Home > The Scam (Fox and O'Hare #4)(10)

The Scam (Fox and O'Hare #4)(10)
Janet Evanovich, Lee Goldberg

Kate peeked into the private boardroom. There was a long conference table for eight, another flat-screen TV, and another bar.

“I feel a sudden desire to have a meeting,” Kate said.

“Yeah, I’ve got some sudden desires, too,” Nick said. “They have to do with the dress you’re wearing and how fast I could get you out of it.”

Kate looked down at herself. “It’s not that easy. I’m stuffed into this like a bratwurst.”

“I like a challenge,” Nick said.

“Not this one. It would come with pain. Possibly a broken bone.”

“I’m not really into pain,” Nick said. “Especially if it’s mine.”

“You need to focus,” Kate said. “This is all about the mission.”

“There’s all kinds of missions,” Nick said.

But first it was all about the buffet. Kate loved buffets. And the one at Côte d’Argent was spectacular. She brought two plates with mountains of food on them back to her booth, where Nick sat with an iced tea and a small Caesar salad.

“I don’t know what we’re doing here,” Nick said. “We have a private chef.”

“It’s not the same as a buffet,” she said, digging meat from a crab leg with a tiny fork. “This is all-you-can-eat. And you can make last-minute choices. And there’s all this stuff.”

“Quantity and quality are not the same things.”

“I grew up on Army bases, eating in canteens where food was basic. And now that I’m on my own I mostly eat out of a fast-food container. Getting access to a buffet, even a bad one, is like someone handing me a free pass to heaven.”

Nick smiled wide. “You’re equating a buffet to heaven?”

“Okay, so maybe not heaven. Maybe to Disneyland.”

Nick watched her clean off both plates. “Where do you put it all?”

“I have a very fast metabolism,” she said, dabbing her lips with a napkin. “Did I spill anything on myself?”

He looked her over. “Not a drop or a crumb.”

“Then we’d better get to the casino before my good luck fades.”

They left the buffet and crossed the casino toward the high-limit room. It was separated from the rest of the casino by partially drawn red curtains.

“Tonight we’re playing blackjack,” Nick said. “We’ll take a table for ourselves. There are five seats. I’ll play three hands at once and you’ll play two.”

“I’m not sure that’s such a good idea. I could lose twice as much twice as fast.”

“Win or lose, it doesn’t matter. What we’re trying to do is attract attention as whales with money to burn.”

The walls of the salon were covered with hand-stitched leather and framed with dark wood. There were eight gaming tables and only seven men gambling. Four of them were at the same table, playing pai gow poker, the other three were playing baccarat. A few women sat drinking at the bar, where backlit multicolored bottles of liquor were arranged by hue on glass shelves.

Nick and Kate were greeted by a round-bodied, round-faced man wearing a three-piece suit. The way he waddled up to them reminded Kate of the Penguin, from Batman.

“Good evening to you both. I am Niles Goodwell, manager of player relations.” Goodwell took a slight bow and whispered to Nick. “Your credit is good here, sir, up to five million.”

“What’s your table limit for blackjack?” Nick asked.

“Two hundred and fifty thousand.”

“What are your chip denominations over ten thousand?”

“We have twenty-five-thousand, fifty-thousand, and one-hundred-thousand-dollar chips.”

“We’d like a table to ourselves. We’ll each start with one million to get warmed up,” Nick said. “Half in twenty-five-thousand chips and half in fifty-thousand chips.”

“Make yourselves comfortable.” Goodwell gestured to a blackjack table where a young woman stood, smiling warmly at them. “I’ll be right back with your chips.”

They went to the table. Kate sat to the dealer’s left, what blackjack players called “first base,” and Nick took the seat to the right, known as “third base.” A waitress came by to offer them drinks. Nick ordered a martini. Kate settled for a Coke. Goodwell brought them their chips on a gold platter.

“Good luck,” he said, stepping away, but lingering close enough to keep his eye on the action.

Nick smiled at the dealer. “Let’s have some fun.”

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