~14~ fun and games

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“Snap!” My hand slaps against the cards on the table. 

I stick my tongue out at him. Claude blinks and swears. His lovely wife Margot would smack his head in if she heard him now…

Anyway, his large bear of a hand was nowhere near the heap of cards. Ha!

“Give me the chocolate. Pay up.”

Puzzled, the groundsman scratches his grey whiskers. His watery grey eyes inspect the two aces.  

“Hmm,” He reluctantly tosses a bunch of fruit and nut bars at me, “Don’t blame me if you develop diabetes, you little she-devil.”

Why are most males such sore losers? It’s just a game. Claude wanted to play Bridge or Rummy (Margot banned him from playing Poker) but he knows I always lose. Every. Time. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to act as his tea-girl. He always complains when I make him his tea. The tea bag has to be brewed for a specific amount of time. Then I have to add a dash of milk. At least three teaspoons of sugar has to be thrown in the mix too. And don’t get me started on the placement of the Viennese biscuits…

Claude’s a nightmare boss. But he’s known me since I was small, so I allow him.

“Another round?” He gathers up the cards and shuffles them.

I stretch my arms. “Yeah. Why not. Same stakes?” 

“No…” A crafty smile passes across Claude’s worn, weathered features, “I thought we’d try something different.”

We usually deal in chocolate. Claude stopped dealing in cash when he blew 200 euros on one game of chess with me. That was a good day — a very good day… 

I still have photos of his devastated face on my phone — I usually shove it at him when he makes me dust his office every so often.

“Sounds intriguing…” I chew thoughtfully on my bottom lip.

“If you win this round, I’ll reduce your workload.”  

“Are you serious? What’s the small print?”

“No small print, Amelie,” he shakes his head with a smile, “I’m doing this out of the generosity of my own heart…”

Claude’s never usually this nice. But I’m not one to refuse a good offer. “Yeah, yeah. Keep telling yourself that.”

“Claude’s a man of his word, Van Hoff,” His voice sends a shockwave through me.

My eyes fall on the doorway — Navarro is casually leaning against the frame, arms crossed over that broad, strong chest. Why can’t his arms be crossed around me instead? I could warm him up, no problem…

He’s wearing a crisp blue shirt which is slightly open at the collar, showing a tantalising glimpse of smooth, bronze skin. His shirtsleeves are rolled up, exposing his toned forearms. Obviously a man of action. A five o’clock shadow adorns that chiselled jawline. His pink, alluring lips have the ghost of a smile. They’re so tempting — I could suck on them. Lightly nip at that plump bottom lip until he starts to whimper with longing. Wouldn’t that be fun…

“Are we in or out?” Claude starts to deal out the cards rapidly.

My cheeks are flushed. He always has this affect on me. I want to wallow in a pool of resentment — I’ve got to accept I can’t have him. “Yeah — go on.”

He probably doesn’t even think about me half as much as I think about him. He consumes my thoughts. Dad’s always saying how wild my imagination is. When I dream about him, it’s untameable. My body breaks out into a torrent of enticing sensations. How can someone who treats me like sh!t most of the time hold such sway over my emotions? His sexy brown eyes are as smooth as velvet. Luxurious but out of my reach. I don’t want the fruit and nut chocolate — I want to dive into his eyes. My throat tightens as Navarro’s gaze focusses on mine for a brief moment. It’s like there’s an invisible barrier between us.

“Dammit,” Claude grunts and sets his stack of cards down on the table, “Time out. I have to fetch something…”

He pushes himself up and snatches his jacket off the back of his chair.

“I’ll take your place,” The coach offers.

Claude slaps him on the back as he leaves the office. “Good, good. Be back in five.”

Navarro settles down into Claude’s seat. From this short distance, I can smell  that seductive, subtle, woody cologne. It’s warm. Familiar. I could inhale his scent for eternity. 

After briefly shuffling the cards, his eyes look up. There’s a twinkle of amusement in those brown depths. Gradually, an impenetrable steely expression comes over his face. 

I’m resolved to beat him. If I can beat sly Claude with all his old man tricks, I can surely defeat Navarro. Child’s play.

A half-smile pushes up the corner of his lips. “Are you ready?”

“That’s obvious,” I scoff, “But a more appropriate question is, are you?”

“You speak too soon, Van Hoff.”

A/N: Please VOTE, COMMENT and SHARE! Thanks! :) Who do you think will win the game? Amelie or Coach? :D Dmitri


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