Chapter 1, page 11

Besides Matt was worrying about problems that would never come to pass. I would be very surprised if Dempsey actually showed up at the tournament; it would be some trusted lackey running the game. Not that the possibility of his presence hadn’t crossed my mind, but after thinking it through, I had decided there was no way he was going to be present. He must have more important things to do than to attend a little poker tournament. The main reason I doubted that he would show was because, while I doubted the reputed size of his organization, I didn’t doubt its actual existence. And no matter how large or small it might be, things like that tended to require a lot of micromanagement, or so I have been told.

For some reason this thought reminded me of the halfhearted promise I had given Matt. I knew he had wanted more, but there was no way I would handicap myself like that, not when I wasn’t entirely certain what I was walking into. There were going to be too many goons, some obviously armed others not so obviously, in that warehouse with me. And I was not going to enter a building like that unless I could defend myself. It just wasn’t going to happen. Now I was sure that was why he was trying to get the promise, but the real reason I flat out refused to make that promise was, I was determined to win the game, no matter what. If I needed to change a card here or there in order to do so, then I wasn’t going to hesitate.

Forcing the conversation out of my mind I went back to watching my video feed. But after another minute or two I decided that there was nothing to be gained by surveillance, not live anyway. Double checking that there was enough ample memory left for the night, I placed the camera back down and let my mind wander. It seemed clear that either any work that needed to be done had already been done or there had been an entrance I missed. While I was at the warehouse I had toyed with the thought of an underground entrance, but had quickly dismissed the idea as being fanciful.

Now I wished I had checked anyway. And at this point, worrying was not going to do me any good, so it was best to just forget about what was done and think about what was coming. I kept trying to tell myself that the past wouldn’t kill me, but every time I did, a little voice in my head would mutter that the mistakes of the past certainly could. I had trouble arguing with this

logic, but there was nothing to be gained by dwelling on it. Fighting off exhaustion, I began to rub my face with both hands. I could do a quick survey of the tape when I woke up. There was sure to be something to watch in the morning, and hopefully, it would be to be more interesting than anything I had seen so far.

Reaching for hotel phone, I decided I needed something to eat and maybe something to drink, but nothing too strong. Matt was right about one thing, I had to keep my wits about me. Once I placed my order I stretched out on the bed and waited for the night to be over.

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