Episode Ten


LORETTA NEEDS TO WORK ON HER ANGER MANAGEMENT. More rage, less speed. That’s one of the lessons I learned after they killed my father. Luckily the security guards who intervened have an eye for a pretty face and a good pair of legs.

They introduce themselves – Tommy and Roy – and shake our hands. Tell us not to worry. They’ll take good care of us.

Tommy takes the keys to the car and drives it away into the parking garage. Roy shows us into the hotel, the sun glinting off his pate. As we walk, I take Etta’s hand. She resists me for a moment but then relents. I guess I’d be on a short fuse too if it was my sister. Or any of my friends.

The hotel is the Palazzo. I’ve never been here before but I know all the casinos share customer data and I’m a little worried I might be recognized if I’m caught on camera. I hold my hand to my eyes as if the sun is too bright for me. Maybe it’s the reflection off Roy?

“Let me handle this.” I breathe the words into Etta’s ear as we navigate the fountain and topiary and head across the marble floors into the main lobby. I feel we should be wearing heels and tiny black dresses. Probably best not to mention that to my new friend.

An unobtrusive door by the side of the Italian steakhouse opens onto a staircase that leads us down to a sports bar and a New Orleans steakhouse. Guests at the Palazzo must really like dead cow. Tucked behind the restaurant, he leads us into the security office.

Four men – all wearing the same dark suits – are staring at a wall of CCTV screens. One of them turns to regard us. “Roy, what’s going on?”

“Tommy and I are helping these ladies out. Some creep was harassing them outside. They have his name and I said we could see if he was a guest. OK with that, Jeff?”

Jeff is older but looks as tough as nails. Probably retired law enforcement. He checks out our legs and shapes before nodding at Roy. All men together. “Sure, but let’s not make a habit of it?”

“You got it, Jeff. Sure thing.”

Roy takes an empty seat and fires up a terminal. “Excuse me, ladies, this will only take a minute.”

Etta rests her hand on his shoulder. “No problem. And thank you.” She might be a hellcat under that luscious skin, but Loretta from Arkansas knows how the game is played. Her finger presses lightly against all that muscle and Roy smirks.

“What was that name again?”

“Kyle Parker,” Etta says. “But he might be booked in under his brother’s name, Grady Parker.”

Roy’s fingers fly across the keyboard. He shakes his head. “They’re not guests here, or at the Venetian.”

Etta bites back her instinctive curse and settles for, “Damn!”

“Not to worry.” Roy pats her hand. “We can check every hotel on the Strip.”

“You can?” She bats her baby blues.

“Sure. Just give me another minute.”

I try to see his password for the shared security system but his fingers move too fast. Never mind. There are more ways to skin a cat.

“Here we go,” Roy announces in triumph. “Kyle Parker has a room at Planet Hollywood.”


 Page Two


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