right, so fast. Obviously she didn’t want to discuss her mother and he let the subject go. “I’m here for a wedding.”

“Yours?” She jerked her hand back, a horrified expression on her face.

“Hell, no, not my wedding. Do I look like the kind of guy who’d hit on a woman if I was getting married?” he asked, quickly setting things right. “It’s my partner’s.”

“Oh.” She exhaled hard. “So you are hitting on me?” she asked, sounding extremely pleased at the notion.

“Most definitely.” He stepped closer. Despite the acrid smell of cigarette smoke in the air, he caught a whiff of her floral scent and grew immediately more aroused. “I’m not married or involved,” he said, further reassuring her.

Her lips turned upward in a smile.

Any normal, red-blooded man would be attracted to her. Mike had worked so many hours lately, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d gotten laid. He didn’t normally go around picking up the women he rescued, but Amber was different. Sexual attraction wasn’t her only appeal. She was intelligent and obviously had morals-she’d made it clear she wouldn’t have been interested in him if he’d been someone else’s husband.

He was here enjoying a long weekend before he had to be back in court early Monday morning to testify in a case he’d closed last year. He’d planned to have fun, unwind and celebrate with his friends. This woman was an unexpected bonus and he realized he wanted to do all of the above with her by his side.

He wasn’t normally so impulsive, but what the hell? Where else but Las Vegas could a man indulge and not feel guilty? If the desire was mutual.

“So.” She ran her tongue over her glossed lips. “What are you going to do now that you’ve hit on me?” she asked in a husky voice.

“Oh, I’ll think of something,” he said, gauging her interest.

Her smile widened and his gut churned with desire the likes of which he hadn’t felt in a long time. He wrapped his hand around hers and once again the connection sizzled between them. Touching her like this made him feel as if he’d known her for longer than a few minutes. Without a doubt, he needed more time.

“So, are there any more Marshalls I should know about?” he asked.

She said he’d been her business partner. Past tense. And he believed her.

She shook her head. “Lucky for both of us, I’m unattached.” Her grin expressed unmistakable interest. In him.

“Corwin, we’re heading to the Hard Rock. Are you coming?”

At the sound of his partner’s voice, Mike turned. “Be right there.” He refocused on Amber. “That’s my partner and some other cops from back home.”

She glanced at the men and women who stood waiting for him. “You should go,” she said. But she didn’t sound like she meant it.

He wasn’t willing to leave her, either. “Come with us. We’re celebrating. Sort of a traveling wedding party. It’ll be fun.” He paused. “Unless you have something else planned?”

“Nope, no other plans,” she quipped. But she cast a wary eye between Mike and his group of friends.

“There are women in the group,” he said, guessing at her hesitancy to walk off alone with them. “Some of them are even cops, too.”

“Well, then, I couldn’t get better escorts,” Amber said, laughing.

He nudged her with his elbow in case she needed more convincing. “Come on. Get away from your life for a little while.”

Amber smiled. He didn’t realize how tempting his offer actually was. Over his shoulder, she caught sight of Marshall’s sleazy best friend, J.R., lingering by the bar.

Watching her.

She’d known Marshall wouldn’t give up so easily. Putting J.R. on her tail ensured he could find her-and get her to change her mind later. So, disappearing from this casino sounded like a good idea to Amber right now. Doing it in the middle of a group of cops was even better. And spending time with her sexy savior was like a cherry on top of an already overly frosted cake.

“Besides, how can I continue to hit on you if you don’t come along?” he asked, his breath warm against her cheek, his musky cologne making her weak in the knees.

He had the most potent effect on her and she couldn’t resist his rationale or his charm. Given her circumstances, a new man in her life was the last thing she needed, but the pounding excitement in her veins told her this couldn’t be wrong.

“Lead the way,” she said, hooking her arm in his.

A surprised but pleased look in his eye, Mike led her over to his friends. He introduced her to his partner, Dan Sullivan, and his new wife, Natalie, whose wedding last night they were currently celebrating. Mike ticked off half a dozen more names and Amber took a mental photograph of each.

People, places, names and numbers were her specialty, making her not just good at her former job as a concierge, but one of the best. She wasn’t overly modest, she just understood that her photographic memory was an asset in the service industry. Charisma was another and she’d inherited hers from her father.

The expected stab of pain settled in her chest as she recalled the vibrant charmer Sam Brenner had been, compared to the often vacant shell he’d become once his illness had progressed. Amber didn’t share her father’s last name because he’d wanted to protect her from his con-artist lifestyle. Since taking her mother’s maiden name had helped memorialize a woman Amber would never know, she’d always been honored to have it. And it had certainly made her father happy. At least until his illness had taken hold.

She and her father had always been close, which was why she’d decided to leave her grandparents behind and go on the road with Sam while he did his cons. She’d gotten her GED in place of traditional high school diploma, and talked the head concierge of the Crown Chandler Hotels in Vegas into taking her on as her assistant and teach her the ropes at the age of eighteen. Amber had traveled the country, viewing all the hotels in the chain and ultimately earning the head job in Beverly Hills at the unheard-of age of twenty-one.

She’d remained there for three years, until six months ago, when Amber had moved back from L.A. to her father’s Vegas apartment in order to care for him. She’d taken a job as a cocktail waitress at the bar of an old friend’s, who’d promised her time off if her father had an emergency. That was something she couldn’t count on even if she transferred to a Vegas hotel. Yet after only three months of living with her father, she’d had to step up her plan to find him a decent nursing home. The day she’d come home from work to find Sam had wandered off was the day she knew things had to change.

The first few facilities she’d viewed, homes she could have afforded on a concierge’s salary, had been seedy dumps she wouldn’t even consider leaving her father in. Old buildings run by people who clearly weren’t compensated enough to handle elderly-patient care; the smells and sights had left Amber close to tears. She knew then she had no choice but to find a way to raise big money quickly, and often, so she could afford a higher standard of living for her father in a privately owned facility.

That night she’d gone in search of Marshall. Within a few days, he’d found them their first game and she’d taken home enough cash to ensure her father was looked after properly.

Shaking off the memory, she refocused on Mike and his friends. Mike had wrapped his arm around her shoulders for each introduction and everyone she met took his body language as a cue to welcome her into their group warmly and without question.

Before they took off for the next hotel, they loaded up on drinks. Someone handed Amber a Bloody Mary, which she discreetly switched for her own choice, Grey Goose Orange, club soda and a slice of orange. If she was going to indulge, at least she’d enjoy it.

Mike took her hand and they made their way out of the casino and into the muggy Vegas streets. Her Vegas, the place she’d grown up knowing and loving. The glittering lights, the excitement, the constant exhilaration. A rush of adrenaline flowed through her as she walked the streets of her city with a man who excited her just as much.

She wasn’t involved with anyone and hadn’t been for a long time. She felt as though she’d been waiting. For him. And she found herself wishing their time together never had to end.

She wasn’t going to let anything kill her sudden sense of joy.

Not even her gut instinct that Marshall and his pal J.R. weren’t far behind.

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