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Authors: Ellie J. LaBelle

Arizona Heat (11 page)

BOOK: Arizona Heat
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Chapter Twenty-Two


I’m not completely sure when his arms wrapped around me. I suspect they were there the entire time and I just didn't realize it until now. Clinging to Reagan’s arms, I sob ugly and loud tears. Fits of rage and guilt flow through me in waves. Guilty for feeling what I feel for Reagan, like I betrayed Simon with my emotions. But also guilty that, in light of my new feelings for Reagan, I’m so upset at Simon. Yet I’m enraged at Simon’s behavior and angry at myself for not realizing it sooner.

My breath finally calms and I muster the courage to look up at Reagan. He stares at me with concerned eyes and a confused expression. I must look like a psycho, throwing myself onto the dirt and crying.

Wiping the tears from my eyes, I stand to my feet and march toward the trailer. Reagan trails behind me yelling something that I can’t hear. The crazy girlfriend in me comes up with a scheme on the way to the RV. I’ll call and ask him how his night was, ask him who he was with. If I catch him in a lie then I know for sure. Tunnel vision consumes me as I swing the door open and slam it right back shut, locking myself in. I draft a quick text and hit send.

Josie: Hey I didn't get a chance to talk to you. How was your night?

It feels like an eternity before it vibrates.

Simon: Good, just hung out with the guys.

Liar. Liar. Fucking liar. I choose one of the more incriminating looking pictures and send it along with a message:
Oh yeah? When did the guys grow breasts and decide to make out with each other?
I slam the phone on the table and start pacing. My mind is surprisingly clear as I walk back and forth down the tiny walkway. When the phone vibrates on the table, I stop dead in my tracks and stare at it. A picture of Simon and I at graduation flashes across the screen and I feel bile rise to my throat. I answer the call and wait.

“Josie, I can explain…

Simon begins, his voice frantic. “She meant nothing. It was just the one time. I was so lonely and you were gone.”

I stop listening after the fifth trite excuse and roll my eyes as he tries to pointlessly salvage any semblance of our relationship that might be left. I’m not sure why he bothers. As Simon rotates between apologizing, explaining himself, and telling me he loves me, I feel numb and overwhelmed all at once.

“Say something,

he begs.

“I’m done,

I say casually.

“Josie, please. Let’s work this out.”

“There’s nothing to work out.”

“So that’s it? After all these years you won’t even try?

he asks, angry.

been trying for years,

I spat.

“I let
have your little fling. Why are you being so unreasonable?”


I scoff like it’s a dirty word. “And what fling are you referring to? Reagan? I haven't touched him, unlike
who has been fucking another girl for

“Of course. The perfect Josephine who does no wrong, I forgot.”

“What is
supposed to mean?”

“You prance around like your shit don't stink and judge the rest of us.”

What that literal shit is he talking about? “Stop trying to be hurtful and turning this into something I did wrong. I never cheated on you. You did. There is no one to blame for this but yourself.”


he scoffs.

“Glad we had this talk, and if I wasn't clear enough before, we’re done, no longer engaged, nothing.”

Rather than hang up, I throw the phone as hard as I can against the wall. A loud crack echoes through the small space as the metal makes contact. I immediately regret my outburst and run over to where it landed. By some miracle the phone illuminates but the screen is shattered, making it completely illegible.


I scream at the top of my lungs.

“Are you okay? I stayed outside to give you some privacy but then I heard a bang…

Reagan’s hair is wild like he’s been running his hands through it. I don't know whether to slap him or hug him.

“How’d you get in here?

I ask, although it doesn't matter.

“I had the spare key in my pocket,

he shrugs.

“It doesn't matter. Nothing matters. God, I’m so embarrassed,

I say, putting a hand to my head to shield my face from him.


he says firmly, pulling my hand away. I’m forced to look up at him and his face is all I need to feel better. The tears are still in full swing but my heart no longer feels like it’s being shredded to pieces, still broken but bearable.

“He cheated on me,

I manage to say through a trembling bottom lip.

“I heard,

he says apologetically.

“I’m a fool.”


Reagan says again, pleading with me. “You should never be embarrassed for instilling trust in someone. He should be embarrassed for breaking it.”

“Thank you but I still feel stupid.”

He pulls me into him and I rest my head under his chin. The warmth of his arms around me is enough to finally console my crying. I take a deep breath of his cologne and sigh. Once the tears dry and my initial shock subsides, I’m left with anger and frustration. I gently push off Reagan’s chest and pace. After chewing my nails and wearing out the soles of my sandals, I decide on what I need.

“Can I borrow your phone?

I ask, taking Reagan by surprise.

“Only if you promise not to call him while you’re still upset. Also, I don’t want him to have my number.”

“I just need the internet.”

He hands it over with no further questions. I type rapidly for a few minutes and scroll through my options on Ticketmaster. I really just want someone to scream in my face. There are a few seats left at a Hopeless in Alexandria concert in Chicago. It starts at seven and it’s only three. We’ll probably be late but I don't care. I need to let off steam and what better place to do it than with thousands of people as angry as I am? My legs move toward the passenger seat and without a second thought I pull out my debit card and buy the tickets. Reagan follows me to the front of the RV and plops down in the driver’s seat.


I say with certainty. I’m not sure about anything but that we need to make it to Chicago and I need to go to this concert. Reagan doesn't say another word as we roll down the dirt road, away from the Field of Dreams.

Ironic, isn't it? That in a place where a man pursued his dreams mine would fall out from under me. That’s the n
vety of believing fiction I suppose. Life has a way of screwing you especially when you think you’ve made up your mind about something.

I realized that my dream of Simon and I working things out was fading, but what I didn't realize was that it was basically a lie from the beginning. My brain sways back and forth between if his infidelity makes things easier or more difficult. Either way my heart feels stomped on. The emotional abuse, combined with lying is worse than anything I would have expected Simon to do to me.

I’ve spent a week feeling guilty about having feelings for someone else. Meanwhile, Simon has been gallivanting around town with another woman for months and pretended to be too depressed to show any semblance of intimacy.

Chapter Twenty-Three


We spend the entire ride in silence as I try and push the minor details of where I am going to live and what I am going to do with my stuff when I get back to New York out of my mind.

Reagan pulls into a parking garage a few blocks from the United Center. I go into the tiny camper bathroom and assess my appearance. My eyes are bloodshot, cheeks puffy, and my hair is flat on one side. I grab my toiletry bag and rub some foundation on my face. In an attempt to hide the red in my eyes, I put on way too much eyeliner and although now I don't look like I’ve been crying, I look stoned.
. A loose bun unsuccessfully tames my curls but hides the flat spots so I decide it’s good enough.

When I step out of the bathroom, Reagan is sitting at the small kitchen table with his notebook. I pay him no mind as I rip off my shirt and shorts to put on the black sundress I wore the night of the play. When I turn around his eyes are wide and I suspect he has long since looked up from his lyrics. He got a little more of a show than he bargained for.
Fuck it.

I lead the way toward the United Center, walking as if I’ve lived in Chicago for years and know the roads like the back of my hand. In reality I follow the attraction signs and goth kids. As soon as the venue is in sight, I’m hit with a terrible realization. I never asked Reagan if he was okay with going to this. On top of that, this is most definitely the type of place where someone would recognize him.

“I didn't even think about what would happen if someone sees you,

I say, stopping in my tracks to look up at him with utter mortification.

“They won’t,

he assures me.

“I forget you are famous sometimes.”

“Famous around a few very specific social circles,

he smirks.

“Yeah a specific social circle like this one,

I groan. “Let’s forget this.”


he smiles, shaking his head. “I’m a little confused about how you came up with this idea but I’m up for it.”

“If I’d have thought about it before, I would have suggested we disguise you.”

“I am in disguise,

he whispers as he points to his hat.

“Oh yes, that beanie turns you into a whole different person,

I say sarcastically, managing a small smile.

Reagan grabs ahold of my hand and forces me toward the United Center. I open the confirmation email on his phone and show the ticket takers. They scan it with annoyance but let us through. I hadn't looked at what tickets I bought so we are pleasantly surprised to find ourselves in the front row to the left of the stage.

The opener is finishing up as we settle in and the people on the floor are already rowdy from the first act. The stadium is filled with a sea of black amidst the light of neon glow sticks.

“I wanted someone to scream in my face,

I explain, a little embarrassed at how it sounds aloud.

“I would have screamed in your face,

he says with a smile.

“You don’t scream when you sing,

I comment in a whisper so no one can hear.

“True. Sorry. I forgot my music was too soft for you.

He sounds mostly amused but there is a hint of hurt in his voice.

“Maybe I’ll watch Hopeless play and find out that I’ve totally converted to soft rock.”

“A guy can dream,

he says with a neutral expression, although I suspect there is more to it.

The stadium goes black and the crowd’s scream is ear piecing. Hopeless in Alexandria, or just Hopeless, are not everyone’s cup of tea but they have an enormous cult following. Their music is like if Three Days Grace and Korn had hate sex and produced a beautiful angst baby; lots of yelling in your face but with rhythm so it’s tolerable for a long period of time

Guitar strings begin filling the air and the crowd’s enthusiasm sparks at the immediate recognition of the first few cords. A spotlight shines on the lead singer as he whispers into the microphone. His voice is severely different from Reagan’s, a little whiney and very breathy where Reagan’s voice is strong and raspy. I idly wonder if I will ever be able to enjoy rock music again without comparing it to him.

The guitar fades out and is replaced with drums and an abruptly loud scream. Everyone around us goes nuts and it’s infectious. I recognize the song from when I was in high school and start singing along. Reagan smirks down at me and shakes his head as if to say, “I can’t believe you know their songs and not mine.

I shrug with an unapologetic expression and sway to the rhythm as best as one sways to head banger music.

“Is it stupid for you to go to a concert like this?

I ask over the music, gesturing to all the people around us. I imagine he hasn't attended a concert in a while since he’s busy touring himself.

“Kind of but I was starting to think I’d never be able to experience it again. It reminds me why I started playing in the first place.

He looks completely sincere which takes me by surprise. I offer a genuine smile, appreciating his good sportsmanship.

The songs come one after the other and I surprise myself at how many I remember from years ago. Reagan looks surprised too and slightly annoyed every time another song starts. The lead singer announces there are two more songs and the crowd boos. A soft melody starts and I recognize the tune immediately. It’s their only ballad and one of their best-selling songs, which I’m sure pisses them off to no end. Cell phone screens start popping up throughout the audience and the fans start swaying in unison. I close my eyes and let the music take me back to the summer when I first heard it.

My childhood friend Katie and I spent the summer at camp and we were pining over one of the older counselors. One day during a snack break he was listening to this song on his boom box and it became our ultimate summer ballad. The following day I burned it to a disk so we could listen to it on repeat on my Discman. The counselor ended up getting fired for hooking up with a camper and our hearts were broken that he hadn't chosen us, but to this day it remains one of my favorite songs.

A pair of eyes break my nostalgic reminiscing and I find Reagan staring at me with the most peculiar expression. He looks mostly infatuated but almost awestruck at the same time. “I want you to get lost in my music like this.

As he speaks it sounds like a whisper, pushing us back to the corn fields, into a secluded moment where the world fades away and it’s just us. The sea of people seem so insignificant to the weight of his words. The look on his face is all I need to know that his feelings are more than just attraction. His feelings match mine.

“Lewis Law!

a girl next to us screams. It takes a minute for me to realize who she is talking about but when I do, I panic. A few people around us turn to see what all the commotion is and their faces light up. I know there isn't much time before we get swarmed.

Reagan tries to push past the group of people in front of the isle but they block our only way out. With hungry expressions, they start grabbing at him, violently I might add, and I fear I’ll lose him. I grab ahold of his arm and he pulls me into him protectively which only makes them more forceful, trying to rip us apart. The flashing cameras are blinding and crippling, making me want to curl into a ball on the floor.

It only takes a few seconds for a couple of fans to turn into dozens and before I know what’s going on, I’m being lifted over the barrier in front of me. A few bouncers notice what’s happening and rush over to me with confused expressions. I point to Reagan getting swallowed up by a group of people and they jump into action.

The larger of the two reaches over the barrier to get ahold of Reagan’s hand and the other barrels through the crowd. It takes them a minute, but soon Reagan is safely next to me. I’m thankful we are in an isle barricaded from his fans as we are led behind the stage. I follow blindly, not caring where we go so long as it is away from here.

We enter a room full of sofas and mirrors that I conclude must be a green room and Reagan mutters a thank you to the bouncers before they leave. My chest rises and falls in rapid succession as I lean against the back of a couch. I let the reality of the situation sink in and feel foolish for taking him here and putting us in danger. All so I could attempt to distract myself from my problems.

Reagan looks less affected by the encounter as he stands in the middle of the room, eyeing me like a wounded animal. I’m overcome with a mixture of anger and lust as I gaze at his perfect form. His broad shoulders and brooding eyes are something I can’t resist anymore. I feel myself push off the back of the couch and walk toward him with determination. No more holding back.

Our mouths crash together with unrestrained urgency as Reagan wraps an arm around my waist and grips my face with startling intensity. I grab ahold the back of his neck to steady myself and pull down in an attempt to get closer. Reagan makes a low growl before effortlessly lifting me off the ground and forcing my legs to wrap around his waist as he carries me over to a cosmetics counter.

He pushes me up against the mirror as I run my hands through his hair, gripping tightly and forcing our kiss deeper. His hand gets a firm grasp on my thigh and finds the hem of my dress, pushing it slowly over my hips. A soft moan escapes my lips as I slide across the cool marble, forcing the black fabric up further, and squeeze my thighs around his waist to pull him into me. I sit up so we are chest to chest and pause for a breathless moment to look at him. Lust and affection consume the space between us and as my mouth finds his, and I can’t image how I ever lived without his lips.

Just when I think this moment will never end, the doorknob rattles.

BOOK: Arizona Heat
10.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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