The Fall of Sky: Part One (8 page)

BOOK: The Fall of Sky: Part One
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“After that, I grabbed duffle bags and told her to shove everything she loved into it—clothes, pictures, trinkets, everything. I stuffed my own bag, filled another with toiletries, toilet paper, wipes, everything I had bought with my own money. Once we had that stuff, we grabbed blankets, pillows, sleeping bags, and all the food left in the house, including utensils, knives, and a can opener. I even grabbed the camping stove, some pots, bottles of water, and a tent. All our mom’s stuff we grabbed too—pictures, albums, jewelry, her clothes. Everything. We stuffed my station wagon I had just bought with my money from doing odd jobs and babysitting. One family I’d babysat for gave me a really good deal on it since they upgraded to a nice minivan, and the thing was huge.

“Once we were sure we had everything we needed or wanted, we walked out, locked the door behind us, and got in the car. We never looked back.”

“That must’ve been so hard for two young girls, not even of age.” He reached up, rubbing his chin as he absorbed my story. Somehow, I wasn’t feeling fear or pain or even rage anymore, but calm and resolve.

“Yeah. We were afraid he’d send the police after us, but I don’t think he even cared that we were gone. We spent weeks camping out in the desert, throwing sleeping bags onto the back compartment of the station wagon when the weather was nice and we could count the stars shining in the wide, black sky. We’d spend colder days in the malls and libraries until they closed, and we parked in hidden areas where we could crank the heater on and listen to old tunes on the radio or cd player. Sometimes, I’d get a job babysitting kids in the campsites while parents went on hikes by themselves or wanted to hit a nearby town for souvenirs. They’d buy us lunch and give us some money to keep on, pay for gas, and move on. It was hard. My meager savings didn’t last forever.”

“How did you make it so long on your own?”

“Well, we found a group of travelers who moved around so often and stayed off the grid that we found our calling. We’d camp around fires in our tents with them, and ended up staying in one lady’s RV who travelled alone and took us under her wing for over a year, until she moved in with her daughter because she got too sick and couldn’t travel anymore. Her name was Rachel, and she saved us from starvation one day when we were camping out and had to steal from other campers just to eat. She caught me lifting some bananas from her table. I’d tried to run, but she called out to me to come back, to eat. I turned around and watched as she motioned me over and told me to get my sister. I guess we weren’t as unnoticeable as I thought.”

“I’m glad you guys found someone who cared. Nothing like being all alone in the world.”

I nodded. “Yeah,” I said sadly. “Ready to head out?”

He grinned, his warm fingers leaving mine, where I almost groaned at the loss of their comfort. Instead of getting out of the booth, he extended his arm behind me and rubbed soft circular patterns on my tense shoulders and back.

“Just a minute and we can go.”

Each small caress set me on fire as I watched him. His eyes were on me, but lost to the blindness they imprisoned him with. I didn’t need his eyes though. It was his touch that created an unbearable desire which demanded payment with skin and sweat.

“Okay.”

The moments ticked by, and my breathes deepened as his face edged closer to mine until his warmth penetrated my cool skin, heating it up to a temperature until it was stifling.

“Let’s go.”

 

Chapter Fifteen

 

 

 

 

Liv

I GATHERED UP
my things and sat on the empty bed in Jonas’ bedroom. The morning was utterly silent but for the occasional birds chirping in the trees outside the double French doors leading into the inside courtyard of the house. Jonas was gone. He’d woken up at first light and kissed my forehead, telling me that he had some business to take care of and Marco would be there to drive me home when I was ready. Caridad would have breakfast ready.

Just like that, he was gone, as if he didn’t exist, but I knew better. He very much lingered here, even if just in spirit and memory. His enigmatic kisses left trails across my skin, and I shivered at the very thought of them. Yes, he was a good lover, but it was still just an act for me. His suave fingers knew what to do to make my body hum and send shockwaves down into my middle until he had me so ready, so willing; he did what he wanted expertly to my body. How real was it for Jonas? His pleasure felt authentic, and I hoped I’d satisfied him enough. I had to be careful so he couldn’t see right through my farce and catch on to my devious act.

How far was I willing to go?

Running my brush through the tangles of hair, I stared at myself in the mirror. Makeup free, I looked so young. My skin was fresh but puffy from sleeping. My brown eyes shined in the morning sunlight, like stars were embedded within them. The bruising was long gone, and it hadn’t left a mark, but I could still feel a tiny ache on that side of my face when I pressed on the area. I didn’t look nineteen. I looked sixteen—young, naïve, and unmarred by the world.

But I was far from unblemished. Hardened by the world my sister and I had endured alone since I was fifteen, my youth betrayed the old soul hovering behind my shiny eyes. If there was a way out of this mess I was in, dating a man I didn’t love or could ever love, I was sure I had lost the ability to see the way out clearly. Maybe Audrey was right…I hadn’t thought this through enough, and now as I grasped the edges of the mirrored dresser and really saw the way things were, I felt sick to my stomach.

I slapped the smooth wood and let out a breath, exasperated. I didn’t want to live in fear and loathing. I hated the myriad of emotions fighting for full control inside me, and I hoped I could just disappear back into my old life and forget Jonas.

Grabbing my stuff and heading out the door, I walked across the courtyard in haste, holding my heels in my hand as I hopped across the stones barefoot.

“Sleeping Beauty has awoken.”

I froze, turning slowly toward the same table I’d sat at the night before for dinner with Jonas. Instead of the man I’d slept with last night, I laid eyes on his younger brother, Emilio.

“I−I was just heading out.”

He motioned toward the other chair and flicked his eyes toward Caridad, who stood by silently. Her whole demeanor looked more relaxed this morning, and she smiled warmly at me as she pulled the chair out. I stood there for a moment, like a deer in headlights, unsure of what to do or say.

Caridad took my hand and slipped my bag into her hand to hang on the chair while leading me to sit in it. My mind had been made up for me, especially when she placed a heaping plate of chilaquiles with egg mixed in, rice, beans, and a pink tinged liquid in front of me. My mouth was sticky and dry, so I naturally went for the drink right away. The alluring smell of the food was making it water. Before I dived into a long swallow of refreshing drink, I stopped to sniff the glass of juice—watermelon juice to be exact.

“It’s freshly made.” Emilio had already downed a glass, and Caridad was refilling it without being told. She gave me a warm nod and retreated to the kitchen.

I was stunned. No words made it out of my mouth after sipping the delicious drink. I kept my gaze lowered to the stark white tablecloth to avoid Emilio’s eyes. His studious dark eyes made me squirm in my own skin, like he knew far too much about me for his own good. I hoped he didn’t know. I liked to keep my innermost darkest secrets where they were, in the pit of my soul.

“Jonas has left on an extended business trip to Mexico City. He’ll be gone for two weeks.” Emilio shoved another bite of chilaquiles into his mouth and studied my face as he chewed. Somehow, that hard, cold as steel exterior he’d presented in the bar the night of our performance was gone. Without his brother and the entourage of killers with him, he appeared younger, less threatening.

I placed the empty glass on the table and licked my lips, meeting his gaze. “What do you mean, two weeks? He didn’t mention it to me…”

“He often doesn’t mention things until he’s already leaving. You’ll get used to it.” He winked and piled some rice and beans, all mixed together, onto his spoon. He was an appalling eater, very unlike his prim and proper brother.

“Do you live here too?” I asked, loading my fork with a bite of the divine smelling breakfast. It had some sort of peppers in it, the aroma already tickling my nose and making my eyes sting. Still, it tasted amazing, and I immediately started to shove more in, feeling hungrier than I thought I was.

“Yes, I live here with Jonas. It’s big enough to avoid each other for the most part and still be available to his beck and call.” His tone was flat, and I thought I spotted a hint of contempt lingering in his words. Could he be on a whole different level than his brother? Maybe his fierce exterior had truly been a farce at the bar. Maybe he was more than met the eye. It appeared so, and it tipped my curiosity.

“I didn’t know he shared this house, but it’s pretty big. I guess that’s a good idea.” I shifted in my chair, feeling a bit uncomfortable when Caridad showed up to refill my drink—right on time too, for my mouth was burning up from the hot peppers in the mix. “Thank you. What’s in these chilaquiles anyway? My mouth is on fire!”

“Jalapenos, onions, and tomato, Miss,” Caridad answered before retreating to the kitchen. I watched her walk away with a sordid desperation to have another with me as I sat here with a jaguar. That’s what Emilio reminded me of. He was sleek, sharp, and muscular, ready to pounce on his prey in a split second without messing up a hair.

“You live with your sister, right? I don’t see how much different that would be from me living with my big brother.”

I nodded, clinging to the cool glass of juice. “Probably not too different. Audrey and I…we’ve always lived together. We’ve been together on the road for years. You have to get used to the company if you don’t want to go insane, even if it’s family.” I chuckled. Thinking of Audrey always made me shake my head. We were always at odds, but I would never want to live anywhere she wasn’t. We were two peas in one pod; we needed each other.

“Sometimes it’s still hard to get used to.” He let his fork clang as he dropped it onto his plate, and Caridad promptly hurried out from whatever task she was doing to scoop it up and replace it with coffee. “I don’t see how you don’t want to kill each other.” He sipped the steaming liquid, black and unsweetened. “Jonas is not quite as easy to live with as it seems your sister would be.” I lifted an eyebrow as I watched him take another sip of the hot fluid, and I cringed. I wondered how he could stand it that way. I could feel the burn on my tongue just watching him. He was also too curious about my living situation.

Caridad placed a hot steamy coffee in front of me too, but with creamer and sugar. God bless her! I stirred the stuff in frantically, blowing to cool off the scorch.

“Well,” I offered. I can’t stand silence. Silence is hell. The quiet exposes too much it shouldn’t know. “I can’t say we’re always best of pals, Audrey and me. We disagree a lot. She’s the responsible one. I try to stay out of trouble, but I’m just not a conformist. I like to live as though the end were tomorrow. I hate steady jobs, enclosed spaces, and like to be free, you know?” I sighed, stirring more sugar and cream into my hot coffee. It was still too hot to sip, so I just blew on the surface and let it drop from the spoon. It was so warm this morning, I wasn’t sure I was in the mood for a hot drink. It didn’t seem to bother Emilio, who was on his second straight up cup of sludge. I shuddered at the bitterness it must taste like without the extras.

“You’re lucky. I’m sure Jonas would love to shoot me most days, but he sees it as a waste of a bullet. I can never do what I want. He says it’s family responsibility to keep things running smoothly.” He chuckled and let his head drop back, the warmth of the morning sun heating up his skin. “The guy can go where he wants, whenever he wants, but me? I’m stuck here, doing the dirty work for him.” The sound of the waterfall filled the silent space, which I was eternally grateful for. Never had I thought I’d be having breakfast with Jonas’ brother. He’d rarely visited in Phoenix when Jonas showed up there, but I had seen him on occasion in Ruben’s bar. He’d always given off the air of chilliness, cold and rigid. It was nothing like the lax demeanor he now openly let me see. Why?

Here…here he was open and cool as a cucumber in his own environment. I hated to say that as the minutes ticked by and he shoved more food into his mouth without messing his clothes or spilling it on his chin, I sort of, kind of liked him.

“You live here more than he does, don’t you?” I gulped, hoping I hadn’t stepped over the line, but with the way Caridad treated him and how much more relaxed they both were when Jonas was gone, I figured just as much.

Emilio focused his tiger eyes on me, the color of shiny brown and gold beads reflecting the sun; not quite pure brown, but a more marbleized brown with swirls of yellow. His irises didn’t look real and were opalescent, but they were real, as real as my plain brown ones. The soft shimmer of light made him look so young, handsome even, and showed a healthy glow that was muted under the dark bar lights at night. His rounded cheeks and the sharp curves of his jaw were alluring, but in a striking sort of way. It sucked me in so much so that I didn’t even notice I’d been staring at him.

“You notice everything, don’t you, Liv?”

My name sounded foreign on his lips, seductive even. It had me shivering under the morning heat, but not from cold. I’d never really looked at the younger brother of the infamous Hermanos de Sangre cartel. It was hypnotic being under his gaze and felt utterly dangerous. If only I knew who this person really was, maybe I’d run right then and there, until I never saw him again.

“I better get going.” I slid my spoon onto the saucer of my barely touched coffee and stood up.

Emilio stood up too, and I noticed he was also barefoot. I don’t know why, but seeing his bare feet with a peek of leg hair from under his jeans made me pause. People don’t often show you their feet. It was personal, almost intimate in a way, to see him without socks and shoes on.

“I’ll drive you.”

“Oh no, that’s alright. Jonas said Marco would take me anywhere I needed to go.”

“Marco hasn’t returned from the airport yet.” Emilio observed me, taking in my outfit from the evening before and my makeup free face. It made me feel suddenly very underdone and exposed, without my mask of foundation and coverage. Whatever he saw, I couldn’t deny the hunger that lingered in those marbleized brown eyes. It was enough for me to flick my eyes to the ground and silently struggle with the knot forming in my throat as I swallowed. Jonas didn’t do that to me.

“Um. Okay then. I’d appreciate a ride.”

Emilio slipped on his socks, which had sat on shoes, hidden this entire time underneath his chair. Then, he stood up and reached out to slip his hand through mine, to my utter shock. Forced to follow along, I let him lead me through the house and out the front, where he opened the door to a modest SUV and let me hop in before closing the door behind him. I watched him circle around to the other side while I touched my skin where his fingers had been. The heat from his firm grip still lingered on mine, and the thrill it caused still shot up my arm and into my belly.

I’d underestimated the power of this man in more ways than one, and I was in big trouble.

 

BOOK: The Fall of Sky: Part One
13.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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