A Different Blue Page 91

“Like what?” I said, half-aghast half-thrilled that Wilson might not be squeaky clean after all.

“I was absolutely desperate for companionship. I lost my virginity, and I don't remember most of it. And it didn't stop there. Night after night, club after club, girl after girl, and I just felt worse and worse as the week went on. I kept trying to restore my equilibrium by doing things that just made me dizzy. Does that make sense?”

I nodded, knowing exactly what he meant. I understood dizzy.

“One of my mates ended up driving me back to Manchester. He made sure I got on that aeroplane and back to the States in one piece. And over the next six months, I managed to stop the spinning in my head and find my balance again for the most part. But in many ways being with you through your journey has been a journey for me, too. I understand myself and my parents – both sets – so much better now.”

We drove without talking for a long time. Then I asked him the question that had been bothering me since waking up alone the morning before.

“Wilson? What happened in Reno? I mean . . . I thought you would want . . . I mean, are you not attracted to me?” I felt like I was asking the star quarterback to the prom, and my knees shook. Wilson laughed right out loud. And I cringed, trying not to slump down in my seat and cover my face to hide my rejection. Wilson must have seen the humiliation on my expression, and with a screech of brakes and some illegal lane changes he was swerving over to the side of the road, hazards on and everything. He turned to me, shaking his head as if he couldn't believe I didn't get it.

“Blue. If this was simply about attraction, you and I would never have left Reno. We would still be in that crappy hotel room, starkers, ordering room service . . . or, more likely, pizza from down the road. But for me, with you, sex is not the goal. Do you understand that?”

I shook my head. No. I totally did not understand that.

“When you climbed into my bed in Reno, all I could think of was how I felt in London in that awful week when I'd had more sex than any teenaged boy could dream of. And how gutted I felt at the end of it. I didn't want our first time to be like that for you. You were emotionally rocked in Reno, just like I was in London, and you needed me. But you didn't need me that way. Someday . . . hopefully bloody soon – because I will combust if I ever have to spend a night like that again – you will want me because you love me, not because you're lost, not because you're desperate, not because you're afraid. And that's the goal.”

“But, Wilson. I do love you,” I insisted.

“And I love you . . . most ardently,” he responded, twisting my hair in his hands and pulling me toward him.

“Pride and Prejudice?”

“How did you know?” he smiled.

“I have a thing for Mr. Darcy.”

In response, Darcy himself captured my mouth with his, and showed me just how ardently he cared.

Chapter Twenty-Nine

If it hadn't been for a diesel truck blasting us with his horn and shaking the Suburu as it flew by, we might have been very, very late for our appointment with my grandmother. As it was, we found Stella Hidalgo's home on the outskirts of the Shivwits Indian Reservation after a little backtracking, and a consult with Wilson's trusty Garmin, which didn't seem to work especially well when it came to Indian reservations, or Utah for that matter. I had only been to the St. George area once before on a school trip, but I remembered the red rocks and the jutting plateaus outlined against blue sky and desert sand. It was as harsh and inhospitable as it was beautiful, and I wondered briefly how my ancestors had survived in the area for hundreds and hundreds of years before modern conveniences. Water was scarce, food must have been even scarcer, and growing anything would have been close to impossible.

We rolled up to Stella Hidalgo's home, noting the boxlike rambler with white siding and red shutters in need of a paint job. It was neat and clean but unadorned, and the yard was kept simple with desert rocks and Joshua trees. We stepped out of the car into a silence so heavy I could hear my heart beating like an ancient drum. Stella Hidalgo opened the door before we reached the front steps.

She was a slight woman of medium height. She was probably close to sixty, though she had an ageless beauty that made estimation difficult. Her skin was unlined, and her hair had streaks of silver amid the black. She wore it simply, parted on one side and bobbed at her shoulder. She wore a loose white dress shirt and white slacks, her skin a golden brown contrast against the pale outfit. She had white sandals on her feet and turquoise stones at her ears and around her wrists and throat. She had the look of a woman who knows how to present herself to the world and is confident with what she sees in the mirror. She invited us in, and the only indication that she was just as nervous as I was the tremor in her hand as she beckoned us forward.

“The police told me very little about your life.” Stella Hidalgo's voice was soft and cultured when she spoke. “In fact, when Detective Martinez called me last week and told me they had a DNA match, he was careful to explain that because you are a legal adult with a right to privacy they could encourage you but ultimately it would be your choice whether or not to make contact with me. He didn't even tell me your name. I don't know what to call you.”

“You can call me Blue.” I extended my hand and she clasped it in hers. I wouldn't ever be Savana Hidalgo or Savana Jacobsen . . . or anything else. I was Blue Echohawk, and that wouldn't change.

“It suits you.” She smiled tremulously. “Please call me Stella.” Her eyes shifted to Wilson, waiting for an introduction.

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