Authors: Krysten Lindsay Hager
Landry's True Colors Book 2
by Krysten Lindsay Hager
Published by Clean Reads
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.
BEST FRIENDSâ¦ FOREVER?
Copyright Â© 2015 KRYSTEN LINDSAY HAGER
Cover Art Designed by CORA GRAPHICS
This book is dedicated to:
Bruce, Ruth Anne, Justin, Amy, and Antoni.
Special thanks to: Holly Dennler and the Dennler family, Nicky Schmidt, the Tuesday Writers Group, Linda Grabowski, the Slater family, Stephanie Taylor, Leslie L. McKee, Suzanne Verbruggen, Julie Stewart, Laura Turner, Kim Medeiros and my amazing street team for the love and support.
There was nothing like spending Christmas in Chicago. The city was so sparkly and bright when it was all lit up and decorated for the holidays. It was exciting to see all the cars and taxis whizzing by and feeling like anything was possible in the big city. I loved getting off the train, seeing my dad, and taking the taxi back to the apartment my parents and I lived in together until my mom got transferred to Grand Rapids. I liked my new school and all, but I missed my dad living with us and hoped he'd be able to find a job in Michigan and move in with Mom and me.
I was too tired to unpack my suitcase when we got to Dad's, so I just left it in my room and went to watch TV with my parents. It was nice to have things back to how they used to be until Mom started in with the nagging.
"Stop eating all that junk food, Landry. Your dad has fruit in the fridge, too," she said.
"Yeah, but I'm tired from the train ride. I mean, if fruit was as easy to deal with as opening a bag of chips then I'd eat, like, an apple or something," I said, taking another handful of potato chips.
"It's just as easy to peel a banana as it is to take the wrapper off a candy bar."
I reminded her how bananas made me gag. Of course, this was from the woman who made me bring boxes of raisins to my third-grade Halloween party. I'd never forget that day. Everyone was like, "What loser brought raisins?" and I prayed no one would find out it was me. I thought I was safe until the homeroom mother said, "Landry, you can take all the raisin boxes back home with you." Even six years later, my mom
handed out stuff like bags of sunflower seeds and raisins to kids on Halloween. And then she would act surprised when our house got t.p.'d. How did she
see that coming?
Reaching over, I checked my cell phone because I had texted and emailed a few of my old friends in Chicago about meeting up. So far none of them had responded. I thought for sure at least one of them would think it was cool I was back in town, but nope. So why did five of them "like" my update when I mentioned I was coming here on my social media page? I only wrote it so people would ask me to hang out, but maybe all I did was alert burglars everywhere how my mom and I weren't at the house. It just stunk how no one bothered to respond back about hanging out. Sure I moved to Michigan, but did that mean we all couldn't still be friends?
Actually, this whole school year had been kind of weird with my friends back in Michigan, too. First, my best friends, Tori Robins and Ericka Maines, had started ignoring me after the three of us tried out for this
modeling reality show competition together. I had gotten picked to move on in the competition, and they just stopped talking to me. It hurt and I had to make new friends like Ashanti Russell, who had become one of my best friends along with this group I met with Peyton Urich, Devon Abrams, and India Allen. Although things got a little weird with Devon and India, too, partly because Devon had been in the
competition with me and had been hurt when she got cut in one of the rounds while I got to move on and compete. Plus, there was also the fact she and India were super good friends, and India resented it when Devon and I got best friend bracelets.
It had been a hard couple of months trying to figure out who my real friends were, but things were starting to go back to normal. Plus, Ericka, Tori, and I were friends again. It still felt kind of weird, though â just like it did to be back in Chicago â and yet I felt more like a visitor than someone who was returning home. I couldn't shake the uneasy feeling. Didn't I belong here anymore? Maybe going someplace familiar would help me feel more at home.
"Can we go back into the city and see the tree at Maxie's?" I asked. I loved seeing the giant tree at my favorite department store and all the decorations this time of year.
"Hon, I'm exhausted," my mom said. "We haven't even had dinner yet."
"Well, I've been dying for a cheeseburger at the Griswold CafÃ©," I said. "We could go there to eat."
Mom shook her head, so I went to work on my dad. "
-lease?" I asked.
Dad glanced over at mom, who was lying on the couch. "Is it okay if Landry and I go out?" he asked.
"Please, do. All I want to do is curl up on the couch with some soup and a cup of tea," Mom said.
"All right, kiddo," Dad said. "Let's head out."
We had dinner at the Griswold CafÃ© and sat next to a display from my friend Devon's favorite movie,
Take Back the Skies
, and after we ate our burgers, we hit the stores. Dad said we should skip Maxie's because it seemed like a "madhouse" from the front window. I was disappointed, but I hate crowds, too, so we went to another place that was closer. Dad also said we couldn't buy any big gifts because my mom would want to see what I had picked out.
"Why don't we look for a present for your mom?" he said.
Great, just what I wanted to spend my time doing at my favorite store â buying a gift for my mother. It's not that I didn't want to get her something, it was just that I loved the stores in Chicago and missed getting to go there regularly. I took Dad to the juniors' section in Tallmadge's and hoped he wouldn't realize Mom wouldn't shop in that section. Meanwhile, I found a couple of sweaters for myself.
"Is that your mother's size?" Dad asked as I held up a lavender sweater. It was a little small for her, but it would be great for me to wear to basketball games. The color would look amazing with my pale blonde hair and blue eyes. And my mom had the same coloring, so she could wear it, too.
I had just met this boy named Vladi Yagudin, who was on the high school basketball team. He was only fifteen, and they had already moved him up to play on the varsity team. Vladi wasn't my boyfriend or anything, but I liked him, and he even invited me to a basketball game. Ashanti said Vladi and I had gone on one unofficial date where he invited me along to go for ice cream with his friends and one almost/sorta date where he asked me to go to one of his games. My parents would pass out if they thought I went out on any kind of date â especially since he was in high school, and I was still in eighth grade, but hey, he was fifteen and I was fourteen â that was such a tiny little age difference, right? But it was nice to have somebody like me. Especially since Vladi was so cute with his dark blond hair, and he was also muscular and tall. There was this older high school girl named Carey who liked him, but he wasn't into her. He thought she only liked him because he was a good basketball player. I wasn't sure why, but he seemed to like me.
"Hey, kiddo," Dad said, staring at the giant TV screen with a disapproving frown. The new Laura Pattinson video was playing, and Laura was being sprayed with a hose. "I'm not sure this is where your mom would shop. How about we go across the aisle to the classic sportswear section?"
"Can I get this for me, then?" I asked. Dad checked the price tag.
"Sixty bucks for a sweater? Does it wash dishes, too?" he asked.
"Please? All I have are boring blue and white school sweaters. I always look like a little kid andâ¦ "
"Fine, let's get it," Dad said. "Where's the end of the line?"
"Um, it's back thereâ¦over by the piano," I said.
"We'll be here
," he said.
I suggested that he stand in line and buy the sweater while I went to find a gift for Mom. He sighed but agreed and gave me some money for her gift. Then he made me promise to stay on the same floor so I wouldn't get lost. Please, little kids got lost, not fourteen-year-olds.
So I went over to the boring old lady section and found something my mom would probably wear. She had a dresser full of the same exact sweater â just in different colors. She called her style "classic." I called it "
-ing times ten." Of course, I'd have died if she showed up at school wearing leather pants like this popular girl, Arianna Seymour's mom did the previous year.
As I started to get in line with the top I picked out, I saw a green sweater that I thought my mom would like. It was a blue-green color, and it would look pretty on her. Plus, she might let me borrow it. It would be a lot cuter than those plain cashmere sweaters she wore and wouldn't let me touch because I might spill something on them. Okay, so I got hot fudge on one stupid sweater. Well, there was also the time with the enchilada sauce on the white pants, but who can keep white pants clean anyway?
After I paid for the sweater, I met Dad over at the escalator. He was tapping his foot and wasn't too thrilled about having to wait for me.
"What did you get her?" he asked.
"A blue-green v-neck sweater," I said. "They even gift-wrapped it for me."
Dad was ready to go home, but I wanted to walk around the city.
"It's freezing out, and you don't have a hat," Dad said as we got off on the first floor. "Besides there are muggers out this time of year andâ¦ "
"There's an accessories section. I'll buy a hat," I said, pulling his arm. I found a striped knit hat that came with matching gloves. Normally, I would have died before I wore a hat, but that was how desperate I was to see the city decorated. Every time we came to Chicago, I always wanted to go out at night, but my parents were either too tired or didn't feel like going out. I didn't know what their problem was, but I loved walking down Michigan Avenue at night. There was something about being in a big city with all the lights and the people â it was exciting because I never knew what might happen. I mean, I could run into a celebrity, although in all the years I lived there, the only people I ever saw were a couple of professional basketball players â no, none of the hot ones â and once my dad pointed out that quarterback every girl in the world
me seemed to be in love with. Other than that, I'd never seen any real celebrities, but there was always the chance somebody famous and hot might be around the corner.
Dad and I walked down to this huge skyscraper. I always felt dizzy when I stared straight up at them. It made me nervous watching the buildings sway in the wind. When I was a kid, I used to be afraid one of them would tip over while I was inside of it. I guess I still worried about it a little.
I wanted to stop for hot chocolate, but Dad said it was getting late and Mom would be worried. However, she was fast asleep in front of the TV when we got home.
Not wanting to wake Mom up, I went to my room to check my messages, but there weren't any. That seemed odd. At first, I thought maybe everyone was busy with holiday stuff, but then I logged on to my social media page and saw a lot of people commenting on pictures other friends had posted. I had uploaded a few pictures, too, but I didn't have a single comment on mine. Sure, I wasn't the best photographer in the world, but it hurt my feelings a little that not one person had bothered to say anything about them.
Then I saw there were a bunch of pictures of Peyton at India's house baking Christmas cookies with Devon. They were having a great time being silly getting flour all over and smearing frosting on each other's faces. I was glad they were having fun and sure, I was in another state and all, but I couldn't help but feel left out. Maybe it was just me being paranoid about how Ericka and Tori dropped me so fast before, but I felt sad and my stomach was a little queasy thinking about how easily friends could move on and how none of my Chicago friends had messaged me either. Still, I wrote a comment on India's page that their cookies turned out cute. Everything was probably okay, but I still felt that here I'd been so worried about Mom taking the transfer her boss mentioned and moving me away from all my friends. Now it seemed like they were all fine without me around.