Read Gambler's Woman Online

Authors: Jayne Ann Krentz

Gambler's Woman (3 page)

"Jordan, please!" Alyssa didn't know whether to laugh or scream for
help. Before she could make up her
mind, she was being whisked out the door and into one of the cabs lined
up in front of the casino. Jordan was rattling off the name of another
famous establishment before he had shut the car door. Hearing the
destination and knowing she would be safe on the premises of such a
major hotel casino, Alyssa gave up the small battle and collapsed back
into the seat Across the small distance separating them, she eyed her
abductor with a mocking gaze. "Do you have references?"
"Sorry, in my business, references would be disastrous," he said,
chuckling. "I cultivate anonymity. The only guarantee I can give you is
my word as a professional gambler that I'll take care of you tonight"
"Do you do this sort of thing often?"
"Kidnap lady gamblers? No, not often. But then I haven't encountered
one quite like you before. Ah,
here we are."
The cab deposited them beneath the lights of a glittering casino
complex, and Jordan escorted Alyssa into the orderly confusion of
gamblers, slot machines and cocktail lounges.
"Here, put a quarter in one of the slots," he instructed, handing her
the coin.
She took it, arching an eyebrow in surprise. "You play the slots?
Everyone knows they're almost as bad as a state-run lottery! The odds
against the player are incredible. For heaven's sake! The house
mechanics deliberately set them to pay out only what the house wants
paid out!"
"Alyssa, my sweet," he explained easily as he urged her toward the
nearest bank of slot machines.
"I don't play the slots to win."
"Then why... ?"
"I play them for luck," he said, smiling.
"Luck!" Now she truly was startled. "You believe in luck?"
"When you've seen as much of this world as I have, you'll discover that
like it or not, there is an element of luck in the universe. Play the
slot, Alyssa. Tonight I feel lucky."
Lips curving in quiet laughter, Alyssa plunked the quarter into the
hungry machine and pulled the handle. The colorful wheels spun madly,
and then, to her surprise, two quarters cascaded into the small pan
beneath the bandit She scooped them up and handed them to Jordan with a
"Your winnings, sir!"
"What did I tell you? Tonight I am a lucky man. No more work, however.
We're here to play." He took her arm and walked her through the crowd
thronging the gambling floor. "There's an excellent group in
the lounge."
Alyssa knew later that she would never forget that night. It was a
fantasy come to life. She moved through the exotic world of the Las
Vegas illusion on the arm of a man who seemed to have materialized from
it They didn't play at the tables, although they occasionally watched
others gamble and spoke softly about the odds of various games, the
house edge, the bewildering variety of people who came to throw their
money away joyously.
Through it all, Alyssa sensed a growing feeling of companionship, a
closeness to this stranger. Jordan Kyle viewed the world oi cards and
dice exactly as she did, as a complex set of problems in probability
that could be manipulated to a certain extent by those rare individuals
who had the intuitive feel for the math involved. Instead of being the
victims of the wild ups and downs of chance that hypnotized the average
player, they were in control of their luck. That single fact proved a
bond. They were different from the rest, a man and a woman with a
shared talent
Jordan Kyle moved in his world with the subtle confidence of a man who
knows he can control it, his firm grip on Alyssa telling her that he
considered her his intellectual mate in this dazzling, glittering
That realization brought up the inevitable question of whether or not
Jordan was also seeking in her another kind of mate.
The question was answered when he took her into his arms on the dance
"Can we talk about the rest of the weekend now?" The rich, dark voice
was a deeply seductive whisper as Jordan pressed his mouth lightiy
against Alyssa's hair. "Or at least the rest of the night? You must
realize by now that I want you, honey."
She was a little startled by the fine trembling she sensed in the hand
that rested possessively against the small of her back. Alyssa doubted
that there was very much that could cause Jordan Kyle to reveal any
inner turmoil he might be experiencing. He'd had far too much practice
wearing the polite, remote facade he used in this dangerous, glittering
world he called home. The knowledge that she had the power to
make his control slip even a little was deeply seductive in itself.
"I'd rather not talk about anything except the present," she breathed.
But her arms lifted to circle his
neck, and her head found a natural place against the charcoal-gray
shoulder of his evening jacket
"Do you think the future will cease to exist just because you insist on
dealing only with the present?" She could feel his strong, sensitive
fingers on her back, moving with ravishing awareness, sending a thrill
of almost feline pleasure up her spine. Such wonderful hands, Alyssa
thought vaguely.
"The future will arrive in due course. Why anticipate it?"
"When you work with probability theory the way we do, Alyssa, the
future is always a factor," Jordan growled half humorously.
"Because the mathematics of chance rest on the concept of an infinite
future?" she teased. "It may be
true that the probable outcome of a spin of the roulette wheel can be
calculated only because there are,
in theory, an infinite number of spins which can be made," she went on
in a lecturing tone. "But I," she added with mocking demureness, "am
not a roulette wheel."
"Meaning I can't possibly calculate my chances of having you in my bed
"Precisely. Save your mental energy for the gambling tables where the
laws of probability apply." Alyssa lifted her head, gray-green eyes
sparkling with mischief. Her lips parted in a gently taunting smile
that drew his gaze like a magnet.
In the next instant, the mockery was being kissed from her mouth.
Jordan had signaled no warning of his intentions, and he found her
mouth vulnerable and invitingly open in the soft curve of a smile. He
seized the opportunity with the single-minded will of a man who
respects the laws of chance too much not to take advantage of a bit of
Alyssa's eyes opened wide as his mouth closed forcefully, warmly over
hers. She hadn't been expecting the kiss; not here, not yet. The future
was upon her.
And it seemed to envelop her. She felt her senses spin, making her feel
rather like a roulette wheel, after all. At the mercy of chance instead
of in control of it, Alyssa could rally no defense. The touch of his
mouth was firm and heated and deeply demanding. She felt unable to do
anything other than let the professional gambler determine the rules of
the game.
Slowly, inevitably, he forced her head back while he explored the
unknown territory behind her lips. As the languid strains of the music
swirled around them on the shadowy dance floor, Jordan probed the
delicate flower of her mouth with his tongue. Even as he mastered her
lips, his exquisitely erotic touch was working magic in the deliriously
sensitive area at the base of her spine.
"Alyssa," he grated against her mouth, "my sweet lady gambler. Do you
know what you do to me?
What you've been doing to me all evening? I've never wanted a woman as
suddenly, as completely,
as I want you tonight"
The barely restrained passion of his words touched her senses as
deliberately as his fingers stroked the curve of her hip, and Alyssa
sighed as her mouth was freed When he feathered the smallest of kisses
on her temple, she turned her lips instinctively against his throat The
shudder that went through him as she began to respond was accompanied
by a husky groan. Jordan's hold on her tightened.
"Jordan?" The question in her single word was fraught with a million
uncertainties, all ancient and all female.
"Hush, sweetheart. There is only the present for you tonight remember?"
Alyssa knew she was being seduced, and she could only wonder at it She
was thirty years old, and never had she experienced anything quite like
this, not even during the short, disastrous period of her marriage to
an awesomely brilliant mathematician. It fascinated and hypnotized and
lured and promised. She had attempted to live a reasonably normal, if
somewhat restrained, social life since her divorce. But always she
maintained a sense of control over any given situation. No, never in
her whole life had she known
the true sensation of outright seduction. Was this the peril involved
when illusion became reality?
The dance slowly drifted to a conclusion, leaving Alyssa feeling as
unsteady as if she had been drinking
far too much. There was no need to worry about how she would make it
back to the table, however; Jordan's arm was anchored securely around
her waist, and she was pinned tightly against the side of his lean,
warm body.
"Another Drambuie for my lady and another Scotch for me," Jordan
murmured to the hovering cocktail waitress as he carefully seated
"Are you plying me with drink?" Alyssa demanded interestedly.
"Don't fret," he said, sitting down next to her and reaching out to
cover her hand with his own. "I don't intend to get you drunk." The pad
of his thumb traced a tantalizing line across the sensitive skin of her
inner wrist When Alyssa silently caught her breath, he cradled her hand
in his fingers and lifted it to his lips for a fleeting caress.
"You've been spending too much time on the Continent," Alyssa informed
him with an attempt at lightness as she retrieved her hand. Propping
her elbow on the table, she rested her chin in the palm
he had just kissed. His eyes met hers, and now she could clearly read
the desire in them.
"Alyssa, are you going to play games with me tonight?"
"Why not? We're both so good at games of chance," she mocked, feeling
an overwhelming desire to
bait and tease. It wasn't at all her normal style, but she was beyond
questioning her own behavior now.
"Ah." He nodded as if he understood exactly what she was doing. "I must
warn you that I feel an overpowering need to win tonight."
"Meaning you might resort to cheating?"
"Will that be necessary?" The eyes of antique gold seemed to shimmer
for a moment as he searched
her expression.
"Yes, no, maybe. Do you expect me to go to bed with you when I hardly
even know you?"
, no, maybe," he retorted
softly. "I only know I want you." He paused "I take that back. I know
something else. I know I need you tonight Come upstairs with me,
"I have a room in this hotel," he explained, watching her intently.
"But I'm staying in the hotel where I met you," she began, feeling
strangely confused by the accelerated pace at which the evening of
illusion was beginning to move.
"You won't need anything. I'll supply everything you ask for tonight
Alyssa. Take a chance and trust
me, honey."
"I never take chances when I can't calculate the odds," she made
herself say deliberately. Yet she was longing to take his hand and go
with him. The sweet desire to abandon herself to fate this evening was
growing with every second that passed
"I can't seem to calculate the odds tonight, either," Jordan drawled
softly, leaning forward to brush the lightest of kisses against the tip
of her nose. "We'll go into this game evenly matched."
"You mean evenly uncertain about the outcome," she countered.
"Haven't you ever wondered what it really means to take a genuine
gamble? One where you can't
predict the final card in the deck?"
"I find the thought a little frightening," she admitted, unable to look
away from his gaze.
"But you're a daring lady gambler, remember? Come with me, Alyssa, and
we'll find out together what chance has in store for us." As if he knew
the depths of the spell he had cast Jordan didn't wait for an answer.
Tossing the cash on the table for the drinks they had not finished, he
stood up and tugged
Alyssa up beside him.
Without another word, he guided her through the lounge, out across the
wide casino floor and over to
the elevators on the far side. In a sensually taut silence, they
traveled to the high reaches of the huge hotel. When the elevator doors
opened onto a wide hallway decorated in the typically ornate Las Vegas
style, Alyssa hung back for a moment Then Jordan was gently crowding
her out into the thickly carpeted halL
"Don't think about the future, sweetheart," he coaxed huskily. "Just
think about how much I need you tonight" His arm around her waist was
binding, the palm of his hand against her hip a heated branding
iron that burned through the thin material of the draped black dress.
"Jordan?" She turned a questioning face up to him as he brought them to
a halt in front of one of the doors.
"You'll have to forgive the room, honey," he said on a note of wry
humor as he shoved the key into the lock. "I didn't have much choice!"
"The room? But I... Oh!"
Alyssa stared in shock as he opened the door and switched on the light
"Oh, my goodness," she managed before the laughter overtook her. "I had
no idea there was anything like this available! My room is quite
"Anything is available in Vegas for a price, but I give you my word I
didn't request this." Jordan grimaced ruefully as he shut the door with
quiet firmness. "The front desk said it was all they had left"
It was undoubtedly some decorator's fantasy of a room devoted to
passion. Everything appeared to be done in red—heavy, plush bordello
red. The bed was round and elevated on a red-carpeted pedestal. There
was a round canopy above lined with a round mirror. Red velvet drapes
framed the view of the endless Las Vegas night, and one wall was done
in mirrors. A wallpaper design in red velvet and gold
foil dominated the opposite wall.
"I'm afraid
go peek in the
bathroom!" Alyssa managed between giggles. The laughter shone in her
eyes as she watched him cross the room toward her. For some reason,
humor was an excellent release
for the tension that had been building within her from the moment when
she had first become aware of those golden eyes. She clung to the
uneasy laughter as if it could save her.
"Equally tacky, I'm afraid," Jordan said regretfully as he fitted his
hands to the bare curve of her shoulders. "No one has ever accused Las
Vegas of having taste. Plenty of flash and glitter but not taste!"
"You're going
stand there
and claim you didn't deliberately request this room for purposes of
seduction?" Alyssa demanded innocently, desperately trying to keep the
small joke alive. Anything
now to stall the inevitable.
A dull red stained the high bones of his cheeks. "Dear God, no! How
could I have guessed I'd be lucky enough to find you tonight?" Jordan
rasped, hauling her close and forbidding any further mockery by sealing
her mouth with his own.
In an instant, the brief flare of humor was gone, evaporated beneath
the heat of Jordan's kiss. Alyssa forgot all about the garish room, the
exotic world of the casino twenty stories beiow, the future and the
past Right now there could only be Jordan Kyle and the passion he was
offering. Illusion or not, Alyssa surrendered to it.
"Jordan, oh, Jordan . . ." His name was a sigh on her lips as he freed
her mouth to begin a fiery trail of stinging kisses down the line of
her throat. Alyssa's questing fingers slid up from the firm breadth of
his shoulders to tangle in the dark depths of his hair. Deliberately,
she drew the frosted flames of her nails through the inviting pelt,
glorying in the shudder that passed from her body through his.
"Don't think about anything else except us," he commanded thickly,
moving his palms heavily along
her slender back. Every inch of her was being molded against the
strength of him, and when he at last cupped the roundness of her
buttocks in his hands and lifted her boldly into his hips, Alyssa
sucked in
her breath.
"I never intended anything like this to happen," she heard herself
whisper dazedly, pressing her face into his jacket The intoxicating
male scent of him tantalized her nostrils. It seemed to be comprised of
a hint
of spicy aftershave and the natural musk of his body.
"I know, sweetheart. I know," he soothed, and then the gently probing
touch of his fingers located the long zipper in the black and silver
dress. The fabric began to part, and Alyssa felt the coolness on her
back as the fastening was slowly undone.
Suddenly, vividly conscious of the mirrors lining the wall behind her,
she stirred in his arms. "Jordan,
wait I... all these mirrors," she ended lamely, not daring to lift her
face from the shelter of his jacket.
"I want to see you. All of you." One hand lifted to circle her throat
and raise her chin. For a timeless moment, his eyes searched hers,
asking questions she couldn't begin to unravel, and then he kissed her.
Under the spell of the deep, drugging kiss, Alyssa stood submissively
as the black gown cascaded lightly over her hips to fall into a soft
heap at her feet Then she remembered the outrageous underwear she had
bought to go with the dress. My God! She must look right at home here
in this gaudy room.
Deeply embarrassed at the thought of how she must appear in the
strapless black silk demibra and infinitesimal panties, Alyssa tried to
step back. The two wisps of enticement were iced in black lace and had
been bought in an attempt to complete her private fantasy. She had
never intended any man to see them!
"What's the matter, honey?" Jordan's fingers moved persuasively,
gentling her as he sensed the shift in her mood.
"These, uh, things," she began awkwardly, flicking a disparaging
gesture down her own almost-nude
body and aware she was blushing rather vividly. "I didn't. . . That is,
I don't want you to think I normally dress like this. I mean, they sort
of went with the gown and ..." Helplessly aware that she wasn't making
much sense, Alyssa lifted pained eyes to meet his.

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