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Chapter 24

Chapter 24

"So, how long has it been now since you two have been officially dating?" Bell asks with a smug smile. "Two months? And here I thought you'd never pluck up the courage and admit that you've liked her since the very start."

"Have not," I argue.

Max grins and punches my shoulder while moving past me. "Why are you still denying it, dude? She's your girlfriend now."

"Just so Bell doesn't get to have the satisfaction of being right," I reply in defeat. "She doesn't deserve it."

Troy models his way into the room before Max can reply or Bell can complain.

"Bell, I got a modelling gig tonight. I can't be on my feet all day long. You know my ankles swell," Troy tells his sister as he struts over to her. "Now be chivalrous, gentleman-like, and offer me your seat," he demands, striking a dramatic pose.

"I'm standing, you idiot," Bell snarls at him. "And for your information, I'm not a gentleman, I'm a beautiful lady!" She hissed, clearly offended.

Troy raises his eyebrows at her, playing dumb. "Why is this the first that I'm hearing of this?"

"Your ankles swell because you insist on squeezing into your fancy, yacht shoes that are three sizes too small for you," I tell Troy, informing the idiot on how stupid he is before Bell can kill him in cold blood for his insulting comments.

Troy ignores me and turns to his sister with a ridiculous pout on his face, pushing his luck. "Sis, I require my allowance. Money please!"

"Try getting a job," I cough under my breath, sick of him in general.

Bell frowns at her poor excuse of a brother. "I'm not giving you more money, Troy. Mom and Dad gave you just the other day. How have you wasted it all already?"

Troy lifts one of his his new designer, yacht shoes to her face. "Rest assured, Bell, the money went to a good cause."

I really hate the freaken yacht club!

Max chuckles at him. "Dude, your ankles are starting to swell again. Ben's right. You're incapable of buying shoes that fit you. You honestly force us to make jokes behind your back as well as to your face."

"Max, one always need to sacrifice for beauty," Troy responds, failing to persuade any of us into seeing it his way. "None of you in this room will ever understand what I mean by that."

Bell shakes her head at him. "Dad needs to cut you off again."

Troy immediately glares at her. "Don't you dare give him any ideas, you mistress of evil! I hereby banish you from my life. You may now leave, you chubby butterfly of beauty." He gestures to the door in expectation, surprising us by sneaking in at least one compliment directed at his little sister.

Bell huffs in frustration at how unreasonable he is. "I'm not leaving when I live here, Troy." She drops the subject and moves onto a new one. "Anyway, Troy, Mom told me that you two are going out again for your weekly 'bonding session' later today," she rolls her eyes before continuing, "so can you please do me a huge favor and--"

"Say no more," Troy interrupts before she can finish her sentence. "Done and done, Sis." He whips out a black marker from his pocket before quickly signing his autograph on her forehead. He grins in pride while she stands still in shock. "You're welcome, Sis."

I hope, for her sake, that that wasn't a permanent marker...

Bell closes her eyes in fury as if restraining herself from committing a violent crime and landing up in jail. In all honesty, I don't blame her. The Bensten parents should be the ones behind bars for bringing Troy to this planet in the first place. They're fully responsible for the mess that he is.

Max winces on behalf of Troy's impending doom. Wary, he glances over at his girlfriend. "Are you okay, Babe?" He stupidly asks her.

"Yeah, feeling great," Troy answers jovially.

"He was talking to me, you idiot!" Bell finally explodes and begins hitting her older brother repetitively, chasing him right out of the room.

"Stop it, Bell!" We hear Troy scream after hearing small fists pound into his stomach. "Guuurl, don't touch me, you don't know me like that!"

I sigh aloud as I stare at Max seated directly in front of me. "I feel sorry for you."

"I feel more sorry for you. Long distance relationships are very difficult," Max replies knowingly. "How ya been with AJ back in New York for the last two weeks?"

I shrug. "It kind of sucks. It's definitely not easy. I mean, we've just started dating. After that stupid concert I took her to two months ago, I decided to just drop the act and make it official with her."

"Doesn't her work have a branch here in Minnesota? Can't she been transferred or something?" Max asks me, trying to help.

I tune out the desperate shouts leaving Troy's mouth as Bell continues to murder him. "The thing is, she loves New York. It's her home, where she was born and raised. I can't ask her to move here when we're not even that serious yet."

"But her work requires her to travel from school to school across the US in any case. She doesn't spend that much time in New York anyway," Max argues.

"Exactly," I reply in a matter-of-fact way. "She hardly gets time there. I can't pull her away from that. Besides, all her family live there too."

Max tosses his empty can of soda at me -- it unfortunately hits the side of my face. "Loser, take the risk and relive your glory days. You used to play the field all the time. Go ahead and ask her," he urges in protest, not taking a simple 'no' for an answer.

I grin while thinking about his suggestion, putting serious thought into the idea. "Maybe I will, fellow loser."

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