Finding love on the journey homeGail Barrett
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Excerpt from His 7 Day Fiancée

Luke got straight to the point. “What’s going on?”

“A woman said she was held up at gunpoint near the slot machines. I’ve pulled up the surveillance tapes. She’s in the next room.”

“Let’s see the tapes.” He rounded the desk as Ruiz lowered himself into his chair and keyed the bank of monitors to the proper time.

The screens flickered, and suddenly a woman strolled into view from a dozen angles. Her full hips swiveled with a seductive swing. Her high breasts shifted and swayed.

Luke’s gaze cut to her face, and his heart made a sudden swerve. Well, hell. It was the blonde he’d admired earlier in the lobby.

He studied her now with frank appreciation. She was on the tall side, slender, but the tight dress revealed her ample curves. She had long, shiny hair, sweetly rounded hips, the kind of killer legs that could fuel his fantasies for years.

He slanted his head. She wasn’t the usual overblown Vegas type, despite the skimpy dress. She seemed more natural, unstudied -- a rarity in Sin City, a place where illusions ruled.

She stumbled on the mile-high heels, regained her balance, and glanced around. The cameras caught her darting gaze, and his gut went still.

She looked furtive. Guilty.

Bad move, babe. Better to look nervous after the guy with the gun shows up.

As if on cue, a man appeared on scene. The newcomer kept his head bent low, his face carefully hidden from the camera’s view. His long, stringy hair swung past his jaw, hiding his features even more.

Luke’s gaze narrowed on the man’s pleated blue shirt and black bow tie -- the uniform his dealers wore. “Is he one of ours?”

“We don’t know yet. We’re checking the records now.”

He rubbed his stubble-roughened jaw, watched the episode play out. The galley doors swung open. A waitress stepped out, carrying a tray. The blonde crashed into her, then bolted off, while the man ran the other way.

He raised a brow. The blonde thought fast on her feet, he’d give her that much. “Who is she?”

The guard consulted his notes. “Amanda Patterson. Said she arrived in Las Vegas last week. She’s staying with her sister, Kendall Patterson, a dancer in your ten o’clock show.”

Luke thought back to the brunette he’d seen with her in the lobby. A dealer and a dancer. An inside job, then? Probably a scam to sue the casino.

The spurt of disappointment took him by surprise. He knew better than to expect the blonde to be innocent. This was Vegas. Everyone was on the make. Even the prettiest face masked a conniving heart.

The guard switched to another screen, and Luke watched the man exit the casino, still hiding his face. He checked the time on the tape. Twenty minutes ago. No point looking for him now.

“Let me know what the employee search brings up. Contact Legal, call the police. Get Martinez over here if you can.” He and Martinez went way back to their childhood in Naked City, the slums beyond the Strip. He could count on him to keep the story hushed until the Phoenix deal went through.

He turned, headed down the hall to interview the blonde. Chances were that this was an inside job, but he couldn’t rule the Rothchilds out. Harold Rothchild was buried in debt, his empire on the verge of collapse. Luke’s project would seal his doom.

Which was exactly what Luke planned.

Of course, if the Phoenix project failed, he would suffer instead. He set his jaw. Good thing he didn’t intend to fail.

He pushed open the office door, spotted the blonde standing by the desk. She turned toward him as he entered the room.

His gaze met hers. A sudden awareness shivered between them, and he hesitated in mid-stride.

She was even more attractive close up. Her eyes were a deep, startling blue, as vibrant as the desert sky. She had pale, creamy skin, a smattering of freckles on her feminine nose. Her lips looked soft and lush.

She was pretty, damned pretty -- stunning if he factored in those world class legs.

But this close he could also sense an aura of vulnerability about her. She stood with her shoulders hunched, her arms crossed tightly across her chest. Dark circles shadowed her eyes.

The sudden urge to protect her caught him off-guard.

He frowned, shook himself out of his daze. This woman didn’t need his protection. For all he knew, she was here to swindle him. “Amanda Patterson?”

“Yes.” Her low, smoky voice slid through him, doing strange things to his insides.

He crossed the room. “I’m Luke Montgomery.”

“Yes, I know, I...” A blush crept up her cheeks. “My sister pointed you out earlier.”

He’d bet. He reached out his hand. She hesitated, then gripped his palm. The smooth, silky feel of her skin arrowed through him, deleting his thoughts. He gazed at her, held immobile by those amazing blue eyes. His heart beat hard in his chest.

After several long moments, he realized he was still holding her hand. He scowled, pried his fingers loose, annoyed by the effort it took. What the hell was that about? He hadn’t been that affected by a woman in years.

And this one could be trying to deceive him.


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