GAMBLING FOR LOVE
Adele Cox, MA
Jason had only had one long-term relationship in his adult life. His buddies envied
and admired his effortless ability to attract beautiful women, and teased him with
the nickname Rico Suave.
Jason attributed his good looks to his Ecuadorian and European heritages, appearing
much younger than his thirty-five years. His aquamarine eyes sat in striking contrast
to his lustrous jet-black hair and bronze-colored skin. His broad mouth, deeply set
dimples, and extensive dental work produced a wide and brilliant smile, and his sultry
baritone voice and boyish charm instantly put others at ease. Working out twice a week
kept his six-foot frame sculpted and taut, and his personal shopper always ensured he
was impeccably polished and styled.
While Jason’s single’s life seemed perfect, inside he felt empty and alone. “I’m
sick of dating,” he confided to his friend Sam at their hotel’s lounge. He’d been looking
forward to this Las Vegas trip for weeks, ever since they’d agreed they needed to get away
from the office for a few days.
Sam looked at his friend quizzically. “You can have any woman you want, Rico,” he
replied, drawing out the name for dramatic effect.
“That’s just it, Sam. It’s not any woman, it’s someone special. Someone I can talk to
and get to know, who’s not just prowling for a husband or a portfolio or a good time.”
The server interrupted his grousing. “These are from the two ladies at the bar,” she
said as she lowered the drinks.
Jason smiled politely and Sam lifted his glass as the two women ambled to their booth.
“Hi, I’m Brenda, and this is Shari. Do you mind if we join you?”
Jason opened his mouth to decline, but Sam slid over to make room for Shari, oblivious
to Jason’s searing glare. Brenda slithered in beside Jason, the coconut scent of her blond
hair wafting up to his nose, and rested her hand lightly on his thigh.
Sam offered a toast, “To our last night in Vegas!”
Jason’s broad smile concealed his anger and disappointment, and he let his thoughts drift
away as his practiced Rico Suave charisma joined the party.
Jason gazed absently across the breakfast table at Brenda and sighed, still regretting his
decision to spend the night with her. After Sam and Shari went to her room, Jason let the
alcohol and his sullen mood convince him that a fling with Brenda would lift his spirits. But
the rebound date only deepened his depression, and he wondered now if celibacy might be the answer.
Summoning his graceful charm, he stood and kissed Brenda softly on the cheek, then ran the
six flights back to his room to pack and leave.
Outside, Jason absently looked around as he and Sam waited for the hotel’s airport shuttle.
Glancing over his shoulder, he suddenly froze as a gorgeous mocha-colored brunette emerged from
the hotel and glided toward the taxi stand. A mad swirl of chills and sweat erupted over his body,
and a voice deep in his soul whispered, “That’s the one I’m going to marry”.
He tried to move but found his feet cemented to the ground. “What a time for Rico Suave to go
AWOL” he lamented, and he watched helplessly as the brunette moved in slow motion toward a waiting cab.
“Excuse me, sir, but your friend’s inside, and if you’ll just hop in the front seat, we’ll be on our way.”
The shuttle driver’s words pierced Jason’s fog, and he turned slowly following the direction of the sound.
A raspy voice he barely recognized as his own choked out, “No … thanks … I think … I’ll take a cab”.
Deaf to Sam’s chiding from the van, Jason looked down at his right foot and tried to lift it off the ground.
His attempt resembled more a slide than a step, but he was encouraged to see the movement. His brain was
desperately screaming “Please don’t leave, please don’t leave”, while his whole body seemed determined to
weigh anchor in the shuttle parking lot.
An eternity passed before he finally crossed the asphalt chasm to the taxi stand. The same hoarse
voice whispered, “Hi, I’m Jason.” The rest of his words stuck in his dry mouth and narrow throat. His
outstretched hand was clammy, but his attention snapped to the soft warm hands that clasped around his
and the kind smile that returned his hypnotized stare.
“Hi Jason, it’s nice to meet you. Actually, I saw you at the club last night. I started to come over
and introduce myself, but when I saw you and your friend with the blonds, I figured I wasn’t your type.
Would you like to share a ride to the airport?”
Jason’s head mechanically bobbed his agreement, and he began to feel his respiration slowly
returning as his arm reached for the cab door. By the time the taxi pulled away from the curb, anxiety
had shifted to excitement, and for the first time he couldn’t wait for an encounter to become a serious
“Everything fits now, everything makes sense,” he thought, and a wry but nervous smile opened his
face as he added, “and I don’t have to become celibate”. Jason tried again now to speak. “By the way,” his
silky voice croaked as his stomach turned cartwheels, “I didn’t catch your name”. The brunette turned to
“I’m Frank. You’re pretty new at meeting people, aren’t you?”
Jason’s smile broadened as he let out a long exhale. “You have no idea.”