Gambling For The Virgin:A Dark Billionaire RomanceBy: Dark Angel & Alexis Angel
My small apartment feels safe to me now because I don’t want to leave the four tiny walls of my bedroom.
Not dressed the way I am. The scent of freshly laundered clothes clings to my nostrils, and sets me further on edge, rather than comfort me. I can’t feel at ease leaving home with what I'm about to do.
I can't possibly do this. I won't. That’s what I try and tell myself, because accepting this is hard to do. I grew up without role models. Without parents, for much of my life. No one tried to instill a sense of self-worth in me because no one was around to do it. The remaining members of my family all died in a family reunion house fire, but I'm still fighting the battle to have dignity and to maintain it despite any challenges that life throws my way. And if I do this thing for which I’m preparing, I lose any thread of that integrity I’d hoped to retain.
But I have to think about why I’m doing this. Why it matters more that I give up my self-worth. I'm doing this for my brother. He’s spiraled down as far as I can stand to see him go. The truth is, his drug and alcohol and gambling problems are already so out of control, I don’t know if there’s any further down he can fall. Me? I have almost nothing. In fact, all I have is him. So this is the sacrifice I make because my integrity matters less to me than my brother’s life. If I don’t save him, he'll die. And because I'm poor, and I have nothing but a dead-end diner job, and because I’m not sure what the hell else I want from life, I'm in the unique position of having just one thing to give.
I’m a virgin. I can give my virginity to one of the most notoriously ruthless, cutthroat casino owners that my brother owes the most money to. Giancarlo Sandoval is a notorious womanizer if the rumors are to be believed. I hope they are, because I’m hanging all my hope on it. The tang of fear is sliding down my throat with the chemical sweetness of lipstick further turning my stomach.
Rapping my fingernails nervously on the old wood of my vanity table one last time, I take a final look at myself in the mirror's reflection. I hope that I’ve done a good enough job with this makeup, and with this outfit, to catch his eye and make him consider my offer.
If I knew better what men wanted, I might not still be a virgin. The truth is I’ve never taken a real interest in men, in sex, or even in makeup or looking all that attractive.
Trying to help my brother has consumed the last seven years of my life, and now it has come to this. I’m staring at my too-pale face in the mirror, eyes ringed with more eyeliner and eyeshadow than it has seen in all the previous years of my life combined. A blazing red lipstick coats my lips with a luster that says ‘pay attention to me’ when all I’ve been content to do in the past was to go unnoticed. I smack my lips together, then make a kissy pout to the mirror.
I think I look exactly like someone trying to look desirable. I hope that reads well when Giancarlo sees me. I want to look the right amount of desperate, so that he’ll know I’m really willing to go this far. Hopefully, he’ll keep his word if I get him to entertain my offer.
I run my fingers through my hair one more time, tousling it so that I know it looks as good as it possibly can. I have my hair down in cascading auburn waves, the ringlets actually framing my face instead of being in their usual ponytail.
Looking over my reflection as if I’m looking at someone else, the hollow smile I spread over my face is as empty as I feel. Standing, I think about how I need to be strong. The time to be disgusted by my plan is ending now. Now I’m walking out of my apartment, and into Giancarlo Sandoval’s casino. Now, I’m the girl who’s going to try as hard as she can to strike a deal. I can’t be focusing on how badly I don’t want to do this.
The truth is that I don’t want to do this, but I also don’t want to suffer any of the consequences of not trying. I have nothing else to consider.
When I discovered my brother’s ledger, I was horrified by the story the numbers told. I saw the names, and after Googling for confirmation, I saw that all of these men owned casinos. I knew Tommy gambled. Tommy gambled, drank, slept with a ton of girls, and did whatever drugs came along for the ride. And he’d stopped working a long time ago. When he was doing well, he had tried to shower me with gifts. He bought me this vanity, telling me in one sober moment that he remembered our mother having one like it. But when things weren’t going well, he was scribbling in that ledger he kept in a small memo pad in his coat. His hair was too greasy and unkempt, and he stayed drunk, or high, or both. When he passed out in my bathroom, that ledger had fallen out of his pocket.
Circled so many times there was a hole in some parts of the pages where the tooth of the paper against the pen couldn't hold, and there was the name, Giancarlo Sandoval, and a number so large I gasped.
The numbers told me that he needed money. Well, that’s what they told me at first.
But the reality is that I need to prevent what the note written next to Giancarlo Sandoval’s name is forecasting.
‘Collecting or grave.’
Grave could only mean death. I have to do something about that. I can't let my brother get killed by some scummy whoring casino owner.
I have to stop the collection, which I know isn't going to be through angry phone calls or letters. It's going to be mobster shit, frankly, and I have to make some kind of deal.
My brother is my only family. I'll do anything for him. That's why I feel so conflicted. I know I'm going to do this. It's wrong, but because I need to save my brother—I'm the only one who can—I'm going to do something so wrong. For the right reasons.
Intention hardly matters. What matters is what I become. I'm going to offer my body to Giancarlo Sandoval. I'm a virgin, but I know brutish men look at women as a battle they get to conquer. I don't want to be a prize, a price, a payment.
I can't acquire money for my brother, but I can stop the collections. At least on this one major debt—a debt that can have such horrific consequences for my brother.
I walk out of my apartment, and when I hear the door close behind me, it isn’t like every other time I've left my apartment. It isn’t just the click of my heels on the tile outside of my unit. It's the metaphor in the sound of a slamming door that resonates with me.
People say that when life closes one door, another one opens. Well, I have no reason to believe that’s true unless I’m the one opening the doors. When my brother couldn’t take care of me, I used that chance to get a job at a diner. I used to think it would just be to afford school supplies, and clothes as I was still growing. But I’ve worked at J City’s Diner for the past five years now, and that’s just how it has to be.
Now I have to save my brother from getting his limbs chopped off by some mobster … and then I’ll figure out what to do next after that.
It's scary. I want to have a better plan. I do. But I have no idea what that plan is yet.
Those thoughts make me stop walking right here on the stairs, and I can’t breathe for a second.
But I think of my brother, and I know that if he's ruining his life, unable to stop making these terrible decisions, or get a hold of his addiction, then I'll get him free of at least his debts with the only currency I have. I work hard to be an independent woman, but in the end, it comes down to the fact that I'm still a woman. I need to use that rather than ignore it, because if Giancarlo accepts my virginity in exchange for my brother's debts at Giancarlo’s Wicked Paradise Casino, then I can turn this awful reality into something good. It just takes one vile act.
It's despicable to offer my body up for payment. An exchange of parting my thighs for a pardoning of a debt? I can’t keep gripping my steering wheel this hard because I'll squeeze it off. I hate to drive angry. Driving is supposed to be the calming activity that I do every day, and now, driving over to Wicked Paradise, I’m ready to explode with all the fury burbling in my belly.
I wonder if my brother fell apart one bad choice at a time.
Even if this leads to my own downward spiral, it's my choice to take this chance. I have to try and save my brother. He matters more to me than myself. I grip the steering wheel hard, this time because I’m parking and steeling myself for walking into the Wicked Paradise Casino. I breathe deep my last breath as a free woman.
When I stroll inside the casino, it isn’t hard to find him. Some people like to be the center of attention, and that must be the case with Giancarlo Sandoval. I spot him instantly. Undeniably, that’s him.
That breathtaking jawline, those sharp features … he’s older, but age has done nothing to make him less attractive. I can’t imagine a younger version of him being any more attractive than he is now. He’s got a single gray streak in his dark, tousled hair that accentuates how sexy he is.
I have to take a moment to appreciate his face. Giancarlo is a wicked man, but his face is a thing of beauty. The lines on his face aren't etchings that mar, they're character that adds to the carved-from-marble look he has. I bet his body, obviously fit beneath his suit, is just as David's Michelangelo. Really, his whole body is worth looking at an extra second or two.
Fuck, I'm trying to keep my cool, and I'm looking at his soulful, too-charming eyes, and his devious come-fuck-with-me-I-dare-ya grin.