Don was the one who helped us become brothers legally and even gave us his own last name. We were like our own little makeshift family. He set up our attorney and filed the paperwork. Although we were adults, we still wanted it. We decided early on that we were a family and always would be. So we went through the process and changed our last name to Cortez. When that was complete, it felt like we’d sealed the deal and made one of the final steps we’d always planned on as kids. Don helped us become a family, and we were eternally grateful for that.
So when he called and said we had a problem in our casino, we listened.
Frank Johnson is a gambler, and not a very good one. He’s been lucky for a while, but it seems his luck isn’t going so good these days. He’s bouncing around from casino to casino, jumping in high roller games and betting big with money he doesn't have. Mostly he gets so sloppy, he can’t play his cards, so we cash him out and send him on his way. He hit the Gold Peacock twice this week, and when I check our cameras I see him down in our pit, making waves.
Our casino, The Cortez, is high end, and caters to an older crowd. We don’t have dance clubs or pool parties. We like to keep things classy. The Cortez is known for this and welcomes wealthy weekenders looking for a low key Vegas experience. If you’ve got money and don’t like flashy, chances are you’ve stayed with us.
Seeing Frank down in the pits isn’t good for the casino atmosphere or for business. I look over at Justin and we nod, deciding to handle this ourselves. Don said Frank used to be a friend, and he recently lost his wife, so he’s been floating him for a while. But it’s been happening for over two years, and the float isn’t in place anymore. When Don calls in your debts, it’s time to pay up or get out.
We make our way down to the pit, and the floor boss shakes our hands. Seeing us down here isn’t unusual, but thankfully Mark is always on his toes. Justin and I move to Frank’s table, and gently pull him away. I nod to Angela who’s working the table to let her know to take his cards.
“Mr. Johnson, Mr. Don Cortez asked us to call you a cab and make sure you arrive home safely. Don’t worry about tonight’s debt, it’s on the house.”
Frank looks up at me with sad eyes, and nods. He pulls a piece of paper out of his pocket and hands it to me. I look down at it and pass it to Justin.
“Stella?” Justin asks.
“She’s my daughter. Call her.” His words are slurred, but we get the picture.
Justin and I walk him over to a private part of the casino and I make the call while a server brings some water over. It’s two am and I’m not sure if she’ll pick up, but after just the first ring the line connects.
Her voice is raspy with sleep, but hearing just that one word instantly makes me hard. Jesus Christ. I can’t remember the last time I heard something that made me hard. Vegas is a town where women let it all hang out, and even in our casino where it’s quiet and elegant, there’s not much left to the imagination. Hearing her sultry voice murmur a single word catches and hooks me.
“Hello?” This time she clears her throat, and I can tell she’s more awake. I blink, reminding myself to speak.
“Yes, sorry. This is Aaron Cortez. Your dad, Frank, asked us to call you.”
“Does he need to be picked up?” God, her voice. Something about the rasp, the slow whisper. My body tingles.
“Yes. He’s at the Cortez Casino. Do you think you can pick him up?” I would offer to have someone take him to her, but after hearing her voice, I want to see her. No, I need to see her. I need to be close to this voice. Soon.
“I’ll be there in thirty minutes.”
I start to thank her, but the line disconnects. I look over at Frank, who’s asleep in the lounge chair, and then I look at Justin. He locks eyes with me and raises an eyebrow. He knows me better than I know myself, and he knows when something is different. I can’t say it yet because I don’t want to jinx it.
We sit there for thirty-six minutes, and I know this because I check my watch every two minutes. Suddenly, I see a brunette walking in our direction, and Justin and I stand up at the same time.
She’s short, curvy, and wearing jeans and a tight, white, V-neck t-shirt. She’s got on cowboy boots, and her hair is in a big knot on top her head. She looks like she rolled out of bed. Her face is free of make-up, and she looks a little annoyed as well as embarrassed. But I swear on our casino, she’s the best-looking woman I’ve ever seen in my life. Her body is lush, and her silver eyes have frozen me in place. I’ve never seen eyes like that before. She looks like pure sex, as if she’s just gotten out from her sheets, and all I want to do is strip her bare and throw her back in them. I feel Justin tense next to me. This is it. She’s the one.