Flash: An Infidelity of Hearts

Photo by marin from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Hit me,” the brunette said after adding her last three gold coins to the pot, leaning on the table holding her cards in one hand and her fingers lingering on her wine glass, keeping track of it at all times. A wise choice in this dark casino where beautiful women were known to lose, not only at cards, but their virtue and even their lives.

The dealer slid the next card from his deck to her to replace the deuce she had discarded.

Around the table, others either folded or tossed in markers to match the raise and asked for cards. All the others were male and bought their lady luck. Fat cats content to let young things either rented at the door, or purchased elsewhere, drip diamonds advertising the status of their owners. A few of the females scattered around the vice den wore matching rings to their men, indicating a marriage contract, but none of the females at this high-roller table existed except for the value of their temporary beauty.

The brunette wore neither rings nor diamonds. Her simple sheathe clung to everything below her shoulders until it ended just over her knees, leaving nothing to the imagination, but also nothing completely known except the gown had been tailored to her person indicating money. The shoes didn’t scream any famous designer’s name; those who measure a person’s wealth by such things could not tell who made them, only the creator was neither famous nor an off-the-rack factory worker. Her hair, makeup, nails, and manners were all likewise unique, making the security and the grifters nervous.

Her money spent well. The transfer for the casino markers unquestioned, and since she didn’t play against the house, her slow winning throughout the afternoon and into the deep night had not removed her from contention as she moved up the food chain to the highest of the card tables.

No one raised her before the dealer returned to her seat, the pot already exceeding what most people outside the club’s doors would earn in a year, and had emptied the pockets of several of those sitting. This would be the end of their night’s entertainment, unless they asked for a credit extension from the house. Only the desperate or addicted were so foolhardy considering the temperament of the owners, yet every night someone did.

“Last bets.” The dealer called. No one added anything, though the grifter fingered his remaining twelve coins before passing. Starting on the woman’s right, people started flipping over their cards, pairs, triples, and even a full house.

The prize grifter at the table, the one the high-rollers come to beat each night turned over a four-of-a-kind in aces with the one king which hadn’t been part of the full house, a heart. “Sorry, hon. Maybe you can earn back your winnings in trade.”

Smiling at the professional, she laid down her cards one-by-one. Nine, ten, page, jack, and finally queen high. All of the same suit, as red as her gown. Nicknamed an Infidelity of Hearts on this planet, as the king had been replaced by the jack and page in the queen’s chambers, spread before her. Turning her attention to the dealer, she said, “I’m cashing out.”

Around the table, protests started.

“Sorry, gentlemen. But an Infidelity always is followed by bad luck. I must cash out.”

“Fair enough,” the grifter’s agreement silenced the protests. “Maybe another day.”

“I look forward to it.” The unknown woman drained her drink and took the slip the dealer passed her, looking to confirm the amount won before walking away.


The cage transferred her winnings back to the account where the money started, after Carin told them which tips to give to the tables she had worked that night. The dealers would know who tipped them as she was only one of three women betting their own money. While she didn’t plan on ever returning, certain traditions needed to be followed, otherwise the house wouldn’t let her walk out the door.

Securing her ID wand, she exited into the early morning hours, before the street lights raised to morning brightness on the tide-locked world, wondering how far she would get before something happened. The Torquatus mafia kept the area around the casino under tight surveillance. Carin gave it two blocks, when she officially left their territory.

Turns out, she underestimated their greed. Pity, she liked thinking about the romance of the mob.

Her kidnappers were pissed off when the wand’s firewalls eventually fell, revealing empty accounts. The money had bounced off-world before she had even stepped foot outside the Sloth’s doors.

But the night hadn’t been about her walking out with enough money to purchase a private asteroid.

She was bait for the slave trafficking. Torquantus had been too greedy, too often, and Carin and the mercenary unit she belonged to had been hired to bring it down completely. Waking up slightly bruised and very disoriented from the drugs, Carin felt a deep satisfaction to find herself naked and collared.

(Words 813; First published 11/29/2019)

One thought to “Flash: An Infidelity of Hearts”

  1. I really like this flash; it set a very film noir-ish scene that could have been anywhere, and only half-way through the story that you let on that the genre fell more into science fiction rather than straight-up mystery. Personally, I’d like to see more of this story line.

Comments are closed.