He was to be sitting at the bar drinking a highball neat, wearing a dark grey dinner jacket. Pin dot handkerchief. Blond. I scanned the crowd.

High rollers – some sure, some beginning to lean on the desperate side. The roulette tables were full and held the attention of an intense crowd. I paused to watch a young woman clutching the table, she arched her back upward like a cobra, she was elegant, but her stare was intense.

Stickman called “18 Winner.”

“Is that how old she is?” I laughed as the bartender, Angelo poured me a glass of champagne. He winked. “Sounds like you need a drink.”

rouletteeurobando-monte-carlo

He gazed over at her following the lines of her dress, tasseled and sequinned like a flapper. She swung around to say something to her assistant, her necklace swinging across her breasts like a pendulum. “The croupier tells me she always plays on red.”

“Is she out for love or blood?” I smiled and crossed by legs, and I noticed his glance at my garter peeking out slightly. This dress always made me feel just a little bit naughty. I shot him a smirk.

It was my third night in Monte Carlo. They were accommodating me, working on an article about the psychology of casino staff. I’d gotten to know Angelo, and a couple of the women croupiers behind the roulette table. I was getting hooked. There was something so seductive about casino life – especially these back rooms with the VIP.

I had become utterly enchanted with the luxurious scent of danger here; the seductive perfume of possibility. The players glowed from the endorphins. I heaved a sigh and looked around.

He was here, scanning the room, but casually. He sipped his drink, then raised his eyebrows and shook his head as one of the Black Jack tables dispersed.

“Good evening,” I said, approaching him from the side. He looked around, raised his eyebrows and gave me a warm smile.

He was rugged, with boyish cheeks, tousled hair. He had a Nordic glow – blue eyes. “Guten abend,” he responded, extending his hand to take mine. “How refreshing – an American woman that knows what she wants. ” He kissed my hand gently.

“I must apologize in advance if we are interrupted, I am expecting someone,” he said.

I was taken aback. He seemed unaware of who I was. I played along. “I do know what I want. But how can you be so sure I’m American?” I asked him, teasing. I’d spent most of my adult life in Paris.

casino-de-monte-carlo-gambling

“The sapphire. I’d put you in North Carolina… not rugged enough for Montana.”

He was bold. Smart. Intriguing. I blushed. He’d put me off guard. Still, he didn’t know. I remembered to avoid fluttering my eyelashes. I straightened my shoulders. “A meeting, this late in the day?”

“A journalist, he should be here any moment… or perhaps I should cancel?” He leaned back in his chair, flirty, but controlled. “Do you play, or are you someone’s Lady Luck tonight?”

It was time to introduce myself. “I’m Quinn.”

“Ah you’re the journalist. You had me… I had a childhood friend, a boy, with that name. ” He looked genuinely caught, like a deer in the headlights. “I’m terribly sorry. Alec. Pleased.”

He reached out his hand. “You’ve taken me off my game, Mademoiselle. It appears I’m neither reading people nor appointment cards the way I should be.”

“Hello Alec. So you’re the floor man? The pleasure is mine. No need for formalities -just Quinn will do. May I be your shadow this evening?”

“You want a taste of my world? “ He locked eyes with me, daring me to look away. Then, shamelessly, he carried his gaze up my legs, my belly, and paused to watch the rise and fall of a short breath at my chest. It was carried out with a boyish innocence, but without a blink of hesitation. I felt undressed for an instant, but his expression stayed firm. I shifted on my barstool and he reached out, gently brushing my thigh where the slit raised and leaning forward to take my hand. He stopped to admire the stone in my ring.

He had put me off my guard. Could I maintain control of the operation tonight? What did he know? I raised my eyebrows at him and smiled, attempting to be coy.

His hand slipped behind my waist as he helped me down from the stool. “Then there’s no time to waste. The high rollers get serious around midnight and my job is to find out who’s on the chase tonight.”

“Would you escort me to the cage then?”

Stay Tuned! Next week: Part II