Status: Finished. Thanks for reading! :)

A Safe Bet

this is it

"Harlow Peterson!"

A loud cheer erupted from a section of the bleachers that she knew was her family and Harlow couldn't keep the grin off her face as she walked up to the principal and shook his hand. He smiled and said, "Congratulations," and she smiled back and said, "Thank you!"

Harlow couldn't believe she made it. Graduation. Her entire life was worked up to that point and now she was there, watching her fellow classmates walked across the stage and shake their principal's hand. Now she was ready for the real thing.

"Congratulations, Class of 2008!" Principal Rockwell announced. Harlow turned to her sister and they both threw their caps into the air, along with the rest of the senior class. She couldn't keep the smile off her face, despite everything she was feeling at the moment, and she and Elena squeezed the life out of the each other.

Harlow found Aimee and the two jumped up and down, feeling stupid and extremely happy at the same time.

Their families all found them and Harlow smiled for so many pictures that, at one point, she had to massage her face. She had never seen her family so happy, especially her mother. Mrs. Peterson cried when she held Harlow in her arms.

"I'm so proud of you, Harlow," she weeped.

Afterwards, Aimee had already told the Peterson family that she invited all of her and Harlow's friends (even though Harlow's only friend was Aimee) over to celebrate at their house. So they spent twenty minutes running around, putting up a large 'Congratulations!' sign on the banister and setting out drinks and snacks on the table.

Harlow went up to her bedroom when the first person rang the doorbell, since Aimee would find her there anyway. She opened up her laptop and on Facebook, she saw the many statuses regarding graduation and college. She smiled when saw all the ASU statuses and even few statuses regarding Ivy League, like Harvard (like herself).

Harvard University. She looked up at the pennant that her father taped up on her wall the minute she got her acceptance letter. Her parents were so excited. That was the first time she saw them so happy and proud of her; the second being graduation. Even Elena expressed how proud she was of her and all Harlow could think about was how she was going to spend the next four years of her life at Harvard University.

"Ayo, my gorgeous best friend!" Aimee barreled through the door and plopped down on her bed. Harlow closed her laptop and set it aside, grinning. They could hear the music blasting as more and more of Aimee's friends arrived.

"It's a real party down there," Aimee said. "Even your parents are dancing."

"Oh God," Harlow grimaced, even though her mind wandered elsewhere, wondering if he was there. She could imagine him being there. She tried seeing any news about him on Facebook, but he seemed to have dropped off the planet. Aimee laughed and threw her arm around her best friend.

"Harlow," she said in a low voice. "We did it. I know it's high school and who the fuck cares about this shit hole anyway, but we spent our entire lives leading up to this point, the point where we graduate–ah, see what I did?–into better versions of ourselves. We're going into college! I'm going to U of A and you're going to Harvard! This is amazing! Aren't you excited?"

Harlow nodded. "Yeah."

"Um, why don't you look happy right now?" Aimee looked unamused. "I spent the entire car ride over here practicing that speech. Right now, we were supposed to do a thirty second dance party."

Harlow chuckled. "I don't know why I'm unhappy. I mean, I'm happy that high school is over and that we're going to college, but something else is tugging at me."

Aimee sighed. "John."

Harlow exhaled and nodded.

"Harlow, he's high school. He's the part of your life that you leave behind."

"But I don't know how."

Harlow slumped down and rested her head against Aimee's shoulder. They could hear Flo Rida blasting downstairs and Harlow sat up and said, "We should go downstairs and get a drink or something. We can't be hermits in college, so might as well practice now."

Aimee laughed and said, "Good thinking."

All of Elena's friends were dancing away and eating Chex Mix and drinking punch and they all said hello to the two girls that they barely knew. Elena was talking to Jacob Whitney and Harlow rolled her eyes at him (though he didn't even see her) and went into the kitchen.

As if it happened in slow motion in her eyes, John O'Callaghan turned around with a cup of punch in his hands. He had a small smile on his face and he was wearing a dress shirt, loosened tie, and slacks. Harlow stopped immediately and she felt Aimee bump into her.

"Uh, Harlow?" Aimee asked, confused.

John's smile widened and he stepped closer to them.

"Hi, Peterson," he said.

Harlow stared at him. "Hi," she whispered.

Aimee stepped aside and when she saw John, she said, "Oh, I guess I should, um, go." She smiled at them, making eye contact with John, sharing a mutual understanding, and she left, leaving the two of them alone in the kitchen.

"I, uh, wanted to see how you were," John said, leaning against the wall.

Harlow nodded her head, feeling oddly alone now that Aimee had left. "I'm fine."

"Harlow, I just," John sighed, cutting himself off. He looked at her and said, "I'm sorry."

She shrugged her shoulders, looking down at her feet. She looked back up at John and his green eyes, she said, "The past is the past, right?"

John nodded. "Yeah, of course."

"We're moving on. We're going to college. We're going to live our lives like we should and forget about all the stupid stuff that made us so damn sad in high school and we're gonna look to the future and find the stuff that should actually make us so damn sad. Right?" Harlow looked at him.

Their eyes locked and John slowly nodded his head. "Or we could fix the mistakes that made us so damn sad in the past to make way for the future."

Harlow closed her eyes and shook her head. "I'm not ready."

"We're not on a time limit."

Harlow let out a laugh. "John, I'm going to Harvard for the next four years. I don't even know if I want to come back to this stupid and rather ugly state. I'm moving on."

John nodded. "You should do whatever makes you happy, Harlow. And if, for me, it means that I'll wait that long, then I will."

Harlow fell silent. She clenched her jaw shut and looked away from him, fascinating herself with the party goers. She could still feel John's eyes on hers and she immediately wanted to evaporate right then and there.

"I didn't know you wanted to go to Harvard so badly?" John said, suddenly. "What happened with Yale?"

Harlow furrowed her eyebrows. "Nothing happened with Yale. I'm going to Harvard."

"I thought you wanted to go to Yale. You told me your aspirations were with Yale."

"Yeah, but Harvard might be better for me."

"But you wanted Yale."

"I know I wanted Yale!" Harlow exclaimed, angrily. "I know, John. Yale might be perfect for me. Connecticut might be perfect for me. Everything about that amazing school and place and life might be perfect for me, but I chose Harvard! Harvard could do me better than Yale. It's the best Ivy League school in the country. Why would I turn that down? Why would I do that?" Harlow threw her hands up.

"Because you want Yale," John said, quietly.

Harlow didn't speak. She couldn't. The words were jumbled in her brain and she didn't know what to say. Whether it was 'I love you' or 'I want to go to Yale', she couldn't let herself succumb to that.

John gave her a small, and yet sad, smile and said, "If I had a perfect image of your life, Harlow, it would be here and with me. However, you deserve everything you could ever ask for and if you want Yale, you should go to Yale. Your parents shouldn't have anything to do with this decision."

Tears threatened to spill over and Harlow nodded her head. It was what she wanted. John knew that better than anyone and there he was, supporting her like her family should have. He was being the good guy.

"John?" Harlow asked.

"Yeah, Har?"

She looked up at him.

"I'm going to Yale."
♠ ♠ ♠
One more chapter! This is my goodbye to you all, though. Thank you so much for sticking around and reading this story in the entire year and a half we've been writing it. I honestly have to say that as much as we both wanted this story to be over (because of how long it took, not because we hate it haha), it was fun to write and it'll be like one of my babies (I was fifteen when we started this :O). Ketely has been an awesome coauthor this entire time and our readers are some of the best readers on this site! Thank you for everything!
Love, Raveena :)