Chapter 25 - Bet On It
“I’m not gonna stop, that’s who I am / I’ll give it all I got, that is my plan / When I find what I lost / You know you can / Bet on it, bet on it” – Bet On It, Zac Efron
“So the ice princess has a boyfriend,” Noah says to his friend and teammate, Lexi.
“Don’t call her that,” Lexi says, taking a sip of his drink.
“Jealous?” Noah smiles at his friend.
“No,” Lexi says, staring at Arya and her newfound boyfriend. “I highly doubt he’ll be able to keep her for long.”
“There’s a bet going around,” Noah says. “Whoever can get the ice princess home wins.”
“I hope being conscious is a requirement?” Lexi says and Noah rolls his eyes.
“Of course,” Noah says, “we’re not animals.”
“Wouldn’t put it past the East Siders,” Lexi says, “most of them can’t even afford to bet on her anyway. How much is it now?”
“$850, last I heard,” Noah says.
Lexi would never make a bet on Arya, but he knew something like that was going to happen when the guys found out she was here. If things had gone his way, he and Arya would be off somewhere to repeat what they had done in that drama room closet months ago, and all bets would be off. He’d make sure of it. But now he just looks at Arya and her East Side boyfriend. Smiling at each other, talking to each other, his hands on her. What does she see in him? What can he offer that Lexi can’t? If this guy is going to date a West Side girl, then he needs to learn what it’s like to deal with the West Side crowd. “Let’s see if this East Sider can protect his girlfriend like he should,” Lexi says.
“Are you going to warn him?” Noah asks.
Lexi smiles. “I already did.”
“You look beautiful tonight, Arya,” James says as we stand in the kitchen with Malcolm and Richard that are pouring drinks.
“You clean up pretty well yourself,” I say.
“You in, Arya?” Richard asks, and I look to see they have a line of three shot glasses on the table.
“Sure!” I say.
“You don’t have to,” James says to me quietly. He doesn’t want me to feel pressured by his friends.
“I know I don’t,” I whisper back and then grab one of the shot glasses from the table.
We clink them together and shoot them back.
“Oh, gosh,” I put the glass back on the table, “that tastes terrible!”
“Round 2?” Malcolm smiles.
“Not of that,” I say.
“I’ll pour something else,” Malcolm says, going to grab a different drink.
“Just be careful, Arya,” James says to me.
“You think we are going to get her drunk?” Malcolm calls.
“She’s half your weight, Malcolm,” James says. “You’ll do it without even trying.”
“I promise we’ll be good,” Malcolm says, pouring a second round of shots.
I do the second round with them.
“Better?” Richard asks.
“Worse,” I cough, feeling the burning in my stomach. I rarely drink, so James is right to warn me to be careful. This is the cut off for me.
“Third times the charm!” Malcolm says.
“No, I’m good,” I say.
“Come on, Arya,” Malcolm says, “I know you can handle…”
“No,” James says sternly.
“Fine,” Malcolm says, “more for us.” They start inviting other guys over and suddenly it’s a line of seven shot glasses on the kitchen table. All East Siders.
“Come on, James!” one of the guys calls.
“Driving,” James says, and then grabs me to hold me close.
“Then your girlfriend!” another guy calls.
“Come on, Arya!” The first one calls, “Prove to us that you are more than just a West Side princess.”
“Screw off,” James calls at them.
“Leave her alone,” Richard says, “she’s already had two. One more shot in that tiny body and we’ll have a drunk West Side princess.”
“I wouldn’t mind seeing that,” a guy says.
“Let’s go,” James says, pulling me away from all the guys.
“Bedrooms are the other way, James!”
He throws up a certain finger at the guys and I can hear them laugh behind us.
“They want you to get lucky with me,” I say when James pulls me to him as he leans against a wall, grabbing my hips.
“I’m already lucky,” James says.
I smile at him. I put my hands on his shoulders, stand on my toes, and I almost come up to his height. “You know, I think if I wore really high heels, I’d be taller than you.”
James laughs. “A little drunk there?”
I pinch my fingers together. “A very little,” I say, which is true. “Nothing to concern yourself with.” And then I kiss him because that’s what I really wanted to do.
“You taste like alcohol,” James says.
“Does that bother you?”
“Not when it’s you I’m kissing,” James says. I look at him. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“You’re perfect,” I say.
“Far from it,” James says.
“Perfect for me then,” I say. James smiles. “An East/West couple. I don’t know the last time that’s happened.”
“We are not an East/West couple, Arya,” James says. “You are an East Sider, whether you like it or not.”
“Well, you’re the only one that thinks that.”
“Because they don’t know you like I do,” James says. “Everything on the outside about you screams West Side, but on the inside, I know you don’t belong with these West Siders. You like being at East Side. You like the people at East Side. You are your true self at East Side.”
“And with you,” I say.
“And with me,” James smiles and then kisses me.
“Come on,” I start to pull him away from the wall. “We don’t want to be that couple that comes to a party and just makes out the entire time.”
“I don’t mind being that type of couple,” James pulls me back to him.
We rejoin the party scene with a lot of teenagers that have drunk way too much already. We chat with our friends and mingle with people we don’t talk to a lot. We aren’t on each other’s hip the entire time, we spread out and talk with different groups, knowing that no matter what, we would be back together by the end of the night.
But I should have known something was going to happen tonight. I should have known the West Siders would do something to me. West Side wants to have everything, so seeing me at East Side is a blow to them. I should have warned James. I should have warned him what these West Side guys are like. That they think they are entitled to everything. Even girls.
The past hour and a half, any time I look over at Arya, I see some West Side guy talking to her, obviously flirting with her. I try to keep close to her, but any time I let her out of my sight, even for a minute, I find another West Side guy talking to her. Even when I’m with her they come up to her, trying a shot at her. It’s not until I tell them to ‘fuck off’ and that ‘I’m her boyfriend’ do they leave. But now, not even that isn’t working anymore. I thought Lexi was making some sick joke when he said there would be a bet on Arya, but now I’m not so sure. Was he right? Would the West Siders actually do this kind of thing? Who am I kidding, of course they would. They’ve probably pooled together huge sums of money to make a game out of this. ‘She’s the biggest prize’ Lexi had said.
“Double or nothing,” Lexi says with a grin to all the West Side guys around him.
“Really, Lexi?” one of the guys asks.
“You guys scared of an East Sider?” Lexi taunts. “You’re more than welcome to bow out of the race and take your money back if you want. But double your bet if you still want to try and take her home, there’s just a pathetic East Side boyfriend in the way.” The guys wanted their money back when they found out Arya has a boyfriend, but Lexi wants to have a little more fun.
Lexi knows Arya, he knows she would never go home with any of these guys. It’s the only reason he’s comfortable with doubling the bet. This bet isn’t about who’s going to take her home, because she won’t go home with any of them. This is about testing her East Side boyfriend, seeing if he can handle a West Side girlfriend well out of his league.
Half of them take their money back and the other half double their wager.
“If I find out that any of you put something in her drink,” Lexi warns, “I will personally beat you myself.” Lexi won’t let any guy harm the girl he cares about, but he will make sure the guy who’s taken her from him sweats a bit.
“Someone’s popular,” Diana says, as I drop myself on the outdoor couch beside her. Teddy and Lincoln are out here too, lounging on the furniture with drinks in their hands.
“It’s a bet,” I say, knowing when the third guy approached me that this wasn’t just a coincidence.
“On taking you home?” Lincoln asks.
“Something like that,” I say. I take a blanket and throw it over me, hiding underneath it and keeping warm.
“And you’re hiding out here now?” Lincoln asks smiling.
“Trying to,” I say. I’m also getting away from James for a bit. He’s being very overprotective, which is understandable given the situation, but I have to end this, and he won’t like how. I need to find Lexi.
“Where’s James?” Teddy asks.
“Inside,” I say, “he’s coming out soon, I told him I’d be with you guys. It was the only way he’d let me out of his sight.” And then I see James coming out the door to the patio, looking around. “Lincoln!” I say, standing up and throwing the blanket off, “Please come with me!” and I reach a hand to him.
“What is it, Arya?” Lincoln asks, just looking at my hand.
“I’ll explain later,” I say, “just please.”
Lincoln gets up obediently and I loop my arm in his to go in the opposite direction of James, in through another set of doors, back into the house.
“Where’s she going?” I ask Diana and Teddy, seeing Arya leave on Lincoln’s arm.
“Just inside,” Diana says, “why don’t you take a seat, James. You look tired.”
I flop down into a chair because I am tired. I am tired of all these West Side guys hitting on my girlfriend like it’s some sort of game. “She told you they’re betting on her?” I ask. Arya wouldn’t admit it to me, but I know she knows.
“Relax, James,” Diana says, “Arya is pretty good at taking care of herself if you haven’t already noticed. Just let her handle these West Side guys for a bit.”
Because she’s a West Sider and I’m not, is what Diana is really saying. Because Arya can handle these guys because she is one of them. But I can’t handle them because they just see me as an East Sider, an insignificant obstacle to get to her. ’You can take the girl out of West Side, but you can’t take West Side out of the girl,” Samson had once said.
“Thanks, Lincoln,” I say when we get into the dining hall with a giant chandelier over us. It looks very out of place in comparison to the beer pong game going on underneath with way too many people in one room.
It’s an East Side vs. West Side match up, with George, Richard, and Malcolm on the East Side team.
“George,” I say, putting a hand to his arm to get him to look at me.
“Arya!” George yells and then hugs me, clearly having had a lot to drink.
“George,” I say, pulling away and seeing his happy face smiling at me. “Where’s Lexi?”
George scrunches his face, clearly thinking about it as best as a drunk person can, and then he asks. “How do you know Lexi?”
“He’s a friend,” I say, “now do you know where he is?”
George gives me a look. Even in his state he suspects something more than just friendship. “Last I saw he was near the front of the house,” George says, pointing, surprisingly, in the right direction.
“Thank you, George,” I say, patting his arm and leaving him to the other drunk beer pong players.
Then I see Lincoln and Malcolm exchanging words and remember their last encounter at a party. “Lincoln,” I say, putting a hand on his arm, as I come up to them. But when I do, I see they are laughing with each other.
Malcolm looks down at me, seeing my confused face. “Don’t worry, Arya,” Malcolm says, “I’m not going to punch him at this party.”
“Glad to hear it,” I say, “although I am curious how Lincoln can forgive you.”
Lincoln shrugs. “Not as terrible a guy as I thought. I guess I’m not always right when reading people.”
“Did the Lincoln Abraham just admit that he wasn’t right?” I ask smiling.
“Should have videotaped it,” Malcolm says, “it won’t happen again.”
I’m about to drag Lincoln along with me again, a bit of protection against the guys, but then I see the top of Lexi’s head in the next room, which looks like another lounging room, and figure I can make it there on my own. “I’ll catch up with you guys in a bit,” I say and head over to the next room to find the guy I know that will put a stop to this.