“The scene of the crime?” She’s hilarious. Says the craziest things.
“Yes. Where we met.” She stares at me with a look that says duh. “Remember?”
“Trust me. I remember every detail about that night.”
I can still feel her glaring at me and I’m tempted to say something else but I don’t. It’s best I leave it alone. Focus on driving. Focus on my anger towards Gabe because what the hell. Why can’t he take care of this problem? It’s not that big of a deal.
We arrive within minutes and I park the car out on the street, directly in front of the house. We make any and all so-called patrons of our establishment park down the street so as not to call too much attention and so far since we started this little side business two years ago, we’ve been successful in doing just that.
“I won’t be long,” I tell her as I put the car into park. “A few minutes, tops.”
“I’m staying in the car,” Jade says when I turn off the engine.
“Whatever. It’s your choice.” I don’t feel like arguing. We could go round and round in circles wasting precious time. Besides, she might be safer in the car. I have no idea what’s going on inside.
The moment I enter the house and see the six-foot-five gorilla sitting at the blackjack table with his meaty fingers curled around the edge of the table, his expression one of pure fury, I know it’s a huge deal. This guy is massive. Gigantic. With closely cropped dark brown hair and murder in his pale blue eyes, his face so red he looks ready to explode, all earlier plans of how to approach him evaporate.
“He’s been sitting like that for the past five minutes,” Gabe says out of the side of his mouth when I come to stand beside him. He’s leaning against the wall, his arms crossed in front of him, his gaze never leaving our subject. “Doesn’t move, doesn’t say a word, just his face keeps getting redder and redder.”
“How much has he had to drink?” I evaluate the scene. No one else is currently sitting at the blackjack table. In fact, the entire place is pretty much empty, which is typical of a Sunday night. Business is usually slow. But not this slow.
“Plenty of beer. I don’t think that’s the problem though. He’s been in here before. I recognize him. Name’s Stan. Football player.” Gabe turns to look at me, his expression serious. “I think he’s on something.”
I frown. “Like what?” Drinking happens here. We encourage it. Makes everyone looser with their bets. Drugs? Can’t necessarily escape it because we’re in college and it feels like everyone’s doing drugs. Prescription medication, weed, and cocaine seem to be the drugs of choice lately, but we don’t usually have a problem with anyone getting out of control while under the influence.
“Coke,” Gabe says, shaking his head. “I just spoke to one of his friends. Says Stan here can get real angry sometimes when he’s done too much coke.”
“Fucking great,” I mutter as I start to head over to the table. The dealer—Patrick, great guy, a senior, sad to see him graduate—looks nervous as hell, his gaze skittering to mine briefly before he returns his attention to Stan the Gorilla. “Hey Stan. What’s the problem here?” I keep my voice light, my approach friendly. Don’t want to rile this guy up any more than he already is.
He blinks slowly, his eyes narrowing as he tips his head forward. “Who the fuck are you?”
I wave a hand at Patrick. “Head on out, bro. I got this handled.”
Patrick doesn’t say a word, just scurries his skinny ass out of there like his jeans are on fire.
“I own this place,” I tell Stan, smiling at him. “And we’re just about ready to close down for the night so I’m afraid you’re going to have to leave.”
I swear Stan’s fingers tighten even harder around the edge of the blackjack table. I hope like hell he doesn’t break it. “Fuck you,” he says, his voice slow and thick. “I’m not going anywhere, asshole. Need to win my money back before I leave.”
“Afraid you’ll have to come back another night to do that.” I reach out to grab his arm but he shrugs me off, his expression tight, his eyes dull. The dude is clearly wasted. “Come on, no need to be stubborn.”
“Fuck you and your pansy ass talk. I’m not leaving until I can play enough hands to win back the money I came here with,” he slurs, his head lolling to the side before he snaps back to attention.
Hell. How much did this guy drink? And how much coke did he do? Oh and… “How much did you lose?”
Stan smiles, his eyelids drooping. He looks ready to pass out. “Forty bucks.”
That’s it? Big fucking deal. I got this. I go behind the table where Patrick stood and scan the various chips before I lift my head and meet Stan’s gaze. “Let’s play then.”
He is taking way too long and I’m starting to freak out. What if something’s gone wrong inside? They won’t call the cops to handle their problems. What they’re doing is illegal.
God, look at me. Yes, me. Straight laced, good girl Jade Frost is hanging out with a billionaire spoiled sexy brat who runs an illegal freaking casino in a house just off campus. What have I done? Who am I, for God’s sake?
Heaving a big sigh, I push open the heavy door and climb out of his luxurious Mercedes, slamming the door behind me. I’m heading up the walk when I spot two girls sitting on a couch on the front porch of the house, the both of them gawking at me like I’m some sort of celebrity who magically appeared.
“Did you just get out of Shep Prescott’s car?” one of them asks, her voice full of wonder.
Oh, here we go. Shep groupies. “I did,” I say with a lift of my chin. I hope they don’t want to beat me up or pull out my hair or whatever.
“Wow,” the other one says, drawing out the word so it sounds more like woooooow. “Rumor has it he doesn’t let any girl get in his car. Not even his mom.”
His mom doesn’t even live in this state but whatever. “Is that so?”
“Yeah,” the first one pipes up. “He won’t even fuck a girl in the backseat. Too afraid he’ll get his leather interior dirty and sweaty and…wet.” They both dissolve into giggles.
Um, this is awkward. Even more awkward? That what they’re telling me actually makes me…happy. If what they’re saying is true, I feel some sort of strange honor that I’m supposedly the first girl to ride in his car.
“Hey.” The second one straightens up, her giggling coming to a halt. “Aren’t you in my communications class?”
I tilt my head, studying her. She’s cute, with long golden blonde hair pulled into a high ponytail and clear blue eyes. Her boobs are about ready to burst out of the deep V of her pale pink T-shirt and she’s wearing extremely short denim cutoffs. “I think so,” I tell her though truthfully, I don’t recognize her. That class is ginormous though so there’s a good chance she’s right.
“I knew it!” She smiles brightly, her ponytail swishing. “My name is Emily and this is Emma.”
Emily and…Emma? Oh good lord. “Nice to meet you,” I say with a smile.
“We like to call ourselves Em and Em.” Emma smiles and nudges Emily with an elbow. “Get it?”