"Are you on your way back yet?" Bell asks me from her side of the phone line. "I really hope so. I'm scared Troy and Ramos influence you into doing something really stupid like--"
"I'm standing outside AJ's house," I say, cutting her off completely, disinterested in what she has to say.
I hear her sigh to herself. "Like exactly that," she finishes her sentence. "You're a disgrace. Please tell me that you didn't fly to New York at this time of the night."
"It's only 8," I tell her in a hushed whisper. "Their lights are still on."
"Oh my word, you sound like a creep!" Bell lectures me, not approving of any of this. "Why are you just standing outside their house? AJ's not going to find this romantic. How did you even find her house?"
I peer through the window, able to vaguely make out a family sitting on a couch in front of a TV together. Unfortunately, AJ is nowhere in sight. "I visited the company she works for and asked them," I answer, still searching for AJ in the house.
"I hope you know that this is not going to end well for you," Bell replies in certainty.
Before I can answer her, a piercing screech leaves the lips of a pretty African American woman standing on the other side of the window. She's staring at me in shock from within her home, her eyes wide and fearful.
I send the lady a sheepish smile and playfully tap on the window, not knowing what else to do. This is incredibly awkward and unexpected.
"You're probably right; I think I'm at the wrong house," I tell Bell in a soft yet rushed voice, starting to panic.
"What?!" She explodes in anger and bewilderment. "What do you mean you're at the wrong house?! Why are--"
I quickly hang up on her before she can ask anything more, shoving my phone back into my pocket at lightning speed.
The front door slams open before I can run away to safety. The woman's husband, a tiny man yet intimidating nonetheless, steps out to confront me, a grimace on his face. "Why are you staring into our home, intruder?!" He immediately shouts at me, infuriated. "Are you scouting our house?! Who were you just communicating with on your phone?!"
"Uh...is AJ Hamilton maybe home?" I warily ask, dodging the many terrifying questions.
He frowns up at me with sheer intensity with a look asking whether I'm stupid or something. "We're a black family. Now I'm miffed off."
Even though he's a dwarf, I'm pretty sure he can still kick my ass...
I shrug, acting confused. "I figured that maybe AJ's adopted."
Good save, Benley!
"This house is 19, number 17 is two houses down, fool! That's where the Hamiltons stay, and boy, you better not be the guy that broke her heart. That nice girl has been so sad. She deserves better. I have half the mind to track that guy down and strangle him for her," he fiercely informs me, upset over the whole ordeal. Weirdly enough, he's taking it personally. "I've known that girl since she was a baby. We've lived here all our life and so has she."
"The guy sounds like a real jerk," I agree without thinking twice about it -- anyone who breaks that girl's heart is most definitely a jerk. "I'm just her cousin," I lie, not willing to risk my life with the truth. "I'll be on my way then, Good Sir, thanks," I say and bow to him, quickly taking the gap to flee from death.
Why did I just bow?
It's a short walk. When I get to house number 17, I hesitate, an anxious feeling in my gut. Why does doubt have to plague me now when I'm already here?
I suck it up and ring the buzzer. It's a few minutes later when a teenage boy opens the door. He has dark hair and blue eyes, resembling AJ.
"Hi, I'm Benley," I greet him, nervously rocking back and forth on my feet.
"And who might you be?" He asks me in a very formal voice. The kid's about fourteen, at least, I'd say.
I look at him quizzically. "I believe I just told you."
"Might you be Benley?" He asks me, riling me up with all this ridiculousness.
I just said who I am! Two can play at this game.
"I might be," I answer slowly, hoping to irritate him as much as he's irritating me.
So he not only looks like his sister but acts like her too...
"The same loser, the same Benley, who crushed my sister?" He continues on tossing the questions my way, clearly succeeding at making a point.
What a sweet, young teenager he is.... Obviously, his parents did their best with their first child and got lazy with their second child.
"I know what angle you're playing at, kid. Do you think I'm stupid?" I ask, beyond annoyed. I didn't fly all the way down here for this.
He nods, not bothering to hide his dislike for me. "Yes, and I think your outfit is stupid too."
I glance down at my beach shorts and casual t-shirt. "For your information, I was at a beach."
"No excuse, did it spit fish guts up on you or something?" He asks with a conniving grin. "You both look and smell revolting."
It's official, I hate AJ's brother. How is this pest even related to her?! Sash would be perfect for him!
"Can I just see your sister?" I resort to pleading.
He scoffs, finding me somewhat humorous. "Maybe in a past life."
He sure has no problem disrespecting me despite me being a stranger who is quite a bit older than him.
"Please," I beg, desperate. This may be my last shot. "I think I love her and I need to tell her that."
The kid's facial expression changes. He analyses me closely, a pondering look on his face as if thinking over my request. It's intense, so much so that I feel like I'm in a staring competition and that if I look away, he'll slam the door shut in my face.
"Alright, human with the stupid outfit..." he drawls and slowly steps aside, making space, "you may enter...at your own risk of course."
"Thank you," I reply in relief and step into the house.
Hey guys :)
Hope you enjoyed this chapter :) We're nearing the end. If you've already read Rewind then you probably know how this story ends ;)
1. What do you think of AJ's brother?
2. Did Benley make the right choice by flying down to New York or is Bell right?
3. How do you think AJ will react?
4. Will Troy and Ramos find their way back home...alive?
5. Do you think Sash and AJ's little brother would hit it off?
Thanks, guys :) Enjoy the rest of your week!