Arizona Skies
Author: Isabella Darcy

Chapter 29
Let Go

"That wasn't that bad, see?"

Aubrey opens the door of his truck for me and I shake my head, laughing. I can't even begin to tell him how relieved I am the ordeal is over- its barely sinking in. He climbs in and starts the ignition as I strap on my seatbelt.

"I'm so glad its over," I say. Aubrey grins.

"There's always next time."

We drive, and it takes me about ten minutes to realize we're on a different route- going the entirely opposite direction from Lindsey's, in fact. I turn to him, suspicious.

"Where are we going?"

Aubrey bites back a smile and shakes his head, squinting forward into the amber sun. "You'll see. I thought this called for a little celebration."

I fidget in my seat...but finally I'm too curious. "Where?" I ask again, "Please?"

But I can't get it out of him. The smile breaks loose but he won't tell. "You'll see." He repeats. "You know, patience is not one of your virtues."

I roll my eyes- I know its true. "Is it one of your's?"

"I can be patient. On occasion." He winks at me. "Its very difficult to see past immediate gratification."

"Really?" I raise my eyebrow with a mischevious smile. "So you can't resist temptation?"

"Why?" Its his turn to look suspicious.

"Well," I say, biting my lip with a smile. "I was just wondering if I could possibly tempt you into telling me where we're going."

"Oh yeah?" He smiles.

"Yeah."

"I'm afraid that would be very hard to do," he smirks. "I have a will of iron, you know. Just as a matter of interest, of course...how exactly were you planning to get it out of me?"

I shrug with an arch smile. "Well, if you're already determined not to be tempted, I don't see that its very much fun to tell you my strategy. I guess you'll just have to..." I lean close to him, then chuckle the last word into his ear, my breath fanning across his face, "...wonder."

Aubrey laughs, and turns to me. "I'd like to reconsider, ma'am. Why don't you just try to tempt me?"

"What happened to your will of iron?" I tease. "You can't see past immediate gratification."

"Well?" He's pleasantly nervous, and I smile as I talk.

"Well...to tell the truth..."

Aubrey turns to me with his crooked smile. "Yes?"

"...I didn't really have a strategy." I laugh.

Aubrey chuckles. "Aurora! All that for nothing?"

I can't stop laughing. "Its so fun leading you on. I was just gonna make it up as I went along."

Aubrey shakes his head, repressing his smile. "Shameful."

"But," I continue, sguiggling over in my seat to him, "since you were such a good sport about it, you deserve a reward."

"Really?" He's interested now, raising an eyebrow at me.

"Yup." I'm so close to him that its easy to kiss him- which is what I do. Aubrey tastes like honey and smells like the sun...and before I know it, he's the one kissing me. Finally I pull away with a laugh.

"You're going to crash the car!"

Aubrey chuckles, smiling into the sun. "I like being a good sport."

Finally the truck stops, in front of a mound of dusty rocks and shrivelled cacti. Farther in the distance several trucks can be seen- or are they trailers? Aubrey unbuckles his seatbelt and opens his door.

"Okay, stay here." He says. "Its a surprise."
I wait, fidgeting, while he's gone, the heat building up in the car and swallowing me whole. Then he reappears, carrying a...picnic basket?

"What is that?" I ask as he hops in with it, setting it in the tiny backseat space. Aubrey shrugs, but he's really having trouble not grinning now.

"You'll see soon enough."

We drive this time in silence, as I look out of the window and wonder where he can possibly be taking me. Sand flashes by, and streaks of green and brown signify cacti- but no matter how far we drive I feel like we're in the same place. Once again, the car stops, this time at a bare expanse of sand and rock. The sun is about to set, burning amber and gold and blood red to the horizon.

We get out of the car and Aubrey spreads out a blanket. Oh. Then, plopping down on it, he begins pulling out food. I sit down slowly, watching the items magically appear.

There's pasta and olives and soda and chocolate, and a lot of fruit. Finally the basket is emptied, and he looks to me with a bright smile.

"Now you," he says, "have never properly seen an Arizona sunset. This is the best possible view to watch it from."

"Wow, Aubrey," I say as he begins serving up the food, "who knew you were so romantic?"

Aubrey grins. "I have many hidden sides. The more the merrier."

He hands me my plate and we sit, crosslegged and eat, watching as the colors sink lower into the sky and gradually drain, siphoning off the harsh red for a dull pink, the deep amber for dusty yellow, the gold for a light blue. Then, they seem to touch the sand, and all of the light is spilled across the land, spilled across us- for a couple minutes. I turn to Aubrey and see him bathed in color- sundrenched. Its beautiful, unlike anything I've ever seen. It almost feels like a commune with nature herself. Finally they fade, and the miraculous show is over. As we sit and talk, blue fades into purple, and purple into black- which is eventually sprinkled with silver stars.

We lie across the blanket and stare up into the sky, and Aubrey entwines his fingers in mine. I smile up into the dark.

"Is L.A. like this?" He asks unexpectedly.

I shake my head, then remember to speak. "No...I mean, you can never be so close- to nature- there. Its beautiful in its own right, but everything that makes it beautiful- the lights, buildings- is man made."

Aubrey sighs, a happy sigh. "I'm glad." He says. "I wouldn't have wanted this anywhere but here."

I turn my face to him and our eyes meet. "Neither would I."

Its getting cold, and as I shiver Aubrey draws me into his arms, and we lie and stare up at the sky together. There is no need for words, for looks- everything that can be said is said, like this- and soon I fall asleep, his lips in my hair and the stars swirling all around us.

 

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