The Maverick Millionaire

By: Alison Roberts

Her finger poked his chest. “You’re up to something and I want to know what it is.” Her tone brooked no room for debate. He wouldn’t be wiggling out of this confrontation with some flimsy story. “You can start by explaining your need for an alias.”

“Just leave it be.”

She shook her head. “I can’t look the other way. We aren’t kids anymore. This is where I work and I can’t let you jeopardize my job.” Cleo’s voice rose with every word. “But if you turn around and leave now, we can forget we ever saw each other.”

He doubted he’d ever be able to wipe her sexy image from his memory. Her polished persona stole his breath away. She may have been a cute kid, but she’d grown up to be a real knockout. And as for leaving here now, he wasn’t about to do it. He had as much right to be here as anyone else.

Cleo leveled her shoulders and tapped her foot. He hated to tell her but if she was angling for an intimidating pose, she’d missed her mark. She was more alluring than scary.

“Don’t make me call for security.”

Heads were turning in their direction. The very last thing he wanted was to become a spectacle for the masses. “You wouldn’t do that to an old friend, would you?”

“A few minutes ago you didn’t even know me.”

He raked his fingers through his hair. Back in New York when he’d started receiving phone calls where the person at the other end wouldn’t speak, followed by notes warning him not to testify, this vacation had sounded like the perfect plan. What could be better than getting lost in a crowd while testing his luck at the blackjack table?

Ever since the assets of his investment firm had been frozen by the government until the trial was completed, he’d missed the rush of working the stock market—the flood of adrenaline. He’d hoped Vegas would give him a similar high—a chance to feel truly alive again instead of living his life from one medical test to the next.

When his doctor gave him the green light, he’d picked a spot on the map far from New York and booked a plane ticket. He’d requested an alias be used while he was at the Glamour just as a precaution. But he had no idea how much of that he should tell Cleo. If only she would trust him...for old times’ sake.

“What’s going on here?” A short, round man in a business suit approached them. He glanced at Cleo. “Do you intend to interrogate all of the casino’s important guests in the middle of the lobby?”

Her expression morphed from frustration to one of shock. Her gaze moved back and forth between the two men as though waiting for an explanation.

When none came, she said, “But he is—”

“Your client. And you will treat him with respect.” The man turned to Jax and held out his hand. “Hello, Mr. Smith. I’m Mr. Burns. We spoke on the phone. Let’s talk someplace a little more private.” He led them to a hallway just off the casino’s main floor and into an empty office. “I think there must have been some sort of mix-up. I’ll see about getting you a new casino host.”

Jax’s gaze moved to Cleo. Beneath the makeup her face had taken on a sickly pallor. And her eyes held a deer-in-headlights panic. His initial instinct was to ride to her rescue. She’d always been the one to offer him a helping hand all those years ago back in Hope Springs. There was a strange satisfaction in seeing the roles reversed. But that was then, and this was now.

And it only complicated matters that he couldn’t keep his eyes off this grown-up version of her. She was no longer too young for him. In fact, the reasons he had to keep her at arm’s length became more muddled the longer he was around her. It was best to end things right here. After all, it wasn’t as if the man was going to fire her over this.

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