Pause (Book 1)

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Chapter 46: Slavery of the Sinners

Everyone in the room - Oog’s tree house - stays dead silent, rooted in their spots as their eyes fixate on Jay and I standing hand in hand beside one another.

After Jay and I had gotten back from our date, despite it being two in the morning, all our friends had waited for us - everyone except Laiken, Melinda, Xavier, Emma, Landon, Greg (after he’d been released from the kitchen cupboard by Gland), FeeBee, Blubber, Dylan, Bex, Simo and Jam. That left us with Bells, Max, Mason, Grey, Benley, Oog and Gland.

The ones who stayed behind are genuinely concerned after all their ‘Anti-Jayeela’ crap. They are afraid Jay and I are peeved with them.

We - being Jay and I - are definitely both annoyed with them all.

“Chirp. Chirp. Chirp. Krrr. Krrrrrr. Kkkkrrrrrrrrrr.” Max whispers aloud to ease the thick tension and to gain himself his beloved spotlight. He can’t go for very long without attention.

Bells hits him upside the head, “What are you doing?!” I hear her whisper-shout at him.

“Everyone’s quiet. I was making like a cricket. Felt right.” Max reasons pathetically as always.

Benley speaks up next, the rest of us ignoring Bells and Max arguing in the background, “So let me get this straight, you two…” Benley motions between Jay and I, “Are together now? An item?” Benley ends his statement in the form of a question, confused.

“Yes.” Jay answers for the both of us as he narrows his eyes at Mason as if to get the message across in an explicitly clear manner.

“This is ludicrous,” Grey scoffs before turning his attention to Jay, “I’m disappointed in you man. You could have had a bright future. Now you’re in for a tunnel of pure darkness. You’re the sacrificial lamb.”

I scowl at Grey’s rude comment, though I got to say, he’s handling this better than expected. I was certain he’d flip out some more. I think he had been expecting this. Grey’s observant and seems good at predicting the future.

I notice Mason stay silent, not uttering a single word at Jay’s and my announcement.

“So called it.” Max grins at Benley and Grey before shouting out at the top of his lungs in pure excitement, “Pay up b*tches!”

Benley groans before handing Max five dollars, “I really didn’t think they’d come back as a couple.”

The idiots bet on us, again!

“I’m not paying you.” Grey comments casually to Max, not caring that he lost the bet to Max and therefore owed him cash.

Max frowns, “Nah uh bro. You agreed. You and Benley owe me for being wrong. Pay up son!”

“Call me that again and I will sell you on the black market and have your organs harvested.” Grey replies, nonchalant, as if what he’d said was not flippen terrifying in the least.

“Grey. C’mon man. Relax. Stop giving Max flack for being his annoying self.” Jay says coolly in Max’s defence of Grey’s harsh attacks. The only other person that Grey hates, other than myself, is Max - probably because Max is the male version of me. Birds of the same feather party hard together.

Max gulps and nods profusely, well aware of the fact that Grey is man of his words. “Yo, it’s cool dude. Chill.” Max backs up from Grey, holding his hands up in surrender.

“Don’t tell me what to do, Mills.” Grey snaps at Max yet again.

I roll my eyes at Grey when his gaze happens to fall on me, “Okaaaaay Grey.” I drawl dramatically, “We get it, you’re a criminal. Now shut it. Nobody cares.” I tease him, knowing fully well that he’d be pissed. However, Grey doesn’t resort to threatening me like he’d done with Max. Grey knows better than to do so. He knows that I’m not at all intimidated by his ‘bad ass’ stature. He can’t win with me, so he’s given up.

As a result to my insult, Grey glares at me, but falls silent nonetheless.

I own his ass!

Ain’t nobody gonna mess with my Maxie! Well except for me of course.

My eyes find Bell’s turquoise ones as a grin filters it’s way onto her features, “So Aqueela and Jay-“

My eyes widen at her words as I cut her off, “Did you actually just address Jay too? That’s a first.”

It’s no secret that Bells has never really approved of Jay. She’s always deemed him as ‘bad’ before even getting to know the real him. But as of lately, she’s been warming up to him.

Bells directs a fake sigh at me before continuing, “So I get that you two are beyond mad with us for going too far with the ‘Anti-Jayeela Club’.” I nod at Bells just to show her that I agree, for emphasis really, to let them all know that I am indeed mad, as is Jay. “But please understand that this was all a set up-“

“It was all Bell’s idea. Give her credit.” Max chips in only to receive a glare from his girlfriend for interrupting and for letting us know that she was behind all of this evil plotting.

Bells heaves out a breath, huffing as if tired, before yet again continuing her lengthy explanation, “We’ve all been watching you two. We knew you two had the hots for each other, but we also knew that neither of you’d cave for the other seeing as you’re both equally stubborn, so we gave Jay a push in the right direction -“

Jay crosses his arms over his chest before cutting Bells off with a scoff of his own, “What is that supposed to mean?”

Bell’s meets his intimidating blue gaze, “Well seeing as you - Jay Taylor - do everything in your power to do the opposite of what people expect of you, we knew that if none of us wanted you two to be together, then you’d subconsciously do the exact opposite of what we’d wanted and finally get together with Aqueela. It worked. My plan was a success.” A sincere smile lights Bell’s expression before she closes off all distance and pulls both Jay and I into a warm embrace, “Congrats you two! Finally! I’m so happy for you both.” Bells whispers before letting us go, only for both Jay and I to return her smile.

I think Bells and all the others are forgiven. Of course, I still don’t understand their logic, but hell their logic worked because it pushed Jay into asking me on a date and then asking me out. I guess in some twisted way, we kind of owe them for making us official, even though it was done through extreme measures.

Benley and Max pat Jay on the back in congratulations for ‘scoring’ with me, whatever that is suppose to mean. Grey obviously hangs back as always whilst Mason storms out of the tree house entirely. I choose to ignore it. I’ll speak to him later.

Gland lifts me up in his arms and swings me around as if feeling my own joy and contentment in that moment. Jay expresses his disdain by ordering Gland to put me down immediately. I can’t believe that I’m already seeing Jay’s jealous side. I mean c’mon, it’s just ‘Gangster Gland’.

Even Oog congratulates Jay and I with a hug and his corny grin. He’s no longer infuriated with us. It was all an act.

Max soon graces me with his presence, flashing me a charming smile as he bows before me teasingly, “Your Majesty.” He curtsies before straightening up again with a cunning grin, “You’re very welcome.”

I know he’s referring to the fact that he was part of this ploy to get Jay and I together. “You, zip it.” I say playfully before shoving him out of my face.

“So hostile.” Max tsks me before joining Bell’s side.

“Well I’m going back to my house to change out of these wet clothes. Later guys.” I say, but then turn in my place to eye them all for a second longer, “Oh, and you two…” I point at Bells and Max, “should expect revenge from me.”

Max and Bells were the two main leaders behind this entire evil ploy to get Jay and I together through a hate club.

Max visibly gulps just as Bells stiffens.

“Of course she has to go after us only.” Max whispers loudly to Bells by accident.

“It’s because you two are the sole perpetrators.” I reason with a glare aimed at Max before Jay takes the lead and leaves Oog’s tree house to go change. I follow after Jay whilst sending a death stare to Benley for the hell of it. Benley raises a shocked eyebrow before taking a step back, his hands up in surrender.

I stifle a laugh before heading to bed.

“Jaaaaaaay!” I whine as I bang open his door and walk into his room to find him already awake, sitting shirtless against his bed’s headboard. My eyes betray me as they zero in on Jay’s toned eight pack. He has such a perfect body. I shiver at the thought.

“What?” He snaps in a solid cough, making me jump back in surprise as I tear my gaze of his defined body.

“I’m sick!” I whine again then raise an eyebrow as I take in his disheveled hair and red nose, “You’re sick too?” I ask, having an idea already. That’s why he’s so cranky.

“Yup.” He says, popping the ‘p’ before rubbing his eyes, the muscles in his arm flexing at the simple action, his electric blue gaze still locked firmly onto me.

“How do you still look so hot even when sick?” I question aloud, impulsively voicing my thoughts.

A strained chuckle spills from Jay upon hearing my words, “Natural talent, Aqueels.” Jay manages to flash me a small smile, “Besides, I can say the same about you.” He concludes, his eyes trailing over me before he offers me a flirtatious wink.

I end up blushing as a result. I really need to think before speaking.

I quickly change the subject, “This is Bell’s and Max’s fault. I blame them.” I say, referring to us being sick.

“And Oog.” Jay adds with a frown, still hung up on the fact that Oog had stolen his electricity. Jay’s going to have one hell of an electricity bill for this month.

I shake my head, “Oog knows no better.”

I can’t be mad at Oog to save my life. I’ve already forgiven him for his blunt rudeness earlier on.

Jay grits his teeth in aggravation, but leaves it be. Instead, he stretches out his arms above his head, letting out a yawn. My eyes automatically flicker to his taut abs and then to his muscles that automatically tighten at his action. Could he stop doing that? He’s not even aware of how uncomfortable he’s making me. It’s ridiculous.

“What time is it anyway?” Jay asks casually as he jumps out of bed and comes to stand before me, still shirtless. I have to force my attention back to him and off his chest and abdomen.

“It’s midday. We went to bed only at four in the morning. It’s reasonable. Fortunately, it’s Saturday. No school.” I tell him, trying my best to not make it obvious that I’d been ogling his abs, biceps and pretty much everything.

Jay nods thoughtfully, “Good. I don’t have it me to tackle school and all those retards. I feel awful.” He moans, resorting to complaining as well. My poor baby.

Yet his words hit me hard. It instantly reminds me that Jay still hates pretty much everyone. Fortunately, I’m not in that category any more. I’m his girlfriend now. It’s almost unbelievable. I can still remember when I’d met him in the middle of February, all those months ago, in Dylan’s ice-cream parlour. To say he was a jerk would be the understatement of the century. He hated me then, at least I think he did. Skip down to August and we’re officially dating. Life has a funny way of twisting things around for the better - most times anyway. Jay is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me and one day…I’ll tell him that.

I come out of my senseless thoughts when I hear Jay cough again. I hate seeing him sick. “Me -” I sneeze and then sheepishly add, “Too.”

Jay laughs softly to himself before feeling my forehead with the back of his hand, sending tingles down my spine at his tender touch, “Yah. You also have a fever. I had a feeling we’d get sick after the rain.”

“And you didn’t think to take us back earlier from our date?” I breathe out, furrowing my eyebrows in confusion seeing as the thought never occurred to me. It’s not often I get sick, even when in the rain.

“And miss on kissing you through a shower storm under the stars?” Jay asks aloud with a mischievous gaze, “Nah. Getting sick is worth it.” Jay persuades, convincing me, before he leans down and places a soft playful kiss on my nose that has my heart doing flips and my cheeks flushing red under his teasing gaze.

He sees me blush and get flustered all the time, but never calls me out on it. It’s actually kind of sweet of him. The thought makes me smile. I’m lucky I have Jay. I really am.

“I agree.” I finally add to his input on our first date. “It was a super unique date, one I’ll never forget, so thank you for that Jay. I mean it.”

A smile filters it’s way onto the corners of his lips as he tries to suppress it, “Definitely don’t thank me…” He replies with genuine sincerity, “Just expect more.”

Again, I smile easily, prepared to kiss him for such sweet words before we’re interrupted by loud barking. My eyes flicker down to my puppy, Slobber, as he comes sprinting full charge to me, whimpering and curling behind my legs as if afraid.

I crouch down before Slobber with a questioning gaze as I pat him atop his fluffy head, “What’s wrong Slobs?”

In a flash, Oog comes running on all fours before stopping right in front of Slobber. He barks at the terrified puppy before nipping my poor puppy on the ear. Slobber yelps in pain as a result.

“Oog!” I reprimand him, cradling frightened Slobber into my arms. I’d forgotten to introduce Oog to Slobber ahead of time. Now Oog’s acting out because we have a new member in our little family. Oog’s jealous. “What have I told you about biting people, including other animals - I mean, animals?” I fix my slip up.

Oog pouts and crosses his arms before standing up on his two short stubby legs, “Slobber stupid is idiot. Oog mus bite.”

I sigh, “Oog…” I kneel before him with a concerned gaze, “You need to accept Slobber and learn to get along with him. You two can even be playmates. Just because we have a puppy now does not make Jay and I love you any less-“

“Speak for yourself.” Jay mutters beneath his breath, “At least Slobber doesn’t steal all my electricity.”

He’s still on about that.

I narrow my gaze at Jay to which he groans before nodding at Oog, feigning as if he’s in agreement with me. I like this Jay that does whatever I request. It’s nice.

“Oog happy not. But fine.” Oog drawls before glaring at Slobber one final time. “Oog will Slobber love.”

I smile, proud in my bubble of coughing, before handing Slobber into Oog’s arms in order to catch my breath. Slobber must take a instant liking to Oog because he begins to relentlessly lick Oog in the face. Oog laughs aloud, the bond sealed as the two run off to go play.

Jay enters his bathroom to go take a shower whilst I text Max and Bells to come over pronto. I too take a shower and by the time I’m finished, the doorbell rings. I bound down the stairs and answer the door, allowing Max and Bells entrance just as Jay joins my side, puzzled to see the couple.

Jay’s house has become that house where everybody seems to land up at - probably my influence. It use to piss Jay off, but these days, Jay just couldn’t be bothered. He’s now laid back with all the visitors exploiting his house to their advantage.

Jay turns to me, confused, as he coughs, “Want to explain to me why they’re here? Aren’t we supposed to be mad at them? Or are we past that?” Jay babbles on in bewilderment seeing as I told him he’d have to back me up with whatever I felt now that he was my boyfriend. “I can’t keep up with your emotions any more. You’re like a bloody roller-coaster. It’s very stressful.”

I hold back a smile as I frown instead, “We are mad at them!” I whisper-hiss at Jay in order to remind him. “They’re here for payback. It’s slavery of the sinners.”

Jay raises an eyebrow in query of what I’d just said, “I’m sorry, slavery of what?”

I open my mouth to answer before I’m cut off by Bells voice, “Firstly, we can hear you.” She states as if Jay and I are both morons.

Max chips in, adding onto what Bells had just said, “And secondly, we don’t want to hear you.”

Bells nods before adding in another pitch, “And thirdly, to repeat your boyfriend’s words, slavery of what now?”

“And fourthly, you two look like absolute sh*t.”

I glower at Max for the last one, “I beg to differ.” I defend Jay and I against his insult.

Nevertheless, I move aside as Bells and Max step in.

“So do you mind telling all of us what the hell is going on?” Max asks, his grey eyes searching my face for answers.

Max can already sense what’s coming his way.

He should be afraid…very afraid.

“You two look so cute and cosy right now.” Bells chirps, elated for some reason. She’s suppose to be all moody and down in the dumps like Max is. This is payback. She isn’t suppose to be enjoying this. Yet, for some odd reason, Bells gets all gooey and mushy when she sees a perfect fit couple. She’s only reacting like this at the sight of me snuggled up against Jay as we share one warm, thick, fuzzy blanket - a blanket we had Bells bring us. Her and Max are taking care of us sicklings as payback and I intend on making both their lives hell.

“Mhmm.” Jay flashes one of his sexy grins before he subtly stretches and lays his arm across the back of my shoulders, tugging me forcefully to his side. My heart does a little jolt at his movement. Jay, on the other hand, gives a small satisfied smirk at having me closer to him. I cuddle up all too willingly to his side. “So cosy.” Jay agrees with Bells as he turns and gives me a suggestive wink.

“I can’t wait until you two get married and have like a gazillion babies!” Bells claps her hands in enthusiasm. Jay ends up coughing at the reference to ‘marriage’ and ‘babies’ when we’d literally just started dating.

My eyes widen at her words, “Bells!” I splutter and motion to her to zip it. She’s making Jay feel uncomfortable.

Bells ignore my warnings as she pinches Jay’s cheek, “You two are the ‘it’ couple now. Too adorbs!” Bells coos and fawns over us for what feels to be the billionth time just today. It was a mistake inviting her over. It feels as if Jay and I are the ones suffering payback here and not her. She’s loving this. She really did want us together after all.

Jay offers Bells a charming smile, trying to be polite. He’s always been very weary of Bells. He understands that her opinion of him means a lot to me. In the beginning, Bells had never been a fan of Jay, but Jay won her over through his small acts of kindness that often go unnoticed by others. However, Bells was perceptive enough to notice that Jay always seemed to be the first one on the scene when there was an issue with me. She warmed up to him and now she absolutely adores him, thinks him to be the perfect, ideal boyfriend.

Bells finally tears her gaze off us when she sees her own boyfriend entering the lounge area. Jay’s quick to snap his gaze back to me, his charming smile he put on for show - for Bells - fades off and becomes replaced with a frown, “She still scares me.” He whispers in my ear, his warm breath fanning my neck causing me to get all flustered yet again.

Bells happens to turn back to face us and when she spots us still cuddled up together, she can’t help but gush aloud to herself. She just can’t resist.

“What is happening right now?” Jay asks aloud, lost, as he looks at Bells with worry. He genuinely thinks she’s gone crazy. He doesn’t know her well enough to know that this is just Bells being Bells.

It’s Max who hears and answers Jay, “I’ll tell you what’s happening right now, hell!”

“Oh don’t be so dramatic Maxipad.” I shush him, brushing off his complaints.

Max glowers at me, “You sent me back ten times because I didn’t fluff your pillow up enough.”

My eyes drift to the fluffed up pillow in his hands as I raise a skeptical eyebrow at him, “So is it fluffed up enough now?” I have the audacity to ask.

Max glares at me in response before muttering out cusses, “I’ll fluff you up woman!” He yells at me before throwing the pillow directly at my face. Fortunately, Jay acts on quick reflex and catches the pillow before it hits me square in the face. Max is not impressed. He so wanted that pillow to hit me.

I smile gratefully at Jay before turning my attention back to Max, “Now Max, pipe down and fetch me some hot chocolate.” I command him. “And make it snappy! Chop chop!” I add as an after thought, clicking my fingers with attitude as if he were truly my slave.

Max gives me a lingering scowl, but complies nevertheless as he heads back to the kitchen; Bells following in toe in order to help him out.

“Finally, I thought Bells would never leave. Now I can kiss you without her having a fit in front of us.” Jay waggles his eyebrows playfully before leaning into me. I wait in anticipation, my heart fluttering as always. Just as his soft lips graze mine, we’re interrupted by growling. Jay groans in disappointment when he sees that Oog and Slobber are now sitting in between us and therefore separating us from each other.

Every time Slobber makes a move to get closer to me, Oog growls threateningly at him as if to tell Slobber to back off. They’re fighting over me and I find it rather amusing to say the least.

Jay sighs aloud dramatically to capture my attention.

I snap my gaze back to him with a smile etched into my lips, “What’s the matter Jay-Jay?”

“It feels like I have to compete with them when you’re suppose to be only mine.” Jay motions to the puppy and Oog with a frown graced upon his lips.

“I am yours.” I reassure him, “Always have been. Always will be.”

Jay sags his shoulders in relief, a genuine smile upon his lips as he opens his mouth to reply, except Max interrupts - speaking right over Jay, “Here!” Max snaps, handing me my hot chocolate as Bells hands Jay his.

I glance down at the hot chocolate. It looks amazing, but Max can’t know that. This is his punishment. “Where are my marshmallows? Who doesn’t add marshmallows to hot chocolate?” I ask, purposely being difficult, before sending the hot chocolate back with Max like I’d done with the pillow. I ignore him when he pesters on that Bells had not made Jay’s hot chocolate with marshmallows.

“Why can’t I serve Jay and you tend to Aqueela’s needs?” Max whines loudly to Bells from somewhere in the kitchen. “She calls me ‘Servant Man’ all the damn time!”

“Because Aqueela is difficult and I refuse to deal with her. Jay is way easier to handle.” Bells retorts, just as loud, unaware that Jay and I are eavesdropping.

“See. Even your best friends agree that I’m not nearly a difficult person as you.” Jay teases, lightly pushing my shoulder with his own. I roll my eyes playfully at him, aware that he’s only messing with me.

It’s not long before Max comes back with a steaming mug of hot chocolate. This time there are pink marshmallows floating in the hot chocolate. I hand the mug back to Max with a glare, “I don’t like the pink marshmallows.”

Aqueela…” Bells gives me a dead panned glare on Max’s behalf, “You can’t even taste the difference between the two.”

“I can too! The pink ones are strawberry flavoured and the white ones are vanilla flavoured nah duh!” I defend myself, blatantly lying.

Max’s right eye twitches as he stares me down in irritation, “I hate you.”

I shrug, “Yeah well, I hate melted marshmallows.” I state, pointing to the melted pink marshmallows floating in my hot chocolate. “You don’t see me whining about it.”

“You are whining about it and you asked for marshmallows in your hot chocolate. Obviously the marshmallows would melt Einstein!” Max argues back before throwing a marshmallow at me that Oog and Slobber end up fighting over.

“What’s your deal with throwing things Maxi? It’s not going to solve your problems.” I reason with him as Jay and Bells sit back, allowing the two of us to debate it further.

“You’re my problem. Maybe I should just throw you out. That will solve everything.” Max says boldly, a daring glint to his grey-green eyes as he offers me a condescending smile.

“You can try, but Jay would never stand for it.” I glance sideways at Jay beside me, “Right Jay?” I say, wanting his support on this matter.

Jay rubs at his chin, feigning contemplation as he pauses dramatically with a serious expression on his face, “Well...” He drawls out and shrugs as if taking Max’s side.

Max smirks at me in delight as if he’d just won this battle.

Jay.” I frown, giving him a flat stare.

Jay’s solemn expression fades behind his rare, ‘easy going’ smile as a soft laugh escapes him. Jay inclines his head and places a soft kiss against the side of my face as he finally answers me, “Never.”

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