the rock and gives me a natural, bearlike hug before I go. I walk back to Lindsey's in a good mood. Frank's nice, and the milkshake was good- overall, not a bad day. Except, I think, for Aubrey Hunter and his hateful eyes. What is with him? I stop these reflections as I reach the house, carefully shutting the screen door behind me. It's 2:45, and Lindsey is probably back.

"Aurora?"

Yup, she is.

I pad into the kitchen and greet Lindsey, who's sitting back in a chair and knitting something. I hover uncertainly around the table.

"How's your day been?" she asks, still knitting.

I shift the bag over my shoulder. "Good. I met someone and he showed me around town."

"Who?" she pauses, her eyes interested.

"Um, Frank Thompson."

"Oh." She goes back to her knitting. "He's a good boy, though definitely not the sharpest tool in the shed."

I bristle at this ungenerous treatment of him. "Well, I thought he was very nice. He was really friendly to me."

She simply nods. "Was he? Lunch'll be ready soon."

I take this as a dismissal and run up to my room, carefully putting the finished drawing away. There's really nothing much to do around here. I"m reading a book when Lindsey calls me back down for lunch.

As I enter the kitchen I see that the table's set for three. Hmm.

"Who's...?" I begin to ask, but as my eye catches the tall, bronze-haired by standing by the window I simply sit. I can already feel my face burning and it doesn't help once he sits down not three feet from me. Lindsey bustles around the kitchen, and we sit silently and awkwardly.

At such a close distance, it's hard for me to not look at him. He's very handsome, with a straight, aquiline nose and perfect lips, flawless features. His hair is carelessy messy, and he leans back in his chair easily, watching as Lindsey gets the food ready, with an almost loving eye. Until, that is, it turns on me.

I blush and look away, turning to hide from his scrutiny, and Lindsey hands us our food. They start up an easy conversation about some shed I gather he's building for her, and I pick through my food in silence. He talks eagerly and charismatically, leaning towards her. His voice is strangely husky and a bit sarcastic- seductive. Not that he talks to me. I am completely ignored, until we finish eating and Lindsey suggests that we go outside and amuse ourselves as she washes up. Great. This should be fun.

Aubrey leads the way outside and I follow. He saunters over to a pile of rocks and begins shifting through them as I stand awkwardly. I put my hands in my pockets and scrape the toe of my sandal against the porch floor, the hot air blowing my hair back. Minutes tick by.

I'm starting to get a little pissed off. I don't know what his problem with me is, but I'm tired of his complete unawarness of my existence. I lean across the porch railing and look out onto the scorched wilderness beyond. Lovely.

He's stopped sorting rocks and is now looking at me, his hands shoved in the pockets of his faded jeans.

"Yes?" I say rudely as he keeps staring.

He advances, and I can't help the pounding of my heart as he comes close. He pulls something from his pocket and places it between his lips, lighting it. Ah. A cigarette. With a faint smile he inhales and then exhales. Right into my face.

I cough and splutter as my eyes sting. Finally I find my voice. "What the hell is your problem?"

He says nothing, just continues to look at me with the half smile. Then, "Cigarette?"

I refuse with a glare. "You know, smoking gives you lung cancer."

He shrugs, uninterested. "Whatever."

"Your funeral." I say, looking away.

We stand in silence for a few more minutes. I suppose this is as good as it's gonna get between me and Aubrey. Then, he throws the cigarette on the ground and grinds it with his heel with a taunting glance at me.

"Aren't you gonna pick that up?" I say as he starts to walk away. He turns his head and a slow smile creeps over his lips, revealing perfect teeth. He winks.

"Goodbye." He says, walking away, his back to me. "Aur-o-ra."

 

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