Stay Strong

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Chapter 7

That Saturday I was folding clothes in the living room while watching the news. I was putting up towels when my phone rang.

I glanced down at Sonia’s number before answering.

“Yeah?” I asked, holding the phone between my shoulder and ear while I finished putting up the towels.

“So...we’re going to the movies this afternoon. Wanna go?” she sounded like she almost didn’t want me to go but I told her I would and asked when we were going.

“Great. We’re seeing the nine o’clock show.” I couldn’t help but think that she was being sarcastic when she said great.

“What movie?”

“We have no idea. It was a last minute thing so we haven’t decided.” I laughed gently and told her I would meet them there before hanging up.

I finished the clothes and the rest of the chores that needed to be done before taking a quick nap.

I woke up and found I only had thirty minutes to get ready before I had to meet them. I jumped out of the bed and rushed to change. The movie theater was about twenty minutes away so I only had ten to get ready.

I threw on a pair of black skinny jeans, a dark red top that had a floral design on it and a pair of dark red flats. I threw my hair into a messy ponytail before brushing my teeth and leaving the house.

I drove to the movie theater and saw Vanessa, Bryson, and Sonia all laughing together, standing by Bryson’s car. I parked beside them and walked over to them. “Ready?” Vanessa asked, a smile on her face.

“Sure. What are we seeing?” I asked her.

"I want to see this new horror movie but someone,” Vanessa gave a pointed stare to Sonia, “wants to see some comedy. What do you want to see?”

“The horror movie of course. What else?” I laughed. Sonia huffed as she stormed past us. Sonia hated horror movies. I couldn’t blame her really, I didn’t like some either. Some were outright stupid. Paranormal horror movies were my favorite and Vanessa would agree with me that they were good.

After we had grabbed our tickets we stood in line to get some popcorn and some drinks.

I got a small drink while Vanessa and Bryson got a large popcorn and drink. It was close to the time I had to pay bills so I couldn’t just spend money willy-nilly even for popcorn that was nasty but kind of addicting.

I stood beside Vanessa while we waited on Sonia, who got stuck behind several people after us, and Bryson, who went to the bathroom. “Do you think the movie will be good?” I asked Vanessa.

She shrugged and looked over my shoulder. Her gaze landed on something and a big, scary grin spread over her face. “The movie may not be good. But I am sure that this show will be.” I turned around to see what she was talking about and I’ll be damned if Landon and a group of boys didn’t just walk into the movie theater.

Can I not have a single outing with my friends without Sonia wanting to strangle me over Landon? I pinched the bridge of my nose and shoved the thought of how my stomach did a little flip out of my head.

Bryson walks over to us looking between me and Vanessa. “Why does she look like she’s about to explode?” he asked.

“Take. A. Damn. Guess,” I growled, plopping down on one of the faux leather couches, sinking into it.

Vanessa pointed to the line and Bryson laughed when he saw Landon and his friends. “Well. Things just got interesting,” he laughed, sitting down beside me. Vanessa sat down on his other side and he threw his arms over the back of the couch when a group of boys walked past and stared at Vanessa and me. Bryson truly was like a big brother to us.

I leaned back, my head hitting Bryson’s arm and I thought I might have fallen asleep. Until a high-pitched squeal that sounded like a pig being slaughtered made me jump.

I looked at Sonia as she ran up to Landon and wrapped her arms around his neck. He has an irritated look on his face and pried her off of him. And thank God for that because I could feel myself starting to get up to go over there and yank her off of him, telling her that she was being a naive little girl who threw herself at every good-looking boy that walked in front of her. But Sonia was my friend and, while she may be hormonal right now, she’s not always like this. Like I said. She’s used to getting what she wants.

I watched as Sonia grabbed his hand and pointed to the couch we were sitting on. His eyes passed over Vanessa and Bryson before they settled on me and his face seemed to light up. Sonia seems to notice this and as Landon raises his hand to wave hello she looks dead at me and glares. I glare right back, hoping that she knew that I was tired of her games. He was a human being who could make his own choices.

Landon seemed a little shocked when he saw me glaring and when he looked at Sonia and then back at me, a small smile pulled at his lips. Vanessa and Bryson stood up, making their way over to Sonia, leaving me to follow suit.

As I stood beside Vanessa, Landon introduced his friends to us and us to them. All the while Sonia was trying to burn holes in the side of my head and I did my best to ignore her.

Sonia looked at Vanessa and Bryson, “Can they watch the movie with us? They’re seeing the same one.” I noticed that she pointedly ignored me. If she wanted to act like that she could. That was fine by me.

Vanessa and Bryson told her that they didn’t care and we all headed into the theater. As I was about to step into the room my phone vibrated in my back pocket. I took it out and looked down at the number. It didn’t recognize this one and seeing as how I had blocked the number Gavin Graves called me from I figured that I wouldn’t get any more calls from him, so I answered it.

“Hello?” I took a sip of my drink as I leaned against the wall of the hallway that leads to the separate theaters.

“Aspen, please don’t hang up or block me again. Getting new phones activated is a pain,” that same low, smooth voice that belonged to Gavin Graves came through the phone.

I clenched my teeth. “I told you before not to call me again. I want nothing to do with whatever bullshit you’re selling,” I growled and hung up the phone, shoving it back into my pocket and sliding down the wall, staring at the carpeted floor in front of me.

“Telemarketer?” Landon’s slightly rough voice called out.

“I’d rather deal with a telemarketer,” I mumbled, pinching the bridge of my nose.

“Come on. The movie will take your mind off of that phone call.” I looked up and saw Landon extending a hand to me. I noticed that when he moved that his black shirt stretched across his shoulders and muscular chest. My eyes traveled along his arm and I realized then just how muscular he really was.

“What do you do in your free time? Lift buses?” I asked and I took his hand and he pulled me up like I weighed nothing.

“Huh?” he asked, a slightly confused look on his face.

I grabbed his upper arm. “You’re buff, dude.” He was buff, I wasn’t lying but it wasn’t to the point that he walked around like he was half gorilla or like he stuffed pillows underneath his shirt. His arms weren’t unnecessarily big, they were just muscular. It was an attractive buff. I almost jumped as the thought passed through my mind.

“Like what you see, huh?” He gave me a crooked smirk, he flexed the arm I was holding on to. I couldn’t help the blush that heated my face. I knew I was probably as red as my shirt. I pulled my hand away and turned to head into the theater. Landon followed after me, laughing.

As we entered the dark hallway that had small lights that did nothing but made sure you didn’t run into the wall, he threw his arm around my shoulders, causing me to stop. He leaning close to my ear and I could feel his breath against my ear. “I like what I see too,” he whispered as he pressed a kiss to the side of my head. I froze in stunned silence before speeding past him.

I found Bryson, Vanessa, and Sonia and took a seat next to Vanessa. It was us and Landon’s friends that were in the theater. Bryson sat beside Vanessa and Sonia sat a seat down from me, while Landon’s friends sat in the row ahead of us.

“Landon, over here,” Sonia pointed to the seat that wasn’t next to me. He looked at the seat and then at me. He gave me a small smirk that I noticed meant he was up to something. I’ve seen that smirk in class when he was about to do something that would make the girls in class stop staring at him and glaring at me. It normally ended with his arm around my shoulders and me with a look of pure boredom on my face. So when he sat down in the seat between Sonia and me I wasn’t at all surprised.

A few minutes later the movie starts and I notice that Sonia is jumping every few minutes whenever something made a noise on the screen. I tried my best, I really did, but when the spirit popped up on the screen and Sonia screamed, grabbing onto Landon’s arm in a death grip, I couldn’t help but sigh and roll my eyes.

Landon tensed when she grabbed his arm and I felt happy that he didn’t like her touching him.

Whoa. Wait. What? Where did that come from? Since when did I sound so possessive? I mentally shook my head and focused on the movie again.

About halfway into the movie, Sonia had let go of Landon’s arm and had decided to do something on her phone which made me happy. I wouldn’t be able to sit here and listen to Sonia overreact when she normally never screamed during a horror movie. But she kept watching Landon and me. Well, she was really glaring at me. I was starting to get annoyed by her behavior. She had acted like this in the past but never for this long.

“Bryson,” Sonia whispered as she leaned forward to speak to him.

“Yeah?” he whispered back.

“Can you take me home?” she asked, looking at the screen before looking away.

“Yeah, come on.” As Sonia walked in from of us to get out of the row of chairs she stepped on my foot. Hard.

I hissed in pain and pulled my foot up to rub the top of it. “Sorry,” she whispered but I knew she didn’t mean it by the tone in her voice.

As she got to the aisle, Landon leaned over and his breath tickled my ear as he said, “If you get scared you can hold on to me.”

I saw Sonia freeze and look back at us before storming off, Bryson following after her, giving me a worried look over his shoulder. I turned and glanced at Landon, raising an eyebrow. I had seen him jump a few times too.

“Noted,” I mumbled and turned back to the movie. I ignored the way my heartbeat sped up a little as he laughed, his breath ruffling the hair that had fallen out of my ponytail.

Before long the movie was over and we were all talking about it in the hallway. The drink I had may have been small but I really had to go, so I asked Vanessa to wait there before rushing to the bathroom. I washed my hands and came back out to see Vanessa talking with Landon and his friends.

I walk over to them and stand beside Vanessa. “You two are like made of steel,” one of Landon’s friends state.

Vanessa and I share a look before turning back to him and shrugging our shoulders.

“They’re hot and made of steel,” one of his other friends grins at us. I raise an eyebrow at him while Vanessa flicks him off. Landon didn’t seem to like that comment either because he hit his friend over the back of his head.

“Don’t be an idiot. Anyway, why weren’t you two scared?” Landon asked, glancing between Vanessa and me.

“Takes a lot to scare us,” I say with a shrug. Vanessa grew up on horror movies and she has had a bad past of her own with an abusive mother and a drunk for a father she now lives with Bryson and his family. And I have witnessed a few horrors of my own.

“Noted.” Landon grinned at me and I quickly turned to Vanessa.

“Ready to go?” I asked. She didn’t have a car so she often rode with Bryson but Bryson had left with Sonia so now I was taking her home.

“Yep. See you guys at school Monday,” Vanessa called over her shoulder as she started to head to the front doors of the theater.

I waved at them before following after Vanessa, trying to ignore the fact that I felt Landon’s gaze on me the whole time before the door of the theater shut behind me.

As I got into the car and cranked up the heat, seeing as how it was starting to get a little cold at nights now, Vanessa turned and looked at me.

“I told you he liked you,” she stated matter-of-factly.

“I know,” I mumbled, leaning my head against the steering wheel

“And you like him too.”

I turned my head to look at her and saw a small but slightly sad smile pulling at her lips. “I...I think that I might be feeling a little something for him, yeah.”

“I told you this was going to tear you two apart. I’d say that you need to talk to Sonia but she wouldn’t listen. I’d honestly be surprised if she even talked to you again” she muttered the last part.

“It wasn’t my fault. He was the one that did it,” I half screamed.

“I know, Aspen. I know. But would she listen to that reason?” Vanessa asked sadly.

I slumped in the seat and sighed through my nose.

“Look, just know that no matter what happens between you and Sonia, Bryson and I will still be both of your friends.” I smiled at her as the words left her mouth before hugging her tightly.

I take her home after the moment we had in the car and then head home myself, not bothering to even change into some pajamas as I pull my shirt and pants off and collapsed onto my bed. I kept thinking about how Sonia had glared at me. I had the feeling that it was going to take a lot of work to keep our friendship together after that. As much as I wanted to blame Landon, I couldn’t. He didn’t know that Sonia would act like this. Despite the attitude he sometimes had, he was a good person. He would have wanted to see neither me nor Sonia hurt. Even if Sonia got on his nerves.

“Why can’t my life ever be simple?” I ask my ceiling. Of course, I got no answer but I didn’t really expect one anyway. I sigh and think to myself that this week at school was going to be very long.

A/N:’s the last one for today.

I will write and post the next chapter when I get a chance. I am sorry for not being able to post chapters lately. I will try to get better at it.

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