Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publication date: February 7th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Seventeen-year-old Chelsea Knowles is surrounded by the privileged. Michael Kors gym bags and designer shoes are part of her daily scene, but the talented cheerleader has a secret: she and her dad can barely pay the bills. Broken by his wife walking out on their family, Chelsea’s father ignores his responsibilities. Between cheer costs, grocery bills, electricity, and other regular financial burdens, it’s no surprise when a cut-off notice arrives in the mail. Chelsea knows it’ll be up to her to keep the lights on.
With the deck stacked against her, Chelsea decides to bet their future on the dubious poker knowledge she learned from her father before he gave up on parenting. Nervous but determined, Chelsea heads to a casino with very little security and wins big. Thrilled by her win, she’s quickly drawn to the casino again and again. She risks it all, especially when the attractive, young pit boss takes an interest in her.
Chelsea’s life, no longer filled with cheerleading, school, and hanging out with her friends, is now consumed by smoky casino floors and the ups and downs of a gambler’s life. True gamblers know when to fold, but Chelsea keeps betting long after her needs are met. The complicated web of lies soon begins to spin out of control, threatening to expose everything. Will someone see through her bluff?
Oh, SHIT. He knows. I know he knows.
My first thought is that I hope they will let me keep my winnings to use for bail money. My dad cannot afford to bail me out of jail.
We’re interrupted with some talk in his earpiece and he loosens his hold on my arm. I wonder if he’s always this calm making apprehensions.
Can I outrun him?
No way. This place is probably crawling with security.
I wait quietly but impatiently until finally he says, “Can I get your name?”
This is it. I’m busted.
I can’t even look at him.
“Ch—Chandra Simmons.” I can hardly get it out.
“Is this your first time here?” He asks.
I come back quickly, “Uh, yeah. I usually play in the casinos back home.”
“Oh. Where’s home?”
And I can’t come up with an answer. How am I supposed to know what towns have casinos?
“Out of state,” is the only thing I can come up with. I continue, “I just moved here not too long ago.”
Will I be handcuffed?
He points the other way, “Well, Chandra, let me get you set up with a Players’ Club Card. That way you can earn points for free meals when you play. That lady right over there will help you.” He points to a lady that could pass for the cashier’s twin.
My luck didn’t stop at the poker table. Thankyou. Thankyou. Thank. You.
“Hey, thanks. I’ll do that next time; I’m kind of in a hurry.”
He adjusts his blazer lapel and says, “Oh, alrighty. We’ll see ya next time then, Chandra.”
It’s odd that a guy that could play a part in The Sopranos would use the word “alrighty,” but maybe his suit and earpiece aren’t indicative of who he really is. Interesting.
I walk briskly to my car. When I step outside, the oxygen feels extra crisp and clean. A blue truck begins to follow me down the row of parked cars, and this makes me pick up my pace. I make eye contact with the driver. He’s a clean-cut guy wearing a baseball hat.
Wait, but serial killers can look clean-cut.
Or what if he’s an undercover cop coming to arrest me?
I move even faster. When I get to my car I can hardly get my keys out of my purse. Between the poker win and this, my hands aren’t functioning as they should, and I drop my keys on the ground. I hurry and pick them up, then force my hand to get the freaking key in the keyhole. Finally, I jump in my car and lock the doors. My eyes dart back to the blue truck. He’s got his blinker on, waiting for my space. He pulls his hand up off the steering wheel and waves. I blow out a long breath then back my car out.
After I leave, I’m still in disbelief that this whole thing happened so I pull over at the gas station parking lot under a light to count my cash and make sure it’s for real.
394 freakin’ dollars. $294 more than I had before. For real.
That just happened.
Julie Dill lives in Oklahoma City where the wind always comes sweeping down the plains—literally.
As a young girl she always wanted to be a teacher, so she went on to receive her Bachelor’s of Science in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and taught in elementary schools for ten years. Currently, she serves as an adjunct professor and loves helping students achieve success. One of her greatest professional accomplishments is earning her National Board Certification.
She holds a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Oklahoma City University and continues to work on various writing projects. From hiking in Colorado, to playing poker in Vegas, she’s always up for a new challenge. Julie is a busy mom of two teenage daughters, and any extra time that she may carve out is spent reading, writing, and rooting for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Her debut novel, Bluff, is scheduled to be released on February 7th, 2017.
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