LIX. It's Positive
Am I upset?
Am I angry?
Am I pissed off?
The memories of Hailey smiling at Ricardo run surfaces.
I rush my fingers up my hair and step onto the bus. Don’t look back. Don’t look- fuck.
I look back.
Hailey cast a gaze downward. Steadily, she lifts her leg one by one and drags it towards the bus leaving the footprint trail behind her.
Be firm. Firm!
I refuse to allow myself to be pushed around by Hailey. She can’t behave all willy nilly - hot and cold - around me. I tried to talk to her. She was the one who continually refuses to talk then chooses to sit with a guy she knows I dislike. I forced myself to look away and sat down beside Ahmend.
“What squeeze through your assho-” he stops talking. Ahmend looks elsewhere. “Oh, it’s snowing.” He taps his finger against the glass. “Snow. Snow. Pretty snow.”
It wasn’t difficult to read the atmosphere around me.
“Hey, Josh. When we get-” Tyson stops talking and faces forward. “Oh, someone is calling me. I’m coming!” No one was calling him.
Hailey got on the bus. Her body trembles even with my coat around her. My eyes cast toward her shoes. They’re filled with snow. She’s going to get sick if she doesn’t warm up.
Firm! Josh! Stay firm!
We got back to campus. I was upset but when I saw Hailey attempt to carry her massive bag. I got depressed. She puffed her red cheeks and dragged the bag towards the dorm. Hailey lacks upper body strength.
“Hey, why are you walking so slow?” Ahmend asks.
“Enjoying the weather,” I respond blandly.
“This weather? This shit wea-” Ahmend looks back and exhales. “Why don’t you just help her?”
“What? You live and breathe in- ah, forget it.” Ahmend walks away. He is so done with my bullshit. I’m glad he is. I don’t need someone to tell me what to do with my life. I have my parents for that.
I exhale and head towards the dorm. Austin looks up from the computer and smiles, “Hey Josh. Good day?” He’s always happy for some odd reason. Then again, it’s probably part of his job description.
I lean against the counter, “Mind doing me a favor?”
“Sure! What is it?” I cannot believe he accepted my request even though he doesn’t know what it is.
“Mind going out there and offer to help Hailey?”
He scratches his head, “I guess, but someone needs to watch the front desk.”
“I’ll watch it,” I respond. Hesitantly, he got up and made his way towards the door.
I watch as Austin walks towards Hailey and offers support. I don’t have to be cautious around Austin; he understands his limitations. I’m impressed with him; he knew exactly what to do. Whenever I ask him for a favor, he always does it without question. He would make a good secretary.
They got into the elevator, and I exhaled a sharp breath. I rush my hands through my hair before resting on the spinning chair. I can’t believe I behave so irrationally. I should’ve talked things out with her. Then, things won’t be so awkward like right now. Recently, I feel like that’s all we do. Bicker about something. It usually doesn’t last long, and it’s not as serious where we won’t talk forever, but we bicker more often than we did when we were younger.
Then again, I read somewhere that says around this time is when we should develop our own personality and outlook on life. Eventually, as we get older, our perspective will change even more. What I see as right can be wrong, and what I see as wrong can be right. In the end, there isn’t right or wrong, only shades of grey.
I really need to stop reading mom’s books.
Not too long after, Austin got back.
I got up from the chair. “Good?” I ask.
He smiles, “All good. She’s in the room.”
I reach in my back pocket for my wallet. “Thanks.”
Austin blocks me, still with a smile on his face. “I told you. This is my job.”
I ran my tongue across my cheek, “You’re a smart guy. You know that?”
“I’m not the one to determine my worth.”
“Don’t devalue yourself,” I retorted.
“You’re only valued as much as your employer perceives you - financially, of course.”
“That’s quite the negative outlook of life.”
“This outlook is the reason why I’m here with the top .01%.”
The edge of my lips twerk, “You’re going to need more than that outlook to enter these doors.”
He smiles, “Why should I enter when I can simply open it?”
“You really want to spend the rest of your life opening doors for people like me?”
“It would be my pleasure.”
I chuckle, “Suck up.”
“My worth isn’t that low, but I’m willing to support the woman who will do it to you.”
I lift a brow, “I’m impressed.”
“I’m grateful for your compliment.”
I grabbed my wallet and took out a card. I slide it across the desk. “Winter break is coming,” I said. “Spend it with your family or your future. Your choice.”
Austin grabs the card and smiles. He tucks it in his front pocket. “Where I come from, we don’t care much for the holidays anyway.”
I shook my head and walked away. Austin is a smart guy. Someone I should consider keeping beside me in the future. People our age often don’t plan the future. Something that they should consider doing.
“I’m happy to continue opening your doors!” Austin screams.
The lobby isn’t bad. The bedroom is a different story. The moment I step into the room, every fiber of my body feels sad.
So, I had to do it.
I got in.
I ran my fingers up my hair and pressed my back further into the tree. I feel like I’m about to explode.
“Wow. You look horrible.”
I look up towards the dull sky. It’s a reflection of my mood.
“Scratch that. You look like hell,” Madison said. “Problem with little Hailey?” Mason stood behind her with the phone in his hand. With the way he’s moving his thumb, he’s probably playing some game.
I glared at Madison. I didn’t forget how she kissed Hailey.
Madison smiles, “I heard little Hailey sat with the Italian boy.”
“Fuck off,” I snapped. I am not taking any shit from her today.
I’m surprised people said we should get together. Do they not see the way we look at each other? I’m confident; if it were legal, Madison would strangle me to death. The feeling is mutual.
People see what they want to see.
Not what is reality.
Two people bickering all the time is not equivalent to them wanting to pounce on each other. It does not equal a healthy relationship.
People always tell me that I would look good with Madison. That’s it. We look good together. It does not necessarily mean we will be good together.
Madison’s eyes widened. Mason lowered his phone and looked at me. Then, they looked at each other and mouthed: “Wow.”
Madison ran her tongue across her cheek. “Well, even I know when to step back. So-” she steps back.
I’m going to solve one problem today. I stood up and headed towards her. “Stay away from Hailey. She belongs to me.”
That sounded barbaric even in my ears. I cannot believe I said that. I would never degrade any woman like that. Particularly the ones I love. Where did that come from?
Madison’s head drops to the right, and she arches a brow. Her earrings dangled against her shoulder. “She belongs to you? I didn’t take you for being such a caveman.”
I folded my arms, “How long are you going to hold the grudge? I can’t change the fact that I pushed Trey down the pool, no matter how much you tortured me. That fact won’t change.” I change the subject because she is right. That is such a fucking caveman thing to say. If I were looking at me, I would punch myself in the face. Mom taught me better than that.
Madison tucks her hair back. “I didn’t think you expect so little from me.” She exhales, “I was angry, but it’s all in the past now.”
“Then, why are you torturing me?”
Madison chuckles, “Torture? If I want to torture you, I would’ve sent some girls to bully Hailey. Get her to cry so hard; she’ll never come back.”
I frown. She makes a valid point. With Madison’s power, she could make my life a pure living hell through Hailey. People won’t mess with me, but they aren’t afraid to push Hailey. I can’t be with Hailey all the time. If I could, I would give us the same schedule. But I can’t. It’s against the school code.
“But I won’t. I’m kind of fond of her. She reminds me of a little sister I never had.”
“Then, you don’t-”
“Hailey is cute, but she’s not my type.” Madison checks out her nails. “I like someone with a bit more spice.”
Is that her way of admitting she is bisexual? I’m still confused.
I exhale a breath of relief.
“You know, if you’re uncomfortable with me acting how I am with Hailey, then you could’ve told me instead of beating around the bush,” Madison said. “I’m not the type of person who purposely ruins a relationship...or whatever it is you two have.”
I clear my throat. “Thanks.” I sniffed. I hope I’m not catching a cold. “And sorry for snapping at you.”
“Word of advice? Talk to Hailey. I heard what you’re trying to do.” I looked at Mason and shrugged. He looks away. I should’ve known he told Madison. “You gained my respect for being a gentleman by asking Hailey’s parents first, but-” she shrugs, “sometimes parents don’t know best.”
“I can’t simply break a promise.”
“You can wait, but Hailey can’t.” She exhales, “And I’m pretty sure you can see it. Now, she’s smiling at other guys. Maybe, one day, she’ll kiss them too.”
My nails dig into my flesh.
“Just something to think about.”
She walks away.
Mason pats my shoulder and walks behind her.
I slip my hand into my pocket and pull out my phone.
Joshie Pooh: Are you busy? Can we talk?
I’m sick of waiting.
I’ll apologize to Hailey’s parents after.
Before I could press send, a phone call appeared. It’s Jada.
I answer it and press it against my ear. “Hey, Jada.”
Jada expelled a deep breath. “Josh, we have a problem.”
“What problem?” I can feel a buzzing sensation from my phone. I look at the screen. Hailey is calling me. I’ll call her back.
Jada sounds like she is going through a panic attack. “There’s someone here.”
I scratched my head, “What?” I don’t understand why she would call me all because someone is visiting.
Then again, that doesn’t sound right.
Rarely anyone visits us.
Dad finds it a hassle to have guests in our home. So, he would generally rent out a place or go to one of our vacation houses.
Dad’s side of the family is a headache, except for Uncle Drake and his family. Then again, half of his family members are mute. I’m not saying they refuse to talk, but they can’t speak. It’s not a good thing, but it is a blessing to the ears, mainly since I grew up with so many brothers.
“A young lady came and-” she inhaled a sharp breath, “and she said she’s Mr.Greyson’s daughter.”
“And?” I question. There are always strangers announcing that they’re dad’s offsprings.
“They did a DNA test, and...it’s positive.”
The world seemingly become paler than it was earlier. Holy shit. “Prepare everything. I’m coming home.”