Chapter 2 - An Asthma Inducing Hug

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Chapter 2 - An Asthma Inducing Hug

Much to my surprise, when I clutched the cold metal doorknob in my hands it turned and clicked, allowing the door to fall inward. Usually, my mother locked me out of the house in hopes of forcing me to make friends, but for some reason, she had oh so graciously allowed me access to our home. Thank god, because I was about two seconds away from punching Grayson square in the jaw. His taunting laughter was still echoing in my ears as I slammed the door behind me.

As soon as the door slammed into place, shaking and jingling my mom's precious china that she kept on display, I froze. "Crap," I hissed, pressing my eyes closed. My mom had a very strict policy about not slamming doors in our house. It pissed her off more than anything else. When she's in a bad mood, she's even more touchy than normal.

And so I waited, expecting to hear the harsh, shrill scream of my name and the stomping of my mother's feet. Sure enough, just as I was pinching the bridge of my nose in exasperation, "Imogen! What have I told you about slamming doors?!" As she stomped down the upstairs hallway I could hear her footsteps reverberating through the house, shaking the light fixture above my head.

"I'm sorry," I called back, "It was an accident." Excuses never worked with her, but that didn't mean I wouldn't give it a shot. This was all Grayson's fault! Mom appeared in the doorway, hands on her hips and cheeks flushed with anger.

My mother was a petite woman; skinny, small boned, and only five two. Lucky for me, I got my fathers height and towered over her by a good four inches. She had a strong jaw that came to a point from her heart-shaped, tan face. Her eyes were sunk in a little from working so much, stress had prematurely wrinkled the corners of her eyes. She looked furious.

"I don't know what you're playing at today, but I've just about had it," She hissed, tapping her foot on the tiled floor. "You know I worked the night shift last night. I'm running on two hours of sleep, and my nerves are stressed thin, so think about that before you tell me what's going on." Fire was practically shooting out of her nostrils.

My stomach dropped to my feet as I gulped. When she was like this, there was no consoling her. No, I had not been aware she had worked the night shift. If she had told me - which she probably had - I had been too wrapped up in my book to notice. Oops. "Mom, take a deep breath, okay? I didn't mean to slam the door, I'm sorry. It just slipped out of my fingers."

Her shoulders visibly dropped as she sucked in a breath of air, "I just - I don't want to hear it. Go up to your room and read or something, I'm going to bed." And with that, she turned around and stomped her way back to her bedroom.

As soon as she was out of sight, I slumped onto the island. Whoa, I never got off that easy. She must really be tired. I felt kinda bad for pushing her limits when she was so sleep deprived, but I hadn't meant to slam the door. Grayson had just gotten under my skin, as was his specialty, and I lost it. At least I wasn't outside beating him over the head with a frying pan.

"Oh, and Imogen?" I jumped hearing my mother's voice again. Maybe I hadn't gotten off so easily after all. Reflexively, I flew from my hunched position on the island and stood straight as a board. "Go change your clothes, you're making puddles on my clean floor."

Oh right. Grayson had forced me into the swimming pool. Joy.

Grumbling to myself some not so ladylike words, I trudged moodily back to my room. All thoughts of a happy, enjoyable day were long gone from my mind, instead replaced with the doom and gloom of Mr. Demon next door. I should have known better than to think the glorious first day of summer would exempt me from his torture. It was way too good of an opportunity.

And thanks to Grayson's awful prank, I no longer had a book and had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with my day. It was barely past one in the afternoon, which was way too early to crawl back into my bed. I loved sleep, but I didn't hibernate. Sleep was not an option.

Deciding to heed my mother's order before she had a conniption, I grabbed some hot pink Nike shorts and a baggy sweatshirt before hopping into the shower. The hot water soothed my tense muscles and fried nerves, calming me down from Grayson's cruel and unusual torture. I felt better like I would no longer rip his head off the next time I saw him.

But who are we kidding? I could never rip his head off. Grayson would kill me first if I ever made an attempt on his life, of that I had no doubt. His hatred for me ran so deep that I was positive he would end my life if it ever came down to it. The egotistical, pig-headed fool was just that self-centered.

As I was brushing through my tangled mass of hair, the shrill ding of the doorbell rang through my house. By that point my mother was no doubt knocked out courtesy of her sleeping pills, so I grabbed a hair tie off the counter and rushed down the stairs. Just as I secured a sloppy ponytail on top of my head, I yanked the door open with a smile on my face.

"Oh, hey Wes," I said, dropping the smile immediately. It wasn't that I was disappointed to see him or upset that he had just dropped by, it was that his brother had put me in a mood. One that did not enjoy the company.

He stood there, hands stuffed in his jean pockets. Wesley and Grayson Logan looked nothing alike, although I will admit both were extremely attractive. Wes had thick blond hair that was cut close to his head and these mesmerizing light blue eyes. They were so light to color was almost gray, and they were always cheerful. He had a tall, skinny frame that was less muscular than his brother, but still toned and fit. On that day, he had chosen to wear dark wash jeans and a green Aeropostale shirt.

"Come on in, I was just about to grab something to eat," I turned away, not bothering to close the door. Wes and I were close enough that there was no need for formalities. My house was pretty much his house, although I couldn't say the same for his. I didn't feel welcome there for obvious reasons.

"Oh, uh, okay," He stuttered, following me into the kitchen. For some reason he felt awkward, I could tell by the way he still had his hands deep inside his pockets and was rocking back and forth on his feet. I rose an eyebrow curiously. "I just didn't think you would be in the mood for visitors. I heard about what Grayson did."

My heart fell and, "Oh," was all I said. This was not something I needed to 'talk about.' In fact, I was just managing to get over the agitated mood I had been in, and bringing it back up would not help the matters. Wes seemed to sense this because his eyes widened in alarm.

"I didn't mean to upset you! He was just boasting about it like the jackass he is and, well, I just wanted to make sure you were okay. And to say I'm sorry." Oh. Well, that just made me feel like a jerk on so many levels that my cheeks actually turned a shade of light pink.

I shrugged it off, "It's fine. I mean, what's new, right? It's not like I'm not used to this treatment." And that was true. As much as it hurt my battered, scarred heart to admit it, I was used to the pranks and teasing. I had come to except that no matter what I did or how hard I tried Grayson Logan would never be my friend, ever.

The look Wes gave me made me shudder. It was a mix of something in between disapproval and regret. I didn't know what had caused it or why he even cared that much - it's not like he wasn't tortured by his brother too - so I turned my back and flicked the light on in the cupboard. "You want anything to eat? I think we have s'more fixings, we could-"

I cut off short and froze. Wes snaked his arms around my waist, resting his head on my shoulder. His whole body was pressed flush against mine, not leaving an inch of space in between his chest and my back. I was so startled my breath hitched and the hair on the back of my neck stood on end. We had never been in such a position before; one that could easily be misinterpreted for something it wasn't.

My mind immediately went into overdrive, analyzing the situation. Wes was like my brother, and he treated me as such. Although we were best friends, there was never any sort of affectionate exchange between us. Nothing more than a short, awkward hug which we both ended quickly. This, whatever it was, felt foreign and had me on my guard.

Taking it a step further, Wes nuzzled his head into the crook of my neck, his hot breath fanning across my sensitive skin. "You shouldn't be treated like that," He mumbled, lips brushing against my neck. I shivered, surprising even myself. What the hell was getting into Wesley? I knew he felt my reaction, his arms tensed around my waist.

Like the idiot I am, my mind went completely blank, which left me stuttering like a buffoon. "Li-like what? Treated like what?" What the hell is this?

He smiled slightly against my neck, "Don't play dumb with me, Gen." Gen?! Wes had never in all the years I had known him called me that. To everyone except for thick-skulled Grayson, I was just plain old Imogen. I had insisted on it, actually. Every nickname anyone had tried to bestow upon me over the years I had hated. This time, however, it didn't make my stomach churn in disgust.

Even though I was distracted by his new desire to nickname me, I was still confused by his words. It took everything I had not to immediately tell him off for calling me Gen, and instead focus that energy on remembering what we had been talking about. God, was I supposed to be this distracted just by a simple hug?

Well, a backward hug, but still. Come on people, I'm Imogen Hanson for crying out loud! I don't get distracted.

And yet there I was, mouth hanging slightly open as Wes waited for my response. He still had not released me from the surprisingly intimate hold and was still breathing deep, long breaths of warm, distracting air onto my tingling flesh. It was doing absolutely no favors to my already scattered brain.

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Grayson. Spiders. Oh god.

"Grayson's always like that, Wes. Whether I deserve to be treated like that or not is beside the point. Obviously, he thinks he's above the rules." I sighed, grabbing his hands gently and removing them from my waist. They were surprisingly cold against my fingers, making my skin tingle.

If he responded in any way I refused to acknowledge it. Instead of scrutinizing his every move, I returned to the task I had originally planned to complete. Even though my stomach was no longer calling for food, I felt like I needed the excuse to get away from Wes. That hug, if that's even what it should be called, was something completely new and out of my comfort zone. I didn't know how to respond to it or even how I wanted to respond to it. So for me, that pretty much meant ignoring the situation.

With slightly trembling hands, I grabbed some goldfish from the counter. If I had planned or previously wanted something else to eat, it had long vanished from my mind. Damnit Wes, why did you have to go and make me so flustered? I couldn't even think straight, and that never happened to me!

When I turned around Wes was on the other side of the kitchen, looking like I had just contracted the plague. His eyes were slightly wide, hands hanging at his sides like he didn't know what to do with them. In short, he looked surprised and slightly horrified with himself. If I had to guess, I would say I had a similar expression on my face.

I gulped. "Um, is goldfish okay? If not I think we have some-"

"Goldfish is fine," He said harshly, making me flinch. If he realized he had just snapped at me, he didn't show any indication. Wes, for the first time in his life, was scared to even look at me, and honestly, I was kinda scared to look at him, too.

"Okay then..." I trailed off, looking down to my feet. Suddenly I was aware that the outfit I was wearing was not ideal for this situation. The big sweatshirt covered the shorts I was wearing and hung off of one shoulder. I was showing entirely too much skin which made the given circumstances even more awkward.

Wes must've sensed my thoughts because I could feel his burning gaze looking me up and down intensely. For some reason, my normal lazy day attire seemed way too provocative, but I could hardly go cover myself up like a nun, now could I? Since Wes was in my presence I had to pretend like nothing was weird or awkward.

That task proved to be extremely difficult. My heart was still palpitating in an irregular manner, my brain was still reeling. Swirls of mixed emotions that I could not comprehend bounced around in my skull like fireflies on a cloudless night. Basically, I couldn't organize or compose my thoughts for the freaking life of me.

Wes looked like he wanted to say something but thought better of it. He swallowed with difficulty, eyes never leaving mine. It was like we were in a dazed trance, not able to look away from each other. Maybe I thought that by staring into his soul like a serial killer I would somehow be able to determine what the hell was going on.

"So, uh," Well great, now I was just fishing for words, "I, um, what should we, er," No matter how many ways I spun it in my brain, there was no way to get out of this predicament. There was no set of words that my jumbled cranium could concoct that would strip away both of our un-comfortableness.

Finally, he spoke, "I should, um, probably get home. Mom has some...Chores she wanted me to get done." That was a lie and I knew it. The Logans were better off money wise then my family, they had a cleaning lady that came twice a week. Wesley Logan was never required to do any physical labor unless it was voluntary.

I didn't voice my thoughts, though. In fact, I was glad he was leaving, that way I didn't have to confront any confused emotions I was having. Instead, I could curl up with my goldfish and watch movies for the rest of the day. "Oh, okay. Are you sure?"

I'm an idiot. A blubbering, mindless idiot. I don't know what possessed me to ask him if he wanted to stay, it was clear we both wanted to run out of there like our hair was on fire. Immediately I wrinkled my face at myself, disappointed in my lack of discretion.

He smiled slightly, although I could tell he didn't mean it, "I'm sure, Imogen," Oh, so we were back to my full name, were we? I can't say I missed the nerve-wracking, hyperventilation inducing nickname. "I'll see you later."

"Yeah, see you," I called as he walked away, holding my breath. It seemed like we needed confrontation and clarity like there was an impending doom cloud hovering over our heads that was going to burst at any second. I was just waiting for him to turn around and ask me what I was feeling and what thoughts were going through my head.

But he didn't. Wes kept walking until he was out the door, closing it lightly behind him. As soon as I heard the click I slumped on the counter, letting out a long, stress-filled breath. Great, I was alone. Time for the typical teenage girl overthinking freak out.

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