I lifted the right corner of my card, stared at the seven. Seventeen. Such a horrible number. Nineteen and I could stand. Even eighteen. But Seventeen. Not enough points and too much risk.
“Come on,” Jeff said. He sat on my left, trying to peek at the corner.
“Nope.” I waved my hand at the peanuts in the middle of the table, our paltry attempt at betting. “Not unless you want to ante up.”
My old roommates wouldn’t play for anything more than a few nuts. Maybe a couple potato chips. I punched Jeff on the arm, only a light tap so he’d know I was only teasing him.
He looked at me, eyes narrowed.
“All right. Let’s play for confessions. Looser has to tell us something no one else knows.”
He looked around the room at my friends. Friends who refused to make eye contact, like they knew the confession he had to spill. I raised one eyebrow.
“Hit me,” I said to Rafael. I had no secrets.
A three. I leaned back in my chair, taking in the stares.
“It’s not over yet.” I said. “Jeff still has to play.”
In case I lost, I thought about what to tell them. I remembered taking Jeff’s shirt once. Threw up all over it after some all night keg party. I’d stuffed it in his laundry hamper and passed out on the sofa. He never figured out who puked all over it. He’d been blotto too.
Rafael dealt him an ace. That could go either way. A nice juicy ten spot under his hand, and Jeff won. Piddling little cards, and he would need more to make twenty-one.
“Hit me,” Jeff said, peeking under the corner of his card.
A six. Now he had at least seven. Or seventeen, depending how he chose to play the ace. Plus whatever he had under that face down card. Slim chance it could be a four. Slimmer chance he’d pull the correct card and get twenty-one.
Jeff tossed his card over. A big fat six.
“All right. I have a confession.” He leaned back in his seat, smiling like he expected, or even hoped, to lose. Like he had something he needed to ante up.
Rafael gathered up the cards, repetitively shuffling them. Grant picked up a coat from the back of his chair.
“I’m out of here,” he said, scuttling for the door. Whir, and ruffle, the card deck formed and reformed under Rafael’s caress.
“I’m waiting.” I leaned even further back on the chair. Rode it onto two legs. Perched in the air, arms across my chest.
“You know Amanda.”
My soon to be wife. Not like I’d forget her. I nodded. Waited.
“You remember the night of the keg party. When you barfed on my shirt,” Jeff said. So he did know about the shirt. Guess I didn’t have any confessions to make. Good thing I’d won. “Her and I. That night.”
A deep crimson stained his cheeks.
“You and her.” The chair legs thumped on the floor. “Bumped uglies? Did the horizontal tango?”
Jeff burst into laughter.
“No. Won at blackjack at the Casino. She wants to buy a house. For your wedding. She asked me not to tell. I tried, but I can’t keep something like that a secret.”
“A house? That’s your confession?”
“Yeah. And she’s a better card player than you are.”