Despite being embarrassed, I chuckle at AJ's reaction when the teacups begin to spin faster. She has her eyes closed and a big grin on her face. She raises both her fists to the air and lets go of the handle bars.
"Whoop whoop!" She shouts, exhilarated.
Life had to decide to give me another Aqueela.
"Letting go of the handle bars...what a bad ass," I say aloud, amused. She's shouting louder than most of the kids on the ride.
Her eyes snap open. "I don't see you letting go."
I shrug. "I'm no daredevil," I answer as the ride begins to slow. "Not like you," I tease, helping her off the ride.
"If you imitate me you'll look cool for once," she retorts, pulling me along in the direction of the candy floss cart.
"Right," I drawl, deciding to loosen up for the meantime. "Also, why candy floss? Nothing good comes from it."
She ignores my remark on her precious, pink floss. "Don't you want to look fetch?" She asks in a diva voice before striking a pose. "Glamorous like me?" She flips her dark hair to one side before dramatically placing her hands on her hips.
"Somehow I don't think I'll look as cute as you doing that," I tell her before winking at her.
"Probably not." She winks back at me. "You're too uptight. You need to be more zen like me. You need to channel your inner zen Ben."
I roll my eyes and step into the line of people waiting for candy floss. "I have done just fine without an inner zen Ben." I nudge her softly with my elbow. "I mean, I've had my fair share of girls throwing themselves at me."
"Yeah but I'm like a fountain of youth, the teleportation pad of my time," she insists in protest, somehow looking as cute as ever while arguing with me. "And trust me when I say that I believe you." She smiles up at me bravely. "I'm not surprised you had all the ladies' attention."
I grin and look up at the sky in order to distract myself. She doesn't give me a break. I mean, I'm used to putting all the moves on the girls. But AJ never even gives me the chance. In all honesty, when I'm with her, everything feels good again. I miss this feeling.
"Didn't I say to stop throwing compliments at me all the time?" I ask and stare down at her with a hidden smile.
"'Don't', 'stop'..." she shrugs hopelessly, "those words could have really meant just about anything."
I chuckle. "How do you figure?" I ask, placing my arm around her shoulders. I might as well enjoy today. It's obvious she's not about to quit anytime soon.
"We can't," she suddenly says, ever so dramatic, before removing my arm from her shoulders. "It's forbidden," she says with a serious face before breaking out into laughter. "That's how you act around me," she teases before placing my arm back around her shoulders. "Now you get how it feels, dorkahantas."
I roll my eyes at her. "You and I are about to have an argument," I joke, seeing her point. Problem is, she doesn't understand why I am the way I am. I've been ruined by a single person and I don't know how to mend the pieces of my life back together.
"Oooh," she makes funny hand gestures, refusing to drop the dramatics, "I sense a storm coming." When I send her flat look, she points up to the gray clouds moving over us. "Jeez, I was just stating a fact."
"Ya two done?" A burly voice interrupts us from behind. "Ya stupid kids are holdin' up the whole damn line. Move it before lose it."
He reeks of beer.
"Someone's impatient," AJ hums under her breath before turning around again, refusing to look at him in the eye. "We're not even holding up the line. There's still two people in front of us," she tells me quietly, taking offense.
"Heard dat," he slurs from behind her, not dropping it.
Frankly, I don't like his tone, especially the one he's using on AJ. She doesn't deserve it. For heaven's sake, she's practically an innocent child. She's so sweet that she doesn't understand that some people just suck.
Deciding to be the better person, I let it go. I knew this was gonna go bad anyway, except I thought I'd be dealing with sticky kids on sugar highs. Bottom line, candy floss is a real problem in this country. And people wonder why all our kids are getting so fat...
"Well, well, well..." I drawl out slowly, elbowing AJ gently, "who could have foreseen the terrible consequences of getting cotton candy? If only someone spoke up? If only someone warned y--"
"Shut up, Ben!" She giggles, already forgetting all about the incident.
I internally applaud myself. I managed to distract her from the rude imbecile behind us. Points for me. I'm scoring high here.
"Tha' it," I hear him mutter angrily before AJ goes flying out of the line altogether with a force that should never ever be used on a girl.
Summoning the 'Landon' in me, I immediately turn around and land a solid punch on the jerk's face, just about breaking my fist in the process -- I'm a gentleman until pushed over the line. I'm not the fighting type but this guy had it coming.
Unfortunately for me, I didn't take the guy's massive size into account. Before I know it, I feel a fist come down hard on my face. He just about knocks me out completely. I end up getting shoved out of the line too. Disorientated, I collapse on the ground.
I think punching him hurt my fist more than it hurt his face. Now my fist and my face is broken! How the hell does Landon stand to do this all the damn time? I'm not a fan of the pain.
When the buzzing in my head stops, I glance up to see AJ hovering above me with shock and concern mixed in her eyes. She crouches down before me. "You okay, Benjy?"
I touch my throbbing nose and wince. "Nose intact but my dignity isn't. That was embarrassing," I say quietly, having noticed everyone nearby watching on in fright or amusement. I hate being humiliated in front of a crowd. I duck my head away from their invading stares.
I feel AJ's hands on my face before I see the blood on her fingers. She carefully inspects my face. "You good?" She asks softly, looking close to heartbroken, more broken than what my nose feels. "Just a little bit of blood. I promise."
Man, I'm such a wuss. I really gotta hit the gym one of these days. My sisters are right.
AJ shoots the guy a dirty look. "Hey! Jerk!" She angrily calls to him, her soft and sweet voice vanishing within seconds. "Watch yourself, you overgrown leprechaun!" She glowers at him, turning into the crazy, mad driver that I first met -- it's kind of hot. She clearly has a badass streak in her.
I pull myself up to my feet and grab her protectively. I don't need her getting herself into more trouble, especially when I can't even defend her. "Let's just go," I tell her, indirectly warning her.
I'm basically an alcoholic. I know when someone's been drinking a little too much and right now, this guy is unpredictable. But so am I.
"Yeah, scram, ge outta 'ere," he slurs, now paying for candy floss that should be in my girl's hands and not his.
I'm no taking anymore of this.
Without thinking, something I usually do, I grab the candy floss from his hand and courageously spit in his face before making a dash for the exit. I take AJ's hand as I pass her by and encourage her to run with me.
"Hey beared leprechaun, your face looks like mashed potatoes!" AJ yells at him over her shoulder before sprinting out with me.
When we safely reach my car, we stop to catch our breaths. I glance over at AJ to see her hunched over too. She catches my gaze and suddenly smiles freely before falling into genuine laughter.
"Now that's what heroes are made of! Be impulsive more often!" She nudges me playfully, enjoying the adrenaline rush.
I grin at her and proudly hand her the candy floss. "Here you go, M'lady."
She beams brightly from ear to ear, putting the sun to shame.
Totally worth it.