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Authors: Chris Myers

Tags: #Parenting & Relationships, #Family Relationships, #Romance, #Contemporary, #New Adult & College, #new adult romance

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BOOK: Lennon's Jinx
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My
cell buzzes in my pocket.

The
babysitter has texted me. I need to get home fast.

Dammit.
What now?

 

CHAPTER TWO
JINX

 

I’m still shaking even after
Lennon, the class slut, leaves. I grab a bucket of warm sudsy water, stomp back
into the den, and slam the door shut. Like most of the girls my age, I had a
crush on Lennon’s dad, the lead singer of Rage, eons ago. Lennon resembles him
before drugs and hard partying ravaged his dad’s fall-at-your-feet good looks.

How
dare Lennon touch one of Dad’s guitars? Tears prick the back of my eyes. I pick
up Dad’s Guild and strum it. The neck is too large for my hands, but this
guitar has an awesome sound.

After
the guitar is back in its stand, I scrub the sofa that reeks of beer. It’s my
own fault for throwing it on Lennon. The memory of him exposed makes my knees
shake—not in a good way.

As
I work the soapy water into the stain, the odor of stale beer wafts up to me. The
stench isn’t coming out no matter how hard I rub the fabric.

The
memory of beer breath and oily hands greasing my bare skin flood into me,
making me want to puke. I scrub harder. I only have a few sketchy memories of
that night, stepping on broken glass, the porcelain dolls leering at me.

Shivers
ripple through me. I don’t want to think about that. Not now. Not ever.

Focus.
Clean.

My
hands cross my chest and rub the stabbing cold away from my arms. The morning
after, I’d picked green glass out of my foot. The jagged shard could’ve erased
that night permanently from my memory, but I didn’t give into another stupid
idea like I had the night before.

I
continue scrubbing, working the odor out of the fabric and the tension knots
from my shoulders.

When
my friend Gabby gets stressed, she binges and purges. Izzy just binges and
still stays model thin. Rena goes shopping, but she can afford to do that. Me,
I clean. I get out the vacuum next to ensure Dad’s room is spotless.

My
cell phone belts out
The Hate Song
.

Dammit,
it’s Step-monster. “What’s up?” I ask, trying to sound casual.

“I’ll
be home in a few hours.” His tone drips caramel sweetness that makes me want to
gag. “Just wanted to give you a heads up in case you had any boys over.”

“Not
me,” I say, my voice rising. I shouldn’t have let Iz talk me into the party.
I’m so screwed.

Step-monster
isn’t supposed to come home for a couple of days while Mom is out of town. I
don’t know where he goes when she’s gone, and I certainly don’t ask or tell her
about his disappearing acts. Mom doesn’t believe a word I say after He snooped
through my room and turned over my medicinal weed to her. Ever since then, she
believes Step-monster over me.

Great.
Now, what do I do? He’ll see the party proof, and I’ll be doomed.

I
can’t take this anymore. Using my phone, I recheck craigslist advertising for a
keyboardist. Only an address and tomorrow’s date are listed. I’ve been looking
for months for a job that nurtures my one true love, music, and pays more than
my current job so that I can move out when I graduate—three months and six days
away. But right now, I have other things to worry about.

Starting
with the kitchen, I toss empty bottles and cups into an oversized garbage bag
instead of booting everyone out. I hate confrontation. I don’t know how I’ll
get them out or clean up this mess without Izzy’s and Gabby’s help. They’re
practically comatose.

Rena
wanders into the kitchen. She has wavy black hair, a booty that puts Beyoncé’s
to shame, and perfect black skin. I don’t think she’s ever had a zit. Though
I’ve only known her since sixth grade, she’s the closest friend I’ve ever had.
She knows most of the whole truth—or lack thereof—about me. The best part is
she doesn’t have a big mouth, and we can talk about almost anything, except Him.

“Hey,”
Rena says. “Tell me it’s not true. That you kicked Lennon out of the party.”

Even
Rena has a crush on him. Besides Byron, the guy who ripped her heart out,
Lennon is probably the only other guy she’s been remotely interested in, along
with half the school, even the gay guys like him.

“Lennon
was in my dad’s room playing one of his guitars.” I sound whiny instead of outraged.

“He
wouldn’t hurt it. He’s a serious musician.”

“I
know,” I hate to say. I squeeze my eyes shut to block out the images of him
half-naked.

“Why
are you wearing Lennon’s shirt?”

His
initials are monogrammed on the pocket. The worst part is his scent is intoxicating.
“Lennon tore my blouse, but that was an accident.” I can’t blame him after he
saved me from falling onto the hard brick.

“Are
you going to sleep in his shirt tonight because I can take that off your hands
if you aren’t?”

I
give her a dirty look. “No, I’m not sleeping in it, and I plan on giving it
back.”

My
hands start shaking again. Rena gives me a shot of tequila because she knows I
don’t like beer. I really need it, so I gulp it down in one swallow, reminding
myself to brush my teeth before Step-monster gets home.

“What’s
really going on here with Lennon?” she asks.

Rena
knows me too well. “Bailey was giving him a blowjob in the den. He’s so big he
scares the crap out of me.”

Rena
spits out her beer she’s laughing so hard. “His big bone is what frightens you?”

My
face heats up. “That’s not what I mean. He’s a big guy.”

“That’s
what I hear,” Rena says, waggling her brows.

I
swat her. “Stop it.” I shudder from the beer on her breath. The image of His hands
covered in grease, feeling me up and the tang of His sweat percolates in my
brain.

She
laughs at me again. “I swear Lennon’s not like other guys.”

I’ve
heard that before. “Yeah, right.”

Rena
palms my shoulder. “He wouldn’t take advantage of you.”

“Lennon
always stands over me in choir. He scares the shit out of me. I know he does it
on purpose.”

“Maybe
he likes you.”

“Well,
I don’t like him.”

“I
get that.” She gives me the hug I sorely need. “Someday, you’re going to have
to trust a guy besides Zach.”

Deep
down, I know she’s right. Zach’s my old boyfriend. If I hadn’t screwed up, we’d
still be together. I would do anything to get him back.

“Why
do all the girls like Lennon anyway?” I ask. “He’s slept with half the school.”

“It
hasn’t been that many.” Rena lets out a laugh. “You weren’t here in fifth
grade, when he got down on one knee and proposed to this girl in the
cafeteria.”

I
can’t imagine Lennon doing something so romantic and cute when he’s had a tidal
wave of one-night stands. “What happened to her?”

“She
moved away. She was only here that one year. I swear, it crushed his little
heart.”

So,
he was young and sweet once. That certainly changed.

I
continue destroying the evidence of the party while Rena watches me. The large bag
is going directly outside to the garbage when I’m through destroying the party
evidence.

“Why
are you cleaning up now?” she asks.

“Step-monster
comes home in a few hours.”

“That
sucks.” Rena pitches in and scrubs the counters with a damp sponge. “I thought
he wasn’t coming home for a few days.”

“Not
any more. He just called to give me the good news.”

“You
can spend the night at my house if you want.”

“Step-monster
will be more suspicious and fuming if I’m not here when He gets home.” I work
in panic mode, spilling alcohol on the floor from the half-empty red cups. “Will
you kick everyone out for me?”

“No
problem,” she says. “I’ll stay until the house is spotless. Don’t worry. We’ll get
this done before Bill gets home.”

“What
would I do without you?” It’s hard for me to imagine.

Rena
grins at me and tosses a bottle into my open garbage bag. “You wouldn’t survive.
That’s for sure.”

She’s
absolutely right. I wouldn’t last one minute without her, but it’s not like I
wasn’t there to soak up her tears over Byron. I’d do the same for her at any
hour of the night, which I’ve proven countless times by sneaking out and
lending her my shoulder.

As
if it can’t get any worse, Alex saunters into the kitchen. “There you are.” He snakes
his arms around my waist. “I’ve been looking for you.”

I
tense—my body revolting against the memory of the aftermath of that night just before
my sixteenth birthday. Chills run amok all over me. Okay, there are a few guys
who scare me worse than Lennon. Alex is one of them. Who invited him anyway?

“Then
you haven’t been looking very hard,” I say, wriggling out of his grasp.

“God,
you look hot,” he says, eyeing me like a piece of candy. “How come you don’t
dress that way at school?”

The
leather boots and mini skirt were for Zach, though he didn’t show. He probably
couldn’t pry himself away from his play-toy Kelly. I was hoping to make him
jealous. Instead, my outfit has given most of the senior guys here the green
light. That wasn’t my intention.

Alex
slides closer to me. “Why won’t you go out with me?”

“When
hell ices over,” Rena says, like the pit-bull everyone knows she can be.

“I’d
be happy to meet you both down there,” he says, winking.

I
step away from him and behind Rena. The distance makes me breathe easier.

Nothing
ever goes right for me. Alex. Step-monster coming home. Lennon. Why didn’t Zach
show up without Kelly and slip his warm arms around me? Because I screwed
up—big time.

I
sigh and dump more plastic cups into the overflowing trash bag in an attempt to
clear my name from the many violations I’ve accrued tonight. It’s been a while
since Step-monster caught me at anything, and I don’t need to give Him any more
ammunition.

“Party’s
over,” Rena says, pushing Alex toward the front door, “so
Adios
.”

“See
you guys,
manana
,” he says.

How
am I going to face Lennon in choir tomorrow after seeing his…? A flush prickles
my neck.

Unlike
me, he joined the top high school choir without trying out. I didn’t get in until
my junior year, and even now, I have a ‘B’ because I can’t read music. It’s the
only ‘B’ I’ve ever gotten in my entire life, and it sucks. This whole mental block
thingy keeps me from catching onto the treble and bass clefs. I hate the fact
he doesn’t really have to work at music like I do.

My
shoulders sag just thinking about school tomorrow. I dread sitting next to Lennon.
The heat that boy generates is like standing next to an open fire. I get burned
every time he’s around me.

 

When Winter Comes
Words and music by Lennon Tyler

 

When
winter comes, the world is grey, the sun is gone

Icy
claws dig into me

Dragging
me beneath its bitter realm

 

Chorus:

But
your warmth brings me life

Takes
me from the cold

Reminds
me of our world, the one we built to shut the others out

The
one that helps me to forget

 

Never
let me go

Don’t
let the cold sink me and take you away from me

Take
me where there’s some sense of sanity, but when it snows, bring me home to you
again

 

Their
storm is not ours

You
and I have created our own calm

Sheltered
by your light

We
move on from the winter they built and into the sun

 

CHAPTER THREE
LENNON

 

In the taxi, Bailey cuddles with
me. Her mouth presses against mine, but my mind is elsewhere.

“What’s
up?” she asks.

“Could
you drop me off first,” I say to Lou.

Half
my mind wraps around Jinx, that flame of a girl, while the other half frets
over what I’ll find at home.

“No
problem, and your lady friend?” he asks.

“Take
her home.”

“Sure
you don’t want to go somewhere quiet?” Bailey manhandles me, literally.

“I
can’t. Crisis at home.”

“Your
mom?”

“Yep.”
I grasp Bailey’s hand and then use my other to go under her shirt. We have a
few minutes until we arrive at my house. I may as well make the most of it.

She
moans and reciprocates. Lou doesn’t even once glance back, probably because I’m
a good tipper. I kiss Bailey with a lot of tongue. In my mind, I should see
nothing but Bailey stripped of her clothes, but instead, the demon queen pops up
along with her shower of fiery hair.

“I
could help you deal with your mom,” Bailey says.

“Thanks,
but you know the rules.”

“You
break other ones. Why not this time?” With her hand on my joystick, it’s hard
to believe I don’t cave and say sure, come home with me, spend the night.

“I
can’t.” The real answer is I won’t. It’s not that I don’t like Bailey. It’s
easier for me this way and for Currie. I have to be there for her and pick up
the wreckage Mom leaves cluttering the house. I don’t want any of my classmates
to see that. It’s bad enough the babysitters do.

“You
want to talk about it?” Bailey asks.

“Not
really.” One of the few people who knows much of my history is my next door
neighbor, Mrs. Nowak, Currie’s best friend’s mom. That’s because I had to tell
her, so she would help me with Currie when she was an infant. It took my best
pleading to keep Mrs. Nowak from calling Children’s Services on my parents.

Bailey
kisses my cheek. “I’m here if you need me.”

The
taxi pulls alongside the curb. I hand Lou money including enough fare for
Bailey. “I appreciate it, Bailey. You should find yourself a real guy.” If she
did, I’d really miss her, but I realize she could get a fulltime boyfriend who
takes her on dates.

BOOK: Lennon's Jinx
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