Home > Fool Me Once (First Wives #1)(6)

Fool Me Once (First Wives #1)(6)
Author: Catherine Bybee

She lifted her hands. “I’m here all week.”

“Lucky me.”

Lori laughed as she walked away, ignoring the heat of his stare on her ass.

Chapter Four

Sugar daddy. Reed couldn’t help but wonder if Miss Single had one of those, past or present. He enjoyed the view as she sashayed away. Honey blonde hair, a sparkle in her blue eyes that wasn’t flighty like her overly animated friend’s. There had been a smirk behind her serious expression, and when she had started on the pole dancing line. She had curves, and that ass . . . yeah, a week on the open sea pursuing that one was a challenge he happily accepted. His eyes landed on the bill, which had her room number on it. One of the penthouse suites. He wasn’t surprised. This woman, and those she surrounded herself with, dripped with sophistication and money.

He took a pull on his longneck beer and opened the daily itinerary the ship provided. He reached for the pen left behind by Miss Single and circled a singles mixer dance party for later that night. None of the women Miss Single was with wore wedding rings, so it was safe to say he’d find them among the unattached on the ship.

His phone buzzed. A number from the States displayed without a name.

“Reed,” he answered, 99 percent sure who the caller was.

“How is Spain?” the female voice asked.


“I trust your accommodations are satisfactory.”

He glanced around the deck. “They’ll work,” he said without humor.

“Anything to report?”

“I’ve located my target.”

“Well, I hope so. That suite didn’t come cheap.”

Reed looked around the Haven’s private accommodations and was glad he wasn’t paying the bill.

“She’s traveling with friends.”


“I don’t know yet, I’ve been on board less than an hour.”

She muttered something crass. “I will call you in Rome.”

“Until Rome.” He hung up and signaled the bartender for his bill.

“Don’t look.”

Funny how when someone tells you not to look, that’s exactly what you want to do. Lori found her eyes drifting from the spinning ball on the roulette table.

Shannon elbowed her gently.

Lori snapped her attention away from the table.

“He cannot take his eyes off you.”


The croupier called out the number, placed his marker on the board, and paid out the winners. Sadly, Lori wasn’t one of them.

She took the moment to pick up her drink and briefly scan the room.

Sure enough, Mr. Single stood on the opposing side of the craps table, watching her.

Instead of pretending she didn’t notice him, she lifted her glass in salute and smiled. It felt good to flirt, even though it was against her better judgment.

His answering grin was mixed with mischief.

“That’s the guy you were telling us about, isn’t it?” Shannon asked.

“Sure is.”

“Wow, he is something to look at.”

Lori hummed.

“Needs a haircut, though.”

Lori broke eye contact with him and turned to Shannon. “I know, right?” She set her chips on the table and stood back.

“Place your bets,” the croupier told them. Shannon leaned across Lori to reach the higher numbers.

When Lori looked back up, Mr. Single was gone. A hair of disappointment wiggled up her spine.

“Thirty-one black.”

Shannon high-fived Lori. “Whoop, whoop!”

Her five-dollar chip sat on the line between thirty-one and twenty-eight.

“Next round is on you,” Lori teased.

Shannon collected her money and generously placed her bets. She glanced up. “Where did he go?”

“Who knows?” Lori looked at her hand of dwindling chips, promising to walk away if she didn’t win on the next turn of the wheel. Just then her skin prickled and her palms started to itch.

“Red.” His voice came from behind her, his lips close to her ear.

She forced herself not to smile. “You’re sure?” she asked.

The croupier spun the wheel and released the ball.

“Forty-eight percent sure.”

She looked up and down the table, remembered the green zero and double zeros. She put twenty on red and scattered another twenty bucks on various red numbers.

“No more bets.”

The ball started to bounce.

Lori held her breath.

“Fourteen, red.”

“Okay, then. I guess I owe you a drink,” Lori said as she peeked over her shoulder to find Mr. Single staring.

“Hello.” Shannon peered from Lori’s other side.

“Hello,” he replied, then narrowed his eyes. “Aren’t you—”

Lori panicked and lifted a finger to his lips as if she had a right.

His amused eyes widened as he reached to touch her hand.

“My friend is on vacation.” Lori hoped her words kept him from bringing unwanted attention to Shannon. “Far away from home.”

His eyes told her he understood. With a tiny squeeze of her hand, he let her go.

Shannon tilted her head. “Thank you. Do you have a name other than Mr. Single?”

“You’ve been talking about me.”

Lori felt like she was sixteen years old, caught talking about the new kid in school. She tried to hide her embarrassment.

He reached across Lori. “I’m Reed.”

“Nice to meet you, Reed. This is my friend Lori.”

“Lori.” It sounded as if he was testing her name with the weight of the sigh he used when saying it.

The heat on her neck felt unnatural.

“Now that we have the names straight, what should I bet on now?”

The ball was already rolling.

“Let it ride on red.”

“I never let it ride.”

He stopped her hand from pulling her chips away. His lips moved close to her ear again. “What are you worried about, losing Sugar Daddy’s money?”

Before she could pull the chips away, the croupier waved a hand over the table, indicating she’d lost her opportunity to back out.

“Twenty-seven, red.”

She sighed, and once she’d been paid out, she removed her chips. Not that she worried about losing forty dollars. Hell, she was down two hundred and she’d only been in the casino for forty minutes. Gambling in general was outside her control spectrum. A little bit was fine, exciting even . . . but if any real money was involved, she’d probably break out in hives before the ball settled on a number.

“No guts to do it again?” Reed asked.

She pointed to the table. “Where’s your bet?”

“Touché.” He removed his wallet, placed a hundred-dollar bill on red.

The croupier made quick work of removing the cash and replacing it with several green chips.

Less than a minute later, twenty-one, red was called.

Lori stood back to watch, her hands tightening in on themselves with each rotation of the ball.

All she noticed was the color when the ball dropped.


Reed let it ride.

“You’re nuts,” she whispered.

Lori wasn’t sure if his reckless gambling was because of his cocky self-assuredness or if he was just a man using his money to flirt with her. Either one was slightly flattering.

Four spins later, Reed was up sixteen hundred dollars. Only then did he pull off the hundred dollars he started with.

“You’re going to leave it there?”

He shrugged with a grin.

The other players at the table were watching. Others were putting their money on black, muttering his luck was about to run out.

Lori held her breath, the ball bounced. “Twelve, red.”

Even Shannon was speechless.

Lori was sweating, and it wasn’t her money.

“You’re not a gambler,” he observed.

She looked up to find his eyes laughing at her. “Apparently not.”

“Sir?” the croupier caught Reed’s attention.

He smirked like it was a natural thing for him to leave three grand on the table riding on a color. “Leave it,” Reed told him.

By now a small crowd had gathered to watch.

Lori leaned in. “You’re crazy.”

He leaned closer. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, Lori. You should try it.”

None of the other players placed bets on the table as the ball rolled.

“Three, red.”

“Dude is lucky.”

“Holy crap,” a man behind them said.

The noise grew around them as spectators took in Reed’s pile of chips, chips equaling six thousand dollars that looked like a pot of gold to Lori.


“Well, Lori, should I walk away?”

Walk, hell, she’d be running.

Her heart sped and she found herself shaking her head. “Let it ride.” She couldn’t believe the words came from her lips. She wanted to retract them but heard an opposing counsel in her head shouting “objection.”

He winked. “You’re learning.”

Shannon leaned close. “Crazy.”

The croupier signaled his manager.

The delay in spinning the wheel had Lori looking around. She glanced at the plaque on the table indicating a five-thousand-dollar limit.

The manager spoke with the croupier and glanced at the previous winning red numbers on the digital board above the table. A single nod and the ball spun.

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