Authors: Carmen Faye
He went faster still, and my breathing matched his pounding because he was lying on my chest, forcing the air in and out at the same pace his hips were bucking against me. I moaned. He grunted in my ear, and his breathing was as fast as mine, his voice hoarse, the rasping sound of his pleasure turning me on even more.
The orgasm started building. It started as a hot wave that bloomed from my core and started filling me, like cup of warm water that was heading towards overflowing. My body jerked under his more and more often, expecting the pending orgasm.
When it hit me it shattered through me so hard that I cried out. My body curled around Rip’s, legs closing around his hips and nails digging into his shoulders. He moved slower while I orgasmed, riding it out with me. When it finally drained out of my body again, I untangled myself from Rip. He smiled down at me when I opened my eyes.
He kissed me, and I let him taste me and swirl his tongue around my mouth.
When he broke the kiss, his face was riddled with concentration. He started moving inside of me again, faster and faster. I cried out, feeling him even more now that I was sensitive and so much tighter.
He pumped in and out of me, instinct kicking in and taking over.
I knew he was close when his strokes shortened and his speed became mechanical. A moment later he groaned, his body jerked on top of mine, and I felt him spasm inside of me, ejaculating inside of me. He filled me up even more than he already was.
The orgasm seemed to last a while, and then it subsided. He calmed down on top of me, breathing hard in my ear, and then he became limp.
He slipped out of me and then rolled to the side.
“Oh, my God,” Rip said.
And yes, the sex had been amazing. Turned out he wasn’t just a good cards partner; he was also really good in bed. This just couldn’t go any further between us.
I turned to him. We didn’t spoon or cuddle like couples did because we weren’t a couple.
“Tomorrow,” I said.
“We’ll nail ‘em.”
I nodded. We would. And I was happy that we ended the night on a small note of business. That was how it ought to be between us.
Lady Luck wasn’t on the strip where I’d spotted the other casinos when I’d first come to Cali. It was in a quiet part of town, a place I’d initially pinned as residential. Now that it was nighttime and the younger crowd had crawled out of their holes, I noticed that there were more businesses that catered to the nightlife in this area.
Alex and I walked to Lady Luck. We were dressed to the nines. She wore a red dress with a low neckline, and it pressed up her breasts and made them look fantastic. The dress was form-fitting, showing off her ass as well. Red was obviously her signature color, and she’d really chosen well.
She’d done her hair up in a loose kind of bun with strands that escaped and framed her face. Simple silver jewelry with it made her look elegant, not neglected. I loved having her on my arm, and seeing the men who looked our way.
She wasn’t mine, but she was with me, and that was more than enough.
She’d managed to unearth a suit for me from a box in her attic. I couldn’t quite figure out whom it had belonged to in her life, but it was awesome. The weave must have had satin in it because it shimmered in the light, and paired with one of my own gray collar shirts it looked like a million bucks. I didn’t wear a tie. Instead, I left the collar open.
I felt like a king walking into Lady Luck with Alex by my side.
The casino was as brilliant as Harlan Gold but in a different way. Everything was decorated in cream and brown, as if people came here to be sophisticated rather to lose their minds. The same kind of laughter, chatter, and clinking of glasses hung in the air though, and the familiar ring of slots laced it all with the fact that this was still a gambling joint.
I was nervous. I reached up to my collar, wanting to tug on a tie I wasn’t wearing. I didn’t need anyone unsavory to recognize me now, and Alex had a name around town, too. If anyone recognized her, or me, or the both of us together, we were going to be in trouble.
Alex’s hand was wrapped around my arm, and she squeezed. It was the only sign that she was nervous. She had a perfect smile plastered onto her face with the white teeth and a nude lipstick. Her eyes slid over the room, taking everything in.
I had a look, too, but I doubted I looked as nonchalant as she did.
“Stop fiddling,” she said close to my ear. “You look like you have something to hide.”
My poker face was obviously not as solid as hers, and considering that I was the one who was going to play poker here tonight, that was reason for concern.
“You’re going to be fine,” she said again in a low voice, as if she’d been reading my mind.
“It doesn’t look like there’s anyone here that knows us,” I said. I hadn’t seen any familiar faces, but what was more, no one had seemed to notice us and do a double take.
This was good news. I breathed out and Alex relaxed her grip on my sleeve.
“We’re heading in there,” Alex said, nodding to the private section. She’d been here before once or twice. I glanced past the bouncers and saw men in tuxes sitting around a table, smoking cigars and drinking drinks that looked more expensive than they tasted good.
I was glad Alex had made me dress up. In my leather jacket, I wouldn’t have fit in.
We went to the bar and ordered drinks. I ordered a whiskey on ice. Alex ordered something tall and pink that I didn’t catch the name of. I had a lot of money in my wallet that I’d taken from my duffel bag, and I was going to swap most for chips before I entered the private section.
The whiskey wasn’t exactly my thing, but it seemed like the right thing to do and I knew that it was a very good brand. Lady Luck didn’t look like the kind of place that would rip a man off with cheap alcohol under poured.
After getting my hands on my chips, we headed toward the private section. The bouncer stepped in front of us.
“I have been personally invited to play by Mr. Tucci,” I said.
The bouncer nodded and looked Alex up and down. Something protective made me want to tell him right where he could go with his lustful stare, but the guy was almost three times my size so I kept my mouth shut.
“She can’t go in with you,” she bouncer said. When I looked at Alex, she seemed taken aback by this new arrangement.
“Is the private section off-limits for dates?” I asked, careful not to call her my partner and get us in trouble.
The bouncer shook his head.
“Usually, no, but tonight is gentleman’s only. Mr. Tucci’s request.”
There was nothing I could do about that, and Alex knew it, too. She kissed me on the cheek, pressing her body up against mine so that the bouncer cleared adjusted his pants. She was acting for the sake of the crowd, I knew, but holy shit having her sidle up to me like that was hot as hell.
“I’ll see you later, honey,” she said in a sultry voice. “I’ll find something to entertain myself while you’re in there. Good luck.”
I kissed her hand, keeping eye contact as I did. Her smile was syrupy, but her eyes were sharp and full of warning. Don’t fuck up.
I let her go and she shimmied into the crowd, hips swaying, ass wiggling. I whistled long and low.
“Are you read to go in?” the bouncer asked. I nodded, clutching onto my almost-empty glass of whiskey now that I didn’t have Alex by my side.
“Ready,” I said, even though I really wasn’t.
The table was a rectangle with the dealer in the middle on the one side. The table had its classic felt top and there were small drink holders all around it so that we didn’t leave watermarks.
I placed my drink in the cup holder, sat down, and a waiter came to me right away.
“Can I fill that up for you, sir?” he asked.
I nodded. I liked being called sir. “Three fingers,” I said, and the boy walked away with one hand behind his back and my drink in the other.
The men started coming in one by one. They all wore expensive looking suits, from cashmere to satin to something I didn’t recognize, and they looked comfortable in it, like this was their usual attire. I rolled my shoulders and watched them, adopting their laid-back attitudes, looking like I came from money, too.
The chips on the table sure suggested I was worth this game.
An older man came to sit opposite me. A grey mustache crawled along his top lip, and when he smiled, it was a little off-balance, as if a part of his face didn’t work right. Still, those watery eyes were sharp as nails, and I doubted anything would get by him.
There was a man wearing a cowboy hat and a leopard print suit that must have cost a fortune and looked like shit, and a tall young man that looked too young for the drink he was holding in his hand. Daddy’s money, I was guessing, looking at the suit that was expensive but slightly too big.
There were no women, as promised. And I was starting to get really nervous. Alex was somewhere out there, not here to reassure me, and I had only learned how to play this game properly this week. She should have been the one doing this. She would have been cool and confident about it, and taken all their money.
I had been a fool thinking that she was the one beneath me. She was the kingpin, and I should have given all of this to her to take care of.
That and my balls of a silver platter. What was I thinking? I was a man, for God’s sake, and I had played this game of give and take for years. I knew what I was doing. I gave myself one hell of a pep talk while the last couple of men came in and took their seats.
My drink had reappeared next to me at some point, and I took it out of the holder, sipping it. The whiskey got better the more I drank it. Maybe I would order it again some time.
Finally, the game was called to order and we were off.
I was dealt a seven and a three. Bad hand, as far as I knew, but Alex had told me that it didn’t matter what the odds were, it mattered what the others had. She didn’t just count cards, she read people, and she was damn good at it, too. And she kept track of when those guys folded when each card was put out so that she knew what the odds were of the others’ hands.
I couldn’t do that as well as she could.
She also had a gut feel that bordered on psychic. I’d seen it this week when we’d played each other. She won every time, playing as if she knew my cards every time, even when I was the one dealing them in.
“Mr. Reeker, your bet,” the dealer said, and I realized it was my turn. I pushed two stacks of chips onto the table to match what everyone else had put in, and the game started.
The first card deal was a two. Two jacks. And then a queen. There was nothing in my favor. The bet went up and I folded. I couldn’t do this.
I didn’t rub the sweat off my forehead. Alex had told me not to; it was a sign of distress and they were going to see it and know what it meant, know what to look for. But I was distressed and my poker face wasn’t as good as it should be. Fuck, what if I messed up? What if I lost everything? I wouldn’t just have Alex on my case, but I would have Tucci after me with a gun. Like I needed another set of hitmen to take me out.
The old man won the round and grinned, showing yellowed teeth from all the smoking. He scraped the chips closer and meticulously stacked them. I was willing to bet he was doing it to rub it in our faces.
There wasn’t a lot of talking around the table. The few men who knew each other threw snide comments around, but the rest of us were quiet, concentrating on the cards. I was grateful that there was no distraction.
The next hand was a seven and an eight. Better than last if I got the right cards. I put in my bet and the added extra for the small blind, and the cards were dealt. A king. A five. An ace that I couldn’t use. I wanted to chew my lip. I wanted to wipe my head on my sleeve. Instead, I focused on making the exact same face Alex did and did none of those things that would give me away.
A ten. If I got a nine now I was going to have a straight and I could take this. I glanced at the others. The cowboy was chewing his lower lip. The old man had half of his face twitching slightly. The younger guy looked like he was made of stone. Not much to go by, and I hadn’t concentrated when the others had folded. Shit.
We all had to bet again because someone raised. Check. Another someone raised. There were some good cards going around. My stomach did a little flip and I felt like I was going to be sick. Check again.
And then the last card was flipped. A nine. Holy shit.
I put my cards down, not looking too excited about it, trying to keep the flurry of emotion inside. I took the round and the chips on the table were all mine. It was an accident, but I’d played the way Alex had taught me and it was working.
It was working.
Confidence shot into me, making me sit up straighter. I was in this game now, ready to take on the men around me. Oldie across from me noticed the change and frowned. He didn’t know what he was seeing. Just to be a pain in the ass, I fussed over stacking the chips the same way he had. Two could play at this game.
I was eager for the next round. I resisted rubbing my hands together. Cocky and arrogant were two words that didn’t fit in with what was happening tonight. All I had to do was focus, and if I did was going to be able to pay Tucci a good amount of money and Alex and I were still going to be able to split quite a bit or ourselves.
She would be proud of me. The lessons had paid off. Turned out I wasn’t a dumb fuck after all. I had worth.