Pause (Book 1)

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Chapter 40: Rest In Peace Jay

“Why did you drag me with you?” Benley asks, frustrated as he keeps checking his watch. I may have promised that he could leave in an hour tops and I may have lied about it.

He’s staying with me.

You see…this is a high priority, exclusive, top mission that takes an entire day. It has to be done with perfection. Benley was my only option…seeing as all my other friends are sick of me considering Aqueela’s Karaoke Night didn’t go as I promised it would.

And Jay…well Jay cannot find out about this mission or he’ll force me to abort it. I’ve winning this time round.

Then there’s Oog and he’s pissed off with both of us for reasons I can’t seem to figure out. He’s been acting strangely all morning. I don’t think he likes that Jay and I don’t spend as much much time together any more, but I can’t be sure. I think Oog wants Jay and I to stop our feud.

I finally respond to Benley, “Dragged is a bit of an over exaggeration, don’t ya think?” I glance at Benley sideways before grabbing hold of his arm and forcing him to walk faster and keep up with me. He’s like a tortoise with his pace.

Benley frowns at me,”Most cases, it would be a hyperbole, but in this case, no, it’s not exaggerating. When I denied your request to ‘chill out’ as you put it, you pinched me hard on the arm like a psycho bitch before hauling my ass out the house and down town, hence me being here with you in the first place.” Benley reminds me in an irritable tone. “In fact, you’re dragging me around right now!” he huffs in exasperation to prove his invalid point, motioning to my grip on his arm. “So saying that you dragged me here is not an over exaggeration at all.”

“Debatable.” I reply nonchalantly as I tighten my grip on his arm and shove him forward along with me.

He glares at me with those dark black eyes of his, “It’s not flippen debatable when you’re still doing it!” he motions to my hand on his arm yet again so I quickly release him to get him to shut up and stop pestering me.

“If you knew that you were going to be so grumpy then you should have just stayed instead of insisting on coming with me.” I reply back calmly as Benley himself begins to lose his temper once again. He never insisted on coming, I forced him too, but out of love and my own selfish reasons of course.

I swear, he puts Grey and Jay to shame with his hot temper. I remember how he wrecked Dylan’s face at the party.

Ah well…at least his temper is entertaining. He’s almost more fun to tease than Grey.

“Like I had a damn choice Aqueela!” he growls, anger pulsating through his veins.

Such a drama queen this one!

I pout, pulling my famous and rarely used ultimate puppy dog eyed stare, “Please Ley Ley.”

He rolls his eyes at me, resisting me in the process, “That look might have worked on me, but you calling me Ley Ley just infuriates me more.”

“Ben Ben?” I opt for a better nickname.

“Not doing it.” He answers back quickly.

I sigh over-dramatically and flutter my eyelashes at him, “Fine.” I whisper quietly to emphasize my fake disappointment and deep sadness, “Do not prolong it any longer. If you must go…then just go.” I say in hushed voice, waving him off before placing a hand over my heart. “That’s if my heart can take it.” I add for more emphasis.

Benley hesitates just as I predicted before giving me a gentle push on the shoulder, gesturing for me to keep on walking because he’d keep on following, “You’ve got to be the biggest drama queen I know.”

My thoughts on him exactly. Woah. We are alike.

“I know.” I feign pride, “You’re privileged to know me.” I wink playfully. Much to my surprise my comment actually impacts Mr Grumpy Pants as his rare easy going smile eases onto his lips, but he’s quick to hide it, fortunately, I’ve already seen it. “Ooooh! I saw that.” I nudge him playfully in his side, “Better cover up or I might just think you’re human after all.”

Benley chuckles at this before looking at me earnestly, “You’re just lucky you’re so cute or you’d be six feet under by now.”

I thin my lips into a straight line and nod, contemplating his twisted ‘insult compliment’, “I don’t know why, but I’m going to say thank you and take that as a full on compliment.”

Benley shakes his head teasingly, “Just shut up and tell me what we’re doing at the mall in any case.” he demands in a joking manner. I knew I could get him to lighten up in no time.

“Shopping of course!” I squeal excitedly, but Benley doesn’t seem to share my enthusiasm.

“You really need more girl friends in your life.” Benley states and for once I agree with him. Bells is my only girl friend…her and my gran that is. Maybe Emma in time. Other than that, I’m practically surrounded by guy friends.

“Whatever Pretty Boy, I could say the same to you.” I mock playfully. “I’m the only girl you’re ever seen around these days. How about this, we can meet girls together, but for different reasons. For me, it will be to have girl friends other than douche-bag guys…” I glance at him, “No offence.” I add before continuing, “And for you it will be to satisfy your playboy needs etcetera etcetera.” I mess with him.

Benley’s dark eyes brighten up at my words as he runs a hand through his brown hair, “I can be your wing-man for friends and you can be my wing-girl for hook ups. I’m down with that, even though my job will take more convincing on my part. Your job will be all too easy. The ladies love me.” he winks at me suggestively.

I scoff, “They’re not the only ones. Their love can’t compare to the apparent love you have for yourself.”

Benley is so obnoxious.

He brushes my insult aside and grins mischievously, stepping closer to me, not denying any of what I’d assumed on my own. “But I doubt you brought me down here to satisfy my needs.” he whispers in my ear playfully, messing with me.

I laugh and shove him away, “Nope.” I answer him, popping the ‘p’. “We’re on a top secret mission that Jay can never know about. At least not yet. I need my revenge.”

“Do I even want to know?” I shake my head with a taunting smile as I rub my hands together deviously. This is going to be fun. Benley groans aloud, making his disdain to be on a wild adventure with me quite obvious. “Couldn’t you get someone else? Like that fat kid who always flirts with you? Or that Asian that seems to be in love with you? Or how about Max Mills? Hasn’t he always been your bitch, your g2girl, your toy boy, always there at your every beck and call?”

Yes, but Max is busy with Bells nowadays. He’s got a girlfriend which means spending too much time with him is off limits. Benley, on the other hand, is single and free to spend time with me. Plus, I’m sick of Max. It’s like talking to myself. Boring! I need some one-on-one time with my good pal Ben Ben.

“Because I chose you. I want your company. You should feel special.” I pick away at my nails, not really listening to his complaints as he goes on, “Want some cheese with that whine?” That comment earns me a deadly look from him. “What?” I shrug innocently, “Awe come on! It was funny!” I defend myself.

“You use to be cool Aqueela.” He shakes his head at me, disappointed.

“Aha!” I shout, pointing an accusing finger at him, “I always knew you secretly thought I was cool!” I clap my hands, excited, before fist pumping the air. “Pretty Boy thinks I’m cool, or thought I was cool. Who cares?!” I exclaim all too happily.

He closes his eyes as if trying to tame his anger and exercise some patience. Fat chance! “Maybe I prefer Ley Ley to Pretty Boy.” He opens his eyes again to hold my gaze, “I mean, what is it with people always calling me Pretty Boy or Boyband?” he asks, genuinely lost by it all. Poor guy.

My gaze sweeps over him and instantly the answer is obvious. Benley is attractive with his dark, almost black alluring eyes and his messy brown hair. I mean if I was a guy and I hated Benley, I’d be too scared to fight him in fear of damaging his pretty almost perfect face. He’s definitely rocking the whole ‘pretty boy’ image Chace Crawford style.

“You sport pretty bro, deal with it.” I mock as I enter the store I’d been anticipating since this morning. “We’re here!”

Benley glances around, taking in all the fluffy creatures with raised eyebrows, puzzled, “When you said shopping, is it weird that my head jumped to clothes and not puppies? Cause I was actually looking forward to seeing you in different outfits and give my opinion on it, especially if they were revealing outfits.”

I ignore him and his incessant flirting as I run up to the first cage I see. Fuzzy cute faces are licking at the bars of their cages and waggling their tails in excitement as I approach them. “Ooh Ben Ben, I want these ones!” I shout in awe, pointing to the adorable faces nibbling on my fingers gently, lovingly. But then from the corner of my eye I see another cage with different puppies, these ones being younger and more energetic. “Oooh oooh, no, I want those ones!” I shout, running to the next cage before kittens nearby catch my eyes, “Maybe I can get a kitten too!”

I’m about to run off to the next cage before I’m yanked back forcefully by my shoulders. I turn around to glare at the culprit, “Benley! Let me go!” I protest, needing to see the rest of the baby animals. “I want puppy! Puppy want me!” I squeal, squirming in his grip to escape.

“Calm down!” Benley reprimands, “You can’t have every animal in here you know. Besides, didn’t you say that you’re staying with Jay temporarily?” I nod, “Well then how can you just adopt a pet without his permission or consent?”

“Easily, like this.” Before Benley can stop me, I call over the manager of the pet store, raising my hand and waving it around as if deranged, “Sir, I’d like to purchases all these animals?”

He pulls a face, shocked, “I’m sorry. All?” The manager repeats, just as confused as Benley with my request. I nod eagerly in response.

The manager opens his mouth to comment, but before I can hear what he has to say, Benley’s already speaking, “Hi. I’m Benley, her primary care giver. It’s not often we let her out of her cage so it’s a big deal for her as you can imagine.” Then Benley’s already pulling me away, mouthing to the perplexed manager the word ‘crazy’ over and over again whilst pointing at me and shaking his head.

Once we’re far enough away, Benley turns to me with a disapproving glare, “You’re insane.”

I shrug, “I’ll take it. Heard worse in this lifetime.”

“Do you even have enough cash on you to buy a pet? Plus, having a pet is a responsibility and offence, you can barely look after yourself. Don’t think Grey didn’t tell me how he almost drove you over the other day. The guy’s got huge regrets about not going through with it. Can’t blame him. Anyway, my point is, you’re not responsible nor reliable nor dependable nor-“

“Okay jeez! I get it.” I huff, crossing my arms indignantly over my chest with a dissatisfied frown.

“And you have Oog. Isn’t that enough?” Benley pesters on, wanting to persuade me to change my mind.

I advert my eyes from his dark ones with a scowl at the reminder, “Oog is neglecting me. I tried playing fetch with him this morning, but he wouldn’t budge. I think he’s mad at Jay and I for some other reason. I’m getting this puppy for him, to get back on his good side. I mean he even kicked me out his tree house. Said something about throwing a party and can’t be disturbed. Can you believe it? He didn’t even invite me. Me! Who doesn’t invite Aqueela Lawson, AKA, party animal, to their party?!” I pout, disheartened, offended by Oog’s recent behaviour.

“So I was right. This is about Oog.” Benley states the obvious. I’m tempted to give him a medal for finally catching up. “Or it’s about Jay. It always goes back to Jay with you. I don’t actually know. I don’t get girls. All I know is that you and Jay haven been bumping heads lately. It has to be about Jay then.”

Ah Benley…always so clueless…like a breath of fresh air

“No you Loony Tune! This is about me focusing on other things instead of just Jay.” I lie as I walk back up to one of the cages filled with Yorkshire puppies. One of them stands out with his black little nose propped up against the bars. I watch in awe as he paws and cries at the bars, sniffing my fingers before licking me profusely with his puppy breath. “You’re so cute Munchkin!” I coo, sticking my finger further through the bars to pat him more. He wags his tail in response to my voice and gives me this look and that’s all it takes.

He’s mine. I will have him.

“Almost as cute as you.” A familiar voice rings softly and affectionately from somewhere beside me.

Briefly I take my attention off the eight week puppy to see brown eyes himself. “Mas?” I question as I stare up at him through my lashes in bewilderment, “What are you doing here?” I find myself asking, feeling suddenly very uncomfortable as I scan the room for signs of Benley, except he’s no where in sight and that’s most likely my fault since I pissed him off again.

Being alone around Mason makes me uneasy, especially since knowing how he actually feels about me. Yes, he tutors me and I’d spoken to him at the party. But at least Jay was somewhere in the house. I wasn’t completely alone with him. And yes, Jay now ignores Mason and still allows him into his house now. I think Jay’s only allowing it for my sake.

“I work here.” He states simply all the while keeping his brown eyes solely on me with that breath taking smile.

“Since when?” I ask, “Shouldn’t you be at football practice?”

He sees my confusion, “I quit.”

I raise an eyebrow in astonishment, “You…quit?” I ask simply, not understanding. Star quarterbacks don’t just quit.

“I quit.” He nods, confirming it.

“But why? You were captain.” I furrow my eyebrows up in pure shock.

“I needed change.” He shrugs, averting his eyes shyly as if not wanting to discuss it further. Sensitive topic then. I stay silent, not wanting to push him. But instead I begin to think of ways to leave without being rude. He eventually brings his eyes back to my own, “But how are you? Really? You okay?” He always senses when I’m feeling down. I look down at the floor, unsure how to answer that without insinuating a lie. He places his hand gently and cautiously on my shoulder, “If you ever want to talk again, you know where to find me.”

I nod, “Thank you.” I breathe, offering him an appreciative smile. I move back slightly, letting his hand slip from my shoulder. It wasn’t as discreet as I’d hoped it to be. I release a relieved breath at the space between us.

“The little bugger seems to like you.” Mason breaks the awkward atmosphere, gesturing to the pup yelping at me to rub his tummy again.

“I guess.” I smile blissfully as I pat the pup. I adore animals! I take my eyes of the puppy to ask Mason another question only to find him staring at me intensely, in such a way it makes shivers run down my spine.

I’m struck speechless as he moves in closer toward me, “Aqueela…” he falters, pausing to think it through. I already know what he wants to say. I’m not going to allow him to say it again. I can’t bear to hear him say it again, not when I don’t feel the same.

I quickly react, speaking over him before he makes the same mistake, “Since you work here, you can help me out. I want to buy this little guy.” I say, motioning to the puppy growling at me playfully.

Mason is caught off guard by my interruption. He blinks, slowly coming out of it. “Yeah…sure.” he trails off dryly as he opens up the cage and hands me the puppy, our fingers barely brushing against one another. I notice him stiffen at my touch, but I brush it aside, choosing to ignore it rather than acknowledge the feelings I know he has for me.

I follow him over to the till and pay for the puppy, out of Jay’s earnings obviously. “Thanks Mas.” I grin, hugging the fluffy little body closer to me, eager to leave and murder Benley for leaving me alone in my time of need.

I turn around in one swift motion, needing to get out of there because with Mason’s presence, it was quickly becoming suffocating.

“Aqueela wait!”

I close my eyes and heave out a breath, lacking courage as I turn to face him yet again, “Yeah?”

“It’s my break in five, wait for me?” He asks hopefully.

Being the nice person I am, I answer on impulse, “Um…no?” I answer dryly. I mean surely I’m allowed to make my own decisions without receiving criticism. I shouldn’t be forced to say yes.

“What?” he asks, shocked that I’d actually refused him. Why does he even bother with me? Girls drop like flies for him at school, yet he always finds himself running back to me. I guess I should feel flattered, but I just don’t.

“No?” I repeat and then quickly add, “I need to pee. Yeah. That’s it. I desperately need to pee and…” I trail off at the crest fallen expression on his face. My heart crumbles a little. I sigh and run a hand through my loose curls, “Ten minutes Mas, ten only.” I give in to him. He’s the only person who makes me give in. I always cave for him. It’s the opposite with Jay. I’ll never cave for Jay. He has to fight for it.

Mason smiles a little at this as I go sit at a table, waiting ever so impatiently for him to join me in five minutes when he gets his break.

“What I miss?” Benley asks as he sits down in front of me, appearing out of nowhere.

My eyes widen at his impeccable timing, “Get out of here you fool! You can’t be here right now.” I say, handing him my puppy for the meantime, “Go on, shoo! Shoo!” I say, pushing him away in the opposite direction. He laughs a little, but obeys none the less, not questioning my actions nor my motives, use to my secrecy.

It’s not long before Mason takes his lunch break and sits in front of me, much to my dismay. “Hey.” he greets again.

“Hey.” I reply back coyly, trying to get this reunion over with.

“Where did the puppy go?” Mason asks as he glances around.

“Puppy play centre.” I answer quickly.

“Puppy what-“

“Mason, what do you want to talk about?” I cut him off and get to the point.

“Look Aqueela, I just wanted to apologize properly for once.” he starts, getting straight to the point like I’d requested.

“It’s okay.” I brush off the matter.

He shakes his head, “No, it’s not. I’m sorry for wiping out your sand castles and breaking your sand man all those years ago. I’m sorry for always insulting you about your hats, self-confidence and well…everything. I’m sorry for hurting you over and over again, boundlessly. I’m sorry for tripping you at junior prom on the dance floor. I’m sorry for breaking your leg by accident in the fifth grade. I’m sorry for accusing you of cheating in that Maths test even though I knew you hadn’t. I’m sorry for degrading you around the rest of the football players and cheerleaders for my own benefit. I’m sorry for blaming you when something went wrong in my life. I’m sorry for never being there for you when you needed me. I’m sorry I tried to kiss you when it wasn’t even a day after I ended things with Bells. But most of all, I’m sorry that I didn’t just man up and tell you that I love you when I knew I always had.” He concludes softly, passionately.

My breath hitches as my words stay stuck in my throat. I wasn’t expecting any of that. My eyes begin to water at the sincerity of his apologies. I don’t always speak about it, I may even joke about it, but everything Mason did to me in the past hurt me immensely, except I didn’t realize that he knew how much he’d hurt me. Clearly he does. His words of the past stay with me. Sometimes the reminder stings.

I forgave Mas along time ago, but it’s not easy forgetting. Forgive and forget they all say. Well the saying itself is a misconception, because forgetting is impossible.

Mason sees my discomfort and pain and thankfully speaks for me, “I’ve never apologized for everything. I thought it was about time. I was an idiot, but I’m trying to change, to be better. I hope you can see that. I don’t expect you to forgive me or-“

I reach over and take hold of his right hand, enclosing it in both of mine, “I forgive you Mason.” I say earnestly, meaning it.

“Aqueela, you don’t have to humour me here so-“

“I mean it.” I nod encouragingly, squeezing his hand to let him know that it’s the truth. He’s been forgiven, for everything. I release his hand and lean back in my chair to meet his toffee brown eyes, “You have no idea how much your apology means to me.”

He sucks in a deep breath before just coming out with it, “I love you Aqueela.” He reminds me, saying what I hoped to not hear today or ever again, not from him. And just when I open my mouth to give him some type of response, he shushes me, “You don’t need to say anything.” He replies tenderly before getting up, “Oh and by the way, if my opinion counts for anything any more, I never actually hated those cute hats you always wore. In fact, I kind of miss them.” he concludes and leaves, allowing me alone to think about all he’d just said.

I don’t wear hats as much as use to.

Thoughts of the past, things I bore grudge over, things I thought I could never move past, flash through my mind. From the constant torment to the laughter and mockery of others. There was Mason’s face in the crowds as the perpetrator and my bully.

But now when I think about it all, I don’t feel hopelessly nauseous. I feel slightly more better about it. His apology has lifted the nightmares and the haunting memories off my shoulders and finally I can get over it and leave it in the past where it belongs.

Getting up, I walk back in the direction where I last saw Benley using my puppy’s cuteness to his advantage to chat up some pretty waitress serving him coffee.

Fortunately, he’s still there, using my puppy to grab all of her attention. The flirt! But I’d be glad if he found someone else. Bex broke him and then sought after Dylan. I feel for Benley.

Usually, I’d take my puppy and pretend to be Benley’s girl to mess up his chances of scoring a date, but fortunately for him, I’m not in the mood to mess with him. Instead I walk past him, hoping he’d see me and follow so I can get my puppy and go home…well to Jay’s home at least.

“We’ll grab something to eat sometime, but right now I gotta go.” I hear Benley say to the pretty blonde before caching up to me. He immediately sees something is wrong and throws an arm around my shoulders, “Okay, I give, what’s up?”

I shrug his arm off my shoulders, “Nothing.” I mumble dejectedly, taking my new addition to the family right out of his hands, “Can you just take me home please?” I ask politely for once, walking head of him, close to tears. It’s been a rough day, rough week, rough year, rough lifetime.

He tugs on my wrist gently, bringing me to a halt, “Aqueela, what’s the matter?” He asks again, this time more sincerely, showing true concern for me.

I shake my head, “Something unexpected just came up, that’s all.” I answer him honestly.

“I’m not taking you home when you’re so down like this. No ways.” Benley states as he stares at me with contemplation and determination as if deciding on something, “You wanted to go shopping, then go shopping. Buy whatever you want. It’s on me. Go crazy.”

He manages to get a giggle out of me, “Don’t worry about it Benley. That’s what Jay’s credit card if for.” I explain to him with a mischievous grin, grateful fro his company.

“Does he know you have that?” Benley motions to the card in my hand.

“He will.” I grin in delight.

“How do you even know his password?” Benley asks.

“My birthday.” I answer, “Don’t ask me why Jay’s password to access his cash is my birthday.”

Benley smirks, “He probably has the date marked on his calender too. It’s when you turn eighteen. You’re legal then and he can do whatever he wants with you and get kinky when-“

I slap Benley’s chest, shutting him up effectively, “Don’t be a perv.”

Benley grins at my reaction, placing his hands up in defence, “I’m just saying. You can’t blame the guy if he wants to get it on with you. I mean have you seen yourself…” Benley trails off in a whistle as his eyes travel down my figure shamelessly. When his eyes finally meet mine, he winks at me, “Hot damn. Smoking hot. You are fine with a capital ‘F’. If I was Jay I wouldn’t hesitate to jump your-“

I narrow my eyes at him as I interrupt his dirty talk, “Benley.” I warn, shooting him a dangerous stare.

“Yah?” He comes out of it.

“Shut up.” I conclude.

Benley catches the not so discreet hint, “Okay Aqueela. Whatever you want.” He complies.

From there we head into all my favourite clothing stores for fun, not to actually waste all Jay’s money that he works so hard for. I’m not that cruel. I just tried things on and asked Benley’s opinion and approval. I never went as far to buy anything. I’m more than satisfied with what I already have. Clothes are clothes. I have more than I need. Simplicity is what I aim for. Bells would definitely disagree the fashionista.

“Excuse me Sir and Mam?” Benley and I turn to see the manager of the current store we’re in approach us with a stern look. “You are both aware that no dogs are allowed in the stores?”

I frown at the woman, “I didn’t see any ‘anti-dog’ signs upon coming in.” Benley and I took a risk bringing the puppy in, knowing fully well that we could be caught. I’m playing the dumb card. Bring on the airhead Aqueela.

“We have a sign, but in any case it should be obvious not to bring your dog into a clothing store.” The woman points to the large, red, unmissable sign in the store’s window on display for all to see. It shows that no animals are allowed in the store.

“That says no animals, not no dogs.” I point out.

“Are dogs not animals, Miss?” The manager questions me, reprimanding me and putting me in my place.

“That all depends on the individual’s perspective. I see dogs as my children, my equals really.” I tell her, only realizing then how I just insulted myself and unintentionally referred to myself as being on a dog’s level.

Benley takes the liberty to snicker at my expense.

“Miss and Mr, I’m going to have to ask the both of you to leave the store immediately. Escort yourselves out.” The manager snaps at me rudely as if I’m an idiot.

“I refuse to leave when my puppy has done nothing wrong and committed no crime.” I stand my ground.

Benley gives me a ‘where-are-you-going-with-this’ look as he tries to pull me along so we can leave the store without further hassles.

The manager hands up a shirt with a wet mark on it, “Your puppy urinated on this item that hasn’t been paid for.”

I pretend to be surprised, “You have no proof. It could be an undisciplined kid for all you know.”

After putting up more of an argument, the manager finally decides to drag Benley and I into the security room, the security cameras showing me quickly picking up my puppy after he had urinated all over the shirt. She even pauses the video on my face. Okay so maybe she does have proof after all.

Uh oh!

Benley slaps his forehead in frustration at my stupidity for getting us in this mess when we could have just left peacefully, but no, I am stubborn.

“Is that proof enough, Mam?” The manager hisses at me, “So pay for the shirt please Miss.”

Benley gives me a hard look, telling me to give in already. I ignore him and stomp my foot childishly, throwing a tantrum, “I shall not pay. That attractive woman in the security video doesn’t even look like me.” I complain.

The manager shakes her head at me fro being difficult before she motions to the mall cop she’d called to take us into custody.

Benley is handcuffed to me as I struggle against the mall cop, “Unhand me you fiend!”

We’re forced onto the mall cop’s little golf cart as as he drives us past hoards of people toward the mall prison. All the shoppers turn to look at us with bewilderment. It’s not often people are actually detained in the mall prison.

Benley ducks his head in embarrassment under all the piercing gazes of the shoppers, muttering how this is all my fault. I, on the other hand, embrace the attention and give a slow wave to my fellow shoppers like the Queen would to her people, a bright smile on my face as if proud of my accomplishments for the day.

We stop at a small holing centre known as the mall prison where Benley and I are thrown in. “Call someone to get you young fellows out of here. If no one comes, you will both be forbidden from this mall, you trouble makers.” The obese mall cop tells us before leaving with the key, feasting on a sugary doughnut.

“I hate your beautiful guts so much right now.” Benley scolds me, letting me know how the poor baba feels.

“I suppose it is my fault.” I sigh teasingly.

Benley scoffs at my audacity, “You suppose?!

Benley sure does have a knack for getting locked up in places. Last time, I made a makeshift prison for him when we were building Oog’s tree house. This is his fault. I don’t know how, but it is. It’s his bad omen!

“Don’t worry Son. I know just who to call to sign us out of here.” I say to Benley, stroking my puppy’s fur in a menacing manner with an evil grin intact. “I have connections.” I stroke my yorkie’s fluffy beard over dramatically with a dark glare directed at Benley just to scare him a little.

I need someone I trust to bail us out. Not Bells because she will kill me for landing up in prison again, even if it is just mall prison. Jay will also kill me.

I need someone who won’t murder me, who understands me…

Benley rolls his eyes at me, “If you’re trying to act like the Godfather, which you so are, you need a cat, not a dog.”

I ignore him and pull out my cell from my pocket in a rather dramatic fashion.

“Hello?” The person on the other end answers.

“Hello Son. Your father needs you.” I greet in my deep Godfather voice.

Max groans from the other end, catching on, “What did you do?”

I grin sheepishly, thankful Max can’t see me right now, “We’ve been taken into custody. Benley landed us up in mall prison for his attitude.” I explain just as Benley elbows me in the ribs for my lie, “Please sign us out with the mall cop who arrested us and don’t tells Bells about this.”

“I have half the mind to sell you out and tell Bells seeing as you sold Benley and I out at the party. But seeing as Benley’s my pal, I won’t tell her. I’m on my way, but you so owe me for this.” Max says before hanging up.

It’s two hours later when Max finally gets us out. He first ate, taking his sweet time on purpose, leaving me stuck with an impatient Benley who tried breaking out the mall prison several times. When Max finally arrives, he almost leaves me behind after signing Benley out. If Benley didn’t have a soft spot for me, then I’d be left behind because Max has soul.

Max leaves us and returns to his own shopping when Benley decides it’s time to take me home.

I think he’s suffered enough of me for one day.

Benley comes around to open the car door for me like a gentleman and that’s because he is one despite his short temper. He’s charming and charismatic that way. Jay, on the other hand, is anything but. So it’s a little new to me, but it’s sweet and thoughtful, “Look I know we’re not that close, but if you need something, anything, I’m your guy.” Benley persists, referring to earlier when I’d been upset after Mason’s talk, “Even after you caged me like a wild animal and then got us caged again,” He jokes and I can’t help but smile a little at that. “Any ways, I had an…interesting day. Call me if you need me and please spare me any invitations to hang out with you for at least a week. I need time to recover.” He jokes before kissing me on the cheek like a close friend would.

With my new pup in my hands, I watch him drive away, feeling empty and no longer whole like I once did.

For a while, I stay outside in the cool evening air, looking up at the infinite stars and wondering how life would play out without any obstacles, but of course there is always obstacles or it wouldn’t be life.

Fuzzy face barks into the night sky, a little too jovial and excited to be introduced to his new home.

The front door suddenly swings open and there stands Jay with a bewildered expression, having heard the new pup bark. He looks at me for an explanation, missing the furry bundle in my hands, “What are you doing out here in the cold?” He questions and before I can answer he’s already shoving me inside into the warm cosy lounge like a considerate human being.

I flop onto the pink couch, feeling tired. My puppy jumps up with me and cuddles himself into the crook of my neck, feeling my warmth and savouring it.

It’s then that Jay takes me in properly and notices the dog.

To be fair, I have mentioned getting a dog to him a few times now, but he always says no. He can’t say that I never told him about it. Plus, it’s an act of revenge. We’re in a war.

But again, he’s unpredictable as always. “I promised myself I’d stop yelling at you.” He sighs, looking up to ceiling as if to calm himself down. He does this for a few minutes before turning his gaze back onto me, his blazing blue eyes set only on me. “I’m not going to even ask why.” He says softly, shaking his head as his eyes find the fur-ball dozing away on my lap. Then like a spitfire, his blue eyes turn dark into that wild storm, his anger issues getting the best of him, “You know what? Screw it! Why Aqueela? Why?!”

I knew he couldn’t restrain himself.

“I was lonely.” I pout, resting my hand softly on the puppy’s head.

“You were lonely? You were lonely! That’s what you’re going with? I was gone for my day shift at the bar and I come back to a dog. I don’t even know what to think with you any more. You ask for space and I give it to you, but then you’re lonely and buy a dog. I don’t get you.” Jay responds back rudely and rather violently.

I don’t reply and it’s as if Jay sees right though me.

Immediately he can tell that something is up as the storm in his eyes dies and is overcome with something else entirely. He looks at me again and sighs as if thinking deeply about something. But he also knows that I hate speaking when I’m upset. So instead he takes the puppy from my neck and places it on the couch pillow lovingly. Then he takes my hand gently into his hands and pulls me up.

When he’s looking at me at the same time with that look he always gives I can’t help but break eye contact. That look is filled with compassion, sympathy and understanding. It’s an intense look that I can’t handle, not when it’s coming from him of all people.

“Jay please-” I try to get him to leave me alone, but he’s not having it.

He cuts me off from my protests as soon as he wraps his arms around my torso and brings me into a strong embrace, cradling the back of my head with one of his hands as the other stays on my waist in a pure gesture.

And that’s it.

That’s all it takes for me to crumble and suddenly I’m whimpering in his arms, unable to embrace him back.

“Whatever happened today and something did happen today, you can tell me.” He whispers comfortingly as he holds me in place and rests his chin atop my head. I nod into his shoulder, letting him know that I’m grateful. “I care Aqueela. I care about you.” He finally confesses in a hushed tone. “I’m here for you even if you don’t want me to be.”

I know I asked for space, but having him this close is as comforting as it gets.

“When does it get better?” I ask mindlessly aloud as I sniff, trying to calm down, but being in Jay’s arms makes it that much easier to fall apart.

“When you decide you want it to.”

His words float around in my mind for an inevitable amount of time until I process exactly what he’s trying to relay to me. I have a choice to be happy, it’s about time I made it.

He later pulls back and releases me when loud music begins blaring from his back yard, leaving me feeling a hell of a lot better. The best thing about Jay is that he just gets me and he doesn’t question my every action, he just knows and understands and makes my sadness go away. “You sure you going to be okay?” he asks as I nod, trying to convince him. It works. He grins, “Well just to be sure, let’s go see what the hell Oog is doing and how he’s going to react when he sees that he’s lost all your attention to this little fella now.” Jay smirks playfully as he picks up my puppy and cuddles him into his arms.

So he’s got a soft spot for animals then…

Damn it! Just when I think I can’t be more attracted to him, he has to go and prove me wrong!

“What’s his name?” Jay asks, successfully taking my mind off everything and cheering me up.

I smile, having stopped crying and making a mess of Jay’s shirt, “I don’t know yet. I wanted you to choose since I picked him out.”

I’m glad Jay’s interested in keeping the puppy and not making me take him back like I thought he would.

“Me?” He asks, puzzled.

I nod, “That’s if you let me keep him.”

He groans at me, “As if I can send him back now after we’ve bonded.” He smirks as the puppy licks the side of his face all too lovingly. This is not good. Even my puppy prefers him to me!

“I’m thinking Slobber since all he’s being doing in the five minutes is lick and drool.” Jay gives his input.

I like his suggestion as I pull my puppy out his arms before they bond too much, “Come here Slobber.” Jay gives me a deadly look for taking away the puppy. I grin at him, “Slobber is my dog.” I clarify, “Not yours.”

“Yeah…” Jay trails off with a condescending smirk, “But I bet I paid for him.”

Dammit! He knows I took his credit card!

I watch sadly as he takes Slobber back into his arms, “Which makes him mine.” Jay says in a tone of finality, but teasingly never the less.

I change the subject, “You lost your temper back there Jay-Jay.” I sing all too happily. “I won this round. Strike one! Jay and Aqueela tied in pissing each other off as they go head to head for the final round of the challenge.”

Jay sighs in defeat, “I’ll give it to you. I was quite mad back there.” He admits, honest. Evil Jay would never have admitted to it. I’m glad the normal Jay is back. I knew getting a dog would drive him up the wall. “But the way I won was still way cooler. Setting up all those people to fight and-“

My eyes widen at this information, “I knew it! I knew you were behind all the fights! You’re an evil genius Jay!”

“Why thank you.” Jay smirks, “It is my forte now, wouldn’t you agree?”

Evil Jay is back.

“It wasn’t a compliment you Loony Tune!” I hiss at him, dumbfounded that he planned all those fights to the tee. He’s ruthless! He later admits that Bell’s fight with Mason and Lai was the only fight not of his doing.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, my vision turns black and I begin to panic, “Jay!” I raise my tone, anxious, “I think I just lost the ability to see light! I think I just went blind, sightless-“

“It’s just a power surge you idiot.” Jay explains as I let out a breath of relief, the house now flooded with darkness.

My eyes slowly begin to adjust to the darkness as I make out Jay’s stature in front of me. He walks to the back window of the house and peers out to Oog’s brightly lit tree house. Oog’s clearly having a party and he didn’t bother to invite me or Jay. He’s furious with us for some reason and he has been for a while.

Jay gestures to the long cable wires connected to his electricity box, “The little bastard is stealing all my electricity! I’m going up there.” Jay confirms.

I wipe away a fake tear from my eye, “Nice knowing you Jay. So long! You won’t be missed. Please leave all of your personal belongings and assets to me in your will. See you on the other side, actually, probably not seeing as you’re evil and I’m angelic. I can do no wrong. Goodbye dear arch nemesis.” I wave at Jay as I place a hand over my heart, feigning hurt.

“I’m still alive, moron.” Jay points out as he opens the back door and walks out into the cool evening breeze in the direction of the tree house.

“For now.” Messing with Oog when he’s made is like signing your own death warrant.

R.I.P Jay

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