"Are we here?"
He chuckled. "Yes, we are about to pull up. You might want to check your makeup."
I blinked at him, and then reached into my bag and pulled out a compact. Peering into it, I saw that my mascara had smudged, and I had a bit of dried drool running down the side of my mouth. Great, Julia. Really sexy. I quickly grabbed a tissue off a built-in on the dash and wiped off the offending items. I freshened up my makeup and was sliding the zippered bag back into my purse when the limo pulled up to the casino.
The Bellagio was gorgeous, a massive cream tower with a lake in front. Brad gestured to the lake. "Our room will have a view of the fountains. I think you'll really enjoy them." We pulled into a massive portico, with black-vested valets everywhere. Leonard stopped at the curb and one of the attendants opened our limo doors. The employee recognized Brad immediately, and tipped his hat to him.
"Mr. De Luca. Welcome back, sir."
"Thank you. Our bags are in the trunk."
"Certainly. They will be waiting in your room."
"I appreciate it." Brad pulled a thick wad from his pocket, and peeled off a $100 bill. He handed it to the man, who pocketed it.
"Thank you, Mr. De Luca. Let me know if I can help with anything else, sir."
Brad nodded at him, grabbed my hand, and pulled me towards the building. Inside was a sea of activity. Colors and sounds were everywhere. The lobby ceiling was a mass of hand-blown glass flowers, in every color I could imagine. There was a line of easily 100 people, waiting to check in. The front desk was at least 700 feet long and had over 10 agents posted behind it. I expected us to head towards the line, but Brad veered to the right and we entered a small, private lobby on the way to the casino floor.
Decadence seemed to be the theme the decorator picked for this space. The walls were covered in gold-print wallpaper, with cream paneling covering the lower half. There was a leather couch and chairs surrounding a low table with various desserts and finger food positioned on it. A 70-inch flat screen showed ESPN, and a beverage stand occupied an antique table set along the right side wall. Two attractive women in skirt suits stood along the wall, ready to spring into action if a guest needed help. Two more attractive women were behind the desk, one of which was on the phone. Brad indicated for me to sit on the couch, and he stepped up to the desk. I helped myself to a bottle of water and a mini key lime pie. I had just popped the bite-sized dessert into my mouth when Brad finished at the desk, and stood in front of me, a key packet in hand.
"Ready?" I nodded my response, my mouth filled with deliciousness. He led me into the madness of the casino.
I had never been to a casino before, but this one seemed very comparable to every movie I had ever seen. The colors were brighter, the smell of smoke invaded my senses, but everything else seemed the same. There were excited screams coming from somewhere, old ladies in fanny packs sitting at slot machines, and depressed-looking men fingering their dwindling chip stacks. Brad looked longingly at the blackjack tables, but continued through the space until we reached a set of elevators. He pressed the up button.
The elevator seemed uncomfortably small, but I think it was just because I was so aware of Brad's invasive presence. Classical music played and, looking up, I saw a security camera fixed down at me. I quickly looked away. At the 20th floor, the doors slowly opened, and we exited.
I expected a typical hotel room but should have known better. The first hint was the door, or doors to our room - a double set of mahogany doors. Next to the doors was a brass plate with 20E printed on it. Brad swiped the key card and opened the doors.
It was a two-bedroom suite that screamed luxury. The doors opened to a large living room, with floor to ceiling windows showing an impressive view of the Strip. Brown suede couches with silk pillows, plush cream carpeting, and a large leather and walnut desk occupied the room. A dining table sat off to one side, with a large floral arrangement at its center. I roamed the suite, seeing a large fruit and chocolate platter in the master bedroom along with a card. The master had a huge king bed, an ottoman at its foot, and fresh flowers on its bedside tables. The master bathroom was the size of my apartment at home. It had a huge whirlpool tub, as well as a walk-in steam shower with multiple body jets and a huge rain head. Heated marble floors lead to a large vanity with his and her sinks, and a dressing area. There was the standard toilet room (I never understood those), and a large walk-in closet. Our suitcases were already in the closet, and several of Brad's suits already hung up. I wondered if they had opened my suitcase. I also wondered why my suitcase was in here, versus in the other bedroom. I wandered over there to check it out.
The second room was noticeably smaller, but also well appointed. It had a queen bed, an upholstered chair, and a dresser. The bathroom off of it would have put a Hampton Inn to shame, but was puny compared to the one in the master. I walked back to the living room, where Brad was dumping the contents of his pockets onto the counter.
"I need to go down to the casino and speak to my host," he said without looking up. "Do you want to dress for dinner?"
I looked at my watch, surprised. It showed 11:40pm, but it was set to Eastern Time, it was either 8:40 or 9:40 in Vegas. We had eaten here and there - both in the airports and in first class, and I had assumed that those snacks had comprised dinner. Apparently not.
"Ummm… okay. I'm not really hungry."
"Dinner here is just as much about the experience as it is the food. Are you tired?"
"Yes, I mean no…” my nerves were fried. I was terrified of going to bed, or not going to bed with this man. I was tired, but wasn't ready to face that situation yet. "…I don't know." I finished lamely. This suave man in a suit, riffling through hundred dollar bills in a gold-laden Vegas suite wasn't the same guy who had grinned at me through a mouthful of pepperoni pizza two days ago. I was out of my element and scared.
He looked up at me and froze. I could see thoughts flitting through his mind but he stayed in place, silent and unmoving, and I did the same. I tried to force my face into a casual smile, but my lips didn't move. I unexpectedly burst into tears.
He was at my side in an instant, his hands in my hair, pulling it out of the way, and his face was pressed against mine, this lips soft on my forehead and checks. He lifted me up and carried me to the big room, laying me on the bed. He smoothed my hair back, and brushed at my tear-soaked cheeks. My body was shaking and I was sobbing like a child. He shushed my sobs, and kissed the back of my hands that I had brought up to cover my face.