Chapter 5 Excerpt [2]

Linking arms, James and Sacha made their way to the bathroom. For once, the people they passed were too absorbed in watching the reels of a slot machine spin to pay attention to the exotic couple. There were a few eyes that wandered in their direction, hushed conversations full of curious questions, as no one would dare say anything to them directly. Where else do you think she is pierced? Does he have tattoos ‘down there’? How exactly do they kiss?

Before leading Sacha inside the bathroom, James slipped the attendant a few bills with a request for privacy, ensuring they would not be long.  He quickly checked the stalls to make sure no one else was there, then locked the door so that they could have complete privacy. She leaned back against a counter and watched James form several lines on the marble counter. With a rolled-up hundred-dollar, she snorted the fine white powder. Hair was carefully re-arranged and the bill passed as she tried to figure out what she was getting herself into. The last thing Sacha wanted was for James to be upset when she revealed that she had been recently married. There was no denying the fact that he had strong feelings for her, but Jesse already acted upon his.

Staring harshly at himself in the mirror, James was determined to remain in control. He silently argued with Jesse, ignoring anything that he had to say. When his gaze drifted to Sacha, he could feel the lust course through his veins.  She lifted her head slightly in curiosity and watched him lick his lips. Her pulse raced as he moved towards her, pinning her against the mirror. Paying no attention to the cold glass that pressed into her bare back, she grabbed his collar and pulled him closer. Lips met in a passionate kiss. Hands groped expensive clothing. He wanted to take her right there and listen to her screams echo off the walls. It was difficult for James to restrain himself as her fingers toyed with his belt buckle, the thought of her hustling those marks driving him crazy. Pulling away, a gentle hand rested on her cheek, thumb slipping into her mouth. Sacha carefully maneuvered off the counter, softly biting the digit.

“I want you so fucking bad…but not like this,” James finally said.

“Sure,” she replied with a smirk.

“Really, I would love nothing more.” He paused and wrapped his arms around her waist. “It would be much better for us to be alone.”

“We should get back out there then,” Sacha replied, straightening her dress. “The pockets are going to be fat for the picking soon.”

“Make me proud and you will be well rewarded.”

“You drive a hard bargain.”

“Shall we?”

James smiled and hooked his arm with Sacha’s as they stepped back out into the noisy casino, their bodies buzzed up and ready to strike. Fingers quickly snatched chips from unsuspecting gamblers. Even the eyes in the sky could not catch them. Sleight of hand was a skill ingrained in their instinct and could be executed as a simple reflex, lifting a wallet, jewelry or even money right off the tables. Those deeply engrossed in the games gave no mind to the people around them, and the attendants were too busy trying to keep the odds in the house’s favor. There was always a chance that a pit boss would see something, but their vital flaw was only being able to watch one table at a time.

Though he was well satisfied within a few hours, fueled by the coke and whiskey, James insisted that they try to win more. Sacha was uncertain at first, but easily persuaded to say ‘yes’ with a seductive kiss. The game of choice was craps, with James in charge of the dice—which he effortlessly switched for a loaded pair. With no one suspecting a thing, he rolled all of the right numbers and won with ease, laughing and thanking his so-called good luck charm. With a beautiful woman by his side, James was confident that he could not lose. The arrogant prediction came true as he continued to roll and win. Sacha whispered something into his ear about stopping before they attracted too much attention. He switched the dice again, and on that last honest roll, they won big. Greed could have easily pushed the need to continue, but even James knew when to stop, as the last thing they wanted was to arouse any sort of suspicion.

They patiently waited in line at the cashier instead, their composure calm, cool and collected. No one stopped them from walking away with their winnings. Tips were handed out left and right to ensure there would be no loose tongues should any questions be raised later. They climbed into a maroon 1942 Mercedes with secret smiles dancing on their lips before bursting into laughter. It was a job well done with a great reward. Sacha emptied out her purse on the white leather seat, revealing all the goods taken from the other gamblers when James had been the shooter. He was quite impressed by her performance, as it had never been about the money. On the contrary, their actions had merely been a bonding experience, but she certainly surpassed his expectations.

The evening had grown weary, though the adrenaline and euphoria continued to flow in high concentrations through their bodies. A four-star hotel became their refuge, and James did not miss a beat as he talked the desk clerk into giving them a free suite. Sacha loved the fact that he had experience in the fine art of bullshitting. Most hustlers did it for the ego and monetary reward, but not James. It had simply been his way of showing off his skills as a romantic gesture. There was barely any time for her to enjoy the moment before she was being carried over the threshold into a luxury suite. Sacha was gently laid on the bed amongst cream-colored silk pillows and red silk sheets. James hastily pulled the curtains shut and locked the door, making sure that the Do Not Disturb sign had been hung on the knob. He lit a few candles and proceeded to remove his jacket, draping it over the back of a chair. If Sacha had not been so focused on unbuckling her shoes, it would have been possible for her to notice the tattoos that covered his arms as he rolled up the sleeves of his shirt. James slowly moved his hands across her back and unzipped the dress, slipping the straps down over her shoulders.

“Wait,” Sacha protested, trying to catch her breath, “There is something that I really need to tell you.”

James pressed his hand against her lips. “Not a word. I am in love with you…and I want to show you just how much.”

Straddling her legs, James grabbed both of Sacha’s wrists and pinned her to the bed. A helpless expression danced in her eyes as they stared up at him. She could smell the whiskey on his breath as he leaned closer and kissed her. There was no use in trying to resist, or maybe Sacha felt that doing so would have only exacerbated the situation, heart racing as she tried to figure out what James’ intentions were. This was his chance to do what he secretly desired since he had first laid eyes on her—though he struggled to remain focused. In a way, he was doing himself a favor, as Jesse would have been too hesitant to act upon his feelings. James climbed off her, hand caressing her pierced cheeks. Sacha cautiously sat up, never breaking her gaze from him, fingers toying with his red leather belt.

“Is that all you want?” James growled, grabbing a fist full of white-blonde curls and pulling her head back. “Is that all you think about?”

“I…I thought this is what you wanted,” she protested, her voice shaking. “Please…”

He laughed and gripped her face. “I would not…I am not going to hurt you. We are just having a little fun. Do I frighten you?”

“No…”

“Then why do you tremble so much?” he whispered, lips brushing her face. “Just relax, honey.”

The game was growing old quickly and Sacha did not appreciate him being so rough with her. When James attempted to pull her in for another kiss, she pushed away. Ego bruised; anger sparked. He certainly was not expecting to be fucked with, and she had been flirting with him the whole night—now she suddenly had second thoughts? It took a few deep breaths for James to calm down and maintain his composure. There was no need to let things get out of hand, but at the same time, there was only so far that he could be pushed before he pushed back. Not so much because he had to establish dominance through violence, but such was the nature of his mind. Sacha had experienced the same set of circumstances with her father. There did not have to be a specific reason for him to suddenly be infuriated, and on many occasions the smallest thing seemed to set him off. However, the aggression was never intentionally aimed toward her, but the lesson remained in the years that followed nonetheless, scarred upon her memory. A clenched fist could make her tense, as if almost expecting it to be used against her. James had no idea why there was fear in those eyes and Sacha was set in defensive mode, having grabbed his wrists as though it were a reflex.

“Let go,” he softly demanded, moving back a little.

In her experience, hands were very powerful weapons—a person could use them to love or destroy another. Unsure of his intentions, she hesitated in granting the request. However, Sacha knew it was better to do what James wanted, as disobedience could only result in punishment, and so she reluctantly released him.

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