“I’m here to ask…to plead with you…to please not take our home.”
Tears welled, and she fought to keep them at bay. Everything she had done to this point – selecting the clothes to wear, acting demure – had
all been fake, affectations meant to help sway Darren to her way, to somehow help him want to give in to her request. The tears, though,
they were real, and she grew frustrated at her inability to control them as one tear streaked down her cheek.
“Well, honey, I’m afraid that’s a done deal.”
Becky dropped from her chair, down on her knees, her hands on the front edge of his desk. “Please, Mr….” she wasn’t sure what his last name
“Just Darren,” he said.
“Please Darren, don’t take our house.”
He smiled, stood, and walked around to the front of his desk, then sat on the edge. He leaned down, cupped her face, turning her up to look
into his eyes.
“What will you do to save it?” he asked.
“What would you like?”
He let go of her face, leaned back and laughed. “Honey, you know what I want, and the way you’re dressed, I think you came to give it to
“I…” Becky started to protest, to attempt a show of indignation, but no words came. She looked around the room, saw several stacks of cards
and poker chips on a table in the corner.
“I’ll play you for it,” she said.
The elicited another round of laugher from Darren.
“And why would I do that?” he asked. “I already have your house, and apparently I have your husband, too. It'll take him years to work off
his debt to me. What else could he give me?” With that he reached down, ran his fingers through her long, blonde hair.
A shiver ran through Becky.
“You don’t have me,” she said, her voice little more than a whisper. It killed her to say that, to put her own body on the line, but she was
desperate. She closed her eyes and held her breath as he stroked her hair, leaning over until his mouth almost touched her ear.
“That’s right,” Darren said, his voice hoarse.
Becky could tell she held his interest now, that perhaps she could negotiate their way out of this. She screwed up all of her courage,
opened her eyes and turned to look him directly in the face.
“You’re a gambling man,” she said, fighting to keep her voice even, strong. “How ‘bout we have a game for it. A night of poker.”
Darren sat up straight. “You want to play me for a chance to keep your house?” He laughed again.
Becky stood. She was tall, so she could stare straight into his eyes. “Yes.”
“What would you have us play to save your house.”
“You decide. Any card game. I win, I get the house. You take it from Pete and deed it over to me.”
“And what do I get if … when, you lose?”
She reached up, slowly, tantalizingly unfastening the top two buttons on her blouse, then leaned forward so that Darren could get a good
view. “This is what you get,” she said.
Darren’s eyes grew big, he licked his lips, and for the first time since walking into this dump, Becky felt confident. She had him – not
that her body was remarkably better than any other woman someone like Darren could have (or buy), but it was the body at hand, and all men
are the same. And Becky had two talents Darren didn’t know about – she could count cards, remember everything that was played, no matter how
many decks were being used, and she had an incredible mind for math, able to calculate odds and statistics. She almost never lost at any
form of poker.
She reached out, slipped her finger under his chin and lifted, pointing his face back at hers.
He swallowed hard, then smiled. “Okay, you have a deal. Tuesday night, there will be six of us, playing five-card draw.”
He placed his finger on her lips before she could get another word out.
“Yes, me, four of my associates, and you, playing five-card draw. The rules are simple – if you lose while there are still five men in play,
we all get you, for however long we desire. If one or two men are eliminated before you, then those remaining get you. If you somehow manage
to get through the whole game, then you walk away with the deed.”
She considered his offer, but only for a moment. She really had little choice.
“Deal,” she said.
“But there is a $75,000 buy-in. You have that cash?”
Her heart sank. She stared into his eyes for several moments, then reluctantly shook her head indicating no.
“I can stake you to it,” he said.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
“But I get a little taste of you here, now.”
Becky’s blood ran cold. She knew there was a chance she could lose Tuesday night, especially with that many people, multiple decks, in play.
And that would mean Darren, or maybe many men, would take her, but that was days away, with a chance none of it would happen.
But here, now? She wasn’t prepared for that.
“I can’t…I mean…I'm not ready, I...”
He shrugged. “Then I take your house tomorrow, unless you have another way to raise seventy-five grand.”
Becky closed her eyes, breathed in hard, then nodded. “Ten minutes. You have me for ten minutes.”
She shuddered when he stepped beside her, hands running through her hair. “Ten minutes for $75,000?”
He stepped around behind her. “Well then, we best get started.”