Cherie Singleton pulled into the Showboat’s self-park garage. She hefted a borrowed travel bag from her borrowed car and wrangled it to the elevators. She had two days and two hundred dollars--barely enough to stay in the casino, where, according to her best friend, she was about to meet Mr. Right.
“Charlie said you can use our car,” Gina had told her.
Cherie had rolled her eyes. “You’ll do anything to persuade me to take that trip. How did you get Charlie to agree to that?”
“It was his idea.”
“You have the best husband in the world.”
“There’s a man out there as wonderful as Charlie just waiting for you. Didn’t that fortune teller say so?”
“I don’t believe in fortune tellers.”
“Well I do. She said you should gamble on love on the seventh day of the seventh month in the city by the sea. You have to go to
next week.” Atlantic City
“Hogwash. There are hundreds of cities by the sea.”
“Not where you can gamble--she specifically said, ‘gamble’.”
“I’m not going.”
“What about the seven dollars you found on the sidewalk? You can’t ignore a coincidence like that. You know Coco Chanel started her business on the fifth day of the fifth month.”
“I have nothing to wear.” Cherie pictured glamorous women in fancy dresses and sparkling jewelry.
“I do. You’re going to have a great time,
Cherie hoisted the bag onto the bed. Inside were two of Gina’s dresses and cosmetics she seldom used. She took a shower and slipped a shimmering shift over her head. It showed a lot of cleavage and rode high on her thighs. She curled her blonde hair, added eye shadow, blush and a swipe of ruby lipstick. Slipping into six-inch heels, she wrapped Gina’s pearl rope around her neck and was ready to go.
An hour later she was back on the 15th floor, trying to open her door with the key card. Her money was half gone. The $100 bill she fed her first slot machine had shortly dwindled to an unsatisfying paper voucher for $1.00. And she felt ridiculous. Glamorous women indeed! She’d obviously watched too many movies. The majority of the women in the casino world of flashing lights and softly whirring slot machines were elderly ladies dressed in sweats and Crocs. She’d stuck out like a sore thumb and more than one old woman had asked her for a free drink.
She slid the card in and out, rattling the door handle to no avail. Suddenly the door flew open. A man stood there. He was tall and tanned with a towel around his hips and nothing but skin covering the rest of him. Flustered, Cherie stepped back but she couldn’t take her eyes off him.
“Well, well,” he rumbled, folding his arms across the broadest chest Cherie had ever seen. “This is a nice surprise.” His smile widened as his gaze slowly swept from her toes to her hair. “I’m mighty tempted, but I’m afraid you have the wrong room.”
She looked down at her sexy dress. Her face burned. Without a word, she spun on her heel and hurried away. Too late, she realized she was on the sixteenth floor.
* * *
Twenty-four hours later, Cherie was dragging her carryall bag to the car. She was broke and miserable and to top it off, some jerk was following her through the dark, concrete parking garage. She picked up her pace and clicked the car remote. With relief, she reached for the door but it was still locked. She clicked the remote several times but it wouldn’t unlock. The presence of someone behind her made her neck prickle.
“I’m afraid you have the wrong car.”
The familiar voice sent a shock though her system. Him. She’d dreamed of him last night and he wasn’t wearing the towel. “Oh, I’m sure this is my friend’s car.”
“Can’t be. It’s mine.” He clicked his remote, the lights came on. A soft snick told her the door was now unlocked. “Have we met? You look familiar.”
“I don’t think so,” she murmured, looking around for Charlie’s car.
“You don’t look very happy,” he said.
“I’m not.” That last slot machine had eaten her final ten dollar bill. “I’m broke. I just want to get out of here, and now I’ve lost Charlie’s car.”
My best friend’s husband. She asked him to loan it to me,” she quickly added when he raised one eyebrow.
“It would be a shame for you to leave our city with bad memories.” He took her hand. “I’m Jack Spencer. Come back inside with me. There’s a wonderful show in the lounge tonight.”
It was his voice--smoldering, dangerous-- that made her agree. They stepped into the elevator where he stood much too close. The quiet hum, his steady gaze, mesmerized her. As they passed through the casino, her eye caught a slot machine titled Lucky . “Wait!” She tugged him to a halt. “I have a dollar voucher left. Will you play it for me?”
He slid the slip of paper into the machine and tapped the button. Three diamonds rolled to a halt and the bell chimed. “Looks like your luck has changed,” he said, removing the voucher for seven dollars and pressing it into her palm.
“I think you’re right,” she replied. In the far recesses of her mind, she heard the fortune teller laugh.
About the author: Sandra Rarey writes contemporary and historical romance and paranormal romantic comedy. She writes romance because she loves love. It is the root of human hope and the foundation for almost all of the classic tales ever told. It is the lure that pulls us together and the tie that binds us forever. Read more about her work at: http://srarey.bravehost.com/