…And Then…I Kissed Her
By: Jamie Sommers
Rated: P/G 13 for language
Synopsis: Landon Carter needs help with his lines for the school play and Jamie Sullivan has agreed to give him a hand on one condition…he has to promise not to fall in love with her.
My eyes opened before the alarm went off. I sat up in bed and…smiled. I was happy. Down right giddy. I had this feeling like nothing could get me down. ‘She liked the sweater. You’re gonna see her today. This, Landon, could be one of the best days of your life.’
“Gooooood Morning!” I walked into the kitchen and kissed my mom on the cheek. “Beautiful day isn’t it?” Picking up an apple from the fruit basket, I tossed it into the air, threw my bag over my shoulder and headed off to school, leaving my mom staring in disbelief at my back. I could hear her breath catch and her slight giggle as I strode out of the house. “Yep. Beautiful day!”
“Hey guys!” I walked up to my locker and tossed my books in, “What’s up?” I wasn’t really waiting around for an answer, I kinda wanted to see if I could catch Jamie at her locker before classes started. Before any of the gang could answer I grabbed what supplies I needed, shoved them in my bag and said, “well I’m outta here. Later.” The entire thing took me less than thirty seconds from start to finish.
I could hear them talking amongst themselves as I walked away, “what the hell…what’s up with him…” but I didn’t care. I had bigger and better things to do today. Today was the day I asked her. Today was the day I took a chance. Today was the day… ‘There she is. Jamie.’
I stopped in the hallway mesmerized by her. For years I secretly thought she was pretty, not gorgeous in a model kinda way, but…pretty. Pretty in that, no make-up, natural look kinda way. But now…now I knew she was more than that, she was by far the most beautiful woman I had ever seen…I’d ever known.
I watched dejectedly as Eddie walked up to her. She greeted him with a genuine smile. The smile I was hoping I’d get, and they left her locker walking side by side. ‘Eddie Zimmerhoff…what the hell do you have that I don’t. Sheesh…you know…I really want to hate him, but…face it Landon; he’s a nice guy. She could do worse. Yeah…she could say yes to you.’
Guess I was kind of out of things today…preoccupied. Usually I was the one that knew what was going down. What pranks were being played and on whom. Usually because I was the one playing them, but today…like I said I was kind of out of it. When I got to study hall I noticed Dean and the gang hovering over a computer. Dean was pointing to something on the screen—I couldn’t make it out—when I heard the teacher call me into his office.
“Mr. Carter. Principal Kelly would like to see you.”
“Oh…sure,” I took the pass he handed me and made my way out of the library, quickly glancing back over my shoulder at my friends, then headed to the principal’s office. ‘Well…wonder what this is about. It’s not like you’ve done anything wrong lately. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe he’s thinking you’re being too good. Yeah, like that would ever happen.’
“Can I help you?”
“Yes…um Principal Kelly wants to see me. Landon Carter.”
“Yes Landon, I know who you are,” the secretary said with a raised eyebrow. “Take a seat. I’ll let him know you’re here.”
“How’s it going?”
“Fine sir.” I looked at him and asked him, “Did I do something wrong sir? Is that why I’m here?”
“No Landon. On the contrary…I haven’t gotten any complaints about you at all lately. Which is why you’re here.” He stood up and walked around his desk, sitting on the edge of it and looked down at me. “Landon…I’m just wondering…what are your plans for after high school?”
“Yes. Plans. You know…college…career.”
“Oh,” I chuckled to myself. “Uh…well…I was kind of thinking about going to college.”
“Any particular school?”
“UNC huh? That’s a tough school to get into.”
“Yeah I know.”
“What’re you planning on studying?”
“I was actually thinking about…” I looked to the side and then looked back at him. “What’s this all about Mr. Kelly? Why the sudden interest in my future?”
“It’s my job to make sure you succeed Landon,” he winked at me and sat behind his desk. “You know…I’ve got a friend on the board over there…”
I was walking down the hall, still in shock from Principal Kelly’s offer to help me with my college application to UNC. ‘Guess he’s not that bad of a guy after all.’
“Hey man! What’s the big idea??” I felt Eddie Zimmerhoff grab my shoulder and spin me around to face him.
“Whoa! What the hell do you think you’re doing man?”
“What is this Landon?? Why’d you do it? She was nothing but nice to you…all she ever did was…”
I looked down at the flyer Eddie had shoved in my hand. It was a picture of a well-endowed woman in a miniscule bikini. She was standing with her back to the camera; her hand was placed on her jutted hip enabling the viewer to see her exposed body parts. Her hair was long, dark and straight and her face… ‘Jamie.’ I closed my eyes trying to control my temper. “Where’d you get this?”
“As if you didn’t know.”
“DAMMIT EDDIE!!! Where the hell did you get this?”
“You mean you really don’t know?”
I just looked at him.
“Your friends are handing ‘em out all over the school. Everybody’s got one Landon.”
“Has Jamie seen this yet?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you know where she is?”
“I’m not sure…”
My mind flashed back to that very first day we rode back on the bus together after tutoring.
‘Please don’t pretend like you know me, okay?’
‘But I do…I do. We have all the same classes in the same school since kindergarten. Why you’re Jamie Sullivan. You sit at lunch table seven…’
I didn’t run, ‘no…walk Landon…pace yourself. Maybe it wasn’t them. They’re not this cruel. Maybe she hasn’t seen it.’ But I knew, deep inside I knew. This had Dean and Belinda written all over it.
‘Please God; don’t let her see this yet. Please let me get to her before they do.’ I rounded the corner and walked into the lunchroom in hopes that my prayers would be answered and Jamie ran straight into my arms.
“Whoa,” I could feel her quacking beneath my hands. I had to put her mind at ease. ‘Take care of this Landon.’ “Look. This is about me okay, this is not you.”
She nodded her understanding at me and I told her, “Stay here.” I dropped my bag to the ground and walked towards Belinda grabbing the flyer from her hand without even looking at her or that disgusting picture.
‘Dean, you son of a bitch. You think you’re so damn funny. Well you’ve crossed the line this time. You want to hurt me, then hurt me…but don’t take it out on Jamie.’
“Hey man. Now I know why you’ve been keepin’ her locked up. I had no idea that this was underneath all that,” he gestured towards Jamie and I just reacted. I shoved him then he shoved me. I just wanted him to take a swing at me. No…I wanted to take a swing at him.
“Dean stop it!”
“No,” he pointed his finger in Tracy’s face and said, “you stay out of this.”
I had, had enough of his bullying. His manhandling. I’ve seen the way he treats Tracy, practically like dirt and no one ever stood up to him. Well now…now someone was standing up to him and he picked the wrong guy to mess with. My hand pulled back and all of this pent up frustration just released itself in my punch. I felt his head snap beneath my fist and this rush of adrenaline just pumped through me. Regret, revenge, remorse all raged throughout my system. I stood there just looking at him, daring him to bring it on. ‘I’m ready for you Dean. Don’t think I can’t take you because I can. I can.’
As he was walking over to me someone tried to stop him, but Dean just pushed him out of the way and said to me, “We’re through.”
“That’s great.” ‘You make me sick Dean. All of you.’
“We are through forever!”
I didn’t care. I could live the rest of my life without that son of a bitch and not regret a day, but right now…right now I had to take care of Jamie.
I couldn’t help but cradle her face in my hands. I had to wipe her tears away with my thumbs. Dean was screaming out in the background but I really didn’t give a shit.
She couldn’t even talk. She just nodded her head at me.
“Let’s get the hell out of here.”
I grabbed our things and took her out of the building. I could feel her body shaking; her tears were just streaming down her cheeks. ‘Jamie I’m sorry. Christ! Why’d they do that to you?’
“Baby, baby. I’m sorry. Okay? They’re animals alright?” I needed to touch her, to try and comfort her. My body just seemed to take over where my mind left off. My hands stroked her hair as I asked her, “you want me to take you home?”
Still unable to reply she just nodded again.
“Let’s get outta here.” I put my arms around her and walked her to my car. I wasn’t sure what to do about hers, but right now I just needed to get her home.
I wasn’t sure if her father would be there or not and she was in no condition to talk to him at the moment so I drove as slowly as I legally could. Visions of that flyer were burning in my mind, thoughts of my childhood…my friends. People I trusted my whole life; they just turned on me in an instant. ‘Belinda. I’ve known you since we were kids. I trusted you. Dean…Dean…I’ve always known you were an asshole, but I never knew how malcontent you were. Tracy…the follower. Whatever they do, you tag right along and Eric. Eric, my buddy. My best friend. Some friend you turned out to be. Kindergarten. I’ve known you since kindergarten man. The one person I thought I could count on… Well I guess you know now don’t you Landon. The only person you’ve been able to count on lately is the one person you wound up getting hurt.’
The drive back to her house took longer than usual. I wanted to give her time to settle her nerves. When I could no longer avoid her block I pulled up to her curb and thanked God I didn’t see her father’s car. We just sat there for a few minutes staring straight ahead out the car window. I turned off the ignition and turned towards her. Our eyes were locked instantly. There was so much hurt…so much pain. I could never forgive myself for letting them get the best of her, but I vowed that no one would ever hurt her again. ‘I’ll never let anything hurt you Jamie. I swear it.’ I smiled at her; I just needed to make sure she was all right. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Mmmm hmmm. I’m fine, but thank you for everything,” she smiled back.
‘She’s leaving. Quick stop her!’
“Hey…ummm…I wanna ask you something.” ‘Okay…maybe this isn’t the right time. Just do it Landon.’
“Okay,” she sat back and listened.
‘I’m nervous. Nervous? Try petrified. What if she says no? Yes Landon, but what if she says yes.’ The thought brought a anxious smile to my lips. “Will you go…out with me…on Saturday night?”
‘Please don’t say no. Please don’t say no.’ I watched her face change right before my eyes and listened as my worst fears came true. ‘Oh God, she’s gonna say no.’
“I’m sorry…I can’t go.”
“Oh…um…” I couldn’t look at her, “…you’ve got something else going on?”
“No…nothing. Not that.”
“Then what is it?” A million excuses ran through my mind, ‘is it because of what happened today? Eddie Zimmerhoff? It can’t still be because of the lockers.’ Her answer…well…it’s not what I expected.
“I’m not allowed to date.”
“I’m sorry Landon.”
“No…no…it’s okay. I should’ve known…I mean if you were allowed to date then you probably would’ve been going out with Eddie or something…” ‘Subtle Landon. Real smooth.’
“No. No. Eddie and I we’re just friends. Nothing more.” She smiled at me like she was trying to convince me that she was telling the truth. “I suppose I should be going…”
“Yeah…sure.” ‘She’s leaving Landon. Say something to stop her.’ “Uh…Jamie?”
“Yes,” she whispered.
“I…uh…well…” I wanted desperately to know if she would have said yes. If she were allowed to date… would she have said yes? “Nothing,” I cleared my throat. “It was nothing.”
“Okay.” I watched her get out of my car and called myself a chicken for backing down. “Thanks again Landon…for everything.”
“Wait.” ‘This is your last chance Landon.’ “I’ll walk you to your door.”
I wondered if she was thinking the same thing I was. About the last time I was at her house. I had walked up this path that day knowing that I had just screwed up one of the best things that had ever happened to me. Today though, I walked up the path with new hope, yet I couldn’t help but wonder if something inside of her was still upset about that day. “You know what I was thinking?”
She shook her head, ‘no.’
“I was just thinking about the last time I was here,” I began to do that nervous foot shuffle and tilted my head up just a bit to look at her. “You weren’t too happy with me that day.”
“No I wasn’t,” she smiled at me and it wasn’t just one of her polite Jamie Sullivan smiles this was that smile that I had hoped for. This was better than the one she had bestowed on Eddie earlier. This one was for me.
We both started speaking at the same time.
We both just started to laugh a little then I offered, “You first.”
“I just wanted to say that…” she looked down at her feet before speaking again, “If I were allowed to date…” then she lifted her eyes to mine and I could feel every hair on my body stand at attention. “I would’ve loved to go out with you on Saturday night.”
‘I love you Jamie.’ I wanted to say it. I wanted to tell her that this wasn’t just a passing thing for me, that I was falling…no not falling. That I had fallen completely and totally in love with her. I took a chance and stepped towards her hoping that she wouldn’t pull away. She didn’t. I reached out my hand to hers and wrapped her fingers through mine. I smiled as I looked down at our hands. I didn’t even know whose fingers were whose. “Jamie,” I said softly as I took yet another step closer to her. My breath was getting hotter, my heart beating faster. I could practically feel her lips against mine.
“Jamie?? What’s going on here?”
‘Shit! Shit! SHIT!!!’
“Mr. Carter? Why aren’t you two in school? What’s going on…”
“Daddy. Wait…I can explain.”
“Well you had better explain.”
“Sir it’s not Jamie’s fault…it’s my…”
“No Landon. It wasn’t your fault,” she interrupted.
“Well somebody better tell me what’s going on here.”
I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I stay or should I go?
“Maybe you should go?”
“Are you sure?” I didn’t want to just leave her here to explain what had happened. I wanted to help her, but she didn’t need my help when it came to her father. I needed hers.
“Yes. I’m sure.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow?” ‘You’ll be back right Jamie? You’re not gonna let them win, are you?’
I couldn’t help but admire her spirit, her strength. “Tomorrow…I’ll see you tomorrow.” I gave her father a quick nod of my head and said “Reverend,” as I bolted down the stairs. ‘Landon, you’ve got a school to clean up by tomorrow.’