Arizona Skies
Author: Isabella Darcy

Chapter 42
All The Same

This is it.

I'm standing in front of Aubrey's house- not his home, this endless ocean of a desert is his home- but the scratched up trailer with the peeling brown paint and colorful graffiti on the side where his mom lives.

A few stray cacti and scorched white rocks litter what looks like the front yard, and a homemade turquoise striped cloth awning stretches over the door to the trailer. Aubrey must have made it.

I swallow hard and walk up to the hot metal door, blinding in the harsh, now midday, sun. This is it.

Two sharp raps. I can hear muted voices inside, the sounds of a television. My hands are sweating.

The door suddenly caves in and then my eyes readjust to the dimness beyond and it’s Aubrey. He was laughing a minute ago, but when he sees it’s me the grin fades and his eyes become hard. Even as he makes to pull the door back I grab his sleeve.

“Aubrey! You have to listen to me.”

“I don’t think I need to.”

Once again I have to pull him back. I scowl, my voice firm.

“Yes, you do. Are you going to make me drag you out here?”

His eyes flicker with a challenge, but he looks back into the darkness and after a moment, grudgingly, “Fine. She shouldn’t hear this anyway.”

He steps out and pushes the door back behind him, leaning against it, arms crossed. I can see a part of a talon peep out from the faded T-shirt he’s wearing. That only unnerves me more.

He narrows his eyes. “Well?”

I don’t know where to start. I have a feeling this is going to be ugly.

“What you saw, that’s not what happened. Well, it is, but that’s not what I meant to happen-“ I flounder, feeling my face burn brick red. He stares at me stonily. Obviously Aubrey is going to make me spell it out.

“It was just a kiss.” I finally say bluntly.

Aubrey snorts. “Just? Weren’t you the one going on about how a kiss isn’t just a kiss, it’s a commitment? That it means something? All that crap?”

“It is!” I glare. “Except when it comes as a total and unwanted surprise from Frank.”

He raises his eyebrows, uncrossing his arms. “Hah! Unwanted? Yeah. Sure it was.”

“Aubrey! Frank only did that to make you jealous.  He knew you were watching. There is nothing going on between us.”

“Yeah? Well it worked. I am jealous, now I can finally see you have some absurd little crush on that-“

“No I don’t! Since you seem to know everything, did you see what happened after? When I told him to back off, that I’m only interested in you? Or did you conveniently ignore that part?”

Aubrey flushes, my arrow hitting it’s target. Finally I get emotion from him. “I didn’t need to stay and watch your lovefest, okay, I saw enough.” His voice is low and shaking, obviously restrained. I would be scared if I wasn’t so pissed at his lack of trust in me.

“Enough?!” I scoff. “You saw one unfortunate, and rejected kiss! And here you go jumping to the island of conclusions-“

“It’s not the kiss, Aurora, it’s the fact that now I can see he’s managing to get a response from you. He has a hold on you, whether you admit it or not-“

“No he doesn’t!” I tear a hand through my hair in frustration. “Why is this such a big deal?! Why can’t you trust me when I say nothing else happened? That I regret I even talked to him now?”

He twists his neck, biting his lip so hard I see it turn white. His voice is bitter. “Aurora, of course I trust you-“

“You obviously don’t! I have given you everything I have to offer, everything. I have never kept one thing from you.” His eyes burn into mine. “I trust you, even though you go off for days at a time, doing God knows what. You know all the stuff people say about you, Aubrey?”

He rolls his eyes with a sour laugh. “They say a lot, I don’t care.”

“They tell me to stay away. That you’re a liar, a charmer, a real sweet talker who will ditch me in two minutes-“

“Why are you with me then?” He explodes. “Why don’t you just run to Frank- I’m sure he’ll embrace you with open arms! Do it, please. I’m sure you’ll find a much better time than here-“

My eyes are starting to well up with hot angry tears, choking my words. “Like the better times you find?”

He stops, his voice suddenly hushed. “What did you say?”

The sobs are coming freely now, but I fight through them, throwing around words just to hurt him, things that never even crossed my mind till now. “Isn’t that how you roll? One girl never enough? How many have there been, since I came along, hmm? Who else are you playing?”

Suddenly he grabs my neck, yanking me close to him, forcing me to look him in the eye. Our foreheads are touching and even though it’s ninety degrees I shiver. I can feel the strength in him, struggling to be contained. His voice shakes.

“How many times do I have to tell you, Aurora.” His lips are quivering in their intensity. I feel the hand on the back of my neck tighten. “You are enough for me. And I don’t care how much I hate the power you have over me, I want you all the same. Tell me that’s not crazy.”

I’m shaking like a leaf from this overdrive of emotion, but through the teardrops in my lashes I laugh. “That’s not crazy,” I whisper, my lips curving into a smile. I touch his flushed cheek with my fingertips, trace the little white scar on the bridge of his nose, the jagged line on his lip.  “That’s not crazy at all.”

 “No?” His thumb wipes the wetness off my eyelashes and he breaks out into a smile. His eyes are starting to shine- is he about to cry?

“Aubrey,” I gasp, “Are you crying?”

“Don’t be crazy,” he says, and kisses me hard, once, twice. With his hand on the back of my neck and the dry wind brushing our faces and his lips, each kiss honey and charcoal and smoke, and I love you, I love you, I love you.

 

 

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