Home > Devilish Game (Shadow Guild: The Rebel #4)(10)

Devilish Game (Shadow Guild: The Rebel #4)(10)
Author: Linsey Hall

Bluff.

The knowledge blasted into me. I couldn’t see his cards, but the man was definitely bluffing.

“Well?” The dealer leaned toward me, his brows raised in question. “Fold or raise?”

I looked at Atticus, my lips pursed in thought. His gaze met mine, and the corner of his mouth quirked up in a smile. “Well?”

“Raise. One hundred and fifty thousand.” My voice wanted to tremble when I said the words, but I suppressed it.

Atticus grinned knowingly and laid his cards face down on the table. “Fold.”

I smiled and swept my winnings toward me, unable to believe that so much money was represented by little bits of plastic.

Next to me, the poodle growled low in its throat.

Shit.

I looked down at it, catching the menace in its eyes. The little bastard was onto me.

The old woman frowned at me, her pink lipstick matching her dress to perfection. She was about to accuse me—I could just feel it—when Cordelia appeared beneath the table.

I nearly jerked, surprised to spot the raccoon on the floor. My little sidekick reached up and grabbed the poodle’s tail underneath the table.

Say anything, and I’ll make you into my dinner. I do so love Poodle Fricassee. The threat in her voice was obvious, and the poodle stopped growling.

The woman, who hadn’t noticed Cordelia, looked down when she realized that her dog had quieted.

“You’re sure?” she asked the poodle.

The little dog glanced under the table at Cordelia, fear in its eyes. It nodded, and the older woman shot me a glare, then shrugged. “False alarm.”

Cordelia disappeared, and the poodle relaxed. It still kept its gaze on me, but it didn’t look like it was going to rat me out anytime soon.

“Madame Feriama’s poodle is an excellent detector of cheats,” Anton said smoothly.

My skin chilled, and I nearly fell out of my chair. Instead, I just barely managed to raise my eyebrows in a calm expression of interest. “You don’t say?”

“Indeed.” Anton watched me with interest.

“Next hand.” Atticus grinned widely. “Let’s not dawdle, I’m getting no younger.”

I glanced at him, surprised. He clearly had my back, trying to get Anton’s attention off me. His gaze flicked between the table and me.

He knows what I’ve done.

I smiled brilliantly, hoping it would throw him off. He huffed a small laugh, then turned toward the dealer as the cards were passed out.

The game continued uneventfully—or as uneventfully as it could when so much money was on the table. The woman and her poodle bowed out, and then it was just me, Grey, Anton, and Atticus.

Unfortunately, Atticus didn’t seem like he was going to throw in the towel any time soon. The stakes just kept getting higher and the hour later, my concern for the kidnapping victims only growing.

Anton won another hand, then Atticus. Anton turned to one of the guards, his attention diverted from the table as he ordered another drink.

I glanced at the thief next to me, then gambled. I leaned close and murmured, “Don’t you have some back hallways to sneak through?”

His brows rose slightly, and a tiny smile quirked the corner of his mouth. “Insightful, aren’t you?”

“Yes. And I’ll keep him occupied while you go and get about your business.”

“You’re not here for poker, are you?” His words were so soft and quiet against my ear that no one could hear them.

His posture, however, was another matter altogether. He was leaning close to me, his big shoulders curved inward like he was protecting me and his mouth close to my ear. It was a bullhorn that shouted We’re flirting.

It was good cover and a smart move, despite the frown lines that cut deeply around Grey’s mouth. Better for Anton to think we were flirting than conspiring against him.

And I wasn’t supposed to be with Grey anyway.

“I’m not,” I murmured back to Atticus. “And neither are you. So, go do your business while we do ours.”

“Ours?” His gaze flicked to Grey, and he nodded. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Several hands later, after winning a sum of money that would buy me a nice flat in London, Atticus departed the table with a wave.

I caught Grey’s eye.

It was time.

7

Grey

I watched Atticus rise and leave the table, something loosening inside me to see him putting distance between himself and Carrow.

I shouldn’t care.

I knew I shouldn’t. Not just because of the curse, but because she wasn’t mine. No matter how much my soul screamed it, she wasn’t.

My gaze lingered briefly on Carrow, unable to resist her beauty. She pressed her fingertips to the golden charm at her throat, contacting Mac.

It was time.

“Well, it’s just the three of us now, isn’t it?” Anton’s eyes glittered with the thrill of the hunt.

I’d never enjoyed poker—too often it sat you next to the likes of Anton. I didn’t let it show on my face, however, and gave the bastard my best bland smile.

“Are you sure you aren’t here for other reasons, Devil?” Anton asked.

Of course I was.

I rarely joined him at his table, and only when I wanted something. My gaze flicked to Carrow. “My lovely companion enjoys the game.”

“She is quite talented.” The gleam in his eyes made me want to tear his head off and feed it to the old woman’s poodle.

I tightened my grip on my cards, pulling myself back at the last moment to keep from crushing them.

“And I’m going to beat you.” Carrow smiled mysteriously. “You won’t even see it coming.”

Anton leaned forward. “I quite like you.’

And I’d quite like to smash your face in. I looked at the dealer. “Next hand, please.”

As much as I didn’t enjoy poker, I’d rather play it than watch Anton leer at Carrow. The man turned his attention back to me as he idly took his cards. “What is your true purpose for being here?”

I thought quickly, needing a reason. He’d never believe that I was just indulging Carrow’s whims for poker. “I’m looking into starting an export business. Magical arms.”

I didn’t generally deal in weapons—or at least I was extremely cautious who I sold to—but Anton had his fingers deep in that pie. It was a particular interest of his, arming petty warlords in developing magical communities.

“Oh?” Anton’s brows rose.

“Yes. I thought we might find a mutually beneficial arrangement.”

“Why not discuss it at a meeting with me?”

I gestured to the table. “I know how you enjoy this.”

“Wanted to put me in a good mood, did you?”

“You could say that. And I wasn’t willing to wait to speak with you.”

“Ah, yes.” He steepled his fingers in front of his face. “I am rather hard to get ahold of.”

He made people wait for the hell of it, as a way to establish dominance. It was a petty trick that didn’t work on me.

At the edge of the room, a server entered, a tray balanced on her shoulder.

Mac, thank fates. She looked different, with long red hair and a round face. The potion she’d taken had worked wonders to change her into Anton’s usual server, though I could see the hint of green eyes that looked like her.

Carrow carefully kept her gaze on her cards as Mac approached and leaned down to serve Anton his drink. He leered at her and smacked her on the arse. I clenched my fist, barely resisting the urge to beat him. Ire flashed in Mac’s eyes, and her hand twitched.

We both ignored him, and she disappeared out of the room. Anton took a sip immediately, then another. His eyes went slightly hazy, and I felt it when the spell that protected him broke. Almost as if a window into his mind had been opened, and now I could see inside.

Carrow’s gaze scanned the room and, swiftly, I did the same, taking in the guards who stood at the edges. They were far enough away that they couldn’t hear, and as long as Anton didn’t signal them, we were in good shape.

“Anton, care to tell me what your hand is?” I smiled at him.

“An ace and a two.” Truth rang in his voice.

“Excellent.” I laid my cards on the table, no longer interested. “Where are the kidnapping victims?”

Real confusion flickered in his eyes. “Kidnapping victims?”

“The ones that your men have taken. Red eyes that flicker like flame. You’re the only one who uses minions like that.”

“Ah.” Understanding dawned in his eyes. “That job.” He shrugged. “I do not know.”

“Yes, you do,” Carrow snapped.

Anton’s gaze moved to her, irritation flickering in his eyes, the faint fog disappearing from the irises.

“Anton, look here.” I imbued my voice with my magic, drawing his attention to me.

He turned back, his eyes foggy once more. I shot Carrow a quick look and shook my head. It needed to be my voice asking the questions, otherwise he might fall out from under my spell. She scowled but nodded.

I turned to Anton. “You’re saying that someone hired you to kidnap those people?”

Anton nodded. “Indeed.”

“Who?”

He shrugged, bored. “No idea.”

“You don’t care where the money came from?”

“Of course not. It all spends the same.”

He was right about that, and I often felt the same. Unfortunately, it didn’t help me at all here. I focused on the biggest questions. “Are the victims alive?”

Disinterest gleamed in Anton’s eyes, along with confusion. He was fighting the pull of my voice, though ineffectively. He shrugged. “The orders were to bring them alive and unharmed, so I assume so.”

“Where to?”

“That, I also do not know. My men are given transport charms with a specific end destination that they do not know. Once they have the target and deliver them using the charm, their memory is wiped. None of the four can remember a thing.”

   
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