Disclaimer: I don't own the characters. Obviously.

A/N: This story has been brewing in the back of my brain for a couple of days now and somehow it has weaseled it's way out while I was trying to write the next chapter of SofM (which I will update soon, cross my heart).

This story will be very different from SofM. So if you don't like non cannon couples, blatant OOC or are too young to vote, don't read.

Chapter One – Al Capone Lives in These Cards


The sun is smoldering and I step onto the warm sand and exhale. This is it. My last little piece of heaven. The truck has died and there is nowhere left to run. And no point in running anymore. Everything here is just brown and warm and the only green is whatever tendrils of shit have been laced into the Colorado River.

School must of started again because the beach is empty of the smiling, happy children and somewhat peaceful and this is probably the most relaxed I've been in five years. The Arizona fuck-ups are out in full force today though. I can feel their eyes on me. But after our last little run in, gazes and whispers are all that they'll allow themselves, if they're smart.

I breathe deeply and thank whatever gods have fucked my life for allowing me this little slice of serenity before they shuffle me off into whatever lies next. Probably more fuckery.

Reaching into my bag, I pull out a fifth of Johnny Red, toast the aforementioned gods and take a long, hard swig. Happy motherfucking birthday to you, Swan. Who the hell could've guessed you make it to see 23?

I hear the fuck-ups snicker a little too loudly for my taste. I whip my head in their direction, lower the sunglasses down to the tip of my nose and glare. The look I give them says it all.

I'm hot. I know it. And if you want to experience the hospital beds of this fine city, then keep it up assholes. I've got nothing left to lose.

The look works and they suddenly find themselves more interested in the casinos across the river and I'm glad because it's my fucking birthday - I don't want to spend it in lock-up, I don't have many these left.

I light a cigarette and breath deeply. I know it's coming soon. Anticipation threatens to seep into my bones, but I push it way cause I'm going to enjoy this day as if it were my last. It could very well be.

And apparently the gods of fuck-with-Bella are back because with that thought I can feel the air swirl and thicken and I know I'm being watched. But it's my fucking birthday and I should've been dead five years ago.

I tilt the bottle back and allow the warmth to coat my throat and stomach sending tingles down to my toes. Sigh. Couldn't they just send me a fucking announcement? Do you lose all sense of basic courtesy when you're turned? Throw a girl a bone here.

Dear Ms. Swan,

You presence is required on September 13th at 9:00 pm. It doesn't really matter what you wear because we intend to drain you and toss you out like yesterday's garbage.

Is that too much to ask for? I think not.

But the sun is shining and I left my fear back in Washington on the forest floor where he trampled my heart and the res where it was ripped to shreds along with the rest of my true family. I'm alive while the sun is out so I just close my eyes and wonder who the odds favor today. I'll play with the high rollers tonight because they'll buy me the good shit and it's amazing how easy it is to win a stupid amount of money with just a wink and nice rack. And if tonight is the night, then at least I'll look fucking hot and die drunk and rich. Maybe they'll take a last request and allow my winnings to be donated to the charity of my choice. It is my fucking birthday after all.

Time check tells me it's three o'clock. I light another cigarette, finish my scotch and make my way through the sleepy streets toward home.

The cool breeze of the air conditioner assaults my senses as I open the door. A stark contrast to the record high outside. I ignore the red blink blink blink of my answering machine, toss the mail on the couch and make my way to the shower. Times a wastin' and I have no intention of spending it listening to whatever dribble the goddamn telemarketers want to spew my way.

I turn on the water and step into shower, washing and enjoying every inch of me. It doesn't take long, I'm very good this, and soon my self induced orgasm rocks through my body.

If that pussy-assed mama's boy could see me now.

I throw on the blood red dress that hugs my curves and makes my body look all sorts of fuckawesome. I don't need to be Xanax or Fuckward to know the lust in the eyes of masses as I sport that shit through the casino. I pull my hair up into a loose bun, letting a few stray strands curl and frame my face. Might as well give the fuckers easy neck access.

I grab my purse and step into the blistering afternoon grateful that my neighbor Jose is there to drop me off before work.

He starts his engine as I lock my door and smile brightly at him.

He gives me the obligatory guy what's up nod and I roll my eyes and get into the car.

"Hola Jose." Yep, that about covers my knowledge of the Spanish language. The drive across the river takes only minutes, and we have an unspoken agreement so conversation isn't necessary.

I decide to hit the bar before the tables. Leaning on the bar, I bat my eyelashes, bite my bottom lip and wait only seconds until I have the full attention of the bartender.

"What can I get you tonight beautiful?"

"Well," I draw out, running my finger across the bar. "It's my birthday today. I want something to make me feel good. Whatcha got?"

I fix him with my best come-fuck-me stare and throw a little pensive thought into my eyes.

He stumbles a bit and pours me a double shot of ecstasy in the form of cognac. On the house.

See motherfuckers, I can dazzle too.

I ignore the stares and lust and jealousy and make my way to the tables. I am focused. My objective is clear. It's my fucking birthday and no limit hold em' tonight. I intend to own these assholes.

It's two hours later and I'm up three large when I feel the air swirl and thicken again. I feel the coolness of his skin as he takes up the seat next to me. I chance a peek at him and damn! He is tall and blonde and built. His smile is all sunshine and roses but his eyes stagger with sex and power. I can see the other boys at the table, their brains warring with themselves. Fight or flight. Fight or flight.

I lost the ability to care either way years ago.

There are worse ways to die, I suppose.

So now he's staring and I'm giving it right back because whether he's with that red-headed whore or those fucking Italian jerk-offs, I figure I'm dead soon and this is just a waste of time.

I push all my chips forward without a glance or thought. "All in." The crowd gasps and whispers and Mr. Cool over there just smiles approvingly.

"You're not even going to look at your cards, Swan?" His voice is musical, but not soft. Hard and deep like metal with just a hint of Texas. He widens his eyes in mock innocence.

It should concern me at this point that he knows my name, but fight or flight left years ago and it's my fucking birthday.

I tap my cards and smile smugly at him. "Al Capone lives in these cards."

He appears thoughtful for a moment before he rises to my challenge. He pushes his chips forward and pulls two cigarettes from a gold case and lights them, handing on to me.

Oh, sugar. You are just too kind.

The other players lay down their cards and sit back to watch. The dealer shakes his head to clear away the cobwebs and shock of a tiny girl in a blood red dress placing an eighteen thousand dollar bet.

He lays down the flop. 2 of diamonds. 7 of diamonds. King of diamonds.

I giggle and he looks at me questioning.

"Diamonds sparkle in the sun just like you." I coo at him. He wants to laugh, I can tell but he has his Mr. Cool persona on and he's probably spent decades perfecting that shit.

The dealer flips the turn card. King of spades.

I smile widely because I know what's coming next. It's my fucking birthday and Al Capone lives in these cards.

"Queen of hearts." I whisper to no one but him.

Mr. Cool is looking a bit worried over there, not outwardly of course, but I know it's there. Just behind his eyes. His mate must sense it to, because she appears out of nowhere to stand at his side. Their lips moving in a conversation to low and fast for us silly humans.

And again I say damn! Cause that bitch is all kinds of hot and I'm imaging the two of them doing all sorts of naughty things.

Focus Bella. This may very well be your last hand ever.

The dealer flips the river card with exaggerated slowness. All eyes glance wildly between us and the cards.

And motherfuck Al Capone, if I wasn't right! Queen. Of. Hearts.

"Damn Swan, you may just be more fun then I thought!" At hearing this little proclamation his mate takes her chance to study me. Her eyes move up my body as she contemplates whatever the fuck Mr. Cool told her. It now occurs to me to pay attention to the way they are looking at me. Not like a steak, surprisingly, but like a woman. Her long blonde hair hangs in perfect curls and she tucks it behind her ear and fucking winks at me.

I collect my winnings, finish my drink and snuff out my cigarette. It's now or never and there is nowhere left to run. I cock an eyebrow and tilt my head, my eyes locked on them.


A/N: yea or nay? Let me know.