Marcus ignored the video poker machine and put five bucks on the bar. Anna set a club soda with lime in front of him.
Marcus squeezed the lime. “How’s our favorite asshole? He take the bait?”
Anna nodded. “He take the bait and he take her money, too.”
“You watch,” Anna said. “When Josh win, he put chips in his pocket. When he lose, he ask Jackie for more chips.”
Just then Josh slipped several chips off the table and into his pocket.
“Motherfucker,” Marcus said, shaking his head. “I knew that dude was a creep, but damn.” He took a long drink of club soda.
“Miss! Miss!” The Texan down the bar was hollering again. Anna moved to fix him another drink. Marcus toyed with his phone and watched Josh and Jackie play blackjack.
Anna came back with a fresh club soda. “You call Carlos yet?”
“Nah, I wanted to make sure our boy was up to his old tricks before we did anything.”
Anna’s eyes narrowed. “Josh stare at me like always, make me feel dirty like always. Now he stealing,” Anna said. “I already text Aleksander to be ready.”
“Alright, here goes,” Marcus said, picking up his phone.
Anna smiled. “I text Jackie.”
Jackie read Anna’s text without taking her phone out of her purse. She held her empty hands out in front of her. “Game’s over, Blue Eyes, unless you got some money I don’t know about.”
“Nothing I can afford to gamble,” Josh said, standing.
Lying sack of shit, Jackie thought, standing up and leaning toward him. “Maybe we can play something else?”
“I like the sound of that,” Josh said. “You have a room here?”
“Fourth floor.” Jackie faked a drunken wobble. “Where are the elevators?”
Josh smiled and put a hand on her elbow. “Right this way,” he said, steering her past the bar and toward the elevators. His arm moved against the side of her breast.
Jackie cringed and forced herself not to dig an elbow into his ribs.
Two sets of hands clamped down on Josh’s arms. “This way, please, sir.”
“The fuck! I didn’t do anything.” Josh tried to wrench himself free.
The hands gripped tighter. The voice said, “Don’t cause a scene, sir.”
He heard Jackie say, “What’s going on?”
A new voice answered her. “Ma’am, I am Aleksander. I help you. You know your room number?”
“Okay, okay,” Josh said. “No problem. Just let me go, and I’ll leave. I didn’t do shit.”
“This way, please,” the first voice said. The two sets of hands frogmarched Josh down a long hallway.
“Look,” Josh said, “she was making the moves on me. I wasn’t pushing anything.”
“Sir, stop talking,” the voice said. “We can still handle this informally, without paperwork, without involving your employer or the police.”
Josh shut up.
They rounded a corner. A door was at the end of the hallway.
“Here we are, sir. Don’t come back until your next shift. Or your problems will get worse.”
Josh pushed the crash bar, and the door opened to the night. He found himself behind the diner where the waitstaff took their smoke breaks.
A short Mexican stood in the gap in the privacy fence that hid the grease dumpsters from the sensitive eyes of the tourists. He had black hair cut short and light brown skin pulled tight over a spare frame. High, sharp cheekbones and obsidian eyes. He wore a Raiders jacket, leather work gloves, and work boots.
“Excuse me,” Josh said, taking a step forward.
“Don’t think so,” the Mexican said. He stood lightly on the balls of his feet, his arms loose at his sides, his breath fogging the cold air.
“Thanks, Aleksander,” Jackie said when the elevator doors closed. “I thought Anna was never going to text me.”
“Marcus work late,” Aleksander said. The bright lights in the elevator bleached his straw-colored hair white.
“Fucker was slipping chips into his pocket,” Jackie said. “I was so pissed it was getting hard to pretend not to see it.”
“That man, he cause many problems,” Aleksander said.
Jackie pulled her key card from her purse. “After spending all that time pretending to be drunk, I want a drink. I’m gonna shower and change. See you at the bar?”
“Better we celebrate another time,” Aleksander said. “Cameras.”
The elevator stopped and the door opened.
“Have a good evening, ma’am,” Aleksander said, his hands behind his back, his expression blank, his pale eyes focused on the security camera in the hallway.
Part 3 coming next week…slip me a fiver in the meantime?