Your Best Bet
a one shot
It started with a bet.
"I'll give you five dollars if you say hi to Sketchy Brent," Kelsey declared at dinner.
I shot her a puzzled glance. "You're trying to pay me to say hi to the guy I've crushed on for the past three months?" I asked, bewildered.
Kelsey grinned. "It's time we did something about that crush," she said slyly. "Come on. The guy lives next door to us. We see him at lunch and dinner all the time. And you have a class with him! He must know who you are by now. So say hi to him next time we see him or you owe me five. Deal?"
I am so not someone who turns down little bets like that, so of course I said, "Deal."
How hard could it be? I was occasionally a daring girl – and all I had to do was say hi to him. That would be the end of that.
As we were leaving Commons, our dorm's dining location, we spotted Sketchy Brent coming up the stairs toward us with a few of his friends. Kelsey nudged me and whispered, "Here's your chance!"
I didn't have a choice. It was say hi now or forever lose five dollars to Kelsey. And in college, five dollars goes a long way, especially if you need to do laundry. So when we passed Sketchy Brent and he happened to look right at me, I managed to squeak a, "HI!" and quickly looked away after he replied with a "Hey" and a nod, dragging Kelsey by the arm back to our dorm as soon as possible.
"Oh my god!" I whispered loudly, starting to hyperventilate. "I can't believe I just did that!"
"I'm so proud of you!" Kelsey whispered back, giggling.
I ventured a glance behind us, but sure enough, Sketchy Brent and his friends had turned around too and were watching us from where they were. His friends were puzzled (probably wondering if he even knew me), but Sketchy Brent was smirking. I quickly turned around and walked faster, determined to put more distance between me and Sketchy Brent.
"OHMYGOD. Ohmygod. I just said hi to Sketchy Brent!" I wailed. "What the hell! And he said hey back!"
"And he gave you the nod too," Kelsey added encouragingly, though I could see the laughter in her eyes. "He looked at you, said hi, and gave you that head tilt guys always give! The badass one that says 'Sup?' "
I laughed, knowing she was partially mocking me and knowing I was being completely silly about the situation. This wasn't high school; this was the middle of our freshman year of college. I totally shouldn't have been reacting this way to a crush on a guy. It was just that I had randomly met Sketchy Brent one night at a frat party, and since then I'd begun to see him everywhere. The university bookstore. My bio class for non-bio majors (which meant he wasn't a biology major – thank god!). Commons during meals. The gym where everyone worked out. I mean really, this guy was everywhere I happened to be. Which is partially why my friends and I had dubbed him Sketchy Brent and not just…Brent. He was a stalker (it was sketchy that I saw him everywhere) – and thus he was sketchy.
Kelsey, who had been at the party too and seen Sketchy Brent, had thought he seemed like an alcoholic slash supreme badass from the way he drank (large amounts, but that was to be expected of any frat boy) and the way he talked (somehow it made him that much more appealing to me). In any case, while she didn't wholly approve, she thought it was amusing that I liked him. Amusing because I'm not someone who would seem into the sketchy or badass. I was a pretty good girl; I went to all (okay, most) of my classes, kept up with the reading, studied regularly, and partied only once a week to kick back.
So compared to me, Sketchy Brent, who did not seem like the type of guy to go to class, read (I wasn't even sure he could), or study, seemed like a delinquent. It was probably more than likely that he partied more than once a week, and with a lot more alcohol than I did.
Which is exactly why I never pursued anything with him. We had absolutely nothing in common (except that we had a class together and went to the same places at the same times). There was no way a self-proclaimed good girl like me would ever work out with a sketchy badass like Sketchy Brent. A simple 'Hi' was as far as we'd ever get.
At least that's what I thought until Kelsey upped the stakes.
- - - - -
"I'll add another ten dollars to the five that I already owe you if you sit next to Sketchy Brent in your biology class," Kelsey challenged when we got back to our dorm.
"So you'd owe me fifteen?" I asked. "Why are you doing this to yourself?"
"Hey," Kelsey shrugged, "I'm really doing this for you! You're the one who likes him!"
"I don't like him that much," I protested. "I just like his bad boy charm."
"Sure, whatever," she scoffed. "So are you in or out? All you have to do is sit next to him in class. You don't even have to say anything to him."
I considered this and decided I had nothing to lose if all I had to do was sit next to him.
"I'm in," I agreed. "But how are you going to know if I sat next to him or not? Should I take a picture?"
She laughed. "I'll go to class with you, but I'll sit somewhere else. Just know I'll be watching you, though."
Kelsey was definitely exercising her free time very well – hell, she was going to a class she wasn't even enrolled in!
So that's how I ended up sitting next to Sketchy Brent in Biology for non-biology majors. I barely glanced at him when I sat down two seats away from him in the lecture hall, trying to act casual and nonchalant even though I could feel his eyes on me as I got settled.
"Hey," he said.
I whipped my head in his direction.
"Hi," I responded. Thank god I didn't squeak this time.
"Do you know what the book we need for this class looks like?" he asked.
Uh, wow. It was three and a half weeks into the quarter and he still didn't have his books?
"Yeah, it's that orange paperback book by Lenhoff," I told him, smiling slightly. "You do realize our midterm is next week, right?"
Sketchy Brent nodded. "That's why I'm asking about the book," he explained.
"Oh," was all I had to say to that. But mentally, I was going over how Sketchy Brent had just confirmed my suspicions that he didn't read or study. Hence we were so wrong for each other.
I wasn't sure why I kept trying to convince myself that Sketchy Brent wasn't my type if I was already supposed to be set on it.
"I'm Brent," he introduced, proffering his hand so I could shake it.
I took it and responded, "Amy. Nice to meet you."
He had a nice, firm grip – something I admired in anyone I met. I hated those limp handshakes; the ones that felt like the other person didn't even want to touch you, like they couldn't wait to let go. The handshake determined how much I was going to like this person.
"Nice to finally meet you too," he grinned. When my eyes grew wide at the comprehension of his words, his grin grew even wider. "Don't think I haven't noticed you, girl-I-see-everywhere."
"Yeah, I was beginning to think you were stalking me," I said, laughing.
"I think it was the other way around," Sketchy Brent countered. "You were definitely stalking me."
I had a nice retort for that, but bit it back as the professor began to lecture. I diligently took notes and paid attention to the slides and diagrams, while I noticed Sketchy Brent messing around on Facebook. At the end of lecture, Sketchy Brent closed his laptop and waited expectantly for me while I put my notebook and pens away.
"You took a lot of notes," he remarked.
"You didn't take any," I shot back.
He held up his hands, as if surrendering. "Hey, hey, it's all in here," he said, pointing at his head.
I nearly scoffed. Attractive as he was, there was no way Sketchy Brent was going to do better on this midterm than me. Absolutely no-freaking-way.
"So, uh, are you going back to the dorms?" he asked hesitantly.
I glanced across the room to where Kelsey was waiting for me by the doors, with a knowing smile plastered on her face.
"I'm actually going to get lunch with a friend," I said apologetically, focusing my attention back to him. "But I'm sure we'll see each other around. Dinner, maybe?"
He looked slightly disappointed but still managed to smirk as he said, "We always do. See you at Commons."
I waited for him to leave before meeting Kelsey by the doors.
"So what did he say?" she wanted to know.
"Well, first of all, he definitely knows who I am," I told her. "And he started talking to me first. I was only going to sit next to him. And it looks like you owe me fifteen dollars."
"Not so fast. What were you guys talking about just now?"
"I think he wanted to walk back to the dorms with me," I shrugged, though I was secretly thrilled by this fact. "But I told him we were going to lunch."
Kelsey unexpectedly stopped and turned to face me. She grabbed my shoulders and practically shrieked, "Why would you tell him that?!"
My stomach grumbled. "Because I'm hungry. That's why!"
"So? You could have invited him to eat with us! I wouldn't have minded!" she insisted. "Honestly. I am so disappointed in you. In fact, I am ashamed to be your friend."
I frowned. "I guess we're not going to lunch, then."
Kelsey let out a grunt of frustration and sighed. "We're still going to lunch, duh. I'm hungry too."
While we were eating, Kelsey got that glimmer in her eyes again – the one that told me she was going to yet again challenge me to a bet.
"Thirty dollars says you can't get his number by tonight," she said triumphantly. Kelsey paused and added, "And I'll make it fifty dollars even if you get him to study for your bio midterm together."
I considered this, weighing my options. "How about I just get his number?" I proposed. "I don't want to study with him! He didn't take any notes today in class, and I get the feeling he doesn't take any...at all. He doesn't even have the book!"
"You'd be missing out on my offer of fifty dollars," Kelsey persisted. "And who says you guys have to actually study?"
At the latter remark, she wiggled her eyebrows suggestively and I couldn't resist. I don't know what possessed me to take her up on this offer. Maybe it was the appeal of the money. Or maybe I couldn't say no to a challenge.
I got Sketchy Brent's number.
I had thought it would be harder, but Sketchy Brent made it surprisingly easy for me. It was like making those Tollhouse break-and-bake cookies. Minimal effort necessary.
As we'd predicted, I saw Sketchy Brent at Commons while I was waiting in line for pasta. He sidled up behind me and it wasn't until I felt someone's presence that I turned around and nearly had a coronary when I saw him. I should have been expecting that, seeing as I'd had a feeling I would be seeing him again. Now I wondered how I would go about getting his number.
It might have been because we had a midterm coming up. Or possibly that he was interested in me. In any case, we made small talk about classes and he casually asked me if I had started studying for midterms yet. Particularly our biology midterm.
"Not intensely," I said, "But I've been reading and learning as we've gone along. Have you started yet?"
Sketchy Brent laughed probably the most genuine laugh I'd ever heard from anyone. He really thought it was that funny. "Do I really seem like the kind of guy who's started studying for midterms?"
With a small smile, I shook my head.
Sketchy Brent grinned. "Nah, I'm saving it all for the night before. Nothing like a good cram session."
"I can't cram," I confessed. "It stresses me out."
We inched forward in the pasta line and Sketchy Brent stared at me like I had three boobs. "Cramming is how everyone in college gets by. What are you?"
I would have taken offense at this comment had he not been grinning as he said it.
"I don't want to just 'get by'," I explained. "I want to get good grades."
"Maybe we should study together," suggested Sketchy Brent. "Maybe then I can get good grades too."
"That depends. Is studying with you going to be me talking to a brick wall?" I asked.
He had the audacity to look almost insulted at that. "I promise to pay attention as you teach me everything you know," he assured me.
We'd finally reached the front of the pasta line, and I grabbed a steaming bowl of chicken fettuccini alfredo from the counter. Sketchy Brent followed suit and followed me up to where the drinks and tables were.
"So, you think we can get together this weekend and study?" he asked as I filled a cup with peach iced tea.
"Sure," I said, hoping I didn't sound too excited or eager. I was also very aware of how closely he was standing next to me. I was also aware that my heart was racing and I was sure my palms were getting sweaty.
"Cool," he smiled, showing me two perfect rows of gleaming white teeth. "Hey, what's your number? So I can call you about details."
We exchanged numbers and parted ways, as he went to sit with his dorm mates and I went to sit with mine.
When I got to the table, everyone seemed to be waiting for me.
"What took you so long?" asked Vanessa, Kelsey's roommate.
"I was waiting in the long line for pasta," I explained. And sending a pointed look Kelsey's way, I announced, "And I happened to get a number."
"You got Sketchy Brent's number? How?" she wanted to know.
Everyone else at the table looked lost, so Kelsey quickly filled them in on our series of bets involving my alleged love-interest, Sketchy Brent. After she was done, I told them all how we'd exchanged numbers and added that now we were supposed to study for our midterm together this weekend.
One of the guys in the dorm named Matt, who seemed to think this whole deal was outrageous, concluded, "Kelsey, doesn't this mean you owe Amy sixty-five dollars?"
Kelsey leaned back in her chair with a satisfied smirk on her face. "I guess it does," she said, not at all sounding the least bit forlorn that she was losing a good amount of money.
Despite myself, I wondered what I would have to do with Sketchy Brent to get Kelsey to make it a grand total of one hundred dollars.
I didn't have to wait long for the answer to that, because everyone at the table was interested in the bet now.
"So what's next?" asked Michael, another guy who lived in our dorm.
"What do you mean, what's next?" I asked.
"Well, you guys can't just stop there," said Vanessa. "What are you going to do after you guys study together?"
I shrugged. "I don't know."
"They're right," Kelsey said thoughtfully. "You're not finished with Sketchy Brent yet."
I groaned, though I have to admit I was excited at the anticipation of what I would be doing next.
"What do you think guys?" Kelsey asked aloud, addressing everyone at the table. "What's worth another thirty-five dollars?"
They all argued over what the next step of the bet should be, finally settling on a kiss. A kiss I had to initiate or I wasn't going to get any money at all. This didn't seem fair at first, so I negotiated until Kelsey agreed to give me fifty. For me, fifty was more than enough. I hadn't had to go to too much trouble to finish any of these tasks, and what's more was that I was so fully enjoying this.
It didn't hit me until I got in bed that night and recounted everything that had happened that day. It was surreal that in the span of two days, Sketchy Brent had gone from some guy – a stranger I'd met at a party and saw everywhere – to the guy I was potentially kissing.
By Saturday morning, I didn't even care about the money anymore. Now, the money was only an excuse – a cover-up – so I could put the moves on Sketchy Brent, so to speak. I had a week to kiss Sketchy Brent – if everything went as I hoped it would, Sketchy Brent and I were scheduled to lock lips at his fraternity's end-of-midterms party on Thursday night (since Thursdays are the new Fridays and no one had midterms on Friday), which I was sure he'd be at.
Sketchy Brent called me around eleven in the morning. I'm not going to lie and say I didn't get butterflies in my stomach when I saw his name on my caller id, because I definitely did. I didn't even know this guy very well, but he was eliciting all the right reactions from me. That probably should have scared me, but it almost felt like that's how I was supposed to be feeling.
"Do you want to get brunch at Commons and then start studying?" his voice crackled over the phone.
I was actually surprised he was even up, much less that he wanted to study today. I'd thought for sure he wouldn't even call until Sunday evening.
"You want to study today?" I asked, flabbergasted.
"Well, yeah. Why, are you busy?"
"No, no. I was planning on studying today. I just didn't think that you would want to," I explained quickly.
"That hurts," he deadpanned, although I could practically sense the smile in his voice. "You don't give me enough credit. I'm a serious student too!"
I rolled my eyes at this, which he thankfully couldn't see. "So you want to meet me outside Commons in ten minutes?" I asked.
Sketchy Brent agreed, and when we met outside Commons ten minutes later, he gave me a hug, even though we barely knew each other. When he realized I wasn't exactly reciprocating (I was shocked, to say the least), he immediately let me go and stepped back.
"Whoa, sorry. I thought you were the type of girl I could hug," he said, looking sincerely apologetic.
I finally recovered from my state of utter and complete shock and blushed. "I am; it's just that I really wasn't expecting that. We're not exactly friends."
"I thought we were," Sketchy Brent declared. "I hug my friends."
"I met you two days ago!" I exclaimed in defense.
"But we've been eyeing each other for weeks now," he countered. "I'd say we know each other well enough to call ourselves friends. Unless you don't want to be…"
The way he was looking at me kept making my heart do funny jumps and flips. I thought I might go crazy just being around him.
"We're friends," I confirmed. "Sorry about that."
"Good," Sketchy Brent grinned. "So can I get a real, decent hug now, Amy?"
I nodded and he pulled me in and squeezed me tight. I smiled, unable to help the dizziness that overcame me. My chest suddenly felt light, and I realized I just how badly I was majorly crushing on this boy.
We pulled away finally and, as we walked up the steps to Commons, Sketchy Brent remarked, "You give good hugs. I like that."
I had to agree. Sketchy Brent gave really good hugs; beneath the shirt he was wearing, I could see (and had a chance to feel) well-defined abs.
I told him that over brunch, and he laughed, amused by my honesty. He told me he worked out and played basketball regularly, mostly just to keep in shape.
There was never a moment of awkwardness or silence; if anything, Sketchy Brent and I seemed to have a dynamic that worked – a certain chemistry, if you will. The conversation flowed easily, and I found myself being honest and open and carefree with him. Few people had this effect on me so early on in the friendship.
I was completely comfortable with him, so long as I ignored the butterflies he seemed to draw out in me every time he so much as looked at me and smiled.
We eventually finished brunch, and now it was up to us to decide where to study.
"My place or yours?" he asked in a suggestive tone.
I swatted his shoulder, though I couldn't help but giggle. Here I was, a single girl about to spend the entire afternoon studying with a guy I was really attracted to. Things couldn't get better than this.
In the end, we ended up reserving a study room for six hours at our Student Center's study lounge. And while I'd anticipated the chore of teaching Sketchy Brent everything I knew for the midterm, he proved to be an apt student, asking questions to clarify and taking notes and everything. And when I tried to quiz him, he got most of the questions correct.
There was the possibility that I might have to retract my previous statement. Sketchy Brent might actually do just as well as me on the midterm, if not better. And while the mere thought of that would have annoyed me a few days ago, now I was proud. I wanted him to do well, because he'd actually tried to learn this stuff in a few hours and he'd picked the gist of it up.
It was dark by the time we left the study room, and Sketchy Brent offered to buy me dinner. "I owe you big time for this," he said earnestly.
I was hesitant. "Let's wait until you get your midterm score back before you thank me for anything."
"Seriously, the fact that you just spend six hours studying with me deserves something. It doesn't matter how I do on the midterm because we both know that at one point, I knew everything. Or almost everything," he proclaimed. "So, dinner?"
He'd surprised me today. And when he put it like that, I couldn't refuse.
There were lots of cute guys at the party, but there was only one I was particularly interested in. And at the moment, he was MIA.
"Stop looking around for him," Vanessa nudged me. "Have a drink and just chill. We're done with midterms!"
I took Vanessa's advice. It wasn't until after we'd done three shots of Captain Morgan that Sketchy Brent came into the picture, clutching a beer.
"Hey!" he yelled loudly over the music. "You made it!"
"Where have you been?" I asked back, though the last two words were muffled against his chest as he pulled me in for a hug.
Sketchy Brent let me go and smirked. "Why? Have you been waiting for me?"
As a lightweight, I was more than buzzed off those two shots of rum.
"Why would I wait for you?" I said with more sass than I normally would have.
Sketchy Brent shrugged. "Because you like me?"
"Maybe I do," I nearly slurred. I came close to falling over when someone bumped into me. Luckily, Sketchy Brent was there to help me stay standing.
"How many drinks have you had, baby?" he wanted to know.
Was it my imagination or did Sketchy Brent just call me 'baby'?
"Only three," I cried. "But I'm not drunk, so don't try to take advantage of me!"
He could only laugh at that. "I would never," he said. "I'm a nice guy."
"You're a frat boy," I accused. "You're not a nice guy."
Sketchy Brent leaned in closer to me. "Why can't you seem to stay away from me, then?" he challenged.
I thought about this. He was right. I was always around him. And I might not have been thinking clearly because I think I just told him he wasn't nice. I wasn't too sure what I'd just said.
I punched his shoulder, but the impact was weak because I wasn't thinking straight. Or aiming accurately, for that matter.
"You're the one who's following me!" I shot back. "What do you know about that?"
All around us people were drinking, dancing/grinding, and laughing. They were loud as hell, but for a moment it was just me staring up at Sketchy Brent, wondering how the hell we had ended up becoming friends.
And then his lips came dangerously close to my ear, whispering "Just thought you'd like to know I got a B+ on my midterm," before they moved to crash onto my lips.
What the B+ had to do with anything, I couldn't remember. And I was stunned for a split second, but before I knew it, I was responding right back. His hands slowly found their way to the small of my back, and my hands were running through his hair and massaging the nape of his neck. Kissing him was every bit as steamy and hot as I could have imagined.
Neither of us pulled away until we heard all the hoots and hollers around us grow deafening. It seemed like we were now the center of attention.
"Thanks for helping me study," Sketchy Brent winked, grinning widely.
Sketchy Brent just kissed me. He. Just. Kissed. ME!
And then it hit me. I was coherent enough to realize that Sketchy Brent kissed me. Not the other way around.
Which meant I was not going to get that hundred dollars from Kelsey.
"Aw, no!" I groaned. "I can't believe it."
I turned to leave, not even thinking twice about Sketchy Brent. I guess the money mattered to me, after all. It was a hundred dollars! Think of what I could do with that!
"What's wrong?" Sketchy Brent quickly followed me as I pushed my way through the crowd.
I ignored him and found my way to the wall, which was a bad idea because he had both arms on either side of my face, effectively blocking me in.
"You just cost me fifty dollars," I told him honestly. I wasn't sure if this was liquid courage talking or just my greediness and resentment on losing that part of the bet.
He was clearly confused. "What?"
I didn't have to explain. Just then, Kelsey and one of Sketchy Brent's friends ended up standing next to us, arguing over who owed whom how much. I caught the end of their argument (something about Sketchy Brent's friend cheating on a bet) before Kelsey turned and was surprised to see me there.
"Amy!" she cried. "Did you just kiss Sketchy Brent?"
Okay, first of all, Sketchy Brent wasn't supposed to know that we called him Sketchy Brent behind his back. Or that that was how I referred to him.
"Who the hell is Sketchy Brent?" Sketchy Brent wanted to know. "Wait. Me?"
Kelsey gave me that look that said "Oops!" but the damage had already been done.
"Uh, yeah, don't ask," I mumbled, not quite looking at him.
"I'm going to ask you about this tomorrow when you're sober," he warned me.
I nodded. To Kelsey, I sadly admitted, "No, he kissed me."
"Hah!" cried Sketchy Brent's friend. "I knew he'd make the first move!"
"What are you guys talking about?" Sketchy Brent and I wanted to know.
"Tim and I made a bet on you guys two weeks ago," Kelsey said shamelessly. "We bet on how long it would take for you guys to get together."
"Is that why you bet me five dollars to say hi to him?" I demanded, outraged but also amused.
Simultaneously, Sketchy Brent exclaimed, "Is that why you bet me fifteen dollars to talk to her?"
"Yeah," Kelsey and Tim admitted together – again, no shame evident.
"And then just to make it more fun, I bet with Tim that you'd be the one to kiss Sketchy Brent, not him kissing you," Kelsey went on. "Except Tim cheated and made a side bet with Sketchy Brent that he didn't have the balls to kiss you first!"
"I didn't cheat! If I did, then you did too, because you bet Amy thirty five dollars to do it first!" Tim protested. "I won this bet fair and square!"
Then they both turned to look at us expectantly, waiting for either of us to agree or disagree with Tim.
"You guys bet on us?" Sketchy Brent said slowly. He turned to look at me. "You and Kelsey bet on me?"
Well, he had no right to be angry because he'd done the exact same thing. "Well, you and Tim bet on me! And you lost me fifty dollars because you had to go grow some balls and kiss me first!"
"Well I just won one hundred from Tim man-ing up," Sketchy Brent informed me. "If you're good I might spend it on you."
I scoffed. "I can't believe were just manipulated into this situation by these two," I glared at Kelsey and Tim accusingly.
"How much money were you guys throwing around?" Sketchy Brent asked them curiously.
"A few hundred," Tim replied casually, like it was nothing. "Owing you a hundred bucks is petty cash now that I've won!"
This started another round of protests from Kelsey, which Sketchy Brent and I rolled our eyes at. We ignored them and he focused his full attention on me.
"I'm not sorry Tim and I made you a bet," he said honestly. "We wouldn't be here right now if it weren't for them, though."
"I'm not sorry either," I had to agree. "You cost me fifty, but you were worth it."
Sketchy Brent straightened up and crossed his arms. "So how am I sketchy?" he wanted to know, a dangerous smirk gracing his features.
I laughed and leaned up to kiss him this time. "Let me show you," I whispered.
I wasn't sure if I'd ever really tell him the truth about the reasons behind his code name, but I was fairly sure he'd be somewhat offended. So I settled for distracting him the most reasonable way possible.
It started with a bet, but this certainly wasn't going to end that way, if you know what I mean.
A/N: My second attempt at a real one-shot. How was it? Too long? Should I have split it up? I'm starting to really like writing one-shots; I'll probably be writing more in the future. Also, thanks a million for your comments on Crash into You – all very encouraging and helpful!
This one-shot was the result of being bored at work, so you can thank my corporate desk job for that. I work full-time and they gave me a laptop with internet access, so I write when there's nothing to do…which is most of the time! And if you really care to know, a friend of mine actually challenged me to a similar bet like this, although it never really got that far since I lost interest in the guy. I kept seeing him everywhere, though, which was supremely creepy. And thus, my inspiration for this little one-shot. I thoroughly enjoyed writing this; it was a lot of fun all around.
Thanks for reading, and again, please leave a review if you can! I don't usually reply to them because even I don't have enough time at work for that, but just know that I read them all and I appreciate every single one of them!