A/N This is my first attempt at a Skins fic. I've had this idea stuck in my head for some time now and I wanted to give it a shot. I hope you enjoy.

Disclaimer: I own nothing but my car and the thoughts in my head.


Everybody lies.

Yes, that's a sweeping generalization, but that doesn't make my statement any less true.

At some point in your life, no matter who you are, you've told a lie. Of course, there are different types of lies, different reasons for lying and different reactions if your lie is ever discovered.

It doesn't matter where you are, all day, each day, a lie is being spoken as if it were the gospel truth.

Before anybody gets their knickers all in a knot, what I'm saying has nothing to do with religion, God or anything along those lines. I'm actually not judging any person who feels they need to bend the truth to get what they want.

Why would I judge the very thing that I do to make a living?

That would make me a hypocrite. And while I don't pass judgement on people who lie, I do, in fact, pass judgement on people who say one thing but do the exact opposite in their everyday lives.

Those people are two-faced assholes who deserve every last second of misery and pain that they have coming.

But I digress, because I really don't feel like breaking the glass in my hand, which is something that just might happen if I don't get back to my original point.

Lying. It's like sex. Everybody does it. Some are just better at executing than others. I like to think I'm fairly skilled in both areas. But who am I to judge?

Sex isn't the reason for my success, if that's what you're thinking. Just the opposite really.

My mind is actually responsible for where I am today.

I never thought that would be the case, if I'm being honest. But there are a lot of things about how my life would end up that have surprised me and the people around me. Not that I'm complaining; far from it. I love what I do. I have more money than I can keep track of and having a good time is something I'm almost always focused on.

And it's all thanks to my brain.

Isn't that just the craziest thing?

When you grow up with someone who looks almost exactly like you, your brain isn't exactly what people focus on. When we were kids, people gushed over my sister and me all the time. It didn't help that our mother thought it was adorable to dress us up in identical outfits and gave us the same haircuts as well. Way to foster separate identities, mum.

As the years went on, the gushing didn't really go away, but it did change because of a moment of great rebellion by my sister and me at our twelfth birthday party.

It was brilliant.

Katie and I made our grand entrance wearing outfits we'd bought with our own money. We basked in our triumph, a real up yours to our mum who wanted nothing more than to control every aspect of our lives.

The look of horror and shock when she saw what we had on, and what I'd done to my hair, is something I often replay in my head when I'm having a shit day. I thought her head was going to explode, so I was surprised when she said nothing to us and let the party continue.

Oh, the explosion did happen, but that wasn't until much later, when everybody else had gone home.

I was surprised my mum knew half the swear words that came out of her mouth as she yelled and screamed at Katie and me. We embarrassed her, we disrespected her, we made a fool out of her, how could we do that to her, and so on. You can see the common theme in her rationale of why what we did was so awful.

It took a lot of self control not to laugh at her ranting when she was going on like a mad woman. Her reaction was exactly what we expected and what we wanted. I know I'm making it sound like we were evil masterminds at such a young age, but that's not the reality of the situation at all. The two of us took a calculated risk, looked at the odds and decided that the potential reward outweighed the chance we had taken.

A common theme in my life.

After our mum had her nuclear meltdown we explained to our dad why we had done what we had done and he ended up taking our side. Another thing that happened a lot as we grew up, especially when it counted

So even though we were grounded for our "little stunt," as our mum called it, from that day on, our wardrobe and choices of hair style became our own. Exactly what we wanted.

It was a rush, winning like we did, and let me tell you, there's only one other feeling that can top that one. And only if it's done right.

I do owe my mum for not cancelling our party. It's a good thing that she cares about appearances as much as she does.

If she had kicked everybody out that day before Katie and I got to celebrate our birthday, my life might have turned out quite differently.

For two reasons.

One is something that would have happened regardless, I suppose, but the other reason, the one that has me in the high roller section at one of the biggest hotels in Las Vegas, is really what changed the path I ended up on.

The table I'm sitting at is silent and all eyes are on me.

Just the way I love it.

I suspect that with the exception of the man sitting across from me, a lot of the other men at the table are having a hard time deciding whether to look at my eyes, or the very low cut top that I'm wearing. The man who I'm in the hand with hasn't stopped staring at me for the last two minutes.

Creepy, but I don't blame him.

He's looking for any tell I might be giving him. A signal as to what two cards I'm holding that he can't see.

I polish off my drink without breaking eye contact and while some people in this situation choose to wear sunglasses to hide what they're thinking, I want him to feel like he can figure me out. I want him to think that he can outsmart me. I want him to not give me any credit and to believe I got where I am based only on my looks. And my cleavage, of course.

He won't be the first person to have those thoughts, and he certainly won't be the last.

That's the beauty of being a good liar. You can spot when somebody is shit at it and you can manipulate them to accept the truth that you want them to accept.

Every move I'm making is calculated right now as I lead my opponent to make the decision that benefits me the most. I know I sound like a cold-hearted bitch, but I'm really not.

This is just business.

And emotions have no room at the poker table, although most people don't know how to play without letting their feelings get in the way.

It's a good thing I'm not like most people.

I take in every piece of information I'm knowingly or unknowingly given and use it to my advantage. But that's not the only thing poker is about. It's also about math, probabilities, odds and, yes, a bit of luck. That's where my brain comes in to play.

Apparently I have a knack for numbers and that's why I'm about to make a killing on this hand.

He thinks I've signalled to him in some overt way the cards that I was dealt, but he's one hundred percent wrong. He just doesn't know it yet.

After a few minutes, I can sense that a move is about to be made.

"All in," my opponent announces with all the confidence in the world.

God, I fucking love this part.

"Call," I reply without hesitation and that's when his face falls.

He thought I was bluffing.

He thought wrong.

I keep my emotions in check as I flip over my cards to show the full house that I have and that causes the rest of the table to break out into excited chatter. I barely crack a smile as I rake in a pot worth nearly two hundred thousand dollars.

Not too shabby for about twenty minutes of work.

The man who lost the hand has an expression on his face of utter disgust. Unfortunately, it's an expression I'm quite familiar with.

"Fucking cunt," he spits out with an incredible amount of venom in his voice.

His words don't even cause me to blink.

I've been called a lot worse.

Sad, but true. It seems some men have problems losing large sums of money to a woman. Especially when they've underestimated that woman. He's quickly asked to leave by the casino manager, which is too bad. I was looking forward to taking even more money from him.

Oh well, the night is still young and I have a feeling the best is yet to come


Hours later, I'm enjoying a celebratory drink at the bar having had myself a very successful night. I barely have time to take my first sip before my thoughts are interrupted.

"Emily!" A voice shouts much louder than necessary. "Where the fuck have you been your hiding your sexy ass all fucking night?"

I roll my eyes, but in an affectionate way. "Hey, Cook," I reply as he sits down on the stool next to me. "Already drunk?"

He laughs even though I wasn't trying to be funny. "Fucking right I am and you should be to so we can have some fun together." Cook wiggles his eyebrows at me but I know there's nothing behind his comment. He hits on any female around, regardless of their interest level. "Come on, Emilio, I want to get laid tonight."

"And you need my help for that?" I ask sarcastically. The boy has no standards. "You do know you and me is never going to happen."

This is all part of our banter, of our friendship, of who we are together.

Without Cook being the shit disturber that he is, and without him introducing me to the game I fell in love with when I was twelve, I don't know if I ever would have made it out of Bristol. I owe him a lot. Even though he will never really get what he wants from me.

"Fuck you," he fires back with a smile.

"In your dreams," I respond earning even more laughter from my friend. "I really don't understand why you need me to get you laid."

Whatever asinine remark Cook makes is ignored by me because my attention is drawn away from our conversation to the blonde woman sitting at the other end of the bar. I have no idea when she sat down, but now that I've noticed her, I'm finding it hard to concentrate on anything else.

There's no denying the woman is beautiful, but there's something else about her that I can't quite put my finger on. I'm grateful she's not looking this way or she might have noticed that I haven't stopped staring at her for the last two minutes.

"Yo, Red, what the fuck is wrong with you?" Cook asks in a bid to get my attention.

Whoever the woman is, she doesn't seem to be with anyone, nor does she seem to be waiting for anyone to arrive. That's what my read on the situation is anyways.

Ignoring Cook's barrage of questions, I get up from my seat to strike up a conversation with the stranger that has piqued my interest.

Maybe this will be my lucky night after all.

I don't even ask permission to sit beside her. It's a gamble, I know, but I'm all about taking chances.

I focus my eyes on her stunning green ones and give her a friendly smile. "I know this is going to sound cliché, but do I know you from somewhere?"

Not my best line, I admit, but she really does seem familiar to me so I'm hoping the honesty of the statement makes up for the predictability of it.

"Fuck off," she replies rather rudely before getting up and storming off back into the casino, leaving me at the bar very confused and wondering what exactly just happened.