House Rules(4)By: Rebecca Brooke
“Fine. Flip ’em.” I said, forcing the issue.
I’d have time to inspect my winnings later. Much later, back at my place. I’d never force a woman into my bed, but damn if I wouldn’t do my best to convince the woman in front of me there was no better place to be.
“Full house.” Turning the cards, the ten of clubs and diamonds came into view.
Theresa clearly knew something about poker because her shoulders relaxed and her arms dropped to her side. Wasden entwined his fingers with hers.
In a deliberate move, I flipped each card over slowly. The first King came into view and Wasden swallowed hard. When I flipped over the next one, the card landing right under Wasden’s nose, taunting him with the gravity of his mistake, it was with the huge satisfaction of watching Wasden’s head turn slowly from the cards on the table, to the gorgeous woman beside him. Her eyes never left the table as she snatched her hand from his.
“I . . . I thought . . . I never expected,” Wasden mumbled to himself.
“Forget it.” Theresa squared her shoulders, which was probably meant to make me take her seriously when all it really did was emphasize the curve of her chest in that dress. “No one in this room is getting anything from me just because my ex-boyfriend thinks it’s okay to use me as collateral in a poker game. Not happening.”
For a moment she glared at me, then spun on her heel and grabbed her purse from the bar before storming back over to the table. The flush of her cheeks made it even harder to control my errant dick, and I couldn’t stop the smirk that rose to my lips as she continued her tirade. That fiery spark would be so much fun to enjoy later. Even with all of her talking, I still knew she would end up spending at least a few hours in my bed. She had yet to consider the one thing I could hold over her any moment I wanted to.
“I’m out of here.”
She turned and almost made it to the door before I spoke up, not once letting my voice rise. There was no need to yell. Everyone in the place knew when I addressed the room, it was the end of all other conversation.
“That’s fine.” She whirled around to face me. She’d thought it was over. How very wrong. “Charlie, Dean, take Mr. Wasden out and remind him of why we don’t bet beyond our means.”
The flush in her cheeks disappeared almost instantly, drawn from her face at the realization of what my words meant.
Charlie and Dean walked over from where they were sitting at the bar. Both men were huge, more imposing than anyone else in the room, and her eyes never left them as Charlie reached out and wrapped his hand around Wasden’s bicep.
“No!” Theresa tried to install herself between the men and Ray.
“No?” I asked innocently. “You said you were leaving. Wasden still owes me two grand.”
“You can’t hurt him.”
“I can do whatever the fuck I want. Ray knows the rules. He has two choices: pay his debt, or deal with the consequences.”
“Yes, consequences. What do you care? You said you were leaving.”
I turned my attention back to Charlie and Dean. Wasden’s face was white as a sheet. His eyes pleaded with Theresa to stay. As twisted as it might have seemed, I found a sick sort of satisfaction in watching it all play out.
“I was. I am.”
I watched her hair flick behind her as she turned for the door then I nodded at Charlie, who flicked his wrist, pulling Wasden’s arm back until a distinctive snap echoed around the room. Ray screamed, the sound pitiful to anyone’s ears. Theresa’s head snapped around.
“Holy shit.” She glared at me. “What the fuck is wrong with you?”
“Oh, little one, that list is entirely too long to get into right now.” I gestured toward where Wasden lay sprawled on the floor, clutching his arm to his body and rocking back and forth. “Now do you mind getting out of the way. Since you’re not coming home with me tonight, I need to finish up so I can find someone who will.”
“Oh my god.”
She scanned the room. Maybe she was looking for a friendly face, or perhaps some indication of what she was up against. Either way, she wasn’t going to find an answer she liked. Her choices were simple: leave alone and the boys would kick the shit out of Wasden, or leave with with me and the sniveling rat would only be nursing the broken arm he’d suffered so far.
Endless minutes seem to pass while she stood there, deciding what to do. Eventually she raised her eyes to meet mine. In that moment I knew I’d won. I always won. But this victory? So much sweeter.
“I’ll do it. I’ll go with you. For one night only.”
I nodded, trying and failing to keep the smirk from my face. “One night.”