Pause (Book 1)

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Chapter 42: Ghost Tracks (Part 1)

I snap out of it very quickly as a smile curves my lips at Jay finally giving up on his stubborn charade, well actually it’s not a charade, he is just that stubborn. But nevertheless he’s finally manned up and asked me out on a date.

Like I’m going to make it easy for him seeing as he made it so easy for me. Note the sarcasm. It’s a wonder I still like him after all the mixed signals he’s been giving me.

“Hey hey Mister! Hold your horses.” Jay turns back to me upon hearing me summon my voice again after recovering from my initial shock. “What makes you think I want to go on a date with you?” I ask, challenging him.

Jay’s confidence doesn’t shamble like I thought it would. A smirk curves the corners of his lips as his blue eyes smoulder beneath the midnight stars, “You don’t?”

Woah! Let’s not jump the gun. I never said that.

“That’s beside the point.” I snap at him, “You can’t force me on a date with you. Either ask me like a gentleman or no date.” I clarify my terms for him, being picky.

Jay shrugs, “Okay then.” He says and turns back around as if to leave.

My eyes widen at this as a helpless emotion surges through my veins, “Wait!” Jay turns back to me with a condescending grin fully intact as if he expected me to stop him from leaving. “Okay what?” I ask him.

Okay, no date then.” He answers, turning his back to me yet again.

Nice going Lawson! Me and my big mouth!

“Wait wait wait!” I call to him in a desperate tone.

Jay spins back to me with that same cocky grin he carries so well, “Yes?” He replies, his blue eyes full of mischief and amusement at my pleading and begging. He’s enjoying this.

“Let’s just forget what I said and go. But let’s remember that I’m only doing this for you. I know how much this date means to you, so you’re welcome.” I say, trying to regain some of my dignity back seeing as Jay just stole all of it.

Jay rolls his eyes at me, but chooses to humour me none the less to make up for embarrassing me, “Thanks Aqueela. You’re so thoughtful.”

I nod at him, agreeing, “I know. I’m always giving to charity.” I tease.

“I’m not a charity case.” Jay says firmly as if I struck some nerve.

I’d ask him about it if I weren’t so afraid he’d end up getting angry and take back his offer to a date with him. So I leave it be.

“Yeah and I’m eager to go on this date.” I retort sarcastically, going back to teasing mode before he ends up mad as always. The smallest things can set him off. He’s really a difficult human being to put up with, but I put up with him anyway because I know he’s worth it.

“But you are.” Jay’s serious expression fades back into his laid back hazy smile, his previous anger gone, not a trace left behind as if my words are magic, at least to him.

“I’m not! You are.” I insist, wanting him to be the one to cave first.

“So what if I am?” Jay admits, not backing down like I had. He takes a step closer to me, “It’s about time I took you out, wouldn’t you say?” Jay asks me with a boyish glint to his eyes as he waits patiently for me to answer. I don’t get time to answer before he takes another step toward me, “You see, what I was going to say was that I never wanted space.”

Why does this feel like deja vu?

I furrow my eyebrows in confusion, glad that he’s finally about to tell me, but wondering what made him change his mind when he’d been so adamant that he would not tell me, “Then what do you want?” I take my chances in asking him, hoping he wouldn’t buckle under the pressure and close himself off. He loves doing that.

Jay cocks his head to the side with a raised eyebrow as he runs his right hand through his hair, tousling it about with the wind, making it all the more messy and attractive, “What do you think? Isn’t it obvious? Haven’t I made it obvious?” Jay asks me with a frown as he inspects me from head to toe in query.

I begin to shake my head when he suddenly closes off all distance between us, his hand reaching up and tucking a loose tendril of my hair behind my ear, sending an involuntary shiver down my spine. Jay notices and smiles at the effect he knows he has on me. “You, you idiot. It’s you.” Jay confirms in an affectionate voice, his thumb caressing my cheek all the while he studies me with that intense blue gaze. “Always has been, always will be.” He confesses in a tender voice, making my heart race that much faster and pound that much louder.

I open my mouth to reply, but he’s struck me speechless. I can feel my cheeks heating up under his soft touch and gaze. I have so much to say, so many words, but nothing comes out. I end up closing my mouth again before I make more of a fool of myself than I already have.

Jay lets out a low soft chuckle upon seeing me speechless, obviously finding it amusing that he has the upper hand for once. His hand leaves my face only to slide down my arm and stop at my waist, lingering there. “Come on Bubblegum Klutz, snap out of it, we have a date scheduled, remember?” Jay reminds me but I can’t focus on anything he’s saying with his hand on me and with him so close.

“Right now?” I finally manage to get out, misunderstanding earlier.

“Yes now.” Jay replies back calmly, his hand still on my waist, “I don’t want to wait any more. I’ve done enough of that.”

I motion down to my casual yet colourful pink and white stripy sun dress, “But I’m not dressed for the occasion.” I force out, looking for every excuse possible not to go now. I needed a day for mental preparation. Now I’m going to be stuck feeling nervous through the entire date. If I so much as slip up, Jay’s temper will be triggered and that would be the end of it. I need time to plan.

Jay’s electric blue eyes travel down my form slowly before he meets my eyes again with a lopsided grin curving his lips, “You look fine to me. You look good. You always do.”

I pout, flattered with his answer but at the same time annoyed, “But, but, but-“

Jay shushes me when he uses his free hand to place his index finger over my lips. “Ssssh. Stop talking.” Jay instructs in a whisper. A current of electricity passes through me as I still beneath his fingertips and his cool whisper, my eyes wide with anxiety when he leans in closer, his gorgeous face a breath away from me. “Stop looking for excuses Bambi Eyes. You’re coming with me on our date now even if it means I have to tape you to the roof of my sweet car just to get you to our destination.”

Challenge accepted! Nah I’m just kidding. Jay would totally do that if I refused him.

“And where is this destination you speak of?” I ask, curiosity getting the better of me.

“I’ll let you know as soon as I figure it out. Now hurry up.” He persists, persuading me, well actually forcing me as he grabs hold of my hand and begins tugging me after him rather eagerly.

“Such a gentleman.” I mutter as he practically shoves me into the passenger seat of his red Gallardo in anticipation as if afraid I’d change my mind.

“Compliments will get you nowhere.” Jay remarks, hearing my sarcastic comment. He gives me a full fledged smile as if genuinely excited before he quickly starts up his car, giving me another piercing look in the process, “Actually, it definitely will get you somewhere.” He winks suggestively before he reverses out his driveway.

I roll my eyes at him and his flirting, “Just drive Jay.” I demand.

“Whatever you want.” Jay grins deviously before pressing his foot all the way down on the accelerator. I almost go flying out the window as a result of his actions. “Put on your seatbelt.” Jay commands, hiding his mocking smile at my expense, refusing to slow down as he races past the cars on the highway like a true outlaw, but also like a true pro.

I quickly buckle myself in and suck in a deep breath, closing my eyes in fear, “Could you slow down? When I said drive, I didn’t mean race.”

Jay chuckles at my paranoia considering that it’s rare I’m ever worried about anything, “Would you relax? I’m no amateur. This is what I do for a living.” Jay insists as he swerves in and out of the lanes, dodging all the cars effortlessly at a high speed.

Well this date is already scaring me out of my wits.

Racers and their egos I tell you.

I’d be surprised if I survive this date.

“We’re here. You can open your eyes.” Jay laughs at me as I still hold onto my seat with my hands clutched into fists.

That ride was terrifying!

I open my eyes to find Jay leaning right over me from his seat. I stiffen and I know he notices. Yet still he reaches over me ever so slowly and unbuckles my seat belt, his muscles in his arms flexing in the process as he holds onto the back of my seat with one hand to keep his balance. Even after he’s done, he ends up staying put right in front of me as if not wanting to move back away from me.

I let out an unsteady breath, “I got it.” I reassure him in order to get him to move, my heart pounding at having him so close to me.

Jay turns his face to me, a graceful smirk gracing his lips and my breathing hitches when his gaze meets mine, “Sure you do.” He says with a mischievous grin as I lean further back into my seat to create some more distance between us, but it only pushes Jay to incline his head further down to my level so that I can meet his intense yet playful gaze.

I turn my face away so that he’s staring at my cheek rather than my eyes. “Ever heard of personal space, Jay?” I say uncomfortably, trying to not show him how uneasy I’m feeling with having him all up in my face like this.

It’s overwhelming, but I do love it. Secretly.

Jay answers by turning my face back to him ever so gently. I can feel myself blushing as my breathing turns rapid at the sight of his blue eyes glittering like the ocean would on a sunny day. He’s happy and the thought had my heart racing all over again. “Personal space should not exist when it’s me and you. I’ll just end up crossing your boundaries every time in any case. You and I, we don’t need space. Ever.”

Before I can say anything he’s dipping his head toward me a little more as if angling himself and it’s only then when I feel the soft graze, gentle brush, of his lips against mine as if he’s testing the waters. My eyes flutter shut automatically as I savour the feeling of the warmth spreading throughout me like a surge of electricity flowing between us both.

Jay’s lips linger against mine and I can feel his soft lips twitch into a smile against me. I’m about to reach up and tangle my hands in his hair and bring him closer to me when he suddenly pulls away. I frown in disappointment as I open my eyes again to see Jay watching me with interest as if more than satisfied that I responded to him. He’s being a tease and he’s loving it.

Did he really expect me to push him away?

“I was right after all then…” Jay says as he backs away completely as he moves back to his seat and his side of the car, “We don’t have any chemistry.” It’s when his face breaks out into a grin that I realize he’s messing with me, referring back to when he’d first given me a ride in his car several months ago where we’d agreed upon our lack of chemistry.

I smile upon the memory, but that only lasts a second before I glower up at Jay through my lashes, “You should know that you can’t just kiss me whenever the hell you like.” I snap at him, angry at myself that I allowed him to distract me with his perfectness.

“Why not?” Jay asks as if he couldn’t care less about my demands. “If I want to kiss you, which I always do, I will.” He says rather blatantly as if I have no say in this. “And besides, I would hardly call that kissing. I can show you real kissing if you ask me real nicely.” Jay ends with his famous taunting smirk he only happens to use on me. “I’ll show you right now.” He teases, a young innocent boyish look to him as he leans back to me, but my hand comes up on his chest on its on accord and pushes him away before he gets to do anything more with me.

I flush furiously under his playful gaze, “Last time I checked, I’m not your girlfriend.” I remind him with a scowl even though I’m not really mad. How can I be? It’s Jay. Everyone knows he’s my weakness in all things.

Jay doesn’t take what I said personally because he just flashes me a dazzling smile in response, “You obviously haven’t checked very recently then, have you?”

With that said, Jay’s already out the car and walking away leaving me frozen behind. “Hey!” I call after him upon finding my voice again. “What’s that suppose to mean?”

“Why don’t you follow me and find out?”

I sigh before opening the door and climbing out the car, making a point of slamming the door shut after me as I follow after Jay rather reluctantly.

“Where am I exactly, Jay?” I ask as we come to a stop in front of a deserted racing track. There’s nothing but dust and rubble.

“Home.” He answers in one word.

“Racing is home to you.” I state aloud, following and understanding him in the moment.

“Once upon a time it was.” Jay mutters absent-mindedly, his mind drifting elsewhere completely.

“What happened?” I gesture to the deserted area. We’d driven at least for two hours before reaching this place. It must really be something.

“Nothing.” Jay replies, “Nothing ever happened. People just stopped coming here. The track closed down.”

“Why?” I prod, wanting to learn more of why it is he brought me here, why this place is so important to him.

“Because more well kept, more popular racing tracks opened up nearby. But to me, this place is still the best track to ride. The ‘ghost track’ is what Grey likes to call it.” Jay explains, opening up, “This was where I first met Grey actually, where I first started racing to escape a life I never asked for. But along the way I came to realize that racing wasn’t a way of life, just a hobby. It was never going to solve my problems, just distract me from them. It worked for a while.” He answers in a nostalgic voice.

“You once said that your foster parents gave you up back to the orphanage. They were going through financial issues, so they left you in the orphanage’s care and they were planning to adopt you again as soon as they were back on their feet so they could support you. So my question is, why didn’t they come back for you in the end?” I take my chances and ask him a really personal question that I had been wondering about for a while now.

Jay sits down right in the center of the oval track on the last of the plush grass remaining. I join him, knowing that he’s about to answer.

“I wasn’t their only kid. I was brought up with a brother (no blood relation) my age. They had a biological son of their own and when their true son started excelling, I got replaced in a way and forgotten - pushed aside. They never came back for me. I don’t really know. I don’t like thinking about it.” Jay confesses.

“If you were to ever see them again, would you ask?”

Jay shakes his head, letting out a small bitter chuckle, “Ironically, I know exactly who they are today, where they work, even where they are right now and it’s a lot closer than you’d think. I’ve had thousands of opportunities to speak to them, but I never do. What’s the point in asking a question when you know beforehand that you’ll hate the answer?”

Good point.

“Cause maybe you won’t.” I try to be optimistic for his sake. What if his foster parents had a good reason for leaving him behind? We don’t know. Jay doesn’t know. “Do they know that you’re still around?”

“No.” Jay answers, “And I prefer it that way.”

He prefers it that way because he knows they’ll come for him if they know he’s still in the area. He knows that they could still possibly care and that petrifies him. That much I do know. Jay can be transparent and readable at times, that or I just know him better now.

“What if they did go back for you Jay? What if you had already broken out the orphanage by then and they couldn’t find you?” I protest, unhappy with his decision to give up before even trying.

“I’ve been replaced Aqueela. They have a blood related son, a golden boy, a prodigy, an all star in everything he does. I’m just a lowlife underdog. They’d never want me and if they really cared, they would have found me by now. But it doesn’t matter, not to me, because I’ve moved past it all.” Jay elaborates his side, his dense reasoning that I just can’t seem to wrap my head around.

“How do you know that their son is all of those things?” I press on.

The story shouldn’t have to end like this.

“Because I know him. You do too.” Jay answers solemnly with a blank impassive expression on his face, “He goes by the name of Mason Montry and he enjoys taking everything and everyone that’s been mine first away from me.” Jay’s eyes don’t leave mine as he says this, almost as if trying to convey a silent message to me within the depths of those deep pools of sea blue.

This isn’t just about his foster parents that Mason supposedly took from Jay. So who else did Jay lose to Mason?

I glance up to see Jay still staring at me with an inquisitional and irrefutable gaze and the answer becomes as clear as day.

‘He’s talking about you, you idiot. You.’ I think to myself, using the same words Jay had used on me earlier.


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