Part One: Chapter Three

I was kind of struggling to keep this chapter knit with the rest of the story, but I think I did a pretty good job. I’m pleased how this turned out, anyways. Of course, as always, I’d love to hear what you think too. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

“Mom, it’s her gun. Of course her fingerprints are going to be on it.” He laughed, but his stomach had suddenly started to hurt.

“This isn’t funny, Jacob,” Mrs. Starr snapped. “It doesn’t matter that it’s her gun. Who has a gun and handles it with any purpose other than to use it?”

Even as his mother pointed this out, Jake was realizing several alarming facts himself. Whoever was the last to handle the gun would have the most fingerprints on it; the murderer’s should’ve wiped Aurora’s away. And why hadn’t she called the police? Or him? She’d just been standing there when he’d walked in with a dazed look on her face.

His legs turned to jelly beneath him.

“Alright, Mom. I’ll get to the bottom of this,” he promised. Without waiting for a reply, he hung up the phone.

When Aurora woke up the next morning, she found Jake sitting on the loveseat in the living room. He was fully dressed, and there were dark circles under his eyes that led her to believe he’d stayed up all night.

“Morning,” she greeted him tentatively. Something was strange about his demeanor.

He turned his gray eyes on her, an odd look on his face. “Did you tell me everything that really happened the night my sister died? Exactly as it was?”

Aurora stared at him in silence for a brief moment, panic overtaking her brain. The sun was bright outside, and she suddenly felt very vulnerable without the cover of the fog. “Why?” she asked. Her voice came out croaky.

He stared back at her with probing eyes. “They found your fingerprints on the gun.”

She walked to the other couch and sank onto the cushion furthest from him, certain that if she hadn’t sat, her legs would have collapsed beneath her. She frantically began to explain.

“Yes, I picked it up,” she said in a rush. “I didn’t want to say that because I thought they’d accuse me. I was in shock that the gun I kept in my house for protection was used to kill Wes.”

Jake listened to her explanation with intensity. He so desperately wanted to believe her.

“I didn’t know what to do,” she continued. Her facial muscles were beginning to tighten as tears threatened to fall once again. “What do you do when you walk in and find your husband dead? It’s so easy for people to say, ‘Call the cops,’ but when you’re actually in that situation, your mind shuts down.”

Jake understood that point very well, especially since he hadn’t called the police immediately either when he’d walked in. Everything in his head had completely scrambled and—as she said—shut down. Maybe she was telling the truth.

“What I don’t get, Aurora,” he said, “is why you didn’t tell me that.”

She looked at the couch cushion next to her and asked, “Do you really think if I had told you that, you would’ve just accepted it? You wouldn’t have thought I was suspicious?”

“I don’t know,” he told her honestly. “But I know that you look even more suspicious now to the Bridgeport police because you didn’t disclose everything.”

“I know,” she said, closing her eyes and twiddling her fingers nervously. Jake didn’t reply, so she asked, “Now what happens?”

“Now I tell the cops that you touched the gun. Hopefully they’ll back off the idea of you then, because I really don’t want them wasting their time hunting you down when my sister’s murderer is prancing around in the city somewhere.”

“Yeah.” She nodded. Even though her story washed with Jake, she was still terrified of what the cops would find out. They had a lot more forensic research and evidence they could turn up than Jake had. Jake only had her word, and that wasn’t worth much.

“And, listen,” he added, getting up from his seat and coming to sit down beside her. His gray eyes stared into her blue ones intensely. “I’m sorry about last night. I am. Even if we weren’t in this horrible situation, it was still inappropriate. You’re my best friend’s wife.”

“Not anymore,” she murmured.

“Yes you are,” Jake said firmly. “They’re not gone. They’ll never be gone. They’ll be with us until we die. I promise.” He smiled at her kindly, thinking he was encouraging and comforting her, but his words only made her feel guilty and haunted.

“I don’t know, Jake,” she said, looking away. In a desperate need to change the subject, she glanced over her shoulder at the view outside. “It’s nice out today.”

“Yeah. I’m thinking about taking another walk. Want to come with?”

She shook her head. Her fear of going outside had only grown by exponential amounts now that she knew the police had found something against her.

“Okay, well, let me know if you change your mind,” he said with a shrug.

Aurora did not change her mind, however, even though Jake put off the walk until the sun began to go down. Finally, he told her he was leaving, and she barely looked up from the computer as she bid him goodbye. He left with guitar in tow.

The beach was right across the street from his grandparents’ house, so he wandered to the public clubhouse and took out his guitar. With the sun setting and the tropical background, all he wanted to do was play. It felt good to get out of the house, but it still didn’t erase his pain. Just as before, he played for Shannon. Every song he played from now on would be for Shannon.

In the meantime, Aurora was back in the Barnacle Bay chat room. This time, she was having a conversation with a woman who identified herself as Alice. Alice was a single mother who’d moved to the island after the divorce. Aurora found the woman’s story almost therapeutic in a way, having just lost her husband herself.

I’m a widow,” Aurora shared.

I’m sorry for your loss,” Alice typed back. “If you don’t mind my asking, how did he pass?

Aurora stared at the screen, her fingers poised on the keyboard as if she had a response ready and waiting. But she didn’t. How was she supposed to answer a question like that honestly?

Finally, she replied, “He was killed.” Then she turned off the computer and just looked out the window.

When Jake returned, he found Aurora in the library engrossed in a book. She didn’t even notice when he walked in the room.

“Hey,” he said.

She looked up in surprise, then replied, “Hi.”

“What are you reading?”

She lifted the book to show him the cover. “A book about martial arts,” she said.

“I didn’t know you knew anything about martial arts.”

She shrugged. “I don’t. I’m just trying to find something to distract myself.”

He nodded in understanding and sat in the chair beside her. “I know what you mean,” he said. “You really should get out of the house. It only makes it worse to be cooped up. At least, that’s the way it is for me.”

She smiled a little bit and said, “That’s because you’ve always been a social butterfly, Jake.”

“You used to be too.” His brow wrinkled a bit as he thought about it. “Actually, you’ve been kind of reserved for a while now.”

She shrugged in response. He didn’t ask why, but the question hung in the air between them.

“You just get a certain level of responsibility at a certain point, I guess,” she explained. “Suddenly there’s all this to do, and you don’t have time to go out and socialize anymore.”

“Wes still socialized,” he pointed out.

Aurora gritted her teeth as the image of Wes and Shannon “socializing” flashed through her mind. “I don’t think Wes cared like I did,” she replied bitingly.

“Cared about what?”

“Responsibility. Money. Our marriage.” She looked at the floor as she tried to expand her thought. “I put so much work into making sure we had a nice house and no debt. I tried to still be an attentive wife. But he didn’t work. He didn’t seem to care or notice when I’d go out of my way for us.”

Jake nodded in silence when she finished talking. Her face fell with the memory of the emotional hurt she’d felt day in and day out at the uncaring hands of her beloved husband. She’d tried so hard.

“Can I tell you something?” Jake asked. He looked up from the carpet to her. “I’ve always thought you were too sensitive for Wes.”

She looked back at him with narrowed eyes. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing bad,” he insisted. “Just that Wes was too carefree. You care a lot. That kind of combination usually results in someone getting hurt.”

“Yeah,” she replied softly.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’ve always thought you would’ve been better off with someone who was more sensitive. Someone who appreciated the little things and always treated you like you were the most important thing in his life,” Jake admitted.

She looked him directly in his cloudy eyes and asked, “You mean someone like you?”

“Well, I’ve never treated you like that because we’ve never been together, so—“ he said quickly.

She cut him off. “Jake.”

He sighed and dropped his hands to his lap. “Yeah,” he answered quietly. “Someone like me.”

Her heart suddenly swelled with a warmth she hadn’t felt for years. Jake Starr had always been just a young guy to her, one of her husband’s good friends, but now she was seeing the man in him staring back at her from his eyes. She stood up, her hands shaking, and was about to tell him she was going to bed when he stood up too and pulled her closer to him.

“You’re only 20, Jake,” she whispered.

“What does age matter when it’s love?” he whispered back.

She looked at him with wide eyes. “Love?”

And then he was kissing her.

Their mouths closed over the other’s, and their arms entangled. Aurora completely opened herself to him this time, enveloping every bit of him into her senses. He smelled like the wood from his guitar, and he tasted like butter. Jake was warm. She felt his heartbeat against her own chest, and it felt so alive that she wanted to cry with the beauty of it.

And love. She hadn’t heard that word applied to her for so long. She’d craved it desperately, using every method she knew to withdraw it from the man she’d said her vows to, but never soliciting a proper response. And this boy, this man, said it so willingly. She pressed herself against him and held him tighter as if he were to fly away if she didn’t.

He swept her up into his arms and carried her into his bedroom. Every nerve in his body was buzzing with the presence and intimacy of her, and he had to have her. From the day he’d met Aurora Dawn, he had craved her—despite his friendship with Wes. She was beautiful and genuine and so real.

“Jake,” she whispered into his ear.

“I love you,” he told her, looking her in the eyes. She slid her arms tightly around him and buried her face in his shoulder. When she looked up again, he saw she was crying.

“Really?” she asked through her tears.

“My God, Aurora, you can’t even imagine how much,” he said passionately. He placed her on the bed, climbed over her, and then their mouths were linked again.

It lasted for hours. Her body beneath his was too perfect for him to get off of, and they fit together so well that he couldn’t believe they hadn’t been doing this the whole time. Every time her velvety eyes met his, his heart felt like it was going to burst out of his chest, and he had to start over again.

“Is this wrong?” she gasped at one point, her expression full of concern and anguish.

“I’ve never felt anything so right,” he assured her. She smiled up at him in agreement, and all of her fears were forgotten.

When they finally fell asleep, Jake held Aurora in his arms with the kind of comforting adoration that only a man truly in love can provide. For the first time since the deaths, Aurora slept soundly, and for the first time in his life, Jake felt complete.

And as they slept, Jake’s cell phone rang incessantly for hours on his bedside table.

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~ by lilrunningback on June 15, 2011.

3 Responses to “Part One: Chapter Three”

  1. Ooo wow, I’m totally caught up in it! Your writing style is very good, everything flows and I find myself wanting more. I’ll definitely be following this one 🙂

  2. Thank you very much! I’m about 2-3 pictures away from finishing Chapter Four, so it’ll be up in less than an hour probably. 🙂

  3. I love the fact that you add every element it need without having it be all wacky. The ideas you come up with are such a wonderful masterpeice!

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