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When Hearts Turn
Author's note: I just thought it would be cool to write about something like this. I find hypocrisy hilarious (in most cases), and writing about it is tons of fun! I hope you like it! :)
I glanced to my left and corked my eyebrow, wondering who or what had caused my best friend, Anna Kales, to sigh in that way again. She gave that sigh when she was happy with the world for no reason at all – just perfectly content; she gave that sigh when she saw an animal’s life being saved when a car would swerve out of the way to hit it; she gave that sigh when she saw a broken heart mend itself and a broken couple came together again; she gave that sigh when her own heart was welled up with a feeling “love.” All those options were crossed out my 20/20 vision, so I knew that she was either looking at or thinking about a boy she liked.
So, who or what was causing my big-hearted friend to sigh in ‘that’ way again? “Who’re you staring at?” I asked Anna, looking around our school courtyard from our spot on the bench. It was lunch, and like most kids, we were basking in the sunlight and eating outside. All of us were out on a mission – taking advantage of the two short weeks of summer heat during the start of school before it got to cold to even check the mail outside. Good ole’ Toronto.
Anna jumped slightly as if she didn’t realize I was there. That was odd, because Anna and I were usually always together. We even lived across the street from each other. We jumped slightly if we weren’t by each other’s sides.
Anna blushed madly, the pink rising to the tips of her strawberry blond hair. “I wasn’t staring at anyone!”
That was hard to believe. I didn’t see a rabbit in the lot praying to the heavens for its spared life, or one of those freshmen that always get picked up by popular guys happily skipping around again, or Reese and Kelly getting back together after a three-year on-again/off-again relationship.
Anna tucked her wispy, yet still bouncy hair behind her ear and turned away from me, focusing on her lunch suddenly. She dug into her salad, munching away like that spared rabbit.
“So, now you want to eat,” I said, picking up my soda and taking a long sip. “Because you didn’t when you were staring at that boy.”
“There is no boy, Skylar.”
She kept her head down so she couldn’t meet my eyes. She wasn’t good at lying when our eyes connected.
“Fine,” I said, pretending to give in. “There is no boy.”
Anna just nodded distractedly to herself. I tried to watch her some more, trying to see if she would risk sneaking a look, but Anna was too smart for that. It would just have to me and my process of elimination.
I scouted the yard that was pretty packed. More than half of them being girls, and knowing that Anna was straight, I deleted about 30 options. That left a mere 15 to go.
Hunched at a picnic table were some members of the chess club, who were busily taking notes of strategies and ignoring the paper airplanes and balls of aluminums foil being hurled at them by the jocks…
The jocks! Anna didn’t go for the smart, totally focused kinds of guys of 6 that occupied the chess club – they were too serious for her, and she needed someone who could kid out and dance with her if she wanted to dance – so the jocks could actually pass.
Like seen before, some they were having fun making fun of the ‘nerds’, but the other few were chatting and laughing amongst themselves. I recognized two of them as the top jocks of the school; the ones that kept girls drooling, giggling, and crying – Carter Jacobs and Landon Brown.
They were acting as if they couldn’t see the lustful looks girls were giving them while they flexed and arm-wrestled their fellow jockeys to impress.
I rolled my eyes at the thought of dating them. Could they even carry a conversation? Nah; they were all about the hand action. Sometimes, I’d remember seeing my innocent and adorable friends get picked up by them just to be slammed back down publicly. I always hated them with a burning passion that would only be fixed by Anna’s gentle touch. At least I knew that Anna wouldn’t stoop so low as to liking those two. The others – the one that weren’t total DBs – were a good bet, though.
Also in the yard were the average guys; smart, but not geniuses; athletic, but not aspiring athletes that only had their bodies going for them; artsy, but not melodramatic art, drama, or music students; friendly and cute, but not too preppy – in other words, my kind of guys. In fact, my boyfriend fit exactly into that group.
I just hoped that Anna’s soon-to-be would too.
Speaking of Anna…
I slid my gaze over to her and found her gaze fixed on the guy. I looked over and swore under my breath. She wasn’t really! She couldn’t be fixing that glassy-eyes, passionate, and determined look on Landon!
As he strutted over to the garbage can to make a show out of throwing away his Coke, Anna let out another sigh.
I shook Anna’s shoulders violently and her salad flew off her tray and lap, landing on the grass. But that wasn’t before it hit her sparkling water and it splashed all over her white frilly polo and dark skinny jeans.
She shrieked and stared down at her outfit, surprised. She slowly turned to me. “Skylar…?”
“I am SO sorry!” I gushed right away, pushing napkins to her chest to dry off. “I was just trying to stop you from –”
“Whoa – need a little help?”
To Anna’s pleasure, but my distaste, Landon stood over us, waiting for an answer that he expected. He smiled at both of us, his emerald eyes on Anna’s shirt where the water was making it transparent…the jerk!
Anna nodded right away and Landon flashed her a smile that had once even caused a young teacher at our school to do a double-take.
I couldn’t let this happen to Anna! She was embarrassingly blushing from the cackling coming from our prime enemy, Lindsey Marsh, who already had her cell phone out, ready for pictures and videos. Anna and I had both hated Lindsey ever since she had been there that first moment when Anna and I had met. We’d been tied together by the soccer ball that Lindsey had blasted at both of our faces on the first day of middle school. We both had to go to the nurse’s office to get checked out, but we’d begun a friendship. Sure, Lindsey had brought us together, but she’d also nearly broken our noses and caused us red faces and massive headaches. The last thing Anna needed right now was for Lindsey to have another thing to make fun of her for.
“I can help her,” I said, kicking her salad away and giving her my sweater.
Landon, having seen the accident take place, gave me a look, but I saw the hidden smirk. “You’ve ‘helped’ enough.”
I shook my head, fuming as he talked Anna up and led her away with his signature sly smile. I couldn’t let Anna get snapped up into his trap! But just by the way she was glowing as he led her away, I knew it would be a tough battle.
“That sneaky little horn-dog –”
“Right,” I said, “sorry. That jerk – is that okay? – wisped her away before I could even blink! And then she was wearing his basketball jacket for the rest of the day!”
Ben blinked. “Isn’t that the nice thing to do? Wouldn’t you be happy if I helped you out like that?”
I threw my hands up, exasperated. “No! Well…yes, but that’s you. I’m talking about Landon here!”
Ben sighed and returned his attention back to the TV in my room and sunk his head into my head pillows. “Landon’s not that bad. His rep holds up false things about him.”
I rolled my eyes. Of course a guy would stick up for his fellow guy, but Ben wasn’t being reasonable. He was too distracted with Criminal Minds playing on my TV in the comfort of my bed. He didn’t consider that it was Anna, our best friend that I was talking about – if she got hurt…
“The guy’s cool,” Ben said. “Give him a chance.”
“Yeah, and when I do, he’ll just be up my shirt…” I muttered, thinking of my friend Kelsey, who had been tricked by his charm.
Ben heard me though, and rose and eyebrow.
“Strictly sarcasm,” I said quickly, resting my head on his shoulder.
Ben smiled and put his arm around me. “That better be.” He kissed my head lightly. “Anna can take care of herself.” Then he grinned at me. “And anyway, it’s better her than you – Landon won’t have someone to punch him out if he tries anything on Anna…”
I scowled. “You’re no help.” I hit him with a pillow before bouncing off my bed.
"You’re welcome…" he mumbled, eyes glued to the blond FBI agent running into the house with the gun.
I guess I was on my own with this one. I’d have to either convince Anna to stay away from Landon, or set the jerk straight myself – the first option was definitely the more reasonable, but it would be simple.
I sighed heavily. It wasn’t even the love-y, happy one that I loved so much from Anna – it was just weak and tired.
I had a lot of work to do.
“Landon is a sweetheart!” Anna gushed when I brought him up casually during our spare the next day. “He’s always thinking of me and he always meets me at the end of class…”
“Uh-huh…” My mind wandered in and out – this was not where I wanted the subject to go.
“Anna, you just started talking to him two days ago,” I reminded her. “What about Sabrina? Remember how he brutally broke up with her?”
Anna paused and a look of slight trickiness came about. She had to have remembered how crushed our friend was after Landon had agreed to go with her to her senior prom when he was a freshman – a FRESHMAN. He was already an irresistible stud back then to girls three years older than him. Anyway, he had totally agreed and made a big deal out of making it the best night ever. They went out for about two weeks before the prom, and he was the ‘perfect’ boyfriend, doing all the things he did for Anna… Then the prom came, he had her pick him up and when they got to the prom, he stowed away to the vacated girls’ change room with Sabrina’s best friend, Lisa to fool around nearly the whole night. It was only until the last dance did they come out, and when they did, Landon publicly ditched Sabrina, and danced with Lisa right in front of her. What kind of jerk can tear best friends apart? Only Landon, I can assure you!
Anna tucked her hair behind her ear. “He’s so sweet to me…”
“He was so sweet to Lisa in the change room too…” I muttered under my breath as I switched on the TV, looking for a soap opera that could take my mind off my reality drama.
Too bad Anna heard me.
“Why can’t you just be happy for me, Skylar?” Anna asked me, looking upset.
I was alert now. How could Anna think that I wasn’t happy for her? Okay, well, I wasn’t, but how could she think that as if it were a common thing?
“Anna, you know that in any other circumstances, I’d be psyched for you, but it’s Landon!” I exclaimed. “How can you fall for his act?”
Anna produced a tiny pout as she folded her arms across her chest. “Maybe it’s not an act!”
I believed that as much as I would believe that Anna was a cynical girl who only cared about getting out of school. “What would make you think that?”
“Well…” Anna twisted her hair around her finger as a glowing smile took over her face. “He told me he hadn’t a girlfriend in awhile because he was looking for the right girl, and he broke up with so many because he was wrong about them. See? He has a heart?”
I rolled my eyes discreetly. “Anna, what makes you think that you’re the right girl? What if it turned out that he made a mistake about you like the other girls? Then what?”
Anna didn’t even bother to process the thought. There was just pure offence on her face when she looked at me. She clasped her hands together and her mouth went into a tight line. “I should be going now.”
“Going where? We’re on spare!”
Anna glared at me. “Anywhere but here! I'd rather not spend my last 15 minutes with an envious downer. Good day, Skylar.”
She packed up her binders and walked out of the study hall room in a huff. I watched her petite little body scurry out in frustration, confusion, and embarrassment. An envious downer? Me? I was not a downer and i definately was no envious! The fact that Anna said those things was even worse! Anna only spoke badly about people when they wronged her horribly. I sighed deeply. What had I done?
“Cheer up, cutie; you look much better when you smile.”
I glared up at Landon as he strode into the study hall room with a single notebook and pencil in hand. He smiled at me as he lowered himself into the seat that had been previously occupied by Anna.
“Anna is looking for you,” I said, looking down at my calculus work.
“She never said that.”
“When you two were just talking about me seconds ago."
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Eavesdropper.”
Landon answered me with a dimply smile.
I hated that he had a perfect dimply smile that just happened to look amazing. To me, nothing could beat a guy with dimples, and unfortunately, Ben had grown out of his somehow in the middle of our relationships. I missed those dimples, but I wouldn’t let Landon’s become a replacement. I would never.
“So, you heard what I said,” I said, picking up my pencil and tapping it on my chin. “I don’t want you around Anna so leave –”
Landon feigned offence. “What, I’m not good enough?”
“You and I both know that you think you’re more than good enough, so cut the crap.”
Landon laughed and took my pencil away from me. He twisted it in his fingers. “You’re funny. So, what – you want me to end it with Anna?”
Landon looked like an owl with his eyes widening. “My, oh my. What a friend! You’re telling me to dump your best friend? Anna gives you too much credit when she talks about you…”
I glared at Landon who had led me into his trap. I hated him so much. Why did Anna have to like him of all people?
I pushed my papers back into my binder and zipped it up quickly with fury. “I’ve got my eye on you!” I grabbed my pencil away from him and stuck it in between my hair tie. I was out the door quickly, but not fast enough to miss his fast comeback, “And you like what you see…”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Now, I’m not going to lie. I had a diary. I didn’t journal every day about every single thing, but when important time periods in life passed, I had to rite it down to have it in print, to have that memory saved forever. Today was one of those days. A fight with Anna was big!
I can’t believe Landon Brown! He thinks he’s some hot god! Because of him, Anna is mad at me, and because of him, I’m mad at Anna. How could she be so thoughtless and agree to go out with him? How could she think I was being unsupportive? Okay, I was, but it’s for her own good! Landon is bad news and deep, deep, DEEP down, Anna knows it – it’s my job to dig that far until she reaches her senses and dumps Landon before he breaks her heart. I just want Anna to be happy like how I am with Ben, but not with this guy – this PIG. Why can’t she see the errors of her ways? Why can she only see this ugly side of me – this PROTECTIVE side of me?
When will this nightmare end…?
Ben looked up and smiled. “Sup, Landon?”
Landon slid into the seat next to Ben, which happened to be diagonal from me and shrugged. “Getting ready for a nap.”
Ben laughed at his joke.
Oh, ha-ha, so funny; you find history class boring! I rolled my eyes, but Landon caught it and threw me a wink without Ben noticing.
I was about to tell Ben about but then decided against it. How lame would it be to whine to my boyfriend that his friend had just winked at me? It hit me that it was my chance to get Ben on my side about getting rid of Landon…
“So, Landon,” I said loudly, gaining Ben’s attention as he finished last minute homework, “I hear you and Anna are going out tomorrow night. Is that right?”
Ben shot a curious look at me before focusing his eyes on Landon, waiting for an answer.
Landon’s light eyebrows drew together, but he was still wearing an adorable smile on his face as he tilted his head slightly. “Um, yeah…we’re going to see that new horror movie.”
I rolled my eyes. “Original.”
A horror movie? Could Landon get any more cliché? Could guys just get over that phase where they figured taking a girl to a scary movie would get them one step closer to cuddly and ‘the move’ move them ahead in their relationship. Even Ben had used that ploy on me on our third date, and I guess, yeah, his arm around me was a great feeling that made me like being around him a little more, but honestly, it was getting just a little old.
“Skylar, what’s your point?” Ben asked me, trying to save his friend. Apparently, according to Ben, when I strongly disliked a person, that person’s life got a whole lot more stressful.
“Don’t you remember that on Friday nights Anna and I come over and watch comedies until midnight?” I asked him, pointedly glaring at Landon as I switched between disbelief that Ben hardly cared.
“I thought you two were in a fight,” Ben shrugged.
Landon couldn’t smother in his laugh in a cough expertly enough for both Ben and I to miss.
Ben raised an eyebrow at him, and he stopped. When Ben turned my way again, Landon smirked at me. “I’m pretty sure we can all share Anna.”
I fixed my glared on him. How dare he try to humour the situation!
“So I can have the privilege of taking Anna out?” Landon teased me with twinkling eyes.
Ben grinned. “Of course.” My eyes boring through seemed to have no effect on him when he looked at me, because he kept smiling his dimple-less grin. “Right, Skylar?”
I looked at Ben, glanced at Landon, saw that my plan had failed, and rolled my eyes. For now.
Landon spotted Carter saunter into class with a redhead hanging onto his arm and headed over for an interesting conversation about their flavours of the week.
Ben leaned toward me. “Can’t you give Landon a chance?”
“He took our annual movie date!”
Ben stroked the bottom of my chin and smiled. “We can go out for a movie that night – a comedy. We can stay out until midnight.”
Normally, I would’ve said yes, but for the lack of backup from him, the tease in his voice, the joke in his eyes, and his thoughts of Landon taking our Anna away was fine, I declined.
“Nah,” I said, looking away from him. “Too much homework.”
When I got home that day, the first thing I did was grab an apple from the refrigerator and ate it on my way up the stairs to my room. I always grabbed an apple when I wanted to think things over.
I flopped on my bed and images of Anna and Landon appeared on my ceiling.
If Ben is talking this so lightly, shouldn’t you be too? I thought to myself. You know Ben is a great guy – he would be worried if there was a huge problem he sensed.
But then what was my problem? I was so fixed on the thoughts that Landon was wrong for Anna, and I had no real reason. The fact that he could hurt her like all the other girls he dated was hardly anything according to Ben and Anna. She was a big girl, right? And it seemed like Landon did like her…
I was trying to figure out if I should have been convincing myself to disagree with my old thoughts, or cross out my new ones.
Just give him a chance! If he messes up, try one more warning. If that doesn’t work, let fate plan itself out.
“Skylar!” my mom called from downstairs a few minutes before seven o’clock, a time when we would usually have dinner.
“Yeah, mom?” I answered, lifting my head from the pillows.
“Could you go run some errands for me at the grocery store?” she asked me. “I need some things for dinner tonight.”
“Sure thing!” I called. Anything to get my mind off my/Anna’s problems was well appreciated.
I slipped on my comfortable sneakers because I had to take a twenty minute walk to get to Sobey’s. As I looked over my mom’s list of tasty things, my stomach grumbled because it felt my apple was nothing useful. I picked up the pace to get dinner on the move.
I felt the cool air conditioning of the store and heard the faint radio music as I stepped inside and headed straight to the aisle where they had frozen vegetables. As soon as I gathered all the things I needed, I headed to the check-outs. I went the express lane, where there were only two people ahead of me and waited silently.
Unfortunately, a creepy voice and cool touch caused me to jump. “Hey there, Skylar…”
I recognized the onion breath of Mr. Rankle, a man who I used to work for a few weeks ago. He’d hired me to work in his garden this summer because of his back problems, but I found out that there was only a problem with his eyes, because he used binoculars every day to watch me water the plants and hunched under a bush at the end of each week to watch me stoop over and dig out weeds. There is nothing creepier than a fifty-year-old man getting aroused by me sweating as I tugged violently at sharp needles. Over all that – before I figured out his issues – he’d invite me for lemonade at the end of each day and watch me drink slowly when I thought he was watching TV in the other room.
“I think I’ll need you to help with the leaves on my yard,” he said softly, his hands resting on my shoulders. “I could pay you double.”
I slid out of his grip and brushed oldie off my shoulders in disgust. “Never!” I briskly walked to the end of a regular line up that held six more people in front of me. It didn’t matter. I’d rather wait longer than be some old guy’s play toy.
I shivered at the look Mr. Rankle was giving me, sizing me up in that creepy way again. Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up… I willed the line to move faster. After another glance at Mr. Rankle’s twisted grin, I decided to focus someplace else. Looking outside, I couldn’t see the raindrops, but I did see people pulling up their hoods, and the tiny kids being wrapped in sweaters as they tried to dance. Great – rain was just what I needed on a walk home with hands full of groceries.
Seeing the lady ahead of me pay with a smile and leave, I pushed my mom’s things up to get scanned.
“Why is the sky so blue?”
I frowned as I fished around in my wallet, but the comment made sense as soon as I looked up into dazzling green eyes that twinkled mischievously.
“What are you doing here, Landon?” I asked him tiredly.
“Get it? Sky? Skylar? Blue? See what I did there?” He grinned because he knew he was pushing my buttons. “I work here, ma’am,” he said with a grin. He flicked off his check-out light to show that his lane was closed and pushed the sign to the end of the moving carpet counter. “How else would I buy goodies for my ladies?”
I rolled my eyes. “Pig.”
“Really?” Landon said. “If you were my girlfriend, you wouldn’t want me to buy you things?”
“Don’t even go there, Landon.”
He laughed his hearty laugh that made a wonderful sound. His smile made me want to punch him out. “Cash or credit?”
I gave him exactly that and he pouted slightly as he packed my plastic bags. “No tip?”
“Wait a second,” Landon called after me as I began walking away. I don’t know why, but I stopped and waited for him. “About me taking Anna away from your Friday night movie thing –”
“Don’t wanna talk about that,” I said dismissively, turning on my heel. Landon’s hand was on my arm in a second and he held me back sturdily, but with a light grip. “What?”
Landon gave me a look. “C’mon, Skylar; we both know that you couldn’t care less that she missed it. She’s mad at you isn’t she? The only reason why you’re so ticked off is because she’d spending that time with me, right? And you also got into that fight because of me?”
I sighed impatiently. “Landon, you’re psychic. We both realize that you are the source of all problems. Can I go now?”
His hand was still around my arm, but it felt soothingly warm with a gentle squeeze that was as comforting as Ben’s. Possibly more… At the thought, I whipped my hand away.
“Lemme at least give you a ride,” Landon offered, pocketing his hands. “You don’t want to walk home in the rain do you?”
“How do you know I didn’t drive?” I asked him, narrowing my eyes.
Landon shrugged. “I saw you from the window when you were at the streetlight.”
That wasn’t weird at all.
I shook my head. “I’m fine. It’s just rain.”
Landon shook his head, mocking me slightly. “Not when it’s getting darker. And not when there are guys like him out there.” He nodded over and I locked eyes with Mr. Rankle. I felt myself shudder. Landon caught it because smiled. “Whad’ya say?”
“Thank you,” I said curtly.
I waited for him to put his stuff away, tell his boss he was ducking out, and grab his keys. Together we walked out of the store with Landon carrying my bags for me. Sure enough, when we strolled out into the parking lot, Mr. Rankle was leaning on the wall with his groceries, obviously waiting fro me. When he caught sight of Landon, and when Landon shot him a look, he moved on.
“You’re welcome, ma’am.”
I just rolled my eyes. I didn’t need him to think any higher of himself just because he could give dirty looks. If anyone could be hot-headed about that, it was me. I was the master at dirty looks, and Landon was my servant that always received them.
Landon opened the passenger seat door for me with a smile and I climbed in silently, waiting for him to close it without a word. Of course he did the exact opposite. “Usually, when I do this for a girl, she blushes and smiles.”
“Then I guess all the girl’s you’ve dated were airheads.”
Landon chuckled as he placed my bags in the backseat. “Anna was one of them.”
I tried not to let the unattractive growl sound outside the depths of my throat.
As we pulled out of the parking lot, Landon started up a conversation. Naturally, it was about something I didn’t like to talk about: him.
“So why do you hate me so much?”
I leaned my head on his window and told him to turn right. “I think – no, I know – you’re a jerk. If you hadn’t noticed, Anna is my best friend, and I don’t want you around her.”
“Because you think – know – I’m a jerk?”
Landon shrugged. “Maybe you’re jealous…”
I looked over at him. “Of?”
“Anna. Who else?”
I completely lifted my head to stare at him. “And why?”
Landon looked over at me and smiled. “Because she has me.”
I smiled too. Landon was insane. He had it fixed in his brain that every girl had to hots for him. What a sleazy little pig full of –
“You’re insane,” I told him. “If you hadn’t noticed, I have a boyfriend. Crazily enough, he’s your friend.”
Landon laughed that laugh again and I rolled my eyes and point left. “Oh, I noticed. Even so, I’d be pretty jealous of Ben too.”
I narrowed my eyes. “Why?”
“Because you’re hot.” Landon shrugged. “Why else?”
“That’s a compliment, sweetheart,” Landon informed me with a smile. “If only you were actually nice to me – wow! Maybe I’d be dating you instead of Anna.”
I closed my eyes slowly, and bit the inside of my cheek to keep myself from screaming. Landon would never rest. Even with his girlfriend’s best friend, he couldn’t control his raging hormones enough to give his pick ups a rest.
“Straight ahead, jerk.”
“Is that my new nickname?”
Breathe, I told myself, just breathe.
“Here it is.” I unbuckled my seat belt and reached over to the backseat to grab my grocery bags. By the time I was facing front again, we were parked in the driveway and Landon was at my door, ready to open it again.
“Again: you’re welcome.”
Wordlessly I stomped up my driveway, and into my house, feeling Landon’s beautiful eyes boring into my back the whole way.
“That was fast,” my mom commented when I dropped her stuff off in the kitchen. “I thought the walk back would take longer…”
“Someone gave me a ride,” I told her, washing my hands and getting ready to help prepare tonight’s late course.
My mom looked stricken. “Not a stranger, I hope!”
“No, Mom, not a stranger.”
I thought of Landon’s face full of himself and jokes and scowled as I furiously shook my head. “No, not a friend.”
You won’t believe what happened today…
I didn’t bother telling Ben about my encounter with Landon yesterday. He would only make up excuses, saying he was only teasing; only trying to sweeten me up to get him to like him as a friend since he was with Anna. And I suppose that could’ve been the case too, but by the way Landon laughed about it, and the way he looked at me, I could tell that that wasn’t the issue.
“Coming to the game tonight or are you still mad at me?”
“I was never mad at you, Ben,” I told him without looking away from my cell phone. I was busy texting Anna. We weren’t exactly over our fight yet, but we were on contact terms – at least, technology-wise. I knew that when we passed each other in the hall, we wouldn’t be ready for the usual thirty second gabber about what we missed in each other’s classes, but we wouldn’t completely ignore each other either.
Anna: y r u so hung over about 2day? we can reschedule.
To save us from a cyber fight, I sighed heavily and typed what she wanted to hear.
Skylar: fine. w.e. go ahead & hav fun
“Hellooooo?” Ben said, waving his hand in front of my face. “Earth the Skylar?”
“Sorry, Ben.” I put away my phone and smiled up at him. “Of course I’ll come to the game. I wouldn’t miss seeing you play. Even if you are spending an hour just to run up and down the same court with a ball.”
Ben grinned and slipped into a seat beside me. “I love your love for basketball…” He leaned over and gave me a quick kiss, telling me that he was sorry for whatever he did wrong and he wanted to get back to our joking ways.
I felt the same way, even if he didn’t exactly see the errors of his ways. “So, what is the team doing after that?” I asked him. Whatever it was, Landon was ditching just to meet up with Anna, and for some reason, I couldn’t get that out of my head. I knew it wasn’t just the fact that we were missing our movie night, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Landon’s cockiness had something to do with it, but that wasn’t my pin-point reason.
My mind veered over to our conversation last night. How dare he think that I was jealous – of my best friend of all people! He actually thought I liked him! Sure, Landon was charming and gorgeous and funny, but he was also shallow, cold, and heartless. I could never like someone like him!
Ben’s voice brought me back to reality, and I zeroed in on him again. “…Win then we’ll grab some pizza. If we lose, we’ll grab some pizza. So either way –”
“I’m tagging along for pizza?” I guessed.
Ben grinned and stroked my chin. “That’s my girl. We’ll be out for about an hour or so, so we can still catch a movie at seven if you’re up for it?”
I nodded, agreeing with him despite my decline yesterday. A movie date with Ben was what I needed right now – a time to patch up whatever slight tear there was in our relationship and a time to relax and get my mind off Anna’s mistake of a relationship.
Class started shortly after, when Landon and Anna had come into class together and sat at the back of the room, holding hands, smiling, laughing, and making me sick.
Mrs. Hanker clapped for our attention and told us to settle down. She went right into the lesson, reminding us about the presentations about fine details about different cultures and religions and backgrounds of different countries the world. We’d have to work on the project in groups of two, and since she loved to ruin our lives, she was picking the partners.
She chose according to how we sat. Since our desks were in six rows of four, she partnered the last and first person in the row with each other.
I turned around slowly to see who I saw stuck with. With cruel fate leading my life so often, I wasn’t even surprised to see Landon wearing a smirk on his face as he sent me a wave.
“Start your planning!” Mrs. Hanker said, dismissing us to work.
I saw that Anna was paired up with Lindsey Marsh and offered her a sympathetic smile as we crossed paths. We didn’t speak but she did smile back, and I knew that were getting closer.
The smile was wiped off my face by Landon.
“Not really,” I shrugged, trying to not show my distaste to his face.
“Cool,” he nodded, leaning back on his chair. “So what’s our project about?”
I really hoped that he was planning on actually doing work. If he wasn’t, he would have a lot more to deal with than just me being mad about him dating my best friend.
“I was thinking maybe China…” I said, trying to get the ball rolling.
Landon shrugged. “Sure. I don’t care.”
I glared. There was no way. “You should care! We’re doing equal share of the work, mister, and if we fail, you’ll have to deal with me.”
Landon grinned and leaned forward in his chair. “Seems fun. Deal with me, Skylar.”
Aaaaargh! I felt like ripping out the shiny black locks right out of my head! No, scratch that – I felt like ripping his sandy brown hair right out of his scalp!
“Tomorrow,” I said tightly. “My house. Noon. We will work.”
Landon nodded, the smile gone from his face.
Good. He knew I meant business.
After a tight game of ball throwing, jersey-pulling, and sweat triggering, the guys had won 49-45, and celebrated for awhile. I sat with the other player’s girlfriends which included Kelly, who was currently on with Reese.
“So Anna and Landon?” Kelly said to our table, juicy for something to talk about. She obviously knew what she was doing because the other girls buzzed with curiosity and apprehension.
“She’s lucky,” said Crystal, glancing over her shoulder to make sure we weren’t being overheard. “Landon’s totally hot.”
“And a total jerk.”
This comment didn’t come from me. It came from three others girls at the table, Michelle, Sara, and Lisa, who had the misfortune of dating Landon.
“He’s a pig – totally focussed on my ‘shirt’ the whole time,” Lisa said, rolling her eyes. “Poor Anna, all petite and shy and quiet – an easy target. I’m glad I found Chris.” She looked over at her boyfriend who was laughing along with the rest of his team.
My stomach flipped over with the thought of Anna as anyone’s target. It made me wonder if my decision to stop being over protective was right or not.
“So he’s a total waste of time?” I asked them. “That’s what you’re saying, right?”
“Well…” Michelle sang.
“Michelle!” Lisa and Sara exclaimed at the same time.
“What?” Michelle said with a small smile. “He was really sweet sometimes. Like when my mom was sick, and I’d being taking care of the house, and my dad was taking care of my mom, Landon would come over and make dinner for us every night. She was sick for three weeks.”
I was surprised to hear myself utter the sound too. I just couldn’t help it. With my dad passing away from cancer a few years back, I knew how hard it was to manage life with my mom trying to help him at home and keep the house running. That was pretty nice of Landon. I was surprised that he could cook, and was willing to cook for a family of three every single night for three weeks.
“Yeah, Landon has his moments,” Sara agreed with a slight smile. “I remember when I was had the flu for a week, he took all my notes for me and brought me tea at lunch time.”
I sighed inaudibly. How could this be? Here I was, having it fixed in my brain that Landon was some jerk that couldn’t be trusted no matter what, but he’d waltz in and do nice things like what the girls were mentioning.
“What about you, Lisa?” Crystal asked. “Was he one hundred percent jerk all the time?”
Lisa frowned. “Well, no… There was that one time when he stayed out to help find my lost puppy, Prince Charming. He was just ten weeks old and Landon spent three house looking for him with me and he found him an hour later, when I’d gone back home to cry…”
“That is soooo –”
All three exes of Landon sighed wistfully. “Yeah…”
I glanced at their boyfriends hanging out with Ben and having no idea that they were thinking back to good moments with their old irresistible boyfriend. How could they sit and do that to them? I knew girls were just hopeless romantics and Landon was ‘Prince Charming’ himself, but it was still wrong…
Of all the high talk of Landon, I slowly started to wonder if he going out with Anna was such a bad thing. Anna was the closest thing to perfect, so he wouldn’t have a good reason to actually dump her.
Maybe their relationship would last.
Maybe I was worrying for no reason.
Maybe Saturday wouldn’t be so bad.
Today I found out some things about Landon and it’s making me crazy. I’m so confused about him! He acts like a super jerk and super flirt, but the girls say he has this total soft side to him! Which part of Landon should I believe in? Which part will he show when he’s with Anna – his jerk side or only his sweet side? Or worse – BOTH!!!!!!!!!!! I mean, those girls stayed with him because he was a total sweetheart, but then he transformed into this thing that dumped over Facebook, text, and IM. Sometimes he would even get his new girlfriend to do it for him! I just don’t know what to do! Anna still won’t talk to me, but I don’t know if I should warn her or let things unfold for themselves…
“You’re dressed like that?”
“What’s wrong with this?” I asked my mom and glanced at her in the hall. I looked down at my grey sweat pants, blue fitted tee, and checked out my messy ponytail in the mirror. Not exactly what I’d wear if Ben was coming over, but that was exactly it. It wasn’t Ben; it was Landon. Even if I was going give his good side a chance to show its colours, I wasn’t going to dress to impress.
“Don’t you want to be presentable?” she asked me.
“He’s just a guy,” I told my mom with a head shake. I looked her right in the eyes. “Anna’s guy, mind you.”
Mom held her hands up in surrender and smiled. “All right. You can dress however you want. I’ll be at the mall for most of the day, so you two are here by yourselves, okay?”
“Yeah, sure, whatever…” I agreed, as I kicked past my materials on the hallway floor.
“You know how to act when you’re by yourself with a boy, Skylar.”
“Yes, Mom,” I said with an eye roll. “You leave me home with Ben all the time. And this is Landon – Anna’s boyfriend, remember?”
I was pretty sure that I mentioned that enough times to her, but I was just making it clear. To who? The thought struck me suddenly and I shook it off like a fly.
I began to wonder if I could make the time with Landon better by inviting Anna over. Maybe seeing his sweet side in action would make me hate him less, and rebuild my friendship with Anna! But then I remembered that Anna was already over at Lindsey’s house getting tortured while trying to work.
Mom nodded and smiled as she started down the stairs. “Of course. Have fun.”
“Working on a school project?” I asked, following her downstairs.
Mom rolled her eyes at me and grabbed her shoes from the closest with her leather jacket, ready for a shopping spree. “You know what I mean.”
I opened the door for her and was surprised to see Landon already poised to knock on the door. He smiled. “Hey.”
“Hi.” I nodded to Mom. “This is my mom.”
Mom smiled, obviously happy that she got to meet the boy that had currently stolen Anna’s heart. “Hello. I’m Debra King.”
“Landon Brown,” he introduced. He took her hand and kissed it. He grinned with and his dimples made an appearance. “Now I understand how Skylar is so beautiful…”
My mom giggled and returned the grin as she slipped past him. “You’re too kind. I’ll see you in a few hours, Skylar? Feel free to stay for dinner, Landon.”
“Sure thing,” he replied with a smile.
We watched my mom head to her car and duck inside, excited to shop till she dropped. When she pulled out of the driveway and disappeared down the street, I invited Landon into the house.
“You’re an expert at good first impressions,” I commented with a chuckle as I led him to the kitchen.
“Let’s just say I’ve had tons of experience.”
I looked at him a second longer than necessary. “Let’s just keep it at that.” I said, opening the refrigerator. “So, are you hungry? There’s a ton in the fridge.”
“I know,” Landon said. “I checked out your groceries remember?”
I rolled my eyes, but not harshly, and pulled out a can of Coke for him and a bottle of water for myself. “So I was thinking that we work in my room because I have my computer and everything up there already. Plus, downstairs is really messy. Sound good?”
“Sounds perfect.” Landon smiled in a way that made me guess that he had funny things going through his head, but I didn’t say anything about it, because I was trying to let the sweet Landon come out of hiding.
I led him up to my room, picking up the materials that I had kicked around a few minutes earlier on the way. I settled on my bed and spread the things out on the floor after grabbing my desk chair for Landon.
“First things first: choosing our country.”
“I told you that I don’t care,” Landon said. “Whatever you want.”
“That doesn’t help at all,” I said, stretching across my bed to reach the notebook on my desk. I grabbed it, opened it to a fresh page ready to work, and scribbled China across the front. “So, China it is. How are we splitting the work?”
Landon spun back and forth on my chair in a half circle, made a full turn and ended with a smile that I found both annoying and charming at the same time. His smile in itself didn’t make me uncomfortable, but that fact that he was giving me the smile when I saw him give the same one to Anna was what bothered me.
“What?” I asked him, tucking my hair behind my ear. “Why are you smiling like that?”
“You’re funny, that’s all,” Landon said simply.
“Okaaaaay,” I said, putting my pencil away, “how am I funny?"
Landon shrugged. “You think you know all this stuff about me, when really, you know nothing.”
I held his gaze for a few seconds, not knowing what to say. Whatever did he mean by that? What was he hinting at? Was I just over thinking things again?
“And that’s funny?” I asked him. He nodded. I challenged him. “Give me an example.”
Landon’s smile turned into an amused one. I could read his smiles like a pro now, and I didn’t find that as a good thing. “Well, just now. You’re acting like I’m not going to do any work.”
“Well, are you?”
“If you let me.”
“Of course I’ll let you!” I exclaimed. “I have things to do too, you know! I have a life.”
I frowned slightly. Ben? What did Ben have to do with this? I nodded anyway. “Yeah, I guess I have a life with Ben.”
Landon shook away my words like that bump in our conversation never happened. “And it’s funny how you think that dressing so laid back will make me find you any less attractive than you already are.”
I stared at Landon. Did he really just say that? I guess, in a way, I was happy that he thought I was pretty, but a compliment like that was exactly something he’d say in front of Ben or Anna so it definitely shouldn’t have been said when neither of them here.
“Um…okay. Thank you?”
Again, Landon words hopped over the bump again, and continued on. “It’s also funny how you think that I’m not right for Anna.”
Finally, something that I wanted to talk about (besides our project, of course…). I shook my head slowly, the words of Michelle, Lisa, and Sara all coming back now. Maybe if I let Landon know that I had faith that he could treat Anna right, he actually would treat her right. “Well, no. Not so much anymore. I believe that you’re acceptable for her.”
Landon frowned. “You do?”
I nodded. “So? Is that a bad thing?”
Landon hesitated before he answered me. “Uh, no, of course not. Why would it be?”
I looked at him closely. “I don’t know; you tell me.”
Landon smiled teasingly. “Is that why you’ve been so nice to me today?”
“Because you think I’m a nice guy?”
“I think that you can sometimes be a nice guy…”
Landon ran his fingers through his hair with a sigh and his smile vanished. He leaned forward, as if he were going to tell me a deep, dark, dirty secret. “I’m not.”
“A nice guy.”
I pushed my notebook aside and sat on the edge of my bed, my legs a mere inch away from Landon’s. I tucked my pencil into the butt of my hair tie, getting serious. “What are you going on about?”
Landon shook his head slowly. “You’ll hate me for this…”
Oh, no. Anna… All I could think about what bad case scenarios with Anna. Landon cheating on her; Landon standing her up to the point that she was on tears; Landon making fun of her hippie parents; Landon getting her pregnant!
“What did you do?” I asked him, trying to keep my voice even.
Landon stared into my eyes, and he looked torn between being happy and torn between feeling guilty. “It’s…it’s what I’m trying not to do.”
Landon didn’t answer me. He simply stood up. In one quick, yet fatal move, he had his hand down on my waist and another on my cheek, and pulled me toward him for a kiss.
I was so shocked by the kiss that I didn’t stop him. His lips stayed pressed to mine softly, and I didn’t move in protest at all. By the time I was over the shock, I was so mesmerized by the kiss that I didn’t want it to stop and I felt my self leaning in, kissing him back.
Our lips moving together…
His body leaning against mine…
My hands through his amazing hair…
Then – wake up call – I was out of it!
“Landon!” I pushed him away and jumped to the other side of my bed in disgust…with myself. Why had I let that happen? Why couldn’t I stop him?
“Skylar, you know that I –”
“Get out!” I cried. I pointed to the door. “Get out, get out, get out!”
Landon looked distressed as if he wanted to spend eons of time with me, but couldn’t. I felt tears begging to be set free, but I willed them to hold as I rushed him away.
“Landon, you have to leave right now! You can’t – Eee!”
I found myself on the floor, my legs tangled in a black bag that I hadn’t seen. A pair of strong hands helped me to my feet, and I was looking into Landon’s impossibly beautiful eyes once again. “Skylar, are you all right?”
I nodded quickly. “Just a stupid bag…” I looked back and noticed whose stupid bag it was and choked up. “Ben’s bag.” I looked back at Landon and my tears spilled over. “You have to go. You have to go NOW!”
I pushed him out of my room, and I pushed him down the stairs, and I pushed him out the door saying, “Just go, just GO!” the whole time.
Landon finally gave up and sulked back to his car. I didn’t bother watching him drive away. I ran back up to my room and kicked down the chair that he was sitting on. I kicked Ben’s bag to the corner of the room, guilt overflowing in gallons of tears.
I flopped back on my bed, my head in the pillows. The worst part about of the kiss was that I enjoyed it all. I enjoyed kissing Landon, my best friend’s boyfriend. I enjoyed kissing Landon, my boyfriend’s friend. I enjoyed kissing Landon, and it was the best kiss I’d ever experienced.
The only thing that sucked worse than betraying my boyfriend and my best friend simultaneously was that I knew that if I was given the chance to redo that scene, I wouldn’t have deleted it – I would’ve kept it on replay.
I was jumpy as I walked to school that morning. Every cry out was followed by an image of Anna of Ben in a state of hurt, shock, and slight anger. I’d turn around, and just see some other random kids having fun and acting like everything in the world was perfect – in their worlds it was. In their worlds, they weren’t all back-stabbing hypocrites like me.
I plugged my earphones into my ears, hoping to get lost in the endless songs that filled my iPod and nearly took away the pain from my reality. I was so engulfed in my tunes that I didn’t hear anyone approaching me until they were loudly saying my name and their arms were wrapped around my waist.
My first thought was Landon. My second thought was his lips. My third thought was, ‘You witch! Get over him!’ So I turned around, expecting to see emeralds of undeniable beauty, but instead saw the innocence and purity of blue.
I unplugged my earphones and stared at her dumbfounded that speaking terms were back on so quickly. “Um… hi?”
Anna gave me a sad smile and leaned her head on my shoulder with a sigh. “I’m so sorry!”
I couldn’t believe the irony in my life. Anna was apologizing to me at this moment – there was no way she knew yet. Yet?!?! It had to be kept this way! There was no way I could let my nightmares as a friendless boyfriend stealer come true!
“Sorry? Why are you –?”
Anna hugged me tightly and we stopped walking. “I can’t stand not talking to you for this long! I’m sorry, sorry, sorry! I understand why you’re wary of Landon, but I shouldn’t have overreacted.”
I shook my head stubbornly, trying to shift the blame to me. Maybe blame would make the guilt wear off? “No, Anna, this is my fault. I’m bossy and I try to run you, but –”
“Nothing more about it!” Anna interrupted. “We’re both forgiven?”
I nodded, my stomach flipping at her adorable face. “Yeah. Totally forgiven.”
“Great!” Anna exclaimed. “Because I have an idea that can’t fail us or our friendship!”
“You do?” I asked her as we turned into the schoolyard. I spotted Landon’s crowd, Carter, but no Landon. I exhaled with relief. “What is it?”
Anna led me around the side of the school and smiled as she took my hand. “You hate Landon, right?”
“Well, not so much anymore because –”
“I decided that you two should get to know each other,” Anna said. “That way, you could actually like him and not, you know, throw up every time you see us together.”
I stopped in my tracks. “No.”
Anna frowned at me. “No?” She looked saddened. “You can’t even give him a chance, Skylar?”
“I told you she wouldn’t.”
My mouth dropped open as Ben came into view with Landon in tow with uncharacteristic shy smile. “You’re in on her little plan?”
Ben laughed and smothered me in a hug jokingly. “Nah; she just ran it by me, that’s all. But I told her you wouldn’t be up for it.”
Anna still looked sad as her small shoulders were warmed by Landon’s arm. “Skylar…”
I couldn’t even meet Landon’s eyes even though I knew they were searching me and willing me to look over at him. I gently pushed Ben away and folded my arms across my chest.
“You know, this is ridiculous, right?” I said to them all. “I don’t need an intervention for him! He’s just one guy! Ben, if you want me to like your friend, fine I will! Anna, if you want me to be cool with you’re boyfriend, I will! Just don’t make me try to love him as much as you two do!”
I looked at the two of them, waiting for responses. They both looked wary, as if they were afraid that I was going to blow up again. This was not what I wanted. This was not what I expected to happen when Anna’s shirt got soaked!
I tried for my best ‘I’m-just-kidding’ smile and opened my arms for Anna. “Sure, I’ll try your plan. C’mere.”
She hugged me back, and I felt this overwhelming feeling of guilt. For the first time since yesterday, I locked eyes with Landon. He tried for a normal smile, but something was held back, and he wasn’t his normal cocky self that I somehow fell for.
After a painful lunch with Landon and Anna acting all cutesy as couples do for the first few weeks of their relationships, we had spare, so I decided to lollygag and do nothing, hoping my guilty thoughts wouldn’t kill me before my broken heart could.
“You have to talk to me.”
I jumped at the sound of an undeniable voice that I’d come to love and hate simultaneously (if that was possible). I turned on Landon quickly. “You’re making trouble.”
“You are, Skylar!” he exclaimed, coming closer. He looked around a few times before grabbing me and pulling me outside of the school, back to the place where the four of us were this morning. “You know that you like me and it kills you. …You know that I like you and that kills me. So can you just drop this stupid act and admit it already!”
I glared at him. “Listen to me: Anna is my best friend. SHE likes you! NOT me! HER! Even if I did have the slightest feelings for you, I’d never do anything about them because you’re with another girl.”
Landon gave me a look that I read as disbelief.
I blushed with fury. I didn’t believe myself either. Who would after the amazing episode in my bedroom on Saturday?
“What about that kiss, Skylar?” Landon asked me, daring me to lie. “You know that meant something or you wouldn’t have been crying!”
“Shut up!” I hissed, covering his mouth quickly. “If anybody hears us, we're screwed. Scratch that, we are already screwed! How can you live with yourself? I know I can’t!”
Landon turned his back on me and ran his fingers through his hair slowly before meeting my eyes again. “You know I have feelings – that’s why you gave me that chance after all, isn’t it? So you know that this is killing me too. But not being with you is hurting even more.”
My head was spinning at his words. I dropped to the ground, my head between my knees. “My life’s a mess.”
Landon sighed and dropped beside me. “Yeah, I know; and it’s all my fault.”
I looked at his sad silhouette and felt bad. I was pushing all the blame on him when this was just as much my fault as his. Why would I take him to my room? Why couldn’t I just focus on China? Why had I shown any emotion at all? I couldn’t let Landon – sweet, adorable, and caring as he secretly was – have this huge burden on his shoulders.
I lifted my head to look at him and nudged him softly until he lifted his head too. “It’s not completely your fault.” I smiled tiredly. “I’m the one that fell for you.”
Landon smiled, this time all out, and his eyes were in the smile too. I could tell that he wanted to kiss me then. I could tell that he wanted to wrap me in his arms, but he held back because he didn’t want me yelling at him again. …But I wanted it as much as he.
I nodded slowly, and he understood. He lifted my chin with his fingers and placed a long kiss on my waiting lips.
“Skylar? Landon? You out here?”
Landon and I separated right away and he dragged himself a few safe feet away from me on the ground just as Anna round the corner. She paused for a second, assessing the scene, and then grinned. “You two are getting along?”
Landon nodded and got up, putting his arm around her. “You bet.”
The sight caused my heart to cramp up a little bit, but I let it go without scolding. My brain tried to punish me with the brutal truth: Serves you right! Landon is Anna’s, NOT yours!
I went back to the feeling of Landon’s kiss and that put a smile on my face as I got off the ground too. I simply waved to Anna and Landon as I tried to leave without evidence of weasel-like behaviour, “See you two later.”
I only wished that my actions would follow through with my brain eventually so I wouldn’t lose my best friend.
“I’m glad you two are okay again,” my mom said with a smile as she sifted through paperwork.
I grabbed a bowl of popcorn and candy for my Tuesday night sleepover with Anna. We had the next day off because of report cards. I nodded and smiled back at my mom. “Same.”
I guess my answer wasn’t convincing because my mom peered over her glasses suspiciously. “You two are okay, right?”
I nodded quickly. “Uh-huh. Why wouldn’t we be?”
My mom just shrugged. “No reason; if you say so.”
I scurried down the hall and up the steps to my room. My mom knew something was up and I didn’t like that. If she ever found out that I had been up to something with Landon, she would never look at me the same. She’d be disgusted that I’d got up to something with my best friend’s boyfriend – heck, so was I!
I placed our junk on the desk next to us and flopped on my bed next to Anna. “So what are we watching?”
“Sorry I missed the last Friday night,” Anna said right away, ignoring my question. To her, this was obviously more important. To me, anything to keep us off the subject of Landon was great. It didn’t look like that was going to be the case though.
I shook my head and stuffed my mouth with popcorn. “No problem. Enjoy his company as much as you want.”
“But we’re best friends and I betrayed you.”
I tried to cover up my coughing as I choked on a kernel in my throat. If anyone should be feeling guilty about betrayal… “Anna, you’re too nice. Juts drop it. Drop everything. Pretend I was always onboard with you and Landon because now I am.”
Another crack in my heart.
Anna grinned. “Good to hear it. ’Cause you know he’s a great guy. If you weren’t with Ben, and I weren’t with him, I think you’d actually like him. I think you’d be head over heels.”
You have no idea…
“But Ben is amazing, so I’m good for now,” I teased, changing the channel to Family Guy and stopping to watch.
“Ew, turn it off,” Anna complained. “This show is too dirty.”
I rolled my eyes and smiled and my angelic best friend. If only I were as good as her…
“So anyway,” Anna said, turning to me, “what were you and Landon talking about when I saw you two outside?”
I gulped, but not visibly. I twirled my hair around my finger. “Oh, you know… Normal stuff… We talked about you obviously – a lot actually…”
Anna nodded, waiting for more – the more that I didn’t have! I rolled my eyes and laughed shakily. “It was such small talk that I can’t even remember…”
Anna shrugged and took my answer. “Okay… Well, Landon remembered.”
I looked at her quickly. “Huh?”
“I asked him,” she said calmly. “And he said that you guys talked about sports, and school, and your families, and he said that you had very little to say about me, because you two were focussing on each other. He said that you wouldn’t shut up about Ben.”
I yawned and took that moment to close my eyes and curse in my head. Damn it Landon! I ruffled my hair. “Yeah, I guess. It’s coming back. We talked about that stuff.”
“It’s funny,” Anna said slowly, “that you forgot that you spoke so much about Ben, your boyfriend.”
I blinked. “I’m sorry? It’s just Ben; I’m with him all the time.”
I snuck a look at Anna while she jumped channels. I didn’t like her tone and I was starting to get scared. I took a shaky cup of Coke.
“Lindsey told me to go looking for you two,” Anna said in a nonchalant tone. “She thought I’d be interested in what you two were discussing outside – alone.”
I nearly spit it out. Instead I gulped and coughed subtly. “Um… okay… Lindsey? Since when do you talk to her?”
“She’s my project partner.” Anna stared at me. “You’d be surprised by how close project partners can get… Who’s yours again?”
“You know it’s Landon.”
“Ahh,” she mused, “that’s right.”
I let out a shaky laugh and ran my fingers through my hair, trying to buy valuable time. Anna was obviously waiting for me to say something, but I didn’t know what would be too much or too little!
Instead, I yawned. “I’m pretty tired…long day at school, ya know? Want to pack it in?”
Anna stared at me. “You just brought up the food and it’s only ten o’clock.”
Anna eyed me quizzically. “What’s up with you? Tell me.”
Some part of me wanted to yell out the truth because it was eating me alive, but another just told me to play stupid until it was too late. No matter what I said to myself, a tiny part of me had the feeling that Anna wasn’t clueless about what was going on between me and Landon. Whether she knew how serious it was or not, I didn’t know, but I didn’t hope to ever find out.
Anna’s jaw set, then relaxed. “Fine. Don’t tell me.”
“Tell you what?” I asked her, taking the remote.
“How about secrets?” Anna stage whispered, her smile returning. “Remember how we only told secrets at our sleepovers, like, seven years ago.”
“Yeah,” I said with a smile, “but now we can tell them any time, you know that.”
“I do,” she said. She looked at me. “Do you?”
I nodded, avoiding her gaze.
“So how are you and Ben? You guys seem a little distant…”
“We’re fine, Anna,” I said, landing on Family Guy again. This time Anna didn’t comment on it. She was too busy studying me. I turned to the TV as Stewie appeared onscreen with his gun. “We’ve just been busy. We hung out after the game that Friday night since you were out with Landon.”
I looked back at Anna, startled. I was too stunned to speak. Her words cut through me like a knife and the emotion on her face was terrifying. “Anna…”
“How can you lay here and talk about your boyfriend like everything’s fine when tomorrow you’re just going to sneaking around with mine?” Anna raged. “How can you easily talk about Landon without so much as a flinch when you know how much I liked him?”
I was stunned to feel my eyes overflow with tears immediately. Anna knew everything. She was mad at me – no, pissed at me – and she would never, ever forgive me. Who would? I was a back-stabbing boyfriend stealer.
“Don’t you dare try to make me feel sorry for you!” Anna spat, her eyes dangerously getting darker. “I saw you two behind the school! That kiss wasn’t guilty!”
I hung my head in shame. She was right. There wasn’t anything in that kiss but longing for more.
“Well?” she said sharply. “What do you have to say for yourself?”
I looked up slowly and my heart broke at the sight of her tears. I was a monster. I was a monster that couldn’t be stopped. How could I think that for one second it was okay to betray her? No matter how good-looking Landon was, no matter how sweet he was, and no matter how irresistible he was, I couldn’t pick him over my best friend. …If she would ever be my best friend again.
I said the only thing I could think of. “I'm sorry…”
Anna was already half-way down the stairs before she could hear my pathetic reply.
I turned away from my mother, ashamed. Of course she’d tugged the truth out of me yesterday and was thinking ‘what have a raised?’ no doubt. My day off wasn’t nearly as relaxed as I’d hope it would have been. Mom looked at me sadly and shook her head.
She looked at her watch and tapped it. “It’s quarter to eight. You should head to school.”
“I can’t go to school, Mom!” I said, plunging my head into my pillow to drown out the ringing in my ears. “I can’t face Anna! I can’t face Landon! I can’t face Ben! I can’t face anyone!”
I felt my mattress sink slightly with my mom’s weight and her slender hands run up and down my back. “You’re going to have to face them sometime dear. “Why not now?”
“Exactly,” my mom said to me. “Ben doesn’t deserve this. He at least needs closure. …If he wants closure.”
“Who wouldn’t?” I exclaimed, lifting my head. “Why would he still stay with me after what I’ve done? I’m a low-life slu–”
“You are not!” my mom said, cutting me off sternly. “You just made a little mistake.”
Little mistake… I thought to myself bitterly. Yeah, all I did was rip a life long friendship in half…
“Please, Mom?” I asked her, meeting her eyes. “Just for today?”
My mom sighed deeply. “Fine.” She got up and straightened the creases in her work pants. “Just for today, Skylar King.”
I nodded thankfully.
When my mom finally left, I started wondering again. How bad was the damage? Anna wasn’t the kind of girl that liked to announce conflict all over the place, so I doubted she yelled about me stealing her guy. But then again, Anna hadn’t ever used the word ‘b*tch’ as far as I’d known until Tuesday night… It was the day before yesterday, but I felt like it’d happened only one minute ago.
So how many people did know? Or more importantly, did Ben know? He probably did, but he wasn’t saying anything about to me. He had Tuesday night and all day Wednesday to storm up to my door, but it was now Thursday morning and there was still nothing from him. Either he was ignorant to his unfaithful partner, or he was waiting for me to make the first move and apologize to him.
I settled back into bed for a long nap. Hopefully I would wake up and everything – from the day when Landon noticed Anna to the day he especially noticed me – would just be one big nightmare…
“Hey, Skylar…you look really pretty today…”
I had smiled and blushed terribly. “Aw, thanks, Ben.” It’d only taken me an hour and a half to choose my outfit every other morning when I knew I’d have a class with him.
Ben had blushed too, and scratched the back of his head. “So, listen... we don’t have a ton of homework this weekend, so I thought maybe you’d like to see a movie with me?”
I had beamed and nodded vigorously, excited at the fact that I was going on my very first date with just about the cutest guy in grade nine. “Sure!”
I remembered running to Anna right after that’d happened and screeching with glee that one of us already had a date during the third week of our freshman year.
Oh, how I wished I could get back to that…
I lugged myself out of bed, trying to push that depressing memory to the back of my head. How had it found it’s way back in anyway? Oh, right; self pity and curiosity of why Ben suddenly wasn’t enough for me.
I checked my phone for any messages from mom, but instead found a text from Ben.
Ben: where r u? u sick? u okay?
So Ben didn’t know yet! I felt one hundred times worse because he was checking up on me. I headed downstairs to clear my head with food. The floor was as cold as my heart, so I pushed on my mom’s old fuzzy slippers on the way to the refrigerator. The clock on the wall read 3:07 p.m. so I knew that school had just let out: there was a better chance of Ben coming up to my doorstep to officially dump me.
Skylar: we need 2 tok. come by after skool. just walk in
By now it was a wasn’t a matter of not wanting to be dumped, because I knew it had to come; I just didn’t want to see the same hurt that I saw on Anna’s face worn on Ben.
I was just finishing chugging half the carton of milk when the door bell rang and startled me out of my thoughts.
It’s now or never.
“Coming!” I called to the door. I stuffed the milk back in the fridge, wiped my mouth with a napkin. If times were different, I would’ve been embarrassed to be seen like in my ratty Blue Jay’s shirt and worn out purple PJ pants, but since I didn’t have to look good for Ben anymore, I didn’t have a care in the world. When Ben walked away from me today, he’d be thinking ‘good riddance!’
I shuffled to the front door and opened it with a flinch. “Look, Ben, we really have to – Landon?” I stared at him dumbfounded as he lifted a shoulder in innocence. “What are you doing here?”
“Visiting you,” he said, like it was the most obvious and ordinary thing in the world. “Can I come in?”
I don’t know why, but I said yes and he stepped inside with his hands behind his back, and pushed the door shut with his foot. He looked at me like he was trying to figure something out and I grew self-conscious by the second.
Suddenly my pyjamas didn’t seem like ‘no big deal’ after all. I folded my arms across my chest and blushed slightly. “What’s up?”
“What’s up with you?” Landon asked me with a cute smile. “I thought you were sick.”
“What would give you that idea?”
“You didn’t come to school.” Landon produced a silver bag from behind him and held it out to me. “As soon as school was out I ran some errands…”
I gently took the bag and looked inside tentatively. Placed perfectly in the bag was the softest brand of tissues, a box of chocolate, a few boxes of tea, and an apple. As I looked over all of the objects, I slowly smiled, but then looked at Landon quizzically. “Apple?”
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” he said with a shrug. Then he tilted his head. “But you’re not exactly sick, are you?”
I was rushed back into reality, and I remembered why I’d ditched school and why Landon couldn’t be in my house right now. I shook my head and placed the bag at our feet. “No…I couldn’t face Anna today. You have to go.”
Landon shook his head and pulled me closer to him as he looked down on me. “Stop trying to push me away ’cause you know it’s not working. Isn’t it better that Anna found out? Now we don’t have to –”
“Sneak around?” I interrupted. “That doesn’t make it better! We still can’t be together! Anna was crushed…”
Landon pressed his forehead against mine gently. “Skylar, you’re all about other people’s feelings except your own. You know you weren’t happy with Ben, and you are with me, so why can’t you just let everything fall into place?”
I closed my eyes and couldn’t find the answer. I knew that some parts of his words were right, but it just wasn’t fair. Ben and Anna deserved better.
“Stop thinking about Ben and Anna,” Landon said to me. “They’ll get over it eventually.”
I didn’t know how long eventually would be, and I knew that it would still be painful for Anna and Ben to get over it by seeing us together, but Landon was just so sweet thinking of me and bring me a goodie bag because he thought I was sick.
“Landon, you’re sweet…” I started slowly, looking away from him. “I’ve never had a guy do this for me before and I –” I looked back into his amazing eyes for a brief second and was captivated once again. I smiled finally, and gave in once more. “And I really like you…”
With that being said, Landon pulled me a little closer, the space between our bodies closing, and placed a short kiss on my lips that made me yearn for more. And so I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him longer…
I jumped back startled, and looked into the broken eyes of Ben.
“Any chance that you’ll let me stay home today?” I asked my mom hopefully.
“None at all.”
“Didn’t think so,” I muttered as I released myself into the chilling September air. I was rehearsing how I was going to talk to Ben. He had just sort of stood there in the foyer, stunned for a few seconds before any of us could utter a sound. After that, it was mentally noted that no one was going to say anything, and he left in silence.
I tried to walk to school with a smile on my face. I tried to show the world that I was happy – that fate didn’t defeat me. I would try to make things better.
I was joined by neither Anna nor Ben on my walk to school like usual, but I was nearly jumped by Landon.
“Hey, I know you’re mad at me because we got caught –”
I shook my head quickly and rested my hand on his cheek. “I’m not mad; don’t worry. I told Ben to come over and completely forgot. I just…I have to talk to him, okay? And Anna – you have to talk to her.”
Landon just nodded, agreeing with me. We both knew what had to be done.
We walked the rest of the way to school together in silence and separated as soon as we reached the school yard, me looking for Ben, and Landon looking for Anna.
I decided to check behind the school, the official place where we’d been caught. As I made my private walk of shame, the world’s ugliest girl decided to pop in. “Hey, Skylar.”
“What do you want, Lindsey?”
She feigned innocence by twisting her auburn locks, shiny and all. I guess calling her ugly was an understatement, because she was gorgeous, but it made me feel better. “I just wanted to know how you’re doing. You seemed a little busy that other day with Landon, and Ben came to school looking so bummed…”
I glared at her. “Where is Ben?”
Lindsey grinned. “What, you’re moving back onto him? Did Landon disappoint you? Did you lose the thrill of stabbing your best friend in the back? Or worse – did he lose interest in you? That would be some well-deserved karma…”
I rolled my eyes and pushed past her roughly. “Out of my way, toad.”
“Toad?” Lindsey mocked. “Is that the best you can do? Coming from a heartless boyfriend thief, I thought you could play harder than that.”
Don’t let her get to you…
“I don’t like talking to trash.”
That’s as far as you’re allowed to go, King!
“I guess it was just luck that I was there to advise Anna to go check-up on you two,” Lindsey called after me. “She owes me for showing her your true colours.”
I stopped in my tracks and I could see the smirk on Lindsey’s face because she and I both knew she was triumphant. She was 100% right.
I shook my head and stomped toward my destination. Only when I saw Ben’s back turned on me as he sat quietly by himself on the picnic table did I soften my stride.
I saw him wince before he turned around to look at me. He was great at covering up his emotion because I couldn’t read his expression at all. “Ben… You know what I’m already going to say, right? I bet you don’t want to hear it either…”
He shook his head. “I’m confused. I want an explanation. You said you hated him.”
“Did? How can you go from completely hating a guy to –” He winced again. “To kissing him?”
I shrugged honestly. “I don’t know.”
Ben closed his eyes and sighed heavily. “When you agreed to go out with me back in freshmen year, I thought I was the luckiest guy in the world.”
I closed my eyes too. I didn’t need this story now and again!
“But now…well, I guess I saw it coming,” Ben admitted. “Even before Anna started going out with Landon, we weren’t as close as we were back then.”
I couldn’t believe how calm he was being about all this. He wasn’t throwing a fit, calling me names, or purposely trying to make me feel guilty. He was just being…Ben. Why couldn’t I just love his perfection like any other girl would? What was the matter with me? Landon was definitely not perfect, but I was always – and always had been – leaning toward him, even if I hadn’t realized it.
Ben motioned for me to sit down beside him and I did, looking down at my hands and making a distance between us that he appreciated. “So what about Anna?”
I looked up at him quickly. “That’s it? No more about us?”
Ben shrugged. “I guess not. Unless there is more you want to talk about…?” He shook his head. “And don’t bother apologizing… I know how you freak out about everything. I know this is killing you.”
It’s killing him too, I thought to myself. As much as we were growing apart, it still hurts.
“So where do we go from here?” Ben asked me. “Regular exes? Enemy exes? …Friends?”
I looked at him, surprised. “Could friends work?”
Ben shrugged. “If you want it to – I know I do.”
I nodded. “I would.”
Ben tried his best for a smile and so did I. He looked at his watch and nodded toward the school. “Only five minutes till the warning bell. We should go.”
Ben got off the table and stretched is arms out, as if everything was back to normal already. Maybe it was.
He turned back to me, and in two steps was by my side again. He leaned closer to me and placed a gentle kiss on my forehead. “Goodbye, Skylar.”
Having talked to Ben and it turning out better than I imagined, I told Landon right away; maybe he could give talking to Anna another shot. I’d never asked him about what went down with them before because I was too absorbed with myself, but now I wondered. Anna had to have dumped Landon after our sleepover.
“I can’t talk to her,” Landon said, shaking his head as he popped a grape into his mouth. We were eating outside at lunch, under the bleachers where we wouldn’t be spotted by anyone. As much we knew we couldn’t be together, we still wanted to be. Keeping Anna from seeing us and getting fired up all over again would be our obstacle.
“Well, what happened last time?” I asked him.
He bit the corner of his lip. “It wasn’t good.”
“Well, obviously, but what –”
“I told her the truth, Skylar,” Landon said, locking eyes with me seriously, “and it really hurt her, okay? Can we please just leave it at that?”
“Can’t you tell me?” I asked him gently. “It can’t be much worse than how it went down at my house. She called me a b****.”
Landon winced. “She was that mad?”
I nodded glumly. Landon’s arms came around me and I was overwhelmed with warmth and love as he kissed the top of my head. “Don’t believe her. You’re an amazing girl.”
He said it convincingly, but it would take more than an amazing boyfriend’s word for me to believe it.
When lunch finished, I was determined to make some progress where Landon left off. He said it didn’t go well with Anna, but maybe I could make it work – after all, Ben was able to not go ballistic and call me a name that only my arch nemesis would.
I had spare and I knew Anna did too, while Ben, Landon, and Lindsey were all in class, so it was now or never. I decided to ambush her. She was quietly taking some unfinished homework out of her locker when I took her lock off the metal loop.
“We need to talk,” I said seriously.
Anna glared at me. “So you’re threatening me?”
“Is there any other way to get you to be reasonable?”
“Be reasonable?” she hissed. “You stripped me of someone important to me, and I’m unreasonable for being mad?”
I dangled her lock. “Come with me. Please.”
She really had no choice. In our school, if a locker was left unopened for more than two minutes, things would be stolen, pictures would be ripped and vandalized, and stuff would be scattered all over the hall floor for people to take their pick. Since students weren’t aloud lounging around in the hall near classrooms, Anna had no choice but to leave, and if I didn’t give her back her lock, she’d be missing a lot of valuables. I felt bad for doing it to her, but what else could I do? She wouldn’t listen!
“Fine,” she muttered, closing it quickly.
“Thank you,” I said, closing her lock. She followed me out of the school where we sat across from each other on the picnic table where Ben and I had talked this morning. “Anna…”
“I hate to admit that you were right.”
“Just like you predicted, Landon broke my heart,” Anna said, twiddling her thumbs. “Are you happy now?”
“No, Anna, of course not –”
“Then why did you do it?” she asked me. “Why couldn’t you just tell me that you liked him instead of trying to make him look bad?”
I sighed. “I didn’t like him in the beginning, you know. It just sort of happened. And I tried to stay away, but we were project partners and…”
Anna laughed sourly. “Sure, make yourself look innocent.”
“Innocent?” I repeated. “Well, Anna, of course I know I’m not innocent here! Don’t you think I feel bad for what I did! I didn’t mean for this to happen! I never would have dreamed of hurting Ben because of Landon; you’ve got to believe that!”
“That makes one of you…” she mumbled.
“What does that mean?”
Anna looked at me like she couldn’t stand me, which was probably true. “Landon used me.”
I stared at her for a second, not understanding. “I’m sorry…what?”
“Landon. Used. Me.” Anna’s eyes filled with tears. “He told me. He told me he was sorry and he told me he didn’t mean for me to like him that much. He thought that our relationship would just be a little fling because the whole time he was using me to get to you.”
I dropped my hands on the table, stunned. No way. No freaking way. Landon wouldn’t really do that, would he? Of course he would! I thought to myself bitterly. You know what he’s capable of! I’d now witnessed the change from totally sweet to totally jerky.
“Anna, I swear I didn't know…”
Anna wiped her eyes and nodded. “I should’ve guessed that. But, you know, I’m just so tired of living in your shadow, Skylar!”
“Living in my shadow? What do you mean?”
Anna looked at me like I had three heads. “You mean you don’t notice? You don’t notice how you’ve always been more liked than me? That you have more friends and you’re the one that guys usually like?”
Was it really that way between us? If it was that was news to me! I definitely hadn’t noticed, but now that Anna pointed it out, it was kind of true. I always did have other friends to turn to and I had dated a lot more guys than her. In fact…Landon was her first lasting boyfriend.
I bowed my head, ashamed of myself. It was true. I was a b****.
“Anna, you don’t know how sorry I am!” I told her, not being able to meet her eyes.
“I do know,” Anna said, standing up, “but it doesn’t make what you did better. I hope you and Landon are happy together.”
With that, she picked up her books and rushed back into the school.
But who could be happy with anybody in a time like this? I could still see the image of her eyes overflowing with tears because of something I’d done.
No, I most definitely was not happy. I was a horrible person. Landon was a horrible person. To think, I had given in and made his plan work! I was ashamed that I found it kind of flattering. Yes, in the back of my mind, it was nice that Landon like me so much that he went to desperate measures… But as soon as those measures included hurting my best friend, it was just sick.
I suppose I should’ve seen it coming. Why didn’t I question when Landon’s affection for me started? I had that point when I took notice in his niceness and found him uncontrollably charming, but there was never a distinct sign when Landon started liking me. Looking back, it was always there; I was just too blind to see it.
“Did you hear?”
“Did I hear what?”
“Landon Brown cheated on Anna Kales with Skylar King!”
A dramatic gasp. “No way!”
“Yeah! And then she dumped him!”
A louder dramatic gasp. “No way!”
I gritted my teeth. I had never known how annoying gossip could be until it was about me. No matter where I went, and who was saying it, there would be something said about me along the same lines of what I heard a bunch of cheerleaders saying.
“So Landon’s available again?”
“Yeah, but I hear he’s, like, totally depressed about it!”
“Poor thing; Skylar so doesn’t deserve him.”
I couldn’t argue with the bobble head there. I didn’t deserve anyone, hurting Anna and Ben like that and considering staying with Landon. It was the right thing to do, ending it with him.
I’d called him because I couldn’t look in the eyes I’d grown to love so much and see the hurt in them when I told him that I wasn’t seeing him anymore. The hurt in his voice was just as bad when I broke the news over the phone. I knew that’d he’d used Anna, proving that he was the jerk that I assumed he was a month ago.
“I know it was wrong, but I was just so desperate for you –”
“Please!” I had interrupted. “Please stop. I just…we’re over, okay?”
I’d hung up quickly because I couldn’t bear for an argument. I did the right thing, I kept telling myself. I absolutely, without a doubt, did the right thing. Maybe I would’ve started believing myself if Landon hadn’t tried calling back nearly a hundred times.
“You made a mistake.”
“Go away, Lindsey!”
She didn’t budge. “After all that – you two sneaking around, Anna catching you, Ben catching you, having that little talk; all that for nothing ’cause you dumped Landon anyway. Man, you’re an idiot.”
I pushed past her. “Get out of my way.”
Lindsey toyed with her hair. “All right, but I don’t think you want to go that way…”
“Landon’s down that way, sulking with Carter.”
I glared at her even though she saved me. “Thanks, I guess.”
I turned on my heel and decided to take the long way to class. Anything to avoid a run-in with my ex would be a lifesaver in a different form – even if it was hideous Lindsey.
I bumped into a strong chest turning a corner quickly, and nearly fell backwards. Without the help of quick, strong hands, I would’ve had a big headache.
“Thanks…” I started.
I met Landon’s eyes and looked away quickly. Lindsey!!!!!!
“Gotta go…” I wriggled out of his grip and tried to speed-walk ahead, but he caught up to me.
“Skylar, please!” he said, his voice tight. “Please listen to me.”
I turned around stiffly and looked at his feet, because that was the only part of him that I could bear. “I have nothing left to say to you.”
“Yes, you do; don’t say that.” Landon reached for my hand but I took the extra step backwards, knocking someone else’s things to the ground.
I looked into Anna’s eyes and quickly looked away again. “Sorry.” I dumped her books back in her arms before scurrying off to calculus.
I could only be safe for so long.
“You have a visitor Skylar!” my mom called from downstairs.
I stopped blaring Marianas Trench fast enough to hear the soft voice of Anna in my foyer. It’d been so long, it felt foreign.
I rushed to my door, and then stopped short. I tip-toed to my bathroom, splashed my face with water, washing away any trace of the tears that I shed, and dried my face.
When I was finally ready, I walked down the stairs slowly, wondering what else Anna could have to say to me. As far as I was concerned, our friendship was over.
“So I hear you dumped Landon.”
Had Anna always been so forward and straight-to-the-point with me before? Maybe it was me; maybe I hadn’t noticed, along with the fact that she lived in my shadow. I nodded. “Yeah…”
I nodded upstairs. “Can we talk upstairs? My mom’s probably lurking around here somewhere.”
Anna sat on the chair by my desk like she was a stranger and not my best friend at all. I guess it was because she really wasn’t. “So why did you end it?”
“Why do you think, Anna?” I asked her. “Landon wronged you. I don’t care about him anymore. What’s done is done.”
I felt like I was eating away my words and they had no effect, because as I spoke them, Landon’s adorable smile appeared in my mind and I felt the feeling of forgiveness…but no! For Anna, I had to stay away.
Anna frowned at me. “Don’t give me that! I know you care and I know you were crying up here! You only blast Marianas Trench when you’re extremely happy or extremely sad – no one can be extremely happy after ending it with Landon.”
“Well, then I guess I’m a nobody,” I deadpanned. “Anything else?”
“You have no right to be mad with me now, Skylar,” Anna said, putting her hands on her hips. “If anything, I should be mad at you.”
“But aren’t you?” I challenged. “As if making me feel a hundred times guiltier than I already was wasn’t bad enough, you’re cornering me in my own house and making me talk about a subject I’d much rather avoid.”
Anna pressed her lips together as if she had a retort, but her shoulders simply sagged. “I just wanted to see if you were all right.”
I softened up. At a time like this, Anna still wanted to help me. What kind of world is this where it can be filled with Earth-walking angels like Anna and evils spawns of Satan like me?
I shrugged and tried for a smile before. “I’m all right, Anna. It was for the best.”
I turned up the volume, and the sweet angelic voice of Josh Ramsay floated about the room. As sad as I was, I couldn’t help loving it.
Was this the only thing that was going to give me joy in life?
The week went by in a blur of weird looks, tired gossip, more tests, annoying teachers, and begging voices. One of which I was surprised to hear of Anna. She was begging me to come over – to study, she insisted, but I declined. I didn’t need to talk about Landon while studying for a test and trying to block out everything about him.
I just couldn’t believe he’d actually use Anna – and then tell her! I had no idea he liked me that much to the point that he’d use my best friend as a bridge to get to me. What was he thinking? I guess he didn’t take into consideration that Anna actually liked him, and it wasn’t just some silly fling, but what about Ben? Didn’t he think about that? Ben was his friend! Ben defended him! I was just as confused to Landon’s actions as I was to why I kept thinking about him.
“Ahh.” – The sigh that you can’t help but make on the Saturday morning when you realize that you have a limited amount of homework for the weekend. I was un-showered and happy. I sunk into my sofa and flicked on the TV, finding some cartoon marathon that would only keep me busy for about two hours, but sticking with it anyway.
The house was empty with mom working morning shifts this weekend, so I felt free to do whatever I wanted. Have ice cream for breakfast, make as much noise as I wanted, even dance on the tables! I was glad to find that there was still kid left in me, and not all of it was sucked out when I reached high school and discovered that boys could actually be approached as more than just a friend or a minor boyfriend that just held your hand during field trips in grade eight and nothing more.
Ah, grade eight: those were the days. Three years ago, I didn’t have to worry about staying away from Anna’s boyfriend and staying faithful to mine.
As if Ben were linked to my brain, his ring tone sounded through my phone and I got a text.
Ben: can we talk?
As far as I was concerned, we’d done all our talking out behind the school on Thursday…
Skylar: um sure where?
Ben: meet me @ ur park?
Skylar: sure 5 minutes
In three minutes I was walking down my street, hugging my magenta hoodie to my chest; under it, my yellow tank top getting suffocated. The wind was starting to kick in, and my hair whipped my face at any quick movement of the head because I’d think any sound around me was Anna trying to get me to open up.
Luckily, my feet were warmed by grey Uggs. Unluckily, since I actually had to look like I wasn’t wasting away my life on the couch days after our break up for Ben, I wore a pair of dark blue skinny jeans that I rocked, but didn’t warm me.
I rounded that last corner and last minute, making it to the park. I headed to the swings when I didn’t spot Ben immediately, swinging lowly and waiting until my ex rolled in.
“You look cold,” whispered a creepy voice. “Lemme warm you up…”
I jumped off my swing in fright, and glared into the eyes of Mr. Rankle. Was this guy following me everywhere? I thought I only had Anna and Landon to worry about!
Ben, where are you?????
“Stay away from me,” I warned him, backing away slowly. I noticed he wore a wryly smile, like he didn’t have a care in the world about what I was saying and that got me even more angry. I balled my fists tightly. “I swear –”
Two hands grasped my shoulders, and I shrieked. Was Mr. Rankle teaming up with another predator? Was this really how bad my karma was?
“I’m here,” breathed a soothing voice, “don’t worry.”
Never have I ever been so happy to hear Landon’s voice. I folded into him and leaned my head on his chest and he held me protectively with one arm.
I didn’t have to see Mr. Rankle’s face to know that he was fazed. I just let my face feel the warmth of Landon’s coat and the protective nature of his strong arm.
“I’m going to say this once, and once only;” Landon said steadily, yet firmly, and with authority, “stay away from Skylar.”
I closed my eyes and shook away the feeling that Mr. Rankle was probably taking one last reluctant look at my body that he’d grown fond of.
With the wind I didn’t here Mr. Rankle walk away, but I knew he was out of my skin because Landon stroked my hair and whispered soothingly in my ear. “He didn’t touch you, did he?”
I shook my head slowly. “Thank you.” I couldn’t believe that of all people, Mr. Rankle had brought Landon and I back together with his creepiness. I knew that if the situation went down with Ben, I’d feel good, but with Landon, it felt as good as it could get.
Landon held my face in his hands and looked into my eyes. “Please don’t run away.”
I didn’t run away, but I did turn away from him, confused once again. What was a girl to do at a time like this? “I’m meeting Ben.”
Before he said anything, I felt a surge of warmth. Landon’s jacket was draped over my shoulders and I resisted the urge to smile. Landon cleared his throat. “I…I kind of staged that…”
I wheeled on him. “What?”
“I need to talk to you, Skylar.”
“So you stole his phone?!”
“No!” Landon exclaimed. “He let me use it… That’s not important right now. I just…I miss you so much.”
It pained me to look at Landon, see into the depths of his heart through his eyes, and not hug him.
“Landon, we were hardly a couple!” I told him. “A week at most and half of that was in secret!”
Landon shrugged. “I don’t care. It was one intense week.” He took my hands and kissed my knuckles softly. The air around me warmed and I felt like spring was making a surprise entrance at his touch. “Look, I know you’re upset about Anna. I am too. I had no idea she felt that way about me. When I think about you, nothing else crosses my mind! I didn’t want this to happen to Anna…or you. I’m happy with you, and you’re happy with me, so why can’t you just accept it?”
“Oh, Landon…” I looked at our feet. “How can I do that to Anna? I think…I think she loved you. Even if she hates me, I’m not putting her through that – seeing us together everyday.”
Landon chuckled softly. “Why can’t you be selfish like me?” He pressed his forehead to mine and we locked eyes. I thought I’d be in a trance because of how long I was swimming in his green irises. His smile triggered the corners of my lips, and he rubbed his nose against mine. “I hate to admit it, but I was giving up on you…so she sent me here – she forced me to talk to you. Anna’s totally okay with it.”
I stopped breathing for a few seconds. I looked deep into his eyes for any sign of untruthfulness and found absolutely nothing. I smiled. I wanted to be with Landon with a burning passion that nearly hurt whenever I thought about him, which was always. Could it honestly be true? What a friend I had if it were! “Really?”
Landon grinned. “Of course. Landon Brown can only chase a girl for so long...”
I hit his shoulder lightly and he laughed happily, knowing he had me. Before I could utter another sound, he lifted me up in the air in a hug and set me back on the ground, ending with a kiss that sent my heart beating at a speed that would make an ambulance driver cringe.
“I…I love you, Skylar King,” Landon said, holding my face in his hands again, hardly a space between our lips.
I beamed. Forget spring! The heartless wind was defeated by summer stomping in and creating an aura of heat to match my feelings at that point in time. I leaned closer, closing the tiny sliver of space between us, kissing him like he was the love of my life because he really was. The knowledge that I didn’t have to feel guilty about him made the feeling of our lips together better. “I love you too, Landon.”