I must not be destined to get any sleep lately. It was Wednesday, which meant that I don't start work until eleven this morning. I could have slept in at least an extra hour, but no. Jax decided he wanted to wake me up early so that we could hang out.
Not that I would have the chance to hang out. Before work I had to get this house cleaned and when I was done I wouldn't have any time to just hang out with him. He should know that by now.
"But Ash," he whined. "I'll help you clean the house. It will be done in half the time and then we can hang out. We don't get the chance to do it much considering we both work and you have Uni."
I'd finally given in and dragged myself out of my nice warm bed. I had a quick breakfast and just decided to stay in my pyjamas while I cleaned up. There would be no point showering if I would only get dirty again anyway.
My mother was sick at the moment, so no one had come over last night. I was thankful because now there is less work for me to do around the house. Whereas if she had people over it would take me an hour just to clean the living room.
Jax doesn't like my mum at all. He used to, but ever since my dad died he probably dislikes her more than I do. He gets quite uncomfortable being around her, so he was hesitant when I asked him if he could go clean another room. He hates being alone in my house when my mum is here. He eventually caved in though when I told him that if he did we would have more 'hang out' time.
"How's everything with Jenny and Micah?" He asked me innocently from the kitchen.
It has been just over a week since that awful night, but Jenny still hasn't given up on making my life hell. Just like she said she would. It was only little things that she did to me, but when you put them all together and deal with them for over a week they seem much bigger and more effective than they actually are. Shrugging, I replied to his question. "It's okay. Micah doesn't bother me as much as Jenny does, but I can handle it. It's not like she's physically injuring me or anything."
Jax leaned his tall muscular frame against the doorway that separates the kitchen and living room, drying his hands. "You know how badly I want to beat her up right?" The tone of his statement was only made more convincing when I took a look at what he was wearing today.
The plain black t-shirt clung to his body, making his muscles obvious through the fabric. He was wearing his typical jeans so that part wasn't any different to any other day, and his heavy biker boots thumped on the floor as he walked over to me. The whole look screamed 'badass' and I guess it mirrored Jax's personality clearly.
Well, the only personality that everyone except me and his family see. Underneath it all he is just a soft marshmallow. He never used to be though, I've heard stories. Which only made me work harder to convince him not to hit anyone, especially Jenny.
"You can't beat her up Jax. You know where you will end up if you do, and I'm sure you don't want to be there again in this lifetime." I gave him a pointed and stern look. It wasn't often that I was bossy towards him, but when it came to violence I felt like I had no other choice.
He emitted a long and deep audible breath expressing that he knew I was right, but there was also a hint of longing in it that told me he wished he could anyway. He didn't want to go back to that place. He may have been one of the tough guys in there but he hated every second of it. "Okay, Okay. I won't hit anyone." He held out his right pinky and I looked at him. "I pinky swear."
I stuck my pinky out and hooked it around his. We might look like we're five years old doing the pinky swear, but for us a pinky swear Is just as good as a blood promise. We rarely use the word 'promise', and if a pinky swear is broken it's the equivalent of blasphemy. For us anyway.
"Good, now let's finish getting this house clean so we can hang out for a bit and actually do something fun." Before I had the chance to do it, Jax grabbed the vacuum and ran it thoroughly over the carpeted living room and hallway. My mum was still in bed so I hoped she wouldn't get pissed off and run out abusing us for waking her up.
We had the entire house clean within an hour, when usually it would take me two or three. My mum was pretty much a slob so there was no such thing as 'tidying' in my house. It was full on cleaning. Plus I was typically the only one who cleaned up, apart from when Jaxon helped me.
"Why are you wearing your work uniform?" Jax demanded when I walked back in to my bedroom after taking a much needed, and much enjoyed shower. "We agreed that we're going to the beach to hang out instead of hanging here with the dragon lady." I had told him about my comparison of a dragon and my mother. Ever since then he had taken to calling her the dragon lady, behind her back, and to her face.
The look that I gave him should have told him that he already knew the reason why, but it wasn't effective so of course I had to explain it to him. "Jax, you know that I never go swimming, or walk around practically naked at the beach."
"I have no idea why, your body is amazing and you should be showing it off," He said matter-of-factly. He has said this many times before, so I don't know what would make him think that I'd start paying attention to it now.
He was lounging around on my freshly made bed, making it all messed up again. I whacked his arm lightly and pulled him off of it so that I could fix it up again. "If by amazing you mean chubby and absolutely not something that would attract any of the guys hanging at the beach, then yes."
"You're so down on yourself. If I was straight I would totally date you baby girl. You're sexy as hell." He emphasised his statement with a light slap to my butt which made me jump a little.
I grabbed my bag and pushed him out of my bedroom door laughing. "Well you aren't straight, and I like it that way. Now let's just go, or we will have to leave as soon as we get there."
Despite my attitude about stripping down to the bare minimum at the beach, I was actually looking forward to it. I hadn't been back since that day Jax and I went there to eat dinner last week, and I was hoping that the mystery guy would be there.
I still haven't told Jax about the guy I saw. For one, I was a little worried about the effect he was having on me when I don't even know who he is. I only saw him from a short distance and he was constantly on my mind. I wanted to know the colour of his eyes, how tall he was, what kinds of things he enjoyed to do in his free time.
For two, I still considered it to be nothing but a little phase. The guy had caught my interest, and whenever that happened I needed to find out as much as I could about whatever it was. Jax would just over exaggerate things and act like it was the biggest thing in the world that I found a guy interesting.
It was only a short drive from my house to the beach, and soon enough the bleach yellow sand and blue-green water came in to view. The early hour didn't deter people from coming to the beach and it was pretty busy. There were bare patches of yellow here and there, but mostly there were people, towels and bags scattered around.
With the large amount of people here, I was sure that my mystery guy would be here and my mood picked up.
As soon as our feet hit the sand, Jax wanted to lay our towels down. "Wait," I said, putting a hand on his arm to stop him. "Let's just walk along the beach for a bit. Maybe there's a better spot." Secretly I wanted to walk down the beach so that I could try and find the guy, but telling that to Jax was definitely out of the question.
He picked our towels back up and looked at me with suspicion in his eyes. "Alright then," he said, making it sound more like a question than an agreement. "You have to at least take your shoes off. I'm not taking no for an answer." My protest evaporated at his last statement.
I gave in and pulled off my ballet style slip on shoes. "Happy?" I asked, to which he replied with a single nod and a grin. We walked down to where the water meets the sand and walked along it. I had folded up my jeans up to the middle of my shins to prevent them from getting wet as the waves crashed over my bare feet.
The sand was scratchy between my toes and if it weren't for the repetitive motion of the waves washing over them and clearing it away, I would put my shoes back on. It was uncomfortable enough to face the wrath of Jaxon.
For a short moment I was distracted from my secret task of finding the mystery guy. The sounds and smells of the beach that surrounded me had a calming effect and it was as if the waves were washing away all of my problems. Temporarily of course. I had made the mistake in the past of actually believing that they had washed away my problems forever.
Dreaming about living in the ocean is something that I used to do all the time. I wouldn't even care if I was the ugliest fish in existence. It's such an open and beautiful place. There isn't anyone, or anything that can stop you from going where you want to and doing what you want.
I suppose that's what the world was like to a lot of people. Jaxon for example. He could do whatever he wanted, and go wherever he wanted. His mother wasn't stopping him, or making his life hell. She was giving him the life and the opportunities that he deserves. Which is exactly what every mother should do. I was one of the unfortunate people who got stuck with a mother who couldn't care less about what I wanted.
The icy cold temperature of the water was made apparent when I was hit in the face with tiny droplets of it. The salt in the water caused my face to become slightly sticky and dry in the short amount of time that it was on there.
Jaxon's hand was wet, with small drops of water dripping from his fingertips as he laughed hysterically. "You should have seen your face! If only I had a camera." He dodged the shoe that I hurled in the direction of his head, and instead it landed right beside someone's towel, barely missing their leg.
The person's face was covered with a smaller towel but I still recognised the messy dark hair. It was the mystery guy. I don't know how I knew it was him, I just did. I was beyond relieved that his face was covered because I wouldn't have to deal with the embarrassment of almost hitting him with a shoe.
Even though the shoe didn't actually hit him, Jax still wen't over and mumbled an apology as he picked my shoe up. "Sorry bout that bro." All he got in response was a thumbs up.
A pathetic thumbs up. He couldn't even sit up and show his face, or say one word so that I know what he sounds like.
"Let's just set up over there," I suggested, pointing to a bare section of sand not too far away from mystery guy. "I'm not risking getting splashed in the face by you again."
With another short laugh Jax walked over to where I had pointed and laid our towels down. He didn't bother sitting. Instead he pulled off his shirt and ran down to the water. His body truly was magnificent and I allowed myself a good look every now and then. If he wasn't gay I would be willing to bet my next pay check that he would have a girlfriend before we left for work.
He had an air of confidence about him that I was envious of. He never doubted himself and I often found myself wishing that I was like him. At least in some way. Sure he had his flaws, but he was strong enough to work through them and not let them bother him. As for me, well, I wasn't quite there yet.
I still couldn't work up the courage to go and talk to this guy. Any normal girl would. My insecurities got the better of me all the time. I never go to clubs even though Jax has asked me to, about a million times. I don't go to parties, or walk up to guys and ask for their number. Honestly, that was because of my mother and money issues, but even if those problems didn't exist, I still wouldn't do it because I didn't have enough confidence within myself.
Plus Micah has kind of destroyed any hope I had in finding a decent guy that isn't gay or taken. I promised myself that I wouldn't give up though. I wasn't going to be one of those girls that always complain about never finding a good guy, when they just aren't bothered enough to go out and look for them.
I was completely failing at trying to psych myself up to go over and talk to him. Each time I went to walk over, another thought popped in to my head with a reason why I shouldn't go over there.
I don't know why it was so difficult for me to do. It's not like I was proposing. I just wanted to feed my curiosity and find out more about him. I still couldn't put my finger on how he was familiar to me, but it was starting to really bug.
No matter how long I looked at him, or rather stared, I could not figure it out. His messy dark hair, the light tanned colour of his skin, the lean but slightly muscly torso. All of it was familiar, yet none of it gave me a clue as to who it was.
The only thing that wasn't familiar about him were his tattoo's. The only person I knew who had any tattoos is Jaxon. They weren't as detailed as Jaxon's dragon tattoo, but they were interesting all the same. My curiosity was piqued once again, and I found myself thinking about al the possible stories, or meanings that were behind them.
He had six tattoo's that I could see. On his right arm were to tattoos. I couldn't really tell what they were from this distance, but he had on on each side of his upper arm. There was another on his left arm and some words written across his ribs.
The only tattoo's that I could see properly, were three distinct stars on each side of his hips. They went down in a diagonal line along his V line, and got larger as it went. The outer stars were completely black with a white outline, and the centre stars were not filled in and only had a black outline.
The problem with me, was that sometimes I focus too much on the detail of things that I tend to eliminate the creativity of them. It only seemed to happen with the work of others though. When it comes to my own work, whether it be drawings, paintings, or even writing, I've been told that the level of creativity is high.
Finally, I came to the conclusion that sitting here and analysing every detail of his body wasn't going to help me in the slightest. Nor was the fact that I was sitting here gawking at him like some maniac stalker.
I stood up and brushed the sand off of my clothes. I took a few steps forward, carrying with me more nerves with each step that I took. Before I could ever get halfway, Jax's voice called my name from behind me. "Ash! Where are you going? I'm going to be late for work if we don't leave now."
I sighed and turned back to Jax. "But I was just…" another sigh. "Never mind." I walked back and picked up my towel, shaking off the sand that stuck to it. Not that it mattered anyway, Jax's car was a mess again, so a few grains of sand wouldn't make much difference.
Damn Jax and his bad timing. He just had to come over when I finally plucked up enough courage. A few more steps and I would have heard his voice, and maybe even seen his face.
When I turned back to look longingly at the mystery guy, I found myself staring at a towel on the sand. The guy had jumped up and made his way over to his group of friends who were in the water. It looked like he was talking frantically but I still couldn't see his face. Either I have incredibly bad luck, or he somehow knew that I wanted to know what he looks like.
I wondered what he was so frantic about, but I didn't have much time to think on it because Jax rushed me back to his car. We were half way down the beach so it took us a while to run through the sand and back to the car. Jax didn't even bother changing into his work clothes and just started the engine and sped out on to the road.
"Jax, slow down would you. You still have half an hour." My grip on the door handle was tightening every second that passed. "You'll get pulled over." I understood why he wanted to get to work. I mean I didn't start for another hour and a half, so I was in no rush, but he had been late a few times and he didn't want to risk getting fired due to being late again.
He immediately slowed down to the normal speed limit, but his hands were still gripping the steering wheel firmly. "Sorry, I just don't want to be late. My mum will kill me if I got fired."
That wasn't true. His mother wouldn't be angry at him at all. She would be supportive and help him find a new job. I knew he didn't want to disappoint her though, which was the reason why he didn't want to get fired. She was the first person in his life who ever loved him the way he deserves. His real parents treated him like he was some animal. She has given him a good life and he feels like he owes her for that.
"It's fine, relax. We'll get there on time." I covered one of his hands with my own and he loosened his hold on the steering wheel.
He gave me a small smile and gripped my hand. "Want me to drop you off somewhere till you start?"
As tempting as it was, I shook my head. The idea of sitting at work for an extra hour and a half didn't sound appealing, but if I went somewhere else I would have to walk back to work which would make me late. "Nah, I'll just hang around the store. Maybe I'll get paid extra for being there early, who knows."
He pulled in to the parking area behind our work building, which was usually full, and shut the engine off. Instead of being a normal human being and going in to the toilets at work to change, he just stepped out of the car and changed right there. He had his door open to cover him from one side but anyone walking behind the car would have full view of Jax in his underwear.
The sight was familiar to me, so there was no reaction from me. He had changed in front of me plenty of times. It never seemed to bother him so it eventually didn't bother me either.
I thanked my lucky stars for my insecurities today because now I wouldn't have to go through the embarrassment of changing in public. Looks like my idea of putting on my work clothes early wasn't a bad one.
Jax locked the car once we were out and we made our way in through the back entrance of the store. There was a soft murmur of talking coming from the front so we both gathered that we were going to be quite busy today. We shoved our things in to our lockers and walked through to start our work day.
The bell hanging above the door tinkled, indicating that another customer had just entered. Seeing as I have nothing else to do yet I decided that I would greet the customers and assist them with the small things.
It wasn't a customer that walked through though, it was Jace. He was huffing and puffing as if he had ran here from his house.
"So sorry guys. I have not had the best morning." He was hardly ever late, so no one took notice of his apology. It really wasn't needed so no one cared.
I wonder what had happened to make his morning so bad. He was about half an hour late so it must have been something big. He was so disoriented and frazzled that he didn't notice I was here over an hour early. Well, I guess I wasn't getting paid extra this week.
I tried to keep the bitterness out as I welcomed the customers without notice from Jace. It wasn't his fault, and honestly I shouldn't expect him to pay me extra anyway. He didn't ask me to be here and work early, I was here of my own accord. Still, it would have been nice.
About half an hour before my actual shift started, I went in to the locker room to use the bathroom and eat the apple that was in my bag. I wouldn't get another chance until my break so I gladly took it.
When I was done, I made my way to the front counter and unlocked the register I would be using. It wasn't until then that Jace actually noticed that I was there.
"Ashlyn?" he said, looking at his watch. "You're fifteen minutes early. That almost never happens."
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes at his obliviousness and offered him a small smile. "I've actually been here for about an hour and a half Jace. I was standing at the door when you walked in."
The bewildered look on his face showed just how oblivious he was to my presence. Kind of refreshing actually, considering he stared at me all the time when I was here. "I didn't even notice." The look on his face changed to one of guilt, and I was quick to reassure him.
"It's fine," I said, with a small dismissive wave. "I'm only here because Jax dropped me off and he started early so I just decided to hang around for a bit."
His small sigh of relief was followed by a pleasant smile. I guess he was relieved that I wasn't mad or offended. What I was feeling though was a tinge of disappointment. I mentioned that I was here way before I was supposed to be and there was still no mention of me getting paid extra. I wasn't greedy, but I was becoming more desperate for money as the days went by.
My mother was becoming increasingly dependant on her vices. Alcohol, gambling and drugs. Seeing as I was the only one earning money in my house, I had to pay for it all. It was not cheap, believe me. I think I spent a higher amount of money on alcohol and drugs than I did on food and other essentials.
I had tried before to stop her. I've tried many various methods. Gradually, cold turkey, via help meetings, paying for councillors. Neither of those methods worked though, so until I find a more effective method, it looks like I'm going to have to keep forking out the money for it.
That's all Jace said to me before he went off to do whatever he does. I found it odd that he didn't try to strike up a conversation with me. It was like he was avoiding me and he was always fidgety whenever he was near me. It looked to me like he thought I knew some deep dark secret about him and he was expecting me to burt it out or confront him about it.
When I didn't have any customers to assist or serve, I spent the time watching him carefully, trying to figure out what it was that was making him so uneasy. He acted the same way towards Jax, and it was getting more odd by the minute.
Usually Jax didn't want to work the register, he preferred handling the films, but today we received some new releases, so he helped me put them into the computer system. There weren't that many this time so it didn't take us long at all.
Jax went to the back room to grab the second box containing the other copies and I made my way towards the aisles where the films needed to be put. I hadn't expected Jenny to stick her foot out from around the corner and trip me over.
I didn't fall to the ground, but I stumbled a lot and dropped the box to the ground. The DVD's crashed to the floor with loud crashing sounds of plastic. Everyone who was in the shop turned to look at what the noise was and I immediately blushed a deep crimson, showing my embarrassment.
I fumbled to pick them all up and put them back in to the boxes, and Jenny's shadow stood over me ominously. I prepared myself for her bombarding of insults or attempts at making me break.
"Why don't you watch where you're going next time Bristol? Someone could get really hurt." It was clear that the worry in her voice was false, and the smirk on her face only falsified it further.
I stood up, carrying the box with me and looked at her, trying my best to appear as though she didn't bother me. She did, but I would never give her the satisfaction. "You're right Jenny, my sincerest apologies." I rolled my eyes and kept making my way to the back shelves. The front door opened and Micah walked in.
One of the weird things about me obsessing over him for years, is that I have completely memorised his work schedule. Today was his half day. Making sure that I was watching, Jenny strolled over to him.
She turned and smirked at me before grabbing the front of his shirt and pulling him down for a heated kiss. "Hey baby." I heard her mumble.
The jealousy rose from the pit of my stomach. The anger I felt towards myself was increasing. I hated that I still had feelings for him, and felt jealous over things like this, even after everything that he and Jenny have put me through.
They walked to the locker room hand in hand, no doubt going there to make out some more. I forced myself not to tear up out of jealousy and got back to work.
Jax came out just as I was putting the last DVD on the shelf. "You will not believe what I just had to witness."
"Try me," I mumbled back.
By the look on his face, I knew that he understood. "Sorry baby girl. I don't like the fact that you still get jealous over him, but I wish they wouldn't hurt you like that."
I didn't want to talk about it so I didn't say anything and took the other box out of his arms.
"Don't worry about these, I'll do it. Jace wants to see you in his office." He looked at me sympathetically when I groaned.
What could he possibly want with me. He's been avoiding me all day so why now? I did my best to ignore Jenny and Micah making out in the corner and pushed the office door open. Jax was at the computer, typing something up. The clicking of the keys irritated me to no end. I almost snapped at him and told him to stop, but he beat me to it.
"I just read an email from the temporary manager who was here last week when I took the day off."
The blood drained out of my face and my stomach dropped to the floor.