Chapter 1: What To Expect When You're Not Expecting
It started again June 2019.
It merely continued in January 2020.
There’s something so profound about new life. You’re carrying this little human inside of you for nine months and the bonding between mother and child already starts there. I mean, those nine months aren’t exactly the easiest, trust me, but when that little soul comes into the world, it somehow makes it and everything else you’ve ever endured worth it. That’s when you actually begin to ‘glow’.
In other words, being pregnant is amazing -- not that I would know anything about that. I’ve literally just based the experience on what Emma has said. Bell has said the exact opposite – she doesn’t like being fat. Anyway, I love being pregnant...so says Emma.
The baby’s eyes stay glued on me as I gently rock her from side to side. “Hush little baby, don’t you cry, Aunty Aqueela’s never gonna die--”
“She says it like it’s a good thing.”
It’s a comment I’d expect from Grey. I glance around the room to locate him and then suddenly remember that he’s not here. He’s been too ‘busy’ to hang out with his friends as of lately. It’s been a month since I last saw him. I noticed the missing face that day – he wasn’t there when Jay proposed to me on the cliff. Emma and Xavier obviously weren’t there either, but their excuse in having a baby and all is semi-valid. Keagen, Mase and Lai were already back in New York so their excuse is also semi-valid. Grey, on the other hand, has no excuse.
Max, always able to read me like an open book, snaps his fingers in an attempt to capture my attention. My gaze drifts over to him. I arch an eyebrow at him in question.
"I said it,” he tells me, sensing my thoughts. “It was me who said that,” he concludes, looking somewhat concerned for me.
I nod and meet the baby’s gaze again in an attempt to distract me from my invading thoughts. She’s looking up at me with wide eyes, the light reflecting off of them. She’s just staring, as if transfixed by me. If we had a staring competition, she’d win, hands-down.
“You guys...” I trail off in awe, meeting Emma and Xavier’s smiles with a sincere smile of my own, “she’s gorgeous,” I tell them, truly meaning it.
“Thank you, Aqueela,” Emma replies, her smile only widening upon hearing my words.
“Told you that she’d be beautiful like me,” Xavier jokes.
Landon scoffs. “Yeah...okay,” he replies in sarcasm, biting down on an apple.
Emma merely rolls her eyes at her husband, used to his behavior.
“What did you say her name was again?” I ask them, having forgotten already.
“Alexis,” Emma answers, reminding me for the hundredth time.
“It’s beautiful,” I reply, smiling down at the baby. Unfortunately, it’s then that the baby begins to cry her eyes out. “I’m over it,” I say, panicked, and quickly hand the baby back to Emma.
Xavier chuckles. “You’d better get used to it. You could be next.” He winks teasingly at me.
I slap a hand over his mouth. “Are you crazy?! Don’t let Jay hear you saying things like that! You’ll freak him out!”
“What will freak me out?” Jay asks, stepping back into the mansion, in search of another box to pack onto the moving truck.
It sucks. Emma and Xavier are moving out of Minnesota today. They wanted to give Alexis a month to settle before moving her. We’ve all, excluding Grey, spent the entire morning helping them pack in an attempt to catch up with them. They’ve been low-key ever since Alexis.
“I literally just said to her--”
“That he wants me to leave you. He’s been shamelessly hitting on me all day,” I cut Xavier off before he can tell Jay the truth.
“What?!” Xavier splutters out in confusion.
Landon snickers and shakes his head, washing his hands clean of us. He tosses the core of his apple into a trash can before leaving the room.
Jay furrows his eyebrows as he looks from Xavier to me in disbelief, not buying it. “You’re right,” he eventually answers, “it would freak me out...if it were true.”
He knows us too well.
“Idiot,” Leban directs his words at me, he and Kyle casually snacking on some of Emma and Xavier’s leftovers from last night.
Jay drops the box he’s holding and frowns at all of us. “I can’t believe this--”
“Believe it, BroJay!” Troy shouts over him for the heck of it. “Believe you can fly!”
Jay ignores him and merely continues, “Am I literally doing all the work by myself again?” He asks at seeing us all lounging around, eating.
“It’s snack time, CoolGuyJay-Dawg,” Blubber answers him, stuffing his face with more food, so much so that his cheeks have inflated. “You don’t mess with snack time,” he mumbles through a mouthful of food.
Gland, also with a mouth full of food, makes a strong, inhumane noise from the back of his throat before nodding profusely, backing Blubber (his prodigy) up. He clearly feels strongly about this, as does Simo.
“You guys have had three snack times in the past two hours,” Jay points out, not happy.
“Lunchtime then,” Blubber corrects himself. ”Point is, we’re eating.”
“My boy!” Gland utters before high-fiving Blubber in pride, food flying out of his mouth in the process.
Oog growls at Blubs in jealousy.
“It’s hot out, bro,” Dean tells Jay. “I can’t anymore. I’m dying.”
“Yeah,” Blubber agrees. “I was sweating like a beached porpoise out there.”
“Simo too, sorry Jay,” Simo adds, seeking Jay’s approval.
“I vote Jay, Dean and Zac do all the work,” Max pipes up. “Jay’s the ringleader, Dean is Mr. Muscles, and Zac’s a badass,” he explains.
“And Zac won’t hesitate to turn badass on your ass,” Zac glowers at Max for the suggestion, tired of working and lazy as ever.
“Babe, your man-crush on Dean and Zac is getting embarrassing,” Bell teases Max, deliberately humiliating him in front all of us. Max admires Dean’s build and always tries to impress Zac with every given opportunity.
“Max’s existence is one big embarrassment!” Susie chirps tauntingly given the opportunity.
“That’s it! Today your existence ends!” Max stands up threateningly, only for Jay to push him straight back down into his seat.
“She’ll kick your ass,” Jay warns Max, aware of the facts, before winking playfully at Susie.
“Jay’s right,” Susie voices her opinion a second time, pleased that Jay’s on her side – when is he not? “I’ll destroy you.”
My fiancé flops down beside me with a sigh. “I’m taking a break then too,” he tells all of us, putting his arm around my shoulders. “I’m exhausted.”
Yeah...he’s done about 80% of all the work.
“Thanks for all the help, JT. We really appreciate it,” Emma expresses her gratitude, all the while, Xavier nods, agreeing with everything she’s saying.
Jay brushes it aside. “Don’t stress it.”
“I’m going to carry on packing. We need to leave soon,” Xavier excuses himself.
“This is random,” I break the three seconds of silence in the room, “but I’ve been thinking--”
“That’s new,” Ryan jokes, actually contributing to the conversation for once. Nonetheless, he doesn’t lift his eyes from his laptop. Ever since his break-up with Nancy, he’s been even more invested in his games than usual. I think he uses it to get his mind off of her.
I throw a pillow at him, hearing him chuckle, before continuing my sentence. “Where did the ice cream come from?”
“I made it,” Dylan answers before anyone else can, aware of what I’m referring to, “hence why you loved it so much. I was holding it the whole time that Jay was busy pouring his heart out to you.”
Jay shoots him a look for the way he worded it.
“I was going to bring it out to you,” Dylan explains, “but that would have ruined the moment between the two of you. Luckily, you turned around, which worked out in our favor. I took the opportunity to sprint over and give it to Jay before you turned to face him again. Magic.”
“Thanks, Dyl.” I smile at him before leaning up to kiss Jay on the cheek, appreciating their thoughtfulness.
Jay returns my smile, saying nothing more on the subject. He’s more romantic when we’re not in the eye of the public, especially since the guys mocked him for his ‘swoonworthy’ proposal.
A few minutes go by before Xavier enters the room again. ”Well, that’s the last of it.” He claps his hands and glances around the empty mansion with a distant look to his eyes. “I’m going to miss this place.”
Emma smiles sadly at him and places a hand on his arm. “Me too.”
We all walk them outside to their car. Emma buckles little Alexis into her car seat before she embraces each of us goodbye, her eyes watery. Xavier does the same. The moment in itself is heart-wrenching. I hate goodbyes.
“Guys, this isn’t a goodbye,” Xavier says as if reading my mind, shooting me a wink, “this is just a simple ‘I’ll see you later’.”
I find comfort in his words and manage a smile. However, his words set his wife off. Landon embraces Emma tightly when he notices her falling apart. Emma hides her face in her brother’s chest, failing to keep her tears at bay.
Dean joins in on the hug. “I can’t believe this,” he glances over at his best friend, Lan, in sadness, “our little sister is all grown up. When are we going to?”
Landon hits Dean upside the head and shoves him out of the hug, causing Emma to laugh in spite of her heart hurting.
“Call when you get there,” Sarah says softly, patting Em on the back.
Emma nods and wipes at her eyes, letting go of her brother. “I will.”
“I’d tell you to take care of my sister and my niece, but I already know you will,” Lan tells Xave, his own way of saying goodbye without it getting sappy. “Also, you know that if you don’t, I’ll end you.”
Xave deliberately decides to make it sappy anyway. He approaches Lan with open arms as if to hug him. “Bring it in, brother!”
Landon steps back and shakes his head. “Still not that close.”
Eventually, after much delay, the couple make a move to get into their car. “What about Grey?” I find myself asking, further prolonging their goodbye.
“Yeah, I haven’t heard from him,” Jay states, just as worried as me. “He hasn’t been answering my calls. It’s unlike him.”
“He and Nance dropped by earlier to say goodbye,” Emma informs us, hoping to avoid the topic.
“Oh,” Jay responds in bewilderment, unable to mask his hurt over the matter. Grey is supposed to be his best friend but, lately, it feels like we’re getting the cold shoulder from him.
“Talk to him,” Emma tells us before hurriedly getting into the passenger seat of the car, almost as if she knows something that we don’t. “He’s struggling.”
Xave nods, agreeing with his wife. He then follows suit after her and takes to the driver’s seat. Before I get the chance to process them going or ask any more questions about Grey, they’re off, on their way to a better life.
I sigh aloud when their car is out of view. “This hurts.”
“Yeah, this blows,” Landon agrees with me before punching a tree in frustration. He walks off on his own, clearly not taking any of it well. He was just putting up a front for his sister’s sake. He did a good job at it too. I almost believed him.
“I’m gonna go check on him,” Sarah murmurs before going after him.
“This really hurts,” I repeat when no one else says anything. “It feels like Jay dying again, but less hurtful.”
Jay grins, wrapping his arm around me and drawing me to his chest in response.
It’s the next day and I’m cuddling with Jay in front of the TV. I place my head on his lap and stretch out my legs, my eyes still stuck on the TV screen ahead of me. Jay runs his hand through my hair, staring up at the ceiling in thought.
“You two are up early,” Boss Man comments, grabbing his car keys, ready to head down to the bar.
Ever since Jay proposed, we’ve been staying by Greg. He has one extra room that we share. We didn’t want to go back to Emma and Xavier and intrude, especially with the new addition to the family. The same goes for the Bensten house with Bell being pregnant again, not to mention Jezel and Troy trying to adapt to parenthood. The other option was BoyBand, but Jay didn’t feel that it would be fair seeing as he and AJ are recently engaged too. Thus, here we are.
“Sleepless night,” I answer in short. Jay’s always up early. I know that he’s referring to me. My mind has too many thoughts lately. I’m not used to many thoughts -- it sucks. These stupid thoughts have been keeping me from sleeping. Thus, I end up keeping Jay from sleeping.
“You coming in today, Jay?” He asks, patting Slobber on his way out.
I angle my head so that I’m looking up at Jay, not wanting him to go.
Jay shakes his head at Greg. “This one,” he looks down at me before placing a kiss on my nose, “has been a little snippy today. I think she might be coming down with something. I’ll go tomorrow instead.”
Jay’s pretty much lost everything. He lost his house, half of his possessions in the process, his job, his fame, his money, his reputation, his dignity and even his car (it gets taken tomorrow). When he failed to come through on the contract, they took everything from him. They took him for all that he’s worth. All he has left is his job at Greg’s bar.
“Cool, cool,” Greg says in haste before leaving his house, the front door banging closed after him.
“I’m not snippy! And I don’t get sick, stupid!” I huff, angrily swatting Jay’s hand away from my hair. “You’re just being annoying,” I sneer at him, feeling that familiar urge to throw up again. The nausea won’t go away.
“What’s going on with you?” Jay asks gently. “For real, what’s up?”
I should be treating him better, considering all that he sacrificed for me. Still, I can’t help but be in an irritable mood.
I sigh and sit up, turning to face him. “Here’s the thing, you know how girls land up on the same cycle when being in the presence of another girl on their period?”
Jay uses one arm to reach up and scratch the back of his head, an indication that he’s uncomfortable with this subject. “Not really, no.” He shies away from my gaze and looks elsewhere. “To be honest, it doesn’t make much sense to me.”
I clear my throat and close my eyes, my head aching. ”Well, to put it bluntly, I think I’m acting this way because--”
“You’re on your period?” Jay asks, now kneeling before me in genuine concern. “What do you need? What can I do? How can I help?” He takes my hands into his, his blue eyes filled with sympathy.
“No.” I shake my head and he blows out a breath of relief. “I think I’m pregnant,” I conclude in all seriousness.
I hear him inhale a sharp breath. There’s a moment of silence between us before he asks the inevitable, “You’re messing with me, right? You’re joking? You’re drunk? You cheated? Which is it?”
I clout him on the head, offended. “Why would I joke about something like this? And I’m not drunk and I’d never cheat on you.”
“But...” he falters in confusion, barely able to get his words out, “how would that work? You and I...we haven’t even been like that together yet.”
“Don’t you see? I’ve been spending so much time around Bell and Emma, that I’ve jumped on their pregnancy cycle. I’m on their pregnancy train, hence my mood swings, my nausea and my body aching.” He stares at me blankly in response. “How are you not getting this?!” I all but shout, aggravated by his stupidity.
“Do I need to explain to you how one becomes pregnant? Because if I do, things are going to get awkward between us really fast,” Jay eventually replies, still unable to fathom what I’m saying.
I don’t allow him to say anything further. Instead, I run for the bathroom and throw upagain. Jay walks into the bathroom, more concerned than ever, and helps me back up to my feet. “Explain that,” I tell him and flush the toilet.
“I will.” He places a hand against my forehead. I stubbornly swat his hand away. “You feel hot.”
I grin flirtatiously. “Why thank you.”
He gives me a flat look, in turn. “You know what I mean.” Then, before I can react, he picks me up, bridal style, and begins carrying me to his car. “You’re going to the doctor.”
“No! I don’t get sick! I’m strong!”
I fight him all the way, but he doesn’t let go.
“So, let me get this straight, you’re here for a sonar?” The doctor asks us.
Jay and I answer simultaneously:
The doctor glances between the both of us, puzzled, before shrugging. ”Well, I’ll do one anyway, just to make sure. If not, we’ll get to the bottom of these symptoms.”
I hop onto the bed while Jay stays seated in the chair with his head in his hands, trying to vanish into thin air.
The doctor lifts up my shirt and rubs some ultrasound gel on my stomach. He presses the transduceragainst my flat stomach. “So, have you two been trying for a baby for a while now?” He asks us, making general conversation.
“No,” Jay answers for the both of us, annoyed and embarrassed by me. “In actual fact, we haven’t even slept together yet. We haven’t had sex. She’s a virgin,” he says bluntly, having had enough of my apparent ‘nonsense’.
The doctor snaps his head to Jay in shock. “I don’t understand. Then why am I doing this?”
“To settle my fiancée’s mind,” Jay replies calmly.
The doctor doesn’t question it further and continues on with the sonar. I hold my breath in anticipation, waiting to hear what he says. “Clearly, you’re right,” he finally speaks, looking over at Jay. “There’s no baby.”
"See,” Jay says knowingly, unsurprised, “told you, Aqueela.”
I barely comprehend what he’s saying, ’cause next thing I know, tears are falling from my eyes. “There’s no Ryland,” I sob uncontrollably, my crazy pregnant hormones getting the better of me.
The doctor stares at me as if I’m crazy, but Jay’s up from his seat and by my side in a second. “Hey, hey, hey...” he takes my hand into his own, regret pooling in his eyes, “I’m sorry, don’t cry. Please don’t cry. I’m sorry, okay?” Panicked, he cradles me against his chest in an attempt to soothe me.
“You don’t want to have babies,” I sob louder into his chest.
“I’ll give you two a moment,” the doctor says, leaving the room before the awkwardness of the situation kills him.
Jay runs his fingers through the blonde strands of my hair and shakes his head against me. “That’s not true. I just feel that we can’t support a kid right now. We’ve only been engaged for a month. We can’t bring a child into this world when we don’t even have a house. We currently have nothing. It would be selfish of us.”
“And tomorrow we won’t have a car,” I sniffle, the loss of everything only now getting to me. “You’re going to lose your Gallardo and it’s going to be all my fault. You’re going to lose your precious car because of me.”
“I chose this, ’Queela,” he whispers reassuringly into my hair. “It’s not your fault. None of this is your fault. We’ll be on our feet again soon. I promise you.”
I pull away from him slightly in order to meet his gaze. “So one day then?”
"Of course, one day,” he confirms, squeezing me against him tighter, understanding what I mean.
“But you’ve always said that you don’t want kids,” I argue, now beginning to think rationally again. I haven’t been feeling like myself for the last two days.
“Aqueela,” he looks down at me, meeting my gaze in honesty and conviction, “I’ll do anything with you because I want everything with you.”
As it turns out, I’m sick with influenza,hence my ‘pregnancy’ symptoms. Apparently, Jay made the right call in taking me to the doctor. Speaking of which, when he found out what I’ve come down with, he made me take my first lot of medicine in front of the doctor because he knows how much I hate medicine – except for the medicine that tastes like bubblegum.
When Jay questioned my mood swings, he reminded me that I start my period tomorrow. The doc also reckoned that the emotional changes may be because I took some prescribed pain meds before seeing him, which made Jay even more annoyed. All in all, my crazy behavior is kind of justified – Jay disagrees.
“Hey, Jay?” I call when we enter the small but cozy house again.
“Yeah?” He glances over his shoulder at me in concern. “You okay? You want me to carry you? Everything fine?”
He’s so paranoid over me.
“I’m sorry for embarrassing you today and for being ‘snippy’. I don’t know what came over me, other than pregnancy,” I apologize, feeling guilty and embarrassed myself, well, as embarrassed as I can be – probably far off from the embarrassment Jay endured throughout today.
“Don’t sweat it, Aqueela. I’m used to it. It’s my fault anyway,” he chuckles, his eyes brightening in mischief, “I’m the one who fell in love with an insane person.”
I place my hands on my hips and send him a look. “Not funny.”
“And I’m also the one who doesn’t regret it,” he tells me, earnest. “Now go and sit down. Get comfortable. You’re supposed to be resting. I’ll make you something to eat,” he says as he heads straight for the kitchen.
“Hey, Jay?” I call again.
He turns around to face me. “Hmm?”
“I love you.”
He sends me a warm smile that causes my heart to flutter before disappearing into the kitchen.
I should get sick more often. Jay makes the best Mac & Cheese. Not only that, he ran me a hot bath and placed bubblegum-scented candles all around the bathtub for me. He knows how much I love them. However, I don’t think he knows just how much I love him. I mean, he even carried me all the way to the bathroom -- you just don’t get a guy better than that.
After the relaxing bath, I wrap the white, fuzzy towel around me and walk into our room, tired after the long and crazy day.
Jay’s lying on the double bed, reading a book.
As if sensing my presence, he looks up. He freezes, his gaze drifting down the length of my body before flickering up to my face again. He visibly swallows. “Sorry,” he says, standing up and putting his book aside. “I’ll go.”
Before he can leave, I step forward and wrap my arms around him tightly. “Thank you,” I say into his tense shoulder.
“For?” He asks, his arms slowly materializing around my body as he comes out of it.
He smiles at me and leaves the room, allowing me to change into my pyjamas and get into bed. Slobber eagerly curls up beside me, unable to be away from one of us.
It’s a few minutes later when I’m busy falling asleep that he returns to the room. He approaches the bed and tucks the blankets in and around me, trying to make me as warm and comfortable as possible. “You good?” He asks, showing his affection.
I nod, content. “Feeling better already.”
“Good.” He grins before glancing back at the open door. “I did knock, by the way, but you didn’t answer.”
“As if you need to still knock, Jay.” I laugh lazily, finding him to be cute.
He sits down beside me and leans down to kiss my forehead. “Wake me up if you need anything during the night. I’m gonna go watch some TV--”
“You mean, stare blankly up at the ceiling?” I joke.
“Yeah that,” he nods, chuckling. “Need to do some more deep thinking.”
“Never good for anyone,” I tease.
“Shut up, Lawson,” he says playfully, being a good sport about it.
I grin happily. “Goodnight.”
“Night, Aqueela.” He gets up and walks to the door. He’s about to close the door from the other side when he suddenly pops his head back in. “Hey, Aqueela?”
“Mhmm?” I answer sleepily.
He hesitates. “I love you.”
I close my eyes and smile into my pillow, hearing him quietly shut the door after him. No longer restless, I end up being lulled into a soundless sleep, experiencing one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time.
Hey all :)
Here’s the first official chapter of ‘Fast Forward’. I have a lot planned for this story, so stay tuned ;)
I just want to clear up the time space because I can already tell that a lot of you will have questions about it. Jay and Aqueela arrived back in Minnesota in June 2019. They were at odd ends for 3 months (August 2019), that is up until chapter 22 of ‘Rewind’. Then they made up and Jay told her that he had 3 months left. Jay was meant to leave at the end of November, but then proposed to Aqueela. A month (December) passed and here we are :D
As requested, I’m bringing back my questions, so prepare yourselves :)
1. Was this the introduction you were expecting or completely different?
2. What changes in all of their lives are you expecting to see?
3. Where’s Grey and Nance at?
4. Will you miss Xavier and Emma?
5. Which of the characters do you reckon will miss Xavier the most?
6. Will we see the New Yorkers again?
7. Was Aqueela crazier or less crazier than usual in this chapter?
8. Would anyone other than Jay be able to put up with Aqueela?
9. Do you feel sorry for Ryan or do you feel that he deserved to lose Nancy?
10. How do you think Troy is coping as a father?
Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it :D
Have an awesome weekend!