‘Elena!’ Sofia cried, dropping to the floor, cradling Elena’s head in her hands. There was blood staining the lower half of Elena’s white crop top. The dark maroon liquid was barely being stemmed by her hand, which was pressed hard to her side. She spoke in a croak that sounded like it hurt to leave her mouth. 

‘Sof…ia… ca…call…’ she gasped. 

Sofia held Elena delicately as if she was a china doll. In many ways, that was exactly how she looked. Her perfect porcelain-colored skin and fragile, breakable appearance were amplified by the awkward pose like she might snap in two if she attempted to move her limbs. The blood was the only difference; it looked thickest at the front of her shirt. 

‘Stab…stabbed… Sofia. Call…’ she tried to say, but the pain was too much, and Elena slumped into Sofia’s arms, passing out. Sofia looked around Elena and saw that her phone lay by her side, the screen still on. Whoever attacked her hadn’t taken her cell or bothered to switch it off. Which could only mean one thing. 

They’d been there recently. 

Elena lay motionless in Sofia’s grasp. Sofia could still feel her pulse weakly pumping through her wrists. She had to help, but as she wondered what to do, Sophia heard the sound that she both wanted and didn’t want to hear. 

A siren. 

It could be the police or an ambulance but regardless of what it was, it was getting louder and louder. It was coming in the direction of the nightclub and Sofia. She only had a split second to make the right decision. Who had called emergency services, and which one? No one else could know that Elena was injured other than her would-be assassin. Had the attacker been struck by a conscience, or were they setting Sofia up for murder? 

Either way, Sofia reasoned, flight was better. She knew the police, but if she was found at the scene, she would be damned before she had a chance to defend herself. Caught at the scene, covered in Elena’s blood, the girlfriend of Dimitar, a man who may have killed her brother? She would be forced to try to figure out who had killed Georgi from a prison cell.

Carefully and quietly, Sofia lay Elena down and put her in the recovery position. Her wound was still causing her to lose blood, but not so rapidly. Sofia ran out the back door to the trunk of her car. She covered her hand in a shawl from the back seat and grabbed the rifle. She took it into the kitchen and laid it beside Elena’s prone form. 

Then she left. She jumped into the car and pulled away, looping around the one-way system to the other side of the road. She pulled up and watched the nightclub from a safe distance. 

It was only a minute later that an ambulance approached the slip road and took the turn off. It wound around to the nightclub and pulled up outside the back door. Clearly, someone had called the authorities to report that Elena was injured. A minute later, two police cars pulled up. That was Sofia’s cue to leave, and she drove away. Had she been reported? If so, then she needed to lose the car. 

Once a safe distance from the nightclub, she turned East and drove the car out of the city. She needed to head home, but it might be being watched. If she had been reported in Elena’s attack, that’s exactly where the killer would want her to go, so she carried on heading East. She drove past the football stadium that had given Georgi his name, heading past it hastily. She slowed down, taking a look out of the window. There was a monastery on the left-hand side of the stadium, and Sofia pulled into the gravel drive. Deep within her long-term memory, she could remember her father driving here when she was a child. Dark brown brick walls were eight feet high around the grounds. Sofia got out of her car and approached the gates. She looked down at her top, at the blood down her front and on her hands. 

She rang the bell on the box to the right of the steel gates. She thought she could hear police sirens again, but it could have been her imagination. It was as if she was falling down a well without a bottom, the walls closing in on her as the sky got smaller. Moody clouds gathered in the twilight skies above. The tears that fell from her cheeks were lost in the drizzle. 

The box buzzed into life next to her face, and Sofia jumped in fright. 

‘Can we help you?’ 

‘Can I come in? I need somebody to help me.’

The box was silent. No voice came through. 

‘I’m Ivan Angelov’s daughter, Sofia.’

The box didn’t make another sound, but the gates in front of her opened with a click and an electric whirr as Sofia darted to her car door. She drove the car through the gates. Once inside, she was surrounded by half a dozen monks. It was an odd sight, and they guided her to the rear of the building. She drove around and parked at the back. A set of double doors opened, and one of the monks at the front of the building greeted her with open arms. 

‘Are you OK, Miss Angelov?’ 

‘I’ve… been in an accident.’ 

‘For every problem, a solution. This is a house of peace, and you are most welcome. Let’s get you a change of clothes, for a start.’

The monk looked at her hands, and she held them up to the sky. Rivulets of water from the rain were washing them clean. Blood ran from her palms, falling into the deepening puddles on the ground. 

Sofia went inside and, over the next hour, washed, changed, and was sat at a dining table in the main hall. Whatever beekeeping or mead-making the monks did in their sacred corridors lay under wraps. The building might as well have been a conference center. 

Sitting in the main dining room, she was brought her belongings, minus her clothes. The distant smell of burning told her all she needed to know about what happened to them. 

Her mobile phone rang almost as soon as it was set down in front of her. She answered.


‘Sofia? Are you all right?’ 

‘I’m so glad you called. I was in the city, and…’

‘Don’t say another word, not on the phone. I’m coming to pick you up.’

With that, Ivan cut the call. The monk smiled indulgently and brought Sofia some honey toast and a glass of mead. It was strong, and Sofia needed every bit of it, allowing it to warm her throat and calm her nerves. Where were the police? 

Ten minutes later, she was in her father’s car, doing ninety back to the city. 

‘I couldn’t let you speak on the phone, but you need to tell me what happened, Sofia. The car is safe here. They’ll make sure it’s thoroughly cleaned. 

‘Do they owe you or something?’ 

‘In a manner of speaking. I spent a lot of time at the football stadium and, after an early game, brought Georgi here on the way when he felt sick once. Do you remember – he had his appendix removed.’ 

‘I remember that – it was a little while after Mum died.’ 

‘That’s right. The monks took Georgi in and looked after him until we could safely move him to hospital. He went up in the helicopter. It flew over the Iskar Gorge.’

‘He used to tell me about that. How it looked, the way it drew him in. Maybe there was a sense on some level about the importance of it in his life?’

‘Destiny or design?’ asked Ivan. He asked Sofia exactly what happened at the nightclub. She told him, her hands shaking until he took them in his own. Smiling slightly to ease her nerves, he told her to relax. 

‘Dimitar has gone missing. He’s not at the nightclub, and money is missing from the safe.’

‘I don’t think he’s stolen anything, Dad.’ Sofia protested. ‘He won that money playing Georgi at poker. He’s been saving up the money, hoping to run away, I think with Elena.’ 

‘So you don’t think he did this to her?’ 


‘Well then, the question is, who did? Was anyone else motivated to harm Elena? Were they trying to kill her or frame you?’ 

‘I don’t know, but if they wanted to get rid of me, killing everyone I love wouldn’t be the way. Georgi and Elena were together. They were in love. I think they wanted to run away together.’ 

‘OK, I can see why you’d think that from the money, even their relationship… but why? Weren’t they happy here?’ 

‘Look, Dad, you know I want you to be happy, but ever since Mum died and Silvana came into your life, I’ve never been totally sure of her.’

‘But I am. We’ll talk to her now. Let’s go home. You can stay with us for a while. I’m exhausted, and I had a nap before you called.’

Sofia thought it prudent not to tell her father exactly why he was feeling so tired.

‘If Silvana is trying to kill me too, you could be putting me in danger.’

‘Rubbish. You’ll see this nonsense with Silvana has no basis in fact. We’ll go back home now and sort this out once and for all.’

Sofia allowed Ivan to drive them away from the monastery. He spoke to the monks before they left and told them to keep Sofia’s car safe, that it was to be ‘cleaned’. Sofia tried not to think of the methods they’d use to ensure that her car had no trace of Elena’s blood. She hadn’t harmed Elena, but if Dimitar and the money were gone, who else could it be?

When they arrived at the Angelov mansion, Silvana was at the door, her silhouette casting a shadow against the backlit warmth of the inside of the mansion. Only when they got close did they realize that she was wearing handcuffs. 

A policeman followed her from the door, gently insisting that she should follow him and his colleague to the police car which was parked discreetly out of view from the main road. It sat, no lights flashing, at the side of the ornate mansion like a cockroach next to a Fabergé egg.

‘I didn’t kill Georgi, Ivan!’ Silvana almost screamed from the steps. Her husband went to go to her, but a flat palm from the policeman stopped him in his tracks. 

‘Sir, your wife has been arrested for murder.’

‘On what basis?’ Ivan asked. 

‘They found my nail polish on the rifle!’ Silvana yelled before she was shut inside the back of the car. 

‘She’s been read her rights, sir. I would advise you to contact your lawyer immediately.’

Ivan Angelov stood, stunned with shock at the sight of his wife being arrested for the murder of his eldest son. 

As the policemen opened the driver and passenger doors to drive her away, both Ivan and Sofia could hear Silvana again. 

‘… DNA on the rifle… you must…’ was all they caught before both doors slammed and she was driven off. They stood at the bottom of the steps to the mansion. 

‘What do we do now?’ Ivan asked, flabbergasted at the turn of events. 

‘There’s one thing we need to check,’ said Sofia. 

‘What’s that? Ivan asked, wringing his hands. 

‘The contents of your will.’ 

‘I told you. Both you and Georgi are still the only beneficiaries.’

‘When did you last check that?’

Ivan shut the great heavy doors with a bang. He locked them and turned to Sofia. At that moment, both of their cell phones pinged into life with the same chime sounding loudly in the echoey reception of the mansion. 

Sofia got to her phone first and gasped. Ivan produced his own cell and looked at the same on-screen message

Georgi Angelov

Invites you to play Six-Max 


Starting SOON.

If you win I’ll tell you




Chapter 8                                  Chapter 10

About the Author: Paul Seaton has written about poker for over 10 years, interviewing some of the best players ever to play the game such as Daniel Negreanu, Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth. Over the years, Paul has reported live from tournaments such as the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and the European Poker Tour. He has also written for other poker brands where he was Head of Media, as well as BLUFF magazine, where he was Editor.

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.