Everyday Abby’s Hustlin’: Beautiful Disaster Chapter 15

"David Tennant bursts out laughing"

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?”

"David Tennant bursts out laughing"

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.

I wanted to find a gif from the Peep Show episode where Jez is wearing sunglasses in the pub and walks into the bar, but it turns out googling "peep show sunglasses bar" does NOT get you images from a television show.
Matthew says: I wanted to find a gif from the Peep Show episode where Jez is wearing sunglasses in the pub and walks into the bar, but it turns out googling “peep show sunglasses bar” does NOT get you images from a television show.

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!

"Everyone high fives Paris Hilton"

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.

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26 comments

  1. Madeline Reply

    The insertion of Jesse is so random and unnecessary. Especially so soon after the Parker “storyline” was wrapped up. It’s like McGuire needs two attractive men to be vying for Abby’s precious vagina at all times. She’s like an asshole magnet.

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    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      A person can’t possibly be attractive unless multiple people are vying for their penis or vagina as evidenced by almost every book we’ve written about on here. If women weren’t constantly throwing themselves at Travis, how would we possibly believe Abby when she says he’s hot? If Jesse didn’t come back to “fight’ for Abby, how could we ever be convinced when Travis says she’s desirable?

      And she seriously is an asshole magnet! Jesse was meant to be the really sweet guy she left behind, but I’m getting no proof of this. He’s just another Blando thrown in for the sake of stirring up a tiny bit of Trabby drama.

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  2. malcolmthecynic Reply

    …he glowered at me with the same betrayed expression Mick had on his face the night he realized I’d taken his luck.”

    Pretend you don’t know Abby’s backstory and you read that line. It makes absolutely no sense. Literally none. Like, you can’t steal luck. It’s not actually a stealable thing.

    Now look at it again from the perspective of people who know the backstory. It makes absolutely no sense, because luck is not a stealable thing.

    When context doesn’t make this line make any more sense you know there is a big narrative problem going on.

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    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      I know right?? The anger holds absolutely no weight because it’s anger over something that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever! The fact that both Abby and her father seem to fervently believe this is possible and that no one corrects this misconception is really unsettling.

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    • Madeline Reply

      Another related, really gross problem from that line is the implication that Abby is dating her father, who again, was emotionally abusive and kinda disgusting.

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      • 22aer22 Post authorReply

        You know, the book went through great lengths earlier to point out that Abby didn’t think Travis was her father, she felt like *she* was her father. This momentarily intrigued me, except that it was obviously completely b.s. The only one who ever gets compared to Mick is Travis! And they are both emotionally abusive and disgusting! And they both show up unannounced to wherever Abby is to guilt her into doing something for them. And they both gave her idiotic nicknames with no explanation!

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  3. scummy48 Reply

    “Not at all gangly and certainly all man”

    Oh my god why did I laugh so much at that line. How do real people read this book and genuinely find this characters desirable and this writing readable?

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  4. KayMia Reply

    I’m also confused about the hustling bit. This is a casino in Vegas. Is it a special casino or event or something? To my understanding, if you want in on a table in Vegas, you…sit…down…? Even for an exclusive high-stakes room, it’s not the guys at the table that would agree to let you in. Vegas casinos are far too micromanaged for this to be an underground anarchy poker table from which the house can’t monitor what’s going on. What am I missing?

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    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      Yeah, I’m with you. I don’t think there’s anything stopping Abby from buying into the table except that the men warn her they’re super serious about poker. They figure out pretty quickly that she was hustling them, but then she wins with her mad skills (she’s got no tell! Ah-mazing!)

      Speaking of underground anarchy poker table’s why the fuck doesn’t Abby find more of those to finish making her money. I mean she was clearly fine at 13!

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  5. Kate Reply

    Even if I suspend my disbelief long enough to go along with the “Abby needs to win this money by playing poker” storyline, I don’t understand why they needed to go to Vegas for it. McGuire realizes there are casinos in almost every state, right? She could’ve just gone to whatever casino was nearest to her college, bought in on any poker game there, and won outright. I’m not sure I even understand the idea of hustling the other players. Hustling is something people usually do at bars, pool halls, and other “casual” settings, because the whole idea is to trick people into continuing to gamble against you. But literally the entire purpose of being in a casino is to gamble. These guys aren’t going to refuse to bet just because she’s good. She could win her money so much faster if she stopped wasting time, dicking around with her mascara and pretending to suck at the game. Win it locally against people who are professionals (and thus probably aren’t that hard to beat anyway), then go to Vegas with the full amount and hand it over to this Benny guy.
    I can’t believe I just wasted this much energy trying to offer logic to a book that clearly refuses to use any.

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    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      It’s okay, I did the same exact thing when commenting on Matt’s post for tomorrow. I realized that Abby was gambling at thirteen, so why the fuck did it matter if Jesse let her stay in this one casino? Like, fucking go somewhere else! And yeah the hustling thing just doesn’t add up for me – clearly they’re going to keep betting and letting her play. They probably would even still bet big if they knew she was good. Ug with this book.

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  6. Vivienne Reply

    Does anyone else think we’re reading a script from the reject pile of 1950s gangster movies? Honestly that is what this feels like.

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  7. Kristin Reply

    For starters, the best thing about this chapter was a South Park gif and a mention of Entwined with You (Hurry!!! I’m almost going to re-read it just to mock it in my head).
    As for Beautiful Disaster, ugh, another dude? Like we need a guy to cause “conflict” between Travis & Abby. They are more than capable of getting into a fight merely by breathing in a way that the other deems inappropriate. And speaking of inappropriate, please tell me Abby is also dressed like a whore in addition to needing more blush (? Not a smokey eye?) and that Travis gets pissed about it (maybe he misses the cardigans too?!)

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    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      Is it weird that I’m really excited to get back to Crossfire? I think we’ll be taking a brief pause between the Disasters and Crossfire to write about a shorter book (without giving too much away think our Goosebumps postings), but then we’ll be getting back to that. I know, could not be more thrilling.

      Hahaha “breathing in a way that the other deems inappropriate” excuse me, just gonna jot that down for the next postcript/reader love.

      She wore a “short gold number” so yup, pretty much. No offense to anyone who enjoys wearing short gold numbers.

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  8. Annie Reply

    I think Abby’s mom is mentioned at least once and, as far as I recall, she is/was a drunk or something…? Also, I don’t get why America’s parents believed Mick had a right to know where Abby was. I mean, the whole point of “Operation College Girl In Cardigan Disguise” was to get as far away from him as humanly possible, right? It’s been a while since I’ve read this book – thankfully – but I sort of thought they were “in” on the plan/supported Abby when she left for college without a trace to find her, so why tell Mick where she is?
    Or, in other words, why was this book written – not to mention published – in the first place?

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    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      America’s explanation for her parent’s telling Mick where Abby’s going to college is “He’s your dad, Abby.” Who CARES??? If they all knew he was a crazy person and that Abby was trying to get away from him, and if Abby was as close to America’s family as she supposedly is they would have been like “Her mother can tell you or she can tell you, we’re staying out of it.”

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  9. Dana Reply

    I was actually introduced to the concept of hustling through Drake & Josh, and even then I was horribly confused as to why everybody was getting angry about being “hustled.” I was basically like, “You know dude, that sucks you lost your money and all, but it’s not their fault you chose to play badly.”

    Generally, if you think someone is a beginner—fine, go easy on them. But you also don’t bet a lot of money on the game, since you’re basically viewing it as “practice” for the other person. If the so-called “beginner” starts to bet a ton of money and you have a weak hand, drop out of the game. It’s not that hard! Or only play for chips, or create a maximum amount you can throw into the pot.

    Somebody actually got a little angry at me for “hustling” them once (even though we were only playing for chips) simply because I was a young girl, and was fuzzy on a few details of the game. No, I really was fuzzy on a few details, but I never actually pretended to be a poor poker player. I’m actually kind of good at it, but because they immediately assumed I would suck, I was apparently “hustling” them.

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    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      Exactly! I thought I was missing something because that’s exactly my mindset. I get that you’re making the bet under false pretenses, but if your aim was to take advantage of the other person because you thought they were shit and it was a sure win for you, then you kind of get what you deserve! And you should have played your best game!

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    • matthewjulius Reply

      okay, I’m sort of going to play devil’s advocate here, but I honestly believe that that Drake and Josh episode (because I know what you’re talking about because ah the follies of youth) is a GOOD example of how hustling works. Drake wasn’t tricking people into playing badly, but rather tricking them into thinking they were entering an easy game. It’s not really an issue of not playing your best, but rather thinking you were making a safer bet. They thought Josh was a terrible pool player, so, yeah, why not wager some money on the game? Sounds like easy money! But then Josh turns out to be an incredible pool player, but they’ve already agreed to bet that money because they were misled about how good of an opponent they were betting their abilities against.

      I have no idea how it’s supposed to work in Beautiful Disaster, though, because, yeah, couldn’t they just stop playing once they realize she’s good? It’s not like she’s going to win ALL THEIR MONEY in one hand.

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  10. E.H.Taylor Reply

    If I was the Mobster, I would be less worried about getting my money and more worried about the fact that the people I hired for my personal protection were taken down by a kid…

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  11. Pingback: Travis and Abby Break Up, Giving the Students Without Netflix Something to Do: Beautiful Disaster Chapter 16 | Bad Books, Good Times

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