When It Comes To True Love.
Bailey Ventura can't think of a better way to kick back and have some fun than a weekend in Las Vegas with her best friend. When Bailey hits the slots and wins a fabulous red Thunderbird, she can't believe her luck. But the real jackpot is when she meets Carter Davis, the gorgeous head of casino security who also moonlights as an Elvis impersonator.
Luck Is All You Need.
Carter clearly knows all about taking care of business both in and out of the bedroom. No one has ever made Bailey feel this way before. Could he be the one? But when a romantic road trip is sidetracked by a diamond heist and Carter admits he's involved, Bailey isn't so sure anymore that he's her Prince Charming. Now she'll have to discover if Carter is steering her straight toward heartbreak-or if he's the best thing that's ever happened to her.
"Kisses Don't Lie is a hunka hunka burnin' fun!"
"Sharp, witty writing. The perfect blend of passion and humor."
Meryl Sawyer, New York Times bestselling author on Good With His Hands
Read an Excerpt
Kisses Don't Lie
By Alexa Darin
ZEBRA BOOKSCopyright © 2007 Alexis Heilman
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIf you could sing, you wouldn't be out in this heat, trying to entice someone to drive off in that convertible, Bailey mused as she stared at a man outside her hotel window. He was standing in a small parking lot, next to a bright red car that had a RENT ME sign posted over its windshield, and he was wearing a white jumpsuit. And from what Bailey could see, he was cute, handsome even, down to every last black hair on his head. But Elvis wasn't a car rental agent. He was a singer, and a god among men.
One down. Forty-nine thousand, nine hundred ninety-nine to go.
She continued to watch the activity on Las Vegas Boulevard, where tourists moved in a steady stream down the sweltering sidewalk, many of whom, no doubt, had dreams of becoming the next big winner. Herself included. But it wasn't money she was after. It was a man. And not just any man.
Bailey Ventura was an Elvisaholic. She knew it. Her friends knew it. Her entire hometown of Coupeville, Washington, knew it. And, she wasn't interested in joining some twelve-step program that would help her snap out of it.
By the time she was three, Bailey couldn't count to ten, but she knew all the words to "Rock A Hula Baby"-convinced it was really "Rock A Hula Bailey"-and couldgive an impressive performance, complete with hip shimmies, to a captive audience of teachers and preschoolers in her class.
By the age of ten, Bailey had seen every Elvis movie a dozen times and had decided that he was the only man she would ever love.
At twenty-five, Bailey still knew all the words to "Rock A Hula Baby," plus a hundred others, and she'd spent enough time listening to the King of Rock and Roll croon mournfully about doing things his way and lost love that she was convinced she was born to be his bride.
Unfortunately, the odds of that happening were worse than winning the megabucks lotto, because fate had dealt both her and the King a low blow: he was already serenading fair maidens in the biggest coliseum of all, beyond the pearly gates.
Not that a little detail like that was going to stop her. She had other options, which, admittedly, weren't as perfect as the real deal, but they were her only choices, and there were plenty of them. They were called Elvis tribute artists. Bailey had recently read that approximately fifty thousand lip-sneering, hip-swiveling, dark-haired impersonators walked this earth, and she was pretty sure at least one of them was meant to be hers ... if only she could find him.
And if she couldn't find him in Las Vegas, Nevada, where the Elvis Impersonator World Championship Competition was being held, the right man for her just didn't exist.
Bailey sighed. Fate couldn't be that cruel, could it? It just wouldn't be fair.
The only woman who might love Elvis more than Bailey was her mother. She'd offered to come along as a chaperone. Bailey hadn't bothered telling her that, in her opinion, too much chaperoning was probably the cause of Elvis's failed marriage to Priscilla. It wouldn't have mattered. And anyway, Bailey suspected her mother's real motive in wanting to accompany her to Sin City was the chance that a miracle might happen and she'd catch a glimpse of the real deal, the man himself.
Olivia Ventura was one of the remaining two million-give or take a million-women who continued to believe Elvis Presley was still walking this earth and that he'd set up house somewhere in Kalamazoo, Michigan. "How else do you explain all those Elvis sightings?" Olivia would say. "That many people can't be crazy, or wrong."
Bailey's mom was sure that Elvis took pleasure in knowing others emulated him, and that he regularly attended events such as the one coming up day after tomorrow. According to Olivia, if there was anywhere one could go to get a glimpse of the King, it was Las Vegas.
God bless her. Probably they both needed a little therapy.
Bailey hated disappointing her mother, but she was on a mission, and besides, she'd already told her best friend, Liza, that she'd take her. For a couple of reasons: she had more sense than Bailey and would keep her out of trouble, and she didn't need any therapy.
"Do you really think you'll find a genuine guy among all those pretenders?" Liza had asked when Bailey picked up an Elvis Tribute Artist Guide from the check-in counter.
"A girl can dream," Bailey had answered with a wistful sigh.
But dreaming was all she ever did and it was time to either make those dreams come true, or settle for what she already had, which was basically a boy she'd known through high school-Mark Jefferson-who only wanted to be with her because she reminded him of Kate Beckinsale. Oh, she loved him-like a really, really good friend. The end.
"What are you going to do if you find this Elvis person?" Liza said from the bathroom doorway. She had a toothbrush in her hand and her hair was fluffed about her face. Her teeth were so white that when she smiled you half expected to see them sparkle like in one of those toothpaste ads. No doubt about it, Liza was beautiful, standing there all blond and covered in pink from head to toe, but Elvis wouldn't have liked her. He liked dark hair. Like Bailey's.
"Bring him home, of course," Bailey answered.
"And then what?"
"And then he and I will buy a bigger house, somewhere other than Coupeville. We'll have children and live happily ever after...."
Liza went back into the bathroom and dropped off her toothbrush. "I guess that's plausible ... in a fantasy world. Your fantasy world."
"It's not such a fantasy. I'm not a bad catch."
"No." Liza shook her head. "In Coupeville, you're a goddess." She removed her clothes from her suitcase and placed them into small tidy stacks in the top dresser drawer. She also took two silk blouses and one dress over to the closet.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Bailey asked.
"Sweetie, do you think you're really going to get some man who's used to living around thousands of half-naked women to go home with you, where the typical attire is Birkenstocks and prairie skirts?"
"I don't wear prairie skirts." Bailey dug around in her bag and pulled out a light blue skirt that could hardly be worn on a prairie. "See?" she said, holding it up.
"Right," Liza said, touching a finger to her lips. "We'll see. How about you shimmy into that skirt and we go down to play some slots?"
Slots. Bailey shook her head. They were nothing more than the evil twin of cash machines. Money goes in; nothing ever comes out. She'd learned the hard way that she could actually save money if, instead, she went to a show or did some shopping.
Liza, on the other hand, didn't give up so easily. It was the only thing she wasn't sensible about. She'd lose a bundle and two months later, she'd be lamenting how she couldn't wait to go back and get her fingers on the cold, hard buttons of her favorite machines. "Even a blind hog finds an acorn sometime," she always said. Bailey figured if Liza ever tried pawning her clothes, she'd have to intervene, maybe even threaten her with gambler's rehab.
"Those machines aren't going anywhere." Bailey plopped herself down on one of the queen-sized beds and started flipping through the Tribute Artist guide. It contained photos and mini-bios of each competitor, and by the time Bailey got to the fifth page, she was dizzy. She put a hand to her forehead. Being so close to realizing her dream was making her blood pump through her veins double time. She had to pause, take a few deep breaths.
Johnny Thompson, Quent Flagg, Steve Sogura, Irv Cass, and so many others ... How would she ever choose? Picking one over the other by looking at their pictures was like picking one M&M over another simply because she liked the color. No, she had to see them in person. Evaluate which of them could really walk the walk and talk the talk, not to mention do that funny little grin thing. But most of all, she had to find out who among them had truly captured Elvis's essence, and which of them, if any, could really sing the King's songs as though every word that passed over their lips came straight from their hearts.
Bailey tossed aside the guide with a sigh. Finding the total package in just one man would be like, well, winning a jackpot, and no picture or bio could answer those questions. Her heart skipped with reserved anticipation at the thought of having them all stand before her like some delectable smorgasbord.
She went back over to the window. The man in the white jumpsuit was still out there. A couple of young women were chatting with him, and one of them reached out and touched the gemstones on his jumpsuit. Or maybe she just wanted to touch him. He did fill out the suit in all the right places, after all.
Bailey smiled. Maybe she'd even go down there and check him out-later. Right now, though, she had other things to do. Get settled. Unpack. Prepare herself for the adventure of her life.
She carefully lifted a black, shimmery dress from her suitcase. It was a Donna Karan knock-off that the shop clerk had said was guaranteed to make at least nine out of ten Elvis impersonators take a second, maybe even a third, look. But Bailey wanted at least one of them to do more than look. Some touching might even be nice.
She went over to the closet and, just as she suspected, she'd only been left one hanger. She didn't care; she only needed one. She hung the dress, and then took the rest of her clothes and dropped them all in a bundle into the second dresser drawer. There were far more important things to think about than folding her clothes into neat little piles.
In the bathroom were plenty of freebies. Soap, shampoo and conditioner, lotion ... even mouthwash. Bailey gathered all but one bar of soap. Probably she'd never use them, but they were bought and paid for and she planned on taking them home and adding them to her stockpile. A girl had to be prepared for lean times.
Along with complimentaries, the Oasis was generous with space and detail. Her bed from home could easily fit inside the marble and glass shower enclosure. The stone floor was a rich brown color, with gold veins running through it, providing the perfect complement to the ornate gold fixtures that reached out of the wall like slender fingers on a beautiful woman. The towels were standard white, but even before touching them, Bailey could tell they were fluffy and soft and would feel like heaven against her skin.
"We're not going to spend all our time watching grown men swivel their hips around a stage, are we?" Liza asked. "I hope you've allotted a sufficient amount of time for slot play."
Bailey paused briefly from arranging her things on her side of the bathroom counter. "Is that all Vegas is to you? What about the shows? the restaurants? the shopping?"
"There's a twelve-screen cinema down the street from where I live, approximately one hundred restaurants within a five-mile radius, and Macy's is just a two-minute drive away. I think I've got it covered. Besides, we made a deal. You find a man who makes your pulse quiver and I play the machines."
"I guess that's not too much to ask, seeing as you'll only need a couple of hours before your money runs out."
"Oh, ye of little faith. It's exactly that kind of attitude that keeps you from being a winner."
"Really? Then what's your excuse?"
"I'll have you know I've won plenty."
"And lost even more," Bailey muttered under her breath.
Liza huffed and propped her hands on her hips, and Bailey knew she was about to get an earful about this jackpot and that jackpot and the time Liza practically willed a machine to stand up, do a jig, and spit out a free T-shirt.
"Okay." Bailey put up her hands in surrender. "We'll do the slot thing first. Then, after you've lost a week's pay, we'll scour the casinos for jumpsuits and leather. After all, I have to make the most of this opportunity. You never know when I'll have a chance like this again. I could be dead and buried-"
"For sure you'd be with Elvis then," Liza said.
Bailey slid her a look. "Don't let my mom hear you say that."
"Hey, I know ... you could become a plastic surgeon and create your own Elvis."
Bailey's lips drew tight. "Uh, yeah, about that ... I've kinda decided I don't want to be a doctor."
Liza raised an eyebrow. "Since when?"
"Since I realized it's not really what I want. I only agreed to go because it's what my Uncle Rex wanted. He says he promised my dad he'd see to it that I get an education, and since my Aunt Fiona is always worried about getting the Bubonic Plague or some other dreaded disease, I figured I might as well save my family some money and become a doctor." Bailey shrugged. "Seemed like the right choice at the time."
Liza shrugged. "You were a kid. What did you know?"
Bailey shrugged back. "What did I know?"
Liza laughed and slung her Kate Spade bag over one shoulder. "Okay." She flexed her fingers. "I am so ready. Let's go."
Bailey looked in the mirror at her own image and frowned. Her head had been smashed against the plane seat for two hours, and her hair resembled a rooster's comb. She put a hand in it and gave it a good toss. Now she looked like a cockatoo. Not an improvement.
"I need to start from scratch," she said, and Liza groaned. "Geez, go, get out of here." Bailey pushed her toward the door. "I'll meet you down in the casino. Just make sure you stick around the elevator area where I can find you. I'll be down in about an hour." Liza practically skipped out the door, waving a hand over her shoulder before Bailey could change her mind.
With her face washed clean, and her hair tucked into a band and piled high on her head, Bailey stepped into the shower. She turned the faucet handles, expecting great things, and wasn't disappointed. The water rained against her shoulders with a stiff pulse that helped ease all her tension away. It was the kind of pulse that could make a girl want to stay home on a Saturday night.
Of course, living in Coupeville made just about anything seem exciting. And that's why she had to get out, before she ended up like her mom: afraid to drive because she might run into a little traffic. To her mom, going for a drive meant running over to the store for that night's dinner. The farthest she ever strayed from home was an occasional outing over to Oak Harbor for a movie. And that was only if it was up for an Academy Award. But, then, she had wanted to come to Vegas. Bailey smiled. Of course, who wouldn't for a chance to see the King?
The one good thing Bailey could see about her mom refusing to drive was that she only had to fill up on gas once every month or two.
Bailey closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. With any luck at all, she'd soon be living somewhere where life happened. Though maybe not here in Las Vegas. With half-naked women running around everywhere, Mafia types around every corner, and enough sand to bury an entire city, Vegas was a little too much life. A nice place to visit, find a husband, see a show, but she didn't know if she could live here.
Visions of dark-haired men swiveled through Bailey's head as the fragrance of honey-scented soap filled the shower enclosure. Soon she was humming "Viva Las Vegas," and by the time she reached the chorus, she was squeaky clean and feeling so good, even the thought of losing a few bucks on the one-armed bandits couldn't dampen her spirits.
Bailey reached for a towel, but all she got was air. She squinted one eye open. She'd forgotten to hang it over the top of the door; it was waiting for her over on the shelf above the toilet.
She pushed the glass door.
It didn't budge.
It held tight.
Bailey looked at the door, examining it from top to bottom to see if there was some latch or secret button that needed pushing, but it was pretty straightforward as far as doors went. She grabbed the handle and jiggled it while giving it one more good shove.
With the warm water turned off, the efficiency of the hotel's air-conditioning system quickly became apparent. Br-r-r. Goose bumps jumped to attention on her arms and legs, and she wrapped her arms tightly about herself.
Getting colder by the minute, she considered scaling the glass wall, but that idea was quickly shot down when she imagined herself laid up in the hospital, bruised and broken with no way to meet the Elvis of her dreams.
Of course, she could turn the water back on, but then she wouldn't be able to hear if anyone were out in the hall whom she could call out to. Plus, though the warm water might help keep her warm, she didn't like the idea of standing for God knows how long in a rain shower. She'd had enough of that back in Washington.
"Help," Bailey yelled halfheartedly. After all, it wasn't like it was a real emergency, and, anyway, Liza would soon come looking for her and she'd be rescued. Bailey pondered that thought. Who was she kidding? Liza could play the slots for hours and think only a few minutes had passed.
Excerpted from Kisses Don't Lie by Alexa Darin Copyright © 2007 by Alexis Heilman. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Who doesn't love a good Elvis book! Really enjoyed all the fun folks - if you haven't read her books, this would be a great way to get started.
Fun story and great characters! I loved the book and can't wait to read her next one.
Ohmygosh! No doubt if you are a huge Elvis fan like myself you will totally fall in love with this book! :D