She was actually starting to hate her life.
When she was young, moving from one state to the next – school to school – Olivia Clemens would cry alone in the corner of her bedroom. She hated starting over every time her mother had a new job opportunity she just couldn’t pass up, so over time she just gave up. She sat alone at lunch, kept her nose in a book during recess, and pretty much shut herself off from the rest of the World with headphones on the bus ride home.
That had become her life, and she had not only accepted it…it had become normal.
That is, until she had met Violet.
Violet was what many would consider weird, but Olivia was sure she had to be the most annoying girl she had ever met. Violet never let her sit alone at lunch, would talk so much she couldn’t concentrate on the book she was reading, and would take one of the earbuds from her to make sure she wasn’t listening to anything inappropriate without her. Olivia tried her best to ignore it, gave plenty of hints that she didn’t want to be bothered, but Violet was persistent.
Violet was her best friend for the last three years because of that persistence, and her life started to feel normal. Not the normal she had become accustomed to, but the type she saw other girls her age have. They talked about boys, rooming in college together, and why their math teacher Mr. Tucker would go through half a bottle of mouthwash throughout the day.
It had been a month since they left at the crack of dawn, a few bags worth of clothes thrown in the back seat. A month since she had giggled in the middle of the night, because Violet had texted her some silly meme. A whole damn month had passed, and her mother had yet to give her an explanation as to why.
The look of fear on her mother’s face was not one she would forget anytime soon, and it appeared right after she mentioned the man with the scar on his face.
Did her mother know him?
Is he the reason they moved around so much?
What the hell was his name again?
“Tony Gamble,” the woman’s voice calling his name caught his attention, pulling it away from the game just as Boston started to pull away and tease a deciding game 7 with Philly.
“Over here,” he lifts his arm and stretches out two fingers, waving down the woman with dirty blonde hair from his seat at the bar. A pencil struggles to keep a messy bun in place, as she grabs a menu out of the stack next to the hostess station. She looks as if she was ready for her shift to end two hours before she clocked in for the evening, which Tony hoped wouldn’t affect the service he is about to receive.
“Right this way.”
Her voice is soft, which combined with the music being played a little too loudly through the speakers, makes it a little difficult to hear her clearly. Still, it isn’t hard to figure out he needs to follow her to his table for the evening. What does strike him as odd, is when she opens the door to one of the party rooms and steps inside. He realizes the moment he gets to the entrance, that she isn’t the only one waiting for him inside.
Spiky red hair, a black tee shirt with the words ‘I rub my meat before I stick it in’, and a shit eating grin that most of the Sin City roster wanted to slap off of his damn face.
“Glenda,” the woman sitting to his left wearing a very large pair of sunglasses corrects him, as he stands up and disregards her completely.
“Say hello to my little friend.”
The bastard’s name is Jadian Bridden.
“Hey sugar tits,” Jadian slaps the waitress on the ass, as she places the menu on the table. “Bring my friend here a dingaling.”
“A Yuengling?” Glenda attempts to correct him once again.
“Shit, I don’t know,” he turns to her for a moment, then back at Tony. “You want a beer too?”
He’s the only one laughing at the lame excuse of a joke.
“I’m just fuckin with ya!” Still laughing, Bridden walks over and places a hand on the back of Gamble’s shoulder. “Come on, have a seat.”
Apprehensive of the whole situation, Tony makes his way to the table as the waitress walks out of the room. Her face is red, and he’s surprised she isn’t making a bigger deal about what the son of a bitch just did.
“You need to take the stick out of your ass before you sit down, or do you like it better that way?”
The Grin swipes Jadian’s arm away, then gets in his face. “What the hell are you doing here, you piece of shit?”
“It was a fucking joke, man,” Jadian lifts his hands up in surrender, backing away slowly as he goes back to where he was sitting when Tony walked up to the door. He turns to Glenda, “I swear he used to have a better sense of humor.”
Gamble doesn’t sit down, and grabs Jadian by the shirt before he can. “You didn’t answer my damn question.”
“What,” Bridden answers with a grin that would rival Tony’s. “you thought she would come see you herself?”
“You still work for her?”
“With her,” Jadian says as he looks down at Tony’s grip on his shirt. “You mind, it’s new.”
Tony lets him go, glancing over at Glenda as she sips her margarita through a straw.
“Did she find anything,” The Grin asks as he takes a seat.
“Didn’t even look,” Jadian adjusts his shirt. “Sorry to say, she doesn’t think very highly of you. I’m a big fan though.”
“I don’t get it,” Gamble slumps back in his chair.
“Me either,” He takes a quick sip from his beer. “I don’t usually cheer for losers.”
“I’m talking about Alex,” Tony shakes his head. “Could give two shits about your opinion of me.”
“Oh, well,” Jadian shrugs his shoulders. “We could give two shits about some bitch that hated you so much she faked her own death.”
Tony’s attention turns to the door that swings open slowly, expecting his drink to finally arrive, but the man walking in doesn’t have anything in his hands. The security guard that follows him doesn’t look to be in a good mood either. Dressed in a shirt and tie, the guy looks like he’s probably the manager…the tag says his name is Ted.
“I’m gonna have to ask you all to leave,” Ted speaks with an authority that only he would take seriously, but Tony wasn’t even in the mood to reply. “You’re not gonna talk to my waitress the way you did, and I’m definitely not gonna let you put your hands on her.”
“I just patted her on the ass,” Jadian laughs as Glenda sucks down the last of her drink. “It’s not like I motorboated her cheeks.”
“Always a class act, aren’t you Jadian,” Tony shakes his head. “Let Alex know I’ll be in touch.”
“What are you going to tell her this time?”
“I don’t know,” Victoria Henderson had her face in her hands. “I’m not ready to tell her the truth.”
“Maybe it’s time though.”
“I crossed a line I wasn’t supposed to, with a man I was lying to.” She lifted her head, trails of mascara running down her cheeks. “How do I explain that to her without sounding like a total bitch, mom?”
“I’m not sure about that,” the silver haired woman sitting across from her with a cup of hot tea raised an eyebrow. “But the lies have just piled up over the years, that you’re going to need a shovel to dig your way out. Give the truth a shot for a change.”
“And what if she wants to meet him,” Victoria leaned back in her chair, her head all the way back as she stared up at the ceiling. “How do I explain to her that it will never be possible?”
“Maybe you should stop lying to yourself about that while you’re at it.”
“It’s probably the only thing I truly believe right now.”
“But you’re on a streak, boss, don’t jinx it,” Domingo Cruz’s voice crackles through the speaker of Tony’s phone.
“Dom’s right, boss,” Frank Pastore chimes in. “You need to stop believing this is just luck, and your next loss is right around the corner.”
“These kids are just so quick,” Tony holds the phone a few inches from his face, a towel draped around his neck as the sweat beads up on his forehead for a moment before racing down his face. “I’m busting my ass working on cardio, but it was obvious in the battle royal I’m not as quick as I used to be.”
“You were in that ring for a while before the match even started, and still lasted longer than quite a few people.” Frank tries to reassure his mentor, but it’s hard to do that from the other side of the world. “Why are you going to beat yourself about that, when you came out at Revival 26 and beat two men at the same time.”
“Because one of those guys was Darin Zion,” Tony answers, using one end of the towel to wipe his brow a bit. “I’ve got Eddie on my ass making it seem like I didn’t earn my Hall of Fame spot, and Abe Limpshitz probably drooling over the possibility of taking out a legend on his way to challenging for the championship named after me.”
“Then prove to them both at Revival why you’re not only a legend in the Hall of Fame, but a fucking threat to everyone on the current roster as well.”
“Frank’s right, boss,” Cruz adds his two cents to the conversation. “Don’t let these pinche chavala’s talk down to you, show them why you’re the mero mero chingon.”
“Thanks guys, give them hell this weekend.”
He knows they’re right, that he needs to forget about what’s being said about him and just do what he knows he can do.
It’s not just Eddie’s words, or the match with Abe that is weighing on his mind though.
She’s on his mind.
Did she even know about him?
Why did Victoria do this in the first place?
Sitting there all alone, those were the questions he didn’t have any answers to.
And that hurt more than a skull kick from Anna Daniels.