I sat at our bench, waiting—not so patiently—for him to show up. Now see, being fifteen minutes late was one thing, but being three hours late, was another; especially if three hours later meant eleven o'clock at night.

Refusing to give in, I stared at my phone, waiting for him to call. The picture of Landon and I posing with a clown made me smile involuntarily. We had this thing going. Jewelry or pictures were some couples 'thing', but Landon and I had clowns. On our first date, he brought me to the fair, and at the fair, we went to this hypnotist show, and he was hypnotized. He, of course, doesn't remember exactly what happened, but I made sure to video tape the entire thing, and the main part of his being hypnotized, was dressing up as a clown. Ever since, it had become our inside joke, and he would take me to see clowns at fairs, he would invite clowns to my birthday parties. We would even make sure to include clowns in every gift we bought each other.

I glanced up at the deserted park again, feeling the cold start to bite into my skin. Most people would take me for a push over; a clingy girlfriend. No one knows Landon like I do though, and I know that he would never stand me up without calling. That was my card to play.

Landon, above everything else, is just… nice. No matter how much he hates anyone—if he even is capable of hate, I'm not entirely sure—will never completely stand them up.

Sighing deeply, I leaned back against the park bench, and started when I heard someone coming across the park. Eerily, there were no street lamps working in the direction of the voices, so I couldn't tell who it was, except that there was possibly more than one person. Shoving down my irrational fear of the dark, I listened intently, trying to hear who it was.

"Chip," someone murmured.

Tilting my head to the side, I tried to place the voice. It sounded very familiar, but the name wouldn't come to me. It obviously wasn't Landon, because he wouldn't be with Chip. She was the most obnoxious-hyper-tiny-person ever. She blew everything out of proportion and no one used her real name. Some genius came up with the brilliant name Chip—short for chipper, which is just so clever—and it stuck. Thankfully, since I never talk to her, I don't have to be embarrassed by calling someone 'chip.' Beauty and the Beast, anyone?

"Come on, please tell me?"

The couple was closer to the light now, but I was no closer to placing who the guy was. From what I could tell in the faint light, the guy was tall, around Landon's height of 6' or so… but that was all I could make out.

"Come on, you know you want to."


"But Chip…"

Really, if Landon didn't want to go see Zombieland that badly, he should have just told me from the start! Whatever, even if he comes right now we obviously wouldn't be able to still see it, seeing as it is eleven o'clock now.

"No, I can't."





That didn't… she just… I… they… Landon?

My brain couldn't function, as I watched in complete horror, as Landon and Chip walked closer to me, his arm snaked around her waist, his face pressed against her shoulder from behind. I tried to pass this off as friends, but their intimate position said otherwise.

Dear god. He's cheating on me.

Something didn't add up though, I mean I'm probably half in denial, but… but that so wasn't Landon. Landon doesn't do shit like that… no matter what, he would feel terrible if he ever hurt anyone like that. He just… he just… okay, maybe I am in denial?

I could imagine how comical my face must have looked: completely shocked, surprised, hurt. When he finally saw me, confusion was added to the mix of emotions I was feeling.

Something was wrong. His eyes were… not right.

"Cassie what are you doing here?" he asked, hugging Chip closer to his body.

"I… I was just hanging out for a while… um, Paula left a few minutes ago and I was just chilling for a few minutes… I was actually just—just leaving…" I said awkwardly. There was no way in hell that I was having the talk with Landon in front of Chip. Someone would have to kill me first before I ever let that happen.

"Oh…" Chip said her brown eyes wide in confusion. "Are you guys still together?"

I groaned silently, of course she had to bring that tiny, minute detail out in the open. "I—I guess I'll just go," I said, not answering her question as I stood up slowly.

"Oh dear, I think I've made things awkward," Chip said, her eyes glancing back and forth between Landon and I.

Part of me was happy that he was looking at me; that's what kept me standing there, watching him. He was staring at me; not her, but me. I gave her a 'no-shit-Sherlock' smile, and thankfully she got the hint.

"Maybe I should go; I'll see you later, Landon?"

"Yeah," he said, clearly not paying any attention to what she was saying. I internally rejoiced again; I still had that affect on him, score one for me. Chip looked back and forth between us, before catching my gaze and holding it as she leaned up and kissed Landon soundly on the cheek.

I allowed my lips quirk into a smirk for just a second and rolled my eyes. She was obviously expecting a rise out of me, but I wouldn't go down that easily. "Bye, baby," Chip said seductively, pressing herself against Landon for a second longer, before pulling away and skipping by me, a satisfied smile on her face.

"Cassie," Landon started his eyes still dead-looking. I took a step forward, but he held up his hands saying, "Stop."

"What?" I asked; worry starting to build in my chest.

"I…" he started, glancing away from me, before closing up all his emotions again, and looked back at me coldly, "We're done. Didn't you get my message?"

I glanced down at my phone again. "Uh... no, I didn't..."

"Huh, that's weird, I guess I forgot to call you." He shrugged as if it were no big deal. Um, excuse me, but who are you and what have you done with Landon?

"You're breaking up with me?" I asked; just to clarify.

"Clearly," he said sourly, glaring at me.

I took another step forward, holding my hands out, "Please tell me what's wrong."

"Look, just go away, okay? I broke up with you, end of story."

"Landon, something's wrong," I said, taking another step forward.

"Yes, the problem is that you are not accepting this. I broke up with you; period."

"No, not the end of the story, not period," I said angrily, gritting my teeth. "Something is clearly wrong."

"Grow up, Cass, I hate you. We're done. What do you need me to say to make you understand?"

Swallowing how much that hurt, and telling myself that he didn't mean it, I determinedly took another step forward, "I'll leave, I'll never talk to you again, whatever; just tell me what's wrong. You're not right, Landon, tell me what's wrong."

He sighed through his nose, obviously starting to get pissed off at me, "Go away, Cassandra, I broke up with you, remember?"

"You…" but I stopped. Maybe I was reading too much into this. Maybe this was how he's always been, but I never wanted to believe it. Maybe my rose-colored glasses have finally been taken off, and now I'm seeing the real Landon for who he really is.

That hurt.

That hurt like a bitch.

Without gracing him with any other kind of response, I turned and walked away.

I only realized at the parking lot that I had let him get the last word in. "Damn," I muttered, jerking my door open angrily, and plopping heavily into the driver's seat. If this was actually legitimate, and he really had always been this way, then he got what he wanted. I just gave him my head on a silver platter, and he most definitely knew that. "Damn," I said again, slamming my hand angrily down on the steering wheel.

Glaring at my car for a few more seconds allowed enough steam to roll off so that I could start my car and drive out of the parking lot.

The ride home was very therapeutic as I allowed myself to cry and yell angrily at Landon for breaking my heart. It would be the only time I would ever cry for him, I vowed that, and it would be the only time I would allow myself to care. I told myself over and over again that I knew this was coming and that so what, he broke up with me. Now I can focus on school more, and hang out with my friends more.

Turning down my neighborhood moodily, I watched as my house came into view. I turned off the ignition and rested my head against the steering wheel when I got home.

No, I didn't believe that. I have straight A's, and I hang out with my friends at least once every week. My head jerked up in shock when I realized how much I depended on him to… just be there. There were so many times when I knew I could call him if I needed someone to just talk, and now… well, now—

"Holy shit!" I cried out in shock when I heard a loud rap at my window. My hand flew up to my chest, almost afraid my heart would jump right out of my chest at how fast it was beating.

"Cassandra," Mr. Williams' muffled voice called through the window. He waved his arms around, motioning for me to roll my window down.

With shaking hands I complied, still trying to get my bearings. "What's up, Mr. Williams? Sorry for swearing, you scared me."

"I need you to move your car," he said, pointing behind me to three cars idling on the side of the road. "Can you parallel park on the other side of your driveway? There are a few relatives that need to be closer to the house than they are right now."

"Yeah, no problem," I said, starting my car and parking on the other side of my driveway. My heightened senses from being scared shitless picked up on every little sound, and I actually jumped when I slammed my car door shut. "Jesus, Cassandra, get a grip."

I nervously glanced up the pitch back walk up my driveway. Checking left and right anxiously, I sprinted up the driveway and wrenched open the front door, slamming it quickly behind me.

"You're such a wuss," I chastised myself, glancing quickly out the front window, before running up to my room and jumping quickly on my bed, my eyes darting around the room. I was breathing as if I had just run a marathon or something, and my heart was beating louder than the sound the bass in my car could ever even hope to produce. Normally I wasn't this paranoid, but whenever someone scared me—actually good and scared me—I became a weak ninny, terrified of my own shadow.

Basically, I was pulling a Paranoid Paula, and it was embarrassing as hell.

I am the entertainer

And I know just where I stand

Another serenader,

Another long-haired band,

I squeaked loudly, my back straightening when I heard the music starting.

"Cell-phone," I muttered, quickly grabbing it out of my pocket, and answering.

"Hey hon," Paula said, "Where are you?"

"At my house," I answered.

"Oh, bummer, I thought you and Landon would be at the movies or something… hot damn, am I interrupting something?" I heard the innuendo in her voice, and I swallowed thickly.

"About that…" I started, not entirely sure how to bring it up, "I—well we actually… um, we kind of broke up…"

"You… as in… no, you're joking," she said, disbelief thick in her voice.

"I assure you, I am not kidding."

I could almost hear her roll her eyes, "Cass, you and Landon have the whole love thing going on, and if that's not legit than I don't know what is. I'm serious, you guys didn't break up. There is no feasible way he would just fall out of love with you. You're still together."

"You're more in denial than I was," I said dryly, flopping back onto my bed.

"Cass, don't screw with me," Paula warned.

"Right, because it would just be oh-so-funny if we broke up?"

"You're serious," she breathed, finally believing me.

"Took you long enough to catch on," I pouted, glaring at my ceiling.

"That… that… that douche bag," she seethed, "Who the hell does he think he is, breaking up with you?"

I smiled in spite of myself, glowing with happiness at her protectiveness. "Paula… I'm sure he has a very good reason. Besides he was in the park with Chip, so I—"

"Excuse me? He was in the park with Chip? That ditz with a model's body?"

Chuckling lightly, I said, "I'm not entirely sure if that was an insult or a compliment to her."

"That was most definitely an insult. For god's sake, he cheated on you with… with that?"

This was one thing I never understood about Paula. Ever since we were kids she had always been Paranoid Paula, afraid of everything. She never saw horror movies, carried hand sanitizer every where she went, never walked under ladders, never stepped on cracks; she was a class A case of Panaphobia.

And yet, despite all of her fears, she has no problem with bitching off at someone.

"Paula," I said again, my smile slowly fading, "I'm sure there is a good reason for what he did."

"Good reason my ass," she muttered.

"Look, I'll see you later, okay? I've got' a sleep before I crash and burn. Tomorrow I have to be in school early for that meeting, and I don't want to sleep through it… again."

"Whatever," she sighed, "Make sure to lock your windows and doors and don't fall asleep on your back." Rolling my eyes I grunted in confirmation and hung up on her. Oh yeah, I guess I forgot that one, someone told her one time that a person has a twenty percent chance of dying if they fall asleep on their back so obviously, she's terrified that she—or someone she knows—will die by sleeping on their back.

After I got ready for bed, my paranoia had not ebbed. My fear kept me awake, forcing me to divert my thoughts or I would be lying in bed staring at my closet all night. Unfortunately, diverted thoughts meant Landon, and Landon meant tears, and tears meant memories.

I'm pretty sure I got a full two hours of sleep that night.

The next morning, I realized that I couldn't go around moping all the time, because that would mean that he had won. He would no win, that's a promise.

I woke up that morning very refreshed, convinced that all of yesterday had been a lie. The rational side of my brain knew that I was not that creative.

"Cassandra," my little sister, Taylor yelled, bursting into my room and jumping on my bed.

"Taylor," I moaned, burying my head deeper into my pillow.

"Cassie, Paranoid Paula is here," she sighed, leaning back against the footboard of my bed.

"Tay, don't call her that," I rolled my eyes.

"She is, though! I don't understand why you're friends with her."

"Don't even get me started on your friends, missy," I said, raising an eyebrow at her.

"At least my friends have a sense of fashion. I mean you're even better than her, and you're fashion sense is… well… minimal at best…"

"How old are you again? Oh yeah, thirteen, why don't you go act like a thirteen year old while I sleep," I groaned putting my hands over my ears.


The grand idea of all ideas.

I was going to reinvent myself, starting with my taste in clothes. Shooting up out of bed, I knocked Taylor to the floor.

"Jeez, spaz, are you going somewhere?" Tay snapped, slowly lifting herself off the floor.

"Darling, loving, sister of mine—"

"What do you want," she sighed, resigned to the fact that she would help me no matter what.

"Help me with my clothes?" I asked, giving her my best puppy-dog look. I hoped it was at least half-way decent.

"Really," she asked, her eyes going wide.

This was not the response I was expecting, but I welcomed it greedily, "Yes, really."

"Eek!" she squeaked, running out of my room, dragging me behind her. "I have the perfect outfit. I mean I heard you and Landon broke up, and I know exactly what you have to wear, and I mean the neck line will probably not be as flattering as you're looking for, but I mean it will look so good on you. See, you have a really nice skin tone, coffee-latte sort of, and this green I have will look—"

"Taylor, shut up," I sighed, "Just get clothes for me to wear. I really don't want an explanation; you're giving me a headache. Oh, and I am not trying to make Landon jealous."

"Sure you aren't," she said, unmistakably disbelieving.

"I'm not!" I said hotly, tearing my hand out of her grasp.

"Okay chill, just put these on and everything will be all better. Oh, and the skirt is low-rise. Don't try and put it up too high."

"Yes ma'am," I saluted.


Nervously taking what she gave me, I skirted into my room and looked at what she gave me. The green shirt was okay, at least my boobs wouldn't be hanging out of the shirt… and the skirt wasn't too short… I mean, it could be worse. My favorite parts of the entire ensemble, though, were the shoes. I got to wear my favorite Puma sneakers, which I wore almost religiously.

"Cass, how long does it take you to get ready?" Paula called; her footsteps were heavy as she marched up the stairs.

Knowing that Taylor would have no problem yelling at, or making some sort of jab at Paula, I quickly through everything on, and ran out the door, still zipping my skirt, and straightening my shirt.

"Wow," Paula said, "I didn't even know you owned a skirt."

"Yeah, I have to admit, I'm more of a jeans and t-shirt kind' a gal," I said, looking down at myself. "Whatever, it could be worse; let's go."

Paula shrugged, and turned around. "Um… when was the last time you cleaned your banister?"

"What?" I asked, digging through my backpack for my keys.

"I was just wondering… I think I saw dust back there, and dust is said to carry serious illnesses if you let it grow, so you should dust it soon. Here, do you want some hand sanitizer?" Paula asked, lathering on some hand soap and holding out the container to me innocently.

I gave her my best, you're-shitting-me looks.


"Paula, really," I sighed, turning back to my bag and zipping it up, looking through the next pocket.

"I was just offering," she mumbled, turning back around and walking out the front door. Shaking my head back and forth in amusement, I followed her out. "You know, it could be—"

"Do you want to listen to the All-American Rejects… hm; I think my Cars CD is in the back… or maybe some 2 Doors Down…?"

She glared at me for a second for cutting her off, before saying, "I'm in the mood for some Whitesnake."

"Let's see if I have that one back here…"

After digging out my CD, we left and got to school ten minutes later.

"Do you think that it's going to be really awkward?" It had been silent the entire way there; save the blasting music we had playing.

"What do you mean?" I asked, opening my door and climbing out of the car.

"I mean… well… you and Landon were really popular because you were the cutest couple ever. Do you think it will be really awkward now that you aren't… you know?"

I clenched my jaw, wishing that we weren't having this conversation now, right before school. "First, I was not popular by any standard; all of his friends hated—hate—me. Second, if you're so worried about it, you don't have to walk with me."

"Hey, cool down," Paula said, holding her hands up in defense, "I was just wondering if you thought about it… I mean… okay I realize now that I could have had more tact, but… well…"

I smiled slightly, "It's fine, let's just get this over with."

"Good plan," she said, obviously relieved that I had let her off the hook.

Wincing, I pulled the main doors of school open, ready for a stampede or something. Nothing, thank god. Sighing deeply, I walked confidently into school, acutely aware of what I was wearing, but trying not to show it.

"Oh damn," Paula cursed, her eyes widening in fright

"What? What's wrong, Paula?" I asked.

"I have to go and meet Mr. Connor; I forgot to meet with him yesterday! Oh god, what if he fails me now that I missed my meeting? I mean if that happens, then I'll never be able to have a real job, and then—"

"Go see him, Paula; I'm sure he forgot too," I soothed, trying to hold back an eye roll.


"Yes, really, now move your ass before the bell rings."

"Right," she said, turning away. "Wait, are you sure he—"

"Go, Paula, you'll be fine," I said, giving her a friendly shove in the direction of Mr. Connor's classroom.

"Right," she said, still muttering to herself as she ran off.

I turned back around to face the entire lobby, and suddenly—without Paula standing next to me—it felt like everyone was staring at me. Refusing to meet anyone's eye, I walked forward, forcing myself into tunnel-vision, staring only at the staircase, and then, from the staircase turn left and over to my locker. Easy-peasy, right?

"Cassie, that you?" someone called from my right.

I pretended not to hear, and kept walking.

"Cassie, wait."

Bracing myself for the worst, I turned around and came face-to-face with Roger. I almost hugged him in relief. I was all ready for one of Landon's friends to come up to me and make fun of me for losing Landon; telling me that this was for the better because Landon could do so much better than me.

"Hey Roger," I said, smiling. His ache-ridden face smiled back at me, and I felt bad for the kid. He was easily the most stereotypical geek I had ever met, and I used to always hold it against him. Being the very judgmental and prejudice person that I am, I never talked to him because of his tucked in shirt, tie and immaculately clean attire. I never before thought that I would say that I was happy to see the kid.

"Listen, did you do the calculus homework yet? I couldn't get one of the problems, and I was wondering if you did…?"

"I actually haven't started it yet," I said apologetically, "I'm going to cram all of that in tonight, I'm sorry."

"No worries," he said, smiling brightly up at me, "I may be able to figure it out by then."

"Alright, see you later, Roger."

"Bye, Cassie."

A smile on my face, I turned around and ran right into Chip. My smile fell off my face, and was replaced by the most irritated/bored look I could muster. "Well this is quite a surprise."

"Hi, Cassie," she squealed, her annoying nasal voice ripping through my eardrums, and I tried to hold back a wince.

"Hello," I said, refusing to call her Chip.

"Listen," she said excitedly, "I know you and Landon were really close, because you used to date and all that jazz, so I was wondering if you wanted to go shopping with me this weekend!"

Hell must have just frozen over.

"So? What do you think? I mean I was planning on going to Macy's or something like that, but I'm not sure if that would have the look I'm going for. Oh, and then I really wanted to run over to FYE because I hear that Landon really likes music or whatever, so then I wanted you to help me pick out a really cool CD that he really wants or something! Wouldn't that be great? Oh, and I love your outfit today!" She said happily, a bright smile alighting her face. She looked like she was doing the potty-dance or something; she was bouncing so damn much.

"Um… I actually don't think I can…" I trailed off uncomfortably, not entirely sure if this was a joke or not. Not that I would go with her if it wasn't a joke, but… yeah.

"Oh," her face fell, but she bounced right back, with an award-worthy smile when she spotted someone over my shoulder. "Landon!"

Oh, peachy. Turning slowly, I watched as she flounced right into his arms, and hugged him tightly. Swallowing hard, I saw him do a double take when he saw it was me talking to Chip.

He blinked a few times, just watching me, "Uh… Cassie?"

"I have to go to class," I said, turning on my heel and walking away from him. I felt his eyes on my back and walked faster, trying to convince myself that I didn't want him.

Avoiding Landon was, thankfully, much easier than I had originally anticipated. Since Landon is very popular in our school, I assumed trying to avoid him would be like trying to avoid the sun. For the last few days I tried out new more fashionable—or whatever—clothing, and it was actually working. Of course, I was also getting some unwanted attention from Landon, but… okay it wasn't completely unwanted, but just sort of unwanted.

The two days that had passed seemed to last forever though, but I tried to shake myself out of this uncharacteristic depression-like state I had fallen into. I would see Landon in the hallways or in the cafeteria or—even worse—in class, and I tried to act impassive. I knew I probably looked haughty and astute with my chin lifted high in the air, and firm determination written on my face when I knew he was even in the same room as me, but I didn't care.

"Ladies and gentleman, your groups are on the board, there is only one group of three, and the rest are all groups of four. Please find your group and go over the homework," Mr. Lord, our Government and Foreign Policy teacher called, taping a piece of paper to the board.

Dread ate at my belly, as I watched Landon look at the paper, find his name, then look at me. Obviously we were in the same group, but I didn't believe it. For god's sake, of the twenty five kids in our class, we had to be stuck together? We had other people in our group though, so I would be able to carefully ignore whatever he had to say and only talk to the other group members. I couldn't break my streak, I told myself, I had avoided him for two days; so, I could avoid him through class.

Marching up to the front with Paula at my side, I prayed to every god I knew that Paula and I were in a group.

No such luck. Actually, my luck was worse than I had originally predicted. Not only was I in a group with Landon, but we were the only group of three. Not so bad, right? There was someone else that I could talk to and still avoid Landon. Yeah, well that's where the problem comes in. The third group member was none other than Riley Francis. The stereotypical bad-boy never paid attention in class, had never taken notes in his life, and was always plugged into his iPod. There was zero chance that he would talk to Landon or me, and it sucked.

"Cass," Landon called, motioning for me to go over to his table. He looked reluctant, obviously not very happy with our arrangement either.

"Paula," I whined, turning to look at her.

"Damn and you're part Irish?" she asked, staring at the table where Riley and Landon were sitting.

"Shut up, this has nothing to do with my ancestors," I huffed, "Mr. Lord just hates my guts."

"Go, before he yells at you and me," Paula said nudging me in the direction of my group.


"Cass, come on," Landon called, patting a seat on his left while Riley was on his right. Instead of sitting next to Landon, I chose to sit across from him, trying to put as much space between us as possible.

I sat down, got out my notebook and looked up to stare straight at Landon. Oh nice job Cassandra, I chided myself, sit across from him, so that every time you freaking look up he's right there. Swallowing my anger and surprise, I quickly looked back down, and started organizing and re-organizing my paper, waiting for him to talk.

"Uh… um… well, what did you get?"

"I don't have any questions; I got all the answers," I said tartly, smoothing out the corner of my homework.

"I think we have to read our answers, Cass," Landon said, pulling out his homework.

Clenching my jaw, I glared at him, knowing that in any other situation he would have ignored the teacher and not gone over his homework. But, since we were paired together, he was going to make me talk. "You go ahead, I'll listen."

"No it's alright; I want to hear what you have to say about the women's rights movement and how you felt about the men in the story." A challenge was behind his words, and his eyes started to light with scheme.

I knew what he was getting at; I wasn't blind for god's sake. He wanted to hear me bitch about something that happened in the past, while the undercurrent would really be about us. He would counteract whatever I said with a twisted version of what he was going through. I took the bait though, I couldn't help it. Without looking at my paper, I stared him right in the eye and said, "Women weren't trusted to take care of the family, they weren't accepted and they were treated like shit."

"Excuse me?" He was obviously trying to think up a time when he had treated me badly.

"They were taught to see their husband as something he obviously wasn't and told to like it. Finally, the feminists took over and convinced the women—or, most of the women—that they could live by themselves, independently, without being codependent."

"Something I—he wasn't?" he asked incredulously.

"That's what I said, yeah," I said, shrugging as if it were no big deal, "Which part didn't you get?"

"I—they were always who I—they said they were," he said, anger starting to show on his face. Good, let him get angry, it'll be good for him.

I snorted, "Yeah, sure."

His gaze got even hotter, the angrier he got, "Yes, I was, Cass. I'm still the same damned guy."

My eyes narrowed, and it barely registered to me that the entire class had turned to look at our conversation. Hell, even Riley was watching the debate. "We're talking about history, Landon, Women's Rights Movement, remember?"

"Don't screw with me, Cassandra," he warned.

"I'm not, that's Chip's job," I said sweetly.

His glare hardened, "You don't know what the hell you're talking about."

"Neither do you, so shut up," I snapped, standing up abruptly, "Mr. Lord, I'm going to the bathroom."

"Actually, Cassandra, I would like to hear the different views that you and Landon—"

"It's an emergency, sir," I said, adding the sir since I had cut him off, "Sorry."

Without letting him answer, I turned on my heel and left, forcing myself to cool down. That was the first sticky situation that Landon and I had had, and I hoped to god it would be the last.

"Cassie," I heard someone clear their throat behind me, from where I was studying in the library.

"Hm," I asked, staring at the calculus that I was attempting, and failing to figure out.

"Cass, look at me."

"Landon?" I asked, whirling around. Three days. I had made it two days, then he came, now three days, and he came

"Um… yeah…" he trailed off, shifting uncomfortably.

Today I was decked out in tight skinny jeans that I found to be incredibly comfy and a long-sleeved shirt that dipped a little bit lower than I was normally comfortable with. I held back a smirk when I realized that he was checking me. "What do you want?

"I… well… I wanted to talk to you."

"Believe it or not," I said sarcastically, "I figured that much out for myself."

"Cassie, don't make this hard," he sighed, shifting his weight again, and rubbing his hand threw his hair nervously.

"I don't know what you're talking about," I said, "I mean you were the one to break up and cheat on me, so—"

"I did not cheat on you… well, okay, I guess sort of, but not really" he said, spinning my chair around and boxing me in by gripping the armrests of my chair tightly. He glared at me, daring me to question him. So, obviously, I did just that.

"Really," I said, raising an eyebrow at him. "Exactly how do you 'not really' cheat on someone?"

"Well I sort of did, but…"

"Landon," I said angrily, pushing him off of my chair so that I could stand up; I didn't like it when he stood over me, it made me feel weaker. "Landon, you can't 'sort of' cheat on someone. It's like being pregnant you are, or you aren't; you did or you didn't."

"Okay, I guess I have some explaining to do…"

I snorted loudly, "Ya think?

He glanced anxiously behind him, searched for prying eyes, and found many. "Listen," he said quietly, lowering his voice, "Can we do this somewhere else? Please?"

Gritting my teeth in frustration, I ground out, "Sure, why not?"

"Cass, come on, I just meant—"

"That you were embarrassed and didn't want a crying, raving, teenage girl on your hands, especially in front of a bunch of people," I finished, angrily throwing everything into my bag. It was like in class three days ago, for some reason just being in his presence was pissing me off.

"No, Cass, you know that I—"

"No, I don't. I don't know you anymore, so I can't make assumptions, can I?" I asked, my words clipped, unattached, uncaring.

Landon looked at me deeply, and I had to look away before I embarrassed myself by lowering my guard, "You really think that?"

"Evidently," I patronized.

"I can explain, I swear," he said, leading me out of the library, but glancing over his shoulder every three seconds or so, just to make sure I was still following him. "Here, right out here," he said, holding the door for me, and seating me down at the picnic table right under the huge oak tree out front of our school.

Tapping my fingers impatiently on the table, I glanced around us, highly aware of his eyes on me, but not willing to give him the benefit of look at him. Finally, after what seemed like hours, I looked at him, and glared, "Do you plan on talking anytime soon?"

He smiled genuinely at me, "I missed you."

"That's good," I sighed, trying not to show how happy that made me.

"I'm serious," he said, giving me an earnest look. "I really missed you."

"You know I didn't go anywhere, right?" I asked, giving him a look.

"Yeah you did… you actually thought I could hurt you like that… I thought you knew me better."

"Yeah, so did I," I said, looking away from him.

"You were right at first, something was wrong… I was scared, baby," he whispered, trying to catch my eyes again.

"Don't you dare," I warned, my eyes watering, "You have no right calling me baby. I am Cassie, you're ex-girlfriend, and I have places to be."

"No, wait, I'm sorry," he said quickly, grabbing both of my hands and holding them tightly. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to step out of line or whatever. I was trying to show you how much I still love you. I… I'm not sure how to say this."

I laughed mercilessly, "Wow, you sure now how to treat the girl you love, don't you?"

He looked down at our entwined hands, and swallowed hard, "I'm sorry, okay? I was scared. You… you don't understand…"

"Then make me understand, Landon. If you're so hell bent on telling me that you missed me and that you love me, then for god's sake tell me why you broke up with me!" I cried, exasperated.

"You won't understand," he said miserably. "I royally screwed up, I know that. I thought that they were more important than you, but I know now, that you are the most important thing to me. I swear, if I had known how much you meant… I mean I always hear people say "You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone" but I never took that seriously before… before… before I left you."

"They're… I… I don't understand," I said slowly, my hands stilling, my gaze fixed firmly on Landon's downturned face. I wasn't going to like what he was going to say. I could feel it deep in my gut, almost like a sixth sense.

"They… you know… okay," he said shakily, letting out a deep breath. "You know my friends don't…well they don't… think very highly of you—"

"Just say that they don't like me and get over it."

"Right, um, they don't like you," he said quickly, as if he was afraid of saying it out loud, "Right, whatever, they don't like you, so they… they talked to my parents."

He stopped, as if I was supposed to understand what that implied. I shook my head back and forth, "And?"

He swallowed again, "You know my parents, Cass, they… they're kind of strict…"

"Kind of," I snorted.

"They… they convinced my parents that you… you were… that you were… that I was… that you were not allowing me to focus on my school and stuff… they told my parents that you were unstable and clingy…so they… I…"

"…and you didn't stand up for me, so they made you break up with me," I said. "And you obeyed."

"Well… that's not really all… I mean I was scared. I really was, I mean I was really… really attached to you and stuff, so I just… kind of…"

"And," I added, pulling my hands away as if I'd been burned, "I was too distracting, so you decided to drop me like last weeks shoes, and move onto Chip, because she is so much less high-maintenance," I said sarcastically.

"No, you don't get it, I—"

"No, I get it, Landon, you don't have to explain. I was second best. Your school is more important, and the acceptance of your friends is more important. Listen, if I was such a big hassle, you should have just told me from the start, it would have saved you from having to deal with a god-damned unstable girlfriend, who's too clingy and too… too distracting."

"Cassie, please, you're not listening to what I'm saying."

"Oh I'm listening alright," I growled, leaning over the table to get right up in his face, "You never wanted me, and realized that I was wasting your time. You realized that I was high-maintenance which is why you were so 'attached' to me. You wanted to hang more with you're—uh, friends."

"No, you—"

"Good bye, Landon, I'm glad we had this little chat," I sniffed formally; standing ramrod straight and walking stiffly back to the school, ignoring the twist in my gut.

As soon as I got inside the school, I turned around, all ready to go back outside and be more reasonable, but—as luck would have it—Chip beat me to the punch. Landon was staring at the doors that I had just entered, his elbows in the table, and Chip was standing over him, one hand on his back, one hand on his shoulder, gently comforting him.

I laughed bitterly, feeling my heart break all over again.

"Cass, thank god," Paula yelled out, sprinting over to me, "I told you that he's still in love with you. He just about ran me over this morning trying to find out where you were! He said to give these to you. Two clowns hugging, I don't know why the hell you would ever want this, but… whatever floats your boat I guess. Of course, I mean I told him where you were, obviously and then…" her voice changed, turning accusing, "he found you."

"Yeah, he did."

Paula glared at me, "And you were a hard ass and didn't give him the time of day."

"What? No, I was… yes, I was a hard ass," I muttered, looking down at the floor.

"Get your ass out there and—is that Chip? What the hell is wrong with that girl?"


"Fine, we'll have to do this some other time. Come on, let's go to class, it's Tuesday, we can't be late again."

"Paula," I whined, rolling my eyes, "You really know how to lighten the mood. You know, make me feel better and all that."

She rolled her eyes at me, "You know damn well that if I even tried to comfort you, you would kick my ass."

"Let's go, Paula," I sighed.

Paula just shook her head at me, mouthing why me up to the ceiling.

To be or not to be that is the question. Shakespeare is a bitch, and making lowly high school students such as I go through this kind of torture was… well, torture. Glancing down at the analysis questions again, I realized that there was no way I was getting this done tonight; absolutely no way.

I had been thinking about Landon all day, trying to figure out what the hell to do. To forgive him or not to forgive him, that is the question. If I do forgive him… well…I mean it's kind of selfish to want to be first with everything, right? No… yes, maybe it is. Oh I don't know. I do know that if I don't forgive him I'm going to be miserable for the next month or so, that is without a doubt. So, I should… what? Forgive him? Yes? No? God, why was this so difficult? This was worse than Shakespeare for god's sake!

"Cass," Taylor whined, running into my room dramatically, "Help."

"No, I'm busy," I said, pretending to work on the Shakespeare homework.


"No buts," I sighed, not in the mood to deal with her drama. Really, the girl could make drama in a padded room with a tissue box.

"Fine," she said, letting out a big breath. "Last time I ever do anything for you…"

"Tay, I'm really busy, I swear I'll help you tomorrow with it, okay?"

"Okay," she said excitedly, bouncing out my door. I winced, not entirely sure what I had just signed myself up for.

"Cassandra, a boy is at the door for you," my mom called.

Sighing deeply, I grabbed my calculus text book and notebook, ready to settle down to a study session with Roger. I was so not in the mood, but at least it would get my mind of Landon. What Landon said made sense though, didn't it? Well, I put him first, so why shouldn't I be first to him, right? No, that's not fair… did I put him first?

Still lost in my own world, I made my way downstairs, almost walking right into Roger. "Cass." It was Landon.

"Oh great," I muttered, turning around, ready to go back up to my room, but he caught my arm just in time. I ripped my arm away from him as an electric shock went up my arm, my books falling from my hands.

"Cassie, I'm trying. I'm trying; you need to hear me out. Please hear me out?"

He was wearing his clown t-shirt. Since I had refused to meet his gaze, I stared at his shoulder, which then led to his chest, which led to the picture of the clown. I had made it for him a while ago, but he swore he would never be caught dead wearing it. Truly, it was an embarrassing shirt, but he hung it on his wall anyway because it was obvious I had spent a long time making it. He had never worn it, but he was wearing it now.

"I wore it for you," he said, noticing my gaze. "I felt completely ridiculous walking here, but I did. Do I have your attention now?"

"You walked here?" I asked, trying to stall.

"Yeah… I needed time to build up the courage. I've been standing on your porch for a good ten minutes, trying to figure out what to say."

"Oh," I said, sounding impassive.

"Cass… I love you. I swear on my life, on my family's life, on the god-damned universe that I love you. I…" he swallowed hard, "I don't know how else to say it for you to believe me."

"Look, maybe you were right," I said, keeping my stance bored, a hand on my hip, my hip jutted out to the left, my other hand tapping an incessant rhythm against the doorframe. "Maybe you and Chip are better, and I just didn't see it before. I mean she was comforting you after we had our little heart-to-heart, so…" I shrugged, "no biggy. Besides, you already implied you were going to break up with me soon anyway, so…"

He closed his eyes, "I really fucked up, didn't I?"

"I would have to go with a yes, hell yes."

"Why can't you forgive me?" he asked.

"Above all else, Landon, I learn from my mistakes. I won't make the same mistake twice, so I'm not going to fall into your trap again. Thanks, but no thanks, I'd like to keep what's left of my heart, so willingly dating you again is completely out of the question." My voice was cold, and I forced myself to detach. "You hate me, remember?"

"Why are you such a hard ass?" he asked, glaring down at me. "Why can't you see that I'm trying to make up for breaking up with you, and then forgive me?"

I rolled my eyes, "If you want me to be someone I'm not, then that just proves even more that we aren't good for each other. Why don't you go do something productive, and let me move on?"

He swallowed, "I want to you know that I'm here, Cass. I swear I always will be."

Trying to ignore the voice inside of me screaming that I was doing the wrong thing was like trying to avoid an angry elephant staring me in the face; impossible. I was sure that my face gave away what I was feeling, so I took a deep breath, broke our gaze, and said, "Whatever Landon."

I stared at the wall across from the place where I sat on my bed, and realized that I had to make an exception. I had to actually forgive someone. This would probably the first time I had said sorry in a millennium or two. That's embarrassing…

After Landon had finally left, I basically floated up to my room, not entirely aware of what I was doing. Nothing appealed to me. I knew that I had homework that I had to do, I knew that I had to eat something because I hadn't eaten in a good six hours or so, but I couldn't. Instead, I just lay on my bed, staring at the ceiling, trying to come up with something to do. Something to fix the mess I had made. Well, actually, if I wanted to get technical, he made the mess, but I made it worse.

"Paula?" I asked, calling her phone a few minutes later.

"Yeah," she said, distracted.

"I need some help…"

"What now?"

"I need to apologize."

That got her attention, "You need to what?"

"Don't make this such a big deal," I snapped, "I need to apologize to Landon."

"Oh my… can I write this down on the calendar or—"

"You're such a little shit," I chuckled.

"You're the one who's never apologized in your entire life for god's sake."

"Well then, if I'm such a bitch, why do you hang out with me?"

"Even though you're a bitch I still love you," she said.

"Wow, good job making your best friend feel better."

"It's what I do." I rolled my eyes at her, annoyed that she couldn't see me do it.

"So what's the plan?"

"I think I've got an idea…" I trailed off, knowing that it would have to be original enough to be legitimate, and personal enough to be caring. Great, these are the times when I wished I had even some sort of semblance of imagination.

I had sunk this low. I really had. Closing my eyes tightly, I told myself that this was my punishment; this was what happens to people who are bitches. Letting out a deep breath, I knocked three times on Landon's door and ran to the end of his driveway and stood nervously, waiting. Paula waved to me as she left, giving me a thumbs up.

An hour ago, I dragged Paula over to Landon's house and made her help me. Ever since I had called Paula yesterday, I've been planning my apology. We had moved the cars to the street so that the driveway was completely clear to write on. (No, we didn't hot-wire any cars or anything, the keys were in the ignition already…and of course Paula had to close her eyes and walk in circles so she didn't have a panic attack over the fact we were kind of breaking into their cars...) Two boxes of chalk later, we had a huge banner reading "I'M SORRY, FORGIVE ME" written across his driveway. So what, sorry wasn't exactly in my vocabulary, so he must know that writing it down was the best I could do.

There was another part of the plan that I had to partake in.

Yup, I was dressed up as a clown, standing at the end of Landon Michael's driveway, at one o'clock in the morning on a Thursday night—Friday morning, whichever.

Sucking in a deep breath, I held it when I saw the door start to creak open ever so slowly. Fear gripped my heart when I realized that Landon didn't live alone. Oh dear god, what if his parents came out and saw this? Oh no, should I run? What if they notice their cars were moved? What if they make me leave before Landon sees me? Remember the little problem of Landon's rather strict parents? Oh no.

Needless to say, when I saw it was Landon, releif had me almost keeling over.

Landon stared at the driveway sleepily; his half-naked body making me squirm uncomfortably. When he finally understood what was written on the driveway, his eyes slowly lifted until he was looking at me. My paint-splattered pants and tie-dye shirt clashing gorgeously; my big red nose and crazy hair-do making me self-conscious, but no matter how much I blushed, I did not let myself back down.

"Cass?" Landon asked, stepping out onto the front porch, a smile alighting his face. "Cassie."

I looked down at my feet nervously, and shifted my weight back and forth.

"Cass, come 'ere," Landon said, walking down the steps and moving closer to me.

My first few steps were hesitant, but I eventually picked up speed and confidence, and slammed into him, wrapping my arms tight around his body. "F-forgive me."

"You have nothing to apologize for. This was all my shit from the beginning. I never meant to hurt you like that. I love you."

"I know, I forgive you, I swear I do. I was going to tell you I did… but then I saw Chip out there, and I figured that—"

"Don't," he said, putting a finger over my mouth. "It's complicated, but I finally stood up to them… you should be proud of me, I told them off like there was no tomorrow. They finally got that you are the one, and convinced me to go talk to you in the library. I… I don't know what I was thinking about by using Chip… so, so stupid and I'm so sorry and… this is the most ridiculous thing I have ever managed to get tangled in, in my entire history of relationships," he said, shaking his head back and forth.

I smiled up at him, "It could have been worse."

He shrugged, "It could have been better."

"Smart ass, I'm trying to make light of a dark situation… or however that saying goes."

"I know," he said ruefully, "but I don't deserve it, I was an asshole."

Punching his shoulder lightly, I hugged him again, happy that all this drama was over. "Do your parents still hate me?" I asked quietly, dreading the answer, but needing to know at the same time.

"No, they don't. I brought the guys over, and I made them explain, and tell the truth. My parents finally agreed that you were more help than hindrance, and agreed to 'allow me' to date you. I didn't point out that I don't give a shit about what they think; I'm not losing you again." He looked down at me seriously, trying to convey his thoughts to me.

"I'm sorry for starting all of this," I whispered, gradually letting my guard down. I knew that I had to be vulnerable right now. I had to trust him.

"You didn't, just… just… if I ever do something stupid like that again, hit me. Hit me hard and tell me to grow up."

"Gladly," I said, tracing circles on his bicep.

"So… are we good now? Are you okay?" he asked after a long silence.

"Yeah we're good," I said, incredibly happy that we were all good.

"Good, because I have a secret to tell you."

"Do I want to know it?"

He smirked at me, "you definitely want to hear this secret."

"Lay it on me."

"I've never kissed a clown."

I looked up at him, an eyebrow raised in faux-shock. "That's a sin. I can't believe you've never kissed a clown."

He grinned, "A sin you say."

"Yeah, you must change that, I can't have you going to hell, now can I?"

"No, that would be a shame," he said, his smile widening.

Giving me one last look to make sure I wanted this, he leaned down and kissed me gently, portraying his feelings in that one simple kiss.

Author's Note

This is for the Making up, Breaking up Contest, as I have already mentioned

Let me know what you think!