Hold ’Em Hostage

Hold ’Em Hostage by Jackie Chance Read Free Book Online

Book: Hold ’Em Hostage by Jackie Chance Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jackie Chance
had claimed me. After I confirmed that a pair of black patten Manolo pumps were missing from my luggage, we’d woken my parents’ next-door neighbor. He’d promised to check on Elva and Howard, and after a few minutes, they called. The ringer had been turned off their phone, certainly the act of the kidnapper, a supposition I kept to myself. We stayed on the line while they discovered Aphrodite was gone. Because we were prevented from involving the police, Shana had come up with the excuse that Affie had run off to Galveston with friends in a bout of teenage rebellion and our parents ought not to worry. Mom was incensed, although this fairy tale was nothing compared to what Ben had put her through in his teen years. I ached for Shana that she had to withstand an undeserved parenting lecture from Elva in the midst of worrying about the safety of her child.
    I’d fallen asleep in the bed opposite Shana, but only after I’d warded off Ben four times. He claimed he was only checking on Shana, but that was so out of character for him I knew he was just covering up what he was really after. Nothing else made sense.
    â€œHoney Bee.” I heard Frank’s voice but knew I had to be dreaming. I’d been imagining what Ben had on his mind and now it was on mine. “Get up.”
    His voice was quiet and urgent, but not quite the tone I wanted to hear from my lover in action. “Get up or I’ll drag you out of bed.”
    â€œUrgh, isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?” I croaked, eyes still closed, half hoping this was the beginning of a nightmare I could turn around.
    â€œLater,” Frank whispered, pulling the covers off my head and easing me to a sitting position. “Maybe. If you’re a good girl and do as I say.”
    â€œI’m not very good at that.” I pointed out with a yawn.
    Frank bit back a grin that would’ve softened the worry lines around his eyes. Uh-oh. Sparing a glance at Shana, who seemed asleep, with her back to us, I threw the covers off and tiptoed to the door. Frank followed me, lifting my short nightie for a peek. I slapped his hand away lightly, and he pushed me through the door and closed it with a quiet click.
    â€œWhat time is it?” I asked as I blinked against the bright sky out the picture windows. I stifled another yawn.
    â€œNine,” Frank said, reaching for one of two coffee shop cups on the foyer table and bringing it to me as I plopped onto the couch.
    Folding my fingers around it, I savored the aroma of the rich Columbian for a moment. “I think I love you,” I breathed.
    â€œMe or the coffee?”
    â€œThe coffee, but you by extension,” I murmured into the cup.
    â€œRemind me to never come empty-handed.”
    â€œGood advice.”
    I took two luxurious sips and, though I was tempted to, couldn’t delay any longer. I’d have liked to, especially since Frank hadn’t spoken yet, and that meant it was bad. Frank was frank by nature, and, when he wasn’t, it was a sign of trouble.
    â€œOkay, what did you find out from Abel and how much do I owe you for his grandmother’s next gallbladder operation?”
    Frank had to smile. Abel, his friend with the Clark County cops, liked to think of himself as an honest guy, trying to provide for his family’s emergencies through sharing bits of gossip.
    â€œWord on the street, according to Abel, is that there is a major crime planned for this year’s Main Event. Vice has been tracking down leads for a month.”
    I shrugged, sipping my coffee, looking out the window at the group of hookers soliciting in a way that most people walking by on the street wouldn’t catch. Illegalities occurred in the most holy events and Texas Hold ’Em was far from holy. In fact, gambling on the game was against the law in most states so the fact that someone was polluting it with a shady deal or two didn’t surprise me. I

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