Betting on Bailey

By: Tara Crescent

I have multiple mechanisms in place to prevent me from being late. Alarms going off on my phone in fifteen minute intervals. Flashing screens on my laptop warning me to stop working. My computer is even programmed to shut down automatically at seven thirty.

But I’ve left my cell phone in my office, and engrossed as we are in strengthening Maria’s grant application, none of us hear the alarm when it goes off at seven. There’s another alarm that’s supposed to chime at seven fifteen, but if I can’t tell you if it went off — I don’t hear it either. When I finally look up at Sameer’s screen to check the time, I’m horrified to note that it’s seven thirty five. “Fuck,” I swear. “Fuck. And fuck again. Sorry, Maria. Pretend you didn’t hear me.” I don’t bother apologizing to Sameer. He has the office next to me. He’s heard me curse before.

She laughs. “Sure thing, Professor Moore,” she says easily. “Thank you so much for your help. This is fantastic.”

“Sorry to keep you here late on a Friday night,” Sameer adds apologetically. “You doing something fun?”

“Not really. I’m going to watch my boyfriend Trevor play pool. You guys met him at the faculty mixer two months ago, right?”

“Ah.” Sameer’s voice is flat, and he exchanges glances with Maria. “Yes, Trevor. You should go.”

I furrow my brow. Trevor had too much to drink at the mixer, and he’d insulted a bunch of my co-workers by going on an extended rant about the pointlessness of liberal arts. Finally, mortified by his rudeness, I’d had to drag him away. It had not been a good evening, and judging from Sameer’s reaction, Trevor has left an impression.

I ignore the big honking signs the universe is giving me about my relationship. Making my excuses, I head back to my own office and dig around the stacks of papers till I find my phone. Crossing my fingers, I dial Trevor’s number. As luck would have it, I get his voicemail. “Hey, I’m running late,” I tell the machine. “Sorry! I’m leaving right now, and I’ll see you soon.” The bar Trevor’s team is playing at is in SoHo, a ten minute walk away. With any luck, I’ll only be fifteen minutes late, and he won’t be too pissy.

* * *

Three hours later, I’m wondering why I even bothered to come out tonight. Trevor’s been in a snit all evening long. I’ve been reduced to sitting in the corner with a beer, trying to pretend that he isn’t looking down the shirt of the size-two blonde as she bends over the pool table to make her shot.

The brunette standing next to me has been openly flirting with Trevor, though she knows we are together. I’m not the jealous kind, but even so, I’m getting a little irritated. Come on, I think. Have some class.

Of course, Trevor isn’t exactly discouraging her flirting. That’s the kind of special guy that he is.

“What do you think this is?” Even her voice is whiny. There’s a few of Trevor’s teammates within hearing distance, but she’s looking straight at me. Shit, she’s talking to me. I have to make conversation?

She’s holding her finger out to me. For a second, I think she's making a rude gesture, then I realize she's saying something about a wound. “Something bit me when I went camping a month ago,” she pouts. “Look, it’s still swollen.”

It’s barely swollen. Apart from everything else, she’s a hypochondriac. Absolutely fucking lovely.

I know I'm being cranky and anti-social, yet I can't stop myself. A devil-may-care attitude grips me. Flirt with my boyfriend right in front of me? Honey, you don’t know what’s going to hit you.

“Oh my god,” I yelp, bending over her finger and pasting a serious expression on my face. “Did you go to the hospital?”

“No,” she shakes her head. “My sister,” she gestures to the blonde whose rack Trevor’s still ogling, “told me it was nothing.”

I make a tut-tut sound, allowing urgency to infuse my voice. “I’m a professor of anthropology. When I trekked in the jungles of Indonesia, a spider bit our guide. His wound looked exactly like this.”

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