“Nuttin’,” I say, shaking my head.  I wander away from the table, leaving him laughing even though I didn’t mean to.  I wander out of the casino proper and find a resting spot against a wall on Le Boulevard, the long corridor of restaurants and retail establishments that leads, ultimately, to Bally’s.  I can’t seem to remember where the elevators are, so I simply rest leaning over, my hands braced on my knees.

And then, like an angel of mercy, a woman  who seems vaguely familiar stops in front of me, bending over to peer at my face.  Her voice comes from a long way off and is distorted like a nightmare:  “Aaaarrrrre yyyoooouu aaaallllriiiight, Saaammm?”

“Elevator,” I manage to say.  She props her shoulder under my arm and leads me away, and although I can’t think clearly, something tells me I’m heading in entirely the wrong direction.


Sunlight streaming across my bed stabs my eyes and send a drilling pain through my head.  I groan and pull my pillow over my face…and breathe in the scent of Frannie.  I chance opening an eye; the world tilts and my stomach gives a sickening lurch.  I close my eye again.


“Sam, wake up.  We have to talk.”

Not Frannie.  I tilt my head away from the sunshine streaming through the windows and opening my eyes.

“Malia?  What the fuck…”  My voice trails off, because my brain finally translates the scene and it’s not pretty.  Malia Moreno, her hair tousled and tangled from sleep—Christ, I hope it was only from sleep—is sitting up in bed next to me, the blankets clutched to her chest.  Her bare chest.  Her bare shoulders gleam fetchingly in the morning light, but I’m not fetched.  I’m horrified.

“We need to talk about this,” she says, and thrusts a paper at me.  Pain stabs through my head as I try to make sense of the words on the paper:




“Fuck me!” I exclaim, and wince as pain lances through my head.  “What the hell is this?”

“Just what it says.”  She licks her lips nervously.  “Sam…what do you remember?”

I try to think back to the events of the night.  I can remember playing Blackjack with Gus, and then everything goes blank.  I can’t pull out a single memory after that.  I certainly don’t remember applying for a marriage license with Malia Moreno, even though…

“Christ!”  I see the gold band on my left hand, and my eyes fly to hers, my head screaming in protest.  A matching wedding set with a modest diamond encircles her own finger.

“What do we do now, Sam?” Malia asks in a small, quiet voice.

I pull the pillow back over my face, muffling my reply.  “Now I find a window that opens, and I jump.”

And circling in my head the whole time is the thought of Frannie…oh God, what am I going to tell Frannie?

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