I couldn't sleep. I was leaving Miami tomorrow. And I couldn't sleep. Were the two connected or was my body just being a jackass by not allowing me to rest? I decided that the answer didn't matter and slowly sat up so I wouldn't wake Brianna, who was having no trouble sleeping. I slid my feet into the pair of fuzzy slippers that I'd stationed at the end of her bed and quietly left her room. Her parents and brothers were sleeping, for which I was grateful because I wasn't in the mood for company.
I got myself a glass of water from the kitchen and stepped out, onto the back porch. I could see the ocean from there and the breeze that rolled onto me was warm and salty. The sun was just beginning to rise over the horizon and, in my opinion, there had never been a more beautiful sight.
I inhaled deeply, as if I could somehow pull enough into my body so that, when I left, the scent would remain with me. I could see my guards who, like Gael had promised, somehow made it to Miami without a plane. I didn't know how they did it but figured that it had to do with magic. I had three guards in total but only knew the name of one. Ash. He was the friendliest out of the three—and also the youngest. It was hard to tell how old demons or angels were because they were immortal and could choose to physical stop aging whenever they liked so, even though most of the demons in the court appeared to be in their twenties, they were actually in their hundreds. Thousands, even. But Ash had told me that he had stopped aging on his twenty first birthday, which had been two years ago.
I didn't mind having the guards around as much as I thought I would. They were generally invisible and quiet. I usually forgot that they were even there.
I looked away from my three guards and returned my attention to the scenery. I heard a car pull up and listened as someone walked around the house. When the wind blew towards me it carried Aaron's scent and, since my guards were familiar with him, they didn't stiffen up or go on red-alert the way they usually did whenever I was approached by someone. I swear, they thought that everyone was a threat.
"Hello, Aaron," I said, as he rounded the corner of the house.
"How'd you know it was me?" He asked, his voice quiet and containing just enough of a Spanish accent to make girls swoon around him. I smiled into my cup and shrugged.
He took a step towards me, then hesitated. "Where are you? It's too dark to see anything...wait a minute..."
He pulled out his iPhone and used it as a flashlight to find me. When he did his lips stretched into a small smile and he came to join me on the porch.
"What are you doing here?" I asked, propping my elbows up on the railing.
"I wanted to say goodbye," he replied, not meeting my eyes.
"You said goodbye at the beach party yesterday."
He turned towards me, his dark eyes smoldering. "But I wanted to do it properly."
Years and years of breaking-up and getting back together with Aaron had taught me exactly what qualified as a proper goodbye in his mind so, when he wrapped his arms around my waist, I was prepared.
"Aaron, don't," I said, placing my hand on his chest to keep him from pulling me closer. "Not this time."
He sighed and let go of me. I didn't quite know what to say so I returned to leaning against the banister and waited until he broke the silence.
"You know," he started after a few minutes. "I haven't gotten with any girls since you left."
I was really surprised to hear that but tried to hide it. Aaron was the type of guy that really...enjoyed female company (to put it nicely). "Why not?"
He looked over at me. "Because I don't want anyone else."
I looked down at my feet. "Aaron, you know that I care about you but...I mean, we're in completely different states! It just wouldn't make sense for us to continue dating. We'd only make each other miserable because of the distance issue. Besides, you have to admit, we were horrible as a couple. We were constantly cheating on each other, we argued all the time and we broke up every few weeks."
The first few fingers of sunlight had made their way over the horizon and, where they touches Aaron's face, his skin turned gold. "I know. But I loved you. Those other girls they were just...I don't know. Distractions. They weren't you."
"Nobody's as good as me."
He laughed, quietly, so as to not wake Brianna or her family. "So, what's the name of your new boyfriend?"
I blushed and tried to remember if I had mentioned Keenan during my time here. I hadn't—in fact, I'd made a point of not mentioning him to Aaron. "Who?"
Aaron rolled his eyes. "I know you've got someone, babe. I mean, obviously there's a reason you passed up this awesomeness." He gestured to himself. I snickered.
"He's not my boyfriend—I mean, I don't really know what we are yet. It's been...complicated and we haven't really, you know, discussed it."
Aaron snorted and cracked his knuckles. "What's there to discuss? You obviously like him—I don't know him but he'd be insane not to like you. One plus one equals two. Problem solved."
I didn't really feel comfortable discussing my relationship with Keenan with my ex-boyfriend so I promptly changed the subject. "I'll keep in better touch when I go back," I promised. He wrapped his arm around my shoulders and hugged me to his side.
We stood like that for a long time. Long enough for the sky to lighten considerably and the heat to kick in. Aaron yawned and I almost sent him home but I didn't want to say goodbye just yet. He was almost as good a friend to me as Brianna was, even if our history was somewhat more complicated. I wasn't ready to let go of that. "Aaron?"
"Si?" He mumbled, switching to Spanish the way he often did when he wasn't paying attention.
"Remember our first date? When we were fifteen?"
He was silent for a moment. Then he started to laugh until he couldn't breathe anymore. "How could I forget?" He wheezed. "That was the funniest night of my life. You punched me!"
I pulled away from him and buried my face in my hands, the memory of that night still horrid enough to mortify me. "You have no idea how embarrassed I was!"
I peeked up at Adrian from between my fingers. He was still grinning. "If I remember correctly, first, you spilt your popcorn all over the people sitting in front of us when we went to the movies. Then, as you were picking popcorn off their very annoyed heads you knocked your drink onto my pants."
I groaned. "Please stop talking."
"Then you tried to dry my pants with a napkin—that was interesting. I'd never gotten that far with a girl before on a first date."
"Then you nearly ran to the bathroom, and you were taking a while so I went to make sure that you weren't dead. As you were coming out, I was overcome a very sudden urge to kiss you. So I did. Then you decked me."
I laughed, even though my face must've looked like a tomato. "You scared me! You can't just randomly grab a girl as she's leaving the bathroom and kiss her!"
Aaron smiled slyly at me. "That was when I realized that you were the girl for me."
I grinned and wrapped my arms around Aaron's waist, surprising both of us. "I'm going to miss you, Aaron."
He stroked my hair. "Si, I'm going to miss you too."
Somewhere to the right of me, Ash snickered.
*So I decided to do a relatively normal epilogue instead of throwing a bunch of demons and angels and god knows what at you to show how Rashelle's life used to be! Stay tuned for chapter 1*