The Player (The Game Maker #3) - Kresley Cole




“I know my fairy tales,” I told my cousin. “And there’s a beast up in that lair.” Pete and I stood on the spacious terrace of the Calydon Casino’s penthouse, peering at an even higher observation deck.

We were already so elevated, I felt as if we could reach up and graze the full moon.

“You’re calling Dmitri Sevastyan a beast now?” Pete’s expression was amused, the dark blue of his smiling eyes a contrast to his light blond hair. Like my sister and me, he got his coloring from my dad’s side of the family. “Even though you’ve never met him?”

“Yep.” The Sevastyans’ lavish party was in full swing—music boomed and hundreds of revelers crowded inside the enormous four-suite penthouse—yet Dmitri had sequestered himself up on that deck, apparently on his worst behavior. “And just like in the fairy tales, you plan to sacrifice this maiden.” Pete wanted me to go scope out the combative man.

“That’s crazy talk. Everybody knows you’re not a maiden.”

I punched his arm. “Funny guy.” I might as well be a maiden. My three notches hadn’t been worth it.

“And Dmitri isn’t a beast,” he said, adding, “Much. Hardly at all.”

Pete knew everything there was to know about the Sevastyan family. Well, everything a grifter could find out with choice sources. As the casino’s VIP host, he catered to the whims of his rich high rollers—our very own inside man.

I didn’t know how much juice he’d had to use to snag his plum position, but for weeks, we’d targeted the Calydon’s degenerate whales, mainly for blackmail.

A curl escaped my up-do, and the warm August breeze made it flit around my face. “Since I started casing the deck, Dmitri’s chewed out a dozen women, sending them packing.”

Another group of hopefuls had ascended a few moments ago. Every female on the Strip seemed to have heard about this party—free food, free booze, and an eligible billionaire in attendance.

Pete shrugged his buff shoulders. I swore he was still growing at twenty-nine. “I’m not asking you to run game”—work a con—“on Dmitri. Just give me your take before we cut the Sevastyan crew loose for good.”

Half talent manager, half con coach, Pete had positioned me and my sister in the VIP lounge as cocktail servers/honey traps.

Toe the line, boys, or you’ll feel the sting.

Unfortunately, the three brothers, two wives, and one tagalong friend were toeing the line.

They didn’t ask for drugs, and their tastes didn’t run toward the illegal or immoral. Both of the married couples were devoted. In fact, the middle brother and his wife were here to celebrate their four-year wedding anniversary.

No dirt, no dinero; no sins, no in.

“Besides, you gotta get a looksee at Dmitri,” Pete said. “He’ll be the most beautiful man you’ve ever laid eyes on.” My sister Karin had said the same. She’d served the group drinks in the lounge last night.

“Even finer than his brothers?” I’d passed them in the penthouse, two built, black-haired hotties who’d been glued to their lovely wives.

“Much finer.” Pete made his eyes look guileless as he said, “Trust me.”

“Trust you?” Despite our circumstances, we had to share a chuckle. I could make my eyes guileless too, had learned that trick before I could even read with them.

Grated words sounded from the deck above as Dmitri chewed out the latest females who’d dared to breach his lair.

Not long after, a bevy of babes in vagina-length dresses flounced down the steps. They all talked at once. “What a prick!” “I don’t care how gorgeous he is; who says shit like that?” “Could he have been hotter? Or more insulting?”

I recognized Sharon, a bottle-service girl who lived in my apartment complex. The buxom brunette was no stranger to the grifter life herself.

Champagne flute in hand, she waved her friends onward toward the bar, then sashayed over to us; with her every step, her strapless red dress valiantly struggled to contain her rack.

She rose on her toes to kiss my cousin’s cheek and murmured with affection, “Petey Three Times.”

Grifter nicknames might be cliché, but Pete’s was spot-on. He was so good he could con you twice more, even if you caught him the first time. Also known as Re-Pete.

I’d gotten the nickname Vice as a baby. I’d earned my Cold-as-Ice designation from my family’s stock-investment schemes.

For years, we’d found men who wanted something for nothing, so we’d sold them nothing for something.

But those days were over. . . .

Pete smoothly said, “Sharon, you’re looking fabulous as ever.”

“Charmer.” She smoothed her hair, giving me a