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Chapter 27

Chapter 27

I ignore the sound of my phone receiving messages and continue to immerse myself in my studies -- I need to put some effort in every now and again. My dream, and my parent's dream, has always been that I become a lawyer.

When my phone starts ringing, I put it on silent, tired of all the distractions pulling me from my work, and ultimately my future.

I let out a sigh of content at finally having a silent apartment to focus in. However, I let out that sigh of relief too early because a few seconds later, my doorbell begins to ring. I suck that breath of relief right back in.

With a groan, I get up and stomp over to the front door. Without hesitation, I open it. Unsurprisingly, it's my girlfriend holding her phone up to my face with accusation lingering in her blue eyes.

"Why are you choosing to ignore my calls?" She asks me questioningly, looking somewhat disappointed.

I admit, I have been going out of my way to avoid her. Things have been weird between us ever since she demanded to know about my past. I was harsh and I kind of regret the tone I used on her.

"It's almost time for me to go back to New York again and I feel like I've barely seen you," she says quietly. "I specifically made time to see you."

"Sorry, AJ," I mumble sheepishly. "I've just been so caught up in my studies," I add, unable to look her in the eyes.

I notice her frown. "Are we okay, Ben?" I hear her soft voice echo through the silence between us. "Are you mad at me?"

"No, of course not," I quickly reassure her.

"Then why don't I believe you?" She asks me, skeptical. "Is this because I asked about Oliver? Or Aqueela? Or--"

She's too smart.

I shake my head. "Why would you think that?"

She angles her head to the side and stares at me in disbelief. "How about because you reacted so defensively when I asked and have since then been ignoring me flat?"

I nod. "Good answer."

She sits down before me and closes my law books. "Let's talk." She sighs, wanting to work this out. "What's wrong?"

Knowing that I have to tell her something, I decide to tell her half of the story and I decide to leave out the details too. "A year or two ago, I lost a lot. It was a bad year for me, my worst. I lost my best friend and my job. My studies went to dirt and I turned to drinking as a coping mechanism. My parents were very angry with me for blowing their money, their hopes and my future. I felt alone."

AJ sends me a sympathetic look. "Oliver was your best friend, right?"

Admitting it, I nod. "Yeah, once upon a time he was."

"And Aqueela?" She asks me, prodding for more information.

I smile at the mention of that goofball's name. "Aqueela was the only good thing that came from that year. She met me in my darkness and showed me light." And that's why, no matter how mad I am at her, I know I'll forgive her for abandoning us the instant I see her again.

"Did she replace Oliver as your best friend?" AJ asks, taking an interest in my past.

Maybe but Aqueela also left.

"I guess." I shrug, having not thought about it like that before. "Except Oliver isn't as half as crazy as her. He never got me locked up in a mall jail."

AJ laughs. "She sounds like fun."

Watching my girlfriend smile, makes me feel guilty. There's still some kind of void between us and it's because I still haven't told her the full story. To be quite honest, I don't want to ever tell her everything, especially not about Bex. I'd rather keep keeping things from her -- it's not like she's told me any of her dating history.

I feign a chuckle and tune back into the conversation. "She is."

AJ stares at me knowingly for a few seconds. "You're not going to tell me the rest, are you?" 

How does she know?

I shake my head. "Not right now." Not ever.

Accepting it, she smiles again, aware that I haven't mentioned how my last relationship ended. "Fair enough. If I'm forcing you to spill your guts, I'm sorry. I think I'm just further in this relationship than you."

She most definitely is. Her commitment to 'us' scares me, mostly because I'm not sure if I will ever get there.

"Your turn," I gesture to her to proceed, refusing to comment on her last sentence.

She grins from ear to ear, lit with happiness. "I don't have much to tell you. I don't have a dating history."

I arch an eyebrow at her, now lost. "What do you mean?

"You're my first real boyfriend," she confesses with a shy smile.

"Good to hear," I say slowly, processing her words.

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