Carol W Hazelwood

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Dare To Trust available from

Dare To Trust

Paperback, 204 pages,
ISBN-13: 978-1-955162-02-9
6 x 9 inches, $13.50
Published by Aventine Press

by Carol W. Hazelwood


It was late Thursday night in the men's card room of the Bel Air Country Club when the last group of players quit. The game had resulted in sour feelings, and the atmosphere hovering over the five men was less than cordial. Playing poker brought them together more than any bond of friendship. Bragging rights were more important than the money won or lost to most of the wealthy men. Of course, there were always exceptions.

"I don't see why you had to throw out young Todd." Steve's thin face betrayed his annoyance. "He owes me money." His hunched narrow shoulders made his complaint sound even more infantile.

Clifford's brown eyes expressed his quiet loathing of Steve. "He owes everyone money." Clifford had all the markings of his social status: confidence edging into egotism, girth showing prosperity, and fashionable clothes trending toward sophistication.

"That's my point," Bert said. "With his salary as assistant golf pro, Todd can't afford the stakes at our table. Encouraging him so you can take his money is not the practice of a gentleman." Bert's large frame dominated the room. Even at sixty-five, he was distinguished looking, a virile man with gray streaks threading through his dark hair.

Joseph leaned forward with a kind expression on his elderly face. "You could have been more tactful when you refused to allow him to join us," he chided Bert.

Bert sighed. "You're right, but I wanted to protect him from getting deeper in debt." He pulled on his blue sport jacket. "I'll talk to him before I leave the club tonight."

"Hurrying home to your willowy, young wife?" John's smile was not pleasant.

"Your innuendos about my wife grow tiresome." Bert's face gave no indication of anger, but his tone made his disgust clear.

John ignored the warning. He liked to goad Bert, especially when he had an audience. He was almost Bert's height, but lacked his charm and looks. Although the same age as Bert, hard drinking had turned John's complexion sallow, his face puffy, and his attitude sullen. "I'm complimenting you on having a lovely, sexy, young wife. Why take offense as long as you can keep her happy?"

Bert moved closer to John. "You're on thin ice. Don't push your luck. Jealousy and liquor are not a pleasant combination."

"Okay, guys, break it up," Joseph said, always the arbiter when things got too intense.

"Bert, you're lucky to have Daniella," Steve said. "My wife nags me. She wasn't always that way. Sometimes I wonder if my money was my attraction." He threw the deck of cards down on the table. "Damn it. It's too expensive to divorce Myra."

Bert moved toward the door, but Clifford stepped in front of him, putting his hand on Bert's forearm. "We need to talk."

"I have not changed my mind." Bert's jaw tightened.

"We're friends," Clifford leaned in closer as he whispered, "Don't ruin it over some stupid misunderstanding."

"This has nothing to do with friendship or a misunderstanding. I deal in facts." Bert's dark eyes turned cold and unrelenting. "And my report will state those facts. You made your decision long ago and I've made mine. I have no other option."

"You damn well do have a choice," Clifford's voice rose. "You're just too stubborn to change."

"I have my honor," Bert said. "What happened to yours?"

"You can't present your report as it stands." Clifford's grip tightened on Bert's forearm.

Bert's eyes held nothing but disdain for the man. Clifford released his hold and Bert left to find Todd. Joseph walked toward the parking lot, while the other three went to the men's locker room before leaving the club. The night watchman nodded to them as he made his rounds.