I slowly poured a full glass of bourbon and took my time lighting a good cigar. My gaze never left her eyes as smoke rose toward the ceiling. This high-stakes game was by invitation only—the sole witness a black cat perched on a window sill. In the dim light its eyes shone a malevolent amber.
Candles burned on a shelf behind the woman. With hair dark as a raven’s wing framing a pixie face with green dancing-eyes, it was hard to ignore the near halo surrounding her. A curious malaise settled over me as we stared at each other. She looked… hungry.
“Sarah, I’m curious.”
Her left eyebrow rose a fraction. “Is that your name or a condition?”
My nervous laugh surprised me—the game had a new twist. “My name is Jonas Dent, mayor of Dent City and sheriff of Dent County. Oh, and I’m the presiding judge.”
She inclined her head with a slow nod. “Impressive. I’d heard you elected yourself. And what are all of you curious about tonight?” Her fingers idly played with a lock of hair as she stared at me.
“You’re not wearing enough clothes to wad a shotgun.”
“Then your curiosity should be at an end. As you can see, I’ve nothing to hide.” She held her arms wide and painted lips made a perfect smile—her gaze mocking.
I couldn’t drop my gaze from any path except to her eyes, or I’d forget what I was doing. “I was just wondering…?”
She shook her head and the resulting ripples nearly broke my resolve to watch her eyes. “Come now. You know I’ve won the game.”
A rivulet of sweat ran down the side of my face and I quelled an urge to wipe it away. “That you won has little relevance now. What I’m wondering is where you got that queen of hearts you’re showing. I’m only asking, you understand, because I seem to hold its twin.”
Her head shook again to a slow cadence. A cool, slim finger gently tapped her lips. “You’re accusing me of cheating? That could be a problem.”
The pain in my chest was a grim reminder I’d forgotten to breathe. “I’m thinking more of magic, like one of those circus shows. The only place you could hide a card….” My gaze dropped below her face. Dammit. “Uh… I….”
“Did you lose your thoughts, Mr. Dent? You look confused.” Her hands were folded on the table, fingers nested and calm. “Now, you are accusing me of cheating in this game of chance. Is that correct?”
“Well, not exactly….”
“I’m appalled. After all, I am a lady.” She tossed her cards on the table. “If you can’t play fair, I must withdraw.”
“Me? I can’t play fair?”
Rising from the table she swayed toward a door at the end of the room. Turning, she glanced over her shoulder at me.
“Coming, Jonas? And put out that dreadful cigar. It smells like you’re burning a skunk.”
She’d promised marriage to a witch would never be boring, and she was right. I looked around for my handcuffs—finally heard them jangling behind the door.
A new game?
This was a 500 word challenge put out by Scott Harris for his anthology of 52 stories titled Bourbon and A Good Cigar. Look it up on Amazon for a bunch of fun stories.
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