I went too far in that game… I should have played carefully… what if the customers now see that I’m a dealer that’s tough to play against?
Mordred clutched at his knees, rocking himself on his heels anxiously. The point of being a dealer was to make money for the casino against the customers who come in to gamble. And to some degree, at least a few would have known that dealers who could control a game exist somewhere, dealers who don’t let the luck fall into the gamblers’ hands, though fewer less than that would only know how to spot one.
But he never tried to underestimate his customers, whoever they were, whether he’d met them anywhere, before or never. He always watched whether a gambler had the talent to control the game apart from him, the dealer, or whether he was the sort who would flop at any game he played. But that took practice, and he still never came to one certain conclusion of any gambler he dealt cards for.
And now any skilled gambler amongst the watching crowd during his game with Garda might have seen that he had the aptitude to play against them, on a high level at that. Now they could avoid him knowing that he was a good player. That was not what he wanted to have happen.
And then there were the Bianchi. They were the problem.
The door to the locker room opened and he tumbled out of the low shelf of the locker he’d been perched in.
“Ah, you were here,” said Albert, peering into the darkness of the room.
Mordred hurriedly rolled onto his hands and knees. “What’s the matter?”
“The staff said you disappeared after the game with Ms. Garda, so I was worried about whether you were alright… but I see that if you had to hide yourself in here, you were probably sulking.”
“I am.” Mordred sat on his heels and dropped his head. “I’m about to go on a three day self-hiatus on my dealing skills and pretend that I’m actually a flop of a gambler who just won by luck. I shouldn’t have gambled.”
“Really, Mr. Mordred, people will just forget about your skill after today. It’s just something like a victory of the hotel. BEsides, all our other dealers on this staff are personally taught by you; they have skills similar to your level.”
“Tricking the cards is not easy. Controlling my shuffles and one of hers is not easy either, straight from a fresh deck.”
Albert’s eyes widened, then he chuckled. “You tricked three shuffles? That means you got one lucky?”
“First win was chance. I was letting her attempt to win her third and see if I might even win just once.” Saying that, Mordred looked up with relief. Then his face fell. “But I don’t want to pretend to be slightly awful at dealing just to make it seem like I’m at least an average dealer.”
“Come out of the locker room, Mr. Mordred. The furnishing group are about to finish up decorating the ballroom, so perhaps you might want to go over and personally thank them before they leave. It’s almost time.”
Mordred jumped to his feet awkwardly. “R-right. Okay.”
He staggered out of the locker, and the lights immediately blinded him. Since the locker had been dark, but he was used to being blinded by lights upon leaving the shadowed comfort of the locker room; the last time he took to it for comfort was last Sunday and it was because he’d handed over an essay to his literature professor, and as his writing took on a gut-wrenching anxiety, sitting in the dark stuffed with unused chairs, stools, and packages of spare uniforms for all staff on Hotel Mariposa comforted him.
Still it did leave him a bit hot and warm, since the room was small and had no conditioning, so he loosened up the vest and ran his hands through his hair to air them just a bit and to quicken the cooling. The cool hallways were just enough to whiff off the thin sheet of sweat by the time he reached the ballroom.
The decorating team were just about to leave, and Mordred thanked them profusely for their work. The Amy Heller co. was a company they always relied on for receptions like weddings and parties, so it was more a friendly procedure that happened every couple of months or so when the ballroom was scheduled for an event – which was usually often. It might as well be a partnership between them and Hotel Mariposa, who often drove their clients and customers to companies who were also patrons to the hotel.
Mordred toured the ballroom at Amy Heller and her team’s insistence, and so they did, with Albert right behind him, as his eyes explored the new decorations set up around. On rare days that the ballroom was not scheduled, it would be furnished simply as an extra lounge room apart from the lobby, where Mordred would spend weekdays after school spread out on a couch with a laptop.
“As usual, you did a good work making it unrecognizable in another way completely different from the last,” Mordred muttered.
Ms. Heller chuckled. She was a forty year old woman with greying hair with wrinkles on the corners of her eyes, the well-earned lines of proud smiles over the years since she formed her company. “Of course it’s a good job! We made sure of it!”
After making a full circle and another round of thanks and Ms. Heller saying that she would show up the next day with their clients to see the setting for a final round of approval, the event planners left.
Mordred pulled back the sleeve of his shirt. It was almost eight o’clock by now. “Is dinner ready at home?” he turned to Albert.
“Yes, sir. If you’d like to know what’s for dinner, it is a cauliflower and cheese gratin and a cheesecake slice for dessert.”
“Gratin?” Mordred whirled around to Albert. Excited, for a usually calm boy.
“Yes, gratin. What time do you plan to go to bed today? Usual time, sir?”
“Eleven. I’m going to the cafe to pick up herbal tea.”
“Then I will prepare a bath to be ready by ten-thirty and then go to bed by then.” With that, Albert left.
Mordred made his way to the cafe, just a short trip towards the lobby then crossing over to the entrance to the far right of the front desk where the hotel cafe sat, a quiet corner that would be open in the day for any ravaged man with insatiable appetite when the buffet meals were closed.
Here, he ordered a chamomile tea in a paper cup before sitting himself down in a lonely corner of the cafe next to a window looking out at the hotel’s courtyard pool. Since the pool was open twenty-four hours, Mordred could see a few people still hanging about it. The hotel preferred most of their places open at usual hours, so long as the guests did not bother anyone. The outdoor pools, the casino, the bar, all three the only places that had no closing hour save holidays.
In this corner, he stretched himself flat against the table and thought back over his status.
He wasn’t just any dealer of the casino; he was the heir to the hotel – no, the heir to 150 different companies, including the spreading branches, that were companies under the third richest man in the world, William Abasscia-Reid – otherwise, his father.
Being the son to a billionaire was nerve-wracking, which he was glad his father noticed of him as a child. But sometimes, Mordred felt like it was his fault some people ever got surprised during the rare moments his father pushed him into appearing in public, or he overheard his father boasting of this apparently ghost of a son that no one heard he had before. He’d seen most kids proudly talk of their fathers; Mordred was equally proud of his father, but if he tried to join in the conversation of boasting about awesome fathers, he was either ignored or not believed.
Sitting in the corner of the cafe as he did now, he simply looked like a lonely employee of the hotel, apparently slouching off his job. In truth, the matter was that he was an employee allowed to slouch off his job whenever he liked because most of his job took place besides the casino. In the absence of William Abasscia-Reid, Mordred was in charge of making official decisions of for this particular hotel, working with the other staff members, and practically needed to run from floor to floor to deal with whatever problems the staff ran into.
The job was tiring, but it was what he’d asked for anyway.
To inherit his father’s work. To inherit the position of billionaire and to carry on the Abasscia-Reid tradition of adding an extra twenty percent to their old family fortune.
Mordred then remembered the letter that Albert had given to him earlier that day when he walked in.
The quality of the paper gave off the feeling that it came from an expensive stationary, personalized with a bundle of inked flowers in the corner of the paper. The flowers were in the shape of scarlet auriculas, the flat petals of its blooms spread out as a plate. Mordred couldn’t help smiling at it before he began to read the letter; his mother’s favorite flower, which she had attempted several times to plant with much difficulty. The handwriting was the same as the one on the letter that dictated it to his father, a flowing script that might have come from a fountain pen.
The message was short, though:
Dear Mr. Reid,
We would like to inform you that your transaction has been passed. Please come down to the subway to receive the package you’ve ordered before midnight. If you do not receive it, you will be immediately disqualified. Sincerely, John Doe.
Mordred frowned. All the frequent ‘urgent’ fuss over a package. Speaking of, had his father actually order something without him knowing? And why should he pick it up in te subway? Had William forgotten to tell him about it? Then again, if that was it, then it wasn’t strange. William, as the owner of exactly a hundred and fifty companies and their numerous tiny branches, had a workload and he usually had several things filling his bowl.
And he also decided that the signer definitely wasn’t called John Doe.
He glanced at his watch. Nine o’ clock. At this time, Maria must have gone to bed, and Albert was probably eating dinner; both would need to get up early to start work. On the other hand, as automated every day, Mordred would also need to be back before ten o’clock, and at least asleep before eleven as he would need to wake up at six the next morning.
“Well, it won’t hurt to go anyway, would it?” He grabbed his jacket and slipped the letter back into an inner pocket before rushing out of the lobby.