Pause (Book 1)

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Chapter 49: One In A Million

After having waiting for hours in the back of Bell’s car - total exaggeration - she finally hops in and starts her car. This girl shops for hours - literally - she shops until she drops.

She’s completely unaware of my presence as she drives along the highway. From her perspective, she’s the only one in her car. She is so wrong.

I jump out from the backseat just as she adjusts her rear view mirror. “He has a crush!” I spring to the front of the car and shout into her ear just as I come into her line of vision.

Bells gasps and let’s out a frightened screech of shock upon seeing me popping out of nowhere, “What the hell is wrong with you?!” Distracted, she loses control of her car briefly and almost ends up swerving out of her lane and into another vehicle.

I stare at her, unimpressed, as she regains control quickly. “You really should pay more attention to the road.” I scold her. She nearly caused an accident. Bells turns her head from behind the steering wheel to glare at my audacity. “Tut tut, haven’t you learned anything? Focus on the road Missy.” I reprimand her as if it’s my place to do so. “You have a passenger in the car. Be more careful.”

Bell’s keeps her eyes trained on the road, a frown on her full pink lips, “I would if I knew I had a damn passenger in the car in the first place.” She mutters angrily beneath her breath.

“Drop the attitude Bella. I can go without it.” I tease, sending her a playful grin.

I don’t miss the ghost of a smile forming on her lips at hearing my words, “You’re so lucky I love you Aqueels or I would’ve thrown you out this car long ago.” Bells says before going on to ask, “So who has a crush on who now?” She asks, interested.

I knew the word ’crush’ would spark her interest. She is a sap for playing Cupid. She loves matchmaking and seeing happy endings. Totally and utterly Bells indeed.

“Grey has the hots for his roommate Nancy.” I explain to Bells. “Want to help me intervene and make them official?”

“No. The last time I made a couple official, I ended up paying for it through slavery.” Bells reminds me, taking her eyes of the road briefly to send me a knowing look. Oh yeah…

“C’mon! You know you wanna. You can’t resist romance.” I encourage her to join me in my wild crusade in making Grey and Nancy happen.

“It’s Grey. He’s scary. I really don’t need to get on his bad side. After all, I’ve seen how he treats you.” Bells reasons logically, shaking her head, unwilling to contribute her help.

“Grey loves me. We’re best buds. We’re tighter than rope and thicker than cement and all that jazz.” I try to persuade her.

Bells pulls a face at my choice of words to describe my friendship with Grey, but says nothing on it, used to it by now. “He can’t stand you. I think it’s better we stand back this time and let things fall into place naturally. Grey can handle Nancy on his own.” Bells insists, dismissing the thought entirely.

I shake my head at her, disagreeing, “You think Jay has no game with girls, you have not seen Grey. He’s a hopeless case. He’ll never make a move on her and if he does, it will be social suicide. He’s practically begging you to assist him in this small task.”

“I think that’s just you begging.” Bells retorts, her chin held high as she finally pulls over on the side of a quiet street so that she can talk to me properly without the interference of the traffic. “Who is this Nancy in any case? Why has Grey never mentioned her? Why have we never met her?”

I scratch my chin in mock thought, “Yeah well you see…you have met her already. Her surname is Montry, as in Mason Montry’s cousin.”

Bell’s expression drops at the reference to Mason, a scowl overtaking her features. Her and Nancy never did get along. Mason use to go out of his way to limit the time spent between his girlfriend and his favorite cousin. “That b*tch always said that Mason could do better than me. She never liked me.”

I clap my hands in excitement, “Good news! She now hates me too!”

Bells raises a perfectly shaped eyebrow with a perplexed expression to follow, “How is that good news? She used to adore you.”

I go on to explain to Bells about how Nancy blames me for breaking Mason’s heart by dating Jay. I also explain how she hates Jay, especially Jay and I as a couple.

“No one insults Jayeela! No one.” Bells replies through clenched teeth, peeved. “Jay and you are the golden ‘it’ couple. You two are forever. No one comes between you two!”

You use to come between us. You never did approve of Jay.” I remind her, trying to get her to stop hating on Nancy so much. I couldn’t be bothered if Nancy hates me. I’m sure I’ll get over it. Kidding, there is nothing to get over. Nancy hates me. I don’t care.

Bells groans aloud, a guilty look to her turquoise eyes, “That was before I really knew him, m’kay. I feel awful about that as is. Stop rubbing it in my face. I see now that he’s amazing, so shut up!” Bells commands before breaking into a soft laugh. “I’ve missed our one-on-one time Aqueels. I’ve missed my other half, my sister. I really do love you Babe.” Bells admits before throwing her arms around my neck and drawing me to her for a friendly hug.

I roll my eyes playfully, “Please don’t get mushy. I hate it when you get mushy.” I whine teasingly as I shove her face away from me.

“Stop being a robot and give me a hug!” Bells squeals as she tries to hug me again.

I can’t help but laugh as I duck under her arms. This is why we’re best friends. Bells never seizes to make me laugh. She has this aura about her that lifts unhappy spirits until they’re soaring past a blue horizon. She makes others happy.

“Anyway, as I was saying before you got sidetracked by my lovableness, you going to help me or not?” I ask, repeating myself again. Is it so wrong to want to see Grey happy too?

“Nah uh.” Bells answers with a wave of her finger - diva style. I pout, unsatisfied with her answer. “Sorry Aqueela. It’s just, I’ve come to learn to not interfere in other people’s business - including yours. If Grey and stupid Nancy are meant to be together, then they will be. I believe that. We’re still so young Aqueela. We got our whole lives ahead of us. Let ‘life’ takes its course in it’s own time. Just live for the moment, just be and exist. Let go. It’s great!”

I sigh, “Ugh fine. But just so you know, I’m not happy.” I pause, “And since when did you get so free-spirited? Are you turning into a hippie or a therapist? Be honest.”

“Does it really matter?” Bells asks. I give her a flat look to which she responds to with a sigh of complaint, “It’s just - with Mason I took life so seriously. But now with Max, I finally feel free. Yeah, I loved Mason and he broke my heart and I was crushed beyond repair. I pushed you away and felt so hopeless. Then my brother, and only support - Troy - left. I felt abandoned. I was in such a dark place. I needed you back in my life, but I was too afraid you wouldn’t accept my apology. But now I see that splitting from Mason was the best thing that could ever happen to me. With Max, I feel so much more alive…” Bells pauses and then shoots me a helpless look, “You know?” She concludes in a mere whisper, willing for me to understand where she’s coming from.

I nod, “I get it. Trust me, I get it.”

Jay makes me feel alive too. He changed my life for the better. He makes me happy - happier than when with anyone else.

“Mr Taylor captured your heart too then?” Bells asks, a serious glint to her eyes. She genuinely wants to know. She’s being sincere.

“Obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t be dating him.” I joke, but of course I meant it. I’ve liked Jay for a long time and it was Bells who first made it apparent to me that I had feelings for him. That feels forever ago.

“Max takes me places I’ve never been before. He makes me feel things I’ve never felt before…” Bells shakes her absentmindedly, “I don’t know.” She sighs wistfully.

Sounds to me like Bells has fallen in love with Max.

I glance back at Bells to see that distant flame burning brightly in her eyes, bringing out the green tinge.

Yup!

She’s definitely fallen for Max, and hard.

I choose not to point it out to her. I want her to come to the conclusion all on her own.

It’s as if a light bulb flickers on as she moves her eyes to mine with an inquisitive look, “How did you get in my car anyway?”

Uh oh!


“We haven’t done this in forever.” Bells says accompanied by a nostalgic sigh.

I take in the colorful store and nod, agreeing. “Kind of missed it.” I admit as I glance down at the bubblegum ice-cream in my hands. “Especially the part where you pay for me.” I add playfully.

Bells and I haven’t been to Dylan’s ice-cream parlor since forever. Thankfully, Bex and Dylan are nowhere in sight.

Bell’s lets out a soft giggle, “I’m surprised you were even given that ice-cream, considering…”

I roll my eyes at her statement, my glance wavering off to Simo who still happens to be glaring at me. He’s not happy that Jay and I are officially dating. He’s been ignoring me the entire afternoon.

“You think Simo’s reaction is bad; it’s Blubber’s reaction I’m truly afraid of.” I confess, dead serious.

“True.” Bells agrees, “You could always do a ‘roast’ for him like they did with Justin Bieber to put him in place.” Bells suggests with a small smile of her own as she enjoys her vanilla ice-cream.

“A ‘roast’ is more in honor of a person in some twisted way. So that won’t work you bottle blonde. But I’m all up for roasting Blubs for real.” I joke. As if I’d roast my little fan boy.

Bells knocks me in the side with her elbow for my comment, despite knowing that I’m only joking. “You’re such a bully.”

I smile at her teasing, but my smile soon drops as an invading and repetitive thought occurs to me.

Bells knows me so well, she instantly spots the change in my mood. “Hey, what’s wrong?”

There’s no use in trying to hide the fact that something is bothering me. Bells will easily see through the lie.

“It’s Jay.” I confess softly. “He’s been ‘off’ with me for the past couple of days.”

Bell groans as if she’d predicted this happening, “Are you kidding me? You’ve only been dating for a week and he’s already acting up. I thought you’d first make it into a month before drama.” Bells says, exasperated. Her expression softens when she takes in my distraught expression, “What happened?”

I shrug, “I’m not exactly sure, but I’m pretty sure it’s because Jay is afraid of unintentionally hurting me.”

Bells frowns in question, “That’s stupid.” Tell me about it. “Why is he so insecure when it comes to you?” Bells expresses her thoughts aloud.

I shrug yet again, “You’d have to ask him - not that he’d give you a plausible answer.”

“I will make my judgments and say it’s because he really likes you and fears losing you.” Bells presumes, coming up with her own conclusion as to why Jay is behaving so oddly.

“I guess he doesn’t know any better because all his life no one has expected ‘better’ from him. Nancy, Mason and even you at one point, for instance, judged Jay based on assumptions and all of you have said he’ll evidently screw up. He’s been knocked down way too many times in life and it’s getting difficult for him to try and act like he’s fine - especially when I can see that he’s not.” I explain to Bells, my elaboration coming from the heart.

Bells nods, seemingly trying to understand, but deep down, I know she doesn’t. She doesn’t get Jay like I do. No one does.


Two days later…

I’m on my way to school, taking random photos along the way, my stray hobby as per usual (obvious obsession with photography), when a hand is placed over my mouth from behind.

I begin to panic, ready to strike, as a voice whispers into my ear smoothly, “Be cool girl, be cool. Act natural, it’s just me-“

I don’t wait for the psychopath to finish as I turn around and throw a punch straight into the masked stranger’s face.

“Ouch! Bloody hell! What girl packs a punch like that?! It’s not natural!” A familiar voice shouts dramatically from beneath the black mask covering his face.

“Max?” I frown, seeing his green-grey eyes peeping out from beneath the black stocking over his head.

“Nah duh! Gosh Aqueela! Keep the hell up!” He complains as he throws his head back and holds the bridge of his bleeding nose.

I should have known. Only Max would pull a stunt like this.

“Why are you dressed like a cat burglar slash bank robber?” I ask, not bothering to apologize for the blood pooling out his nose profusely. That’s what he gets for scaring me.

“That’s none of your business!” Max snaps before running off to go scare some other poor defenseless human being, his nose still bleeding.

I glance sideways, already knowing that Bells has made her way to my side upon witnessing the entire incident from afar.

“Your boyfriend is crazy.” I tell her as we both stare after Max who frightens an elderly man next before getting hit over the head with a cane.

“He gets that from your influence.” Bells winks at me teasingly.

Everyone always compares Max and me to each other. I’m not nearly as mad in the head as he is. I don’t go scare old people in my free time.

I turn to Bells with a questioning stare, “Why is he dressed like a criminal?”

Bells shrugs, feigning to be clueless. I can see through the act as I give her a flat look before she explains, “Might be my fault. I wanted to get even with you. I wanted Max to scare you in the way you scared me back in the car two days ago. I had him get the mask and everything. Then I made him practice on a few people. I should have known, being it Max, that he’d take this way over the top. I didn’t predict him enjoying it and turning into an actual stalker. He’s been scaring people endlessly for the past two days. It’s exhausting keeping track of all the people I need to write apology letters to.”

“Well seeing as I punched him in the face, I think I win.” I laugh aloud upon hearing Bell’s absurd and failed attempt in terrifying me out of my wits like I’d done with her earlier this week.

Bells thins her lips into a straight line as she nods, “I’ll say. You’re definitely a force to be reckoned with. One of a kind guuurl!” She winks at me playfully.

“You want some candy little girl? I have candy.” Max harasses a seven year old with pigtails next.

“Max!” Bells scolds at him, only for her threat to fall on deaf ears.

Max waits patiently for the little girl to react, except she doesn’t. She merely blinks up at him with her big, round innocent eyes, licking her red lollipop. “It means I’m going to kidnap you! Raaaah! This is where you scream and run away crying.” Max tries to terrify her, but still, she doesn’t react.

Max’s face falls in disappointment. I think he gets some kind of kick out of the screams of fearful people.

“Mister, you’re not even remotely scary. You just look like some raging lunatic parading around in your Mamma’s underwear for show.” The little girl dressed in pink bows and frills finally retorts.

Max’s expression drops, his mouth agape, “I’ll have you know that these…” He points to the stockings on his head, “Are my girlfriend’s underwear, not my mom’s! In your face little Dweeb! I bet you’re single, what a loser.”

Does he know how wrong that sounds right now? He looks like a pedophile!

I give Bells a look for the stocking thing. She blushes and covers her face with her hair. They could have just went out and bought a real criminal mask from a costume shop.

“Whatever makes you sleep at night you criminal wannabe whose girlfriend I’m certain is his childhood dolly.” The little girl shrugs at Max, unfazed by his comment.

“My girlfriend is real so shut up and I don’t even have a doll anymore!” Max barks out at her, stooping down to arguing with a seven year old child. “I’d be a brilliant criminal. I could make a living out of it!”

“Yeah and your most likely fake girlfriend could make a living on a street corner. Those stockings are trashy.” The little girl unintentionally disses Bells. Bells glares at the little girl as I stifle my own laughter behind my fist. “The only thing scary about you is that atrocious thing you call a voice. I have half the mind to rip out your voice box. The world would be better off without it.”

“Shut up you spawn of Satan!” Max glares down at the girl, offended.

“No, you shut up you lousy excuse for a criminal!” She hisses back, “And even if you did make it as a criminal in life, you’d be a lame one, like a cat burglar. That’s what you look like anyhow.”

I like this little girl. She gets me.

“Why you little She-Devil!” Max insults just as the girl’s mother appears and starts hitting Max with her bag upon hearing what he’d said to her daughter. “Ow! Ow! Ow!” Max runs, the mother chasing after him in her stilettos.

“Stop harassing my daughter!” The mother shouts as she flings her handbag at him.

“Your daughter is the devil!” Max yells back as he tries to escape the mother, but even him and all his running skills is not enough to outrun a mother’s wrath. She soon catches up to him and tackles him before tazing him repeatedly with her tazer.

Max, electrified, begins to shake and convulse on the pavement. He looks up at Bells helplessly from his position on the ground beneath the mother, reaching out toward us slowly with his hand, “Help me!” He screeches before beingtazed again. His outstretched hand falls limply onto the pavement soon after.

“Max!” Bells shouts out in concern before sauntering off after him, only to end up dragging his limp body away from the viscous mother who still tries to spray him with pepper spray, as if he hadn’t already had enough.

“Leave him Mumma. He’s harmless.” The little girl insists, tugging her mom away from Bells and semi-conscious Max.

Max still finds it in him to yell back as Bells keeps dragging him away, “I’m not harmless! I’m a dangerous criminal who should be acknowledged for his evilness and scariness! You should call the police and lock me up in a cell for eternity! I’m out of control! Just ask my existing, completely real, girlfriend.”

“Give it a rest already.” The little girl replies back, “My mother was even able to beat you up.” The girl says before emphasizing, “Let. It. Go.”

“I’m so bad I should be on death row!” Max still insists from his rooted position on the floor.

“Don’t quit your day job buddy,” the little girl winks down at him before skipping after her furious mother.

I walk up to Bells as I glance down at Max and shake my head, ‘tsking’ him, “Today is just not your day man.”

“That little girl, Susie, has not seen the last of me! She’s made it as my official arch-nemesis! Seeing as I am such a great criminal, I’ll obviously be the super villain in this scenario.” Max, in pain, kind of out of it, says absentmindedly.

Does this guy hear himself?!

Well I know which side I’m routing for.

“How do you know her name is Susie?” Bells asks him as she helps him up.

“I’m surmising nah duh. Gosh Bells! She has pink frills and a lollipop and that innocent look and she skips all about and - she’s just Susie okay, dammit Bells!” Max insists before dropping back down to the floor in pain as his unconscious side starts to come back.

Bells, as if suddenly noting something, turns to me with a bewildered look to her eyes, “Where’s Jay? He usually drops you off.”

“He’s not coming in for school today - again.” I say, my heart dropping at the thought. He’s being his usual stubborn, distant self. It doesn’t feel as if anything has changed. We’re dating and we live under the same roof, yet I still feel miles apart from him.


“You’re coming along nicely now with Science.” Mason compliments, packing away his stationery in his backpack after having just finished tutoring me for this afternoon - school done for today.

“No thanks to you Sir.” I mock a bow and offer him a grateful, rather appreciative smile for taking time out of his days to assist me.

Max has also been helping me with Maths and it seems I’m starting to surpass and overcome the challenge of doing better in my school subjects. It’s a good thing too seeing as graduation day is around the corner.

Mason first avoided me after hearing about my relationship with Jay, but it seems he’s moved past it as he’s here now.

It’s Jay that’s doing all the avoiding now. He’s skipped an entire week of school and somehow he still excels in all his grades.

Mason must have noticed that absence of Jay’s presence too, judging by his next statement of question, “You and Jay still going strong?”

It’s none of his damn business!

I shrug, “He’s been ‘off’ this past week.” I confess begrudgingly. I don’t miss the ghost of a smile that traces Mason’s lips at the news, as if happy about Jay and I being rocky. He’s quick to hide it. I frown. What a jerk!

“Sorry to hear that.” Mason forces out.

Sure he is.

“I guess I’m just disappointed. I was hoping things between us would be different now.” I admit, despite Mason’s lack of support. Sometimes, it’s just nice to open up with someone.

“Well if I’m in my rights here, I have to say that I did see this coming. Jay’s isn’t the relationship type. I knew he’d stuff up. Heck, everyone predicted this and saw it coming. Everyone has been speaking about it at school. Jay can’t hold down a relationship to save his life. He f*cks up everything good. He’s a screw up and he doesn’t deserve you. He can’t-“

Slap!

Mason stops talking, his head turned to the side, after having been slapped through the face by me.

Mason slowly - cautiously - turns his head back to me. He furrows his eyebrows in confusion as he rubs at his blood red cheek.

I scowl at him and point to the front door, “Get out!” I yell at him, infuriated beyond measure at his nerve. I’m an easy going, laid back person for only so long.

Mason is definitely in no such right to say something like that - especially about Jay.

Mason stares at me for a second longer, an apologetic expression lingering on his face as he comes to realize that he was way out of line with his words, “Aqueela, I’m sor-“

“Get. Out.” I repeat through gritted teeth, scrutinizing each word separately to put more emphasis, as I point to the the door again.

Just as Mason is about to leave, the front door swings open as Jay himself steps in.

Speak of the angel…

Jay immediately feels the thick tension in the air as he ignores Mason’s presence completely and turns to me - first - with a concerned expression, “What happened?” Jay asks wearily, glancing between Mason and I, Mason still stiffly rooted in his position.

“Maggot, over here, just gave you flack for no reason - keeps going on about how you’re going to mess up things between us. Thus, I slapped him.” I explain briefly to Jay, not wanting to go into the specifics of what Mason had said. It would only hurt Jay. “This time, I give you permission to punch him in the face.” I say, referring back to the last time Jay snapped and punched Mason, except that time I sided with Mason.

Knowing Jay and his short temper, I expect him to lose it and lash out his fury on Mason, but he doesn’t. Instead, Jay sighs aloud as if tired and turns to Mason with a frown, “Please just leave.” Jay asks politely, holding the door open for Mason as if motioning to him to leave hastily.

Mason glares at Jay (Jay taking no note), but leaves none the less.

Jay closes the door after him and turns back to me, ready to say something, but I beat him to it, “Why didn’t you beat him to a pulp?” I complain, still insanely angry with Mason.

Jay holds my furious gaze, his own blue eyes portraying a deep sadness and gentleness that quenches at my soul - probably the exact opposite of what he sees in my eyes.

“I didn’t punch him, Aqueela, because he’s right.” Jay concludes in a tone of finality before spinning around as if to make a quick escape upstairs without even giving me a proper explanation.

I stop him, pulling him to halt, as I glance up at him through my eyelashes, thoroughly puzzled by his words. “What do you mean by that?”

Jay stares down at me with a hesitant look before going on to explain his perspective, “I saw Grey today, heard about what Nancy Montry had to say about me. Now Mason. I know there are others - the entire school. They’re all right. I’m going to stuff something along the way, hurt you and then lose you. Might as well give up now before I grow too attached.” Jay elaborates, nonchalant about it all, but I see past his charade.

What Mason and many others at school are saying is affecting Jay negatively. Jay is starting to believe that all he’s capable of is screwing things up. How can he believe differently when no one else allows him to?

“Give up?” I repeat his words, raising a perplexed brow. “Give up on what exactly? Us? Me?” When Jay remains silent; I’m given my answer. However, I refuse to accept such an answer. “I can see you want to say something. Get it out of your system and just say it.”

Jay averts his eyes from me as if he can’t stand to look at me as he says his next words with certainty, “I want to break up.”

His words shatter my heart. My throat feels as if it’s closing up, my chest constricted. I can’t breathe, feels as if I’m slowly suffocating. We’ve only been dating for approximately a week and a half, but it still hurts. I hadn’t been expecting that from him.

“I want to start digging your grave.” I retort back rudely, unimpressed, as I try hold my ground without shedding a tear in front of him. I cross my arms over my chest - my defensive mechanism, as I wait for him to meet my gaze again, “If you’re going through with this, at least give me a plausible reason that will validate your actions.” I ask that much of him, heart broken.

What can he possibly say that will justify this?

Lately, everything seems to be working against Jay and I. It’s almost as if ‘fate’ is telling us that we are not meant to be and if that’s the case, I say, screw fate!

Jay finally meets my gaze again, his gaze soft and his striking blue eyes willing my full attention as he starts softly, “I’m not boyfriend material. I’ve never committed and been in a serious relationship before and I feel beyond pressured. Everyone expects the worst of me when it comes to you. It becomes impossible for me not to expect the worst of me too. Eventually, I’m going to mess up just as everyone has already predicted. I’m going to hurt you and that’s something I never want to do-“

“You’re doing it now.” I interrupt him, gulping back tears and dread with a replacement glare.

Jay’s gaze softens all the more upon hearing the sadness in my words hidden behind my viscous tone, “You deserve so much better than me.” He confesses sincerely, clearly uneasy about all of this. That’s when I realize that he’s not sure what it is he’s doing right now. He’s just going with what other’s are saying and not by what his heart is saying.

“Answer this one question of mine honestly, do you not want to be with me?” I ask him bluntly, needing to know the answer. As of lately, he’s been messing with my head. I don’t really know how he feels about me. He says one thing, but does another.

Jay’s quick to shake his head, “No!” He exclaims rapidly, worried that I’m not hearing him out properly. “No.” He confirms with conviction, “I want to be with you. I’ve always wanted to be with you.” He says, his words earnest.

Confused, I furrow my eyebrows in question, “Then what is it? Is being with me a mistake?”

“If being with you is a mistake, then so is me breathing.” Jay murmurs quietly, his words sending my heart straight into overdrive. He goes onto say, “I’ve made a ton of mistakes, but you - Aqueela - are not one of them and you never will be.”

Again, he’s saying one thing, but doing another.

“You’re holding back.” I bring the fact to his attention seeing as it had captured mine, “Why are you insecure about being in a relationship with me? And don’t tell me it’s because of what people are saying because I know you and I know that you couldn’t care less as to what people - especially the Montry’s - think. So tell me then, what’s holding you back? What are you so afraid of?” I ask the question that had been pending on my mind since forever. I’ve always wanted to know what keeps Jay back from going after the things he wants, the people he wants.

Hitting the nail on the head, Jay grows eerily quiet and subdues to my question. His warm blue glossy eyes turn cold under my unwavering gaze. He sucks in a deep breath before coming straight out with it, “I’m terrified of one day - possibly - seeing you leave out the door. No relationship I’ve ever known, being it friends or family or anything, has ever worked out. I’m the common factor. I’m the cause and I’m afraid of being the cause in losing you too.”

He wants to break up, but not because he doesn’t care about me, but because he’s lost faith in himself. He believes he’s only capable of messing up everything he touches. It’s my job, as his girlfriend, to prove him wrong.

Impulsively, acting on instinct alone, I pull him into me by the collar of his shirt as I stand on my tippy toes so that we’re more or less at the same level, “Jay Taylor, you’re never going to lose me, ever.” I confirm, clearing it up for him, “I know you’re scared of giving ‘us’ a shot and truthfully, a part of me is too, but we’ll get through it together - like always.”

Jay tries to suppress a smile, but it’s not long before his breath taking smile edges its way over his perfect lips, my heart hammering hard in my chest as I grab hold of his jacket with both my hands and bring him down to me.

I kiss him, letting my eyes flutter shut.

Jay doesn’t even hesitate to kiss me back, despite just calling for a break up. It means, that in his heart, he doesn’t really want to break up with me. He doesn’t really want to let me go.

I feel him breathe against my lips as his arms automatically wrap around my waist. He draws me closer to him until I can feel his heart beating wildly against that of my own.

I move my hands from his defined chest up along his neck before holding his face gently between my hands. My actions stir something within him because I’m suddenly lifted off the floor and into his strong arms.

I feel him grin against my lips at having his own way. He walks with me still attached to him before I’m carefully lowered down and placed on the kitchen counter top.

He comes to stand in between my parted legs without breaking the kiss, his soft lips still moving fervently against mine.

With Jay, everything between us always feels explosive - passionate. Since meeting him, I’ve always been drawn to him.

He’s addictive.

I pull away from him reluctantly, needing to breathe. I automatically, as if natural to me, lean my forehead against his, my eyes still closed and my fingertips now resting on the base of his neck, “For some one who wants to break up, you sure kiss like it’s the last thing in this world that you want to do.” I murmur, breathless, my lips still parted.

I move away from him slightly to see his face as my eyes flutter open. I smile up at him through my lashes when his irresistible blue gaze meets my own, “You’re not pulling out of this relationship so easily. I won’t let you. Buckle up, you’re in for the long run, and so am I.” I admit, earnest in the last part of my words.

Jay senses the truth and conviction in my words. Something in his dark hooded eyes changes, my words having affected him. His expression is overcome with something else entirely.

He, hesitantly - slowly, lowers his head yet again. Just before his lips brush mine, I see his cautious gaze set on me. His eyes hold something different, the silver embedded in blue playing up as he seeks permission.

I freeze, a cool shiver running up my spine, unsure as to what is going on inside that head of his.

He takes my silence as his answer before he moves in to press his lips against my own for another short and sweet kiss. But this time, his lips linger against mine, his pulse beneath my fingertips still racing, as if he’s trying to solve a complex puzzle.

This kiss is different, filled with something different.

It’s me who moves away from him, again.

His blue eyes lock with my own as I reach up and softly trace his jaw with my fingertips, “What’s wrong?” I ask tenderly, keeping my hand locked on his cheek.

He doesn’t answer, his eyes closed as he leans further into my hand - my warmth, as if never wanting to separate.

I merely giggle at his reaction, finding him to be all too adorable.

His eyes open at the sound of my soft laughter, only to reveal the depths of blue entwined with silver. His eyes are so beautiful, so expressive.

He cocks his head to the side, a boyish expression on his face and a mischievous gleam to his eyes, “What’s so funny?” He queries, already knowing the answer.

“Nothing.” I lie, biting my bottom lip as I run my fingers through his hair and purposely mess it up out of the way he’d styled it.

A playful frown etches its way onto his lips at my actions as he moves his hands off my waist. He leans in to me, placing both his hands on either side of me on the kitchen counter, encasing me in against him, “Liar.” He whispers in my ear, goosebumps erupting out on my skin before he buries his face in my hair, nuzzling my neck teasingly.

“You’re one in a million Mr Jay Taylor.” I laugh aloud in glee.

“Gah! My virgin eyes!”

At hearing Max’s voice, Jay and I don’t even bother to pull away from each other. There’s no need to.

“Gosh, get a room. Get an entire house! Too much PDA.” Max whines.

I roll my eyes, the sound of his voice unbearable, as I reluctantly push Jay away from me and hop off the counter top. “That’s what you get for waltzing into Jay’s house unannounced and uninvited.”

“Don’t act like you don’t do that with Grey all the time, and besides, Jay’s house is that house where everyone and anyone are all welcome.” Max insists.

Jay sighs as he comes out of his flirty mode, “Yeah apparently that’s what my house has come to nowadays. In the past, no one would set foot near my house without my permission. I used to be intimidating.”

Key words: Used to.

Bells steps in next as she glances around, “What’s all the commotion about?”

“I found Jay and Aqueela about to have sex on the kitchen counter.” Max answers her, completely lying.

Bells gasps over-dramatically before shooting me a wink, knowing fully well that Max is full of nonsense. We all just humor him.

Jay falls silent as I blush red on the spot. Max has a knack for making everyone in the room feel uncomfortable.

The corners of Jay’s lips lift into a suggestive grin as he exploits my obvious embarrassment, shooting me a suggestive wink, his arm winding around my waist as he draws me to his side before placing a flirtatious kiss against the side of my head.

Bells coos in excitement, “You two are so cute.” I can tell she’s happy that we’ve both sorted out our issues.

Jay grins at Bells charmingly, obviously agreeing with her as he glances down at me with a suave smirk, “One of us is.”

“I think I’m going to puke.” Max adds, disgusted, before turning to Jay, “Be careful. She’s particularly violent today; she punched me in the face.”

Jay flashes Max a grin, “Been there, done that.” I can tell that he’s reminiscing on when I’d punched him when he first took me to his cliff.

I frown at Max, unlatching Jay’s arm from around my waist - at least trying to. Jay doesn’t let up, merely tightening his hold on me, refusing to release me from his side. He won’t let me detach from him. “You had a mask on and you came from behind like a coward. It was a must.” I defend my earlier actions.

“You can hold your own, I’ll give you that.” Max admits, “Reminds me of that slap you gave me when I kissed you.”

Jay scoffs, tightening his grip on me all the more - his possessive side out to play, “Don’t remind me. I’m still trying to get past that.”

Max chuckles , unfazed, as Bells pipes in, “Me too.”

“Let me go.” I mumble to Jay, still glaring at Max for interrupting us moments ago and then embarrassing me with that profound statement of his.

“No.” Jay replies back nonchalantly before turning a questioning gaze onto Max and Bells, “What are you two doing here anyway?”

Max grins in response, holding up a football jersey with our school’s logo on it.

Bells grins giddily as she nods enthusiastically at us, her entire face beaming.

I raise a skeptical eyebrow, “What?” I ask as I relax in Jay’s fierce yet gentle hold for a split second, distracted.

“We’re all - and by all, I mean our entire group - going to the last football game of the season!” Max exclaims, pumped up.

“Count me out.” Jay mutters, “I don’t do high school functions or school spirit.”

“I’m with Jay, always am.” I pipe up, giving my opinion, struggling to get out of Jay’s grip yet again. Jay merely ignores my struggles, forcefully taking my hand in his and entwining our fingers together ever so carefully. I glance up at him to see the subtle, cocky smirk on his lips as he continues to pretend that he’s not doing any thing.

“Awe come on! It will be fun! It’s tradition that all attend the last football game.” Bells insists, trying to persuade us, “With graduation approaching quickly, it be one of our last events where all of us are together. Even Troy is going to be there.”

My attention is caught when I hear the name ‘Troy’. Bells has convinced me already. I’m such a sucker for the people I care about. This really could be one of the last times where all of us are together before going our separate roots in life after school ends. Plus, Troy - the guy who might as well be my brother - will be back in town.

“I’m in!” I agree instantly, a bright peppy smile overtaking my features. I’ve really missed Troy and if he’s going to be back in town, I’m not going to miss the opportunity to see him.

“Still out.” Jay refuses the invite, stubborn as always. He’s definitely the most stubborn guy on the face of this earth.

I pout and bat my eyelashes at Jay, nudging him in his rock hard side pleadingly as I give him my best puppy eyes, “Please.” I beg him.

He glances down at me before caving in with a groan, “Fine, but I guarantee that I will despise every second of it.”

I grin, more than satisfied with the outcome.

Max raises both his fists in the air, jumping up and down as he rips his shirt right open, shouting at the top of his lungs like a crazy person, “Awe yeah b*tches! We’re going to the last football game of the season and we’re going to rave it up!”

I glance at Bells, silently asking her what’s up with Max this time. She shrugs and gives me a sheepish smile, “Energy drinks huh? So much sugar.”

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