Billionaire's Childhood Love

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LXXIV. Wicked Witch

Joshua’s POV:

Her body shakes, and she expelled a sharp breath, but she didn’t look at me. “I started it.” It hurts. My heart aches whenever I see her cry.

Jasmine laughs, “Seriously? You’re crying?”

I shot her the nastiest glare I could muster to shut her up.

Jasmine swallowed, “Just so you know, I was here first, and she came here to flaunt her new relationship.”

I wanted to laugh. I really do. “And what’s wrong with that?” I ask.

Jasmine stood there, still as a rock. What did she expect? For me to take her side? To comfort her? I can never understand it. Those who believe that as long as they chase someone hard enough, they would one day get them despite the constant rejection. How ignorant. How inconsiderate. How selfish. All they can think about is themselves and how they feel, never once considering the others’ emotions.

***

“Don’t be a fool, Joshua. Don’t ever become a fool when it comes to love.”

“Because love is blind?” I laugh, “I heard all about it, Aunt Piper.”

She laughs, “Yes. But, what I meant is, if you truly love Hailey.”

My eyes widen, and the pace of my heart picks up. “I don’t love Hailey! She’s mean! She eats my food, and she keeps sitting on me!”

She pinches my cheek, “Lying to your aunt? Who do you think I am?” Her smiles re-emerge, “What I’m saying is, if Hailey doesn’t reciprocate your emotions. Don’t ever neglect how she feels. Don’t be selfish and mindlessly chase after her simply because you believe she will return your feelings one day. It will only waste both of your time.”

“I don’t like Hailey!” I denied it. “But, what if she likes me and I don’t like her? I mean, I’m handsome!” Everyone keeps telling me that, so it must be true.

“Then, you must do whatever you can to reject her. Don’t give her hope because hope is the most dangerous thing in love. More lethal than rejection.” I didn’t understand a single word from her mouth.

“Piper!”

We look forward to seeing Uncle Emerson and Crystal. Crystal looks up from the ice cream cone and smiles widely. Uncle Emerson wipes Crystal ice cream cover face and exhales softly. “Daddy! I want a ride!” Crystal yells, and without his approval, she climbs on top of his neck.

“But-” My eyes cast back towards Aunt Piper. She smiles softly, and when the sun hits her, she looks like she’s about to cry, “don’t worry about any of this. When the time comes, it will come. Without a plan. Without meaning. Without a single warning. It’ll arrive.”

“What will arrive?”

“Happiness.”

***

“She’s in a relationship. What’s wrong with flaunting it?”

Jasmine clenches her fists. “How could you? You know how I feel about you.”

“And I clearly stated how I feel about you.” I didn’t care about how Jasmine feels. I’m already kind enough to her. I gave her more than enough warning to step back. I scooped Hailey into my arms and stood up. The tears roll down Jasmine’s eyes and pinch off at her trembling cheek. When I passed Madison, I looked at her. “Take care of your little minion. Cause trouble anymore, and don’t expect me to be still nice.”

Madison folded her arms, “Is that a threat I’m hearing?”

“You believe I’m still nice enough to merely threaten?”

“How long?” Madison question. “How long can you keep this up? Being stuck in a loop isn’t fun, is it?” Madison cast drops before she smiles. She strokes Hailey’s head, and Hailey’s face turns red. “I’m sorry for Jas. Hopefully, you two can work things out.”

I dislike it.

How Madison touches Hailey.

I backed away and took Hailey far away from Madison.

Then, he appeared.

My steps halt, and for the third time tonight, the vein on my forehead nearly pop. If my hands weren’t full, I would punch his face. The smokes expelled from his mouth. Instead of confronting me about the situation earlier, he looks away and pretends he didn’t witness anything.

I’m not sure if I should be grateful that he’s turning a blind eye to Hailey’s situation, or I should be angry that he’s messing around with my cousin.

Inside our dorm room, I put Hailey down on the bed. I held her cheek, “Does it still hurt?”

She looks at me and smiles. Then, she asks me the most unexpected question in the world. “Does this dress make me look like the Wicked Witch?” I didn’t understand why she asked that. She’s dressed as Rapunzel.

I tuck her hair back to reveal her red cheek. “No matter what you are, you’re still the fairest maiden across the land.” Mom is right. Sweet talking must run through Greyson’s boys’ blood. No wonder why she’s so afraid.

Hailey smiles, her gold hair falls in front of her face.

“I was going to give it to you after the party, but considering we left, I assume the party is over.” I stood up and made my way towards the desk. I took out a box and lay it on Hailey’s lap.

Hailey’s eyes parted slightly. “A gift?”

I nod.

“For me?”

I nod again.

“But, I thought the tiara was the gift.”

“The tiara was from my mom.” I need to clear up a bit of my conscience.

Hailey smiles lightly before she unwrapped the gift. The sound of paper ripping echoed throughout the room. “A CD.”

I scratch my head, “After you open all the other gifts. Mine is probably the most-”

Before I could finish my sentence, Hailey tackled me. “Thank you,” she grumbled into my chest. “Thank you, Joshie Pooh.”

I sighed softly and held her. Whenever I go home, I would always play some sort of superhero game with the boys. Quite often, they would ask me what type of power I want. I would always change my answer because I never knew what power I wanted.

But now, I finally got my answer—the power I truly desire. If I could have any superpower, it would be the power to stop time.

To allow myself the privilege of indulging in this soon-to-be memory a while longer.

I’m sure a lot of people would laugh at me, mock this foolish thought of mine. I’m still a child. I won’t know how love feels. Not yet. Not until I’ve grown.

But what if I don’t want to grow up?

What if I want to stay a child?

Stay like this forever, circulating in this everlasting innocence and happiness.

“Don’t be a fool, Joshua. Don’t ever become a fool when it comes to love.”

The wind burst into the room. We must have forgotten to close the window. It became a bad habit for everyone in the room since the heater is continuously on. I should close it later. “Josh?”

I look down to see a pair of watery brown. Hailey’s hands clutch onto my shirt. She lost too much weight. It’s concerning. I wish I could do something, anything that can help her. To make her a bit happier. But what can I do?

Talk about it to her parents?

No, she’ll hate me.

Talk to her about it?

She’ll withdraw again.

I don’t want it.

I don’t want her to withdraw from me again.

I’ve known. I’ve always known that Hailey feels like she’s not good enough. It was apparent from our childhood.

At first, I didn’t care.

Things became like this because I didn’t care.

When we were younger, Hailey was often bullied. She would always cry, and I would protect her. And after I slay all the monsters, she would look at me with this sight that melted my heart. It became an addiction, a drug. Whenever Hailey looks at me, the emptiness inside of me disappears.

I feel like everything will be okay.

And just like when we were younger, I feel like we could conquer the world together.

Soon enough, it became an endless cycle - a loop.

It was a mistake. I should’ve encouraged her to talk to other kids instead of isolating her from all of them. Allow her to grow. Even when I didn’t say anything, I knew there was a warning around me. I kept Hailey all to myself.

Everyone was wrong.

Hailey didn’t stick to me.

I stuck to her.

It was a selfish thought, a selfish move.

When I moved away, there was no one left to protect her.

And here I am, restarting the vicious cycle. A loop that I can never seem to break.

I smile, “Yeah?”

I know the real reason why Hailey’s parents don’t want me to date Hailey. It’s not because they didn’t trust me. They don’t want Hailey to live a restricted life. Chain by the social norms. I thought about it day and night. Then, I finally realize the truth. Hailey’s parents are buying time.

Most likely, they are hoping Hailey or I would meet someone else before the time arrives.

The only reason why they agreed to allow Hailey to attend this academy is because I pushed them. I used my only ally, my dad—the person who understands my dilemma the most.

“Be aware of your actions.” That is the sentence I heard from him the most from childhood to now. He would always remind me to never divert from the straight path and become him.

There’s a part of me that hates myself. The broken promise. Even if it’s a promise to keep us apart, they are still Hailey’s parents, and I should’ve respected their wishes.

They’re doing all of this to keep Hailey safe and happy.

Hailey smiles. I had always loved them—her smiles. I want them to stay. Hailey’s hand reaches for mine, and steadily, she curls her fingers inward. And, without a single warning, the second attack arrives.

She kisses me.

TO BE CONTINUED...

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