Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : Val Francis
Word Count :75504
Publication Date :2017-10-06
Series : #
Heat Level :
- Product Code: 978-1-4874-1370-5
Would you bet a thousand dollars on your boyfriend being faithful? Charlie did.
A friendly card game, an off-the-cuff boast about his boyfriend, and Charlie creates his worst nightmare. Off overseas for six months, he brags that Mac will be completely faithful. When his best friend Braden voices his skepticism, Charlie has no choice but to put his money where his mouth is.
But how do you prove that a guy’s been unfaithful? Braden knows how…he’ll seduce Mac to win the bet. Unfortunately for Charlie, Braden is a top shelf, successful advertising executive who’s used to winning and to cap it all, he also happens to be one hell of a promiscuous bastard.
Braden cringed when Charlie raised him a dollar. It wasn’t so much a case of Charlie being bad at poker, it was more that, in Braden’s opinion, his best friend had to be the worst player he had ever sat across the table from. Following Charlie’s play, the other two folded leaving it up to Braden and Charlie to fight it out. A couple of minutes later Braden claimed his winnings and added it to what he had won so far that night, a large part of it courtesy of Charlie.
“You do realize you suck at cards, don’t you, Charlie?”
“So you keep telling me?”
“And you still want to play?”
“I don’t get as serious about it as you do mate, and if I lose, I lose,” he shrugged emphasizing the point. “As far as I’m concerned our monthly card school is meant to be fun rather than seeing how much I can win.”
“I’d expect you to say that given that you always lose.” Braden raised his eyebrows and waited for him to bite. Over the years they had been friends, he had learned that the laid-back, go with the flow approach to life happened to be Charlie Brown’s hallmark. Yeah, Braden Cooper knew him better than anyone else.
Braden dealt the next hand and looked around the table waiting for the others to bid. Charlie spent twice as long looking at his hand and Braden, unable to resist the temptation, said, “So, buddy…how much are you planning to give me this time around.”
“Maybe I have a winning hand.” For once Charlie managed to look at his opponents impassively, his face blank as he waited for his turn to bid.
It took Braden all of six minutes to win the hand. “I win again, guys.” He claimed the money and did not bother to hide his satisfied, somewhat smug, expression.
Mathew snarled, “You’ve always been a jammy bastard.” Though he had no need of the money, he hated to lose and possessed a competitive streak to match Braden’s.
“No, Mathew. It’s all to do with skill and knowing how to read people.”
Charlie, unable to resist the temptation added his own opinion. “It’s all to do with luck, which you have tons of. A superstitious person could be forgiven for thinking you had sold your soul to the Devil in exchange for it.”
Braden laughed, and then suddenly became serious. “That’s the trouble, Charlie, people always put my success down to luck, whereas it actually has nothing to do with it.”
“What is it, your genius?”
“Not really mate. It’s mostly a case of making your own luck.” Looking around the table, he saw the others were yet to be convinced. “Take my job…”
“Not likely,” Charlie interrupted.
Braden knew his friend disapproved of advertising in general, and numerous times he’d told him the whole business was dishonest and required the morals of an alley cat. “That’s good, Charlie. I’m glad you don’t want it because you would never survive. Anyway, I’m successful in it not because of luck of any kind, but because I dedicate myself to it one hundred percent.”
“You think you’re the only one of us that does? I think that’s bloody arrogant of you if you think that,” Mathew muttered. He then huffed, gulped a mouthful of the Dimple Scotch Braden had poured him earlier and sat there pouting.
“I’m not saying you don’t all work hard, only that I give it my everything, one hundred percent of my heart and soul.”
“You mean you’ve got a heart?” Charlie asked.
Braden chuckled, looked around him and took a mental inventory of the group. Peter, to his right, had risen to the illustrious position of the head of the sports department at the grammar school where they all first met as a group of twelve-year-old’s. Braden privately predicted that Peter would never be anything more than that because he lacked the ambition and drive. His obvious devotion to his live-in girlfriend, soon to be wife, provided an additional reason, and now that they had a child on the way, any possibility of ambition was out the window. Mathew had entered the law and become a partner in his father’s practice. In his case, outside of work, he dedicated less of his time to his wife and two kids and more to the girlfriend he thought none of them knew about.
And finally, their quartet was completed by Charlie, undoubtedly his best friend and the brother he’d never had. A competent Chiropractor who, apart from his own small practice also taught his skills two days a week at some college and would soon head off for a six-month stint teaching his technique in America at a Seattle institution. Yes, Charlie had arrived at a nice, comfortable place in life, and he lacked ambition for anything more than what he had already. Even his chiropractic clinic remained boutique, as Charlie had no desire to emulate a lot of other practices where they had copied American models. Not for him the belief that the success or failure of his clinic should be measured by throughput and profit alone. No, Charlie remained determined to retain the personal touch and he had a solid, loyal client base as a result of that conviction. Content, he had his live-in lover and ongoing delusions of happy ever after. Braden though, always the cynic, remained convinced Charlie's lover would have moved on to fresher pastures by the time he returned from America.
“You’re saying we don’t give it everything?” From the tone of his voice, Charlie was spoiling for a fight.
“No, buddy. The point I’m trying to make is, the three of you have allowed yourselves to become ensnared in relationships plus all the emotional crap that goes hand in hand with them. Once you do, kiss goodbye to any ambition you might have had.”