Chapter Twenty

Wanna Bet? (Finished)
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Wednesday, July 3rd

"Can I watch TV?" Jamie asked. Jessica pursed her lips for a few seconds.

"If you change into your PJ's and brush your teeth first, then you can watch TV for a little while. Okay?" Jamie nodded eagerly before running off to her room. Jessica followed her and helped her change and brush her teeth. A knock on the door stopped Jessica from walking back to the living room with her sister.

"Who's that?" Jamie asked. 

"No idea." Jessica shook her head.

"Mommy?"

"They're not supposed to be back yet." Jessica walked over to the door and looked through the peephole. She saw a dark figure standing there, covering their face with a hoodie and keeping their head down. Jessica swallowed hard and glanced back at her little sister. She immediately eyed around the hallway to find a potential weapon for self-defense. She chose an old walking cane would suffice, and cautiously opened the door.

"Hello? Can I help you?" She asked when the figure didn't talk.

"Maybe." She heard them speak in a soft tone. They pulled their hood back and tilted their head up a bit.

"Ren?!" Jessica's eyes went wide.

"Can I come in?" He pleaded with his eyes.

"I don't know." She bit the inside of her cheek.

"Come on, Jess. It's raining like hell out here." She hesitated for a while before silently stepping aside to let him in.

"Big man!" Jamie shouted and ran into Ren's legs, embracing them. "Ew, wet!"

"Well, that is what you get when you walk three blocks in the rain." Ren chuckled at her.

"You walked three blocks?" Jessica asked. He nodded.

"Yeah, couldn't park anywhere nearby." He looked back at Jamie. "Shouldn't you be in bed already? It's already past your bedtime."

"Sissy said I can watch TV."

"Just for a few minutes. Come on." Jessica extended her hand for Jamie to grab. Instead Jamie grabbed Ren's hand and pulled him along.

"I want Ren to watch with me!" Ren gave Jessica an apologetic smile. Jessica rolled her eyes. She followed after them sat on the couch, watching the two interact as Jamie explained the whole plot of the cartoon. She praised Ren for looking genuinely interested. Jamie finally started to feel tired and Ren helped carry her to bed. While Jessica tucked her in, Ren went to sit in the couch in the living room and waited for Jessica to come back out. 

"That was the most boring twenty minutes of my life. And, that includes our principal's beginning of the year speech." Ren sighed. Jessica grabbed a glass and filled it with water for him. 

"It doesn't look like it'll stop raining anytime soon." The two glanced outside, noticing the rain had actually gotten worse.

"You can sleep here. Jamie would probably kill me if you're not here in the morning." She handed him the glass.

"Does that mean I need to sleep on the couch, or am I allowed to share a bed with you?" He looked at her. She glanced awkwardly around the room. Ren sighed. "Jess, we're mature enough to share a bed without having to engage in amorous activities. We did that for like two months when we started dating."

"Fine." Jessica didn't look at him and went up the stairs to look for some clothes he could change into. Ren took his shoes off and put them by the door before following her. He grunted as he peeled the hoodie off of him. He knocked over the pencil holder on her desk as he took it off.

"Sorry." He muttered. He bent down to pick it up and paused when he noticed a small shimmery object. He picked it up and traced his thumb over the engraved letters.

"You tried to throw it away?" He spoke softly. 

"When Minhyun brought me home that night, the whole thing just kept replaying in my head, having that thing around my neck started feeling like a noose at one point. I tried throwing it in the trash can, but I missed. Kind of forgot it, I guess." She put an oversized shirt of hers on the bed and some sweatpants she borrowed from him a while ago.

"I really hurt you, didn't I?" Ren stood back up and kept staring at the pendant.

"If I were trying to shove my hand down some random guy's pants, would you be alright with that?"

"I ruined everything." Ren dropped his hands and sat down on the bed. Jessica sat down next to him.

"Basically all the good things in my life are either gone or broken." Ren's voice shook as he heaved a audible sigh.

"I'm sure that's not true." Jessica put her hand on his shoulder but he shook it off.

"Really? My brother has barely said a word to me since he found out about the bet. My parents keep reminding me how it's my fault I lost the VP job and at this point my friends are barely making an effort to hang out with me anymore because I'm such crap to be around." Jessica kept quiet. She swallowed hard as she saw tears welling in his eyes.

"On top of all of that, I destroyed a friendship over an insignificant bet with a guy I wasn't even friends with, and then I finally fall in love with a girl, I seem to be doing everything I possibly can to hurt her. I'm such an ." He sobbed after he finished his rant. 

"You should've never forgiven me. I didn't deserve it." 

"You're not entirely wrong about that." They both chuckled. Ren continued crying, trying to make himself stop, but failing miserably. 

"I don't like seeing you sad. Especially like this." She said when he seemed to calm down a bit.

"Yeah, I know. I bet it looks really attractive, sobbing like three-year-old who stubbed his toe." He grabbed a tissue and blew his nose. 

"In a way it kind of is." Ren frowned at her.

"I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've actually seen you cry."

"Guess so. Wait, you saw me cry at the hospital."

"No, I saw you right after. I've never seen a tear roll down your cheek until right now. And, you shouldn't feel embarrassed. I know you're a guy and all, but I don't expect you to have no emotions when things don't go your way."

"It just feels like my whole life is falling apart. Like I have no purpose anymore."

"Stop thinking like that. I know you want the VP position at your dad's, but if anyone's going to get it, it's you. You're the smartest guy I know. And, when you get that position, it'll be all the more satisfying to you, because you worked your way up from the bottom."

"That may be, but that could take take me, like, thirty years after graduating college. I know I'm spoiled, but I just don't want to wait that long. It feels like everything I care about is just leaving me."

"Well, not everything. I would never leave you. That is, if you actually care about me."

"Are you kidding?" Ren turned his body towards her. "I care about you in a way I could never care about anyone else. You're the best thing I never knew I needed. I love you." They leaned into each other. They shared short, soft kiss, before Ren pulled her close to make the kiss intimate. He gently pushed her down on the bed and pulled on the hem of her shirt. They switched positions and he helped her take her shirt off. They switched again after she finished ing his shirt. He stripped himself of his shirt and dropped it on the ground. They made out for a while, before Ren moved onto her neck. She ran her fingers through his hair as he kissed down. Jessica flinched when she heard the doorbell.

"Ignore it." Ren kissed her when the ringing turned into knocking.

"Wait, wait, wait. If they keep knocking like that, Jamie will wake up." She pushed him off and sat up. Ren groaned.

"Fine. Let me deal with it. Do not change your mind." Ren stood up and grabbed the hoodie from the bed.

"Someone better be dying or they're about to." He muttered as he zipped it up halfway. Jessica grinned, feeling sorry for whoever rung that doorbell. When Ren reached the last few stairs, he found Jamie hiding between the coats on the rack, looking terrified.

"Hey James, what's wrong? Did you have a nightmare?" He bent down next to her.

"Big Man protect me?" She whispered.

"Of course. Always. But, what does little James need protecting from?"

"Scary man at door." She looked down and pulled the coat back in front of her. Ren frowned and stood back up when the knocking continued. Ren looked through the peephole and saw a man he didn't recognize.

"Can I help you?" Ren eyed him up and down. The way he smelled burned Ren's nostrils. He scowled at it.

"Who are you?" The man slurred.

"You so realize it's close to midnight, right? Did you just decide to ring a random doorbell?"

"This is my house." Ren frowned at him. He noticed a tag sticking out of the collar of his jacket.

"I have doubts about that."

"Is sweet little Jessica here? She can vouch for me. I bought this place for those ungrateful little es." Ren scoffed.

"You're starting to cross the line. Get away from this property." Ren daringly stepped forward.

"What are you doing here?" Jessica asked from the stairs. She had put on the short she laid out for Ren and headed downstairs when she thought it took a long time for Ren to return.

"There you are!" The man tried to get past Ren, but he blocked him. 

"Sissy!" Jamie cried out and wrapped her tiny arms around her legs.

"Is that little Jamie?! Come to papa, sweetheart!" Ren blocked him from entering the house again. He noticed Jessica's facial expression and quickly deduced this man wasn't welcome.

"Hold on. Why are you dressed like that?" He pointed at Ren's chest. 

"Don't tell me you were about to have with him!" He shouted at Jessica. Jessica flinched at the booming sound and held Jamie close.

"Even if we were, what business is it to you?" Ren glared at him.

"Good girls aren't supposed to do that, until they're married! Especially with feminine looking boys like you!" The man continued shouting. Ren raised an eyebrow at him.

"Do you have any idea how irresponsible you are being?! What if you give her an STD?! What if she gets pregnant?!" Ren pushed the guy. He fell onto his back.

"I'll buy the kid Disneyland. If I find you anywhere near this house or any of the girls again, I'll hire an assassin just to kill you." Ren slammed the door shut. Jessica's breath shook as she sighed. Ren walked over and pried Jamie from Jessica's legs. 

"I got her. I'll put her in bed, make sure she's okay. Go up to your room. I'll be right there." He smiled gently at her and wiped a tear from her cheek. She nodded slowly before heading back up. Jessica sat on her bed and realized how much she was shaking. She burst into tears and cried. When Ren finally walked into her room, over an hour had passed. 

"You were gone long." She watched him change into the sweatpants she grabbed for him and took off the hoodie and got under the covers with her.

"Yeah. I wanted to make sure she was sleeping. I even sang a lullaby to her."

"You can sing?" She smiled to herself.

"You have no idea." He smirked and kissed her on the bridge of her nose. 

"You were crying." Jessica looked away from him.

"Yeah."

"Who was that guy? Why were you so scared of him?" Jessica sighed.

"It's a really long story."

"Well, I can see you don't want to talk about, so I won't pry. But, there is going to be a moment where I will ask, and I just hope you can tell me honestly."

"He's my mom's ex. And, he's a horrible person." She said after a while.

"Why's that?"

"I think my mom doesn't know that we know, but he hurt her. It started out with just angry outbursts, but it got physical. We don't know why, or when it started, but anytime we misbehaved, he took it out on her. When she was pregnant with Jamie, Alice lost her ity. And, she told me and he overheard. He sent us to our rooms and it was quiet for a while. Suddenly we heard a loud noise. Like, a pan hitting something hard. Then, we heard the door slam. We made our way downstairs, and my mom was on the ground. We saw blood, so we called an ambulance. Jamie was born a month too soon, but she made it, obviously. She got a restraining order and that was that."

"If he was served a restraining order, why was he here?"

"It was only a few years. We were supposed to ask for extension a few months ago, but we forgot. We also thought that because he didn't let us hear from him at all, we didn't have to worry anymore. But, I guess he was just waiting till one of us was alone." 

"What an ."

"Yeah. But, you're not." She looked at him. "Thank you for not letting him get inside."

"He smelled like he bathed in a bathtub full of bourbon. No way I would've let someone like that inside, even if-" Jessica interrupted him by kissing him on the lips.

"You're forgiven." She said after pulling away. Ren's eyes widened.

"Really? You mean it?" She nodded.

"But, I do have a condition."

"Anything." 

"Stop drinking."

"What?"

"I mean, it's okay if I'm around or you're just with the guys, but I hope that if you hadn't been drunk, you wouldn't have gone so far with that girl."

"I probably wouldn't have. But, I promise, no more drinking. Not even at parties. I will live my life as if I'm working a twelve step program. Except for graduation from high school and college. And, maybe birthday parties." Jessica chuckled. She ran a hand through his hair before resting it on his cheek.

"I love you." They rubbed their noses together.

"I love you too." Ren put his hand on the back of her neck and pulled her close and kissed her.

 

Thursday, July 4th

Ren woke up and changed into the clothes he wore the night before, before heading down the stairs. He tried being quiet, but luck was not on his side that morning.

"You know, for someone who is supposed to be a straight A student, you're not very smart for leaving four hundred dollar sneakers by the front door. Especially when you try to avoid the woman who owns the house." Ren furrowed his eyebrows and joined her in the living room.

"Look, I wasn't trying to avoid you per se. I just need to get home so I can shower, change into my uniform and get to school on time."

"My daughter attends the same school. I know very well that you don't have to be there for another four hours. You live only half an hour away."

"Fine. You terrify me."

"Good."

"But, I love your daughter. And, I am willing to risk getting skinned alive by you, if it means I get to see her. Even if it's just a few minutes."

"What makes you think I want to skin you alive?"

"Before I say something that'll get that pot of hot coffee on my face, what has Jessica told you about since the dinner with my parents?"

"You're worried you'll spill the story of how you got drunk and almost had with another girl in front of my daughter?" Ren nodded. "Look, I don't really like you. I mean, that's obvious. But, my daughter seems to think you're her true love. So, I have to accept you. Besides, even if I say no, she might sneak around herself. Plus, she's at an age where she needs to make her own choices, even

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