Initially, I was put off by the wager and thought it was an awful premise. However, that was quickly squashed and motivations and characters redeemed very early on that you became more involved in the intrigue and the relationship between Alex and Branford. You also enjoyed the side interaction with Alex's brother, Justin and Branford.
As the story progressed, the main focus was the intrigue that surrounded the various attempts on Justin's life. While Justin didn't take them seriously, Alex and subsequently Branford did. I like the potential of this story and I was very much hooked into finding out what the hell was going on. However, I felt the story didn't consistently develop its characters or pacing. The pacing of the suspense portion of the story was beautiful and the relationship with Alex and Branford was getting there. But the introduction to the side stories and the bit of development paid to it was a bit wanting. It felt that this should have been a longer story and that the other threads needed to be better woven.
With that said, I believe the story rating is more of a 2.5. It has great potential and good suspense development. However, it lacked artful incorporation of the various threads and deeper character development than the superficial gothic treatment that just didn't do this story justice.