bluffing with blank cards

the joker and the jack

Ruth Negga as Jacqueline Ogier, the Jack of Spades [x], and Lenora Crichlow as Clover Hargrave, the Joker [x].

[original inspiration from caterinasforzas

“Oh my god, Jackie,” Clover exclaimed, loosening her grip on the baseball bat. “What have I told you about breaking into my apartment after midnight?”

“I think it was along the lines of ‘don’t,’” Jacqueline said wryly, melting out of the shadows. There was a gun in her hand and her lips were slicked with scarlet; Clover swallowed.

“You’re bleeding.”

Jackie shrugged. “He got a good shot in. Then again, so did I.” She pulled something from her pocket and held it up; the empty shell casing gleamed dully in the moonlight. “Mine was rather more lethal.”

Jackie’s blood was very red and her eyes were very dark; Clover could see the sharp lines of her collarbone over the neckline of her shirt. She licked her lips. “When I interviewed you two months ago, you denied any knowledge of Athena Pique’s criminal activities.”

“I remember,” Jackie said with a sharpened grin. “I also remember three months ago, when a gorgeous girl reporter snuck into a Clubs-controlled warehouse and I broke cover to save her from armed thugs.”

“That story would be more romantic if the assassin-slash-spy hadn’t spent the next few weeks breaking into the girl reporter’s apartment and leaving her flowers. And chocolates. And lingerie.”

“Just like Romeo and Juliet,” Jackie murmured, stepping in close enough that Clover could smell the sour, coppery blood on her breath. “If Romeo was a creeper packing heat and Juliet was the anchorwoman who gave Romeo’s boss headaches.”

“I give Athena Pique headaches?” Clover asked, trying not to grin and failing miserably.

“Off the record, you give her migraines,” Jackie laughed. “But…that’s a hell of a death wish you got there, doll.”

“Shows how little you know. You need a death wish to love a woman with blood on her lips,” Clover murmured, and kissed her.

4

Gabriel Mann as Julen Monte, the King of Clubs 

I know what she thinks of me, my darling sister. Her impotent little baby brother, who can’t hold his own in the family business. She’s fond of quoting T.H. White at me–“Might makes Right” she’ll say, with a lazy smile and a new set of bruises. I swear she likes split knuckles and broken noses, getting blood under her nails. As though she doesn’t have a private army at her beck and call…Did Alexander or Napoleon ever march into battle beside their foot soldiers? Might makes right, I agree–but it isn’t the foot soldiers we remember, once the battle’s won. Would you rather be the bullet, or the hand on the gun?

The female of the species is more deadly than the male, so the saying goes–and nothing proves it more true than in the case of the Monte siblings. Despite his blood-relation to Deck City’s foremost crime boss, Julen’s delusions of grandeur and distaste for hands-on violence have left him firmly in his sister’s shadow. He’s entrusted with only minor jobs–handing out assignments, collecting from debtors. Yet Julen still reaps the benefits of power; among his sins are fast cars, expensive clothes, and even more expensive drugs. He is an object of ridicule among the ranks of Clubs–but only, of course, where Argine can’t hear. Whatever her private opinion on her little brother,the Queen of Clubs loves nothing more than blood.

from the infinity-part series, bluffing with blank cards

4

Lee Thompson Young as Alastor Pique, the King of Spades 

My aunt? She’s my aunt. We see one another at Christmas and Easter, laugh about inept perps and malfunctioning home alarm systems. She ribs me about my dating life, for fuck’s sake. The rest of the city might view her as the fearsome Athena Pique, but to me she’s just Auntie A–hell, she was the one who encouraged me to become a detective in the first place. All these rumors about Pike Security, that it’s some kind of…private CIA, or that it’s engaged in some kind of covert war with the police–they’re ridiculous. The last thing the public needs right now is more fear-mongering. Now come on, I thought you said you’d keep this interview light?

The youngest detective in the DCPD, Alastor Pique is nevertheless respected by his co-workers for daring to distance himself from Pike Security and the private sector. What his co-workers don’t know is Alastor was carefully maneuvered into place for purposes beyond upholding of the law. Since taking the position, he has provided his aunt with a steady stream of classified information. As his star ascends in the department, he is given access to more and more information–and his usefulness to Athena and Pike Security increases. It’s a thin line to walk, undercover cop, informant, and nephew to such a powerful force in Deck City, but Alastor has carried off all three.

If you ask those in Athena’s confidence, however, the young detective has better things ahead of him. There are even rumors that he may be next in line for the Spades’ crown…

from the infinity-part series, bluffing with blank cards

4

Anushka Sharma as Lalita Khilani, the Jack of Diamonds 

I was still living in Delhi then, engaged and preparing to become an MP’s wife–to host his parties and uphold his causes, to manage his calendar, to stroke his ego…That was when I first met Ms. Jones. She was chasing down a gemstone rumored to be the little sister of Koh-i-Noor, and needed a translator. I still don’t know why she chose me; I’ve never had the courage to ask. All I know is that I was standing beside her as she mercilessly negotiated for a diamond the size of my fist, settling on a price that could have funded my husband-to-be’s campaign twenty times over. And afterwards, when we were sitting in her limousine, she put this enormous diamond in my hand and told me to consider an advance. I remember thinking how small my engagement ring looked beside it…

So of course I said yes. What else was there to say?

When the Diamond Queen makes money, it is Lalita’s job to spend it. Somewhere between social secretary, PR director, and close confidant, she wields a considerable amount of power over her boss’s affairs. Her primary concern is the public image of the sharp-edged and notoriously demanding Queen of Diamonds–just keeping the number of Adámas Corporation firings out of the papers is job enough. She is also rumored to have encouraged Jones to build the Diamond Suites, Deck City’s most exclusive club and casino. The string of parties, benefits, balls, and galas held there are her handiwork as well–all sponsored by Adámas, of course. Reputations have been made (and ruined) by those invitations, and Lalita is informally referred to as Deck City’s gatekeeper. One word from her opens doors, expands guest lists, funds projects, makes alliances–few of the city’s prominent citizens do not owe her some sort of debt. But the gatekeeper also keeps track of the favors she’s bestowed, and isn’t afraid to cash them in for her Queen’s benefit.

from the infinity-part series, bluffing with blank cards