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Chapter 20

Chapter 20

I ignore the glares of the blonde. I just pushed her into quite a looker. If anything, she should be thanking me. I practically just set her up. They should give me credit at their wedding. This is how love stories are made.

"Psst!" Someone whispers from beside me.

I jump when I see AJ beside me, under the table. 

"Who are we hiding from?" She asks with a teasing smile.

I scramble for an answer. "Um...I...uh...just dropped--"

"Save it," Bell interrupts from above us, hovering just above the table, rolling her eyes at me. "If anything, you've dropped your dignity, Benjamin."

Yeah...I'd say Bell knows.

"Warmest greetings to you too, Bell," I reply in sarcasm.

Feeling stupid, I stand up and offer AJ a hand before helping her up to her feet. Unable to help myself, I scan over her appearance a second time. Bell did a good job at 'girl-ing' her up. Her raven-black hair has been curled slightly and is hanging past her tiny waist. Her low cut, black dress is amazing and really emphasizes her toned figure. She's also standing a little bit taller on the pair of nude heels that Bell probably lent to her.

"Like what you see, Benjamin?" Bell asks me mockingly, having noticed me staring at her friend. She always goes out of her way to make me look like an idiot.

I don't shy away from AJ's gaze. "As a matter of fact, I do."

Bell grins in pride and throws an arm around AJ's petite shoulders. "I did a good job at the glam game but the girl's just a natural beauty with her popping blue eyes and sun-kissed skin."

"You don't have to tell me." I send AJ a wink from the corner of my eye.

AJ plays with the gold necklace around her neck, sweetly smiling up at me. "Didn't know you could be such a flirt," she says quietly and innocently, failing to hide the laughter in her voice.

Bell snorts in response. "Benley is the second biggest flirt I know, first being a chubby teen that I know."

Yeah...Bell gets me.

"Is that so?" AJ raises her brows at me in interest, her cherry perfume lingering in the air around her. "And here I thought it's because I'm special."

"Have no doubt that you are," I immediately reply before realizing what I've just said.

AJ's smile falters as she looks up at me in bewilderment -- I'm never this sincere. Fortunately, 'loudmouth' beside me breaks the silence:

"So, what did we miss?" Bell asks me, oblivious to the moment she just crushed.

"Well," I begin, "for starters, your brother just came out straight to all of us." I have to stay away from Max and Troy at parties -- I don't want a repeat of last time.

Bell frowns in confusion. "Really?" She hesitates. "That's surprising. I could've sworn--"

I put a hand out to AJ. "Care for a dance?" I decide to make a move. I'm getting really tired of pretending that she's just some meaningless girl to me.

AJ looks at me questioningly for a second before carefully placing her hand in mine. She allows me to gently guide her to the dance floor. 

"Rude!" Bell yells after us, aware that we're both ignoring her. However, we still manage to hear her shrill voice over the music. 

AJ, finding her friend's reactions to be funny, laughs aloud carelessly. 

The sound...I don't think I can ever hear enough of it. It's beautiful and relaxing.

"Find your boyfriend!" I yell back over my shoulder. And to think that I found Bell somewhat appealing when I first met her -- how very wrong I was.

I place my hands on AJ's hips and lead her to the slow song now playing. She follows by confidently placing her arms around my neck. 

I grin down at her, satisfied. "I'm dancing with the prettiest girl in the room." There's a weird connection between us. I have felt it from the start.

Bye, Bex. I'm finally ready. I'm moving on without you; I'm leaving you behind. It feels good.

"Bell would be very disappointed if she heard that," AJ jokes, having figured Bell out already. In other words, she understands that Bell is shallow and superficial.

"It doesn't take much to disappoint that girl," I say, meaning it. "Don't get me wrong, she's pretty, she's just not you."

I happen to glance around and notice 'blondey' glowering at me from across the room. Her friends are all giving me the 'evil' eye as if I'm a monster or something -- that's Bell's area, not mine.

I gulp. I'm on enough women's bad sides as is.

When the blonde shifts her gaze to beside me, I remember who I'm here with. I look down and see AJ blushing, shyly avoiding my eyes. I furrow my eyebrows, puzzled, before realizing that it's her natural reaction to what I just said to her. 

Finding it cute, I smile wholeheartedly. Feeling the pull between us, I draw her even closer to me. Taking her by complete surprise, I lean down and kiss her. When she doesn't kiss me back, I pull away, confused. I take one hand off of her waist and scratch the back of my head, embarrassed. 

"I'm sorry," I mumble sheepishly, my cheeks flushing red, "I shouldn't have just--"

She shakes her head, immediately shushing me. "Yes, you should've."

She places her hand at the back of my neck and presses her soft lips against mine before I can make sense of her words. Her actions prove to be enough. I grin, feeling her affection radiate through. It's been a long time since I've kissed a girl who I can actually see a future with.

I should thank Bex for breaking my heart because if it weren't for her, I wouldn't need AJ to fix it.

AJ pulls away before I can even get my proper fill of her. "I just gave you a taste. Now you really owe me that date you keep going on and on about it."

I thought the carnival was the date that I, apparently, have been going on about.

I laugh, eager to give this a go. "Sure."

She rolls her eyes at me, a playful smile flickering over her lips. "Don't sound too excited."

"Not to worry, I won't," I joke, aware that she's a good sport.

"Hey!" She takes her hand from my neck and swats the back of my head before laughing at my facial expression.

"Excuse me," I feel someone tap me on my shoulder, "could I please cut in?"

I turn to see the non-gay idiot behind me. I scowl at him for purposely interrupting and then glance at AJ for her approval. I'm not gonna force her to dance with this moron. Between Bell and her brother, I can't catch a damn break.

AJ nods at me. "It's fine."

I'm about to leave the dance floor when Troy suddenly stops me. " friend," he yanks me back by my elbow, "I meant with you," he clarifies, pushing AJ out of his way.

No freaken way in hell!

AJ places a fist up in front of her mouth in order to stifle her giggles, finding amusement in my horror and disgust.

I glare at Troy and shove him off of me. "And you're sure you're not gay?" I wish I could shove him into the 'closet' and have him suffocate and die in there.

"As sure and as straight as a bendy ruler."

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