House Rules(2)

By: Rebecca Brooke



Without a word, I counted the chips and dropped them into the center of the table. “Flip ’em.”

I leaned back in my chair, waiting for Wasden to make the call. A slight chill caught my skin and I looked over my shoulder to see the back door closing, a long legged brunette having walked back in. I watched her intently as she made her way to the bar, leaning her elbow against the wooden top and cocking a knee, making her ass jut out at just the perfect angle.

Her clothes were simple: a plain black dress, and a pair of high heeled shoes the color of emeralds. Nothing special, yet enough to hold my attention. Her hair cascaded down her back and as she ran a hand loosely through the curly mane, I imagined it spread across my pillows, the dark chocolate color in stark contrast to my white sheets. She called to the barman and such was my effort to hear what she was saying, I almost missed Wasden call and flip his cards.

Almost.

Unsurprisingly, all he had were two pair, Jacks high. The smile on his face fell when I flipped my own cards.

“Fuck you. A goddamn flush?” He stood so fast his chair fell backward, clattering to the ground.

All heads turned in our direction. Leaning over the table, I steepled my hands in front of me, my teeth clenched tight as I did everything to keep my ass in the chair instead of jumping out of it and beating the ever-loving shit out of the motherfucker in front of me.

“I suggest you pick up the chair and sit your ass down, Wasden. And if you continue to behave like a fucking animal in my club, I’ll be forced to teach you how to behave properly.” My voice was low and dangerous.

At least half the people in the room took a step back. Almost everyone knew I didn’t tolerate people acting like assholes just because they lost. Wasden put his hands up, then turned to pick up the chair.

“Now sit your ass down, or settle up and leave.”

Wasden’s eyes darted around the room. The rest of the men seated at the table didn’t say a word. They waited to see what Wasden would decide to do. I sat back and waited myself.

“I’ll play,” he said quietly, taking his seat carefully.

Smart bastard knew to be careful, which was a good thing because my temper was teetering right on the edge. The dealer looked at me and waited for the signal to deal the cards. I nodded and the game began again. Another drink had been placed in front of me and I let the alcohol cool the anger that had raced through my veins. The first hand after Wasden’s meltdown was played conservatively by everyone at the table.

Hand after hand we played, the pots growing with each round. Wasden won one or two, but nothing significant. His hands shook every time he pushed chips into the center. I was curious as to what caused his panic. I’d been in this game a long time, and I knew sweats like that were only caused by owing money to someone; someone bad.

Someone like me.

But he didn’t owe me any money. Which begged the question who exactly he owed money to.

If he didn’t owe Ashton, there was only one other person in town that it could be. I’d have to text Ashton on the next break in the action.

I put my phone down and waited for an answer. The hand continued. I knew this hand was mine no matter what anyone else had in theirs. Four of a kind Kings. There were only two hands that could beat mine: four of a kind Aces, or a straight flush. With only the river card remaining and no Aces or consecutive cards in the same suit in sight, those hands were impossible. Carson flipped the river card.

Ten of hearts.

My eyes were immediately drawn to Wasden. He would be the easiest read. Like always, when he thought he had a winning hand he bounced his leg, making his whole body shake. This time he was wrong. He didn’t have much in front of him on the table, but I had a feeling if I bet correctly, I could take him for what he had left.

“Check.” I kept my posture the same. Any movement would give away what I held.

Carson tossed a stack of chips into the center. “Two grand.”

“I’m out,” said Sampson, sliding his cards, face down, into the center.

The play turned to Sullivan. The expression on his face almost blank, except for the slight twitch at the corner his left eye. Most likely whatever he held in his hand was decent. He scanned the other players, trying to decide if he could bluff the rest of us out.

Not likely.

Eventually, he picked up the necessary chips and tossed them into the center. “Call.”

We all looked to Wasden. He lifted his cards one last time and pushed forward his chips. “Twenty-five hundred.”

Carson nodded and grabbed the needed chips from his pile. “Three.”

“Call.” I needed one more of them to fold before I could force Wasden’s hand.

“Eight grand.”

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