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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.

The ringing of a winning slot caught her attention again, and in her way  of forgetting things from one minute to the next, she'd forgotten that  the already frazzled Alec had already told her no twice, and not so  nicely either.

She'd learned over the years to gauge his moods, and steered clear of  him most of the time. But momma had said, 'Alec, you be a good boy and  take Jenna, let her see the sights, she's been cooped up in this house  all day.'

When she pulled on his arm, this time before she could form the words, his arm came down across her mouth drawing blood.

Now the men in the room had all gone back to their game of high stakes  poker, except for a few who kept sending her furtive looks, with  lascivious thoughts behind each one. To a man they all felt the same  thing, damn she might be slow but she was fuck hot, what a shame.

When the big man smacked the girl hard enough to draw blood, not too  many reacted to her cry of pain. But three occupants of the room did.  Two, because they knew their boss was about to lose his shit, and the  third because he was about to lose his shit.

He'd stayed out of the conversation for obvious reasons; he hated Alec  Petridis with a passion. The loud mouth and wise guy act didn't do  anything for him. He knew Alec wished he would deign to even spit on  him, but he never gave the other man the time of day. Alec just wasn't  his type of people.

From the moment the girl had first spoken, Andros had known what was  wrong. He'd been listening to voices like that almost his whole life.  First his sister Ali, before she'd died way too young, and then later,  all the kids he took care of at the specially built facility he'd  orchestrated, for children with all levels of autism.

He didn't like the way the prick had spoken to the innocent one, but he  stayed out of it. It was family business, and only a fool got in between  family. Plus he knew from experience, that someone like this Jenna was  loyal to a fault and loved wholeheartedly. At least that's how it had  been with Ali and now so with the others. But when she cried out that  was the last fucking straw.

He was up and out of his chair before the men gathered there knew what  was going on. There was a chorus of 'oh shit' coming from some factions,  and the two guards, although they'd known something like this might  happen, hadn't been quick enough. Some might even say they'd held back a  little.

Dragging a full magnum of Dom Perignon from the side table, he  approached the other man swiftly, bringing the bottle down across his  head; splitting his face open.

Chairs were scraped back, as men left their seats; the young frightened  Jenna set up a screeching sound loud enough to wake the dead, and Alec  writhed in pain on the floor, too stunned to know what the fuck had just  hit him.

Andros turned to his two guards, who were now flanking him. "Cash me out."

Only then did he turn to the girl, who had given up her screaming, to  stand cowering in the corner, rocking back and forth as she mumbled to  herself.

He approached her nonthreateningly, eyes glued to her face and her  moving lips. As he drew near, he could finally make out the words she  kept repeating over and over again.

"The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want." So innocent it almost broke his heart.

He knew what he was about to do, would bring down a shit storm on his  head. Alec was a made man in one of the leading underworld families in  the country.

Andros didn't give two fucks about that, but his grandpa would. Too  fucking bad, even gramps knew how he felt about shit like this, he'd  understand, or he wouldn't who gives a fuck.

"Come flower." He drew the girl slowly, gently from the corner, under  the watchful eyes of the room's occupants. By this time, the missing  Tina had returned, and was bellowing about what had happened to her  husband.

She flew at him when she saw him leaving the room with the girl in his arms.

"You fucking bastard."

"That would be your husband, tell your in-laws, if they want their daughter back, they'll have to deal with me."         



"What, are you crazy you stupid prick? You can't just take her, come Jenna."

She tried taking the young girl from his arms, but he shifted his body.

"The fact that you have a vagina would not stop me from breaking your  fucking face. Now step the fuck off, we're leaving she's had enough for  the day."