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Chapter 3 - Nike and Leonard

After the credits rolled, the two of them made their way to a nearby cafe.

The coffee shop had a relaxed, peaceful atmosphere, but the mood between them was anything but.

Halle was furiously stuffing herself full of parfait (which Jack had been forced to buy her, of course), while he could only sit by and watch in horrified fascination.

It was her third.

'I cannot BELIEVE you! Your first time going to see a movie and you fall asleep?!' she said around mouthfuls of cream and fruit.

Jack tried to sidestep her outrage and instead gestured to the remains of the dessert. 'You all done there? Had enough?'

'I'll decide when I've had enough!' she snapped, glaring over the rim of the glass.

He raised his hands in surrender. Jack knew from experience that there was nothing he could do when she was in a mood like this. Anything he said would just make it worse, and weathering the storm was the best he could hope for.

Of course, Halle knew exactly what he was trying to do, and that just made her angrier. Her glare grew more pointed.

'I see you haven't gotten any better at understanding women's hearts, Jack,' said a female voice at Jack's elbow. He started. How long she had been there, he didn't know.

Halle opened her mouth to say something, but when she beheld the owner of the voice nothing came out.

It was a woman in her late twenties. She had delicate, youthful features and yet exuded the allure of a much more mature woman. Her hair was wavy and platinum blond, and she wore a glamorous red dress that was open at the front, displaying her generous bosom to its best advantage.

It was a level of seductiveness Halle knew she would never be able to achieve.

What had stolen her breath wasn't the woman's attractiveness, however. It was the fact that she was the very actress who had played the heroine in the movie they had just watched.

'Hello there,' the woman purred. 'The name's Nike. I' actress, I suppose. It's nice to meet you, Halle. And nice to see you again, Jack.♥'

Jack squirmed under her dazzling smile.

'Do you know her?' Halle asked him.

'Yeah...' Jack said, not meeting her gaze. 'We go back a while.'

The woman's eyes twinkled. 'Such a cold-hearted man... You could be a LITTLE happier to see me after all this time, you know.'

'So she's King's daughter, then, huh?'

Jack and Halle turned to see a man in an expensive suit approaching their table. He seemed to be with Nike.

'It's a pleasure to meet you, Halle,' the man continued. 'My name is Leonard.' Then he addressed Jack.

'It's been seven years, I believe? Good to see you again, too, Jack.'

'Hey, Leonard.'

Jack's reply was casual, but the tone conveyed great respect, as if addressing a superior. The power balance between the two of them was immediately clear to Halle from that alone.

Leonard was a man in his late thirties, roughly five years Jack's senior. They had both learned together under King, but being the younger of the two, Jack had come to treat the other man deferentially, much like he had his former teacher.

Unlike Jack, however, Leonard had given up the gambling life and moved on to playing a new 'game.' Now he was an up-and-coming politician, regularly featured on the front pages of newspapers and well known to the people of Calvard.

An actress and a politician... The two of them certainly stood out. Several other customers seemed to realize who they were, and before long, all eyes in the room were on them.

Nike sighed. 'Ugh... This is why I hate this job sometimes.'

'Haha. You know you love the attention,' Leonard replied with a grin. 'It does, however, make this place a bit difficult to talk in... Mind coming with us, Jack?'

Knowing full well he couldn't possibly refuse, Jack shrugged and stood up from his seat.