Charlotte found herself at her usual table and lost in thought. She wasn’t sure how to feel.
It had been three long weeks since Jericho’s death. The police hadn’t been able to find his body, which meant there couldn’t even be a proper funeral. And before Charlotte could even begin to grieve, she had been dragged down to the station and questioned. For hours, they had pegged and prodded, asking where the money was. She had no idea, which was the truth.
Today was her first day back and, as usual, not much was happening. Except today it stung, because Charlotte could usually lose herself in a game. Not today.
A flash of pink caught her attention. Heart shooting through the roof, Charlotte looked over. Lexi was at the other end of the room, and boy, did she look different.
The pink pullover was gone, replaced by a leather jacket. The bottom quarter of her hair was now bright pink, flowing down her shoulders. And overall, Alexa Kaufman’s vibe had changed.
Lexi scanned the room. Spotting Charlotte, her blue eyes lit up in happiness. Flashing a small smile, she crossed the room, just the tiniest bit wobbly.
“Nice boots,” Charlotte said, gesturing to her black ones. Ignoring the comment, Lexi sat down and set her bag on a chair. Clasping her hands together, she stared down at the table. “You okay?”
“Where have you been?” Lexi’s voice was cold and upset. Swallowing, Charlotte whispered,
“Trying to recover from Jericho’s death. The police questioned me last week, asking about the money.”
“What’d you tell them?”
“The truth, that I don’t know who took it or where it is.” Lexi stifled a scoff, but Charlotte decided not to comment. “What about you?” Her friend looked up, and a sarcastic smile formed.
“I got fired for resisting my boss’ urges, slapping him, and storming out of work. Meanwhile, he keeps his job and gets to keep being a pervert.” Lexi shook her head in anger, grin a mile wide. “Not that I’m surprised, of course. He and the captain have always been friends.”
“I’m sorry.” Charlotte stared at Lexi, keeping her voice soft and calm. “You want to play a game?”
“Why the hell not?” As the shuffler began to whir, a smell hit Charlotte’s nose: alcohol. She started to follow it, jumping when Lexi grabbed her wrists. “There a problem, Charlotte?”
They stared at each other, blue eyes on blue. Swallowing, Charlotte shook her head, legitimately frightened.
“No… No, Lex.” She could feel the pressure on her wrists, breathing a sigh of relief when Lexi silently released her grip. By now, the shuffler had finished doing it’s job, waiting.
They played in silence for half-an-hour, Charlotte thinking about what to do. Part of her wanted to believe Lexi was just drunk, but she knew her friend was angry. And something told her not to leave it alone.
As they wrapped up their last game, her eyes fell to a patch on Lexi’s bag. Black letters on white spelled out the words Lucky 13 ; it sounded vaguely familiar, but Charlotte knew that if she asked, Lexi would bite her head off.
“I’m glad you’re okay.” Lexi’s words were somehow way too loud, and Charlotte jumped.
“Thanks…” Nodding awkwardly, her younger friend turned and left, fidgeting with the zipper of her jacket. Watching her go, Charlotte turned and walked in the opposite direction.
The casino had a bar, run by one Amy “Lita” Dumas. They had spoken on a few occasions, mostly chatting about women’s rights and wrestling. Now, Charlotte found herself pulling up a stool.
“How’s Lexi holding up?” Lita walked over, cleaning a glass with a towel. Smirking, Charlotte replied,
“I keep forgetting you can see my table.”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“What do you know about Lucky 13 ?” Lita chuckled, sticking out her tongue.
“It’s a bar about two blocks away from here. I know a bartender there named Paige, we’re good friends. But, Charlotte…” Setting down the cup and towel, Lita leaned forward to look Charlotte in the eye. “Don’t do anything brash, for Lexi’s sake and yours.”