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head, clearly enchanted. "As would I. Your accent is curious. Where are you from, if I may ask?"

"I was raised by a Human." Though Carvin was young, she handled herself well.

"Ah. That explains your delightfully direct manner. We Centauri play far too many games between men and women."

"I've always found sex far too enjoyable to postpone with games." She picked up one of her chips, ran her thumb over it in a circular motion. "Yet games, too, have their place. They are a great measure of character. I can tell by gambling with a man whether I'd enjoy having sex with him."

The dealer was beginning a new game, and Carvin tossed in her ante while Londo tried to get his mouth to close.

"Will you play?" Carvin asked.

Londo roused himself. "By all means, dear lady."

"I'm glad," she said. "But I must tell you, I'm no lady."

Five players were in the game. The first few hands passed uneventfully. Carvin bet heavily and lost. Londo bet more modestly, folding each time before Carvin. He had to keep rechecking his cards, unable to concentrate.

Then Londo seemed to get a good hand, raising several times, until only he and Carvin remained in the game.

Londo pushed a stack of chips into the center of the table, raising a hundred credits. "And what kind of gambler do you prefer?"

As he drew his hand back, she brushed hers against it. "The kind who is fearless." She pushed a pile of chips to the center, raising by two hundred.

Vir came up behind Londo, his timing nearly perfect. "I should have known. Here I am risking my life for you, and you're off-being you!"

"Vir! Never sneak up on someone playing poker. How many times have I told you that?"

Vir raised his hands in a placating gesture, bowing slightly. "I know. I'm sorry. I'm just a little rattled
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