Award Winning Book!
Bailey had a strange feeling, like someone was watching her. She turned and saw that it was Carter. He was wide awake. She sucked in a breath.
“Giorgio,” he said, his voice raspy, like he’d been on a week-long, two-pack-a-day smoking binge. Though Bailey knew better. Working in a smoke-filled casino environment, Carter wouldn’t voluntarily add any additional toxins into his body.
“Excuse me?” she said.
“You’re wearing Giorgio perfume.”
Her stomach did a little flip. She couldn’t believe he remembered. “You’re right. It is Giorgio.” She scooted over close to him. She wanted to throw her arms around him and kiss his face and break out into laughter. Instead, she remained calm and cautious. “Do you know who I am?”
Carter just gave her a blank stare.
She smiled a nervous smile. She’d hoped for something more encouraging. “You’re staring,” she said. “You don’t remember me, do you?” She thought she might die if he said no.
“Let’s talk,” Carter said at last.
“Oh. Okay.” But she was caught off guard and had to take a moment to think about what she wanted to—or should—say. It would hardly do to just jump in and tell him she’d decided on raspberry filling over chocolate for their wedding cake. Or that their guest list had grown exponentially since they’d last seen each other. Another route seemed best. “Is Frank Zoopa the reason you’re in this bed?” she asked. It wasn’t much better, but it was all she could come up with on such short notice.
Carter raised an eyebrow. “You know about Zoopa?”
“I know he’s evil.”
Carter grinned, looking her up and down. “I imagine a woman like you thinks just about everything here in Las Vegas is evil.”
A woman like her? Bailey was curious what he meant, but thought it best to avoid unnecessary conversation that would do nothing to help the situation. She pressed on. “What happened to you?” she asked. “You promised me that you and that awful man had called a truce. You said you were going to share Las Vegas. That you’d stay out of each other’s way.”
Carter held up a hand, grimacing from the effort. “Slow down. I have no idea about any promises I’ve ever made to you. I don’t even know you.”
Right. Bailey caught herself. She should have known better than to push him. “I understand how you feel. I know this must be hard. I don’t know what, if anything, Twinkie has told you—”
Oh. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“Let’s start with the truth. Is this some kind of joke you and my sister cooked up? Is she trying to get even with me for something I did? She’s been known to have a sick sense of humor.” He pushed the pillow behind his head around some and his lips tightened with pain.
Bailey was taken aback. She’d never entertained the idea Carter would think such a thing. “I would never joke about getting married,” she said.
“Good. Now that we have that out of the way.” Carter reached and took her hand and, for a second, Bailey thought maybe they were going to have a serious conversation. But when she looked into his eyes and saw a familiar gleam, she knew better. She drew her hand back.
“I’m not here for that,” she said, miffed that he was thinking about sex at a time like this.
Carter grinned broadly. “Who said anything about that? I’m just trying to get to know the woman who claims she’s my bride-to-be. What happened, honey? We get drunk and make each other promises we both knew we’d never keep?”
She frowned. “I never make promises I don’t intend to keep. If you knew me, you’d know that.”
“That’s what I’m telling you. I don’t know you.”
Bailey swallowed. His words made her feel like her stomach had bottomed out. Plus, she was frustrated at herself for being so unprepared. If they kept on this way, she’d only end up crying. That was the last thing she wanted. Carter hated it when she cried, and she didn’t want to manipulate him that way. She had to change the subject. “Could we go back to Zoopa?” she asked. Talking about the evil Mr. Zoopa was much less hurtful than hearing the man she loved say he didn’t know her…or didn’t love her.
Carter’s shoulders hunched. “There’s nothing to talk about where Zoopa’s concerned. It doesn’t involve you.”
Bailey was nonplussed. She could practically feel her blood pressure rising. “You’re wrong! If not for Zoopa, we’d be getting married in a few days. Why can’t you just forget about that man? Would it be so bad to live a life free of murder and mayhem?”
Carter looked amused, like he wasn’t taking anything she was saying seriously. “No one’s been murdered. And I hate to tell you this, but mayhem and Sin City go together, kind of like ice cream and pie.”
Pie? What an interesting comment, considering she baked pies for a living. Even so, she didn’t want to get off track. They could talk about pie later…
“This one is a buried book treasure.”—Stephanie Queen, USA Today best-selling author
“Ms. Darin has given her readers a sweet, yet tender, amusing, love story…”—Robin Leigh Morgan, author of I Kissed a Ghost