Publication date: February 7th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Seventeen-year-old Chelsea Knowles is surrounded by the privileged. Michael Kors gym bags and designer shoes are part of her daily scene, but the talented cheerleader has a secret: she and her dad can barely pay the bills. Broken by his wife walking out on their family, Chelsea’s father ignores his responsibilities. Between cheer costs, grocery bills, electricity, and other regular financial burdens, it’s no surprise when a cut-off notice arrives in the mail. Chelsea knows it’ll be up to her to keep the lights on.
With the deck stacked against her, Chelsea decides to bet their future on the dubious poker knowledge she learned from her father before he gave up on parenting. Nervous but determined, Chelsea heads to a casino with very little security and wins big. Thrilled by her win, she’s quickly drawn to the casino again and again. She risks it all, especially when the attractive, young pit boss takes an interest in her.
Chelsea’s life, no longer filled with cheerleading, school, and hanging out with her friends, is now consumed by smoky casino floors and the ups and downs of a gambler’s life. True gamblers know when to fold, but Chelsea keeps betting long after her needs are met. The complicated web of lies soon begins to spin out of control, threatening to expose everything. Will someone see through her bluff?
Nate pulls off the highway and crosses an overpass to navigate his way into a parking lot. There are a few restaurants, nice restaurants, and the parking lot is full. I feel like we’re out of town in a faraway place, but it was only a twenty-minute car ride. There’s an outdoor band setting up on a big lawn area, and I can’t believe this place is twenty minutes from where I live.
“I love it out here,” I say, “it’s so beautiful.” We get out of the car and I wonder if we’re headed toward the gourmet Mexican food restaurant or the steakhouse.
Nate grabs my hand, and we walk in silence through the parking lot. Then, he starts walking toward the boat dock, and I think we’re going to go sit on the park bench for a little while before dinner. How romantic.
When we get to the end of the boat dock he looks down at my boots.
“Those are cool boots. And you’re smokin’ hot in them and all, but you’ll probably want to slip them off.”
Two thoughts on this: 1. He thinks I’m smokin’ hot in my boots. 2. Why am I taking them off?
He waits, and I just give him a blank stare . . .
Water sloshes up on the sailboat we’re standing next to, and he nods toward it.
“What?” I ask.
“Take your boots off, and let’s go.”
“Oh my gosh. This is yours?”
He smiles and nods toward my boots. “Yes, it’s all mine. Now let’s go.”
Is this a dream? I’m standing here in designer boots about to board a sailboat with a twenty-two-year-old pit boss. Basically the complete opposite of my real life. I wait for a purple dragon to drop from the sky to confirm this is definitely a dream as I start to take off my boots.
It’s embarrassing because as cute as my boots are, they are an absolute pain to get off. It usually takes me at least five minutes to get them off. There’s no way to make this graceful or attractive. I sit on my butt and Nate reaches down to help.
We begin the struggle.
“This is so embarrassing.”
“Don’t be embarrassed. Personally, I kinda like it,” Nate laughs as he acts like he’s looking up my dress.
I pull on my dress to make sure I stay covered as we wrangle around. It’s a full-fledged tug-o-war before both boots come off. I’m glad we’re outside in the open air so hopefully the stinky boot-sock smell doesn’t reach his nose. He helps me onto the boat, and off we go.
It’s straight out of a Jennifer Aniston romcom. Nate pushes off the dock, rolls up the sleeves on his shirt then grabs the oars. The sun is setting, the water makes perfect lapping noises against the boat, and Nate’s muscles flex every time he rows. For a good while, we don’t even speak. He just rows away from the noise of live music and couples eating on patios. I look around at the beautiful scenery and get a better understanding of what it means when people use the word “surreal.”
Julie Dill lives in Oklahoma City where the wind always comes sweeping down the plains—literally.
As a young girl she always wanted to be a teacher, so she went on to receive her Bachelor’s of Science in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and taught in elementary schools for ten years. Currently, she serves as an adjunct professor and loves helping students achieve success. One of her greatest professional accomplishments is earning her National Board Certification.
She holds a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Oklahoma City University and continues to work on various writing projects. From hiking in Colorado, to playing poker in Vegas, she’s always up for a new challenge. Julie is a busy mom of two teenage daughters, and any extra time that she may carve out is spent reading, writing, and rooting for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Her debut novel, Bluff, is scheduled to be released on February 7th, 2017.
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