Pause (Book 1)

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Chapter 23: Another Aqueela Stuff Up

“Why are you being so quiet?” Mason asks me as he hands me a mug of tea that I had not so politely requested.

“I’m just…” I trail off weakly

“You can tell me.” Mason assures me with gentleness. “I’ve changed.”

I know…

“I feel so lost.” I confess the truth aloud to someone for the first time ever. I never thought it would be to my arch nemesis of all people.

But he’s no longer my enemy anymore…

That’s all in the past.

Life is too short to hold grudges.

Mason nods understandingly, “Been there.”

His sentence hangs in the air, creating thick tension between us. There’s a moment of silence as I contemplate that he’s actually felt what I’m feeling right now and somehow I feel a little better to know that I’m not alone. I impulsively break the quiet moment, “Mason? When you told me it’s always been me, what exactly did you mean by that?” I ask shyly, adverting my eyes from his. He remains silent and I feel like I treaded onto desolate grounds. “I’m sorry for bringing it up, but I can’t stop thinking about what you said, how you tried to kiss me and just…you in general really.” I confess, feeling embarrassed as I do so and trying to hide it. I don’t have the courage to look him in the eye, but I sense him smiling at my words.

“We were six and you were sitting in the sandbox. You were trying to create a sandman along with sand angels.” I smile, vaguely remembering and wondering how on earth Mason remembered the first day we met. “You were wearing a green dress and you had your hair up. I was only six, but I couldn’t take my eyes off you. I had to know you but I couldn’t’t find any solid reason to just start talking to you. So instead I approached you in a different way. I broke your sandman and wiped out your sand angels. You were furious and when you looked up at me for the first time with those big hazel eyes all I knew was that I was a goner. It was the first day I met you and the first day I fell in love with you.”

My head snaps up in a rush at Mason’s confession. My eyes meet his chocolate brown ones that seem to be swirling with raw emotion and honesty. I open my mouth to speak only to come short. It takes me a couple seconds to readjust and find words because he caught me speechless, “Mason…” I make an attempt to speak but with the way he’s looking at me now makes it close to impossible. My heart begins to race as I try again, “I-I didn’t realize…I….” I falter in my words, unable to come up with a coherent sentence.

“I treated you like garbage and bullied you relentlessly for your entire childhood. It’s my fault.” He admits softly, almost shyly for finally telling me how he feels. “Over the years I thought I’d get over you, but the more I bullied you the harder I fell. When we were thirteen I came up with a solution to be closer to you-“

I cut him off as it dawns on me, “Bells.” I finish for him. When he nods I can’t help the dread that enters the pits of M tummy at the thought of Mason leading Bells on for years. Bells thought he was the one. She loved him and he didn’t seem to care. “You hurt her Mason, you really hurt her.” I mumble, annoyed.

“I know. I was stupid, but I’m trying to change now. Besides I didn’t lead Bells on for six years. Somewhere along the line I grew to love her too, just not as much as I loved you. She made me forget about you for a long time and I was happy. But then Jay came into the picture and when you started gushing about him it reopened everything I tried to bury. Then I saw those scars on your arms and knowing that I wans’t the only one hurting you made me furious, as selfish as that sounds. That’s when I realized I had to break it off with Bells.” Mason elaborates, keeping his eyes solely on me all the while and giving me his full attention.

“Mas, you should have told me.” I whisper, feeling terrible that he’d felt this way for so long.

Mason shrugs, “I was a coward. Last year at senior prom, I almost manned up and told you. I was with Bells when you made your entrance alone, dateless-“

I narrow my eyes at him, “Yeah I know. You made fun of me for a week straight for going by myself when I was only trying to insert female independence.”

Mason mouths ‘sorry’ to me before continuing, “Anyways, you stood out and you looked drop dead gorgeous, at least to me you did. You took my breath away and for a moment I swear my heart stopped beating.” Mason says, opening up completely and making me feel something for him, something I never thought I’d feel for my bully.

But that’s just it. He wasn’t a bully. He was always my bully and just mine. Despite his torture inflicted, he’s always been at my side all along. No one else’s.

Mason flashes me a cheeky smile, “Why do you think I wanted to dance with you that night other, than you being the most beautiful girl in the room? I was going to tell you everything, but then…” Mason gulps and removes his eyes off me for the first time since I got here.

“But then?” I coax gently.

“Then I woke up.” Mason breathes, “You were never going to accept me after all I did to you. I gave up before even trying. It’s why I tripped you on the dance floor instead. Hurting you was the only way I knew how to connect to you because talking just wasn’t…well let’s face it…talking never works between us.”

I shake my head, disagreeing, “It’s working now.” I smile encouragingly.

Every mean thing that Mason has ever done to me has always been behind his motive that he actually cares for me. Talk about contradictory.

“Why me? I’m plain and ordinary-“

Mason stops me right there, “You’re anything but ordinary Aqueela. You never seem to get that. You’re so oblivious, but it’s okay, it’s a cute look on you. It was you I had to fight to keep my eyes off when we were in the same room, never Bells.” Mason reassures me, confiding in me and I appreciate that. It’s more than Jay’s ever done.

I take hold of Mason’s hand in mine before giving it a gentle squeeze, “I’m sorry Mas.”

“There’s nothing for you to be sorry about.” he murmurs, retracting his hand from mine quickly as if my touch affected him too much. I don’t bother asking about his actions.

“Mason you just told me that you love me and I can’t even say it back.” I say in a softer tone, ashamed that I can’t feel strongly about Mason in the way that he has always felt about me. I’m also apologizing because while he’s given me his sole focus the entire time we’ve been here, my mind has only been on one boy and it isn’t Mason.

“Not yet.” Mason corrects me confidently, “You can’t say it back yet.”

His words leave me with butterflies and I feel close to tears, but hold them back. No one has ever told me that they love me and meant it and though Mason didn’t directly say it, it was obviously implied. No one has opened themselves up to me in the way he has. No one.

“I’ve never given up on you Aqueela. I’m not about to start now.” Mason states with conviction before adding something he really shouldn’t have, “Jay will f**k up because guys like him always do. And I’ll be waiting. It’s not an ultimatum. I just thought it’s time you finally know how I feel about you, how I’ve always felt about you. I will wait an eternity for you.”

As romantic and sweet as Mason is being, his mistake, his only mistake is criticizing my Jay. If more people believed in Jay then maybe he’d be a more considerate and nicer person. It’s people like Mason who have always led wealthy lives that don’t understand less fortunate people like Jay who haven’t always had the best.

But to me Jay is the best.

With that thought in mind, I come to my senses, standing up, “I should go.” I mumble dejectedly as Mason stands up with me, taking my hand into his delicately before guiding me to the front door. “Do you need a lift?” he asks politely like the gentleman I know he is.

What I need to ask myself is do I need a gentleman?

Do I want a gentleman?

Do I want a romantic at heart?

Do I want history?

Do I want the cliche bully love story?

The answer is no.

No!

I don’t want Mason!

I never have.

I want a lost soul. I want someone conflicted. I want someone who treats me rudely just because he can. I want some temperamental. I want a loner, an outlaw. I want a bad ass. I want Jay!

It’s Jay.

It’s always been Jay.

I think I’ve finally found my answer by meeting up with Mason. I dreaded seeing him after everything because I felt conflicted, but it was him who gave me my answer. He opened my eyes and though my heart bleeds for him, I just don’t feel the same. I’ve been trying to force myself to like him in the way he likes me and that’s why I’ve been so confused.

‘I don’t like Mason!’ I mentally shout.

The revelation excites me and I feel like a weight has been thrown off my shoulders. I can even tell Bells the good news at a later stage.

“Aqueela?” Mason asks, bringing me out of my thoughts.

It’s then that I realize leading Mason on is wrong and it will only hurt him more in the long run. He may not see it now, but I’m not the one for him. “Mason…” I start, trying to find the most appropriate words to use, “I care about you, just not in the way you want me to. It’s always going to be-“

“Jay.” he finishes for me with a sad smile that I manage to see through. “I know, but I’m not giving up on you. I’ve waited too long to give up.” he informs me before repeating his earlier question that I hadn’t answered, “So about that lift?”

I shake my head, because I intend on going back to Jay, my new home. There’s no way I’m facing my mother at an ungodly hour like this. I’m so excited to go back to Jay and to just be with him, even if he’s in love with FeeBee. I don’t care. If he doesn’t talk to me, I don’t care. If he shouts, I don’t care. Just being with him is enough for me from now on.

I reach forward and place a soft kiss on Mason’s cheek, “Thank you Mason. For being open with me.” I clarify, appreciating the honesty.

He nods, scratching the back of his neck and adverting his eyes, all flustered and shy because I kissed him on his cheek. It’s probably the most intimate moment we’ve had. I haven’t gone past hugging. I’ve never seen this side to him. Although it’s insanely adorable, it’s a side meant for someone else, for another girl, not me.

“Goodbye Mason.” I smile as I leave his house, ready to run back to Jay and be with him because I finally know what I want.

Jay Taylor!

And all of him, from his grumpy self to his temper issues to his rare sweet moments, right down to absolutely everything.


I open the door to Jay’s cozy little house. The door squeaks open and I try to be as silent as possible because there’s no doubt he’s sleeping. I am so relieved that he kept his door unlocked. He usually locks the front door at this time. He obviously knew I’d come back.

I shut the door quietly behind me, astound to find the lounge lights still on. It’s then that I see Jay just drifting off into a sleep. I was sure he’d be out cold by now seeing as it’s past midnight. He clearly hears me as he slowly sits up and rubs at his eyes, resembling a cute little boy. He’s adorable and I can’t stop the smile from spreading across my face.

He’s the only one for me.

Everything registers in his head as his innocent blue eyes transform into a darker hue of blue and a frown evades his previously puzzled expression. Immediately he stands up and rushes over to me, “Where the f**k have you been!?” he shouts, terrifying me as I flinch back, unsuspecting of the reaction he just gave me.

“Were you worried?” I question, whimpering a little as I side step him but he seizes me in place by gripping onto my wrist.

“Where. Were. You. Aqueela?” he asks slowly through clenched teeth, emphasizing each word with in an excruciatingly aggressive tone, completely evading my question. I’m going to take that as a yes. He was definitely worried about me. The thought flatters me a little, that is until his grip on my wrist becomes too tight. I try to pull away, but he doesn’t let me. He’s starting to scare me.

“Jay, you’re hurting me.” I reply softly, genuinely afraid of him in this moment now as his eyes bore into mine with fierce ferocity.

My voice seems to break the spell he’s under as he comes out of it, releasing me and stepping back. “I need you to be here, safe, with me.” Jay whispers, taking an entirely different tone, his anger having diminished alarmingly quicker than expected and just because he realized he was hurting me. “I worry if you’re not here.” Jay says, motioning to the scars on my arms and I finally get it. He’s scared I’m out getting abused somewhere. I nod understandingly, aware that he’s crap at expressing his feelings, but thhat’s something I love about him.

A ghostly smile takes over my features at his concern for me, “I’m fine.” I reassure him.

“Then why can’t you tell me who you were with?” Jay asks, not letting it go and why would he when I return home at 1 AM in the morning. It’s not fair on him if I leave him in the dark about it all.

“I went to see Mason.” I reply truthfully, not able to lie to him nor wanting to. Plus he’d asked me in his drunken state if I liked Mason and I couldn’t reply. It seemed to bother him, even though sober Jay won’t admit it. I can’t wait to tell Jay that it’s just him, that Mason is officially out of the picture. I know Jay will act indifferently, but deep down inside I’m sure drunken Jay will be relieved at the answer.

Except Jay doens’t react in the way I’d expected. Last time, when I told him that Mason kissed me, he basically congratulated me. I was expecting the same indifferent reaction, but when Jay falls dead silent at my words I know it might’ve been a mistake to tell him. He narrows his blue eyes into dangerous daggers that he looks murderous and it’s all directed at me. A scowl forms on his face and I can see in his eyes the control he’s trying to keep. Except he fails and smashes his fist against the wall, cursing beneath his breath.

“Jay-” I start, hoping to explain my revelation that I’d been so excited to tell him.

But he crushes me and cuts me off with cruel assumptions, “You’ve been with him for the past five hours! What were you doing all this time? F**king him!” Jay shouts in pure fury that I move away, actually afraid that I might be the next wall he decides to punch. But his theory has me up in arms. How dare he assume that, and after I’ve made it explicitly clear to him that I only have eyes for him!

“If you even have to ask such a question then you can forget getting a legitimate answer!” I hiss as I turn my back on the prowling idiot, reaching for the door so that I can go to the tree house and bunk at Oog’s place instead.

I hear him sigh in regret from behind me before a warm sturdy arm wraps around my waist and turns me around, bringing me directly face to face with the beast himself. His sucks in a deep breath, his blue eyes returning to their normal colour as he releases me by the waist and uses one of his free hands to take my left hand into his, interlocking our fingers. My heart quickens at the gesture as tingles run up my arm connected to the hand he’s currently holding.

He leans forward into me and gently whispers, “I didn’t mean any of that. It’s just…you make me so crazy.” he confesses and I honestly don’t know how to take that. How do I respond to those words? Man, I really don’t do subtle.

“You’re not my boyfriend Jay.” I snap harshly, his face falling as if a cruel reminder, as if he’d forgotten. He does not get do this. He does not to get to be jealous after he ignored me the entire day.

Jay is quick to change the subject, “I’m not the slut leading on two guys at once.” he mutters it, but I hear it. I hear it loud and clear and my heart breaks a little. “You owe me this. You owe me! Just tell me what the f**k he said to you!”

I try to hold back my tears and fortunately I’m experienced seeing as I do it with my mother all the time. I put up a calm facade as I forcee myself to look Jay in the eyes, despite the fact that he literally just crushed me, “Mason told me that he loves me. It’s probably more than I’ll ever get from you.” I spit bitterly, deeply hurt by his reference to me as a ‘slut’. That’s how he sees me now. “The funny thing is, while he was telling me that he loves me, all I could think about was you!” I yell, trying to get it through to him that it’s always going to be him. I need him to see that.

Jay drops my hand at this, quickly adverting his eyes as if ashamed of his actions. “I realized that I don’t like Mason. I like you Jay. It’s always been you and I think it’ll probably always be you. I told Mason off and I was so excited to come here and to just be here with you. My mistake. I see now that the ‘slut’… I emphasize his own words, “Is not welcome here.” I finish coldly and deeply offended.

Suddenly Jay steps forward and pulls me to him so that we’re chest to chest, determination flashing through his eyes, “Aqueela I-“

“Save it Jay.” I put my hand up, motioning to him to stop talking altogether. “You’re a jackass. You’re the one who knows how I feel about you, yet you still sauntered after FeeBee right in front of me, completely humiliating me. I understand that you don’t feel the same way about me as I do you, but don’t toy with my emotions. Tell me Jay, was it worth it? Was it worth breaking me so much today to the point where I went running to Mason?” I ask as I shove him away from me, still furious at him, but longing to be closer to him at the same time.

“That’s the f**king problem! You went to Mason before speaking about it with me!” Jay shouts again, his temper seemingly not dying tonight.

“Well sorry if you looked to busy conversing with FeeBee! To be frank, I didn’t think you’d even notice that I was gone! You selfish conceited moron!” I shout back, irritated that he’s irritated. He’s acting like we’re in a relationship. I don’t know if that should excite me or piss me off more. I can’t think straight because I’m so mad.

I just wanted to be with Jay. That’s all!

“I’m the selfish conceited moron?!” he all but yells back, “Before you stormed off earlier, I was trying to tell you that I completely agree with Jam!” Jay shouts one last time before leaving the house and slamming the door shut after him, leaving me alone and feeling terrible.

Jam said I was beautiful…

Ah crap! What have I done?

Jay come back!

Just another Aqueela stuff up that I have to fix…

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