Buck Wilmington groaned softly as the bright sun shown
through the hotel window hitting him right in the face. Rolling over he hoped
to fall back to sleep but instead encountered the soft curves of a distinctly
feminine form next to him.
Slowly opening one eye and then the other, he took in his surroundings as
he sat up. Well, he was obviously in a Montecito hotel room he thought but
for the life of him he couldnt remember how he got there. He obviously
had too much to drink last night, he thought as he ran a hand through his
bed-head hair but definitely not too much of a good time since he was still
dressed in his slacks and shirt.
An item lying on the nearby chair caught his attention and he did a double
take. It was a white wedding dress. Oh shit, he thought. He
didnt get married last night, did he? No, thats not possible,
he thought as he then spotted the wedding veil draped over the nightstand
lamp. Or is it?
The body next to him stirred, the movement causing Buck to glance over curious
as to whom she was. Shoot, he couldnt even remember the woman in his
"Mornin," said Buck as he watched a blonde covered head pop up under
the covers and turn to him.
"You're not Chandler," stated the woman as she looked at the stranger in
her bed with sleep-filled eyes.
"Uh. . . Not the last time I checked," replied Buck.
"Who are you and what are you doing in my bed?" asked the woman as she sat
up, carefully making sure she used the bed sheet to protect her nearly naked
"Well darlin', that would seem to be the question of the day," replied Buck.
"What? You don't remember either?" replied the woman in disbelief.
"Uh. . . no, everything is a little fuzzy at the moment but you mind tellin'
me what's that doin' in here," he said pointing at the wedding dress in the
corner of the room.
"Oh no. We didn't! Did we?" She looked at him in horror.
"Well hold on now. Don't go lookin' at ol' Buck like you might have married
a monster. You could have done a lot worse," he said, offended by her reaction.
"I. . . I didn't mean it like that." She hung her head embarrassed. "But,
I don't know you."
"Well by the looks of things, we knew each other pretty well last night."
Buck bobbed his eyebrows suggestively.
A deep blush covered her cheeks at his innuendo.
"I hate to ask you this, considering," he glanced at the rumpled bed, "but
what is your name darlin'?"
"Hilda Trent," replied the woman. "And you are?"
"Buck Wilmington, at your service." He winked at her causing her to blush
Down in Montecitos surveillance control room, the
security force was switching over shifts.
JD Dunne took a sip of his coffee as he settled into his chair and began
checking the computer system to make sure everything was running properly
and no problems occurred when he was off duty. Meanwhile Vin Tanner was looking
over the previous shifts incident reports to get caught up on any pending
"Anything happening?" asked Security Chief Chris Larabee as he arrived in
the office with coffee in one hand and a newspaper in another.
"Looks like all is quiet," replied Vin as he took in all the security monitors.
"Good," replied Chris as he paused before entering his office. "Is Buck in
yet? Wanted to talk to him about a few things."
"Dont know," replied Vin as his brow furrowed. "Havent seen him
on any of the monitors."
"Thats weird," replied Chris. "Hes never late."
"Let me check," chimed JD as he brought up the recognition software and did
a search on Bucks employee photo. A few seconds later, the negative
response appeared on the screen. "Hes not on any of the cameras," replied
JD. "Now that I think about it, I dont remembering seeing his car at
the apartment complex when I left today. . ."
"Well, maybe hes just at a sleep over," commented Vin as
a wiry grin appeared across his face.
"Could be," replied Chris. "Ill try giving him a call in a bit and
see what happened to him." The Security Chief then headed into his office.
Back in Room 646 Buck Wilmington and Hilda Trent, who
was now wearing the hotels complimentary white terrycloth bathrobe,
were trying to figure out exactly what happened the night before.
"Ok, there has to be a simple answer to explain all of this," said Buck as
he paced back and forth in the hotel room. "Let's remain calm . . ."
"I am calm!" said Hilda in a raised voice and then groaned softly as she
placed a hand to her forehead, realizing too late that the raised voice would
just aggravate her hung over headache.
"Ok, well, we just cant be married. . . we just cant be married.
. ." repeated a very nervous Buck.
"Would being married to me be so horrible?" asked Hilda. Sure she didnt
have model looks and a stick figure but she thought she was pretty and some
guys did like full-figured women.
"Thats not it, Darlin," replied Buck who could see he had hit
a raw nerve with the woman. "Its just this never has happened to me."
Sitting down on the edge of the bed beside her he continued, "Ok, so last
night . . . let's see . . . what happened," started Buck as he tried to calm
down. "I was working and the big wedding event was going on. . ."
Sixteen hours earlier. . .
Since Buck didn't have any high-rolling whales in town he was helping with
the big "I Do" event at the Montecito where 100 couples were to be wed. After
assisting a very nervous groom who had forgotten the very important ring
in his room, Buck found himself nearly run over by a pretty blonde bride
who came rushing out of the ladies room extremely upset.
"Whoa there, darlin'," said Buck as he placed his hands lightly on her shoulders
to steady her. "What's wrong?"
"It's nothing," said Hilda in a shaky voice as she quickly brushed some wayward
"Well, clearly something is wrong if it got you all upset on your big day,"
replied Buck in a soothing voice. "Now, tell ole Buckley what happened and
let's see if I can help. . ."
"My fiancée . . . Chandler . . . left me," she declared in a soft
voice. "He said he changed his mind and didn't want to get married."
"That no good bum," replied Buck.
"My thoughts exactly," replied Hilda. "Of course I used other words when
I told him."
Buck chuckled softly and he replied, "Well, he deserved it and much more.
So, where are you off to in such a big hurry?"
"Bar . . . I need a drink," replied Hilda. "A big drink."
"Care for some company?" asked Buck who didn't want to leave the upset woman
"I'd like that," replied Hilda as she nodded yes. Buck took her to Montecito's
Opus bar where she promptly ordered two drinks.
"Darlin', I can't drink. I'm on duty," said Buck as the waitress placed two
alcoholic beverages in front of them.
"When do you get off duty?" asked Hilda.
Buck looked at his watch and then said, "In about 15 minutes."
"Well, you'll just have to catch up in 15 minutes," replied Hilda succinctly
and then tossed back her drink on one swallow. She smiled as she reached
for his drink and Buck watched as she drank that too.
"Darlin', you better take it slow," warned Buck as Hilda signaled the waitress
for more drinks. After 15 minutes passed and Buck was officially off duty,
Hilda insisted he join her and over the next couple hours they enjoyed themselves
while Hilda drowned her sorrows.
When it started to get late into the evening, Buck suggested, "How about
if I escort you back to your room? Make sure you get there ok. . ."
"Oh, I'm fine," replied Hilda as she slid off the stool and began to sway.
"I got ya," said Buck as he placed a comforting arm around her shoulder.
He, too, was also feeling the effects of their night of excessive drinking.
"I insist that I escort you to your room."
"You're such a good guy," commented Hilda in words slightly slurred. She
looked up into his face, her hand reaching up to touch his cheek. "Why couldn't
I have met someone like you?"
"Well, darlin' I'm one of a kind," replied Buck as he winked at her. "Now
let's get you upstairs." Together the couple left the bar and headed upstairs
to Hilda's room. While in the elevator, Hilda removed her shoes and veil,
holding the items in one hand. "I can't believe I spent all this money on
this outfit and the loser left me at the alter. . ." grumbled Hilda who was
now very angry at her ex-finance.
"Here's our floor," stated Buck as the doors opened. He helped her off and
led her down the hallway towards her room.
"I need to get out of this gown," stated Hilda as she twisted one arm behind
her to reach for the zipper.
"Darlin', it would probably be best if you wait until you're in your room,"
Hilda giggled as she replied, "You're a funny guy . . . Chandler was never
funny . . . he was such a stick in the mud . . ." She came to a stop in the
middle of the hallway and Buck asked, "What's wrong?"
"Do you know what Chandler's last name is?" asked Hilda.
Buck shook his head 'no' as he said, "No, what?"
"It's Hilliar," replied Hilda. "That means I would have been Hilda Hilliar
if we had gotten married . . . how horrible does that sound?"
"Pretty bad," replied Buck as he nodded while gently encouraging her to continue
on her path to her room.
"Maybe this is fate's way of making sure I don't get stuck with that horrible
name the rest of my life," commented Hilda out loud.
"Could be," replied Buck and then said, "Ok, we're here. Do you have your
key?" They reached the door to her room and she fished the key out of her
tiny purse and handed it to Buck.
"There you go," said Buck after he swung the door open for her.
"Why don't you come in and join me," suggested Hilda as she grabbed his hand
and tugged him into the room, closing the door behind him. She then moved
in close to him, her lips finding his neck as she continued, "I don't want
to be alone tonight and I thought maybe we could. . ."
There was no doubt what the woman wanted and Buck gently pulled her away
and said, "Now Darlin', I don't think we should be doing this. I don't want
you to regret it the next mornin'."
Hilda giggled as she replied, "Oh, I doubt I'll regret it. In fact I have
a feeling this is just what I need to get this horrible episode out of my
head." Meanwhile her hands were all over him, trying to persuade him.
"No . . . no . . . no," stammered Buck as he grabbed her wayward hands. "We
can't do this."
"You don't like me, do you?" stated a deflated Hilda as she took a seat on
the bed. "It's cause I'm not thin and gorgeous?"
"Now darlin', that's not it," said Buck as he moved to her side, taking a
seat beside her on the bed. "You're a beautiful woman and under any other
circumstance I would jump at the chance to spend the evening in your arms
but right now, we've both had too much to drink and I don't want you to regret
it . . . Ok?"
Hilda nodded as she asked, "Will you stay with me? We don't have to . . .
you know . . . I just don't want to be alone."
"I'd be happy to stay," said Buck as he smiled. Truth of the matter he didn't
want to leave the jilted bride alone for fear of what she might do plus he,
too, had way too much to drink and didn't want to have to worry about catching
a cab home.
"Thanks," said Hilda as she smiled at him. "Can you help me with the zipper
on this dress?" she asked as she turned her back to him.
"Sure thing," said Buck, who has had lots of experience with ladies' zippers.
He slowly unzipped the wedding gown and then said, "There you go."
"Thank you," said Hilda.
"Now, I think I might go hit the head if you don't mind," said Buck as he
stood. "All that alcohol is catching up with me."
"Ok," replied Hilda as she stood and began to get undressed, removing the
wedding gown and tossing it on the nearby chair. She definitely didn't need
that anymore. Maybe she will donate it to charity or something. Yawning,
Hilda decided to lie down, the events of day finally catching up to her,
and she slipped under the covers.
When Buck emerged from the bathroom a couple minutes later, he found Hilda
fast asleep on the bed. Smiling he shrugged out of his jacket and removed
his shoes and laid down on the other side of the bed. A few moments later
he was fast asleep too.
Back to the present. . .
"So we didn't . . . you know," declared a very relieved Hilda as she took
a seat next to him on the bed. "Oh, thank God. . ."
"Well, you don't have to sound THAT happy about it," replied Buck as he gently
nudged her with his shoulder. "I've been told that I'm pretty amazing."
Hilda giggled as she replied, "Sorry . . . I know if we did do it, it would
have been incredible but I'm glad you stopped me . . ."
"So, are you gonna be alright?" asked Buck.
"Yea, I will be," replied Hilda. "Thanks for being there last night . . .
I do appreciate it."
"Anytime," replied Buck as his cell phone began to ring. He fished it out
of his pocket and took a look at the small screen to see who it was. It was
Chris who no doubt wanted to know where the hell he was. "Now I do hate to
run but I have to get to work . . . I'm already late and they're trying to
reach me. . ."
"Ok," said Hilda. "Maybe I'll see you later . . . I've decided I'm not gonna
cut my vacation short and I'm gonna stay here . . ."
Buck stood as he grabbed his suit coat and quickly put on his shoes. "Ok,
I'm sure I'll see you around. . ." he said and headed out the door and headed
for the security room.
Hilda watched him make a hasty retreat out of her room. It was a shame she
couldn't have met someone more like Buck, she thought, while picking up the
phone by the bed to call room service for some much-needed coffee.
"Hey Guys, what's up?" asked Buck as he strolled into
the Surveillance Room in his wrinkled suit as if nothing was wrong and he
wasn't over a hour late.
"Care to tell us where you've been?" asked Chris who was holding his coffee
cup. He took in his friend's rumpled attire and figured it had something
to do with a woman.
"You don't want to know," replied Buck as he took Chris' mug in mid-sip and
took a long drink from it. "Damn, I needed that." He glanced around at his
friends and asked, "So, what's going on?"
"The cat adoption event is tomorrow," stated JD. "They're busy setting up
for it right now."
"Cat adoption? Whose idea was that?" asked Buck as he began to take another
sip of coffee but was so rudely interrupted when Chris took his mug back.
"Get your own," grumbled Chris.
"Evie Travis," replied Vin. "She's organizing the event."
"I bet Orin is pleased about that," remarked Buck.
"Well, he's not too happy about having cats at the Montecito," replied Chris.
"But he'll do anything for Evie so he said we should deal with it."
Buck nodded as said, "I don't think I have any whales coming in for the next
day or two so if you need any help, just yell." Meanwhile he was searching
his pockets looking for his newest toy -- his Blackberry -- and not finding
it. "Now where is it?" he mumbled.
"Whatcha you looking for?" asked JD.
"My blackberry," replied Buck. "It's got all my client information . . .
now where did I put it?" He suddenly realized where he probably left it .
. . it must have fallen out of his coat pocket when he was in Hilda's room.
"Didn't you just get that thing?" asked JD. "And you lost it already?"
"I didn't lose it," replied Buck. "In fact I know where it is . . . I just
need to figure out how to get it . . ." This meant he'll need to pay Hilda
another visit and as much as he liked her, waking up in her room with the
uncertainty of if they were married had shaken him to the bone. Sure, the
ladies man had figured he would eventually settle down when the right woman
came along but he figured it was a long, long time in the future. Seeing
her again would just remind him how closely he came to being a groom. And
that was just something he didn't want to relieve again anytime soon.
Up on the eighth floor housekeeper Maxine was busy cleaning
her group of assigned rooms. Knocking on door 896, she said, "Housekeeping,"
and waited a moment to see if she got a response. Thinking the room was empty
she used her master key and entered. As she rounded the corner she stopped
dead in her tracks. There handcuffed to the bed was a naked blonde hair man
covered only by the thin bed sheet.
"Umm . . . can you help me out here?" asked Peter Miller who when he woke
up found himself handcuffed to the bed and his female companion gone. He
glanced around the room and immediately noticed his wallet was no longer
on the nightstand and he realized he'd been robbed.
"Just a moment sir," said Maxine. "Let me call Security. They handle these
types of situations."
Maxine went out into the hallway and immediately placed a call with Security.
Meanwhile down in the Surveillance Room, Vin took the call and then informed
Chris of the situation.
"JD, we'll be down in room 896 if you need us," said Chris as the two men
"Will do," said JD as he continued to monitor the cameras.
When Chris and Vin arrived at the designated room, Maxine was waiting for
them in the hallway. "He's in there," she said as she gestured to the room.
Chris nodded as the two men entered the room. True enough they found the
man in question handcuffed to the bed.
"Sir, my name is Chris Larabee and this is Vin Tanner, we're from Montecito's
Security," said the Security Chief. "Care to tell us what happened?"
"Can you remove these first?" asked Peter as he tugged at the handcuffs.
"I'd be happy to tell you the whole story."
"Do you have the key?" asked Vin.
"Well I did," said Peter as he glanced around. He remembered leaving it on
the bedside table but sure enough it was gone too. "It was right here on
the table with my wallet but they're both gone now . . . she must have taken
Vin began looking for the key to make sure it didn't fall on the floor while
Chris said, "She? Sir, why don't you tell us what happened while we try to
hunt down the key?"
"Well, it all started last night," explained Peter. "I was playing poker.
The previous evening. . .
Peter was having a major lucky streak. He was playing poker in one of Montecito's
private rooms and he had won three hands in a row and was up a very large
sum of cash. Two of his three opponents had quit and now it was just between
him and this gorgeous red-head whose name was Pandora.
"So, Pandora, that's an unusual name," commented Peter as he tried to make
chit chat in between games.
"It's a family name," replied the red-head as she checked her lipstick in
her small compact mirror. "I'm named after my grandmother."
"Well, did you get your beautiful looks from her too?" asked Peter after
taking a sip of his drink.
"Some say that I do," replied Pandora and then smiled at him.
The next game started and again Peter found himself winning.
"It looks like I'm a little short," said Pandora as she eyed his growing
pile of chips with interest. "Maybe I can play for something other than money?"
"What did you have in mind?" asked Peter who liked the recent turn of events.
Pandora leaned forward, showing a teasing amount of her ample cleavage while
under the table she lightly ran her foot up his ankle. "Maybe there's something
I can do. . ." she whispered. "All or nothing this next game . . . your pile
of chips for one night with me . . . anything goes. What do you say?"
"I'm in," replied Peter succinctly.
Pandora smiled as she replied, "Me too."
It turned out Peter's luck continued through the next game as he won again.
"Looks like I'm all yours tonight," purred Pandora.
"It's definitely my lucky night," remarked Peter as he quickly cashed in
his chips, putting his winnings in his wallet. He then turned to the gorgeous
red-head and said, "Shall we?"
When they got up to his room, Pandora was everything she promised and more,
leaving Peter totally exhausted as he fell into a contented sleep with a
huge smile on his face. The drug she also had placed in his drink also ensured
he didn't stir in the wee hours of the morning when she slipped out of the
bed and dressed quickly. Taking a second to gaze at the sleeping man, the
sex had been amazing, thought Pandora, definitely a bonus in addition to
her evening's take. Removing his wallet from the nightstand, she glanced
at all the cash inside (his winnings from the big poker game) and smiled
as she slipped it in her purse. She then decided she would use those handcuffs
he so enjoyed earlier on him. Taking one hand, she handcuffed him to the
bed railing, moved the bedside phone to the floor so he wouldn't be able
to reach it, and then took the handcuff's key and flushed it down the toilet.
The soft click of the door closing was the only sound signaling her exit
from the room.
It was the next morning when Peter woke up handcuffed to the bed and his
wallet missing, that he realized he had been robbed.
"So, that's what happened," said Peter who was still chained up because they
were not able to locate the key.
"And you've never seen this woman before?" asked Chris.
"No, last night was the first time I saw her," replied Peter.
"Chris, maintenance is here to cut Mr. Miller free," said Vin a low voice.
Chris nodded and a few moments later Larry from the maintenance shop came
into the room with a pair of cutters. The sight of the man handcuffed to
the bed didn't even faze the maintenance worker since he had seen quite a
few weird things while he had worked at the resort. It didn't take long to
cut Peter free and the man rubbed his wrist as he said, "Thanks."
"Do you know if she was staying here?" asked Chris.
"She didn't say," replied Peter. "We didn't talk much during the game and
when we came up here we had other things on our minds. . . the most amazing
sex I've ever had . . . the woman was incredible . . ."
"Well, sir, we'll check the tapes and see if we can get a picture of 'Pandora',"
stated Chris, changing the subject.
"I guess I should be happy she just took my money," remarked Peter. "And
didn't take a kidney or something and leave me on ice in the bathtub. . ."
"Sir, that whole missing organ thing is an urban legend," remarked Vin. "We've
never had that happen here at the Montecito."
"Mr. Miller, if you think of anything else that can help our investigation,
please let us know," said Chris. "In the meantime, we'll let you have some
privacy." The two men left the room, closing the door behind them.
"Vin, why don't you head back to the office and fill JD in on what's happened
and see what you can find 'Pandora' on the tapes," suggested Chris. "In the
meantime I'm gonna go talk to Ezra . . . maybe he saw something."
Vin nodded and replied, "Will do."
Buck decided he would go ahead and stop by Hilda's room
to see if he indeed left his Blackberry there. Knocking on the door, he waited.
A few moments later, Hilda opened the door and smiled. "Buck, hi!" she said.
"How are you doing?"
"Fine . . . good," replied Buck as he tried to make chit chat. "And you?"
"I'm feeling much better," replied the woman. "I think it was the four cups
of coffee that did it."
Buck smiled as he said, "Good . . . that's good . . . listen, Hilda, I'm
sorry to interrupt but I think I might have left my . . ."
"Blackberry," finished Hilda. "You did . . . here, let me get it for you."
She retreated back into her room and appeared a few moments later. "Here
"Thanks a lot. I just got this thing and I'd hate to lose it," explained
"It's no problem," said Hilda. "So, umm . . . Buck . . . I don't know what
your schedule is like but if you're free for lunch or something . . ."
"Oh, I'd love to, Hilda, but I've got some things I need to tend to," said
Buck. "Maybe later. . ."
"Sure, no problem," said Hilda as she nodded in understanding. "Well, I should
let you go and get back to work . . . see you later. . ."
Over the next couple hours, Security personnel busily
went through the previous evening's tapes to find the exact movements of
the mysterious red-head woman named 'Pandora'.
"What did you find?" asked Chris as he leaned against a desk.
"Well, we easily found the couple at the poker game as well as leaving the
game, heading up to Mr. Miller's room," stated JD as he brought up the scenes
Chris squinted as he closely followed the woman's movements on the monitor.
"And we did a little more work and found her entering the Montecito earlier
that evening as well as leaving around four a.m. from Mr. Miller's room,"
explained JD as he proceeded to show the Security Chief that footage.
"I ran the facial recognition program," continued Vin as he brought up a
picture of 'Pandora'. "We got no hits here in our database but interestin'
enough we did get some hits from the intra-casino database." The Las Vegas
casinos had recently set up a shared database where they added any suspicious
activity, characters, cheaters, and such so they could share information
with each other because sure enough if a scam was tried at one casino, it
would be tried at another.
"It seems 'Pandora' has several other names . . . she's also known by Phoebe
and Athena and has performed various scams at other resorts here in Vegas,"
said Vin as he brought up surveillance pictures of her from the other resorts.
It was definitely the same woman but the one thing that was different in
each picture was her hair . . . she had a different color in each photo --
brunette, blonde, red-head as well as different styles -- long or short.
But there was no doubt it was definitely her. "She's never returned to the
same casino twice," ended Vin.
Chris nodded while thinking, 'Damn.' It didn't look like they were going
to catch this one. She definitely was a pro. Well, all they could do was
enter all their information and picture in the intra-casino database and
hope down the road another casino would catch her.
"Isn't he adorable," declared Inez. "I just want to take
him home. . ." She was holding a beautiful white kitten at the big cat rescue
event that was in full swing at the Montecito.
"It looks like he likes you too," commented Rain as she watched the cat nuzzle
against the woman's neck. The two women had purposely arrived to work early
to go to the event together.
"I can't believe there are so many cats needing homes," remarked Inez with
sadness in her voice as she gazed at all the cats that needed adoption.
"Yea, I know," replied Rain. "It's such a shame they've all been abandoned
. . . I do hope they find homes for all of them."
"I wish I could adopt them all," replied Inez. "But I guess I just have to
settle on one. What do you say, little one, do you want to come home with
me?" Her last question was gestured to the kitten in her arms.
"Hello ladies," said Head Valet, Josiah Sanchez, in a low voice. He and his
friend on on-call physician, Nathan Jackson, were both checking out the cat
"Rain . . . Inez," said Nathan as he smiled at the two women, his gaze lingering
on the beautiful lounge singer.
"What are you all doing here?" asked Inez who was surprised to see the two
"I'm thinking about adopting a cat," answered Josiah.
"Really?" said Rain, his comment surprising both women.
"Humans aren't the only lost souls on the planet," replied Josiah as he gazed
around at all the cages filled with abandoned cats that needed homes. "Sometimes
animals need a little rescuing too."
"Amen, brother," said Nathan.
"Plus I've got this mouse problem that I'm hoping a cat can help me out with,"
revealed a grinning Josiah as the two women laughed. "It looks like you found
a companion to take home," continued the Head Valet as he gestured to the
kitten in Inez's arms.
"Yea, but it was more like he found me," replied Inez as she smiled at the
"So, what are you gonna name him?" asked Nathan.
"I was thinking maybe 'Elvis'," replied Inez as she grinned, knowing the
name would definitely get the Hospitality Host all riled up especially after
his recent undercover assignment as the 'King'.
The two men and Rain laughed at Mystique Manager's choice in names.
"Well, he definitely looks like an 'Elvis'," replied Rain as she gently pet
"So, Josiah, would you like some help picking out a cat?" asked Inez.
"I'd love some ladies," replied the Head Valet as he smiled.
The foursome began to walk through the event together, Josiah finally finding
the perfect cat that he wanted to adopt. Luckily the Montecito had worked
out a deal with the cat rescue event to hold any cats that employees might
adopt until they got off of work.
As the quartet exited the cat rescue event, they ran into Mary Travis and
her son, Billy.
"Josiah! Nathan!" said the exited boy. "Mom said I could adopt a cat. Isn't
Meanwhile Mary had a look on her face that said 'what have I gotten myself
The little boy continued, "Mom said if I did really good in school we could
get a cat and guess what, I got all A's in my classes."
"That's great, Billy," said Josiah. "And getting a cat will teach you
responsibility when you help your Mom take care of it."
"That's what Mom said too," replied Billy as he rolled his eyes at the
'responsibility' talk. "Look Mom at that kitten . . . isn't he cute!" said
Billy as he grabbed his Mom's hand and began to pull her in direction of
the cats needing homes.
"Good luck," said Inez and Mary nodded as she waved goodbye to the group.
"Well, I don't know about you all but its time for me to get back to work,"
stated Josiah as the others agree, the foursome headed off in different
"Boo!" said Pit Boss Ezra Standish. He has seen his friend,
Buck Wilmington, dart behind some slot machines and thought he would investigate,
approaching the man from behind.
Buck whipped around and placed a hand to his heart. "Damn, Ezra, don't do
that . . . you'll give me a heart attack."
"I'll remember that for the future," replied the Pit Boss and then asked,
"Hiding from someone?"
"You could say that," replied Buck as he peaked around the corner to see
if Hilda Trent was still there. Yep, she was so he withdrew further behind
the shelter of the slot machines.
"Does it have anything to do with your surprise wake up yesterday morning?"
asked Ezra as he craned his neck to look at the woman in question.
"You could say that," replied Buck.
"Are you planning on hiding behind the slot machines all evening?" asked
Ezra as he tried not to smile.
"No!" said Buck his voice fill exasperation.
"What's wrong with Buck?" asked Chris who was doing a security sweep of the
main floor and noticed his friend hiding.
"Hiding," responded Ezra.
"I am NOT hiding," chimed Buck in a low voice.
Ezra raised an eyebrow and said, "Then what would you call it?"
"Inspectin' the slot machines?" replied Buck. "Ok, ok, I just don't want
to talk to her at the moment, ok?"
"You know, Buck, this is what happens when you sleep with a guest," reprimanded
Chris in a stern voice.
"For your information we didn't 'sleep' together," replied Buck quickly.
"Just got stinking drunk and fell asleep . . . that's it. . ."
Chris looked at Ezra and said, "I almost believe him."
"I agree, it does seem he is telling the truth," replied Ezra.
"Cause I am," replied Buck. "And stop talking like I'm not here." The Hospitality
Host peaked around the corner and noticed the coast was clear and he let
out a sigh of relief. "Now I don't know about you fellas but I have to get
back to work," continued Buck as he straighten his suit lapels and walked
"What just happened here?" asked Ezra who was clearly confused by his friend's
"I have no idea," replied Chris. "Maybe he's drinking too much coffee."
"Well, if so, I highly recommend he switches to decaf," replied Ezra who
then nodded to the Security Chief before returning back to his job.
It was several hours later and Buck decided he would
stop in at Mystique on his break to see what was happening and if Inez was
working. Slipping into the club he noticed it was karaoke hour, grimacing
slightly as the current wannabe singer butchered a song that Buck couldn't
even recognize, he headed to the bar and ordered a cup of coffee. Having
learned his lesson from the previous night he was staying away from alcohol
for the next couple days.
Not seeing the lovely Inez anywhere in sight Buck turned as he focused his
attention on the stage. A new singer had gone up on stage and he immediately
recognized her. It was Hilda Trent, the lady he woke up with the previous
day. For a brief moment he considered sneaking out, worried she might spot
him and then she started to sing and he froze.
Her voice was absolutely beautiful and it seemed to weave a spell around
the Hospitality Host. As the last notes of the song faded, the audience gave
Hilda a standing ovation. She smiled as she bowed and then quickly got off
Buck made his way over to her and said "Hey," as he got to her side.
"Hi Buck," said Hilda. "I was looking for you earlier . . ."
"Well, was busy with the job and all," replied Buck quickly, now feeling
a little ashamed that he was hiding from her. "Anyway I wanted to say you
sing like an angel."
Hilda smiled as a blush covered her cheeks. "Thank you. It's something I
like to do . . . I'm in the choir at church."
Buck nodded. "Well, I'm on a break . . . do you want to get something to
eat. . ."
"I'd love to," replied Hilda and Buck escorted her out of the noisy club
and to the Twenty-One café that was open 24 hours.
After they were seated, Buck said, "So, Hilda Trent, it seems you're full
of surprises . . . why don't you tell me about yourself. . ."
Hilda smiled as she began to respond . . .
Over at the Palms Resort and Casino, Security Chief Rafael
Martinez was just summoned to his surveillance room. "What's up?" he asked
as he walked into the room.
"Sir, we got a hit from the intra-casino database," explained Jacob as he
brought up the live picture on the security monitor. "It seems this young
woman currently in one of our private poker rooms recently robbed a guest
at the Montecito. They had placed a thorough report in the database and warning
that's why we caught her."
Rafael studied the picture of the woman from the Montecito and then the woman
on their monitor. It definitely looked like the same woman except she had
a different hairstyle but it definitely need further investigating. "Tell
the casino personnel to make sure she doesn't leave the room, I'm on my way
down there now."
"Will do," said Jacob.
A few moments later Rafael entered the private poker room, glancing around
he immediately spotted the woman in question who was now flirting with the
man across from her.
He walked up to her, stopping when he was behind and to the right of her
and said, "Ma'am . . . or should I say 'Pandora' . . . I need a moment of
The woman froze realizing she had been caught. Damn, she thought.
"Pandora?" said the now confused southern gentleman seated across from her.
"I thought your name was Aphrodite?"
"Ma'am, if you will accompany me, please," said Rafael in a stern voice.
The woman nodded as she stood.
"Hey, we're not done here," called out the southern man who was disappointed
they would not be able to finish their private bet. "I was on a lucky streak.
"Sir, you should consider yourself lucky that you didn't finish," said Rafael
and then lightly taking the woman's arm he escorted her out of the poker
room and to one of their security holding rooms.
Chris Larabee was in his office reading over some reports
when his assistant, Sally Frost, poked her head in his doorway and said,
"Rafael Martinez from the Palms is on the line for you . . . he said it's
"Thanks Sally," said Larabee as he reached for his phone. "Hello Rafael,
what's up? Don't tell me you want to challenge us to another baseball game?
Remember what happened last time?"
Rafael laughed as he replied, "Very funny . . . no, this isn't about a rematch
. . . this is about a recent scam artist that had hit the Montecito . . .
'Pandora' . . . you all had filed a report in the intra-casino database."
At the mention of Pandora's name, Chris sat up straight in his chair. "What
do you have?" asked the Security Chief. "Did she try something at the Palms?"
"She did and thanks to your alert, we caught her," replied Rafael. "She's
in one of our holding rooms waiting for LVPD to show up."
Chris was pleased to hear that 'Pandora' had been caught. He definitely didn't
like it when a con-artist got away, taking it as a personal affront to him
and his team. "I'll send one of my men over," said Chris. "Will also notify
our victim, Mr. Miller, that she's been caught . . . I'm sure LVPD will want
a statement from him as well as for him to identify suspect."
"Sounds good," said Rafael. "I'll let Lt. Perez know you all will be contacting
After the phone call ended, Chris stood, heading to the bull-pen area to
let the others know that 'Pandora' had been caught. While telling the others
the good news, Oren and Evie Travis entered the Security spaces.
"Orin . . . Evie," said Chris. "This is a surprise . . . is everything ok?"
Chris couldn't remember a time when both had showed up in the Security offices
so now he was worried that something had happened.
"Oh, yes everything is fine," replied Orin. "Evie wanted to stop by . . ."
The older woman smiled at the men as she said, "Yes, I wanted to thank you
all for everything you did for the cat adoption event today . . . I realize
it is not a typical event that we have here at the Montecito but it was a
huge success . . . 55 out of 65 of the cats were adopted and we raised over
$2,000 for their charity. . ."
"That's great news, Mrs. Travis," said JD.
"We even adopted a kitten for ourselves, didn't we sweetie?" declared Evie
while turning to her husband.
Orin nodded, not looking too pleased about the idea of now having to share
his home with a cat.
"So, did any of you gentlemen adopt a cat?" asked Evie.
"Umm . . .no, I didn't," said Chris. "I'm not a cat person. . ."
"No Ma'am, I'm allergic," replied Vin.
"I already have a pet," declared JD.
"Oh, really? Dog?" asked Evie.
"Horse," replied JD.
Evie slowly nodded as then turned to her husband, "Orin, we really should
be leaving . . . we're supposed to meet Mary and Billy for dinner."
"Yes, dear," said Orin as he nodded to the other men before escorting his
wife out of the office. As they reached the entrance, Evie turned and said,
"Oh, did Orin tell you the good news . . . we're going to have another cat
adoption event next month?"
"No, Ma'am, he didn't," replied Chris as he tried to keep a smile on his
face. He definitely was not happy at the prospect of another cat adoption
event here at the Montecito.
"That's great news, Mrs. Travis," chimed JD. After Orin and Evie left the
room, Vin swatted JD on the shoulder.
"Hey, what was that for?" asked JD as he rubbed his arm.
"Horse?" said Vin as he turned back to his computer and returned to work.
"Well, I do have one," explained JD.
It was the next day and Hilda Trent was checking out
of the Montecito and leaving to return home. Buck escorted her to the front
entrance to catch her ride to the airport.
"Thank you so much for everything, Buck . . ." said Hilda as they watched
the valet personnel load her bags into the back of the cab.
"Anytime, Hilda," replied the Hospitality Host. "And just remember not all
men are like your ex-fiancée."
"I know," said Hilda.
"And you can do much better," continued Buck as he winked at her.
Hilda smiled as she replied, "I know." She leaned up and kissed on him on
the cheek and then said, "Thanks again." Buck assisted her into the cab and
then closed the door.
"Have a safe trip," he said.
She waved goodbye as the cab pulled away.
Josiah observed the exchange with interest and he approached Buck, stopping
next to him as they watched Hilda leave.
"You ok?" asked Josiah.
"Yea," said Buck. "Funny how a couple days ago just the thought of getting
married had me in a tailspin but now. . ."
"You're ready for it to happen?" asked Josiah.
"Well, I wouldn't go that far," replied a grinning Buck. "Let's just say
I might consider it down the road if the right woman came along."
Josiah laughed as he said, "I'll be sure to notify the female population.