Bet Me: The Ace\The Joker\The Wildcard

Bet Me: The Ace\The Joker\The Wildcard

by Debra Webb, Catherine Mann, Joanne Rock

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They don't call Vegas Sin City for nothing. And now that prime tourist season is around the corner, it's time to kick some criminal butt. Enter three full-throttle Vegas detectives, ready to eat their undercover assignments alive….

Clarissa Rivers can't believe she's got to play fake maid to weasel her way into some of the city's dirtiest criminal


They don't call Vegas Sin City for nothing. And now that prime tourist season is around the corner, it's time to kick some criminal butt. Enter three full-throttle Vegas detectives, ready to eat their undercover assignments alive….

Clarissa Rivers can't believe she's got to play fake maid to weasel her way into some of the city's dirtiest criminal activities.

But pretend she's hitched, too? Meanwhile, Kim Wong is all over her undercover sting operation at the Great Wall Casino. Only problem: an old boyfriend's got intel on Kim's secret royal past. And Dorian Byrne is posing as a high-class call girl to take down a sex crimes ring. But what's with her wild-card FBI partner?

High-rolling scoundrels better watch their backs this weekend, because one wrong move and all bets are off….

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Harlequin Anthology
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Free Throw Casino Hotel Room 2119

"SLOB," CLARISSA MUTTERED as she picked up the jeans from the floor. Versace. She shook her head. Didn't this guy have better things to do with his money? Give her Levi's any day of the week.

She had cleaned the bathroom already. Made the bed and dusted the elegant mahogany furnishings. But she couldn't vacuum without running the risk of sucking up something that cost more than a month's salary. This Mr. Jennings was a total slob. Clothes, all male, were scattered around as if he'd been in a mad frenzy to peel them off. Jeans, faded and well worn despite their designer label, plain white cotton tee and a navy silk jacket that seemed mismatched with the rest. Oh, and let's not forget the handmade Italian leather loafers.

Clarissa forced herself to neatly fold the articles of clothing and place them on the ornate credenza that served as a dresser. Some renegade brain cell made her go momentarily stupid and she sniffed the T-shirt. An earthy male scent all but overwhelmed by cheap women's perfume and not-socheap champagne. Clarissa was surprised she hadn't found female clothing tangled in the sheets. Clearly this guy had had company last night. She tucked the overpriced shoes next to the closet door, and then dusted her hands in finality.

All she had to do was vacuum and she was out of here.

Hopefully by now—she glanced at her wristwatch—some of the high rollers on her watch list would be up and around. So far, all three of her most likely suspects had been piled up in bed with the do-not-disturb signs out—even at 10:00 a.m.

She scratched her side through the stiffuniform. God, she was going to be covered in hives before lunch at this rate. Calamine lotion loomed in her future.

After plugging in the vacuum, she switched it on and got down to business. It was hard to believe half the morning was gone already and she hadn't even gotten close to the first suspect on her list.

Sergio Fuentes, Bogotá, Colombia.

Mark Weldon, Houston, Texas.

Rita Russo, Miami, Florida. Those were the three VIPs that had tripped LVMPD's radar upon arrival in Sin City. All were suspected of illegal activities in their home territories. Then, of course, there was Shannon Bainbridge, the woman in charge of high-rollers gambling at the Free Throw. Clarissa suspected that Bainbridge coordinated everything on this end, but that was only a suspicion. She needed evidence.

Floors twenty-one through twenty-six were the ones of interest to Clarissa. Twenty-one through twenty-four were VIP guest suites, like this one. Twenty-five was dedicated solely to VIP gambling, with only four suites reserved for the crème de la crème of guests. The penthouse and a couple of select, private playing rooms were on twentysix.

Fuentes, Weldon and Russo were all playing on twenty-five and twenty-six. Playing on twentyfive was a perk of being a guest on the upper floors. Getting to twenty-six required a personal invitation by a member from one of the few tables in those private rooms.

Clarissa didn't see that happening for her, but she would get as close as possible. She wasn't allowed to enter the penthouse floor without invitation and a scheduled time, not even to make the bed. Basically all she had to do was prove Bainbridge was involved and Clarissa felt confident the woman would spill her guts. Clarissa could type up her final report and win this bet. She would be seriously ready for some R & R after wearing this damned uniform for seventy-two hours.

Between the itching and the less-than-comfortable thigh holster this assignment was not going to be a pleasant one. Not to mention she had little use for the high-roller types. She'd had far too much firsthand experience with the absurdly wealthy growing up.

Clarissa shook off the thought before it could take root and spoil her day.

Goose bumps suddenly rushed over her skin and the hair on the back of her neck stood on end.

She wasn't alone.

The instinct kicked her in the gut a split second before she whirled around to come face-to-face with six feet of hard, sweaty male.

For three seconds that lapsed into ten she couldn't decide what to say. Hello. Who the hell are you?

Never in her life had she found herself at a total loss for words the way she was at that exact moment.

He said something but it didn't penetrate the haze of confusion or whatever the hell had just wrapped around her brain.

She blinked. "What?"

He reached around her and shut off the vacuum. "I said—" he cleared his throat and lowered his voice "—sorry to interrupt." He plowed his fingers through his tousled blond hair. "I'm Luke Jennings. I'll try not to get in your way." He plucked at the damp shirt clinging to his chest. "But I need a shower."

Jennings. The guest assigned to this room. "Oh." She snapped out of the ridiculous daze. What the hell just happened to her? "No problem. I'm almost finished."

"Take your time." He flashed her a quick smile then sauntered a little one-sidedly toward the en suite bath, peeling off the wet-with-sweat tank top as he went.

An expanse of nicely tanned skin drew her attention to broad, broad shoulders that tapered into a lean, narrow waist and hips…and long, muscled— really muscled—legs. She noted the slightest limp as he disappeared into the luxurious bathroom.

Jennings. Luke Jennings. Why did that name, coupled with the handsome face, seem vaguely familiar?

A memory bobbed to the surface. "Damn." Luke Jennings. The Ace. Professional cyclist who'd won the Tour de France five years in a row. Would have won six if he hadn't taken a nasty spill that wrecked his right knee.

That explained the limp.

Clarissa glanced at the clothes she had gathered off the floor. Oh, yeah, he would have had company last night. That was the thing with celebrity athletes. There was always a flock of women following them wherever they went. She shook her head. Didn't see the attraction. Why would any woman in her right mind chase after such a massive ego?

Just then she caught a glimpse of Jennings's naked backside as he stepped into the shower. He hadn't closed the door…but then, maybe he hadn't expected her to stare after him.

Talk about a great ass. Her mouth gaped. Wow.

She pivoted and grabbed the vacuum's handle. Focus, Rivers. This was no time to get caught checking out some guy's buns.

Especially not this guy's.

She had an assignment and Luke Jennings was not a part of it. Nor was his amazing bod. Clarissa knew his type. Lots of money, women at every turn. Definitely not what she was looking for in her future. She'd had a guy very much like him around for as long as she could remember.

Her father had been a wealthy, handsome playboy. Not on purpose, though—she had to give him credit where credit was due. Her mother had passed away when Clarissa was only two. For years her father had played the part of widower and single father with no social life. Then the string of girlfriends and wives had begun. Every new girlfriend or wife doted on Clarissa to no end—all the way up to the part where the I-do's were exchanged. Then the new wife wanted the daughter shipped off to boarding school.

Living in so many different cities and with no fewer than a half-dozen boarding schools under her belt, Clarissa couldn't really say where home was. To some extent home had always been a fancy hotel suite with a maid seeing after her more often than not. With all the business trips and minivacations to Vegas with her father, this place ended up feeling more like home than any other city. So Clarissa had landed here in the end.

Though she felt confident she had turned out okay, her location-hopping past was no kind of life for a kid. If—major if—she ever had kids of her own, they would not be dragged around like that.

Maybe that was why she'd hit thirty recently and hadn't felt the first biological prompt for marriage, much less children. Clarissa liked her life just as it was.

Her father had set up a huge trust fund for her, but she would rather earn her own way. He couldn't understand why she would play the role of cop when she never had to worry about supporting herself.

The answer to that question wasn't so simple. Even if she could spell it out she doubted he would understand. This was something she had to do.

Taking on the bad guys, making the world a safer place. That was important to her. There definitely wasn't room for guys like Luke Jennings in her plans.

Nope. Unless he turned out to be a suspect in her op, he was off-limits.

Meet the Author

DEBRA WEBB, born in Alabama, wrote her first story at age nine and her first romance at thirteen. It wasn’t until she spent three years working for the military behind the Iron Curtain—and a five-year stint with NASA—that she realized her true calling. A collision course between suspense and romance was set. Since then she has penned more than 100 novels including her internationally bestselling Colby Agency series.

USA Today bestseller Catherine Mann has books in print in more than 20 countries with Desire, Romantic Suspense, HQN and other Harlequin lines. A five-time RITA finalist, she has won both the RITA and the Bookseller's Best Awards. Catherine resides in Florida with her aviator husband, their four children and a menagerie of pets. For more information, visit:

Three-time RITA nominee Joanne Rock never met a romance subgenre she didn't enjoy. The author of over sixty romances from contemporary to medieval historical, Joanne dreams of one day penning a book for every Harlequin series. A former Golden Heart recipient, she has won numerous awards for her stories. Learn more about Joanne's imaginative Muse by visiting her website or @JoanneRock6 on Twitter.

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