[BookStrand Contemporary Romance]
The odds of developing the committed relationship she longs for with Las Vegas playboy, Lucas Smyth, are a long shot Casino Niagara security supervisor, Cassidy Malone, wouldn't take even if she were a betting girl. But life has dealt her enough bad hands lately. She feels entitled to indulge in the lavish attention Lucas offers.
While Cassidy investigates the unfamiliar pleasures of no-strings sex, Lucas investigates her! When her heart starts straying with her hormones, will she be able to forgive him for discovering facts that cause her to lose her job? Falling in love is the most high-stakes game she's ever played, but if she risks it all, could she hit the jackpot?
A BookStrand Mainstream Romance
5 STARS: "From the beginning, this book hit the ground running. The sex is great. This is a sultry romance. Enjoy a guilty pleasure; indulge in this book." -- Ashley Turlington, Review Your Book
4.5 BOOKMARKS, Voted Best Book of the Week by LASR Readers: "This book is full of love, laughter, tears, and frustrations as both her main characters work their way through the blockades that threaten to keep them apart. She never disappoints. This is another book well worth reading." -- Fennel, Long and Short Reviews
Lucas eased away from her. For a second, he wondered who she implied was unworthy of loyalty, Cass or Kyle. When he caught sight of Cass, the thought flew from his mind. All he could think about was how much he wanted her. Right now, but definitely not right here.
He tugged his chair close to hers before he sat down. “Mission accomplished,” he sighed with what might appear to be exaggerated relief, but wasn’t really exaggerated at all.
Cassidy eyed him curiously. “Do you know her well?”
“Probably better than Kyle does,” Lucas confessed dryly. “Why do you ask?”
She shrugged self-consciously. “She just looked, um, I don’t know. Comfortable? Familiar?” Like she was trying to seduce you. The thought screamed through Cassidy’s head, but she refused to say it and sound like a jealous lunatic. A bride didn’t seduce the best man on her wedding night. Did she? “The two of you looked mighty cozy there for a minute. It was, ah, different.” Jesus! She’d said it anyway.
He leaned close enough that she felt the warm rush of his breath in her ear. “It was disgusting,” he admitted. With an impulsive surge of energy, he swung her into his arms. She shrieked with laughter.
“Put me down. People are staring.”
“Let ‘em. They were staring before, Cass. Didn’t you notice?” He gathered her closer. “They’re staring because I’m a lucky bastard,” he whispered and swooped toward a full champagne bottle. “Grab it, we’ll get out of this farce and have a real party. A party for two.” Again with the song lyrics? He must be cracking up, but loony felt so damn much better than levelheaded, he didn’t even care.
He set Cass back on her feet when they reached the elevator and she swayed dizzily toward him. “You make me feel drunk, and I haven’t even had that much to drink.”
The slightly awestruck note of honest to goodness…honesty reverberated right through him. It deserved nothing less than the same. “Ditto, Cass,” he said, feeling inadequate but unable to say more. As the elevator doors slid shut, he kissed her, hoping that would convey the emotion he couldn’t verbalize, and desperately afraid that it would at the same time.
When they entered the room, he adjusted the lighting to set the proper mood, poured champagne and switched the music to soft instrumental. Cass stood wringing her hands and looking even more nervous than she had the first night he’d met her. He offered her a mock bow and an extended hand. “May I have this dance?”
With a hiccupping giggle and sheen of moisture in her bright eyes, she placed her hand in his. He could feel her heart bumping erratically where his palm rested on her back. “Relax, Cass. It’s just you and me now, sweetheart.” He froze when she went rigid in his arms. “I’m sorry,” he said automatically. “I know how you feel about it, but I don’t say it to everybody. I don’t say it to anybody. Cass I…”
She silenced him with a kiss, desperately afraid of what he might say. She didn’t want him to feel obligated to reassure her emotionally. Lucas had been clear about his intensions for the weekend. He wanted to play and indulge her. The stakes were no higher than they’d ever been.
His mouth was gentle and undemanding beneath hers. Hot and hard would have been easier. Groping hands would have been better too, but the warmth of Lucas’ hands rested with a reverent pressure. One on the small of her back, the other at her nape, his thumb circling erotically over her hammering pulse. This was far and above wild sex with a stranger. Heaven help her. This felt like—making love.
The thought sent her reeling. She gulped back panic, and kissed him once more before dancing away from him to explore the room she’d been too nervous to check out earlier. “Well, looky here,” she teased, running her hand along the heavy wooden shelf by the bed like a game show model. “Lotions, potions and edible oil products for the connoisseur.” She shifted her neatly manicured hand to gesture at another basket on the sideboard that held fresh fruit, biscuits and packages of nuts. “And even snacks to keep the energy up.” She laughed. “My goodness, you did think of everything, didn’t you?”
“Are you making fun of me?” he asked suspiciously.
“A little.” She loved the way his brow furled, it made him look, younger, or less sure, or something that made him more approachable. Whatever it was, it gave her the courage to press on and say what she’d been dying to say.
“Do you ever get tired of all the props, Lucas? I mean maybe it’s silly of me to ask, but French champagne and gourmet food. Candlelight and perfect but impersonal hotel rooms. Is this the real Lucas?”
The expression on his face immediately darkened whatever lightness she’d tried to cast over the question. His thick brows drew downward and his bleak gaze rested far above her head. He’d thrust his hands in his pockets and his broad shoulders sagged. She took a hesitant step toward him, her heart thrashing. “Did I say something wrong?”
She saw him shake off the angst, and his mouth quirked at the corner. “On the contrary. You were a little too right for comfort. Vegas is just a big stage and I play a role.”
He reached unexpectedly and grabbed her wrist, jerking her so roughly against him that the breath whooshed from her lungs. He worked his hands into her hair, loosening pins and flinging them aside until he’d shaken it free and he could fist his hands in it. And then he kissed her. Hard and desperately. “Does that feel like an act to you, Cass?” he growled when he finally surfaced for air.
His hands moved roughly and possessively over her body. Cassidy felt breathless little yelps and whimpers begin to escape her as heat rose everywhere he touched.
“How ‘bout this?” he asked, gripping her hips and thrusting against her. “Does that feel real enough for you?”
Her mind clouded as white-hot longing swept through her. “Maybe…maybe you’re just a really good actor.”
“Maybe I’ll put myself on a different stage tomorrow and we can test that theory.”