268 Gamble

“Hello sweethearts,” Lucinda took a moment to kiss Luke and Reid on the cheek. The way she intensely looked Reid in the eye, made him smile. She was an incurable busybody, but he knew she meant well. In a very manipulative and conniving way. After some small talk, Luke and John left to get some drinks and Lucinda saw her way clear to get her point across.

“Did you enjoy the wedding?”

“I did,” Reid said as neutral as possible, knowing it would annoy the grand lady. And he was right. The irritation made her painfully honest.

“I must say…I’m disappointed in you…”

Reid’s face stayed blank. “And you think I’m inclined to live up to your expectations, because…?”

Lucinda snorted.

“I thought you were inclined to make my grandson happy…”

“He is.”

“We both know what would make him even more happy.”

“You’d be surprised.”

That made Lucinda frown.

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“The wedding ceremony helped me to see what Luke had been talking about. I could see myself up there too. Declaring my love for him.”

Lucinda gestured to the croupier, collected her chips and turned to Reid.


“He said no.”

Lucinda looked absolutely baffled.

“He said no? Why?”

“Because I know how he feels about weddings and I don’t want him to feel obligated in any way to do something he really doesn’t want to do…”

Luke sounded calm, but his brown eyes were shooting darts at his grandmother while he handed Reid his drink.

“And with all due respect, Grandmother…your interference is not appropriate. This is something between Reid and me and I distinctively remember telling you that yesterday too. This doesn’t concern you.”

“As if Reid would do anything he really doesn’t want to do…” Lucinda conveniently just ignored Luke’s little speech and followed up on his first remark.

“I am very familiar with the effects of a good wedding. How it can sweep you away and kick reason to the curve. If this wedding magic has worn off and Reid still wants to marry me, I’m more than ready and willing to say yes.” Luke gave Reid a quick smile and turned back to his grandmother, “but I want him to be sure. And I want to be sure he’s sure.”

“What’s wrong with being swept away?” Lucinda frowned. “It’s no secret that you always saw a wedding in your future and here, in this beautiful Vegas, you can. So…”

“Just because we can marry, doesn’t mean it’s right for us,” Luke started to sound a little cold now. “And again, that’s something between me and Reid. How would you feel if I used every available opportunity to ask you about your relationship with John? When are you making this official? I mean…this is Vegas…no time like the present…”

Lucinda wanted to respond, saw John’s face and closed her mouth. To open it after a few seconds.

“Okay. You have a point. I would be annoyed about that.”

“Thank you,” Luke kissed her on the cheek. “I know you mean well, but you have to let it go. There’s no need to fight my battle, because there’s no battleground. There’s no struggle. You’re right…I always saw myself married someday, but that was just the symbolism for being loved. For having someone really committed to me and to my happiness. For having someone in my life who planned to stay there forever. And guess what? I found that person. I feel like that already.”

When he felt Reid’s hand on his spine, he snuggled a little closer and they shared a quick kiss.

“Ah well…I guess I’m just being self-centered.” Lucinda ignored John’s teasing “No! You?” and continued, “I love you so much…” she caressed Luke’s cheek with a telling smile, “and I always had this dream of watching you walking down the isle. Of showing the world: this is my grandson and I’m extremely proud of him.”

“There are other ways to do that,” Luke touched his grandmother’s hand, “but I do love you for having that dream.”

Their hug was intense and loving and then Lucinda moved over to Reid and pulled him in too.

“I’m sorry for harassing you,” she whispered, “and please know I’m very proud of you too… that whole disappointment speech was my frustration talking. You make my grandson very happy.”

“I know,” Reid winked at her, “and that goes both ways.”

“I’m glad,” after a last smile, Lucinda turned to the croupier again. “Now watch me win some ridiculous amount of money.”

“I can tell she’s your grandmother,” Reid whispered in Luke’s ear and they both chuckled. Then Luke put his arm around Lucinda’s shoulder and kissed her on the cheek.

“We’ll leave you to that…we’re gonna explore the casino. Text me if you win big.”

“Keep an eye on that phone,” Lucinda’s grin was as confident as ever, “it’s just a matter of time.”

Luke put his phone on vibrate – just to be sure – and with drinks in hand they made their way through the casino. Confirming what Reid already knew. He was not a gambling man. Nothing really appealed to him, but he did notice Luke’s glances at some slot machines.

“Go for it…” he pushed his partner to one of them and Luke smiled.

“What are you gonna do?”

“I’m gonna sit next to you and show you how it’s done,” Reid bluffed.

They found slot machines Luke classified as ‘awesome’ – Reid wasn’t sure why, because they all looked the same to him – and from the corner of his eye, Reid scanned what the others were doing. It wasn’t brain surgery and if he was completely honest, it was entertaining. The theme was magic – coincidence, Mr. Snyder? – and the machine made all kind of exciting sounds at almost every game he played.

“Having fun?”

Reid looked up from the opening treasure chest on the screen in front of him and grinned.

“Actually I am. You?”

Luke nodded, smiling big.

Than his chest started to vibrate and while pulling out his phone, he rolled his eyes at Reid.

“I guess my grandmother is having fun too…”

His smile turned into shock when he read his text, though, and Reid forgot all about the machine and turned to Luke.

“What’s wrong?”

Luke handed Reid his phone, pushed a button and collected his winnings. After reading the text, Reid mirrored Luke’s movement and with one last look at the phone, he returned it. The words etched on his brain.

– Natalie is missing