Dirty Deals by Nicole James

CHAPTER ONE





Ashlynn Fox—



I step out of the hotel’s limo onto the tarmac at one of McCarran’s aviation hangars. It’s where anyone flying private into Las Vegas arrives. I’m here to meet the jet of my biggest whale—that’s what we call a high roller, big-stakes gambler here in Sin City.

Carter Maxwell has been known to gamble millions in a weekend. The elite penthouse he’s being given complimentary by the hotel casino is so exclusive and so secret not even the biggest rock stars and movie stars can stay there. It’s reserved only for our biggest gamblers, and they won’t even open it for anyone gambling less than two million.

When you’re a high roller, one person largely arranges your Vegas experience—your devoted casino host. That’s me, though my official title is luxury concierge.

I watch as the jet taxis up and stops. The sleek lines of the Gulfstream glint in the setting sun. I double-check the tail number to make sure this is the right plane. Not that I need to; I’ve met his plane enough times to recognize it. But in my line of work I can’t afford mistakes, so I double-check everything.

I run my hand across the back of my neck, under the collar of my vest. Even though its sleeveless, the thick suit fabric is heavy. I tug at the matching pinstripe skirt that comes to just above my knees. Even in April, the temperature in Vegas can get warm, and it’s currently hovering around eighty. I resist the urge to fan myself with the copy of today’s Wall Street Journal I hold in my hand—the one Carter always requires upon landing. I’m sure the news is already hours old, but I’m only too happy to fulfill all his proclivities, and this by far is the easiest.

Thankfully, the door to the jet soon opens, and the stairs drop. Several crewmembers step out to secure things as Mr. Maxwell emerges with his latest girlfriend—one his wife knows nothing about.

He’s asked me to make sure she is well entertained with exclusive shopping in the best boutiques while he’s at the private tables. The hotel will be comping much of her spending, if not all. That’s how important Carter Maxwell is to the Del Sol, the Strip’s elite new resort and casino.

My sole responsibility is to ensure that visiting big shots have the best possible experience and thus spend the most possible money at our casino.

Carter Maxwell is such a prize whale, that hosts from all the major casinos compete for the right to manage his itinerary. I won out. I did that by stealing him from a competing casino host and ensuring his first stay in our hotel was epic. I arranged a racecar experience, a private helicopter to the Grand Canyon, and even provided expensive welcome gifts like a Rolex and a twenty thousand dollar painting of an artist I discovered he liked. It worked, and ever since he’s been exclusively playing at the Del Sol Hotel and Casino. Now we have a rapport I’ve worked hard to build.

He strides to me, and I smile brightly, extending my hand. “Mr. Maxwell, I hope your trip was smooth.”

He returns my smile with a megawatt one of his own, taking my hand. “Lovely, Ashlynn. You remember Christine.”

I smile at the woman who’s barely older than I am. She’s blonde and thin, with a smile that doesn’t reach her bored eyes. I’m not surprised by his taste; he’s always run toward leggy blondes, which leaves me out, as my long glossy hair is unfortunately a rich brown, as are my dark eyes. A girl can dream, though, and this man is almost worth bleaching my hair a Marilyn Monroe platinum.

Carter Maxwell is one of the wealthiest men in Denver, and he’s got the good looks that rarely come with money like his. He’s tall and blond with just a touch of gray at the temples. Thus he can attract and keep lookers like Christine.

I shake her hand. “Christine, you look beautiful. I’ve arranged some exclusive time in all the best shops and your own private shopper to escort you.”

“I’m sure she’ll love that. Won’t you, my dear?” he asks, and she smiles up at him, turning into a different person.

She purrs like a cat as she strokes his cheek. “I’ll be sure to pick up some outfits for your enjoyment as well.”

I grit my teeth against the urge to vomit at her fakeness, and wave my hand toward the limo. “Shall we?”

Once we’re loaded and on our way, I hand Carter his requested paper. “I’ve got you in our lavish Skye Penthouse with private pool, spa, sauna and steam room. I’ve arranged for a private butler and massage therapist for the duration of your stay. You’ll find a bottle of Cristal, two bottles of the rare wine from the Rothschild estate you love, and also the Louis XIII cognac you requested.”