A/n: mucho love to all that have supported this story. Extra long chapter for you all. Enjoy!
Okay, so I was almost positive that the sweater Landon lent me was cursed.
Or, shoved over my head really. I hadn't exactly asked for the thing. Nor the consequences that were bound to come with it.
Because there would be consequences, that was for sure.
I groaned, rolling around in my bed for what felt like the thousandth time. I cracked an eye open from beneath nearly a dozen blankets, glowering at the olive and gold printed fabric as it hung innocently from the back of my doorknob.
I snorted at the thought.
"Innocent." Yeah right. There was nothing innocent about that thing.
By the time I had realized I was still wearing Richmond's sweater, Jayda was already gliding her car smoothly in front of my house. She had taken one glance at me, (after sadistically grilling me the entire ride for every miniscule detail about the afternoon) and her dark eyebrows had immediately shot up behind her equally dark bangs.
"Is that Landon's jacket?" she asked, and despite her accusing tone, there was impish spark in her opaque eyes.
I felt as if someone had doused me with cold water. Suddenly, I was acutely aware of the warmth enveloping my form and the delicious scent invading my nostrils. I had totally forgotten to give it back in my haste to escape.
Avoiding her look, I decided to play dumb, muttering an evasive, "What makes you so sure it's his?"
I mean, she couldn't possibly know for sure right? She had to be just assuming.
Jayda pursed her lips, her expression knowing.
"Gee, I don't know…" she began derisively, "Maybe the fact that his last name and number are broadcasted in massive blocky font on the back."
Heart racing, I yanked the sweater from over my head, staring in horror at the blocked characters spelling out Richmond and the number twelve.
This was absolutely terrific. Of course it was his team pullover he happened to lend me.
I whirled on Jayda, who was watching me with open amusement.
"You have to give this back to him." I pressed, and attempted to thrust the jacket in her direction only for her to shake her head.
"No way." She rebutted, flinching back as if it were contagious, "I'm not having his fan-club skewer me. You're the one he lent it to."
Yeah, but why?
It wasn't as if we were friends or anything. In fact, I was ninety-five percent sure he only acknowledged me because he loved to push my buttons.
"Well what am I supposed to do then?" I demanded. "If his harem catches me with it I'm as good as dead, and if I don't return it Landon will pester me about it. It's a lose-lose situation!"
Jayda sent me a sympathetic look.
"Well the way I see it you have two options." she declared, "One: take it to school and hope no one catches you with it, or two: ditch your pride and tell Landon to pick it up from your house. It's your call."
I slumped in my seat.
"And if I choose neither?"
My best friend shrugged helplessly.
"Move to Alaska?"
When I finally managed enough strength to peel myself from Jayda's car and make my way inside, the jacket caused me even more drama.
My dad had taken one look at the name printed on the back and nearly flipped.
"You and Landon Richmond are dating?" he accused, causing my face to catch on fire.
God, Dad. Jumping to conclusions much?
My mother had squealed, her brown eyes glowing with excitement.
"Oh sweetie why didn't you tell me!" she gushed, "He's such a handsome boy, I always knew you two had a thing for each other."
I blanched at her words.
"What?" I hissed, beyond mortified. She thought me and Landon liked each other? That couldn't be farther from the truth!
Dad was irritated, if his narrowed eyes and crossed arms were anything to go by.
"I'm surprised at you Kylie." He remarked, and I opened my mouth to object, but he simply shook his head. "I thought that we agreed that whenever you decided to date I would meet the young man before things got serious."
I was scandalized. He thought things were serious?
"Dad you don't understand—" I insisted, desperate to correct this misunderstanding. Because that's exactly what it was, a big, embarrassing misunderstanding. "Landon and I aren't— "
"Oh spare me sweetheart." he dismissed, "I see the way that boy looks at you, it was only a matter of time."
"I just wish you would have told me first." He added petulantly, and I couldn't believe my ears. My father was pouting because he though Richmond and I were an item and I didn't tell him.
"Landon does not look at me." I denied hotly, but it seemed as if my protests were falling on deaf ears.
"I always assumed something was going on." Mom mused, ignoring my glare, "With all the phone calls and such, (It was one call!) but that jacket definitely seals the deal. A boy simply does not lend just any girl his jacket. Especially with his name plastered all over it. He obviously wanted her to be seen in it."
"It was cold." I spluttered helplessly, "He was tired of seeing me shivering, that was all. I swear."
Dad agreed with Mom, not seeming to even hear my explanation.
"He was clearly marking his territory. The boy's smooth, I'll give him that."
That's it—I give up. Their minds were clearly made up that Landon and I were a couple and there was nothing I could do or say that would change their minds.
"Whatever." I growled, and, thoroughly exasperated, stomped up to my room.
Even now, hours later I was still miffed by the whole thing. It was nearing midnight, yet my head refused to switch off.
I had to get rid of that jacket.
I was nervous.
Landon's jacket was stuffed at the very bottom of my book-bag, yet it felt as if every girl I passed could see straight through it. I knew I was being paranoid, but I couldn't help it. This was an extremely risky move, but there was no way in hell I was letting Landon over my house.
My parents thought we were dating for Pete's sake! Who knew what humiliating things they'd do or say.
Immersed in my thoughts, I rounded the corner—only to collide with a moving form. The force sent us both sprawling in a tangle of bags, books, and limbs, my elbow banging harshly against the tiled floor.
Pain catapulted up and down my arm, and I, ironically, knew I had struck my funny-bone.
Yeah…nothing funny about it.
I groaned, cradling the injured arm and willing the tingling agony to cease.
Think happy thoughts. Think happy thoughts!
"Oh shit." The body above me cursed, and then I was being hauled forcefully to my feet, a startled yelp leaving my throat as I was suddenly vertical. There was scuffling at my feet as I struggled to regain my bearings, my equilibrium still trying to catch up as my bag was shoved back onto my shoulder and a girl stepped into my line of sight.
Sheepish brown eyes met my own, and I instantly recognized the person before me as Jackie, the varsity player that had joked about me fighting the Richmond's lawnmower and defended me against Britney at the party.
"You alright Finch?" she inquired, searching my form for any injuries, "I didn't mean to tackle you like that, but I'm in kind of a rush."
I shrugged, muttering a low "S'okay" despite the motion causing a minor wince. Jackie noticed, her brows crumpling together in concern.
"Yeah…no dice." She decided, before wrapping a hand around my bicep. "C'mon, you're going to the nurse."
I tried to protest, I really did, but the girl was not having it. Not to mention strong as hell.
I was practically dragged to the nurse's office, the curly-headed woman's eyes widening as we came bursting through the door, knocking over various potted plants and scattering papers.
I felt my cheeks smarting at the commotion, noting that Jackie didn't seem embarrassed in the slightest, merely striding us both forward and presenting me to the nurse like we hadn't just trashed her office.
"Hey Judy." She greeted informally, and the woman seemed to gain her composure, narrowing her eyes disapprovingly at the athlete.
"For the umpteenth time Miss Carson," she sighed, exasperation clear, "It's Mrs. Daniels to students."
The girl bobbed her head disinterestedly, her short hair bouncing along with her movements.
"Uh-huh. Right." She placated, before gesturing a thumb in my direction, "Finch is hurt."
I waved weakly at being put on the spot, watching as the woman's eyes skimmed from Jackie to me and back again. She quirked a knowing brow, inquiring,
"And how exactly did she get hurt Miss Carson?"
Jackie averted her eyes, her brown cheeks darkening with an unmistakable ruddy color.
Oh, so now she blushes.
"I might have knocked her over." she admitted, rubbing awkwardly at her neck.
The nurse sent her disapproving look, cocking a fist on her plump hip that clearly meant business.
"Didn't I tell you to stop running in the halls?" she admonished, "This is your fifth victim this month!"
I nearly choked on my spit.
She made a habit of striking people like bowling pins?
"I was in a rush!" she defended, before her entire face went slack. There was a short silence and then—
"Shit." She swore, then more loudly, "Shit. Shit. Shit!"
"Miss Carson!" the nurse exclaimed, scandalized, "Language please!"
Jackie wasn't listening, scrambling her things together as she barreled for the door.
"Fix Finch for me will ya Judy?" she called over her shoulder, and before the woman could scold her again was out the door and sprinting down the hall.
Her echoing "I am so late." could be heard even after she had rounded the corner, out of sight.
My temples throbbed.
What. The. Hell. Was. That.
Mrs. Daniels' gaze slid over to me, noticed my frazzled state, and offered a long-suffering eye-roll. She obviously dealt with Jackie often, and was used to her out-of-this-world antics.
"Where does it hurt Miss Finch?" she asked in a crisp, professional voice.
"Just my shoulder a bit and my elbow." I answered.
She nodded, checking the places I indicated before waving me off.
"Just some ice and you'll be fine." She diagnosed, "Now hurry to class or you'll be late."
I thanked her and obediently headed for my first class, wary of anyone who walked too close lest I have another repeat of before. After hugging the walls of every hall I made it to my first class, only to realize it was being obstructed by the person who's clothing has been causing me trouble for the past eight hours.
My heart seemed to beat twice as fast and I faltered, disconcerted at the lightheaded feeling spreading throughout my body at the mere sight of him.
He was propped casually against the frame, staring blankly down at the petite girls vying for his attention. The blond had a slender hand draped against his forearm, blue eyes gazing up at him adoringly, while the red head took to grazing her nails along his bicep, lips twisted in a flirtatious smile. My sudden halt caught Landon's attention, and his head swiveled in my direction, his flat grey eyes flashing a glittering silver in recognition. A roguish smile curved his lips, causing his companions to also turn to see who he was looking at.
"Bird." He acknowledged, and was it me or did his voice seem huskier than usual?
It was doing strange things to my insides, and for a moment I just stared at him stunned, before remembering myself and returning a gruff, "Richmond."
His smile stretched, an amused laugh escaping his lips that hit me like a shovel over the head.
What in all the hells?
I felt…hot. And it was seriously creeping me out.
Was this another one of his sweater's curses?
That was it. I was going to lead him somewhere where no one could see us and I was getting rid of that thing once and for all.
I didn't need this nuttiness involving Landon to continue, it was just plain weird.
"Richmond I need to talk to you." I asserted, noticing how the girls seemed to move closer to him, and tacked on an urgent, "Alone."
Landon's eyebrows nearly shot into his hairline, and with good reason. I never interacted with him willingly.
"Alright." He agreed, but his eyes were uncharacteristically inquisitive as he detangled himself from the pouting girls and followed me down the hall.
I couldn't help but notice how his hand brushed against mine as we walked, and immediately clamped mine around my backpack straps, nerves rattled.
There was seriously something wrong with that damn jacket.
People kept greeting Landon as we passed, and he responded to some, mostly guys, with a casual nod or a friendly nudge, while he barely acknowledged most of the girls, simply shifting closer to my side.
I found it uncanny to say the least—as I was positive he enjoyed the attention he got from his admirers—yet each suggestive purr or coquettish glance was met with a mildly annoyed look and a shuffle in my direction.
When the halls finally started to thin out I stopped, whirling on Landon with determined eyes—and flinched.
Landon's hands were jammed casually in his pockets, his eyes silvery beams beneath the bib of his cap as he watched me expectantly. I could feel his gaze tracing all over my face, taking in every miniscule detail, cataloguing every freckle, mole, or scar with utmost precision.
It was unnerving, having his full attention on me, and I floundered, not used to being under such heavy scrutiny, or being the one initiating a conversation between us.
"Well?" he prompted, and I jumped, ripping my bag off and tearing into it like a lunatic.
I had to get out of here.
My stomach was in knots, and my head was swimming, and all these weird feelings were too much and I had to leave.
I burrowed further into my bag and frowned.
This can't be happening.
Landon was eying me as if I had bloomed a second nose or something equally as perplexing, but I didn't care.
My bag dropped, and I brought my fingers to my temples, distress spreading rapidly throughout my bones.
I was so screwed.
Landon was next to me in an instant.
"Bird what's wrong?" he demanded, warm breath fanning across my forehead.
I didn't answer, images of girls with pitchforks chasing me throughout the school.
They were going to catch me of course, and when they did I was going to become a human shish-kebab.
My grave would read: shished before her time.
Warm fingers curled around my own, tugging gently until I allowed them to be pulled away from my face.
"Kylie." He murmured, and my eyes snapped up at his tender tone. His fingers squeezed mine lightly. "Talk to me."
I was dumbfounded. Why was Landon being so nice?
In fact, ever since I lost that bet a few days ago he had been treating me differently.
I bit my lip, eyeing the dark-haired boy suspiciously.
What was he playing at?
"Bird." He nearly growled impatiently, and I huffed. Okay, okay. Sheesh.
"I lost your jacket." I admitted.
"Okay?" and then, "It's no big deal I have like a million of those."
I glared at him.
Gee. Maybe that information would have been useful to have last night. Then this nightmare would have never started!
"This is a serious issue Richmond." I snapped, peeved by his admission, "Between life and death."
Regardless, whoever had that sweater knew it was in my bag. And if they told anyone…I shuddered.
I might have to move to Alaska like Jayda suggested.
He had the nerve to look bemused, an impish gleam in his gaze.
"Why? You cold or something?" he teased, and began shrugging out of his current sweater even as I waved my hands around spastically.
"No." I objected, struggling as he began pulling my arms through the sleeves. What was I, a rag doll? "That's not it!" I argued weakly.
His jackets really were comfortable. And smelled nice.
But they were cursed!
Landon snorted as I vainly attempted to wrestle out of his clothes, my frustration mounting that he found the whole ordeal amusing.
Didn't he understand? I couldn't be seen like this!
I was already potentially in hot water.
"Listen." I insisted, finally getting the damn thing off. I held it out to Landon, whose fingers brushed mine as he took it. "I need your help getting that jacket back."
He quirked a brow.
"Why?" he voice was muffled as he pulled his sweatshirt back over his head, slightly off-centering his cap, "I told you it was no big deal, I have others."
I had reached up to fix his hat without thinking, not realizing my blunder until his entire body stilled, and immediately yanked my hands back.
What was that?
Landon had an unreadable look on his face, but otherwise didn't comment on the action, to my immense relief.
"If we don't get that jacket back, and they find out it was me…" I trailed off, my expression sobering, "Your fangirls…are going to kill me."
I was one hundred percent serious, yet the asshat groaned.
"Bird," he sighed, squeezing the bridge of his nose in exasperation, "You're being melodramatic."
I reeled away from him.
"Melodramatic?" I hissed, "Do you know how obsessed these girls are with you?"
Richmond rolled his eyes.
"Apparently, obsessed enough to hunt you down for having my jacket and murder you in cold blood."
My eyes narrowed.
"Don't patronize me you ass." I snapped, "My life is in jeopardy and its all your fault."
"My fault?" he demanded incredulously, "You could have just texted me that you still had my jacket. And then you would've known not to bother returning it."
He had a point.
But I was too stubborn to give in, crossing my arms defensively against my chest.
"You didn't even have to lend me the stupid thing in the first place." I persisted, "I was doing perfectly fine on my own. I didn't need your help."
"It wasn't "stupid" when you were freezing your ass off." He retorted, "I was just tired of seeing you being pathetic. Who wears a short-sleeved shirt in autumn? Bird-brain."
I scowled at the insult.
"Oh, real mature. What are you—five?" I snarled, and couldn't help adding a petulant, "And since when do you care what happens to me? I'm nobody remember?"
Landon's expression faltered, flickering from realization, to regret, to frustration, before finally smoothing out into its usual disinterested mask.
"Fine." He stated calmly, yet there was something precarious brewing beneath. Something barely contained and wild and smoldering. "I won't bother next time."
His words cut me like a knife, and I reached reflexively for my chest just as the bell sounded overhead.
Landon spun on his heel, refusing to look at me.
"Later." He quipped, and I could only watch with a growing sense of helplessness as he walked away from me.
A/n: Oh no Kylie what have you done! Literally one step forward two steps back with these two. Sigh. And who do you guys think has his jacket? What do you guys think about Jackie?
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Till next time :)