A Win-Win Proposition

Harlequin Desire, October 2011

eISBN: 9781459214200

Sebastian Case relies on his irreplaceable assistant for everything. But since arriving in Vegas for a conference, mousy Missy Ward has transformed herself. From ordinary to ravishing. From modest and reserved to bold and sensual. And Sebastian, who'd barely noticed she was a woman, finds himself dazzled by her allure.

Now she's quitting and Sebastian will do anything to keep her. Including accepting her outrageous bet. One spin of the roulette wheel--black and she'll stay...red and Sebastian owes her one night of passion. What can he lose, except maybe his heart?


Multi -colored lights winked at Sebastian Case, enticing him to come try his luck. He ignored the electronic clatter of slot machines as they chimed, beeped and sang of fortunes won and lost. Gambling didn't appeal to him. He believed in hard work and perseverance, not chance.

A couple in their sixties halted in front of him, forcing Sebastian to slow. The wife insisted the buffet was to their left. The husband assured her they'd missed the turn near the keno area. Both were wrong.

Before he could circle past, the woman spied him.

"There's someone who can help us." Her bright-red lips parted in a cheerful smile. "Hello..." She scrutinized his chest, where a name tag might be. "Young man. We love your hotel, but it's very confusing. Can you direct us to the buffet?"

She'd mistaken him for a hotel employee. Not surprising. He was probably the only person in the casino wearing a business suit who didn't work there.

"If you angle to the right, you'll see it." He pointed in the direction they needed to go.

"I told you." The woman shot her husband a smug look, dead wrong but taking credit anyway. "Thank you."

With a nod, Sebastian resumed walking toward the bank of elevators that would sweep him to his fifteenth-floor suite. Missy better be there. While he'd been on a conference call with their lawyers, going over last-minute changes to the contract for the purchase of Smythe Industries, she'd pulled a vanishing act. That had been almost six hours ago.

Concern buzzed. He'd left three messages on her voice mail and sent her four or five emails. Not a single response. Assistants didn't come any more efficient or reliable than Missy. Should he be worried that she'd gotten into trouble?

Noisy, crowded, chaotic Las Vegas lured tourists with over-the-top promises of adventure and spit them out with blurry memories and empty pockets. Had Missy fallen prey? Her small-town upbringing in west Texas couldn't have prepared her for such dangers. Was she somewhere in the maze of slot machines, pouring her paycheck into one? Or perhaps she'd left the hotel and been accosted on the street.

A cheer went up from the craps tables on his right. If his BlackBerry hadn't been set to vibrate, he never would have known he'd received an email. Slowing his pace, he pulled the handheld out of his coat pocket. Missy had finally responded. The two-word subject line stopped him cold.

My resignation.

He stared at the concise note in disbelief. Missy was quitting? Impossible.

His executive assistant had been with him for four years. They were a team. If she were unhappy, he'd know it.

Sebastian dialed Missy. After four rings he was directed to her voice mail.

"Call me."

Without waiting to see if she would, he shot her a terse text message demanding her location. Thirty seconds later, he received a response.

The bar. Which bar?

He gnashed his teeth during an even longer pause.


He pulled up a mental image of the casino's layout and turned to his left. A five-minute hike brought him to the bar. Red walls, black-lacquer accents and Asian-inspired art gave Sebastian the feeling he'd been transported halfway around the world. Enormous fish tanks lined the wall and provided most of the room's light. Twelve-inch koi drifted through the clear water as Sebastian strode into the room, scanning the occupied tables for his assistant. A redhead at the bar derailed his search.

She faced the bartender, gesturing as they conversed. With her back to him, Sebastian couldn't hear her laugh but suspected it would be husky and intimate, a siren sound that lured men into her sensual web.