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Chapter 18

Chapter 18

"It feels like I've been sleeping for days." I rub my eyes and enter the room where everyone is sitting in.

"Ben," AJ laughs, gesturing for me to sit down beside her, "you've only been asleep for like an hour. "

Bell generously let me crash in the guestroom, after I begged and pleaded with her, that is. After that fight, beat-down, whatever you want to call it, I was exhausted.

Troy shakes his head at me while taking in my scruffy appearance. "Say, Benjamin, have you ever considered the garbage industry?"

I frown and take a seat beside AJ. "What?" I ask, confused and barely paying him attention -- nothing out of the norm.

"You have the right look. You'd make a fine garbage man," Troy says with  smile as if I should be grateful that he's 'complimenting' me. He glances around the room when I don't answer. "What was I saying again, guys?"

"Probably nothing important," Bell grumbles, not in the mood for her brother.

"You were telling us what happened when the UFO abducted you three months ago while you were on vacation," Max stupidly reminds him, stupidly believing Troy's stupid story.

"Hey, Max..." I drawl, reaching out to hand him 2 dollars. "I think you lost this when Troy stopped talking," I bribe him, hoping he'll shut Troy up. I've had enough of Troy for one day, for a lifetime.

"Thanks, Benley!" Max lights up in appreciation. "I'm always losing things these days," he says in earnest, taking the money from my hand without clicking. "Didn't even realize."

"No," I shake my head, "that's not..." I decide that it's better to stop talking when clueless Max gestures for Troy to continue on with his story.

AJ sends me a knowing grin before running her hands through my bedhead hair. "You look cute when you wake up all grumpy," she teases, moving in to pinch my cheeks -- a bold move on her part.

I smile down at her and swat her hands away, a weird feeling brewing in my stomach. "I know," I joke before moving out of her reach -- it's too uncomfortable.

Looking at AJ brings about a sadness in me that doesn't want to go away. I don't even know what it is. I don't even know why it's there.

I shake away the truly depressing thought and glance over at Troy. Starving, I grab his burger and begin wolfing it down. Yeah, carnivals can't hold me and revenge against an idiot is as sweet as fudge.

"Hey! That's my lunch!" Troy snaps when finally realizing that his lunch is gone. It serves him right for never shutting his mouth.

"Yeah and now I'm eating it," I answer flippantly before taking another bite of his burger. I don't feel bad at all. "I'm eating your lunch. Deal with it, bro."

"And to think that I considered you to be my best friend!" Troy complains.

Ramos gasps in shock, offended, before shooting me a glare. Honestly, I'm just as shocked as him -- I hate Troy.

I roll my eyes and cut Troy off a piece of his own burger before feeding it to him. "Stop whining, best friend." I shake my head at him and shove the food down his throat. I glance over at his sister. "Beer, Bell?"

Bell raises a daring brow at me. "Your audacity, Benjamin! I can't believe you!" She huffs and places her perfectly manicured hand on her hip. "Need I remind you that I don't give beer to alcoholics?!"

"Yeah," I nod, pressing her buttons, "you probably should." I grin mischievously. "I might need a fresh reminder."

I wish Bell would have kids already. I'm tired of her mothering me. 

Bell's face begins to turn red and that's when I realize that I've touched a fragile nerve -- she's only lectured me about a thousand times. 

Troy shoves us all way, 'accidentally' shoving Ramos to the floor, and covers his face. "Stand back, people. Remain calm, people!" He shouts, failing to 'remain calm'. "She's about to blow!"

As expected, Bell lashes out at me and begins hitting me, quite painfully may I add. She's like a war machine. I stand up and pick her up by her elbows in an attempt to stop her -- no one else is going to. "Cut it out, you crazy creature!"

No wonder Aqueela chose her as her best friend. 

"Put me down," she replies in irritation. "Put me down!" She hisses loudly when I fail listen to her. Before I can react, she bites my arm.

"Seriously?!" I yell and drop her to the ground in anger.

I hear Max laugh loudly from beside me. "It's funny when it's not me she's attacking."

"This is cheering me up." Troy smiles sincerely and claps his hands. "I've had a really rough day; I couldn't fit into one of these pair of jeans I wanted because they're specifically designed for females. And then Ramos refused to weave my hair, also apparently a female thing." He shakes his head. "Women have it so easy. I'd kill to be a woman."

Makes a lot of sense...

"I'd kill to kill you," I reply with a snort. If anything, I'm the one who had a rough day. I got punched in the face in front of a stunner of a girl.

"Anyway," Troy continues on rambling, "I'm just happy to be surrounded by all this love and happiness," he concludes, failing to see the bigger picture -- that is, Bell still fighting me. His sister is incapable of love and happiness.

I sigh in relief when Max convinces his girl to tone it down a notch. I turn apologetically to AJ, once again embarrassed by my 'friends'. "Sorry about them, especially Troy. He's an acquired taste."

AJ giggles at my mortified expression, amused. "I like your friends," she says loudly, shooting a playful wink their way, "so I must have a refined palate or something." 

I shrug. "It's the only explanation." I don't even like my friends.

AJ glances up at me with curiosity budding behind her big, blue eyes. "You know, you're kind of a nerd, Ben." She pauses in thought and taps my arm teasingly. "Like a cool nerd. An uptight, cool nerd."

If that isn't me...

I sigh in acknowledgement. "I guess I'm just in dire need of a good party."

AJ grins excitedly from ear-to-ear. "Then let's make that happen!"

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