Roxanne Sanchez was out to even the score with the Las Vegas casino owner who had duped her parents. To do so, she had to get past Ike Bancroft, the sexy and ruthless head of security for the most powerful boss on the strip.
A bigger reward
When the hottest pair of legs Ike had ever seen strolled into the Desert Rose and proceeded to cheat the night away, Ike knew he was in trouble. He sensed that Roxanne wasn't a pro, so what was she doing there? When he finally confronted her about her quick earnings, she confessed. But what she told him about his godfather turned Ike's world upside down .
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About the Author
She is an administrative assistant, currently working for an automotive industry supplier and is an active member of Romance Writers of America.
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His job was to watch her hands, but he couldn't seem to take his eyes off her legs. Isaac Bancroft casually leaned against the counter in the casino cocktail lounge studying the beautiful woman at the poker table. She was cheating, no doubt about it.
He'd peeked her game within fifteen minutes of watching her work. It was no big deal, twenty percent of their patrons were professional hustlers. As the head of security in one of the most profitable—if not most infamous—casinos in Las Vegas, Ike was certain he had seen it all. She was cheating all right, but how was the real question.
It didn't matter so much to Ike that the money she was stacking up didn't belong to the casino. Any money the woman took home was gained from other players. He'd have to do something about her. It was the principle of the matter. Ike had already had two of his best men circle her twice, looking for evidence or hidden devices. After watching her for over an hour, he was certain that she was working alone. The way she studied the game, he would've believed she was counting cards, but that was almost impossible.
What a beauty, he thought, taking in the gold, after-five dress that practically glowed against her copper skin. It hugged her slender body from bust to thigh, and seemed to shimmer with every slight movement. The thin straps that fell artfully off each shoulder had his fingers itching to touch.
He watched with suspended breath as she un-crossed her satiny, bronze legs, then crossed them in the opposite direction. Her stiletto sling-backs settled neatly on the bottom rung of the high stool. The thin, gold chain on her right ankle twinkled in the bright, casino lights.
Ike released a deep sigh of male satisfaction. Yes, she was as crooked as they came. But legs like those...a man just didn't see that every day.
The two-way radio hooked to his belt buckle erupted in static chaos, and just as quickly it quieted. "Ike?" The slow, emotionless voice of Stamp, Ike's second in command, came over the speaker.
Ike never took his eyes off the woman as he answered through the headset he wore. "Yeah?"
"The boss was wondering if you planned to do anything about the pretty little thief at table seven."
Ike smiled to himself. He should've known Bobby was watching from the security tower. "Yes, I plan to do something about her."
The radio went silent for several seconds. "Umm, Ike, the boss was wondering what exactly you planned to do about her."
Ike shook his head. He'd often wondered why Bobby Kincaid even bothered with a security staff when no one did a better job spotting a thief than Bobby himself.
"Tell Bobby that sometimes you have to look before you leap."
The radio went dead again.
Finally, Stamp returned. "Ike, the boss said 'what does that mean...?"
Suddenly the voice that came on the radio was not Stamp's steady monotone, but Bobby's loud and extremely irate voice.
"What the hell is that supposed to mean? Dammit, Ike! What are you going to do? Sit there sipping soda pop while that woman robs those people blind? I don't care if it's not my money she's stealing in my casino."
Ike glanced at the glass of clear liquid sitting at his elbow. Yeah, Big Brother was definitely watching. "Bobby, this is why you pay me the big bucks. Trust me, I've got it handled."
"Handled? That swindler is about to walk out of here with a large piece of pie and all you can say is you've got it handled!"
"Bobby, you hired me to do a job, but I have to do it my own way. If that is not acceptable to you, then you are perfectly welcome to come down here and take care of the problem yourself."
"Think I won't?"
"Okay." Ike sat up. "Then I'll pack up for the night. See you tomorrow." He took his wallet out of his back pocket and pulled a few bills from the inside. He started to toss them on the counter when his radio suddenly came back on.
"Fine! Handle it your way. But dammit, Ike, you better handle it. Don't let that thieving woman walk out of here with that money."
"Technically, she's not a thief until she attempts to leave the table. I promise you, Bobby, that won't happen."
"It better not!"
With that, the radio went dead once more. * * *
Roxanne Sanchez stacked another neat pile of plastic chips on the table and waited for the other gamblers to place their bets. She casually scratched her neck, allowing her to surreptitiously turn her head in the direction of the cocktail lounge.
She sighed in frustration. He was still there. The stranger she'd dubbed Wolfie for the predatory stare he'd been giving her all night was still at his post. He'd been milking that water or soda pop for the past hour. Roxie was certain that, as well as the two little wolves that kept circling her every few minutes, they were casino security. Their presence came as no surprise. She'd known all along that her method of winning would draw attention.
Roxie was sure they were on to her. She glanced at the twenty-seven thousand dollars in chips piled on the table before her. Only twenty-three thousand to go.
Lost in thought, she was startled when the dealer called to her. She glanced at the cards on the table, the ones in her hand, and then quickly scanned her memory for previously played cards. There was still the ace of diamonds out there somewhere. She glanced around at the four other players and decided to take her chances on the deck. She pulled another card, and exhaled a relieved breath to see the large red diamond in the center. She tossed it down on the table, and watched every face at the table fall as the other players accepted she was about to win another hand. Two of them folded and the game continued.
Roxie was certain the security guards knew she was cheating, but was equally convinced they did not know how she was cheating and that was her trump card—the one thing that would allow her to walk when this little game played out. They couldn't prove anything.
Roxie had discovered early in life that her brain worked differently. She was able to mentally record images as vividly as a camera recorded photographs. Other than allowing her to breeze through her studies with little effort, she'd found no real use for her special skill as a child, and therefore thought little of it.
It wasn't until after her grandmother died, and she found herself alone in the world, that she came to value and appreciate her unique memory. A ten-year-old orphan had few options for survival and none of them were appealing. Her exceptional brain gave her an option that did not exist for most in her position. It gave her the ability to provide for herself. Unfortunately, this had to be done through card sharking and hustling, but still she'd survived.
Until the day Theo and Tessa Sanchez rescued her from the clutches of a monster. And now, with the help of her unusual memory, she would return the favor.
In her peripheral vision, she watched the man at the bar as he quickly downed the last of his drink and began walking in her direction. Roxie tossed down a ten of spades, and sat up in her seat, preparing to meet the wolf head on. He may not know how she was cheating, but apparently he wasn't going to let that stop him from doing his job, which was more than she could say for Las Vegas's finest.
It had been almost a full week since she'd gone to the police to report a robbery. She ended up being laughed right out of the precinct. They'd listened intently for the first few minutes until she dared to accuse the powerful Bobby Kincaid of swindling her elderly parents out of fifty thousand dollars to fund his condominium development.After that, not one officer had taken her complaint seriously.
The police had asked her questions she could not answer. Questions she'd mulled over in her own head for days. Why would a man worth millions jeopardize his professional reputation over fifty thousand dollars? Why would he target her parents when there were others who'd invested two and three times as much?
What hurt the most was that even if the police had believed her, Roxie knew they could never give back to Theo and Tessa what mattered most: their professional dignity. For two retired con artists, nothing was worse than being duped, the sense of having been bested at what they were once best at.
When the pair inadvertently found themselves the parents of an abandoned ten-year-old girl, they vowed to give up their shady occupation in the interest of setting an example. After a lifetime of easy scores, they'd both found legitimate occupations and had walked the straight and narrow for the past twenty years. The only remnant of those adventurous years gone by was the nest egg they'd stocked away, some of which they'd invested in Bobby Kincaid's Tumbleweed condominium development, believing the price of the stock was a steal.
They'd jumped on the opportunity with both feet, hoping the return would not only take care of them in their old age, but also take the burden of their well-being off the shoulders of their adopted daughter. For their small investment, they would be given stock and one of the condominiums as a beautiful retirement home. It would have been the perfect arrangement. That is, if the deal had been legitimate, which it apparently was not.
Roxie had tried to arrange a face-to-face meeting with Bobby Kincaid to get her parents' money back, but there had been more red tape and hoops to jump through than if she'd tried to meet with the President of the United States. In the end, the most Bobby's secretary would promise was a tentative appointment in six weeks, or Roxie was welcome to send correspondence addressing her complaint.