…And Then…He Kissed Me
By: Jamie Sommers
Rated: PG 13 (for language)
Synopsis: Jamie Sullivan has been hurt in her efforts to help Landon with the school play and refuses to give him the time of day. Landon Carter has been doing everything in his power to change her mind. Will he?
Chapter 7: The Fight For Friendship
‘Do I wear it or don’t I? Well you probably should wear it. He did buy it for you. Yes he did and wearing it would most likely let him know you’ve forgiven him, but it’s so pretty…too pretty for school. Okay, then church on Sunday. Wear it to church on Sunday.’ With my decision made I laid the soft pink garment carefully across my bed and headed to school. ‘Just three days…three days ‘til Sunday.’ I was beaming on the way out the door. ‘This is going to be a great day.’
“Why is everyone looking at me weird today?”
I looked at Sally and asked again, “Haven’t you noticed. Ever since we left the gym people keep looking at me like I’ve got two heads or something.”
“I really haven’t noticed a thing.”
“Hmmmm. Are you sure? I mean…look,” I whispered to her, “everyone keeps turning and staring at me.”
“Jamie, it’s just your imagination. Well I’ve gotta go. I’m meeting Brandon by the bleachers. He’s so cute. Gosh I hope he asks me out.”
I couldn’t help but smile at Sally’s enthusiasm and envied her excitement. “Okay…see ya later.”
I continued to walk down the hall towards the lunchroom yet I still felt like there was something wrong. ‘Something’s going on here. People are really acting weird today and this is not my imagination.’
“Listen…I just want you to know…no hard feelings. Landon and I are waaaaay over.”
“I really don’t know what you’re talking about.” I wondered did she know about the sweater. ‘Could Landon have told her about it? Was he just giving it to me to make her jealous? No.’ Somewhere inside I knew the answer to that was no. ‘Was I that obvious? Could she sense how I was feeling about him?’
“Jamie. You’d be so beautiful if you knew how to do your make-up.”
I wondered, ‘is this Belinda? Why is she being nice to me?’
“Come on. Eat lunch with me,” she grabbed my hands and began to lead me into the cafeteria.
I couldn’t believe this. Did she really want to make amends? “Okay.”
“Do you want a tic tac?”
“No thank you.”
This whole thing seemed surreal to me. I wasn’t sure where to go or what to do. I knew where they normally ate and it was nowhere near my table. I never really socialized with anyone during lunch. Sally usually met up with other friends or lately Brandon, and I really didn’t have a bunch of people beating down my door to be my lunch date. We walked up to her table and I noticed once again that people were gawking at me, but now…they were laughing too. ‘What’s going on? Why is everyone looking at me?’
“Wow. Is this you?” Belinda held out a piece of paper with a photo on it. “Nice bod.”
I stared at it in disbelief. They had taken my face and superimposed it on the body of… I can’t even describe what she was.
I looked around at my peers--people that I had known my whole life that knew me--wondering what was it I did to deserve this. What had I done to cause such hatred and contempt within them? For years they had laughed at me behind my back and I never let it get to me, I never let them see me cry, but this time…‘this can’t be happening to me.’ I looked around as more and more of them laughed. ‘That’s not me! Why are you doing this? What did I ever do to you? What did I do??’ I had to get out of there. Humiliation and embarrassment were coursing through me, but the moment I turned to flee, he was right there to catch me. ‘Landon.’
“Whoa,” he just held onto me, his hands rubbing gently up and down my back, and I felt safe, protected, like no one was going to hurt me. “Look. This is about me okay, this is not you.”
I nodded at him, my voice unable to reply. I wasn’t sure what he was going to do, how he was going to handle it. All I could do was stand there in shock. I could still see my face on that woman’s partially clothed body. It was an image I was sure I would never be able to forget.
“Stay here,” his bag dropped, he walked up to Belinda and snatched the flyer out of her hand not even glancing down at it. Without breaking stride he proceeded to Dean and handed the picture over to him, briefly looking down at it.
“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 me and I could feel my stomach churn with disgust. His laughter sent chills down my spine.
I watched as Landon shoved him--a warning--then the commotion began. Dean pushed back, Tracy interfered, someone else tried desperately to break it up and then… One minute Dean was telling Tracy to stay out of it and the next he was cradling his jaw. Landon’s rage had taken over; I could see it in his face. I flinched when I heard his fist connect with Dean’s face and stood there transfixed…shocked. ‘He’s fighting for you Jamie.’
Dean started screaming, telling them that their friendship was through, but Landon…Landon didn’t seem to care one bit. “That’s great.”
As I stood there with my arms to my sides, Landon walked back to me. I felt him encompass my face, cradling my cheeks in the palms of his hands, he whispered, “You alright.”
Too shocked to answer I just nodded.
“Let’s get the hell out of here.”
He grabbed a hold of our belongings and wrapped his arms around me, walking me out of the cafeteria, through the crowded hallway and out of the school. I could feel people’s eyes focusing on us. Their stares were burning into my back, I just knew it, but none of that mattered. Not anymore. My tears were silent, but painful. This hurt…it was too much to describe. The intensity of the pain was so great. My body quaked beneath his touch. Chills were shooting through the marrow of my bones. ‘Were these people really this spiteful? All of this because Landon and I had become friends. All of this because…’
“Baby, baby. I’m sorry. Okay? They’re animals alright?” I could feel his hand smoothing down my hair in a comforting touch.
‘It’s okay…just get me out of here Landon.’ I couldn’t speak.
“You want me to take you home?”
‘Yes,’ I nodded.
“Let’s get outta here.”
My heart was racing as he drove down the streets of Beaufort. I looked around at the homes of my fellow neighbors. Saw cars that looked familiar. Elderly women sitting on their porch swings, while their husbands mowed the lawn. We passed a few homes of fellow parishioners and went by a house I knew too well. A house I had never been inside of, but I knew what went on within those walls, who lived there and now I knew just how much hate festered within him. I gazed upon Dean’s home as Landon drove by and asked myself once again, what it was that I had done to deserve such cruel treatment from him and his cohorts. My eyes caught a glimpse of Landon’s profile when it finally dawned on me what it was I had done. What I had taken from them. ‘You. I took you didn’t I Landon?’
We sat in his car directly in front of my house when he turned his head towards mine. Our eyes met and in an instant my tears dried up, my pain melted away. His smile reassured me that things would be okay. I had never cared what people thought about me before so why start now. We sat there just looking at one another until the sound of his voice broke us out of our spell.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Mmmm hmmm. I’m fine, but thank you for everything,” I smiled.
“No,” he shook his head, “you’re welcome.”
Unsure of what to do next I made an instantaneous decision to exit, but as I reached for the door’s handle he stopped me.
“Hey…ummm…I wanna ask you something,” he smiled nervously.
“Okay,” I sat back listening intently, intending on giving him my full attention.
I watched his face turn from nervous to gentle, kind…loving. “Will you go…out with me…on Saturday night?”
‘What? What do you tell him Jamie?’ I opted for the truth. “I’m sorry…I can’t go.” Telling him ‘no’ hurt me. I had been waiting for him to tell me his true feelings for so long, to show me how he felt and now that he did, I had to turn him away again.
“Oh…um…” we both looked away from each other, “…you’ve got something else going on?”
“No…nothing. Not that.” I shook my head. I had to tell him the real reason; I had to tell him about my father’s rules…my cancer.
“Then what is it?”
‘What do you tell him Jamie? Landon, if I said yes then we’d start something I would never be able to finish.’ My father’s rules in regards to dating, were embedded in my mind. His words ringing through my ears, ‘You know the rules around here are not going to change.’ I took a deep breath, attempting to steady my rapid pulse and told him. “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…”
“No. No. Eddie and I we’re just friends. Nothing more.” I smiled at him knowingly. ‘It’s not because of someone else Landon. I want to go with you more than you know.’ “I suppose I should be going…”
We smiled at each other and I reached once again for the door’s handle only to be delayed by his voice one more time. “Uh…Jamie?”
“Yes,” my tone was barely audible.
“I…uh…well,” he looked down into his lap then back up at me. “Nothing,” he choked. “It was nothing.”
“Okay,” I sighed. For the final time I turned to open the car door and stepped out onto the street. “Thanks again Landon…for everything,” I said as I hunched down to look into his car.
“Wait,” he jumped out of the car and walked briskly around to my side of the car. “I’ll walk you to your door,” he took hold of my books and closed his car door behind me.
We walked up the path silently, each step we took was one step closer to goodbye and neither one of us wanted that moment to come. I was tempted to ask him to stay, but my father would be home soon and I had enough explaining to do already. We stood facing each other on my porch--it reminded me of the last time he had been there--when he had asked me to run lines with him…to be his secret friend. The corners of my lips lifted in a grin. ‘Things have certainly changed since then.’
“You know what I was thinking?” he asked.
I shook my head as if saying, ‘no.’
“I was just thinking about the last time I was here,” he looked down at his shuffling feet and tilted his head to the side. “You weren’t too happy with me that day.”
My grin broke into a full-blown smile, “no I wasn’t.”
We both started speaking at the same time.
Our nervous laughter seemed to vibrate through the breeze.
“You first,” he said.
“I just wanted to say that…” I looked down and tried to figure out what to say to him, how to say it. I took a deep breath and began to speak softly. “If I were allowed to date…” I lifted my eyes to his and told him with as much emotion as I could, “I would’ve loved to go out with you on Saturday night.” I knew he wanted to tell me something too, but he just stood there staring at me.
His eyes were gleaming, his lips barely parted as he took a step towards me. His fingers slowly entwined with my own, both of us looked down at our joined hands and smiled. “Jamie,” he sighed as he took another step towards me.
I could feel his breath stirring against my skin, my pulse racing. Our fingers were holding on for dear life. Just one more step and he would be kissing me. ‘Finally,’ I thought. ‘Finally.’
“Jamie?? What’s going on here?” We jumped apart and stared dumbfounded at my father’s penetrating gaze. “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,” my eyes began to dart back and forth between him and my father.
“Well somebody better tell me what’s going on here.”
I looked at Landon and said quietly, “maybe you should go?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. I’m sure.” ‘I can do this Landon. I’ll be fine.’
“I’ll see you tomorrow?” This question meant so much more than what he asked and we both knew it.
His grin lit up his face, “tomorrow…I’ll see you tomorrow.” He turned towards my father and said with a quick nod, “Reverend.”
My father watched him bounce down the stairs and head to his car, his eyes never leaving him until his vehicle was completely out of sight. He turned towards me, the anger apparent in his eyes, and began to point towards the spot that Landon had just vacated. “I warned you about…”
“Daddy before you start will you please listen to me?” I looked at him, practically begging him, “Please? Let’s just sit down and talk, okay?”