The Bet

By: Rachel Van Dyken

Chapter Nine

Kacey hopped out of the truck and looked up at the giant house. It was exactly as she remembered. A colonial-style home set very neatly across a few acres overlooking the Columbia River. Nothing had really changed, other than the paint that seemed fresher than she remembered. A dark blue outlined the windows, and a pristine white shone off the bulk of the house. Attached was a seven-car garage, pool house, and a playhouse that was bigger than Kacey’s entire apartment.

“Ready?” Travis asked, coming up beside her.

Taking a deep breath, she looked at the house one more time before nodding. “Off to war we go.”

“Keep your gun in your pants,” Travis mumbled, setting Kacey to laughter just as the door swung open.

“As I live and breathe! Kacey! Oh sweet girl, you take my breath away!” Wescott Titus wrapped her in his giant arms and kissed her across the forehead. At a towering six feet-four inches, it was like getting wrapped in a hug rather than receiving one.

“Kacey? Is that Kacey?” A feminine voice shouted from behind Wescott.

“Hey, Mrs. Titus!” Kacey reached for a hug from the lady but was scolded.

“Now, you know I’ve told you to call me Bets!”

Bets was Jake’s mom’s nickname. When Kacey was young she’d had a hard time pronouncing Betsey for some reason, so she just called her Bets. But at the ripe old age of twenty-two, she wasn’t sure if that was still allowed.

With a warm smile, Kacey embraced Bets. “I’ve missed you.”

And she had. Desperately.

Bets’s warm hand enclosed Kacey’s. She led her to the couch and began chattering about Jake.

“We just knew you two would end up together one day! Didn’t I tell you, Wescott?” She giggled and reached for her iced tea, her long red fingernails clanging against the cool glass. “Now, honey, we know that you and Jake are trying to be private about things, but… well, we would love it if you got married here!”

Kacey felt panic tighten her chest. “We would love to!” She looked to Travis for help, but his eyes had taken on that darkened hue that said he’d murder anyone who breathed in his direction. “But, you see, the thing is… We aren’t sure we’re going to get married locally. We both work so hard, and we thought maybe of just going to Vegas or something.”

“Vegas?” both parents asked. They shook their heads in unison and laughed.

“Oh honey, I forgot about your sense of humor! Why the rush? Why get married in Vegas, that is unless…” Bets looked at Kacey, her eyes squinting. Oh God. Oh no, was she thinking…

“You’re pregnant!” she shouted, nearly dropping her tea to the floor! “Oh my heavens! Oh dear me. Oh, Grandma’s going to be so delighted!”

“I’m not—” Kacey argued.

“—She’s not telling anyone yet,” Travis interrupted with a devilish smirk. “You know, the media and all that.”

“Oh, oh, oh!” Bets scurried around the room until she finally stopped in front of a few shelves. “Oh honey, don’t you remember when you and Jake used to play house? And Travis…” Bets looked at Travis and pointed. “…Didn’t you play with them? Because they needed an extra person to stand in for the…”

“Dog.” Kacey smiled at Travis and stifled a giggle. “He was our dog when we played house.”

“Oh, how nice.” Bets winked at Travis and returned to digging out scrapbooks. “I’m sure I have some pictures we can use for the wedding.”

Kacey, still trying to gain control of her panic, swallowed before asking, “Why do we need pictures?”

“You know.” Bets waved her hand in the air. “For the video montage! You have to have a video montage! They’re all the rage. You know, baby pictures, prom pictures, that sort of thing. Guests love it!”

“But what about Vegas?” Kacey asked in a hopeful voice.

“Posh.” Bets shook her head vigorously. “We’ll pay for the entire thing. And you’ll get married here, at Titus Abbey.”

“Swell,” Kacey mumbled then glared in Travis’s direction. He was gone. She leaned across the sofa and noticed him in the kitchen opening a beer. Oh, nectar of the gods! Just when she needed something strong the most, and Jake’s family thought she was pregnant.

Oh God. She was going to have to be a closet drinker. She would have to sneak down to the kitchen just to snag some tequila to numb the guilt and pain. His parents were going to kill her, and they would hate her forever. Which meant she actually had to marry him and then turn a blind eye to his inability to keep his pecker in his pants. And then she’d start hoarding and buying cats in order to fill the void in her life.

The drinking would get worse. Jake would hate her, and in a final desperate attempt to regain her youth, she’d die on the table trying to get plastic surgery.

This. Could. Not. Happen!

“I, uh, I’m going to see what Travis is up to!” Kacey bolted from her chair and ran into the kitchen.

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