“Money’s gone,” Sara said, collecting the toothpicks from the pot of our poker game. I’d been close to Sara and her boyfriend Kevin ever since we worked together at the video store in college. She was crashing on my couch because she had an interview at a fancy L.A. fashion school in the morning, and I had an apartment in The Valley.
“Pass ’em out,” I said. “Let’s do it again.”
“No more toothpicks,” she said. The sleeve of her blouse had shifted during the game, revealing a pink bra strap. I fought the urge to stare. Kevin knew that Sara and I had chemistry, but so far I had honored his trust. One of us was a fool.
“Then what?” I said.
“Wanna play strip?”
Her eyes gleamed, but my conscience burned inside me, and I looked around as if her boyfriend might suddenly leap from behind the couch.
“And Kevin?” I said, my muscles tensing.
“Tell you what,” she said. “One hand of Black Jack. If you win, we will and if I win we won’t.”
I nodded. The pink strap smoldered.
She dealt the first two cards, one each, upside down.
Then another card: a black seven on her pile, face up.
She flicked her wrist, the pink strap danced, and suddenly I was staring at a Jack of Hearts.
Our eyes met. The pink strap beckoned.
When I finally spoke, my voice came out husky and rough.