The Player (The Game Maker #3)(8)

By: Kresley Cole

I accepted the high-tech looking thing, but playfully said, “Hmm. Maybe I shouldn’t give you my number.” I am desperate for you to have my number.

“I will simply hound Peter for it. Maksim paid ten thousand dollars for Lucía’s; do you think I’ll do less?” He peered down at me. He was using the thrall on me!

But then, I did want to comply. In a way, he was assisting in his own conning. As I dialed myself, he strode to a nearby table and collected his jacket. With his back to us, he drew it on and fastened a button.

Because he was still hard?

When music sounded from my purse, Dmitri returned, raising a brow at my unusual ringtone.

“It’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ by Prince and the Revolution.” Zero recognition. Apparently he didn’t share my love of eighties hits. I returned his phone.

He took my hand to press a kiss into my palm. “Don’t keep me waiting too long, Victoria.” He descended the stairs.

My cousin and I stared after him until we were alone. “What the hell did you do to him?”

I examined my nails. “I used some good, old-fashioned sexual manipulation skills,” I said, as if I’d done more than hold on for dear life.

Four aces couldn’t beat Dmitri’s kiss.

Pete handed me my purse. “You’re thinking a milk-cow, aren’t you? Even though you’ve never done one before? That is a completely different animal from stock cons, with full-on emotion and entanglement. You’ve never even done a one-night badger game!” More to himself, he said, “We could still bring in Karin to close this. Maybe Dmitri didn’t have his contacts in last night.”

Though I’d had the exact same thought, I snapped, “Oh, come on!” Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! “He likes me.”

“You’re right, you’re right. But are you ready for a sexual con?”

After that kiss? Deal me in! “I’m ready.”

“You’ve only been with three men,” Pete pointed out. “And one of those guys lasted five seconds!”

I should never have told my cousin about one-thrust Ronny.

“Can you tease Dmitri to sexual insanity and then deny him? Get him so crazed he’ll promise you anything?”

As if I had a choice? I lifted my chin. “I’m going down to that party—as primary.” The lead player in a con. “I’m gonna do my job, so why don’t you do yours?” I wasn’t entering the room blind—I’d read Pete’s notes on the Sevastyans—but I’d take any more information he could give me. “How many bodyguards?” The bane of a grifter’s existence.

“Several. Dmitri and Aleks have two each. Maksim’s head of security is the bald one, Vasili. He could be trouble, so keep a lookout for him.”

“Will we stand up to a billionaire’s kind of background scrutiny?” Though no one in my immediate family had an arrest record, we were KAs of people who’d done time.

“We couldn’t beat the investigation three months ago, but Benji’s made adjustments since then. So maybe.” My adopted brother, Ben Valentine—a.k.a. Benji the Eye—was our tech guy. “We’ll have to roll the dice on that.”

“Any last-minute tips?”

“This crew likes ribald—and I mean filthy—humor. The girls do tequila; the guys don’t drink that much. Jessica will make you do shooters. Don’t waste energy resisting her. Just try to keep eating. If she likes you, life will be a lot easier. She’ll probably be attracted to you.”

“Let’s hope.” I’d read she liked both guys and dolls.

“If the opportunity arises, impress Lucía with your Spanish. She’s an influencer with Dmitri. Oh, and if the group hits the tables, don’t give poker advice. Besides, I think he calculates pot odds as well as you do.”

Did he, then? To a girl like me, that was sexy as hell. “Speaking of poker”—I tapped my chin—“what if I could get him to stake me?”

“Forget it. You’re a grinder at the tables. We need a huge score.”

He was right. I had all the tools to make a living, but not to make a killing. Not unless I could get my hands on the deck. “So you aren’t coming with?” I didn’t expect him to. A mark couldn’t relax fully with a male family member around.

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