A Million Reasons: John Hayes #2 (PAPERBACK)
A Million Reasons: John Hayes #2 (PAPERBACK)
Size: 5" x 8" (147mm x 243mm)
Series: Book 2, The John Hayes Thrillers
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Read a Sample
Read a Sample
Player Eight wiped his sweating hands on the legs of his trousers as he watched the attractive young lady deal four cards from the shoe, two which she slid face down in front of him, and two she tucked under the corner of the shoe. She waited, her face expressionless, as he reached for the cards and slid them closer. He took a deep breath and carefully peeled up the corner of the first card to see what fate had dealt him. He needed a good hand—surely his luck would turn. He saw the red heart first, then the number. A two. So far okay. He tossed it onto the purple felt of the table and slid the second card closer. Positioning it lengthways, he peeled up the side, shielding the card from view with his cupped hands. Pook Kai, Shit. An eight. In the rules of Baccarat, a total of ten meant zero as the first digit was dropped. He threw the card on the table for all to see and with a shaking hand reached for the glass of cognac on the table beside him. His right eye twitched as he brought it to his mouth and downed the contents in one large swallow. The dealer slid the Banker’s cards out from under the shoe, and one by one, turned them face up. A King and a three —thirteen, but as the ten is dropped, the Bank’s score was three. He exhaled loudly and reached for his glass again. Realizing it was empty, he waved the glass at the hostess and glanced at the two hard-looking men in ill-fitting black suits, standing on the other side of the red velvet rope separating the VIP enclosure from the rest of the gaming hall. They made little attempt to disguise their interest in him. He would have to worry about them later. Now, he had to focus. He nodded at the dealer, and she slid another card in front of him. He wiggled his fingers, then peeled up the side of the card. Tiu leh lo mo! Motherfucker! A queen. Another zero! The dealer drew another card for the Bank. Again ten, but she was still ahead with three. Another loss for him. Shit! What did he have to do to get Lady Luck on his side again? He was sitting at position eight, his lucky number, and in his pocket, he had the jade beads his grandmother had given him years ago for protection, but still, he was suffering. At seat number five, an obese, middle-aged man from mainland China chortled with unbridled glee, his bet on the winning Banker’s hand resulting in a large payout. He pulled his winnings closer, his stubby fingers festooned with gold rings, and added them to the already large pile in front of him. Next to him at number three—there being no number four on the tables in Macau, the number inauspicious as it sounded like the word for death—sat an older, casually dressed man, his slightly accented Cantonese suggesting he was a Macau local. He had also lost the hand but looked relaxed, his expression giving nothing away—neither happy nor unhappy about the result.
Player Eight’s fresh glass of cognac arrived, and he leaned back in his chair and took a large swig while deciding what to do next. Despite the arctic-like temperature in the VIP section, beads of perspiration dotted his forehead. He had been playing all night… or was it now morning? He had no idea, the passage of time cleverly hidden from the gamblers by the Casino, and he had already pawned his Rolex.
The evening had started well, and he had been up for the first few hours. In retrospect, he should have quit while he was ahead, but he couldn’t leave the table, the allure of the cards having immense power over him… and he had been on a winning streak, intending to make back all his previous losses and be in profit. He had to ride the wave while Lady Luck was with him. He had played on and on, the pile of chips growing higher in front of him… Then in one cruel moment, Lady Luck abandoned him and didn’t return. He had lost hand after hand, the pile of chips in front of him dwindling as the hours passed. After the previous hand, he was down to his last hundred thousand. He really should get up and leave the table for a while. Wait for his luck to change…… but then he would have to deal with the thugs in suits outside the rope. No, he would play one more hand, all or nothing. He slid the remaining two chips into the square marked Player. The dealer looked at the mainlander who selected two gold chips from the pile in front of him and also placed them on the Player square. Player Eight bit his lip. Two million dollars! If only his luck had stayed with him, he would have some gold colored chips too. Both players looked over toward the Macanese man and waited for him to bet. His fingers played a gentle rhythm on the table felt, then he slid a chip into the Banker’s square. Attention now turned toward the dealer who again dealt four cards, slipping two under the shoe and sliding two across to the mainlander who, as the player who had placed the largest bet, had the honor of revealing the cards. He grabbed them with his fat fingers and without waiting, turned them over and tossed them on the table. A ten and an eight, a “natural” eight, the second highest hand in Baccarat. He shouted something in Mandarin and with his fist, pounded the table in delight. Player Eight breathed a sigh of relief. Finally. There was no way the Banker’s hand would be higher. It was merely a formality now. The dealer turned over the first card. A ten. The mainlander laughed while the Macanese player looked on, a slight frown the only indication of his mood. Player Eight took another large mouthful of Cognac, gulping it down as he waited for the dealer to reveal the final card. She looked around the table, pausing for suspense, then flipped the card over. Player Eight’s mouth dropped open. A nine, the only hand that could beat them. He was finished. He loosened his shirt collar and reached for the glass, his hand shaking so violently, he almost spilled the drink on the table felt. He gulped it down, the fire of the drink bringing tears to his eyes. Pushing back his chair, he rose unsteadily from the table.
The other players looked up at him, the Macanese player with sympathy—he had been there before, but the mainlander, despite his own loss, sniggered and said something in Mandarin that sounded derogatory. Player Eight wasn’t sure, he couldn’t hear anything, his head was pounding, and he felt dizzy. He turned and stumbled toward the exit, the security guard unclipping the velvet rope to let him pass. As he stepped out, the two hard men in suits closed in on him, grabbing him by the arms. One leaned in and whispered in his ear, “Broken Tooth wants to see you.” His knees trembled, and but for the men holding his arms, he would have collapsed on the floor.