Axel Freed is an English professor at New York College. He is also a gambling addict. Although he likes to win, it is only secondary to the excitement he feels in the possibility of losing. It is within this mentality that he ends up in the hole to the tune of $44,000 in one fell swoop, this amount which he does not have, and those to who he owes would not take too kindly to delayed payment without some sort of retribution.
He gets an up close and personal view of the nasty things that can be done as a consequence as he tries to come up with the money through legitimate and not so legitimate sources, the former including from his wealthy businessman grandfather, A.R. Lowenthal, who has had his fair share of dealings with the wrong side of the law himself, and his physician mother, Naomi Freed, both who may still be affected by Axel's actions regardless if they can, will, can't or won't help him.
Even if he can get the money, the feeling of his addiction may not allow him just to pay back the money as that, in his mind, is not winning, regardless of the consequence of being potentially deeper in with those he owes. The one other person involved is his girlfriend Billie, who may love Axel but who did not sign up for this kind of excitement in becoming his girlfriend.
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