Gee, this piece of meat probably costs more than… uh, I have no fucking clue.
Chloe squints at the steak on her plate after staring at it for a couple of seconds, then her fork suddenly impales it like a thunderstorm hitting the ground. She watches the reddish fluids emanating and her appetite is kinda spoiled by the mere sight. She knows it’s not blood, but it’s fuckin red . Rachel told her, actually, she held a whole lecture about red meats and myoglobin, pigments, and a whole shitload of stuff she couldn’t even comprehend. Maybe she could, if they were in a different life where the bloody smear on her plate didn’t remind her of why William never got an open casket, but that’s not the life she’s living. She’s trying to get rid of these mental images for now.
She has learned that nothing is what it looks like in the Amber house: it’s a whole diorama, everything is so scenic and dramatic, even the fucking food. She cuts a small piece, studies its texture and smell with a churning stomach, and shoves it into her mouth. She chews, thinking about her cheap taste buds and the posh dish fighting on her tongue and she swallows.
“How do you like it, Chloe?” Mrs. Amber asks with a plastic smile. Rose is not looking at Chloe, not looking at anywhere, Mrs. Amber is a fucking robot, a smiling face with swirling emptiness inside. Chloe bites her bottom lip. Gosh, I just want a fucking pizza.
“It’s uhm, not bad.”
Luckily, Mr. and Mrs. Amber couldn’t care less about Chloe or her opinion. No worries, feelings are hella mutual , she forces the dinner down her throat and peeks at Rachel. Now she’s a robot, too, and it’s both amusing and terrifying as fuck. In contrast with her parents, Rachel has a shitload of programs coded inside her she can choose from, and is able to switch between them with the ease of pushing an imaginary button. Yep , she’s in that hella boring good girl mode by the way; yes mom, it would be a pleasure mom, my bad dad, she’s just like that and fake laughter all the way. A quiet sigh escapes Chloe’s mouth as she reclines on her elbow and her temple leans into her palm, her leg bouncing up and down. Rachel’s head turns and she shoots a meaningful look at Chloe: don’t do that. It’s a simple expression written on her face and Chloe straightens up her posture, or at least she tries, removing her elbow from the table.
Words fly in the air back and forth. Chloe understands all of them individually but doesn’t make any sense in context: if she had to sum things up she’d just get a fucking headache. Wow, so muckamuck, shitting money. The Amber family needs a fucking vocabulary and the whole purpose of communication gets lost in the jargon and passive-aggressive politeness.
“Chloe, would you care to pass me the salt?” Mr. Amber’s voice snaps Chloe out of her thoughts.
“Yup, I would… care, Mr. Amber.” Chloe passes the salt, rolls eyes, and focuses back on that bloody meat, which isn’t, but whatever.
“Oh, fuck me. They’re the worst.” Rachel whispers, grabbing the door of her room, and looking at Chloe with brows knitted. She wants to shut the damn thing close, but she just pulls the door in with care, not making too much noise. Chloe is almost able to see the circuits breaking in Rachel’s head, as well as the electricity in the air as she tries to abort the previous program running in her mind, lacking time to fit in the upcoming scenario.
“We… we can do that, actually.” Silly laughter bubbles out of Chloe and a smirk spreads on her face. These stupid innuendos are the farthest she can get: without stakes, highly dependent on Rachel’s mood and interpretation which determines the next action. It’s safe: you can’t be rejected if you don’t mean it, right?
The thing is she never knows if she means it or not.
Rachel snorts and shakes her head before she sits at her desk and opens a notebook, peering at her to-do lists without talking too much. Chloe collapses into Rachel’s bed, tucking her arms under her head and first watching Rachel working on some stupid homework, then her gaze shifts around the room. It’s like a fucking catalog, a modern princess’ den: theater-related stuff and motivational quotes everywhere. And there are those little details which speak volumes about Rachel, I mean the true Rachel, if that Rachel exists at all and not just a construct of… fuck it . There’s a toy box in Chloe’s head named Rachel with many different pieces of her, but she can’t fit them together. Rachel is not like a jigsaw, rather lego blocks. No manual, no limits. Chloe furrows brows and closes her eyes. Better not think about that, better not think about the heavy stuff. She jumps up impulsively to get behind Rachel, her head pops right next to her like a curious dog, the only thing that is missing is her wagging tail as she leans her chin on Rachel’s shoulder, pushing her nose in the crook of her neck.
“Hey, school girl. What are you busy with?”
Rachel feels Chloe’s warm breath against her bare skin, causing all the invisible soft hair on her neck to stand up. She’s not sure what she feels when Chloe approaches her like that. Not anymore, not after what happened today, and she’s not sure about how she ever felt. Was it a mistake? Right now, neck deep in her English assignment and the happenings of the rest of her day, her body tenses up. She’s tired of acting, tired of this endless game, but this is the only thing she can do, although it’s getting hard to hold the mess together she created. Chloe smells that familiar jasmine scent that makes her heart pump faster but there’s something else she can’t fully parse. Her gut says it’s bad , it’s not something she ever smelled on Rachel but its familiarity is somehow disturbing. Chloe just gulps.
“C’mooon, school stuff can totally wait. Have some fun.” Chloe closes the notebook in front of Rachel, she wraps a loose arm around her neck and snickers. Her eyes are smiling and she’s waiting to get a portion of Rachel – because she knows everyone gets a piece of Rachel. It’s Chloe time.
“Chloe, what on Earth are you…”
Rachel turns her head, their noses brush together. Chloe is suddenly too close and everywhere. Rachel pushes her away playfully, but it’s still pushing away. Chloe stumbles and almost loses her balance. She’s a mess, all flailing lanky limbs and sweaty hands, thirsty for Rachel’s touch and attention. She feels like she burnt herself, but it’s in the cards when someone risks playing with fire, right?
“Boo, you’re so fucking boring,” Chloe grumbles before she sits back to the bed and starts to study her boots like there would be something super interesting on it, slightly scraping the carpet with her feet. She looks genuinely sad.
Rachel frowns, thoughts swirling in her head browsing between all those opened programs running in the background: roles and acts she holds inside of her theater kid self. She decides to shut down a few. She opens one of her drawers and fishes out a bottle of Cherry, raising it up in the air theatrically.
“Damn right, a little fun won’t hurt anybody. But I need to finish this crap later.”
“Shit, you did not just steal this from your father.” Chloe’s eyes widen and her frown turns upside down.
“Maybe I did. Who knows?” A mischievous grin crawls on Rachel’s face as she shrugs, standing up and coming closer to Chloe.
“Fuck yeah!” Chloe’s throaty laugh reverberates in the room, she reaches for the bottle and cracks it open with one move, and takes a swig. It’s lukewarm, it’s awful, but it’s still the best shit she has had in days, they’re not really in the position of being able to be picky about booze. Whatever works.
Rachel joins her on the bed, examining Chloe’s face before she also gulps the drink. Chloe scans Rachel from head to toe, trying not to be too obvious about checking her out, but can’t help herself, she’s too damn hot . Her gaze stops at Rachel’s arms, and she puts her palm on her wrist.
“Hey, where’s your bracelet?”
This sentence snaps Rachel out of her thoughts. Her role, her plans – it all starts cracking, she has to do something, rerouting . Her eyes go wide, too wide to be natural, she lifts her hand up to stare at the area where her bracelet was.
“Gee, I have no idea. I… I think I lost it. God fucking dammit!” She jumps up and starts searching on her desk frantically, peeking at Chloe from the corner of her eyes.
“Uhm, hey, shit, calm down. You… you had it yesterday. I remember. Just think about it, where were you? We’re gonna find it, okay?” Chloe starts tapping her leg and gesturing hard, looking at the contortions of Rachel’s face. Rachel is acting a bit… weird ?
Rachel just lets out a nervous snort and shakes her head.
“Fuck, nevermind. It’s gone.” Rachel spreads her arms in the air.
“But… I know you loved that bracelet.” Chloe also stands up and starts looking around at the desk. “You know what? I… I can get you another one.”
“It’s not necessary, Chloe. Seriously, it’s not a big deal.” Rachel cocks her head to one side, shooting a flirty face at the other woman. “Talking about getting things… What’s up with the get the hell out of the Bay pack?”
Chloe stands in the middle of the room, reduced to a mess, looking at Rachel like an abandoned puppy.
“It’s… coming along.” Chloe starts rubbing her nape and looks away, and decides to sit back on the bed.
“Good. I think we can ditch town next week.”
“Next week, huh? Why the rush?”
Rachel’s face turns gloomy; she places one hand on her waist and looks at Chloe with a raised eyebrow.
“Shit, you chickened out.”
“Yes, you hella did.”
“Rachel, NO. But it’s a bit hard without cash, you know. And mom…”
“Mom, really? Do you even hear yourself? Why do you still care? Doesn’t sound like Chloe Price, if you ask me.”
“Look, it’s complicated. She only has me and…” Chloe exhales a sigh.
“What? That’s so not true Chloe, she has that fucking prick. I know you hate it here, don’t be stupid.”
“You’re right, but…”
Rachel darts off and sits in Chloe’s lap, she’s like a feline pushing everything off from the shelves that is in her way, evading all the space she needs. She cups Chloe’s face.
“Yadda yadda. Chloe, I believe in you. You already fixed that truck, and that was so hot .”
Chloe wets her lips and turns her head down, placing her palm on top of Rachel’s hand and making a grimace.
“You’re the only real thing in this shitpit. If someone can do it, it’s you. Copy that?”
“I… I don’t know, Rach. This whole plan of yours is a bit…”
Without wasting any more time, Rachel leans in to shut her up with a kiss. Chloe freezes for a split second, then her arms find their way and crawl up to Rachel’s back to start caressing it, and a small moan escapes her mouth. These are her happiest moments, being trusted and loved or just a fake illusion of it: it doesn’t matter, after her heart has been impaled through many times and never stopped leaking ever since, just like that goddamned steak.
“… wild.” Chloe gasps out when they’re coming up for air eventually.
“It’s not. We’re gonna leave this fucking town behind and live the best of our life in LA-LA land. Just you and me and the highway. How does that sound?”
Chloe smirks, she sweeps away a stray lock from Rachel’s face before kissing her: now she has the courage and the liquid also helps. Rachel laughs into her mouth and Chloe’s half-opened lips slowly trail down Rachel’s neck. And there’s that annoying scent, again.
“Why the long face?”
“Uhm, you smell different,” Chloe whispers and pulls her head back, locking eyes with Rachel.
“Like what I’ve just said. You smell different.”
Rachel’s brain shuts down, but just for a second, but she feels her heart skipping a beat and the back of her head gets covered in cold sweat in a second. Maybe she went too far: the programs are conflicting, her system overheats. She stares at Chloe: is she an issue to solve, a flaw in the code? She just switches, grabbing the collar of her own flannel and pulling it towards her nose to sniff it; she puts on a thinking face.
“Hmmmm, I think mom uses a different softener or something.”
“That other one was better,” Chloe mumbles after seconds of hesitation. This one is a bit hard to buy.
“All sales final. No returns or exchanges.” Rachel says with a dramatic tone, pushing her body closer to Chloe and wrapping her arms around her neck.
“Oh, fuck you.” Chloe snickers, she steals another kiss and deepens it. Rachel chuckles, raising the bottle to take another sip from the drink and she slowly pushes Chloe’s chest down, getting on top and towering above her.
Chloe moves her head a bit and makes a silly face: Rachel’s hair tickles her. Then she looks up to stare into Rachel’s eyes and she gets lost in them. Chloe wants to say something, a compliment, a declaration, anything, but she doesn’t really have the vocabulary for this stuff either. This time the gift of the gab and her big mouth fail her and she just says silly things, as her brain-to-mouth filter decides to go on a holiday.
“Uhm, your eyes are… so beautiful.” She gulps, touching Rachel’s face.
Well, that could’ve been a lot worse. At least she didn’t say any cheesy shit or creepy nonsense.
“I mean it’s just my eyes, duh!” Rachel laughs to dodge it, but it would be a lie if being admired wasn’t flattering to her. Quite the opposite: it’s like fuel, she always wants more and more.
“No, I mean it’s the color… It’s uhm…” Chloe knits her brows when she studies those hazel marbles for a couple of seconds. They’re a bit brown, a bit amber, a bit green, a bit of everything mixed together. They can be anything you’d like but they’re still pure art, and she just can’t get enough of them.
“There ain’t no colors. It’s just a trick of the light.” Rachel retorts and closes her eyes, dragging her fingers through Chloe’s hair, moving and turning her head the way she wants. Chloe loves it.
“Whoah,” she snickers. “Hella deep. Y’know, they say it’s a mirror to the soul and shit. So yours is…”
“Oh my god, just shut up already, Chloe.”
Rachel leans down pushing Chloe into the mattress, letting their lips and bodies meet again and again.