The Player (The Game Maker #3)(6)

By: Kresley Cole

“Do you want to get back to someone?” Dmitri asked. “Are you here with another man?”

Surely I misheard the jealousy in his tone. “Your VIP host invited me. Peter Valentine’s my cousin.”

“Ah, yes. He helped smooth over the near arrest of my sister-in-law’s friend.”

Jessica, the tagalong, was best friends with Natalie Sevastyan, the PhD redhead.

We’d been stoked about Jessica’s trouble with the law, thinking dirt! But Pete had heard the woman begging for a “pic with the po-po.” For her blog. “You guys must’ve been having a ton of fun for the LVPD to step in.” The five-o seemed to have given up on my family and our KAs.

“Jessica attracts trouble wherever she goes.” Sounding mystified, Dmitri said, “And yet she is invited everywhere with the group.”

“I think she’s funny. As I passed her downstairs, she was wondering aloud if a local plant-eater would be a ‘vegan Las Vegan.’ Then she did a spot-on Lady Gaga impression.”

“Funny?” Dmitri seemed to be processing this information.

“Yep.” Pete had told me he’d walked in on Jessica in the men’s bathroom, voguing and primping her hair. Upon seeing him, she’d lifted a leg and plopped her heel on the counter to vogue her junk. “My bush stylist talked me into this natural look,” she’d told him, “but I’m not convinced. What say you, Peter Pumpkin Eater?” And she thought he was straight.

Dmitri gave a curt nod. “Jessica is around your age. You would want to socialize with her. I will take you inside.”

“Wait, I don’t want to intrude.” He sounded as if he wanted to formally introduce me. “Pete said you’re here to celebrate something.” I worried my bottom lip.

His eyes clocked the little movement. “Da. Natalie, my oldest brother’s wife, completed her doctorate. And my middle brother and his wife just had their four-year anniversary.” Maksimilian, the retired politician, and his hot Latina heiress, Lucía.

Pete had learned the pair owned half of Miami and were refurbishing it while they acquired the other half. “Those are some great accomplishments. Most people come here to celebrate getting a paycheck on Friday.”

He raised his gaze from my mouth. “You do sound like a local.”

“Third generation.” My mom came from a long line of serial brides, and my dad descended from carnies. They’d never leave this city.

“What do you do here?”

“I sling drinks downstairs. Like my sister.” I had to find out why he was talking to me over her. Grifters around town had nicknamed her “the Woman,” because she was everything a man could ever want in one. Even my mom, the infamous Diamond Jill, hadn’t landed as many marks in her badger days. “Karin served you guys last night at the tables.”

“Had you been there, we could have met a day sooner,” he said, as if he regretted the loss.

I’d been substituted out by Coach Grift.

Dmitri frowned. “I hope we tipped your sister enough.”

“Plenty.” A family record for tips, in fact. And it’d all gone toward the debt. Always the freaking debt. Which brought my mind back to the con. Time for more elusiveness. “I better be going. Maybe I’ll see you around.”

He clasped my elbow with a warm, strong hand.

My back shot straight as if I’d been jolted, and unfamiliar sensations radiated through my body. A rush of heat mixed with shivers? Before I turned back to him, I masked my look of bewilderment.

He didn’t mask his. His eyes had narrowed, his lips parting. “I had no idea skin could be so soft.” He released me to run the backs of his fingers along my bare arm.

I watched in confusion as my skin prickled in the wake of his caress. Cold-as-Ice Vice was feeling very, very hot. I peered up at him, as if I could find the answer in his expression.

His eyes really were glorious. This close, I could see his amber pupils were awash with brighter flecks; they made his eyes gleam gold.

I could get lost in them. If he were a grifter, he’d be a thrall, the type of con artist whose sex appeal was so strong he or she could manipulate a mark’s behavior with just a look.

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