Chapter Two


The meeting I just left was supposed to be a done deal. All requirements have been met and a very generous offer laid out in black and white. Nothing more than a couple of handshakes and back pats to seal the deal. But that’s not how it played out. The father and son team decided to hold out for more money than what we are willing to offer at this time. It will be somewhat challenging to expand the casino in the direction we had planned on, but they aren’t the only ones in town with space. Had I known the change in selling price prior to the meeting, I wouldn’t have wasted my time on them following the initial offer. Greed is expected when you’re in my line of work. We’re all here to make money and lots of it so I can appreciate their hustle. What I don’t like, is that they’ve wasted my time. This is something that could have been addressed before the contracts were drawn up. Like I said, I don’t like people wasting my time.

I mull over my next acquisition as I exit the building and walk down the street to the nearby coffee shop. Caffeine isn’t going to take the edge off right now but even I know it’s too early for scotch. There’s a slight breeze as I open the door and walk inside. The smell of ground espresso hits you right away while soft music from Sinatra plays in the background. I’ve never been here before, mostly because it’s out of my way and my assistant normally tends to mundane things such as getting my coffee.

There’s no one in line as I walk up to the front counter. There are two women talking as I approach, both discussing some sort of work task. I’ve wasted enough time this morning, so my patience isn’t my strong suit right now. I clear my throat, assuming one of them will hear me and take my order. The woman standing next to the coffee machine turns around quickly while the younger one walks off. As she begins to apologize, I find myself unable to look anywhere else but at her. Almost like an instant trance. Her eyes, they’re incredibly stunning. The bluest of blues that I’ve ever seen. She’s not made up in any way, yet she’s breathtaking. She tries to advert her eyes from me, and I realize that I don’t like it. I want her eyes on me and nowhere else. 

Before I do something stupid, I rattle off what I want as my cell phone buzzes inside my pocket. The buzzing stops long enough for me to finish my order before it begins to buzz again. 

“Roux.” I answer.

“It’s Pete. We’ve got a problem in one of the top suites.” He says.

“Elaborate.” I reply.

“It’s… a sensitive matter. “

Before replying to Pete, the beauty before me calls out that my order is ready. If today weren’t such a clusterfuck of things not going as expected, I’d have stayed to watch her a little more. Instead, I look at her one last time before I turn to leave. 

“I’ll be there in fifteen.” I tell him and hang up. 

In my profession, when you want something handled right, you do it yourself. It’s hard to find good help, but almost impossible to find loyalty. Loyalty goes a long way with me, and there are very few people in that category, Pete and few others being it. He’s worked for us long before I took over for my father, so when he says there’s a problem, then I trust it’s not just a hooker looking to get paid. 

My phone buzzes again as I pull into the private underground garage that connects to the hotel part of the casino. 

“Roux.” I answer.

“Hey, handsome. Are we still on for tonight? I’ve picked out the perfect dress that’ll make you very happy to see me.” She purrs into the speakers of my car. Tiffany.

“I’m sure you did,” I say as I roll my eyes. “Listen, I’ll have to get back to you. I’m in the middle of something.” 

“C’mon, Roux… we haven’t spent any time together in weeks. We can skip dinner and move right into dessert if you want.” She teases.

Shaking my head, I tell her that I’ll call her later. I’m not, but she doesn’t know that. When you make yourself too available, it’s no longer a challenge. Maybe when I was in my twenty’s it was fun, but now that I’ve taken over the family business and have made this my priority, I don’t have time for a relationship. At some point I’ll consider slowing down but that won’t be anywhere near the foreseeable future. I’ve set my sights high as my father once did. When he took over for my grandfather, the business was stagnating. There were no plans to expand, no direction on where to go. He managed the small casino and took in the revenue. He applied it where he saw fit and was content with that. He had no vision. But when my father took over, he turned it around. He made it into what it is today, a thriving success that has become one of Vegas’ most popular hotel and casino destinations. With success comes enemies. We’ve had our fair share, but my father was smart enough to associate himself with the right people. The same people we count on to keep our names clean and out of the media. 


I walk off the elevator and onto the main floor where the hotel check-in counter is in view. I round the corner and walk with purpose as I make my way to the second set of elevators which will take me to the penthouse suites. Pete’s face is the first I see as the doors slide open. 

“Talk.” I say.

He looks around before signaling with a head tilt to follow him. I oblige and follow him as he waves a key card to open the double suite doors. Once we’re both inside and the doors shut behind us, an odd smell lingers, that much is evident. I immediately look to Pete.

“If you tell me there’s a dead body in here, you’re fired.” I deadpan.

“Bodies.” He replies, void of any expression. 

Fuck. Not exactly the answer I’d hoped for. I was hoping maybe there was an animal that somehow got passed the front desk and has made itself at home in my hotel. But this isn’t a fucking movie and Mike Tyson isn’t going to show up claiming he lost a Tiger.

“Where are they?” I ask.

“They’re in the bedroom. The John is Marcus Fowler and the girl could be a hooker or just a party girl. They all look the same to me. Paid in cash for one night and didn’t check out this morning. I’ve checked surveillance and only one person left this room last night. Assuming it was a man, black hood over their head, facing away from the cameras. No I.D.” 

“It’s not a hooker. Her Pimp would’ve been looking for her by now.” I state. 

“How do you want to handle it? Call the cops or deal with it internally?” Pete asks.

“Internally. This can’t get out.” I reply. This kind of bad press could have negative repercussions and we don’t need that while trying to acquire new properties in the area. No one wants to be publicly associated with this kind of attention. 

“You got it. I’ll call the Cleaner.” 

I walk into the bedroom and come to a halt a few steps in. The girl couldn’t be any older than eighteen. I walk over to the side of the bed where she lays. Her eyes still open, presumably watching as the person choked the life from her. Her makeup smeared and her hair knotted all over. She’s stark naked… her pale body limp and lifeless, a purple bruising around her neck. The John, Marcus, is slumped over with a bullet in his head, I assume from the exit wound I see on the back. There’s dark blood pooled around the floor near the bedside table and splats of blood against the white headboard. His death was execution style while hers looks to be a little more personal. Maybe the killer wanted some kind of sick enjoyment while taking her life. All I can do is make sure that this shit doesn’t get leaked or happen again in my hotel. 

“Pete, get in here.” I call.

I hear his footsteps close in behind me and turn to face him. “Find out who did this and report only to me.” I order. 

He nods and leaves the room. I look around for any signs of her belongings but come up empty. No purse, no wallet… nothing to indicate who this girl was or where she came from except for her body. I’ve seen a lot of shit growing up in this town, a lot of it shady as fuck, but never dead bodies in my hotel. It’s fucking bold to whomever did this. The Lord better have mercy on their soul, because when I find out who did this in my establishment, mercy is the last thing they’ll see.