Home > Playing the Player (The Legends #3)

Playing the Player (The Legends #3)
Author: Erin McCarthy


Chapter One






Getting stood up sucked. I stared at my empty martini glass and felt sorry for my broke and lonely self, fishing the olive out to eat it as the crowded bar and restaurant around me hummed with happy vacationers and upbeat Christmas music.

I was starving. Absolutely starving. I looked longingly at a server delivering something that smelled like happiness and holidays on a plate to the table next to me. My stomach churned angrily and my mouth watered at the sight of all that steaming hot food. I didn’t want to order an expensive dinner to sit there and eat it alone when I could fry up a toasted cheese at home, but that seemed like the very definition of sadness. It was also tempting to order another martini but then I would have to take a car service back to my apartment and spend more money I didn’t really have in my so-tight-it-squeals budget.

Did I mention being broke sucked? Even more than being stood up by a man I’d never met.

That thought was super annoying, so I tried to get my server to cash out on my lone drink, which hadn’t even gotten me buzzed. At twenty dollars a martini, it should at least have given me a buzz and told me my outfit looked cute. The server was younger than me, and kept giving me ticked-off glances that I was hogging a table and not ordering. She might have even been more annoyed than me that I had been stood up by my co-worker’s brother in-law’s cousin, Kyle. I pulled my enormous handbag off the back of the chair and prepared to leave in defeat. My whole life was in that bag because I only went home to sleep at night, bouncing most days between one of my three jobs.

I hauled up Mississippi, my handbag. Named by my grandmother, because she said like the river, a little of everything had been tossed into that bag, most of which would never be found again. Only thing missing was a dead body. But if you, me, or a random stranger in the ladies’ room needed anything, I probably had it in that bag.

The server had ignored my last three attempts to make eye contact, so I decided to just pull out some cash and leave it for my drink. The night was a bust, I was tired, and I needed some hot cheese like the desert needs the rain. Standing up, I grabbed my bag, swung it over my shoulder, and turned to get the hell out of there.

Only when I turned, both me and my bag collided with a solid wall of man muscle. Completely caught off guard, I stumbled in the heels I never wear—because Las Vegas hotel housekeeping staff have very little need for sexy footwear—and grabbed on to the random man’s arm.

“Are you okay?” a deep, smooth voice asked me.

After feeling a momentary regret that it wasn’t the snotty server Mississippi had nailed, I released my grip a little on his suit jacket, and looked up. Way, way up. He was tall. And broad-shouldered. With short caramel-colored hair, a strong jawline, dark green eyes, and a somehow charming jagged little scar along his temple.

He looked concerned.

And he should be, because something very strange was happening. I couldn’t speak. My tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth, my mind was a complete and total blank, and it felt like I had swallowed nine hundred olives instead of one. I had a lump in my throat, a knot in my gut, and a warm, liquid sensation deep in the heart of Trixie, my vag.

I name everything, I can’t help it. It’s called a quirk.

He was hot as hell and I was incapable of speech.

“You’re standing on my foot,” he said.

I looked down at the floor.

Yep. Definitely standing on his foot. There was one heel digging into one very expensive-looking black leather shoe.

That startled me into action.

“Oh, sorry!” I jumped backward, knocking my ass into the table I had just abandoned. The table shook, water splashing out of a glass, cutlery clinking, people turning to stare.

I felt my cheeks burn, which flustered me even more. I have so much pride it’s a personality flaw, and I never blush. Embarrassed that I was embarrassed, it was time to exit less-than-gracefully. I yanked my bag back onto my shoulder and shifted right, trying to find a way around the massive attractive man who was making me feel like a middle school girl. Only trying to maneuver around him in a restaurant filled with tables was like trying to skirt Texas on a road trip. You can’t just go around it. It’s too damn big.

It was also then that I realized he had a wet spot on the front of his shirt and an empty glass in his hand. He had been carrying a drink when I slammed into him. I groaned. “Did I do that?” I attempted to wipe it away with my hand, which was absurd. It was an amber-colored splotch on his crisp white shirt. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay,” he said. “It’s just a shirt.”

“Come here,” I said, gesturing toward the bar. “We need to get some cold water on that.”

For a second, he looked like he was going to brush me off.

“I can save it if you get moving,” I said. “Time is critical in stain management. I work in housekeeping, so trust me on this.”

“You seem very confident about it.”

That made me feel better. “I am.” I needed to fix this because it wasn’t like I could fix anything else in my life. But stain removal was a skill I had perfected.

“Then I’d be stupid to turn you down.”

He followed me and I ordered an ice water from the bartender.

“Can you sit on the stool?” I asked the man. “You’re kind of tall for me to reach.”

He obediently sat and set his empty glass on the bartop. “You work in housekeeping?” he asked.

I nodded. “For Caesars. This isn’t an oil-based stain, so it will come out. If it was lipstick, we would be screwed.”

“If it was lipstick, I wouldn’t be sitting at the bar by myself,” he said, the corner of his mouth turning up.

I paused. Was that… flirtatious? It had been so long since I’d dated, I honestly wasn’t sure. I glanced at his hand. No ring. Well, not a wedding ring, anyway. He was wearing some gaudy class ring but nothing else.

“Then you’re really not having a good night,” I said, trying to sound light and flirty.

I must have succeeded because he said, “It’s turning around.”

He had green eyes with flecks of gold in them and he smelled like expensive cologne. I suddenly and inexplicably wanted to sit on his lap.

The bartender plunked a water down on the countertop in front of me. Hard. She brought the water faster than I would have expected, and the sharp movement startled me out of my gazing into the eyes of the random hot guy. She also smiled at me, which never happened when I ordered a water. But then I realized she wasn’t being helpful on my account. The smile was for the random hot guy.

Of course. She either thought he was hot, because he was, or she recognized he was more likely to be profitable for her than me. Which he also was. He looked like he had about two bazillion more dollars than I did.

“Can I get you another bourbon?” the bartender asked him, leaning forward to give him a view of her cleavage.

I rolled my eyes. Unfortunately, she saw me and gave me a disdainful sniff.

“I would love another bourbon. And whatever the lady would like,” he said, gesturing to me.

“Oh, no,” I said. “I’m fine, I don’t need a drink. And I’ll pay for your drink. It’s my fault.”

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