"The carnival?" I send AJ a look, furrowing my eyebrows in confusion. I thought we were going to do something fun. I hate carnivals. I don't like being thrown around everywhere, especially when my feet aren't touching the ground.
"Candy floss, rides, clowns, games, colors, noise; what's not to like?" She lets go of my hand, staring up at the Ferris wheel in excitement. You'd think she's a two-year-old.
"All of it," I answer, folding my arms across my chest. There's no way I'm going on any rides, especially not the Ferris wheel.
"Who even are you?" She asks me in sass. "Don't be boring."
I roll my eyes before entering the wretched place. "Let's get this over with."
AJ grins and happily skips ahead of me, unaware of just how much I hate carnivals. Not only was this the place where I first met Bex, it's also the place where I asked Bex to be my girlfriend. Plus, I hate heights. Most of the rides involve heights.
Still, seeing AJ so excited, somehow makes it worth it.
"So, which ride first?" AJ stops skipping, waiting for me to catch up.
"None of them," I answer in all seriousness.
"How about we start with something easy?" She asks, sensing my apprehension. "Something like the Ferris wheel?"
I immediately shake my head and stop walking. "Uh...no thanks."
"C'mon, it's gonna be fun!" She yanks at my hand, trying to persuade me into agreeing. "You'll love it!"
"I guarantee that I won't." I push her hand off of me, standing my ground, literally. I am not leaving the ground, not for a second.
She arches her eyebrow at me. "Are you, like," she hesitates, her blue eyes keeping me frozen in place, "scared?"
I scoff. "No," I lie in ease. If I admit to it, then I know I'm going to be forced. People love forcing people to do things that they don't want to do.
She holds back a smile. "Mhmm hmm."
I frown. "If anything, you're scared." I shift the attention off of me and onto her.
"Yeah, that's why I don't want to go, right?" She grins teasingly. "I'm not trying to embarrass you, Benjy, I'm embarrassed for you," shes concludes with sincerity in her voice, unaware of how mean she is sometimes.
"You're not as cheery and sweet as you think you are," I point out, bringing it to her attention.
"C'mon." She stands on her tippy-toes and taps my cheek softly. "Chin up," she says and then begins pulling me after her again.
What is it with women always pulling me in different directions?
I submit and follow after AJ to get tickets. I don't miss the way the guy giving us our tickets looks at AJ. As much as I hate to admit it, it annoys me. Ever since Oliver, I don't like other guys checking out my prize. Still, I let it go.
"AJ..." I eventually clear my throat, staring up at the Ferris wheel warily, "I really don't feel comfortable with this," I say quietly, gulping down my fear.
AJ looks up at me with concern, her smile leaving her lips. "Hey, Ben, listen..." she pauses, "you don't have to--"
"Okay, great, see you later then!" I call over my shoulder and begin walking away without so much as a second of hesitance.
"Benley MacAllister!" She yells after me, unhappy.
"It's okay, I'll go with you," the single guy standing in line behind her suddenly speaks up, taking the gap.
I spin back around so quickly that I almost give myself whiplash.
AJ smiles up at him politely. "Thank you for the offer. I appreciate it. It would be nice to have some company." She shoots me a glower in the process before she and the stranger get on the stupid wheel of terror.
It sucks being with a girl who steals the attention of every guy. I can't look away for a second. Guys are sly dogs.
I cross my arms over my chest and angrily kick a stone out of my path, staring up at AJ and the guy in fury. They're laughing together as their cart rises higher and higher in the air. I shiver at just the thought of being that high up, but I shiver more at the thought of her leaving me and returning back to New York.
I should have just manned up and gone with her. Sometimes it's worth crossing oceans for people who matter. Overcoming a fear for AJ seems worth it. She's one of those people who just come into your life and change it completely, those special kinds of people that you just know that you're never gonna meet again, not in this lifetime or the next.
Fortunately, a phone calls breaks me from my thoughts.
"Hey BroBoyBand! Wonderful to hear my lovely voice, isn't it?"
I groan at hearing his annoying voice from the other side of the line. I've never saved his number, for obvious reasons -- number one being that everything about him irritates me.
"What is it that you want, Troy?" I answer back rudely.
"I'm going to get my eyebrows threaded in a bit with Ramos, was just wondering if you'd like to clean my house for free? Kind of had a house party a few secs ago and Bell and Max are going to be home soon," he tells me, his audacity never ceasing to amaze me.
"Phew!" I hear Ramos' voice from the background. "I zought you were going to invite zie nimcompoop with us."
"Shush! He'll hear you! But preach, guurl! BoyBand clearly doesn't thread his eyebrows. Those hairy, unplucked caterpillars are not coming with us, Ramos," Troy replies back, forgetting that I can hear him. "That would be downright humiliating for us."
I roll my eyes at the pair of them. They sure have a way of making it easy to say 'no'.
"No, you freeloader," I sigh into the phone. "I do not want to be there when Bell's fangs come out." I shake my head while staring up at AJ's cart. "You made the mess; you clean it up."
"Don't try and micromanage me! I do not have to clean up a mess that I made. That's preposterous. I wasn't raised that way! How dare you even--"
I hang up on him when AJ climbs off the ride and says goodbye to the guy before heading back over to me.
"Have fun?" I ask, arching an eyebrow at her. "I'm surprised you came back to me. Thought you'd leave me hanging for that other guy."
She scoffs at my words. "Yeah right. He was annoying me," she lies for my sake, taking me by complete surprise when she leans up and kisses my cheek with her full pink lips. "No need to be jealous. You're still number one." She pulls back before playfully winking up at me.
"I wasn't jealous." I rub frantically at my cheek. "Great. Now I have a pink lipstick stain on my cheek," I complain, ignoring the flutters in my stomach and the pounding of my heart.
AJ laughs, taking me by the hand again before pulling me to the next ride. This time, I happily follow after her as she leads me to a ride that isn't in the air -- the spinning tea cups.
"That's a children's ride," I inform her, unsure if she's aware or not. Knowing her, she's aware but doesn't care.
"Yeah so you should be able to handle it," she teases, lifting my spirits. "I want you to have fun too. Earlier, I was just joking. I want you to know that I'd never force you to do something you don't want to do. I'm not like that."
I grin down at her and brush a lock of her dark hair from her perfect face. "I know."