“NO FUCKING WAY!” Trenton wailed, standing up.
“Good plan, Travis. Bring a card shark to poker night,” Dad said, winking at Abby.
“I didn’t know!” I said, shaking my head.
“Bullshit,” Thomas said, his eyes still dissecting my girlfriend.
“I didn’t!” I said.
“I hate to say it, bro. But I think I just fell in love with your girl,” Tyler said.
Suddenly my laughter was gone, and I frowned. “Hey, now.”
“That’s it. I was going easy on you, Abby, but I’m winning my money back, now,” Trenton warned.
I sat out the last few rounds, watching the boys try to win back their money. Hand after hand, Abby steamrolled them. She didn’t even pretend to go easy on them.
Once my brothers were broke, Dad called it a night, and Abby returned a hundred dollars to each of them, except Dad, who wouldn’t take it.
I took Abby’s hand, and we walked to the door. Watching my girlfriend de-sack my brothers was entertaining, but I was still disappointed that she returned some of their money.
She squeezed my hand. “What’s wrong?”
“You just gave away four hundred bucks, Pidge!”
“If this was poker night at Sig Tau, I would have kept it. I can’t rob your brothers the first time I meet them.”
“They would have kept your money!”
“And I wouldn’t have lost a second of sleep over it, either,” Taylor sa id.
From the corner of my eye, I caught Thomas staring at Abby from the recliner in the corner of the living room. He’d been even more quiet than usual.
“Why do you keep starin’ at my girl, Tommy?”
“What did you say your last name was?” Thomas asked.
Abby shifted nervously but didn’t answer.
I put my arm around her waist, and turned to my brother, not sure what he was getting at. He thought he knew something, and was getting ready to make his move.
“It’s Abernathy. What of it?”
“I can see why you didn’t put it together before tonight, Trav, but now you don’t have an excuse,” Thomas said, smug.
“What the fuck are you talking about?” I asked.
“Are you related to Mick Abernathy by any chance?” Thomas asked.
All heads turned to wait for Abby’s response.
She raked her hair back with her fingers, clearly nervous. “How do you know Mick?”
My neck craned even more in her direction. “He’s only one of the best poker players that ever lived. Do you know him?”
“He’s my father,” she said. It looked almost painful for her to answer.
The entire room exploded.
“NO FUCKING WAY!”
“I KNEW IT!”
“WE JUST PLAYED MICK ABERNATHY’S DAUGHTER!”
“MICK ABERNATHY? HOLY SHIT!”
The words rang in my ears, but it still took me several seconds to process. Three of my brothers were jumping up and down and screaming, but to me the entire room was frozen, and the world silent.
My girlfriend, who also happened to be my best friend, was the daughter of a poker legend—someone my brothers, father, and even my grandfather idolized.
Abby’s voice brought me back to the present. “I told you guys I shouldn’t play.”
“If you would have mentioned you were Mick Abernathy’s daughter, I think we would have taken you more seriously,” Thomas said.
Abby peeked over at me from under her lashes, waiting for a reaction.
“You’re Lucky Thirteen?” I asked, dumbfounded.
Trenton stood and pointed. “Lucky Thirteen is in our house! No way! I don’t fucking believe it!”
“That was the nickname the papers gave me. And the story wasn’t exactly accurate,” Abby said, fidgeting.
Even amid the booming commotion from my brothers, the only thing I could think about was how fucking hot it was that the girl I’m in love with was practically a celebrity. Even better, she was famous for something outrageously badass.
“I need to get Abby home, guys,” I said.
Dad peered at Abby over his glasses. “Why wasn’t it accurate?”
“I didn’t take my dad’s luck. I mean, how ridiculous.” She chuckled, twisting her hair nervously around her finger.
Thomas shook his head. “No, Mick gave that interview. He said at midnight on your thirteenth birthday his luck ran dry.”
“And yours picked up,” I added.
“You were raised by mobsters!” Trent said, smiling with excitement.
“Uh . . . no.” She laughed once. “They didn’t raise me. They were just . . . around a lot.”
“That was a damn shame, Mick running your name through the mud like that in all the papers. You were just a kid,” Dad said, shaking his head.
“If anything it was beginner’s luck,” Abby said.
I could tell by the look on her face she was bordering on feeling mortification from all of the attention.
“You were taught by Mick Abernathy,” Dad said, shaking his head in awe. “You were playing pros, and winning, at thirteen years old for Christ’s sakes.” He looked at me and smiled. “Don’t bet against her, son. She doesn’t lose.”
My mind instantly returned to the fight when Abby bet against me, knowing she would lose, and have to live with me for a month if she did. All that time I thought she didn’t care about me, and just then I realized it couldn’t have been true.
“Uh . . . we gotta go, Dad. Bye, guys.”
I raced through the streets, weaving in and out of traffic. The faster the needle inched up on the speedometer, the tighter Abby’s thighs clamped, making me even more eager to reach the apartment.
Abby didn’t say a word when I parked the Harley and led her upstairs, and still wasn’t speaking when I helped her with her jacket.
She let her hair down, and I stood, watching her in awe. It was almost like she was a different person, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her.
“I know you’re mad,” she said, her eyes to the floor. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, but it’s not something I talk about.”
Her words stunned me. “Mad at you? I am so turned on I can’t see straight. You just robbed my asshole brothers of their money without batting an eyelash, you have achieved legend status with my father, and I know for a fact that you purposely lost that bet we made before my fight.”
“I wouldn’t say that . . .”
“Did you think you were going to win?”
“Well . . . no, not exactly,” she said, pulling off her heels.
I could barely contain the smile that inched across my face. “So you wanted to be here with me. I think I just fell in love with you all over again.”
Abby kicked her heels into the closet. “How are you not mad right now?”
I sighed. Maybe I should’ve been mad. But I just . . . wasn’t. “That’s pretty big, Pidge. You should have told me. But I understand why you didn’t. You came here to get away from all of that. It’s like the sky opened up. Everything makes sense, no w.”
“Well, that’s a relief.”
“Lucky Thirteen,” I said, grabbing the hem of her shirt and pulling it over her head.
“Don’t call me that, Travis. It’s not a good thing.”
“You’re fucking famous, Pigeon!” I unbuttoned her jeans and pulled them down around her ankles, helping her to step out of them.
“My father hated me after that. He still blames me for all his problems.”
I yanked off my shirt and hugged her to me, impatient to feel her skin against mine. “I still can’t believe the daughter of Mick Abernathy is standing in front of me, and I’ve been with you this whole time and had no idea.”
She pushed me away. “I’m not Mick Abernathy’s daughter, Travis! That’s what I left behind. I’m Abby. Just Abby!” she said, walking over to the closet. She yanked a T-shirt off its hanger and pulled it over her head.
“I’m sorry. I’m a little starstruck.”
“It’s just me!” She held the palm of her hand to her chest, an edge of desperation in her voice.
“Yeah, but . . .”
“But nothing. The way you’re looking at me right now? This is exactly why I didn’t tell you.” She closed her eyes. “I won’t live like that anymore, Trav. Not even with you.”
“Whoa! Calm down, Pigeon. Let’s not get carried away.” I took her in my arms, suddenly worried where the conversation was going. “I don’t care what you were or what you’re not anymore. I just want you.”
“I guess we have that in common, then.”
I pulled her gently to the bed, and then snuggled next to her, taking in the faint smell of cigar mixed with her shampoo. “It’s just you and me against the world, Pidge.”
She curled up beside me, seeming satisfied with my words. When she relaxed against my chest, she sighed.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I don’t want anyone to know, Trav. I didn’t want you to know.”
“I love you, Abby. I won’t mention it again, okay? Your secret’s safe with me,” I said, pressing my lips gently against her temple.
She nuzzled her cheek against my skin, and I pulled her tight. The night’s events seemed like a dream. The first time I bring a girl home, and not only is she the daughter of a famous poker player, but she could also easily bankrupt us all in a single hand. For being the family fuckup, I felt like I had finally gained a little respect from my older brothers. And it was all because of Abby.
I lie in bed awake, unable to stop my mind long enough to doze off. Abby’s breathing had evened out half an hour before.
My cell lit up and buzzed just once, signaling a text message. I opened it up, and immediately frowned. The sender’s name scrolled across: Jason Brazil.
Dude. Parker’s talkin smack.
Very carefully, I pulled my arm out from under Abby’s head to use both hands to type a message back.
Says me hes sittin right here.
Oh yeah? Whats he sayin?
Its about Pigeon. U sure u wanna know?
Dont b a dick.
He sd shes still calling him.
Sd earlier hes waiting 4 u to screw up, and shes just waitin for a good time to kick u 2 the curb.
Did he now?
Sd just now that she told him the other day she was really unhappy but u were kinda crazy and she was worried about when to do it.
If she wasnt laying next to me id come over there n beat his fkn ass
Not worth it. We all know hes full of shit.
Still pisses me off
I heard that. Don’t worry about the douche canoe. U got ur girl next 2 u.
Had Abby not been sleeping beside me, I would have jumped on my bike and went straight to the Sig Tau house and shoved my fist through Parker’s five-thousand-dollar grill. Maybe taken a bat to his Porsche.
Half an hour passed before the rage shakes finally began to subside. Abby hadn’t moved. That same subtle noise that she made with her nose when she slept helped to slow my heart rate, and before long I was able to take her back into my arms and relax.
Abby wasn’t calling Parker. If she was unhappy, she would have told me. I took a deep breath and watched the shadow of the tree outside dance against the wall.
“HE DIDN’T,” SHEPLEY SAID, STOPPING MIDSTEP.
The girls left us at the apartment alone so they could shop for a dress for the date party, so I talked Shepley into driving us to the local furniture store.
“He sure as shit did.” I turned my phone for Shepley to see. “Brazil texted me last night and ratted his ass out.”
Shepley sighed and shook his head. “He had to know that would get back to you. I mean . . . how could it not? Those guys are bigger gossips than the girls.”
I stopped, seeing a couch that caught my eye. “I bet that’s why he did it. Hoping it would get back to me.”
Shepley nodded. “Let’s face it. The old you would have gone into a jealous rage and scared her right into Parker’s arms.”
“Bastard,” I said as a salesman approached.
“Good morning, gentleman. Can I help you find something in particular?”
Shepley threw himself onto the couch, and then bounced a few times before nodding his head. “I approve.”
“Yeah. I’ll take this one,” I said.
“You’ll take it?” he said, a little surprised.
“Yeah,” I said, a little surprised myself at his reaction. “Do you deliver?”
“Yes, sir, we do. Would you like to know the price?”
“It says right here, doesn’t it?”
“So, I’ll take it. Where do I pay?”
“Right this way, sir.”
The salesman tried unsuccessfully to talk me into some more items that matched the couch, but I had a few more things to buy that day.
Shepley gave them our address, and the salesman thanked me for being the easiest sale of the year.
“Where are we going now?” he asked, trying to keep pace with me to the Charger.
“You getting new ink?”
Shepley watched me, wary. “What are you doing, Trav?”
“What I always said I would do if I met the right girl.”
Shepley stepped in front of the passenger door. “I’m not sure this is a good idea. Don’t you think you should discuss it with Abby first . . . you know, so she doesn’t freak out?”
I frowned. “She might say no.”
“It’s better she says no than you do it and she runs out of the apartment because you scared her off. Things have been going good between you two. Why don’t you just let it ride for a while?”
I cupped my hands on Shepley’s shoulders. “That doesn’t sound like me at all,” I said, and then moved him aside.