Rewind (Book 2)

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Chapter 21: Walk with Me

“Are you okay now?” Zac asks me bluntly. “Or should I be worried?” He asks as I watch him drink from the milk carton. I don’t enjoy having him as a roommate. He’s messy. It’s not fun. Jay was, probably still is, a clean freak.

I roll my eyes at him playfully, “Try and be a little more insightful, Zacster,” I say as I snatch the milk carton from his hands before he downs all of it again.

I wouldn’t exactly say that I’m okay, especially seeing as it’s been two weeks since Jay stopped talking to me altogether. He lost his race after our last talk, the talk where he walked away from me after hearing the truth behind my five-year disappearance. Decoda is still furious and continues to blame me for his loss. As a result, more potential investors and sponsors have dropped him, even some of his fans. The worst part of it all, he doesn’t even remotely care.

“I prefer being incompetent,” Zac replies, drawing me out from my thoughts, “it’s easier.”

I laugh and nod in agreement, “True, very true.”

Zac smiles slightly, hesitantly, as if apprehensive, “So…” he starts slowly, taking his chances, “you up for that night out with Zachary Stokes yet?”

“Zac Stokes,” I correct, “and I guess. If it will be fun, why the hell not?” I agree in ease. I then raise a skeptical eyebrow at him, taking a shot at some teasing, “But why not take Mia instead?”

“Because she’s boring,” Zac answers, trying to play it casual even when it’s obvious that he’s on the defense, “she’s not fun like you.”

“But maybe she’s the boring to your fun. She balances you out.” I joke, hoping that he will, at least, consider it.

“Oh shut up you gremlin,” he smirks down at me playfully, “I barely know her.”

“Since when has that ever stopped you?” I grin in amusement.

He returns my grin, “True that, I can’t be stopped.” He raises an eyebrow at me as he walks on by to the lounge, “You’re strangely upbeat?” He questions more than states as I follow him toward the door leading out. “Have you been dancing to ‘Cotten Eye Joe’ again?” He quizzes, hitting the nail on the head.

I stifle a laugh, “Maybe.”

You can’t listen to that song without smiling.

“You’re so lame,” he chuckles humorously. “I still have to get that on tape one of these days. It’s golden.”

“You’re right, I am lame. I’m so lame I’m suddenly feeling too lame to venture out with the famous Zachary…” I roll my eyes at the fake name, “Stokes,” I taunt, manipulating him.

Zac doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. He grabs my hand and begins pulling me out after him before I can protest. “Glad we’re making time to do this,” he throws a look over his shoulder, sparing me a single glance before he continues to drag me after him. He completely blocks out all my whining from behind, choosing to have his own way.

“You’ve become so bossy,” I scrunch up my nose and pull a funny face at him.

Sensing that I’m joking, he joins in, “Please, I’m Zachary Stokes, I’m damn chic!” He shouts arrogantly yet playfully as we leave the hotel. He’s relishing in it. I send an apologetic glance to the bystanders staring on. Zac couldn’t care less about what people think of him. He lives for the moment. He’s, as he likes to say, ‘yolo-ing’ life. Sometimes it’s a good thing, other times…not so much.

“You’re not chic. You’re Voldemort, only worse,” I insult him, kidding along.

Zac continues to make a scene as if to embarrass me, blowing his self-proclaimed ‘coolness factor’ to hell, “Yippee Ki-Yay b*tches!”

Yeah and I’m the upbeat one here…

I happily skip along down the street with him, “Time to sing, I’m feeling old tune vibes,” I chime in glee just as Zac tries to stop me, panic evident in his dark eyes:

“No, no, no! I’m begging you, please don’t put me through that agai-“

“Footloose! Pick up your Sunday shoes ’cause I’m walking on sunshine so don’t stop me now and rather build me up buttercup! Life is a highway, country roads, take me home!” I nudge Zac teasingly and motion for him to join, “Ah jitterbug, oooh chihuahua, here I go again! I went walking with my Mama Mia one day when she warned me what people say - just a small town girl living in a lonely world so don’t stop believing ’cause every time we touch I’m holding out for a hero. A little bit of Monica in my life, a little bit of Erica by my side, a little bit of,” I change tune from sugary sweet to a badass tone, “when you see my face always give you hell-“

“What is going on right now?!” Zac throws his hands to the air dramatically as if exasperated with me. “You just made a crappy mashup of like a billion old songs and got half the lyrcis wrong.”

“You loved it,” I hum mockingly.

“It was scary,” Zac says in all seriousness, “my ears will never be the same again.”

I scoff as we stop in front of his motorbike, “Shut up and just tell me where we’re going.”

“Gotta make a quick stop at a frat club, need to meet with someone,” he answers casually, choosing to be vague.

I stop walking and shake my head gingerly, “Oh no, no no no no-“

“C’mon, liven up, it’s an exclusive club. I’ll be quick, I promise,” Zac insists in spite of my unwillingness to comply. “It will be fun,” he assures me, forcing me along anyway.

Again, he doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

I suck up the ride and make the best of it as I wave at drivers like some mad person when stopping at a red light. “I feel like embracing all of you Minnesota!” I shout out in glee when we take off again, the wind in my hair because of the speed we’re going at. I grin when all too happily when Zac starts laughing at me, yet still keeps his head down, ducking away in slight embarrassment.

It only makes me want to embarrass him all the more…

“I’ll just be a sec’,” Zac tells me before he disappears into the crowd, leaving me alone amidst the frat brothers, sorority sisters and random outcasts.

“Aqueela?” A familiar voice calls out to me before someone spins me around to face them.

Turns out, it’s a random outcast.

“BoyBand!” I leap forward to hug him and then pull back with a frown as we both ask the other in unison, “What are you doing here?”

“Troy, Bells and Jezel forced me to get out because apparently I’m being too mopey over missing AJ,” he explains first. “Troy says I’m depressing him and ruining his ‘chillout sesh’. He told me that I’m murdering happiness for everyone.”

I laugh at his expense, unsurprised, before having my say, “Of course Max and Troy would be at the frat club. I should have seen that one coming. Aren’t they in frat war or something?”

“You have no idea,” Benley breaks out into a grin, “it’s been pretty chaotic.”

I glance around to see all the beautiful girls and good-looking guys dancing and drinking away their lives. I raise my eyebrows at Ben curiously, “This seems like a Blubber scene. I’m surprised he didn’t try to sneak in.”

“He did,” Benley chuckles, “you called that one. He got kicked when they found out he was underage. Troy told him to go to fat club before trying to get into frat club. Luckily, Blubber loves being in his own skin and takes nothing personally…even when he really should sometimes.”

“How did you even get in?” I question, not surprised by Troy and Blubber being…well…Troy and Blubber. If anything, I’d expect nothing less from those two.

“The door,” Benley answers like a typical smartass as he points back to the entrance.

“You’re hilarious.” I give him a flat stare before it occurs to me, “Bells?” I ask seeing as everyone always seems to love her. Wherever she goes, she always happens to rise to the top of the popularity chain. She’s a social butterfly.

“Well it sure as hell wasn’t Max or Troy,” Benley indirectly gives me my answer before returning the question, “how did you get in?”

“Zac,” I reply with uncertainty as to how he’ll react, “he seems to be tight with the people here. Bouncers saw him and instantly let him in.”

“Why you hanging with that guy?” Benley pulls a repulsed face at the mention of Zac just as I had expected him to.

“Long story,” I tell him with an uncertain sigh, “but mostly out of pity,” I joke, finishing off on a brighter note.

“I hate it here,” Benley grunts as he stares at the guys chugging alcohol from their upside down positions, “everyone is so immature.”

A smile tugs at my lips, his girlfriend is immature and yet he adores her. He’s just a grump pot because he wants her back. He just needs some alcohol and who knows, he might just loosen up and pretend to be gay again. I miss that wild, crazy BoyBand. I vow to bring him back to life someday.

“My kind of place,” I kid, messing around with him. “Where’s my people at anyway?” I quiz, in search of Bells and Max whilst I wait for Zac to finish doing whatever he’s doing - probably Zac things again.

“I’d be surprised if Troy still hasn’t got kicked out yet,” Benley snickers. “I actually haven’t seen any of them for some time now,” he reveals. “I have no idea where they’re at. The idiots ditched me.”

“It’s ’cause you lag my friend, ’cause you’re a drag,” I feign sympathy as I give him a pat on the back and motion to him to follow, “Walk with me pal.”

“Stop trying to act cool,” Benley rolls his eyes as we find our way past the crowds and into a spacious kitchen.

“Oooh look, shots!” I tease as I push one his way.

“No drinking tonight,” Benley glares at me dramatically, keeping his brown eyes firmly set on me as he slowly tips the shot glass upside down and allows the golden liquid to flow out…even when the liquid is clearly running down the front of his shirt. However, he doesn’t even flinch or bat an eyelid, afraid he’d ruin his dramatic moment - not a very good call on his part.

“Drama king,” I grin deviously, entertained by his seriousness even when the front of his shirt is now soaked in alcohol. He’s so uptight it’s become hilarious.

“Did not mean for that to happen, misjudged the distance,” he says sheepishly as he tries to pat the front half of his shirt try. He changes the subject after that, “So if you’re here with Zac, I’m going to assume that Jay is still being stubborn?” Benley asks, backtracking a little.

“Who is Jay?” I question, trying to play it off with nonchalance.

Benley’s eyes widen in realization, “Oh fantastic!” He retorts sarcastically. “This can’t be healthy,” he says, referring to the way I’m currently handling things with stupid Taylor. I don’t even want to think about him right now. It’s too upsetting.

“I’ll be back now,” I tell Benley as I seek Zac out from hiding. I need his company. He said he’d be quick. I call over my shoulder once to Ben as I slink away from his view, “Don’t breathe until I get back LeyLey!”

He merely obeys, clearly not up to arguing with me, “You got it.”

“You have to breathe to talk!” I reprimand him as he humors me further and says nothing back.

I swallow a laugh and search the frat house for any signs of Zac, but find myself on the short end of things. I go upstairs and check the rooms, most being empty if not preoccupied with couples. I enter the last room, only to find the lights switched off. A shiver runs down my spine at the eeriness of it all. The room is in total darkness.

“Hello?” I say into the blackness of it all, sensing that there’s someone else in the room. I’m not alone. So this is how it’s gonna be then…

“Come in my dear,” a high-pitched, yet seemingly elderly voice welcomes me in with a cackle. “Don’t be afraid,” the sinister voice says before quickly adding in a rushed ramble, “and also, don’t forget to shut the door behind you, sugar dumpling, don’t want the riff-raff getting in.” The voice resembles a closeness to that of an elderly, soulless witch living in the sewers. I feel like I just stole the spotlight from Hansel and Gretel.

Being the risk-taker that I am, I shrug and shut the door closed behind me as I venture further into the darkness. This is some weird voodoo crap happening here - new age shiznit.

Oh well…

I end up tripping over something within the darkness.

“Owe! For mother nature’s nurturing sake!” A familiar manly voice roars out in agony, gone the witch-like voice. I hear that voice on a daily basis. It’s then I realize that I tripped over someone instead of something.

I raise my eyebrows in disbelief, “Troy?”

I really shouldn’t be shocked. He shouldn’t be able to shock me anymore, damn him.

He quickly disguises his voice back to a higher tone and unsurprisingly pulls it off well, “Noooo pumpkin brittle, I am merely the voice of reason reaching its cold hand out to caress the warmth out of your slender cheek,” he informs as if this is supposed to be some magical, out-of-world experience for me.

I fumble through the darkness and feel for the light switch before flipping it on, the dark room now flooding with light. I hold back a laugh when I spot him on the floor with a disgruntled expression, “Why are you sitting cross-legged in the center of the floor? And why are you wearing a turban with a sari and sneakers?” I question in amusement, a grin tugging at the corner of my lips.

“Because I’m a mystical genie who grants three wishes to those deserving and pure of heart, and because I couldn’t find genie slip-on shoes - sue me,” he answers solemnly as if not kidding at all. He’s dead serious about this. “It’s my career now,” he says if to assure me, even though it’s far from assuring. “I’m pretty good at it,” he tells me with a giddy little smile, deliberately being coy about it as if waiting for me to congratulate him on his new job.

“Got a crystal ball up in here too?” I motion to the glass ball in front of him, “If you’re a genie then where’s the lamp? Are you confusing a genie with a fortune teller again?” I burst out laughing at his misfortune. He’s so dumb and unpredictable. “We’ve been over this so many times,” I take the liberty to remind him.

“Just shut up and give me your hand!” Troy bosses like the brat he is.

I humor him and take a seat before him on the dirty floor as I offer my hand to him. He closes his eyes ever so dramatically and slowly before humming softly to himself as if meditating (he really has no idea what a genie is), “He who looks inside awakes.”

I ask him the sensible thing, “Why do you need my hand to read when you have a plastic crystal ball at your expense?”

“Do not question my methods young padawan!” He demands in a fearsome shout before releasing my hand and instead turning to his reliable crystal ball smugly as if he thought of it himself. “You are nothing but a mere grasshopper, young grasshopper,” he lectures, putting me back in place.

“Get on with it,” I roll my eyes at him playfully, interested to see where he’s taking this.

“Your mission, should you to choose to accept it, is to shut up and allow me to do my mission should I choose to accept it,” he retorts rudely, clearly very serious about his apparent new career.

“In that case, I don’t accept it,” I say only for him to shush me for being difficult.

“Hush child, the master is at work!” He huffs in irritation. I let it slide because I’m entertained for the moment. I can’t help but watch him stare into the crystal ball with wide eyes and an over exaggerated expression on his face. I want to laugh at just looking at him. However, I just about jump up in fright when he suddenly and unexpectantly gasps aloud and begins to shake his head vigorously, “Oh no! No no no, this can’t be! How can this be? This just won’t do!”

“What is it?” I ask frantically, caught in the hype by his panic.

“A strand of my hair is out of place,” he glances at his reflection in the crystal ball before frantically smoothing down the single strand. I roll my eyes as he goes on like a little teenage girl, “Dammit! Again Ramos! He’s fooled me for the last time! I don’t know what’s happening with that guy. He’s lost it, he’s lost his magical touch!”

I scoff in impatience, “Just tell me my future already.”

“This is no times for games Aqueela, this is a crisis, grow up!” Troy scolds as he flattens the single strand before turning back to his methods of craziness, “The crystal ball is crying out to me. I can’t quite hear it. Speak louder ball, louder! It’s…it’s saying…it’s telling me that Jay is dead,” Troy concludes, seemingly unalarmed by my alarmed face. I send him a flat stare, unimpressed by his stupid prediction. “Nothing to worry about, fear not,” he reassures me as if I’m really concerned, even though I know better, “Jay bounces back from anything and everything.”

Apparently even death can’t defeat Jay Taylor…he’s invincible.

“You know that death is permanent right?” I query, just wanting to make certain that he’s aware of it.

Troy starts laughing before throwing his finger in my face as if he ‘got me’, “Psych! He’s still alive!”

I stare at him blankly for a second or so, trying to fathom how he came into being. It will never make sense to me. The world deserves so much better.

“Also, the magic ball predicts that you and Jay will be very busy and have one hundred and seven babies in total of the first month of being back together…” he trails off in thought as if contemplating it, “guess you guys won’t own a tv-” he accidentally knocks the crystal ball with his elbow that it goes rolling off the small stand and onto the floor. I watch it crack before shattering everywhere. “That was expensive!” He snaps at me as if it is my fault before covering up his mistake, “This is the worst I have ever seen my crystal ball react to one’s future. Yours is truly dark. You’re going to crack and then you’re going to shatter, that is what the genie ball is trying to tell us,” Troy tells me as if believing it himself and as if one hundred percent sure of himself.

Ha! Jokes on ‘life’. My future can’t be worse than my past! Suck on that ‘life’!

I stand up and dodge the glass as I duck out the room, “I tried being nice to you, Troy, I really did,” I say to him jokingly as I excuse myself out of his bizarre world - I swear, the things he gets up to in his free time (all the time)…

When I return to the kitchen, I’m amazed to find an empty bottle of alcohol but no Benley.

Uh oh! What have I done? I’ve unleashed a monster…

“There you are!” Bells shouts over the music as she heads my way with her sorority sisters in tow.

“How did you know I was here?” I ask in confusion after first hugging her on greeting.

“Benley told me,” she informs me.

I let out a relieved breath upon hearing that she saw him. “That beast spoke to you? Which way was he headed? Humanity depends on it,” I tell her in a panic as I keep searching frantically for him. This is my fault. I should have never left him alone around so much temptation.

Bells laughs knowingly, “He staggered past here a couple minutes ago, kept harassing people for more drinks. You know how he is, if he has one drink he has to have like a bazillion more. He’s on the brink of being an alcoholic that one. You’d better find him before he does something stupid and ends up being in the middle of a crossfire between the frat guys. He’ll end up right in between the war going on.”

I roll my eyes at the reference, “Frat guys.”

One of Bell’s sorority sisters nods in agreement, “Tell me about it,” she huffs with attitude as if having dealt with her own problems regarding frat guys. “You should meet this one named Troy. He’s such a riot. He got kicked out one frat house for almost blowing the ceiling of when he lit fireworks in the house. Then the idiot started his own fraternity called ‘Slugma Hiss Pi’ and it failed, even its name was a fail. The best part of it all is that he doesn’t even go to university here or live on campus. The security guards keep trying to prevent him from entering the grounds,” the girl laughs at Troy’s expense.

I raise my eyebrow at the sorority sister, “You say his name is Troy, huh?” She nods, still laughing in mockery as she wipes a tear from her eye. I turn to Bells for an explanation only to see her pulling a face at me before quietly mouthing, ‘zip it’. I grin and pretend to seal my lips closed.

I watch in pure amusement as Bells forces a laugh, “Yeah, that guy’s twisted. I feel sorry for his parents.”

I send Bell’s a stern look, but say nothing. She bites her lip and shrugs helplessly. I’m not passing judgment because I sure as hell would deny being related to Troy too if I were her.

The sorority sister leans on Bell’s shoulder as she laughs louder, “Yeah that guy sounds like such a moron.”

“Uh-huh, absolutely,” Bells joins in and pretends not to know who Troy is, throwing her own brother under the bus as she openly mocks him behind his back.

“So I’m assuming you’re one of her sorority sisters then?” I question, clueless, as I turn my attention to the girl with much spunk.

The sister gives me a fierce look before correcting my hypothesis, “I’m actually about to become an alumna, so actually, I’m-“

“Alumawhatnow?” I ask, feeling way out my depth here.

From the corner of my eye, I notice Bells subtly shake her head at me in anger, her eyes portraying a venomous blue-green. I shrug carelessly. Jeez, it’s just a question. Clearly, Bells is intimidated ’cause this girl is pulling rank around here.

Aqueela,” Bells says through gritted teeth as if warning me to be on my best behavior, “Breechelle over here is actually currently head of Kappa Sigma Pi. She’s about to graduate and wants one of her fellow sorority sisters to take over,” Bells tells me as her eyes flash to me as if relaying a private message.

Knowing Bells, I catch it instantly: Be nice or else….

She’s obviously one of the main candidates to take the potential lead as the new head of the sorority.

“Oh,” I say discreetly, letting Bells know that I’m now with it, “I understand.”

Bells wants to impress and work her way up, hence befriending the current lead. It’s conniving but admirable. Sneaky, sneaky!

“Well we best be getting to the dancefloor,” Breechelle drags Bell’s away from me as if she’s better than everyone else and if she’s in control of Bells. She’s a pretentious stuck up snob and I might just like her.

I call after Bells before she too disappears out of sight, “Give me a heads up if you spot Ben!”

Bells smiles and sends me a thumbs up over her shoulder in response whilst I keep my ears open and my eyes peeled for Benley.

“What’s up Squirt?” I feel a heavy arm drape over my shoulder.

I stare up at him in confusion, “You’ve given up on your career as a witch doctor, or whatever you were supposed to be, so soon?”

“I promoted myself to ‘majestic magician’, I’m too brilliant to just be a genie,” he tells me in a serious voice, completely sincere about it.

I have to bite back a smile, “Congratulations.”

Before I can say anymore, Troy drags me to the dance floor and casually begins twirling me around when the DJ starts playing Lou Bega - Mambo No.5. I laugh and spin around with him in spite of the DJ being pelted with red cups for playing an old song.

“A little bit of Marry all night long!” Troy belts out the tune and I laugh even more when I see the DJ taking cover under his stand whilst still gulping down a ton of shots as if addicted. It’s then I notice that the DJ is in actual fact Benley. If anything, it seems that he’s on the run and currently in hiding. The people are after him!

I stare in horror as he grabs a bottle of alcohol from a random frat guy before tipping his head back and pouring it all over himself in delight. “Whoo! I’m alive!” He shouts as if on a high, jumping up and down in pure bliss before he makes a run for it - straight toward the beer pong and chugging groups. It won’t be long until he causes trouble there too He’s amped up and still hasn’t had enough. This guy! I suppose this is what I get for stupidly leaving him alone with alcohol and spiked drinks.

I need AJ!

Before I can react or do anything to help him, we are interrupted:

“What the hell are you doing here?!” I hear a guy shout before we’re approached by a group of frat brothers. The lead of the nameless fraternity steps out and glares at Troy accusingly, “You were not invited for obvious reasons, like putting us on probation for fireworks and for nearly killing us all. You almost destroyed Gamma Rho Alpha with that wreckless stunt - it’s why you were kicked.”

Upon hearing their lead say the name of their fraternity, they - being all the brothers - cheer loudly in unison in forced manly voices, “Gamma Rho Alpha! Hoora!”

“That’s all hearsay, Braelin,” Troy responds back slickly, unfazed by the people in front of him who want nothing more than to see him dead.

And so the war begins…

“I legit saw you light those fireworks even after I told you not to do it,” the head curls his hands into fists at the memory.

Where’s Zac when you need him?

“Fine, ta ta ta, ’twas I who done it,” Troy confesses dramatically and proudly in spite of everyone already knowing seeing as everyone saw him do it. He’s acting like he did it slyly.

“I knew ’twas you!” Braelin yells before rethinking it, “Stop making me talk like this!” He shouts again in aggravation before speaking clearly, “You set the fireworks alight in the house when I said take them outside first.”

“Well who died and made you the boss?” Troy replies back instead of just shutting his mouth like a reasonable person.

The one known as Braelin holds his glare, “You did when you decided to pledge and the founder is the one who died. You knew I was head and still you chose to join Gamma-“

He’s cut off by their incessant chanting, “Rho Alpha! Hoora!”

Braelin turns his glare onto them but says nothing in the fear of it being seen by outsiders as him not getting along with his fellow bros.

“Zeta Chi Tau!” Troy suddenly shouts out what I’m assuming to be the name of his new fraternity before his own brothers join the war, putting me exactly where I don’t want to be - right in the middle, the flippen center.

“Zeta Chi Tau!” Troy’s stupid brothers announce upon making their arrival known across the entire damn country.

“What’s the problem?” Troy’s leader asks as he keeps his gaze firmly set on Braelin’s fraternity - the rivals of Zeta Chi Tau. “Braelin,” he addresses stiffly.

“Nute,” Braelin replies back sourly, “we meet again.” They’re so dramatic, like a bunch of little girls trying to sell cookies. Braelin protests on, “Zeta Chi Tau was not invited to our fraternity’s social. Gamma-“

“Rho Alpha!”

“Zeta Chi Tau!”

“My ears,” I complain, annoyed with the imbeciles, as I make an attempt to tune them out - it fails. “You guys are lunatics, all of you!” I hiss, severely irritated with them.

Troy pulls me against his side protectively and shoves me behind him, “Not now Squirt. Shut it.”

I step out from behind him before placing my hand son my hips and glowering up at him for manhandling me. Braelin seems to see the movement as his eyes slowly flicker to me, “And what sorority are you from ’cause you’re damn fine?” He whistles appreciatively.

I scoff at the blatant insult as I direct my glower onto him instead, “How dare you?!”

Troy nudges me in the side as if to tell me to stop talking - the hypocrite!

Braelin raises an eyebrow innocently, “What did I say wrong? I’m pretty sure I just gave you a compliment.”

“How dare you imply that I’d ever be part of a sorority! I’m above that. I’m way too cool for this drama,” I clarify my reasoning.

“Yet you’re with him,” Braelin motions to Troy.

I sigh in dismay and defeat, “I see your point. Can’t argue with that.”

“Brae, she’s with me too. She’s cool, she’s my best friend,” I turn to see Max step out from the crowds. I was wondering where he was…well not really but if he asks I will say I was.

“Maxipad!” I cheer in excitement on impulse, only for his buddies to start laughing at his nickname in mockery.

“So your soon-to-be wife is Bella Bensten and this chick is your best friend?” One of his brothers questions in envy. Max just nods in reply. The guy shakes his head in conclusion, “You lead a great life bro.”

“Guys, guys, guys,” Max tries to get their attention as he changes the subject to a more important matter, “can’t we let bygones be bygones?” He gestures to Troy and his frat. “Let’s wave the white flags already,” he suggests rather bravely, trying to place peacemaker.

“No way!” Nute laughs humorlessly as he directs his next words to Max, “The only reason we have Troy in our fraternity and put up with him is because Braelin hates him. I’m not letting all of our suffering be in vain.”

“We can talk this out,” Troy insists before glancing at his own fraternity, “my brothers, take a knee,” he orders only to end up being the only one getting on one knee whilst his ‘brothers’ merely stare down at him in fake sympathy from their standing positions. There’s no way that they’re getting on one knee just to patronize Troy. “Or don’t, whatever,” Troy shrugs, clearly offended that he’s the only one on his knee. “Are we not better than Braelin? Max deserves forgiveness for his actions,” Troy disappoints us all and turns the blame onto Max even when Max is lending him a hand and trying to help him out. Just when I think Troy is being nice…

“Are you seriously trying to blame me again?” Max glares at Troy coldly before turning to Braelin, “Screw this! Peace only lasts so long! Take them down boys!”

“Gamma Rho Alpha! Hoora!” They all shout simultaneously, on a perfect note, as they begin tackling the guys from Zeta Chi Tau down.

A fight breaks out when Nute’s clang attack back and the noise levels reach a crazy peak with all their ridiculous shouting amidst the loud music and chattering.

I wince and cower behind Troy when I see that I’m now literally in the middle of a frat war.

“Where are you taking me?!” A frightened voice shouts amidst the chaos.

I glance back to see the rest of Braelin’s guys, the ones not involved in the current bickering, carrying Benley up in the air on their shoulders to who knows where.

“Is this really over the DJ thing? I’m sorry that I felt like some eighties music,” I hear Benley try to talk his way out of this one. “Besides, Troy liked it,” Benley tries to persuade them from his drunken state, but he isn’t getting anywhere.

“Troy likes everything so that doesn’t count and it’s actually ’cause you keep snatching everyone’s drinks right from their hands!” Braelin yells out in spite of being in a fistfight with Nute.

“Oh,” Benley shrugs carelessly and swallows lazily before grinning like an idiot, “well that I’m definitely not sorry about. Yolo losers!”

“Take him to the dead zone!” Braelin commands before swinging a punch at Nute who just dodges it in time. Meanwhile, Troy and Max are wrestling on the ground whilst Bells purposely ignores the commotion and manages to turn a blind eye to it all.

“Where’s that?” Benley questions in panic as the guys carrying him begin chanting in hysteria as they do their secret frat handshakes as if in a dangerous cult. “Am I going to be eaten?” Benley yelps, fearful for his life.

“The dead zone is where you chubby little friend went,” one of them answers him, clearly referring to Blubber.

“I’m definitely going to be eaten!” Benley’s eyes stray to me in desperation, “What are you waiting for Aqueela? Beat their asses and come for me already! Don’t leave me to rot with that little twerp! Kill them Aqueela, kill them all!”

“You’re about to die, hotshot, have some dignity,” I lecture playfully, making it evident that I won’t be assisting him this time. He’ll thank me one day…if he survives.

“Avenge me!” Benley yells after me before he leaves my sights…against his will.

Braelin raises his eyebrows at me in wonder, “You’re just friends with all the troublemakers, aren’t you?”

I shrug carelessly, “It’s called the flip side. I like to live on the edge.”

“Clearly,” he shakes his head at me in disgust.

“That’s it Troy!” Jezel leaves Bell’s side to yank Troy aside from Max’s wrath, “I’ve had enough! I want a divorce.”

“I’m sorry a what now?” I cup a hand to my ear to make sure I heard right.

Jezel smiles warmly at me, “Hey you.”

“Hi,” I grin back in all friendliness before repeating myself, “a what now?”

“Don’t freak, but Troy and I are married.” She tells me, flashing me a humiliated smile. “We got married last week in Vegas. We were drunk. However, don’t be happy for us because we’re getting divorced now,” Jezel informs me whilst she shows me the ring on her finger.

I turn to Troy with wide eyes, “You got married and said nothing?!”

“I didn’t think it was important enough to mention,” he says nonchalantly as if it’s no big deal. “And how selfish are you? Don’t shout at me, I’m fragile right now. I’m going through a nasty divorce. My wife is leaving me. You have no idea what I’m going through!” He scolds me as if I’m the one in the wrong here.

“Aqueela,” Jezel turns to me for support, “you’re my witness, I said I’m getting divorced if anyone asks, alright? Also, I’m keeping the ring.”

I still can’t help but wonder where Troy even got the money to afford such an expensive looking ring. Then again, I’m positive that the diamonds are fake. Hell, the ring could be plastic for all I know. I wouldn’t be stunned if it were made of candy.

I nod at her and then turn to Troy as it registers, “You’re my witness that she told me to be her witness, alright?”

Troy snarls at me as if his divorce is entirely my fault and scoffs dramatically, “It would be such a damn shame if something were to happen to your pretty little witness.”

I raise a prodding brow at him, “Are you actually threatening yourself and complimenting yourself at the same time?”

“Maybe I am, maybe I’m not,” he retorts bitterly before Jezel sends him to go face a wall for ten minutes because she’s appalled by his behavior. Susie has taught her well in disciplining the stupid. Susie does the same with Blubber when he misbehaves.

Troy tries to look over his shoulder to glare at me, but Jezel snaps at him to turn back around. Troy hangs his head in submission before glowering over his shoulder at me again and pouting like some wounded animal, like some puppy that’s been kicked. If he wants to be kicked, I’ll gladly do it for him. I have a good heart like that. I’m a generous spirit, always giving.

“Are you seriously in time-out again?” Nute frowns at Troy, aggravated, evidently used to this. “Where is your pride bro?”

Troy spins around all too quickly to face Nute but ends up slipping on some spilled alcohol (probably Benley’s) and face plants. I hear a crack and a shout of agony as it sinks in: Troy just broke his leg.

I cover my mouth in shock and wince for him, “That’s gotta hurt.”

“I’m dying!” Troy shouts in alarm when he glances down at his twisted leg. “Make sure Benley dies before me! Make sure he suffers! Torture him! He did this to me!”

I too stare down at the weird angle he fell in. Only he’d manage to break his leg like this. He’s skilled alright. I start speaking, “Troy-“

“Save my breath Aqueela, you’re going to need it,” Troy instructs, confusing me.

“Huh?” I ask cluelessly.

“Don’t just stand there, I’m dying! I’m gonna need resuscitation and the jaws of life at this rate!” He lies to himself as if to add more drama to the chaos.

Jezel, Max and Bells come running upon hearing Troy’s over-the-top shouts of pain. I fall to my knees, clueless, as I try to help him. However, he’s still angry and merely narrows his eyes at me as if refusing my help, “Told you I’d hurt your gorgeous little witness,” he pretends it to be premeditated and not a total accident. “You’re lucky, next time I’ll hurt myself even worse, to the very brink of me dying,” he tries to threaten me when really he’ll literally only be hurting/killing himself.

“We should probably get him to a hospital,” Max advises as Troy continues to shout out as if experiencing excruciating pain, which no doubt he is.

“On it,” Jezel answers, concerned, as she frets over her ‘husband’ in worry.

“Someone give me a phone!” Troy demands in sheer desperation. Nute, like a moron, hands him his phone. Troy takes it and dials a number, putting it on speaker for all of us to hear, before shouting into the phone when the person on the other side of the line answers, “Superman, save me! The end is nigh! I need you once again! Fail me not!”

“Troy?” I hear his voice from his side of the line. Jay sighs when he clicks, “How many times have I told you not to call me unless it’s real emergency? I have a race, I’m about to head to the tracks right now. I’m going to hang up-“

Troy buts in, “Don’t! You need to know that I’m-“

“Dying?” Jay answers for him. “Yeah you say that every time. You’ve had your last breath about seven times in the past month. I love you man, but you gotta stop calling me whenever you think you’re going to die.”

Jay ends the call after that.

“Superman said he loves me,” Troy smiles all too happily in spite of Jay’s clear irritation with him. It’s a second later when he frowns mopily, “Second option it is then!” He dials another number before shouting outrageously into the phone like he had just done with Jay, “Ambulance! I need a damn ambulance! I’m dying! There’s so much blood! I’m about to take my last bre…” Troy pants, quickly giving his location before hanging up.

Only his second option is the ambulance? If he’s ever dying for real, he’d call Jay first?!

“Was that really necessary?” Max asks with a frown, especially seeing as there’s no blood whatsoever

“Swap places with me Max! Be selfless for once in your life! I can’t go on like this! My life is over! My life is ruined! I’m screwed! I’ll probably never walk again!” Troy continues on with his charade, wallowing in self-pity. You’d think he just lost a leg or something.

“You’re going to be just fine,” Max assures him as Jezel pats him on the forehead as if he’s a little baby.

“No, I’m not! Don’t lie to me!” Troy shouts out in turn. Trying to convince him that he’s going to be fine, is like trying to convince the sun to cool down. He pretends to give a final cough before glancing up at me ever so dramatically, “My last request is that you…” he coughs again, “tell Grey that…” his words are followed by yet another over-the-top cough, “it should have been him,” he closes his eyes after that and rests head back down.

It’s not long before the ambulance arrive. They’re furious when they see that Troy lied, but take him to the hospital nonetheless, even after Troy insisted on being loaded and strapped down to a gurney. He even makes a fuss as he’s wheeled out, telling us goodbye before tearing up and then blowing a kiss to his ‘wife’ as if she’s the last person he’ll ever see.

“Let’s head down to the hospital too then,” Jezel suggests once the ambulance leave, sirens and all, Braelin and Nute’s guys still going at it.

I nod at Jezel in agreement and make a move to contribute before someone pulls me up to my feet and begins ushering me forward. I glance backward to see if it’s one of the insane frat guys taking me hostage, but I’m surprised to see that it’s none other than Zac.

“What’s going on?” Bells asks steadily, taking the words right from my mouth when too realizing that Zac’s in a hurry.

“We gotta move, we gotta move, we gotta go now,” is all he says as he deters me from my friends and steers me in the opposite direction altogether as if in a panic of his own. He even takes the liberty to shove the fighting frat guys out of his way, making me question where he was ten minutes ago. I hear people calling his name from somewhere behind us, but Zac merely ignores them as he rushes me out the door.

I don’t even get the chance to go back for BoyBand.

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