Arizona Skies
Author: Isabella Darcy

Chapter 24
Those Fatal Words

I uncross my arms and unclick my seatbelt as the truck comes to a halting stop, stirring up the orange dust. Everything's quiet, strangely quiet, and the heat seeps in through the open windows and pours over me, causing rivulets of sweat to trickle down my neck. I push open the door and hop out, slamming it shut.

"Aurora."

I turn back to see Aubrey, leaning out of my window. His nose is swollen already, starting to bloom purple and blue under his skin, and caked blood rims his nostrils and lips. But he's frowning, and reaches out a hand to me, penitent.

"Look, I'm sorry about Frank." He says.

I recross my arms and frown at him, determining not to be moved by his pitiful expression. "You didn't really seem that way when you were beating him up."

Aubrey sighs, mussing his hair, but keeps his voice level. "One of us was going to hit the other eventually- I was just-"

I step forward, biting my lip. "Just what?" I can't help it, already my voice is choked and the tears are welling up in my eyes, ready to spill over at the slightest provocation. Look, here they go.

He makes a move towards me, but remembers the barrier of the truck door. "Aurora, don't cry. Please." He says, his voice pained.

I shake my head, wiping the tears away savagely. "I'm not crying!" I say, taking a deep breath. He's not convinced.

"It's just," I say, trying to distract him from the saltwater running down my cheeks, burning against the heat, "I didn't want to have to choose. And you guys made me."

Aubrey shakes his head vehemently. "You didn't have to choose, Aurora. I was perfectly willing to let you stay frie-"

"Let?" I repeat, half disbelieving the words I hear coming from his rusty stained lips. "Let me stay friends with him?"

He's already backtracking, shaking his head as if he didn't mean it. But his eyes don't back down. "That's not what I-"

"Aubrey!" I say, frustrated, running a hand through my dry hair. "You act like you control me! I get that we're- we're involved, but that doesn't make me your property!"

"Aurora, of course I don't think-"

"Well I don't know," I say, stepping back. "Maybe you do. You know, Frank was my first friend here, he means a lot. He's a really sweet guy, and we had a great friendship, and now..."

"Well why didn't you pick him then?" He snaps, suddenly annoyed. "If he's so great, why are you still here?"

"I don't know!" I yell, throwing my arms down. "I really don't know, Aubrey, because right now it certainly seems like I made a mistake."

"Maybe you did." He narrows his eyes at me, his lips turned down, scowling at me. I can almost see the sparks flying from him.

"I think I did!" I scowl back.

He reaches over a hand to the wheel and revs the engine. "Then go." He says, leaning toward me, taunting. "You obviously don't want to be here, with me. Just leave."

"You know I won't do that!" I yell, catching his attention. His eyes snap back to mine, stopping the car. "You know I can't do that, though I'd certainly love to."

"Why not?" He leers, every aspect of him hostile.

"Because," the words are wrenched from my lips, "because..." Suddenly my voice fades, and I drop my eyes to the ground. "I think I'm in love with you."

 

 

 

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