Pause (Book 1)

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Chapter 35: Done Waiting

He’s in the way.

“Excuse me.” I say shyly and politely as I move past Jay in order to get a glass out the cupboard, not bothering to make any kind of eye contact with him.

Saying nothing, he does what I ask and moves past me, at least he tries to. But since the space in his kitchen is limited, my request ends up with him brushing up right against me. We’re both use to this seeing as this isn’t the first time it’s happened. We bump heads in the kitchen a lot. Yet this time it’s more awkward than usual, especially since he’s taking his sweet time, his chest just touching mine as he decides to brush up past me ever so slowly, his cool breath hitting my neck in the process.

I involuntary shiver and I can practically feel him staring down at me in amusement at my reaction. I summon the courage to meet his eyes as I finally look up at him to see what he’s playing at. But he’s quick to move completely away this time. And as he turns away from me, I swear I see a small playful smirk curving the ends of his lips.

He so did that on purpose!

I shake my head at his back before taking the glass out the cupboard like I’d wanted all along. I close the cupboard, place the glass down on the chequered kitchen counter as I open the fridge, seeking water only to find the water jug empty.


He always puts the empty water jug back in the fridge and it drives me crazy.

I sigh, turning back around only to find Jay extremely close to me, his face a mere inches away from mine. He doesn’t seem to notice as he reaches over me to get something out the fridge himself. I cough nervously to get his attention.

He stops short when he realizes that he’s leaning directly over me. I stiffen in my spot at seeing how close he is. His blue eyes flicker from the fridge down to me. He hesitates as I stare back at up through my lashes. He blinks, pausing in his actions, distracted. His arm that had been reaching over me drops back limply to his side. His breathing visibly deepens and I follow his eyes as I come to see that he’s staring at my lips with longing and desire.

Realizing what he’s thinking about has my tummy doing flips, butterflies now swarming and tingles running up my spine. His eyes meet mine again as he searches my face if asking for permission. I don’t say or do anything, too stunned. Jay takes my lack of response as encouragement as he dips head closer toward mine.

I wait in anticipation to kiss him again, but then,“I don’t know what the hell is going on here between you two, but I think I can guess.” Jay springs back from me as if caught out. I begin to blush at Grey’s words much to his own amusement. Grey’s eyes meet mine briefly before he turns back to Jay, “You two have been more awkward around each other than usual. These long wistful puppy eyed stares you two keep sharing are really annoying. I can only assume something happened. This room is filled with thick tension. Even I can feel it.” Grey crosses his arms over his broad chest before he meets my eyes, yet again, in a devious grin. There’s a wicked mischievous glint to his grey eyes and I just know he’s going to embarrass and humiliate me further, “So Lawson…” he starts as I give him a pleading look to not say whatever he is going to say. He ignores me and continues as he motions to Jay, “Is my friend here, a good kisser?”

He knows!

I make the slip of glancing to Jay only to see that even he looks embarrassed by Grey’s words, something I thought he’d never be capable of feeling. There’s a coy boyish look about him in this moment that has me melting into a puddle of mush. The heat in this room has just become insufferable. Yup, I’m going to suffocate and die. Jay scratches the back of his neck, shifting in his spot as if anxious. I can’t help but study him. He’s so cute when he’s like this and good looking, so very good looking. I also notice how he refuses to meet my gaze right now. He’s gone all shy on me. I have to stifle my laughter, forgetting about my own embarrassment for a split second.

“So I take it that I’m right. You two made out and kissed and shared an intimate moment and feelings and staring and blah blah blah.” Grey scoffs, unbelieving as he shakes his head at the both of us as if disappointed, “Fantastic! This is going to bring so many complications to your twisted friendship.” Grey says, staring directly at me as if I did it all on my own, as if it’s solely my fault. It takes two to tango. Jay’s the one who kissed me and he wouldn’t have stopped if it weren’t for me. This tension is all on Jay, not me, not that I’m not happy about it. Grey turns back to Jay and inspects him like I’d been doing. Then he turns back to me and points an accusing finger at me, “Great! You broke him. I’ve never seen him take interest in a girl before let alone have the hots for someone. And now all of a sudden he’s hung up on you of all people like some love struck puppy. He’s all over you all the time. He’s so whipped. You have him wrapped around your finger. It sickens me.” Grey shakes his head again, narrowing his eyes on me, “You better fix this Lawson. You better fix him. He’s got championships coming up and you’re not going to distract him from winning. You hear me? Fix it.” He retorts dangerously, warning me, before leaving the kitchen.

‘Don’t go!’ I plead mentally.

He’d left Jay and I alone after he just made things a million times more awkward.

We hadn’t spoken about the kiss since it happened. Grey’s right though. Since then things between us have escalated to a new level of tension.

I look up to find Jay staring at me intensely. I fidget and squirm under his piercing gaze of blue. It’s these looks he keeps giving me that leaves me breathless and speechless. He sees that I’ve caught him staring and instantly adverts his eyes. He clears his throat, “Aqueela, I, uh, I-I…” he stammers for the first time since…well ever. He starts again, his face reddening ever so slightly, “We should, y-you and I uh…” he falters mid sentence before just giving up completely. “I’m not doing this.” he finally concludes, flustered, before he too leaves the kitchen at a rapid speed.

I blow out a breath of relief.

That was a couple days ago. Since then, Jay’s been ignoring me all over again like he did when we first met.

“Max, do we really have to do this? I’m so tired.” I pant after Max, falling behind him, as he jogs ahead of me. He’s so damn fit and super fast! Damn him! “Slow down Usain Bolt!” I say, trying to push myself further but it feels as if my lungs are on fire. I’ve been running for way too long. I’m sure Max is trying to kill me.

Let me backtrack a little…

I needed to speak to a friend about what happened between Jay and I a few days ago. Bells is still a little annoyed at me for calling her an airhead so she wasn’t an option. Ah but she’ll forget about it. If she knows it’s her fault, which it is, then she’ll get over it. Besides, I needed a male perspective on things in any case.

I phoned Max and told him I need some one on one time with him, which at first scared him. He thought I meant like a date. Ha! Those days are over. When I explained the issue he only agreed, after much protest, to talk to me if I ran with him.

It’s a big sacrifice for me seeing as I got up at four freaken AM for him. I didn’t realize that he ran every morning, but I should have seen it coming. After all, Max Mills is our best cross country runner in school.

But why can’t he be ridiculously lazy like Jay? But then how does Jay stay so super fit? Maybe he also exercises while I sleep seeing as he’s always up long before me. That would make sense. He’s my personal alarm clock.

“You agreed to this. Plus, why couldn’t you ask some other guy friend of yours? Why me?” Max questions as he stops running, allowing me to catch up with him and catch my breath too.

“Grey hates me. Troy’s gone. Jay is the issue so that would be weird. Blubber is an immature child. Gland scares me. Oog barely understands me. Jam and Simo like me too much. Boss man is too mature. Benley…well he’s Benley, there’s not much more to it. Besides, he’s still pissed that I locked up in a makeshift prison as punishment for yelling at Oog. Dylan and I aren’t friends any more. Mason loves me…which leaves only you Maxie my darling.” I wink playfully at him before kneeling over to regain my breathing, still panting, my hands on my knees.

“You are so unfit. We literally just started. I can literally see Jay’s house from here.” Max scolds me on me not looking after myself.

I’m so tired, I can’t bring myself to care how lazy I am, “Oh shut up Speedy Fitness Pants.” I whine, sitting down on the pavement. Max joining shortly. “I don’t do running. Running outdoes me.”

“Clearly.” Max chuckles, “I can’t believe I ever thought you were fit enough for MMAs. You would have lost by a long shot.” Max teases, even though he’s probably right.

“You’re suppose to be my friend Max.” I remind him because I’m sure he’s forgetting.

“Okay okay.” he holds his hands up in surrender, chuckling aloud, always chuckling. It’s why I admire Max. He’s almost never down in the dumps. He’s always in good spirits and it cheers me up. “What’s bothering you Aqueels? What did my boy Jay do this time?”

“He kissed me.” I come straight out with it.

Max’s eyes widen in disbelief before he fist pumps the air, “It’s about time!” he enthuses, clearly elated. You’d think he’d just been kissed by his crush. “Shouldn’t you be happy Aqueela?” Max then questions, sensing that he’s the only one celebrating from us.

“No. Now he’s gone back to avoiding me like in the beginning and it’s making things awkward between us.” I tell Max, opening up about the issue. I had predicted this happening.

“That guy is so stubborn.” Max replies, seemingly thinking what I’d said over. “Just let him be Aqueela. He’ll come to his senses eventually. In the meantime, stop waiting on him. Move on with your life. Move out if you have to. Get a job. Think about your future. Get ambitious. Set life time goals. Make your dreams a reality. Focus on school. Let him go. Those kinds of things. Jay just needs some space and you need to give it to him. You need to learn that you’re worth fighting for and if he isn’t going to fight for you, then he’s not worth it.”

Max is right.

I need to give Jay the space he’s asking for.

We lapse into a short silence as I think things over, before I speak up, “Speaking of school, when are you going to tutor me in maths?” I change the subject. Max has been putting tutoring me off for days. Every time we make a date, he calls and cancels with some lame excuse. I can’t be that horrible to teach. Can I? Then again, it would explain why Principal Long had so much trouble with finding me decent tutors.

Max doesn’t answer, instead he stands up and dusts himself off. He glances down at me before offering me his hand, pulling me up off the floor. He starts jogging slowly again, motioning to me to follow him.

“So now we’re back to running huh?” I ask, jogging beside him, keeping in toe.

“If I’m going to tutor you in maths, then the first thing you need to know is the very definition of maths. In other words, what does maths stand for?” Max asks me, glancing my way but still jogging perfectly fine whilst I’m starting to die all over again.

Gosh, I hate exercise.

I furrow my eyebrows at Max’s question, “Is it mathematics?” I ask wearily, not understanding his question.

Max shakes his head, keeping his eyes focused ahead, “No. It’s an acronym. What does it stand for?” I shrug, my head pounding from thinking and running at the same time. How is Max doing this? I’m certain now of my theories on him. He’s a cyborg.

“Can you just tutor me already?” I beg, sick of this procrastinating. Then again I’ve always been big on procrastinating. You know what they say: ‘Procrastinators Unite…Tomorrow…’

“I’ll just tell you the acronym then. It goes like this ‘Maybe Another Time, Hence Sprinting’. There you have it. MATHS.” Max answers before he releases all his speed in one go, shooting swiftly down the pathway like a bullet, leaving me far behind.

Now I’m confused.

“Maybe Another Time, Hence Sprinting,’ stands for Maths? Since when?” As I say it out aloud, it finally dawns on me that Max made it all up. He’s making up another excuse not to tutor me, again! Hence why he’s now sprinting away from me. “Max! Get back here! I’m going to kill you, then resurrect you only to kill you again!” I shout after him furiously, but he’s already out of sight, way too far gone by now.

How did he come up with that acronym on the spot like that? Stupid bright spark! He outsmarted me. Nothing new.

It’s an hour later when Max and I go for something to drink at a local café.

Max waggles his eyebrows at me as he slurps on his bubblegum milkshake, “Was it hot?”

“What?” I ask, sipping on my own bubblegum milkshake.

“The kiss? Was it hot?” Max repeats, making it clear to what it is he’s referring to.

I almost choke on my milkshake at the question. I wasn’t expecting that. “It’s really none of your business Maxi.” I hum, refusing to answer.

Max flashes me a devious smirk, “It was so hot. I can see it in your eyes.” he chirps up.

I slap him across the chest, “You’re being awfully nosey.”

“I think I have a right to be nosey. You’re the one who wanted to discuss this. All I want to know is if he is a better kisser than me.” Max winks teasingly.

I shoot him a look that would have him six feet under, “You Loony Tune, let’s not forget that you kissed me against my will. Plus, I didn’t kiss you back. I slapped you, remember?”

Max chuckles, “How can I forget? Your loves stings.” he mocks, placing a hand over his heart, feigning hurt. He’s quick to put back his fake serious expression…I don’t think he has a real one, “I just want to know one thing. If Jay kissed you again, would you kiss him back?”

Like that’s going to happen…

“It depends.” I answer truthfully.

Max raises both eyebrows in surprise, “On what exactly?”

“On if he reacts the way he’s reacting now. If he resorts back to ignoring me because it’s easier, then no. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a reason for me not to.” I go onto tell Max all about Jay’s anger issues when it comes to Mason and how he’d reacted.

“Man what’s the deal with those two? They hate each other.” Max asks the same question that I want an answer to.

“When I tried asking, both of them tell me to just leave it. But I have a feeling it goes way back.” I inform Max on my theory, “It can’t be just because of me. There’s something else that neither of them want to speak about.”

“So spring break is over. Tomorrow is back to school. Fantastic.” Max retorts sarcastically, “And I have to spend the last day of my vacation with you of all people.” he jokes, earning himself a glare from me, “Kidding.” he covers up.

Nice save…

“So how are things with you and my best friend?” I ask, curious. Bells had been flirting with Xavier so I was interested to know if Max still had feelings for her after seeing that darker side to her. But we can’t all be flawless. Max had to see that Bells isn’t perfect. She’s only human. It’s time he knocks her off the pedestal he had given her.

“Don’t you mean, how are things with Bells and your best friend?” Max turns it around, twisting my words to make it sound as if he’s my best friend.

“Don’t flatter yourself Max.” I wink playfully at him.

He laugh out loud, overly joyful as always, before answering, “Good actually. She apologized for the whole Xavier scenario. I want to ask her out tomorrow at school in a creative way, but I lack originality. Which is why I’m here. I need your help. I need you put that crazy mind of yours to use.”

I grin, tapping my chin in mock thought, “I suppose I can pull a few strings.”

“You better. As my fake ex girlfriend you have the obligation to assist me wherever possible.” Max warns in a joking manner.

I wave my hand, brushing what he’d said off, dismissing the thought, “Okay fine, stop begging! I will help you young padaone!” I exclaim excitedly as I tap his nose playfully.

Max swats my hand away from his nose, “Is it fool proof?”

I flash him a mischievous grin, “Why don’t you find out?” I wink at him, keeping him in suspense of my brilliant perfect plan.

“Why am I already regretting this?” Max asks himself aloud purposely.

“Because you have no faith in me.” I answer for him. When it comes to me, people always have their doubts, especially Jay.

“No denying that.” Max retorts bluntly, admitting it.

I smile evilly at him, “Challenge accepted.”

He shakes his head, “Why must everything be a challenge with you?” Max asks in exasperation, yawning from the day’s events.

I don’t answer, already thinking way ahead of him.

Now there’s just one question left remaining…who to involve???

Later on that day, I find Jay and force him to listen to me, despite him wanting to ignore me forever because now we’re both awkward around each other after that kiss. When I said he should lead, I didn’t think he’d fall back to pretending like I don’t exist. With Jay it’s always one step forward, ten steps back. I can’t cope with him and now I’m suppose to follow his lead.

I shake my head from the thoughts.

I find him all too quickly. He’s sitting in the lounge resting as always. He’s so busy these days, that when he gets a second of free time, he sleeps.

I sit beside him and tug on his arm, “Jay.” I say softly. If he’s awake, he’s ignoring me. “Jay.” I try again, “Jay open your eyes before you make me do something that you will regret but I won’t.” Still, nothing. “Jay!” Nothing. That’s it. I lift my hands and hit him hard upside the head.

He jumps up off the couch in a fright, ready to attack, when he sees that it’s just me, he lowers his fists. Well someone is clearly paranoid. He even had the whole warrior stance going on. “Jeeze Aqueela, what was that for?” he asks, rubbing the back of his head, the muscles in his arms flexing, as he leans over me while I stay seated. I have to leer my eyes away before he catches me staring. But it’s too late, my eyes have now found his lips and that is a dangerous reminder of what I want. He coughs, clearing his throat, purposely getting my attention again, my eyes meeting his electric blue ones. He’s smirking at me knowingly. “Is this your way of asking me to kiss you again?”

Oh so now he wants to bring it up!

I flush red at his words which only causes him to laugh in amusement at my expense. The jerk! Does he ever take me seriously? “Now’s not the time for games Taylor.” I hiss, a little annoyed that he’s still so indifferent by it all whilst I’m being unravelled slowly because of him and his charm. Actually, come to think of it…Jay has no charm what so ever…so why am I still drawn to him like a moth to a flame?

Jay glances down at me still seated on the couch with a teasing pout, “Awe. But I’m in the mood to play.” he says in a flirtatious manner before he leans down to my level, placing both his strong arms aside my head, his face dangerously close to mine.

Oh no! He’s over tired. Jay only flirts if he’s drunk, on a rare ego slash confident slash extremely upbeat high or if he’s exhausted beyond belief. It’s the last one.

I squirm backward, trying to put space between us, but the couch doesn’t allow for it. I stiffen when I feel his cool breath hit my neck as he gets closer. “Jay.” I warn in a low tone, but it doesn’t stop him.

He flashes me a beautiful yet reckless grin, “Awe come on Aqueela. You said I can lead. You follow what I do.” he taunts, twisting my words into some innuendo. I meant with life, not flirting. “I’ll lead you all too happily.” He begins to incline forward, dipping his head lower toward me.

I quickly react on natural instincts, ducking my head under his arms and moving off the couch and out of his reach, all in the blink of an eye. I’ve got mad ninja skills. Jay turns around, blinking down at me, puzzled by how I escaped so swiftly, “Listen Jay, I need your help with something. But maybe you should sleep off the flirty nature first because I can’t handle you when you’re being like this.”

This is the only time when Jay beats me.

Jay ignores me, his mind still focused on other things as he takes a daring step toward me, “Why?” he questions, as he closes off the distance between us again so that he’s right in front of me, “Do I make you nervous?” he breathes, suggestive mannerisms, his cool minty breath fanning over my face.

I take a step back, putting up a solemn expression, holding my ground, remembering the advice Max had given me earlier, “Jay, I’m done waiting on you to make a decision. I want us to take a break from whatever this…” I motion to the little space between us, “is.” I need this. I need to get my head off Jay for a while. Max is right. I need to focus on my future. I don’t miss Jay’s face fall as if I’d just slapped him. But never the less I carry on, “Let’s just be friends for now, okay? Now can you please snap out of it and listen to me?”

I’m not sure if I meant it. But I said it anyway. It was rather impulsive of me.

I wait a second or two for Jay to let it go and come to terms with what I has asked of him. He yawns and nods, “Okay.” he agrees, the playful glint to his blue eyes quickly dying out like a fiery flame. “What do you need me to do?” he asks solemnly, sternly, back to his aloof self.

I smile as I begin telling him my entire plan for Max and Bells to finally get together. I come to the conclusion, “So are you in?”

Jay shrugs, “Whatever you ask of me.” he agrees way too easily. I can’t help but notice how tired and worn down he looks. He’s not himself.

“You should sleep, rest.” I suggest, feeling guilty because of what I’d said earlier. I hurt him. I know that, but he’ll thank me for it one day. He needs space to sort himself out and now I’m willingly giving it to him. Right now he’s just too high maintenance for me.

“I will.” he answers just as I turn to leave, “But Aqueela…” the desperate tone in his voice stopping me, “When you’re done helping Max, I need to speak to you urgently.”

I frown. Did I not just make it clear that I’m giving us both space? “About?”

“You know what.” he answers nonchalantly before retiring to his room to catch up on some sleep.

“Again?! You’re kidding me! Again!?” Grey shouts at me, “Why am I here? You said it was an emergency and that Jay’s in ICU! I left my race and rushed over here.”

I lied…

“Did I say that?” I ask, frowning, “I don’t remember saying that, you have no proof nor evidence of this ever taking place.”

Grey gives me a ‘drop dead stare’ before taking out his phone and going to voice mail messages. He presses play on one before my voice rings over his phone, “Grey quick! Jay’s in the ICU. I don’t know how much time he has left. He’s dying! Hurry!”

“That could be anyone.” I cut Grey off, trying to snatch his phone out his hands before I’m revealed to the public as a liar.

He pushes me away and motions with his hand to wait for the message to end, “This is Aqueela Lawson speaking, I repeat, Aqueela Lawson speaking. Aqueela Lawson out.” The message ends.

“That’s poor proof.” I tell Grey, completely forgetting that he had the message with him. I should have thought this through. It was the only way to get Grey here and to force him to participate.

“Just tell me why I’m here.” Grey demands, frustrated with me.

I pull him aside, “Because we’re pulling off a flash mob and we need lots of people to help out, you included. You’re our secret weapon.” I lie to him…again.

“You called me here for a flash mob?!” Grey yells, his grey eyes swirling in anger as he focuses his bone chilling gaze on me alone. I give him a narrowed stare of my own, daring him to refuse me. This time I’m not playing games. We keep up the staring competition until he finally caves in with a loud groan, “I’m not dancing. I’m just making that explicitly clear now.” Grey says in a small voice, knowing he won’t get away with leaving. He knows I’ve won.

“Then you can be the lead singer.” I smirk as his face falls. I bite down on my bottom lip to stop myself from laughing aloud at his expression.

“I will play guitar. I’m good at it.” Grey suggests.

“Great.” I smirk in victory, proud that he’s at least doing something. He’s contributing.

“I’m going to kill you one day.” Grey retorts stubbornly, being his usual hot head. His threats are all empty to me. But I do notice that he doesn’t bring up our last conversation and for that I’m truly grateful. I appreciate it more so than he knows. I guess he does have heart somewhere deep inside of him.

“Stand in line.” I retort back, “It’s a looooong line.”

Max appears behind me, “Aqueela, I really don’t know if this is such a good idea-“

I cut nervous Maxy off, turning to him, “Nonsense man. You can do anything, it’s why you’re not classified under a clique. You can do this. Bells loves these kind of things. Trust me.” I smile, placing my hand on his shoulder in comfort, “There’s no way she can deny you.”

“You’re asking a lot to ask me to trust you.” Max grins, putting up a confident facade, but I see through it rather easily.

I glance at Blubber and Simo, “You two in?”

Blubber glares at me with his red pudgy face, “You threatened to slap me on my sunburn if I didn’t comply to your terms.”

“So that means you’re in right?” I ask before grinning and then turning back to Simo. He can’t resist me.

“Simo heart Sprinkle but-“

“He has to work today Aqueela.” A voice finishes off for him.

Uh Oh…

I turn around and give Dylan a sheepish grin and bob my head, “Sup D.” Thank goodness Bex isn’t with him or Benley will lose it. Then I’ll have to force Grey and Jay to break up the fight.

Dylan narrows his green eyes at me, “I need to talk to you.” He says before yanking me aside by my upper arm, “You don’t understand that Simo works so-“

“I’m so sorry.” I speak over him before hugging him tightly, feeling terrible for how things had ended between us. I didn’t have the guts to say it sooner, but now that he’s here…”I’m so sorry for how I handled things. I never meant to upset you that night you took me out.” I say, keeping him in my embrace and feeling him stiffen from beneath me because he hadn’t been expecting it at all.

He pulls away from me in anger, at least I think it’s anger, until I see that he’s smiling again, “You make it so hard to stay incredibly mad at you. I should apologize too, I left you alone with the bill and everything.”

I shrug, “Meh. It’s in the past.” My eyes brighten suddenly when I realize that me and Dylan are solid again, “Do you want to be part of the flash mob too?”

Dylan laughs aloud before realizing that I’m dead serious, “Sure. Why not? It’s the least I can do to make it up to you. Plus your entourage seems pretty entertaining.”

My entourage?

Mhmm…I like the sound of that.

Bu then there’s a furious voice from beside me, “You have the audacity to ask me for help with a freeze mob-“

“Flash mob.” I correct Benley before he can protest any further.

He rolls his eyes at my correction, “Flash mob.” He emphasizes and I smile in satisfaction at him pronouncing it right, “After you literally locked me in a cage for hours the last time I saw you.”

I’m about to defend my actions when Dylan speaks up for me, “Pal, the way you treated her in the restaurant, well, you kind of deserved it.” Oh so Dylan remembers him then? Thing is, I actually like Benley better than Dylan…but that will be our little secret.

“I’m not some animal that can be caged. I’m not some guy who can be easily influenced and persuaded to-“

I cut off Benley’s lectures and ramblings with a great big hug, “I’m so sorry.” I mumble as he freezes, also caught off guard. Turns out he’s wrong, he can be easily influenced.

Dylan’s eyes widen in recognition, “You manipulated me!” he points an accusing finger at me.

“Bro, at least she didn’t send you a voice mail saying that your best friend is dying. You got off easy.” Grey tries to assure Dylan. I grin, he admitted that Jay is his best friend. I won’t point it out. He gets off easy this time.

Benley instantly forgives me just as I had expected. I shush Dylan’s before he gives me away just as Oog interrupts, “Oog dance.” Oog says, beginning to shake and hop on the spot, resembling a dog that has fleas, but it’s adorable.

“You’re in Oog.” I wink at him, smiling as my plans come together.

“What am I suppose to do again Aquilla?” FeeBee asks me flirtatiously as she twirls a blonde curl around her finger. Now that I know she bats for the other team, I’m now a little uncomfortable around her.

I see Jay smiling at me in admiration from the corner of my eye. He’s amused. I’m just glad we can revert back to being just friends. He seems to be fine with it from what I’ve interpreted so far. I, on the other hand, want more than that, but I’ll wait an eternity for him if I have to. For now, I’m just going to live out my life in the way that I want to.

He’s standing by himself in the corner of the lounge whilst leaning against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest and a dashing yet knowing smile flickering in his expression.

Help’ I mouth, referring to him getting rid of FeeBee for me.

He shakes his head, enjoying my suffering way too much. I narrow my eyes at Jay before turning back to FeeBee. She’s still staring at me like a bobble head. I push her, ‘accidentally’, into an unsuspecting Dylan, “FeeBee meet Dylan. Dylan, FeeBee. Make babies. Later.” I say before leaving the two and quickly seeing to the others that had to fall in line.

“I’m with Bex!”

“He’s not my type!”

I hear the two call over my shoulder simultaneously, but ignore them both.

Now to organize…

Max will be the lead singer and dancer since this is his way of asking Bells out.

I’m distracted when I see Jam and Gland showing off their own unique dance moves and styles as Max tries to copy them. Seeing Max preform classic surfer moves combined with gangster moves causes me to erupt in a soft fit of giggles.

“Sprinkle fix Dylan. Simo can now stay.” I smile enthusiastically at Simo before shoving him into Oog as they both begin to chat in their own language and bond before putting their own plans into action.

Sweet, everything is coming together perfectly.

Then I look to Boss Man and Grey who are unaware of Oog and Simo copying their every move as they walk beside one another. Oog and Simo freeze behind Grey and Boss man whenever they stop moving, creating their own freeze mob. It’s hilarious to watch.

These people are somewhat my family now.

I make my way back to the one I care about most, remembering to yesterday when he said he had to talk to me after this was all over, “Sup loner?” I greet, flashing him a friendly smile.

Jay motions to all the people in his house, “You’re something else Aqueela Lawson.”

“I’m going to take that as a compliment.” I insist.

He nods, “You should.” he replies softly, taking me by surprise. He’s being sweet all of a sudden. I wonder if it’s because of what I said about needing a break from him.

It’s a day later and we’re all back at school.

So here we stand inside the school’s cafeteria with everyone’s eyes on us, including a very perplexed Bells. I didn’t get permission from Principal to perform with random strangers, but what the hell, I’ll deal with the consequences later. The guy loves me as his own anyways. He’ll over look it. I hope…

“Aqueela, shoudn’t we have rehearsed at least once?” Max asks, anxious as he fidgets nervously.

I shake my head at him, “Rehearsing is for losers.” I signal to my group to just go with the flow as I get up on a random table, making it my stage and gathering attention from the rest of the school. The people at the table scatter, as if afraid of me. I’m not scary, c’mon now!

I turn to all the eyes watching in confusion, “Yo folks! Please welcome my very own flash mob, Aqueela’s Entourage!”

Everyone boos when they register that it’s just another one of my simpleton antics. Some random jock in the crowd shouts, “Not again!” The cheerleaders begin gossiping about me too among the popular kids, “She’s so weird. I don’t get how Mason Montry, our star quarter back, and Bella Bensten, head cheerleader, are friends with her. Even that hot loner guy, Jay Taylor, is always with her. I just don’t get it.”

Meh…say what you want to, don’t care! They’re just jelly…

Meanwhile the people in my own team give me daggers for naming the flash mob after myself. I’d be six feet under now if looks could kill. “We didn’t discuss the name!” Max hisses in my ear, not satisfied with ‘Aqueela’s Entourage’. It’s all Dylan’s fault really. He planted the idea seed for it to exist.

I guess it’s a little unfair naming the flash mob after me when I’m not participating in it. Ah well, it is my entourage, I’m the one that put this all together. I’m the one that brought us all together. It’s fair gain in my opinion.

“This one goes out to our schools very own beauty queen, Bells Bensten!” I glance over at Bells to see her eyeing me wearily with, her eyes full of curiosity and questions. Then there’s Mason sitting with the jocks and cheerleaders, grinning right at me as if…proud? I would have involved him had Jay allowed it or had he not been Bell’s ex boyfriend. It would deem things awkward.

Time to start this thing.

“And one, four, eleven, nine go!” I shout, waiting for my band to begin. They merely all look at me with bland looks as everyone in the cafeteria wait silently, so silent that a cricket chirping can be heard…

“Is that the signal?” FeeBee asks aloud, clueless, for all to hear. Dylan shakes his head in response. I forgot the signal. Oops!

Max sees the teams’s confusion and takes over from me, “And five! Six! Seven! Eight!“

They start playing on cue.

Oh yeah…those were the numbers we agreed on…

Cut long story short…

Max can’t sing…like at all. He’s awful. He’s below amateur. I think my ears are bleeding. The crowd begins booing them all over again as they move toward Bell’s table. “Come on guys! We can come back from this!” I encourage, but in actual fact I have no faith in them at all.

“We really can’t. There’s no comebacks or encores from this.” Jay says from beside me. He’s deemed himself as director so that he didn’t have to participate. “Didn’t Max tell you he’s crap at singing?”

Yeah…he might have…possibly mentioned it…seven times…but come on…I didn’t think he was this horrendous. How do his parent’s still love and accept him with such an atrocious singing voice? I’m pretty sure he’s killing some angels right now.

Then there’s Grey who can’t play guitar at all. It’s sounds almost as awful as Max’s singing. He just did this so he wouldn’t have to dance. I thought he said he could play. Liar face! He seems to realize that he can’t play either, that he’s failing, before he gets into a little hissy fit tantrum and begins bashing the electric guitar against the cafeteria floor in aggravation. “Stupid damn guitar!” he roars in fury, hitting it over and over again.

I wince, watching hopelessly as the guitar gets smashed to pieces. “You owe me a new electric guitar.” Jay comments from beside me seeing as I forced him to buy it in the first place. We watch Grey lose his temper further, “Scratch that, you owe me a new best friend.” Jay jokes, but I’m thinking he actually might need a new one if Grey goes on like this.

“Woah! Temper!” the popular crowd yells at Grey, the jocks mocking him.

Big mistake.

This results in a guitar flying across the room before it hits a bunch of jocks in the face. Okay, so Grey has aim. Duly noted…At least he shut the crowds up…They look afraid now and they should be. Grey is…one of a kind.

Fortunately, my band keeps on going, ignoring the insults flying across the room at them like I trained them to do. I had a feeling this might happen.

But it only gets worse…

Simo and Oog do their freeze mob thing behind Boss Man, but that only ends up with Boss Man tripping and falling down into Blubber. Blubber’s stomach hits the tiles before he cries out in pain because of his sun burn, “Mother Savage Ape Attack!” he screams, rolling on the floor in pain.

Simo and Oog fall into fits of laughter whilst Boss man joins Grey back on the side lines. Simo and Oog both end up tripping over Blubber’s body like morons which results in Blubber now laughing at them. The wheel turned.

Then there’s still temperamental Benley. But much to my surprise, he’s carrying us all home. He’s absolutely amazing with the drums. He sounds like some rock god. He’s brilliant! We’re only succeeding in our efforts because of him. He’s already got a fan base as they cheer his name. He grins, bobbing his head to the beat, boasting as he shows off some more. He gets carried away by the female attention and I can’t really blame him. He’s a typical male after all. But he loses focus under the pressure. When he goes to throw his drum stick in the air, preparing to catch it like he’d been doing the entire time, it slips from his hands and goes crashing straight into Gland’s forehead.

If that’s not bad enough, Gland already hates Benley as it is, seeing as Benley disrespected Oog whilst building the tree house, hence why Benley was locked away in a makeshift prison.

Gland, short on his own temper, turns around to face Benley, “Oh you did not just throw that at my head Boyband!”

‘Boyband’ is his personal nickname for Benley.

Benley stops playing, holding his hands up in surrender, “It was an accident! I swear it bro!”

Gland is the only one Benley is afraid of. Other than Gland, Benley is a real meanie. He’ll hit it off with Grey.

Glan picks up the drum stick that had hit him before going after Benley, “I’ll show you accident Boyband!”

And just like that, Benley, our star, the one we solely relied on, is sprinting away, shouting profanities at the top of his lungs whilst Gland chases after him, jumping over the cafeteria tables in the process, lunch flying up everywhere from impact.

“This is a disaster.” I mumble from beside Jay, tempted to close my eyes and denounce them all as my friends.

Jay chuckles, amused by this all, “Really? Cause I’m having a blast.” Of course he is. He takes fortune when others fall. He’s evil like that.

FeeBee, the airhead, is dancing really well, but she’s gotten so into it that she is the only one who hasn’t noticed that she’s danced across the entire cafeteria. She’s now dancing on the other side of the hall. There’s no use in that.

Dylan, whom I made the hip hop dancer long side FeeBee, has no rhythm what so ever. He even forgets to freeze behind Max like we’d planned.

Then there’s Jam and he’s rocking that triangle he’s playing. He’s talented. The only problem is the spotlight Max has. Jam wants it and it seems he’s willing to fight for it, seeing as he’s now shoving Max out the way, craving for the attention and lime light.

Max gets irritated and eventually gives one last forceful shove to Jam who goes flying across the cafeteria right into the cheerleader’s table. I have to hold back a laugh when food splatters all over Jam, the cheerleaders and of course, Melinda. If she didn’t hate me before, she definitely does now.

Max decides to end this once and for all as he crouches down right before Bells and takes her hand in his, “Will you forget this ever happened, over look it, and just be my girlfriend?”

Bells blushes, giggling like a giddy preteen, “That was just plain awful. You really shouldn’t sing Max. But you could have just asked me normally and the answer would still be the same.” We all hold our breathes in anticipation, “Of course I will be your girlfriend!” she squeals out aloud as the whole cafeteria falls silent. They can’t believe she’d still say yes after that terrible performance. Bells isn’t shallow like the other popular kids, she sees the effort put in before judging. I love her for that.

The silence is unexpected…this is not what I was going for…

Jay starts a slow clap from beside me to get the audience going. Just like he’d planned, they all fall into line as the cafeteria follow his lead and erupt in claps and cheers as if actually happy for Max and Bells when we all know they don’t care. Even Mason claps. I’m glad he can be the better man. There’s no bad blood between him and Max, but between him and Jay…that’s another story.

I glance over at Jay and nudge him softly, “That was really nice of you.”

Jay shrugs, dismissing what I’d said, “I had to do my part.”

What a softie!

Max chuckles before saying, “I only did this all because Aqueela told me that you love flash mobs and things like this.”

Oh no!

Bells raises both eyebrows, “No, actually I hate these kinds of cheesy things. It’s Aqueela who loves these kinds of performances.”

“Is that so?” Max turns in the crowds, his eyes searching for someone.

Uh oh!

I grab Jay and duck behind him before Max sees me. “I will kill that girl.” Max jokes as his eyes finds Bell’s ones again.

They’re so happy which make s me incredibly happy. I’m on a happy high.

But…I still hold my wrath for that repulsive show.

I gather my performers, leaving Max and Bells to their young puppy love. First I turn to Simo, Oog and Blubber, “I’m thoroughly disappointed in you three. Blubber all you had to do was play the trumpet. Simo all you had to do was play the flute. Oog all you had to do was dance. What the heck happened? You were all three on the floor laughing your lungs out.” Then I turn to my next victims, “Boss man, I’m sorry that Simo and Oog tripped you into Blubber and found it to be absolutely hilarious. But considering that you were to play the piano, I don’t understand why you were standing in the first place.”

“Um…” Boss man interrupts me, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly, “You never arranged a piano for me so I was confused as what to do.”

“Oops, that’s my bad. Totally forgot. Okay, you’re forgiven.” I say and then turn to Jam, “You played the triangle like a pro, but why you gotta steal Maxie’s limelight. Not cool.”

“Hang ten Flower?” he asks, referring to me by my nickname he had given me, wanting me to up top him with a high five as if we were all good, trying to make amends.

He’s not understanding. I shake my head, “No Jam, no hang ten for you right now buddy.” I clarify to which his hand falls and so does his happy go lucky expression. Then I point an accusing finger at Benley, “And don’t even get me started on you! You were so great, but then you lost it just because of some female attention. It makes you look desperate man. You were our secret weapon to success!”

Grey’s scowls at this, “I thought I was your secret weapon!”

He actually bought that.

I cough uncomfortably, “Yeah umm…” I trail off, playing with the loose strands of my hair that had been put up into a messy bun, “about that…”

“You lied to me! Again!” Grey shouts, causing me to back away from him cowardly.

“It’s not my fault you were useless. You broke Jay’s electric guitar. But I don’t really have anything to say to you. I kind of predicted what you would end up doing.” I shrug as Grey’s mouth falls agape at my words for not giving him a proper lecture like I did with the others. He finds it insulting.

I look to the others for confirmation and they all begin nodding saying things like:

“Yeah totally. Grey always ends up breaking something.”

“I knew Grey would lose his temper.”

“Saw it coming.”

“Not unexpected.”

Grey glances at all of us in disbelief, “Then why involve me in the first place?!” he all but shouts.

Gosh…cool that temper dawg!

“Because you were lonely?” I ask more than state, “I didn’t want to leave you out.”

For a second Grey’s eyes soften, taken by surprise, his defensive walls broken down, but he’s quick to rebuild them, “Next time, leave me damn well out of it!” Then he’s stomping away like a madman as always. Secretly, I know that he appreciates being thought of. He’ll never confess to it though.

Back to my lectures, “Gland you were in the right. I don’t blame you for going after Boyband’s ass. I would have too if he threw a drum stick at my face.”

Benley scoffs at my audacity, “It was a bloody accident!”

“Mhmmm sure…” I patronize him before turning to Dylan and FeeBee, my hip hop dancers, “FeeBee, you did great. But next time, stay with your band. Dylan…no words can describe how awful you are at dancing. You make Max look like he can sing. That said, you’re all dismissed. That puts an end to Aqueela’s Entourage.”

“Finally! I hope it stays dead.” Benley exclaims, shooting me a hard glare.

I merely roll my eyes at him, “Man up. You gonna have to do a lot better than that scowl if you want me to tremble in fear. Remember, Grey hates me more than you do. Thus, I can take anything you dish.”

Benley raises both eyebrows in a daring manner before he approaches me, “Oh yeah?” he challenges.

However, before he can get to me, Gland’s already yanking him away by the back of his shirt, “Don’t nobody be messing with my baby girl Eela.”

I grin at Gland, “Don’t mind Ben Ben. He’s fine. You can release him.”

Gland holds him midair so that he’s hanging in the air, his legs dangling, “You sure? Cause Boyband seems like a threat to you. I can take care of him chop chop if you let me.”

Gland is really strong. I’m glad I’m in his good books.

“That won’t be necessary. Release Boyband.” I say, worrying for what might happen to Benley if I allow it.

“Stop calling me Boyband!” Benley shouts in exasperation as Gland drops him back to the floor.

I shove Benley out the way, purposely elbowing him in the side, “You owe me Boyband. I just saved your ass.”

I’m quick to escape the school before Principal P finds me and gives me another speech on behaviour, morals etcetera…things I’m just not meant to hear in this life time.

“Aqueela hold up!” someone calls from behind me.

I hear his voice and stop for him all too willingly, “What up Mas?”

“What you did for Bells and Max was real cool of you. Just wanted to tell you that.” Mason smiles at me, tapping my shoulder, before leaving me in a haste.

Why the rush?


Oh that’s why.

“Yes Jay?” I ask just as he gets to me, panting, as if he’d sprinted after me.

I’ve been trying to avoid him and his talk too.

“I really need to talk to you about-”

He wants to talk about the kiss and ultimately push me further away. He had his chance, but now he’s lost it.

I remind myself of what Max said.

‘You need to learn that you’re worth fighting for and if he isn’t going to fight for you, then he’s not worth it.’

“I’m sorry Jay, but I’m not discussing this with you right now. I can’t. ” I tell him bluntly as he falls silent to listen to what I have to say, “Jay, we keep going in circles and I’m tired, I’m so tired of fighting for someone who is never going to fight back for me.”

Jay begins to shake his head profusely, “You don’t understand. I-”

I hold my hand up to silence him, “Jay I need some distance from you for a while. You’re no good for me, not now. I just need a break from all of this chaos. I’m going to focus on school for a while, boost my grades up, find a new place to live. After all, living with you was only temporary. You said so yourself. I’m letting you go back to the way we were before so-”

He interrupts again as if desperate, “I don’t want that. Aqueela if you just give me a second to-”

Feeling fed up, I shout over him, “Just give me a break! Please.” I beg as he stops talking altogether, closing his mouth, “I can’t take this anymore.” I finish softly.

I need him to understand that if we’re ever going to work, we first have to go our separate ways and make sure that what we want in the end…is the same.

But Jay’s stubborn…too stubborn. He’ll never want what I want and even if he does, he will never care enough to fight for what he wants. He’s not capable of it. He’s too detached, even with me. We’re worlds apart. Max made me see that.

We’ll never be good for each other.

“Can you just give me some space for a while?” I ask softly, thinking that I would never be the one from us who’d make that request.

Jay stays silent for a moment or two as if he’s lost his voice. I stare at him, waiting for an answer. But he never does.

I turn to leave when I hear his voice again, “If that’s what you want.”

I turn back around, stunned as I search his blue eyes for a trace of doubt, “You say it like it isn’t what you want too.” I state aloud, puzzled.

“Because it’s not.”

Then prove it! I’m done waiting.

But he doesn’t.

Instead he does what he does best and ends up walking away from me yet again simply because it’s easier.

He gives up.

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