Status: Finished. Thanks for reading! :)

A Safe Bet


“Ew, take that off, that’s disgusting.”

Harlow laughed softly, shaking her head, “Okay then, I’ll take that as a no.”

Aimee looked at her with a face of repulsion, “Trust me, I’m saving you. That dress made your perfect little body look like Karen Gressling’s…before she was anorexic.”

“Jesus Aims, someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed,” she replied, looking at her best friend with a chuckle.

Her best friend smiled so big her eyes were closing, “I’m just here to help. Now, try the white one.”

Harlow stepped back into the dressing room of the prom dress boutique they were in closing her eyes and groaning. She had tried on at least twenty dresses by this point and she had only liked maybe two or three. She was getting tired and grumpy, and she was seriously contemplating telling John that she didn’t want to go and to find someone else.

She seriously considered it.

Harlow pulled the white dress over her hips, stepping out of the room and having Aimee zip up the back. Her best friend gasped as she turned around, twirling in front of her.

“Is that a good gasp or a bad gasp? Do I need to take it off right here?” Harlow laughed, ready for Aimee’s harsh words of the new dress.

Aimee fervently shook her head no, turning her around to look in the mirror. “Har, this dress is gorgeous.”

And for the first time that day, Harlow agreed. The dress was simple—not like those gaudy ones that Aimee had picked out earlier that just weren’t her type at all. It was a plain white dress with silver decoration that wrapped across her shoulder like a vine climbing up a wall. The tight bust made her chest looked perfectly toned and from there the dress flowed out, lying softly on her hips and down her thighs.

“God, it’s perfect,” Harlow sighed looking at her reflection.

Aimee smirked and wiggled her eyebrows, “John won’t be able to keep his hands off of you.”

“Shut up,” she mumbled, rolling her eyes.

“Johnohhh, sorry I forgot,” her friend laughed.

Harlow’s cheeks reddened and she punched Aimee softly. “I’m going to go change, then let’s go eat, I want some grub.”

Harlow purchased the dress with the silver credit card her mom had loaned her. She and Aimee made their way to the food court collapsing into the chairs with food and smoothies in front of them.

“So, guess who’s also going to prom?” Aimee said, taking her straw in her mouth with a proud smile.

“Ah!” Harlow exclaimed, throwing a fry at her friend, “Why am I just find this out?”

“Oh don’t get your panties in a wad it just happened last night,” her best friend laughed. “Anyways, you know Tyler?”

“Hansen?” She giggled, a giddy grin on her lips. She straightened up in her seat and rested her head in her hands. “How did it happen? Tell me! Tell me! Tell me!”

“Patience, young padawan,” Aimee smirked, shoving a fry into her mouth. “So, as you know Tyler and I have Art together and we had to draw a person that inspires us—so naturally, I drew a picture of Neville Longbottom, because I mean, why not? He’s a beast. Anyways, he drew a picture of Dumbledore! It was love right there, I swear.

“But yeah, so after that we started talking about Harry Potter and then we just started talking about everything…and we have lunch together and we started sitting with one another, then, the other night, Wednesday I think, I heard a tapping on my window. So I opened it and all I found was an envelope taped to it. The envelope was empty. The same thing happened Thursday night, and then last night, I walked into my room and there were envelopes everywhere along with pictures of owls and on the center of the bed there was a stuffed owl that looked just like Hedwig with an envelope in his fake little beak.

“It was addressed from Hogwarts, from Professor Hansen,” Aimee continued, laughing and shaking her head. “And then Tyler came out with a fake wand with a rose wrapped around it asking if I’d be his date to prom.”

Harlow covered her mouth, a mixture of laughter and ‘awes’ coming from her lips. “That is so perfect for you!” She giggled. “I love him already!”

Aimee sighed dreamily, “He’s so cute; just how I like them. He’s tall, dark, and handsome.”

“So are you going with his friends to prom then?” She asked, taking a drink of her smoothie.

Her friend nodded before letting out a breath, “I’m sad we’re not going to our senior prom together, you know? I’m going with Tyler and the art kids and you’re going with the party crowd.”

Harlow chuckled, “Isn’t that ironic? I may have drank like once ever, and yet I’m hanging out with those kids all the time.”

Those kids are your friends now,” Aimee replied. “Like, one year ago when we were sitting in my room watching reruns of old Friends episodes, getting you out of the house because Elena was always with those kids, and now you’re part of their little clan, and Elena well, not so much.”

“I don’t know…I’m kind of nervous for prom, you know? I’ve hung out with them at school and stuff and outside of it on occasion. But at parties John and I kind of do our own thing because we’re the only sober ones, and at school—well everyone is different outside of school,” Harlow sighed. “I just feel like there are so many expectations on prom night. What if I don’t meet John’s standards? What if he wants me to drink? What if he wants to…well you know.”

Aimee chuckled, “Sex, Harlow. It’s not a taboo topic. It’s just sex. And so what if he does? You don’t have to and you know that. I don’t think John is one of those guys that will make you. He seems to like you a lot. I don’t think he’d pressure you. I mean, how far have you two even gone so far?”

Harlow felt her cheeks redden, “Not too far…the normal amount of far. I mean, he’s not even my boyfriend. How far should I even let him get?”

“You’re going to dinner at his house tonight right? With his family?” Her best friend smirked.

“Yes, so?”

“You’re almost the girlfriend, Har. Hell, you basically are the girlfriend. John doesn’t even glance at other girls in the hallway anymore. I heard Cassie Simmons complaining that he doesn’t text her back anymore…he wants you, Harlow,” Aimee smiled. “So, back to the point, how far have you gone? Have you let him touch your boobies yet?”

“Oh my God, Aimee! Stop it,” Harlow frowned, covering her face with her hands. John had most definitely not touched her ‘boobies’ yet. Physical stuff was new to her, and she had to make sure she trusted him completely before she was ready to start letting her have pieces of her that no one else would. But that was that thing, she did trust John. She trusted him a lot, and she could knowingly say that was falling for him. But, when would she know she was ready to start taking those steps?

Aimee spoke, as if reading her mind, “You’ll know when it’s the time, Har, trust me. You’ll just, not care that his hands are traveling up your body—in fact, you’re going to like it a lot,” she laughed.

“I just, I’ve never been that physically intimate before,” she said softly. “What if he doesn’t think I’m beautiful?”

“Would you shut the hell up?” Aimee laughed. “You just ate an entire large fry and you look like you need to eat four more. You’re skinny, smart, tan, blonde…you’re like the girl everyone pictures when you think ‘perfect girl’. In fact, I kind of hate you. You’re too perfect.”

Harlow chuckled, rolling her eyes, “Shut up, you’re so gorgeous, Aimee. I wish I could be more like you. You know how to talk to people, and everyone just likes you.”

Aimee smiled, “Well thanks. But you want to know the only difference between you and I, Harlow? I mean besides your ridiculous smartness.”

She chuckled, “What’s that Aimee?”

“Confidence,” she replied simply. “You need to be more confident. Once you are—just trust me. You’ll see why everyone loves you. I promise.”

“How do you even be confident?” Harlow mumbled, sighing.

“Say this after me: I am beautiful.”

“I am beautiful.”

“I am smart,” Aimee continued.

“I am smart.”

“I am funny.”

Harlow chuckled, “I am funny.”

“I’m a good person and any guy would be lucky to be with me,” Aimee said sternly.

“I’m a good person and any guy would be lucky to be with me.”

“Especially John O’Callaghan.”

Harlow felt her lips pull into a small smile even at the sound of his name, “Especially John O’Callaghan.”

Aimee smiled triumphantly, “Now, believe it.”


John laughed with his family at the joke the girl next to him had just made. His jaw hurt from the permanent smile that was on his lips for the entire night that Harlow had been there, in fact, he couldn’t remember smiling this much ever. He gave her a comforting smile, moving his hand to where it rested on her knee, giving her leg a small squeeze.

Harlow’s nerves seemed to relax as he rubbed circles on her leg beneath the dinner table and she talked more calmly. He honestly didn’t even know what she was talking about—whether it was with Shane about baseball or his dad about the upcoming election, all he knew was that his family was infatuated with the girl.

His mom had already met her, but she was shooting reassuring glances from across the table and whenever Harlow would engage in a conversation about something political with his father he would receive approving looks from him as well. Shane was upset that she had to talk to other people, and the fact that she could even keep Ross’s attention was saying enough.

“Well, Harlow, I must say thank you,” John the fourth said with a chuckle, “My son is doing much better in school because of you. I came over here the other day to find John studying—and I promise you that in eighteen years I have never seen that sight before.”

John felt his cheeks redden and he just rolled his eyes, blushing even more at Harlow’s proud smile that was aimed for him. She shrugged, turning to his father, “It’s really all John. He just needed a kick in the butt to jump start him…but he did it all from there.”

“Mom, I think I need a tutor,” Ross began with an innocent smile. “But, I have some restrictions: she needs to be hot.”

“Ross!” Jenny O’Callaghan laughed, shushing her son. “Ladies are called beautiful, not hot.”

“Okay fine, whatever,” he said with a laugh, “But seriously, John got the ‘beautiful’ tutor? How is that even fair? He’s a demon child.”

“I happen to be an angel, thank you very much,” John said matter-of-factly. “And when it comes to Harlow, let’s uh, let’s just say I got very lucky.”

He watched as Harlow’s cheeks blushed and she looked down at the peas on her plate that he noticed she begrudgingly ate, just to be polite he was sure.

“So Harlow, where are you applying for college?” John Senior asked, a smile on his lips. He obviously already adored the girl.

“I applied for Harvard a few days ago,” she responded simply, like it was no big deal. “And, I applied for Yale as well.”

“Wow, that’s awesome, best of luck to you. We always just told John as long as he went to college we’d be proud, most kids these days don’t even aim that high,” Jenny replied. “What do you want to do for a living?”

John watched her scratch the back of her neck and she shrugged her shoulders, “I don’t really know yet. I have a lot of options—I’m just trying to find the right one.”

“That’s a lot of money to spend to go undeclared though,” Jenny replied worriedly. “Are you going to get away or just for the opportunity?”

“Both I suppose,” Harlow replied. “Change is always good, you know? And if I can get in to one of the best schools why not capsize on that?”

John’s father nodded his head, and John could sense that his dad was picking up on the feeling that the Ivy League route may not have been her choice, “Well, best of wishes to you, Harlow,” he said with an honest smile. “I’m going to have to excuse myself for the evening, I have some last minute paperwork to finish up. It was a pleasure meeting you dear, and thank you for what you have done in my son,” he replied with a small smirk in John’s direction.

John rolled his eyes, chuckling softly at his father’s comment. His mother gathered Ross and Shane to clean the table and do dishes, leaving John and Harlow. John laced his fingers with hers and led her upstairs to his bedroom door, closing and locking it behind them.

He smiled and grabbed her hips, placing his forehead against hers. “They love, love, love you,” he grinned, giving her temple a kiss.

Harlow’s smile widened, her blue eyes shining with excitement, “Really? How do you know? Are they not this nice to other girls?”

John pulled her back to lie on his bed, wrapping his arms around her, “They kept giving me this look as if to say they approved. My mom probably wants to adopt you by now and my dad was thoroughly impressed by your knowledge. Shane adores you and Ross thinks you’re hot. I’d say they approve,” he grinned. “And, I’ve never brought a girl home before. You’re the first.”

“Well,” Harlow giggled softly, “I feel extremely special.”

John’s smile widened as she cuddled further into his chest, “Well you should, baby girl.”

She sighed, “You’re family is so awesome, John. You’re so lucky. The fact that they just want you to be happy—and you choose how, that’s amazing.”

He placed his hands on her waist, pulling her to lay flat on his chest. “Do you remember that day we got in a huge fight after school and you said ‘the f word’?” He asked with a chuckle.

Harlow’s lips twitched upwards, “Yes, why?”

“You were talking about Harvard—and I asked where you wanted to go…Harvard or Yale, and you never answered me,” he began, running his hand on her back comfortingly. “Where do you want to go, Har? Not your parents…or a teacher, what do you want?”

Harlow took a deep breath and her deep blue eyes were boring into his intently, “Yale has been my dream since I was a little girl.”

He nodded his head, opening his mouth to speak, then closing it shortly after. He wanted her to be happy more than anything, and if that meant making someone mad then oh well, she of all people deserved to be happy. “Fuck your parents, Harlow. If you want to go to Yale, go to Yale,” he spoke softly, carefully. “Do what makes you happy.”

“It’s not that simple John,” she whispered. “You don’t understand…”

“Let me,” he said in a voice that was almost pleading. “Let me in, Harlow.”

“I just…I’ve lived my entire life in a shadow, you know? And it’s hard when that shadow is the exact image of you. Elena is me, but so much better. She’s funnier, prettier somehow, more athletic…being smarter was the only thing I ever had that she didn’t. Grades were the reason my parents noticed me, and if it keeps them around—then I have to be successful. It’s the only thing I have,” Harlow said, her voice breaking.

“Look at me Peterson,” John whispered, rolling her over to where he body was directly below him. He balanced his weight on his arms, hovering over her. “You are so beautiful, and you’re so witty. I seriously laugh at night when I think of the little quips you make at me during the day. You are amazing at everything you try—you are so much more than that ‘smart’ girl, Harlow. Honestly, you-you,” he took a deep breath. “You’re changing my life. You’re making me the man I’ve always needed to be.”

She bit her lip, “John—

“I’m falling for you, Harlow Peterson. I’m falling so fucking hard,” he whispered, a smile ghosting his lips.

His heart fluttered as she smiled, and he wasn’t used to the uneasy feeling in his stomach. She was making him so nervous. He had never fallen for a girl before—and here he was, head over heels.

“I’m falling for you too, John,” Harlow whispered, her cheeks tinting a crimson red.

John leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers, kissing her so gently—softness he didn’t know he had. He smiled as her fingers laced into his hair pulling him closer. His hands stayed at her neck, not wanting to push her farther than he was positive she was ready for.

What started simple and sweet turned more heated in a matter of minutes, their tongues meeting and their breathing ragged. His body was burning as her hands traveled over him, something she had never done before. She let her hands touch his butt, but mostly they clung to his back, pulling him closer as his lips pushed onto her neck.

Slowly, John let his hands fall to her hips, playing with the bare skin exposed from where her blouse was riding up. Nervously, he let his hand slip up under the material, wrapping around her waist and rubbing the smooth, bare skin of her back.

John inhaled as Harlow bit into a sensitive spot on his neck and sucked softly, enough to make his eyes squeeze shut and his hands travel to the sides of her torso, his thumbs touching the swell of her breasts. He noticed her lips slow their pace and she looked into his eyes, as he gazed into hers.

She bit her swollen lip slowly, nodding her head as if to say his position was okay; she was giving him permission. John felt his breath quicken as he slid his hand onto her stomach, letting his palm make its way up to where it was cupping her chest.

She closed her eyes and John just smiled, pressing his lips to hers again, kissing her sweet as she moaned into his mouth. They fooled around for a while longer, his hands and lips never traveling any farther than they were at already as to not disrespect her boundaries. With one last kiss to her swollen lips he pulled Harlow into his arms, holding her tight against him.

“Thank you, Harlow,” he whispered, thinking of the position they had just been in a few short seconds ago—the part of him she was letting him see that he was sure she had never let anyone else see before.

“For what?” She said back, just as softly, her cheeks in a permanent blush.

John kissed her lips gently, before staring into her eyes, “For believing in me.”
♠ ♠ ♠
I can't thank you guys all enough for all of the feedback on this story. Raveena and I appreciate it more than you know, I assure you. Sorry the updates have been somewhat slow we're both in school and I'm also in the midst of a very intense volleyball season, but your feedback is keeping us motivated so thank you! <3

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