The taproom tumbled into cheers as soon as the dice finished their manic skitter up to the back wall of the table and bounced backward. Two more sixes. Another untidy stack of silver coins in Declan’s pocket. The server – a stranger an hour before – gave him a fierce one-armed hug around the shoulders. Another dozen had slowly packed themselves around the table, goaded into watching by the absurdity of luck. They laughed with each other in shock and awe, grinned at him, shouted for him to roll again.
Eyes wide, as if even he couldn’t believe the dice, Declan glanced sideways at the pair he was playing against. The man’s lips were moving, but all he could hear was a rich bass under the clatter of their little crowd. The woman had her arms crossed over her chest and when she realized she had Declan’s attention, her eyes sharpened. When the man finished speaking – apparently, asking a question – she nodded.
The man grabbed him by the front of the shirt. “Are those dice loaded?” he demanded. His breath was hot against Declan’s face.
Quickly, Declan pushed him back. “No,” he promised. “No, no, no.” He was laughing, like the crowd. Stunned, maybe. He didn’t seem capable of peeling the grin off his face.
Pushing the man a little farther, he bent low on the table, stretched his arm all the way out to gather the dice back into his hand. Pretty, copper things, they glittered between his fingers. The sweet, metallic smell clung to his fingers.
He held them out on an open palm. “Here! See for yourself!”
The man glanced at the woman. The woman took the dice.
She rolled, four times. A two and a three. A four and a one. A six and a three. A five and a two. The table waited, tense, and her hand grew slower on each roll. The last sat, glinting for a long moment. The man swore. In tight fingers, the woman picked the dice back up and dropped them into Declan’s hand. Heavy.
“Do you want to go another round?” Declan offered. He eyed them hesitantly. “It’s been strange luck. I’ll go all or nothing?”
The man rolled his eyes. The woman glared.
“Or don’t!” Declan said. He pulled back quickly, hands innocently to his chest. “Please.”
“All in,” the woman murmured. “Everything we have against everything you have.” The crowd burst into murmurs and whispers. The man glanced at her sideways.
“Yeah?” Declan asked.
“Yes,” the woman said, a single, clipped syllable.
He shook the dice in his hand, carefully faced away from his wife in the corner as she turned another pretty, copper die to a six and pressed it into the table with a firm finger.