Betting on Bailey

By: Tara Crescent

Trevor looks just as unhappy as I feel. “Bailey can’t really play,” he says. “I’ve tried teaching her, but she’s hopeless.”

At that, my temper, normally held well in check, flares, and I straighten my back. I know he’ll beat me. But I’d be damned if he’s going to talk me out of playing.

“Come on, man,” another one of his teammates says. He’s looking at me with pity in his eyes. “Don’t be a jerk.”

Trevor flushes. He’s generally pretty careful to treat me well in public. “Of course, honey,” he says, gritting his teeth.

I select a pool stick from the rack on the wall, knowing without even asking that Trevor isn’t going to offer me one of the cues in his case. “Do you want to break?” I ask him.

“No,” he says. There’s an unpleasant curl to his lips. “Why don’t you show us what you can do?”

I hate breaking. I can never hit the cue ball fast enough and with enough accuracy. The hallmark of a successful break is a satisfactory scattering of the balls all over the table. Me, I consider it a win if my cue ball even makes contact with the racked balls.

It feels like the entire bar is watching me. I don’t want to bend over the table - the black t-shirt I’m wearing will show too much cleavage if I do so. Trevor called my breasts cow-like once in the heat of an argument, and I’ve never forgotten those hurtful words.

I try to hold myself so I’m standing straight and I take the shot, but even before I make contact, I know I’ve failed. My cue stick careens out of control and barely grazes the white ball, which rolls a foot down the table and stops, humiliatingly, before it even hits the balls in the center.

My face is fiery. Trevor mutters a curse before he stalks forward. “You are supposed to bend over,” he says. He lines up his shot. “Like this.”

Thwack. He hits the rack of balls dead on. Three balls roll into pockets and Trevor walks around to make his next shot.

“I’ve taught you how to break.” He doesn’t look at me, and he’s careful to pitch his voice low so I’m the only one who can hear the corrosive words. The solid green ball rolls into the side pocket. “But this isn’t book learning, is it? You can’t study your way to success.” The four slides into a pocket, followed by the three. He lifts his head up and chalks his cue tip. “Face it, Bailey. You huddle in academia because you can’t cut it in the real world.”

Everyone’s looking at us. Why wouldn’t they? My boyfriend’s running the table. All I wanted to do was come out and have a nice evening. Instead, this has turned into another ‘Let’s humiliate Bailey’ exercise.

The warning bells swell to a choir. I’ve had enough. Before he can preen and take the shot at the eight ball, I set my beer down on the table. “It looks like you have things under control,” I say quietly. “I’m going home.”

Not supportive of my career? Check. Being a jerk to my friends? Double-check. Looking down the boobs of every available chick? Triple-check. Humiliating me in front of his friends? The final straw.

It’s time to pack my bags.

* * *

It takes Trevor two hours to come back home, by which time I’ve packed one suitcase with my essentials. I don’t own much stuff - at heart, I’m a traveler, and it shows in my rather meager possessions. As tempting and movie-like as it would be to march out of Trevor’s apartment clutching my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer in one hand and pulling a suitcase with the other, I can come back for the rest of my stuff on a different day.

The ending of our relationship shouldn’t have come as a surprise to Trevor, but he looks shocked when he sees me dressed to leave. “You’re joking,” he says flatly.

I frown. He doesn’t love me. If anything, he acts irritated with me most of the time, as if I’m a troublesome child that needs to be managed, not a grown woman. He’s probably just upset because I’m breaking up with him, not the other way round.

I’m a little sad that it’s over, but mostly, I’m relieved. “It’s time, Trevor,” I say softly. “Neither of us have been happy in this relationship, and we both deserve more.” I pause. “I’m going to Piper’s place tonight, and I’ll come back for the rest of my stuff in a week.” I take a deep breath. “I hope we can still be friends.”

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