Pause (Book 1)

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Chapter 28: Peeling Away Phobias

“Now now Jaybird, let’s be rational about this. See what I did there, Jay and bird, Jaybird because they actually exist and…man I’m too funny.” I stammer, finding myself to be absolutely hilarious. Yet when I look up Jay’s eyes are still full of fury and he’s most definitely not finding any of this funny. I take a hesitant step back as he moves forward after me, “You know some people such as myself cause happiness wherever they go but then you get people that cause happiness whenever they go, you fall in the latter category Jaybird.”

Still he doesn’t crack a smile. Maybe insulting him isn’t the way to go seeing as I’m the only one to find it funny.

“Look Lawson, technically you off the hook because you haven’t actually done anything yet. If you just get out my room now then we’re good and I’ll call all of this off.” Jay says, taking a step backwards, unblocking the path to the exit of the room.

I eye the exit, knowing he’d let me go…but where’s the fun in that? Then from the corner of my eye I see the tuft of greasy ginger hair - Oog is still unconscious. I can’t let him suffer in vain. Something must come out of this, in honour of Oog’s death or unconsciousness…same thing. With that thought in mind I cross his room in the blink of an eye, take hold of his leather jacket and in a flash I’m downstairs, leaving Oog to rest and leaving Jay to register that I didn’t take his bait. In fact I’m going against what he’d ask, as per usual. My actions should be predictable by now and apparently they are seeing as Jay is hot on my heels.

I make it into the kitchen and open the fridge, taking out all my liquid options. Jay catches up and stops short when he sees his new leather jacket that Simo had bought him dangling from my hands in a threatening manner as I motion to the liquids I could ‘accidentally on purpose’ mess. “Come any closer and I won’t hesitate to murder your jacket!” I hiss, manipulating him in the process.

“Aqueela let’s think about this.” Jay starts, our roles reversed as he tries to talk me out of it.

“Please Jay, when do I think about anything ever?!” I roar, reminding him of all the times I’ve acted on impulse. That’s a lot of times…

Jay steps forward too eagerly. My eyes widen at the threat as I hold unfasten the cap of the Granadilla Twist and hold the open bottle over his jacket, “Don’t you dare come any closer. Stay put!” I demand as he stops moving, obeying me for the first time and holding his hands up in a surrendering motion. “Now roll over and play dead!” I take advantage over the situation…so maybe I’m milking this a little bit.

Jay rolls his eyes and shakes his head, “I’m not your dog, that’s Oog’s role. I refuse to play dead-“

“Then which be it Jaybird? Milk, Pepsi or Granadilla Twist?” I threaten his jacket as he suddenly falls to the ground and stays stiff, his breathing slowing as he makes out as if he’s dead. “That’s what I thought. Do not try to defy me again or your jacket will pay the cost! And stay dead! Or else!”

The front door swings open and I’m distracted for a brief moment when Max walks in out of breath. He glances up to see the sight before him. He points to Jay who is lying face down on the ground, “Do I want to know?”

“I beat him to a pulp with my bare hands. I pummeled him, pulverized him - hey! What do you think you’re doing! Don’t come any closer. I’m warning you Max!” I shout at him as he edges closer toward me in a daring bold manner. “That’s it!” I scream, pouring Pepsi, milk and Granadilla Twist all over the jacket because Max was getting to courageous for my liking. That’s when Max shouts to Jay as Jay jumps up, eyeing his jacket in shock and grief since I just drowned it. It’s also when I realize that I just lost any sort of leverage that I had as now there is nothing keeping the boys at bay. “Mercy! Mercy!” I start screaming, mimicking the cries of the old sandbag as I run back upstairs and head straight for the nearest room which just so happens to be Jay’s room.

Unfortunately Oog has awaken and just as I try to lock the door to Jay’s room, Oog shoves me out the way, wasting my time, as he heads back to find Gland who is no doubt still brawling with an old man. “Move Oog!” I hiss but that only aggravates him as he lunges for me, trying to bite me, probably in immense pain on his head, no doubt my fault. He seems to know that. I hate it when he’s cranky. No one stands a chance, not even me. “C’mon Oog, you should be thanking me for not leaving you for dead!”

It’s moments later when Jay steps forth, entering yet again whilst I’m mumbling ‘déjà vu’. But this time there’s nothing stopping him from coming closer as he does exactly that, blocking the exit as Oog retreats. “Oog help me or I’m burning down your tee house!” I call after him only for my pleas and empty threats to fall on deaf ears.

“There’s nothing saving you now.” Jay whispers in a taunting voice that sends shivers up my spine.

I ignore him and grab one of his pillows, quickly throwing it at his face but he merely dodges it. My eyes roam his room for a brief second to find something else to throw, but I soon realize that it’s a mistake to take your eyes off the prize as soon as he grabs my arm and pushes me up against the wall with his body. His arms are pressed against the wall by the side of my head, effectively caging me in between the wall and his body.

“Get off me!” I shout in the most menacing, most intimidating voice I can possibly utter, fearing where this could lead.

He shakes his head solemnly, “I warned you and yet you still destroyed my jacket. You’ve destroyed three of my jackets since I’ve met you! How clumsy and stupid can you possibly be?!” he growls as he leans in froward, his blue eyes twinkling in the depth of his own personal wrath.

“How can you be such a dimwit jerk face meanie?!” I howl back, shooting him a deadly glower, taking offense that he’d called me stupid.

“Just shut up for a second.” he mutters in a low dangerous voice as he keeps his oceanic eyes trained solely on me, sucking me into the unruly depths of the sea. Before me lies an expanse of blue, an ocean of blue where waves of curiosity and want hit me one after the other. I shake my head, trying to block out his alluring eyes as my heart begins to pump faster.

“Make me.” I challenge stupidly yet again as shove against his chest, looking for an escape only to be engulfed further into his strong arms and citrus scent. I barely notice that my words had silenced him as he now raises an eyebrow suggestively, letting me know exactly what he was now thinking about in this very moment as he leans in closer, his eyes flickering down to my lips. “You asked.” he breathes, smirking, as he begins lowering his head down to mine, inching all the more closer to me.

His eyes search my own for approval and I know that if I look up at him his currents of blue will sweep me under and I might not be bale to resurface. Yet the curiosity lingering in his eyes keeps me from swimming against the current. I suck in a deep breathe as time slows. I almost allow it to happen, when I suddenly remember that with Jay…I’ll always be drowning.

Acting on reflex and instinct I pull away and squirm in his arms, “Not like that you Looney Tune!”

I feel his chest vibrate in deep chuckles as he releases me, flashing me a kilowatt grin, “Don’t act like you didn’t want me to kiss you.” he teases, taking a step back, giving me the much needed space I need to breathe again.

“Don’t act like you didn’t want to kiss me either!” I huff stubbornly, folding my arms across my chest, searching his expression for a glimpse of the truth, But all I come across is his stupid bottomless blue eyes that keep drowning me, wave after wave and I know that I if I get swept under I’ll never be able to resurface again nor would I want to. I know that now. It’s dangerous and I first need proof that if I were to be swept under, I’d have a life jacket…I’d have Jay.

He laughs, “When did this become about me and what I want?” he asks as if indifferent to what I’d just assumed, as if he couldn’t care less. Either he has a great poker face or he really just couldn’t give a damn. At least he never denied it, but he didn’t exactly admit it either. “Anyways I think you’ve been punished enough.” he winks playfully as he razzles my hair as if I’m some kind of kid. I frown at him, offended by his sudden attempt in masking his true emotions,. If only he were transparent and I could see through him.

“Wow.” Jay and I both snap our heads in the direction of the voice, springing apart from each other. Max sees this and I’m pretty sure he just witnessed most of what just happened. “Did I just walk in on some lover’s fiasco?” Max teases, a devilish glint to his grey eyes. Oh he’s enjoying this. I’m going to make him pay eventually.

“There has to first be lovers for there to be a fiasco.” Jay responds back mockingly, not knowing that he’s actually hurting me whilst saying that. I suppose he should know seeing as the whole planet knows how I feel about him. But I didn’t just want some sloppy kiss from him, I want more than that, I want him to want me back and until then I’ll resist his flirty nature that comes around once in a lifetime.

“Ouch.” Max’s mouth falls in an ‘o’ shape. “Even I felt that one.” he says, placing a hand over his heart before shooting me a glance to see how I’m taking to all of Jay’s spiteful words. When Max sees the frown enclosing my entire expression, he sends an apologetic expression my way.

“Oog eyes burn!” I turn around to find that Oog had been watching the entire time. “Oog not like Jay and Eela…” he falters and pulls kissy faces at us to convey what he means. “No kissy! Oog not like kissy. Oog center attention. Oog’s limelight. No stealie!”

I laugh at his words, me previous disappointment vanishing in a split second as I watch Oog rant and lecture on about my standing relationship with Jay. He doesn’t want us together because he thinks we’d both forget about him then.

I place a hand atop of his greasy head, “Don’t worry Oog…” I reassure him as I glance toward Jay shyly before adding, “It’s never going to happen.” I end sharply and sternly, sending daggars at Jay who flinches slightly at the cool tone behind my words, knowing fully well to what I was referring.

Obviously Oog doesn’t believe me and strums out the room, peeved off with Jay and I. Well that makes two of us…

Max, being Max, is the one to break the extremely tense atmosphere, “So I read in the newspaper something about a carnival and seeing as I’m bored out my mind, you two wanna join?”

Jay and I look at each other before pulling faces as we both make comments simultaneously, him saying, “I’ll pass,” while I say, “Lame.”

Max scratches the back of his neck and glares at us, “Jeez, tough crowd.”

Ignoring Max I jump into the air, an idea coming to mind as I begin clapping my hands, “God please don’t let her have another idea. I want to live some more.” Max says, interrupting my train of thought as I pull a face at him for that jab.

“No I swear it’s a good one this time!” I nod enthusiastically.

“Sure it is.” Jay mumbles, taking Max’s stand on this one.

“It is!” I insists, offended that they both think my ideas are terrible.

“Mhmm.” Jay hums teasingly.

My eyes flare up like a lit match, “How many times have I told you not to ‘mhmm’ me!?” I shout as he and Max both start chuckling.

Time to face my phobia to prevent myself from one day drowning when Jay sweeps me under with that one wave of…

“You could have at least told us so that we could change out our damn jeans you bright spark!” Max retorts as we stand atop the sand hill, dust flying up everywhere as I glance down, taking in how high we are. My nerves start to waver, my heart pulsating quicker as I begin to feel a little light headed. So maybe this wasn’t the best idea ever…

I have a fear of heights, something I’ve never told anyone. But I believe in conquering fears, hence this very idea.

“Should have went with laser tag for sure.” I say aloud, now doubtful.

A sturdy hand is placed on my shoulder, “You okay? You looking a little pale.” Jay says from beside me, reminding me that if I do die today, at least he’ll die with me rocking Romeo and Juliet style. I try to muster up a smile or a reply but fail. Jay glances from me to the bottom of the sand cliff as it hits him like a bucket of ice cold water, “You’re afraid of heights and you suggested this?” he asks in disbelief, fitting the missing puzzle piece in as it all registers.

“I’m not afraid of heights Nimrod.” I retort stubbornly, pushing his hand off my shoulder, still bitter about what happened between us earlier and how he wiped it off as if my very existence meant nothing to him. “Sand boarding was a fantastic idea. I’m brilliant.”

“Nah, sucky idea, because now my jeans are going to be filled with sand by the end of it.” Max is still whining and going on about that. Such a girl!

“Oh get over it Barbie.” I tease, mocking him.

“Then you get over your obvious fear of heights first.” Max challenges before adding beneath his breath, “Never thought Aqueela Lawson would have an actual legitimate fear.”

“I don’t have a phobia of heights and I’m keeping my statement as such. I refuse to retract it!” I keep with my original argument. There’s no way I’m admitting it and revealing to them my one and only fear, okay so I’m exaggerating, but lets just say that it’s my biggest phobia. I have to peel it away to be able to face my smaller phobias like rejection, especially after receiving Jay’s cold shoulder today.

“How about your catch phrase ‘I’m made of stone’, you gonna retract that statement?” Max jokes as I glower up at him through my eyelashes much to his and Jay’s amusement. I don’t like this bonding thing going on between them. I keep getting picked on because they feel obliged to do so. Why am I always their target?!

Before I can answer Jay challenges me with a determined glint to his boisterous blue eyes, “Well since you’re made of stone and have absolutely no fear, then you wouldn’t mind volunteering and going down first.” Jay flashes me his famous yet very mischievous grin as he motions with head to the downward sand spiral that would lead me to my doom.

I follow his gaze wearily, suddenly feeling nauseous in the pits of my stomach. But today was the day I’d face my fear and get this over with. I couldn’t do it alone, but with my best friend Max and mega crush Jay beside me…well then I can do pretty much anything.

“Um…s-sure.” I stutter, my mouth feeling dry as I try to think of an excuse out of this. But nothing comes to mind. “I-I volunteer m-myself.” I stammer, faltering in my speech and stance as I glance over the sand dune hesitantly and ever so cautiously, hoping to not lose my footing and end up face surfing the entire way down.

“Atta girl!” Max cheers, pushing me forward forcefully in order for me to take the liberty to sit on the board and surf down.

“W-wait!” I back down, ready to bail out of this. But I decide to reinforce my previous act of courage when I glance up at both the testosterone filled males only to see them with expectant smiles as if they knew I’d back out of the challenge, I decide to let the moment of fear wash over and conclude by saying, “Pass me my board.”

Aqueela Lawson never backs down from a challenge and she never loses. Dylan knows this by now and it’s time Max and Jay learn it too.

Max raises an eyebrow at Jay, failing to mask his surprise at my bold decision as he hands me my board slowly, puzzled, as if waiting for me to back down again.

I’d laugh at their expressions if I wasn’t feeling so queasy…

But Jay’s not quite taking the bait, being the smarter of the two, “You know if you’re scared Aqueela, I could just ride along beside you and hold your hand.” Jay winks, mocking me before him and Max both burst out in uncontrollable laughter yet again.

I’ll show them.

Without waiting for them to shut up I jump on my sand board and give myself a push downward, holding tightly onto the sides so as not to fall off and slide the rest of the way down on my stomach. This isn’t body surfing!

I shut my eyes closed as I feel myself start to move slowly before taking that steep dip down. It’s then the wind picks up speed as do I as the sand slope curves into a steeper gradient. My heart jolts into my throat before plummeting into my stomach.

Man I’m going to be sick!

I squeeze my eyes closed tighter, hoping to get to the end as soon as possible so this can be over and so that I can declare victory as the two of them will declare defeat. But then how would that be conquering my fear? It wouldn’t. I have to enjoy this, not force myself to enjoy this, but thoroughly enjoy it for genuine. It’s the only way to conquer my fear of heights and then maybe I’ll be able to swim against that wave that could sweep me completely under if Jay were to ever allow it by returning my feelings.

Just as I’m about to summon up the willpower to open my eyes I vaguely hear voices from behind me, getting louder by the second, meaning they were getting nearer. Getting used to the feeling of the continuous spiral flowing in my chest, I bravely open my eyes to see what all the commotion is about.

And as I open my eyes, the wind tossing my hair in all directions and kissing at my cheeks, a rushing thrilling sensation fills my veins as my heart pumps faster, adrenalin chorusing through my bones. I begin to laugh hysterically, letting go of the board’s sides and opening my arms wide to embrace the wind and the sand blowing up into my face. Then, feeling courageous and fearless, I stand up on the board, taking in this moment of awe.

I turn to see Jay and Max beside me on either side with their own boards intact. They’d successfully caught up with me. I guess I wasn’t going that fast after all or the two of them went straight after me and increased their initial velocity somehow. Who knows? The point is…they’re with me as I face this giant. And I’m pretty sure my heart flips as Jay shoots me a proud smile, knowing that I’d just conquered my phobia of heights and it’s all because of his and Max’s pestering. They made me determined to do this. I wonder if that was Jay’s plan all along…to purposely make me determined enough to conquer my fear.

I suppose I should thank the both of them…one day…

I can’t help but laugh all the more when I see Max and Jay mimic me by standing up on their boards too. Max seems nervous at first but soon gets used to the feeling as he fist pumps the air and shouts into the wind, “This is amazing! I feel so alive!”

“I know!” I shout back, laughing all the more when he gets too confident. I watch in bemusement as he turns around on his board so that he’s surfing the sand dune backwards. I hear Jay laugh from my other side as Max begins doing the moonwalk backward on his board whilst singing ‘I’m sexy and I know it’, getting too brave and too cocky for his own good. “Careful Max!” I yell, still laughing out of my stomach, finding the thrill and Max’s simpleton antics to be downright hilarious.

It’s just as I shout the last sentence that Max gets distracted and turns to face me, misjudging his footing and losing his balance. He bails off his board and right into the sand heap, going right under because of his momentum, the tuft of his brown hair the only thing left sticking out from beneath the sand. “Save yourselves!” Max screams dramatically as his head resurfaces, him spitting out golden sand that he’d swallowed. “No wait! Don’t really leave me! Save me! Not yourselves!” Max shouts after Jay and I as we both continue to ignore his pleas of desperation. “I’m the important one!”

“One down, two left standing, one more to knock down until we have a victor!” Jay shouts, teasing me as he surfs closer to my board, hitting it purposely to make me lose my balance so that I can also bail. Fortunately I have good balance and keep standing upright, dodging his board’s hits to my own. Thank you for enrolling me in gymnastics as a kid Grams.

Jay leans forward on his board, increasing his speed as he surfs past me, jumping up and down on his board in the process. Sand granules and dust particles fly up after him, meaning in front of me and behind him. The sand spits into my face causing me to cough and be temporarily blinded. I almost fall off, key word being ‘almost’. The stinging sensation of the sand granules rubbing up against my face and legs leaves a burning sensation behind in it’s place. “Ouchie!” I whine, “You did that on purpose you jerk!” I hiss after him as he laughs from in front of me, surprised that I sill manged to stay put on my board after all this time.

I take that leap and decide to lean forward too to catch up with him, yet I’m so focused on Max’s screaming from far behind us to save him that I don’t see the ramp of sand I’m heading straight for and with an incredible speed too.

Jay turns around to see how I’m coping. His blue eyes widen like an unruly storm in the ocean as he shouts to me, “Aqueela watch out!”

He sees the ramp before I do and unfortunately I can’t break in time and end up going over it at such a great speed that I lift off my board and go flying through the air. “I’m going to die!” I shout, looking down to see that my board is still surfing on without me as I glide disdainfully through the air. I brace myself for the fall as gravity unleashes itself and pulls me back down to the earth.

This is going to be painful.

I squeeze my eyes shut as I begin to fall down, just missing Jay surfing past and breaking sideways before me just as I’m about to hit the hard sandy floor…but I never do.

Instead I land in a strong set of arms. Yet I keep my eyes closed, my heart still racing from the after shock. “You can open your eyes now Clumsy Klutz. You stupid dummy. One day you’re going to kill yourself Bubblegum Klutz.” a minty fresh voice whispers as my head stops spinning and my breathing begins to slow down at the mere sound of his deep soothing voice.

I open my eyes to find that expanse of effortless blue searching my face with amusement and a hint of concern for my well being, “Now you can tell everyone that you went skydiving…well more like face plummeting, but hey either way people are going to be stunned.”

He caught me. So if I were to be swept under the wave…he’d catch me literally…? Cause that make so much sense…point being…he’d be there for me…nowadays he always is

I slap his muscular chest playfully, “Oh put me down and shut up you Neanderthal!”

He grins with his pearly whites, “A thank you Jay for saving my life will always suffice.” he replies sarcastically, none the less planting me back down onto his board as we surf the rest of the sand dune down together. “Oh and by the way, I’m definitely the Victor.” he adds as we reach the sandy bottom.

I roll my eyes…I guess he kind of is the victor…like I’ll boost his ego by admitting it.

“No way!” I blurt, “I so meant to do that. You ruined it by catching me you fool. I was still going to do a triple back flip in the air before landing back on my board you moron.”

Jay chuckles at my assumption despite my insults directed at him as we wait for Max to join us at the bottom of the dune, “Usually I’d argue, but I’ve won so much today I’ll let you have this one.” he winks confidently, sending my heart pulsating and blood rushing to my cheeks.

“Good, cause I’m taking it.” I say as Max finally joins us with an infuriated frown masking his features. He doesn’t know the truth and I’m going to keep it that way. “Max!” I shout giddily, “I’m the victor! Victoriously the victor! Whoo! Bow down to my victorious victory as I’m a victor, thee great victor! Suck it!”

Jay simply shakes his head at me for lying before mouthing to ‘give it a rest’.


Fat chance of that happening!

“I have got sand in places no man should have sand. I have seen the world and experienced neglect and abandonment that no man ever has. I’ve felt immense pain that no man should ever feel and I’ve-“

“And here I thought Aqueela was the drama queen who exaggerated everything.” Jay comments, cutting off Max completely. I nod along with Jay, agreeing before the insult registers as I whack him upside the head, shooting him a glare, “Hey!”

Max comes to his own defence, “Well what kind of friends leave their other friend out in the hot desert to die? I even began to hallucinate-“

“Mhmm.” I say, patting Max’s hair in sympathy as if I actually cared about his dry rants, “Seems to me as if you two owe be an apology for not being afraid.” I say, choosing to stray from Max’s boring lecture on bad friends.

“So you admit you were afraid?” Jay asks, being way too perceptive for my liking.

“No!” I scoff, “I have no fear. I’m made of stone, you two said so yourselves. Was me being victor not proof enough?”

Jay raises both eyebrows, “You weren’t even the real vic-“

I slap my hand across his mouth to prevent him from exposing the truth to Max, “He’s just going on about a bunch of crap again, you know he has a habit of doing that.” I say, blinking innocently at Max as I shoot a warning glare at Jay when Max looks away. If Max finds out I will never live it down. He’s ruthless that way. “Anyways, how’s things going with you and Bells?” I ask changing the subject swiftly and it’s at that time that Jay’s cellphone rings. He leaves to go answer, keeping my secret as fake victor. Yeah buddy! I’m pretty sure Jay didn’t say anything on purpose. He could’ve just down but chose not to…

“Yeah well…uh..about that…” Max trails off, scratching the back of his neck as it reddens slightly, signalling his embarrassment, “I want to ask her out eventually but I want your blessing first-“

“You have it!” I shout happily, clapping my hands like a girly girl as I shout again in excitement and shake Max by the shoulders back and forth. “You so have it!!!”

“Okay calm yourself! Jeez, you’d think you just smoked a stack of pot. I think I just got whiplash.” Max kids, removing my hands off his shoulders, “Retract the claws.” he jokes as he unclasps the tight grip my nails had on him. “So what happened between you and Jay earlier?” Max asks and I knew he would eventually. He was just waiting for the right moment and by that I mean when Jay left us alone…like now.

I shrug disappointingly, “With Jay, who ever knows? He’s not fazed by anything. He’s indifferent to everything.” I whisper dejectedly.

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that.” Max mumbles almost inaudibly, but I hear. I hear everything that concerns Jay.

“What do you mean by that Max Mills?” I question, placing my hands on my hips in a diva manner.

“He just seemed a little rattled by you, but not as shaken as you though. He’s just better at keeping his cool and keeping level headed. You on the other hand…” Max stops there, leaving his words to hang in the air as I go over them in my head trying to make sense of them.

He was so going to call me a blubbering mess…

“So he was just as uncomfortable as me?” I ask joyfully, my spirits lifting at this new revelation. How come I didn’t notice his apparent obvious discomfort?

Max shrugs, “That’s for him to know and for you to…dot dot dot…literally.” Max winks teasingly before adding, “But seriously Aqueela, being a little more observant instead of being so dense will get you a long way. Read between the lines Doofus!”

“Hey!” I frown, “Don’t call me doofus you narcissist!”

“I only speak the truth.” Max replies casually, unaffected, that’s until he processes my insult, his mouth falling agape in shock, “Hey! Don’t call me a narcissist you dweeb.”

“Hey! Don’t call me a dweeb you looney tune!”

“Hey! don’t call me-“

Max is unable to finish his sentence because surprise surprise Jay returned, whacking Max upside the head in order to shush him and it worked. “Shut up kiddies. I’ll get you both candy later.” Jay teases, making fun of Max and I for being so immature.

“Go away!” Max and I shout simultaneously at Jay for interrupting our argument, even though it’s so obvious I won. I had the last say.

Thta’s when Jay’s previous ‘happy-go-lucky’ expression vanishes only to be replaced with a more grim expression. He lifts a hand to scratch the back of his head, clearly uncomfortable. “Listen Aqueela…we need to talk.”

I raise an eyebrow, “Why?”

“It’s about-never mind-just come here. Max we’ll be back now. It’s kind of private on Aqueela’s behalf.” Jay apologizes before tugging me into the next room after him.

“What is so important that you had to man handle me?!” I huff, frustrated and a little flustered by his touch but trying to compose myself and keep my cool in the way Jay always does.

“It’s about your step mother…” Jay falters before he adds in an underlying tone that I can’t quite decipher, “She’s asking to see you during the prison’s visiting hours.”

And that’s all it takes for my awesome day to come crumbling down, to be crushed before my eyes, for my entire world to stop spinning…

Jay’s sees my distress, having sensed this reaction from me, “Listen Aqueela, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. You always have a choice. I just thought you deserved to know.”

I frown as I try to contemplate on a choice, “Jay…” I stammer, “What do you think I should do?”

He hesitates for a little while, trying to think himself before glancing down at me with a gentle smile that calms my nerves and slows my racing heart, “I think you should do whatever Aqueelas usually do in these kind of situations…face your fear. You said it yourself…you’re made of stone.” he reminds me with his famous smirk intact.

Yeah…but sometimes even stone can crumble…

“I’ll support you every step of the way and if you want me to go with then I’ll be with and if you don’t want to go, then I’ll support you in that too. It’s up to you.”

I let out a heavy sigh before glancing up through my eyelashes at him with determination, “I’ll go.” I confirm as a smile lights up his features, “But you’re coming with me.” I command, needing him by my side to face the next phobia…my step mother.

Jay grabs my hand and shakes it, “Deal.” he says with conviction, offering me an affectionate grin that has the incredible ability to make me melt into a squeamish puddle right before him… “Just no blood and spit involved in this handshake like last time, kay?” he jokes, successfully making me smile a she refers to back then. (refer back to chapter 12, close to end if you can’t remember)

He remembered the last time we made a deal…

“Of course I remembered the last deal we made.” Jay says, making it known to me that I spoke the last thought aloud…that or he read my mind, “How can I not?” he questions with a sneaky grin before reminding me, “After all it’s how we first became friends.”

Indeed it was…

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