|ONE NIGHT IN VEGAS
formerly “VIVA LAS BAD BOYS”
VIVA LAS BAD BOYS
Welcome to Vegas’s hottest spot—the Berkley Hotel and Casino—where a trio of bad boys are more than happy to put the “sin” in Sin City…
Jack McAllister is looking to get lucky on his vacation, and the jilted bride sitting at the slot machine next to him just might be his answer. Getting her up to his room is a breeze. Ditto getting her out of that formal, white dress. Laine Monroe isn’t a bride at all. The pretty blonde accountant is playing P.I. to help a client she’s sure Jack conned out of his money. But now that she’s got him in a compromising position, she finds he’s all too willing to compromise…
Jenna Barrister didn’t get to where she is in the business world by being a pushover. So how exactly did she end up here, playing corporate babysitter to playboy super-chef Zach Jacobs? This is one MBA who isn’t falling for his “speak naughtily and carry a big spatula” routine. But when the lights suddenly go out in the hotel, Jenna’s resolve crumbles. She wants to experience the heat, and the rebellious chef knows just how to turn it up…
TWO OF A KIND
As the casino faces its first blackout, Assistant Manager Alex Mitchell figures there are worse places to get stranded than in the soon-to-open spa with a mysterious and sexy guest. Hey, what happens in the massage room, stays in the massage room. Travel reviewer Caroline Rogers has road-tested plenty of places, but she’s never had a steamy, four-star experience like this one. She should confess her secret, but who knew mixing business and pleasure could be this much fun…
*Finalist in the novella category of the 2007 Beacon Contest for Excellence in Romance Publishing for Player’s Club
“Viva Las Bad Boys! is a laugh-a-minute collection with plenty of heart to counter all the sizzling passion.” – Sarah W., The Romance Studio
“HelenKay Dimon always gets it right with the greatest, sexiest, hottest stories around, and VIVA LAS BAD BOYS is no exception.” – Kristal Gorman, Romance Reader At Heart
“Dimon has a clever way with humor and sexual tension, and the simultaneous timelines of the stories are ingenious.” – Jennifer Madsen, Romantic Times
“…a charming, explosive anthology about what can happen, and does, when the lights go out…It’s one you don’t want to miss.” – Sinclair Reid, Romance Reviews Today
“…three tales of sensuality and passion that will leave her fans wanting more.” – Angel Brewer, Romance Junkies
“A perfect book to tuck into a beach bag, fans all but certainly won’t be disappointed.” – Sandy Coleman, All About Romance
Jack MacAllister smiled at his companion of one hour. “I’m not a great believer in luck.”
“Better not let the Vegas tourism folks hear you say that or you’ll have a date with a bus going straight out of town.”
Actually, his only date for the evening had been a blackjack table. Until she sat down. A sexy blonde blessed with a sweet round face and the husky voice of a telephone sex operator. The same woman wearing a big white wedding dress.
A rule probably existed somewhere that said harmless flirting was not so harmless if the woman in question happened to be a bride. Someone else’s that is. But he wasn’t ready to believe this one even was a bride. Something about this lady’s story didn’t fit. The attitude, the lack of excitement. The absence of a groom…
If she weren’t so damn sexy, he’d run for cover in any direction that included a bar. But that wasn’t happening.
About fifteen minutes ago she looked up at the big screen television in the nearby betting area and started spewing out college football statistics. Exactly ten seconds after that he fell deep into lust. His ass hadn’t moved since. If there was anything hotter than a woman who knew about sports, well, he didn’t know what it could be.
When she moved to the rows and rows of shiny flashing slot machines and asked him to join her, he did. He even kept up the pretense of polite conversation by wasting a hundred dollars in less than fifteen minutes on slot play.
After all that time watching her, he still didn’t know her story. He knew how her shoulder-length hair bounced against her slim shoulders when she laughed. He knew how her grass green eyes sparkled with excitement when the reels rolled her way. He knew because his sorry ass had been stuck on the same uncomfortable stool forever watching her nurse a twenty-dollar bill and eighty credits.
But her wedding? The groom? Nothing. Not one word.
She didn’t strike him as an obsessive nutcase who liked to dress up in fancy gowns for fun. Of course, she didn’t strike him as a woman celebrating the best day of her life either.
She said something, but he lost the thread when a group of what could only be described as Beautiful People stepped out of the Bentley Hotel and Casino elevators squealing at a decibel level he’d bet would shatter glass. The women, all with straight hair and even straighter bodies headed for one of the many bars outlining the gambling area.
“Very pretty. Your type?” She did some shouting of her own to be heard over all that giggling.
“They look hungry to me.”
“Haven’t you heard? Thin is in.”
His gaze returned to her companion and wandered over her petite frame. She was compact, with full high breasts. Even under the sharp yellow lighting he could see the healthy glow to her skin.
“Where do women get this crap?” he asked.
“From other women.”
“You’re not going to blame men, the media and the evils of advertising?”
“There’s enough blame to go around, but women are the worst.” She looked past him. “Speaking of blame.”
He looked over just in time to see a tourist dragging a suitcase the size of a coffee table slam into a tall, useless-looking guy in a tux. Casino employees dressed in burgundy blazers swarmed the scene.
“That can’t be good for business,” she said.
“Alex has it under control.” A low rumble of background noise filled the air as men and women puffed on cigarettes and grabbed up free booze as if security guards weren’t engaged in the equivalent of international peace talks in the middle of the floor.
He shrugged. “Alex Mitchell. The Assistant Manager.”
She shrugged right back in an exaggerated style that made him laugh. “You visit enough to be on a first-name basis with the guy who runs this place?”
“Let’s just say Alex is the type to give a personal welcome to frequent guests.”
“Ahh, I get it. You’re a high roller.”
“I come here whenever I need to clear my head.” Time to steer the conversation to neutral ground. She didn’t need to know about the size of his bank account or the huge decision facing him back at the office. “With the new construction, the shutting down of part of the pool deck and all the other inconveniences that go along with expansion, Alex is doing everything he can to keep the patrons happy.”
Not the most observant woman he’d ever met but certainly one of the more attractive. The kind of attractive that translated just as well in the bedroom as in every other room of the house.
“You didn’t notice the second tower going up right behind this one? The big crane?”
“Guess you prefer indoor activities.” He loved those type of activities.
A bell started dinging behind him, reminding him there were a few things about Vegas he didn’t love. Things he actually hated. Specifically, slot machines. He despised all that ringing and shrieking whenever anyone won a measly ten bucks.
“Maybe we should try another game. One that actually requires a level of skill higher than picking lottery numbers,” he said.
“This machine is going to hit.”
Since her eyes sparkled with hope, he almost hated to shoot her down with the truth. He tried anyway. “I hope you’re kidding.”
“No, really, I can feel it. Gambling isn’t usually my thing-”
“So, naturally, you came to Vegas.”
She ignored him and rambled on. “I’ve been within inches of hitting progressive a few times.” She pointed at the screen. “I just need the circle with the big B to land on the line next time. It was just below the line last spin.”
Great. A novice. “You know it doesn’t work like that, right? It’s all chance. There’s no skill involved. What happens one spin has no bearing on what happens the next. It’s all based on a series of numbers-”
“I’m as fiscally responsible as the next person. More so, really, but this is different. Don’t ruin my fun.” She had one hand wrapped around the neck of a beer bottle and the other gripping the slot pull as if she’d fall through the floor without the thing to support her.
“You’re right. I’m sure you’re within inches of lifetime financial security.”
“Far be it from me to ruin your day with a little realism.”
“Good man.” She gulped down a mouthful of beer.
If she were going to pickle herself, he should at least have some biographical information to tell the ambulance crew. “You still haven’t told me where your groom is.”
She stopped in mid-swig. “You didn’t ask.”
Oh, he was sure he had. Twice. In between the part where he imagined she was wearing skimpy pastel lingerie and the part where he peeled them off her inch by mind-blowing inch. She ducked the question both times.
“Just as I thought.” An annoying tsk-tsking sound followed the comment. “We have a good deal of work ahead of us.”
At the sound of the bored female voice, Zach Jacobs stopped what he was doing, which happened to be lying on his desk on top of the hottest blonde waitress on the Vegas Strip. His companion wore the Berkley Hotel and Casino cocktail uniform like a second skin. She also made it clear not ten minutes before that he had a green light for action, all he had to do was drive on through.
Then the nasty traffic cop entered the room.
The same one standing at his door clicking her tongue against her teeth, creating one of the most annoying sounds on the planet. The one talking to him, and not in the good way. The one most decidedly not screaming his name out in ecstasy, despite his every effort to the contrary.
Jenna Barrister. Erection killer.
He swiveled around in time to see Jenna walk in the room with her black and thin white line striped suit, bare toned legs, sexy shoes and…yep, there it was. A shiny metal clipboard.
Every time he looked at her, which was as often as possible, he wondered how a woman so damn hot could be so fucking evil. He suddenly had the urge to rip the eight-by-eleven thing out of her perfectly manicured fingers and throw it out of the window. With any luck, she’d dive out after it.
“The door was locked,” he said, stating the obvious.
“I have a key,” Jenna responded, oblivious to the obvious.
Fine. He’d be more clear. “Get out.”
Demanding that Jenna leave was worth a try. He’d tried everything else with her, but the hotel’s outside consultant appeared to be immune to everything he threw her way. His anger. His tantrums. His flirting. He could understand her not falling at his feet the minute he turned on the charm but, come one, would it kill her not to laugh when he tried to make a move?
“I’m not ready to leave yet,” she said as she walked around the small room, scowling at the piles of paperwork scattered on the floor.
She came to a halt right beside the desk. Without looking up, he could see her lean, tanned legs.
“This is private.” He tried to get up, but his arms and legs wouldn’t move. It was as if the sound of Jenna’s husky voice and unexpected visit froze him in place.
His companion wasn’t exactly jumping up either. Anika whatever-her-last-name-was lay under him like a rag doll, her eyes big and her mouth hanging open.
Jenna squatted down until she was eye-level with his desk and the tiny space between their bodies. The space where his withering erection happened to be. “Interesting.”
“Happy you think so. Now, get out.”
“I mean, it’s interesting you decided to have sex with a member of the staff right on top of my memo which specifically outlines how you are not to have sex with the staff.”
“You’ve sent fifty memos in the month since you got here. If I read them all, I wouldn’t have time to cook.”
“Twelve, and I’ve been here three weeks and four days.” She scribbled something down on her notepad.
“Guess it only feels like fifty,” he mumbled as he tried to see whatever it was she found important enough to write down.
“Do you have sex on top of all of my memos? If so, I can ask your staff to read them to you before they put them on your desk.”
“I…” That was it. Nothing else came to him. Probably had something to do with her saying “staff” repeatedly.
“Some would consider your conduct, shall we say, ballsy.”
Staff. Balls. The woman needed a new vocabulary. “You think that-”
“Or maybe she doesn’t work here.” Jenna’s gaze wandered over what she could see of Anika, which wasn’t much since he was plastered against the stunned woman from thigh to shoulder. “Is she just borrowing a staff uniform for a role-playing sex exercise perhaps?”
She needed to stop saying staff or his head would explode. “If you would just leave-”
“At least your clothes are still on.” She started scribbling again. “For now.”
“Do I get points for that? If so, write that down. I want all the credit I can get.”
“Not really. Probably just a slowness issue on your part. If I had come in three or four minutes later the clothing likely would be elsewhere. On the floor maybe?”
Slow? Now she was knocking his technique. The woman could destroy a mood faster than a story about dead cats. “How can I put this? Yeah, let’s try this: get the hell out of my office!”
“Thank you, but no.” She leaned in and tapped the tip of her pen against Anika’s shoulder, making the poor woman yelp in surprise. “And you are?”
Anika’s gaze flew back and forth between them. “Uhh…I’m…”
“That’s none of your business.” He shifted up to his elbows. He would have gotten off the desk but Jenna’s hovering made that impossible. He had to stay where he was or risk landing on Jenna, tempting as that was. “And while you’re at it, get out.”
“Still no.” Jenna cleared her throat.
“What do I have to do to get rid of you?” He really wanted to know what he had to do to get her under him, but he wasn’t about to ask that question.
“Do you know her name?”
Anika stared at him. Stared at Jenna. Stared at the ceiling. Then she burst into tears.
“Now look what you did.” Jenna patted Anika’s head, likely because that was the woman’s only visible body part other than her breasts.
“Me? What did I do?” He hadn’t done anything. Hadn’t had time. That was kind of the point.
“Isn’t it obvious?” Jenna turned her attention back to Anika. “He can’t be that bad at this. He actually has quite the reputation as a ladies man. That’s why I’m here.”
“To kill my reputation?” he asked.
“To eliminate your sexual escapades.”
“Wait a minute.”
“Or is the problem that he’s crushing you?” Jenna looked at Anika then frowned at him. “Maybe you should get off the nice lady.”
“Don’t push me.”
“Sure. I can be accommodating. Take your time.” She tapped that pen against her clipboard. “I’ll wait.”
She wanted to watch? “What?”
“Really, how long can this take?” She looked at the skinny watch on her wrist. “Six, maybe seven, minutes?”
“I can sit over…” she turned around in a circle, taking in every inch of the room, “well, there really isn’t a place to sit. This place looks more like a men’s locker room than an office.”
“I’ll look out the window. Go ahead. Finish up.”
“Have you lost your mind?” He had. No question. Whatever brain cells he had this morning were long gone. Scared off by Jenna and her man-killing tactics.
“You’re right. I have other things to do.”
“Scare small animals, perhaps?”
“I’ll give you a half hour to do whatever it is you have planned here,” she waved her hand in the air in a dismissive gesture that killed whatever was left of his libido, “then you really need to get off this young woman and get back to work.”
TWO OF A KIND
Caroline Rogers leaned down and did the one, possibly only, act prohibited in all of Las Vegas. She dipped her toes in one of the blue tiled whirlpool baths in the decadent new spa of the Berkley Hotel and Casino.
The spa sat in the wing connecting the hotel to the new tower currently under construction. When the place opened, Berkley would house the largest and most exclusive facilities for high-end clientele on the Strip.
That’s why she was here. To write her travel report about how the good folks staying and working at Berkley coped with the inconvenience. Berkley’s patrons weren’t exactly known for accepting vacation adversity.
Technically, her alter ego Veronica Hampton would get the credit. Being a hotel critic required anonymity. Her Veronica life provided that.
She imagined the visit on the flight here. During every minute of the car ride from the airport. Lounging in a thick terry cloth robe while spa attendants buffed, scrubbed and otherwise pampered her into liquid form. There would be free spritzer drinks and herbal teas. Miles of toiletries to test. Stacks of the hippest magazines to read. All followed by a cleansing shower in a stall with massaging jets aimed at every inch of her tired body.
If her temporary secretary back at the office could read a calendar or schedule a simple job without messing it up, all of that relaxation would have been hers. Instead, she arrived a week too early and had to depend on the desperation of an underpaid maid to bribe her way into the spa.
She’d put it all in her review. Provide management with a peek into both her view of the spa and the willingness of the staff to bend the rules. Sure, she benefited from the bending, but that did not matter. The rules were the rules. Everything went in the article.
She tightened the clip holding her long auburn hair on top of her head. Adjusting the knot holding the thick terry cloth towel around her body, she waded in the pool. Therapeutic heat warmed her limbs as the water inched up her calves, then thighs, then brushed against the bottom edge of the towel.
Fragrant steam filled her head as skin turned dewy and warm. Thanks to the scheduling snafu, for the moment all this belonged to her. She planned to enjoy every last indulgent second of it. She figured she had a half hour to play before she needed to check out the hotel’s hot restaurant for dinner.
She opened the towel and prepared to sink her fatigued body down into the water.
Then a brusque male voice cut through her off-key humming. “What are you doing in here?”
Arms wide open and every imperfect inch of her naked body on display, half standing and half crouching, Caroline froze in place. Her body flushed with heat from head to foot as embarrassment flooded through her.
In a flash she looked at him, saw him staring back at her breasts, and snapped the towel closed. Yanking on the edges, she tried to cover as much skin as possible. Every time she tugged from above she showed too much below, fumbling and pulling until finally doubling over to hide her body from the stranger’s view.
“Wow,” he said.
The way his gaze wandered down her body and back up again had her stuttering. “I, ummm, what are you doing?”
“You shouldn’t be in here,” he said, too busy looking at her legs to give her eye contact.
“Can you leave?” So she could wrestle with the suddenly too-small towel in private.
This time he looked at her face with a sappy male grin plastered across his lips. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“You can’t be in here.” Never mind the fact she didn’t know where the guy was allowed to be. She just knew where she wanted him somewhere else.
The man in the expensive navy blue suit, ocean blue tie and matching intense eyes held his hands out in front of him in a calming gesture that was anything but. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
She crossed hands, fingers, toes – whatever extra limbs she could think of – over every private body part not covered by white towel. “As if I’d take your word on that.”
His smile turned from sensual to friendly. “We have a misunderstanding.”
Nightmare was the word he was searching for. “Not if you leave now.”
“I won’t come any closer but-”
“You’re damn right you won’t.” Yeah, that was better. Anger. A little frustration. A dab of attitude. No panic. She couldn’t show fear.
A muscle twitched in his cheek at her turn from fear to pissed, but he didn’t say a word.
Smart man. Right now she’d probably drown him if he uttered one stinking word. Amazing what a little adrenalin pumping through the veins could do for an otherwise terrified woman. “Turn around and keep your hands where I can see them.”
“Why would I?”
“Because I’m naked.”
“I know.” That gaze went traveling again.
“Eyes up here.” She pointed at her face. “Now if you’d face the back wall, I’ll get myself together and get out of here.”
He actually looked like he had to consider the request. After a delay lasted five seconds longer than forever, or felt like it, he gave her a slow and reassuring nod. “Whatever you want.”
The staring didn’t stop. He watched her face, but that gaze bounced down the towel and up again a few times. And no turning around.
“How about you do it now,” she said less as a suggestion than an order.
Took forever but he finally turned around and faced the wall. The move didn’t help one bit. Her capri pants, aqua sweater and underwear where on the hook off to his right. To get to her clothes she had to go through him, and that just was not going to happen.
“I have a suggestion,” he said.
A smooth warm voice. Probably hid the psyche of a serial killer.
“Shhh.” She needed to think. She always worked better with clothes on. That fact wasn’t exactly known to her until right this second, but now she knew. The more clothes she had on, the more in control she felt. Good to know.
Despite the warm water lapping against her legs, a shiver ran through her body. She guessed fear and uncertainty were the culprits. Probably explained her puckered nipples, too.
At least she hoped so. Scary situations didn’t turn her on. Whatever people needed, fine, but that wasn’t her thing. ‘Tho a nice firm butt and broad shoulders like pair this guy possessed had been known to turn her head. Sometimes all the way around.