||February 20, 2009
A casino owner makes the bet of his life, with his heart as the stakes...
Casino owner Darren Turner is astonished and angry when his ex-lover, a notorious casino cheat, shows up at his casino. Unfortunately, Noah refuses to leave unless Darren agrees to a most unusual wager: he gets two weeks to try to win Darren back. Darren agrees just to get rid of the man, but is determined not to risk his heart again. When the time is up, will Darren win it all or lose everything?
Darren Turner removed his reading glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose in irritation. Scowling, he pushed the intercom button. "Yes, Phillips?"
"Sir, there's a man down here at table three who's up one million dollars. He's not one of our regulars, and he hasn't lost a bet yet. I don't know how he's doing it, but he's got to be cheating."
A sense of déjà vu washed over Darren. No. He wouldn't be back here at the same table. Even he's not that blatant.
Shrugging off the unsettled feeling, Darren looked toward the wall of television screens.
"Show me." At his command, one of the many screens switched to a view of roulette table three. He stared for a moment, not sure if he was surprised at the face he saw among the gamblers. Pinching the bridge of his nose again, he sighed. "Have your men escort him up here."
* * * * *
Within a few minutes, Darren's efficient security staff had escorted the questionable guest to his suite and left the two men alone. He looked at the familiar face for an endless moment, a mixture of longing and fury building. How dare you come back here? Putting on his coldest, calmest mask, he spoke. "You know, there are other ways to announce your presence than cheating my casino out of a million dollars."
The other man didn't look at all intimidated. In fact, Darren's unexpected guest looked better than he ever had—as lean and well built as ever, his deceptively sweet brown eyes sparkling. He lounged against the doorframe, grinning. "Are there?"
"You could have sent a postcard, or even called. We do have phones here, you know." And I could have told you to stay the hell away.
"I wanted to get your attention." The younger man continued to grin, undeterred by Darren's coldness.
"Well, you succeeded. What I want to know is why? Are the police after you? Did you get bored?"
"I missed you."
Darren Turner owns a casino/hotel in Las Vegas. He has his hands full running the business and barely has a chance for a life of his own, and he’s grateful for that, because it gives him little time to think about his personal life. He’s been nursing a broken heart for some time now. Eighteen months ago, his lover Noah walked out on him without a word or a note or anything. He figures that Noah, a gambler and a grifter who goes by the name of Joey Randall, finally got tired of having an older, boring, businessman lover and took off for greener pastures.
Now Noah is back in Darren’s casino, wanting a second chance and swearing to Darren that he made a terrible mistake. Not wanting to be hurt again, Darren tries to push the younger man away and out of his life. In desperation, Noah makes a bet with him: Noah will act as a consultant for the casino security staff for two weeks during the day. He will have no contact with his “old” life as a con man. In the evenings, he and Darren will spend time together. After two weeks, if Darren still wants him gone, Noah promises to disappear from his life forever. It’s a bold wager, and the stakes are high. Can Darren prove to his ex-lover that he is indeed a changed man, or will he succumb to temptation when it presents itself to him and subsequently lose the one he loves?
Cassandra Gold’s Double or Nothing takes its reader on a trip to the glamour of Las Vegas and the easy-money lure of the casinos. Given the brevity of the story, Ms. Gold does an admirable job of developing her characters into people the reader can care about. She also develops a realistic atmosphere of a Las Vegas casino, bustling both on the gambling floor and behind the scenes in the control centers.
While the story may start with Darren, the main character is actually Noah, who must somehow convince his old lover to take him back and give him another chance. He proves himself to be a stronger individual than he initially believes by both opening up to Darren about his past and by sticking by his resolution to go “cold turkey” with his cons. Readers will root for him to win his bet and to not give in to temptation when it comes his way. This little bit of suspense is a nice touch, and it guarantees that the reader’s interest will be held throughout the entire story. Nice job,Ms. Gold.
Reviewed by: Whitney
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