Arizona Skies
Author: Isabella Darcy

Chapter 33
The Diary

The day runs by quickly, too quickly, like how sand in an hourglass trickles through when you need it the most. Before I know it, its six o'clock, and after watching two movies, eating a variety of snacks, and talking a lot, the day is almost over. It's surprising how much I want the gray sunlight to linger, the hours to stretch on. Time is never my friend.

"What are you thinking about?" Aubrey asks me from his spot on the floor, where he's looking through some of the books I brought with me from L.A., flipping the pages so they're only beige blurs.

I shrug from my seat at my desk. "I don't want today to end. It feels so carefree, so...different. Easy."
Aubrey cocks his head at me. "Because you don't have to see Emma and crew?"

"Well..." That was part of my reasoning, but I feel ashamed to admit I care that much about their opinions to him, of all people. "I mean, not really. Not as much as spending time with you."

He still looks a little unconvinced, and frowns as he speaks. "You shouldn't, Aurora. I know I've told you before, but really, you shouldn't. They don't deserve you," he emphasizes, "and you shouldn't want them."

"I know I shouldn't, but I can't help it. I miss Frank, and our times together-"

Aubrey's expression turns sour once I mention Frank. "Really?"

"Yes, really," I say, frowning at him. "Frank is- was- my friend, once, Aubrey. Not anything more, but a good friend, and I miss that. I just wish it could be different."

"But," Aubrey says, getting up and strolling over to the bookcase near my bed, his back to me, "it isn't. If you had gone with Frank that day, we wouldn't be here, would we?"
He reaches over to grab something on the bookcase and I shake my head, swinging my feet against the floor. "No."

"Knowing that," he says, opening the cover of a little book, "do you still regret it?"

I shake my head and come towards him. "Aubrey, we've had this conversation before, and my answer is still unchanged. You know that I- hey!"

I make a lunge for Aubrey, but he jumps away swiftly with a laugh. I've just realized that the little book he's holding, with the red ribbon sticking out of it, isn't a book at all, in fact, it is my secret- until now- diary. The diary that contains documentation of my first days in Bitter Springs, my feelings about my surroundings, and most importantly now, my feelings about the people- Aubrey, as you can guess, is mentioned in detail.

"Aubrey, don't!" I cry as he jumps over a pile of clothes and skips across the room, flicking through the pages, scanning the scribbled cursive lines. He's laughing, intent on trying to read my cramped writing.

"Aha, I see my name!" He yells in triumph, pausing to stand still to read. I run over and try to grab the diary but he holds it above his head, reading it from up in the air as I try fruitlessly to yank it from his grasp.

"Aubrey, don't, come on, you're not funny-"

'Today the boy with the bronze hair finally spoke to me. I think his name is Aubrey. I don't know what his problem is, but we were standing outside after dinner- Lindsey had ordered us to make conversation, though I don't see how that was going to work with someone so apparently brainless-'

He breaks off to exclaim, "Brainless? Wow, nice first impression!"

"Aubrey, please, give it back," I say, but he's having far too much fun up there.

'-brainless. We didn't speak for a while, but then he lit a cigarette and offered me one- a bit ironic, considering this month is the anniversary of Mom's diagnosis for lung canc-'

He stops, his voice fading, and looks down at me, his smile bleeding out. I shake my head slightly from where I'm standing, arms crossed. "Are you done yet?" I ask, my voice quiet.

Aubrey lowers his arms, with the diary, and comes toward me, regret spelled over his face. "Aurora, I'm sorry, I didn't know it-"

"It's okay," I say, and try to take it away from him. However, though his voice is gentle, his fingers are not, and he won't let go of the book. "Aubrey, what are you doing?"
"Can we just fast-forward to the part where you admit you like me?"

I can't believe him, and tell him so. "Aubrey Hunter! What is with you?"

He laughs, shaking his head in apology, handing me the diary with open arms. "I'm just playing with you, Aurora, I'm sorry." He tries to get a hug, but I back away, my prized diary held safely in my grasp. "Oh, come on, please, I'm sorry. I repent."

But he's had his fun, I'll have mine. He cautiously heads towards me, offering me his arms, but I shake my head slowly with a growing smile and back away, one step for every step he takes.

"What, Aurora!" He's getting frustrated; every move he makes toward me is mirrored by a step back. "What are you doing?"
I shrug, but I can't help laughing. "Nothing. What are you doing?"

Aubrey is starting to catch on, and his lips curve up into that so familiar half-moon smile, his eyes lit with the fire of competition. "Where do you think you're going, Ms. Lark?" He asks me mischeviously as I edge for the door, the diary clenched tightly in my hand.

I shrug, and then, with a lightning fast movement that takes a couple of seconds for him to compute, I'm out of the room, streaking down the hallway with my prize in my hands, laughing into the air behind me. But soon he's over his initial surprise, and I hear heavy footsteps behind as he chases me, laughing, down the hall. I get about seven feet down then hall when he catches me, literally jumping on top of me.

"Aubrey!" I squeal from underneath, my face pressed against the orange shag carpet, breathless from running. "Ge' offa me."

He laughs, but raises himself up on his arms, taking his weight off of me- but leaving me pinned down to the carpet. I roll over, feeling the static catch my hair as I look up into his grinning face inches above mine. His eyes are lit copper, swirling before me in a vortex of color.

"Gotcha."

I look out of the corner of my eye to see the diary, a few feet away from my hand, which is now pinned to my side by Aubrey, the human cage. Maybe if I could just grab it...? But my hopes are dashed. Following my gaze, he shakes his head, snatching out a hand and taking the little book, still keeping me down.

With one hand, and remarkable dexterity, he flips it open, searching for his name again. I wait with bated breath as he shuffles through the pages.

"Let's see what we've got here..." Aubrey says, looking back at me with a wink. "I'm sure I should be able to find my name here somewhere..."

I roll my eyes, but can't help smiling. "Aubrey, lemme up. And what do you have to look in the diary for? Its just words, after all," and with an arch smile, "and I thought you didn't like reading." I tease.

I get the reaction I was hoping for. He momentarily abandons the diary with an affronted expression. "Aha! What are you trying to imply, hmm, Aurora? That written language and I are not good friends?"

I shrug from the carpet, or as best I can. More like wiggle. "Hey, you're the one that said it, not me."

He bites his lip with a starting smile that hints mischief. "But maybe you're right, after all-"

"I knew you hated reading!" I interrupt triumphantly.

"-this is much more fun."

Before I even realize what he's doing, Aubrey kisses me, still propping himself up, push-up style, on the weird smelling carpet. I feel like one of those girls in the movies, pushed against a wall for a kiss- only, I suppose, I happen to be on a floor. This could be miscounstrued, I begin to think, but lose my train of thought as he doesn't let go, kissing me long and deep. I give up the struggle for consciousness, and kiss back- my head pressed against the floor, the static making a halo of brown around it. He frees an arm to touch my cheek, my neck, my shoulder- supporting all of his weight on one arm now. Before I can even stop to think, not that I want to, my sleeve is sliding off of a shoulder, and his lips have found their way to to hollow behind my ear.

Maybe its the rush of adrenaline, or the mystery and tension of it all, but my heart is pounding in every vein of my body; everywhere he touches me I feel fire, blood writhing to escape the fleshy prison. This feeling is unlike anything I've experienced, euphoric, intoxicating. By now Aubrey's shirt is gone, whether I tugged it off I can't even remember, so caught up in the moment. All I know is that we can't stop now, not when it feels like this-

A sound. I tense, and he senses it, pausing to raise his head from my hair, his eyes searching mine warily.

"What is it?"

I keep still, my arms still in their sling around his neck, my heart pounding on the floor. My eyes slide to the staircase, vainly trying to pierce the darkness downstairs.

"I thought I heard something," I whisper, trying to hold back breath.

Aubrey chuckles, a sigh of relief. "Oh, is that it? I thought-"

He makes to bury his head back into my hair but I shake my head, and this time he pauses too, cocking his head to listen. By now I've given up trying to see downstairs, and my eyes uncomprehendingly glaze over the tattoo on Aubrey's left bicep, scales and talons. My eyes trace the shape, the black and green ink. Oh. A dragon. But my ears are all attention.

"Is it...the door?" he whispers, blinking towards the staircase.

My arms slide off as he raises himself back up on his palms, squinting to hear. The light from down the hall casts shadows on his bare chest, outlining muscles and tanned skin.

There's a scraping sound, then a slow creak. Then, startling in the dark-

"Aurora?"

Emma's voice, timid and easily recognizable pierces the house.

"Fuck!"

In an instant Aubrey rolls off of me, and I raise myself up from the carpet to run a hand through my now mussed hair. Aubrey from his crouch near the banister suppresses a laugh, trying to be quiet.

"Take your shirt," I hiss at him, and throw it.

But he's still grinning. "How bout your's?" he whispers, the laugh almost choking him. With a fierce blush I look down to see my bare shoulders, and quickly tug up my bra straps, jamming my sleeves back into their proper place, on my shoulders.

"Aurora?" Emma calls again.

"Shit!" I whisper under my breath, shooing Aubrey down the hall. "Go to my room," I hiss after him, "and please put your shirt back on!"
He goes, still suppressing the laughs, grinning after me. Standing up, and checking myself to see that everything is in the right place, I make heavy footsteps, running down the stairs.

"Hello?" I call.

"Aurora!" Emma comes forward from where she's been lingering near the door, and her face is penitent and nervous- apprehensive.

"Yeah?" I say, jauntily leaning on the banister, affecting nonchalance.

She looks surprised at this easy greeting- then I remember, we're supposed to be enemies.

"Um, hi," she says for lack of anything else, tucking a curl behind her ear.

"Hi." I say blankly, staring at her. I know I should feel angry and hurt right now, but with her actually standing in front of me, all I want to do is run and grab her in a big hug.

She grinds the heel of her shoe into the carpet, dropping her gaze, pink creeping into her cheeks. "So, I just wanted to say...um, I'm sorry."

She keeps her head down, awaiting my response. Am I going to storm off? Throw away her apology? Embrace her? The seconds tick by. I can't help myself.

"Emma!" I run at her, catching her suprised form in a hug, twirling her in a circle, burying my face in her curly sproingy hair- I'd forgotten what it felt like!

She looks back up to me with a relieved laugh, catching my hands and smiling timidly back. "I'm so sorry, Aurora," she says. "I've missed you so much."

"I've missed you too!" I say, and I have. We wander into the kitchen, where I promise to attempt to cook something, and as she sits at the table talking and I stir the pasta on the stove, someone flashes by the window- Aubrey, laughing in the rain, and still shirtless, throws me a kiss.

 

 

 

 

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