Betting Against the House

A Maguire
9 min readMar 19, 2018

“You alright?” Travis glanced around the bare, grey cell, his mouth curling down.

Hunched against the far wall, arms wrapped herself, Rosie didn’t answer. When she turned her head, his stomach clenched at the shine in her eyes. She pushed off the wall and swung around, arms dropping to her sides, her eyes dry and shuttered, her face settled in familiar disdain.

“Do I look like I’m alright?” she asked, her voice that bit too sharp. “Does this look like someplace I belong?”

He held up his hands. “Okay, stupid question. Come on, let’s get out of here.”

Turning away, he glared at the cop blocking the doorway, like a piece of ill-placed furniture, the indistinct and helpless rage quietening as he recognized the look in the young man’s eyes. It was the kind of bewilderment most men felt when they looked at the contradictions of Rosie Blackburn. Small-boned, her body whip-taut, possessing more strength than easily imagined. A wild mass of dark curls framed a face of delicate features and smooth skin, the crow’s feet around her eyes and the lines bracketing her mouth fine, deceptive of her age. It was more the brittle expression she wore that suggested she might be middle-aged. Travis recalled the first time he’d seen it, remembered the way it’d hit him, somewhere low down in his gut. The expression of someone who’d lost trust a long time ago…and didn’t believe it could be found again.

“What else do we have to do here?” he said. The cop returned his gaze reluctantly, a last furtive glance at the woman standing behind before responding. Didn’t take a mind reader to see the what-the-hell-happened-to-her? thought.

“Uh, just see the Sarge at the desk. He’ll sign her out.”

Nodding, Travis stepped into the corridor, his skin prickling with awareness of the unconscious and involuntary oscillation that seemed to fill the space around Rosie. He caught the movement of the cop’s arm from the corner of his eye too late.

“Lady, you let this — ”

That was all the kid had time to get out before she jerked her arm free, the flat crack of her palm striking the side of his face echoing down the confined hall. She reversed instantly, slamming into the corridor wall as Travis stepped between them.

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A Maguire

Writer, dreamer, developmental editor, book coach, farmer and mother.