dancing in the dark
[ chapter 5 ]

After the short bus ride to the top of the hill, Morgan and Taylor hopped out into the rich, sunny day. Taylor threw his damp tee shirt over his shoulder and Morgan put her sunglasses on and tied her long sleeved shirt around her waist. They wandered around a few minutes, looking for his parents.

“Maybe they said they’d wait, or meet us down at the bottom for lunch?” Taylor put his hand up to his forehead and squinted through the great sunlight. “Oh no...” he said under his breath as he saw Aubrey in the distance with Jordie and Tyler.

“I think you’re right,” Morgan added, not hearing his last comment. “I don’t see them anywhere, and your big van should be easy to notice.”

Taylor chuckled and then quickly said, “Come on..” He grabbed her arm and began to lead them down the road to the end of the tubing path. “I guess we better go back down there.” Taylor knew his parents weren’t going to meet them at the bottom when they were done, but the last thing he wanted was to ruin their fun day by meeting up with Aubrey.

Aubrey Sutt was Taylor’s infamous invisible girlfriend. They started seeing each other after Aubrey had gone to one of their smaller shows in Ohio, caught Taylor’s eye, and they had all talked afterwards. They began chatting and getting together, and Taylor was happy to find a new friend and someone who didn’t exaggerate their fame and popularity. They met and caught up with things when Taylor went to school, but soon after the had began going out he wondered why he ever asked her out in the first place, and also wondered if Aubrey was going out with him because of his fame, or himself. After the occurrences between him and Morgan since she had arrived, Taylor also realized that he simply may have been going out with her so long to find a replacement for Morgan, and now he realized that he didn’t need one. Because of this motive, he never felt comfortable telling Morgan about Aubrey, in fear of how she would react to simply knowing he had a girlfriend, and he especially didn’t want to have to deal with talking to her now. But it was too late; Aubrey had seen him.

“Hey, Taylor!!” she called.

“Yo Taylor, long time no see,” Jordie called out. Morgan and Taylor turned around, and and Morgan smiled as she saw Jordie and Tyler, as well as another one of Taylor’s friends, Jared, along with Aubrey. Though she met Jordie and Tyler at an inopportune circumstance, she immediately liked them, and their smiling faces made her wish she was able to get to know them.

Taylor, on the other hand, was less than pleased to see his friends, and only assumed that they had told Aubrey about the kiss he shared with Morgan earlier that day. He smiled, acknowledging their presence, and quickly sighed.

“Hey Taylor. Funny to see you here,” Aubrey said, and leaned over and gave him a hug.

“Hey,” he replied, weakly.

“So what are you doing here? Who’s your friend?” She put her hands on her hips, and brushed her bangs out of her eyes. Morgan gazed at her, wondering who she was and why she knew Taylor, why she was so affectionate towards him.

Morgan cleared her throat. “Are you one of Taylor’s friends?”

“Yep, I’m Aubrey Sutt. I’m Taylor’s girlfriend.” She smiled a smile that seemed fake to Morgan, which caused her to wince. The last thing she wanted was to meet someone untrue and unfaithful to Taylor, girlfriend or not. “Who are you?” Her smile disappeared.

The realization that Taylor, her best friend for sixteen years, had a girlfriend suddenly hit her and impacted her in a way she wouldn’t have expected. Words couldn’t come to her mouth to answer Aubrey’s question, and her and Taylor, embarassed, both stood there, sweat beads dripping down their foreheads and hearts racing.

“Do I need to explain to these two women in your life what exactly is going on?”

“No, no Jordie. Can you guys just leave us alone for a minute?” Taylor’s voice suddenly became defensive and Morgan knew he hadn’t expected the situation or how to react; what to say. He pulled his dry shirt off from around his shoulders and quickly over his head, not wanting to draw a lot of attention to himself. Jordie, Tyler and Jared quickly wandered away, and Morgan gently put her hand on Taylor’s back, then he scuffed over to a nearby bench.

Aubrey and Morgan sat on either side of him, and after a couple seconds, Taylor stood and said, “Okay...”

“What’s going on Taylor? Why are you acting so odd all of the sudden?” Aubrey questioned, then repeated: “Who are you?” to Morgan.

“I’m -- “ She began.

“Aubrey, this is Morgan. She’s my best friend, and I’ve known her my entire life.” Taylor began. “She lives back in Tulsa where I obviously lived before we moved here to try to avoid...everything... We’ve...” Taylor focused his gaze on Morgan. “We’ve known each other since we were born and have been best friends through everything.” They shared smiles. Taylor continued. “And this is Aubrey...my girlfriend.”

“Why didn’t you ever tell me about your friend from Tulsa, Taylor?” Aubrey questioned.

“Why didn’t you tell me you had a girlfriend?” Morgan calmly asked, confused. They told each other everything, no matter what. Their relationship hadn’t changed when Taylor left and he and his brothers became famous, and Morgan always felt like she knew everything about him. Suddenly she felt like she knew nothing, and wondered what else there was in Taylor’s life that she didn’t know about.

Taylor silently groaned, and replied rather loudly. “Because I didn’t know if I felt more for you until we left. I didn’t know what it would all be like; I didn’t know that I would miss you so much and spend so many sleepless hours thinking about you and wishing I were with you. I didn’t know what it meant.” Taylor’s arms hung limply at his sides, and Morgan tried understanding what he just said.

Aubrey slowly rose, her face showing a mix of emotions, angry and confused. Morgan sat in silence, shocked at hearing the simple confession Taylor had said. Their kiss seemed to make sense, now. “What? Where does that leave me, Taylor?” She paused. “I am your girlfriend...Wait. So does that mean Jordie and Tyler weren’t kidding when they said you kissed some girl this morning?”

Taylor stared at her emotionless, almost not caring at all what was said after this point or what happened with Aubrey. “Aubrey, please...”

“No...” Aubrey glared at Morgan and back at Taylor. “I don’t believe this,” she stuttered, and suddenly pushed Taylor hard in the shoulder, causing him to fall to the ground. “I guess dating a rock star isn’t all what its cracked up to be,” she smirked and walked away.

Taylor rose from the ground, and brushed himself off, not knowing what to do or say next. He released a nervous laugh, and looked at Morgan. He quietly said, “I didn’t think she had it in her.”

“Are you okay?” Morgan asked as Taylor brushed off his hands, and the bits of gravel that had impeded his skin.

“Yeah, I think I’ll live,” he smiled as she sat back down on the bench. After a few moments of silence, Taylor wandered to the front of the bench. Morgan was appropriately confused and unsure of what Taylor felt for her, or what she felt for him after everything that had just occurred. She rubbed her eyes and looked at Taylor.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Hey...” he said. He sat down, facing the opposite direction as Morgan. “I know I haven’t been completely honest with you about Aubrey...and I guess its a pretty big thing not to tell you, especially coming from me. And I don’t know what you’re feeling right now...” he lowered his voice. “But I’ve always been honest about the way I’ve felt about you. You know you’re my best friend and no one can take your place. And I don’t know, maybe that kiss this morning indirectly meant something.” He gazed at her profile, searching for a response.

Morgan nodded, and stood. “I thought that it might have, but now I don’t know.” Then: “I think I see your parents car coming...”

Taylor rose and ran around the bench and in front of Morgan. He instinctively took one of her hands in his and said, “Morgan please don’t act like this. I know you.”

Morgan nodded and began walking to the van. Taylor followed, sensing her distance, which he expected. Once in the car, Taylor’s parents began questioning them about their day. Morgan began chatting away like nothing had previously happened to bruise her fragile frame, which Taylor knew was unusual for her. He knew this wasn’t the way she would be acting had his parents not been there; he knew she wasn’t conveying her true emotions. In Morgan’s position, just somehow knowing he had a girlfriend really seemed to affect her in an unexplainable way, something she couldn’t understand.

“How about we stop off for a late lunch on the highway, and then head home?” Walker asked as he excited the small city and Diana added,

“Its getting awfully late. I didn’t realize the day had passed by so quickly. Its nearly four.” She looked into the backseat at Morgan and Taylor and smiled. “Where would you guys like to eat?”

“McDonalds!” they replied in unison.

“Some things will never change,” Taylor’s father chuckled.

Taylor, interpreting a double meaning, looked over to Morgan. She returned his gaze, and then they both looked away. “Some things will never change,” Taylor thought. “But some things will never stay the same.”

chapter six