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Some people were playing big money. Others—idiots like herself—were taking a desperate, edgy, ridiculous chance, playing to beat the odds. To defy the gods of Vegas, who always proclaimed that the house won.
Oh, yes, she was an idiot. Why in God's name had she taken the last of her savings to the craps table? She worked in Vegas, she had grown up out here. She'd seen the down-and-outers. She'd seen the poor, the pathetic, the alcoholics, the junkies, all trying for a big win when they knew the law of averages. He wasn't one of the down-and-outers. He was a regular all over town. She had seen him over at the Big Easy, and he had a deep Southern accent, but one with a Texas twang.
His name was Coot Calhoun. All right, so his real name probably wasn't Coot, but that was how he was known. Nice man. He'd inherited one of the biggest oil fields in Texas. She liked him. He had a wife named Minnie—though Jessy was doubtful about that name, too—who he genuinely loved, and he tipped well because he was generous, not because he was expecting any favors. She was here, gambling at the Vegas Sun, because she wasn't allowed to gamble in the casino where she worked, which usually didn't bother her, since she wasn't a gambler.
The Sun was owned by a billionaire who had been in the casino trade a long time. Her own Big Easy was owned by Emil Landon. A rich man, yes. A very rich man. But he hadn't been at the casino game long.
Even though she wasn't a gambler, she knew the games. She'd been a dealer, a hostess, a waitress, a bartender, a singer, a dancer—even an acrobat for a brief period of time. She knew Vegas in and out, backward and forward, and she had learned long, long ago, not to gamble, because the house always won.
Hard ten," another man called. He was young. Probably had too much money on the board, and definitely had too much alcohol in his system. She was aware of so many people watching her.
It had been kind of fun at first, but now she felt the tension. Even Darrell Frye, one of the Sun's pit bosses, was watching her with a measuring stare, as if afraid she was on one of those long rolls that totally outweighed the odds. She was haggard looking, thin, and her dress had been stylish twenty years ago, back when she had been pretty. Now her features bore the weight of time, but she offered Jessy a smile, and Jessy smiled back.
To her horror, the dice bounced off the table. She looked up. The man who had spoken was several people away to her left, and she had noticed him earlier. He was the kind of man it was hard not to notice. He wasn't typically handsome, and certainly not a pretty boy, but he had what she could only call presence.
Tall, with broad shoulders, he managed to be simultaneously casual and elegant, and rugged on top of that. She flashed him a smile. He wasn't drunk; he had been sipping the same drink since she had started watching the table. She was five-ten and wearing heels, but he towered over her by several inches. His eyes were so dark that to call them brown would be an injustice. His hair, too, was almost ebony, and the striking cut of his cheekbones made her think there had to be Native American blood in his background, and maybe not far back.
He was simply striking, dressed in a white pin-striped shirt open at the neck, a nicely fitted jacket and black jeans. He hadn't been risking big money, but he had played as if he knew something about the game, and he'd been playing the same money since she first noticed him. And he seemed to be watching for more than just the roll of the dice.
He lifted his glass to her and looked over at the dealer as he tossed out two hundred-dollar chips. Throw this on the hard ten, one for me, one for her, please. More chips were thrown down on the hard ten, plenty of them for her, and she knew that she was blushing.
The pressure was really on now. A so-called "hard" bet paid really well. But there was a lot of money to be lost if she failed. Her handsome benefactor said, "Don't worry. It's going to be a hard ten. And if it's not, it's all right. I never put down what I can't afford to lose. But at this point, she was desperate.
If she didn't come up with the money, she couldn't pay to keep Timothy in the home. She could see Mr. Hoskins' face now, as he calmly told her, "I'm sorry, Miss Sparhawk, but there's nothing we can do. I've been as patient as I can, but if I don't have that three thousand dollars by tomorrow morning, you'll have to find another facility. He was a thin-lipped, nose-in-the-air jerk, but he only ran the Hawthorne Home; he wasn't the one who spent time with Tim.
And Dr. Joe, who was a wonderful man, who worked at the home in order to be able to afford to donate his time at several local shelters. A hard ten. If she rolled a hard ten, two fives, she made not just her own hundred-dollar bet, but…ten times that hundred. Plenty of money to keep Timothy where he needed to be. She swallowed hard and rolled the dice. She had never seen dice roll for so long on a craps table. A four and a three… and groans went around the table, because a seven meant that she would crap out.
But the dice were still rolling…. A five and a three. A five and a two. A five and… A five. The screaming and shouting was deafening. Hands clapping, high fives all around. She wasn't sure who picked her up and swung her around, but she didn't protest that any more than she protested the hugs and backslaps that came her way, or even Coot's enthusiastic kiss on her cheek.
She was simply too stunned. The one man who didn't grab her or go insane was the tall, dark-haired stranger. He just watched her, pleased, and yet somehow grave. Jessy couldn't believe the number of chips coming her way. He gave her an odd look. Don't pass the roll. Go until you crap out. He was gone; of course.
He wasn't rolling. Still, she missed him. And she had the oddest feeling that things weren't going to go right, now that he was gone.
And she was right, because it wasn't long until she crapped out.
Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? But one night, desperate for money, she places the bet that will change her life forever. What neither of them realizes is that the nightmare is only just beginning. Now, literally caught between the living and the dead, Dillon and Jessy have no choice but to forge ahead together. Their investigation will take them from the glitz of the Vegas strip into the dealings of casino magnate Emil Landon, the man who signs both their paychecks, and out into the desert to a ghost town called Indigo, where past and present come together in a search for gold.
Heather Graham Pozzessere
Past and present converge in Las Vegas and ghost town Indigo, Nev. Just as Jessy Sparhawk, who's part Lakota Sioux, wins a bundle playing craps at the Vegas Sun, Tanner Green, a bodyguard for the owner of the casino where Jessy works as an entertainer, falls dead on top of her with a knife in his back. Dillon Wolf, a local PI who's part Paiute, and LVPD homicide detective Jerry Cheever soon have a second victim on their hands when a hit-and-run driver kills a Sun parking lot attendant who saw Tanner get out of a limo shortly before he collapsed on Jessy. Jessy and Dillon, both of whom are nightwalkers who can communicate with ghosts, must love and protect each other as another violent showdown approaches in Indigo. Graham's dependable romantic flourishes enhance this bewitching blend of Native American lore, ghostly shenanigans and modern-day chicanery.