Home > Bane (The Devil's Roses #2)

Bane (The Devil's Roses #2)
Author: Tara Brown

Chapter One-This Brings New Meaning to Deserted…

ARI

“Grab plates Ari Jesus. What's with you today? You okay?”

She turned around sliding her middle finger up her face with a sickly sweet smile, noticing how hot her fingers felt against her face.

Cookie smirked at her subtle way of giving him the finger, "Nice kid."

She frowned at him and looked down at her fingers, they had been sweaty hot for days.

She grabbed the plates for table eight and walked out of the kitchen. She had noticed even the hottest plates that had been under the broiler didn’t burn her skin, nothing seemed to faze her hands. They didn't look different just felt crazy.

She handed the food over to the smelly men sneering in disgust at the their fat sweaty bodies. They were maybe forty but they looked about eighty. She couldn’t watch them eat. It disgusted her seeing someone so unhealthy and sick only adding to their problems with a huge steak and eggs.

She felt the distractions slowing her down. She rolled her shoulders and neck and closed her eyes for a split second. She ignored everything around her finding her place, the place where she blocked her brain and let herself get into her flow.

She wasn’t always the nicest waitress but she was the best as far as efficiency went. She always had the largest section, the most patrons and it never mattered how many there were, every order was correct, everyone got hot food, no one had a half empty cup.

She grabbed a fork from the basket carrying it across the room as she poured a cup of coffee for a lady. She watched as a small boy dropped his fork. Finishing pouring the coffee she passed the fork to the little boy.

If anyone had ever watched her close enough they would have seen a pattern in everything she did.

“Morning Ari.”

She turned and smiled, “Morning mayor.” She poured him a cup of coffee, “The usual?”

He nodded.

Only new patrons needed a menu in Ari’s section and even then she could always guess what it was they wanted, even before they saw the menu.

Her days went like that, all of high school had been her working after school and all summer in her uncle Vince’s café, roadside diner, depending on whom you asked.

Her dark brown hair was always in a ponytail, shiny with the grease that lingered in the air. Her dark black pupils matched the color of her eyes, so much so the eye doctor had trouble telling the two apart. Her lashes were long enough to catch flies, she hated them. She’d pulled them all out once when she had been a little girl only to discover they were pretty necessary, especially in the dusty desert. Her uncle had laughed at her for a second in his usual way but then bought her the perfect pair of ladybug sunglasses to help with the dust.

Her face was plain, plain as everyone else's in the small town. No one she knew was eye catching or noticeable but in the sweaty desert no one notices attractiveness. The work is hard and long just as the days were. Intensely hot days and harshly cold nights, just like Ari, just how she liked it.

“You going to go to school this year Ari?” The mayor asked as she delivered his eggs over easy with extra buttered white toast, three sausages and three marmalade packets.

She frowned, “No, no need for a fancy city education Mr. Mayor, I have all I need here.” She held her hands out smiling.

He laughed taking his first bite, “You know even just some community college might help you pick what you want to do for a living.”

She shrugged, “I’ve got a living. I don’t want to waste money just to go when I don’t know what I want to be yet.”

He nodded, "That is wise. You've always been smarter than most kids your age."

She laughed, "Most kids don’t have an uncle riding their butt twenty-four-seven."

She walked away before anything else could be said. Her uncle had tried it too, he tried desperately to get her to attend something, anything but she liked it in the small town where nothing happened because nothing changed. She was scared of leaving home and being alone in the world. Her family might not have been traditional but they were everything to her.

She had only just graduated in June and it was only October, she didn’t know why everyone was in such a hurry for her to leave. She wondered quietly in her mind if they wanted her gone for some reason? Had she been burdensome to her uncle? She rolled her eyes blocking it out, she focused on her job, it was all she needed.

After the breakfast and lunch rush she changed into shorts and a t-shirt. She tied on her sneakers and smiled at Brent whom she enjoyed calling Cookie, “Okay Cookie tell Vince I went early.”

Cookie shook his bandana covered sweat soaked head. His mat of curly sandy colored hair was always covered by something, bandana, Stetson, ball cap, anything. Underneath his hair was shaggy and unkempt but in an attractive way. His face was weathered for thirty-eight. He was in amazing shape from twelve years in the navy but he had been wounded, his left lung wasn’t what it used to be after a piece of a hummer crushed it.

“You have a death wish kid.”

She smirked at him, “Whatever old man, you’re just jealous you can't keep up.”

He laughed bitterly, “Well in my younger years I woulda wiped the concrete with yur ass kid.”

She winked at him and was out the door like a shot.

The temperature had to have hit its average of eighty-eight degrees, early October was still quite warm, while the sun was out anyway.

Her runners hit the pavement with a frightening silence, she ran with a technique most had never seen. She landed toe first. Her legs pumped hard from the start, she'd trained herself to never need a warm up. She loved the adrenaline too much to worry about warm ups.

The desert blew by her as she raced along the deserted highway. The wind had picked up but the air was dry making the wind a friend on a hot run. She pulled the elastic from around her hair and let her long dark hair spill down her back. She got a waft of the scent of the diner as her locks surfed along the waves of air.

Smiling and taking it all in she noticed suddenly her fingers burned still, she wondered if she had put them in something that could have caused a chemical reaction, nothing sprang to mind though. She smelled her fingers as she sprinted, they smelled as they always did, zesty orange hand cleaner. She wondered if a citrus allergy was starting, her uncle Vince had a ton of allergies that up until that moment she'd never even considered she had.

She squeezed her fingers together feeling them burn each other, as the heat was so intense. She felt it starting to spread. She looked up to see the highway marker where she turned around. She always ran to the same sign, it was a picture of wild horses running about through the desert which said, “Nothing for forty miles, nothing”

She smiled every time she saw it. She knew there really was nothing but dirt for forty miles.

She flexed her fingers again wondering about the aching heat coming from them, it was as if a fire burned under her skin needing somewhere to go.

She looked up at the afternoon sun feeling the intensity from it more than she ever had. She wondered if she was coming down with some kind of flu. She had never had a flu bug before but knew once Cookie had gotten sick and passed out in the kitchen. She remembered how sweaty and pale he had been.

She turned around at the sign feeling all the heat from her hands shoot into her head, the desert spun around her, she bent to throw up on the steaming asphalt but the asphalt seemed to be coming toward her.

Her lids were stuck to her eyes, she could hear her uncle and Doc fighting but she couldn’t move her lips. Everything felt dusty. She felt with her searing fingertips to see if she was still in the desert, it was hot enough around her to make her think she might be. She felt sheets, extremely cool sheets on her fingertips.

“She is probably just under the weather or dehydrated Vince. Honestly it’s over eighty degrees out there.”

“Yeah I know that Doc but she runs everyday at two, she is an elite athlete. She has done iron man competitions in warmer weather than this and been fine. She doesn’t get dehydrated and she's never been sick a day in her life.”

“Look bring her in for some tests on Monday Vince but I’m telling you its probably that time of the month or something very uneventful. Her pulse is strong, her temperature is perfect, her skin is very elastic and plump, she's stirred twice and just seems weak. I don’t think it merits the hour drive to the hospital unless you really want to.”

“I’ll bring her in on Monday Doc. She’ll kill me if I drag her all the way there and she has her monthly situation.”

Doc chuckled his deep throaty laugh, “I’d imagine, she isn’t fond of being girlie.”

Her uncle sighed, “That she isn’t.”

She heard footsteps, “What took her mother again?” She knew the Doc’s voice, she’d know it across a stadium with hundreds of people shouting at the same time but his voice changed drastically as if the death were some great secret.

“Uh, well it was a car accident in Portland, uh Maine. Why?” Her uncles' voice was broken and strange as well.

“Well its good to have a starting off point when doing tests of any sort. Medical history is pretty important. Monday morning, I’ll get Dolores to schedule you in, say ten?”

“Yup thanks for stopping in.”

She heard footsteps and scuffles. She thought about her mother. She cracked her eyelids feeling as if the whole desert were inside them.

“Rise and shine there sleeping beauty. How you feeling?”

She looked at her uncle, “Think I have the flu.” Her voice cracked.

He smiled, he looked like her mother when he smiled. Same dark brown almost black hair, dark blue eyes she had always secretly, deep deep deep down wished she’d been born with and white skin. She wondered why he had chosen to move to the desert with his albino like skin. His moody looking face changed in every way possible when he smiled and suddenly he looked handsome, his thick brow lightened in the same arch as her mothers and his thick cheeks raised up into cheekbones almost.

Her mother had been incredibly beautiful. Her uncle never had shown her many pictures but the ones he had all made her mother look like the sort of girl who took your cares away by being in the same room as you. She looked like a carefree spirit who smiled because the air smelled sweet or the sea looked magical in the rain.

   
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