“My name is Trista Barnes,” she blurts out as we start to brush past her. “My brother is Jayce Barnes.”
I freeze in mid-step, the shock of hearing that name temporarily paralyzing me before it fills me with rage. Slowly, I look over my shoulder at her and I can’t withhold the menace in my voice when I say, “Why are you here?”
She’s takes a slight step back, indicating her wariness and yet I can’t do anything but glower at her simply because of who she’s related to.
Trista takes a deep breath and it comes out shaky, showing me her confidence level has dropped severely. “I’m in a bit of trouble, and Jayce said you could help me. He says you owe him a favor. That he wants to collect on it in the form of helping me. Please… I just spent five hundred dollars I didn’t have to spend to get in here to see you. I just need five minutes of your time.”
“Christ,” I mutter as I release Helena’s arm and scrub my fingers through my dark hair. I glare hard at the woman, hoping to perhaps frighten her into just leaving. I’ll even gladly refund her entrance fee. While I have no fucking desire to have anything to do with Jayce Barnes’ sister, I’m slightly impressed and maybe a little turned on when she lifts her chin up and holds my eyes. I love to watch a woman reach out for an inner confidence she’s not sure she has just yet.
Beyond pissed at myself because I’m actually a little intrigued, I turn my gaze to Helena and try to lighten my voice. “Rain check, okay?”
“Of course,” she says, laying a hand lightly on my forearm. I bend over and brush my lips against her cheek.
Helena is a classy woman. She even gives a small smile of encouragement to Trista before she turns back to the bar.
“Follow me,” I say to Trista tersely as I walk through The Social Room. I don’t even look behind me to see if she’s keeping up with my long strides, but she slips through the double wooden doors right behind me. We end up in a semicircle foyer that has the same paneled walls and Italian marble as the room we just came from. From here, there are five hallways branching off like spokes on a wheel, each closed off by an ornately carved wooden door. There are signs above each—The Waterfall Room, The Deck, The Orgy Room, The Silo—which is a nod to the original Wicked Horse in Wyoming. One is marked Private.
I veer to the right, taking the private hall that leads to my office. It’s the last door on the right, sitting adjacent to my apartment door. In fact, my office connects to my apartment by an interior door that leads right into the kitchen, so my home-to-work commute couldn’t be any shorter.
There’s a security pad on the wall. I punch in my five-digit code after angling my body so Trista can’t see, then I push the door open and step back to let her go in first.
I gave the designer free license to decorate my office and apartment however she saw fit as long as she didn’t use the colors pink or green. She did a superb job, going with an industrial design I really liked. The ceilings are exposed steel beams with air conditioning ductwork painted in black to match. The floors are done in light maple, and my simple desk has a roughly finished wooden top with iron legs. There’s a light blue rug with a wavy pattern in cream as well as two chairs done in gray leather. One wall houses a set of built-in cabinets that hold my records on The Wicked Horse, which aren’t all that interesting or secretive since this business is about as legit as they come. Only in Vegas, right?
As such, I don’t have any locks on the cabinets and I don’t use the safe built into my wall. The security pad outside the door is plenty for what’s in here.
Now my other business, The Jameson Group, is a different matter since I do contract work for the government, and by government, I mean CIA. That’s next-level top secret and remains secured at my other offices in the business district across town. But since I’ll soon be retiring from there at the ripe old age of thirty-five, I prefer to focus my attention on this new endeavor. Who would have thought Jerico Jameson, one of the most sought-after private security contractors, would end up leaving that business to open a sex club?
I know my parents—God rest their souls—would have never seen this coming.
“Take a seat,” I order Trista, pointing to one of the chairs. I round my desk to do the same. Placing my elbows on the tabletop and steepling my fingers in front of my mouth, I take a harder look at the woman who just turned what was promising to be a very good night into a really shitty one.