Home | Forum | Mailing List | Repository | Links | Gallery
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5


Written by Karen Bruce
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 5

I’ve only been in love once in my life, though I’ve been in lust plenty more times than that.

Her name was Belladonna Boudreaux and her parents must have known how she’d turn out when they chose that name for her. Let me paint you a picture: blonde hair, blue eyes, skin the colour of refined gold and a figure that was just made for tight dresses. The creme de la creme of New Orleans’ high society, she had never worked  a day in her life, nor needed to do so, unless you counted the parties she threw. And what parties she threw! They were enough to keep New Orleans supplied with gossip and scandal for weeks. And with all of this - beauty, money, charm - she wanted to marry me.

It would have ruined her. I was the bete noir of a family whose name was pretty black in the first place. We were thieves, to put it bluntly, and everyone knew that the family fortune came from other people’s fortunes. Our marriage would have ruined Belle’s reputation without a doubt. It was already being tarnished by the fact that I was on her arm at every soiree. So, while she was sleeping one night, I climbed out of her bed, walked to the window and never came back. Lord knew I loved her, far too much to destroy her.

I haven’t thought about that night in years, but watching Kate sleep brings it all back to me. She is curled up under the sheets with one  hand beneath her cheek. Her hair with its lucky silver penny streak lies loose of the pillow, and her mouth is curved in a little smile like a child having a happy dream. 

And I start to wonder, if I shouldn’t change that count to two . . . .

“Button me up?” Kate asked Remy, as came to stand in front of him and turned her back to him. She was wearing another of her whore’s dresses - this one was jade-green with black lace trimmings and little jet buttons. He nodded his co-operation, and dutifully began to do up her outfit. It was a pity, he thought absently - her skin was very soft and warm beneath his fingers, and smelt sweetly of prairie grass. Under different circumstances, he wouldn’t have minded taking off her clothes instead of putting them on her. At last, he did up the final button at her neck and stepped back to admire his handiwork.

“You’re beautiful, chere,” he said honestly.

“You’re pretty beautiful yourself,” she laughed, giving his crisp, white suit and silk cravat an approving look, then sobered, “But do you think we’ll pull this off today, sugah? Honestly?”

He saw her doubtful expression and wished he could give her a confident answer that was also an honest one. He had expected this pinch to be hard, and he had not factored Sheriff Logan’s guarding the money into that estimation. The Wolverine’s presence just complicated everything, made the pinch a thousand times more difficult. If they did everything perfectly, they would pull it off, but a single mistake would have both of them dangling from a tree. For the sake of a million dollars, however, he was prepared to take the risk, gamble on his skills and Kate’s. Remy LeBeau might have been no card-sharp, but he was gambler to his bones and the size of the pot always compensated for the lousy odds.

“Oui,” he grinned at her, feeling as low and sneaky as a snake, “We will. An’ now it’s time t’roll de dice.”

Chewing thoughtfully on a plug of tobacco, Sheriff Logan surveyed his surroundings from beneath the brim of his ten-gallon hat. The hotel's saloon was packed with the sort of 'gentleman' gamblers he despised: rich boys with too much time and too many of their daddy's dollars. Almost identical in their crisp suits and their moneyed drawls, they were seated around the tables in little groups, with cards in their hands and piles of polished chips resting in front of them. Brightly-dressed whores flittered between them like bees after honey, dividing winners and losers with a practised eye before deciding on whom to rest their affections. He spat derisively onto the floor next to him.

Despite the size of the pot, this was exactly like every poker tournament at which he had been: hot, noisy and boring. He could tell that there would probably be no trouble here, even if the organisers had warned him that every outlaw and lowlife in the West would try their luck at more than the game. Oh, he might have to throw out a drunken gambler who got too insistent that he had been cheated, or arrest a whore who got a little free with helping herself to a fee for her services, but nothing more than that.

He was almost disappointed.

The Wolverine was a man who lived for a challenge, and no one had come close to giving him one since he had tracked the serial killer Creed across four states and arrested him in a mining-town in California. He had had the wiles of a coyote, and the brute violence of an angry grizzly. The sheriff had almost been sorry to hang him: he knew he wouldn’t soon find another adversary who tested him to his limits and beyond. It seemed he had been right, if even a million dollars couldn’t stir the local lowlifes into action.

He settled back into his chair with a grunt, folding his arms across his chest.  As much as he hated to admit it, it looked like the organisers had been right about there not being much danger to having the money in the room. He knew it was standard practice at these tournaments – gamblers liked to have their eyes on the prize – but he would have been happier if the money had been locked up safely in a vault. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust the protection he provided. Logan had full confidence that he could have kept the money safe in a crowd of thieves, but there was no harm in being doubly safe. The city-slicker banker had agreed, but had said the choice was out of his hands. The organisers insisted on the money being prominently displayed, which was why Logan was currently sitting behind a table that a million dollars in cold, hard cash laid out on it in a leather valise.

A woman’s high laugh suddenly rang out in the room, as clear as chimes. His eyes found her in the crowd and saw it was the little whore who had bumped into him the other day. She was dressed in the same shimmering, once expensive robes, and her black hair fell down her back like an ink-stroke. Looking at her, he could almost see the other woman he had known so many years ago lying next to him in bed like a bronze carving, her slanted eyes half-closed, her belly rising and falling as she breathed. A low growl formed itself in the back of his throat. This was no time to be picking over past wounds – he had a job to do, and would up the proverbial creek if he failed to do it. 

Still, his eyes tracked her as she slipped her arms around one of the gambler’s necks and whispered something in his ear. The man laughed, showing even, white teeth in his red beard. And Logan thought again just how much he hated poker tournaments and the sort of men they attracted.

Trailing her fingers absently over the muscles of Remy’s shoulder and feeling them tense in response, Kate looked at the Wolverine as he sat at a table on the saloon’s stage. He was as she had imagined him – a short, stocky man with scars on his face that spoke of a lifetime of tangling with criminals. One, a livid slash across his nose, puckered the skin of his forehead and gave him the look of being permanently angry. A leather valise containing the money rested on the dark wood in front of him, closed and locked. This was going to be harder than she had imagined.

For a start, there was no way she was going to be able to slip him the drug directly without arousing his suspicion. If she went up to the stage and he started acting strangely moments later, everyone would know it had been her doing and their plan would be laid open like a hung-drawn-and-quartered corpse. Then, there was the challenge of getting the money away without anyone in the room seeing – that was a practical impossibility, considering the hungry looks the gamblers were shooting it every few seconds. Not for the first time since her new partner had proposed it to her, she wondered if she and Remy would be better calling off the whole scheme. A million dollars weren’t any use to someone shut up in jail or hanging from the gallows tree.

As Remy took another card from the dealer with a smile and slipped it into his hand, she wrapped her arms around his neck and nipped his earlobe, murmuring, “Ah say we call this off, sugar.”

Turning to bury his head in her neck, he muttered, “We’ll pull this off, chere. Trust me. Just get Logan de drug, and I’ll make sure dere’s enough of a diversion for you to be able to get away wit’ de money without anyone being suspicious.”

“You’re not the one takin’ the risk,” she whispered reproachfully, as she broke away from him and gave the rest of the table a dazzling smile. The other gamblers returned it with grins and nods of their own, evidently unsuspicious of the contents of the conversation that had just passed between them. They had no reason to be – kissing and canoodling the entertainment were as much a part of the tournaments as playing cards was,  “But we’ll play this your way.”

She looked around herself, trying to find a way of getting the drug to Logan that would not arouse anyone’s curiosity. For that to work, she could not be seen anywhere near him or the stage. That meant, she had to get another person to give it to him, without that person being aware of what they were doing. It was a tricky challenge, but no trickier than some of the other pinches she had managed to pull off in the past. She had once taken the ring of a married man’s finger without him missing it until she was long gone. Of course, once she was, she guessed he had been too ashamed to take out a bounty on her head. It would have meant explaining to his wife exactly why he had been playing around with a whore in the first place when he should have been minding their store.

Her eyes settled on one of the barmaids, carrying pitchers of beer on a tray and walking between the tables. From time to time, they paused to hand them out to the gamblers who asked for them, and to tuck the money they received in exchange into the top of their corsets. Her lips pursed thoughtfully, as she watched them. If she played it just right, one of those beers could yet be worth a million dollars to her. . . .


GambitGuild is neither an official fansite of nor affiliated with Marvel Enterprises, Inc.
Nonetheless, we do acknowledge our debt to them for creating such a wonderful character and would not dream of making any profit from him other than the enrichment of our imaginations.
X-Men and associated characters and Marvel images are © Marvel Enterprises, Inc.
The GambitGuild site itself is © 2006 - 2007; other elements may have copyrights held by their respective owners.