Loving the Odds
A What Happens in Vegas novella…
Risk analyst Bailey Reuben might be in Las Vegas, but the last thing on her mind is sin. She’s there to find her jerk of an ex and get her grandfather’s watch back. Instead, she finds a smoking hot stranger. A stranger with a crazy plan to help her retrieve her family heirloom and get revenge. It’s a bad idea—she calculates risks for a living, after all—but she can’t say no.
Bad boy PR guru Lance Fulton is all about helping the gorgeous, quirky Bailey. She’s in desperate need of some fun, and pretending to be her new boyfriend is the perfect way to help her see how sexy she is, get the watch, and show her ex what he’s missing. But the more they get to know each other—and the hotter their attraction burns—the higher the probability one of them will end up with a broken heart…
"I love MS London's stories and this is one that will be on my keeper shelf...This is one of those stories that will have you laughing out loud, smiling and going through so many emotions." - Contemporary Romance Reviews
"A ridiculously hilarious and well written novel. Highly recommend!" - 5 star Goodreads Review
"This is a delightful and steamy, fast flowing, easy to read romance that made me smile, laugh and fan myself...The banter between the two was sharp and witty and even though the attraction was instant the more measured development of feelings felt believable." - TJ Loves to Read
Bailey Rueben had suspected Vegas would be a walk on the wild side. But staring at the well-muscled chest of a half-naked cowboy had made her reconsider. It was more of a run than a walk. A sprint, even.
The cowboy winked and her cheeks filled with scorching heat. Okay, maybe it was more like rollerblading downhill with no helmet and no inherent sense of balance.
Sucking in a breath, she turned on her heel and tried to remain calm. Cowboys, while appealing, were not part of her mission. Unlike everyone else here, she’d come to the Masquerade hotel without the intention of having fun. She had a jerk to find, an heirloom to recover, and a return flight to catch.
Bailey checked her watch: four forty-three and thirty seconds. If her calculations were correct, she would need to be at the airport about an hour before her flight back to San Francisco. The trip there would take twenty minutes in a cab. That meant she had three and a half hours to locate her grease ball of an ex and demand that he relinquish her grandfather’s watch.
It could be tight, considering the hotel appeared to be in a cowboy-induced chaos. Apparently a convention was in full swing—a romance convention, no less. How ironic that she would be hunting for the guy who’d destroyed her view on relationships while surrounded by a bunch of people who believed in multiple orgasms and happily ever afters.
I need to forgo the real thing and stick to book boyfriends. At least I won’t catch them sexting their co-workers.
She smoothed her hands down the front of her gray pencil skirt and hefted her oversized handbag higher on her shoulder. A mutual friend—who also happened to work at the bank where Bailey and her ex were employed—let it slip that Julian the Jerk would be here for the weekend. Bailey had assumed he was attending a professional event of some sort. An industry thing. She’d been shocked, however, to learn it was nothing to do with his job and instead was some kind of huge party with hundreds of women.
In hindsight, it shouldn’t have been that surprising. Julian loved women, as he’d told her upon walking out of their home. Loved them too much to be stuck with one who wasn’t comfortable having sex with the lights on.
“Ugh,” she muttered, her lip curling. “Jerk.”
“Are you here for the convention, too?”
A voice interrupted Bailey’s internal hate-parade and she turned to see a woman in a fitted teal dress, her pretty blue eyes framed by long curling lashes. Bailey touched her thick-rimmed glasses self-consciously.
“I’m not, but I am looking for someone who’s attending,” she said. “Julian Farnsworth?”
She stopped short of saying “the third” out of habit. A small part of her reveled in the tiny rebellion, knowing her wretched ex liked to be called by his full title.
“I don’t know the name.” The girl smiled apologetically. “But I’m heading there now if you want to walk with me. The main convention area is on the second level.”
Bailey accepted the offer. As they rode up the gaudy, reflective gold escalator she drank in the sights of the hotel. It didn’t showcase the masquerade theme so much as it screamed it at full volume. Solid strips of color—in purple, green, and red—were molded to look like ribbons fluttering against the ceiling. Glimmering baubles in gold and silver decorated the corners of the reception area, and a large venetian-style mask hung over the turnstile entrance.
“It’s so wonderful, isn’t it?” said Bailey’s newfound friend. “So glamorous and opulent. You could fall in love here.”
Bailey resisted the urge to tell this woman that although the sentiment was sweet—in a sickly marshmallow fluff kind of way—love was nothing but a risk-based decision. When it came down to it, choosing a mate was an equation. A balancing of facts and figures.
And the sad truth was that relationships were kind of like The Hunger Games. The odds weren’t really in your favor.
“So is this Julian a friend of yours?” the other woman asked. “Is he a writer?”
“No, he works in banking. I don’t know why he’s at a romance convention.”
They arrived at the top of the stairs and were greeted by a large open area filled with people. Some hunky-looking guys were posing for pictures with groups of women, their camera-ready smiles brighter than the flashing lights on the slot machines she’d spied downstairs.
Posters showed off book covers with everything from bare-chested men to ladies in regency finery to young lovers clinching. Hearts and flowers and sexiness were splashed across everything. Bailey swallowed against the uncomfortable churn in her stomach.
The dark gray skirt and plain black blouse—which she’d chosen for their smartness and the fact that they wouldn’t show coffee stains—suddenly felt drab. Boring.
The word made her chest clench. It was one of the crueler parting shots Julian the Jerk had made, only to be topped by him telling her he’d have more fun fucking a blow-up doll than her.
“Do you see him?” the woman in the teal dress asked, looking around as though she might be able to help, despite the fact she had no idea what he looked like.
“No…” Bailey scanned the room, tamping down the pain and humiliation rearing up within her.
Think about why you’re here. You have to get the watch back. That’s all that matters.
As if conjured by her renewed focus, she spotted Julian across the room. It wasn’t hard to miss him. There weren’t many men around and he was the only one in a three-piece suit. Scratch that, he was the only one fully clothed. His dark hair was slicked back with so much gel it appeared wet and his capped teeth shone as he smiled.
That was when she noticed the woman on his arm. The curvy brunette had hair to her waist in gleaming waves, her impressive bust propped up by a corset-style top in red and black lace. Full lips were painted a shiny crimson and as she held up a hand to wave, Bailey saw her nails were painted to match. She looked so glamorous, so at ease.
So goddamn sexy.
“There.” Bailey pointed toward Julian and the woman next to her squealed.
“I know her. That’s Selena Lockhart. The Selena Lockhart.” The woman clapped her hands together. “Her Forever With You series is ah-maze-ing. She writes the hottest sex scenes you’ll ever read. I swear, they’ll melt the rubber right off your vibrator.”
Bailey coughed but it came out like more of a choking sound. “Right. I’ll uhh…look for those books. Excuse me, I have to go.”
She pushed through the crowd to get closer to Julian and the sex-writing goddess on his arm. They were surrounded by people. Cameras flashed and Serena turned, smiling coyly to the left and then the right. Julian put his arm around her and his shirtsleeve pulled up, revealing the gold face of Bailey’s grandfather’s vintage Rolex. He was wearing her watch while he pawed at another woman in a room full of people.
She wanted to confront him. After all, the worst thing he could do was refuse to give the watch back and then she’d be in exactly the same position she was in now. At best, he’d take it off and hand it over. There was only gain to be had. It was a low-risk move with the probability of high reward.
But…what if he…?
Her stomach pitched and her feet rooted to the ground, refusing to carry her any closer. Heart hammering in her chest, she battled with herself.
Just do it, Bailey. Do. It. Put one foot in front of the other and confront that jerk.
But the second Julian brought his lips down to the gorgeous woman next to him, Bailey turned and fled.