The Man with the Money by Lynn Raye Harris - Romance>Contemporary
Notorious gambler Jack no longer gets a buzz from the risks, or the money, he takes at the card table. In fact, it bores him. Until one night he wins more than he ever bargained for....
His prize is the stunning Cara Taylor--she might be down on her luck but she certainly doesn't need rescuing by a maverick card-shark like Jack! Now she's stuck with him and she doesn't know whether to love him or loathe him. But, cut from the same pack, playing Jack at his own game is the most fun she's ever had!
Cara Taylor wiped sweaty hands against the tight satin of her skirt, hoping she didn't leave an imprint. Tonight was the night. The biggest night of her career as a croupier thus far, and she'd just been dealt a blow she wasn't sure she could recover from.
Bobby wanted her to throw the game. Cara took a deep breath to steady herself. She could do this. She had to do this. The men who would arrive at her table in just a few minutes were some of the wealthiest, most daring men in the world. In many ways, though they made her job possible, she loathed them. They were accustomed to waging millions of dollars on one turn of the cards, and just as accustomed to losing as they were winning. This was child's play for them.
Did it matter if she was the instrument of their losses tonight? Not one of them would go home poor. Not one of them understood what it was like to lose everything they had, to fight and struggle for survival on a daily basis.
Cara knew. She'd been fighting to save her family since Hurricane Katrina blew through New Orleans over five years ago and devastated their home. And not only their home; Katrina had also blown away the diaphanous veil obscuring her father's dark secrets. With her father's betrayal and her mother's subsequent breakdown, it had been Cara's responsibility as the oldest to make sure her family was safe and well. It had taken a long time and a lot of work--not to mention putting her own dreams on hold--but she'd gotten them back on their feet.
Tonight, she finally had a chance to put financial worries behind them for good. She would set Mama up with enough money to make sure the house was paid for and the exorbitant insurance premiums covered. Since the hurricane, insurance companies had raised their rates through the roof. And Mama didn't want to move farther inland.
Though it often frustrated Cara, she also understood it in a perverse way: New Orleans was home. Mama had been born and raised there, and she couldn't leave it. Nor, it seemed, could Cara's sister, Evie. She chewed the inside of her lip. If not for Evie staying home to help Mama and their little brother, Remy, Cara wouldn't be here. And since she was here, she owed it to them all to do everything she could to secure their future.
After tonight, Remy would continue to have the specialized care he needed, which was the most important consideration of all. The bonus Bobby had promised her when she'd agreed to come to Nice for the opening of his new casino would finally enable her to achieve all the goals she'd had when she'd left home.
But first she had to throw this game.
"You understand what you have to do," an oily voice said from behind her.
Cara turned smoothly, hoping her distress didn't show on her face. "Of course."
Bobby Gold winked as he tapped her on the ass. Cara did her best not to flinch. She'd never liked Bobby, but he was the king of the casinos in Vegas--and abroad, as this new multi-billion-dollar facility located in an old French palace in the center of Nice proved.
When she'd begun working as a croupier, it had been for one of Bobby's rivals. It hadn't taken long for Bobby to find her and offer her a job. She'd refused at first--but money, and her desperate need for it, had eventually won out. And, other than the occasional leering pass from the man, she'd had no reason to regret her decision. Until now.
Bobby's gold tooth caught the light as he smiled. She'd never been sure if it was an affectation, or if the man really needed a gold tooth. Nevertheless, it disgusted her.
"Keep the players happy, Cara. Use those beautiful breasts of...