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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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The
three roses flop over. Student Council buys the cheapest ones, which don’t hold
up for more than an hour without water. They look pathetic. They also must be a
mistake because there is no way Lennon Tyler would send these to me.

I
toss the ratty roses onto the driver’s seat. I want to trash them, but I just
can’t. As much as I hate to admit it, I enjoyed getting them. Every girl in my
class looked at me with envy. It also didn’t take long for the rumor to spread
that they were from the school’s most eligible bachelor.

It’s
not because Lennon is popular. He floats through school like a ghost. Other
than choir, he doesn’t belong to any clubs or sports. He never goes to any
games, and we have an ass-kicking hockey team.

Yet,
almost every girl in our school desires him above any other guy. It’s not just
about his money. He’s different from us. Though he acts like a whore, he does
weird things like grocery shops and buys clothes and school supplies for his little
sister. Kids see him in Trader Joe’s not with his famed starlet mom but alone
or with his sister. He doesn’t buy junk food either.

With
my coat hood pulled down to hide the ugly welt, I wait in the back of the
school for Iz where my rusty Tercel is parked. The bruise is my own fault. It
always is. I can’t seem to keep my trap shut.

Zach
strolls out with Kelly on his arm. They’re the It couple. He glances over at
me. He always does, which flames Kelly up like a raging inferno. She couldn’t
get her claws into him fast enough after we split up. I miss him, and I want
him back, but then I’d have to tell him the truth. Can’t do that.

Kelly
tightly cinches her white wool coat around her model skinny waist. I don’t know
how she keeps it spotless when everyone has to jam their jackets into infant-sized
lockers that have grease oozing from the hinges. For once, I’d like to see a
stain on that damn coat of hers.

This
day sucks even worse now.

Iz
and Gabby strut up to me, arm-in-arm, like they’re on a catwalk. My car sits
beside Rena’s. Gabby always rides with her because they live closer to each
other on the better side of town. Why they’re friends with me I have no clue. Maybe
it’s because we’ve known each other from dolls through starter bras. I still
haven’t grown out of mine.

Iz
notices Kelly and Zach. “Just once, I’d like to see a truck drive through a
huge, muddy puddle and splash a tidal wave of filthy water onto that damn coat.”

She
voices my thoughts. It’s like that when you have close friends. We’re all on
the same wavelength.

Gabby
grins. “I could help with that. Why you let Zach go, I have no clue. He’s so
adorable.”

I
didn’t let him go. He walked away from me because I couldn’t talk to him after
what had happened.

Rena’s
the only person in the world who knows what happened that night, just not who. If
she knew that, she’d slash Him to ribbons. She’s the only one who understands
because she’s been through it, except instead of acting like a tramp by letting
a guy maul her, she fought back.

“So
let’s see it,” Iz says, hip bumping me. “You’ve avoided us all day, and you’re today’s
cheap topic.”

I
yank down my hood.

“Oh
my God.” Gabby goes to pat it. She’s a touchy-feely girl.

I
jerk away because it hurts.

“Who
did that?” Iz grimaces. “Was it Michael?”

My
last entrapment. We dated for such a short time the moon didn’t even go through
a full cycle. My friends hate him, except Rena. She’s indifferent to most guys,
except Lennon and Byron.

“Honestly,
I drank a little too much, and I fell—end of story.”

“Tell
us what really happened,” Iz says.

“Alex
hit on you last night,” Gabby says. “Did he punch you because you told him no
for the eighth millionth time?”

“It
was an accident,” I lie because it’s too embarrassing to say.

“We’ll
kick his ass for you.” Gabby brings up her fists and gives a one-two punch. She
takes kickboxing and is actually really good. The guys are a little afraid of
her.

Rena
comes over, lugging her backpack. For some reason, she’s holding two red roses
that aren’t drooping to her toes like mine but stand up straight because she
has the good sense to wrap a wet napkin around their base.

Gabby
stops paying attention to us. She’s one hundred percent distracted. Any time a
cute guy walks near us, she pushes out her chest and tips her chin down to give
that mysterious, alluring look of desperation.

While
the dynamic duo are lost in space, Rena pulls me aside. “Are you going to tell
me how you got the black eye?”

“There’s
nothing to tell,” I say. I hate lying to Rena, but what else can I do? Even my
own mom doesn’t believe me.

Hurt
shadows Rena’s face for not telling her the truth. “Whatever is going on has to
stop.”

“Don’t
worry,” I say. “I’ve got it handled.”

“It
doesn’t look that way. Why won’t you tell me?”

“Look.”
I can’t meet her intense gaze. “It was an accident. There’s nothing to worry
about.”

Rena
sighs and shakes her head. She glances over at Iz and Gabby who are probably
ogling some boy.

I
follow their line of intensity. Shoot. It’s him.

“Didn’t
you throw a beer on Lennon last night?” Iz shakes my arm so hard that the pain shoots
straight up to the bruise on my face. “I can’t believe you did that. He didn’t
hit you, did he?”

“No,”
I say. He just exposed himself like the pervert he is.

“Oh
my God. He’s looking right at us,” Gabby says. If her grin got any bigger,
she’d fall into it.

Everyone
jerks around to face me, except Rena. She’s still staring at him. Gosh, does
the whole female population have to lust after this guy?

I
glance at Lennon standing next to the red brick of the school. Though he is big,
he fades into the walls at school, a flower wilting from lack of sunshine,
water, love? It’s hard to say. But who cares? He’s probably slowly rotting to
death from some new strain of STD.

Bailey
waltzes up to him, grabs his arm in ownership, then plants a big kiss on his
cheek. Bailey is pretty, bleached blonde, big boobs, flirty with anything with
three legs, and as hard as this is to believe, she’s in all my AP classes.

“It’s
her,” Gabby mutters, returning her gaze to watch Lennon. “She’s such a fake.”

“And
a stalker,” Iz adds. “Why does he allow her to hang on him?”

“Because
she gives him blowjobs for free,” Rena says, laughing. It doesn’t bother her
that he’s a slut, but black girls have a whole other standard for guys. You
never see a gorgeous black girl with a guy who isn’t built like the Terminator.
They get all the good ones.

Gabby
folds her arms across her chest. “Bailey’s one of those girls who’s hoping to
get pregnant, so she can permanently latch onto him and his money.”

“I
would,” Iz says. “God, he’s beautiful.”

Gabby
swats Iz. “You are such a skank.”

“For
him I would be.”

They
don’t seem to remember putting the moves on him at my party last night. They
were both seeing double or triple after the way they pounded shots of tequila.

“Then
it’s a good thing he wears a raincoat,” I say. At least that’s what I hear.
It’s rare for a white boy. I’ve heard a few girls told him they were on the
pill, and he still wore one. He’s not too stupid.

Lennon
talks to Bailey briefly then heads in our direction.

My
friends all turn at once to face me. I’m still watching Lennon. He grins at me.
I turn around to see if some popular girl is standing behind me. No one is, so
why would he be smiling at me? I did douse him in beer last night.

“Why’s
he coming this way?” Rena asks nervously, clutching the roses. If she keeps
doing that, hers will look like mine.

“Probably
to chew me out for dumping beer on him,” I say.

“Why
did you do that anyway?” Iz asks. “I heard he was in the den with Bailey, totally
PC.”

“Politically
correct my ass,” I say. “He wasn’t supposed to be in that room.”

“Lennon’s
not all bad,” Gabby says, shaking my arm, which throttles my head. “He saved
that frosh from being Alex’s next touchdown.”

“Yeah,
right,” I say, though I partially agree with her. He did give me his shirt.

“God’s
honest truth,” Iz says, crossing her heart.

I
still don’t believe them.

Lennon
walks straight up to me. I cringe when he towers over me.

Rena
takes a big whiff of her flowers. “Thanks, Lennon.”

“No
problem. We’re still on for next week?”

Rena
grins at him with the smile she used to reserve for Byron. “I’ll see you on
Monday during your free period. Same place, same boring library.”

“Good,”
he says.

Wait
a minute? Lennon bought Rena flowers? That’s right. She tutors him. He’s had
plenty of opportunities to hookup with her, but for whatever reason, he hasn’t.

I
cower, waiting for the backlash.

Lennon
swivels back to me. “I’m sorry.”

Wait
a minute. He said he was sorry. He is? That is so not Lennon Tyler.

As
he turns to walk away, he adds, “I hope the other guy looks worse.” Lennon
saunters to his SUV.

Rena
grabs my arm and smiles at me with admiration. “He apologized. He must like
you.”

“He
doesn’t even remember my name,” I say, though we’ve gone to the same school
since sixth grade when Bailey latched onto him, but she isn’t the only girl who
has had him.

“See
you, Jinx.” Lennon doesn’t turn around but gives me a backhand wave.

“He
does, too,” Rena says.

“He’s
so adorable.” Iz swoons. “You’re so lucky.”

“What?”
I say. “To become one of his groupies? Or become infected with some exotic
disease like Ebola? I don’t think so.” Though I have to admit the roses got to
me. After having a lousy night, they perked up my day.

“He
really is completely harmless,” Rena says.

I
beg to differ. No guy is harmless. They’re the aggressors. They’re never forced
into doing something they don’t want to do because you can’t rape the willing.
And Lennon is plenty willing.

As
he gets into his SUV, I wonder if he remembers. When I first came here in sixth
grade, the kids taunted me over my name. My real dad gave it to me.

Kids
can be relentless. Lennon overheard them harassing me, calling me Jinxy-poo and
saying I’m jinxed. He told them to fuck off. He received a detention for using
the “f” word. I’ve never forgotten it, and the other kids left me alone after
that, so I can’t really say he’s all bad.

He
still shouldn’t have been half-naked at my party in my dad’s den.

“Are
you spending the night?” Rena asks me.

Rena
knows me too well.

“Not
tonight,” I say. “I’m auditioning for a keyboardist.”

“Awesome.
What band?”

“None
listed.”

“You’ll
do great,” Rena says. “What are you going to wear?”

“Something
that will get me hired.”

She
eyes me with concern. “Do you want me to come?”

I
do, but I need to get past what happened to me. How will I live on my own if I
don’t? “That’s okay.” I hand her the address. “Just send the search plane if I
don’t come back.”

 

CHAPTER SIX
LENNON

 

With my right leg jiggling, I sit
on the edge of an Italian leather sofa at the main office of Gold and Leigh
Investment Banking.

The
secretary waves me over. “You can go in now, Mr. Tyler.”

When
I enter her office, Clive’s mom gestures to yet another supple leather
armchair. “Take a seat, Lennon.”

I
do as she says. “Are we ready to serve Jonathan on my eighteenth birthday?”

“Yes,
we are. You really need a lawyer specializing in family law. Do you still want
me to proceed with your case?”

Mrs.
Beckham studied financial law, but unlike the other attorneys I spoke with, I
trust her. “I want you.”

“As
you requested, I talked to your mother, and she agrees that you are the best
guardian for Currie.” She shakes her head. “That makes me sad for the two of
you.

“My
friend in family law has reviewed your petition for custody,” she continues. “She
brought up a few concerns I’d like to share with you.”

I
have a few of my own. My leg starts to shake again. “All right.”

She
sits on the edge of her desk with her hands folded across her knee-length
skirt. “If you cut off Currie from your father, she may revolt against you. It
could cause issues with your relationship with her.”

“I’m
willing to take that risk to protect her.”

“Your
father willingly gave child support without a court order. You may want to
negotiate with him prior to taking legal action.”

Mrs.
Beckham is not so subtly reminding me that Jonathan transferred two million to
my trust upon being served for child support. He then agreed to give Currie and
me eighty thousand a month, much more than I had asked for. But I know him
better than Mrs. Beckham. He was buying my silence.

“Jonathan
has been cooperative so far,” she says.

I
rise from the chair and pace, huffing out a nervous breath for what I’m about
to say. Bile rises in my throat. “My ass is scarred from being left in diapers
too long. I practically starved. I got food poisoning from eating out of our
garbage, not to mention the cocaine coffee table and the naked assess I had to
navigate on the living room floor. Currie deserves the childhood I never had.”

Mrs.
Beckham inhales sharply, trying to conceal her shock. It’s not working. “I
realize that you took care of Currie for many years and still do, but your
father has never given up his visitation rights, and he pays child support. He
also has gone through rehab.”

BOOK: Lennon's Jinx
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