The Gambler

By: Jordan Silver

Chapter 1

The room was filled with cigar smoke and whiskey fumes. Men in suits, and some down to their silk shirts and slacks, sat around the table, all in deep concentration. All except Andros, he was among the youngest there, but had the least to lose.

While most were playing for keeps, some to cover other debt, some to break even, the kid was playing just for the love of the game; the thrill of the next big hand. His billions were safely tucked away; this was his play money.

Every month give or take, he took The City by storm. He'd built a rep as a pro, but the truth was, he had no formal training. He'd learned at his grandfather's knee; the old sea horse had taught him that and plenty more.

In the beginning, when he'd been an unknown to the gambling world, people had called him a thief, a card cheat. No one believed that one man could have that much luck at the tables. The kid, as he was fondly called had, the Midas touch.

After many head bashings and the truth about what he did with most of his winnings leaked, they'd changed their tunes. Of course once they realized who he really was, everyone wanted to be his friend. Andros didn't make friends; he didn't trust anything with a heartbeat.

Alec Petridis came into the room. Mr. Big-shot with the loud mouth and the flashy clothes. He had a hard on for Andros. Jealousy and envy were the culprits that fueled that particular hatred, plus the fact that Andros blatantly looked down his nose at Alec, and made it a point to let the other man know exactly what he thought of him, with just a look.

There were voices raised in salutation, as the men around the table noticed the new comer. Each man had a hot new thing on the arm of his chair; their good luck pieces. Not so Andros, he just had his two bodyguards behind his chair, eyeing down the whole room.

Most of the men in the room understood that the guards were there, not to protect Andros from the room, but to protect the room from Andros. It was something his grandpa had implemented a while back, when the hotheaded youth, who'd been twenty-two at the time, had leveled a room because of a slight.

When he got like that, it took both men to reign him in, which was funny, because each of them were built like a Mack truck, while Andros, though not small, was more wiry than muscle bound.

Alec noticed Andros sitting at the head of the table, looking like he owned the joint. He hated everything about the other man, his wealth, his looks, the way he carried himself like he was a fucking king.

Most of all, he hated how everyone else pandered to the guy, like his shit didn't stink. While he Alec, a made fucking man in the Bonata family, barley got the respect and honor he deserved.

"Alec I wanna go over there." The words came out slow and a little stilted.

No one had noticed the young girl standing in Alec's shadow; most turned to look, again except Andros.

"I said later Jenna, fuck."

"Al who you got there?" Jimmy two toes peered at the sweet young thing from head to toe. She was a shy little thing, the way she hid behind Alec, but when she peaked out at him, he knew right away something was off. The girl, or at closer inspection woman, had something wrong with her upstairs.

"It's my kid sister, pain in the ass. Why my moms thought I should let her tag along with me and Tina, I don't fucking know; now Tina's in the lady's room and I'm stuck with the gimp.

"Alec come." The girl pulled on her brother's arm to get him to move. It was the bright lights and clashing sounds of the slot machines that had caught her attention.

Alec, after hours spent on the drive up, was at the end of his rope. He hated having anything to do with his sister. She was an embarrassment, and he wondered not for the first time, why his parents hadn't gotten rid of her twenty- one years ago when she was born?

"Stop pulling on my fucking arm Jenna damn, I said no already."

He pulled his arm away roughly, as her lips started to tremble and her eyes filled with tears.

In her innocence, she understood rejection very well; she could never understand why her big brother hated her so much, when she loved him with all her heart. In fact she loved everyone like that, even the mailman who’d sometimes brought her candy when mom let her sit out on the porch to wait for him when she was younger.

Mom and dad loved her she knew, because they were always telling her; and even Tina, her brother's wife was kind to her. But not Alec, and he was the one she most wanted to love her. Love thy brother as thyself, that's what the priest at St. Ignatius had said a long long time ago and she'd never forgotten it.