Duke's Redemption

Page 69

Devon adds, “But people around here seem to love it—for whatever reason. A few times, new pizza joints tried to open up around town, but they never lasted. Moe’s chased them out every time.”
Her eyes go wide. “Whoa, drama in Maple Oaks.”
Devon says, “Oh, there’s plenty of drama around here. You just have to know where to look.”
I’m about to make mention of the fact that we have had our own dose of drama concerning Avery’s father, but I don’t. I’m not sure how much of that she wants revealed. Plus, my brothers are already here unannounced. I don’t think I need to make this night even more stressful.
Tanner walks back in. “Pies should be here shortly.” He sits back down and says, “So, Avery, what the hell are you doing with an asshole like our brother?”
She smiles and pushes her hair behind her ear. “He’s not an asshole to me.”
Devon leans in. “Are you telling me that the tin man actually has a heart under all that armor?”
She matches his energy and leans forward. “I’ll never tell his secrets.”
She takes a drink of her beer and makes a disgusted face. She sets it down on the table and pushes it over to me. “Sorry, guys. I tried, but beer just tastes like horse piss.”
We all watch as she stands up, walks to the fridge, pulls out a half-empty bottle of wine, pulls the cork out with her teeth, and starts drinking right out of the bottle.
My brothers can’t seem to take her eyes off her. Devon mumbles, “That may be the hottest thing I’ve ever seen.”
I snap, “She’s mine. Get your own.”
An hour later, I’m not quite sure how we’ve gotten to this point. The four of us sit around Avery’s table, each of us with a decent collection of empty bottles in front of us along with plates of pizza crust. And we are all in the middle of the most intense game of Texas Hold’em of our lives.
We’re just playing with some loose change, but the way we are all treating it, you’d think that we were playing for millions.
My brothers must be feeling confident because, one after the other, they push all of their change into the middle of the table.
It’s my turn. I flip the corner of my cards to look at them. I have the makings for a full house. Typically, on a hand that good, I would go all in. But when I look at Avery and see the glint in her eye, I know that she’s got something good.
After thinking about it for far too long, I announce, “I fold.”
Both of my brothers throw their hands up and mutter something about me being a pussy. But I’m a man who knows when my goose is cooked and isn’t afraid to admit it.
Devon has four of a kind, and Tanner has two pairs. Both of them are admirable, but I know neither one of them is going to win.
Finally, the time comes for Avery to show her cards. Before she flips them over, she glances at them one more time.
“Damn,” she whispers to herself.
My brothers both snicker, thinking that Devon is about to win big, but I know better. Before he can reach in and take the money out of the middle of the table, Avery says, “It must suck that you both got whooped by a girl.” She flips her cards over, showing she has a royal flush.
Devon and Tanner both hoot and holler about the scene that just played out in front of them. Avery does a cute little dance in her seat.
Tanner says, “Duke, I don’t know where you found this one, but I need to find me one.”
I tell him, “Good luck, man. I think she’s one of a kind.”
Tanner pulls out his phone and looks at the time. “Shit, it’s getting late. Dev, are you ready to get out of here? We will let these two get to getting naked.”
“Ew,” Tanner says. “That’s a mental image I didn’t need. Well, I didn’t need the image of Duke, but an image of naked Avery is always welcome.”
I turn to Avery. “I have to apologize for my brothers. Clearly, they aren’t around women enough to know how to behave.”
“They’re fine,” Avery giggles.