Rewind (Book 2)

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Chapter 15: Spit on It?

“Dumb Max, dumb stupid Max.” Max, unaware that I’m watching him, slams his fist against his study table in aggravation. He should really calm down, it’s just mathematics. Someone’s struggling to study. He’s not the only one having a bad day…

“I can’t believe it, I’ve never failed anything before. I don’t know how to react.” Bells complains, exhausted - her and Max have had their hands full in trying to strike a balance between studying and taking care of their kids.

“Ask Aqueela how to react.” Troy chips in, implying that I’m used to failing. As I result, I backhand him, hard. There’s a smacking noise. It’s like whiplash, even my hand is stinging. Troy’s head turns on impact, yet still he seems unfazed by the agony.

I turn back to a shocked Bells and shrug carelessly, “Just because you failed one exam, doesn’t mean you’re a failure.”

“That’s exactly what it means.” Benley chips in bluntly. I send him a dark glare in response. He holds his hands up in surrender as he tries to defend himself, “I’m just saying.”

I nod at Bells, ignoring Benley flat, “Okay fine, so you’re a failure, so what?” I question, trying to brush this entire thing off before she blows this out of proportion (which she will).

“You wouldn’t understand, you’re used to failing in absolutely everything you do.” She pouts before running off dramatically to do who knows what. I take offense to her words. She can be so heartless at times. She’s just fortunate that I can take it. I’m made of steel. I’m as tough as nails, as tough as they come.

Max closes his study books before turning to me and clapping, “Nice going, Aqueela!” He retorts sarcastically. “Who knows what she’ll do next, she’s a loose cannon that one.” Max informs me, attitude thick. I step forward threateningly. He cowers back in fear before shielding his face with his book, “Don’t hurt me.” He whimpers in terror, fearing he’d fair the same punishment Troy got for insinuating that I’m used to failing.

“Yo Squirt, let’s roll.” Troy calls to me in eagerness, enthusiastic to venture out with me for the day.

I roll my eyes at his impatience - nevertheless, I grab my bag and follow him out the door. We leave Max to drown in his studies whilst Bells is most likely off doing something crazy.

“Where you two headed?” Benley asks, bored out of his mind. He’s missing his girl, it’s obvious.

“Who knows?” I answer Benley, “Troy’s been begging me to spend a morning with him for days, so now I’m just doing it to get him off my back.” I tell Benley truthfully. “I’d invite you along, but Troy said not to bring any company with.” I shrug at Benley and then point to Max instead, “Hang back this time and make sure this one,” I glance at Max busy cursing at himself, “doesn’t do anything more stupid than usual.”

“It will be a difficult task - a bit of a stretch - but I’ll manage. I’ll try not torpedo anything of importance.” Benley gives me a thumbs up as I retreat after Troy. I can always count on BoyBand. He’s the best, probably my only reliable friend.

An outing with Troy is exactly what I need right now, hence why I agreed to it. After my exchange of words with Emma, I haven’t been in the best of moods. Xavier is insistent that he won’t get in between the feud. He’d rather lay low. Then again, I’m not exactly peeved with Emma, I’m just disappointed at what she told me.

It’s been five years, obviously Jay would’ve moved on by now. I have to accept that. I need to accept it. I have no other choice but to just be for the moment.

Troy takes me all the way to the food court Frankenstein, better known as Dave, owns in place of Dyl’s old ice-cream parlor. I’m not surprised to see Dylan trying to reason with Frankenstein for the land back. Frank isn’t budging.

Meanwhile, Simo, and the little pit-bull (Blubber), are on a mission to create the world’s largest ice-cream in order to help Dylan’s cause in getting his old place back. If people see the giant ice-cream, they might fight for Dyl to reopen his parlor. Susie, on the other hand, is calmly chilling in a chair not too far away from us. She’s watching all the chaos play out - Benley style. Upon noticing me, she sends me a small wave accompanied by a large, toothy grin.

I love that kid! Ain’t no doubt about it.

Troy shakes his head as if truly pitying me, “Aqueela, Aqueela, Aqueela…” Troy taps away at the table we happen to be sitting at. Even his leg is tapping away, almost as if he doesn’t know how to start this conversation. I can only guess that he has something serious to say. It’s rare, hence why I’m now curious. My interest has spiked.

I sigh loudly, slowly growing impatient, “Can you just tell me why I’m here already?” I ask him, inquisitive.

“I’ll just come straight out with it then,” he pauses dramatically, deliberately wanting a reaction from me (he goes on a minute later), “things between Jezel and me are getting serious.”

I raise a brow at him before pointing out the facts, “You’ve only been on one date with her.” I remind him, now confused. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy if he’s happy. I just don’t get why he’s telling me all of this. We’re not that close. We don’t discuss details of relationships with each other, that’s more where my personal toyboys come in - Max and BenBen. Troy and I just don’t click like that.

“One date that you haven’t been on.” He rubs it in my face, “Jeez, no need to get jealous Aqueels.” Troy grins as if he’d enjoy it if I were in actual fact jealous. Incompetent idiot doesn’t see that I couldn’t care less about his dating life, not that he has much of one in any case.

I roll my eyes at Troy, not bothering with an actual response. Whilst he rambles on, I glance down at my phone to see a message from Susie: ‘You coping there, Legend Lawson? xD’

I type back and send: ‘Not at all, Spectacular Susie. Save me! :(((’

Susie starts giggling from her spot, Troy paying no attention to her. Instead, he snatches the phone right out of my hand and begins scrolling through all my messages. He sends Susie his best death glare before continuing on with his talk, “You need to focus, Aqueela, I’m about to undeniably crush you.” He assures me in pure pride, clearly having no shame about it. I don’t have qualms about it either. He can’t crush me any worse than Jay unintentionally did. “I know it’s hard for you,” he goes on before elaborating, “to see me with her.”

Now thoroughly lost, I stare at him blankly, unblinking, “Huh?”

“It’s hard for you to accept that I’m with Jezel now and it’s because you’re irrevocably and deeply in love with me.” He concludes as if truly believing what he’s saying to me. “You’ve probably never loved anyone as much as me.”

I do a double take, unsure if I heard right. Troy stares at me expectantly as if waiting for me to crumble under his gaze. It’s then I realize that he’d dead serious. I just about scoff in laughter, but hold it in. Tired, I decide to just go with it. I could use the distraction in any case. It’s Jay with someone else that terrifies me. I couldn’t give a damn about Troy and Jezel.

I release a yawn before nodding carelessly at Troy, unfazed, “Yes, this is true.” I lie through my teeth, knowing that he’d buy it. The quickest way to end this is to agree to everything he says.

He then takes the liberty to place his hand over mine before giving me a genuinely sincere look, “How are you going to go on without me?” He asks as if concerned about my emotional state. I’m emotional, but not because of him. Hell, I might as well flatter Troy while I’m here. He could do with his daily ego boost.

I play into his self-involved nature and place a hand over my forehead in a dramatic way, “Oh how will I ever move on?” I question aloud, pausing to keep him in suspense, “I do not know.” Nailed it! I could be an actress.

“Oh damn!” Troy snaps his fingers in horror, “It’s worse than I thought,” he quickly lifts his hand off of mine, “you love me way too much.” He assumes, his eyes wide and his mouth agape in shock. He’s got carried away with the entire ordeal. The lovable idiot! What a Looney Tune…

“So so much.” I assure him, through gritted teeth, for his sake. I’m doing this for him. He gets a kick out of it.

He nods in understanding, “I can see why you’d choose me, I’m perfect, but now’s the time you let me go. I need to soar like the charming bold eagle I am. It will be the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but you have to do it. You have to let me fly. I mean…you got to stop with everything. The eye-raping, the oogling, the drooling, the long wistful flirtatious stares you give me when I’m not looking, the secret smiles, the imaginative kisses we’ve shared…it all has to stop.” He informs me sternly, as if talking to a little child. He’s the delusional one here, not me.

“I’ll try to stop.” I let him know, pretending for it to be an effort - hoping he’d get this over with already. He’d be the last person I’d ever want a breakup speech from. He’s so cruel and insensitive. Jezel has no idea what she’s getting into. Being involved romantically with Troy is like asking for torture. Good luck to her, she’s going to need it.

“You’ve taken tremendous strides today. I’m proud of you. Say it with me,” he demands before saying it in slow motion, “proud.” He emphasizes before smiling down at me, now pinching my cheek in fondness. “Yet still, the staring must come to an end. I’ve seen you stare at me. You do it all the time. Also, stop blowing me kisses.”

I’ve never blown a kiss to him, ever…

At having enough, I finally crack, “If I’m staring at you it’s because I’m wondering when the mothership will come back for you. Are they leaving you to destroy all mankind or have they left you behind because they’ve realized how damn obnoxious and infuriating you are?”

Troy taps my hand gently with his, “There, there. I know that you mask your pain behind humor.”

“That much is true.” I reply back, honest, taken aback that he figured that out all on his own. “So we done here?” I question, ready to bolt. This has to be the most awkward, useless conversation I’ve ever had in my life.

“I never meant to break your heart, Aqueela.” He reaches up to touch my cheek. I scowl and slap his hand away. I’d find this hilarious if I wasn’t so upset about the revelation of Jay seeing someone else.

“I just don’t know how I will ever get past this,” I exclaim dramatically, hoping to cut this short.

Troy takes my hand into his before placing a kiss on the back of my hand, “It definitely won’t be easy for you. I’m the perfect specimen. You’ll never find someone as great as me. You’ll probably die searching the ends of the earth for someone remotely amazing as me. It’s a sad life you’ll lead, but just know that at one point in time, you never had my heart.”

“So considerate.” I retort in sarcasm, failing to hide the grin stretching my lips. Screw the Jay issue, this is fricken funny because it’s just so unbelievable. Troy is a goof. He plants ideas into his own head and those ideas blossom beyond his comprehension, beyond anyone’s comprehension.

“Sayonara Sweetheart.” He says as if saying goodbye forever, as if he will never see me again. He finally ups and leaves me be after that. He glances dramatically over his shoulder one last time, “Good talk.” He whispers, “Good talk.”

I wave him off, “Yeah yeah, see you later!” I call after him. He nods, totally contradicting himself. He’s acting like this was our last goodbye, yet he knows that I’m at his house practically everyday because Bells and Max are there - my best buds in the whole wide world.

“You okay?” Susie asks teasingly, now occupying the seat before me that Troy had just fled.

“I will be.” I laugh, now finding it all to be so funny. Troy lives in his own fantasy world. Just wait until Bells hears about this. She’ll have a good laugh of her own. Max will be back on the whole ‘EelTro’ thing.

I use my ‘broken heart’ as a means to justify getting a bubblegum ice-cream. I might as well take advantage of the current predicament Troy has put me in. Dave’s ice-creams may suck, but I’ll take what I can get right now.

“Bigger Simo, bigger!” Blubber shouts at his dad.

“How much bigger, Blubber?” Dylan queries, “This ice-cream is already massive. Children won’t be able to hold it.” Dylan motions to the large ice-cream Simo has just made.

“We need to go much bigger if we’re going to bring back your store!” Blubber hisses in fury before greedily gulping down all the contents of the enormous ice-cream. He’s definitely enjoying this latest project. I don’t see why Susie has a crush on him. I’ll never understand it. “We need something exactly the same, but completely different.” Blubber protests, urging Simo to create an even bigger ice-cream. This is why America is suffering from obesity!

“Blubber make no sense to Simo. Simo son dumb.” Simo frowns before attempting to make an ice-cream that will actually satisfy Blubber.

Dave is not happy that Dylan has taken the initiative to advertise and market just outside his food court. It’s a long journey ahead, but I see Dylan eventually winning his respected ice-cream palace back.

Susie suddenly nudges me, pulling me from my thoughts, “Don’t look now, but-“

I instantly look, only to see Jay enter the store, a girl trailing in after him. She’s stunning, but she looks a few years older than us. I never thought Jay would be into the whole dating older woman thing. I never took him for that type. It’s not his style, at least it never used to be.

“I said don’t look!” Susie snaps at me before patting my shoulder comfortingly. “I’m sure it’s no one special.” She reassures me in spite of me being alright with it. I don’t approve, but for the moment, I’m fine. I’m completely fine. Some days are just better than others.

Jay stalks off in his own direction, almost as if trying to get rid of the girl, “I said no. It’s my decision, Decoda.” He tells the woman straight forwardly, failing to notice me in the process. I prefer it this way. Our last talk was intense. I need to rejuvenate first before speaking to him again.

“It’s really not. You have no say. You basically sold all your rights when you hired me as your manager.” She calls after him, quickly falling in step with him as she tries to tug him to a halt. He must be extremely difficult to work for. It’s Jay after all, he’s a perfectionist - ridiculously stubborn and set in his own ways.

I automatically blow out a breath of relief upon hearing that she’s just his street racing manager. However, I’m still left wondering who it is that he’s been seeing as of recently. It has me on my toes in anticipation to find out the answer.

Jay ignores her and turns to Frankenstein, ordering a strawberry ice-cream, his favorite. Dave is quick with the order and hands it back to Jay in good time, knowing fully well that Jay (as well as Xav) paid for the damage costs of his store since our little riot. Jay nods at him in appreciation for his efforts before tipping him, “Shot my man. Thanks for the speed.”

“Do my eyes deceive me?” Blubber asks aloud before shouting in glee, “Cool Guy Jay!” He fusses as he sprints after Jay as fast as his little pudgy legs can take him.

Susie rolls her eyes, “Here we go again.”

“I’ve been working out at four a.m. every morning, do you see any difference?” Blubber asks Jay as he flexes his arms, seeking his role model’s approval. Blubber idolizes Jay, he always has. Problem is, he makes it difficult for Jay to like him back.

Jay nods, obviously lying, too afraid to hurt Blubber’s feelings, “Yeah man. Definitely see that you’re bulking up.”

Good choice of words, Mr Taylor. Blubber’s bulking up alright - that’s for sure!

Blubber grins in delight, in spite of Jay lying straight to his face. They lapse into an awkward silence (Blubber refusing to leave him alone) so Jay clears his throat before cracking a joke, “Four huh? Thought you were allergic to dawn.”

Blubber bursts out laughing at his own expense. He’ll laugh at anything Jay says. It’s ridiculous. I don’t know who’s more obsessed with him, Blubber, Leban or Gramps. It’s me, definitely me.

Jay lifts his face to see me staring. He sends me a halfhearted smile before confidently making his way over to me, completely bursting Blubber’s bubble. “Just the person I’ve been looking for.” Jay says as he takes a seat beside me, Susie awkwardly leaving in order to give us space (but not before Jay shoots her a smile too).

Someone’s in a chipper mood this morning. I can’t complain. Nevertheless, I’ll gladly complain if he’s only in a good mood because of the new girl he’s been seeing (whoever she might be).

I turn in my seat to face him properly, “Hey.” I force a smile, uncertain as to why he’s been so adamant in seeking me out today. It’s out of character for him. “What’s up?”

For once, he isn’t blunt. He actually takes the time to make small talk, “How are you doing?” I shrug in response, not exactly sure where he’s going with this. “Max said you’d most likely be here. He also mentioned something about Troy taking you on a joyride.” Jay fishes for an explanation of some sort seeing as it’s out of the ordinary for Troy and me to hang out, alone.

“Don’t remind. I don’t want to go into that.” I sigh, remembering how Troy got the wrong end of…well…everything. I see Jay’s perplexed expression and update him, “Apparently, I’ve always been in love with Troy. He broke off our non-existent relationship today.” I place a hand over my heart, “As you can imagine, I’m devastated.” I joke, feigning to be upset.

“I bet you are.” Jay tries to stifle a chuckle, but fails. I shoot him a look. He grins playfully in turn, “I’m sorry, he’s just such a goofball.” He apologizes in good nature, meaning well.

I grin in agreement, “Tell me about it.” I add thoughtfully, “Apparently my ‘feelings’ were getting in the way of his relationship with Jezel.”

“Jezel?” Jay quizzes, “He actually landed a real life girl?”

I have to laugh at that.

“Yup!” I answer him, now enjoying his company. I miss joking around with him most. We always had a blast when we were together. I want that again.

“So listen,” he changes the subject as he finally gets down to business, “Emma told me about what happened.”

I cringe, wondering why the hell Emma would mention any of what I said to Jay. “Yeah?” I reply back softly, anxious to know just how much she told him.

“Yeah.” He confirms before awkwardly giving his say, “I just wanted you to hear it from me personally, it’s true.” I don’t need to ask to know what he’s referring to. “Out of respect for you, I’m telling you this. I’ve only very recently been out with the same girl a time or two. Right now, it’s nothing serious. Just thought you should hear it from me before the others all come up with stories.”

He knows our friends well. I could just see Bells and Max spinning the story entirely. Jay doesn’t owe me an explanation for dating someone else, yet - out of pure decency and common courtesy - he’s sought me out himself to let me down easy. He’s grown into such a gentleman and I admire him for it. He didn’t have to explain himself to me, but his kindness said to him otherwise. He really is one in a million. No other guy would do this for an ex.

Jay watches me carefully and calculatingly, patiently waiting for my reaction to the heartbreaking news. I have no choice but to fake a grin, “That’s great, Jay. I’m really happy for you.” I lie, trying my best to mean what I say.

“Thanks,” he smiles that mind blowing smile of his, “I figured I just owed it to myself to see if things could work out with Mia. I’ve never really given her a chance.” He confesses, “I was still caught up with you back then. I haven’t dated in a long time.” He admits shyly, averting his eyes from mine for a split second. The guilt hits me harder than ever before upon seeing that brief look of hurt in his expression.

I wince, “I’m sor-“

“Save it. We’re past that.” Jay assures me, choosing to be the better person. He’s forgiving me. He holds out his hand to mine, “Friends?”

I tap my chin in mock thought, “I don’t know, I’ll have to think about it.” I feign hesitation. In all honesty, I’d love to be his friend again. It’s enough for me.

Jay, knowing me all too well, senses that I’m teasing. He humors me, “Let’s make a deal, you agree to be my friend for a month, and if you hate me by the end of it, which I guarantee you won’t,” he pauses to shoot me a smirk, purposely reminding me of the same words I used on him five years ago when I first befriended him, “I’ll agree to leave you alone forever.” He deliberately uses my own words against me. He actually remembers that day, the day I first became friends with him!

I hide my smile and reply back with the same words he had responded with back then, “A month?” I pause, in the way he once had, as if contemplating it, “I think I can survive that.” I conclude, taking his past role and he taking mine.

Jay fails to keep himself from smiling when I reach my hand out to him, “Deal?” I ask, still playing his part.

“Spit on it?” He jokes, “Or would you prefer blood instead?” He kids around, messing with me. Before I can answer, he grabs hold of my hand and shakes it, “We have ourselves a deal. I promise that you won’t get sick of me.” He winks, a teasing gleam to his eyes. He knows that I once promised him the exact same thing. Our roles have been reversed.

I chuckle, “Well I don’t know about that…” I trail off jokingly before sending him a genuine smile - a smile from the heart, “All the best to you.” I stand up and salute him in the way he always had done with me, “I better get going.” I tell him, sending him one last wave before reluctantly leaving the store.

It’s been way too long since I’ve heard from Bells. She usually calls every ten minutes. I have a feeling she’s up to something crazy. She’s emotional as is. She tends to go overboard when she fails at something, take her failed relationship with Mason for example. She went bonkers back then.

Unfortunately, I have to walk home. Troy, the moron, forgot that he was my ride here. I hate physical activities. I’m lazy and I own it.

“Where have you been young lady? It’s late.” Max interrogates me as soon as I return back to his, Bell’s and Troy’s home.

I hold up my fingers to him, “One, I don’t live here. Two, it’s only one in the afternoon. Three, where’s Bells?”

Max holds up his fingers back to me in response, copying my actions, “One, you should just live here. Two, I don’t care. Three, I do care but I don’t know.”

“You’re a bad boyfriend.” I give him the evil eye before breaking out into a smile. I can never be mad at Max. I mean, it’s Max. He’s a legend. I love the guy.

Mean, you’re a mean witch.” Max snorts at me before hiding behind his study book, already expecting to get slapped for his comment. Good move on his part. He knows what’s coming. He’d better watch it.

I ignore Max and turn to my only sensible friend - BoyBand, “So listen, I have a job interview in ten. Think you can take me?”

Max begins clapping his hands, a shocked expression on his face, as he interrupts, “Well done you, I’m amazed! Didn’t think you had it in you.” He tells me, truthful yet shameless in being so.

I shrug, explaining myself, “These bills I gotta be paying.”

Benley high-fives me, a proud smile on his face, “I always knew you had it in you. They’d be crazy not to hire you.” He encourages, doing his best to build my confidence. He offers me a side hug as he leads me out the door, “So where are you applying in any case?”

I begin telling him all about the small photography business I’m keen to join, glad that he’s so supportive. At least someone has faith in me.

The manager of the company directs his final question of the interview onto me, “If I had to ask why I should hire you, what would you say?”

Taking the blunt route, I just say what’s on the heart, “In all honesty, you shouldn’t. I have a knack for causing chaos, sometimes I’m lazy and most of the time I’ll find any excuse to not work. I can guarantee that mayhem will follow me into my workplace and I know that I’m nothing short of a ‘hot mess’. I’m definitely not perfect, not even close. With me, life’s about to get a hell of a lot crazier. It’s a promise and a warning at the same time. If I were me, I wouldn’t even hire me. When it comes down to it, I’m nothing special. I’m just a train wreck waiting to happen - but in the end I’ll maker sure the job gets done.”

That should be enough to earn me a position in this company. It’s always the entirely honest ones that get hired. I got this in the bag. Learn to recognize!

Tim, the manager interviewing me, shakes his head at me, “You were doing so well right up that last answer. You blew it.”

And just like that, my bubble is burst.

My eyes widen upon hearing his words, “Wait what?” I question before crossing my arms over my chest, “But I was truthful.” I pout in dismay, confused.

“A little too truthful. How did you think this was gonna go down?” He queries in disbelief, “You literally told me that you wouldn’t even hire yourself.”

I frown, “I don’t know, maybe the exact opposite,” I say in sarcasm. “This has definitely not gone down in the way I expected it to go.” I admit, disappointed by his lack of morals. He should be hiring honest people. I can bet no one else has ever been as truthful as me during an interview. I thought he’d respect that, like in the movies.

“I’ll give you a call if anything changes, though don’t bet on it.” He says cockily, as rude as ever. He’s clearly not impressed with me. His loss!

“Fine.” I stand up with my chin held high. I send him a lethal glare and deliberately reach for his pen and purposely snatch it from him, “But I’m taking this with me.” I tell him, choosing to leave my dignity behind with him. He shrugs as if he could care less that I’ve just stolen his pen. He probably just thinks I’m extremely unprofessional, that or I belong in a madhouse. “Don’t come begging when you don’t find anyone as appealing as me.” I say, blowing all my shots at ever getting this job - might as well go down in style, this ship is burning down in any case. No saving it now.

“I wouldn’t hold your breath for it!” He calls after me as I slam his door shut after me, annoyed and beyond astounded that this didn’t go down like it always does in the movies. The girl with the long speech and nothing to offer is always suppose to get the job. I’m suppose to get that job! Stupid jerk-face Tim Gibbs can go drown in a lake for all I care.

“So?” Benley quizzes, an excited grin on his face, “How did it go?” He asks me as soon as he sees me step out of the building. He’s been waiting all this time.

“Fantastic! I scored a pen.” I smile at him, unfazed that I didn’t get the job. Nothing can bring me down, I’m an optimist. I choose to be happy and I’m choosing to be happy forever. It’s a decision I vowed to take. I’m going to try and live up to it.

Benley’s smiles suddenly fades as if he clicks, “What about a job? Did you score one of those?” He asks strategically, wearily.

“Nope,” I confess, Benley’s face falling in shock, “but that’s okay. I’m fine. I’ll be just fine.” I reassure him, confident. I’ll figure out where life’s taking me eventually. I just have to hang in there and overcome the challenges and obstacles slowing me down. Life is a roller-coaster and I’m more than prepared to ride it’s course.

Benley grins when he realizes that I am, in actual fact, alright, “Let’s get going then you dweeb.” He razzles my hair about affectionately as he pulls me along after him.

Unfortunately for me, Max doesn’t handle the news as well as Benley does.

“You poor thing!” Max cradles my head against his chest as he strokes my hair repetitively, “My poor girl.”

I try to lift my head back up, but Max forces my head back down against him as he tries to comfort me, “I’m fine Max, really.” I try to assure him, but he just keeps shushing me, not allowing me to talk. He thinks I’m in denial.

It’s then Troy walks enters the room, only to take the scene in and jump to his own conclusions. He turns to Max and Benley with a grin, “Is she still upset over our breakup?”

I roll my eyes upon hearing the idiot’s words, Max and Benley now at a loss. “Need I remind you that we were never dating to begin with.” I try to turn my head so that I can see Troy, but Max is insistent on suffocating me with too much love. He forces me to be comforted by him against my will.

“Not now Troy, she’s fragile.” Max waves Troy off before making another attempt to soothe me, “Let it out little one, let it out.” He says as he pats my hair gently.

Max’s kids seem to have softened him up like butter on warm toast.

I gather my strength and shove Max away, “I’m fine, Maxy.” I repeat, hoping he’d get it this time. He makes a move to cradle me like a baby again, but I react quickly, dodging him just in time, “Touch me again!” I shout at him in warning, pointing an accusing finger in his face. He cowers back in terror, intimidated. It’s then he gets the gist of it and decides to leave me be, sensing that I really am alright with everything that’s currently going on inside of me.

“I think it’s time we all get away for a day and spent some time together as friends.” Benley suggests at seeing our mortified expressions, “I think we could all use a break. The stress is a killer. Maybe the carnival or something?” He suggests, knowing the strain we all have from the pressure of studies and jobs and breakups.

“Lame.” I yawn, waving him off, “We can do better than the carnival. I’m out.” I put up a protest, just because I can.

“You love being difficult, don’t you?” Benley queries, sighing aloud at my blatant refusal. He must be sensitive towards the sting of rejection.

I have to admit, I do enjoy being difficult.

“We found it!” Bells bursts in through the front doors with Blubber, Dylan, Simo and Frankenstein following in after her. In her arms, with Dylan’s help, is a massive real life ice-cream. It’s so humongous that it barely fits in through the front door. Bells has to duck and weave just to get it inside.

The magnificent-looking ice-cream is decorated with sprinkles and adorned with a glazed cherry atop. It’s all bright colors, no particular flavor, and it’s already starting to melt. If it melts all the way, we might just be flooded out this house - an ice-cream tsunami. It’s a mess I’m definitely not cleaning up.

I now see what Bells has been up to all day. Under pressure with her latest failure, she’s done something crazy. I so saw this coming. I know her too well - she’s predictable. It seems she’s invested her time and efforts into the new business assignment Blubber proposed and first brought forward: Creating the world’s largest ice-cream. Apparently even Frankenstein is on board with the idea. Dylan must have got through to him. From my standpoint, the old ice-cream parlor is never coming back. Dylan and Frank/Dave are aiming higher than ever before.

“We did it!” Bells rejoices in glee once again, eager for all of us to know that they were successful. I just hope the ice-cream tastes as good as it looks. It could do without the sprinkles though, and the cherry.

If Bells enlisted her help to Blubber (of all people), then Benley is right and we are all in dire need of a stress free day. For Bells, this is most definitely not normal. She’s usually the rational one from all of us.

Appearance-wise, Bells is not up to her usual standard of flawlessness. Her hair is a big mess, resembling a bird’s nest atop her head and she has ice-cream smudged all over her features. I guess they all have been working extremely hard. Blubber looks awful, as always. He’s flaked from head to toe in ice-cream too. Dylan and Simo have rainbow sprinkles in their hair and Frank is…well he’s glowering at me. I guess he won’t let bygones be bygones then…

I suppose, now looking at each of them, we all could do with a day of fun. Then again, I still have the urge to be difficult and go against all Benley’s efforts. The urge is stronger than the desire to rest. I refuse to go to the carnival. I’d rather do something extraordinary.

It’s then Bells, exhausted, trips over her own two feet. The cold ice-cream comes cascading down onto Max, me and Benley as a result. It ends up covering us. Blubber and the rest of them fall into fits of hysterical laughter, Max included (he doesn’t seem to be too bothered that he’s now practically a walking ice-cream man).

I slowly wipe the ice-cream off my face to see Benley scowling. I sigh in hopeless and cast my gaze to his, “Tell me more about this carnival thing you have in mind.”

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