Pause (Book 1)

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Chapter 24: Moving in with a Badass

Find Jay

Funny enough, I didn’t have to search high and low and to the ends of the earth to find Jay. All I had to do was search my heart and the answer came to me.

“You come here often?” I had asked him on the first night be brought me to his beloved cliff.

Jay shrugged, “Only when I feel lost.” he paused and then smiled, “So yeah, I guess I do come here often.”

In the moment Jay was feeling lost, so of course he’d resort back to his comfort zone, back to his cliff. There is no where else for him to go. That thought saddens my heart. Another one, is that it’s always me chasing him down. When will he come after me?

He sits on the cliff’s edge, his legs dangling below just a top of the dark waters beneath him. I had noticed his dark shadow beneath the stars almost immediately after I caught a taxi and got here as fast as I could, say fours hours after our argument.

The four hours gave me time to think. I want Jay more than anything, but I want him to want me back, so until then I’ll be backing off from now on, until he decides he’s ready to step up. Bust first I need to apologize.

He must hear the leaves being crunched beneath my steps because he starts talking, “When I was little, I was told I had anger issues.” Jay chuckles, sensing my presence as I walk up to him. “My foster father use to bring me here whenever I lost myself to my temper. He’d make me sit out here for hours with him. He’d make me shout out my problems over the cliff, my words echoing for miles out, but for only me to hear. I use to think he was crazy, but afterwards I felt better, less angry at the world. Knowing that there was at least one person other than me that would hear me shouting, my foster father, made it worth it. I could survive with him by my side.”

I stay silent and take a seat beside him, no longer fearing the height of the cliff seeing as I’d jumped from it before and lived to tell the tale.

“But then one day he gave me up. I was taken back to orphanage and I hated it every second of it. Did the workers treat me respectfully and feed me? Sure. But all I wanted was a family. Eventually I gave up on that vision. Life had screwed me over one too many times to allow me to trust the world again. First my birth parents give me up and then my foster family.” Jay states quietly before adding, “The worst part is, my foster dad never gave me a solid reason for letting me go. One day he was there and the next…well he wasn’t gone…but I was.”

“Jay.” I sigh, his story breaking my heart.

“I admit I have anger issues and maybe a short temper, but it’s because I’m pessimistic. I only see the bad in everyone before even looking for any good.” he keeps his eyes straight ahead of him, focusing on the black horizon, “But you…you’re the complete opposite. I envy that in you.” he confesses and I can’t help but feel dead inside with the way he’s going. His life is so empty, bleak, meaningless and that destroys me on the inside. “I’ve always been told to figure out where my anger comes from in order to resolve it. Little did these people know that I’d already figured it out. First my real family gave up on me and then my foster family gave up on me too. They were suppose to be the ones that I could count on, but they gave up on me too. I guess I’m just so use to people giving up on me. I mean I must be really f**ked up for two families to give me up.”

“That’s not true Jay, I -“

“Then you came along Aqueela.” he continues, clearly not wanting my sympathy. “You pushed me beyond my own limits. You didn’t quit on me. No one’s ever done that for me before. Sure in the beginning you kind of snuck up on me and kept following me around, being your ever so annoying persistent self, but the point is you stayed because you refused to give up on me. You stayed with me even when I did everything in my power to push you away. You’re relentless in your crusades, you know that?” he asks, slightly chuckling to himself.

“Jay, your parents, both lots of them, are fools. I’d hate to miss out on you because people as good as you only come around once in a life time.” I reply genuinely, glancing down at the waves crashing against the cliff below us as the evening wind picks up a notch.

“I’m far from good Aqueela. Like I said, you choose to only see the good in people. I don’t know whether that makes you naive or if it gives you an edge.” Jay retorts, stubborn and modest as always. I’m about to cave and make the first apology but he in actual fact Jay beats me to it, “I’m sorry for everything I said tonight. I never meant a word of it.”

I nod, a smile slowly forming, “I know.” I reply truthfully because I never meant anything I said to him either.

“When you went to Mason instead of me, well I saw it as you finally giving up on me and that thought was f**king scary. Sure you annoy me almost every second of the day, but you can’t just leave me now. You’ve grown on me.” Jay admits, turning to finally face me and with a heart stopping smile too.

I smile from the bottom of my heart, taking his free hand into mine, “I will never give up on you Jay.” I make an oath to him, giving him my word. I plant a small kiss on his hand before releasing it. “On my part, I was just jealous of your relationship with FeeBee.” I admit. Jay glances over me with amusement mixed with bewilderment lingering on his expression. I explain myself, “If you want to be with FeeBee then you should be with FeeBee. If-“

“Aqueela.” he interjects in protest.

I cut him off, still rambling, “If you feel that FeeBee’s the one for you then you have my blessing. If you-“

“Aqueela.” He tries again.

I shush him, needing to get him to listen, “If you’re in love with FeeBee then-“

“But Aqueela-“

“be with FeeBee. If you want to marry her then marry her. If you want-“

“Aqueela she’s-“

“babies with her then you should have babies with her and if you-“

“Aqueela she’s lesbian!” Jay finally shouts, exasperated, trying to get the message through to me. “Besides I’d never want to do any of those things with her even if she were straight.”

“She’s what now?” I ask, shocked.

“She bats for the other team. She swings that way. She’s lesbian. She’s a ‘dyke’ as you’d say. She prefers chicks to di-“

“Okay okay okay!” I huff, “I get it.” I sigh before running a free hand through my hair, “God, I’m such an idiot.”

Jay laughs aloud at this, seeming to find the entire misunderstanding hilarious. He throws an easy arm around my shoulders and tugs me to him, “I wouldn’t say you’re an idiot.” he breathes into my ear, “Stupid, but not an idiot.” he chuckles, sending tingles down my spine at his warm minty breath caressing my neck and ear. He pulls away with a mischievous grin and I just know that there’s something he isn’t telling me.

“What?” I ask, “What is it?”

He shakes his head, laughing a little, “The irony of it all. You were afraid she had a crush on me. Well turns out, she has a crush on you.”

My eyes widen at his words as the puzzle piece comes together. I kept staring at them because I was pissed at Jay. She’d blush, but I figured Jay was making her blush. Turns out it was my gaze making her blush. My mouth falls agape at his words. This can’t be happening.

Jay chuckles at my expression, finding this all rather amusing. “Now now Sweetheart, close your mouth. There’s no need to look so surprised.” Jay grins, reaching over and closing my mouth. “Pretty much everyone I know finds you attractive. God, even my only female friend thinks you’re hot.”

I frown at him, pouting, “That’s not true.”

“Blubber-“

“He’s a child.” I retort, giggling a little.

“Simo-“

“He’s asian.” I mumble.

“What’s that got to do with anything?” he asks, laughing.

“I just really needed an excuse because Simo freaks me out sometimes.” I explain.

“Mhmm.” Jay taps his chin in mock thought, “I know the feeling.” he smirks, glancing at me accusingly, implying that I freak him out.

“Hey!” I snap playfully, elbowing him.

He chuckles but merely continues on going, “Max for a while, Mason forever, Dylan, Jam, Troy I’m still convinced, Benley I’m suspicious of and now FeeBee is added as the latest edition.”

I roll my eyes, but happy that he at least takes note of things. “So tell me how you know FeeBee.” I say, wanting to change the subject as quickly as possible.

“She was in the orphanage with me before I broke out. I saw her as my only lifeline back then. I haven’t seen her since so I was just trying to catch up. That’s all.” Jay replies, telling me the entire truth.

“I’m sorry for jumping to conclusions.” I mutter, feeling entirely embarrassed about the situation. “But on the up side, I’m hear to listen to you shout across the horizon.” I smile at him and nudge him, hoping to give him the right push he needs. I want him to know that I’m here listening, just as his foster father did, the difference being that I don’t plan on leaving him.

Jay grins at me, “I’m past that but thanks for the tempting offer.”

“Jaaaaay.” I sing, elbowing him, “You know you wanna.”

Jay raises both eyebrows, questioning my motives, “I’d ask if you’re serious, but I already know that you are. I knew I’d come to regret telling you anything about me at all.” he jokes, but my walls come up and I somewhat take offense to that. I frown at him before turning my entire body away from him, “Awe come on! You’re not seriously mad at me right now?!” I don’t answer, slightly annoyed. He senses this and next thing I know he’s grumbling on about ‘the things he does for me’ before he’s shouting and his voice is echoing around for all to hear, “I hate you world! I hate how you always manage to f**k me over! But most of all, I hate that I don’t even know who I am anymore!”

Slowly I turn my body back to him, so that I’m facing him again, relating to what he’d said last. He’s just as lost as I am. He takes my thoughts of all that away and flashes me a condescending smile, “Better?” he asks and I nod. This time he’s nudging me, “C’mon. Shout. You know you wanna.” he replies in that same sing song voice I taunted him with. I can’t help but shed a smile at the playful banter. He grins, impressed with himself, “There’s the smile I wanted to see.”

“I hate that Jay hates the world! I hate that you Mr World are always screwing Jay over! I hate that you never cut him some slack!” I shout, listening to my voice bounce across the ocean and echoing for kilometres out into towns nearby.

Jay seems touched by my words and remains silent for a moment or two as adrenalin courses though my veins. This is almost exhilarating as jumping off the cliff. “Now for yourself.” Jay whispers and I know exactly what he means by that.

I suck in a deep breath before shouting at the top of my lungs for myself, “I hate how things have ended up for me! I hate how nothing ever goes my way! I hate the abuse, the torment! I hate her! I hate my mother!” I heave, my breathing uncontrollable as I feel myself fall apart a little at the last sentence. It’s when Jay remains silent that I realize what I’ve just revealed to him. I’m about to lie and make up some excuse as to why I said any of that when he interrupts.

“It’s okay Aqueela. I know.” he confesses, shocking me. How does he always know everything about me without me telling him first? He sees my skeptical side coming out and briefly explains, “I’ve known for a while now. That first day when you bumped into me in the ice cream parlour, your sleeve brushed up. When I looked down to see if my jacket was ruined, my eye caught the scars on your arm. I left it because I didn’t know you at the time. But then the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I needed to help you because I went through my own series of abuse. I followed you home that day and I heard crashing and banging from inside. Then your mother walked out with a cigarette in her mouth and I put two and two together. The next day I was suppose to meet with you for my jacket back, but when it came down to it I couldn’t. I backed down, hoping to never see you again because I didn’t want to make things harder for you…and for myself. But you persisted and you pushed and pushed and pushed until I gave way.” My eyes widen as I take all this information in. Jay just keeps surprising me more and more everyday and he keeps making me fall harder each day without even trying, “I’m glad you did though Aqueela. I’m glad you did.” he mumbles more to himself than me as he falls into deep thought.

“Me too.” I add as an afterthought as an overwhelming peaces takes over the moment. I close my eyes, my legs dangling over the cliff as I lean into Jay, resting my head on his chest and this time…this time he doesn’t shove me away and I take in all that is him.

I think this was our start over.

No secrets this time round.

…or so I’d hoped…


“I can’t believe you’d go behind my back and do this Jay!” I shout, furious, the previous night long forgotten with the news of what he’s been up to all this time. He says nothing and merely stares at me with those spell binding hypnotizing cursed blue eyes. “You’re not going to even try defend your actions or say that you’re sorry!” I spit, more furious than I had been when he’d called me a slut.

Jay watches my reactions closely not even blinking or flinching. He takes a step toward me boldly, “I haven’t said sorry because I’m not sorry. I don’t regret my actions.” he replies effortlessly, almost too easily while I’m straining to even voice my emotions right now. It only makes me more infuriated.

“This is exactly why I never told anyone! To prevent this! They’re going to arrest her Jay!” I shout, trying to get it through to him that what he did was wrong even if he thinks it was right.

“I hope they do.” he replies calmly and nonchalantly as if not concerned about it in the least.

I pace about his lounge, stressed out of my mind and fearful of the future. “This was never suppose to happen.” I mumble to myself, watching Jay’s tiles as I pace up and down whilst he watches me. I release a few curse words beneath my breath, genuinely afraid of what happens next. I’ve been trying to prevent this situation from erupting but Jay just had to stir the fire. Tears flood my eyes as I run a shakey hand through my loose curls. “God no. This was never the plan-“

Jay cuts me off, not allowing me to finish as he closes of all distances between us, placing both of his cold hands on my warm cheeks, forcing me to look at him and not his tiles, “Aqueela.” he whispers, looking me straight in the eye, trying to soothe me and his soft voice does just that. “She’s hurting you. I want-no I need that to stop. I’m not the bad guy here. I only want you to be free of harm.”

I swallow, trying to hold back my tears. No one’s ever seen me cry and I want to keep it that way. But to my dismay Jay is my weakness. A single traitorous tear escapes, falling off my eyelashes before running down my cheek, leaving a trail and proof of my sadness behind. “But did you ever stop and think to how this affects me? Where am I suppose to go? What am I suppose to do? Who’s going to pay for my education? Why did you have to do this to me Jay!? Why?” I ask, exasperated as I rest my forehead against his, closing my eyes as more tears escape and I can’t help but tremble in fear.

“Because I care about you Aqueela and I’m not just going to sit back and watch you get hurt anymore.” Jay whispers gently in my ear, pulling me into his arms and providing me with comfort that I don’t even want…not from him anyways.

“When?” I breathe, opening my eyes and pulling away to see him.

“The night you went out with Dylan. I wasn’t there spying on you with the others because I was busy laying down a case against your mother for child abuse.” He replies chastely as I’m met with betrayal at his lies.

“How could you do this to me Jay?” I reply hoarsely, my voice broken and strained as I sniff and wipe away at my tears.

“Because Aqueela I-“

I don’t allow him to finish. I push him away and stumble out of his strong arms, needing to fix this before it happens. The only way to do that is to go against Jay and lie. I won’t be giving an account of the past couple years in my life. I refuse to testify against the only one who kept me alive all this time.

“Aqueela you will testify.” Jay says sternly as if he knew exactly what I was thinking. “There’s no getting out of it. I’ve already spoke to your uncle and grandparents about it.”

My jaw drops in shock, “How the hell do you know they existed let alone know how to contact them?”

He shrugs, “I know a lot more about you than you think.”

“Clearly.” I mutter, infuriated by this point.

“You’re grandparents are willing to take you in. You’ll be staying with them from now on.” Jay says medially, as if he was or still is in full control of the situation.

“They live two hours away Jay. I will have to change schools and I’ll never see you or anyone-“

“They’ve agreed to let me pick you up to and from school without anything else in your life changing. I’ve also issued a restraining order against your mother. She won’t be allowed near you anymore. This is all the best for you Aqueela. Trust me.” he pleads, sounding a little more edged and desperate now as if I was getting to be quite the handful. Did he expect me to be okay with all of this?

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!” I snap, agitated and panicking more when I consider all that he’d done behind my back. Now everyone knows my deepest darkest secrets.

He marches forward and tugs on my wrist harshly, pulling me into him, “Yes I do!” he shouts back bitterly, “You think I haven’t faced the same situation before. I wanted Greg dead when he did this to me, but looking back I am eternally grateful that he got me out. It’s time I pay you the same favour.”

“Greg?” I raise an eyebrow, wondering who this Greg character is.

“Boss man.” Jay rolls his eyes as I finally come tor register who it is he is referring to. “As much as I hate to admit it, he saved my life and I’m just doing the same for you. You won’t see it now, but you will when I get you out.”

“I don’t want out Jay.” I reply, exasperated and just plain exhausted of this loosing battle. “She’s still my mother.”

Jay shakes his head, fully disagreeing, “She has you so wrapped around her finger. She’s blinded you to the truth. She’s not your mother Aqueela. She’s nothing to you. You don’t owe her anything. You told me yourself that your mother, your real biological mother, died in a car accident when you were four.”

Tears threaten to escape at my eyes, but again I restrain myself and hold them back, needing to be strong. I will not be weak, especially not in front of Jay, “You remember that?” I whisper, shocked. I only told him because I figured he wouldn’t care to remember.

He sighs lowly, “Of course I do Aqueela.” he says, tracing his thumb along the scars on my wrist lightly. Something in his recent actions reminds me that I’m furious at him, not falling into his spell. With that thought in mind, I pull away from him and head for the front door, “Where are you going?” he asks after me.

“Home.” I mumble, hoping he wouldn’t follow.

“I’m coming with you.” he replies determinedly, handing me empty boxes, “I’ll do the heavy loading.”

I stomp my foot and turn around, shaking my head, but taking the empty boxes out of his hand nevertheless, “No. No you’re not. I have to face her alone before the cops get there.”

“Aqueela I have proof. You can’t stop-“

“I’m not trying to stop this. I just want to get all my stuff.” I reply quietly and now that he gets it, he nods, understanding. Fortunately he’s too naive to see that I’m lying. I’m going home to beg her forgiveness and tell the cops that it’s all lies.

I open the door and slam it shut after me, signifying that I’m still extremely upset about the whole ordeal. I hope Jay gets that or I swear I will nail it into his skull. I still can’t believe he went behind my back and did this. I don’t know if I can ever forgive him for this.

I end up bumping into someone as their arms come around to steady me. I glance up, seeing that it’s Troy. My surprise would get the best of me, but seeing that I’m so pissed off, I could care less about Troy and his motives right now.

I push past him only for him to follow me and catch up until he’s stepping in toe with me. “Hey hey hey! What’s up?” he asks, actually looking a little concerned despite what I did to his sister. “Did something happen? Just tell me who crapped in your box of chocolates and I’ll sort them out.”

“Piss of Troy. I’m busy.” I say in a deadly, threatening tone. “I don’t have time for your childishness. You obviously came to see Jay, so go see him!”

“I actually came here to see you.” he mumbles as he scratches the back of his neck. I stop walking, turning to face him, a little stunned. “I know you’ve been staying at Jay’s house. After you kidnapped Bells I was determined to kill you. But then she explained everything, including what you did for her, that and your…your…” he trails off as if unable to finish the rest of his sentence and judging by his stuttering he needs a push.

“My what?!” I snap, needing to get going and not to be delayed by this…this…I don’t even know what Troy is to me anymore. He sure as hell isn’t my brother.

He doesn’t answer and I follow his gaze down to my arms. I catch his drift and begin mumbling curses beneath my breath. Of course he knew. Everyone now seems to know now no thanks to Jay! “I don’t want you pity Troy so just leave…please.” I add the last word in a tone of desperation.

I’m not exactly the most ideal person to be around right now.

“You realize you can’t make me leave? You don’t actually live here.” Troy reminds me, following me up to Jay’s car.

Yeah…I stole Jay’s car keys and as of now I couldn’t give a crap if he finds out and never speaks to me again. I know his car is his baby but seeing as he’s stuffed up my entire life, taking his car isn’t such a big deal in my eyes.

Troy’s words float around in my brain until an idea comes to mind. I smirk to myself, “Not yet I don’t.” I whisper inaudibly so that Troy wouldn’t hear. When he places his hand on my shoulder and forces me to face him, I cave. He wants in, he’ll have in. “You want to stick around? Fine! Get in the car.” I demand, opening the passenger seat of Jay’s car and motioning for him to get in. “I’ll need a lump of brainless bulk to do my heavy lifting anyways.” I say, referring to all my belongings (not that I had much) to take. I shove the emtpy boxes into his hands as he raises his eyebrows, confused.

“No no no Aqueela wait! I’m trying to say sorry here and you’re bossing me around and-“

“Car!” I yell shutting him up successfully.

He breathes out a tired sigh before nodding, complying with the demands. I’m about to get into the driver seat before he snaps his fingers, obviously wanting something. Again, I stupidly follow his gaze until I see his eyes resting on the keys in my hand, “If we’re jacking Taylor’s ride, I’m driving this baby.”

I roll my eyes and toss him the keys. He catches it them in one hand effortlessly, dropping all the boxes as he winks at me and blows me a kiss, clearly impressed with himself. He follows my gaze to where the boxes are now resting on the floor. He cocks his head to the side with a cute expression on his face, shrugging, “I can’t always be perfect.” he flashes me a white megawatt smile before jumping into the driver’s seat and revving the engine in anticipation.

I grab the boxes from the floor, hopping into the passenger seat and quickly closing my door as Jay opens his own font door, shooting us both deadly looks for stealing his ride. I send him a malicious wave before Troy pulls out and drives away, leaving Jay stranded in his own home for the rest of the day and still…it’s not punishment enough for what he’s done to me.

Troy takes his eyes off the road for a second to glance my way and I feel my heart quicken. I trust Jay’s driving because he’s a professional racer, but clumsy Troy…well that’s another story altogether. He has a habit of screwing things up. Plus I have a fear of car accidents as it is…

“Where to M’lady?” Troy asks.

“Home.” I say, tying to cover up my fear of being in the same car as him right now. Please don’t let us crash. Please!

“I’m not familiar with that location.” he replies back playfully.

“No one is, but take a left here.” I order, knowing that he’d be the first to see whee I live, well other than Jay who had apparently followed me home once.

“Anything for you.” he hums to himself, fixating his eyes back on the road, giving me time to catch my breath again.

Here we go…


Troy stops right in front of my somewhat shack of house I call home. I glance at my watch, quarter to one. That’s messed up! The police must have already been here. Jay called them over five hours ago.

Troy pulls a befuddled expression when he glances from my house to me. Oh yeah…he doesn’t know. “So is this where your help stays?” he jokes, not believing that this could actually be where I stay.

I’d be offended if I cared about his opinion. Not all of us grew up stinking rich in a mansion. I narrow my eyes at Troy’s turquoise ones, “No. This is where I live.” I correct him, not impressed with his lame jokes.

I get out the car after that, hearing him ask awkwardly, “Should I follow you in or…” he trails off uncomfortably, still not even knowing why I’m here in the first place.

I huff and gesture for him to come along, “Let’s go Troy Story, heavy lifting isn’t going to do itself.”

“I’m coming. I’m coming. Jeeze, no patience.” he grumbles as he catches up to me, entering into my house after me. The doors were unlocked. They always are. Please don’t tell me they arrested her already. I never wanted to press charges. This is all Jay’s doings and Grams is going to kill me when she finds out I was withholding information from her.

I look around our little house, not seeing my mother anywhere. I knock on her bedroom door and there’s no answer, just silence. I can only hope she hasn’t been arrested…that or she’s passed out somewhere.

I sigh and open her bedroom door, sneaking in cautiously. Then out of nowhere the door slams shut from inside as a hand clasps down onto my wrist full force. I wince and try get out her claws but she’s holding onto me tightly. I struggle against her as I take in her alcoholic breath and blazing eyes that are burning into me with ferocity.

“You told the cops on me! You told them!” she shouts, alarming Troy who opens the door immediately and rushes to my side. My mother’s eyes widen considerably in shock as they fixate on Troy’s form. Guess my mother didn’t realize that I wasn’t the only one in the house.

“Who is she?” Troy asks, still out of his mind confused.

None of us answer as my mother glares daggers at me. “I’ve always tried to give you the best and this is what I get in return! I took you in and treated you like my own. I loved you! And what?! Now you’re punishing me for being a mother to you!”

I’m about to fall to my knees, always weak at her will, and sob and apologize until the blood runs out of me. I would even get the cops off her back and go back to where we were but…but then Jay’s voice comes back to haunt me in a taunting manner.

“She’s hurting you. I want-no I need that to stop. I’m not the bad guy here. I only want you to be free of harm.”

She’s the bad guy here! Not me! Not Jay!

She’s the one hurting me!

“She has you so wrapped around her finger. She’s blinded you to the truth. She’s not your mother Aqueela. She’s nothing to you. You don’t owe her nay thing. You told me yourself that your mother, your real biological mother, died in a car accident when you were four.”

Suddenly rage takes over and fuels my emotions instead of fear, guilt and tremendous uncertainty for the future. “My mother would have never done this to me!” I shout, pulling up my sleeves and revealing my scars much to Troy’s shock and my mother’s increased anger. “You’re not my mother!” I shout, furious. Everything I bottled up for years is finally exploding. “I owe you nothing! Nothing!” I scream, infuriated and my wrath is finally being unleashed after all these years.

Then suddenly…

Slap!

My head twists to the side on impact.

I begrudgingly turn my face back to her, my eyes landing on her raised hand that she had just slapped me with. “Don’t. Touch. Me.” I say through gritted teeth (what can I say…Jay taught me well), clutching my fists together until my knuckles turned white.

She lifts her hand again, but this time Troy steps in front of me, shielding me from her outbursts. I push him aside gently and shoot him a nod appreciatively, but this was my battle, not his.

It’s about time I grow a back spine and fight for myself instead of letting her walk all over me.

My hands are trembling and my body is shaking, but this time it isn’t with fear, it’s with anger, pure anger and hatred. “You know I was coming here to hold the cops off. But now I see that he was right.” I say, referring to Jay, “I can’t afford to be around you anymore. You’ve hurt me too much. You’re a detriment to me.” I say in a hoarse voice as a single tear trails down my cheek. I feel myself crumbling, but maybe showing emotion meant I was stronger seeing as she never shows any emotion except rage.

“You’re so weak!” she hisses bitterly. “I took you in because I pitied you. Now I solely regret it because looking at you…you’re a waste of oxygen!” she spits as she puffs out a blow of her cigarette, smoke filling my nostrils.

I cough and turn away slightly, “I’d rather be a waste of oxygen than turn out like you!” I huff, frustrated and hurt by her words. I hate her but I love her. Does that even make sense? I am so confused myself right now. I mean she looked after me for years…but just not in the way I needed to be looked after. However she did try, sometimes, when she was sober and I hold onto those moments. I had tried to get her off alcohol at one stage, but she refused so this is all on her.

“Goodbye Yolanda.” I finally whisper into the silence, not helping in the tension building as I refer to her by her first name instead of ’mom’ like she’d always requested. “Thank you for what you have done for me in the past, but this…” I show her my scars, “This I can never forget or forgive, at least not yet. I wish the best for you. I really do.” I smile sadly, fighting back all my tears as I turn my back on her and reach for the door.

I’m almost expecting her to grab me and abuse me again just like old times. But something tells me that she won’t touch me seeing as Troy’s here and she’s in enough trouble as it is. I open the door that she had slammed shut, waiting for her to curse me relentlessly or swear me…anything, but instead I’m met by a timid scared voice instead, “Aqueela…visit me in jail sometime?” she asks hopefully, a fearful side to her that I’d never seen. Her terrified expression was one she often did not wear. In fact her expression mirrors the one I wore for several years when I was around her. The wheel has finally turned and she’s getting her own medicine.

I don’t look back at her because I know I’ll break and take back everything I said. So instead with a raging heart I nod with conviction, sending her a personal promise that she’d see me again, “I’ll be there.” I reply softly and I hear her heave out a breath of relief, almost as if she felt that if she still had some part of me in her life it would be easier. Deep down I know she loves me…but she needs help and until then I’m not sure we can ever have a relationship.

I swallow as she pulls on my heart strings. Don’t turn back! Don’t turn back! I close my eyes and keep walking until I find myself out of her bedroom and back into the lounge, A.K.A, my bedroom. Like an ice cold bucket of water being thrown over me I come to my senses as all my emotions rush over me in a wave of depression.

I fall to my knees and begin to sob. I never knew it would be so hard turning my back on the one I hate most…but then again I never hated her. Someone crouches down beside me and removes my hands from my face, wiping away at my tears, “Awe Aqueela, come here.” Troy replies, tentative, caressing my wet cheek with one of his hands. He wraps his arms around me and just holds me for a little while whilst I try to recover, ashamed to be seen like this. But better than Jay, anyone is better than Jay. I knew I’d fall to pieces sometime or another, it’s why I had to get away from Jay.

The gesture is not romantic, no it is anything but. Instead I feel like I’ve finally earned the love of a somewhat older brother. “I always thought seeing you down would be the day, but this kind of kills me.” Troy admits as I pull away from him after a few minutes, wiping at the last of my tears.

There will be no more crying after today.

I manage to smile slightly at Troy’s joke, but my smile falters when I glance around, realizing that I have to get all my junk gathered and get the hell out of here. I begin picking my stuff up and carrying it out to the car, Troy picking up my dresser and the heavier things, following after me.


“Uh Aqueela…a little help here…” Troy falters, trailing off uncomfortably.

I grin as I take in the compromising position. My gran has him pressed up against a wall as she squishes his cheeks between her fingers after repeatedly poking him in the forehead with her sharp nails, “What are your intentions with my granddaughter?” she asks sternly, getting up in his face so that he can’t breathe. That’s what he gets for telling her that we’re dating. When she’d asked, Troy jumped the gun and said we were, not knowing that he’d get an interrogation for it.

I merely laugh, ignoring Troy’s cries for help as I turn back to my uncle Jeffster. “He’s not really your boyfriend is he?”

“How’d you know?” I ask my ever so perceptive uncle.

“No girlfriend would let their boyfriend be put through such torture.” Uncle Jeffster replies, motioning with his eyes toward Gran who is now inspecting ever inch of Troy’s body, including his abs…maybe a little too closely at that. Pervert! She never could resist young hot stuff.

I chuckle, agreeing with Jeffster, “I’d stop her, but he deserves it.”

“Are you sleeping with her?” my gran narrows her beady eyes at Troy and right now I feel a tad bit guilty, only a tad though. Troy, on the other hand, practically chokes on his own spit at the blunt question.

“What?!” Troy sputters aloud, confused as hell. He shakes his head furiously, speechless for the first time since…well ever.

“Do you want to sleep with her?” This time it’s gramps who asks, stepping in and pinching Troy’s cheeks roughly.

“No Sir!” Troy all but raises his voice to try prove his point.

“My granddaughter not good enough for you?” Gramps asks, poking Troy’s perfectly plucked eyebrows. “Huh pretty boy?”

“No..uh…that’s not what I meant-“

Jeffster steps in, deciding to save Troy seeing as I refused to do so, “That’s enough you two. I think the kid gets it.” Jeffster states, pushing Grams and Gramps away from Troy to allow him some breathing space without having to consume their stale air.

“No sleepy with Aqueelie.” Grams mouths to Troy before feeling him up one last time and then stepping away from him rather reluctantly.

Gramps tries to attempt the whole ‘I’m watching you thing’ where one points to their eyes and then to the other person’s eyes in a threatening manner. Except when Gramps lifts his fingers to his eyes and then points his fingers to Troy’s eyes, he misjudges the distance between them and ends up poking Troy’s eyes.

“Ouch!” Troy yelps, his eyes now watering profusely as Gramps removes his wrinkled fingers from Troy’s blood red eyes. “What the fu-“

“Language Tory!” Grams yells, smacking Troy upside the head and managing to get his name wrong in the process.

“It’s Troy Ma. I even know that.” Jeffster says before pulling me away from my grandparents for a second as Gramps tries to apologize to Troy whilst Troy is still momentarily blinded, also having to be forced to listen to the cons of swearing in Gram’s house.

“What’s up?” I ask my uncle with a cool smile, trying not to reveal my feelings even though they all know the circumstances as of now.

“Kiddo I’m worried about you staying with these two cuckoo birds. You know I love you and you know I love them, but hey a guy can’t help if he loves his niece more than his own parents. I know you think that I joke when I say they destroyed my childhood, but the reality is, if you live with these two you’ll one to blow your brains out in a week tops. I’d say move in with me, but I live across the country. I’m not saying you shouldn’t live with them…okay that’s exactly what I’m saying. You need to find another place for the meantime, with someone legal.” Jeffster explains and like always, he’s right. I hear him and his reasoning.

“I know.” I sigh wistfully, agreeing as we both turn our attention back to Troy who is now being reprimanded by my grandparents. Boring. I turn back to Jeffster, “When are you heading back? I’ve barely spent anytime with you.”

“Aqueela help!” Troy begs, but all I hear is whining from the background.

Jeffster grins, “Actually, my vacation has been extended to the next month. So don’t worry kiddo, we’ll arrange a day when you’re settled and spend some time together as a family, well what’s left of it anyways.” he mumbles, as if feeling my pain, his first subtle hint towards everything that went down today.

“I’m sorry I didn’t say anything.” I whisper, feeling slightly guilty. Neither he or my grandparents had mentioned anything ever since Jay called them and told them everything. In fact all three had been trying to avoid the subject as if afraid I’d break…I most likely will

“Hey hey kiddo…” Uncle Jeffster replies comfortingly, “You have nothing to be sorry about. I just wish I knew sooner so I could sew the ass of that woman.” I laugh at this. “I love you kiddo and I need you to know that you can come to me with anything. I got your back, always.” he winks, ruffling my hair lovingly, bringing a smile to my face.

If I had no one, I’m confident I’ll always have my uncle.

I fall silent and this time I decide to express what I’m feeling instead of hiding it all, “I feel like I’m falling.” I sigh, adverting eye contact, ashamed to admit my weakness. I’m suppose to be the ideal definition of that happy go lucky girl always smiling, the one you hear in stories, the one who has no problems what so ever.

But that’s not me…not anymore.

“Aqueela…” my uncle starts, referring to me by my first name and not ‘kiddo’ as per usual. “No one expects you to be strong all the time. You’re allowed to be human for a change and not wonder woman.” I open my mouth to comment but he shushes me, “Don’t even try the ‘I’m made of steel’ speech. I’ve heard it enough to know that it’s very much true. But even steel can be melted.” Jeffster winks before turning his attention back to the commotion at hand. I follow suit, subconsciously taking in what he said.

“So when Master Roshi came to his senses, he found out that meat is food, not friends. That’s exactly why you shouldn’t be a vegetarian!” Grams yells at a seemingly befuddled Troy as she swallows slowly.

Yeah I’m pretty sure that Grams is watching reruns of Dragon Ball Z again, hence Master Roshi.

Troy scratches the back of his head awkwardly, “Um…you asked me if I liked volley ball…so um…how’d we…how did you…vegetarian…huh?” Troy blurts out nervously. I have to hold back a laugh.

“What’s that Sonny Boy! Speak up!” Grams shouts in his face, still unaware that her hearing aid has been broken for years.

“I’m not-“

“What?!”

“I said I’m not-“

“I can’t you hear son!”

“I’m not a vegetarian!” Troy shouts, exasperated.

Grams finally hears and pulls a face, “One, that was rude! You don’t have to shout. I’m standing right here you nitwit. Two, what does being a vegetarian have to do with volleyball? You went completely off topic.”

Troy’s mouth falls open in disbelief at her audacity, “But you…and…and…but…but…” Troy strays in his sentence, faltering slightly.

“And F.Y.I son, you should consider becoming a vegetarian for goodness sake!” Grams shouts again, completely contradicting herself seeing as she’d just been all for meat a second ago and now she’s all for veggies. But that’s Grams for you.

“Oh shut up Lillian! You’re not even a vegetarian yourself!” Gramps intervenes, taking Troy’s side because he still feels bad about the whole poke eye incident.

I block out the racket and glance back at my uncle, “Well…there goes the neighbourhood.” I smirk, enjoying the show but seeing his previous statements come to life. These two would mess me up if I stayed with them.

“True that. They’re both crazy. My point proven.” Uncle Jeff agrees.

So with that said, I decided that staying with my grandparents was just not an option unless I wanted to lose my freaken mind…

…hence my next decision…

“Let’s go Troy.” I say, gesturing to the door.

Immediately he sprints to me and engulfs me in a tight embrace when he realizes that we’re leaving, “Oh thank god!” he screams, picking me up and swinging me around in pure relief. “I’ll never say we’re dating ever again!” he shouts, still holding onto me and trembling in raw fear. “I thought you were going to leave me and I was going to die with them Aqueels.” Troy pouts like a little puppy, genuinely traumatized. “Can you imagine my grave next to theirs!? I don’t want to be buried with old people Aqueela! Don’t put me through that!”

I laugh and pat the top of his head, “Calm down little big one. You’ll get over it. If your sister survived them, so can you.” I say as he cowers behind me in fear, “Awe come along sulky baby.” I coo, “We’re going home.”

Troy nods, glancing back to my Grams who is now sending him a flirty wave that comes off as psychotic and a little pedophile like. Troy shudders, “She touched me all over. The old lady touched my abs Aqueela.” Troy complains in a timid voice as if scarred for life. He most likely is.

“I won’t let the old lady touch you again, now c’mon, we’re leaving.” I reassure him.

“Anywhere but here.” he cries in terror, his eyes darting back to my grandparents cautiously.

“My thoughts exactly.” I reply back calmly.


“Thanks Troy.” I grin, taking in everything he’d done for me. We’d left my grandparents house a couple hours ago and fled to Jay’s house to get me settled.

That’s right! I’m moving in with the bad ass. He took my home away from me, it’s only fair I do the same to him.

Troy and I, well mostly Troy, has been packing all my things neatly into the guestroom whilst I add a feminine touch to Jay’s house just to piss him off when he decides to come home from wherever the hell he is…probably the police station. He must of called Grey or someone for a lift seeing as I stole his car.

Pink and frilly isn’t my style nor my scene, but I decided hey why not. Jay’s going to get a huge surprise when he gets home. Oh and Oog left his tree house for the first time since we built it in order to offer his assistance. Needless to say…there is a lot of trash lying around the house. Well in Oog’s eyes it’s valuable treasure he has given Jay. He, and I quote, wanted to ‘blecorate’.

It’s the thought that counts…

Troy dusts his hands and stands up to face me after taking in the condition of the house, “It’s girly and pink, but man we did good.” Troy sneaks a sly grin as he fist bumps me. It feels great that we’re back on good terms again, yet I can’t help but wonder why he came in the first place. According to him he needed to talk to me. I never gave him the chance to.

I flop down on Jay’s new pink couches (Oog and I spray painted them). Troy knows me well enough to know that I’m giving him leeway here so he can get it out. He joins me and sucks in a deep breath before starting, “Aqueela, first of all, I’m sorry for everything I’ve said and done to hurt you in these past few weeks. I had no idea what you’ve been going through. I should’nt have jumped to conclusions. For that I’m in you debt.”

I don’t do sappy so I make light of the situation, “Dam right you are.” I tease, trying to reassure him that he’s forgiven, that it’s forgotten and being left in the past where it belongs.

Troy usually responds with a laugh or an insult of some sort. When he doesn’t…I realize that this conversation just took a different turn…one for the worst. “Aqueela you mean a lot to me. You’re like another sister to me. You’re my family and I love you…you know…in a brotherly sister way, don’t get the wrong analogy or-“

“Out with it Bensten.” I cut off his rambling, wanting to hear what’s coming next and how I’d be affected.

“Squirt…” he finally breathes, using my nickname that kind of grew on me, “I’m leaving.”

I pull a face, confused. “Yeah, back to university. I know. It had to happen eventually.”

He shakes his head, scaring me as I catch his drift, “I didn’t tell you. I dropped out university. It’s not for me. This visit back to my hometown wasn’t a surprise visit like the other times, it was to say goodbye.” he says sternly as I try to follow. “I went for an interview three months ago. I got a job in a professional modelling company across the globe, in Rome. I start in three days time and the pay is good. It’s an opportunity I can’t afford to lose. I’m leaving today and I wanted to personally say goodbye to you because I don’t know when or if I’ll ever see you again.”

“What?” my voice cracks as my throat clogs up and my eyes begin to water. I knew this day was coming, but I was and still am in denial to the fact that Troy isn’t my brother. Yet it feels like I’m losing one right now. “You can’t just leave.” I mumble dejectedly, already knowing that there was nothing I could say to change his mind, “What about Bells and your family and-“

“Aqueela. They’ve known for a while now. I asked them not to tell anyone. I wanted you to hear it from me. Whether you like it or not, you’re part of my family now.” Troy whispers gently, pulling me to his side and planting a kiss against my forehead.

“I don’t want you to leave.” I say hoarsely. “But it would be selfish if I didn’t support you. I know this is what you want, what you’ve dreamed of and I wish you all the best Troy Story. I hope to God I’ll see you again one day in the future.”

He nods, agreeing, “Most definitely.” he stands up and I stand with him, quickly hugging him, not knowing if I’d get the chance to do so again later on. He chuckles before releasing me, “Take care of Bells. She doesn’t know it yet, but she needs you more than you need her.”

I give him a sad smile through watery eyes, “Now what kind of sister will I be if I gave up on her?” I ask rhetorically.

He just smiles.

And then the front door closes and I find my self alone…well besides from Oog snoring on the kitchen counter, out for the count. Troy loves him. I’m not surprised. Troy is very accepting of pretty much anyone.

Troy…

Safe journey…


Two hours later…

The front door swings open. I quickly sit up, hoping to see that it’s Troy and that he’d changed his mind. Wishful thinking I guess. Turns out that it’s Jay and by the looks of things, he’s not happy and not in his usual non happiness way.

Something happened.

“And now?” I frown, forgetting about his newly decorated house.

He sighs, “It’s done. She’s been arrested.”

My heart drops a little at his words but I try not to show it. How I still care for that woman after everything she put me though, I will never know.

It’s as if only then he takes in his new house before his blue eyes turn an eerily dark blue…rage, “What in the f**k have you done Aqueela?” he asks slowly, incredulously, not quite at the yelling stage yet.

I grin sheepishly at him, “I’ve moved in.”

As simple as that.

“No! No! No! This is my f**king nightmare!”

Ah…so we’ve now reached the yelling stage…

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