I Run to You
The first time Landon and I ever hung out together, a year or so earlier, we pledged our everlasting friendship.
“You’re the only female I know who isn’t bat-shit crazy,” he’d said. “The girls I see act like we’re in a committed relationship, even if we hang out together just once. They go nuts. It makes no sense.”
“Yes, women are freaks,” I laughed at him good-naturedly. “Myself included.”
“No. You’re different. That’s why I like hanging out with you. You’re not clingy and needy, and all emotional and whacky. You’re just…you.” He rolled his eyes, his cute face morphing into sheer goofiness. “We should be friends. Good friends.”
“I agree. We should be friends. And it helps that you are incredibly ugly, and I’m not attracted to you in the least,” which was mostly true—mostly. So Landon and I easily became very good friends with natural chemistry and easy banter. I’d always gotten along better with guys than with girls. There was less drama and less crazy, and I never had to wonder about or worry about what they thinking because they just said it. It didn’t help that he was fun to look at.
He was ridiculously hot with thick brown hair, dark brown eyes, and a perfect athletic body. Even though he was fun, and we spent numerous hours together, Tom and I were dating, and neither Landon nor I believed in cheating—ever. I felt completely at ease with him from the moment I first met him, which was unusual for me. We even spent a lot of sober time together when one of us wasn’t working or at school.
Tom never cared because he slept mostly during the day, but I was always up and moving like most of the world, unable to sleep during daylight hours.
Landon jokingly called himself my ”stand-in boyfriend” and I was his ”substitute girlfriend,” since he never seemed to hang out with a girl for more than one night. But we always knew where we drew the line, never venturing farther than a little bit of harmless flirting hindered by our mutual friendship and respect. Aside from Anna, he was the only friend I had that I could count on and feel comfortable with, even though we hadn’t known each other for that long. I felt comfortable letting him in, just a little, and more than I let most people in. He was easy to let my guard down with, and something about his kind demeanor and honest eyes always seemed to put me at ease.
Nobody understood how we could be good friends without hooking up, even occasionally. His nickname for me didn’t help matters. No matter how many times I protested, he refused to acknowledge how dirty “Kitten” sounded, and eventually, I gave in. I found a little secret pleasure in the fact that he had a nickname for me at all. In the years that Tom and I were together, there were no terms of endearment for either of us. We were just “Tom and Alyssa.”
I knew that Landon was painfully attractive. I had eyes, after all. He was definitely a ten where I was more like a seven on a really good day, and even that as stretching it. I knew a seven and a ten could only be friends, and I was perfectly fine with that. With that to consider, and the fact I technically had a boyfriend when I met Landon, I never thought of us any other way. I liked being his friend. He was funny, and he brought out what little bit of funny I kept buried deep inside.