A Bad Girl's Love

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Chapter 10: Amaya

Aaron sits across from me with his mouth full of Fruity Pebbles as he stares me down, those big green eyes barely blinking. My eyes narrow in the slightest before he does the same; the moment I lean back in my seat and cross my arms over my chest, he follows my lead.

“You done eating now?” Aaron nods while keeping in the same position. “Alright Kangaroo, how about you just tell me what’s on your mind instead of mimicking my actions.” My voice stays calm as I do too. I’m not really upset with him for doing it since Shawn used to do it all the time as we were growing up, and younger children are known for doing things like this. At least it’s just my actions and not my words, because if it was my words, well that’d get to me a bit quicker.

“I’m good,” he says before sitting up in his seat and unfolding his arms so he can instead lean on the table.

“We aren’t going anywhere until you talk, you know I’ve got nothing better to do.” It’s a true statement too since I really don’t feel like going to school today.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he grumbles out. I could see that one coming from a mile away.

“There’s a lot of things that people don’t want to talk about but have to. This is one of those things. There is something you need to get off of your chest, so go ahead and do it with me. I don’t have work until tomorrow and you’ll be with your father then,” I say before his bottom lip begins to quiver.

Shawn and I worked everything out with times that he’ll have him and when I have him since Aaron was with Shawn for three days and wanted to be home already; Shawn gets him for the weekends just for that. He’ll also have him when I have to go to work. The plan hasn’t failed us yet, but then again, there’s still time for that since this plan was made just two days ago.

Speaking of two days ago, I still don’t know exactly what happened at that football game except that others keep saying it was amazing and Shawn is a try-hard. They thought it was cool too, what was cool I'm not too sure about. Maybe we’ll see about going to school later just to get the story about what happened since I don’t want to go to Shawn about it, I also don’t want to leave Aaron since he was sick last night and was clinging onto me all throughout the night.

He had a fever and the crying almost never stopped. I was really worried about him, but I know it’s a common cold and everyone gets them, especially since it’s the season for it.

“Don’t you have school?”

“You’re more important to me than school. Not only is this going on with you, but don’t forget you were sick last night. We don’t know if that’s gone just yet,” I tell him before standing from my seat to instead take the one beside him. His eyes fix on his now folded hands.

“Why can’t I just sit here and not say anything like you and Daddy?” I sigh when he lifts his eyes to look at me with innocent confusion in his eyes.

“Because your daddy and I are both idiots, and you’re not,” I say before taking his bowl of cereal from in front of him to dump its soggy contents into the garbage. I move to the sink and begin to wash the bowl, doing anything and everything to distract me from looking into those eyes that are shared with the man’s heart I keep breaking. Not to forget that I’m pushing Aaron further away too, I can feel it. “I’m gonna let you in on a little secret that might not actually be considered a secret since it’s not well hidden. I’m not good at making my feelings known through conversation since when I feel something, I like to show it. A person’s actions define a lot more than the words they’ve once said.”

“I think your actions show you're scared,” he calls me out.

“Congratulations Aaron, you’re a smart boy,” I say while moving to the fridge to grab the dishrag and dry the bowl. When I’m done I place it in the closet before coming back over to him. “I am scared every single day actually.”

“Why?” I sigh.

“Baby, this world is a scary place with some things that I know I won’t be able to protect everyone I care about from. I can’t be everywhere, and I have to worry about keeping people safe the best way I can. That’s why I tried to push you away and have you be with your father for a bit, there’s a lot you don’t understand going on around you,” I say before moving some hair from out of his face. I know he doesn’t understand half of this, but I have to say it. I need to say it to someone. “My job is to protect you and I try to do the same for your daddy too, for right now, being around me does the opposite of what he needs.”

“You try telling Daddy that?” he asks in a small voice.

“Your daddy is a very stubborn person, just like me. If I told him he’d try saying that nothing was going to happen, that everything was going to be okay, but I know it won’t be. I’ve made quite a few enemies in my days, Aaron, that makes me not safe, and I know I would never allow something to happen to you, but I can’t be in two places at the same time as I said earlier. If there was another way to keep your daddy safe, I would take that every single time it was offered to me,” I admit in a voice that is almost as hollow as I feel on the inside knowing what I keep doing to Shawn.

“Daddy would help you find another way. You should try telling him, Mommy.”

“Maybe he would, or maybe he’d be mad at me for letting my nerves get the best of me and land us in this situation again.” I put on a fake smile. “I told you we were idiots. I don’t know where you got your brains from.”

“Mommy, I don’t feel good,” he whimpers out. I move closer before bringing my palm to his forehead to see it’s just as warm as it was yesterday. I retract my hand and take in the pained look on his face.

“We can get you back to-” I start before Aaron’s mouth opens and the next thing I know, he’s covered in puke along with some of the table.

I feel my mouth water like it always does before I’m about to puke, but it goes away real quick. I cringe when I notice his head bobbing back and forth like a bobblehead. I can already tell he won’t be able to walk to the bathroom even if I hold his hand and guide him so I lift him into my arms but keep them outstretched as I move down the hall.

I guess he got worst since he didn’t barf a single time yesterday.

“I want Daddy,” he whimpers out; I nod slowly. Shawn has always been there when Aaron was sick, so even with our situation now I know that wouldn’t change anything and I would never take that away from him either.

I place him down on his feet before pulling his shirt off.

“I’ll ask him if he can when you’re done in here, okay?” Aaron nods as I drop the mess of a shirt on the ground beside me. His arms wrap around me making my clothes messy, but I ignore that realization as I help him out of the rest of his clothes.

I hold him to me as I lean over into the bathtub and turn the knobs to make the water nice and warm for him. I’ll force him to take a cold bath later to hopefully break this fever if it’s not gone by then. I place him in the water and notice his eyes falling shut.

“You’ve got to stay awake, Kangaroo. Comprendo?” Aaron’s head droops just a bit.

“I’m tired and my tummy hurts,” he whines out. “Can you come in with me?” he asks with hope now in his eyes; his lip puckers out into a pout and I feel myself sigh before pulling off my shirt to step into the bathtub in my sports bra and a pair of Shawn’s basketball shorts that were never returned and are never going to be.

I bring him into my arms before he leans into me; my hand reaches out to grab his washcloth off of the rack on the shower door. I get the bottle of Suave that sits on a saucer on the side.

Aaron is the type of kid that knows what he likes and when it comes to taking showers, a bar of soap doesn’t fly with him, he wants a body wash. It can't even be a random one either. If it’s not Suave he’ll have a fit.

“Mommy,” he whispers.

“Yeah?” I ask while continuing to wash him.

“Thank you.” I kiss the top of his head, not saying a single word. He knows he doesn’t have to thank me for anything like this.

I hold him just a bit closer as I thoroughly clean him but quickly too so he can go down for a nap. By the time I’m done he’s already fast asleep in my arms. I dry him off and change him into a new pair of pajamas trying my best not to wake him. I know he’ll scream his head off if I do it accidentally, but leaving him to sleep naked isn’t an option.

When I get through changing him I place him down in my bed so he has more place to roll around with less of a chance of rolling onto the floor. He gets to be a wild sleeper when he’s sick.

I change into new clothes since my others are soaked and nasty anyway before standing there, watching as he sleeps with his face all scrunched up. I can tell he’s not comfortable, but there’s nothing I can do for him while he’s like this beside give him something to puke in or some Pepto Bismo.

I walk out of the room and into the hallway to see that it’s already 11 o’clock, the class before lunchtime, also known as Rafton’s. My hand moves to the pocket to take my phone out so I can call Shawn and get him over here as I told Aaron I would do. The moment I hear his voice I think about what I’m going to say.

“Amaya? What is it? Is something wrong?” he asks in this panicked voice. I bring a hand to my forehead before moving it to run through my hair.

“Yes and no, Aaron’s sick and he wants you to come over. I just placed him down for a nap not too long ago, but I told him I was going to call you.” Shawn makes a noise on the other line and I can just picture him running his free hand through his hair, biting down on his lip with that protective look on his face that will almost always be there when it comes to us.

“I’ll be there. What’s wrong with him?”

“Upset stomach, he puked all over himself at breakfast.”

“Damn. Well, I’ve got to make a stop before I get there, but I promise I’ll be quick.” I find myself nodding at his words but not saying anything. I already knew he’d be here quick, he’s always rushing right alongside with me when he hears that something’s up with Aaron.

“I’ll see you when you get here.”

“Yeah, bye,” he says before I hang up on him and put my phone back in my pocket.

Damn, I’m not ready to look into those stunning green eyes. I don’t want to see his face and think of what I told Aaron. I don’t want to have him so close but know there’s no way I can be with him. I don’t want to look at him and not be able to be in his arms again or have him kiss me. I don’t want to do any of that.

The last time I had to do that we ended up making out in his damn bedroom. August 21 of last year when he was turning 17. This past birthday of his we had kissed then too, but it was different than the kiss we shared the year before.

Those green eyes stare at me as if I’m priceless as we sit on his bed, not saying a word to each other. I don’t have to be home until later tonight, especially with Aaron being down the hall taking a nap that I know he won’t be waking up from any time soon. Everyone already told Shawn 'Happy Birthday' and they all said they had things to do and couldn’t be here, or so that’s what Shawn told me, though I believe he actually just wants some alone time with me.

I’m not much opposed to the idea, but he has to know that, as for now, being in a relationship just isn’t going to work out for us. I’ve tried telling him that, but he doesn’t quit trying with us with that unwavering persistence of his.

Laying on the bed with him right now with his eyes refusing to be ripped off of my own. I stare back at him but fight off getting lost in those eyes that I just can’t get my mind off of. He’s also the guy that loves me through everything and here I am pushing him away and fighting off my desire to want to be in his arms, which I know he wouldn’t be against. That’s actually all he wants.

“Can we please do something, I’m so booored,” he drags out while pouting with puppy dog eyes; I sigh.

“What do you have in mind?” The moment the words leave my mouth he has on that irresistible smile with this playful glint in his eye before he leans over me with his hands on either side of me. “Shawny, that’s definitely not happening.” That pout stays on his face and he leans just a bit closer.

“But I’m the birthday boy and I want my present,” he tries to sound innocent.

“Aaron is literally in the room beside us, and you know that’s not happening today.” Shawn nods slowly before pushing up so he isn’t hovering over me any longer.

“Okay. Then what do you want to do because that’s what’s on my mind.” I let out a small laugh as I shake my head at him. “What?” he asks curiously with a raised eyebrow; his hand reaches out to touch my leg in the slightest. I shake my head once again. “No, seriously, I want to know what’s running through that brilliant mind of yours.” I find myself fighting off a blush as I tuck a strand of hair behind my ear.

“I just think it’s funny that you admit that’s what’s running through your head right now.” Shawn’s smile only gets larger before he sits up and pulls me with him; he places a warm hand on my cheek. I lean into it.

“I don’t think it’s funny, I’m just saying what’s on my mind and what you make me feel. Amaya, you’re one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen and you’re such a good person. Kissing you isn’t the only thing that runs through my head when I see you or touch you even in the smallest of ways.

"You’re my best friend and you look down on yourself so much when I couldn’t see you as anything else but perfect.” I find myself at a loss for words but when he leans towards me I know I can’t stop myself from kissing him though I know it's wrong. Why does everything that's so wrong have to feel so right? “Do you want me?” he whispers when there’s just an inch between our lips.

“N-No,” I stutter out; Shawn smirks.

“Are you really sure about that, Love, because if you ask me, I think you want me just as much as I do you.” My eyes get just a bit wide. “I think you should just admit it to me, if you do, I can promise that your life will be that much easier.”

“No, I don’t,” he grins as his lips brush against my own.

“Then why is your breathing so shaky?” he asks. “You can just admit to it and maybe if you do there’ll be a reward,” Shawn whispers while moving away from my lips and instead transitioning to near my ear. He places soft kisses starting at my neck, moving up my jawline, and then to my cheek. “Come on, Amaya, just admit it.”

“At this moment alone it might possibly be a bit true.” I bite down on my lip.

“You know you drive me crazy when you bite your lip.” I don’t get the chance to say anything else before he pulls me into his lap with love written all over his face as it usually is when he looks at me. “Please, let’s be done with talking because right now all I want is for you to just kiss me.”

I know I really shouldn’t, but right now, I’m straddling him and a teenage girl has needs, especially with him. For once in my life, I stop thinking and just listen to both my needs and my heart before pulling him into a kiss.

We aren’t even kissing long when his hands start to rub up and down my sides; he takes his hands to the hem of my shirt before pulling it over my head and tossing it to the corner. Those eyes never once leave mine as he throws his shirt to the side too. His left-hand moves to my cheek while his right one goes to rest on my hip.

“We should stop now,” I sigh out, he nods before still staring into my eyes. “Shawn?” He blinks but continues to stare. “Shawn?” I call out again while bringing a hand up to snap. His smile grows as his arms wrap around me to hold me close.

“I’m sorry, you’re just um… nevermind.” I squint in thought. What was he going to say?

“What were you about to say?” he shakes his head. “Shawn, you can say whatever, just tell me what you were going to say.” Once again he shakes his head before taking my hand in his own.

“No thank you, just forget about it.”

“Come on.” Shawn huffs before finally nodding and bringing me into a tighter hug. I don’t fight him on it but instead, just hug him back. “Go ahead Shawny, you can tell me. Remember we’re best friends before everything else.”

“Okay fine, it’s just… you’re the most beautiful person I know, inside and out. You’ve been making it through being a mother and have let Aaron know that you truly love him in every single day. You couldn’t be more perfect to me and as the years pass by, it seems you only get better.” His cheeks turn a rosy color as he looks away from me which I honestly think is cute. Why is he so embarrassed about that?

I smile as I slowly inch our faces closer once again and look into his beautiful emerald eyes that make me smile every time I think about them. Then there are the times when he blushes and the embarrassment meets his eyes as it’s doing right now. I love that about him, I love a lot about him, especially when he makes his emotions known through each of his facial features.

“That’s one of the sweetest things anyone has ever said to me.” Shawn smiles before taking a deep breath.

“You are worth each and every single one of the sweet things that I’ve said. You are my world and a safe haven, the thing that keeps me sane. If I’m being completely honest here, I have a lot more that I should’ve said to you, but I’ve never thought you’d like the sappy side of me. All of this has been running through my head for so many years and just didn’t want to say anything. My feelings for you are just so complicated and one day I’m going to share that with you and you’re the only person that’s going to have that.” He’s my big teddy bear.

“You’re too sweet Mr. Bear.” Shawn's eyes playfully narrow.

“Don’t call me Mr. Bear, Amaya.”

“What are you going to do about it, Mr. Bear?” And now we’re staring each other down and neither of us says anything before we once again lean forward and he pulls me in for another kiss. My head goes blank as we both get caught up in our moment. A smile appears on my face before I pull away from him and he lets out a groan. “Happy Birthday… Mr. Bear.”

“It’d be happier if you said you were mine…”

I hear a knock at the front door before I shake my head and stand from my seat in the kitchen to instead move to the door. I mentally prepare myself to see Shawn and have him right in front of me with that broken arm.

We both know that whenever one of us gets hurt the other flips their shit and goes into protective mode. I hope I don’t end up doing that in front of him.

I pull the door open and his eyes run over my body, taking in each of my appearances. I can tell my hair is most likely a mess as I can see strands falling to the sides of my face. His hand raises to move it but he drops the hand to his side when I shrink away from him. My eyes land on the red cast on his arm that has Xavier’s signature along with ‘I’m the better brother’ underneath it.

“Is he still asleep?”

“Yeah, but for him, I think it’s best that he is since he’s most likely going to be miserable the moment he wakes.” Shawn slowly nods before holding a hand out for me that has a plastic Shop Rite bag with a container inside; I could see that much from the outside of it. “Whatcha got there?” He pushes the bag into my hand.

“Mom made homemade chicken noodle soup last night and you said he threw up so I made sure to stop home and pick some up for him.” So damn considerate and here I am pushing his ass away. “And I know you like it so I made sure there’s enough for him to get at least three bowls and for you to be able to get one too.”

“Thank you.”

“You don’t need to thank me, it’s just what I do.”

I know. You’ve always been that type of person.’ I find myself wanting to say, but instead I just keep silent and turn away from him. I turn away from the life I know I want, and I turn away from my true love that everyone is able to see including Mom who hasn’t seen much of me. Even she is able to tell just how happy I feel with him and damn it’s a whole hell of a lot. I can’t really see a life without him in it, but with where we stand right now, it might not be long before I find out what that’s going to be like.

I take a deep breath as I move over to the kitchen to place down the soup on the table. I came back to him but don’t look to him. I can feel his eyes on my back and pretend not to notice them though it’s all I can think about.

“I looked for you, you know,” I hear from behind me before a sigh follows.

“What?”

“At the football game. When all of us came from the locker room and were coming onto the fields. I really wanted you to be there. I thought you were going to be there.” I look to him and see his hand running through those jet black curls that I want nothing more than to run my hands through right about now.

“Who says I wasn’t there?” I ask in a small voice.

“You weren’t, I would’ve seen you.” I shake my head.

“Have you forgotten the things that I’ve done and who my stepfather is? If I don’t want to be seen, then I won’t get seen. I didn’t want you to know I was there, and I made sure to be gone halfway through the fourth quarter.” I don’t know why I admit to being there when I honest to God didn’t want him to know the truth. I was there. I showed up because I couldn’t have that guilt that comes every time he gets disappointed, especially when it’s over something that I’ve done. “Answer me this, have I ever missed one of your football games?”

“I thought you missed this one.”

“You thought wrong,” I tell him before my head droops. “I was there to see the majority of everything that was going on. The only thing I really missed was that happening,” I say while pointing down to his cast.

“Well, I was running as fast as I could to the end zone and this guy on the other team, his name’s Oliver, he’s actually pretty nice. He tackled me down to the ground, but I held my arm out to make sure that ball made it to the end zone. That’s when my arm snapped and the guy on the other team that tackled me helped in getting me off the ground.”

“That was pretty damn stupid to do,” I say before letting it process in my mind.

“No. I don’t think so. Our team needed this win. I needed this win. Everyone looks at me like I’m broken, even Mom, and I’m tired of it. I needed to prove to not only them but to myself that that’s not the case,” Shawn’s voice sounds so strong in some places but weak in others and I can tell it’s my fault. Not only have I managed to give him doubts about himself, but I’ve also ultimately made the people around us feel it about him too.

“You aren’t broken.”

“Aren’t I though? Amaya, I know I hurt you, but you have to know I didn’t mean to. You also know how I feel about cheating. She doesn’t mean anything, but you mean everything. I need you and I need Aaron.” I shake my head. Nope. Not now.

“We aren’t doing this right now,” I say in a voice of finality.

“Why not? I know there’s more that you aren’t telling me about. It’s not just that kiss, I can tell it’s not. You might be angry about that kiss, yeah, but I don’t think it was enough for you to walk away from me. I want to know the real reason for you turning your back on this,” he makes sure to cross his arms over his chest at the end of his mini-speech.

“That is the reason, it doesn’t help that I can’t trust you much either.”

“That’s not true. You know you can trust me, I’ve always told you everything except for that thing. I should’ve told you. I get that much, but you have to understand that I went through a lot in my past. If felt like everything I had was being ripped away from me and I thought it was my own fault.

“When Dad left it affected me more than I wanted to let out. I thought he left because I wasn’t enough, and then when you left me… that’s when I fell apart. That was when I started to cut and one day Mom found me on that ground and she got me to stop. I couldn’t look at her and see how terrified I was making her.

“She thought I was going to die. Seeing her that way was enough for me to decide that it didn’t matter what I was going through, but that wasn’t an option. When I came to that conclusion I was ashamed and didn’t want to speak about it. Mom and Xavier were constantly asking me over and over, ‘are you okay’, ‘you aren’t doing that again, are you’, ‘you know that we’re here for you, right’, and it was starting to get to me.

“I knew that when I was with you and the boys that I wouldn’t have to worry about my previous issues, I could pretend none of my past was real. Like none of it had ever happened.

“Mom tried telling me that I should tell you, but I didn’t listen. I’m an idiot for not doing it before, but all I can say is I’m sorry. You had the right to know, especially when you told me that you were doing the same. You say I saved you, but as for now, it seems like all I’m doing is wrecking the two of us.” I stare at him, my eyes most likely turning dull as that’s how I feel right now. Empty and broken, and looking at him right now I can tell I’m making him feel that same exact way.

The boy that was always able to place a smile on my face when I was nothing but broken and scared. That person stands in front of me right now, defeated and falling apart because of me. When he’s done nothing but make me feel beautiful and not screwed up, I tear him to shreds for what? A kiss that he never responded back to, or is it that I’m scared he’s gonna end up dead if we’re together? I think that’s the one.

I shouldn’t have gotten involved with him, and I know that much, but if I’m being completely honest here… Jonah’s in the same situation. We have both fallen in love with people and I know he’s not about to let Alexis go for anything unless it was to protect her, even then, I don’t think she’d let him.

He doesn’t need to anyway. Jonah has always been the one that can get out of any situation just with that brain of his. I find myself in almost every situation I’m in because of my brain, which Mom kinda ended up pointing out to me.

If I’m thinking the right way, Jonah and I are a dynamic duo, but when my head side tracks and I start thinking about life and love… that’s what blows my world up around me. In my days of working alongside Jonah, I made sure to do the things that were far worse than fighting to keep him safe while his one and only direction from me was to stay quiet and only speak when spoken to unless he was speaking with me.

I’ve come into contact with rival gangs a few times, but I was never involved in shootouts or anything that drastic. My main thing was fighting though I have been there when Derrick was collecting money from people that owed it to him. I ended up beating up a few of those people which I’m not proud of, but it was them or get me. It has almost always been that way and I was just a kid, I needed a place to stay and food to eat. Living off the streets wasn’t an option back then and now I put my life together to get this place.

But one of the people that I’ve had to beat, if they found out where I lived or who I care about, then Shawn could end up dead. I don’t want to have to see his lifeless body or have to attend his funeral. He’s got so much going for him, I can’t be the one to take that away. That’s why I’ve made all this clear, I’ll give almost everything to protect my family. To protect him, Aaron, his family, the boys, just everyone I care about and that’s not about to change. Giving up my happiness is a small price to pay to keep them alive.

I’d even go off the grid if I had to, but things haven’t become that bad yet.

“Can you please say something?” he whispers out. I shake my head and notice he’s now laying on the couch with his eyes closed. His hands both running through his hair to calm him down.

“There’s nothing to say.”

“Bullshit,” he goes silent for a minute or two, “you are more pissed at me on top of the already lit flame because I hid a secret from you, but yet you want to go and do the same when it concerns not just me, but our child too. That is major shit and you know it. I’m not here to fight with you, I’m here for my child, but since he’s sleeping, this is the perfect time to at least clear some of the air.

“If I’m going to be here with you for him I can’t deal with you being all angry and ready to punch me. And get this, I have you figured out, or at least part of you and you can thank my years of experience with you for that one.” I find a scoff coming out at that. “It’s true.”

“Try me,” he hops up from the couch real quick his strides wide, arms partially swaying at his sides. He’s mesmerizing, and I know if I stay staring I’m going to lose my mind. I step back from him but he continues to move forward. I plant my feet on the ground to keep myself in place so I don’t end up trapped between his body and a wall again.

“You want me to try you? I can do that. I think you’re trying to do the same exact thing you did the first time you broke up with me after that fight with Derrick. You think you’re protecting me when all you’re doing is breaking me. You keep trying to deny how you feel about me when you know the last time you did this we still ended up together again.” He brings his face a bit closer so his lips are near my ear.

“When we were separated the last time I was still able to make you scream. I’m always going to be the one to make you scream. Nobody else, Amaya. Nobody else,” he practically growls at the end before I find myself gulping. “You can push at me for just a bit, but I’m not giving up on you. One day I’m gonna be falling back to sleep with you in my arms, and if another man comes along and wants to do that… it’s not going to happen.”

“You don’t own me, and you don’t control my actions either.”

“I don’t control your actions, but that doesn’t mean I won’t stop others from coming to you to handle their needs. I love you and only you. I will only love you. I can’t let go again. Here’s the funny thing, you think I need to have control over you or your actions, but I only need to have control over your heart, and I have that in lock whether you deny it or not.” I square my jaw and stare at him with nothing but defiance in my eyes. He stands just three inches taller than me but that hair gives him an extra two inches at least which makes him look about 6′4.

“Shawn…”

“You don’t have to say anything, Wonder Woman. As for now, we have time for all of our issues, but we have to be worried about Aaron first.” I nod, finally finding the two of us on the same page. “Did this just start today?” I shake my head.

“He was complaining about a stomach ache last night. Seemed so miserable and was attached to me. Everywhere I went, he wanted to be in the same room, wasn’t much fun for when I needed to use the bathroom, but other than that I wasn’t against it.”

“You should’ve called last night, I would have been here.”

“I know you would’ve been here, but I just didn’t want you to.” Shawn narrows his eyes. “Whenever you’re around me I can’t think straight and you’re just a distraction to me. I needed to focus on Aaron and nothing else.”

“You don’t think that happens with me too? Amaya, I always want to be there. Aren’t we mature enough to focus on placing Aaron first even with each other around? We’ve done it before when he was younger, why can’t we do that now?” I stay silent, not a single word left my mouth because he’s got a point. The two of us should be able to take care of Aaron without distracting each other.

When I had Shawn with one foot in the friend zone and the other warming up to run the mile towards getting back into boyfriend-town we were working graciously to make sure everything was right with Aaron. We have always been great at working together, especially when it came to giving Aaron everything he needs.

Aaron has been sick a handful of times, but each and every single time Shawn has been there helping me get him back to sleep.

“Mommy!” Aaron’s voice meets my ears but I just barely hear it. I’m just glad it was silent because I definitely would’ve missed him.

“Let’s go.” Shawn nods to me before we head to my bedroom and for once it’s not to make out or do… other things, but to go see what’s going on with Aaron. I don’t know if he’s still got a fever or if he’s managed to break through it, but what I do know is that I plan on being here to help him.

I pull open the door and am met with Aaron’s face that looks all red and sweaty, his eyes wander over to Shawn but he doesn’t say a word. Those arms only raise up so he can be lifted; Shawn swiftly moves over to him before embracing him. He brings a hand to Aaron’s forehead when his head moves to rest on his shoulder.

“Buddy, you’re burning,” Shawn makes sure to look to me before nodding me over to him. I move over and place a hand on his forehead right beside Shawn’s and feel what he’s talking about.

“Stop touching me, your hands cold,” Aaron whimpers out.

“Canguro, there’s gonna be a lot more coldness than just our hands.” I sigh out at the end. “Your fever has definitely gotten higher, we’re gonna have to put you in a cold bath to hopefully break that fever.” It almost seems like Aaron doesn’t hear me since he doesn’t have a reaction at all, but I can just tell it’s because he’s sick.

“Is it gonna be really cold?” he mumbles out.

“Cold enough to get your temperature to at least go down a bit. It’s either this or we take you to the hospital, but it won’t be too bad because Daddy’s going in with you.” Shawn looks to me with wide eyes.

“I’m sorry, what?!”

“You are going to take a cold bath with Aaron so he feels just a bit more comfortable. I took a bath with him this morning, it’ll be fine,” I say before Shawn starts to sway side to side with Aaron’s arms now holding a death grip on his shirt.

“My thing’s gonna shrink.”

“Not like you’re getting any anytime soon,” I find myself joking.

“That’s what you say now, you’ll see sooner or later.” Shawn turns his back to me before rubbing Aaron’s back. “Now come, buddy. We’re gonna be chilling in the bathtub and I’m gonna be stupid and bring my phone in so we can watch the Flash.” They head off to the bathroom and I find myself following behind.

In a minute flat, Shawn stands in front of me in just a pair of navy blue boxers, his back muscles bulge out of his shirt, making part of him look bigger than the last time I saw him shirtless. He’s had to go to the gym at least a few times since the break-up, there’s no way in hell I’ve overlooked him this much.

Shawn holds Aaron in his arms with a pair of swimming trunks on since he didn’t want to be completely bare in the cold water. For some reason, I just watch the way those muscles flex more than I usually would, but I know I need to look away before he catches me staring and makes one of those stupid jokes that always gets me to laugh.

My personal joke would’ve been convincing myself that he doesn’t seem so natural and at ease when we’re together. The simple truth is, I want him to stay here and I want to tell him about what’s going on with me and why I broke his heart once again, but all I can think about is what could happen to him. When I look at him, I can see him as the person I could spend the rest of my life with and who has given me so damn much, more than money is worth. I told him that much in the past, but now he probably doesn’t believe me.

“You ready?” I notice Aaron nod before Shawn steps into the bath. “Sh- dang it, that’s freezing,” he grounds out while forcing himself to sit down. His arms wrap around Aaron to embrace some of that warmth that we want to disappear.

“It’s cold, I want to get out.” Aaron tries to stand but Shawn shakes his head while holding onto him.

“You can’t get out just yet. Give it 15 minutes then you can get out, okay?”

“How long is that?”

“Exactly 900 seconds, but if you don’t think about it it won’t be so bad. I know I won’t be thinking about it, and maybe the fact that I’m sticking through it too will make you feel better.” Aaron shakes his head while looking down at his hands that rest on his lap.

“Then you miserable too. I don’t want you to feel miserable too.”

“There is no way I could feel miserable when I’m sitting here with you. I wasn’t anywhere important, this is important… you are important. You don’t have to worry about me, I’ve told you that already. I swear to you that I’m fine. For now, I’m just worried about you for the moment,” Shawn’s voice seems almost pained before he brings a hand to run through Aaron’s curls.

“Daddy, can you stay tonight?” Shawn licks his lips before looking over to me with those gentle eyes. He doesn’t know what to say. “Daddy, please.”

“He can… if he wants,” I find myself saying without fully thinking it through.

Both Shawn and Aaron’s eyes go wide before it’s decided that the guy I can’t get off my mind is gonna be spending the night with us. Knowing Aaron, I can tell he’ll want to sleep between the two of us in bed as he used to do and I don’t know how I’m going to fight that off when that adorable looking kid stares at me with the same eyes as his father. The eyes I’ve loved to look into since I was just a child. They both have the eyes of an angel.

“Is your cast allowed to get wet?”

“The doctor told me to not get it wet and to wear a plastic bag or something around my arm, but I took a shower with it on before and it was too uncomfortable for me. It’s a good thing that it’s barely in the water so it can’t get too much water damage. I also won’t tell if you don’t.”

Aaron looks up to Shawn with that golden boy smile before he smiles down at him. The arm with the cast wraps around Aaron’s small frame as he stands so the two of them are just about eye level. I smile too and feel my eyes watering while I stare at them. All day I’ve tried to make Aaron feel the slightest bit better, or at least make a smile appear, but just about half an hour after Shawn arrived he’s smiling.

“My lips are sealed.”

I make a show of zipping my lips shut even including sound effects as the big ass man in my bathtub has done more times than countable. It’s funny because it’s one of the smaller and simpler things in life that I truly miss but don’t have the right to. I was the one that did this to our family, not him, and it’s one of the simple conclusions that I do hate.

Fucking hell what’s wrong with me?

“Has it been 900 seconds yet?” Shawn and I laugh before he stands with Aaron and places a kiss on the top of his head. “I’m hungry but I don’t wanna-” he fake gags at the end. I walk over to the two of them and notice Shawn’s eyes not so subtly looking my body up and down, but I make sure not to say anything. My eyes land on Aaron before I bring a hand to his tummy and lightly poke him.

“If you find yourself feeling sick, we’re going to be right here and help to make you feel better in any way possible. Okay?” Aaron reaches out so I can take him into my arms though it makes my shirt soaking wet from his drenched trunks and his body that’s not only wet but cold too.

“I’m only going to eat if you eat,” he tries gambling; I sigh out. “Mommy, you didn’t eat since lunch yesterday. All you did was watch me and make sure I ate. That’s not good for you.”

“You’ve got to eat something.”

“Only when you eat,” Aaron says while throwing his arms around my neck. “Ven ven, tengo hambre,” he speaks his first bit of Spanish and I find myself letting out a small laugh as I hold him just a little closer. The first time Shawn tried to speak Spanish it was to say ‘cómo se dice, I want a cheeseburger’ in front of our whole fifth grade class.

Aaron and I stare each other before those eyes narrow and his hands go to my cheeks to force me to make faces.

“Fine, we can go to the kitchen,” I say while already walking out of the bathroom. “Daddy brought you some soup that Granna made. You can take it from me, that soup is extraordinary.” Shawn’s chuckle meets my ears as I go to the table about to place Aaron down, but a warm hand reaches out to touch my forearm.

How the hell does his hand stay so warm when he was just in freezing cold water?

“Let me put the towel down first, you guys have already been dripping.” I smile softly as he places the towel in the chair; I place Aaron down once he moves out the way and instead moves over to the counter. He grabs a few paper towels so he can wipe the floor and throw it away after. “There. I’m gonna go fix you guys the bowls of soup.”

“Thank you.”

“You don’t have to thank me.” I swear I can see his eyes twinkling before he turns away from me and swiftly moves around the kitchen. It seems like he’s just naturally moving around the room, the place isn’t foreign to him, but it isn’t exactly familiar either.

“What does that word mean?”

“What word?”

“The extra word,” Aaron says while I take the seat beside him. His small hand goes over my hand that is just about twice the size of his.

“The extra word is extraordinary,” I say with a smile, “it’s something that is different than what we’re used to, most people consider it to be a good thing. I think that you, Aaron Matthew, are extraordinary.” I poke him on the nose and he lets out a small laugh. “Was that a laugh I just heard?” Aaron nods. “Feeling a bit better?”

“Kinda, I don’t think I’m gonna barf anymore.”

“That’s good to hear, now let’s make sure it stays that way, alright?” Aaron nods once again before I hear the microwave go off. A minute later the soup is placed in front of us; Shawn takes the seat on the other side of Aaron.

“Do you know the rules of eating soup?” Shawn asks Aaron with a raised eyebrow.

“No. Didn’t know there were rules to eating.”

“Bud, there are many rules to eating, and when you’re a bit older I’m going to tell you all my stories along with each of the food rules. Anyway, rule numero uno es blow your soup first. Getting a soup burn is not fun, no matter how delicious the soup is. Rule two, don’t take big spoonfuls, just make sure it’s what can fit in your mouth, no extra. Your mom learned that one the hard way,” Shawn whispers out the last part before Aaron lets out a small laugh. “Rule three, the final rule, is you have to pucker your lips like so,” he demonstrates, “and slurp inward. It’s what all the posh people do. When we eat we pretend to be different people and forget our problems, but not all the time because then you might get health issues and that’s not good.”

“You talking a lot, Daddy, I just wanna eat. Dang.” Shawn and I burst out laughing before Aaron gives us both a look like we’re crazy or something. “I’m serious, can we eat now? It smells good and I’m hungry,” he says with a big pout.

“Go ahead, baby, start eating.”

“You eat too.”

“Okay fine,” I start eating some of my soup to show him I’m eating before he begins to dig in too. Shawn watches us amused but doesn’t say a word.


Aaron lays in the bed between me and Shawn who keeps looking over to me. I can tell he doesn’t even know I’m awake since my eyes are closed and I’m in the proper mindset to fall asleep though I don’t think I’m very capable of falling asleep at the moment when I can feel Shawn’s heartbreak. It’s kinda like it reaches out to me and holds every fiber in my body hostage, trying to will me to make it all better. There’s not much that I can do for him since I placed him in the spot that he’s in.

I can tell right now I’m sending out all types of mixed signals as I not only allow him to stay the night which could be seen as for Aaron, but he’s also in bed with the two of us. That can also be taken as for Aaron or it can be seen as a sign that I don’t want to keep us separated. It’s not platonic for me even if I try to convince him of that much and I can tell it’s not platonic for him either since he’s still making that much clear.

I let out a yawn and stretch just a bit before maneuvering myself slowly so I can face Shawn. My eyes open before I catch just how tired his face looks. It’s not really bright in here or anything, but the outside world keeps finding its way into the apartment and I’m not messing with the blinds as much since if they suffer the smallest bit of damage the landlord will be on my ass and I don’t need it.

This place has rules and I guess it’s pretty good, but it’s not home. All I think about when I fall asleep is the place that has been home. Shawn’s house is always in my dreams with him there too. I miss being there with him and his family that has managed to become my own, it’s close to Mom too so I can watch after her, be near Dylan’s restaurant and the rest of the boys.

Now we’re across town from them, a 45-minute long walk for me to get over there and a 20-minute long drive. It sucks getting to school since I can’t take the motorcycle as I used to as often since one, I have to get Aaron to a babysitter (mostly Grandma and Uncle Parker), and two is because of Jonah. I have to worry about getting him there too, not to forget about his doctor appointments too since he has to go to physical therapy three times a week.

I have to get Mom to come over half of the time so she can take Jonah to his appointments and give me a ride in the mornings to drop Aaron off at Grandma’s place. She’ll always tag along for the ride since she doesn’t really have a choice on the matter. Whenever we go Grandma will come out so she can speak to her as she chills in the car but Grandpa is never home since he’s doing work things as he refuses to retire until he has no other choice but to do so.

Uncle Parker is a whole other story since he’s scared she won’t want to speak to him because of things that were said in the past. Mom is ashamed in herself and previous actions and doesn’t want her younger brother to be looking down at her, so in other words, neither of them are initiating the conversation.

I personally believe the two of them need to get over themselves and speak to each other since all the arguing was about me and Jonah. I have made it clear that I think they should speak to each other, and Jonah has made it clear that he didn’t like that they fell out over us.

I can’t imagine a life where Jonah and I haven’t spoken for years and now that I’ve met Jesse and Jared, I can’t think about not talking to them either. We speak on the phone with each other and I know I want to have a relationship with them, as for me and Dad, we’re working with each other and with our history, I think that’s a good start for us.

“Go to sleep, Shawn,” I tell him after a minute or two of looking into those eyes; he looks away from me.

“I can’t. I haven’t slept in days and even then, the last sleep could be considered a nap,” he admits before I bite down on my lip.

I know he’s losing sleep over me in some ways, but then it also feels like there’s more to him than the silent tension between us. There is more going on in his life, not all of his problems are about me. Something deep within my gut tells me that much and it has yet to lead me in the wrong direction.

“You need to get some rest.”

“There’s a lot of things that I need that are important, but I can’t sleep. Sleep places me in a land away from here that is a bit too dangerous for me to see right now, alright? Then the last time I slept I had a lucid dream.” I find my eyes narrowing just a bit.

“You mean the song by Juice WRLD?” I ask in a small voice; he looks to me with amusement dancing around in those eyes.

“No, not the song. Lucid dreams are real and it’s when you are dreaming but you understand that everything going on is just a dream and nothing more,” he explains before looking away from me once again. “By the way, I’ve been listening to that song on a loop and it’s so damn relatable.”

I don’t say a word.

“You know it’s not so bad having a lucid dream, the only bad side is that you are aware that everything you could’ve hoped and dreamed of is going to be ripped away when you wake up. Some people are able to control what happens there, I’ve done that once, but it’s not a regular thing. I don’t know what makes it so you can interfere with them.” That kinda sounds interesting, but it’s not like I can ask him what his dream was. I think I already know.

The timeline matches. We break up and then two weeks later he’s telling me about how he’s had lucid dreams. Before all of this has happened he’s told me multiple times that he dreams of not just us, but the future we share together. Even if we don’t get back together our futures are intertwined with one another because of this boy between us.

Do I want to know fully what type of dream it was, most likely not since it’d make my heart ache that much more.

“Don’t ever allow something small to interfere with the relationship you have with Jonah,” Shawn changes the subject. I can tell confusion is written all over my face even though he can’t see it since he’s still not facing me. What’s he talking about?

“What’s going on between you and Xavier?” I ask though I know it’s truly none of my business.

“On the night of the football game when we were coming home from the hospital I called Aaron and we spoke for a bit before Jonah came onto the phone. He asked me why you keep growling at the mention of my name,” my cheeks begin to burn, “you don’t have to feel embarrassed or anything like that. I never told Xavier and he was in the car when I told Jonah everything that was going on. He felt betrayed by that, which makes sense since I was an idiot and didn’t tell him, but it hurt him even more that Cody and Dylan knew the moment it happened since they saw it all including my attack on the lockers.”

Shawn sits up slowly so he doesn’t jostle Aaron around. His back muscles grow that much more when he sits up straight and swings his head over the side of the bed.

“Xavier looked so damn scared that I was going to hurt myself more, and with the situation at hand, I could tell he was scared I’d hurt someone else too. I refused to think back about it, but it forced itself into my head and then it came to me that that same look was once on your face. I knew then for sure what was running through his head.

“The school told Mom and of course she was scared too and while she was freaking out all I could think about was what Aaron would’ve done if he saw me at that point. My breaking point. If he was in that hallway to watch me take punch after punch at that locker. If he was there to see how horrified Bethany was as she watched my movements, how scared she was that it would be her next.” He shakes his head.

“During the time that the school was on the phone, they told her they wanted me to go to Mr. Orreia’s office at least once a day to talk about my problems and hopefully stop my violent outbursts. I feel like a damn animal in the zoo. Everyone is constantly watching my movements, making sure I don’t start doing something stupid. I was happy to escape it for even a single day, you know you and Aaron are the only people that don’t look at me that way. Even now with all this, I’m not someone that needs to be babysat, I can take care of myself.

“I know when to turn the other cheek and let it go, I turn to other things beside violence. Football is something that has been here for me to let loose and they tried to tell me that I wasn’t ready, even Xavier. I needed to prove that I was able to do this, that I didn’t need to be babied. It feels like I always have to prove that much.

“So it’s not a question of what’s going on with me and Xavier, it’s a question of what the hell is wrong with me. Why is it that all I can do is screw up?” But you don’t. I want to tell him that so damn bad that it hurts, but I don’t want to stop him. I want him to let this all out since I can tell he’s never said this out loud and maybe it’ll make him feel just a bit better. “Xavier has been doing the most to avoid me and I have no choice but to allow him to do so and it sucks. I just want my brother to speak to me again, but he won’t, he doesn’t even want to be in the same room as me.”

Shawn’s head goes to rest in his hands. I can tell he needs a friend which I haven’t been much of a good one or really one at all during this whole mess. All I know is that I definitely have to thank Dylan and Cody for being here for him.

“Then there’s you, you hate me and that’s what bites at me the most.”

“I don’t hate you.”

“You looked me in the eye and told me you hated me on multiple occasions in front of a decent amount of people too. I beg you not to go and you tell me you hate me. I try to hold onto you and what we have and you shove me both literally and verbally. When you told me you hated me your face was in full agreement with your words.

“The part that hurts the most about that is that I can picture me spending the rest of my life with you. Waking up with you in my arms every morning. When you said I hate you all I could think about is how much I love you and how beautiful you look. While you yelled and yelled, all I wanted was to hold you.” I bite down on the inside of my cheek as he starts to run his hands through his hair over and over, trying to calm his nerves though I can tell it’s not helping him much. “I always put my heart on the line and tell you how I feel, but you never do the same.”

“I shouldn’t have ever said that. I don’t hate you and if I’m being a hundred percent honest here, I’m in a state of shock when it comes to you. What I do know, is that I meant it all the way when I said the two of us are always getting hurt.

“I can’t take getting lost in you right now and even being around you right now is so damn hard, but I can’t stop myself from wanting this with you. I can’t stop wanting to be in your arms and I can’t stop myself from wanting to give my everything with you. I want nothing else than to have you here with me, but this can’t happen any longer,” I force myself to let out and I can feel my eyes watering. A groan meets my ears to the point where it sounds like I’m physically causing him pain from my words.

“Give me the reason.”

“Shawn-”

“Amaya please, I have to know. You say you don’t hate me and you say you want me, but all you’re doing is pushing and shoving me away. You. Must. Give. Me. The. Reason.”

Do I tell him the truth or do I stay silent? He deserves to know and if it doesn’t come from me a kid version of it will come from Aaron eventually.

“When I went to visit Derrick at the hospital there was a panther there and I didn’t know who he was. I’ve never once seen him before, I would remember. He knew that I was the one that placed Derrick in the hospital though there’s nobody that opened up with that information, nobody would so the guy had no proof.

“The man said that they better not find out I placed Derrick in the hospital or find out that I’m talking to the narcs or they’d come after ‘that little family of mine’ which means you, Jonah, Aaron, and whoever else. I can protect Aaron and I can protect Jonah for the most part, but he knows how to handle himself even in that wheelchair as he knows what to expect from them.

“You, on the other hand, is someone I don’t know if I can protect or even if you can protect yourself from them. They don’t know how to play fair. The best way for me to keep you safe is by keeping you at arm’s length and letting go of you. I tried letting go of Aaron for just a bit so I can get my plans together for fixing this situation I’m in.

“I also know that you would never allow anything to happen to Aaron and there’s way less of a chance of him ending up in danger with you, but with me. I’m a hazard and you know it.” I sit up before folding my legs in front of me. “Aaron hasn’t been without me for longer than three days now and I know that’s about as long as he’ll give up. He loves me and always wants to be around me when it could end up with him in danger, but he doesn’t understand that much. I can’t even tell him that. All I can say is that it’s best for him to not be around me.”

If anyone’s a screw up it’s me.

“Well, I guess that’s one more thing the two of us have in common. Love, I could care less about what could happen to me, what I care about is being with you. The cold truth is that I could possibly get destroyed one way or another. I get emotionally hurt when you push me away and maybe even physically if we’re together.

“I’d rather get physically hurt rather than emotionally or mentally, at least if it’s physical there’s more of a chance of it healing. There’s no greater pain than watching you fight me off. Stop trying to protect me and think about what you need and more importantly what Aaron needs.”

“What he needs is his two parents, not a dead father because he has an arrogant ass mother. That isn’t what he needs. If anything, I want you to make it and let me handle whatever comes which reminds me, if anything were to happen with me to the point where you know there’s no turning back, I want you to get your family, Jonah, and Aaron away from it all, and please don’t ask me questions about what I mean.”

“What am I supposed to even say to that?” he asks in a fit of quiet panic.

“Say nothing, let’s just go to sleep before we wake him up. You know as well as I do that if he does wake we’re not gonna be able to get him back to rest for hours.”

“Fine, I’ll try to go to sleep but I make no promises, especially with all this new information that I have to allow myself to process,” he says while making his way back into bed; I do the same before closing my eyes and drifting off to sleep.

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