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This mattress is amazing. I understand how ridiculous that sounds, but I swear to God it's the truth. One of those memory foam things that mold themselves around your body, arousing the notion that everywhere else sort of blows. My pillow is properly fluffed, quilt securing in the warmth of our body heat like a ziplocked seal, a human cocoon, so entirely comfortable it's a physical pain at the thought of leaving. But I probably should.
I won't lie - this is definitely not the first bed I've been in that isn't my own. It isn't the first time I've woken up somewhere and been rattled by the memory of how I got there. Once I got past the first time or two, sneaking away and into the morning light became easy to do, and the emotions slowly dissolved away. But something about this one is different.
I know this guy, and I'm pretty sure that's it. He isn't a stranger. There's no way I can detach myself from who he might be, because I know exactly who he is. The man sleeping next to me, such a look of utter contentment on his face, has been a part of me one way or another since I was nineteen. Gone or not, he's always been with me.
I peel my eyelids apart, sunlight coliding with my retinas like a laser pointer. I forgot to take my contacts out last night, so I can feel them, warm and suctioned to my eyes. That'll be fun to chisel off later. Because of this lovely matress I'm lying on, I can roll over and look at him without disturbing his sleep, and study the face I haven't seen in three years.
His mom gave him the name Angel, an oddity by most societal standards, but his mom is an oddity in herself. She claimed it was a throwback to his distant Native American heritage, but I'd bet she was just being herself. He's on good terms with his mom, and she's a cool person, but sometimes I really wonder. Being the self-assured person he is, his name never bothered him. Contrary. It was all the more fun to say on stage when his band performed. To him, "I'm Angel" sounds a lot more hardass than "I'm Steve." No offense to any Steve's out there.
One thick band of pure sunlight is touching his face, illuminating the light scar above his left eyebrow, a gift from a fight he got into some years back. He never did tell me what the fight was about. His hair is longer now, almost touching his shoulders, but it looks good on him. Seeing the ring in his left ear takes me back to the first and last time my step-daddy met Angel. What a d*mn mess that was.


****
"Daddy, you know I've been seeing a guy for a while now, and I sorta figured maybe it's time to bring him around." I glance over at Angel who is leaning against the door without a care. So at ease. His hair shorter, sunglasses perched on his head like the rock star he thinks he is.
"I've heard a lot about you from Chey," he says, holding out a hand, expecting he would shake it. He doesn't know Kurt Roberts in that moment, yet. He'll learn quick.
Making no effort to even lift a finger in Angel's direction, I see my daddy's eyes narrow, and my flight instincts kick in. "I don't know who you think you are, but we can talk when you take that ring out of your ear and stop drawing on yourself. Cheyenne, what are you thinking? I always knew there was something wrong with you." And with that he stomps away, feet shaking the cheap linoleum floor.
"Who do you think you are?" Angel calls at his back. My eyes roll to the ceiling as I pray to a God I don't really believe in to keep this guy safe. He just pulled the devil's tail.
"Excuse me? I think I'm her father. And if you don't get the f*** out of my house I'll have my AK down your throat so fast you'll piss yourself." That's when I know to drag Angel out of the house and back into the truck before any rounds get fired.


****
Feeling him roll over snaps me back into reality. The sheet falls off his back and shoulders, revealing a cross tattoo that takes up most of that space. The words "Die Never" are written above it, and why, I don't know.
He's beautiful. I won't deny that to anyone. But he's poision. I think back to all the times he hurt me, all the fights we had, all the broken hearts and tears I cried over this guy. We're like fire and gasoline, Angel and I. I'm no good for him, he's no good for me. His fast cars, guitars and the road make it almost impossible to build a life around him. But it doesn't stop me from trying. My friends could never understand why I put up with him, but they didn't know what our relationship really was. We were bad together and even worse apart.


****
So, my mind slowly descends into bringing back last night, what it felt like to see him on the street after three years of total seperation. How hard hitting it is to be reuinted with someone you would have died for at one time.


****
"Angel?" It's three A.M., there's nobody else on the streets, and I'm pretty sure it's him. He's hard to mistake, and at the sound of his name, he wheels around in my direction. I think we stand there for something like 30 solid seconds before either of us so much as move. I have no idea what he's doing back in Carson, more or less at this hour.
"Chey? Are you serious?" And without further ado, he closes the ten foot gap between us and wraps his arms around me. The emotion is there, knotted like a neclace chain tossed in a box. I bury my face in his neck without a single shred of shame, breathing in his scent of leather and cigarette smoke, same as always. He pulls me a few feet off the ground, and I'm sucker punched by the old "he was the only one for me."
"Hi," I grin. "It's been a while." The guy with Angel looks a little lost but shrugs and tells Angel he'll hit him up later, dissapearing into the night. I take a step back and just look at him. Still wearing cowboy boots, a flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. Tattoos wind up his wrists and forearms, dissappearing into the fabric. Same Angel.
"You're still beautiful," he smiles and my cheeks gain a little color.
"You look like you're doing all right."
"My buddy and I were on our way home from Luck's, I'm only here for a couple more nights so I'm crashing at Jason Hest's place. If no one's waiting for ya, why don't you come with me? I don't know if you still see them."
"Yeah, I see them once in a while. More often than I see you," I jab, giving him a little smile.




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