|| Luke ||
I finished my second bottle of water in the last hour. We were driving in the New Mexico desert and it was hot as hell. The open windows only let it warm air when we desperately wanted cool air. Dust was swirling around the truck. The air conditioning only helped a little.
The house we were driving towards slowly became closer. I finally stopped the truck in front of the house. I stepped out into the blazing sun. I didn't dare look at it. Even though I had sunglasses on, it was so bright, I feared it would blind me.
"What is this place?" Hazel said breathlessly. She moved a handful of her brown curls out of her face.
"This is Hunter and Nike's house." I replied.
"It's the only house around this place, how do we know they're not murderers? Like in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre! They can kill us," She exclaimed.
I shook my head and let out three loud whistles. Two more were returned from inside the house, that means it was Nike. I whistled once and quick, the signal that it was actually me. Nike emerged from the top open window. Her black hair whipped in the warm wind.
She smiled, "Thought you'd never come back."
"I need your help," I said.
She nodded and left the window. Minutes later she opened the door, "What do you need?"
"Thomas again?" Nike shook her head.
"One of his gang members had a note on them that said there was a traitor among us," I added.
Nike crossed her arms, "Who do you think it is?"
I shrugged, "It can be anyone, but I don't think Calum, Michael or Ashton can every betray me." I paused, "Right?"
"It's hard to say Luke, even the closest people to you can end up stabbing you in the back. But they're true friends, so they'll stab you in the front." She motioned to Hazel who was napping on the couch, "Who's that?"
"That's the girl Thomas is after," I replied.
"All that for her?" She asked. "You must really like her if you're going through all this trouble."
"I'm not dating her, I barely even know the girl for god's sake. I don't know why I helped her, now I am in this huge mess with Thomas, an even bigger mess than I was originally."
"You did good, knowing Thomas, if he gets a hold of that girl," Nike shuddered, "Who knows what he'll do to her."
"Where's Hunter?" I asked changing the matter of the subject.
"Out, he'll be back in a few," She replied.
Hunter and Nike were a very interesting couple. For starters, they live in the middle of the New Mexico desert. They've been living here for as long as I can remember. Matthew knew them very well and often stopped by here when he needed their help with situations that were bringing him down. I always admired how wise Nike and Hunter really were. They always gave you their own opinion and always tried to give the best advice.
"Nike, who's here?" Hunter barged through the door, Combat boots slamming against the wooden floorboards, gun in hand and raised.
I saw him and chuckled, "It's just me, man."
Hunter lowered his gun, "God, Luke, you really need to warn about your arrival. I could've shot hole through you." He clicked the safety on his gun and set it on a nearby table. "So what brings you here?"
"Just needed a place to stay and I also need your help," I said.
I explained to Hunter what I was doing for Hazel. How Thomas was after her and how I needed to get to New York as soon as possible. Hunter had never been apart of a Mafia, but he's been around long enough to know stuff like these. After I finished telling him my plan he nodded.
"It might just work, but are you sure you want to do this?" Hunter asked he placed a hand on my shoulder.
I nodded, "I have to, it's the only way to bring an end to him and to make sure SOPRANO would never rise again."
"But you know how proud Thomas is with his mafia. His family's name dates back from the golden age of mafia gangs. SOPRANO is an empire that's been standing for nearly forty years, they won't be easy to take down," Nike said.
"I know, but it needs to come to an end. It's one of the only mafias that survived the collapse of the American mob back in the 90s. It's time for it to get destroyed once and for all," I said.
Hazel woke up an hour later. She finished almost an entire water bottle and claimed she was thirsty as hell. Nike served us all dinner and we were soon sitting around the table. I noticed Hazel was quiet the whole time. She was kept to herself and never took her eyes off her bowl.
"Does anyone want seconds?" Nike asked.
"I'm good, thank you Nike," I smiled.
"How about you Hazel?" Hunter asked her.
Hazel froze as if she were a deer stuck in the headlights of a speeding car. I managed to kick her under the table and she quickly snapped out of it. "No, I'm fine. Thanks," She managed a weak smile.
Nike had told us that we'd have to sleep on the couches downstairs because the guest bedroom had been turned into a weapon storage. I lay on a long gray couch, staring up at the ceiling fan that hung from above. It spun swiftly and gave off very little, but cool air. The only sounds I heard were my own breaths the whoosh, whoosh of the ceiling fan.
Hazel came out of the bathroom shortly after. My eyes stayed glued to the ceiling. I heard the movement of the blanket as she settled onto the couch. Her quick exhale followed shortly. Hunter's snores were faint but still audible from downstairs. I chuckled to myself. I finally drew my eyes away from the ceiling and towards the door. The moonlight was pouring in from the glass door. It danced across the wooden floorboards. Nature's nightlight.
My lips parted, "Hazel?"
"Hmm," She replied from the darkness.
"Are you doing okay?" I asked her.
"I'm worried and I wonder when this will end cause I want to be home already," She said.
"It'll be over soon," I added.
"It's just," Her voice cracked, "I just don't want anything to happen to my family. Especially Malia. I would never forgive myself if she got hurt. This is flooding my brain and I just need a distraction."
I listened to her soft sniffles. I threw the blanket off me and stood up before walking over to Hazel. I stretched my hand out.
"What are you doing?" She asked.
"You said you needed a distraction," I replied.
She did nothing.
"Just trust me," I said.
Hazel sniffled once more. I felt her soft hand on top of mine. My fingers clamped around hers as she got up and I led her towards the door. Slowly, very slowly I opened the door to prevent Hunter and Nike from waking up. I walked out into the open desert air with Hazel behind me.
I turned to her. Her dark skin glowed under the moonlight. "Look up," I said.
She did and I followed. We both stared up at the clear Milky Way galaxy that was incredibly visible under in the light-less land. The nebula that housed a line of millions of stars and planets.
"This is amazing," Hazel breathed.
"It is," I agreed.
The moon was only a small taste of the actual wonder that was the Milky Way nebula itself. I saw a few of the planets.
"Look," I pulled Hazel towards me and pointed at a dot that was shining brighter than the others. "That's Venus." I pointed to another, "And that's Saturn, then there's Mars, and Jupiter."
"Where'd you learn astronomy?" She asked.
"My mother is a teacher. I managed to pick up a few things from her when I was a kid," I replied.
"This is absolutely breathtaking."
We spent a couple more minutes just admiring the beauty of the night desert sky. How the rest of the world used to be like this. Until humans decided to contaminate the air and have big cities with lights everywhere you went. Don't get me wrong, big cities are cool and all, but sometimes I just want to look at the sky and see the nebula. Without having to travel hundreds of miles into the New Mexico desert.
"Thank you Luke," Hazel said.
"No problem," I replied.
We both walked back inside. I quietly closed the door behind me and climbed back onto the couch. Hazel and I exchanged a goodnight before we both drifted off to sleep. The nebula still fresh in my mind.
I know I don't have author's notes anymore BUT just to clear it up, Hazel is poc. I'm very proud to say that she is in fact black. I don't appreciate the lack of poc people in fanfics so here's to all my poc followers. :-) xx -HelenHood (I too am poc. Proud Latina)