Join Ed Deline, president of operations for the Montecito Resort & Casino, and his protýgý, Danny McCoy, a former U.S. Marine and Las Vegas native, as they deal with card-counting cheaters, costly streaks of random luck, and rival casinos stealing their big-money players in the town deservedly known as Sin City....
Making sure a multimillion-dollar operation like the Montecito runs smoothly is a challenge on a good day. When the casino is overrun by a Western trade show called Stampede!, that job gets even tougher. Complicating matters is an imminent visit by a German business magnate, who will be making a televised speech from the Montecito that could have far-reaching political and economic ramifications. So while Mike Cannon is tapped to investigate the theft of some very...precious...merchandise from the Stampede! floor, Ed and Danny have their hands full coordinating safety measures with the German's private security force and the Secret Service. And when Danny uncovers the blueprint for what appears to be an assassination plan, the Montecito team must race to prevent a lethal incident of international proportions.
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April 23, 2007
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Excerpt from Sleight of Hand by Jeff Mariotte
"Have you seen any cute cowboys?" Delinda Deline asked. She and Mary Connell threaded their way through the packed aisles of the Montecito Hotel and Casino's gaming floor. Sounds of laughter and whoops of joy filled the air, people celebrating big wins on slots or rolls of the dice or spins of the roulette wheel. Mary knew that Delinda enjoyed being on the casino floor and felt at home there even though she rarely gambled. Delinda preferred the sure thing to the long shot, and somehow she had the power to make things materialize when she wanted them badly enough.
"Dozens," Mary said, smiling at a couple of particular memories. Another memory in the making pushed through the throng just ahead of them, a good-natured grin affixed to his handsome face. He wore snug-fitting jeans, with a green-and-white-striped snap-button shirt. A white hat and boots with two-inch heels added to his already considerable height. "Maybe hundreds. I like the Stampede," she added, turning to watch him pass. The jeans fit just as well from this angle. "We should do it more often."
"There can only be one centennial of Las Vegas's first cattle drive," Delinda pointed out. Her dangling earrings were shaped like horseshoes with ten-gallon hats hanging from them, sculpted from twenty-four-karat gold. Like most of the Montecito's staff and guests this weekend, Delinda was wearing a western-style shirt; hers was in a silky gold fabric with pearl snaps and contrasting indigo piping on the yoke and cuffs, and she wore it like the supermodel she could have been, had she chosen that path in life. As it was, with her flaxen hair and glowing skin, she looked like the goddess of gaming, if goddesses wore two-hundred-dollar jeans. "There might be another one in another hundred years, I guess, if you're willing to wait."
Mary shrugged. The National Rodeo Finals came to Las Vegas every year, so if Mary really ached for cowboys, she could find them there. But she wasn't on the prowl. Window shopping could be fun, but she had never found a boyfriend by looking for one. Somehow men always seemed to find her when she was least prepared for them. Why that happened she had never been able to figure out. Then again, she hadn't devoted a lot of effort to trying. If it ain't broke...
"There's just something about a cowboy," Delinda said, apparently unwilling to drop the subject.
"There is indeed," Mary agreed, watching another pair of tight jeans sidling toward the Sports Book. Then she glanced away and spotted a familiar face, shaded by a very unfamiliar hat. "Then again," she said, "some guys just don't pull off the look all that well."
Looking in the direction Mary indicated, Delinda laughed. "Oh my God," she said. "That is just something Danny should not do."
Danny McCoy, director of surveillance and security for the Montecito, worked his way through the crowd toward them. Tall and handsome in a dark blue Armani suit, he had a dusty black cowboy hat with a tall crown and a wide brim pulled low over his eyes, gunfighter-style. The effect of the hat paired with his contemporary power suit was simply comical. Danny had been Mary's best friend in childhood, then her first real boyfriend (Delinda's boyfriend too, for that matter, although not her first), and Mary knew that no matter where her life led, she would always love him.
But that didn't mean she couldn't burst out laughing when he looked ridiculous.
Danny tossed Mary and Delinda a bashful glance, reminding Mary of the two-year-old boy he had been when they'd met. He obviously had some idea of how goofy the big hat looked on him. Maybe if he had pulled an entire western outfit together, he could have carried off the hat -- but not with that suit. "Hey, ladies," Danny said. "Place is rowdy today."