Pause (Book 1)

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Chapter 22: Jay the Jackass

“I take it back! You’re fun! You’re so fun! You’re so much fun! You’re way more fun than me! Can I go home now?!” I shout, afraid as I cling onto a drunk Jay as we both stand on top of that very same cliff that Jay took me to before we got arrested.

Except this time Jay is out of his mind crazy. He wants us to both jump. Yes, there is water below this steep as shiznit cliff but that water will feel like concrete when we hit it. Hell no! I am not prepared to jump and kill myself. Jay can, but I refuse! This cliff is way too high!

Jay simply laughs at my nervousness and unwraps me from his body as he takes a step closer toward the edge, “Awe come on Bubblegum Klutz, the water is probably great.”

“Not when the water feels like cement!” I yell, reaching out to him to try and pull him away from the edge of the cliff.

When Jay said let’s go have some fun, I was eager to join. I didn’t realize he’d drive me all the way back here and go all out on the cliff diving experience. And when I say all out…I mean we’re both probably going to die.

Let me back up…

Five hundred years ago…nah I’m just messing with you!

Two hours before…

So we’re sitting back at his house where he gets totally drunk off his ass and let me tell you, a drunk Jay is not only extra flirty but also completely and utterly insane. No wonder he limits his drinking.

I was just randomly sitting on his sofa, prank calling Grey to piss him off more when Jay approaches me out of the blue.

“You feeling okay?” I ask, watching his unstable and unsteady steps. When I see that he’s about to lose his balance, I’m quick to stand up and catch his dead beat weight. Dam he’s heavy. I wrap my arm around his waist, trying support the loon but he only leans further into me. “Someone’s drunk.” I say in a sing song voice.

To my utter delight and surprise his blue eyes brighten as he answers me back in a sing song voice, “And someone should get drunk.” He chuckles and taps my nose gently.

I raise my eyebrows. He always says that he hates me even more when I’m drunk. I wonder if drunk Jay is more of the real Jay that I never get to see. I mean he just sang to me, even if it was one line. I never thought I’d hear him sing, especially not for me of all people. According to him, I should be like his arch nemesis or something.

“You want me to drink?” I ask, puzzled by his more compassionate side. I didn’t realise it existed, but hell I’m already loving it.

“Nah duh.” He rolls his eyes. “That’s why I said so you Looney Tune.” He flashes me a bright grin that warms my soul. He also refers to me as ‘Looney Tune’ and that just so happens to come from me. So he does pay attention after all…

“Pishaw. If I’m drunk and you’re drunk can you imagine what will go down here.” I state, referring to the house burning down or other chaotic events, but Jay seems to get the wrong idea completely.

“I can imagine. Very much so.” He insists, sending me a flirty wink.

I realize what he’s implying, but before I can do anything about that mischievous glint to his eyes, he’s already backing me into a corner where there is no escape. “Now Jay, let’s think about this.” I say, placing my hands on his chest in a futile attempt to get him to move away.

“You like me. My closeness shouldn’t be a problem.” He retorts arrogantly and for the first time since…well ever, he acknowledges me having a crush on him. It started off as a minor crush but then escalated to a huge crush that is simply out of my control.

Before I can whip up a sarcastic retort he’s already leaned in closer toward me, dropping his head ever so slightly. My breath hitches at the proximity. He has no idea what kind of position he’s putting me in. In fact he’s exploiting my infatuation with him and he knows it and seems to be thoroughly enjoying it.

I would have reacted by now, but I’m slow because I’ve been caught off guard. When I open my mouth to reprimand him he suddenly does the unexpected and really I should have seen it coming. Jay always does the unpredictable.

He crouches down and places his arm around my waist before forcefully drawing me nearer to him. Then he gathers me in his arms easily as he picks me up bridal style ever so effortlessly and quickly at that too.

I let out a yelp and quickly wrap my arms around his neck, knowing that he is unstable on his feet at the moment. “Jay, come on bro. Put me down.” I say calmly, hoping that the ‘bro’ part would bring him back to his senses by making him realize that he should hate my guts and only see me as his friend or enemy or whatever. You get the gist of it.

“Awe come on Aqueela, we’re a little more than bros don’t you think?” he winks down at me as he carries me out the house and toward his car. My mouth falls agape at his words, unbelieving. “Loosen up a little. You’re no fun.”

I tap my chin in thought. Now why do those words sound so familiar to me? Ah yes! That’s right. I said it to him back in the tree by Bell’s house. Obviously, he’s still not over it and now he’s trying to prove a point and make some sort of statement. “You can’t change my mind Jay. You’re no fun. Deal with it.”

“I’ll prove your theory wrong. I’ll prove to you just how much fun I can be.” Jay smirks boastfully and way too confidently, “Challenge accepted.”

Before I can protest on anything, I am practically stuffed into the passenger seat of his car. I’d request to drive seeing as he’s drunk off his feet, but I happen to trust his driving skills even when he’s drunk. He’s just that talented!

“Well at least tell me where we’re going.” I say as he climbs into the driver seat and revs the engine for the heck of it before reversing out his drive way.

“Surprise, so road trip is all you getting.” He mumbles, distracted.

A road trip with my drunk bad boy…mhmm…why can’t I think of anything more appealing?

“Oooh I love surprises!” I grin and clap my hands enthusiastically, completely forgetting that I’m in a car with a mad drunk.

Jay takes his eyes off the road and shoots me a prideful smirk, “I know.”

I hate it when he does that, when he takes his eyes off the road. It scares the life out of me. “Keep your eyes on the road Mister.” I say, trying to hide my terror.

“How can I when you’re in the car?” He hits on me, he actually hits on me and his boyish grin isn’t helping the butterflies within me right about now.

‘He’s drunk Aqueela. That’s all.’ I try to remind myself, but failing miserably in doing so.

“How long does your drunk phase usually last?” I ask Jay, hoping that he’s says a couple minutes or so because I could deal with that.

“A couple hours.” He yawns, keeping one hand on the wheel as he shoots me a lazy half smile.

Oh dam. Yeah I am so screwed…

Back to present…

So that’s pretty much how we land up here on this extremely high cliff.

“If I swear on my life that you’re a zillion trillion bazillion times more fun than me, will you come home?!” I plead as Jay takes another unruly step toward the cliff. This is madness! “If you think I’m that type that jumps off the cliff just because the other person does, then think again!”

“Don’t be such a buzzkill Bubblegum Klutz. It’ll be fun.” He insists before leaping over the edge head first, much to my despair.

Oh shit!

Did that just happen?

This is why a rewind button for my life needs to be created.

When I hear a splash from below seconds later I can’t help but think the worst. I get on my haunches and crawl toward the edge as I peek over the cliff and into the dark waters below, faintly visible by the moonlight provided.

“Jay!” I shout, knowing there was no civilization around to hear or to help for that matter. “Jay are you still alive! Jay! Jay dammit! Jay answer me!” I screech in panic when I receive nothing but silence from him.

I begin to panic as all different scenarios begin filling my head. It’s then in that moment when I vaguely hear some laughter from below and I realize he’s messing with me. “God Jay! You scared me!” I lecture him, placing a hand over my incessantly beating heart. I swear my world just stopped spinning there for a second. It brings my feelings for Jay into a real perspective and dam I’m too deep in to turn back now. “Don’t ever do that again!”

“I’ve only jumped off this cliff like a billion times before Space Walker!” he shouts back. I feel the fury filling my veins when I hear this. He could have mentioned that before!

“Don’t call me Space Walker!” I snap, agitated and still feeling a little overwhelmed by his stunt.

“Gravity Walker?” he calls up and I shake my head, forgetting that he can’t see me. But then he swims further out from underneath the cliff so that he can see me as he motions to me to jump. “C’mon Jumper Walker! You know you wanna!”

“No!” I put up a weak protest, knowing this time that I’d lose. Drunk Jay beats sober Aqueela. I’m just starting to learn that. “There could be crocodiles in that lake!”

“The only thing in the lake you need to be scared of is me!” he shouts back up.

“Exactly!” I exclaim.

“Please. Jump. For me.” He adds meekly.

I sigh, already knowing that I can’t resist ‘for me’ as in Jay. I’ll practically do anything for him. So that’s why I take a run up, suck in a deep breath and close my eyes as I take the leap of faith for that jackass I happen to really like.

Splash!

My head breaks surface and I inhale a sharp breath, surprised by my own actions. I glance around, my heart pacing as Jay swims up to me with that same boyish grin still intact. “You did it.” He murmurs proudly before splashing water in my face.

I break out into laughter and begin splashing him back, finally enjoying the moment and letting loose the way drunk Jay does it best. Dam that was invigorating. I should have done that sooner! No wonder Jay does it all the time.

I feel so alive!

Maybe I am getting carried away with the adrenalin rush but screw it! I’m here, Jay’s here and we’re both happy. That’s flippen rare if you ask me! I’m going to take full advantage of this liberating feeling bubbling within me.

“Wooh!” I fist pump the air as the sound travels for miles out and for absolutely no one to hear since we’re in a remotely desolate area. “This is amazing!” I shout to no one in particular.

Jay laughs, a blissful sound that I could get used to hearing. “No way! This is awesome!” I nod, agreeing as he starts humming a tune and immediately I recognize it, surprised that there’s at least one thing we have in common.

I sing his hum aloud, “Cause everything is awesome! Everything is awesome, everything is cool when your part of a team!”

Jay grins, realizing that I’m singing to his humming of the Lego Movie. Mhmm, didn’t take him for the animation kind of guy. Turns out that every day I learn more about Jay and I’m loving it.

I motion for Jay to finish the line and so he does, proving to me that he knows the lyrics to the song, “Everything is awesome, when you’re living out a dream!”

Then we both start together, “Cause everything is awesome!”

We both fall into fits of laughter despite the cold temperature of the water. Screw that! I’m laughing. This is the side to Jay that I absolutely adore, that I want all the time. But I gotta accept the entire package, meaning grumpy Jay too. Can’t he be drunk all the time!?

Man how I wish…

“Now let’s go get arrested again! Awe yeah!”

Okay maybe sober Jay is better…


“Jay!” I whine running after his soaked form. “I’m freezing!”

He laughs from somewhere in front of me as he charges in the direction his car, just as cold as I am as the evening wind blows on our wet forms.

“It’s not funny!” I stomp my foot, pouting, halting in my running steps, needing to take a breath seeing as I am incredibly unfit.

“You should have thought of the consequences before jumping in like a Wildman. That’s what you get for following you instincts.” He grins, stopping and walking back to me with a cheeky smile pulling at the corner of his lips.

I grit my teeth in irritation, “You told me to jump!”

“Yeah, but I didn’t think you’d actually listen. I am going to use ‘for me’ more often from now on.” He grins, flashing me an evil smirk.

“I hate you!” I spit, aggravated and freezing.

“Oh Munchkin,“ he pats the top of my head, drawing me to his warm side, “If only that were true on your part.”

“Okay that’s it!” I say, pulling away from him, fed up, “When does sober Jay come back!?”

Jay laughs and I melt at the sound. If only he could stop laughing then being angry at him would be a lot easier. “I don’t want him back. Do you?” he asks suggestively, waggling his eyebrows as he leans down into me, nuzzling my neck as his warm breath and lips caress me.

Suddenly I’m not that cold anymore…

Get a grip Aqueela! He’s drunk and he’s messing with you!

Despite the warmth he’s providing me and the satisfaction of having him close, I pull away like an idiot. Jay seems surprised by my actions as if he was sure I wouldn’t be able to resist. “Jay, you’re drunk. Let’s get you home, mhmm kay?”

Jay hangs his head in submission and nods, falling in toe with me as we make our way back up the steep cliff where his car is. He remains silent all the while there and I can’t help but wonder what’s running through his mind,

I’m about to unlock his car and get in when his voice stops me, “Do you like Mason?”

I’m caught off guard by his prying questions as usual. My breath hitches at the question everyone seems to be asking me nowadays. I turn around to face Jay and shrug, giving him my honest answer.

His small smile fades only to be replaced with a frown before he marches up to me, keeping little distance between us, “Let me rephrase that, do you like Mason as much as you like me?”

Now that’s easy.

I bite down on my lip to prevent that small smile tugging at my lips. I shake my head defiantly, filled with conviction, “Of course not. It’s just not possible.”

My answer seems to brighten Jay’s mood further as he flashes me a genuine smile as if relieved in my answer. He frazzles my hair playfully before stepping past me and getting into the car, “C’mon Jumping Walker. It’s time to go home.”

I stare at him in awe. Unfreakenbelievable.

“Are you gonna stand there all night or am I going to have to throw you down that cliff again?”

That breaks me out my thoughts.

What the hell am I waiting for?

Next thing I know, I’m back in the car with Jay and we’re going home and dam, I’ve never had so much fun before!!!

I learnt something tonight, Jay is most likely the most fun person I know, he just compresses that side to him.

Well from now on, things around here will be changing…in other words I’m getting more alcohol and forcing Jay to drink more.

Kidding! I’m kidding!

Or am I?

That’s my last thought as Jay puts on the heater in the car, my eyes fluttering closed, satisfied with how this night has played out.


Jay’s P.O.V:

I watch from the window as we pass the dark sky filled with an infinite amount of stars.

Infinite.

That’s what I’ve always desired out of life, out of everything.

Somewhere along the line my train of thoughts take me back to a place of reality as a migraine takes over.

F**k!

How much did I drink?

Now I’m sober and hung over and I vaguely remember some parts of tonight, but barely anything.

I pull into my driveway and it’s only then that I notice Aqueela sleeping soundlessly beside me. I stare at her. It’s surprising to see her sleeping. She’s more quiet, more peaceful and a hell of a lot more angelic. Oh and of course, she’s less clumsy.

But there’s something about her annoying, loud, clumsy self that I just happen to find refreshing and different. It’s new and maybe new is what I’ve been searching for all this time. To be blunt, it’s addictive, reviving and essential to me right now.

I can’t help but watch as her chest falls up and down gently at every breath she takes. It’s almost hypnotizing. It’s the only sign that she’s still alive.

Alive.

Aqueela makes me feel more alive than I’ve ever felt before.

Maybe that’s why I’ve kept her around all this time. Then again, she’s stubborn and practically forced me to keep her around. I have a habit of screwing things up for myself, so I don’t bother. However, I can’t help but wonder how much longer she’ll be around. Surely I’d stuff up eventually and she’d be out of here faster than Usain Bolt.

But my conscious seems to think otherwise…

Aqueela is forgiving and compassionate, more so than anyone I’ve ever met. Granted, she’s a little insensitive but she only has good intentions in set. Just take a look at the hobo she befriended. If that’s not proof enough of her compassion then I don’t know what is.

She’s like a jigsaw puzzle. That’s the only way I can describe her. You think you have her all figured out one second and then the next…the person you thought you knew fades into someone else entirely. It makes life exciting though because she’s unpredictable and with her the future is uncertain.

As peaceful as it is watching her sleep, I’d much rather have her awake and talking. I kind of miss it. Plus, I’d like to know what the f**k happened tonight and I won’t be getting any answers until she’s fully awake.

I’m so tempted to wake her up just to piss her off, but seeing her like this churns something within me. Instead, I get out the car and close my door silently before going to her side and opening her door. I unlock the seatbelt and gently cradle her small frame into my arms. I can feel her steady heart beat against my own and it soothes me, taking me to a more blissful place.

I open the front door quietly and just as I do I happen to glance down at her and find myself smiling subconsciously. I shake my head to clear my thoughts as I walk up the stairs to place her in my bed and let her have the good night’s rest she needs, but doesn’t really deserve.

You can imagine my surprise when I find Oog in my bed resting soundlessly. At first, I feel infuriated because I had completely forgotten about him. But then I remember that it’s Aqueela’s fault he’s here in the first place and immediately my entire mood changes to a calm demeanour. My anger diminishes at the flip of a switch.

I grin at the fact that the hobo is sleeping in a bed for the first time.

Maybe he deserved it. Maybe he deserved some riches for once, maybe he deserved a home for just one night, maybe that’s the way Aqueela sees it. Maybe that’s the way she views life. Who knows? Either way I’ll have to burn my bed afterwards…

I take Aqueela back down to the lounge and place her down onto the couch instead, before getting extra blankets and covering her. Fortunately her clothes are more or less dry by now. I can’t believe I persuaded her into jumping. She could have seriously injured herself, knowing what a klutz she can be, and that thought definitely provokes me. I’d hate to see anything happen to her. On the brighter side of things, she did it because I asked her to do it for me.

Basically, I manipulated her and I gotta say, it feels good knowing that I can have the upper hand every once in a while.

Watching her sleeps brings me to the brink of my own exhaustion as I let out a yawn.

But before my eyes close from the opposite recliner couch, I happen to see the small scars covering her arms.

It bothers me.

I don’t ask her about it because I respect her. I don’t know why I have so much respect for this infuriating girl, but I do.

I let out a groan when I realise how much she’s going to hate me when she finds out what I did.

But I couldn’t just leave it.

Some of those scars are fresh, telling me that the abuse hasn’t ended.

So I took the liberty to end it myself.

She’s going to hate me, but I only did what I did because I care for her.

What made her run into me that day?

What made her choose me?

I know I sure as hell didn’t bargain for an Aqueela.

What made her not give up on me?

How did she know my life was lonely and how did she brighten it so quickly?

All these thoughts constantly plague my mind.

She’s something else altogether and to me…

God… she feels more infinite than the stars.


Aqueela’s P.O.V:

“She couldn’t have prank called you so many times.” I hear a familiar voice say as I shift soundlessly in my sleep.

“She wouldn’t f**king stop! Seventeen times! She knew I was tired and this was her way of getting revenge for me leaving her stupid plan yesterday!”

Someone’s grumpy.

Grey.

“Aqueela is just trying to bond with you. Lighten up.”

That would be Jay.

He’s actually defending me.

Let me milk this a little longer and see where it leads.

“Well she’s got a strange way of showing it! I mean seriously Jay, there are billions of girls in the world and you just have to pick her. You pick the goddam craziest from all of them.” Grey complains further. What a grouch. His comment is actually a little hurtful.

“I didn’t pick her.” My heart falls at Jay’s words, “She picked me and I’m kind of glad she did.” Jay confesses to Grey and I can’t help but bite down on my lip to stop my smile.

The moment is ruined when I hear something clatter form the kitchen. “Are you kidding me!? You actually let that creature sleep here. You’re so far gone, it’s not even funny!” Grey snaps.

What creature?

“His name is Oog and I didn’t let him stay because Aqueela told me to, I let him stay because he seemed like he needed it.” Jay replies back defensively and this causes my smile to widen. His words are warming my heart, making me melt on the spot. He’s accepting Oog and for me.

“He just broke your toaster and you’re defending him! Bro, that girl is changing you and you don’t even see it!” Grey complains, wanting his old pal back or acquaintance should I say.

“I don’t care and I think it’s best that you leave Grey because you’re really starting to piss me off.” Jay replies back in a cold detached voice that I almost feel sorry for Grey, almost.

Then I hear the door bang shut before a car revs its engine from somewhere outside. I realize that Grey has finally stormed off. That guy needs to stop taking life so seriously and lighten up a little. I once said that about Jay and now look how far we’ve come. He’s turning into a giant marshmallow and I couldn’t be happier.

“You can stop pretending to sleep now. He’s gone.” Jay retorts and I feel a blush coat my cheeks almost immediately when I realize that my acting needs improvement, that or Jay is rather perceptive.

I sit up, grinning from ear to ear, trying to hide my blush behind my loose hair. “You defended me.” I state the obvious, trying to still process it all myself.

Jay shrugs, “Only I’m allowed to insult you.”

“Grey meanie are mean to Eela.” Oog speaks up as he comes to sit beside me on Jay’s couch with burnt toast. It’s filled with tons and tons of butter. Eew.

“Eela?” Jay questions, confused.

“Oog can’t say Aqueela so he just says Eela.” I explain and then glance at Oog who seems especially happy this morning, “Want some toast with that butter?” I wink at him, teasing to which he sticks out his tongue still filled with food before putting his tongue back in his mind.

I laugh at Oog, amused, but Jay seems to find him repulsive with the expression he’s pulling right now. Jay brushes him off and turns to me, “Aqueela, what exactly happened last night?” My eyes widen as the memory comes back to me and I can’t help but grin. “Why are you smiling like that? It makes me nervous.”

“You are incredibly flirty when you’re drunk, but you’re also completely insane. On the brighter side of things, I take it back, you’re a hell a lot of fun. You should drink more often, but then again you are quite a handful. That’s all you’re getting out of me Mister.” I smirk in victory, not prepared to go into explicit details on how flirty Jay is when he’s drunk, not that I mind. He even managed to get my mind off Bells. He made my night and that means a lot to me, probably more than he’ll ever know.

Jay narrows his blue eyes at me, “Figures.” He mutters before adding, “You’ll never see me drink again.”

“Challenge accepted.” I grin enthusiastically.

Jay rolls his eyes at me, “It’s not a challenge Aqueela.”

“It is now.” I smirk, already planning what I’d do next.

For the meantime I have bigger issues at hand as Oog speaks up, “Oog like here.” He says and motions to Jay’s house. “Oog stay.” He says and then adds, “Forever.”

I chuckle, not taking him seriously as I glance at Jay to see a look of terror imprinted to his expression as if he’d just seen a ghost. “He’s not serious, is he?” Jay asks wearily, genuinely afraid.

I’m about to answer for Oog, but Oog takes the liberty to answer for himself, “Oog seriously serious.”

Jay nods, before pulling me aside and away from Oog’s hearing range, “Aqueela, he can’t stay here.”

“I know.” I reply.

“You do?” Jay asks as surprise flashes across his electric blue eyes.

I nod to confirm it, “But I can’t let him go back to living on the streets either.” I say gently, trying to make him understand my part in all of this.

Jay nods, understanding, “Then what do you suggest?”

I grin in victory at his words.

Oh he has no idea!

He should have never asked…


“You’re not serious, are you?” Jay asks, bewildered as we stand outside in his backyard glancing up at the enormous oak tree. Before I get the chance to ask, he’s already speaking again, “Why bother asking? You obviously are.”

I laugh and pinch his cheeks, “Look at you getting to know me so well.” I mock tauntingly.

He slaps my prying hands away, “Fine. I’ll do it. But only because I don’t want him living in my house.”

“Yes!” I fist bump the air, excited and ready to start. I turn to Oog with a wide smile, “You hear that Oog? We’re building you a tree house and you’ll still be close to Jay.” I tell him, knowing that he took a liking to Jay seeing as Jay apparently let him sleep in his bed. It shocked me, but Jay admitted that he did. Oog protested that he stay near Jay and so a tree house in the back of Jay’s garden was our only option left.

“Oog like Jay. Jay no meanie is.” Oog says earnestly that it scares me a little at how attached he’s grown to Jay, while Jay has a soft spot for Oog himself. He won’t admit it, but I know Jay doesn’t have the heart to send Oog back to the streets.

“I can’t believe I’m actually agreeing to this.” Jay mutters, frustrated, as he frowns at me and Oog.

“Is cause Jay love Eela and Oog.” Oog insists, much to my amusement.

Jay sighs, but doesn’t deny it which adds to my ‘happy-go-lucky’ mood this morning. “I’ll go buy the wood. You two get some helping hands and don’t tell me you can’t do it. I know you Bubblegum Klutz and you have a way of roping people in to do your bidding. See you in a few.” Jay salutes jokingly, before leaving me alone with Oog.

Mhmm…who to rope in…who to rope in…

Simo is working today. Apparently Dylan wasn’t very happy that I stole him last time. Dylan, himself, is still pissed at me. Bells needs time away from me. Troy hates me. Melinda hates me even more. Grey wants me dead. Mason is just too…Masony.

That leaves me with Benley, Max and Blubber.

Benley agrees easily, saying he has nothing better to do. He says I’m his day’s entertainment. I took it for the compliment that it is.

Blubber bribed me so now I owe him ten dollars for his assistance. Well I should rather say that Jay owes him ten dollars.

Max, the toothpick, said that after I ditched him he was furious. Troy punched him in the groin but then Bells felt bad when she got back home from Jay’s house and invited him in. Apparently I’m a traitor for leaving him behind. That and he’s spending his day with Bells instead.

And I’m the traitor…

Who else do I know? Who else do I know?

And then it hits me.

Boss man.

Jay’s boss.

Yeah Jay isn’t going to be very happy about that.

A tugging on my arm brings me out of my thoughts, “Eela. Oog have not meanies friend who can to help.”

My face lightens up, “That’s great Oog. Go get them.”

Mistake right there…

All of Oog’s so called ‘not meanies friend’ are insane.

Ah well, what the hell.

The crazier, the merrier!


“Yo Babe, who are all these peeps I’m a looking at?” Blubber asks, glancing at the three of Oog’s friends and Boss.

“Yeah. I’d like to know to.” Benley agrees with Blubber.

I glance at the freakishly tall black dude with chains and bling around his neck and dog tags. He has the typical gangsta look, ranging from loose pants that are almost slipping off him with a baggy shirt and sleek sneakers. He’s wearing so much glittery bling that he makes the stars look dull.

“This is Gland.” I introduce him, “He’s a pal of Oog, helped Oog out a ditch that Oog fell in.”

“Gland?” Benley repeats, confused at the name.

Gland juts his jaw out, towering over Benley in an intimidating position, “Yo that’s my name. You got a problem with that B-dawg or do I got to take this back to my posse?” I have to hold back a grin at his reference to calling Benley as B-dawg.

Benley is quick to shake his head, afraid, “No, it’s a wonderful name.” He lies, being polite, making me wonder where the angry Benley I first met went too. I’m glad I could make him a little nicer. That’s my goal in life, to brighten up the lives of people in the best way I know how.

“What do you do for a living?” Boss man asks Gland.

“I’m a professional gangster.” Gland answers casually, frightening everyone in the process as they all snap daggers at me accusingly. Gland sees this, “Relax yo selves, I’m one of them good ones.” They all let out a breath of relief. There are good ones? Mhmm…intriguing

“Oh and by the way, this is Boss man, Jay’s boss.” I introduce Boss man to them.

Boss man glances my way with an amused grin, “You realize you don’t have to call me boss man. My name is Greg-“

“Whatever Boss man.” I wave it off, before introducing the Rastafarian slash Jamaican slash surfer dude with long blond dreadlocks, slops and colourful clothing. “This here is-“

“Jam!” Jam, himself cuts me off as he greets the others with a large smile. Yeah…he’s a little eccentric and overzealous. “This is so gnarly man. I’m so psyched to meet you all man.”

“You all have stupid names.” Blubber ever so rudely points out.

I frown at him, not impressed by his attitude. “You the one to talk Blubber.” I emphasize his name, putting him in his place while the others all laugh. “Oh and Oog met Jam ironically in a jam store in Tokyo.”

Don’t ask me how Oog got to Tokyo without any cash…I’m just choosing to believe the poor saps.

“And what about mamasita over here? Mhmm.” Blubber grins flirtatiously, licking his lips, as he approaches the beautiful yet ditzy airhead of a blonde.

“I’m FeeBee.” She smiles politely and giggles. She’s always giggling. I like her. “Oog stole my comb.” Yup, she still forgave Oog for it and befriended him. She’s’ a girl after my own heart.

“Remind me why I agreed to this again?” Benley asks aloud, regretting his decision already.

I chuckle, razzeling his hair, “Awe don’t back down now Ley Ley. You came because I saved your life.” I remind him.

“No you didn’t.” he points out, “And stop calling me Ley Ley!” he snaps, his old self resurging. Well finally…

“Fine Ben Ben. Since you’re not keen on being here. You take Oog to his old home under the bridge to gather the rest of his supplies.” I say, pushing him into Oog and motioning to Oog to take him.

“What supplies? He doesn’t even own anything. He has no belongings.” Benley complains.

“B-dawg don’t ya go talking to my bud Oog like that or I’ll have to mess your pretty boy band face up.” Gland threatens, overly defensive over Oog as his tall frame stands beside Oog’s incredibly short frame.

“His cardboard box nah duh. Now shoo! Go!” I order, shoving the two out so that we can begin working.

Jay finally pitches, unloading his car with all the resources required. He thought of practically everything. He even bought a few things to put it the tree house like a minnie bed, a fridge etcetera…Man I owe Jay big time. That money is probably all the money he’s been saving. He really does have a heart of gold.

Jay enters the backyard, seemingly not surprised at the amount of all the people I managed to gather. He nods at all of them, acknowledging them in his own respectful way, that is until his eyes land on his boss. “You brought my boss here?” Jay asks me.

Boss man smirks, “Pleasure to see you too Taylor.”

“Great.” Jay mutters, “Now I got to see you outside from work too.” Jay kids as he greets his boss in one of those bro man shakes.

“Jay?” a small bubbly voice questions.

Jay seems to recognise it almost immediately as he spins around, coming face to face with FeeBee. “FeeBee, what are you doing here?” he asks, taken off guard. How was I supposed to know that he knew her? Except Jay isn’t mad like I’m expecting him to be, instead he’s smiling. Genuinely smiling as he approaches her and gives her a quick hug, “How have you been?”

She blushes when she sees me staring at their exchange before she adverts eye contact, “Good. You?”

Jay turns to glare at me before turning back to her, “Busy.”

Busy.” I mock to myself as jealousy rises within me. I scowl at their direction not so subtly before turning to Gland, “Let’s get started.”

“You alright there Eela? You looking down. Is that boy screwing you over? Man, don’t nobody screw around with my girl Eela.” Gland says as he lifts me up into a hug, thinking my name to be Eela for real. He grew fond of me when Oog told him all about me and about all that I’ve done for Oog.

“That’s just Jay.” I mumble, hurting a little.

“Jay, as in the man that Oog respects so much?” Gland asks and I nod, “Man I only got respect for that man, he’s a brother.”

I roll my eyes.

Is there not one person who doesn’t like Jay!

Mason…

Much to my sucky luck, Blubber shouts out in excitement, “Cool Guy Jay!” before he runs over to Jay and FeeBee. I am little thankful seeing as he broke their moment, but also disappointed that he’s just another one of Jay’s groupies.


“Seven hours! Seven dam hours Aqueela!” Benley complains as he finally returns with Oog.

“I was wondering why the hell you took so long. I hope you weren’t mean to Oog!” I lecture Benley when really I should be the one that’s getting a lecture.

“How is this my fault!? You told me to go with him!” Benely retorts back stubbornly.

Yeah…Mason always says I have a gift for turning my own blame onto the innocent person, making the innocent person look guilty and me look innocent.

Mason…

He’s been on my mind a lot as of lately.

Oog takes me out of my thoughts when he cowers behind me, afraid of the yelling. He can’t handle conflict. I pat his head, trying to calm him down before narrowing my eyes at Benley, “Look what you did! You’re scaring him!”

“He took me around town for seven hours. I’ve seen the entire freaken town. He couldn’t remember where he lived. Then, when we finally get there, all he takes is a toothbrush. A freaken toothbrush. One that he doesn’t use, but uses as a door stopper cause his cardboard box has a dam door!” Benley snaps sarcastically, clearly agitated and exhausted. “Seven hours for a toothbrush, one he doesn’t even use!”

Oog whimpers from behind me and that’s the last straw!


“Okay Aqueela I’m sorry. Can you let me out now?” Benley asks from the wooden cage I had Gland and Jam build before Gland threw Benley in and locked it.

“What’s the magic word?” I ask, cupping an ear to my hand.

“I’m not saying that Aqueela. You can forget it! I’ve been in here for two hours now and the tree house is almost finished, plus I really got to pee.” Benley begs, but doesn’t give into my demands. Stubborn guy, props to him.

“Not my problem.” I say, turning my back on him and his cage as I begin walking away.

“No no no Aqueela wait!” Benley pleads.

I obey and turn around with an innocent look, wiping my victory smirk off just in time.

“Your Royal Highness and Majestic Legendness, can you please let a fool like me out?” Benley finally complies to my wishes.

Dam, he must really need the bathroom.

I grin, flashing him a megawatt smile, “You may.” I say, motioning to Gland to let him out. “But in future refrain from calling me such cheesy names.”

Benley glares at me as he gets out, “But you said-“

I cut him off, “Tut tut tut.” I say, waving my finger in his face. “Silence.” I demand and then add, “Or else.” I motion with my head in the direction of the cage.

Benley gestures to me that he’s zipping his mouth shut and throwing away the key before he runs back into Jay’s house to use the bathroom. I grin to myself.

Man I’m good.

My smile wipes off my face when I see Jay taking wood out of FeeBee’s hand before helping her up the tree house to the roof where they are finishing off. She tries to nail the wood in but fails miserably. Jay, who would have been angry had it been me, gently takes the hammer out her hand, laughing along with her before doing the job for her. He’s laughing…and it’s not with me.

They’ve been like this for the past nine hours. It is infuriating and here Benley thinks he has it bad with Oog. I refuse to complain until Oog’s tree house is finished. I mean at least Jay is working with FeeBee as his incentive. I may not be his incentive, but this isn’t about me. This is about Oog.

Meanwhile Blubber used the wood to create himself a pool chair where he is now lounging shirtless, his literal blubber exposed to the sun. He said he wanted to tan. He’s wearing black shades whilst he got Jam to fan him with a giant palm leaf. He fell asleep and I’m kind of glad. He’s been useless all day and whines about everything. He’s been acting like royalty for god sake.

Jam isn’t the brightest crayon in the colouring box, but he has a gigantic heart. When Blubber asked him to fan him with a leaf, he just did it without complaints, only once comparing the giant leaf to his surfboard.

I can’t believe I’m paying Blubber to do nothing. I mean, I can’t believe Jay is paying Blubber to do nothing.

Well I guess his blood red skin makes up for it. Yeah I was supposed to wake him up when he started to burn. But I was so distracted with Jay, I forgot. He’s going to be in a lot of pain when he gets up. It hurts me to just look at his blood red tummy. That’s what he gets for being lazy.

Then again, I haven’t done much either. I’ve been playing fetch with Oog or I’ve monitoring and supervising the others, telling them what they are doing wrong and making them fix it. Yeah…most aren’t very happy with me right now, especially Jay since I complained about his work more than half the time. In reality his woodwork is flawless.

God is there anything he can’t do!

Gland on the other hand has been doing the heavy lifting whilst FeeBee, Jay and Boss man do the actual hammering in. Or should I just say boss man and Jay seeing as FeeBee is completely useless. I want to hate her, I really do, but she seems so sweet that her ditzy blondeness doesn’t really bother me much. What bothers me is how close Jay is to her.

I haven’t spoken to Jay since, not because I don’t want to, but because he’s been too preoccupied with FeeBee.

Ouch.

I know.

“My arm is soar.” Jam states, not in the least bit mad despite the fact that he’d been waving around a giant leaf for hours.

I offer him a gentle smile, “You can stop Jam. Heads up, no one listens to Blubber.” I wink at him in a friendly manner.

I can’t hold the smile though because inside I’m really hurt. Jay knows I like him and he still does this. I don’t expect him to like me back, but God, don’t humiliate me.

“You alright there kiddo?” I meet Boss man’s emerald eyes as he swings an arm around my shoulder. I feign a smile and nod, not buying it myself. He obviously noticed me staring at Jay in distaste. “Jay has a habit of pushing those closest to him out of his life completely, you may have noticed.”

Did I? You bet. Jay tried to get rid of me on more than one occasion. I just never thought he cared about me though. Maybe I was wrong.

“Who are you to Jay? He mentioned once that you’re his acquaintance and offered him this house and job.” I say, genuinely interested.

Boss man smiles, “Only acquaintance huh?”

I chuckle, “Jay says that about everyone he genuinely cares about. Don’t take offense to it. Apparently I’m still working my way up to acquaintance so you’re in actual fact privileged.” I tease, trying to hide my own hurt of not being considered anything to Jay when to me he was…everything.

“He was a bad kid. Well a good kid, but misguided. He was involved in gangs, drugs, all that kind of stuff. I worked long and hard with him. Eventually I got him out and offered him a job, house and school. I’m turning twenty seven this year, but Jay feels like a brother to me. I look out for him. Always will.” Boss man replies sincerely and it touches my heart. I never realised the two were so close. Jay didn’t speak much about him, but then again Jay doesn’t speak much about his life in general.

“You’re a good person Boss man. I hope you know that. Thank you for saving Jay.” I smile up at him before he razzles my hair and lectures me to not get all soft on him.


The sun begins setting behind a cloud and just in time too because we finally finish the tree house. I now sit up in the furnished tree house with Oog, FeeBee, Jay and Jam.

Benley slipped out hours before without me noticing. Guess he’s still afraid of me. Good! Gland said it was getting dark and he had to return home to his posse for gangster shiznit…whatever that means. Boss man has to go and be a boss again. Blubber woke up a little while ago. He screamed in my face when I sheepishly gave him Jay’s money. Apparently it was not enough to cover the costs of his and I quote ‘beautiful body’. He’s going to be mad at me for a while. I can cross him off helping me for some time now until his blood red skin recovers.

I told the guy to put sunblock on. I told him not to use tin foil. I told him not to fall asleep. Okay so I didn’t, but I was thinking it. That’s got to count for something.

Jay and FeeBee seem to only be conversing with each other, completely ignoring the rest of us, leaving me stuck talking to Oog and Jam, not that I mind. Jam is probably the most laid back guy I’ve ever met. He’s so chill, although his surfer slang tends to get to you after a while. Hang ten this, hang ten that…also he keeps telling me that I should try playing an ukulele and his new nickname for me is flower because apparently I’m as beautiful as a sunset on the sea’s horizon. I, of course, was flattered, but I would have been more flattered had it come out of Jay’s mouth instead and not some Rastafarian I barely know.

Oog was so grateful for his new home that he picked a flower out of Jay’s garden and placed it in my hair. He’s too adorable. I’m really growing attached to him, in a pet kind of way. Truth is, I have a soft spot for people like him. He’s homeless with no education, no family and no warmth or basic needs. Of course he was stalking me that night, but something in me decided that I was going to make his life a little brighter.

Hopefully I’ve accomplished that.

“Well Flower, I gotta go chop some waves. It was coolio meeting you though. I hope to see you real soon.” Jam says before pulling me into a bone crushing hug. I chuckle before waving at him goodbye and watching him leave the tree house via the ladder.

It’s then that I notice Oog sleeping rather loudly beside me as he snores deeply. There goes my last companion. I glance to Jay to see him staring at the ladder with fierce anger just where Jam had left from.

Okay then…

FeeBee sees his discomfort and offers me an attentive smile as she snuggles into Jay’s side across from me. I try to smile back, but my smile falters at the close proximity between the two. “Hi I’m FeeBee.”

I raise both my eyebrows, “I know. We met earlier.” I say, confused.

She twirls a blond curl around her finger as her blue eyes widen in recognition, “Oh yeah. Hey Aquilla.” She waves giddily whilst getting my name wrong, “I didn’t recognize you with that flower in your hair.” Wow…I really didn’t think she was Jay’s type…

Something in her sentence catches Jay’s attention as he turns to me with a cold detached stare, “Did the Jamaican give you that flower?” he motions to the purple flower in my hair. I pull a face, shaking my head and explaining that Oog gave it to me, surprised by the viciousness in Jay’s tone. “Then why does he call you flower?!” he snaps

I shrug, “Because he said I’m as pretty as the ocean’s sunset over the horizon.” I reply honestly, adverting my eyes shyly.

When I hear Jay snort I can’t help but glance up at him with a scowl, “You fell for that?” he asks, frowning at me in disbelief.

He’s really being rude today. What the hell did I do to him?!

“Fall for what Jay? He was just being nice. If you’re trying to imply that what he said is not true, then just say so. If you think I’m fugly then say it! Stop being a coward!” I shout, standing up, my bottled up temper finally getting the best of me.

Jay pulls a confused expression, getting up with me, “Aqueela I wasn’t saying that-“

’’I don’t want to hear it!” I snap loudly.

“But I don’t think you’re ugly, I think you’re really-“

I slam the door to the tree house shut as I storm off, not hearing the rest of Jay’s sentence.

Stupid jackass. Why do I have to like such a douche bag! Why!!! Jay the Jackass! That should be his name!

With that thought in my mind all the while whilst I walk away I find myself standing right outside a house I should not be standing outside of under any circumstances. I frown, wondering how I even got here. I shouldn’t be here. I’m about to knock, but stop myself. I should leave. I turn my back on the door, prepared to leave when the door suddenly swings opens, “I hope you’re not planning to leave without so much as a hello.”

I turn around, regretting coming here, but when my eyes meet his captivating dark swirling brown ones…well the regret is crushed instantly. A lopsided smile takes over his features as he opens the door for me, motioning to me to come inside.

At first I’m hesitant, but then I think on how Jay’s been treating me all day and suddenly I’m not that hesitant anymore.

I smile at Mason as my heart beat quickens, “If you insist.”

He closes the door behind me like a gentleman, “I knew you’d come eventually and I’m really glad you did.”

But am I?

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