Read Gambler's Woman Online

Authors: Jayne Ann Krentz

Gambler's Woman (6 page)

"I'll bet you did." He grinned suddenly. "A man would have his work cut
out for him training you to
start asking again, wouldn't he?"
"Damn right," she muttered, hovering between excitement and annoyance.
She had never met a man
like Jordan Kyle, and the magic of last night was persisting. She
couldn't seem to shake his spell.
"Would you mind if we continued this interrogation after
breakfast?  I'm hungry."
"I'll feed you after you answer my question," he growled softly.
"Jordan," she sighed, "I can't see that any of your questions matter
very much. We've only known each other a few hours, and after this
weekend, we'll never see each other again." Alyssa found herself
defensively wanting to be the first to put the truth into words. "But
since I'm hungry and since you're a
lot heavier than I am, I will tell you that at the moment my social
life is very casual, to say the least. No, there is no one who will
wonder where I am this weekend and worry about it"
He studied her carefully for several seconds and then nodded once in
satisfaction. "Okay, that much is settled. I guess we can get ready to
go have breakfast. Come and see the tacky shower."
He started to lever himself up off her body, and without pausing to
think about it, Alyssa put out a hand and touched his bare shoulder. He
turned back to her at once. "What about you?" she heard herself ask,
her voice sounding strained. Suddenly, it was she who had to have some
answers.
Jordan tilted his head thoughtfully, a smile appearing on his mouth. "I
was beginning to think you didn't care enough yet to inquire. No,
sweetheart, there's no one else. Professional gamblers seldom acquire
much in the way of family or permanent women."
She caught her breath. "Well, that's honest enough, at least." This
really was going to turn out to be a one-weekend affair. But, then,
she'd realized that from the beginning, hadn't she? Summoning up an
incredible amount of bravado, she managed a smile. "If you're sure
you're not going to abscond with
my winnings from last night, I suppose you might as well let me at the
tacky bathroom."
He grinned, looking suddenly like a man who is quite happy and somewhat
surprised to find himself
in that state. Alyssa wondered how much happiness and contentment was
generally allotted to professional gamblers. As a fantasy, the gambling
world was exciting and intriguing, fascinating to drop
in on now and then. But as a way of life?
"That must have been something of a shock, waking up to find me going
through your wallet" He
ducked his head and kissed her lightly on the forehead. "I'm sorry,
honey. To make up for it, I'll do
more than let you at the tacky bathroom. I'll help you take your
shower."
"Thanks! Talk about tacky!"
But it was too late to complain. He had already whipped back the gold
sheet and reached down to lift
her into his arms. Alyssa yelped in protest, but he ignored her,
striding across the red carpet to the red
and gold bathroom, which was another hall of mirrors. Alyssa had had a
brief glimpse last night of the small figures of naked women from which
the water flowed in the sink. She had also noted the oversized shower,
which had obviously been designed for two people and came complete with
seats. She had the distinct impression that turning Jordan loose in the
exotic room in his present mood was just asking for trouble.
She was right It was another hour before they went down to breakfast.
"I'd have ordered room service, but it tends to be rather slow in these
huge hotels," Jordan explained cheerfully as they finally sat down to
eat in the twenty-four-hour coffee shop. "And I'm starving."
"I'd have thought they would have things like room service down to a
fine art," Alyssa observed, sipping gratefully at a cup of tea.
"That's just it; they do have it down to an art here in Vegas." Jordan
chuckled, glancing at his menu. "They're well aware of the fact that
slow room service drives people downstairs to get something to eat
or drink."
"Ah, I get it. And once downstairs, they have to walk through the
casino to get to a restaurant or a bar."
"Exactly. You can't get anywhere in this hotel or any of the other big
ones without going through the casino. A fine art."
Even at this early hour, the tinkle of slot machines out on the
gambling floor was audible. Some of the card tables were closed, but
several were in use, and a dedicated crowd of gamblers had obviously
made an early start on the day. Or perhaps they had never gone to bed
last night, Alyssa decided. With a wry smile, she glanced down at the
black and silver dress she'd been forced to put on this morning.
"I've got to get back to my hotel. I look like one of those seedy
gamblers who never made it home last night," she groaned.
Casual in a cotton button-down-collar shirt done in a conservative pin
stripe and a pair of khaki chinos, Jordan didn't look at all seedy, she
had decided earlier as she covertly watched him dress. His dark hair
was clean and damp from the shower, and there was an easy, relaxed air
about him this morning that belied his profession. Sitting across from
him in her evening gown, Alyssa felt very much a lady of the night who
hadn't made it back to her own bed. Which was, she reminded herself
grimly, exactly the case.
"Stop worrying about how you look," Jordan advised dryly. "No one will
even notice here."
But he caught a cab for them back to her hotel after breakfast, anyway,
because, he said, he wanted her to get a swim suit "I thought we could
spend the afternoon by the pool," he explained as they rode the
elevator up to her room. "Have to gather our energy so we can go to
work tonight. I figure with both of us on the job, you'll have your
thousand bucks by around midnight, and then we can knock off and take
in one of the big lounge shows."
Alyssa froze, her key in the lock of the door. "What do you mean, 'both
of us on the job'? Jordan, I don't need your help in getting the money
for my Porsche." Somehow she wanted to make that very clear.
His smile faded as he took in the stubborn expression in her eyes. "I
know you don't need my help, but
it will speed things up considerably if you let me give you a hand."
It was true, of course. Alyssa made it a rule to keep all of her wins
on a small scale in order to avoid suspicion. Working alone, it would
take most of that night and Sunday to gather the thousand dollars. With
Jordan's help, it could be done in a much shorter iirne. But the
thought of taking money from him after spending the weekend in his bed
went against her grain.
"No, Jordan. Please. I don't want any help." She twisted the key
violently in the lock and pushed at the door, not looking at him.
He caught her shoulder as she stepped into the room, spinning her
around to face him as the door clicked shut behind them. His tawny eyes
blazed down at her, all trace of his easy, relaxed mood gone. The
infinitely skilled fingers proved as knowledgeable in the art of subtle
punishment as they were in dealing cards or giving pleasure. He didn't
quite hurt her, but Alyssa found herself not daring to move. It crossed
her mind that Jordan Kyle would be a very dangerous man under certain
circumstances.
"Alyssa, I'm not trying to pay you for this weekend," he said bluntly.
She drew in a breath. "That's what it would seem like you were doing,"
she said carefully.
"That's ridiculous."
"Is it?"
"You know damn well it is!" he retorted.
"I hardly know you at all, Jordan. That's just the point," Alyssa said
with unnatural calm. "And I'd rather not take money from you. Let me
rephrase that. I won't take money from you. Do I make myself very
clear?"
The fingers on her bare shoulder dug a little deeper, and the hard
lines of his face seemed to have been etched in steel. "Oh, yes. You
make yourself very clear. It's quite clear that you're being stubborn,
illogical and overly sensitive, but if you insist on behaving like
that—"
"I do."
"Then I'll let you get away with it For a while." He freed her shoulder
with an obvious effort at self-control and glanced around the hotel
room. "Now why don't you change your clothes so that we
can stop wasting the day."
Hiding a sigh of relief, Alyssa obeyed. She felt as if she'd had a
rather narrow escape, although she
wasn't precisely sure what she had avoided.
Her weekend Las Vegas wardrobe included a sleek, strapless maillot
diagonally striped in black and white and piped at the upper edge in
crimson. Over it, she wore an overscaled white cotton cover-up that she
had bought a week earlier. Styled with push-up sleeves and a red sash,
it fell to her knees and doubled as a casual dress. When she reappeared
from the bathroom, Jordan's eyes flickered with approval, and he
inclined his head in a gravely polite manner.
"Does anyone back in Ventura know the real you?" he asked whimsically.
"No one knows how I've been spending my weekends lately, if that's what
you mean," she admitted.
And what a disaster it would be if anyone did!
"Not exactly, but we'll let it pass for now. Come on, my sweet business
associate. Let's go find a pool
and prepare ourselves for a hard night's work."
That evening, after dinner, when Alyssa walked into the first casino on
Jordan's arm, she did so with a whole new appreciation for the fantasy.
It was infinitely more enjoyable sharing it with a man who truly
belonged in this world, she decided.
"Do you ever feel like a marauding shark swimming through a casino and
taking a bite here and there?" Alyssa demanded laughingly as she joined
Jordan after he'd walked out of a poker game with a discreet pile of
chips.
He looked down at her and smiled faintly. "Sometimes. How are you
doing?"
"Okay. I'm going to play a little more blackjack and then quit for the
evening."
"I've made enough tonight to put you over the top of your goal," he
reminded her quietly.
"I'm on schedule," she retorted firmly.
"All right. Have it your way. I don't want you lying in my arms tonight
thinking I've somehow paid
you to be there!" Jordan muttered half violently.
She slid a slanting glance up at his set face and decided not to say
anything further on the subject. She had won the small battle, and that
was enough for now.
He watched her play with silent approval, and Alyssa found herself
enjoying the admiration of a peer.
It was a novel experience, and when she picked up her chips and walked
away from the blackjack table, she was feeling deliciously contented
They caught the midnight cabaret in the show room of Jordan's hotel,
and afterward he led her into a
nearby lounge for a nightcap. The evening had been perfect as far as
Alyssa was concerned, and he
must have seen the pleasure in her eyes.
"To the only woman I've ever met with whom I can truly discuss my
work," he saluted her, smiling as
he took a sip of the brandy he had ordered for both of them. Then he
set down the snifter and asked evenly, "You'll be coming back to Vegas
next weekend, of course?"
A strange tension gripped her as Alyssa faced him across the small
table. She hadn't been expecting
the question. Her mind had been on the present, just as it had been the
night before. For a woman who made a living using statistics to predict
future events, she had been doing a remarkably good job of ignoring her
own future.
"Why do you say, of course?" she countered as lightly as possible.
"Because at the conservative rate you're working, you've got quite a
way to go before you have the
down payment on that red Porsche. Vegas is the closest source of easy
money for you, so I assumed you'd be coming here rather regularly for a
while. Right?" He leaned back casually in his chair, his eyes never
leaving her face. She felt as if she were a deck of cards he had
shuffled and was now about to
play with. It was not a comfortable sensation.
"Well, yes, I had planned on returning soon," she agreed hesitantly.
"Don't bother with hotel reservations," he said politely. "You'll be
staying with me."
She held her breath. Part of her wanted to give way to the thrill of
happiness that accompanied the notion of seeing him again the following
weekend. But another part of her advised caution. The whole situation
was so unreal, so much a fanstasy for her, that she couldn't analyze it
properly. That knowledge alone should inspire a great deal of care, she
told herself.
"You're going to be here next weekend?" she hedged
"I'll be here for at least another couple of weeks. Then I'll be going
to Oregon."
"Your home?"
"As much of a home as I've got, yes," he agreed dismissively. "When
will you be arriving? Friday night? I'll pick you up at the airport"
He was rushing her, crowding her into agreement, not giving her a
chance to think. She knew what he was doing and had a hunch he did,
too. The catch was that she wanted to be hurried along. The lure of
spending another fantasy weekend with this man was almost irresistible.
"Do you really want me to spend another weekend with you?" she
whispered, her eyes shining.
"You know the answer to that. I want you, Alyssa. I've never tried to
make a secret of that fact. What about you? Do you want the time with
me?"
Alyssa was unable to hold the golden eyes. Her own gaze dropped to the
snifter in her hand as she whispered the truth. "Yes."
"Then we'll make your flight reservations tomorrow when I take you to
the airport. Next Friday
evening, I'll be waiting for you." There was a note of fierce
satisfaction in his dark voice.
"Same room?" Alyssa found the courage to tease him.
"I'll see if I can find another one even more interesting to surprise
you with," he promised.
"Oh, no! The one you have is quite surprising enough, thanks!"
"Then why don't we go on upstairs and discover whatever else it has to
offer?" he suggested deliberately, setting down his glass with an air
of finality and getting to his feet
She sensed the male decision in him. He was more than ready to carry
her off to bed, and wrapped as
she was in the magic of the illusion, Alyssa could not have protested
if she had wanted to do so. Obediently, she allowed him to take her arm
and guide her out of the cocktail lounge.

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