Arizona Skies
Author: Isabella Darcy

Chapter 14
Midnight Talks

I've barely been at home for twenty minutes when the phone starts ringing, and I'm pretty sure I know who it is. After the third ring I sigh and get up.

"Hello?"

"Aurora!" Emma screams. "Oh my god!"

This exclamation is followed by a couple minutes of her screaming, heavy breathing, and oh-my-gods. Finally she calms down enough to form an intelligible sentence.

"Are you guys going out?" She gasps.

I twist the beige curly cord around a finger and watch as it springs back into shape. "No, I don't think so." What am I saying? "No." I say definitely to her.

Emma is not one to be easily led astray when she's focused. "But do you want to?" she insists.

Do I? Of course I do. But I want him to take it seriously- I want it to be real. "Yes." I say. "Yes, I do. Very much."

"Oh my god." She whispers. "Poor Frank."

Poor Frank indeed.

"Do you want me to tell him?" She asks helpfully.

This is the last thing I want her to do. I try to make that very clear. "What, no. No, Emma, please don't. I'll figure out some way to tell him. I just- no, please don't say anything to Frank."

She sighs. "Alright then. But I feel pretty bad about it."

I laugh sourly. "You do? Hopefully he'll take the hint sooner or later...?"

I can picture her shaking her head, the expression on her face. "Uh-uh. Frank can be pretty willfully blind. He'll need a big wake-up call." It sounds like she wants to be the one to give the wake-up call.

"Um, Emma, just promise me that you won't tell him? Please?"

She sighs. "Okay, I promise. But Frank's gonna be really disappointed in me when he finds out. I'm like his best friend."

Disappointed in her? I don't even want to know what he'll think about me. "Finds out what? It's not like Aubrey and I are doing anything. I don't even know what we are right now."

"Ok, well, keep me posted." She says. "I have to go. Tell me if anything happens!"

"I will." I say, and set down the receiver. If anything happens.

 

 

That night I can't sleep. It's eleven forty two and I'm still awake, tossing and turning. The moon has past full, and the light not as strong- but everything seems awake. I try taking an aspirin and listening to my iPod, but it's just not working. I've been staring up at the cieling for the last couple of minutes when I hear a noise and someone whisper,

"Pssst!"

I sit up straight, looking around my room. Everything is where it should be. No evildoer is illuminated in the night light. But I can't have imagined it.

"Psst!"

It's definitely coming from the window. I turn around, clutching the sheets, straining my eyes to the darkness.

"Who's there?" I say, still blind.

I hear a cough and then a bright light flickers on, like a lighter. When it hits the face of the person holding it, I gasp, and promptly drop the sheets.

Aubrey is hanging onto my trellis, holding his lighter like a torch, grinning at me. He must have climbed all the way up.

"Aubrey! What are you doing?" I hiss, careful not to wake Lindsey.

His eyes rove over my torso and the crooked grin becomes more prominent. He nods at me. I look down and realize the only thing I'm wearing is my lacy Victoria's Secret bra I got as a birthday present. With a gasp I jerk up the sheets, my hair falling loose out of it's ponytail holder and onto my almost-bare shoulders.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" I repeat, wondering if he can see my blush in the feeble light.

He shrugs. "I was bored."

"So you came here?" I raise an eyebrow.

He smiles. "Why not?"

I shift my arm, dragging the sheet up higher. "Shouldn't you be sleeping?"

"Shouldn't you?" He retorts.

I sigh. "I couldn't sleep."

Aubrey's still hanging on to the trellis by the sheer strength of his arms.

"Do you want to come in?" I ask awkwardly. "You look kind of uncomfortable."

He nods, and sguiggles up through the window, flopping himself on my floor with a sigh. "Thanks."

It's at this point that I'm struck with the strangeness of my situation. Here I am, barely clothed, sitting in the dead of night with a reckless guy who's just climbed through my window. Life can be weird.

"What are you thinking about?" He asks, interrupting me from these meditations. I blush and smile, looking down.

"Nothing."

Aubrey stretches out on the floor, craning his neck to look at me, elevated on the bed. He looks at ease and comfy- the opposite of what I'm feeling.

"Where do you sleep?" I ask, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear and catching the sheet from falling, again.

He shrugs. "Wherever. Sometimes on the roofs of buildings, sometimes just in the open. Most of the time in my truck."

I'm struck with pity for this proud guy sitting on my floor. Here I am with a lot, complaining about it, and he has barely anything.

"I'm sorry." I say.

He shakes his head. "Don't be. It's not that bad." Then, cocking his head to the side, "Do you wanna put some clothes on? I'm feeling a bit distracted."

I blush. "Hey, some of us are trying to sleep. You chose to come here."

He makes as if to get up. "Do you want me to leave?"

"No- no, don't go." I say, looking down. He sits back down with a smile. I shift awkwardly on the bed.

"Ok, can you um- just- yeah, turn that way." Aubrey averts his eyes with a grin and I get up, dragging my sheet with me. This tiny room has no closet, so I'm just going to have to trust him to not look.

"Um, just- don't look, okay?"

"Okay." He laughs and I drop the sheet, shivering in the cold. I look around for my clothes- none of which seem to be out. Seconds tick by.

"Are you done yet?" He asks impatiently, the laughing tone in his voice.

"No! Just stay right there- wait-"

I stumble around in the dark, and finally grab an item of clothing, which I try jamming over my head. They happen to be shorts, and I start over again with a sigh of frustration.

"Everything okay back there?" He asks as I yank the shorts on and look for a shirt.

"Well, it'd help if I had a little light-"

Then suddenly the light appears and I see Aubrey looking at me, and my shirt is in my hands, not on my body. I uselessly try to cover my bra, acutely aware of his eyes on me.

"I said, don't look!"

"Sorry," He laughs, "You also said you wanted light." He turns his face away, still holding out the light, but I can see the corner of his mouth, and he's smiling. Finally I pull the shirt over my head and hop back onto the bed, burning as red as the fire.

"Okay." I say, trying to cover up my embarassment. "I'm dressed. Now what did you want?"

"You looked perfectly fine before." He ignores me, grinning.

I narrow my eyes, still brick red. "I thought you said you were getting distracted."

"I was. It doesn't mean it was bad, though."

I run a hand through my tangled hair. "Very funny, Aubrey."

"Well," he says, propping himself up against the wall, "you know me."

We stare at each other in the dark for a few seconds, and I can hear my heartbeat in my ears. Finally he says,

"You're cute when you're nervous."

"Who says I'm nervous?" I say, swallowing.

Aubrey grins his crooked grin. "You obviously are. My mere prescence excites you."

I roll my eyes. "Oh, shut up. Someone needs to help you deflate your head, Aubrey- I think it's too big for one person alone to manage."

He shakes the said large head with a laugh. "You're very amusing."

"I wasn't trying to be," I say. "Just speaking the truth."

"No need to be insulting," he grins, "All I did was say you look cute. Is that too much? Can't I even express my admiration of your blushing cheeks and sweaty palms?"

I can't help smiling- I like being around him. He nods, contented.

"See, that's more like it. We're getting along very well. I don't know why you prefer that boring fart Thompson to me and my sparkling wit."

I pretend to think, though I'm still smiling. "Hmm, let's see...number one, he's not arrogant." I cough, nodding to him.

"Arrogant?" Aubrey feigns outrage. "I don't know what you're talking about. Okay, fine, what's number two?"

"He's polite...sweet..."

He raises an eyebrow. "Is that all?"

I blush, but it's hard to focus on Frank when Aubrey is right in front of me. "I have my reasons," I say, floundering. Aubrey gives me a doubtful look.

"You know, I think you're a little confused, sweetheart."

Did he just call me sweetheart? "I don't think so," I blush.

He nods seriously at me, creeping closer. "You're very much mistaken."

"Prove it." I say, raising an eyebrow. He continues to slide along towards me. Now he's right by my bedboard, and we're a foot apart. His eyes glimmer in the dark.

"Well...does he make you feel like this?"

And he's tracing a line with his fingertips from my temple down to my cheek, across my parted lips. I can smell him, he's close: like charcoal and honey. His hand slides down my chin and to my throat, nestling it in his palm. With one hand alone he could strangle me.

Our eyes are still locked and I'm breathing fast, but as he strokes his thumb down to the hollow of my throat, I'm not afraid; I'm breathless with excitment, expectation. He stops, smiling.

"Your heartbeat." He says, and I realize he's feeling my pulse, "It's crazy when I'm with you."

I let out a sigh and stare into his eyes, feeling my throat reverberate when I talk, his hand warm against my cold skin. "Maybe that's how it always is."

He's whispering, leaning his head close to me, his hand still locked around my neck. "Maybe."

He's so close, too close. I can see every eyelash, every speck in his eyes; count every freckle, trace the lines of his face. It's intoxicating. Then carefully, so carefully, I close the gap between our lips and close my eyes.

I'm kissing Aubrey, and he's kissing me back, and he frees my throat and runs both his hands through my hair, smoothing my forehead. I wish it could last forever; this is bliss, I think, heaven on earth.  And now he's cradling me in his arms and I never want to let go. But finally he pulls back, and he's breathless and I'm breathless and the laughter on his lips is gone.

"Does he make you feel like that?" He whispers, serious.

I shake my head, still giddy. "No." I whisper back.

Then there's a rustle in the background and I hear the floorboards creak along the hallway, heavy steps. Lindsey's heading to the bathroom, passing my door. Aubrey gets up in a flash, ready to climb back out of the window, but I grab his hand and pull him back.

"Don't go," I whisper, looking up into his eyes. "Please."

Suddenly I don't want him to leave. I feel like if he vanishes out of the window, all of this will too, and this night will end up being a dream, unreal.

He strokes my cheek tenderly but his eyes are fierce. "She might come in here." He says. "Aurora, you know I would stay. I'll be back, I promise."
But I still can't let go. He's taking my heart with him out of that window.

"'ll be back tomorrow, and the day after that, and every day after that." He assures me, then kisses me one more time. "Promise."

With a leap he's gone, and I curl up under my sheet and lie perfectly still as Lindsey creaks open the door and checks on me.

 

 

 

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