Chapter 27 - That’s My Girl
“All these other guys, I know they wish they could / It’s an everyday thing and what can I say / With a girl as bad as mine, I’d probably do the same / Cause that’s my girl, that’s my girl” – That’s My Girl, JLS
“Where is she?” Lexi says to the guys around him. He left Arya to break up a stupid fight over a girl and now he’s surrounded by people, but the girl he wants to see isn’t here.
“I thought you weren’t in on the bet?” the holder of the cash says.
“Bet’s off,” Lexi says annoyed, “tell the guys and give them their money back.”
“Bet’s off!!” Lexi yells angrily and all the guys around him are quiet, not wanting to anger the beast. He starts walking and they make a path for him as he goes on his manhunt. Or girl hunt it should be called.
“You think? Did you know he had feelings for her?”
“I had no bloody clue they were even anything. I guess the hockey captain is good at keeping secrets.”
“Best three out of five!” the West Sider calls from the other end of the table.
“No way,” I say, “We beat you twice already.”
“Scared you can’t do it again?” he taunts me.
“Best three out of five!” Malcolm calls over my shoulder. Great.
“Fine,” I say, as we start lining up for the new game.
“It’s convenient that James never drinks,” one of the West Siders says.
“I’m driving, asshole,” I say back. I’m done being polite to these West Siders.
“He’s too sober to be playing!” another West Sider calls out.
Fuck these guys. “Don’t want me to play? Fine.” I say and start leaving, but Malcolm stops me.
“He’ll shoot with his left hand,” Malcolm says, knowing I’m just as good with either. “Does that appease you guys?”
They nod in agreement, thinking that they finally have us.
“I can’t believe I let you drag me into this,” I say to Malcolm.
“Oh shut up,” Malcolm says, “I know you love this. Crushing West Side? You can make out with your girlfriend later.” I roll my eyes at him, but when I turn, I see Lexi. The guy Arya was with at the beginning of the party. He warned me of a bet, but I know he was a part of it. There’s no way there would be a bet going around if it was him with Arya instead of me. He’s looking around, searching for someone, and I know exactly who he is trying to find. When his eyes land on me, he comes right up to me with no hesitation.
“Where is she?” Lexi says.
“Who?” I ask.
“Fuck off,” Lexi says, “you know who.”
“MY girlfriend?” I ask, “The one you made the center of your betting game?”
Lexi rolls his eyes. “I didn’t start the bet. But I did warn you about it though.”
“How kind of you,” I say back.
“And I was the one who stopped it,” Lexi says, “what did you do?”
“You knew I couldn’t stop those West Side guys,” I say.
“Maybe take it as a sign that you shouldn’t be with her,” Lexi says. “This is her world, James. She needs someone that can protect her.”
“And you think that’s you?” I ask.
“Do you know Arya came to me to stop the bet?” Lexi says. “She left you to find me because she knew that I was the one guy who could help her.” That’s where she went with Lincoln, trying to get away from me.
How much history do Lexi and Arya really have? She said they only kissed, but it seems like more than that to me. There’s no way Lexi would go to all this trouble for someone he didn’t really care about. “If you’re so great at protecting her, then why did she leave West Side?” I ask, and the change in his face tells me I’ve hit a soft spot, finally. “What Lexi? I thought you said she needed a guy that can protect her. Could the West Side hotshot hockey captain not protect the girl he cared about? Too busy with your stick and puck?”
“Tell me where she is,” Lexi says angrily. I can tell he’s pissed at me now. Good. The feeling’s mutual.
“You’re kidding, right? You must think I’m an idiot,” I say.
“James!” Malcolm calls, “It’s your shot!”
“One second,” I say.
“He forfeits his turn if he doesn’t shoot now,” I hear one of the West Siders say.
“Come on, James!” Malcolm calls.
Lexi smiles at me. “I do think you’re an idiot. But not for the reason you’re thinking.” You think I’m an idiot for letting her out of my sight. “I’ll find her myself,” Lexi says because he knows that I don’t know where she is right now.
Arms grab me from behind and force me to the beer pong table. “Come on, Fox!” the West Siders call out, “Let’s see your left shot.”
I see Lexi out of the corner of my eye, heading to the kitchen, the last place I left Arya.
“I can’t,” I say, leaving behind the guys at the beer pong table.
“James!” I hear Malcolm call out, but I ignore it. Arya is more important than some stupid game. “James!” Malcolm grabs my arm, forcing me to face him. “What’s wrong?”
“That guy is what’s wrong,” I say, “now let me go find him.”
“Is this about Arya?” Malcolm asks.
“Of course it is,” I say.
“Is this how it’s going to be now?” Malcolm asks.
“What are you talking about?” I ask.
“Competing with the West Side guys?” Malcolm says, “She’s a West Side girl, you knew this when you asked her out. Samson even warned you. Did you think these guys were going to just lie down and let you have her so easily? You’ve been fighting off these guys all night. Just take a break. Arya can handle herself.” She can handle the West Side guys is what he’s really saying. She doesn’t need her East Side boyfriend to but in.
“This is different,” I say. Lexi is the worst of them. Because he has real feelings for her. Because he wants to get rid of me. She only kissed him, I tell myself, but even I don’t believe that anymore. “I have to find her.” Malcolm gives me a look, thinking I’m ridiculous.
“Fine,” Malcolm concedes, “go after her. But James, have you ever considered that maybe she belongs with these people? This is where she’s from. This is her life.” I glare at Malcolm. Of course the thought has crossed my mind. The thought that I’m dating a girl from a completely different world. I yelled at her once that she can’t understand my world. I told her to not involve herself with my work life. Does she want me not to involve myself in her world with these rich guys? That she can handle them better than I can?
If it was anyone but Lexi, I might consider just leaving her to tell off the West Side guys like I know she can. But Lexi is different. Arya left me to go to him, knowing that he would be the one to stop the bet. She knew he would do it for her. And he knew she would come to him. “I’m sorry, Malcolm,” I say and then I leave him to go into the kitchen, but she’s not where I left her. I don’t see her or Lexi anywhere. Where has she gone?