Authors: Janna Shay
“If I were you, I’d be very careful of what you do,” Jace returned, his voice quiet and deadly. “Before you hire a lawyer or press charges, you should know that I have in my possession a disc that shows what you did to my cocktail waitress. It gives a blow-by-blow account of what exactly went on at that blackjack table. You should consider yourself lucky that this casino and my cocktail waitress don’t sue you for damages. I want you out of this casino ... now ... and you’re not to set foot in here again.”
Martin’s face dropped when he was told he was on disc. Jace perceived Martin Pace knew he was guilty, but had tried to bluff his way through, hoping to recoup some of his losses from the tables. He’d seen it all before, but why did it anger him so much that Dani had been on the receiving end of the brute’s paws?
Tight-lipped and pale, Martin raised his chin and went toward the door, where the two security guards he’d called were waiting to escort the asshole of out of his casino. “Oh, and Mr. Pace,” Jace said, and waited until Martin Pace stopped and turned around. “I’d better not hear you make any derogatory remarks to my cocktail waitress. My security guards will escort you off the premises.”
Martin Pace slammed the door as Jace sat down.
There was a hesitant knock on the door.
As Dani strolled in, Jace took a long, admiring perusal, starting at her feet and ending at her face. He remembered those curves and long legs and how good she felt in his arms. Stopping at her mouth on his return up, he felt a tightening in his body. Her lips seemed to be begging him to taste them again. His assessment awakened a need to touch her, but he kept his hands clasped on the desk.
Dani stopped halfway in the room. She felt like she’d just been undressed with his eyes, but instead of making her feel disgusted as she had with Martin Pace, he’d caused her body to warm with pleasure. She hated that he could control her reactions to him, so she said indignantly, “One look wasn’t enough the last time, so you needed a repeat performance?”
He rose to his feet and smirked. “If I recall, we were supposed to exchange notes. I was just refreshing my memory.”
“Tonight I escaped the mauling of one pervert. Do I need to defend myself from another?”
His eyes flared with anger at her words, but he replied calmly, “Don’t put me in the same category as that excuse for a man!”
“Sorry. That was totally uncalled for.” Her gaze fell to the floor. “It’s been a tough night.”
He circled the front of his desk to face her.
She raised her head and followed him with her eyes and couldn’t help scrutinizing his body as he moved. He was tall. She figured him to be at least 6’3”, with broad shoulders, a lean body, and long legs. He had a really great body and so much male sexuality pouring from him, she figured women threw themselves at him all the time. No wonder he was so self-assured and arrogant. Her reaction to him was no different than other woman. No matter how much she denied it, she was very attracted to him.
She had to make sure Jace never learned of her attraction.
It would be a very dangerous weapon to put in his hands. When her eyes returned to his, she realized he was watching her.
He crossed his arms and grinned. “Refreshing your memory, too, I see? Do you like what you see?”
Dani’s face instantly heated as she realized what she’d been doing. A few minutes ago she’d berated him for leering at her, and she was doing the same thing. Damn! She was treading on dangerous ground. Jace didn’t seem to be a man to be played with.
“Forgive my rudeness. You wanted to talk to me about something?”
He leaned against the desk. “Kathy approached me about the possibility of promoting you to casino host. She’s received a lot of good reports about you and has been observing your work habits and feels you’d make an excellent host. After some deliberation on my part, I agree with her. I think you’d help bring in revenue. Do you think you might be interested in the job?”
She tamped down her excitement. “What exactly does a casino host do, and what are the wages?”
“A casino host takes care of our high rollers. You greet them when they arrive and cater to them while they are a guest with us. It’s your job to make sure the customer, or whale as they are referred to in a casino, gambles at the tables and has fun. You’d make a higher salary than you make now, even adding in your tips. You’d also get bonuses based on your performance and on the revenue you generate for the casino.”
She sat down at his explanation and sighed. “The salary sounds good, but what exactly does cater to them mean?”
“To be frank, whatever they wanted you to provide within reason. If they want you to get a date for them, then you’d provide one. If they want dinner delivered to their room at a specific time, you’d take care of that. If they want to see a certain show or go to a certain club, you make sure that they get in and also receive VIP treatment. You encourage them to gamble and give them comps based on their rate of gambling. Basically you’re the person who takes care of all their wants and needs, while at the same time ensuring they gamble in our casino.”
“What are the hours and what type of uniform would I have to wear? Wearing something like this,” she stated, pointing to her uniform, “would put me at a distinct disadvantage on that type of job.”
He laughed, and she loved the deep, rich sound. “Very perceptive of you. You don’t wear a uniform. You dress like you’re going out to a nice restaurant or club. You’re required to be available to your whale 24 hours a day, but as part of your salary you’ll get a suite here at the hotel, a cell phone, which will be provided to you, and meals, which are in addition to your salary.”
Sounded too good to be true. She sat there for a few minutes thinking about the offer. She licked her lips. “Yes, I’d like to try it.” She started to stand up, when his words stopped her.
“Good. One more thing. As you know, prostitution is illegal in Vegas. If a whale asks for an escort, it cannot be of the call-girl variety. This casino does not pander. Also, if you should get physically involved with your whale, make sure there is no monetary exchange, as we don’t tolerate prostitution either.”
She shot to her feet, pulse pounding in her ears. “I can assure you that I don’t prostitute myself, no matter how much money I’m offered. I also don’t fraternize with the customers as I separate business from my personal life.”
“I didn’t mean to ruffle your feathers. Sometimes the girls like to socialize with the whales, and that’s permitted as long as it doesn’t interfere with business. I’m just letting you know the parameters.”
“So that I have it straight, it’s okay to socialize with the whales but not to fraternize with the customers? What’s the difference?”
“The difference is that a whale will usually drop anywhere from $100,000 to several million dollars in the casino. When you are leaving that kind of money behind, we’re inclined to be a little more lenient with the rules.”
She nodded. “I see. Money talks. Thanks for clarifying that for me.”
Jace ignored her gibe and continued. “See Kathy tomorrow, and she’ll help you settle in your place and get you started.”
He straightened up facing her, their bodies close enough to feel the heat coming off of each other. Even though he wasn’t touching her, she could feel the sexual pull from his body luring her closer. She put her hand out for him to shake, but instead he took her hand and turned it palm up and kissed the sensitive center.
Her first instinct was to jerk her hand back, but, not wanting him to know how affected she was by his touch, she forced herself to leave her hand in his.
“I think this will be the beginning of a good relationship,” he stated as he looked deep in her eyes.
His gaze felt like he was peering into her soul. She tried to remove her hand, but his fingers closed over hers. Glancing at her hand and then at him, she said, “I need my hand back.”
He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it, never taking his eyes off her. Her breathing quickened and her blood roared as it pulsed rapidly through her body.
“Do I frighten you? I won’t hurt you. I only want to give you pleasure not pain.”
He did scare her. He was a man who took what he wanted, and his eyes told her it was her. Instinctively, knowing he was dangerous, she felt once he had her, she wouldn’t be able to get away. But did she want to? No, she wanted him just as much as he wanted her. Common sense told her to step back from this for so many reasons, one being he was her boss and personal relationships on the job never worked out.
“Yes, you do frighten me,” she finally admitted. “You’re my boss and that puts me at a distinct disadvantage.”
“I separate business from pleasure and never combine the two,” he replied coolly. “My pursuit of you is purely on a personal level and has nothing to do with our positions at work.”
She could feel herself weakening, wanting what he offered but knowing she couldn’t take the chance. “I’m flattered, but still not interested.”
He moved his fingers and covered her pulse at her wrist. Raising an eyebrow, he asked, “Then why is your heart beating so fast?”
She snatched her hand away. “I’m just nervous from everything that’s happened. I need to get back to work.”
“If you’re not afraid, then prove it. Have dinner with me,” he entreated.
“I don’t think that would be a good idea.” She turned and left the room, feeling the heat of his gaze burning into her back.
Jace watched Dani until she left his office. There was a latent sensuality about her that was intriguing and pulled at him. It wasn’t just her body, although he’d have to be dead not to appreciate it. She was intelligent, principled, and had a temper. He liked a woman with spirit, and had every intention of pursuing her on a personal level. She may not admit it, but he knew she was interested in him. “Until next time.”
Dani entered the suite and gasped. She’d pictured a cramped, one-room model. Instead, before her stood a luxurious apartment with a balcony and a breathtaking view of the Strip.
The living room was furnished with a deeply-cushioned couch, two matching chairs, end tables, and lamps. It came equipped with a fifty-inch plasma TV, stereo, desktop computer with network connection, and a mini bar. On one wall was a large sliding door that opened to the balcony. She went out on the balcony and admired the view. Noticing a patio table with umbrella and two chairs, she knew she’d get a lot of enjoyment sitting out here watching the activity below.
She continued her exploration of her new suite and discovered the kitchenette, separated from the living room by a breakfast bar with stools, was fully stocked. Beyond the kitchen area was a bedroom bigger than her whole studio apartment, furnished with a king-sized bed and matching nightstands and dresser. Off of the bedroom was a bathroom, complete with shower and Jacuzzi bath, which she knew she’d use quite a lot as she loved to soak in a tub.
“Do you like it?” Kathy scanned her face for a reaction.
Dani’s face broke out in a wide smile as she answered gleefully, “It’s perfect. I had no idea that I’d get something this nice to live in.”
“I’m so glad you like it. It comes with laundry service, and the laundry bag for your clothes and linens is in the closet. Laundry is picked up every Monday, so just leave the bag next to the door in the living room. Your clean clothes will be returned on Tuesday. If you need something dry-cleaned or ironed, just call down to housekeeping and they’ll make arrangements with you. Every Monday the maid will come and clean.” Kathy headed toward the door, but stopped before opening it. “You have the rest of the day to get settled in. If you need help moving your things, let housekeeping know and they’ll provide someone to help you. Tomorrow morning, meet me at my office at ten and we’ll get you started on your first whale. Is there anything you need before I go?”
“No, you seem to have covered everything. Thank you for recommending me for this job. I really appreciate it. I intend to do everything in my power to make sure I don’t disappoint you.”
“No thanks needed. Besides, I know you’ll be perfect for the job.”
When Kathy left, Dani stretched her arms out to the side and twirled around in glee. “I can’t believe this is my place.”
She picked up the phone and called Julie. “What are you doing?”
“Nothing, just cleaning my apartment. Why?”
“You’re not going to believe what’s happened.”
“Okay, I’ll bite, what?”
Dani plopped down on the couch. “I got promoted to casino host and along with the job comes a suite in the hotel-casino with all the amenities. You have to come over and see it.”
“Oh my God! I’m so happy for you. Give me ten minutes to get dressed, and I’ll be over. I’ll bring a bottle of wine to celebrate and you can tell me all about it.”
“Okay ... hurry.”
Stretching as she woke up, Dani thought of the day ahead and grinned. She started her new job today. She jumped out of bed and turned on the radio. As the music played, Dani danced around the apartment while she got ready for work. Before leaving her suite, she took one last look in the mirror and nodded, satisfied that she looked professional. Promptly at ten she walked into Kathy’s office anxious to start the day.
After closing the door, Dani spun in a circle and asked Kathy, “Am I dressed okay for the job?” The sleeveless teal dress flared slightly as she turned, revealing a tantalizing display of leg. Made of a soft, silk blend, it clung to her curves and ended three inches above her knees.
“Perfect. You look ready to take on the whole casino,” Kathy teased.
“I feel so good today. I think I could take on the whole Vegas Strip.”
Kathy laughed. “Your day will be great then, because you only have to handle one whale today as it’s your first day. In a few minutes we’re going to the hotel lobby where you’ll meet him. His name is Jonathon Freeman, and he is the owner and CEO of a cellular phone company. He has a portfolio that’s worth roughly around two billion dollars, which we hope to decrease after some gambling. It’s your job to make sure he has everything he needs so he can relax and enjoy himself.”
Kathy picked up a cell phone that had been sitting on her desk. “Talk to him and find out which tables he wants to play during his stay here, and make it possible for him to gamble as much as he wants. As you walk him to his room, find out if there’s anything in particular you can get for him to make his stay more enjoyable, or if he’d like to see a show. Find out what time he wants to gamble, then make arrangements for a table to be available for him.
“Give him your cell phone number, which I’m going to give you in a minute, and tell him that he can call you anytime with anything that he needs, and let him know that you are available 24 hours a day. When he comes down to the casino, bring him to his table. You don’t need to stay with him the whole time he gambles, unless he specifically asks you to stay. Just make sure to check in on him once in awhile to make sure he’s doing okay and doesn’t need anything.”
“What do I do when I’m not taking care of him?”
“That’s your free time, but you have to be available in case you’re called.” She handed Dani the smart phone in her hand. “This is yours so your whales or any of us can contact you, so keep it on you at all times. It’ll also come in handy when you need to look something up on the Internet, like a phone number you or he may need or to make arrangements.”
Kathy handed her a stack of business cards. “You can give these to your whales. If you need more, let me know, and I’ll have some made up for you. Because this is your first day, you’ll have a little time on your hands. But after today, you’ll have more than one whale, so you’ll be busy most of the time. Take your meals whenever you want, which are at no cost to you. As you become more familiar with the job, you’ll be meeting people who’ll be able to help you fulfill your whale’s needs. Keep their names and phone numbers in your phone because you’re going to need them. The job will get easier as you go along. Be friendly and efficient, and you should get a good bonus for your efforts.”
Dani took a breath and let it out quickly to fortify herself for her first whale. “Sounds fantastic.”
Kathy placed her hand on Dani’s shoulder as they walked to the door. “There’s no doubt in my mind you’ll be great at this job.”
Dani angled her head quizzically when Kathy reached over and grabbed her other shoulder. “Okay, now slowly take a deep breath through your nose, then release it just as slowly through your mouth.”
When Dani did as she’d asked, Kathy nodded in satisfaction, then let go of her shoulders. “Now you’re ready. Let’s go meet your first whale.”
As they neared the hotel registration desk, Dani spotted Jace talking to one of the employees. At their approach, he turned with a smile. “Hi, Dani. Did Kathy fill you in on what’s expected of you?”
Dani’s heart jumped at the sight of him, and her body hummed as his deep voice resonated through her body. She struggled to keep her reactions hidden. Due to the nature of her new job, she knew they’d come in contact with each other often, so she had to deal with him in a businesslike manner. “Good morning, Mr. Diamond. Kathy told me exactly what is expected. I won’t let you down.”
He reached for her hand and met her gaze. “Jace,” he said as he raised his eyebrow.
Her first instinct was to jerk her hand away quickly, but because Kathy was next to her, she kept her hand in his. “Jace,” she said hesitantly. She tried to withdraw her hand gently, but he held it firmly in his, letting her know with his smile that he wasn’t going to let her go that easily. He turned toward Kathy. “Since this is her first day, I’ll help her with this one.”
Kathy’s gaze bounced from her to Jace, then back again. She arched a slim brow at Jace. “Okay, if you’re sure. I have a couple of things I need to get done. You know how to reach me if you need anything.”
As soon as Kathy was out of earshot, Dani spun on Jace. “What are you trying to do? Kathy looked at us as if there was something going on between us. Have you completely lost your mind?”
“You can lie to yourself all you want, but there’s definitely something between us, even if you won’t admit it. Ignoring it isn’t going to make it go away.”
“I wish you’d stop this idiocy. I keep telling you there can’t be anything between us.”
He stepped closer. “Have dinner with me tonight?”
Getting peeved at his adamant behavior, but not wanting to add fuel to his fire, she reverted to business matters. “I’m anxious to get started. Could you please introduce me to my first whale?”
“We’ll play by your rules, for now, but later ... we’ll be playing by mine.”
Before she could respond, he looped her arm through his and headed for the lobby. “Come with me.”
They approached a man who looked to be in his forties. He stood approximately six feet tall, with light brown hair and cool blue eyes. When he saw them approach, he grinned.
Dani attempted to extricate her arm, but Jace refused to let her go. He introduced her to Jonathon Freeman, but kept her arm through his as they exchanged pleasantries. After a few minutes, he said, “I’ll leave you in the capable hands of Dani. Go easy on her, John. This is her first day. Enjoy your stay and good luck.” He winked at Dani as he left, a silent promise that sent her heart racing.
She quickly glanced at Jonathon to see if he’d caught Jace’s wink, but thankfully he appeared preoccupied with his luggage.
Her heart rate refused to slow as she thought of Jace. What was it about him that caused her mind to turn to mush and her knees to jelly? Her body gravitated toward him as if it had a will of its own. Afraid of her reaction to him, she forced her thoughts back to business.
Dani waited until Jonathon was done. “Are you ready to go?”
As they rode the elevator up to his room to get him situated, she inquired, “Is there anything I can do to make your stay here more enjoyable?”
He smiled, creating fine lines around his eyes. “I don’t suppose you’re available are you?
She laughed nervously. “No, I’m afraid not. But if there’s anything else you need, I’ll try to accommodate you.”
“Can’t blame a guy for trying. Right now, what I’d really like to do is go to my room and just rest for a while. It was a long flight. If possible, I’d like to have dinner at six in the steakhouse, then play some blackjack. Can that be arranged?”
“No problem. I’ll take care of it for you.” She handed him one of her business cards. “Here’s my phone number. You can call me anytime day or night if you need anything while you’re here with us. Enjoy your rest. I’ll see you this evening.”
As Dani was passing the cashier’s desk, she saw Julie working and stopped to talk to her.
“So, how’s it going so far?” her friend asked.
Dani put her elbows on the counter. “Great. It seems like it’s going to be so much fun.”
“Heard a rumor that the boss man has his eyes on you.”
Alarmed, Dani straightened up and frowned. “Where did you hear that?”
“Through the grapevine. Any truth to it?” Julie smirked.
“Absolutely not. It’s strictly business between us.”
“Hmm ... we’ll see. If you want my advice, jump his bones if he even glances at you. That’s one fine man.” Julie picked up some papers and raised her eyebrows as she teased. “Don’t know if I should ask, seeing as how you’re hot stuff now, but later a few of us are going to the club for some dancing and, hopefully, some hot, mind-blowing sex afterward. You game?”
She put her elbows back on the counter and leaned forward. “Dancing sounds fun, but I’m not sure if I’ll be available. What time are you going?”
“Not until around midnight. If you can get away, come on over. Who knows, you might get lucky,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes.
Dani straightened. “Okay. Which club are you going to?”
“Hot Ice. Since it’s here in the casino, it gives us more time to party.” A customer walked up to the desk. “Gotta go. Try to make it,” Julie said as she went to the window to help the customer.
“I’ll try. Depends if my whale needs me or not.”
It turned out he didn’t. After losing about $100,000, Jonathon decided to call it a night. Dani glanced at her watch. 12:30. Still time enough to go to the club.
Jace had been watching Dani on the monitor. She’d checked on Jonathon every half hour or so and conducted herself in a completely professional manner. After Jonathon stopped gambling, he spotted Dani on another monitor heading into Hot Ice. Tonight a new DJ was spinning the music so the music should be good. Maybe he could persuade her to dance with him. As he entered, he noticed a VIP table not in use. Since it had the best view of the bottom level, he decided to check things out. The club was jumping, the music blaring and people were dancing, just the kind of atmosphere the casino promoted. As he scanned the club, he caught sight of Dani dancing with a man.
As Jace watched her body sway in time to the beat, his senses came alive. He felt his body answer her alluring call with a mind of its own. Desire flared as he felt the need to feel her enticing body next to his, filling him with the touch and taste of her. Not being able to stay away from her a second longer, he tapped her partner on the shoulder. “Do you mind?”
“No, of course not,” he stammered and stepped aside.
Normally Jace didn’t use his position to intimidate people, but in this instance he felt justified. He’d been trying to get Dani back into his arms since their intimate encounter on the rooftop.
Dani continued to dance, her body writhing to the beat of the music, seeming to beg for his touch. Her gaze met his and darkened with desire, mesmerizing him with their intensity. He gathered her close, and the heat radiating from her body permeated every part of his. Her scent swirled around him and imprisoned him until every thought was of her.
When the music ended, Dani tried to move away, but he held her hand as he brought her along with him to the outside of the club. He gathered her close to him as he leaned against the wall, needing to feel her body melt against his.