The Opportunist
Author:Tarryn Fisher

I spent a little more time in front of the mirror in the mornings applying mascara and curling my hair. Since all eyes were on me, I might as well try to be a good-looking piece of ass.

 

I was too pretty to be plain and my features were too round to be exotic. Men avoided me. Cammie told me once that I had a kind of fierceness in my eyes that scared people away. Yet, Caleb Drake had not been scared. He missed the hoop on purpose. He played my game and I lost.

 

“Olivia there’s a uuuh…delivery for you,” Cammie called through the bathroom door one evening.

 

A box was sitting on my neatly made bed when I emerged. I quickly removed it and dusted the spot where it had been. Cammie rolled her eyes and collapsed onto her own bed, which hadn’t been made in a week.

 

“Open the thing won’t you? It was hand delivered by that creepy guy from the campus post office. He even tried to smell my hair when I took it from him.”

 

“He has sinus problems,” I said grabbing the scissors, “don’t flatter yourself.” The box opened, and I stared into it not quite sure of what I was seeing.

 

“It’s a deflated basketball,” I said holding it up to show Cammie. There was an envelope attached to it. Cammie sat up her eyes suddenly alert.

 

“No genius, that’s the deflated basketball!”

 

I swallowed hard as I read the note:

 

Olivia,

 

Time to pay up. Meet me in the library in ten minutes.

 

-Caleb

 

“Unbelievable!” I said holding the ball in my hand. “Not even a please! He pretty much commanded me to be there!”

 

“You’re going.” Cammie stood up, hands on her hips.

 

I sucked in the corners of my mouth and shook my head-‘no’.

 

“OLIVIA! You ruined the most important game of the season for him! You owe him.”

 

I sort of did.

 

“Fine. FINE!!” I shouted, meeting her tone. I grabbed a hoodie from my closet and violently pulled it over my head. “But this is it, okay?” I said, stabbing my finger at her. “I’m meeting him in the library, and then I don’t want to hear another word about it from you or him or that damn cheerleading squad!”

 

Cammie beamed. “Make sure you remember every detail and try to mention my name.”

 

I slammed the door on my way out.

 

At nine thirty on Friday night, the Dart Library was practically a ghost town. A crusty-faced woman was standing behind the checkout counter glaring at two freshmen who were making out. I passed a picture of Laura Helberman on the wall with information to contact authorities if she was seen. She was pretty in a Daisy Duke kind of way. Blonde hair, lots of mascara, and puckered lips that looked like they had just sucked on a lollipop. She had been missing for sixteen days and her story was being covered by Nancy Grace—my hero.

 

I sighed. I was early. I decided to take a stroll to the fiction section to see if there was anything worth checking out.

 

Caleb found me there a few minutes later.

 

“Hello, Olivia,” he strolled up to me with such ridiculous confidence that I wanted to stick my foot out and trip him.

 

“Caleb,” I nodded at him curtly.

 

He was wearing a black pea coat over an expensive looking cream sweater. My heart did a little gallop. I disciplined my heart, calmed it down and turned to face him. His hands were tucked causally into the pockets of his corduroys. Very GQ. I had expected him to show up in one of those silly basketball jackets and a dingy pair of jeans.

 

“Why are you so dressed up?” I snapped, adding a novel to the growing pile of books on the table.

 

“How do you find time to read?” he asked, picking up the book and examining the cover. I wasn’t going to tell him that I didn’t have a life and that I read my weekends away. I sent him a scalding look and hoped that he would drop the subject. The stupid jock had probably never read a book cover to cover. I was about to tell him so when he walked down the aisle next to me and came back carrying a chunky novel in his hand.

 

“Try this. It’s my favorite book.”

 

I looked at him warily before plucking it from his fingers.

 

Great Expectations. I had never read it.

 

“You’re kidding?”

 

He grinned.

 

“Do you think that because I play basketball, I’m illiterate?”

 

I sniffed. That is exactly what I thought.

 

“Why did you ask me to come here?”

 

“I thought that you might be more comfortable meeting me here.” He perched himself on the edge of a table. “Did you think that I wouldn’t want to collect on our bet?”

 

I was noticing an accent for the first time. British, I thought but I couldn’t be sure. Whatever it was, it had the same effect on me as vodka.

 

“I asked you to miss the shot. I didn’t say I would go out with you if you did.”

 

“Really? I don’t quite remember it that way.” He narrowed his eyes and cocked his head, pretending to be confused. I was the only one allowed to be sarcastic.

 

“You will go out with me, Olivia, because as much as you hate to admit it, you were wrong about me.”

 

My mouth opened and closed. My wit! Where was my wit?

 

“I…uhhh…”

 

“No,” he cut me off. “No excuses. I’m taking you out on a date.”

 

“Okay.” I shut my eyes and inhaled deeply. “A deal’s a deal.”

 

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