Dumping Las Vegas by J.P. Bowie
Category: Gay Romance
Sub-Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Romantic
Formats available: e-book only
When Jerry Peterson’s brother Mike begs for help in paying off a Las Vegas gambling debt, Jerry reluctantly travels to the city he loathes. Things are even worse than he expected—his brother is being held hostage until the debt is paid. Taylor Maitland is in Vegas writing an article on compulsive gambling, an addiction his father was unable to free himself from. When the two men meet, Taylor offers to help Jerry locate his brother and negotiate with the captors. Despite the series of violent events that screw up their plans and have them dogged by two homicidal thugs, Jerry and Taylor are drawn together by their mutual attraction for one another, even finding time in between narrow escapes, to indulge in some hot man lovin’!
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The traffic on Interstate 15 being remarkably light for a Friday afternoon, I made it to the Strip in just over four hours. The Royal Monaco stood a couple of blocks from Bally’s on Flamingo. I parked my BMW in the closest spot in self-park I could find. Just in case we had to make a quick getaway, I didn’t want to be pacing up and down and watching the doors while waiting for the parking valet. The read-out on the car’s dash told me the outside
temp was one hundred and ten degrees Fahrenheit, and I shuddered. As I walked the short distance to the hotel entrance over the baking concrete underfoot, it felt more
like a hundred and fifty. Jeez!
Taylor was easy to spot. He was almost as he’d described—tall, blond, wearing a blue polo, but he'd obviously been too modest to tell me he was drop-dead gorgeous. Holy crap— a blond Ricky Martin—thankfully without the tattoos, at least from what I could see of his bare arms—his tanned, lean, muscular arms. Wow, what a dreamboat. I almost forgot the seriousness of why I had arranged to meet him here, until he gave me a stiff smile. He must have recognized my ‘honest’ face.
He strode forward and held out his hand in greeting.“You made good time.”
We shook briefly. He was all business, and I pulled myself together with a self-reprimand to get a grip and stop the mental drooling. “Yeah, traffic was next to nothing. Any developments since we last spoke?”
He nodded and indicated we should head toward the casino. “We’re being watched by one of the heavies I had the misfortune of seeing Mike with earlier.”
“Do they know you’re willing to pay Mike’s debt?”
He nodded again, his face grim. “The bastards won’t release him until they have the money all in cash. At the Sports Book I’d asked for my winnings to be paid by
check. I didn’t want to walk around carrying thousands of dollars…not in this town. Now my bank won’t cash such a large amount, and the jerks at the cashier cage won’t cash the check either—they want three days to clear it.”
This was not good news. “I wonder if my bank would give us the funds if you signed the check over to me,” I said. “I have pretty good credit and I’ve been with the same bank for years. There's a branch in Vegas… I know it’s asking a lot of you, and really I don’t know why you’re putting yourself at risk here. Those loan sharks are not to be trusted.”
“I know that only too well.”
We’d reached the bar, a fairly quiet oasis away from the irritating noise of the slot machines, and he gestured at a couple of empty stools, sliding onto one. I followed suit, my thigh inadvertently brushing his as I sat down. His head jerked toward me, and he grimaced.
“Sorry,” I muttered.
“No, it’s okay…really.” Had he felt the same electric tingle I had when we’d touched? He cleared his throat. “What’ll it be?” he asked as the bartender loomed in front of us. He wore a nametag telling us he was Eddie.
“Just a beer.” I flicked a glance at ‘Eddie’. “Stella, if you have it.”
“Two,” Taylor said. He swung round on his stool and stared at me, his blue eyes accented by the blue of his polo. “I don’t know why I’m doing this either, to be honest. It would’ve been so easy to just walk away with my check, but the look on your brother’s face when those guys had him…that would have haunted me for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t have this money if it hadn’t been for him, so if it helps him out of this jam, I’m okay with it. I know he’s never going to be able to pay the money back, and I don’t expect you to be responsible for such a large sum either, so what I didn’t have before, I won’t have after I’ve paid those guys. Simple as that.”
I shook my head slowly and stared back at him with a kind of awe. “What mold did they cast you from?” I asked quietly. “Because they must have thrown it away after you were made.”
He chuckled. “Don’t know about that, but I’ve always been a bit altruistic. My dad saw it as weakness, called me a doormat, but it’s always seemed like the right thing to do, as far as I’m concerned.”
“Well, not that I want to get on your dad’s wrong side before I’ve even met him, but I’d have to disagree with him, about you being weak or a doormat.”
I held his gaze steadily as I spoke. He had the bluest of eyes and they were having a very inappropriate effect on me. Sitting at a bar in a Vegas casino, regardless of how many other people are around, isn’t the place to be if you want to lean in and kiss another man on the lips, however enticing those lips might be—enticing lips that might just belong to a straight man, for Pete’s sake. Although I could sense a gay vibe from him, I had been wrong before, and besides, this just wasn’t the time to be thinking about getting it on with him.
Your brother’s in trouble, dickwad…concentrate on that!
“Thanks,” he murmured, then sat back as Eddie delivered our drinks.
“Run a tab?” he asked without showing much interest one way or the other. Typical Vegas bartender…bored with the world and everyone in it.
“No, I’ll get these,” I said, pulling out my billfold then placing a twenty on the bar. “So, what do we do next?”
“Maybe you could make a call to your bank, see if they’ll cash the check for you?”
“Right…” I grabbed my smartphone, scrolled through the directory, and found the number for Commerzbank a small business-oriented bank in San Diego. Paul Dexter, the manager is a sort of friend. I see him at parties and the occasional fundraiser, but we’re not exactly close. Of course, I’m not sure how close you’d have to be to someone to have them cash a hundred thousand dollar check, and unfortunately, it wasn’t Paul.
“Sorry buddy,” he said without sounding at all sorry, “that’s way more than I can authorize at such short notice, and keep my job. It would take at least three business days, maybe more.”
I thought of threatening to take my accounts elsewhere but figured he’d probably say, “Go ahead.” And I couldn’t really blame him. Didn’t stop me from feeling slightly embarrassed by the rejection in front of Taylor. I’d hoped to impress him with my ability to acquire that kind of money, and resolve the whole problem with one call.
I shook my head. “’Fraid not.” Taylor didn’t look at all surprised, just kinda dejected. “Should we threaten the guys holding Mike with the police or hotel security?”
Taylor snorted. “I wouldn’t waste your time. There’s a definite blind eye involved in this kind of situation. When my dad was in over his head, he got threatened on a daily basis. He was lucky they didn’t grab him like they did Mike. I asked him why he didn’t go to the police but he just laughed at what he considered my presumed naiveté. ‘The cops don’t help guys like me’ he said. ‘You gotta find your own way outta this kind of mess’.”
Taylor shrugged. “It’s up to us, Jerry. Now you’re here, they might just listen to you. Tell them you’re good for the money, you just need more time. It’s all we can hope to achieve, really.”
* * * *
The guy who’d been watching us in the lobby had gravitated to the other side of the bar. Mr Unsubtle stood glaring at us over his glass of whatever he was drinking.
Okay, time to gird my loins and face the challenger… I slid off the barstool and sauntered with as much casualness as I could muster. The guy was huge, massive and butt ugly. Beady eyes peered balefully at me from under beetling brows and a shaved head. I hoped my debonair approach hid the fact my stomach was a quivering mass of jelly. I never said I had nerves of steel like James Bond.
“Hey,” I said, holding out my hand. “I’m Mike Peterson’s brother.”
“So?” The hand he ignored, but he did a half turn toward me, lowered his chin enough that it disappeared into his bulging neck and stared me down…or tried to.
“Well, I uh, hoped we could come to some agreement here about the, you know, the money, Mike owes.”
“The agreement is he pays up by tomorra night or he won’t walk outta here, or anywhere else for that matter, ever again.”
“You’re serious?” I went for the astounded, you’ve gotta be kidding me expression. “What are we—in a movie? People don’t—” I took an involuntary step back as he took a very deliberate step toward me, looming over me like a giant pissed off Golem, complete with black suit. He jabbed me in the chest with his forefinger. It hurt.
“Listen to me,” he growled, his New Jersey accent thickening his voice. “You and your faggot friend over there can fuck off if you think there’s any talkin’ to be done. He says,”—he jerked his thumb over at Taylor— “he’s got the money. Well, tell him to deliver it by tomorra no later than five pm, or your brother won’t have no knees. Got that?”
“He’s got a check we can’t cash by then.” I was putting enough plaintiveness in my voice to sound like I was begging. I wasn’t above that right then. “Just give us some time before you start uh, doing things to Mike. He’s my brother…” Now I really was begging. “Please don’t
Gargantua heaved himself away from the bar and glared down at me. “Listen good. Room eleven ninety-six, five o’clock tomorra. No later. Now fuck off before I forget where we are and use you as a rag to mop this counter with.”
“You’re being totally unreasonable,” I said, my voice rising in volume. Heads turned our way.
“Walk away, little man, before I smash you.”
Unlike me, he maintained the same level tone he would use to ask me where the men’s room is. I felt a tug on my sleeve and looked round to find Taylor standing at my side.
“Come on, Jerry. Don’t waste your time. We’ll think of something.”
“Yeah, like calling the cops,” I yelled. I was losing my cool. I’d never been in a position like this before, being faced down by some no-brain giant who had just called me ‘little man.’ “You think you can get away with this?”
“Jerry!” Taylor’s sleeve tugging increased.
“Hey, guys…” Now the bartender glared at us. “Cut the crap, or I call security over here.”
“Well, maybe you should,” I seethed, directing my rage at Eddie. “What kind of a place is this that lets criminals kidnap guests and threaten them? This guy—” I turned to look at the Hulk, but he’d gone, lumbering across the casino floor at an impressive lick for a man his size. “Anyway, he’s threatening to injure my brother,” I told the bartender who rolled his eyes and walked away, muttering something about assholes.
“I don’t believe this!”
“Jerry, calm down.” Taylor took my arm and led me away from the bar. “Let’s go up to my room, and we can figure out what we’re going to do.”
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