As the evening approached, Jesse seemed rather apprehensive about something. For the past few nights, he had become someone else as the so-called alter-ego which had obediently remained dormant finally resurfaced with vengeance. His memory of the transformation was still blurred, but his instinct provided the only proof that it had happened at all. How else could he explain the blackouts? There were also a few experiences he recalled parts of, and it was on more than one occasion. How was it possible to feel as though he had done something unless he actually did it? He had a hard time trying to figure out if Sacha suspected anything, and remained unsure of how to even bring up the subject. Jesse could not just come right out and tell her—surely she would think him to be insane. He suspected that each time James took control he grew stronger, and it would only be a matter of time before he was there to stay. Jesse already knew Sacha had met him, but she certainly was not mentioning it. He could only wonder with extreme curiosity what had transpired between them. While it was absurd to be jealous of himself, in some small way, he seemed unable to contain that emotion. At some point, Jesse had to break down and explain everything to Sacha before it all got too out of hand. There was no way to predict what he was capable of, and the last thing he wanted was for her to get hurt. Then again, she was strong enough to hold her own, and he trusted that she would not hesitate to put him in his place if he got out of line. Hopefully he would behave himself, but at that moment, anything was possible.
Knowing what was in store, Jesse lied to his wife and said he was going to do some undercover work. He instructed Sacha to go out and relax—she deserved it. She knew better than to question the wishes of the King—or her own husband for that matter—and so she agreed without a word. Sacha watched him walk down to the beach until he became a speck on the horizon. There was something that did not feel right about the situation. Certainly he would speak up if there was anything bothering him, but to pry would have only generated an argument. If he offered explanation later on, she would be glad to listen—otherwise, there was no need to be inquisitive.
Sacha sat in front of a mirror and brushed her hair, trying to decide where she wanted to go. The dinner she had with James the other night was certainly unforgettable. The chances of it happening again might as well have been impossible, but she wanted to be adventurous. Into the closet she went, searching for the right thing to wear—it had to be brilliant, stunning and make jaws drop. A black satin garment bag was removed from the clothing rack and gently laid on the bed. She smiled as she unzipped the bag to reveal a slinky red dress that was carefully embroidered with thousands of beads and sequins. It was something she had been saving for a special occasion, and while there was still no specific destination, it seemed appropriate to wear. She arranged her sleek white-blonde locks into deep waves and curls that fell around her shoulders, placing small crystal accents here and there. She gently eased into the dress and was amazed at how well it fit her body. The low-cut back and plunging neckline left her tattooed skin exposed in a tasteful manner. A pair of red satin gloves covered her hands and vintage jewelry from her mother made the perfect accessories, the diamond choker and bracelets sparkling around her neck and wrists. She tucked a silver cigarette case and matching holder into a red beaded purse, along with a lighter and keys to the house. The final touch was a pair of high-heeled red leather shoes with diamond studded straps that were tightly secured around her tattooed ankles.
While waiting for transportation to arrive, she contemplated doing a few lines; not that it was really needed, as a good time could be had without being tuned in. Sacha decided to smoke a joint out front instead, an airy black faux fur stole wrapped around her supple frame, protecting her dress from the light mist that swirled in the thick night air. A pearl white 1936 Mercury pulled up to the house, and the driver politely stepped out to open the door for her. Sacha tucked a few bills in his hand, requesting that he take her somewhere classy and exciting. A sigh escaped her as she sank into the soft black suede seat. Her stomach bubbled with nervousness as that luxurious vehicle rolled down the main drag. Once again she found humor in thinking about how society projected a certain image of what rich people were supposed to look like, harboring the desire to break that stereotype. Sacha always knew that she could be just as stylish as any Hollywood bombshell while still being herself.
A smile danced on her glossy pierced lips as a large crowd came into view. The men were in their finest custom tailored suits while the women wore one-of-a-kind couture. The entire atmosphere reeked of opulence and Sacha could feel the nervousness swell in her stomach. There was no reason for it, and she was determined to walk among those people with confidence. She took a deep breath as the door slowly opened and the driver’s hand reached in. All fears were set aside when Sacha stepped onto the sidewalk. Curiosity turned heads in her direction as she sauntered towards the entrance. Photographers pushed against velvet ropes and reporters demanded to know her name. That was when she realized she had been dropped in the middle of the grand opening of the Golden Ring Casino, and part of her wanted to burst out laughing. They took her to be a celebrity, model or some other high roller, but who was she to argue? Some man in a tuxedo escorted Sacha inside where he assisted her out of the stole. Then she was led to the cashier where she changed money into colorful clay chips.
Before her spanned a vast Eden of neon and slot machines that were packed across the casino floor, flanked by craps, black jack and roulette tables. There were flashing lights and bells going off everywhere; conversations became a single dense roar speckled with laughter. While it was all slightly overwhelming, Sacha maintained her composure, the Carny side of her knowing that the setting could not have been more perfect. There were so many opportunities to rip people off it seemed almost too easy. However, she was also aware of how carefully the games were monitored, and it would take all of her skill to hustle those marks.
Detaching herself from those thoughts, Sacha realized that she had been shown to a private lounge where there were only a few game tables and full bar. The big money was laid down here, and a mere privileged few had the honor of being invited to gamble in the secluded location. Sacha situated herself at the bar and studied the players while she nursed a martini. Everyone was there to have a good time, not being very protective of their money or other valuables. It was going to take a lot of courage to do anything with so many people—including security—in the room, but she had the right amount of confidence to at least try. Sacha took note of the glances that she received and secretly smiled. They all wondered who she was, but none of them had the ability to approach her, and instead they stared while whispering to one another. She was concentrating on the empty contents of her glass when a shadow appeared, and her eyes lifted to meet a familiar face.