Jorinda Pearce thought she did everything right – graduated from college, married her long-time sweetheart, established a career. But what does she have to show for it now? A degree she doesn’t use, a job she hates, and an ex-husband that broke her heart.
Looking for a long overdue adventure, Jorie takes a walk on the wild side and attends a masquerade event at The Wicked Horse Vegas. It’s exactly the escape she’s looking for, and even better, she can explore anonymously. Drawn to the man masked in black leather with the body of a god, Jorie finds the greatest pleasures of her life at the hands of a stranger.
Walsh Brooks is the most sought after man in The Wicked Horse. Sex is nothing but a game to him and he’s the type that will always leave at the end of the night without looking back. Unfortunately for Walsh, there’s no way he can walk away from the mysterious green-eyed beauty behind the mask of sapphire feathers, because he knows exactly who she is.
Jorie is his best friend’s little sister and there’s not another woman in the world that’s more off limits.
Squaring my shoulders, I march into The Royale and head straight for the concierge desk. I haven’t been in this casino before. Hell, I haven’t been in hardly any of them. Sure, I’d only grown up about forty-five minutes away, but gambling and all-you-can-eat buffets held no interest to me.
From Micah bragging about his best friend over the years, I knew Walsh orchestrated the purchase of the land, then pulled together financing with two other partners to build this casino. It’s one of the most popular on the strip, boasting five-star dining, old-world elegance, and superior customer service. Again, all this from Micah, but honestly… I’m so proud of Walsh, too. We may have lost touch over the years, but I’ll never forget all the ways in which he acted as a big brother to me.
Okay… that’s gross. Thinking of Walsh like a brother.
I scrub my mind clean of that thought and demand myself never to do that again.
Rather, I’ll never forget all the ways in which Walsh provided me friendship and support in my formative years.
Yes… much better.
“Can I help you?” a man behind the concierge desk asks with a genuine and friendly smile. Not snooty as I would expect in a fancy hotel, and I guess that goes to the superior customer service The Royale strives for.
“Yes… hi,” I say as I nervously tuck my hair behind my ears on both sides. “I need to see Mr. Brooks. How do I go about getting access to his apartment?”
Micah told me some time ago that Walsh lives here.
The concierge never loses his friendly smile, but a single eyebrow arches high at my temerity.
“Oh, gosh,” I stammer. “That came out stalkerish. Mr. Brooks… I mean, Walsh… and I are longtime friends. He used to babysit me.”
“Your name?” the man asks as he pulls up something on his computer.
After a moment of scanning, he looks up at me. “Your name isn’t on the approved list.”
“Well, he’s not exactly expecting me.”
“I’m sorry, Miss Pearce,” he says with true regret in his voice. “But our policy is strict. No one gets up to the private penthouse without their name on the list.”
I lean on the desk with one elbow and lower my voice. “Just out of curiosity… are there any women on that list?”
The eyebrow shoots up again.
“No, wait,” I say hastily as I hold my palms toward him in a silent plea to not process my last request either mentally or on the computer. “That’s totally stalkerish, and I didn’t mean that.”
“Miss Pearce,” the concierge says, now with a hint of annoyance. “Perhaps you’d like to leave a message? I can get it up to Mr. Brooks today and he can call you.”
“No, I need to see him now,” I tell him firmly. “And I swear it’s not to cook a rabbit in a pot on his stove. Can you please just call up to his apartment?”
“That’s not our policy—”
“Look,” I snap as I lean across the desk slightly. “I’m a lifelong friend of Walsh’s. My brother is his best friend. We lost touch for a few years, but we ran into each other last night. I really need to talk to him about something that happened last night, and I’m not leaving this hotel until you call up to his apartment.”
The eyebrow doesn’t arch but it does draw inward to meet its match on the other side as he considers what I just said.
“I swear to you,” and here I pause to look at his name tag, “Bentley. Please just call him. He won’t be mad.”
With a sigh, he relents and picks up the phone receiver, punching in a five-digit number. After a pause, he says, “Mr. Brooks… I’m very sorry to disturb you, sir, but there’s a Miss Jorie Pearce here to see you. She says she’s a longtime friend.”
I watch as Bentley listens, but I can’t gauge what’s being said as his face remains blank. Finally, he says, “Very good, sir.”
I take this to mean I’ll be getting an escort to the penthouse suite, but Bentley replaces the receiver and says, “I’m sorry, Miss Pearce. But Mr. Walsh told me to tell you he’s busy and can’t receive you right now.”
My eyes narrow at Bentley. “I don’t believe you. Call back and let me talk to him.”
“I assure you, I just talked to him and that’s what he said.”
“Call him back,” I order as I point to the phone.
“I can’t,” he says almost with a wail. “If I do, he’ll fire me.”
Okay, that hits home. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, so I say, “Fine. Give me just a moment.”
I take a few steps away from the concierge desk and pull my iPhone out. I shoot off a quick text to Micah. What’s Walsh’s phone number?
I wait a few moments, but I know Micah is awake in San Francisco at this hour. His phone is always on, and he never ignores a text from me.
He responds with the number before I can even start to tap my foot with impatience, adding on, Why?
I hate the lie, but I write back, Came to Vegas for the day. Thought I’d see if he could meet up for lunch. Haven’t seen him in years.
Cool, he writes back. Tell him I said, “what’s up, douche?”
I roll my eyes as I text back, Real mature. Love ya. Later.
After I save the number to my contacts, I open a new text to Walsh. Let me up to see you or I’m going straight back to The Wicked Horse to satisfy some further curiosities I have.
I hit send and then walk back to the concierge desk. I merely lean one elbow on it and watch Bentley with a silent smile. The phone rings about ten seconds after that.
Bentley’s eyes fly to mine as he listens, and then says, “Yes, sir. Right away.”
When he replaces the receiver, he says, “I’m to show you to the penthouse elevator.”
“Thank you, Bentley,” I say brightly.
Since the release of her debut contemporary romance novel, Off Sides, in January 2013, Sawyer Bennett has released more than 30 books and has been featured on both the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists on multiple occasions.
A reformed trial lawyer from North Carolina, Sawyer uses real life experience to create relatable, sexy stories that appeal to a wide array of readers. From new adult to erotic contemporary romance, Sawyer writes something for just about everyone.
Sawyer likes her Bloody Marys strong, her martinis dirty, and her heroes a combination of the two. When not bringing fictional romance to life, Sawyer is a chauffeur, stylist, chef, maid, and personal assistant to a very active toddler, as well as full-time servant to two adorably naughty dogs. She believes in the good of others, and that a bad day can be cured with a great work-out, cake, or a combination of the two.