Hope everyone had a lovely weekend and that desperately waiting to find out what happens to our heroes in Vegas didn’t put a damper on it.
Previously, Abby’s father shows up to Travis’ frat party (don’t concern yourself with the how) and emotionally manipulates Abby into agreeing to go to Vegas to win him enough money to pay back the mobsters he owes. [Matthew says: I’d like to point out that “Abby’s dad emotionally manipulating his 19-year-old daughter into helping him” isn’t what makes this an implausible, poorly-written “bad” book, but rather the “by giving him $25,000” part, because we’re supposed to be taking this seriously.]
Chapter 15: City of Sin
In case the chapter’s title wasn’t enough of a clue (and let’s face it, if you’re genuinely loving these books, it may not be), the gang is in Vegas!
Travis is super excited when they get to their hotel room, but Abby is quick to remind him that they’re there on business.
“This isn’t a vacation. You shouldn’t be here, Travis.”
“I don’t want you there, Trav.” A hurt expression weighted his face, and I touched his arm. “If I’m going to win fourteen thousand dollars in one weekend, I have to concentrate. I don’t like who I’m going to be while I’m at those tables, and I don’t want you see it, okay?”
The harder the book tries to demonstrate the, er, “gravity” of the situation to us, the more I giggle. Even if Mick was to get killed by Benny (the mobster he owes money to), I just would not care enough about Mick or Abby for that matter to be saddened by the situation. It baffles me to see how any reader at this point could actually feel like the stakes are high. Nay, that any stakes exist at all. [Matthew says: The stakes that have existed for approximately five pages for a character who has existed for six.]
The illegality of the situation has been mentioned in the comments on earlier posts, and I’ll just say that the book does address the matter of fake IDs. [Matthew says: And, honestly, it’s far from the most farfetched part of this book.] Here’s America’s solution to making sure said fake IDs pass the test:
“You need about five more coats of mascara, and they’re going to toss your ID on sight if you don’t slather on some more blush. Have you forgotten how this game is played?”
I guess looking like a whore-clown is the same as looking over 21? Offensive.
I also want to point out here that we have absolutely no information about Abby’s mother other than the fact that she wouldn’t tell Mick where Abby was (America’s parents told him). I don’t think we ever find out anything about her either, which is a shame. I mean clearly she was trying to protect Abby from Mick by refusing to tell him where she was going to college, but what was she doing when her thirteen-year-old daughter was gambling with mobsters? I have a lot of questions.
Next, witness as McGuire tries really really fucking hard to write a scene that would appear in a movie. It’s totes the coolest.
We walked down the hall and stepped into an empty elevator. “You have everything you need?” I asked, keeping the cameras in mind.
America clicked her fake driver’s license with her nails and smiled. “The name’s Candy. Candy Crawford,” she said in her flawless southern accent.
I held out my hand. “Jessica James. Nice to meet you, Candy.”
We both slipped on our sunglasses and stood stone-faced as the elevator opened, revealing the neon lights and bustle of the casino floor.
I love how badass this is supposed to read. They’re putting on their sunglasses inside? Woah. They’re pretending to have different identities? Woah. I’m in awe of their cool.
Abby spots a group of men who are apparently “Old Vegas” at a poker table, and decides to hustle them by pretending to be a dopey young lady who thinks that because she’s good at online poker it means she’ll be great at real poker. She’s got “youth and tits” on her side, so those silly men-folk won’t catch on.
Now, this isn’t a criticism on the book for once, but I have never really quite understood hustling whether it be pool or poker or anything. I get that it consists of someone pretending they’re clueless when really they’re a master, but isn’t that kind of the hustled person’s bad? I never understand why people get angry when they’ve been hustled because they’re the ones who kept agreeing to play, they’re the ones who could have still played their best game even against someone they perceived as being less skilled. And if Abby’s supposed to be so good at poker, why does she even have to hustle them in the first place? Color me confused.
Reluctantly, they accept Abby into their game, and we learn about the guys she’ll be playing.
“Jimmy,” one of the players said, offering his hand. When I took it, he pointed at the other men. “Mel, Pauli, Joe, and that’s Winks.” I looked over to the skinny man chewing on a toothpick, and as predicted, he winked at me.
And in one line, Winks has developed more consistent defining characteristics than anyone else in this book (seriously, Abby, where the hell are your cardigans?)
Abby starts winning, and all seems to be on track until her ex shows up. Lest you forgot this was romantic fiction!
Jesse’s father ran the casino, and it was more than just a surprise that he had joined the family business. We used to chase each other down the halls of the hotel upstairs, and I always beat him when we raced elevators. He had grown up since I’d seen him last. I remembered him as a gangly prepubescent teenager; the man before me was a sharply dressed pit boss, not at all gangly and certainly all man. He still had the silky brown skin and green eyes I remembered, but the rest of him was a pleasant surprise.
It really seems like this is set up to actually provide a conflict in Trabby’s relationship, and while it might cause momentary friction, it just amounts to absolutely nothing that Jesse is now “all man.” [Matthew says: I guess like how Ana goes out of her way to describe how attractive every single character is in Fifty Shades, even though Ana only had eyes for Christian… even though Christian was always jealous of her looking at other people… which she wasn’t… but was. It’s like how after The Matrix everybody started using slow motion, except this trend is “EVERYBODY MUST BE VERY ATTRACTIVE OKAY SWEET”.]
“It’s good to see you , Abby. Why don’t you let me buy you dinner?” he asked, scanning my dress.
“I’d love to catch up, but I’m not here for fun, Jesse.”
He held out his hand and smiled. “Neither am I. Hand over your ID.”
Oh, snap. He means business. I wonder if this dinner is going to be just like the one Eva had with her ex Brett back in Crossfire-land-have I mentioned I miss that serious? I can’t wait to do Entwined in You it’ll be like coming home-where it absolutely amounted to nothing and for some reason Brett ate steak really aggressively.
Abby knows she’s going to have to tell the truth in the hopes that Jesse won’t kick her out. I’m not really clear on the rules, but if Jesse is Abby’s age (which it seems like he is?) isn’t he also underage? And running a casino for some reason? I don’t know, maybe he’s a year or two older. [Matthew says: Because that makes so much more sense.]
I grabbed his arm and squeezed. “He owes Benny money.”
Jesse closed his eyes and shook his head. “Jesus.”
Of course, Jesse says he’ll give Abby until midnight if she agrees to have dinner with him. She tells him she’s here with someone, but that matters not to Jesse, so Abby must agree in the sake of plot contrivances. Will this lead to Travis punching Jesse in the face? Only time will tell.
Of course Travis has witnessed this whole exchange from afar, and he comes over to demand why Abby was talking to a guy. She tells him she’ll explain later, but she’s got to get back to poker. [Matthew says: Get excited to read this scene from Travis’s perspective tomorrow, where it is THE BIGGEST DEAL EVER. Woo.]
The night ends with Abby still five thousand dollars short of what she needs, but Jesse says he’s done all he can. When he tells Abby he’ll see her tomorrow at five, of course Travis is furious.
I peered up at him, and he glowered at me with the same betrayed expression Mick had on his face the night he realized I’d taken his luck.
I don’t think McGuire even realizes what a perfect metaphor this is, but both men were angry at Abby for something completely absurd. High fives for the layers in this metaphor, McGuire!
Abby goes to talk to Benny, and Travis won’t let her go in alone (duh). Benny refuses to give Abby more time to get the money, and even though she’s just trying to help her dad out and isn’t the one who actually owes the money, Benny implies that he’s going to hurt her to teach Mick a lesson. So Travis has no choice but to fight Benny’s henchmen!
Benny burst into a loud cackle. “I gotta hand it to you, son. You’ve got the biggest balls of anyone that’s come through those doors. I’ll prepare you for what you’re about to get. The rather large fella to your right is David, and if he can’t take you out with his fists, he’s going to use that knife in his holster. The man to your left is Dane, and he’s my best fighter. He’s got a fight tomorrow, as a matter of fact, and he’s never lost. Mind you don’t hurt your hands, Dane. I’ve got a lot of money riding on you.”
In a paragraph shorter than the one it took to tell us who Travis was fighting, Travis has taken one man out. Somehow. Because for some reason the other one just stood back and watched it happen? Because that’s definitely what dangerous henchmen do. They wait in line for their turn to fight one on one against their target.
Later Abby tells American and Shepley that Travis took them both out in “under five minutes.” Impressed? Well, Benny certainly is, and he tells Travis that if he fights in Dane’s place tomorrow, he’ll forgive the rest of Abby’s debt. So it’s on!
The scene abruptly shifts to Abby’s dinner with Jesse, and he’s all butt-hurt that she left him behind. It becomes pretty clear that Abby has a type. Just quickly compare these two scenes which happen about a page apart from one another:
“I don’t want you to do this, Trav.”
“Well, I don’t want you to go to dinner with your ex-boyfriend tomorrow night. I guess we both have to do something unpleasant to save your good-for-nothing father.”
“You have somewhere to be, Cookie?” Jesse asked.
“Please stop calling me that, Jesse. I hate it.”
“I hated it when you left, too. Didn’t stop you.”
Insecure, baby-asshole turd-muffins! Such a specific type, Abby. At least this is the most consistent character-trait Abby’s displayed thus far. [Matthew says: Although this is more so a requirement of the post-Fifty Shades abusive-relationship-masquerading-as-romance erotica genre than it is actually something unique about her character. It’s a byproduct of the genre, not of actual characterization – going back to The Matrix, this is basically at the same level of character development as “wears leather jackets”. So Abby having a thing for emotionally-stunted manchildren is a little less “unique character trait” and a little more “she has eyes and ears and a vagina”.]
After a pointless moment where Jesse asks Abby to stay and she says no, she leaves for Travis’ fight. This was somehow even more pointless than Eva’s lunch with Brett, which I thought was impossible.