Pause (Book 1)

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Chapter 20: Simple Chaos

I fidget with my hands nervously as Dylan drives us ahead in his white Volvo. I can’t help but be nervous. If you have yet to figure it out, let me break it to you, I’m not the ‘datey’ type. In fact this is my very first date, hence my anxiety and Bell’s previous excitement as well as Troy’s over exaggeration, plus his stressing. They’re the only two ones, including Mason, that know I have never gone out with a guy before.

Most times, if not all, I am that weird girl that people go out of their way to avoid. Not that I can blame them. I know I am weird compared to others. But I am done trying to change myself for people who will never be worth it. I’ve accepted myself as an ‘extraordinary weirdo’ as Bell puts it. I was just never expecting to be asked out, especially not by someone like Dylan. I mean he’s already got his own business at such a young get. He’s obviously successful, friendly and good looking. How on earth does he see me as a suitable date? I am not fit for his stature.

If he hasn’t run yet, he will soon…

“So what do you think about it?” Dylan asks, jolting me about from my hazy dream state. He’d been speaking for a while now, but I just got so bored and accidentally…or purposely tuned him out. He’s speaking on some other level. Clearly he’s way too sophisticated for me. He is way of out my league. Why is he even wasting his time with me?

My rub my clammy hands on my dress and peak a glance at Dylan to see that even though his eyes are still on the road, he’s still waiting for me to answer his question. Flamingo chips! I wasn’t even listening to a word he just said. I zoned out right after the second sentence. My eyes widen as Dylan glances to me briefly, wondering why I hadn’t asked.

Might as well try get out of this alive.

“Mhmm…”I shrug unknowingly, but on pretence to be knowingly. “It’s a difficult one.” I take my chances and decide to answer safely.

Dylan chuckles lowly and I can’t help but compare his chuckle to Jay’s. I mean Dylan’s chuckle is hot and deep, but also more mature. Jay’s chuckle is boyish, mischievous and secretive. I don’t know why, but I prefer the ‘unsophisticated immature Jay’ over ‘rich boy Dylan’. Also Jay’s car is better. And as observed, Jay is clearly a better driver than Dylan. Then again he is somewhat of an expert. It is his career.

Jay this…Jay that…

Dammit Aqueela, shut up!

You’re on a date with Jay!

Ugh fudge nuggets…I mean you’re on a date with Dylan!



No Jays!

Just Dylan!

I slap my forehead loudly in frustration as Dylan speaks up, choosing to not take note of me mumbling to myself like a mad woman, “I guess you’re right. But if you were her, what would you do about it? Out of curiosity that is.”

Leave me alone Dylan!

I groan inwardly, wishing for Dylan to just drop whatever it is we’re discussing. Here goes nothing. “Um…I-I’d just let the issue dissolve on its own before it escalates out of control.”

“Yes, but specifically, what do you mean by that? Any suggestions?” Dylan asks, looking over the wheel to me with a raised eyebrow.

He makes me feel stupid. Of course he was talking more specifically. Dammit Dylan, catch a hint! I don’t even want to be ere on this date with you in the first place. It’s all by Jay’s doing that I am here.

Sorry Dylan, but you have left me with no other choice but to move to Plan B, seeing as you are so persistent in talking about mature rubbish. If he only knew how he’s boring me. This date has barely begun and I am bored out of my skull. I can’t relate to Dylan in any way.

“Careful the squirrel in the road!” I suddenly yell as Dylan’s green eyes dart back to the road and off of me as he swerves the car in a panic to miss the non-existent squirrel. “Oh thank goodness. You just missed it.” I add a minute later when Dylan has calmed down and taken full control of his Volvo yet again.

Dylan seems confused a she tries to reason, “But I didn’t see anything in the road when-“

“That’s because you were looking at me before it scampered away. Look I am flattered and all, but I am also aware that men can’t multitask. Maybe just keep your eyes on the road and cut the in between chit chat for now.” I advise as politely as possible…which isn’t very polite, but come on, cut me some slack, I feel like I am on ‘Who wants to be a billionaire?’ with all these questions.

Dylan seems chocked back at my rudeness, but nods nevertheless, saying no more as he focuses on the and the oncoming traffic, seemingly a little disappointed and adding to the guilty feeling sinking into the pits of my tummy. “So how old are you? How did you become the manager of the store at such a young age, presuming you’re still young? How did you become friends with Jay? Why would someone as hot as you ask someone like me out?” I ramble out series of questions nervously, despite the fact that I had just made the effort to stop the talking altogether. I was a walking contradiction.

“I thought you just said to quit the small talk so-“

“I don’t remember saying that.”

“You literally just said-“

“Dylan please, just answer my question.” I cut him off before he makes me out. I am trying to be nice here and he’s making it incredibly difficult.

Dylan doesn’t bother arguing anymore and gives in too easily. For some reason that irritates me. I am used to Jay, Max, and Mason even all arguing with me until my last breath. As infuriating as it is in the moment, it makes for better memories. I mean giving in to me will so easily is not attractive, it just means you’re no fun.

Give the guy a chance Aqueela. You were more than willing before you met Jay. You even went as far too accidentally spill that you love him.

But I have met Jay now.

Everything’s changed…

I am distracted from my negative thoughts about Dylan yet again when he inhales a deep breath before quickly answering all my questions respectively as briefly as possible, stunning me that he answered accurately and still remembered all the questions as well as answered in the order that I questioned.

But I guess that’s to be suspected with someone as prosperous as him, “I am twenty three. My father own the original ice-cream parlour franchise. He made me head of this store as manger to keep my head out of the clouds, especially after I dropped out of law school. Jay was there one afternoon and we didn’t get along at first for obvious reasons, we’re entirely opposite, at least that’s what I thought we were. Turns out we have more in common than I realize. Jay has a tougher life than me and it was wrong of me to misjudge him. Despite being younger, the guy has a lot of experience and wisdom with the real word and offered advice on a personal situation. I know he makes himself out to be cold, but he’s actually warmer and more open than I first expected. He’s a good kid.”

Jay’s almost a year older than me. Am I just a kid to Dylan too? “And finally, I asked you out Aqueela because I like you. You’re new, fresh, and spunky and despite how weird you sometimes are…” Dylan pauses and turns to me with a small deviant grin before shrugging, coming to a conclusion, “I guess I like it or we wouldn’t be here.”

I am so shocked by everything that has just been revealed to me (from Jay’s ‘warm’ heart to Dylan being a college dropout and not stuck up as I presumed to Dylan being five years older than me and finally to Dylan confessing that he likes me) that all I can think to respond with is, “Wow Dylan. You talk too much.”

I am half assuming that Dylan will stop the car and dump me on the side of the road right here and now, but as I’ve come to learn, Dylan is decent and he happens to be a gentleman. He’s not Jay. I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

“You’re funny.” Dylan laughs, not taking what I said seriously. That makes me smile a little. At least he’s not some soft sap that can’t take a joke every once in a while. “And cute too.” Dylan winks at me flirtatiously before chuckling at me when I blush.

“But you five years older than me and you can do so much better, why me?” I question, still confused.

“Can’t you just accept the fact that I like you?” Dylan asks and I am tempted to reply with ‘not really’ but instead I fall quiet.

We ride in silence until we reach our destination. I’m about to open my door and step out, but Dylan beats me to it, taking me by surprise as his hand intertwines with mine. I don’t bother analysing it as Dylan leads me into some over the top fancy restaurant. I happen to glance down at my clothes insecurely because I know I won’t fit on here. I am underdressed.

It’s as if Dylan seems to know what I’m thinking. He smiles down ta me with a reassuring sparkle to his green eyes, “You look stunning.”

“But I’m-“

“Fine.” He cuts me off, “You’re perfectly fine.” Dylan interrupts as he goes forward and asks about the table he had booked just for me. The waiter nods, leading us to the reserved table far away from the hordes of snooty people. I stop at the foot of the table and glance around, taking in the secluded spot lit with candles, adding to my anxiousness.

Someone is a hopeless romantic…

Not really my style.

Dylan pulls out my chair for me before I get the chance to sprint back outside. I sit down and smile at Dylan appreciatively a she joins me across from me. I fumble as I flip through the pages of the menu, not sure what it is I’m reading. All I know is that everything is incredibly expensive and seeing as Dylan is paying (I sure a shell am not) I want to order the cheapest thing possible for him.

Why the hell is everything in Greek Latin?! This is the States for goodness sake!

Dylan orders his drink and food already as both him and the waiter wait on me. I glance up sheepishly from the menu to find Dylan smiling at me, seemingly patient but the waiter himself seems impatient. “You ready to order mam?” the waiter hisses and I notice that he resembles Dylan’s age, except he’s much grumpier.

“I think I’ll just have a water and a salad so-“

“She’ll have a Zymarika too.” Dylan finishes for me with a helpful grin directed toward me. I of course ignore it like the polite lady I am.

“And to drink?” the guy waiter asks, jotting down the meal Dylan had ordered for me. All I know is that it is some type of pasta.

Dylan glances to me and I shrug, thinking on it for a few minutes as the waiter taps his foot impatiently. Jeeze this dude is rude! “I’ll take a coke.” I say, but judging by the responses of both Dylan and the waiter at the simple order I’m quick to decide against it, “I mean I’ll take a Choco milkshake.” Again same response, “No no wait! I’ll take the fudge choco-mocho espresso.”

“That’s not on the menu.” The stupid mean waiter responds rather harshly.

What the hell is his problem?

Jeeze someone is having a bad day.

He’s only allowed to complain when he’s been kidnapped and taken hostage.

“How about just an espresso to go?” I question, unable to decide.

“But this isn’t a ‘to go’ order. You’re sitting.” The waiter points out the obvious and I realize my stupid mistake.

“Okay um…jeeze this is strenuous exercise…no pressure…um…a-“

Before I can finish my next words the waiter throws down his notebook and badge, shouting, “I quit!” at the top of his lungs as he barges out the restaurant, attracting a large audience, including me. It’s when everyone turns their gaze on to our table that I feel myself sink deeper in my chair to avoid their accusing stares.

How is he quitting my fault?!

Clearly he wasn’t in a great mood to start with. I guess I just pushed him a little to the extreme. Great now I feel awful. Dylan sees this and tugs on my hands to get my attention, “Hey.” He soothes gently, “That was not your fault. He was being a royal dick.”

I flinch back slightly at Dylan’s choice of words. That’s etching. Jay would say that. I figured Dylan to be too high and mighty to insult people. Or too prim and proper to care to insult people beneath him. I keep misjudging him and maybe it’s time I ought to stop. He’s been noting but civil and sweet.

But is that what I really want?

Sweet and civil?

Soon after, the manager approaches us and apologizes on the waiter’s behalf, saying that it was indeed not my fault because the waiter has been having just a sucky day in general. However his assurance that it wasn’t me only makes me feel the more terrible. Is it weird to feel pity for someone you don’t know who just stormed out on their job?

We’re given a new waiter, a much politer female who taken my orders patiently. If you’re wondering what drink I ordered, the one that was never on the menu.

I am distracted from my thoughts when from the corner of my eye, two tables away, sit three people who seem to be hiding behind a large black menu as all their face are covered. But every once in a while one of them peeks out behind it in my direction. That’s when those three sets of green-grey eyes become too familiar. My stomach twists into knots as Bells, Max and Troy all come into view.

Bell catches my eye and hold a thumbs up with a large grin on her face. She’s letting me know that she’s here if I need her. Then there’s Troy making kiss faces and winking at me whilst Max is wiggling his fingers at me in some type of paedophile wave/greeting.

Oh fudge fragments! Shoot me!

I knew they’d spy on me. It was so not like them to just let me go out alone. I’m guessing Bells updated Max on the fact that this is my first date. But there is a pair of blue eyes missing from the trio and I can’t help but wonder where Jay went or what he is doing. He probably didn’t tag along because he doesn’t care. He has way better things to do than crash my date. He’s so indifferent to my feelings that it stings.

But he wants my friendship, the only friendships he has, and I’ll take what I can get and give out what he can accept.

But of course as fate would have it…a normal night out does not exist in my mind set or my friends’ vocabulary.

But apart from them three spying, Dylan coughs to grab my attention and shifts his attention to someone behind me, someone oblivious to my three friends watching him carefully. Now is really not the time to face him of all people.

So when I do…my eyes widen in terror. He can’t be here, not when Bells is here too. He might not see her, but she will see him here talking to me and question it. I don’t want to get in the middle, but it’s too late for that. He broke things off with her because of me.

This night can’t possibly get any worse.

You know what Murphy, screw you and your fat head!

“Aqueela…” Mason drawls, quite speeches to run in on me during a date. It’s in his hesitance that he seems to notice Dylan too, recognizing him. From what I know, the two are barely acquaintances. “You’re on a date?”

Well no sh*t Sherlock?!

What is he doing here???

“Yes.” I mutter and turn my attention off Mason, hoping he’d take the hint and leave. I don’t want to see him ever again. I hate Mason Montry, perhaps more than Bell resents his existence.

But that’s a lie.

A lie that I keep trying to bury.

Mason has been with me all my life, not in the good sense, but the fact of the matter is that he’s always been there. As much as I want to hate him, I simply cannot. He’s a part of me now. Sadly I cannot turn on my friends as easily as I had hoped. Despite everything he’s done, I still care for him, just not in the way he wants me to.

Mason seems angered by my answer as he scrunches up his eyebrows in distaste, “You weren’t supposed to go on your fist date with some guy you barely know.” He snaps venomously, his resentment for Dylan now quite clear.

I raise an eyebrow at the audacity of him to reveal to Dylan that this is my first date, “Oh? Then who was I supposed to go out with on my first date?” I ask rhetorically, not expecting him to answer. But he does and I really wish he hadn’t.

“Me.” He mumbles inaudibly, but just loud enough so that I am the only person in the room that hears.

I huff in a breath, desperate to diffuse this situation before Bells hears everything and disregards me as her friend. “Now’s not the time Mason so just…” I falter in my lecture when Mason takes a seat beside me, intervening the date,

Oh my cheesecake, he’s jealous!

Mason throws an arm around my shoulder possessively and pulls me to his side, “You’re way older than Aqueela.” Masons states, looking over to Dylan who seems a little infuriated as of now. “What are your intentions with her? How does she know you’re not some perverted paedophile who only wants her for se-“

I pull away from Mason and place my hand over his mouth before he can finish his sentence. I mean Dylan’s right eye is already twitching. It won’t be long now before he goes bonkers and completely loses it.

I can see a fight breaking out soon.

“Who the hell are you?” Dylan hisses, enraged by Mason interfering. Dylan turns his gaze to me with an accusing stare is if this is my fault. In a way I suppose it is, “Is he your boyfriend or something?”



I’m quick to shake my head as my throat closes up at the mere suggestion, “No. He’s my best friend’s ex and my enemy.”

“Well for enemies you two look pretty darn snug.” It’s then that I notice Mason has inched his way near to me yet again. I pull my seat and purposely drag it away from him. What the hell has gone in to him?! He’s acting like a four year old. Usually he’s the mature one, not the other way round.

“Well we’re not. I hate him.” I tell Dylan, making sure that Mason hears, but whether he does or not he still continues on with his new possessive jealous act.

“I feel the opposite about her.” Mason states, making his true feelings known as he keeps his eyes on Dylan. It’s become too natural to him to confess his feelings. I don’t like that. At least if he were a coward I wouldn’t have to hear this every single dam time, “So back off.”

“You’re the one that interrupted our date. You back off. She hates you anyways.” Dylan says, standing up, ready to attack.

Mason stands tall to as he gets up. When I try to yank him down, he merely brushes me aide as him and Dylan have some gay stare down.

A fight is defiantly about to break loose.

I was right about that.

I was just wrong about who’d be involve in the fight.

When I was keeping my eyes on Dylan, waiting for him to throw a punch, I really should have been watching Troy instead. There’s a warrior cry form two tables away and before I know it Troy has flung the table aside, exposing Max and Bells who both seemed stunned at what they just witnessed and frown in place with sheepish grins.

In a split second it is not Dylan throwing a punch in Mason’s direction, but instead it is Troy in honour of his little sister. My eyes widen as I watch the horror unravel. Mason, who’d not seen it coming, merely stands aide and lets Troy give him a beat down, probably realizing that he deserved it. Mason has always been the type to back down if he knows that it’s his fault. That’s at least one respective characteristic trait he possesses.

So while Troy is mauling at Mason’s back, Mason himself decides that enough’s enough and sends a fist in Dylan’s direction. Next thing I know, there’s glass shattering, plates breaking and blood everywhere as the three rip each other to shreds.

I let out a scream for help as the manger rushes in and some other male waiters try to break up the fight. I run straight to Bells who is crying frantically at the sight of Mason getting pummelled and for what he confessed to Dylan about me. Meanwhile she is also trying to make peace and make her brother stop fighting. She can deny it all she wants, but she stills loves Mason and she doesn’t want to see him get hurt.

Oh god, this is all my fault!

I glance toward Max frantically, offering him a pleading look. He registers what I’m trying to say as he walks forward and forces himself in the middle in an attempt to stop the fight, but instead Dylan accidentally hits Max instead of Mason. Max loses his cool as a result and like a lit fuse he starts targeting Mason and Dylan both. However Troy is still intent on murdering Mason. In fact I think everyone here is intent on murdering Mason one way or another, including me.

So that’s how Max gets stuck in the middle and in this time of need I can’t help but wish Jay was here to end this. No doubt he could if he wanted to, let alone if he was actually here. He had a rep for getting into nasty fights.

And so I yell and yell, trying to get these testosterone males to stop brawling, but my shouts of fear and panic land only on deaf ears.

Just when I give in I hear an unfamiliar and terrorizing shout, unfamiliar because Bells never shouts and by that I mean never ever. But tonight she does in a roaring tone too, “Just stop it! All of you! Enough!”

Even I freeze at the bitter, pained tone that Bell uses. I’ve known her for years and I’ve never heard her scream like that before, ever!

Troy drops his fist ready that had been ready to smash into the back of Mason’s head at the sound of his little sister yelling. Mason stops going at Dylan and covers his face from Max as he realizes that Bell, his ex-flame, had been here all along and had witnessed everything, including his heart felt confession. But it my opinion it was just sappy and utterly ridiculous. He seems ashamed to be caught by her in a wrestling match and he should be. They all should be. Dylan too stops fighting because Bells, his acquaintance, always seemed so soft and jovial that he never thought she was capable of using such a scary tone. He’s in shock.

Then of the course the only one who doesn’t stop is Max. He continues to send fists at both Dylan and Mason, oblivious to the silence overtaking his own warrior shouts. I hold back a laugh and tap him on the shoulder to make him stop. He turns around so swiftly to me with a raised fist, thinking I was another who wanted to fight. His grey eyes lighten when he sees that it’s just me and his fist drops as I dodge whatever punch he could have thrown.

It’s then when he heaves a tuckered out breath that he sees all eyes on him, including Bells. He also notices that the others stopped fighting some time ago. Immediately his cheeks flame red and I can see a small smile tugging at Bell’s lips at the sight, but when her eyes meet mine they grow cold and her smile relinquishes.

That’s when it dawns on me that she is far from pleased.

This is my worst nightmare coming true just like I knew it eventually would.

Now’s the time I own up because that devoid look in her oceanic eyes tells me that there’s no use in bothering about losing her because I’ve already lost her.

She hates me.

And with good reason might I add.

An hour later and here I sit, telling Bells everything that has happened between Mason and me. From him acting weird at first, to him being too concerned about me, to him breaking up with her, to him confessing to me and to him kissing me.

She didn’t want to vein listen at first, assuming the worst, and it took a lot of persuasion on Max’s part to get her to even hear me out. But now I wish that I hadn’t said anything. That look of betrayal and hurt she’s giving me terrifies me. She simply shakes her head at me and says nothing as I conclude the story up until now.

I want her to scream, yell, shout, vent, and let it all out. That way there was a chance to be forgiven. But silence says that there is no hope left. Her mind is set and I’m apparently not in it.

Bells gives me one final stare before getting up and leaving, taking along a bloodied nosed Max and a perfectly fine Troy (he attacked Mason from behind and no one dared to punch him). Troy gives me one final distrustful death glare, this time really disappointed in me as he swings a comforting arm over his sister’s shoulder and draws her near to him. It burns. It really does.

Two of the closet people in my life are suddenly peeved with me. Even Max follows after them after first sending me an apologetic helpless glance, in other words telling me that he’d talk to Bells and things will work themselves out.

But as I’ve come to know, things don’t work themselves out for me…ever.

At least Max doesn’t hate me.

When I turn around I see that Dylan has stormed off, leaving me at the restaurant with the expensive bill. He was furious at…well everyone in general, especially me. He left before I could explain a single thing. I don’t think there will be a second date anytime soon because ethics was just disastrous. It will surely go down in world history as worst first date ever.

My first date and this is how it turns out, just my luck.

Karma…I guess.

It’s not like I emit to anger Troy or hurt Bells, never Bells. She was the last one I wanted to ever hurt. I’d do literally anything for her. I’d give my life for her. No doubt.

It’s just…I wish Dylan left me alone at the restaurant, because even that would be better than being stuck here with Mason who, despite his black eye and concussed head (Troy’s attack from behind), is persistent on tying to make sure that I get home safely. He avoided Bells whilst I had my talk with her. I don’t think he feels ready to see her right now. I’m sure that he’s just as pained about it too. He’s also trying to move on. He can lie to himself al he wants, but a small part of him had loved Bells. It’s physically impossible to not love Bells. Said with experience. He’s also adjusting and it’s no easier for him to move on.

The female waiter comes and lays down the plates of Greek pasta on the shards of table left. She even had to bend to put it down, practically on the floor. You’d’ think she’d get the message that we’re not eating here anymore, although my tummy feels like it is eating itself from hunger. She glances to me expecting, “So you’re paying then?” she asks, handing me the cheque.

I guess I am. I grumpily take the cheque and my eyes bug out when I see the amount written underneath with the addition of the tip. My heart quickens at the thought. My mother will kill me if she finds out that I just made her even more broke than we already are.

A hand snatches the cheque out my hands swiftly. I turn to see Mason signing it and gathering notes out his wallet before handing the gold digger waitress her dam money. She grins ecstatically before trouncing off, not really too concerned about my situation. How sweet…

I shoot Mason a grateful expression and he waves it off as if it is nothing. He knows I am not financially wealthy. For him it really is nothing. His parents are wealthy and as an all-star quarterback of the state, he too has won a few thousands.

Unintentionally I let out a yawn as the evenings events wear me out.

Mason sees this and takes my hand into his calloused one tenderly. He ignore my tired protesting and drags me out the restaurant, promising the manger that he’d pay for the damage caused to the restaurant. He pulls me all the way along to his black Chevrolet, “Let me get you home.” He insists and though I want to just go home, I shake my head.

It wouldn’t feel right letting Mason taking me home. I’d feel like I am betraying Bells all over again and despite the fact that I seem to be a shitty friend, I try to be the best I can. If it were me in her shoes, I’d also be mad. So out of respect for Bells and my own personal values I decline his offer.

Instead I motion to him to sit on the hood of his car and without asking why he does. I get the safety kit out the back of his car and place it beside him on the hood. Like I said, I may resent Mason and despise his very existence, but he’s…I don’t know. I just can’t seem to shake him. I still care about him when really I should detest his guts. I mean I try to…but it’s Mason and I know he has a good heart buried under all the muck.

I come to stand in front of Mason, forcefully parting his legs as I wedge myself in between to work on his eye before it falls out.

I take out a piece of cotton and some disinfectant before lifting my hand to his face. I gently run the gauze across the length of his eye. He hisses in pain, but stays still nevertheless and stiffens noticeably under my touch. “You really piss me off, you know that?” I say sourly as I continue to med his stupid black eye. It is a real shiner.

Mason lets out a throaty chuckle, “I use to say the same thing about you and now look where I am.” He says as if to imply something.

“Not happening Mas.” I joke playfully, but the more my eyes trace his black eye, the more my heart grows heavy. He didn’t deserve this, I mean he did…but he didn’t. Does that even make sense? In my head it does.

My hand freezes and just as I come to my senses to pull my hand away from his eyes. But he captures my hand in his and brings me forward between both his legs. “Why are you dating Dylan if you like Jay?”

“Why do you care?” I snap as he interlaces my fingers with his.

See, this is why I didn’t want to get close to Mason. He gets to ‘touchy feely’ for my liking. I wonder if Jay feels the same about me. Now I understand why he gets so irrigated with me so easily. It makes sense.

“You know why.” He mutters and releases my hand from his own.

“Mason…” I start, “You can’t feel that way about me. I don’t know why you’d even want to-“

“Aqueela, you misunderstood. My feelings for you aren’t new. They’ve always been here. I went out with Bells to get closer to you. You may have not noticed but behind all my insults and shit attitude. I’ve always only had eyes for one girl, you.”

I pull away completely from him at his words, not wanting to diverge into this conversation. “Mason don’t.” I say softly because this side of him, this caring possessive side frightens me.

Mason hops off the hood and approaches me, “I mean if a tiny piece of you didn’t feel the same, then why stay and help me? Why stay and take care of like the way you’re doing now? You told me to figure out what it is that I want and I did. Now it’s your turn.”

With that said Mason takes his safety kit back and gets into the car driving off without a second glance.

And I realize that he’s right.

Does a part of me feel for Mason?

Is that why I constantly feel guilty when he’s around?

I shouldn’t feel guilty if I truly hated Mason and he meant nothing to me. Yet I took care of him and still feel incredibly guilty even though we didn’t do anything. Is this all because a small part of me reciprocates the way he feels about me?

I shake my head, clearing my thoughts as tears pool in my eyes. This has been an awful night. I take out my cell phone and scroll down until I stop at the one name that I always find myself turning to nowadays. It rings only once before he picks up, “What is it now?” he snaps, clearly not in a good mood either.

He seemed utterly pissed before I left with Dylan. But I know it’s not jealousy, after all he’s the one that arranged the date. He has no right to get jealous. He’s indifferent to my feelings for him. It think I’d prefer it if he heated me, at least that’s one strong emotion he’d feel towards me. “Hey Jay…I –I know you told me to never call you because I’m infuriating…b-but um…c-can –you please j-just…” I trail off in a hoarse voice, trying to not make it obvious that I’m crying, “Can you come and fetch me?”

There’s a moment of hesitance and silence before he answers, “Where are you?” and so I tell him, already feeling better just by the sound of his soothing voice.

It’s minutes later when Jay arrives in his red Gallardo and pulls up right beside me, where I still stand motionless and helpless. That was fast. Had he rushed over here for me? He steps out and walk up to me. He gives me a once over before his hard blue eyes soften a fraction. He obviously sees what a mess I’m in. He takes a dangerous step forward, closing off all distance between us. This time it is me who is surprised when I am taken up into his arms and all on his own doing.

For a moment he says nothing, giving me some peace to come to terms with it all. For that I am thankful. It’s is only minutes later when he speaks up.

“What happened?” Jay asks, as he places his chin on top of my head, drawing me nearer to him, probably in a failed attempt to make me stop crying.

I shake my head against him, “I just lost my entire life.”

“Bells isn’t your life. One person can never be your entire life.” Jay mumbles back a reply, indirectly sending me a message. In other words, he’d be here for me as a friend and nothing more. Message received.

I pull away from him and wipe at my eyes, feeling pathetic, “I’m sorry.” I whisper softly as I glance at the tear stains left behind on his shirt. He notices where I’m coming from and realizes that I am not just apologizing for the tear stains, but for everything in general.

“Hey now, you keep me active on my toes.” Jay teases playfully, trying to cheer me up as he brushes a strand of my hair out of my face. I smile slightly, feeling a lot better ever since he got here. “There’s that smile that grew on me.” He says, nudging my gently in the shoulder, managing to widen my smile in the process.

Jay motions for me to get into his beloved car. I eye it suspiciously and wearily, taking a step back, shaking my head. “Don’t worry. I don’t plan on taking you home.”

With that said I nod and jump into the passage side of his Gallardo without anymore questioning. He starts up his car in a commutable silence as neither of us talk. For once I can be content in the silence of the night because Jay is here. I trust him so I don’t bother in asking where we are going next.

Along the way my tummy begins to growl from lack of hunger. I peak at Jay to see if he’d heard, but thankfully his eyes remain fixed on the road. I shift in my seat and face the window as the trees fly past. I close my eyes, resting, and trying to shut my tummy up. If Jay hears…well that would be embarrassing.

Minutes later someone tugs at my arm not so gently and of course that person can only be Jay. He is not the most…affectionate person. I slap his hand off my arm, wanting to continue on drifting off into a deep sleep, “Leave me alone!” I grumble dreamily.

“Wakey Wakey Sleep Walker! Get out before I kick you out my car myself.”

My eyes flinch open at the new nickname rolling off his lips, “I don’t approve of that name either!” I moan, stretching my arms as I let out a yawn, failing to notice where we currently were.

“Dream walker?” Jay asks, hoping for different results.

I shoot him down again with a glare and cross my arms over my chest stubbornly. It’s then that Jay gets out himself and walks over to my side of the car, opening my door and practically throwing me out. No literally, he yanked me out so violently that I almost fell flat on my face. “Where are we?” I groan once I gather my bearings and come out of my hazy state.

“Mac D’s.” Jay answers nonchalantly as he walks ahead of me. To him this isn’t a big deal. To me, this is absurd.

I quickly walk faster to catch up with him as we enter MacDonald’s franchise, “Why are we here?”

“To get you food.” Jay answers casually. “Don’t think I never heard your stomach growling.”

I close my eyes and suck in a deep breath. How embarrassing? Also thoughtful and sweet of him…but embarrassing nevertheless.

So Jay takes the lead and I follow as he asks me what I want. I tell him and he orders it, paying for my food and buying himself nothing. Mhmmm…guess he’s not hungry.

He takes me to a booth in the centre of other people and not in some fancy secluded spot like Dylan had booked. For some reason that brings a small smile to my face. I prefer simple and casual over a fancy dinner. MacDonald’s with Jay is perfect, at least to me it is.

“You’re being awfully nice to me tonight.” I point out from my now relaxed position as I savour my food, no longer starving.

Jay sighs aloud at my words and leans in forward across the table toward me, “Aqueela…” he drawls out my name slowly, making it clear that he was about to say something of utmost importance or else he would have referred to me by one of his crazy ass nicknames. “I really didn’t want to bring this up again. But you can’t just go on like this and not talk about it. What happened earlier?”

I knew this was coming eventually. At least he had the decency to hold it off for as long as possible. I guess I owe him of all people an explanation, “Mason broke up with Bells because of me. That’s what he says, however I’m not convinced. Anyways Bells found out tonight when Mason happened to be there too. Troy obviously heard too and lashed out at Mason as Mason attacked Dylan. I asked Max to stop it, turns out that just landed Max up in the fight. So then the manager breaks up the fight and everyone is raging at me, including Bells. And it’s all my fault. The only one not remotely annoyed with me as of now is Mason, the person I hate. Just my luck.”

Jay listens intently as I go on into more detail. He never, not once interrupts, as I finally conclude the entire story. He nods wordlessly, taking the time to contemplate all that I’ve said, “Well if it helps, you still have me.”

Of course it helps.

“But you’re no Bell.” I remind him because despite my crush for him, Bells would ways be first in my eyes. For as long as I can remember, she had always had my back and when she needed me most, I let her down. Some friend I am.

“And Bell is no Jay Taylor.” Jay smirks and I smile discreetly, trying to cover it up. That she isn’t. Otherwise I wouldn’t be straight. But evidently as the facts prove that Bells hates me now weighs down, my smile falters and ultimately fades. Jay sees this before adding, “Look I know you have this incessantly weird bond with Bells. So weird that when I first met you I was disappointed because I thought you were lesbian-“

“Jay.” I emphasize, bringing him back to his point. He chuckles, enjoying teasing me, but that’s when I realize what he let slip. He won’t be laughing for much longer, “Why would you be disappointed if I were lesbian mhm?”

As if caught of guard by the question Jay’s blue eyes widen as eh breaks eye contact and shifts uncomfortably in his seat, all the while scratching the back of his neck, “D-did I say that? I don’t remember saying that.” He says, stuttering slightly, in order to cover up his mess.

Oh he said that alright and I couldn’t; be happier. I am not sure what to take for it, but by all means I won’t over analyse. My hopes would just be crushed in the end in any case. I mean it’s Jay Taylor, come on, he doesn’t change for anyone. He isn’t capable of having crushes and all those itsy bitsy romantic stuff. It’s just not him. Maybe that’s what I love about him. Hack I don’t know. There’s so much to love.

I keep my eyes solely trained on Jay, intimidating him as I watch him squirm under my gaz. No wonder he loves doing this to me. It is quite enjoyable. Eventually I decide to put the poor guy at ease as I take a single French fry and throw it at his broody face, “Lighten up. I’m here.”

A lopsided grin takes over his features as his blue eyes glisten and glimmer beneath the dim lights, “Yes you are.” He states confidentially, seemingly happy about the fact. However knowing Jay there was an ulterior motive as he adds beneath his breath, “Unfortunately.”

Must he always drown out all my giddiness?! Juts when I think he is being nice.

“So how come you didn’t come spy huh?” I muse, “I remember you staying behind with Bells, Max and Troy. I was sure they’d talk you into joining.”

Jay shrugs, ’’Spying isn’t really my thing.” He tells me, his eyes slightly drifting away from my own. He must seem my disappointment as he continues on elaborating, this time focusing all his energy and time purely on me, his blue eyes darkening and intensifying by the second as he finishes what he wanated to say, “If I really want something I go out and get it. Spying is cowardly.”

What the hell is he trying to imply here?

Is he saying he wants me?

Nope…that’s just me looking too deeply into what he’s saying. But dam his mind is like a jigsaw puzzle, confusing and messed up OR like a fort, undefeatable and impenetrable.

Why can’t he just make life easier and be straight forward rather than talking in riddles all the time?

Before I get the chance to question the meaning beyond his words he has already changed the subject, “So other than the fight, collateral damage and all your friends being pissed at you, how was your first date?”

I frown and cross my arms over my chest giving him a ‘what-do-you-think-look’, “Terrible. Disastrous. Worst date in entire history. Do any of those terms really come close to the actual experience? I think not. There are no words for….”I trial off as something dawn son me yet again, “Wait a sec…how did you know it was my first date?”

Only Troy, Bells and Mason knew.

As if expecting my reaction Jay graces me with a secretive smile, “I know everything.” He waggles his eyebrows playfully before reaching forward and stealing one of my chips.

“Bells right?” I ask, now curious.

Jay shakes his head, popping the French fry into his mouth, “Nope.” He says playfully, popping the ‘p’.

“Troy?” I question, needing answers.

He can’t just automatically know everything. It doesn’t work that way.

“Nah uh.” He shakes his head again, chewing his French fry with a mischievous glint to his electric blue eyes.

“Mason?!” I shout in disbelief. No way!

“Try again.” Jay simply responds. Swallowing his mouthful before a cocky smirk makes its way over his lips.

“Max?” I ask sheepishly, running out of names.

“Ice cold.” Jay chuckles teasingly as he leans back in his chair, finding this guessing game to be very amusing.

“How?!” I all but raise my tone, aggravated by his lack of information as per seal. Nothing new. Can he never open up about anything, even as small as this?

“Guess you’ll never know.”

I kick him under the table in his shin for the reply.

“Ow! And no, now I’m definitely not telling you. Shower me with respect and maybe-“

I kick him again, except harder this time.

“It’s for me to know and for you to…” he grabs another French fries and shifts back, tossing it into his mouth before chewing agonizingly slowly and swallowing, “Dot dot dot.”

I drop the subject deftly as he gives me a smug face with a gloating victorious smirk. He wins for now. Only because I am feeling to down to argue.

“So where you taking me after this?” I ask hesitantly, wishing in all my might that he won’t insist on taking me home. I don’t feel strong enough to face my mother tonight.

“Home of course.” Jay answers, staring down at the table as if finding it interesting beyond belief. He sees my silence and refusal to reply back to that. He lifts his head as his blue eyes meet mine in a burning flame, “My home.”

With that said I have out a gigantic sigh of relief. “See this is why I have a crush on you, this is why I like you so dam much. You’re a sweetie pie.” I reply on impulse of my excitement that he wasn’t taking me home without thinking what I’m rambling off about.

Jay raises an eyebrow at me, “Sweetie pie? Do you want me to go back to ebbing a jackass because with a nickname like that, I just might?”

Thankfully Jay chooses not to comment on the first part of my sentence and for that I am somewhat relieved and a little disappointed at the same time.

“What you say we get out of here?” Jay suddenly asks, dissolving my humiliation quickly and I can’t help but wonder if he always did this for me intentionally all by a coincidental accident.

He’s a lot softer, nicer than he makes himself out to be.

I’m sure my eye slight up greedily in response as I respond all too quickly, too desperately, “Yes please!”

“Home sweet home.” I say sleepily as I enter Jay’s house, banging open his front door.

He enters form behind me, showing me said and out of the doorway so that he could get past, “You realize that this isn’t your home right?” Might as well be though, “I think you’re getting a little too familiar around here.”

I would argue, but seeing as I am currently drinking out of the milk carton that I had helped myself to form his fridge…well as you can see I am in no piston to argue. I’ll be walking contradiction all over grain if I tried.

He’s right.

I’ve got cosy around here. It’s just such a natural homey feeling whenever I step into this house and I can’t decipher if it’s the house in itself or the fact that Jay always steps into the house with me.

I place the milk down and wipe the milk off my lips with the back of my hand before returning to face Jay, “But come on. I can be your roomie? How fun will that be?”

“How about no?” Jay replies a she flops down into the lounge sofa, making himself comfortable, just relaxing after the eventful tiring night, even though he missed all the fun…fun? Not exactly the correct choice of words…


“Will you be wearing a maid’s outfit?” Jay asks suggestively with a flirtatious grin.

“No?” I question more than state.

His suggestive grin fades back into his indifferent frown, “Then no.”

“So no roomie?”

“Established that. Still no.”

“Hmmm.” I tap my chin in mock thoughts, “How about your personal chef?”

“And die from food poisoning, no thanks. How about my personal butler?” Jay asks instead, resting his head back onto the cushions as his black spikey airs flops into his blue eyes.

“And see to your every need, I’m good. How about I live in your vents? You won’t even you I’m here.” I state, glancing up at the silver vents in his ceiling. Hey it is possible, Chang on community did it.

“Oh but I will.” Jay replies with yet another secretive smile as if he knows something that I don’t but he chooses not to expound further on it, making me inquisitive about what he meant by that. Again with the riddles. “So I’ll pass.”

“Dammit Jay, at least accept me as a pet. I will sleep in a kennel in front of your house for goodness sake, that’s how desperate and willing I am. I’ll be you pet.” I huff indifferently and exasperatedly. He is impossible! But I knew that already.

Suddenly he sits up and turns in his position on the sofa to face m sitting on his kitchen counter top, “Oooh kinky.” He grins and waggles his eyebrows flirtatiously. How charming? I try to ignore the butterflies setting for eruptions at the mere suggestion, “As temping the offer, I’m going to have to go with no.” I give him a flat look, trying to hide my blush. He shrugs and holds up his hands defensively, “You move in and you just become another mouth to feed.” He teases with an arrogant grin as I throw the empty milk carton at his head. But he ducks, just missing it.

Fast reflexes I see…

“Yeah because if I move in it will turn to adaption and survival of the fittest, right?” I ask sarcastically, feigning irritation.

“Yup.” Jay nods, again popping the ‘p’, “Exactly that.” He gives a toothy grin with that smug look in his gorgeous eyes.

“And you’re scared that I will be the fittest right?”

Jay’s eyes visibly darken, “Well it depends in what category you’re referring to.” He says all too seriously, implying the innuendo,

I give him a look, furrowing my eyebrows trying or register what he said and if he was being remotely serious. He sees this and behind laughing. The pervert! I glare at him a she continues to guffaw aloud, “Your face.” He replies in hysterics though his laughter.

“Yeah laugh it up.” I grumble, annoyed that I actually fell for that. He loves saving me form embarrassment and causing embarrassment all at the same time.

Eventually the laughing and jokes die as I go over and plop myself beside Jay on the sofa. We fall into a peaceful since before he decides to break it all with a single question, “Why do you hate your own home so much?” Um…because I don’t consider my home a home…

Am I that transparent?

That obvious?

“It’s not so much my home that I hate.” I reply coldly, closing myself off to him, not wanting to digest such personal information with him. Not ready for that yet. I like the guy, but I am not going to open up to him and tell him all my deep dark secrets just like that.

But again…as fate would have it…I shiver when a cool breeze picks up from the open widows. I wrap my arms around myself, pulling my knees up to my chin and that’s when my bare arms come into view…and so do the scars.

Where the hell is my cardigan?

It must have fallen off a while ago back in all the commotion.

I tense in my position as my scars face me, a cruel reminder of my life. Shit! I try to cover broth arms with my loose, hair, but it’s close to impossible. How had Jay not seen the scars already? If he had, surely he would have commented or queried it.

My heart begins to race as it dawns on me. I am screwed. He’s bound to look my way any second and see my ugly side.

Before I can react further a warm hand is placed on my scar filled arm itself as my arm is tugged out into the open before Jay. I fling myself backwards at the affectionate contact. He’s caught me in my vulnerable state. I peak a weary glance at Jay to see him looking at me sternly, purposely keeping his softened blue eyes off my arms, “You don’t have to hide from me.” He whispers, before reaching backwards and taking off his own forsaken leather jacket. I sit frozen in my spot as he wraps the jacket around my arms gently to protect me…form myself? Because clearly he isn’t protecting me form him. He’s already seen my scars, that much is obvious now and I don’t really know how I feel about that.

“Why didn’t’ you say anything earlier?” I ask, completely unaware that he had noticed my bare arms and as scars a loooong time ago and made no judgment me nor openly stared. That blows my mind. It astounds me.

God Jay is amazing. I truly mean that, mostly feel that.

Jay shrugs, adverting eye contact, “I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable or push you. I figured you’d tell me if you wanted to.”

His words warm my soul.

He was different from everyone I’ve ever known.

I like that.

In fact I love that about him.

“I’m sorry you had to see that. I mean it can’t be pleasant trying to talk to someone when this…” I gesture to my scarred arms, “Is preventing your from seeing anything else-“

Jay shushes me by placing his hand over my mouth. He lets go and I watch in silence as he adjusts the collar of his shirt slightly, exposing his own scars. Except Jay’s isn’t countless small scars. Instead it is one gigantic scar that starts from the base of his necks and most likely runs down to at least the upper part of his chest.

My breath leaves me at the sight because that scar meant one thing…Jay had been through as much pain as I had. That thought is too agonising to bear. Who would hurt Jay? And why? God forbid it ever happen again, not on my watch.

Since when did I get so protective of him? Beats me. It just happened along the way.

“I don’t know why you hate your home or where those scars on your arm came from, but I do know that we’re one in the same now. We understand each other. I don’t like being questioned myself on the details of my life so in retro respect of you offering the same consent to me, I didn’t ask and I won’t unless you want me to.” Jay replies softly, tenderly as if I am so fragile that I might break in a split second.

“Thank you Jay. I appreciate that. In fact it means more to me than you’ll ever know.” I reply breathlessly, still hurt because I realised that Jay has been hurt. That saddens me beyond disbelief and really it shouldn’t.

I just can’t stop these growing feelings for him. He makes me feel whole and not broken anymore. I need that. I want that. I want him.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shake the hold he has over me now. I keep falling deeper into the despair of his hands. It is dangerous because I’ll only be broken all over again by the end of it all. I know Jay will remain indifferent to me and never return the feelings…but maybe just having a small part of him is worth it, is survivable.

Jay smiles and warps and arm around my shoulders, drawing me to his chest, “You might not believe it now, but it gets better. Once you’ve hit rock bottom, there’s no way but up. Try accept where you’re at and build from that.” I nod into his chest as my eyes slowly drift close, yet a part of me, the more sensible part, stays away to hear what’s eh is saying.

What Jay fails to realize is that he is my ‘better’. Before him there was no getting better. Life only started getting better when he came into the picture.

I vaguely feel his fingers softly brush the hair out of my face before his warm touch caresses my cheek, “Your scars don’t make you ugly in the way that you perceive, because to me they just make you all the more beautiful.”

I barely register his words as my eyes flutter closed.

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