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The casino was air conditioned, yet he felt the atmosphere to be sultry- sweat beaded. A rivulet trailed a path from his forehead to his chest. Looking at the cards it was not his night tonight. Come to think of it…what was he doing there in the middle of his honeymoon. He should have been with his lovely bride, cuddling her, loving her.

But he couldn’t help it. The old urge, once thought conquered and cast away had resurged, stronger than ever. He had felt it stirring inside when they had dismounted from the cab and while his newly acquired spouse oohed and aahed about the hotel, his eyes had been transfixed on the gambling shrine opposite.

It wasn’t that he hadn’t tried to fight it. Throughout dinner he had tried to lose himself in the bewitching smile and barely sheathed curves of the woman who partook of the repast with him. But then an insidious thought was born – tonight the stars had to be smiling on him – after all wasn’t marriage supposed to augment one’s good  fortune – he couldn’t lose today…

If he played…

The desire to put his luck to the test was so strong it nearly overpowered the more primal urge that the lady sharing his bed had stirred. Thankfully only nearly, so the consummation of the marriage went ahead as scheduled. But once lust had been satisfied, his duty as a husband fulfilled and his wife was lost in the arms of Somnus, he couldn’t stop himself from sneaking out, crossing the street and taking a seat at the blackjack table.

That had been two hours ago and sixty thousand bucks ago.

And another twenty was on the table – the last of his honeymoon cash. If he lost this…

No surprise then that he was sweating.

He looked at his cards. King and Seven. High but were they high enough?

Three players to go. Plus the dealer.

The first one folded. Two to go.

The second asked for a card.

He held his breath. Nothing higher than a 6 please.

It was a five.

One to go.

The third player asked for a card. He was at 12. A 9, an 8, a 7 and our groom would be destroyed.

The gambler’s heart was beating at a rate that would have had any cardiac surgeon planning a vacation courtesy the bonanza that was guaranteed to accrue from this patient.

It wasn’t the loss of the money that terrified him. How would he explain this to Moira? First the fact that he had abandoned her on the first night of their honeymoon. And for what – to blow up their entire stash on a game of cards?

The dealer was being agonizingly slow in dealing the card.

Oh my God it looked like a 7.

Sweet Mercy of Jesus. It was a 5.

Only the Dealer remained.

It was now or never. The next few seconds would reveal if he had indeed lucked out with his marriage. Or if his insatiable desire to play the odds had lost him not just 80 grand but perhaps any hope of happily ever after as well…

Luck fucked up. And in style.

The dealer drew a 10. Coupled with his Ace and King it was 21. Blackjack!

He just stared at the cards. It was like they were laughing in his face, rejoicing at the shambles of his life here onwards.

Shakily he got to his feet. It was over. Except for the excruciating process of telling his better half. And being flayed to bits by the wrath of a woman scorned.

Not to mention all the misery that would ensue from there on…

The only mercy was that all of this was at least ten minutes away. Longer if he waited till the morning to tell her.

But wouldn’t that be more agonizing? Better to get it over with at once.

As he made his decision, the Gods decided to finally show a spot of mercy.

Or maybe it was cruel humour.

Cause Moira wasn’t in her room sleeping as he had thought she was. She was in the casino, standing right there, in front of him.

Words failed him. His knees buckled. He wanted to do a Sita and just disappear into the ground.

But then she spoke, “Why didn’t you tell me you’re an addict too… I was terrified there was some other woman…”

The words made no sense to his dazed, befuddled mind. All he could comprehend was that a tiny sliver of hope was permeating through the darkness.

“So silly you are, we could have come together, played together.”

The darkness dispelled. No wait a minute, he still had to tell her the real bad news.  After that it would be back to the black hole.

“Ummm… uh… fact is… I had a run of bad luck… Actually I fucked up… lost it all… all 80 thou…”

“And I won. 240 thou… Next time you stick with me. Looks like I’m the lucky one in the family…”

What’s that they say – Unlucky at Cards, Lucky in Love!

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