World-class statistician and poker prodigy Daisy Drake has two rules: never risk anything you can’t afford to lose, and never, ever, trust a gambler. Which is why she gave up the game and moved to Los Angeles, where she became a tenured professor. But when an old acquaintance calls needing Daisy’s…expertise…to help catch a cheater, she heads back to Las Vegas and the poker tables. FBI Agent Ryan DiNatto’s been a gambler since he was four, and a hustler since he hit puberty. Coming off an undercover mission that ended with him shot and his partner in a wheelchair, Ryan’s out for blood. With a mob accountant and a hit man on the loose, the stakes have never been higher, and this time, he’s determined to make things right—even if it means beating spunky, sexy, Daisy Adams at her own game.
In the two weeks he’d prepped to go undercover as a tournament poker player at the Hendrix, Ryan had studied the case file more thoroughly than he’d ever studied anything in college. This was his chance to prove he was really back. That he wasn’t just the screw-up who’d gotten Jack shot.
More importantly, it was his chance to take another crack at Vic Morelli. There’d been enough stolen property in the warehouse to send Vic upriver for five to thirty—depending on the judge—but the Feds were still working to build racketeering and corruption charges. Ryan wasn’t about to let that stand. He wanted the mobster in jail for life or—better—parked on death row for conspiracy to commit murder.
Forget the drug dens in Manhattan or the warehouse in the Bronx; he was going to hit the man where it hurt.
Edgar Blethins was Vic’s best friend and personal accountant. The FBI had frozen all of the accounts he managed, but there was still a chunk of money unaccounted for.
Ten million, seven hundred and twenty-six thousand dollars to be exact.
Almost eleven million dollars hadn’t just gotten up and walked away. So when Blethins signed up for the Hendrix’s inaugural poker tournament in Las Vegas, it only made sense to send an agent in undercover to keep an eye out for him.
Ryan had demanded to be put on the case. He’d fucking begged, and when he’d finally gotten the go-ahead for the assignment? He’d started doing his homework.
He knew every employee, every longtime guest, and every big winner currently checked into the hotel. He for damn sure knew every player registered to play in the tournament, but he didn’t know “Adams, Daisy Adams” from Eve.
The woman had to be a last minute entry.
But how? And why?
In the world of professional gambling, the women who played were tough, domineering, and sexy as hell. Men wore TT-shirts, shorts, and lucky charms, anything to stay comfortable. Women wore low-cut shirts and too much makeup, working their own special charm to gain the slightest advantage.
Daisy Adams wasn’t sexy. She was cute.
Wearing a pair of cotton-candy pajamas with fluffy white sheep embroidered on them, she was adorable. The pajamas were a size too big, hanging loose on her already petite frame, but they didn’t completely hide her curved hips and firm, high breasts. Her hair was inky black, loose waves flowing around her heart-shaped face like a dark and twisted halo. Her features were delicate, like the rest of her. Her eyes were royal blue, so deep they were almost purple.
“Is there any other reason I’d be in Las Vegas?” she snapped, answering his earlier question. Her tone was harsh, coming from soft pink lips that curved generously on top and were full on the bottom. At five in the morning, she probably wasn’t wearing any makeup, so the apple red color of her cheeks had to be all natural. Fresh from bed, she smelled like the orange trees his grandparents kept in their dining room in Coney Island in winter, then dragged outside for the summer months.
Fresh faced and innocent, what the hell was she doing in the casino?
“You play poker?” Ryan asked, just in case he was missing something.
“Sure, want some pointers?”
Cute wasn’t his type. He liked leggy law-enforcement professionals who knew the score—he’d been engaged to three of them—but Daisy had spunk.
Ryan liked spunk.
It kept things interesting.
He wondered if the blush that was coloring her skin went all the way down, underneath those absurd pajamas. The way she was glaring at him, she’d probably cut his throat if he tried to find out, but it might be worth it. His gaze moved back to those warm, full, lips. It would definitely be worth it.
“I’m always up for improving my technique.” He ran his fingers through his hair, wishing he’d had time to brush it before he opened the door. “Give me a second to throw on a shirt, and I’ll take you out to breakfast.”
“What?” Daisy’s hands went to her hips—all spunky and defiant—and those threadbare pajamas pulled tight against her petite curves.
Ryan lost the ability to think.
Damn. Daisy might be small, but she was very well proportioned, with luscious breasts and full hips. What was she wearing under those things anyway? A gentleman would step back and close the door, but—fuck it—he definitely wasn’t a gentleman.
He moved closer for a better view.
Aleah Barley is a writer of explosive romance for everyone. She lives and writes in Detroit, Michigan, with a cat who’s recently learned how to levitate, an over enthusiastic Labrador, and the cutest guy in the world. She will do anything for a hot cup of coffee or a wild romance–and, she can spell onomatoepia without using spell check. You can also visit her online at the following places: