“Let’s play a game, Charlie,” Heather Moore whispered, her breath hot and quick in his ear. She kissed him roughly in her husband’s bed without regrets. Charlie Dent kept Brad’s side warm whenever he went out of town and his wife wanted some company.
He held her tight and ran eager fingers through her curly red hair. “Sure. What do you have in mind?”
“You’ll see…” Heather reached over, opened Brad’s nightstand and pulled out the shiny, steel blue .38 snub – nosed Smith & Wesson revolver that matched her eyes-his spare, tucked away for safekeeping – and handed him the gun. Charlie took it without the slightest hesitation.
“Do you know how to play Russian roulette?” She ran her fingers playfully across Charlie’s hairy chest and he shivered.
He leaned over and kissed her perky breasts. “Show me. I’m eager to learn.”
“Not until you shoot your load.”
“If you insist.” He set the snub-nosed revolver down on the nightstand and lay back on the bed.
Heather took his growing erection slowly into her mouth, swirling the head and shaft with her tongue. She placed her hand over his balls. He grabbed her face, urging her on. Heather felt his balls tighten when he came, warm and sweet in her mouth.
Charlie sat up, kissed her deeply and reached for the gun¾impossibly heavy in his hand – struggled to hold it level.
She licked her lips. “We’ll take turns. You go first. Spin the wheel. There are six chambers and only one bullet. I love those odds. Don’t you?”
“You bet I do. There’s nothing more exhilarating than the element of surprise. Wouldn’t you agree?” He gave it a whirl while she watched.
“Absolutely.” Heather clapped her hands. “Now, put the gun to your head and hold it steady while I pull the trigger. Don’t blink—I might be the last woman you ever see—savor the moment.”
“Anything for you.” Charlie drank Heather in while he honored her request. The cold muzzle pinched his temple; he blinked when the hammer clicked on an empty chamber, sending a blast of compressed air straight to his temple. Feeling cocky, he smirked and handed her the gun. “Your turn. This is if you’re up to the challenge.”
Heather licked her lips and gave the wheel a good spin with the tip her manicured red nail. When it stopped, she put the gun to her head – right between her eyes – Charlie placed his hand on top of hers and together they grappled. The weapon kicked – catching him off guard – he cursed when he realized what he’d done. When the bullet pierced Heather’s forehead and pierced her skull, her bright green eyes widened, full of pain and wonder. She landed flat on her back with a soft thud. Blood gushed, a crimson, wet rush onto the pristine sheets.
Charlie gawked at Heather’s ruined face – her blood and brains splattered on the bedroom wall – while he recalled the loud pop moments ago and the snub-nosed revolver still clutched tightly in his hand. He screamed, tossed the smoking gun on the bed, and hightailed it home.
Standing with his legs spread and his feet planted firmly on the smooth concrete floor of his garage, Brad Moore pressed the eerily familiar cold muzzle of the .38 snub-nosed Smith & Wesson revolver against Charlie Dent’s forehead and grinned, revealing two rows of perfectly straight teeth that resembled Chicklets.
His stance, typical for a cop and expert marksman, set Charlie on edge.
“Do you know what I have here, Charlie?” He released the safety and cocked the gun; a nerve-wracking click echoed loudly in the small space.
He studied the weapon, found it eerily familiar, couldn’t help but think of Heather. “It looks like a gun,” Charlie said matter-of-factly, calmly, not at all the way that a man staring Death in the face ought to reply. Goose bumps appeared on his smooth, tan skin, revealing his fragile state of mind. He fought a wave of nausea, hot and vile, aggravated by the strong stench of gun oil that stung his nostrils.
Brad nodded, a maniacal grin plastered on his face. “It’s that and so much more.”
Charlie raised his eyebrows, biding his time. “What do you mean and why are you pointing it at me?” He shifted, trying to get comfortable in a rickety, wooden chair. Coarse ropes bit into the tender flesh of his ankles and wrists, making them throb dully.
Brad laughed. “You know exactly why. Don’t play dumb with me.”
He sighed. “I haven’t got a clue.”
“Have you seen Heather lately?” Brad pulled the gun away long enough to polish it with his expensive button-down shirt while Charlie watched.
Charlie rolled his eyes. He took a deep breath and said, “I might have. This is a small town—you never know who you might run into…”
Brad jammed the gun against his opponent’s forehead; beads of sweat formed on and ran down Charlie’s face in sticky torrents as he shrieked.
“Go ahead and scream. No one can hear you except me. I had my garage soundproofed so we won’t hear Jacob and his band when they jam. The neighbors tell me my son really knows how to rock. Guess I’ll have to take their word for it; I never hear a peep.”
Charlie immediately stopped screaming.
“See this wheel? Round and round she goes; where she stops nobody knows!” Brad gave it a spin; it clicked and whirled around before stopping abruptly.
He stared at the shiny, steel blue revolver, fascinated by its finality.
“Six chambers, one bullet. Looks like the odds are in your favor.” Brad held the sleek gun in his open palm for his captive audience to inspect, which he reluctantly did. “The bullet’s in there, all right, but the question is where?”
Charlie stared at the cold concrete beneath his feet.
Point-blank, Brad posed a question: “Have you ever held a gun in your hand, Charlie?” He admired his weapon of choice, compact yet potent enough to get the job done.
Charlie frowned, shook his head.
“You don’t know what you’re missing…It’s a real kick – better than sex, get some action whenever you want – absolute power in the palm of your hand.” Brad tightened his grip; the gun wavered. “Heather’s dead. Your prints were all over the gun, hers too. What the fuck?!”
“I’m really sorry.” He started at his feet. “It was just an innocent game, I swear – I had no idea the gun was loaded.”
“I don’t buy it.” Brad paced back and forth. “Are you a gambling man, Charlie?”
Charlie shook his head. “It’s a nasty habit. The stakes are too high and I hate to lose.”
Brad laughed again, louder this time. “Then why did you sleep with my wife? Did you feel lucky, willing to risk it all for a good fuck?”
“Don’t be shy.”
Charlie gasped, guilty as charged. “I’m an impulsive guy. I acted on a feeling I haven’t felt in a long time: Love.”
“Wrong, I think you mean lust¾there’s a big difference. You were thinking with the wrong head when you bedded Heather, my friend.” He pointed the gun at Charlie’s crotch. He expected Brad to pull the trigger, depriving him of his manhood with a single blow; Brad couldn’t, no, wouldn’t do that – he wanted to make Charlie squirm. “Heather may have loved you in college, but her tastes are refined now. Why do you think she married me?”
“Because you’re a sure bet, safe and secure.”
Brad glared at Charlie. “That’s pretty blunt.”
“It’s true.” Charlie shrugged. “Then there’s me—I’m passionate and reckless. Heather caved excitement and knew where to find it.”
Brad balled his free hand into a fist and pointed the gun at Charlie’s face once more. “You weren’t the first guy I caught. My wife had a wandering eye, you see. I did my best to overlook her transgressions, but I know you—that changes everything.”
Charlie stared at Brad, grappling with harsh reality.
“How did you end up in bed?” Brad towered over him, obscuring Charlie’s haphazard thoughts. “Let me guess: Heather talked you into keeping her company while I was out of town because she was lonely. You jumped at the chance without thinking twice. Isn’t that right? Now that’s poor planning.”
“You’re absolutely right.” Charlie squinted. His eyes teared, blurring his vision.
“Round and round she goes. Where she stops, nobody knows!” Brad spun the wheel that held his nemesis’s fate. “Care to guess?”
“Have I got a choice?” Charlie’s eyes locked on the proverbial wheel until it stopped spinning.
The gun loomed inches from his face. “You’re not a coward, are you, Charlie?”
“N-n-n-o-o-o.” He blinked and swallowed hard.
“Funny, you don’t sound too sure of yourself and why do you look so scared?” Brad shook his head. “Are you afraid to die?”
“Isn’t everybody?” Charlie’s eyes darted around the remarkably tidy garage, finally setting on Brad.
He shrugged. “I suppose, but I’m not the one staring down the barrel of a gun.”
Charlie bit his lip. “Let’s forget I ever laid a hand on Heather, okay? I’d take it all back if I could.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Charlie. Your half-hearted apology can’t bring Heather back. What’s done is done.” Brad spun the cylinder once more for good measure. “It’s time to pay. I mean play.”
Charlie shifted; his restraints dug deeper.
Brad fondled the revolver’s wheel. “A wheel is spun. The players put their chips down on a number. If the ball lands in the slot that contains their number, they claim the jackpot; if it doesn’t, they lose everything. It’s all or nothing. Do you understand?”
“I think so.” Brad started to shake uncontrollably.
Charlie watched him tremble and tightened his grip on the gun until his knuckles turned white. “This isn’t Vegas. Your life is on the line; you can’t afford to lose. It’s time to try your luck, Charlie. All bets are off. ” This time, he pressed the revolver’s cold muzzle against Charlie’s forehead and caressed the trigger lovingly with his finger. “Is Lady Luck on your side? Only one way to find out…”
Charlie shut his eyes, tight, steeled himself for the inevitable.
Brad pulled the trigger. The hammer clicked on an empty chamber, sending a blast of compressed air straight to his temple.
Charlie flinched; his eyes snapped open. “I must be luckier than I thought.” His voice was icy calm, utterly devoid of emotion.
“Too bad Heather isn’t here to see this. I think she would have enjoyed the show! Don’t you?” Brad twirled the gun between his fingers like a seasoned outlaw.
Charlie licked his parched lips. “It’s hard to say.”
“Are you telling me you don’t know what my wife likes even though you fucked her?” He folded his arms.
“That’s right.” His voice cracked under the strain.
Brad scratched his head. “Right about what? That you slept with my wife or that you don’t know how to please her?”
“Both, I suppose,” Charlie frowned. “Don’t you want to give it a whirl? That way we’ve both got a fair shot.”
“All right.” Brad wiped a smudge off the gun’s barrel with his shirt, ever the perfectionist. “What have I got to lose?”
“Everything.” He smirked. “Play fair and untie me.”
Brad undid the ties that bound him and handed over the gun.
“Have a seat. This won’t take long.” Charlie gave the wheel a spin and stared at the gun, deep in thought. “Do you think the chamber is full, or empty this time around, Brad?”
“Only one way to find out.” Brad leered at him.
Charlie nodded and handed the gun back. “You know what to do.”
He glared at Charlie, put the gun to his head and held it while Charlie squeezed the trigger; the gun kicked in his hand, launching the only bullet in the chamber.
Brad hit the cold concrete with a soft thud.