Forged in Moonfire (Amber Lee Mysteries Book 4)(5)By: Katerina Martinez
He had thought that his father left his mother for a younger woman, although he only thought this because his mother was vocal in her discontented theories about the reason for his departure. She never spoke these theories with Aaron directly, but kids are very perceptive and Aaron was always in earshot when one of his mother’s friends was around, even if he was confined to his room and on the other side of the house.
Liz opened a door into a spare room and stepped aside for Aaron to enter. The room was tiny; a single bed, a simple dresser, and a window covered by a thick yellow curtain that illuminated the room in a golden hue. But it was all Aaron needed. Hell, it was more than he thought he would get given that he’d fled to Vegas with little money to his name.
“This is great, thanks,” he said, laying his bag down on the bed.
“You can stay for as long as you like,” she said, “No one ever uses this room anyway.”
Aaron nodded, quiet, unsure how to address his father’s girlfriend. Did he call her Liz? Ma’am? Lady? Liz felt too informal. Ma’am felt too formal. Lady was downright rude and he’d been raised better than that. It would have to be Liz.
“You look like him, you know,” she said, still standing by the door. Liz was tall, he noticed now. Easily Aaron’s height. Her hair was long and it cascaded in messy curls over her shoulders and back. The wrinkles on her face put her somewhere in her late thirties or early forties, but there was no mistaking this woman for what she was; a warrior. “A splitting image,” Liz said.
“I have more of my mom in me,” Aaron said, almost defensively.
“I can see that too. I don’t know your mother, but the parts of you that don’t look like him are strong too.”
An awkward silence hung. Liz licked her lips, rolled her eyes, and put her hand on her hip. “Look,” she said, “You need to understand something. I’m not your mother and I’m not going to try to be. But I don’t believe in keeping things unsaid, so let me do us both a favor and just come out and tell you… your father left out of love for you and your mother.”
Aaron felt his heart squeeze. “I’m supposed to believe his leaving was an act of kindness?” He didn’t want to argue with this woman, this stranger who had offered him a room and food, but she was talking about something she didn’t understand, and that wasn’t right.
“Yeah, I do. Your mother didn’t understand him. They used to fight a lot and your father… he never wanted to hurt her, but he might have if she’d have pushed him too hard.”
Aaron wanted to fight what Liz had just said, but a part of him he was just getting to know understood what she was saying. “I need to change,” he decided to say.
Liz nodded. “Sure,” she said, and she closed the door before leaving.
Aaron unzipped his bag and pulled out a clean grey t-shirt. He then produced a bottle of roll-on deodorant, unscrewed the top, and sniffed it. The scent was harsh to his nose, but it was better than the spray-on deodorant he was used to wearing. He had sprayed some on before leaving the house but the chemicals in the spray hit him so hard he almost threw up. Aaron was starting to understand that having enhanced senses was a double-edged sword.
It only took him a few moments to get presentable again, and when he was done with the shirt he had worn on the drive over he stuffed it back into his bag, along with the deodorant, and zipped it closed. By the time he got to the living room Jackal had wolfed down almost half her steak. A second, steamy dish was waiting on the other side of the small table along with a glass of water. Aaron knew he was hungry, but he didn’t realize exactly how hungry he was until the meat touched his lips; the steak didn’t stand a chance after that.
Jackal’s eyes were on him the entire time. Why? He couldn’t tell.
Sitting in Jackal’s car sent thoughts of Amber crashing into Aaron’s mind. Jackal’s frame was similar to Ambers, and her hair was red too—even if the shade was blood and not copper. She also had a tendency to tap her palms against the steering wheel along with the drum beat and mouth the words to the song on the stereo, like Amber. But it was the music itself that reminded Aaron of his girl back home; Jackal was a Nirvana fan too.