Chapter 1, page 7

As I sat there waiting for Matt’s reply, a sudden chill ran up my spine. Was he simply gearing up for another verbal assault? But that would be out of character for him. Then I remembered what I had done less than a minute ago and quickly turned the volume on the phone back up. When I was able to hear his voice again I managed to catch the tail end of his response. “…cut and run.”

With what I had already heard and what I knew about Matt, it wasn’t all that difficult to fill in the missing words. “Listen Matt, you’re worrying too much.”

“No Marc. I’m not! You are only as good as you are at hold’em because you change the occasional card. The local tables you went to don’t use cameras and you’ve been lucky to boot. You can’t rely on luck to keep avoiding the trouble you’re due.”

“Would it make you feel any better if I told you that Dempsey doesn’t use cameras on his tables either?” His rather loud scoff answered the question as clearly as anything he might have said. But I was getting impatient with the length of this argument so I elaborated. “When he first started this thing yes, he used cameras, five years ago he stopped it when it became painfully obvious that no one was cheating him.”

Exasperated, Matt automatically replied, “Just because he stopped doesn’t mean he can’t or won’t bring them back.”

“Matt, you just have to trust me, I’ll be fine. Besides I’ll fit the part of a spoiled rich kid.” Biting my lower lip I mentally hoped that his curiosity would latch onto that crumb. At least with that conversation I would be able to turn some of my attention back to the video stream.

“Yeah? And just how are you going to manage that?” The resignation behind this question told me that while he was still reluctant to change the topic, he knew that I would never back down and withdraw from the tournament. He didn’t like it, but he was accepting that it was my decision. A decision that I would probably pay for later.

“You’d be surprised just how far you can go with one million dollars, despite needing to keep half for my fee.”

“You managed to loot a million dollars on your trek down there?”

I had been hoping that the sheer amount of what I had been able to collect would bring him around, but while a part of him was definitely impressed as a whole, he was still distracted. I felt like screaming at him to forget that Dempsey was involved. I mean collecting that money had been part of the reason I decided to do this in the first place. While we had more than enough funds in our petty cash buckets to both pay the fee and deck me out for tomorrow, I had wanted to test myself and figured that a cross-country trip would allow me to do just that. Of course, I had had to start relatively small, but once I had managed to get the first quarter it was smooth sailing the rest of the way.

“Is any of what you’re bringing one of your transformed goodies?”

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