Kyle took a walk through the park by the school to clear his mind. He had lost, just as Jordan had warned him he would. He had tried everything to break them up and nothing had worked. Today was the last day of their bet. It was over.
It was his own damn fault for messing with Kirsten to begin with. He supposed on some level, he had done it because he was in love with her and he was trying to get closer to her. But it was becoming painfully obvious that Kirsten had no sexual interest in him. The best he could hope for was her friendship and he was probably walking a fine line at that.
Kyle spotted Olive Cheung, an attractive junior he had flirted with a little bit last year. All of a sudden, Kyle realized he hadn’t gotten laid once since school had started. He hadn’t even come close. Maybe it was time to stop thinking about Kirsten and find himself someone he had a chance with.
“Hey, Olive,” Kyle said to her. “Long time no see. How was your summer?”
Olive’s round face broke into a smile when she saw him. Kyle knew he was a good looking guy and most girls responded to him. Except for Kirsten, of course. “I went to Hawaii,” Olive told him. “Shared a house out there and got a job serving drinks. It was the greatest. How have you been, Kyle?”
Kyle shrugged. “Can’t complain.”
“Ooh, guess what?” Olive said. “My roommies and I ran into your ex last night at that new club.”
“My ex?” Kyle had never dated a girl long enough for that kind of label to stick.
“You know, Kirsten Grant.” Olive winked at him. Kirsten was the most popular girl in school so her love life was pretty much an open book. But Kyle didn’t want people thinking that they had ever had a real relationship.
“She’s not my ex. We just went out a couple of times.”
“Well, in any case,” Olive went on, “she was out with that prince guy... you know who I mean?”
“Right,” Olive smiled. “Anyway, those two were pretty serious. They were making out all night, and she showed me this diamond necklace he gave her...”
Kyle frowned. Kirsten and the prince were serious? When did that happen?
“That reminds me,” Olive said, “aren’t you roommates with Kirsten’s cousin Jordan?”
“Yeah...” Kyle was confused. Hadn’t Kirsten ditched the prince for Jordan? Prince Edward had said Kirsten hadn’t shown a drop of interest in him the other night.
“We were talking a little bit the other day... he seems really nice...”
“He’s pretty nice.” So were Prince Edward and Kirsten a couple or not? Kyle wanted to ask, but he was afraid of sounding too interested.
“Does he need that wheelchair all the time? What’s wrong with him?”
“He’s a paraplegic. He can’t move his legs.” This whole thing with Prince Edward didn’t make any sense. Unless, of course, Kirsten told Edward to lie to Kyle about how their date went so that she could continue to deceive Jordan into believing she was faithful to him...
“That poor guy,” Olive sighed. “It must be so hard for him.”
“You have no idea,” Kyle said. He cursed under his breath. Kirsten had lied. Prince Edward had lied. They were a couple, but Jordan wasn’t meant to find out until after Kirsten had won her bet.
He had to tell Jordan the truth. The bet didn’t even matter anymore, but he couldn’t let Kirsten win.
Kyle banged his fist on Kirsten’s door until he heard the sound of footsteps coming to answer it. He was relieved when he saw Kirsten’s face at the door, her hair mussed and her lipstick smeared. “What do you want, Kyle?” she snapped.
“You were lying before,” Kyle said, releasing a breath. “All that bullshit you said to Jordan, about wanting to be with him... that was all lies, wasn’t it?”
“That’s none of your business,” Kirsten replied coolly.
“I think it is my business if you don’t want me to tell Jordan about how you were making out with Prince Edward last night,” Kyle said.
Kirsten’s eyes darkened. “You’d really hurt him like that just to win a stupid little bet?”
“It’s not about the bet anymore,” Kyle said. “You’re the one who’s keeping up this charade so you can win. You should tell Jordan the truth. You’re just going to hurt him more this way.”
“Don’t you tell me what to do,” Kirsten hissed.
Kyle heard the sound of Jordan’s wheels on the floor. He rolled up to them and looked up at Kyle, annoyed, “What’s going on here? Are we having a little meeting?”
“Jordan, we need to talk,” Kyle said, putting his hand on his roommate’s shoulder. He stared at Kirsten, challenging her.
“Fine, let’s talk,” Kirsten said with a shrug. The look in her eyes said that she was confident Kyle wouldn’t convince Jordan of anything.
Kyle wasn’t so confident himself. Jordan loved Kirsten so blindly... there was nothing Kyle could say to convince him that his cousin was evil. He knew he’d have to try some sort of shock tactic, but he didn’t know what.
Kyle and Kirsten sat down on the couch and Jordan pulled his wheelchair up alongside them. Kirsten looked at Kyle intently, “So what would you like to talk about, Kyle dear?”
Kyle turned his attention to Jordan. “I think you’re better off hearing it from me,” Kyle said, “I just found out Kirsten was making out with Prince Edward last night.”
Jordan stared at Kirsten, who hung her head guiltily. “I’m sorry, Jordan,” she said softly. “I confess Edward and I kissed a little. I was just so broken up over what happened between us... he got the better of me.” She pursed her lips. “Do you forgive me?”
Jordan hesitated for only a second, then he took her hand. “Of course I forgive you.”
Goddamn it. “Don’t you care?” Kyle challenged him. “She’s only interested in the prince. She’s just wants to stay with you to win the bet.”
Jordan glared at Kyle. “What the hell do you know, Kyle?”
“I know something you don’t,” Kyle said.
“I know that... well...” Kyle bit his lip. “Kirsten told me that she was the one... responsible for your accident ten years ago. She rigged it so that you’d fall out of the tree.”
Naturally, it was a lie.
Kyle hadn’t even been thinking—the words just popped out of his mouth. He wasn’t sure what had possessed him to say such a thing—it was simply the worst thing he could think of. Falling out of that tree had wrecked Jordan’s life, as he saw it. If he thought that Kirsten was somehow responsible for it, that might break the spell. But of course, it was ridiculous to think that Kirsten would do such a thing.
But to his surprise, he saw the blood drain out of Kirsten’s face. Jordan noticed her reaction and his eyes widened. “Kirsten,” he breathed. “What’s he talking about? Is it true?”
This was the first time Kyle had ever known Kirsten to be speechless. She sat on the couch, little pink spots forming on her cheeks, unable to say a word in her own defense.
“Is it true?” Jordan asked again, a little sharper this time.
Kirsten stared down at her hands in her lap. She was silent a long time before she finally spoke. “You don’t know what it was like when we were kids, Jordan,” she said. “Everyone loved you. You were going to inherit the whole company. You were the only thing that mattered and I was just dirt. Because I’m a good for nothing girl. You think my dad ever took me to work with him?”
“So you crippled me?” Jordan nearly screamed.
Kirsten didn’t say anything.
“You fucking bitch!” Jordan cried, slamming on the armrest of his chair. “I’m in this fucking... chair the rest of my life. I’m fucking paralyzed! I’ll never move my legs or my...” He shook his head. “How could you? How could you do it?”
“I didn’t mean for you to get hurt,” Kirsten said softly.
“I fell out of a tree... what did you think would happen?”
“I thought you’d die.”
Jordan stared at her, his face bright red. “I can’t believe I’m hearing this...”
“Jordan...” Kirsten reached out to touch his knee, but he spun his wheels to back away from her. “Jordan, I was just a stupid kid. I had no idea what I was doing...”
“I’m stuck in a wheelchair until the day I die because of you,” Jordan said, his voice breaking. He stared down at his paralyzed legs. “I never want to look at you again, Kirsten.”
Jordan fumbled with the wheels of his chair and rolled toward the door. He had some difficulty getting it open and in his haste, he suddenly slipped out of his chair and fell to the floor, his legs twisting under him. Kyle jumped up to help him. “Here you go, buddy,” Kyle said, holding his hand out to Jordan, who was struggling to get back into his chair.
“I can do it myself,” Jordan said through his teeth. He glared into Kyle’s eyes. “At least let me have that.”
Jordan straightened out his legs, then pulled himself up into his chair. All the while, Kirsten stayed silent on the couch, looking off into the distance. Jordan wheeled himself through the door and slammed it behind him.
Kirsten looked up at Kyle, “Are you satisfied now?”
“Yeah, I’m thrilled.”
Kirsten stood up, walked across the room, and slapped Kyle across the face. He winced and touched his cheek. “That really hurt,” he whined.
“You’re a worse person than I am,” Kirsten said. “I hope you’re not deluding yourself into thinking you’re some kind of hero.”
“I’m not a hero,” Kyle said. “But nobody is a worse person than you are, Kirsten.”
She tried to slap him again, but he caught her hand in mid-air. “Remember the original terms of our bet?” he asked her. “I get to sleep with you.”
“You lost that bet,” Kirsten reminded him. “The bet about me and Jordan just gets you back your car. You don’t get me, and you never will.”
“I beg to differ,” Kyle said, drawing closer to her. “On the contrary, I think you want me.”
“I want you? That’s a laugh.”
Kyle smiled. “I’m the only person who’s ever beaten you. I think that’s a feat worthy of respect.”
Kirsten glared at him for a second, then her eyes slowly softened. “I never considered it that way,” Kirsten said thoughtfully, running her hand gently down his chest. “Perhaps I’ve underestimated you...”
Three hours later, Kyle was lying in bed naked next to Kirsten Grant, still out of breath and in disbelief from the events that had just taken place. Sex with Kirsten was a wild ride, to say the least. He felt more bruised now than he had after a day of snowboarding. Kyle didn’t smoke, but somehow he very badly wanted a cigarette right now.
“That was... amazing,” Kyle said to Kirsten. “No wonder Jordan didn’t want to give you up.”
“That was nothing,” Kirsten said with a shrug. “A mere overture.”
“So do I get to see the main act?” Kyle asked. If that was an overture, Kyle was a little afraid to see the main act. Yet he was intrigued. He wondered if it would be possible to tempt Kirsten away from the prince.
“You couldn’t handle the main act,” Kirsten said.
“If Jordan could handle it, then I definitely could.”
“Don’t even compare yourself to him.”
Kyle felt slightly hurt by her words, but he supposed that the two cousins knew each other better than anybody. Except, of course, for that one thing: Kirsten’s secret. “I hope he’s okay...”
“I think that’s highly unlikely,” Kirsten decided.
“What do you mean?”
Kirsten smiled and nuzzled against Kyle’s shoulder. “Well, he went back to his room three hours ago with a full bottle of percocet... use your imagination.”
Kyle swallowed. “You don’t think he’d... try to kill himself...?”
“Well, he did two years ago.”
Kyle stared at her. “What?”
“Oh, you didn’t know?” Kirsten smiled. “When I told him I was going away to college two years ago, he took everything in the medicine cabinet. His dad found him passed out on the floor. Unfortunately, they got him to the hospital before there was any permanent damage.”
Kyle felt very dizzy all of a sudden. He remembered Jordan’s words: You can never win with Kirsten. She’ll always win. Even when you think you’ve won, she’s really gotten the better of you. Somehow Kyle had done exactly what Kirsten had wanted him to do.
“I have to thank you, Kyle,” Kirsten said. “That story about me causing his accident, that was a stroke of genius. I didn’t, by the way. I was only eight when he got hurt—god, I’m not that diabolical. Jordan’s accident... that was fate. He should have died that day. He would have been better off.”
“He’s your cousin, for god’s sake!” Kyle cried. “He’s your own blood!”
“The thing is, I’m not sharing my inheritance with anyone,” Kirsten explained calmly. “Jordan wants to die. He’s miserable. He hates being in a wheelchair. I’m just providing him with a little extra incentive to end it all.”
Kyle struggled to get out of bed. He reached for the pile of clothes on the floor and pulled out his pants. “I can’t let this happen,” he said. “I’m going to go talk to Jordan.”
Kirsten reached out and grabbed the pants right out of his hands. “You’re too late,” she said. “He’s probably already taken the pills. If this is what Jordan wants, why don’t you just leave him alone? Besides, I could make it worth your while...”
Kyle shook his head and took his pants back from her. “I’m not for sale, Kirsten.”
To be continued...