The Wager(2)

By: Rachel van Dyken


As if he believed it, too, but didn’t know how to tell her.

Char looked down at the itchy grass as tears welled in her eyes.

“Hey, you guys ready for the trust fall?” Kacey, her best friend, walked up to them and smiled, making Char feel even more insecure. The only girl Jake ever confided in was Kacey. Char and Jake shared a best friend, which really sucked if you asked her; it meant she was always the third wheel, the awkward misfit toy that didn’t ever truly fit.

Jake pulled her in for a hug. “We were just warming up.”

“Cool.” Kacey looked down at Char. “Come on! Stop being so lazy and laying around.”

Amy burst out laughing. “Exercise, Char. Know what that is?”

Kacey glared at Amy and held out her hand to Char. “Ignore her. She’s just grumpy because your boobs are bigger than hers.”

Rolling her eyes, Char got to her feet and took one last look at Jake. She was done crushing on him. Absolutely finished. After all, what girl wants to fall in love with a boy who doesn’t come to her rescue when she needs it most?

She wanted a man, like the ones she saw in movies and on TV. A true hero would have saved her. Real men fought with guns and swords over the women they loved. Last year when the class had watched Romeo and Juliet—Char had had to hide the tears that streamed down her face over the ending scene. That’s what she wanted: a man who was so in love with her he’d follow her into the next life. When she’d said that exact thing out loud, Jake looked at her like she’d lost her mind. Well, the joke would be on him in the end. She would find her leading man and Jake Titus could just… die for all she cared.





Chapter One


Present day

“Grandma, what the hell are you doing?” Jake took in her two larger-than-life suitcases, giant pink Coach handbag, and what looked like a dead animal on her head, and cursed again.

“Language, Jake.” Grandma Nadine squared her shoulders and pushed past him to the ticket counter.

Oh no. Oh, hell no. Merciful God above. Jake looked around for Aileen, his latest conquest and plus one for the engagement party for his brother Travis.

“Yes, I need only a one-way ticket,” Grandma announced loudly to the Alaska Airlines clerk at the kiosk. Jake watched with a mixture of horror and panic as his grandmother bought a ticket on the same flight as him. Please let her credit card be declined; please, please.

“Here you go!” The evil lady handed over a boarding pass and smiled at Grandma. Jake glared at the woman and then at his grandmother.

“No.” He shook his head when she approached him, all smiles. “You aren’t coming.” He crossed his arms and stood his ground.

“I am.” Grandma waved her ticket in front of his face and smiled. “Now, get my bags.”

“But—”

“Jakey?” Aileen strutted toward him. With a skirt shorter than what should be allowed in any public place, let alone an airport, she fluffed her hair and walked next to his side. Her bleached blond hair was held up by at least two cans of hairspray, and by the looks of her inability to walk in a straight line, she was still drunk from yesterday.

Grandma smiled brightly. “How lovely! It seems your whore has arrived.”

Jake groaned and covered his face with his hands. There was no way out of it. His grandmother was going to get him shot.

A&E women scorned, here I come.

“Excuse me?” Aileen put her hands on her hips and did a weird head nod at Grandma, and nearly teetered off her high heels. Oh, this wasn’t good. Not good at all.

Grandma reached out and patted Aileen’s arm. “Sweetheart, I’m the one with hearing aids, not you. I called you a whore. Would you like me to spell it for you, too?” She nudged Jake. “What did you do? Find her at a high school career fair?” And then in a horrifyingly loud voice she began spelling. “W-H-O-R-E.”

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