I find it extremely hard to concentrate in class the next week, let alone doing anything else. The kiss between Brad and me is circling around in my brain and filling me with guilt. Why did I kiss him back? Why? I loved Charls! I really, really loved him! So why did I let Brad kiss me?
I spend the whole of that next week thinking it over and can’t even bring myself to answer Charls’s texts. It’s as if I feel like he will be able to tell what I did just by me answering him. At the same time, I know I am bringing more attention to it, considering the fact that he is probably worried about why I am not answering him or agreeing to hang out.
I am so happy when the day of Janice’s protest finally comes and I can think of other things. I know that I am going to have to deal with the Charls thing sooner or later though. Even Brad was getting annoyed with me not responding to him.
Still, I was more concerned about him telling Charls what happened; something that thankfully had not happened yet. But it was only a matter of time.
On my way out to join Janice’s protest, I bump into Kimberly heading out in a hurry.
“Where are you off to?” I ask.
“Greek Council meeting. I have some news about the fire at our Greek formal.”
My eyes widen. “Really?”
“Yes. According to one of the Delta Sigmas, someone at the party intentionally dropped a lighted cigarette into the garbage.”
“It was apparently someone from Kappa Alpha Omega, and I’ll bet it was on the Alpha Beta Phis order.”
I scoff. “It always leads back to them.”
“Tell me about it. Well, I’m going to report what I found out, but I don’t know how much it will help. If the Alpha Beta Phis are involved, they are definitely going to hush it up.”
“Well keep me posted and text me if you need anything.”
At that moment, my phone rings.
It ends up being Janice.
“Hey, you coming? The protest has already started!” I can hear people chanting loudly in the background.
“I’ll be there soon,” I say, then hang up. It was going to be an interesting few hours.
And interesting it is. When I arrive to the protest, I see Janice at her podium rallying the crowd. Everyone is chanting and lifting their signs into the air.
Janice spots me and waves to me from her stand. She then takes a deep breath and begins giving a speech to the crowd. I move among them and soon see Lizzie standing toward the front. I smile and call to her, but she seems very preoccupied with the speech. We actually haven’t spoken in quite a while. I really needed to find some time to talk to her. With everything going on, I could really use her advice.
As the rally goes on, I happen to notice Michael walking through the quad. He stops momentarily at the protest spot and glances around. He then turns in Lizzie’s direction and for a few seconds, the two of them just stare at each other. I even think for a moment that he is going to go over and talk to her, but then as quickly as he had arrived, he turns away and makes his way through the protest and off toward the student union building. Lizzie looks after him with her eyes slightly red, and then she turns back to Janice.
I had heard from Selena that things were bad between Lizzie and Michael, but I didn’t realize it was this bad. I have been so caught up in my own problems that I didn’t even realize that she was going through something. Some friend I’ve been.
As the protest draws to a close, Janice gets up to the stand to chant once again. Lucky for us, a lot of students have signed our petition and joined in on the rally. Some do pass by giving us annoyed stares, but Janice pays them no mind. She just goes right on chanting and holding her fist high.
“Physical Education and Art majors are essential,” she says. “We need more funding so we can help spread creativity and build courage and strength to our following generations!”
Everyone cheers and raises their posters high and I applaud right along with them.
As everyone is applauding, my phone beings to ring. Glancing down, I see it is Kimberly.
“Abby, I need you,” she says, after I answer.
“Why? What’s up?”
“It’s the council. They are still debating a decision and it’s not looking good.”
“I’ll be right there,” I say, and then hang up.
Seeing Janice moving away from the podium, I hurry over to her. “I’ve got to jet. Kim is at the Greek council meeting and things are going south.”
Janice nods. “Okay. You go on and I’ll meet you there.”
When I arrive at the student union building, the meeting is coming to a close. Ashley is telling Kimberly that they have agreed to look into what she has come forth with, but they are not ready to give back the probationary charter. That irritates me.
“But we didn’t cause the fire! Someone else deliberately caused it!”
Ashley turns in my direction and frowns. “It still happened at your sorority house. And there is the thing about you excluding other Greek Chapters.”
I roll my eyes. “We didn’t exclude other chapters! Yes, we did specially invite the Delta Sigmas and the Eta Phi Nus, but everyone else was free to come!”
Ashley smirks. “You expect me to believe that?”
“Well it’s true! No one was stopping everyone from coming. We even had guests that weren’t Greek members.”
“Even if that is the case, the Kappa Alpha Omegas, still feel you excluded them. Especially with the fundraiser.”
I sigh. “Seriously? The fundraiser was for the homeless and low income families!”
“Which you took all the credit for. You didn’t credit a member of their sorority that preformed for you there.”
I grit my teeth. “I’m sorry, I was not aware that they felt that way. I will formally apologize to them if it will smooth things over.”
Ashley shakes her head. “It’s a bit late for that.”
I sigh once again. Why did Ashley of all people have to be Greek president? I can tell that she was using it to pull the Kappa Alpha Omegas strings. I have seen Kelsy and she was not petty enough to be doing all this over a party and the fundraiser. There has to be something I can do. I can’t let the Alpha Beta Phis stop us from getting our charter.
That’s when I look over and notice a poster hanging on the wall nearby. It reads:
Begins Friday, 2nd week of June
Who will take the cup?
I had heard something about the Greek Olympics. The Tri-Fruhms were supposed to compete last year, but with everything that was going on, they had long been banned. All the Greek fraternities and sororities were to compete against each other over several different events and the last two surviving Greek chapters would compete in the finals. The winner would take the Greek Olympic cup. Last year the winner had been the Alpha Beta Phis, due to the Tri-Fruhms being banned.
An idea then forms in my head. “You guys are competing in the Greek Olympics, right?”
Ashley frowns. “Of course! All the Greek chapters do. Besides, we are the winners of last year and the cup is staying with us.”
“Well how about a wager?” I square my shoulders back. “Let the Beta Gamma Kappas compete in the Greek Olympics. If we win the cup, we get our probationary charter back. If we lose, we don’t.”
Ashley raises her eyebrows. “You want to compete against us?” She laughs. “You guys stand no chance.”
“They you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.”
Ashley is quiet for a moment, and then she smirks.
“All right, I’ll take that bet, but I’ll do you one better. If you guys lose, then your chapter is expelled from campus.”
Kimberly makes a shocked sound from behind me, but I ignore her.
“That’s not the deal I presented.”
“But it’s the only one I will agree to.” Ashley gives me a look. “Take it or leave it.”
I take a deep breath. “Okay, but if that’s the case, I have another condition. If we win, we become a full-fledged sorority and get our charter.”
Ashley frowns. “That’s not the deal.”
“Neither was the one you presented,” I point out. “But I think it’s fair. We have more to lose than you do. We are losing our chance to become a sorority.”
Ashley stares at me for a long time in silence before lifting out her hand to shake mine. “I’ll talk to the others, but otherwise, it’s a deal.
Just as I am expecting her to, Kimberly is ranting and raving the whole way to my car. She even continues doing so as I drive to the house.
“I can’t believe you would do this!” she was saying again.
“Kim, I didn’t have a choice!” I protest. “Ashley was going to stop us from getting our charter back!”
“So what? It would only be temporary! We could try again another time! Maybe after she graduated! Did you even know she’s a senior? She’s leaving at the end of the year! That means someone else will be in charge next year and it might not be an Alpha Beta Phi! It could be someone from Delta Sigma or Eta Phi Nu! Someone that would work with us! Did you even think of that?”
I clamp my mouth shut. Kimberly had a point. I hadn’t even thought of it. It was so into my conversation with Ashley that all of my logic seemed to fly out the window.
When I don’t respond, Kim nods her head. “That’s what I thought.” She then grows quiet and we drive the rest of the way in silence.
We enter into the house and Kimberly barely looks at me. She walks straight through the dining room toward the kitchen. Lizzie is sitting on her laptop typing away and beside her Tatyana and Selena are chatting as they eat leftover French toast.
Lizzie looks up as we come in. “How did everything go?” She asks.
Kimberly scoffs. “Why don’t you tell them, Abby,” she calls from the kitchen.
Lizzie frowns. “Tell us what?”
“How she made a deal with Ashley about our sorority. If we don’t win the Greek Olympics, our chapter will be expelled. Nice huh?”
Lizzie looks shocked. “What?”
“I know right!” Kimberly slams the refrigerator shut. “All our hard work for nothing.” She then curses, surprising me completely. “I can’t believe you, Abby.”
Lizzie sighs. “Wow.”
“I mean, how are we supposed to beat the Alpha Beta Phis at the Olympics?” Kimberly continues. “They are ruthless! I would know! The Tri-Fruhms were their biggest rivals. Granted we always won, but still! They were pretty hard to beat!”
“Yah, I’ve heard their team is pretty amazing,” says Tatyana. “I have some girls from their sorority in my acting class and they are already training.”
“Plus, they won last year,” Selena adds. “And I’m pretty sure they don’t want to give away their title. Especially to nobodies like us.”
I frown. “We are not nobodies! We are the Beta Gamma Kappas! The new upcoming sorority!”
“Not anymore,” Tatyana mutters.
I look at her. “What?”
She sighs. “Abby, since the Greek formal, we’ve gotten a lot of bad coverage because of the fire. Everyone on campus is talking about it. The school board isn’t really on our side anymore.”
“But that wasn’t even our fault!” I object.
“I know, but that doesn’t matter. People still think it is. We just don’t have the same following as we used to.”
I cross my arms. “So what are you all saying?”
Tatyana stands up. “Basically, that this is pretty much the end of the Beta Gamma Kappas.”
My jaw drops. “What?”
“Well it is!” Kimberly snaps. “You pretty much ended us the minute you made that deal!” She then curses again. “I’m going up to my room. No one bother me.” She then disappears up the stairs.
I glance over at Lizzie. She looks at me quietly and then closes her laptop.
“I think I’m going to finish up in the library.”
I open my mouth to say something, but she quickly makes her way out of the room. I stand still by the table as everyone leaves in silence. I’m really starting to realize my mistake. I honestly thought I was doing what was best for us, but maybe I was wrong.
I hear my cellphone start to ring. Without even thinking, I put it up to my ear and answer.
“Abby, hey,” comes Charls’s voice at the other end.
I feel my body tense up. “Ch-charls,” I stammer.
“Hey, I haven’t heard from you in a long time. Are you doing okay?”
“Y-yes. I’m fine.”
“You don’t sound like it. Why don’t you swing over? I want to see you.”
“I do too, but-”
I swallow sharply not being able to say no to him. “I’ll be there in ten.”
I get there in ten minutes and the sky is starting to darken. Charls is out on the front lawn waiting for me. Probably because he didn’t want any problems with Brad or his other frat brothers. He had been telling me that they had been giving him a hard time lately, even more than usual. I can’t help but feel a bit responsible. With what happened between Brad and me, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t helping the situation.
Charls smiles and walks over to me. “Hey, how are you holding up?”
I frown. “What do you mean?”
“I heard about the deal you made with Ashley.”
I roll my eyes. “That spread fast. I assume you heard it from Brad?”
“He told us all about it. He thinks it was a pretty stupid idea.”
“It kind of was.” I look toward the ground. “All the girls back at the house are pretty pissed off with me.”
Charls give me a sad smile. “I’m sorry. For what it’s worth, I think it was pretty bold of you.”
I smile. “Thanks.” I then give his arm a playful squeeze. “So how are things?”
He sighs. “A bit rocky, but it’s to be expected. I will say that Brad has been acting a bit more obnoxious than usual.”
I frown feeling my chest begin to tighten. “How so?”
Charls shrugs. “I don’t know. He’s just been saying some things.”
“Well, the other day, he heard me leaving a message on your cell and he told me not to bother because he knew you wouldn’t be calling back anytime soon. Then a week ago, Dean asked me if I had heard from you and when Brad overheard us, he said he wasn’t surprised and then started laughing about it. Just weird stuff like that.” Charls waves his hand. “But don’t worry about it. He’s just being…Brad.” He then leans in closer. “I’ve missed seeing you.”
I feel like I can’t breathe. Brad was pretty much making it obvious that something had happened between us! Oh why did I let him kiss me! Why?
Suddenly, I can’t take it. I can’t take everything that has been going on the past few weeks. And I definitely can’t keep lying to Charls. I just can’t.
“Ch-charls, there is something I have to tell you…”
Charls looks at me curiously. “What is it?”
I feel my hands tingling and my throat growing dry. “Something happened.”
Charls looks confused. “What do you mean?”
This is much harder than I even anticipated. Maybe I shouldn’t say anything. Maybe I should just stay quiet.
I bite my lip hard. “Something happened with me and…Brad.”
Charls expression changes. His eyes grow hard and he moves back from me slowly. I can feel my heart starting to drop. I hadn’t even told him what happened and he was already pulling away from me.
“Abby,” he says firmly, “what are you talking about?”
I open my mouth, but nothing comes out. I just can’t say it. I can’t.
“I..I um…” I drift off and stare at the ground. “I can’t.”
“Yes, you can.” Charls is looking at me sternly. “You can’t just say that and say you can’t tell me.”
“But I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Abby, just tell me what happened.”
It is becoming increasingly hard to talk. My heart is starting to pound in my chest and my hands are shaking. That’s when I realize I’m scared. I’m totally scared of losing him.
“Charls please,” I manage to say. “Just forget I said anything.”
I try to move away, but Charls stops me. “Abby, just tell me!”
I sigh, feeling tears coming to my eyes. “Okay.” My voice sounds almost like a whisper. “A couple weeks ago, Brad and I hung out at the grotto and played some pool and then afterwards he followed me back to the art building to get my painting.”
Charls nods. “And?”
“And while we were there, we started talking and then…he-he kissed me.”
Charls curses. “I should have known he would make a move on you. He’s been cracking jokes about it all semester long. It was about time he would try something.”
“But that’s just it,” I continue. “He kissed me and I…I kissed him back.” I can’t bear to look at his face when I say those words.
Charls is quiet for almost a whole minute before he responds and that minute feels like an eternity. “You kissed Brad?”
“Y-yes.” It takes everything in me to say it. “He kissed me first, but I-I didn’t stop him.”
“Wow.” Charls looks away from me.
“I really don’t know what happened. He totally caught me off guard and my body just… reacted. I don’t even really understand it myself.” I feel a tear escaping from my eye and I wipe it away quickly. “I pushed him off right after and told him that nothing could happen because I’m with you. I swear to you!”
Charls doesn’t say a word. Fear beings to set in again and I move closer to him.
“Charls,” I start, but he lifts up his hands and steps away from me.
I feel tears coming to my eyes again. “Charls, please don’t do this.”
Charls frowns. “I’m not doing anything! Abby, you kissed another guy! How did you expect me to react?”
I nod. “I know, you’re totally right. If the roles were reversed I would be furious.” I sigh. “But you have to know that I didn’t want this. I really don’t know what happened! The whole thing is so confusing and I’ve been freaking out about it for the past couple weeks.”
Charls looks at me quietly for a few seconds before sighing. “Abby, what do you want me to?”
“Can’t we just forget about this?”
“No! We can’t!” Charls frowns. “Abby, it’s obvious why this happened. Since Brad came back this quarter, you’ve been acting…different. I think the truth is, that you’re still in love with him.”
I step back. “What? Of course not! Charls, this was just an awful mistake!”
Charls shakes his head. “No, it wasn’t. Abby, you still have feelings for him.”
I feel tears coming to my eyes. “That’s not true!”
“It is Abby. I know it is.” I can see the pain in his eyes as he says this and it breaks my heart even more. I caused this. I did this to us.
“I saw it in your eyes that night back at the New Year’s Eve beach party. Your feelings for him are still there, even if you don’t see it.”
“But I love you, Charls,” I say softly.
Charls leans closer to me and for a moment I think he is about to kiss me, but then he stops.
“I can’t Abby,” he whispers. “I’m sorry.”
He then walks back into the frat house and closes the door behind him. I can’t believe he didn’t yell at me or curse or call me every name in the book. Instead he just walked away. Away from me. Out of my life.
The whole drive home I can’t stop myself from sobbing. Even as I enter into the sorority house, I hear Janice calling me from the family room, but I just hurry up the stairs to my room and hide myself under the covers of my bed. There I completely lose self-control and sob into my pillow. I did this. I had ruined us.