“You guys are fun suckers.”
Multiple times throughout the dinner, I tried to get Sarah’s attention. And, although she smiled at me a few times, her focus was almost entirely on Jake. I knew I shouldn’t be surprised, seeing as Sarah had been very candid in her intentions, but after the church encounter, I'd mistakenly believed that she was into me.
Dinner hadn’t been over for more than one minute when my church hookup threw herself at my big brother. Unexpected pangs of jealousy crept in through my bones. Even though it was to be expected, Sarah’s lack of consideration took me by surprise. Typically I didn't let things like this bother me. I wasn’t stupid. I knew I didn’t bring much to the table in comparison to my brother. I got why women would want him over me. I mean, why settle for the spark when you could have the flame?
I stood off in the distance, pissed, silently praying that Jake would shut her down like I'd predicted he would. I knew it shouldn’t bother me… yet this one stung a bit. Who was I to think a woman would be into me for me?
Emma was suddenly beside me, motioning toward Sarah.
“Are you here to gloat?” I replied glumly.
“I’m not. I promise. She was totally leading you on earlier, Kyle. That’s a bitch move. You can do so much better than someone like her,” Emma said sympathetically, and then added, “And if Jake even thinks about it, we’ll do a tag team takedown.”
I laughed. That was the nicest thing she’d said to me in, like, forever!
Kyle: The Tale Of Two Jellybeans
When Jake first told me about Casey after the rehearsal dinner, I was immediately suspicious of her intentions. They’d met in the restaurant moments after Sarah had tried flinging herself on him. Apparently the two were paired together for the wedding party, and Jake had been instantly hooked. I’d never seen him have such an immediate attraction to anyone before, so naturally, I was dubious. I didn’t know exactly how she’d drawn him in, but I felt sure that she was playing him. And judging by the spellbound look in his eyes, Jake was buying into her game. What was it about this girl that captivated him? He’d literally met thousands before her, and not one had ever sparked his interest. Not even his ex-girlfriend, Krista, who had basically wormed her way into his life without Jake even realizing what was happening. If I'd had to hear him complain one more time about not being able to break it off with her, I would have done it for him!
Once Krista was gone for good, there had been no others. Occasionally he had one-night stands, but Jake seemed completely uninterested in another relationship. So his uncharacteristic attraction to Casey blew my mind and made me question her motives. Was she tricking him? Could she be an undercover reporter? I needed to figure out her angle. If this Casey girl thought she was going to mess with Jake, she’d be going through me first.
That evening, I was hanging out with my brothers in the atrium area of the hotel lobby when Jake saw her walking by and pointed her out. Oh, yeah, how convenient. She just magically appeared? I wasn’t buying it for a second. This girl was probably a stalker… a goddamn savvy one… but still a stalker. The sooner she was exposed as a fraud, the better. No sense in Jake getting all amped up over this girl if she was just going to crush him.
Much to Jake’s horror, I called her over and was all prepared to squash her like the cockroach I assumed her to be when something totally unexpected happened. The girl was legit, and the chemistry between them was off the hook. I immediately saw in Casey what Jake had seen. She had a glow to her that lit up the room. I watched in amazement as the two flirted their way through the conversation.
And Jake? Damn. Keith, Quinn, and I watched in awe as our normally beleaguered brother proved that he actually had some honest-to-god game when it came to women! He matched her wit step for step. Jake interacted with us like this, but never had I seen him charm a girl. Feeling giddy with optimistic fervor, a stupid smile was stamped on my face, and I was seriously contemplating giving Jake a high five for a job well done.
The only time my brother ever came close to the flicker he had with Casey was when he performed on stage. But those were small snippets of light, reserved for his fans who would never get close enough to him to even benefit from the glow. Sometimes during those moments, I’d stand mesmerized at the side of the stage and watch Jake with the same dopey smile I had on my face now and pretend he was still the same electrifying kid he’d once been, before his life was stolen away so cruelly.
At some point during our lively conversation, Quinn’s bean game appeared on the table. He sure wasn’t giving up easily.
“No way!” Casey squealed. “I love this game!”
“How am I the only person who’s never heard of this?” Jake asked.
“Not just you. My ninety-eight-year-old grandma hasn’t heard of it either.”
Jake grinned. “Well, that explains it, then, since we run in the same circles and all.”
“Exactly,” Casey beamed. Her pretty oval shaped face lit up when she smiled. I grinned like a fool every time she flashed her deep dimples. She exuded happiness. Casey was the polar opposite of Jake in every way, yet somehow she seemed perfect for him.
“Are we going to play this, or what?” Jake asked, completely reversing his earlier decision. So much for the gun to his head.
Quinn jumped to attention. “Really? Okay.”
“So who starts?” Keith asked. “I think it should be youngest to oldest.”
“Oh, of course you do, grandpa!” I blasted.
“I don’t know,” Jake teased. “Casey loves this game sooo much. I think it should be ladies first.”
Casey grinned. “All right. You’re on!”
She spun the wheel, and it landed on two brownish-orange jellybeans. Quinn read the flavors.
“You are either going to eat tutti-fruitti or sweaty sock.”
The rest of us burst out laughing.
“Sweaty sock?” Jake questioned. “How would the creators of the game even know what that tastes like?”
“Please, Jake,” Casey interrupted. “I need absolute silence. It’s incredibly important to be in the zone.”