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by Elise VanCise
Miners had started to fill the room, their pockets filled with gold nuggets and ready to spend their new found fortunes. Caroline was ready to relieve them of it. One man burst with laughter, her husband had laughed that way. May he rest in hell.
With that thought it was time to get to work. She checked her bodice and her gun hidden in her skirt, and then walked down the stairs. A young miner eager for company caught her hand at the landing. “How much for your time? “
She raised a brow was he referring to her as a … she tilted her head with a sassy grin. “Sorry, darlin’, you can’t afford me?”
Caroline paused at the bar to pick up a bottle. After a glance around, she sat near the poker table to watch the players for a few hands. After the fourth hand played one of the men folded, closed his cards and gathered what was left of his wealth.
When he vacated the table with the remainder of his cash to the bar, Caroline smiled as she takes the seat. “Evening boys, mind if I take some of your money?”
A few laughed heartily as she poured herself a drink and tossed her ante into the pot. The pot was well stocked with cash and gold bits. She would be able to move out of his stink hole and into the hotel for a few days on this kit.
The dealer began the ritualistic shuffle and toss of cards before he passed them round. Caroline waited until all five were dealt before she picked them up in her dainty gloved fingers.
The player to her left a well-to-do rancher leaned over with a grin. “Just match the numbers, honey.”
Caroline closed her cards and held them to breast, with an innocent expression. “Thank you, for your advice. I’m such a novice at the game.”
Three hours later….
The dealer called for the final time and Caroline laid a straight flush across the table top. Two of the men swore and sighed as they tossed their cards back to the dealer. The third shook his head. “You must have that beginners luck or somthin, Miss Watson.”
Caroline grinned and reached out to pull the large pot her way. “Thank you, gentlemen. It’s been a true pleasure meeting your acquaintance this evening.”
The rancher scoffed and grabbed her wrist. “You’re not taking my money. This was a con of some sort.” He jerked her sleeve up searching; the pearl buttons snapped off and tumbled into the cash.
Caroline tried to pull her arm back but his grip was too tight. “Sir, I assure you, my game has been honest. Or do you question my skill as to deflect attention from the real cheat?”
Calmly she reached to his far vest pocket with her free hand. Caroline slipped the ace from her cuff. From the view of the other men around them, it appeared she pulled the card from his pocket. “So do I, sir. I think these gents do as well.”
One player grabbed the rancher, another swung, it didn’t take long before Caroline was forgotten. She plucked the rancher’s hat from the back of the chair and swept everything from the table with her arm into it. She’d sort chips and shot glasses from the take later.
Caroline hurried upstairs for her bag and an exit out the window. It was a new year and time to find another town, she’s been too naughty here.
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