Pause (Book 1)

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Chapter 51: Here We Go

“Do you not know who this man is?” Blubber asks the security guard on duty as he motions to Jay. Apparently, the guard won’t permit us into the school stadium until we pay a fee seeing as we’re late. Blubber pushes Jay forward, putting him right in the spotlight - the very thing he hates most, “This guy right here is thee Jay Taylor. He can do anything he wants and go wherever the hell he wants. JT is the man. He’s above law. He don’t pay for nothin’.” Blubber turns to Jay, prodding him on, “Tell ’em CoolGuyJay.”

“Please stop talking,” is Jay’s reply. I can see him shift uncomfortably as he tries to make himself disappear. I know he hates it when all the attention is cast on him.

“No JT.” Blubber insists dramatically, “You’re a hero and everyone should know it.”

Bells, being rich Bells, steps up to the plate and pays the entry fee for all of us. “Keep the change,” she tells the security guard as he finally allows us entrance into the school.

Jay, frustrated, runs a hand down his face before muttering, “Wanted her, only to end up with all of them.”

I stifle my giggles at that. He’s in a mood.

I glance Grey’s way, trying to make some casual conversation with him, “So how are you and Nancy doing?”

Grey glares at me with a threatening stare, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Is he really trying to play that card with me?

“Oh but I think you do.” I chime tauntingly as I playfully nudge him in his ribs with my elbow.

“I think I’m going to punch you.” Grey retorts as he forcefully shoves me far away from him that I go colliding back right into Jay.

An ‘oomph’ escapes Jay’s lips as he staggers back with me in his arms. His hands land on my waist as he steadies me with his fast reflexes. I turn in his arms and offer him a grateful smile, “Thanks.”

“You’re so clumsy.” Troy remarks mockingly despite having seen that it was Grey who pushed me. “And pushy. Pun intended.”

“It’s what I’m here for.” Jay winks down at me, a smirk on his lips before he frowns and turns to Grey, “I’d appreciate it if you refrain from pushing my girlfriend around.”

“Well I’d appreciate it if you got your girlfriend a leash.” Grey replies back, nonchalant, not feeling in the least bit guilty of his actions.

“You monster.” I glare at Grey. “I just asked how your crush on Nancy is going.”

“I will crush you.” Grey warns, his grey eyes dark and unruly.

Jay, slow and oblivious as always, raises an interested eyebrow as he looks at Grey, “You like your roommate?”

“No!” Grey snaps, “Lawson and her assumptions again!”

“Dun dun dun!” I exclaim to that bombshell Grey just dropped.

“Can you not do that?!” Grey hisses at me, infuriated. Nancy is a touchy subject for him. I’ll make sure to pay special attention to it from now on.

I tap my chin in mock thought, “I suppose I can ‘not do that’, but I don’t want to ‘not do that’.”

“You!” Max suddenly shouts as we make our way through the school toward the football stadium. Max releases Bell’s hand as he edges his way over to the familiar little girl - his arch nemesis.

The little girl rolls her eyes upon seeing Max, “Shouldn’t you be in jail or something? Better yet, a mental institution.”

“I hate you Susie!” Max gives her the stink eye.

“Naaaaaw!” Troy squeals before crouching down before the little girl and pinching her cheeks repetitively, “Aren’t you just the cutest Susie!” Troy gushes.

“No she’s not!” Max barks at Troy, “She’s pure evil.”

“Nope.” I say, popping the ‘p’, “That’s Grey’s gig.” Of course that earns me a death stare from Grey.

Susie smiles at Troy politely, “Hey mister.” She greets him.

“Hey Susie.” Troy replies back, still fawning over the innocent looking child. He’s always had a weakness for kids and kittens. “I’m Troy.” He introduces.

“Well Troy, my name isn’t Susie. It’s Lucy.” She corrects Troy before pointing to Max, “That raging lunatic just insists on calling me Susie.”

“Ignore her. It’s Susie.” Max insists on the fake name he’d given her as he continues to glare at her.

Troy’s face lights up as he looks back at Bells and me, “Did you guys hear that? She said my name!” He says giddily. “Susie just said my name.” Troy ‘fangirls’ over this small fact like an obsessed fan.

I swear he stopped listening to her as soon as he heard his name come from her mouth. She just explained to him that her name is Lucy and yet he still calls her Susie. Info goes through one ear and leaves straight through the other when it comes to Troy.

“It’s Lucy.” Lucy corrects yet again.

“You’re super cute Susie!” Troy razzles her hair, her smile now faltering seeing as he’d said her name wrong again. “Look at you, you mini ‘Fashion Guru’ you! You got swag lil’ one.”

Yeah, Susie is going to stick. I’m not going to be able to remember her real name when everyone calls her Susie. It’s the same with ‘Boss Man’. It takes much effort to actually call him Greg. Now everyone else just resorts to calling him ‘Boss Man’ too.

“Oi!” Someone comes sprinting our way before picking up Susie - I mean Lucy. “Don’t go wandering off on your own Luce. I got a game today. I can’t keep running after you. Go back to Ma.”

“No brother!” Susie protests, “She bores me.”

“Your mother is almost as bad as you.” Max states beneath his breath in a hushed tone. I elbow him in his gut to get him to shut up. It’s his own fault for getting beaten up by Susie’s mom.

“She’s welcome to stay with us!” I chip in excitedly at the possibility of looking after her.

It’s then that the guy holding Susie turns to look at me, his face turning to one of horror as it registers in his head. “Hell no! I am not trusting my little sister in your care! No way! You’re the last person I’d leave her with.”

I pout, “Awe c’mon Laiken, please.” I insist, only now seeing the resemblance between Susie and Laiken (Mason’s best friend and the linebacker of the football team). “I’ll look after her myself, I promise Lai.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.” Laiken murmurs from within his football getup, “No offence Aqueela, but you’re kind of crazy.”

“How can such an adorable girl be related to you? She’s so beautiful and you’re so…revolting and unappealing.” I frown at Laiken before making sure to add, “No offense.”

That will teach him to insult me and then say no offense.

My insult directed at Laiken as Susie erupting into giggles. She grins up at me from Laiken’s arms, “I already love you.”

I stick my tongue out at Laiken and pull a face, “See. She loves me. I love her. Let me keep her - ” I catch myself and awkwardly clear my throat to correct myself, “I mean, let me look after her.”

“Please Lai.” Susie begs her big brother, her innocent eyes widening as she juts out her lower lip and gives him the most effective puppy eyes I’ve ever seen in my life. “She’s funny.” Susie adds as she motions to me.

“Yeah she is. But she’s also not well in the head.” Lai whispers to his sister, but not soft enough since we all hear him.

“I like this guy.” Grey pipes.

“Don’t make me punch you in the face again Laiken.” Jay says through gritted teeth, clearly pissed.

“Oh please! Please! Please! Please! Please!” Troy begs Laiken with hopeful eyes. “Pleeeeaaaasssseee.” Troy tugs on Laiken’s arm desperately.

Max crosses his arms over his chest, “Please no. She’s the reincarnation of Hitler.”

I hit Max and Troy upside the head and then turn back to Susie and Lai with a sheepish grin, “I can be responsible when I need to be. I promise.” I try to reassure Laiken as Susie bursts out laughing again when she sees Max and Troy rubbing at their heads.

“Yeah right.” Grey snorts, unbelieving that I had even a single bone of responsibility within me.

“Please Lai.” Susie begs him.

Laiken sighs before turning to his fellow popular person whom he can trust - Bells, “From one sane person to another sane person, will you take care of her then?”

What is he trying to say? I’m not insane…

“Of course Lai.” Bells nods, smiling at him and Susie, agreeing to his request.

Susie scrunches her face up and frowns at Bells, “No. Not her. She’s dating that weirdo.” Susie points to Max (he’s still glaring at her). “She also wears trashy stockings.”

Bells mouth falls agape at this, “I do not, you spoiled little brat! You wouldn’t know stylish if it hit you square in the face.”

“I want to go with her!” Susie protests as she points to me. “She’s funny and I want to be just like her when I grow up.”

I smile at this, delighted. No one’s ever said that to me before.

“Stop trying. You’re an exact replica.” Jay tells her sweetly. It gets her to smile. She’s obviously warming up to him too.

“As if we need two Aqueelas in this life.” Max comments.

“Fine.” Laiken reluctantly agrees as he hands over his little sister to me, “But just know that I will destroy you if something happens to her.”

“Yeah yeah. I hear you.” I tell him as I place Susie on the floor, only for Troy to pick her up and put her on his shoulders. “Good luck with the game Lai, you guys better win. Go Wild Cats!” I raise my first in the air, feigning enthusiasm.

Lai rolls his eyes at me, “You mean, go Burnsville Blaze.” Lai corrects me before sauntering off toward the football field.

“You don’t know your own school’s football team?” Grey asks me with furrowed eyebrows.

“Nah. Never kept up with school stuff.” I confess as we make our way to our seats in the stadium.

“See you later guys. Got to go warm up with my girls for cheerleading.” Bells, head cheerleader, waves goodbye to us as she makes her way down to the field where the rest of the cheerleaders are.

Meanwhile, the rest of us take our seats. It’s Simo (on two seats), Grey, open chair, Troy, Max, Susie, Jay, me and then another two open seats for Blubber and Benley wherever those two are.

The stadium is packed with people I recognize and also a ton of faces I have never seen before. Music is blasting loudly through the speakers as all wait in anticipation for the final game of the season to begin. The bright stadium lights have lit up the field so that it’s visible through the evening darkness. Everyone is in lively spirits, conversing and stuffing their faces with junk food. It’s so noisy I can barely make out my own voice.

In the distance, you can see the football players coming out of the guys locker room one by one, all dressed in their football uniforms as they begin to warm up - same being said with the cheerleaders. In the meantime, the mascots are competing against one another, cheering us all on in order to keep the crowds going until the game starts.

“Hi Aqueela.” Someone greets me.

I turn in my seat to see Nancy Montry herself. Yes, she hates me. However, I managed to persuade her to come to the game through using Mason - her cousin - as bait. Mason is star quarterback - or was star quarterback before he quit (he’s now just here to fill in for the team’s last game) - and I suggested to Nancy to come to the last game of the season and surprise him. Little did she know that Grey would be here.

“Hey Nance.” I greet, “Can I call you Nance?”

“No.” She retorts rudely.

“Well Nance, there’s an open seat right there beside Grey.” I’d planned this. I’m a super genius!

Grey, upon hearing his name, turns his attention to me, only for his eyes to fall on Nancy as he finally notices her presence.

“Who invited you here?” Grey asks her, stunned, as she takes a seat beside him. I don’t fail to notice him fidgeting in his seat at having her so close to him. I hold back a smile, barely hiding the urge to giggle behind my fist.

“Aqueela did.” Nancy answers him, just as surprised to see Grey here as he is to see her.

“Of course she did.” Grey mutters, sending me a glare to which I merely wink at him and mouth ‘you owe me one’.

Jay puts two and two together as his warm hand comes to rest on my knee, his thumb tracing circles against my jeggings. I can feel his heat seeping through. I involuntarily shiver against his touch. He sends my heart into overdrive so easily - effortlessly.

He leans into me, his cool minty breath fanning against the side of my neck as he whispers, “You’re so cunning and manipulative.” He breathes, sending tingles down my spine, “It’s hot when you’re not doing it to me.” He pulls away from me with a picture perfect smile cascading over his lips.

I almost do a double take when he takes my hand into his and begins playing with my fingertips absentmindedly, a boyish grin on his face as if he’s actually enjoying being here.

He’s the definition of cute sometimes, especially when he’s zoned out. He always seems to have that innocence in his blue eyes when daydreaming or thinking hard about something. He seriously makes my heart do flips and my stomach do somersaults.

I come out of my little trance of admiration when I hear Nancy say to Grey, “I finally get to meet all your little school friends that you’re always so busy with.”

“They’re not my friends. I barely know these people.” Grey clarifies, clearly ashamed and embarrassed of all of us.

Troy, who hasn’t been paying any attention at all, unexpectedly takes the opportunity in that moment - as Murphy’s Law will have it - to throw his arm around Grey and tug him forward before holding his cellphone up in front of them, “Selfie time! Say cheese BroGrey!” Troy exclaims excitedly as he quickly clicks the button on his phone, the camera flashing, a picture of him and Grey taken. “Dude, you’re not even smiling.” Troy tells Grey as he inspects the photo, “You could have at least pouted.” Troy makes a ‘pouty’ face as he says this before taking another ‘selfie’ with Susie and Max instead.

Grey shoves him away as he turns back to Nancy with a sheepish grin, his entire argument falling apart. It now looks as if Grey and Troy are extremely close.

“Right.” Nancy drawls, humoring Grey, as a small giggle spills from her lips.

’Taking pictures with my homies at the game. Giving them some fame and something to tell their grandkids about one day. I’m so ‘friggen’ cool. I heart myself <3 I worship myself. L.O.L. Follow me. Do it now! I’m the best human to ever exist.’ Troy updates his twitter account.

So obnoxious!

“You’re so conceited and self involved.” I tell Troy from a few seats away.

Troy ignores and keeps on texting himself like a gazillion hearts and ‘lovey dovey’ faces. I swear, he’s truly in love with himself.

Bells soon returns, except, she’s not alone. She looks infuriated as she drags Benley and Blubber along behind her by their ears.

“Ow ow ouch ow ow!” The two of them whine, trying to get free from Bell’s insane steel lock.

Oh yeah! Totally forgot about those two.

Bells practically chucks them at me, the both of them collapsing right on top of me, “I believe these two belong to you.” She says through clenched teeth, “They’ve both been flirting up a storm with my cheerleaders, completely distracting the team from our routines.”

I shake my head at Blubber and Benley, feigning disappointment when in reality I expected no better from them. I push them off me, “Can’t take you two anywhere.” I mutter as I motion to them to sit down in the two seats open beside me. Of course, they fight for the one directly next to me. Benley wins with Blubber two seats away from me.

“What the hell is she doing here?” Nancy speaks up upon seeing Bells standing before us in her short cheer outfit.

Bells, already mad, is now seething. “The real question is why you’re here.” Bells voices her anger. She’s never been one for conflict, that is unless you manage to piss her off to the extreme. Nancy and Bells never have gotten along.

“You’re wearing so much makeup, I didn’t realize that it’s ‘dress up like a drag queen’ day.” Nancy resorts to insults on Bell’s physical appearance as usual.

Bells is beautiful and she knows it so usually she would not respond to such a petty insult, but tonight is not the night to mess with Bells. She’s already peeved with Ben Ben and Blubber, not too mention - as head cheerleader - she’s nervous.

“That’s rich coming from the girl with more rolls than a damn bakery.” Bells hisses back.

Nancy’s mouth falls agape at this. Grey, uncomfortable, pretends not to notice any of this. Meanwhile, Max - in between Susie and Troy - is too busy arguing with Susie too notice that his girlfriend needs some defending. Troy is also too preoccupied with cooing over Susie and texting himself to back up his sister.

“You’re such a stuck up, rich, preppy b*tch!” Nancy shouts at Bells, clearly raging over Bell’s last insult.

Grey hums a tune to himself quietly as he purposely glances around, feigning ignorance to the situation at hand.

The coward!

I turn to Jay to see his thrown head back over the edge of his seat and his eyes closed, his face parallel with the ceiling as he breathes in and out softly, his hand still firmly interlocked with mine. He’s fallen asleep and the game hasn’t even begun yet. Is he ever not tired?

“And you’re just jealous that I have it all and you have nothing.” Bells replies back just as menacingly.

Nancy stands up this time round and gets up right in Bell’s face, “I’m glad my cousin opened his eyes and dumped your sorry ass. I always knew he could do a billion times better.”

“Get out of my face!” Bells commands, pushing Nancy away from her.

Nancy then makes a move to retaliate, fortunately, I’m quick to get up off my seat and jump in between the two before a physical fight breaks out.

I hold my hands up in defense, “Woah girls! You’re both pretty. Let’s drop it.” I try to defuse the hatred between the two.

“Shut up Aqueela!” They both retort in unison before shoving me out of their way so they can claw each other’s eyes out.

I end up falling right into Jay’s lap. Still, he doesn’t wake up. Though, it’s as if he knows it’s me because his arm automatically wraps around me and keeps me in place on his lap.

“Is this guy ever active?” Benley asks, gesturing to Jay’s passed out form.

I shrug, “Only if I’m lucky. He’s gone nocturnal.”

Benley nods before turning back to Blubber, the two of them discussing who copped a feel from one of the cheerleaders.

“If I wasn’t so comfortable in my boyfriend’s arms right now, I’d reach over and hit you both so hard for harassing all those girls.” I threaten Benley and Blubber.

A terrified laugh escapes from Benley as he places his hands up in surrender and points to Blubber, “He’s influencing me. I was just trying to score a few numbers and hopefully get a girlfriend like you all suggested.”

Fortunately, for Ben Ben, a high-pitched screech captures my focus. I turn to see Bells and Nancy b*tch slapping each other whilst wrestling right over Grey.

I end up laughing when I see the position Grey’s in. He’s in the middle of the fight and being slapped unintentionally and accidentally in the process by the two involved in the cat fight.

Grey manages to catch my amused gaze as he shoots me a pleading look, “Lawson, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but help. I’m in pain.”

I try to get up, only for Jay to subconsciously tighten his grip on my waist.

“My hands are tied Ferrot.” I apologize. I turn to the morons, “Hey idiots!” I call.

Immediately, as if knowing exactly who I’m talking to, Max and Troy look my way. I point to Bells and Nancy. Their eyes eyes widen as they quickly work on putting a stop to the fight.

“Ladies, ladies…” Benley says as he too gets in between the girl fight, “There’s plenty of me to go around.”

“Not helping Boyband!” I shout at Benley before getting up off Jay’s lap and tugging him back to his seat. He’s so desperate for female attention. He puts Blubber to shame.

“Not the face! Not the face! My face is my job!” Troy yelps as he gets punched by Bells square in the face just as Max’s hair gets pulled by Nancy.

“B*tches be crazy!” Max shouts at the top of his lungs as he tries to escape, but it’s too late for him.

Jay must wake up from all the commotion, ’cause next thing I know, I’m being lifted off the ground completely. Jay places me down behind him gently as if to protect me from getting in harms way. He then proceeds by grabbing Bell’s by the waist and throwing her over his shoulder, dodging Nancy’s attacks, as he hands her over to Max whose nose is bleeding, again.

Grey then tends to Nancy as Max takes Bells back to her cheerleading squad before quickly returning.

Jay dusts off his hands off before frowning at Grey, Troy, Max and Benley, “Can’t believe you all got your asses handed to you by two squabbling girls.”

With that, he’s off to sleep again.

Troy is unfazed by Jay’s comment. All he’s concerned about is his appearance as he takes out a mirror compact from his front jeans pocket and checks his face, dabbing here and there with tissues, “Okay, which one of them messed up my perfectly styled hair?! Someone’s gotta pay.” Troy whines, patting his hair down in order to try and get it the way it was, “Dammit! I looked like a Greek god before this.”

“No you didn’t.” I reassure him, earning me a scowl for just trying to help.

Troy, now extremely self-conscious for once in his life, glances around in panic, “Why the hell is everyone staring at me?” Troy asks as he tries to hide his bruised face and messed up hair. No one’s even looking his way. “Oh flip! I probably look like some hideous sea creature right now.” Troy says anxiously as he tries to bury himself in his seat. “Make them stop staring at me Aqueela! Make it stop! I can’t take it! I think I’m losing it. There are eyes everywhere and-“

I slap him through the face because he was going mental, “Get a hold of yourself man!”

After that, he seems to cool down a little.

‘Sh*t got crazy. Just got in a massive fight. You think I look bad, you should see the other guy. LOL, OMG, TGMI.’ Troy updates his twitter account as he posts a picture of his blue eye, lying through his teeth about how he got it.

“What?” He asks when he sees me staring. “I need to let my fans know that their ring leader is all good.”

“You lied. You got beat up by two girls. Also, do you even know what all those acronyms you used mean? Obviously not. Plus, you’ve only got two followers, one of them being Max.”

“I can’t feel anything. Everything hurts and feels lame all at the same time.” Max huffs.

Susie shakes her head at all of them as her round brown eyes find mine, “Boys, am I right?”

“No kidding kiddo.” I agree as she high fives me.

Suddenly the commentators voices come through on the mega speakers situated all around the stadium, “Ladies and gentleman, the last football match of the season is about to commence. Please take your seats. We will begin shortly.”

“Finally.” I breathe out in relief as things start to get back on track…or so I think.

Benley nudges me, “Hey Aqueela?”

“What is it Boyband?” I answer him.

“Stop calling me that!” Benley snaps before his eyes fall on the field, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that Oog?”

I follow his gaze only to see Oog and Slobber running wildly across the football field whilst Greg, Jam (still covered in spiders) and Gland all try to catch them.

How the hell did they even get here?

I gulp nervously, “Uh oh.”

Here we go…

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