"Are you really pregnant?" AJ asks Bell.
"No, this is not happening!" Max answers for Bell. He grabs her hand. "We are going to the doctor right now!" He, panicked, begins dragging Bell right out the door.
"If it will shut you up," Bell agrees with a roll of her eyes. She seems pretty confident that she's pregnant, which honestly is a very scary thought.
The door shuts after the couple leave and AJ turns to me and Lucy with a puzzled look. "Are they really just leaving us in their house alone?"
I shrug, uncaring. "Welcome to the Benstens."
I'm often over at their house, as is Max. Mrs. Bensten works from home but I barely see her. She doesn't like to interfere when her kids have guests over. And as far as I know, Mr. Bensten often travels for his work. He's hardly ever at home.
"Your chic, fashion icon is home!" Troy announces before barging into the room, pulling me from my thoughts.
I blink at him and his weird man-skirt outfit. "What in the hell are you wearing?"
"Starting a trend!" Troy raises his voice in excitement. "I'm about to head to a party like this. I'm gonna stomp the yard! Everyone is going to be looking at me!"
I don't disagree.
"Hey, Troy," AJ and Lucy greet him simultaneously.
Troy runs past AJ to greet Lucy. "OMG, Susie! You're so big! When did you grow up?!" He asks, attempting to pick her up and put her on his shoulders like he used to when she was little.
"This is clearly not working," Lucy points out, half dangling over Troy's shoulder.
"You're a lot heavier now," he huffs, in turn, placing her back down in her seat again. "Eat healthier."
"You're really going looking like that?" AJ asks Troy, still stuck on his bizarre outfit.
"You are what you wear, AJ," he answers her. "It's all about the outside; who cares about the inside?"
I shake my head and glance over at Lucy. "You're smart enough now to know not to listen to him, right?"
Lucy nods, sending me a smile.
"Something you don't know about me, AJ," Troy begins, ready to brag, "is that I'm absolutely phenomenal in cosmetics." Yeah right, he's still trying to pass a three-month course and it's been a year. "In fact, I can probably fix your boyfriend's face, well, maybe not fix it completely, it's a difficult case, you know, especially with that nose of his."
I hate him so so so much.
AJ awkwardly smiles at Troy, not knowing how to respond to him. She'll learn in time not to respond at all -- it makes life so much easier. Eventually, the idiot leaves on his own, unhappy that he's not getting the spotlight.
"Hey, Benley," Lucy drawls slowly, a worried frown on her face, "do you know when Aqueela will be coming back?"
I shake my head. "I don't, Luce."
I don't even know if she will ever come back. It's almost as if she's wiped us all from her memory. Two years have passed and we haven't heard from her. She doesn't answer our calls or try to keep in touch, not even with Bell or Jay.
"Who's Aqueela?" AJ asks us, lost.
"Only the best person ever!" Lucy exclaims in joy at the memory of Aqueela.
"An old friend of all of ours," I explain to AJ, filling her in on the gaps. "She's great, wherever she is."
"What if there's something wrong?" Lucy asks me with wide eyes, concern sprawled across her face. "What if she needs help?"
She's deliberately changed her number. I highly doubt she needs any help.
"She's probably just figuring her life out, Luce," I reply, not knowing what else to say.
"Doesn't Bell miss her? Isn't she worried too?" Lucy continues to fire questions my way.
I shrug, unsure. "From what Bell tells me, Aqueela still keeps in contact with her grandparents every so often, so she's definitely alive and well. I know for a fact that Bell, in actual fact, all of us, miss her greatly. Thing is, Luce, we're giving her space. She's had a hard life and I truly believe that she'll come back home when she's ready to face us and all of her old problems," I tell the kid, trying to console her.
I'm really hoping that she returns someday.
"Aqueela? Oliver?" AJ lists names. "You need to tell me more about yourself, Benjy. I feel like you know everything about me and I'm just scratching the surface with you." She sighs. "Are you ever going to tell me about you hating Oliver? Or how you last relationship ended and why it ended so badly? These are the things I need to know, as your girlfriend." She smiles up at me coyly. "Please."
"Don't go there, AJ," I warn, taking on a hostile tone. "I mean it. It doesn't matter anyway. I'm with you now."
AJ stares at me in contemplation before looking away, obvious sadness in her eyes.
I'm not there yet. I can't do it.
Fortunately, a phone call interrupts the awkward tension floating between us. I quickly take out my cell phone and answer Max. "What is up, dude?"
"It's a freaken miracle! We're not pregnant!" He shouts into the phone, just about deafening me in the process.
"What a relief," Lucy replies, able to hear him despite sitting some distance away from me. "It would have been another tragedy for this world."
"Offensive, Max!" Bell screams from the other end before the line goes dead.
Poor guy is as probably as dead as the phone line.