Pause (Book 1)

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Chapter 47: You’re Dead

I glance down at my work of art, quite impressed with myself. Man I’m brilliant. I should be a flipping artist, the modern Leonardo da Vinci at that. Even he can’t compete with such flawless work. I’m just too skilled, too talented. But I need to add one final touch.

I glance around in search for the magical green crayon, but it has vanished. I turn and give the guilty culprit a glare, “Oog!” I whine as he chomps down on the dark green crayon, thoroughly enjoying himself as he chews and swallows the crayon shavings. He always resorts to eating my crayons.

He just had to eat the crayon I’d be saving for the finale. “What did I say about eating the crayons I use?” I complain as Oog gives me his famous puppy eyed stare, genuinely sorry. Damn him! I can’t resist him when he looks up at me with those adorably yellow, evil beady eyes. “If you want the wax, then eat the ugly colours like yellow and orange. Don’t touch green and blue.” I say as Oog nods at me, silently obeying.

I smile, having a backup idea in mind as I turn to look for the blue crayon. Just like the green crayon, I’m unable to find the blue crayon. “Oog.” I warn in a dangerously low voice. He yelps in defence and points at Slobber accusingly. I glance at the mischievous puppy to see him chewing on the blue crayon. “Sobber!” I shout, tapping him on the nose gently and taking the bits of blue crayon away from him.

It’s only been two days and Slobber has already learned from Oog’s rebellious ways. Oog has corrupted my precious angel.

“You two…” I glance between Slobber and Oog, “ate my best colours.” I pout as the both of them cock their heads to the side simultaneously and watch me with their big pairs of puppy eyes as if both genuinely remorseful.

Suddenly, the front door opens as Jay returns from his shift at the bar, despite having just recovered from being sick. It’s only Sunday. It only took Jay a single day to recover, whilst I on the other hand, am still not feeling one hundred percent.

I watch Jay take off his leather jacket and place his keys on the kitchen counter as he barely stifles a yawn, truly exhausted.

I jump up in excitement at seeing him and run toward him, “Jay!” I exclaim giddily. His eyes widen upon seeing me charging at him full force. He opens his arms out just in time as I collide right into him. He staggers back with the impact, an ‘oomf’ slipping from his lips. I ignore it and embrace the life out of him. He’d been gone the entire day and I missed him. I voice my thoughts, “I missed you!” I confess. I get lonely when he’s not around.

Jay’s strong arms wrap around me, steadying me in the process, as he returns my embrace, “Jeez. The way you’re reacting, you’d think I’d been gone a century.” He jokes as he squeezes me back just as tightly.

I ignore him, leaning up and kissing him on the cheek. He closes his eyes for a brief second before dipping his head as if to kiss me properly, but I pull away quickly with a devious smile, “I need you to run to the store and buy me more crayons.” I tell him, my way of bribing him if he wanted a proper kiss from me.

Jay raises both eyebrows at me with surprise as he catches on, “Well that’s definitely a demand from you that I did not see coming…when really I should’ve.” Jay pauses, “Did you just pull away from my ‘soon-to-be-kiss’ just to bribe me into getting you crayons?”

Maybe

“Jay, I finally found my true calling in life!” I elaborate, over zealous and rather excited as I change the subject.

Jay grins, flashing me a cocky smirk, “Oh yeah?” He asks, cocking his head to the side, genuinely intrigued, “And what would that be?” He humours me, a boyish expression on his face.

Humouring me is something he wouldn’t have done in the past. He would’ve pulled the ‘that’s nice, but I don’t care’ card. But as of lately he’s gone soft toward me and more temperamental with anyone else.

“An artist of course! Well anything really since I’ve learned that I’m capable of absolutely everything, but mostly an artist!” I squeal, all too enthusiastic as I display my work of art to him, clapping my hands jovially before handing him my fantastic page of work.

Jay takes the page from my hands eagerly before he eyes my work rather skeptically. I wait in anticipation for him to say something as he glances from me to the page, the page to me, back and forth as if trying to make the connection. Finally, he clears his throat, coughing awkwardly as if truly uncomfortable, “Aqueela..” He trails off hesitantly, “you’re aware that this is a page out of a colouring book, right?”

“Yup.” I nod happily, popping the ‘p’. “So?” I ask him with wide innocent eyes, wanting to hear his opinion.

So…” He falters off, unsure and a little dumbfounded as he takes in my expression, before finally concluding, “So it’s f**king fantastic!” He exclaims, his words bringing forth a massive smile to my lips as I jolt right back up into his strong arms and hug him again, truly grateful of his honest opinion on my work. He chuckles against me all too happily and hugs me back.

I pull away slightly to look at him, my eyes taking in his guilty expression. I lift a suspicious eyebrow, “You are being honest, right?”

He pauses cautiously before quickly swallowing and nodding, “Of course. You really can do anything you dream of. I know you can.” He encourages me, elevating my spirits. His opinion means the world to me.

“Thank you.” I whisper, hearing the front door open, but too busy being proud of what I’d accomplished to care.

Someone clicks their tongue in disbelief. I look up to find myself staring up into dark grey eyes. I scowl at his presence and glance back at Jay, stepping away from him completely as if he’d just betrayed me, “You never informed me that the devil was planning to pay us a visit in our humble abode.”

Jay’s humble abode.” Grey corrects me with a taunting smirk, “And hello to you too Lawson.” He grins, clearly feeling like he has the upper hand for once.

“What hole did you crawl out of this time? Was it the very pits of hell?” I glower up at him, annoyed at him for interrupting my time with Jay.

Grey turns to Jay with a condescending smirk as he snatches the glorious page, A.K.A. my work of art, out of Jay’s hands before looking at it. He bursts out laughing and then turns to me, “Seriously?” He asks, holding up the page in front of me as he points to it. “This is what you’ve been doing the entire day?”

I nod, not following his obvious insult, “I know right. It took me the entire day. Jay loves it.”

Grey furrows his eyebrows in confusion — and what seems to be distaste — as he turns to Jay for an explanation. Jay merely shrugs at Grey and grins sheepishly. Grey rolls his eyes at Jay as if having figured him out, before turning back to me with a dead set frown in place, “Lawson, this is crap! I’m just being honest. This…” He flays the paper before my eyes, “is just terrible, downright pathetic. A kid in kindergarten could do a better job. At least they can colour inside of the lines.” Grey blatantly insults my work.

My mouth falls agape at his cruel presumptions and sucky opinion as I cross my arms over my chest defiantly, “I only went out of the line like five times.” I pout, genuinely offended by his unnecessary comments. “Besides, art is art.”

Grey laughs at this as if what I’d said was funny. It’s odd hearing him laugh, though it makes sense seeing as he is openly mocking my skills. “Also, you chose the most simplest picture in the entire colouring book. An apple Aqueela, really?” He asks rhetorically, being very rude about the situation. He picks up the colouring book where I’d gotten the picture out of as he scans the rest of the pictures, flipping through all the pages, “Why didn’t you go for this guy skiing down the mountain instead?”

I frown, “Too complex.”

“I swear you’re like a two year old on crack, trapped inside a knock out body.” I glare at Grey for what he’d just insinuated and so does Jay. Grey’s quick to change the subject, “Since when are apples blue?” He asks harshly.

I give him a cool glower, “Jay thinks that my work is good enough to become an artist one day. It’s flawless, magnificent even.”

This immediately shuts Grey up as his head snaps in Jay’s direction, disbelief spattered across his face, “You told her that?” Grey asks Jay, seemingly shocked. Jay nods. “You might as well have just told her that she can go skydiving without a parachute and still survive.”

Jay holds his hands up defensively, glaring at Grey as if to shut him up, “I think her art is legendary.” Jay tells Grey in a ‘matter-of-fact’ way.

Grey shakes his head at Jay, “You’ve gone so soft for her. You’re weak man. Weak.” Grey snaps at Jay before ripping my colouring page right in half before me, causing me to shout at him and hit him upside the head in pure rage.

Grey merely pushes me away as if I’m nothing but a measly fly. “If you want to be an artist, then don’t start your career from a children’s colouring book - or any damn colouring book! It’s unoriginal and idiotic. I’m helping you in the long run.” Grey then turns back to Jay to lecture him too, “And you! Ever since you started liking her, you’ve turned into this giant sap of mush who can’t even look her in the eye and tell her the truth any more. You’ll just say anything to please her. It nauseates me. Man up.”

Upset, I turn my attention to Jay as I bat my eyelashes at him, seeking the truth from him. Jay groans upon seeing my dejected expression, “How am I suppose to resist that face Grey?” Jay questions aloud, “Nice going. You upset her.” Jay mutters before adding in a mumble, “I hate it when she’s upset.”

Jay, with my ripped paper in hand, then leaves the kitchen as if in search of something. I hang back with Grey and send him a deadly stare, “You’re a really mean person.”

Grey shrugs as if he couldn’t care less, “You’re a really stupid person.”

“You didn’t have to rip my art apart like Godzilla!” I complain, placing my hands on my hips with much attitude and spunk.

Yes, yes I did.” He emphasizes as if it was a must.

Jay comes back into the room with my picture. My eyes flicker down to how he’d taped the pieces back together, recreating my picture once more. I can’t suppress the smile as Jay hands back my picture to me. Grey, on the other hand, is most definitely unimpressed by Jay’s kindness toward me. I pull a face at Grey seeing as Jay is for me all the way. Grey merely rolls his eyes at me for being so childish.

When I go to thank Jay, I see that his eyes are set somewhere else, his attention focused on Oog and the yellow crayon in his mouth, “Oog, I told you to just ask me for food if you’re hungry.” Jay mutters, before turning to me with a reprimanding stare, “Stop encouraging them to eat crayons.” Jay motions to Slobber and Oog.

“But he likes the yellow ones.” I pout and pull a disgruntled face like a toddler would do when not given their way. “But if he’s really hungry, I made food. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s food.”

“That’s okay. I bought real food. Pizza.” Jay tells me in a quiet voice as if actually afraid he’d offend me.

“You can’t have pizza every night, boyfriend.” I hum aloud at him with a small frown seeing as he’d bought pizza two nights in a row. “Besides, you’ll get fat. Can’t have that.” I prefer to admire Jay’s abs, not his flab. He’d better keep in shape.

“Well I can’t have food poisoning every night either.” Jay reminds me of the last incident where I forced him to eat the food I had made.

I sigh in defeat, “That was one time.”

Jay yanks Oog into the other side of the kitchen to give him real food. Jay is really concerned about other people’s needs, not that he’d ever admit to it. He has a bigger heart that he lets on. My taped picture is evidence enough of that.

“Jay will make a great father one day.” I say aloud to no one in particular, but Grey takes it as if I’m speaking to him.

“Stop your fantasizing.” Grey taunts me with as mischievous fleck to his dark eyes.

I stay rooted in my spot as I hum a catchy tune to myself for the sake of pissing Grey off for that last comment he made, “I hate Grey, his way is gay. He must not stay. He better run away or he will pay. Hooray!”

Grey narrows his dark piercing gaze on me as if to intimidate me, “So mature.” He retorts bitterly and sarcastically.

This guy really has it in for me. It’s amazing how much fun he makes it for me. I change the subject as a thought occurs to me, my eyes wavering over to the other piece of paper, “You know, I also draw. Now you can’t say that’s unoriginal.” I pick up the drawing off the kitchen table and hand it to Grey.

Grey takes the page into his hand, his right eyebrow lifting in bewilderment, “What am I looking at right now?” He asks, confused. “Am I looking at it upside down or something?”

“No you dimwit! It’s a drawing of you and Jay at the race grounds. See.” I point to Grey, Jay and the car I drew for each of them.

Grey pulls a repulsed face, “Why am I riding a slug? And is Jay’s car eating him?”

Jay returns to my side after helping Oog and Slobber out. He must see our expressions as he sighs over dramatically, “What now?”

Grey hands him the page with a shake of his head as if more disappointed in me than usual.

“Why am I looking at a picture of a slug being hit by a meteorite?” Jay asks, genuinely lost.

“That meteorite is apparently me.” Grey informs him, “And that slug is my car.”

I give Jay a sharp glare, mad at him for not seeing it for what it was. Jay quickly realizes his mistake and looks to me, seeking approval and forgiveness, “Totally knew that.” He tries to reassure me.

“My hair isn’t that spiky, is it?” Grey suddenly asks from out of the blue as he tries to flatten his natural blackish spikes to no avail. I hold back a laugh at his insecure actions. Too funny!

Jay glances from Grey and then unto my drawing before he shrugs, “Meh…that might be the only accurate part to this drawing.”

I shoot Jay a glare, feigning to be upset, “How dare you?!” I threaten.

“Awe come on Aqueela, you made him look like a Super Saiyan.” Jay defends Grey this time round, being his ever so annoyingly contradictory self. I preferred it when he was lying to me, which he so was.

I stomp my foot and pout, “So you lied earlier, didn’t you?” I ask, wanting to hear him admit it. I can’t deny the fact that I feel flattered that he’d go out of his way to not offend me in any way possible. It’s really sweet.

Jay’s expression softens a notch, his blue eyes warming up when he takes in my hopeful expression. He wraps an arm around my shoulders, forcing me to his side before stroking my hair playfully with his fingertips, “Lets just say that I think there are many more options for you out there beside from art.” Jay flashes me a bright smile before placing a kiss against the side of my head. I smack him in the chest as he chuckles softly in my ear, “What? I was trying to be indirect.” He whispers teasingly, sending butterflies within me racing.

Something catches Grey’s eye as he picks up another colouring page, “Woah! Maybe I was wrong about you. Why didn’t you show me this first?” Grey asks, pointing to the page of wildlife coloured in.

I giggle at that, brushing the subject aside, “Oh that’s just Oog’s scraps. He did that in like two minutes. He just scribbles.” I say as Grey’s mouth falls agape in shock.

“The hobo did this?” Grey asks, stunned to the core, “Flip. That’s what you call art. Look at the shading. He’s got some serious talent.” Grey actually compliments someone, however, it’s still not me. Probably never will be.

I shake my head, discouraging Grey’s words, “No. He’s terrible. It’s just scribbles.” I argue with Grey, not wanting Oog to surpass me in art. I turn to Jay for some back up on the fact that Oog sucks at art.

Jay offers me an apologetic expression, “Aqueela, Oog’s work is really good.” He admits truthfully and despite me sucking at art, I do appreciate it when Jay’s honest with me.

Grey seems more than pleased to see that Jay is coming out of and I quote ‘whipped for a psychopath’ phase.

Jay must see my facial expression damper because he’s quick to add, “But not as good as yours, obviously.”

I know Jay’s just lying for my sake, yet I shoot him a thankful smile, unable to hold back my appreciation for having Jay in my life. He’s just too sweet for his own good. I love it.

I stick my tongue out at Grey and soak up his irritated expression as he mouths ‘weak’ to Jay yet again.

Anyways…” Grey drawls out, “The real reason I stopped by is to tell you that the head of the tracks said we’re both in. Unfortunately, so is Xavier.”

Jay’s eyes widen at this, his jaw practically dropping in excitement, “That’s great! Except the Xavier part.” He exclaims, slight apprehension laced in his tone, but his blue eyes still twinkling in hope.

“In for what?” I ask as Grey and Jay exchange looks among one another. I’m feeling left out of their bromance.

“The championships in street racing.” Jay answers me absent-mindedly, his thoughts elsewhere, his mind now preoccupied.

I know how much Jay and Grey want this. I know how hard they’ve both been working for it. A smile lights my features as I embrace the two on impulse, taking both by surprise with my own excitement.

Grey’s quick to shove me off him, not embracing me back, but I spot the smile itching to come out from the corners of his lips. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a billion times not to hug me!” He grumbles out as Jay and I laugh at his expense. Had it been any other guy I hugged, Jay would be annoyed. But Jay trusts Grey immensely, that or he trusts Grey’s hate for me.

“Yeah, you should stay away from him because you’re still sick.” Jay reminds me just as I happen to cough.

That’s all it takes to set Grey off as flips out, “You’re sick?! I’ve been hanging around you all day and you just happened to fail to mention that you’re sick?! You’re sick and you just hugged me! I’m going to get infected. You should be in quarantine or something. You’re an idiot Lawson. I can’t afford to get sick before championships. You’ve probably already spread all your disgusting Aqueela germs on me! Gross! Gross! Gross!” Grey mutters as he pats himself down as if it would get rid of my ‘Aqueela germs.’ He’s so overreacting right now.

I look to Jay for an explanation, “Grey’s a germ freak. Big time.” And Jay’s the clean freak, yet they still deny the obvious bromance here.

I nod, understanding, “Ah. So that’s why he hates hugs.”

Grey’s eyes soon find mine again in a deadly gaze, “I don’t hate hugs. I just don’t like them coming from you. If I get sick, you’re dead Lawson. I’m serious. I will kill you.”

I blink up at Grey, silently challenging him, “You wouldn’t. You secretly love me.”

“I would.” He says in an emotionless voice, not denying the secretly loving me part. Called it. I really can’t tell if he’s being serious or not. Maybe I’m finding him a little intimidating right about now.

“Relax. You won’t get sick. I’m assuming you have a strong immune system.” I try to reassure him, however, more for my sake than his. I don’t want to die just yet.

“You better hope so!” Grey calls over his shoulder before he slams the door shut after him once he’s successfully stormed out of Jay’s house. He’s too paranoid over his health status.

My eyes land on Jay to see him giving me a suggestive grin, “I won’t let him kill you, not on my watch.” He insists with a flirty wink, but I’m quick to shake him off as I blow him a kiss. He laughs before strutting off like some male super model. To think he’s all mine now…

Turns out I was mistaken about Grey having a strong immune system, because at three AM the next morning I get an unexpected phone call, “Lawson, you’re dead.”

I gulp.

I can only hope Jay writes me a great eulogy.

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