Southern Constellations

Romany Fitzgerald wishes one day to lead a frivolous and harmonic life pursuing her dreams, but first, she must complete the exhausting challenge of being an actual teenager. Romany believes her vicinity is filled with people who just do not understand, in fact, nobody understands. Most of all, there's a person she would give her left arm to avoid.

Austin Orion.

Hell-bent on bringing beautiful chaos into Romany's life, can Austin and Romany build a steady friendship on the ruins of a lifetime of hatred? This seems far too surreal for Romany, but she is unknowing of the hell and torment waiting for her around the corner; she was yet to lose possibly the most important thing she had in the world; music.
But she still has the constellations for guidance; looking for answers in a world that doesn't know the question, can Romany delve deeper into what is meant to be and follow her heart?

Did fate fall short this time?

A/N: Rated red for bad language and trauma.

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18. Seventeen

I awoke to birds singing loudly and the wind rustling the trees. The sun was already reasonably high in the sky; it must have been around nine. I rolled onto my side, facing a still-sleeping Austin. I smiled lightly, resting on my elbows to watch him take in small, peaceful breaths that made the blanket covering his chest rise and fall slowly. I brushed his shaggy fringe out of his eyes to reveal something I'd not fully noticed before.

On his lower forehead, and part of his nose, were a light scattering of auburn freckles, or "fairy-kisses" as I used to call them when I was younger. I always wanted freckles, I thought they were incredibly adorable – and even more so on Austin. With a large exhalation of breath, Austin's eyes fluttered open, I couldn't help but smile. Even the way he opened his eyelashes with such grace was nothing less of a wonder.

"Good morning."

"You should have woken me."

"You were so peaceful, I didn't want to." I smiled at him again, and he smiled back, and I noticed the small crinkles by his eyes when he did so, and the little dimples in his cheeks, and I was seeing this whole new side of Austin I'd never seen before and seeing him just made me happy, so ridiculously, indescribably happy, and I couldn't bear thinking about spending a single minute without him.

I rested my fingers on his forehead, keeping his hair out of his eyes; it was now curlier than usual, due to the dampness and morning dew on the grass. All these little things about him I was only just noticing having known him most of my life, and that was the beauty in that moment, the beauty was that I was coming to the realization that I was gradually and hopelessly falling in love with him, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

"Austin," I breathed, not breaking the eye-contact once.

He looked a little confused at the seriousness in my voice, "yes?" he replied, still lying on the ground.

There was a long, wavering silence, and I felt my brain having an inside battle with itself whether or not to let the words to slip from my mouth, but I was too happy and into the moment to object.

"I think I'm in love with you." I didn't even hesitate, and somehow I ended up looking shocked that the very words had actually left my mouth. And thus began the longest silence of my life. Austin looked at me blankly for a while, his mind ticking like a set of cogs. I gave him a sad smile and stood up.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to…" I trailed off, brushing down the dress that I was still wearing from the funeral yesterday. I squinted into the distance and exhaled dramatically. Wow, way to go Romany, why do you have to go and ruin everything? "I'm just sorry." I didn't even turn to look at Austin, I was far too embarrassed.

I felt a warm hand wrap around mine and Austin tugged at my arm to face him. I turned around and remembered the height difference between us; I had to shift my gaze about two heads' height upwards.

"Romany," he exhaled, bringing his hand to my cheek, "don't apologize. I'm sorry. I'm not good at dealing with emotions. Especially this."

I looked at him questioningly. "This?" I repeated, unsure of what he meant.

He motioned a finger between the two of us. "This, us, me and you." I gave him another questioning look. He sighed heavily and ran a hand through his auburn, now wavy, hair. "Romany, I've never felt about anyone like this before, it's completely new to me. Sure, I've had girlfriends, but they've been nothing, just something to pass the time, just girls who were, well, there. You, well you're different. You've shown me this whole different side to everything, and I hate that we had such a crappy time in the past, and it's only now that I realize that over the past few months, I've come to fall in love with you too."

I shone. I grinned wider than I ever thought possible.

"Really?" is all I managed to say. He nodded his head and smiled. That smile…

He pressed his lips to my forehead and embraced me in a much welcomed hug. The height difference was to my advantage at this point. I felt like Austin was protecting me from all the horrible things in the world; his arms were like shields and I was in the safety zone, sheltered from the world. We were in our own little world, just the two of us, my head resting against his chest, listening to his heart beat its little rhythm.

We pulled away and I laughed lightly, resting my forehead on his chest. He stroked my hair softly with his gentle hands.

"What is it?" He smiled at me contently.

"I'm just really happy right now."

"You and me both Romany, you and me both." He slung his arm around my shoulder and grabbed the blankets on the floor and we began our descent down the hill back to Austin's car. It was only then I realized my mother had no idea where I was, and my phone was still in Austin's car. But I didn't care, I'd give everything up just to relive that night again.

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