Pause (Book 1)

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Chapter 48: You Like Her

I call Grey back early next morning, by that, I mean past three o’clock in the morning. After he called me at three a.m., I ended up cursing him before hanging up on him. He was not very impressed, judging by all the swear words he sent to me in a text message after I refused to answer any more of his calls. No one interrupts my sleep, not even Grey Ferrot.

Thankfully, today is a public holiday and I plan on spending the morning with him.

“What in the hell — ” I hear him cough, “do you want?!” He answers the call rudely. He’s definitely still sick and it’s my fault. I can’t believe I actually feel guilty about it, though it’s mostly his fault for having a weak immune system. What a pansy. Bells and Max aren’t sick and they had to nurse Jay and I back to health.

“Just calling to let you know that I’m coming over.” I tell him my plans. He falls silent, as if processing what I’d just said to him.

There’s another second of pure silence before he explodes on me, “Don’t you dare f**king come over Lawson!” He roars as if the idea repulsed him to no ends. “You’ll make my suffering worse!”

I laugh from my side of the line, refusing to take him seriously. “I’ll be there in five.” I tell him quickly.

“No! Don’t you dare Lawson! Do not come over!” He shouts at me, infuriated. I attempt to stifle my giggles, but end up failing as I laugh aloud at his enthusiasm to see me. “Are you even listening to me?! This is no laughing matter. I’m dead serious. Don’t you dare step foot near my house! I’ll plant land mines to keep you out and hopefully blow you back to hell, where you came from-“

“See you soon Grey!” I cut him off in an excited chirp before I hang up on him, earning me a sideways glance from Jay as he shakes his head at my persistence to get on Grey’s good side — if he even had one.

I meet Jay’s alluring blue gaze and shrug innocently, “What?” I purposely bat my eyelashes up at him.

Jay gives me a flat look before lifting his hands up in defence, taking a step backwards, “I’m not getting involved, nor am I saying anything.” He says, pretending to seal his lips, before walking away for his routine power nap. I don’t fail to notice, from my peripheral vision, the corners of his lips itching up into a small amused smile.

Three hours later…

I check my watch, seeing it to be ten a.m. I lean over the pot on the stove to stir in the thick green mixture all the more. I have to get going soon. Grey’s expecting me, well I’d like to think he is.

Out of nowhere, two strong arms come from behind and wrap around my waist tightly. I instantly relax and smile to myself at his familiar touch.

“What smells so disgusting?” Jay whispers into my ear as he holds me closely to him from behind.

I frown, “Don’t insult my cooking or I might just rethink this whole relationship thing.” I threaten teasingly. This isn’t the first time my boyfriend has openly insulted my cooking skills. Kind of stings. Dagger to the heart.

I feel Jay chuckle softly against me before he leans over me to inspect the lumpy green soup, “Looks good.” He mumbles, giving me a sheepish grin. I can tell that he’s lying, simply to please me. This is like my artwork all over again. Jay can do just about anything, whilst I apparently suck at just about everything.

“What is it?” He asks wearily, placing a kiss on my cheek, as he motions to the soup, my heart now pounding heavily at his simple movement.

Sometimes, I think he only takes the opportunity to indirectly insult me when he’s touching me or kissing me, because he knows I won’t be able to react as harshly as I would without him so close to me. He knows my weakness is him and takes advantage of it. He’s sly and manipulative like that.

“Soup.” I answer him casually before adding, “Nah duh.” I emphasize absent-mindedly, my mind still reeling on the lingering kiss he’d just placed on my cheek.

Jay releases my waist with one of his arms. He uses his free hand to gently tuck a strand of hair behind my ear. I shiver involuntary at his affectionate touch. He notices, but says nothing about it. “Aqueela, no offence, but is soup suppose to smell this gross? Or look this green?” Jay asks with much caution as if to avoid me clouting him over the head for his remarks.

“I don’t know. I just started mixing ingredients and concocted this thing.” I answer him truthfully, dipping a spoon into the thick soup, feeling both his arms cradling my waist again. I turn in his arms to face him, my eyes eyes meeting his beautiful blue ones, “Want to try some?” I offer him, holding the spoon filled with green splodge out to him.

I’ve been too afraid to try it myself and since Jay and I have become an item, he practically has to do anything his beloved girlfriend asks of him. Okay, so I might be manipulating him, sue me. He does the exact same thing with me. In the past, he hated it if I just hugged him. Now, now he can’t keep from touching me. His affectionate side has come out and it’s driving me crazy. He’s driving me crazy, in the good sense. He’s slowly becoming my new addiction.

Jay immediately shakes his head, a hesitant look to his oceanic blue eyes. “Yeah, I’m good thanks. I just ate.”

I raise a perplexed eyebrow at him, “But you just woke up.” I state, aware of the fact that he’d only now just showered and changed after his power nap. He hadn’t yet had time to have breakfast. “Please.” I beg him with a pout accompanied by puppy eyes, “Just one spoon.” I press on, hopeful.

Jay glances down at my face before averting his eyes and sighing, a sign that he is about to give in, “Fine.” He agrees before his gaze settles on me again, “The things you make me do for you.” He mutters to himself, but I hear him loud and clear.

A bright peppy grin overtakes my features at his words. I love that he always says yes to me. I have him wrapped around my pinkie. He truly is whipped. It’s absolutely adorable in my eyes. I really do like him, perhaps too much.

Jay parts his lips just as I force the spoonful into his mouth - before he can change his mind. I grin up at him through my lashes, satisfied that he complied, just for me. I watch him carefully and take in all his obvious horrified reactions. Yet still, he forces himself to swallow instead of spitting it all out like I know he wants to.

I keep my eyes trained on his face, studying him, wondering if he’d tell me the truth or lie. In the past, he’d definitely tell the truth despite hurting my feelings. Now that I’m his girlfriend, I’m not so sure any more. He hates offending me and I love that he hates offending me.

It takes a moment for Jay to get the sludge down his throat before he forces a smile onto his lips, shooting me a thumbs up as he tries to catch his breath, “Delicious.” He croaks out in a struggle.

I shake my head at him, a small smile gracing my own lips, “You’re a terrible liar.” I state, still smiling.

Jay huffs, exasperated, as he confesses, “It’s the worst thing I’ve ever tasted in my life.” He finally admits seeing as I’d coaxed him too.

“Ouch.” I feign hurt as I reach behind me and put the spoon back down on the counter, placing my hand over my chest to feign heartache. “Couldn’t sugar coat it, could you?” I kid. “You just broke my heart.”

Jay narrows his eyes at me, “You said you wanted the truth.” He brushes it aside as he releases me completely, slightly upset about me saying that he broke my heart. He tries to hide it, well aware that I’m only teasing, but I still see that what I’d said bugged him in some way — almost as if he believed he could actually break my heart someday in the future. I open my mouth to ask, but he’s quick to speak first, dodging the question he knew I’d ask, “So what is this soup for anyway?” He presses, changing the subject.

“It’s for Grey. He’s been sick as you know. I’m going around to visit him whilst you’re at work.” I explain my plan to Jay, feeling sorry for him. He even worked on public holidays. I do admire him for not being lazy. He’s always been hard-working and I really like that about him. “Grey and I need some ‘one-on-one’ time to bond. He’s your best friend and I’m your girlfriend. I should make the effort in getting him to actually be able to tolerate me, forget like me.” I elaborate in minor details.

Jay clears his throat impassively, “That’s not a good idea. At all.” I glower up at Jay for that comment. He said earlier this morning that he wasn’t going to say anything. “Look, it’s Grey. He’s not — ” I pout at him, crossing my arms over my chest, unhappy with his suggestion to leave Grey be. “Fine.” Jay sighs, “Visit him. But just keep in his boundaries and don’t cross them if you want to get on his good side. Try not to kill him with your soup and try not to irritate him too much.”

I nod, agreeing, “You got it J-Bear.” I wink playfully.

Jay can’t help but grin when I end my sentence with one of the many nicknames I’d come up with for him. He acts like he hates it, but I know he secretly loves it. Besides, I refuse to resort to pet names. Jay and I just aren’t like that.

“Listen, I gotta run. Don’t want to be late for work. But enjoy. Try to come back alive.” Jay smiles, quickly lowering his head to mine as his soft, warm lips seal against my own in a tender and unexpected kiss.

It’s rather short lived though, because he pulls away from me all too quickly before he’s off and out the front door without so much as a last glance.

I stare longingly after him, my heart still pounding away in my chest. But there’s an uncomfortable knot in my stomach. Something doesn’t feel right. Something about Jay is way off. I can tell, despite him trying to hide it.

Something is definitely up with him.

I stand on his porch, under the rain, and bang on the door repeatedly — the pot of soup under my free arm growing rather heavy by each passing minute. “Hello? Hello! Hello?! Come on Grey, I know you’re in there!”

I’ve been calling for fifteen minutes straight and still, there’s no reply.

I lift my fist to knock again, when the door to his cosy flat opens. I blink up upon meeting his grey eyes as my extended arm falls limply to my side. Before me, stands a half asleep Grey. It’s unexpected seeing as it eleven in the morning. I get the vibe that Grey is the kind of guy who sleeps past midday before waking up, the nocturnal type, seeing as he does race in the evenings. That and he’s sick, it should be expected that he’d be in bed all day, I suppose.

My eyes scan his appearance. His dark brown — almost black — hair is a mess and not gelled up in his usual spiky hairstyle. He’s in grey sweatpants, shirtless. His nose is red and he has dark rings under his eyes, yet still, he pulls off the effortlessly attractive look successfully. No doubt he definitely just woke up and dragged his lazy ass out of bed, having heard my incessant knocking and ringing of the buzzer.

“Please let this just be a nightmare and not reality,” is the first words that come spilling out of his mouth at seeing me standing on his front porch drenched in rain water. I notice the huskiness to his voice. He sounds different, definitely got a cold.

With this continuous rain and cool weather, I wouldn’t be surprised if my recovery does a U-Turn. I could end up sick again. Max and Bells would kill me.

I throw my arms out, wide open, in pure excitement for some ‘Aqueela-Grey’ bonding, “It’s your lucky day Ferrot, I’m really here!” I exclaim enthusiastically, holding my arms out for a hug, but knowing better. A hug is what got me here in the first place, it’s what got Grey sick.

Unfortunately, Grey doesn’t seem to share my enthusiasm because before I know it, his front door slams shut in my face.

Mhmm…so that didn’t go as planned.

“Oh come on Grey!” I shout from outside his house, “I’m cold, shivering, wet, soaked from head to toe, etcetera. Need I go on?!”

“Yes! Go on! Literally!” He shouts back stubbornly from the other side of the door, making it known that he’s listening to every word I say. That can only mean that he feels a tad bit guilty. He’ll cave eventually. I know that he’s a gentleman deep inside. He won’t leave a girl outside in the rain for very long, even if it is me.

“Don’t be like this! I’m just here because you’re sick!” I whine, continuing to pester him before adding in a more softer voice, “I made you soup.”

There’s a pause from the other side as if Grey is contemplating something, before the door swings open again, almost knocking me off his porch in the process.

Grey’s eyes land on the heavy pot under my arm, “I’ve been lis for hot soup. This cold doesn’t want to seem to pass.”

I place my free hand on my hip with much attitude, “So are you going to invite me in then or what?” I ask in a ‘diva-like’ tone.

Grey rolls his eyes at me, but nevertheless, opens the door wider as he steps aside, allowing me entrance into his home.

“It’s like inviting a vampire into my house.” He mutters rudely beneath his breath.

I ignore him and brush past him speedily into his kitchen, my arms growing slack from holding the heavy pot. Grey must see this because he’s quick to remove the pot from my grip and place it on his kitchen counter top. He does this deed in silence without so much as an explanation. I always knew he was a secret gentleman. He should teach Jay a thing or two.

Grey turns back to face me with his usual frown intact, the frown he reserved just for me. He pays me special attention — the bad kind. “You seriously have to stop paying me surprise visits. Call beforehand — still don’t know how you got my number — so that I can bolt all my doors and windows first and then put in a restraining order against you.”

“Oh Grey.” I laugh at his blunt statement before making a suggestion, “Lighten up.” I advice, “Besides, I did call you beforehand this time.” I remind him. He’s obviously forgotten and I don’t really blame him. He’s as sick as a dog. “Now shut up and be happy.”

“How can I be when you’re in my flat?” He retorts back bitterly, not impressed with me being here. Jay predicted this happening. Thinking of Jay puts a slight strain of worry on me. I want to know what’s up with him. He’s acting weird.

Grey tears his gaze off of me as he opens up the pot, the smelly waft of the green sludge filling his senses. He begins to cough as he glances down at the thick soup, “You must be out of your damn mind if you think I’m eating this. This soup doesn’t even look remotely edible.” He points out bluntly. This guy has no filter on his mouth.

I glare at his ungratefulness. I slaved over that stove for about ten minutes and this is the thanks I get. “Eat. It.” I command, emphasizing my words in a clipped tone.

Grey narrows his dark eyes at me, “No. Way. In. Hell.” He stubbornly and outrightly refuses.

My stern facial expression breaks under his piercing gaze. “Please Grey.” I pout desperately.

Grey’s not Jay. There’s a definite chance he’ll resist my puppy eyes and still reject my soup. Heck, I know he will.

“You eat some first then.” Grey challenges me with a daring look to his dark eyes. When I pull a repulsed face, he acknowledges it straight away. “See. Even you won’t eat this concoction from hell. It smells like feet and looks like toejam. Did you add any frogs and boils to it? Funny, I didn’t see you fly in with your broom and black cat.”

I feign hurt as I place a hand over my heart, “Implying that I’m a witch is just plain cruel.”

“Does it look like I care?” He asks dryly. It sure as hell doesn’t seem that he cares. Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder why Grey hates me so much. I mean he literally disdains me as inferior to him.

“Don’t eat it then.” I huff, crossing my arms over my chest. “But a ‘thank you’ would have sufficed just fine.”

“I was never taught to thank people for an attempt in murder.” He retorts back like some ‘smart ass’.

My jaw drops at his insult directed specifically at my natural cooking talent.

“I never made the soup with the initial intent to kill you!” I reprimand his wrong assumptions before adding in a low mumble, “Although, maybe I should have.”

“Whatever.” Grey mutters contemptuously before heading back to his room, most likely to go back to bed or hopefully put a shirt on.

I follow after Grey, relentless in my pursuit, taking note of how well kept his little flat is. Grey is nineteen, a working student, and as far as I know he lives with a room mate and depends solely on his racing money to pay his half of the rent. He’s quite the mystery. I don’t know much about him, yet I’ve known him for months on end already. Bonding time is definitely necessary. I’ve bonded with everyone, but Grey.

I shake the thought, sneaking into his room before he decides to slam the door shut in my face like he’d done earlier.

I’m still shivering from the cold rain. I was sopping and soaked, but now my shirt is only damp from the droplets that were lucky enough to touch me.

Grey spins around to face me with a flat stare, somehow predicting that I would follow him, “You’re turning my house into a slip and slide you walking puddle.” His eyes travel to the small droplets of water on his floor that had come off me before taking in my disheveled appearance from the storm occurring outside.

Grey walks over to his cupboard and opens it as if searching for something. He eventually takes out a black t-shirt of his.

I breathe out a sigh of relief, “About time you cover up.”

Grey ignores me and throws the t-shirt to me that it lands over my face, “Not for me. For you. Apparently you need to cover up more than me.”

I move the shirt off my face and raise a questioning eyebrow at him. “I’m not the one walking topless here.” I say, confused.

“Might as well be.” Grey mutters as he motions with his eyes downward to my chest.

I follow his gaze only to see that my shirt had turned slightly transparent, see-through, after having been drizzled on.

I don’t waste a second longer to throw his shirt over my damp one. “You could have said something sooner, you pervert.” I scold him, a flare to my attitude. Had it been any other guy, I’d be way more uncomfortable. But this is Grey, so I’m not really bothered. Grey is…Grey.

Grey takes out a white v-neck shirt before putting it on himself so that we’re both fully clothed. “Sorry that I never saw sooner because my eyes aren’t always glued to your-“

I zone out on him as I see study books and handwritten notes lying across his desk. “So what is it that you’re actually studying then Grey?” I ask him, curious. I don’t know anything about him except the fact that he races, he’s Jay friend and that he hates me more than life itself.

“Chemical engineering.”

My reaction, shocked, would be the understatement of the century.

I cock my head to the side in pure bewilderment, “You mean…you’re…smart?”

Grey rolls his dark eyes at me, obviously offended by my insinuation, “You made me out for an idiot then?”

I just never took racers for smart people. I mean they make their living out of illegal doings for goodness sake. Can you really blame me?!

“Yes.” I answer truthfully, point blank. “A big idiot.” I confirm his theory.

Grey scowls at me, not bothering with a response and instead falls into a wheezing fit, coughing his lungs out. Worried, I reach out to him. He dodges me as always as he hops back into his bed and covers himself under his duvet.

“Can you just go now?” Grey asks in a raspy voice, desperation laced deeply into his hoarse throat. He needs someone to take care of him right now. He’s sick and there’s no one here for him. He doesn’t have anyone to turn to. No girlfriend. No father. I don’t know about his mother. But basically, no one, nothing, nada.

I put my foot down on this request and shake my head, “No way. Not after hearing that cough. You need me.”

Friends take care of friends, even if said friend hates you.

“I don’t need anyone but myself!” He snaps at me before coughing again. I ignore his hissy fit. Instead, I walk up to his bedside only to lean down over him, resting my hand on his forehead. “Don’t touch me!” He snaps again, pushing my hand off his forehead with brute force.

Jeez, this guy. I swear. I’m just trying to help him. I have his best interests and health at heart.

“You’re burning up. You’ve come down with a fever.” I inform him, pulling away from him completely. “I’m staying and I’m going to nurse you back to health.”

“Stop being dramatic. I’m not dying you complete and utter idiot.” Grey mutters beneath his breath in a clenched voice before his eyes shut close on their own accord. He may not be dying, but his resistance just did.

I open his windows and curtains for some fresh air and light, respectively. I will not allow him to sleep in a dark room lacking oxygen.

Grey stirs again from his drowsy state when light floods his room as if he can’t bear sleeping without darkness.

Yeah and I’m the vampire…

“You’re still here?” He moans upon seeing me still firmly put in his room. “Be gone, Satan.” He murmurs weakly, making me feel terribly bad for his state of health, despite his rude insult directed at me solely.

I leave him be and fetch him a cool glass of water, secretly adding some flu medicine in it. I force him to sit up and drink it all before instructing him to remove his shirt, again. He needs to keep cool and hydrated.

I grab a cloth from his bathroom and wet it before taking his desk chair and placing it beside his bed. I sit down and dab the cloth on his forehead to soothe the heat from his hot temperature. His body is busy fighting a battle against germs, hence the fever.

He falls asleep again.

I literally don’t move from Grey’s side for the next three hours until he wakes up. I’d kept myself preoccupied by playing ‘Temple Run’ on my phone and texting Jay a million smiley faces for no apparent reason at all, to which he responded with a single heart. Of course this resulted in me smiling, my spirits immediately lifted by just one gesture of romance that Jay doesn’t often humour me with. I appreciate his rare sugary sweet moments, but I’m still concerned about him.

“Lawson, why are you really here?” Grey asks as he sits up and rubs his eyes, still exhausted.

“I’m here because you’re my friend and you need me.” I explain to him as if he’s a mere toddler, incapable of understanding.

“We’re not friends and just because I’m sick doesn’t mean I’m an idiot.” Grey sends me a tired glare before yawning.

“Or does it?” I wink playfully at him before getting serious, “How are you feeling?”

“Better.” He answers, “A lot better actually.” I let out a breath of relief at hearing that he’s feeling better. I’ve been concerned.

He leans back against his headboard before settling his gaze on me, “How long have I been out?”

“Three hours, going on four.” I answer nonchalantly.

“You stayed here for me, for three hours?” Grey asks, stunned. He can’t believe I’d do that for him. He is my friend, despite him rejecting the idea and despising my very existence.

“Four.” I correct him before smiling, “And off course.” I answer, shrugging — it’s really not a big deal. He’s making it out to be way more than it is. I’m just looking out for him. That’s all.

Grey averts his eyes from me as if suddenly uncomfortable after hearing that I stayed and took care of him. “Thanks.” He whispers inaudibly, shyly, but yet I’m close enough to hear him say it. He does not do well in receiving help.

“No problemo amigo.” I grin at him before making an offer, “Hey, wanna hang out and watch a movie or something?”

I’ve never spent time with Grey ‘one-on-one’ before. I’m kind of keen to learn more about this dark evil character. I’m not even joking. Grey is evil. I’m convinced.

Grey narrows his eyes into daggers, “Hell n—” Grey stops himself from finishing when he sees the disappointed look on my face, “I’m picking the movie.” He concludes as I let out an excited yelp. I think I’m slowly crossing over to his good side. I hope. Oh who I’m kidding. I’ll never be on Grey’s good side. But at least I’m growing on him.

That’s how we end up on his lounge sofas watching some lame horror movie that Grey picked out. I hate horrors because they terrify me, so I go out of my way to mock the characters throughout the movie to ease the tension and fear building up inside of me. It seems to work.

“Let me just prance and skip into the dark room where the scary noise is coming from. Surely nothing is there, despite the loud banging sounds. I’m sure I will be fine, A-OK artichokie. It’s probably just a butterfly making all the loud, ruthless, merciless noise.” I mock as I narrate the fake lines of one of the minor female characters, purposely putting on a high-pitched voice to sound like her.

She soon gets attacked, so for emphasis, I let out a fake screech that would match hers, “How foolish was I to walk into the bloody room?! It’s not a butterfly at all, but the killer I had been warned about several times, time and time again, over and over and over and over…”

I stop talking upon seeing, from the corner of my eye, Grey scowling at me. I shoot him a helpless look, “What?” I shrug innocently as if I’d done nothing wrong.

“You’re ruining the entire movie.” He answers, clearly annoyed.

“The movie was ruined as soon as it was written, my dear friend.” I tease, even though I know I really shouldn’t. I let out a loud yawn before throwing a popcorn kernel, the popcorn that I made for Grey and I, at the television, “Lame!” I exclaim, desperately wanting this stupid movie to be over with.

Horrors are a force to be reckoned with and apparently so is Grey as he glares at me, “Shut up.” He commands.

“Never!” I shout over-dramatically before throwing a popcorn kernel at his face.

He looks from the popcorn kernel - now on the floor - and then unto me, unblinking, “F*ck it, I hate you.” He grumbles before turning off the television, knowing fully well that he’s not going to be able to watch the movie in peace if I’m here.

“So Grey, tell me about yourself.” I demand as I flip position so that I’m lying upside down across his couch.

Grey gives me a look for my position where as Jay would be used to it by now. “No.” He answers flatly.

I sigh loudly just to piss him off, “Why do you hate me so?”

“Because you’re the most annoying person I’ve ever had the disprivilege of knowing.” Grey says, eyeing my position wearily, “Also, I really hope you fall and crack your skull open.” He says, motioning to the tiled floor beneath me. “That should teach you.”

I suppress a smile. I know he’s only saying that as a subtle warning to prevent me from actually falling and cracking my skull open. Instead of just telling me to sit up because he’s worried I fall, he goes with what he had said already. I know he means well, sort of anyway. For his sake, I sit up, not missing the subtle relieved breath he blows out at the sight. He was definitely worried about me cracking my skull open.

“This is the part where you’re suppose to say that you don’t really hate me.” I point out to him with a dubious grin.

“Oh no, you got it right for once. I do hate you.” He clarifies sternly. This guy really needs to loosen up. He’s so uptight.

I don’t take what he says to heart. I’ve come to realize to only take whatever Grey says with a pinch of salt. “So Jay was acting really weird this morning…” I say aloud casually, dropping the hint, hoping Grey would know and tell me what’s going on with my boyfriend.

Grey catches onto my plans way too quickly, “Stop fishing.” He orders.

I pull a face and pout, “Awe come on Grey! You must know what’s going on with him. Please just tell me. I’m dating him, I have the right to know.”

“Stop reminding me that he’s dating you. It makes me feel sick all over again,” is the only answer I get out of him.

“Other than you thinking Jay can do way better than me, what’s up with him?” I ask again, needing an answer. I’m worried about Jay. I know him well enough to know that he’s not himself.

Grey curses beneath his breath, “Jay can do better than you, but I guess…” He trails off in a stammer, as if hesitant to continue. He looks up to see me waiting for him to finish his sentence with much anticipation, my expression hopeful. He sighs, “I guess you are perfect for Jay.”

I grin, milking his compliment longer, “I always knew you were secretly shipping us. You’re our biggest fan boy.”

Grey’s quick to squash the excited gleam in my eyes, “That doesn’t mean I approve of you. It just means that I think you handle him well and make him happy in a way that no one else can. He’s different when with you, despite you always being over the top. That’s all. Don’t let it get to your head, I still hate your guts.”

“Too late!” I feign an enthusiastic squeal as I motion to my head, circling my index around my head as if to show that my head is growing gigantically and rapidly after Grey’s comment.

“This is exactly why I never say anything nice to you. You’re so overwhelming.” Grey states with a frustrated groan, “Doesn’t matter, ’cause in the end, you’re going to go after your father anyway and leave Jay behind.”

I fall silent at his words and blink, speechless. “Don’t even start.” I mumble, now agitated.

“I don’t know why you’d even consider it. The man left you. As your legal guardian, he should be paying for your school fees, housing fees, etcetera, but he does nothing for you. It’s parental neglect and quite frankly, it’s illegal. He should be arrested.” Grey elaborates his thoughts, dampening my mood completely. Why is he always on about this? It’s ’cause he can relate, that’s what I’m assuming. I think, in his own way, he’s trying to stop me from making the same mistake he did.

“I don’t want to talk about this with you.” I whine, now slightly annoyed. All I want right now is to be with Jay, in his arms — the place where I feel most safe. Jay offers comfort when we stray to the topic of my father, Grey…not so much.

“Yes, you do. You just asked about Jay. He’s been so worried that he’s going to mess up and break your heart somewhere along the line. That’s just Jay for you. When things are going well for him, he looks for a reason to stuff it up ’cause he doesn’t feel worthy of anything good — as in you. Currently, he’s stressing about his own actions and where they might lead. It’s ironic, you’re the one that should be stressing. You’re the one that should be worried about crushing him and not the other way round. I already know how this story ends.” Grey explains nonchalantly, subtly giving away the reason behind Jay acting strangely. Jay’s truly worried about accidentally breaking my heart.

“Shut up Grey.” I say quietly, truly infuriated by his wild presumptions. “You don’t know anything.” I say back just as spitefully, catching him by surprise with my rude tone. It’s not often someone manages to piss me off to the extent of me lashing out like this. The quieter I am, the angrier I am.

“If you’re angry at me, it just proves that a part of you knows I’m right. In the end, you will leave him and when you do, Jay will be crushed. That’s why I hate you.” Grey mutters back, equally annoyed.

He hates me for something I haven’t even done yet — I mean, something I will not do.

I stand up from the couch, ready to leave. I’ve had enough of this. I only came here to help because I felt bad for making him catch my cold. I’m about to reach for the front door, when a hand grips my wrist tightly. I’m spun around to face Grey as he stands before me with an apologetic expression, shocking me completely.

“Look, I’m sorry.” He actually apologizes to me. “I never meant to sound so harsh. Truth is, I just don’t want you to make the same mistake I did. I had a great life with a great person in it. Then I went searching for my father and it was a slap in the face. When I came back home, I came back to nothing. I lost everything and had to start all over again.”

I can’t seem to fathom his words. He actually had someone in his life he cared about, at least, that’s what I think he’s trying to say, making reference to ‘great person’.

“A girl?” I ask softly, choosing not to pry too much on the subject.

Grey ignores me, basically giving me my answer. Yes, it was a girl.

“Just don’t ever leave him Aqueela. You need him more than he needs you and as soon as he knows that — “

“You’re forgetting that I’m not you, Grey. Thank heaven and hell for that.” I say, interrupting him. He’s so convinced that Jay and I aren’t going to last and he’s convinced that it’s going to be all my fault, whilst Jay is convinced that it will be all his fault. Either way, they both don’t have faith in our relationship. “The last thing I’d ever do, is leave Jay.”

Grey seems sceptical at first as if not persuaded to believe me, but reluctantly gives in, “Okay.”

I raise an eyebrow, the squashed hope coming back in full force, “Okay?” I repeat as if coming to terms with the fact that he’s saying we’re all good, for now anyway.

He nods, with a ghost of a smile that has my spirits lifting, “Okay.” He confirms softly, almost gently as if hesitant to piss me off again.

A smile twitches at the corner of my lips, “Good.” I breathe out, a weight lifted off my shoulders, just as his smile falters and vanishes completely.

He realizes his slip up in showing me his soft side, knowing fully well that I’d hold it against him. “Whatever.” He says before pushing past me quickly as if we didn’t just have a moment. We so did. “You should probably go now.” Grey says motioning to his front door, “I’ve had just about enough of you to last me a lifetime.”

Still rude.” I mumble, no longer mad at him. I can’t hold a grudge to save my life.

Still don’t care.” He calls over his shoulder without so much as a ‘thank you’ for all I’ve done for him today.

I brush it aside as I head for the front door yet again, opening it to see a person standing on the porch, directly in front of me, as if about to open the door themself from outside-in.

The girl’s eyes widen in surprise upon seeing me. She quickly narrows her eyes into slits as she places her hands on her hips with much attitude, “You.” She says through clenched teeth in recognition.

I glare back, crossing my arms over my chest as I stand my ground, “You…” I pause awkwardly before adding dryly, “…more.” I state back, feigning my own irritation at seeing her. “You more.” I conclude, satisfied with my reply.

Grey hears the commotion and glances from the girl to me, “You two know each other?” He questions.

The girl and I answer simultaneously, “Yes.” She answers, whilst I answer, “Haven’t got a clue who the hell she is. I just wanted to play the part and say ’you’ dramatically too.”

Grey rolls his eyes at my answer before introducing me, “Aqueela, my room mate, Nancy. Nancy, you already know Aqueela…my…uh…nothing really. She’s irrelevant, insignificant. I’m not even sure she can be classified as a human being.” He turns his attention to Nancy, “I don’t even get why you know her. If I could erase the memory of Aqueela Lawson out of my head forever, I would in a single heart beat.”

“You need a heart for it to beat.” I speak up, winking at Grey teasingly. “Try again next time pal.” I always win. I turn back to Nancy with a questioning look to my eyes, “Nancy as in ‘Nancy Drew’ the detective?”

Nancy turns to me with a prodding brow, curious, “You really don’t remember me, do you?”

I shake my head, genuinely clueless, “Should I?” I click my fingers, pretending to remember because I really do feel bad that I don’t recognize her. She definitely has some kind of vendetta against me. “Wait! Were you that hormonal teenager in that condom advert? You know…the one where you had to sit down and have the uncomfortable ‘birds and bees’ talk with your father.” Nancy begins to shake her head, but I merely continue, “That was totally you, wasn’t it?! Don’t even try denying it. I never forget a face.” I lie, contradicting myself right there. For the life of me, I have no damn clue who Nancy is.

Grey offers Nancy a sheepish look when she turns to him with a questioning glance as if to say that I’m completely mental, “Just ignore everything she says and does. I do, although it’s easier said than done. She’s a psycho.”

Nancy smirks at Grey, “Real keeper you have there Ferrot.”

Grey’s face falls into a frown at her words, but all that I can focus on is the way Nancy refers to him as ‘Ferrot’ just as Grey refers to everybody else by their last name. Match made in heaven right here. I sense sparks flying between the two.

“Please don’t make me vomit. You know I’ve been sick all day.” Grey remarks before smirking at me, “Besides, Aqueela wishes she were that lucky to land me.”

I scoff at the last part, “Egotistical much?”

Very much.” Grey answers cockily before focusing his attention back onto Nancy, “Aqueela’s dating Jay.” He informs her and for some reason the reference to ‘dating Jay’ results in Nancy scowling at me.

Eventually, she shrugs, “I just thought it because you never bring any girls home, plus, you’re not wearing a shirt and she’s wearing yours.” Nancy points out and I instantly catch her drift, as does Grey. She so miscalculated this situation.

“I never brought Aqueela here. There’s just no keeping her out. I could cover the circumference of our flat in holy water and fire and somehow she’d still find a way in. Probably dig a tunnel or something.” Grey answers casually, his hands stuffed deep into the pockets of his tracksuit pants, almost as if feeling awkward.

He so likes her. I’ll keep my mouth shut, for now.

Nancy turns to me for confirmation. I shrug, “Most likely true, though I won’t dig down too deep, wouldn’t want to enter Grey’s paradise — hell.”

Grey glowers at me, “You are hell itself.”

Anyway…” Nancy emphasizes to capture our attention and stop our bickering, “I’m Nancy Montry.” I raise my eyebrows, her surname slowly registering in my head, “Mason’s cousin.” She clarifies, before adding, “I met you once. Funny thing is, I use to like you, that is until you broke my cousin’s heart by getting together with that Jay kid.”

Well her cousin broke my best friend’s heart.

“Mason use to be a jerk.” I defend myself, Bells and Jay. “And that ‘Jay kid’ just so happens to Grey’s best friend and my boyfriend.”

I love Mason as a close friend, but that’s it — that’s all it’s ever been.

Nancy, shocked at the revelation, turns to Grey to see if there’s any truth in my statement, “You’re friends with the guy who stole the love of Mason’s life away from him?”

Mason stole a lot more from Jay. Besides, Jay did not steal me away from Mason. I was never Mason’s to begin with. He was with Bell. If he’d said something before choosing to go out with my best friend, then maybe I’d be living a different life right now. But I’m glad I landed up with Jay because Jay is Jay. There’s never been anyone else for me and never will there be anyone else. I’m forever Jay’s.

“Go on…” I encourage, “Give it to her Grey.” I say, hoping he’d defend Jay against her ruthless attacks. She doesn’t even know Jay, so to judge him is unfair. She only knows about him based on all the countless lies that Mason has apparently been telling her.

Grey glances from Nancy’s expectant look to me, back and forth, as if put on the spot, “I…uh…I…” He stammers, “I’m gonna get a drink.” He concludes like a coward before simply walking away from the argument, choosing the easy way out.

Grey can’t even put Nancy in her place. And he says Jay is the whipped one! Since when has Grey ever cared about hurting anyone’s feelings?!

Nancy shoves past me and heads to her room, choosing to ignore me furthermore. I couldn’t care less. I don’t like her. Insulting Jay instantly puts you on the ‘to kill’ list.

I skip after Grey, stopping to lean on the kitchen counter he’s currently using. I watch his every move, amused, as he pours himself a shot of tequila. He notices, “What?!” He snaps at me, quickly downing his drink, “Just leave already!” He barks out orders.

“I know something quite enlightening. I think you’d find it interesting.” I hum as I lean over toward him with giddy eyes. He looks at me expectantly, waiting for me to elaborate further.

I stay silent, staring up at him, waiting patiently for his response.

“Well get on with it!” He snaps at me out of impatience when he sees I’m not going to tell him any time soon.

“You like her.” I motion with my eyes to Nancy’s bedroom, waggling my eyebrows for the desired effect and outcome: to annoy him.

And that, my friends, is how I end up outside Grey’s house with the front door slammed shut in my face.

This guy just absolutely adores me.

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