Read Cowboy Jackpot: Christmas Online

Authors: Randi Alexander

Cowboy Jackpot: Christmas (8 page)

BOOK: Cowboy Jackpot: Christmas
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He ran out the door and reached the elevators as her voice
trailed off.

"Hey, idiot." Kira shouted down the hall.
"Make this right."

"I plan to, ma'am." He jumped into the elevator,
making two older ladies screech. He apologized while he pressed the buttons for
Casino and Door Close until the damn thing got moving.

He jogged to the business office door and asked to see Ray,
the manager. He was shown into an office, empty except for Ray. "Is Miss
Colberg-Staub coming?"

"Well…" The manager took his time sitting.

Boone leaned on the desk. "Was she here already?"

"She's been here, and is gone." He smiled.
"And you'll be pleased to know she signed a waiver turning over all the
winnings to you."

He stepped back, his legs bumped a chair, and he sat.
"What? She can't do that, can she?"

"Legally, the money is yours, anyway." He leaned
forward. "She wanted you to have it to start your rodeo school." He
slid a stack of papers in front of Boone. "She even suggested I talk to
you about the casino sponsoring your school. I'd like to set up a meeting for
tomorrow with you and our marketing people."

Boone couldn't speak. She gave him the money. She talked
them into sponsoring him. His first reaction was to tell the casino to shove
the money, but now he wanted to tell her to shove it…into her bank account. His
lip curved in a half smile. "She's quite a woman."

"She is, Mr. Hancock. An impressive lady." He
handed Boone a pen. "Now, if you'll give me your driver's license, and
start completing the paperwork, I'll have you out of here in no time."

Chapter Seven


Gieselle phoned Kira. "I'm in the Roundup Bar drowning
my stupidity in margaritas."

"I'm close. Be there in a minute."

She stirred the slushy drink and propped her head on her
hand. Boone must have his money by now. Was probably celebrating with a girl on
each arm. "Sluts."

The bartender turned. "What?" The place was empty
except for the bartender, her, and a guy reading the newspaper in a corner.

"Slush." She twirled her straw in her drink.

He grinned. "You need breakfast? I can order something
for you."

"I got my breakfast right here." She sipped from
her glass. "Fruit, ice, sugar, and fermented agave." Her voice
slurred just a little. It'd be slurring a hell of a lot more in a half hour or

"Okay. If you change your mind, I get a break in an
hour. I know a great place for omelets."

She sighed. "And so the bullshit begins all over

The bartender shrugged. "On second thought, I retract
that invitation."

Gieselle slapped her hand down on the bar. "That's
probably the smartest thing you'll ever do, Mr. Bartender."

"It's Don. If you care."

"I'm Gigi, if anyone cares."

"Oh, fuck you." Kira's voice carried across the
bar. "Stop being a baby. You knew him for less than twenty-four

The man in the corner folded his newspaper and left the bar.

"Don." She gestured to Kira. "This is my good
friend Kira, who's come to cheer me up." She sneered at her friend.
"Not that anyone could tell by her bitch act."

Kira slid onto the stool next to her. "Hi Don. Please
excuse her. She's just given up a huge jackpot to the asshole who dumped

Gieselle focused her eyes on Kira. "How did you

"Boone called the room looking for you. Said you're not
answering your cell."

"Maybe I should get out of here. Hide out
somewhere." She sucked in a breath as an idea came to her. "I should
get a flight out today."

"No. Let's wait until tomorrow." Kira looked
guilty and wouldn't meet her gaze.

What was going on?

"But maybe some time away from this hotel would be
good. After Boone called, I rounded up Dallas and Jayden. They're on their way.
We're all going casino hopping. The four of us. And we're' going to have
fun." She pushed Gieselle's margarita away.

"No. I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to sit here and
drink until Don has to call security to bring me to my room."

"Okay." Don walked over with a slip of paper.
"Let me get your room number right now."

She laughed and wrote it on the slip. "I like that you
think ahead. Be sure to give yourself a nice, big tip after I pass out."
She retrieved her drink and took a healthy sip.

Dallas and Jayden walked in, their boots loud on the wood

"What the hell is going on?" Jayden sat next to

Dallas stood by Kira. "Boone took off in his truck.
He's not answering his phone."

Gieselle shrugged. "He's got what he's dreamed of. He's
probably halfway to Reno by now."

Jayden narrowed his eyes. "What does that mean?"

Kira explained the whole story.

Dallas shook his head. "I'm really sorry you saw those
texts, Gigi. It's nothing personal. We'd promised to keep each other on track,
which means no women for more than a weekend." He let out a long breath.
"It was my way of reminding him, but it came out too strong, and I'm sorry."

She swung around on her barstool and faced him. "Do you
really think I'm just a slut?" She spun toward Jayden. "Just a trampy
buckle bunny?"

Both men shook their heads.

"We know you're not." Jayden smiled. "And
Boone knows that, too. He's just runnin' scared right now."

"No." Gieselle looked at the face so like her
Boone. "He meant every word he said to me." Anguish rolled through

Dallas swung her stool back so she faced him. Her head
started to spin. "I really like you. I'd like you for Boone. But give him
some time."

Shaking her head, she reached for her drink. "It's too
late for us."

"I don't think so." Dallas squeezed her shoulder.
"He's spent so many years avoiding any emotional connection, that when he
found someone he really liked…" He shrugged. "It just came natural to
him to push you away."

She dropped her head. "The way he did it, though."
She sucked in a breath, promising herself she wouldn't cry.

Jayden touched her arm. "You want me to beat him up for

Dallas laughed. "I'll help."

She smiled. "Thanks, no. But I appreciate the

Kira rubbed her stomach. "I'm hungry." She looked
at the cowboys. "You guys eat yet?"

"Nope." Jayden motioned for the bartender.
"You woke us up when you called."

Kira snorted. "No buckle bunnies sleeping next to

"Nope." Dallas echoed Jayden. "We were good
boys last night…or this morning. After we walked you to your room, we went
right to ours and climbed in our beds."

Kira narrowed her eyes and stared at him.

Was there something happening between the two of them?

Jayden asked for menus and they all ordered breakfast. They
sat at the bar and ate, the cowboys washing it down with beer, and Kira and her
sipping on margaritas.

It all seemed so normal. As if her heart hadn't been
dropkicked across the Vegas strip. She just needed to get through the next
twenty-four hours until their flight left for home. "Merry Christmas,
guys." Gieselle held up her drink.

"Happy birthday, Gigi." Dallas tapped her glass,
Jayden and Kira followed suit.

"Okay, men, let's go." Kira jumped to her feet and
slung her purse over her shoulder.

Jayden looked at her. "We can't leave Gigi."

Kira jerked her head to the left.

Gieselle turned to look but Kira grabbed her arm. "You
stay here and behave. Promise?"

"You're leaving me? I thought you were my friend."
She narrowed her eyes. "You're fired."

Kira laughed. "You'll re-hire me. You always do."
She winked.

She didn't blame them for taking off without her. She was a
pathetic lump of depression. "You all have fun."

They tossed money onto the bar and left.

She should just go back to her room and sulk alone. It'd be
less expensive than soaking herself in tequila. Going from a rich woman, back
to barely making it again, would take some getting used to.

"Do you have any special drinks for idiots?" A
male voice came from her right. Her male.

She swung her head. There he stood, a light colored cotton
shirt, the sleeves rolled up on his muscled forearms. A tan cowboy hat, and his
jeans and boots.

Don grinned at him and looked at Gieselle. "Sure do.
Arsenic okay?"

"Yep. With a longneck to wash it down." He
gestured toward her. "And whatever the smart, lovely lady's having, give
her a double."

Gieselle smiled. Her heart thumped and the ache that had
cramped her chest all morning eased. "I'll pass on that right now,

Boone walked over to her, his body so tense, she barely
recognized her cocky cowboy. He stood beside her. "Can I sit?"

She gestured. "Sure."

Don brought his beer and cleared away the leftovers from the
other three.

"Listen." Boone faced her, his elbows on his
thighs, leaning close. "I got scared."

She swiveled toward him, nodding. She'd been scared, too,
but willing to give it a try.

"You're braver than I am. You see things through the
vision of a woman with a graduate degree and a big future." He tipped back
his hat. "I'm a high school grad. I know nothing but rodeoing. If this
idea of a rodeo school doesn't work out for me, I'm done. I got nothin'."

"I understand. Your commitment to pursuing your dream
comes first."

"It did." He put his hand on hers on her thigh.
"Until I met you."

She swiveled to face the bar.

His hand dropped.

"Boone, let's not make promises we might regret. You
sent those texts to Dallas, and you intentionally…" She'd been about to
say "broke my heart," but that would reveal too much, give him too
much power over her. She faced him. "You intentionally let me walk out of
your life for what I assumed was forever."

He nodded. "Mistakes I regret, and wish I could take

"But, that was what your common sense told you to
do." She smiled. "We've known each other for less than a day. Let's
give it a little more time before we decide."

His face unreadable, Boone stared at her. "You're kinda
smart, aren't you."

She blinked.

His lip twitched in a partial smile.

"Yes." She grinned. "I'm very wise."
Warmth spread through her chest. She had another day—another chance—with her

"Okay. Let's start over from this morning, before the
texts, and before I let you get away from me."

She held out her hand. "Agreed."

He took her fingers in his hand and lifted them to his lips
for a slow, warm kiss. "You're amazing, Gigi." He released her hand.

She touched his cheek. "And you're irresistible,

He chuckled and kissed her palm, took her hand and held it.
With his free hand, he reached into his chest pocket and pulled out the watch.

Searching his eyes for his reaction, she held her breath.

He clutched it in his hand, his head tipped down. "This
is probably the nicest gift I've ever been given." He looked at her.
"Thank you. It means a lot that you went through all the trouble…for

She squeezed his hand. "You're welcome. It was a lot of
fun pulling it together."

He dropped his head. "And I messed it up." Shaking
his head, he opened the watch and looked at the picture. "I hope I can
make it up to you." He closed the watch and slid it back into his pocket.

A lump formed in her throat. His sincerity did so much to
heal her wounds. "You can." She winked. "I saw a little ornament
in the gift shop that you can buy me. We can hang it on our tree."

He nodded. "Our tree. Sounds nice." He reached
into his back pocket and pulled out an envelope. "First, I have something
for you."

She took it, watching his face.

His expression gave nothing away.

Inside were six personal checks from Boone's account. She
stared at his heavy cursive and distinctive signature. Her mouth dropped open.
Each check was made out to her, each for thirteen thousand dollars.

"The casino manager helped me find a tax accountant who
figured this out."

Her brows rose. "Really? On Christmas Day?"

"This is Vegas. Anything's possible."

She scanned through the checks again, calculating the total.
"Wow." This was nearly unbelievable. "Why six checks?"

He took a breath. "Since I'm from Nevada, I don't pay
state income tax. We figured out how much federal tax I'll have to pay on the

"Okay." She wished she were a little more sober.

"If you deposit those checks into separate accounts,
you should be safe from paying any more taxes. The amount of each one is under
the maximum gift tax exclusion."

She smiled. "You know about all this?"

"Just learned today." He cleared his throat and
shifted in his seat. "Since the tax debt will be fully paid on the money,
I don't feel that we're doing anything to avoid paying our fair share."

She sobered. That had to be a difficult decision for him.
"No, you're right. But what if you do your taxes and realize you've
overpaid me?"

He grinned. "Can I contact you?"

She smiled. "I'd like that." She slid the envelope
into her purse. "Thank you. This is unexpected. I love all the effort you
went through to do this."

"You're welcome." His eyes held an emotion that
made her breath catch. He looked away. "Just don't try to deposit those
checks until I can get the casino's check into my bank account tomorrow."

She patted her purse. "I'm not heading home until
tomorrow afternoon."

A look of worry crossed his face.


"I don't want to think about that." A chill raced
through Boone. He'd just got her back, and he wasn't ready to let her go.
"Can we spend the rest of your birthday together?" He swallowed.
"In our suite?"

BOOK: Cowboy Jackpot: Christmas
6.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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