Bad For You

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9

"Hey, you finally made it!"

Theo, Hannah, and I approach a large circular booth where Theo's friends are gathered. An array of food and drinks are already spread out. I was definitely surprised when Theo had driven us to a Billards club. I thought you had to be at least twenty-one, but he explained that was just to drink.

"He has more friends than we do," Hannah whispers to me as Theo greets his friends."Now that's just sad."

I shush her and paste on a smile as the attention shifts to us. "And who do we have here?" One of Theo's friends smirks. He has shockingly platinum blonde hair with bright blue eyes and dark brows.

"This is Aurora and Hannah," Theo gestures toward us. "Aurora and Hannah, this is Jack."

Jack grins. "Welcome to the party. You ever play pool before? And no, I don't mean the iMessage game."

I shake my head. "No. Never."

"How about you?" He asks Hannah.

"For the record, I could smoke you in pool on iMessage. Reality, not so much."

Jack clucks his tongue. "Theo you brought rookies to pool night? Now that's just cruel."

Theo laughs before introducing us to the rest of his friends. There's a lot of people and a lot of names, but he seems to be closet with Jack and another guy named Adam. Adam had wavy light brown hair that reached the nape of his neck, hazel eyes, and a friendly smile. He wore a beanie with dark blue jeans, a Pink Floyd hoodie, and vans. One of the girls we're introduced to is Adam's girlfriend, Katelyn, but everyone calls her Kitty. Her entire face was covered in a smattering of freckles and she had short ginger hair styled in a pixie cut, brown eyes, and small bee stung lips. She was petite and tiny, almost like a fairy.

Like Kitty, the other girls were all friendly and nice, except one who kept glaring at me like she wanted to burn a hole through my head. I think her name was Phoebe. When everyone moves over to make room for us at the table, she would barely budge.

"Phoebe could you please scoot over?" One of the girls named Eva asks.

"There's no room," Phoebe huffs. Jack rolls his eyes.

"Yes there is. Stop being difficult, I know what this is about."

Phoebe glares at him and he raises a brow at her. They stay locked in an intense stare off until finally Phoebe gives up and scoots over, grumbling. Hannah gives me a quizzical look.

"What was that about?" She whispers.

I shrug. "No idea."

Once we're all seated I realize Phoebe was kind of right. There's a lot of us and while the table was fairly large, it wasn't that big. I was practically sitting on Theo's lap.

"Sorry," I say apologetically as I shift, trying to get comfortable.

"It's okay. I don't mind," Theo winks and I blush.

"So what are your majors?" Kitty asks us. "Most of us here are either visual arts, theatre, or film."

"Music," Hannah replies. She starts to reach for the bowl of chicken wings before pausing. "Do you mind or...?"

Someone pushes it toward her and she thanks them before taking a piece of chicken. She offers the bowl to me but I politely decline.

"I'm a dance major," I offer and Kitty's eyes widen.

"Woah. I heard the dance program was super intense."

"That's...putting it lightly."

"So are you all uppity snobs or is that just a myth?" A guy named Oliver asks.

Theo rolls his eyes. "Don't be a dick Oli."

"That depends," I reply evenly. "Are you always a prejudiced asshole or is that just a myth?"

"Burn!" Jack crows and the entire table laughs. Oliver rolls his eyes.

Phoebe offers me the bowl of chicken wings again. "You sure you don't want any?"

"No, but thank you."

"Are you sure?" Phoebe insists. "You're like...really skinny."

The table grows silent. Someone coughs awkwardly.

"She said she's good," Theo gives Phoebe a frosty look. "What's wrong with you?"

"Nothing," she responds defensively. "I didn't mean anything by it."

"Yes you did," Adam says in exasperation. "You always do."

"So we're body shaming now?" Hannah snaps.

"I was not body shaming! I was simply making an observation!"

As they argue back and forth, I begin to grow uncomfortable. My weight has always been an issue I've struggled with. Even when I was a baby I was severely underweight. Thankfully there were no long term health problems. I had the metabolism of a hummingbird, so my body processed food pretty quickly. That, combined with the calories I burned from dance, and it was hard for me gain weight, let alone keep it on me. Not that I ever could. It's another unspoken rule in ballet, but you had to have a certain...figure, to put it nicely.

So I struggled with my body image. A lot.

There were days where I looked at myself in the mirror and hated the girl who stared back at me. Too skinny. Not skinny enough. It was a never ending struggle. But like with most things in my life, I had no choice but to grin and bear it. I'd had so many digs thrown to me about my weight, Phoebe's comment wasn't anything new. In fact, I brush it off.

Doesn't make it sting any less though.

Phoebe crosses her arms. "You guys are so dramatic. All I said was that she was skinny. It was practically a compliment!"

Theo scoffs. "What you said was equivalent to suggesting someone go on a diet before implying they're fat."

"It was not. Oliver back me up!"

Oliver leans back in his seat. "Yeah...imma just sit this one out."

"You do that," Jack pats him on the back. "Wouldn't want your prejudice to seep through."

"What do you want me to say, sorry? Fine, I'm sorry I said you were skinny," Phoebe rolls her eyes. "Happy now?"

"It's fine," I try and play it off, wanting to move on from this topic.

Hannah slams her palm flat on the table. "No, it's not fine-"

Kitty hastily changes the subject. "So who's betting tonight?"

The mood shifts as the table fills with excited chatter. "I've got a hundred," Oliver slaps a hundred dollar bill on the table.

"Fifty," Adam adds. Soon everyone is shouting out numbers.

"Twenty!"

"Forty!"

"Sixty!"

"Two-hundred!"

Hannah chokes. "I'm sorry, am I missing something here? Why is everyone betting so much damn money?"

"Because it's pool night baby," Jack explains with a grin. "Winner takes bet. My advice: don't hold 'em if you can't fold 'em."

"This isn't poker," Theo chuckles before turning to me. "I'll teach you how to play."

I smile. "Okay."

After that we split up into groups. Eva offers to teach Hannah how the game works while Theo and I snag a vacant table. While he's grabbing us cue sticks I pick up a pool ball. It's heavier than I expected.

"Ready?" Theo asks and I turn around. He hands me a cue stick with a grin on his face.

"Ready," I reply. I'd never played pool before, but I was eager to learn.

Theo walks around the side of the table. "So first, we rack up the balls. The eight ball should always be in the center," he sets up the balls in a triangle. "Then whoever is going first breaks."

"What's that?"

"It's basically the start of the game, when you scatter the balls," Theo explains. "If you make a ball into a pocket, then you claim whatever type it was, stripe or solid. If you somehow make both types in, you pick which one you prefer. The goal is to sink all your pool balls into the pockets until the eight ball is left. Then whoever sinks the eight ball in first wins."

"What happens if you accidentally sink one of the other players pool balls?" I ask.

"Point goes to the other person. And if you sink the eight ball before the rest of your pool balls, you automatically lose. Same thing if you scratch the ball."

"Scratch?"

"When the cue ball jumps off the table or rolls into a pocket."

I nod. "Okay, sounds easy enough."

Theo smirks. "Until you actually start playing. Now do you want to do the honors or shall I?"

"You go first,"I gesture toward the table and watch as he effortlessly lines up his cue stick. Theo takes his shot, scattering the pool balls and sinking a solid blue one into the left corner pocket. He makes it look so easy. Then he straightens up and blows off what I assume to be an imaginary spec of dust off his stick.

"Now you try," he says. "It's all about angle and aim. You can have the perfect shot, but if your aiming or angle is off it won't go in."

I step up to the table and decide to try for a striped orange ball near the right center pocket. I bend over the table and copy Theo's stance, angling my cue stick, though it feels awkward in my hand. Theo comes up behind me.

"Like this," he says, drawing my right hand to the base of the stick and my left hand to the narrow end. "Curve your index finger at the top of the stick and put your thumb at the bottom."

I swallow, trying my hardest to concentrate on Theo's instructions. But his close proximity makes it difficult. His body is pressed against mine and his right hands rests on top of my own, guiding my movements.

"Got it?" I tune back in to what Theo is saying. My head automatically turns toward him.

"We're having a movie moment," I blurt.

He furrows his brows. "A what?"

"A movie moment. You know, when the boy teaches the girl how to play pool..."

"Ah," Theo smirks. "I suppose we are."

Our faces are inches apart, and my eyes flicker down to his lips. They look really soft. What would it be like to kiss him? Would it be sweet and gentle? Or rough and passionate?

I wouldn't mind either.

"Rose?" Theo murmurs. My eyes snap back up to his.

"Yeah?"

"Don't look at me like that."

"Like what?"

"Like you want to kiss me."

A sudden rush of courage flows through me. "Maybe I do," I whisper. It's a clear invitation: kiss me. At first, I think he might. His eyes drop down to my lips and my heart begins to palpitate in my chest.

Then he suddenly steps back.

"Take your shot," Theo gestures toward the pool table. His eyes flickers with an emotion I can't quite put my finger on, and he doesn't look at me.

I feel a little hurt by his sudden coldness. Though I have zero romantic experience, I'd like to think I'm not totally clueless. The vibes were good. We were flirting...I think.

So what changed so suddenly?

Not wanting to ruin what's been an otherwise fun evening, I try my best to shrug it off. Then I reposition myself and take my first shot. It goes in and I let out an excited cheer.

"Did you see that?" I exclaim. "It went in!"

"I definitely saw," Theo chuckles, whatever had overtaken him earlier gone now. "Good job."

I beam proudly. "So what now?"

"You get to go again."

We kept on playing, and of course Theo won, but I managed to sink a few more shots in. After that he suggests we try nine ball, and after explaining the rules we begin to play.

"Not to toot my own horn or anything but I'm getting pretty good at this," I straighten up after hitting the fourth ball into a pocket.

"Are you sure you haven't played pool before?" Theo ask teasingly. "Like maybe your dad taught you or something."

"Nah, he couldn't have. He's not around."

Theo winces. "Great. Now I feel like a dick."

"It's fine," I laugh. "My mom likes to pretend he doesn't exist, so I know virtually nothing about him."

"That must suck," Theo says sympathetically. I shrug.

"Not really. It's hard to care about someone you don't know," I line up my next shot. "My mom got knocked up when she was sixteen. I don't know if it was an accident, a drunken fling, or even if they were in love. All I know is that he's not in the picture. And my mom says it's better that way so..." I sink my shot and straighten.

Theo furrows his brows. "So you've never even met him?"

"Nope," I reply.

"Aren't you curious about him then? Even just a little?"

I walk around to the other side of the pool table. "I guess sometimes, yeah. But I'm already dealing with so much, I really don't feel like adding him to the mix. Besides, I did ask about my mom about him once. She shut me down so fast, I never bothered asking again."

"Well. She sounds lovely."

"She's...complicated. What about your parents? Are they nice?"

Theo pauses, his facial expression becoming unreadable. "They were."

I frown in confusion. "Were?"

"Yep. They died in a plane crash when I was eight. My grandparents raised me after that."

"Oh my God," my hand flies to my mouth in shock. "That's horrible. I'm so sorry."

"Thanks," Theo smiles, but it doesn't quite reach his eyes and I decide to quickly change the subject.

"I'm totally kicking your ass by the way," I gesture toward the pool table and grin. He smirks.

"That's because I'm letting you win."

I scoff. "Yeah right. Whatever helps you sleep better at night."

"How about we up the stakes?" Theo proposes. "New game. Whoever wins has to do whatever the other person says."

I grin. "Deal."


___




do you know how to play pool? 🎱

xoxo, g💓
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