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Authors: Avery Flynn

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Dangerous Tease

BOOK: Dangerous Tease
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Dangerous Tease

 

(Laytons Book 3)

 

By

Avery Flynn

 

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

 

Copyright © 2012 by Avery Flynn. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding
subsidiary

rights, please contact Avery Flynn at [email protected].

 

Visit Avery’s website at www.averyflynn.com.

 

Edited by KC

Formatting by
Anessa Books

 

ISBN: 978-0-9908335-5-0

Manufactured in the United States of America

 

First Edition: 2012 (Passion Creek)

Revision: May 2015 (Dangerous Tease)

 

 

Dedication

 

Finally, it’s Sam’s turn to find love! I can’t tell you how much I’ve been looking forward to telling his story, but I couldn’t have done it without the help of a ton of people. Not that they weigh a ton - well maybe if they all stood together on a scale while holding bricks, but I’m wondering off the path here.

Anyway... I want to thank all of the people who helped make Passion
Creek a reality: the fabulous team at Evernight Publishing, Kim and Kerri, whoever thought to turn coffee beans into liquid gold and everyone—yes, everyone—who read the first two books in the Layton Family series, Temptation Creek and Seduction Creek. Y’all rock. Seriously, if there was an Olympics of awesome, you’d all be there.

XOXO,

Avery

 

Author Note

Dangerous Tease was first published in 2012 as Passion Creek, but has since been revised.

 

 

Chapter One

 

J
immy “Snips” Esposito smacked his lips together and sucked air through his teeth, his lewd gaze locked on Josie Winarsky's boobs. Still, she managed to bite back a smartass comment. Barely. The guy was a total slimeball, but not one to be messed with—the idea of tangling with a loan shark with mob ties did not make her feel tingly inside. It made her want to puke.

The first time
Snips had made the weasel-like sound while hypnotized by her breasts, they'd been sitting in ninth grade English at North Las Vegas High. Snips was still a perv twenty years later, albeit one with more money, bigger muscles and a longer rap sheet.

Of course, her Paris Casino cocktail waitress uniform gave him plenty of tit to ogle, which usually meant big tips—especially in the high-stakes poker
rooms. However, after she clocked out for the last time tonight, she planned on burning the damn thing in the parking lot. No more half-in-the-bag, high-stakes poker players' grubby fingers “accidentally” squeezing her ass. No more running from waitressing gig to waitressing gig and eating cheap noodle dinners to save pennies. No more Las Vegas.

In T-minus forty-eight hours, she would be on the
road in her duct-taped Honda Civic. Hell or high water wouldn't stop her from getting to the Rose O'Neill Dry Creek Artist Colony and spending the next six months painting.

Only painting.

She'd let those bastards in L.A. rip her dream out of her paint-caked fingers before, but she was stronger now. More determined. Smarter. She'd be damned if she ever let that happen again. Even Snips' hungry
little black eyes couldn't fuck up her night.

“Here's your scotch on the rocks.” She lowered the glass to the poker table, careful not to let the amber liquid slosh over the rim onto the green felt.

Eyes locked on her fluffed-up chest, he didn't acknowledge the drink.

Josie stood at least four inches taller than Snips in bare feet; add in the heels and she towered over the slimy loan shark.
From her vantage point, Josie counted the twelve greasy black hairs slicked over his prematurely bald dome.
And they say God doesn't have a sense of humor.

“The dealer's about to get started again, but we need to talk later.”

“I've told you a million times, Snips, I'm not interested.”

“When you hear just how much Cyril owes me, you'll change your tune.” Confidence oozed from his blindingly
white, toothy grin.

Her baby brother would never borrow money from Snips. “What in the hell are you talking about?”

Snips just smirked. Finally, his eyes met hers. “We'll need to work something out.” His gaze dropped again.

“How much?”

Her baby brother by all of twelve minutes had promised the craps games were in his past. Why in the hell would Cy need money from a shark on the lowest rung
of the Callandriello family's crime ladder? Was he gambling again in an effort to cover Mom's out-of-whack medical bills? She didn't have the answers. Instead she had an ominous gurgling in the pit of her stomach and Snips' little snake eyes ogling what he could never touch.

Josie wobbled on her four-inch Lucite heels, but forced her voice to strengthen. “I asked how much?”

“Don't worry about
it.” He winked at her. “I'm sure we can work something out.”

She swallowed her disgust. Pointing out the obvious—that Snips wasn't touching, ever—wouldn't help her brother. But she hadn't survived ten years of being a Vegas cocktail waitress by letting creepy little fucks walk all over her.

Leveling an icy glare at Snips, she put on her best bitch-please face, ready to blast him a new one. But
Saul Rosenberg shuffled over, lost in a suit jacket that must have fit him in his prime, but now it swam on the man's seventy-year-old frame. Josie ate her words, not wanting to upset her favorite septuagenarian.

Once, after a big tip night, she'd teasingly offered to buy him a new sports coat. His gaze softened and he'd declined, saying his wife had bought it for him on their fortieth anniversary
and since Marlene couldn't be here with him, he'd keep the jacket. Josie hadn't been able to stop herself from sighing and giving his frail shoulders a squeeze.

“Josephine, dear.” Saul stopped by her elbow, holding a small square package that looked like it had been wrapped by a drunken elephant. “I need a word.”

Snips shot her a hard look before turning away.

Josie scanned the room, worried
her boss, Clive, would spot her being less than diligent about filling the players' drink orders, but the only person watching her was a long and lean drink of water who, unlike Saul, wasn't a regular at the Paris Casino's high-roller tables. Her gaze locked with his tawny, hazel eyes and her breath caught.

Something woke up within her, setting her pulse racing. The stranger's reddish-brown
hair reminded her of her favorite burnt sienna crayon from childhood and her imagination went wild, wondering how this man in his crisp shirt and pressed jeans got the two-inch scar that wriggled across his cheekbone. His fingers wrapped around the old fashioned glass. Josie had no idea how his drink stayed so cold because she was burning up just looking at him.

His aesthetic was all alpha man—broad
shoulders, muscular arms and lean, strong fingers. Her gaze traveled back up to his face and her skin sizzled as his hazel eyes stayed focused on her. He didn't smile and, judging by the tense line of his jaw, rarely did. Too bad; if his smile matched the rest of him, it would be a sight to behold. She wished he'd stand up so she could see if his ass was as squeeze-worthy as her mind painted.

On canvas, he would fill the space, muscles coiled, battle-ready. A painting of him bloomed in her mind: a Spartan warrior, fierce and deadly, gearing up for war. A shiver started at the base of her spine and ended when her shoulders twitched, jiggling her barely contained boobs.

She never slept with her customers, too many were regulars and she didn't believe in making relationship ties. But
this guy wasn't a regular and for him, she might just break her own golden rule. After all, it was her last night on the job. She stepped in his direction.

“Josephine, did you hear what I said?”

Her cheeks flushed and she turned. “I'm sorry, Mr. Rosenberg. It's my last night and I'm a little out of sorts.”

“Understandable.” He patted her hand with his own liver-spotted one. “I got you a gift.”

“Oh, you shouldn't—”

“Shhh, playing poker and discussing art are my only loves now that Marlene has passed on. I couldn't let you go without thanking you for listening to me prattle on about both.”

Those stories had always circled back around to his beloved Marlene. The widower had spun tales of everyday romance, like bringing home flowers on Thursdays, and continuing to do so out of habit
even after his wife died. It was the stuff of books and movies, not real life—at least not as she knew it. Between two waitressing jobs and spending every nonworking waking moment with a paintbrush in her hand, a relationship was so far on the back burner, it wasn't even in the kitchen.

He held out the package. “Go on, unwrap it.”

Josie bit the inside of her cheek and tore the thin wrapping
paper to reveal a small book. The musty scent of old paper and worn leather wafted up. She slid her thumb across the battered corner of the crackled cover.

“It's Dry Creek, Nebraska. That's where you're going, yes?”

“Right. They've got a great artist colony. I'm going to spend six months painting.”

“I thought so. Turn to the first page.”

She eased open the cover, afraid the obviously old book
would tear.
Diary of Rebecca Morrell, Dry Creek Nebraska, 1865.
Josie traced her fingers across the bold but faded script.

“I won it a few years ago in a poker match. The young man said it had been in his family for generations. It seems young Rebecca was crossing the country on the Oregon Trail with her dowry to meet her fiancé out West. She made it as far as Nebraska when she discovered he'd
died. Heartbroken, she stayed in Dry Creek, where she eventually married a rancher.”

“How sad.” Like a real sap, her heart winced at the tale.

“Yes, but according to the young man and what's in here…” He tapped the diary with one arthritic finger. “She buried her dowry outside of Dry Creek. Many have looked for Rebecca's Bounty, as they call it, but none have found it.”

“I'm not surprised.”

“But they didn't have the map. You do.”

Her breath hitched. A real treasure meant money, maybe enough to pay off her mother's medical bills, Snips and a longer stay in Dry Creek. “Map?”

“Oh yes, I took the diary to be appraised and the examiner found the map secreted in a false flap on the back cover. It took me a while to realize it's a map. I thought it was just some lovely drawings—Rebecca,
it seems, was an artist herself—but then one day it hit me. She'd drawn a treasure map hidden inside her landscape drawings. Quite a clever girl, that Rebecca. My Marlene would have liked her.”

“Mr. Rosenberg, this gift is truly lovely, thank you, but it must be valuable. I can't accept this.” She held out the book, but he waved off her offer.

“It is worth money but I'm too old to go on any
more adventures; however, you're certainly not. Take it with you to Dry Creek. Who knows, maybe you'll be the one to find Rebecca's Bounty. If nothing else, think of it as the diary of a fellow artist and a reminder of an old man who enjoyed your company.”

She swallowed the sentiment blocking her throat. “Thank you.”

After a quick hug, he shuffled back to his poker table and she hid the diary
in a safe spot behind the bar.

Mr. Tall Drink of Water sat a few chairs away from Saul, deep in conversation with the man on his left. The other guy looked a few years younger, relaxed and mellow, unlike the man who put an extra bit of sway in her hips as she strutted toward the players. He had an air of alertness about him and an intensity that couldn't be missed. Still, the resemblance between
the two men—from their broad shoulders to their matching hazel eyes—left little doubt they were related. Both were handsome, but there was something about the older one that sent a tingle sprinting across her exposed skin as surely as if he'd touched her. She couldn't wait to get close enough for better inspection.

“Hey ya,” a burly player called out from Saul’s table. “Bring me a Jack and Coke.”

Yanked back into reality, Josie made a beeline toward the bar and away from the six-feet-plus of yumminess getting ready for another round of Texas Hold 'Em.

Hours later, her size-ten feet aching, she leaned against the bar and counted down the minutes of her final shift in the world's most uncomfortable shoes. She'd probably get cancer from the hazardous toxins released if she burned them
with her uniform. Maybe she'd just run them over a couple thousand times with her battered Honda instead. Of course, with her luck, the Lucite heels would puncture the worn tread on the tires.

The itch of a thousand ants marching up her arms tipped her off that she hadn't gone unnoticed in the empty bar corner farthest from the poker tables. Only one person gave her the heebie-jeebies quite
like this. She turned. Bingo.

BOOK: Dangerous Tease
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ads

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