They were sharing a suite, Cara realized, but she didn’t protest. The suite was luxurious, with a giant king sized bed and a couch in the living area for her to sleep on. She could have insisted on her own room now that he no longer needed her help for anything, but she couldn’t leave him, not like this. She wasn’t exactly certain what had happened in the bar, but the effect on Jack had been extraordinary.
He’d lost his temper, something she’d not seen him do even when threatened by Bobby and his men. He’d punched one of Bobby’s guys, yes, but he’d been in control the whole time. The Jack she knew never lost control. But he had just now—spectacularly. She’d thought he was going to launch himself at Jacob. She didn’t know anything about what had happened between them, but clearly it weighed heavily on Jack’s mind. Had done so for years.
Jack stood by the window, hands thrust into his pockets. He hadn’t spoken a word since they’d left the bar.
“Do you want me to order drinks from room service?” she asked. It wasn’t that she needed a drink, but she needed to say something, needed to fill the oppressive silence and see if she could get him talking again.
Anything to get him talking.
He glanced over at her. “Sure.”
“What do you want?” She flipped through the menu, pretending a casualness she didn’t feel. If she seemed normal, maybe he’d relax. Maybe he’d even open up to her. It wasn’t likely, she acknowledged, but it was worth a try.
“Order a bottle of champagne,” he said. “Or whatever you prefer.”
“Champagne is fine.” Cara picked up the phone and dialed room service. She’d never ordered room service in her life, had certainly never stayed in a hotel of this magnificence. The walls were papered in pale blue silk. The chandelier in the center of the suite was an ornate Venetian glass concoction shaped to look like flowers budding from a vase. The glass was multi-hued, beautiful beyond description.
There was a watered silk Chesterfield sofa flanked by two modern leather chairs sitting on the biggest Oriental carpet she’d ever seen. Sleek glass topped tables rounded out the living area. Huge silk panels hung on the windows, held back by ornate tassels.
It was without doubt the most luxurious hotel room she’d ever been inside. While she waited for the champagne to arrive, Cara drifted over to the antique desk. She recognized the style as French because she’d seen furniture like this back in New Orleans. It was polished walnut, inlaid with flowers and scrolls. Cara sank into the upholstered chair and opened the drawers one by one, just for something to do.
A deck of cards lay in the center drawer. She took them out and flipped open the box. The backs had London landmarks on them. Quickly, she shuffled, loving the feel of the cards in her hands. She was good at what she did, damn it. It wasn’t fair that she’d had to leave the way she had, that she might never work in a casino again. Because Bobby had reach, that was a certainty. Not only would he never hire her again, he might also have her blacklisted in every casino she ever tried to work in.
A knock sounded on the door and she got up to answer. A man wheeled in a trolley with a champagne bucket and two glasses. Deftly, he opened the champagne and poured some in each glass. Jack came over and handed the man some cash, and then he was gone.
Cara sipped her champagne and watched Jack. He took his glass over to the window and downed it.
“I found a deck of cards,” she said as she took the bottle over and poured him another drink. “Why don’t we play a hand or two of poker?”
His gaze swung toward her.
“I know you’re used to winning,” she said, “but you’ve never played me. I’ll try not to embarrass you though.”
Jack couldn’t resist a challenge. And she was going to challenge him if that’s what it took. She didn’t know if she could really beat him, but he didn’t need to know she wasn’t confident. She was good at cards, no doubt about it. And she was damn good at bluffing.
“What are the stakes?” he asked, and her heart soared. She’d intrigued him enough to shake him from his brooding.
“If I win, you take me to some awful touristy thing that I’d love, but you hate.”
“I don’t know.” She cast about wildly, thinking of the sort of nutty things they’d had in Las Vegas, before making up something suitable for London. “A Jack the Ripper ghost walk. Or a Henry the Eighth turkey leg banquet.”
He almost grinned, she was certain. “And if I win?”
Cara shrugged. “We go somewhere you want instead.”
“Doesn’t sound like much incentive,” he said, taking a sip of the champagne.
His eyes narrowed, his gaze slipping over her body. Her skin warmed, her nipples tightening beneath the fabric of her dress. Any second and he would know the effect he was having on her.
“I have a better idea,” he said as his eyes met hers again.
“We play for the clothes on our backs. Or we don’t play at all.”