Part II - Riches / Chapter Thirty-Four

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PART II 

Riches 

C H A P T E R  

T H I R T Y - F O U R 

I checked to make sure I still had my boarding pass. I gave Ashley one last hug and kiss goodbye before I boarded the plane. 

"It will only be for three years. And I'll visit you every few months, or you can come visit me once you're done your MBA." 

"You promise?" 

"Of course, Ashley. Being with you is the best thing that has happened to me. You've been with me throughout all the ups and downs over the past five years. I just have to go away for a while, but I'll come back for you. Okay?" 

"Okay, I love you." 

Leaving her was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. So much can change in such a little amount of time. It would be a shame to lose her, but that was the reality I was facing. I had every intention of going back for her because she was worth it. She was with me when I had nothing, a rare quality to find in a woman, especially one who had everything. I was just trying to be realistic about all this. There was a real possibility we would grow apart once the separation had gone on for a few months. Time has a funny way of doing that, making us forget.  

*** 

I arrived in Ontario one week before classes commenced. The air was crisp and the leaves were starting to turn brown and fall off the trees. The campus looked really beautiful this time of the year. It was not as large as my previous school, but it was big enough to make me feel insignificant. I was essentially starting from scratch here. I didn't know a single person and did not have any of my usual comforts from back home. I had worked for the number one bank in the country, had a great girlfriend, and lots of friends. But I traded it all in to follow my dream. There was no doubt in my mind I would end up back in Vancouver, but I just needed to focus for the next three years and get the credentials that I desperately wanted. 

I had gone there a month prior to secure an apartment. I had found a nice one-bedroom apartment on the seventh floor of a brand new apartment building on campus. It had a small gym, sauna room, entertainment room, and in-suite laundry. Rent was a lot cheaper out here than in Vancouver, so it was definitely an upgrade. 

*** 

"Hey, man," a friendly looking guy greeted me in the hallway outside my door. 

"Hey." 

"Looks like you're movin' in," he said, looking at all the stuff I was carrying. 

"Yeah, I just got into town today," I replied, as I fumbled with my keys. 

"Where are you from?" 

"Vancouver." 

"Oh really, that's where I'm from too." 

"Really, what a small world." 

"Here, let me help you with that."  

"Thanks." 

I unlocked the door and propped it open with a dustpan. 

"Looks like you need some furniture," the man said, looking around my empty apartment. 

"Yeah, do you know of any places where I can get some cheap furniture?" 

"I do actually. One of my uncles owns the largest furniture store in town. I can get you a sweet deal." 

"Really? Thanks, man."  

"I'm Steve by the way." 

"Nice to meet you, Steve, I'm Trevor. Do you live on this floor?" 

"No, I live on the fifteenth floor, but my buddies live next door to you. I'll introduce you if you want." 

"Sure."  

"Actually, we're about to play some poker and we could use another player. Do you want to join us?" 

"Um, okay, yeah, that would be great." 

*** 

"Hey, I found a fourth for our game."  

"Hello," I said, as I gave an awkward wave. 

"Trevor, this is Dan and Jeremy. Dan and Jeremy, meet your new neighbor, Trevor." 

"So what are you guys playing?" I asked as I took my jacket off and grabbed a seat at the table. 

"The game is No Limit Texas Hold 'em, have you played it before?" 

"Remind me," I said coyly. The truth was I used to host tournaments and cash games at my house every week to make a little extra money. With my winnings, I would play in the big tournaments at the casino once in a while. I did pretty well too, but I kept that information to myself. 

"The buy-in is twenty dollars, is that okay with you?" 

I reached into my pocket and grabbed a fist full of whatever I could find. I had three five-dollar bills and a bunch of change. I noticed a few stares, but nobody said anything. I counted out twenty dollars and put it into the pot.  

"Alright, hurry up and deal," Steve said to dealer. 

For the first couple of hands, I played the rookie card like a pro. I checked out of turn, asked dumb questions, and pretended to forget which direction the cards were supposed to be dealt. I had these guys believing I really sucked, but there was money on the line, and I wanted it. 

"So you're a student?" Dan asked. 

"Yeah, I'm starting law school next week, how bout you guys?" 

"Hey, me too. I'll probably see you in some of my classes then," Dan said. "Jeremy and Steve are in business school." 

"I see. Oh, is it my turn?" 

"Yeah, it's on you, what do you want to do?" 

"Um, I'll check." 

"Well, Dan just raised, so you either have to call, re-raise, or fold." 

"Oh, sorry. Okay, I'll call." 

"Flip 'em, let's see what you have?" 

"I have a straight, is that any good?" I asked. 

"Good enough. Take it down." 

That was another one for me. I had been conning these guys all night and was the current the chip leader. Perhaps it was not the best way to make new friends.  

"So what do you guys do for fun around here?" I asked. 

"Around here? Nothing," Jeremy said.  

"We go to New York and Las Vegas a lot though," Steve said. "New York is only a few hours drive from here." 

"I haven't been to either of those cities." 

"Really? You should come with us next time we go." 

"Sure, that sounds like fun."

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