So she's part of a bet?
“Honestly you have nothing to worry about Ruby.”
I sat deadly still inside the toilet cubicle with my ears perked up listening to the bitches talk, they had no idea I was in here.
“You know every year they all have this ridiculous bet to bed someone at the lock in, well that’s all it is.”
“Are you sure?” an annoying voice that could only be Ruby’s asked.
“Yeah, Zak told me. They’ve upped the stakes this year, the person who beds the lamest girl wins. Of course Zak isn’t taking part because he’s my boyfriend but the others are all in. Liams just playing her so he can humiliate her later.”
“So she’s part of a bet and he’s putting on a show?”
“I hate that girl.”
I listened as their voices became more distant and the sound of the bathroom door closing drowned them out completely. Self doubt flooded my mind, so I was a bet?
By the time the lunch bell rung I was hyperventilating deep in my own doubts, my mind went over everything that has ever happened between Liam and I. A sickening feeling filled the pits of my stomach when I realized his friends were always there. They shared their lunch with me, probably around the time they first made this dumb bet. They initiated the seven minutes in heaven game. They showed up in our room during tournament week and even worse Jordan was the one to text me to meet Liam the first time we kissed. His friends were the ones that found me to pull Liam out of one of his dark moments when he was smashing up the bathroom. Was it all just an act? How could I be so stupid?
I moved the carrots around on my fork, unable to actually consume anything.
“Yeah” She said with a mouthful of mashed potato.
“You think Liams friendship with me is all part of a bet to ‘bed the lamest person’ at the lock in?
She halted mid chew and her dark skin paled ever so slightly.
“I think they’re all douchebags so that’s definitely something they’re capable of but I know you think your friendship is sincere so I don’t want to believe he would do that. Just be careful, keep your panties up and don’t fall for him.”
It seemed like sound advice. I was definitely going to keep my panties up but I think I was already failing at the latter. I debated asking him but I just didn’t want to cause problems when we agreed to try the friendship thing properly.
I sat in history class, we’ve been tasked to the computers to research certain points in history but I couldn’t concentrate. My eyes kept fleeting towards Ben and Zak who were being idiots across the room, I could ask them discreetly. Currently they were listening to each others music and strumming an air guitar across their chest. I would normally get nervous approaching any of the jocks but right now I just wanted answers and knew they were my best shot. I hit print on my computer and made my way to the printer which was conveniently located right next to them.
“You guys looking forward to the lock in?” I struck up the conversation and they looked at me like I had two heads, wondering why I was speaking to them but I kept my confident stance as I waited for the slow printer to give me my information.
“Uh, sure.” Ben answered.
“Don’t you guys have some sort of bet going for it?” There. I said it. It’s out there.
Ben and Zak looked at each other with a matching sly smile stretched across their lips. It told me that there was a bet.
“What’s the bet?” I urged, casually.
The pair of idiots glanced at each other cautiously questioning if they should answer the question or not.
“We gotta bed the lamest loser.” Zak finally admitted, with the same disgusting smile plastered across his face. Picking up a trick or two from Liam I kept my face completely impassive as I nodded.
“Who do you think will win?” I dreaded the answer.
The two boys looked at each other again, except their smiles stretched bigger.
“Liam” Ben coughed out then broke into laughter.
Zak slapped him across the chest but joined in with his amusement.
“Yeah, I don’t think that will happen.” I said retrieving the paper from the printer and returning to my computer where I could comfortable wallow in the answers I didn’t want to hear.
A small beep went off alerting me to an instant message I had received through the schools instant messaging service. I opened it up and Liams name flashed across my screen, I found myself rolling my eyes because I really didn’t want to speak to him right now.
Liam Maines: What you in?
Olivia Charles: History
Liam Maines: That sucks ass, I got to go the arcade after school. You wanna join me?
Olivia Charles: No thanks
Liam Maines: Ok. Yesterday was fun, same time next week?
Olivia Charles: I think I’m busy that day.
Liam Maines: Jeeze Liv, what is up with the cold shoulder?
Olivia Charles: Nothing. I gotta go.
I continued browsing the internet and printing off information that could help with my assignment. Every eye looked up when there was a knock at the door.
“Excuse me sir, Principal Jenkins would like to borrow Olivia Charles for a few minutes if possible.”
My eyes widened in horror at a sickeningly sweet Liam standing in the doorway, surely our teacher wasn’t going to buy that. Everyone knows Liam. Zak and Ben got excited at Liams appearance making stupid noises and jumping up and down out of their seat. Liam nodded a greeting to them and then focused his eyes back on our teacher.
“Seriously?” I mutter towards the teacher in disapproval but Liams eyes burnt into my scalp like they were trying to set me on fire just to shut me up. With the roll of my eyes I grabbed my bag and headed to Liam who smiled brightly in the doorway.
He led me down the corridor to a door that read ‘Janitors Closet’ on the front, using his very own key he opened the door and ushered me inside. Pulling on a string to light the closet up. The smell of bleach and cleaning products tickled my nostrils as I looked around in the tiniest square room lined with shelves on every wall.
“Let’s hear it?” Liam said, no messing about.
The tight space meant we needed to stand so close to each other that I could feel the warmth radiating from his body. His minty breath grazed my skin and it made tiny goosebumps appear all over my skin. I fiddled with the hanging cotton from my sleeve, I really didn’t want to have this out with him.
“You have a key to the janitors closet? How many people have you slept with in here?”
I looked around suddenly grossed out by where I was. Liam scratched the back of his neck and narrowed his eyes. There was a long pause before he answered.
“What? You want like a number?” He said, not really sure how to answer my question.
“No!” I held my two hands up for him to stop, he jumped backwards although my fingers didn’t quite touch him. His breath quickened and I could see him mentally scalding himself for reacting that way.
These reactions, they were too real. The bruises, crying himself to sleep in my arms, the intense anger meltdowns, the weakness in his eyes ... there’s no way he could be faking all this stuff. So maybe I was a bet or am a bet. I know some of this is real, he doesn’t know how to let anyone else in. He needs me and I’m going to be there for him.
“I’m sorry Liam. I was mad about something dumb, but I realize now that it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s not going to happen anyway so I’m stupid for questioning your motives.”
“My motives? Liv, I don’t understand.” and he didn’t, I could see from his face he didn’t.
“You don’t have to understand, its okay now.” I gave him a reassuring smile.
“So we’re good?” He asked
“Yeah, we’re good.” I replied.
Glancing at the clock and seeing it’s 11PM I know it’s time for bed or I’ll struggle to get up for school in the morning. I spend a few minutes brushing my hair through and then draw the curtains noticing a distant flickering light coming from inside the tree house. Liam?
He knows my parents aren’t home, why wouldn’t he just come knock on the house?