OUT IN ARIZONA
It had been months since the wedding. It was a rocky recovery. At first they had all avoided one another but that couldn't last long. Karma craved Liam and Karma loved Amy. Avoiding them was impossible for her and neither of them could NOT love her. They were both regrettably addicted to her, in love from the very start. Resisting her attempts at confrontation and resolution was actually painful for them despite everything they had gone through before being burned by her.
"Come on, you have to come." Karma begged.
"I know you like him but seeing you together still hurts, Karma." Amy was sick of Karma's plans but somehow she was already back to involving herself in them.
"You're my best friend, if you don't help me who will?" Karma cheekily begged.
"Ugg… I hate you," Amy scowled. Since Karma knew all about Amy's affections, the scowl only became cuter with the months that had passed. Karma loved Amy's love. It was so very Amy to love her so much that she hated everyone else. She loved it but she wished there was some other way that Amy could find happiness. Her new goal, after the trip, would be to find someone for Amy, anyone who could be good to her and love her unconditionally, the way she more than deserved to be loved.
"Yes!" Karma screamed successfully. Amy would be coming, she could read it on her face. Karma could rest easy. Nothing would be weird and all would be fun even if Liam's family turned out to be a disaster. She'd never spent any time with them so this trip was going to be an eye-opener. They had a time-share or something at an exclusive resort in Arizona. They would have two villas all their own, connected but separate, and the world of luxury all around them.
Karma had already shown Amy pictures of the generic large luxurious bathrooms from the other suites and the multiple pools on the property and the tennis courts and golf courses and rivers nearby with red rock all around. The resort even had a huge library, which made Amy very happy. Not that she thought she'd have time to read. Amy had never been to Arizona before but they were going to Sedona. It was the land of the mystical, but still a desert none-the-less.
"Am I gonna be like this loser that everyone is weird around?" Amy asked.
"NO!" Karma yelled. "You're adorable and everyone will love you just as much as I do."
"Ha-ha. So, not enough is what you're saying?" Amy joked almost bitterly. She was nowhere near over her love for her friend. Often, since making-up, she would comment like this and remind Karma of how hard she was making her life. If Karma could just love her, Amy could finally be happy. The comment made Karma sad because of course she wanted to be in love with her, but that wasn't the actuality of the situation.
"Amy…" She pouted.
"Sorry… It's true though."
"But you'll come?" Karma smiled, ignoring the rest.
"I guess, if it'll make you happy..." Amy agreed, making Karma as happy as ever.
"It will! And it WILL be fun!" Karma assured her.
"Yeah, maybe for you…" Amy was already regretting saying yes. She'd never get over Karma this way.
"Tomorrow morning! Be ready!"
"Amy, you don't have to go." Karma reminded, knowing already that she had already guilted her enough no matter what Amy chose.
"I know…" Amy lied. She was only going because Karma wanted her to. She only did a lot of things because Karma wanted her to. She and Liam weren't all too different after all.
Once Karma left, Amy took to packing. Farrah and Lauren had taken her shopping to cheer her up after the wedding so she had all these new clothes and a bathing suit she actually liked for once (mostly because of the way Karma stared when she wore it around her). Everything was at her fingertips. She really wouldn't need to go get anything. She had no excuse NOT to be ready. But tagging along on Karma's romantic getaway with Liam did not sound like fun. In fact, it sounded like an absolute disaster in every possible way.
In the early morning of the very next day, Farrah was excited for Amy. She knew all about the failing of Amy's love affair. She knew now that they had been faking. And she knew now that Amy had fallen in love, for real. When she stared at her daughter she felt a tender sadness. Life was too hard to be rejected and neglected by the people that you love. Though Amy may think differently, Farrah only ever wanted her to get what she wanted. She never wanted her daughter to have to know hardship and so early in her life. True, she never expected her daughter to fall in love with a girl, but Amy didn't ask for it and Farrah couldn't stop it. The heart always wants what it wants and Farrah knows that deep down.
The past two months had been a nightmare. Farrah hated being happy while Amy was so very depressed. It weighed on her hard, in secret. She would talk to Bruce almost constantly about Amy. Why she was the way she was. How she could possibly help. How horrible it was that life just couldn't run smoothly for everyone. In some respects happiness just seemed fleeting to Farrah. She was on the upside now but someone got hurt in the meantime and that someone had been Amy.
Bruce didn't mind these talks because he understood in some way. His love for Lauren was just as strong but he could never see understanding two women loving one another in that sexual way. He wouldn't say these things to Farrah because they rarely brought up the actuality of Amy's sexuality. But the sadness was something they did talk about, along with the rejection and the prospect of Amy getting over her friend and maybe even finding a good boy she could like.
When they found out Amy was going along for the Arizona adventure, they were excited primarily for the change and prospect of such. They wanted Amy to experience that life isn't just about love and people. Arizona was a whole new place. A different setting could cheer her up and maybe even excite her. The trip could mean Amy coming back with a new lease on life. It was wishful thinking but they couldn't think anything else.
Amy could only think the opposite. The only thing that could come from Arizona was more pain. It was just an interesting way to waste time now that she knew she could never be loved by Karma Ashcroft, her best and only good friend who was hopelessly in love with a boy she had slept with herself. The situation, like many others from the previous year, would be messy and unpredictable. More than anything else Amy felt a strong foreboding. Nothing good could come of it but how could anything get any worse? She didn't' know how but she knew it was possible. Things could always get worse because things always did get worse. Growing up had only ever meant more pain.
"And you've got your bathing suit?!" Farrah asked.
"Yes, mom.. I've got my bathing suit." Farrah chased her around all morning. She tore apart Amy's suitcase and repacked it, adding little things like extra panties, chocolate bars, a few National Geographic Magazines she had picked up at the store. She knew Amy so well, it hurt to see her leave even for the smallest fraction of time. There was always that motherly fear, but what if something happens?!
"And Liam's family is nice?"
"I honestly wouldn't know." Amy was truthful. Farrah knew nothing about that hook-up after the wedding. If she ever found out she would never have let her go.
"But Liam's nice and Karma will be there," Farrah said, more to herself than to Amy.
"Are you ready yet? I don't want them to think we're unprepared." Now that it was finally all happening, Karma was very nervous.
"Unprepared for a week in a rich person's palace? That's ridiculous Karma," Amy scoffed.
"Amy, don't." Karma was ready to stop every bit of Amy's negativity. Amy was right though, if they needed anything at all Liam's family would just order it without a care. She didn't know them yet but she would soon come to know. The Booker family was inappropriately wealthy, to a sickening degree.
Farrah walked Amy outside and Karma took Amy's suitcase leaving Amy with nothing but the stupid hat she insisted on wearing and a purse filled with distractions for the road.
"Call me if you have any problems!" Farrah reminded.
"It'll be fine mom, don't worry."
"I know but I will worry. Mother's always worry. Be good." Farrah kissed Amy on the forehead and hugged her tight. "I'll miss you."
"Miss you too…" Amy said.
Liam had opened the passenger door, they were driving separate, coming in before his parents. Karma went to get into the front seat but Liam stopped her.
"No that's for Amy," Liam said. "Clara's driving, we can sit in the back."
"Clara?" Karma asked. She didn't know much about his family. He had sisters, she surmised. Clara must've been one of them.
"Bye honey, be safe." Amy looked up at Liam unamused and hopped into her seat, closing the door hard in his face. They didn't need pleasantries anymore, they were past that crap.
"Hey stranger," Clara said, she had been waiting anxiously to begin the adventure. It had been a long time since she had spent any time with Liam. School had been so busy and she'd been away working like a maniac on her degree when she wasn't partying and enjoying the freedom of being far away from the Booker manor in Austin, TX where childhood was more fake and disastrous than anything else ever really could be again.
"Hey." Amy said, trying not to stare. Clara was gorgeous, an absolute knockout. Think the female version of Liam, super sexy and tall with long dark brown hair and smooth white skin. She smelt like a fancy department store and also mixed drinks and also the sun and chlorine and sunscreen. She was tan but not too tan, tall but not too tall, and her clothes looked nice but not too nice, her smile especially was sly and infectious. Amy held her breath before turning away. Knowing what she knew now about herself, Amy couldn't help but feel a small tug of interest in this new person she had never known existed but was now undeniably part of her life for the moment. Clara Booker was a person who did more than exist.
"You can listen to whatever you want, long as it isn't Backstreet Boys or Enya. Oh and I might retract that later, just sayin'."
"It's cool, I brought headphones." Amy said, pulling them out of her bag. She was trying to act like they could always be strangers.
"No, come on, you can't isolate me with my baby brother and his bubbly girlfriend. You've gotta at least keep me company in this. We've got a long fucking drive."
"Tell ya what, you buy me a slurpee and maybe I'll talk," Amy said smartly, thinking about the few things she wouldn't talk about, like Karma and Liam and having gay feelings for the first time in her life.
"Deal," Clara smiled. She was chewing gum and she had huge black shades over her eyes. Amy almost hated that she didn't know what those eyes looked like. She hated it but she didn't. Unexpectedly, she found herself smiling.
The sun beat down on them in that Escalade. It was already hot as hell even though they were getting an early start.
Karma and Liam settled into the back. Amy looked once and saw Karma lying against him. It was enough to make her never want to look behind her again.
"I know, gross…" Clara smiled mockingly. She switched the car into drive and turned the radio up. They sped away from Amy's house.
This was a very bad idea.