The passenger door of the '95 Ford Taurus shut loudly.

"Damn, bro. Be careful," Leonard said. "This is a collectible."

"This is not a collectible, bro," Gustavo said, dapping up Chris and Nate.

"See, that's how I know you don't know shit about cars," Leonard replied, pressing the gas. "A '95 Taurus!?"

"A '95 Taurus!?" Gustavo repeated mockingly. "Bro, somebody may want a well-kept '95 Taurus, but nobody is collecting this '95 Taurus."

The car erupted in laughter while Leonard just shook his head and turned up the music. Street lights dotted across the windshield, and the crisp night air swirled through the car as the crew caught up on current events. They discussed the pressing issues, like who was winning in the Kendrick and Drake feud, Terrence Howard's feature on the Joe Rogan Podcast, and who was going to win Game 7 between the Nuggets and Timberwolves. They talked about the betting lines and the women they were talking to.

"Yo," asked Chris from the backseat. "I invited a friend from work for the watch party. He just started there, and he's from Arizona."

"Ah, man, I hope he's not a Suns fan," said Nate.

Leonard parked on Larimer, right outside the venue. The car doors opened, and the crew spilled out onto the street. Gustavo turned to Leonard.

"You think this collectible will be okay, parked on a main road?"

Everyone began laughing.

"Man, whatever," Leonard said over the crowd, "I don't want to hear it from the guy wearing a black track jacket. You look like Jokic's stepbrother."

"Alright, now you're just hating 'cause I was talking about your car. Look, the ladies love this jacket."

"I've never seen you in that jacket a day in my life, bro," Nate said.

"Yeah, that's cuz it's new," Gustavo replied.

The crew walked across the street and gathered in line for the bar, trash-talking the entire way. No one was safe from friendly fire. The crew walked single file, carefully stepping down the steep stone steps into the bar bathed in red light.

The door swung open and revealed a horseshoe bar surrounded by a cluster of people waiting to get drinks before hitting the dance floor a few feet away. A handful of people stood along the wall and swayed to the music, most with drinks in hand. Leonard and Gustavo headed to the bar, and Nate and Chris headed to grab some real estate on the unpopulated dance floor.

Leonard pushed his way through the crowd to an open area at the bar. Gustavo squeezed in next to him and observed the scene. Lights and lasers shot out of a machine and scanned the room. He followed the path of a particular beam of light across the faces of the people in the bar. A pretty face caught his eye as Gustavo scanned the partygoers' profiles. He found himself admiring her curly hair and round lips, and when her eyes shifted toward him, Gustavo quickly snapped his head in the other direction, tweaking a muscle in his neck.

"You alright?" Leonard asked. "The drinks are about to come."

"Yeah, I'm good," Gustavo replied, rubbing his neck. "What color is that light that's going around?"

Leonard turned his head to look. "Pink."

The bartender brought a Whiskey Ginger, two Rum and Cokes, and a Tequila Soda Lime. Gustavo and Leonard began working their way to the dance floor. The crowd got thicker, and Gustavo had to hold the drinks close to his chest so they wouldn't get bumped, trying desperately to keep his new jacket clean. At the same time, he craned his neck to scan the room, checking the drinks, looking for the boys, and maintaining sight of the girl.

When Gustavo saw them, Chris and Nate were trying to chat up a group of uninterested women. He and Leonard pushed through the bodies to extract the team from the failed mission. Some soldiers just don't know when the battle is lost. The ladies found their chance to escape in a split second when Chris and Nate turned to grab their drinks. The guys discussed the lost potential of that interaction and all the opportunities still waiting in the crowd.

"Man, I'm excited for this game tomorrow!" Chris said, taking a sip of his Rum and Coke. The others agreed.

"Gus, how much did you say you put down?"

"I put like $800 on it," Gustavo replied nonchalantly.

Leonard's eyebrows shot up, and his jaw dropped. Nate choked on his drink. Chris laughed nervously.

"I know, but trust me," Gustavo raised his hands in defense. "The Nuggs are favored."

The guys still had looks of disbelief. Gustavo continued.

"I put $800 down for the Nuggets to win. They're going to win. It's Game 7 in Denver, homecourt. The Wolves aren't going to have the hunger to close out. KAT and Gobert are soft, and Edwards is inexperienced. It doesn't have to be a blowout, but we're going to win," Gustavo said, taking a sip of his whiskey ginger and continuing.

"We're favored to win anyways, so I see it as a risky investment instead of a bet. I just need to make a bet on myself. If I win, I'll have enough to start that clothing business I was telling you guys about, remember?"

"Yeah, I remember," Leonard replied, stirring the lime around his Rum and Coke.

"Yeah, so if I win big, I'll have enough to get that nice shirt press I was showing you," Gustavo said.

"Are you crazy!?" asked Chris.

"Bro, what are you thinking?" asked Nate.

Leonard shook his head, in shock.

"Alright, you guys just aren't true Nuggets fans. I get it," Gustavo said, laughing. He took a sip of whiskey and looked around, feeling the stupefied stares from the crew. The perfect diversion came when Gustavo saw the curly-haired girl walking around the bar.

"I have to go to the bathroom," he said over his shoulder to his friends.

Gustavo saw the girl heading to the water pitcher, so he pushed a few people out of the way to get there before she did. He straightened his posture and placed himself next in line for water. He set down his half-full Whiskey Ginger, grabbed a plastic cup, and filled it from the tap. He tried to keep an eye behind him to make sure the girl was there, but he didn't see her. Gustavo grabbed his Whiskey Ginger and bumped into something as he turned his water arm. He looked down, and it was her!

"Oh, damn," Gustavo said. "My mistake."

"Sorry," she said.

He motioned to leave and then faked a double-take. She was busy filling two cups of water.

"Wow, hold on," Gustavo said, overacting the part. He stepped into her line of sight. "When that pink light lands on you, you look just like Beyonce."

She stopped and said, "Did you rehearse that, or was that off the top of your head?"

"Uh, no, you really do look like Beyonce."

"Boy shut the hell up," she busted out laughing. Gustavo chuckled a bit, too.

"Alright, I confess. I was thinking about it the moment I saw you," Gustavo said with a smile.

"Oh, is that right? The pink light makes me look like Beyonce," she questioned. "You know how ridiculous that sounds."

"Well, honestly, I didn't even know what color the light was because I'm colorblind," he said. "I just know you're gorgeous."

She smiled and asked, "Oh, so you're colorblind too?"

"Yeah, I really am," he said, "like I don't see certain colors very well.'

"So, is that why you're wearing black?"

"No, I just think this jacket is cool."

She looked Gustavo up and down and made a teasing face, "Yeah, it's... something."

"Damn, it's like that?" Gustavo asked playfully.

"It is what it is," she shrugged, saying, "I'm just kidding. If I look like Beyonce, then I like your jacket."

"Beyonce or not, I'd like to get to know you. What's your name?"

"Wow, forward," she giggled. "My name's Maia, and yours?"

"My name is Gustavo," he gestured with his drinks.

"Well, it was nice to meet you, Gustavo," she said. "I have to get this water back to my friend."

Gustavo asked for her number so that she could keep in contact, and Maia obliged. Gustavo held the water in his hand, and the same arm held the Whiskey against his chest while his other hand typed her contact information into his phone. They went their separate ways.

"Bros, I think my luck is up," Gustavo said when he returned to the guys. He described the situation while they whirled their empty cups and looked around.

"I invited her to the watch party tomorrow and told her to wear a blue shirt," he said excitedly. "What're the odds that she comes with a blue shirt?"

"Bro, I don't give a damn," Leonard said. "You are doing all this gambling, and you should be worried about the $800 you put up. Better hope they win."

"They're favored 2-to-1. I wouldn't even be making a lot of money unless I bet a bunch," Gustavo reasoned.

The rest of the night was uneventful, and the guys called it early after a few more drinks. They tried hopping to some different bars but couldn't catch a vibe. Leonard dropped everybody off at their homes. Gustavo lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. It started whirling, so he flipped onto his stomach. He fell asleep with sweat on his forehead and a smile on his face.

The following day, Gustavo was awakened by a beam of sunlight peeking through a gap in the window blinds that shone straight onto his face. He checked his phone for notifications that weren't there, then opened up YouTube. The betting podcasts he followed put out a few clips about the Nuggets vs Timberwolves game, many confirming his bias. Gustavo grabbed a cold slice of pizza leftover from a few days earlier and envisioned how his clothing business would take off with the investment he'd inject after winning this bet.

Seven hours later, the Nuggets entered halftime with a 15-point lead. Gustavo told practically everyone about his wager and how the Nuggets were the greatest team in history. He didn't even care that Maia hadn't shown up yet.

The guys were hyped and trying to convince Eric, Chris's friend from work, that the Nuggets would win back-to-back championships. Eric was stocky, tattooed, and had a nice watch. He told the guys about moving out to Denver with some family because he got into some trouble out in Phoenix—trouble he didn't really want to talk about. The guys brushed it aside, assuring Eric that they weren't judging. Leonard reminded everybody that his '95 Taurus was a collector's item, so they should be more careful than they were last night if he would continue giving them rides.

As the halftime break was coming to an end, Gustavo received a text message from Maia. She said she had arrived. He glanced out the window and saw Maia exit her car with another girl.

"Oh, cool, there she is," he said. The guys turned to see.

"Maia?" Eric said, "Oh, and Syd too."

"You know her?" Gustavo asked.

"Yeah, Maia's my sister, bro," Eric said, chuckling while sipping beer. Gustavo was slightly relieved that they were only siblings, but he stopped himself from asking Eric how protective he was of his sister.

Maia walked in and saw Gustavo waving her over to the table. She wore a tight, dark blue shirt, beige cargo pants, and white Nike's. Her friend wore a fitted Nuggets cap, an Aaron Gordon jersey, khaki pants, and dark blue Jordan 11s. When they got close enough, Maia recognized Eric and rushed over for a hug. Eric and Syd dapped each other as Maia walked over to Gustavo.

"Hey there," Maia said, hugging him. She turned to Syd.

"Syd, this is Gustavo. Gustavo, this is my girlfriend, Syd."

Syd stuck her hand out with a smile. Gustavo feigned a smile and shook Syd's hand. She had a firm grip. He stood dumbfounded as Maia and Syd introduced themselves to the rest of the group. Finally, they settled in the two empty seats next to Gustavo. The second half of the game began. Maia looked up at the score and turned to Gustavo.

"So, how's it going with that life-changing bet you told me about," she asked teasingly.

He sipped his beer and muttered, "It looks like I might get lucky."

"Maia was telling me about that," Syd said, shaking her head. "You're better than me, but big risk, big payoff, right?"

"Yeah, that's what they say," Gustavo said.

Syd laughed and said, "Yeah, man. I don't have the guts for gambling. I have to be 100% sure about something or else. What happens if you're wrong, you know?"

"Yeah," Gustavo said. "It is what it is."