Status: Finished. Thanks for reading! :)

A Safe Bet


Two weeks. Fourteen days. Twenty thousand, one hundred and sixty hours; that’s how long it took for Harlow Peterson’s life to go back to how it had always been—invisible.

Senior year was coming to an end. Finals were getting closer and closer. Harlow’s face was either pressed into a book studying for a test she would already be getting an A on or shoved into her pillow, the wetness of her cheeks soaking the fabric.

She had been accepted to Harvard and her parents had already bought sweatshirts—ignoring the fact that she was also invited to Yale. She would be attending the summer session in Boston.

Elena would sleep in her room sometimes and hold her as she cried—but most nights she still went out with old friends. It seemed that her sister’s life had somewhat gone back to normal as well. She seemed kind of happy.

She hardly spoke to anyone including Aimee (although she had done nothing wrong), and she made sure to take alternate routes throughout the school hallways in order to ignore her once called ‘friends’.

If those were friends then she didn’t want any.

Especially any named John O’Callaghan.

He had tried to talk to her for the first week. He stalked her in the hallways, she had to shut off her phone in order to find any silence, and her dad had to eventually threaten the boy with the police for being outside their home at all hours of the night.

And, on the eighth day, John O’Callaghan had given up.

“You should come over tonight,” Aimee said sadly, leaning against the locker next to Harlow’s.

“Can’t, have to study,” she replied simply, not making eye contact. She shoved books in her bag before turning her eyes to the floor.

“You know I’m not the one who fucked you over right?” Her best friend spoke, obviously frustrated. “Stop treating me like it.”

Harlow watched the girl walk away, feeling guilty. Aimee was right—she was taking out her anger in the wrong places. Honestly though, she didn’t know what else to do. She had never felt so—so worthless before in her entire life.

Harlow’s eyes were torn from her best friend walking away as her shoulder jerked and her bag was thrown to the floor—her books following.

“Shit, I’m so--,” the familiar voice stopped as it followed to where she was crouching on the floor. “Hey, Harlow.”

She kept her eyes down as she collected her books, not acknowledging the boy next to her. She didn’t want to speak to him or any of them ever again.

“Are you just going to ignore me too then? I thought we were friends,” Jake spoke simply, crossing his arms as they stood up and she finally looked at him.

Her face was red hot. “You and I were never friends,” she seethed, shoving his shoulder and walking towards her car with tears pouring down her cheeks.

She felt a hand grip her wrist, making her stop in her tracks at the familiar warmth. “Harlow,” his raspy voice whispered. “Are you okay?”

She turned her eyes towards him, taking her hand and slapping him across the face. “Do not touch me,” she fumed, ignoring his watering green eyes and running down the hall and away from him.


Two weeks.

It had been two weeks since John had lost everything.

His grades were failing because he could only make it through half the day usually, he was tired from being up every night, his throat was dry from the lack of using his voice…he was a mess.

But it had also been two weeks since he was this close to her. He could smell fresh strawberries in her hair, and how soft her skin was in his hands. But her eyes were tired and his cheek was stinging…she was gone.

He frowned as he watched the girl rush down the hallway, running from him and the boy who had run into her—the boy he used to call his best friend.

John stalked over to Jake, grabbing his shoulder forcefully. “What the fuck did you say to her to make her cry like that?”

Jake laughed. “I made her cry like that? Nah man, that was all you.”

He growled under his breath and grabbed the boy by his shirt shoving him against the nearest locker. Everyone around them became quiet as eyes were on them, John staring into his eyes angrily. “I don’t want you to even look her way ever again. You hear me? Never.”

Jake shook his head and grinned, seething, “You can try and blame all of this on me to make yourself feel better, Johnohh, but this is still you’re fault. You are the one that fucked her.”

John threw his friend to side, hitting the locker where his face previously was. He put his finger in Jake’s face. “I didn’t fuck her, you fucking asshole,” he said angrily, pushing him. “This was your idea, not mine.”

“My idea that you were more than willing to take,” he replied simply, rolling his eyes. “I don’t know why you’re so upset really. You won the bet my friend, should we meet up later to get your guitar or are you going to be too busy crying over a girl, that let’s face it, was too good for you to begin with?”

John grabbed his friend by neck, shoving him to the ground and punching his jaw hard. The rest was a blur—his face was throbbing and his body was being pulled away from Jake’s. Girls in the hall were screeching and before he knew it he was being guided to his car by Jared, fighting him the whole way to go back and beat Jake’s ass.

“John!” Jared yelled, “Getting in the goddamn car before campus police comes and escorts you off.”

John kicked the side of his beat up truck, taking out his keys and getting in the car. He started driving, not knowing where he was going—he just needed to get away from here.

He drove for hours—the sun was down and he had sixteen missed calls from his mother whom he was sure had been alerted by the principal by now, but somehow he ended up at the park from his elementary school.

He was already in jeopardy of graduating because of his grades—the fight at the end of the year probably wasn’t his best idea, but he didn’t care. He had never been so angry in his entire life.

The way Jake talked about Harlow like she was just a piece of meat disgusted him. Harlow was more than any girl Jake would ever get; John was sure he’d never find another girl like her again.

Harlow Peterson started as a bet, but she had changed his life. His grades were better than ever, his songs had life, and he actually had goals for his future.

Without her none of them seemed possible.

“Not that I care, but are you okay?”

John looked at the girl who had just approached him. Her hair was pulled into a ponytail, and she was wearing a Slytherin t-shirt that he was sure he had stolen from her best friend because he had remembered taking it off of her at one point.

“Yeah,” John said simply, glancing at the girl again as she took a seat next to him on the swings. They were silent for a moment before he spoke again. “No.”

“I heard about the fight,” Aimee said simply. “I’m glad you hit him. I fucking hate Jake Whitney.”

John laughed softly, “Welcome to the club.”

Aimee sighed and sat next to him in silence, listening to the sounds of cars around them. “Why’d you do it, John?”

He frowned and looked at his feet. His Vans were ripped, much like the callouses on his fingers from how much guitar he had been playing. All of his songs were about her. “I didn’t mean to hurt her,” he whispered. “I—I never thought I was going to fall in love with her. She was supposed to be a bet.”

“Guys disgust me,” Aimee said sadly, grimacing. “How could you do that to anyone?”

He shrugged, tears welling in his eyes. “I’ve never known what it was like to love a girl…every girl has always been a game to me. But Harlow, she changed everything. She—she challenged me. I didn’t work to kiss her, or sleep with her. I worked to just spend time with her—to hear her voice, to feel her snore against me as she slept…she snores did you know that?”

She laughed gently, “She refuses to believe it too.”

John smiled sincerely for felt like the first time since prom night. “I didn’t love her because she’s perfect, Aimee. I loved her because she’s not.”

Aimee nodded her head, smiling glumly. “I was rooting for you, John,” she replied, standing up. “She’s leaving for the summer session of Harvard…if you want to fix things I’d try soon. I’m not saying it will work though. What you did was wrong.”

“I know,” he agreed, a tear pouring down his cheek.

Aimee started to walk away but turned around after a few feet, shoving her hands in her pockets. “I’ve never seen her so…happy, or alive than when she was with you. It was nice.”

John watched her walk away, her words hitting him.

Harlow needed him just as much as he needed her.
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Hai guys! Thanks so much for your comments and patience! It really mens a lot to us. Sorry about the wait, life has been crazy lately. I'm currently sitting in an airport flying back to college so forgive me if this is rushed.

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