Stripped Bare

Stripped Bare

Prologue

Vegas baby, just what the doctor ordered. Flashing lights, Royal Flushes, high fives hollered and strip club crushes, winning bets, oversized cheques, stretched limos and Lamborghinis, beauties bursting out of feather bikinis. Casinos that always say yes, night clubs that never say no, Sin City, Skin City, any pleasure you could possibly demand on tap, not one question asked.

The single most self indulgent destination on this planet was set to serve its biggest ever helping of hedonistic pie and you just knew we’d be back for seconds in the morning.

Vegas was never going to pan out like that, not for me. Too conventional, too predictable, too God damn boring, nah for me Vegas was the city of fuck ups. Life changing, ball aching, mammoth sized fuck ups, the scale of which you’d never recover from and that no one would ever forget you for.

Lined up as the swansong of my singledom it should have been just what I needed; four adrenalin-filled days to ease me through to my wedding day and the rest of my two point four, semidetached existence. Just one last blow out before I forced myself to grow up, one last hit to help me on my journey to a family life of front lawns and furniture stores, mid life crises and family chores. It should have been the stag do to end all stag dos but we got it badly, sadly, catastrophically wrong.

We’d done it all before, lived the A to Z of stag does from Amsterdam’s dodgy dealers to Zagreb brass hell bent on stealing from us. You name it, we’d caned it and we’d lived to tell the tale. But in the deepest, darkest desert valleys somebody forgot to read our script and not one of us was ready for what Vegas spewed our way.

‘No strippers’ was the precursor to my wedding vows, and a promise is a promise after all. I knew I wouldn’t crack. I was ready for the commitment.

But the Vegas brochure didn’t spell out what happens if you act up a little, cause a little trouble, go against the grain and step out of that neon bubble. The gangland bosses might not spell out their names anymore in glittering neon above the casino door but they’re there alright, if you dig a little deeper in the desert night.

Blinded by dollar signs, booze and bouncing boobs, we just didn’t see the shit coming or the super-sized fan set to spray it and us all over the Nevada desert. Scream if you want to go faster? Not me mate, I’ve had enough of this ride. I’m screaming just to get off.

***

Get off the road, get off the road.

The thought flashed repeatedly through Jamie Thomas’ mind as he sprinted blindly through downtown Las Vegas, running as quickly as his legs would carry him, straddling sidewalk after sidewalk. The straightness of the Boulevard was unforgiving. He knew he had to get off it.

Four forty five and the sun was already making an early appearance, cruelly siphoning any moisture out of the desert air. The alcohol was wearing off. His pursuers on the other hand weren’t.

His white shirt from the evening before was heavy with sweat whilst over-sized pointed slip-ons threatened to slip off with every lunge. Around his neck a silver cross, the only item legitimately his, swung from side to side with his every stride.

He span as he ran but recognised nothing. The landmark hotels of the Strip had been replaced by the anonymity of unknown downtown. Far from the beaten track, only the tower of the Stratosphere, Las Vegas’ tallest landmark, offered any semblance of hope. It merged into view all over Vegas, yet made the most redundant of sign posts.

Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas? Welcome to the end of your life.

He glanced round as he ran, the panic sweating out of his open pores. This city was alien and Jamie was quickly running out of space and air to breath.

Instinct took over. He hurdled a small wall and flew into the ground floor of a multi-storey parking lot. Knowing he could run no further, his eyes focused on a white Cadillac; a far from perfect hiding place.

But still he slumped to his knees and waited for the deep hum of a generator somewhere behind him to be pierced by the screams of two Nevada strippers and the threats of two doormen. Fear gripped him; no back up from the lads when he needed it most. No time for explanations, apologies or wisecracks. This had escalated beyond all get out of jail clauses. You don’t fuck about with these people, not in the real world; not on their turf. He tried to slow his breathing down and think clearly.

“You’re a fuckin’ dead man,” the first audible threat filtered through.

He lowered his back to the concrete floor so he could edge underneath the Cadillac.

“He’s not up ahead. Maybe he switched over a block?”

The voices were muffled but they weren’t running anymore.

“Did you get a look at him?”

“The girls said he was English but with this weird waya talking…”

“Dumb fuck’s gonna have a weird way of walking, once I fuck him up.”

The threat was sealed with a scrape of mucus from the back of the throat. Jamie imagined it splattering onto the sidewalk and flexing its muscles briefly before frying on the scorched concrete.

“What do you reckon he’s in the parking lot?”

The slow delivery of the words made Jamie’s body stiffen. His throat was dry. He swallowed, desperately searching for already spent saliva to rehydrate his mouth. The smell of petrol and engine fumes engulfed him as one.

Just twenty-four hours ago he was lying in his soon-to-be marital bed, a million miles from all this. A river of sweat wove through the hair on his chest and dripped down his rib cage, soaking into the cotton of his shirt. He prayed to any god that would listen for salvation and realised he’d welcome his stale suburban home with open arms.

His mind filled in the gaps in his imagery as he heard a car screech to a halt on the road nearby. Two doors opened and then slammed shut.

“Where is that disrespecting piece of shit?” came a high pitched shriek; one of the strippers.

“Get him out here, I’m gonna kick his punk ass to the kerb.”

A surge of cramp in his left calf sent a spasm of pain through his leg. He covered his mouth with one hand and reached down to massage his calf with the other but as he moved a torrent of loose change streamed from his pocket.

“What was that?”

“I knew he was in there,” said the other bouncer, flicking an expandable baton to its full length. “I’m gonna fuck this punk up good,” he whispered to himself before jumping the wall and entering the car park.

The chase was over. The dogs had their scent. All the stag could do now was hide, hope and pray. It really wasn’t supposed to be like this.

DAY ONE: Thursday
The lap dance domino effect
Chapter 1

Waterfalls of sweat line the palms of my hands; my fists are clenched so tightly my nails are almost piercing the skin. I stand at the front of the room unable to fathom where I am or what is taking place.

Hundreds of eyes bear down on me, burrowing their stare into the back of my head. My paralysis is wearing off like a drug that has hit its peak and knows its days are numbered. My body craves another hit. I shuffle my weight from one foot to the other, just to prove to myself this body is mine.

“She’s here mate, the car’s here.”

My brain looks for sanctuary but all I hear is the music, those aggressive notes that had always chilled my blood.

An alarm screeches over the top of the church organ.

I look back at the horrified faces and then see it, the fire alarm, my saviour. I smash my fist into the panel of glass, again and again sending splinters of claret coloured glass showering to the floor. It will all be over now. The room will empty. Those preying eyes will be off me. The alarm shrieks louder, filling my ears, filling the room. It will all be over now.

***

Jamie rolled over and thrust out a sleepy fist to hit snooze for another fifteen minutes.

His night terror was always the same and had dominated his subconscious with increasing regularity over the last few months.

He grappled with his subconscious, forcing the words through his head again and again. I am ready for this.

He checked the clock by the side of his bed; five thirty on a wet and windy Thursday morning, the morning of his eagerly awaited ‘wedding holiday.’ He breathed in deeply knowing at least that that very night he’d be partying in Las Vegas, a million miles from the suffocation he feared but edging close to the day that scared him most; that Sunday service in one of the swanky Strip hotels.

“Honey, will you get up please? You’ve been hitting snooze for the last half an hour?”

He rubbed his eyes and looked across at her on the pillow next to him. Even as she woke up with sleep in her eyes and her hair ruffled Lauren looked beautiful.

“And some of us have got work today.”

But she’d fallen into the trap of nagging the fun out of their relationship.

Jamie shook his head slightly at her reminder.

He’d always feared this trap with every girl he’d ever gone out with; a beautiful relationship snuffed out by the normality of conformity.

“Jay, would you mind nipping to the supermarket and getting me some Soya milk? We’re fresh out. You know how I like my muesli.”

She’d developed this kind of lisp too, which Jamie swore had taken him at least three years to identify but which had been grating ever since.

He silently questioned how he’d come to rest in this middle class, suburban existence. It was the prelude to Sunday mornings spent washing cars and mowing lawns and playing taxi cab to the kiddie winks’ every travel whim. Still, he knew he had to grow up one day.

I am ready for this.

“Can’t you use the milk we’ve got in babe?” he muttered still half asleep.

His future had been mapped out. The city flat had become a nice four bed detached on a Lego land estate, garden to the front, conservatory to the rear. Staying in was the new going out.

His fiancée slipped delicately out of bed and slinked over to the bathroom to clean her teeth, emerging just as quickly from the en-suite, toothbrush in mouth, her black lacy negligee only just covering her slight frame.

She was immaculately presented, supremely organised and would one day run a family household as efficiently as any army regiment, Jamie knew all that like it had been written in stone, centuries ago.

“You know I can’t drink that horrible fatty milk, it shouldn’t even be in my fridge,” she exclaimed, still managing to lisp around a mouthful of toothpaste.

Jamie pulled the covers over his head, sparking the inevitable sulk.

“Do you know Jay, sometimes I wonder why we’re bothering at all,” the fiancée began. “You’ve put more effort into your first night in Vegas than you ever have anything for me and that includes the wedding day.”

“That’s not true babes,” he reasoned. “I’ve looked at every magazine and website you’ve put in front of me.”

She was exceptionally fit, Jamie knew this; her body toned and tanned, her blonde hair flowing perfectly. Maybe marriage would re-ignite the spark snuffed out by the normality of it all.

“And it’s only one night babe,” he added. “Before you know it, you and the girls will be in town having your own fun.”

“Whatever Jay, I was stupid enough to agree to your extra day of gallivanting so I’m fully aware that it’s entirely my fault. Why am I even surprised that you’re not prepared to help me out?”

“I’ll get the milk, okay?”

“A little bit of help that’s all I’m asking for. I’ve got a really important meeting today. It’s actually crucial to our future financial security. Do you remember meetings and financial security? It’s a good job one of us still has a real job to put up against the mortgage.”

Jamie recognised the tactic. He knew what was coming. Lauren would move the speed of the conversation along at lightening pace before changing tact completely, burying the real issue deep in an argument manufactured for the sole purpose of concealing it.

“When we get back from our honeymoon, you’re getting a proper job.”

“But the ticket touting makes more money.”

“You know Claire at work, well her husband is manager of a mobile phone call centre. She says she can get you an interview.”

“But the touting makes more money,” he repeated.

The football had been his only source of income since long before he’d met Lauren and it really did pay the bills.

“And don’t think I don’t know what you get up to on these stag do’s.”

It was inevitable; wedged deep into another argument, the real reason for the nark.

“It’s not even a stag do,” he tried to reassure. “As far as I’m concerned we’re going away to get married. The fact I’m in Las Vegas with the lads…for one night before you get there is purely coincidental. And look everyone’s grown up a notch or two these days, honey. There won’t be any of that bullshit with strippers or being stripped bare and tied to a lamp post. I’ve got a bit more class than that.”

Lauren shook her head throughout.

“Listen to me babes,” he continued, “we’re going to Las Vegas to get married, me and you. That extra night, the so called ‘stag do’ is surplus to my requirements. It’s there to satisfy the lads’ needs, not mine. All I’m focussed on is seeing you at that chapel on Sunday so we can get married and then go on our honeymoon. I’m not bothered about Las Vegas, honestly. So please, honey, rest assured there will be no problems on that first night in Vegas.”

“Well if there are, this wedding’s off,” Lauren threatened. “And remember this conversation because it’s your choice. You can decide which way you want to go right now; my way or the way of that stupid brother of yours.”

She strolled over to the bed to look intently at her fiancée with her deep, dark, brown eyes.

“Oh come on that’s not fair…”

“No Jay, I’ve been more than fair. I’ve gone along with your infatuation of breaking with conformity and do you know what, I’m actually happy about getting married in Vegas. I’ve researched this to the nth degree and to my utmost surprise the wedding venue… is perfect.”

“Plus we’re already half way to Hawaii for the honeymoon,” Jamie chipped in optimistically.

Lauren looked to the ceiling as she ran her itinerary through her head.

“A couple of days relaxing in the sun with my friends, a pamper morning in the spa, an afternoon shopping, a helicopter ride over Vegas, horse riding in the Grand Canyon….and then we’re getting married in the most beautiful surroundings I could find; the gardens at Wynn; opulence personified.”

“You need a person to personify something,” Jamie corrected. “Gardens don’t personify, they bloom.”

“Whatever Jay. All I’m saying is the prelude to my wedding will be perfect; romantic, relaxing…and most importantly… sensible. I don’t need you doing anything that you and, more importantly, we can’t recover from. This is going to be the best wedding ANY of our friends have ever seen so if I even hear of any strippers, I’ll cut it off, find the whore who stripped for you and ram it down her slaggy little mouth as a tip; a tip not to dance with a married man, my married man.”

Jamie pulled his most enthusiastic ‘dick’ face; one he’d practised long and hard.

“I don’t think it’s altogether fair calling them whores… and technically I won’t be married…”

“So you’re defending them? My husband-to-be is defending whores that take their clothes off for money. Brilliant.”

“I think you’ve got the wrong impression of them Laurs, they only…”

“I don’t want to know the ins and outs of what they do for you.”

“But they don’t do anything for me?”

“They don’t do anything for you? So when you’re sitting there with a naked WHORE showing you what she had for dinner, it does nothing for you?”

“I meant because I don’t visit them…”

“So it would turn you on… if you did visit them?” Lauren snapped back, relentlessly.

“What?”

Jamie’s high pitch screech illustrated his disbelief.

“What’s the point in us having such a hypothetically bollocked up conversation as this?”

“Fine, just as long as I know that my husband-to-be WOULD get turned on seeing a naked stripper cavorting.”

“When did I say that? Look honey, everything you’re saying is hypothetical. I don’t know what would happen because IT hasn’t happened. That doesn’t mean to say…”

“With a naked female in front of you? What red blooded male wouldn’t get turned on? Are you telling me you wouldn’t think about sex for even one second?”

“Well I guess, maybe, but it’s like pink elephants isn’t it? Try not to think about something and it pops into your head.”

“No it’s not Jamie because there’s no fucking pink elephants in Vegas are there!”

“Well there might be, there’s pink flamingos. Look Lauren, the point is I haven’t got any interest in strippers…”

“Rubbish. And why do men go and see strippers, Jamie?””

Jamie grimaced.

“Because they’re shallow?” he offered tentatively.

“Because they’re perverts, head-to-toe perverts… and they don’t know how to talk to girls, real girls.”

“Look Laurs, I’ve had enough of this. You girls are miles worse than us. We go into a strip club full of respect for the artists we’re seeing. We sit on our hands and…”

“Artists?”

Lauren lent against the door of the en-suite, folding her arms and raising her eyebrows so high that they threatened to emigrate north for their holidays.

“I’ve heard it all now…”

“It’s true,” Jamie continued. “Ever since the ladette culture, girls have been pushing it further and getting away with more. Groping the stripper, egging each other on, dishing out hand jobs like they’re the free city papers in the morning. I’ve seen it on the internet.”

“I’ve told you Jamie, I don’t like you looking at those pervy sites, like some dirty old man.”

He hated the regularity of that comment, aired whenever anything sexual not involving her was mentioned.

“You know God doesn’t really kill a kitten every time I… oh forget it,” he recounted tiresomely. “But look, if you’re saying no to strippers, which is fair enough by the way as it isn’t even nearly going to happen, I’m laying down my own ground rules… and saying no blowjobs.”

“No blowjobs? Nice. Maybe we could write that into our wedding vows. I’m serious Jamie, don’t be messing about with any strippers… or getting into any trouble of any kind. We can’t afford any broken legs or missing people or police involvement or…”

“OK, enough already, ease up, I promise, no strippers. Even if my brother gets changed in front of me I shall avert my innocent eyes. I don’t see why you’re so worried though. It’s less than twenty four hours before you turn up in town. Nothing bad will happen at all. I promise.”

“You’re tempting fate now,” Lauren said with a certain look in her eye. “Maybe you should touch wood.”

Jamie tutted playfully at her daily superstitions; magpies, black cats, ladders, Lauren honoured them all. He lent across the bed to brush his fingertips over the wooden structure of the bedside table and completely neutralise any notion of tempting fate.

“I meant another sort of wood,” Lauren said, seductively crawling up the bed on her hands and knees.

Her boobs wrestled with her nightie trying to make a burst for freedom as she edged closer. Her long blonde hair fell onto her face.

“You didn’t think I was going to let you go all the way to Las Vegas without something to remember me by, did you?”

It was a classic; make her point, bury the argument and then wash any ill feeling away, not that he was complaining. Jamie looked down at his wife to be as she yanked down the bed sheets and then his boxer shorts.

Viva Las Vegas, he thought before lying back and hoping the alarm clock would snooze long enough for him to enjoy the full array of his fiancée’s undoubted bedroom skills. Maybe there was something to be said for marriage after all.

***

Danny Thomas sauntered up to the doors of the departure lounge in Terminal Two; Jabba one side, Sid the other. There was always a swagger in his step. He was the self-proclaimed Big Daddy of the group and revelled in his self-prescribed nickname.

“Vegas baby,” he muttered to himself. “I fuckin’ love that place.”

He cast the butt of his cigarette to the floor, stubbing it flat with his size ten trainers and momentarily lifted the Aviator sunglasses from his eyes to turn to his friends.

“Last chance Jabba, if you’ve smuggled any intergalactic smoking apparatus in your suitcase, now’s the time to lose it.”

“He can’t afford weed since getting sacked,” Sid piped up.

“Sacked? Who gets sacked from McDonalds?” Big Daddy said incredulously.

“He was watering the plastic plants.”

“They told me to look busy,” Jabba shrugged.

Big Daddy scoured T2. Everyone was there apart from his hapless brother and the Davenport brothers who were flying from Heathrow.

As the lads exchanged collateral banter, Big Daddy leaned in to whisper to Smithy, the comedian of the group.

“What’s that liability doing here? I heard he’d cancelled.”

His eyes glanced across to Wyatt.

“He was on and off about coming, problems with Carla. She won’t let him see his boy again.”

“So he’s been acting too weird to see his little boy? Well he’s your liability, nothing to do with me.”

“He’s just struggled since his brother…”

“Yeah well that was years ago now. You babysit him; you keep an eye on him; you keep him out of trouble…and that means no getting off his face on anything.”

“I know, I know. I know the script.”

“Good, you got Jay’s outfit?” Big Daddy asked.

Smithy smiled as he held up the plastic carrier bag full of the stag’s party attire.

“Of course mate, more important than the wedding ring that. Where is our damsel in distress anyway?”

“He’s on his way. The dozy mare’s already got himself knocked over though; he went to Tesco’s for some ‘Soya milk’ this morning. Learnt a valuable lesson too; don’t mix main roads and ipods. He got taken out by a Golf and then mugged by two good Samaritans as he recovered. Don’t know about all conquering stag; sounded more like a quivering Bambi when I spoke to him.”

“He looks a bit shaky on his legs too,” Smithy said, pointing to Jamie making an embarrassed entrance through the departures door.

“You alright Jay, I heard those BMX boys wheelie did you over?” Smithy teased.

“Don’t spoke fun at the boy,” Big Daddy added ruffling the stag’s hair.

“They were on a mountain bike actually but ta for the concern. And they took everything; scallie fuckers, credit cards, wallet, money, phone, ipod. I’ve got nothing.”

“You’ll be claiming it was a gangland drive by in a minute, not a pedal by from PJ and Duncan,” Big Daddy said.

“Get it all out of your systems lads, because the piss taking stays here. I’ve promised Lauren this will be a classy do so no endless piss taking and no chaining me to any lampposts. This is a wedding holiday…not a stag do.”

“Jesus mate, our castrated collie had more balls than you,” Big Daddy quipped.

“If you want to bring some class to proceedings you’re gonna have to change your taste in luggage,” Smithy said firing in his own collateral banter. “What’s with the slag pink? At least you ain’t gonna lose it, even if you do look a right pussy.”

“It’s Lauren’s actually. I broke the zip on mine this morning.”

“Jesus Jay, I’m gonna start calling you Lucky. If you stand anywhere near me at those craps tables, I’ll throw the dice in your face. I don’t need your bad vibes near my big bollock bets.”

“Yeah well all he needs for this trip is his wedding suit and his passport,” Big Daddy assured. “I’ll take care of everything else. You have got your suit haven’t you?”

Jamie nodded patting his case.

“And your passport?”

Jamie smiled smugly producing his passport, which was immediately snatched by Smithy.

“You look about twelve on this,” he blurted out. “Is it up for renewal?”

Jamie snatched the passport back, unable to hide his utter dejection; it was his old one, four years out of date, the corner had been snipped off the first page.

“I’m gonna need a cab. Tell the check in desk what I’m doing,” he shouted as he turned and ran. “And check my case in.”

Smithy turned to Big Daddy.

“Is it too late to call the Davenport brothers and ask if they can get a little luck altering device for your bro too?” he whispered.

“Keep that under wraps, Smithy son. The less people that know about their little money making scheme the better but still if it’s gonna pay for all of our trips, job’s a good ‘un. Listen though; if Jay finds out, he’ll cancel his last night of freedom quicker than you can say… nipple tassels, so stay stum yeah.”

***

Jozsef Pulitzer sat alone in the Rivoli bar in the Ritz Hotel, London. A symphony of camphor wood, satinwood, gold leaf and Lalique glass adorned the establishment. Pulitzer marvelled at the art deco design of the bar, despite it being completely alien to him. He was an old man, professor-like in his appearance, with his round spectacles and white hair in stark contrast to his tanned, well travelled complexion.

He swirled his glass of Remy Martin cognac around in his hand watching the thick liquid cling to the inside of his glass. Even this slightest of movements helped ease his appetite for dextrous activity, developed through years of solitary, secretive operation in casinos, constantly stacking and restacking gaming chips.

He looked at the package on the table in front of him and smiled.

Pulitzer’s devotion to probability and the science of gambling had seen him travel the world. His obsession with roulette and his ability to identify even the smallest glitch on a wheel or the slightest element of continuity in a dealer’s spin had seen him escorted off many a gaming floor. Now thanks to the wonders of technology he was able to make his money whilst passing the risk onto other would be conmen. Not that Pulitzer saw his invention as a con. It was merely using the physics of roulette and applying the science to the technology available in today’s ever advancing world.

Pulitzer noticed the two men enter the room immediately. They looked dishevelled due to the ferocity of the morning rain cascading down on the streets outside. Their dark suits soaked at the lapels were covered by long leather jackets.

They certainly fitted the stereotype, Pulitzer thought to himself. For all their ruling of the waves and building of empires, Pulitzer had always found the English a very idiosyncratic, insular race. Not that one should work to stereotypes.

“Gentlemen,” he started in a hybrid of an accent that mixed Eastern European twangs with those from the United States.

“Come,” he said, shaking each man by the hand and then hugging them tightly. He patted them raucously on their backs before beckoning them to sit down at the table.

“Was that some kind of Hungarian tradition?”

“No, no no,” Pulitzer chuckled politely. “I was checking you both for listening devices or wires and relieving you of this,” he said producing a white envelope. The two men looked stunned.

“I was having trouble trying to decipher, which of you was in charge and indeed which of you would be carrying the money. I thought it might offend the man in command if I had to ask so thought it more polite to help myself. I trust the envelope contains the full three thousand pounds.”

Both men nodded. Pulitzer leaned in to his customers so he could whisper. His voice was barely audible.

“The device has been fitted with the wireless capability that you requested,” the Hungarian explained. “I was very impressed with your adaptation of my invention and hope that you haven’t applied for a patent yet as I would very much like to include it in any future, subsequent designs.”

“The rights are all yours for three thousand pounds,” said the younger of the men, not for one second taking himself seriously.

The inventor laughed slightly as he turned to the older man.

“I like your brother,” he said instantly, shocking both men with the confidence of his assertion. “But in this profession it is prudent to let your winnings do the talking as quietly as they possibly can. Gentlemen, I am not here to advise you on how to make money, or how to stay out of the watchful gaze of the security cameras. That is your risk. I am simply here to sell you a device. But let me give you two very, very obvious pieces of free guidance. And you should say this to yourselves over and over again, for sometimes it is ignorance of the most obvious, which leads to disaster. Firstly, don’t be greedy. This has been the downfall of many men with more intelligence than all of us here present put together. And secondly, do not trust anybody. The less people you alert to your intentions before, during or after the application of the device, the better. Now, all that’s left for me to say is Koszi and viszontlatasra,” the man nodded his head almost bowing slightly as he bid the two farewell. “I thank you for your business and wish you the best of Hungarian luck with your activities.”

He finished his cognac, pulled himself up from his seat and shuffled past the brothers.

“Oh one last thing,” the old man said, turning once more to face the brothers. “There’s a brandy waiting for you behind the bar…for luck. I’m afraid it isn’t Hungarian but it is the best I could do.”

The brothers glanced over to the bar where a barman was indeed pouring two large brandies. They glanced back to where their Eastern European contact was standing but of course he had gone.

“Well, I don’t know about you but he scared the living shite out of me,” the younger brother said.

He picked up the world’s most expensive mobile phone, a handset that would never make a single phone call, and stood up from his chair.

“His sixth sense was that sharp I bet he knew what colour my duds were.”

The older of the two brothers, laughed.

“After that little meeting, I think I could guess what colour your duds are. But come on we’ve got some bigger bets than that to make. Let’s neck his brandy and get a cab to Heathrow, we’ve got a flight to Vegas to catch. It’s time to make some money.”

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