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Author:Deborah Bladon

RISK by Deborah Bladon

Chapter 1


"Ginger, you need to get your ass out of my boyfriend's lap."

Ginger? Seriously?

What she lacks in originality she makes up for in appearance. Statuesque with long dark hair and a crimson dress that looks like it came straight off a Paris runway. She's just as striking close-up as she was when I first spotted her across the restaurant. The difference now is that I know her ugly little secret.

"My name isn't Ginger." I extend my hand toward her. "It's Ellie. Ellie Madden."

"I don't give a shit what your name is." She dismisses my words with a nod of her chin, her hands tightening their grip on her silver crystal clutch purse. "Why are you still here? The excitement is over."

I consider arguing that point with her. Since I lost my balance and fell into her boyfriend's lap, his excitement has grown. It's grown impressively. I'm not the jealous type, but it's hard not to be envious of the fact that this is her lover. I'm getting a thrill just from feeling his erection rubbing against my ass through the tailored gray slacks he's wearing.

I don't even know what the man looks like. My eyes haven't left her since she exited the ladies' room to set her meticulously orchestrated plan in motion. Once I saw all I needed to, I was on my feet so I could call her out on her bullshit. I kept her in my sight as I weaved around tables and dozens of people all captivated by the award-winning food they came here for.

She managed a distraction when she bumped into a male server who was carrying a tray filled with appetizers. Silverware and small plates with delicious creations crashed to the floor around her feet. She feigned shock, and I ended up in the direct path of four staff members racing to the rescue. That's when I felt two strong hands grab hold of my waist to catch my fall when I stumbled.

"I work here." I look past her to where my best friend, Adley, is sitting. She's ignoring the salad in front of her. Instead, she's focused intently on the phone in her hands. "Today is my day off, but I work at this resort."

"Who cares?" The brunette shrugs her shoulders. "So your name is Ellie Maddox, and you work at Echo Resort and Casino. Are you going to tell me your astrological sign next?"

"It's Madden, and I'm a Leo."

I hear a low chuckle behind me as her boyfriend adjusts my weight so I'm leaning back into him. This man is hard as a rock everywhere. I'm not about to complain. There's no skin on skin contact, and this is a hell of a lot better than listening to Adley talking about the man she recently broke up with back home in New York.

"If you want to be useful, help them clean up the mess they made." She points her finger at the servers who are still on their hands and knees retrieving forks, knives, and wasted food all while avoiding the shards of glass that litter the floor. "I came here to have a quiet dinner with my man, and now I've lost my appetite. I want to leave."

"You can't go," I protest. "Did you order the duck? If you did, you have to try at least one bite. I'm not a foodie, but I think it's the best dish on the menu."

She lowers herself into the chair across from me, her brown eyes narrowing beneath the false eyelashes that frame them. "You're getting off on this, aren't you? You know girls like you can never get a man like him, so you're taking some perverse pleasure in having his hands on your hips."

"Girls like me?" I turn slightly so I can lean forward to rest my forearms on the small square table. "Explain what that means."

"You're nothing special." She pauses for a few seconds, her gaze smoothly moving from my face to the front of my black dress before she levels her eyes on my mine. "You're a redhead with freckles and average size tits."

I arch my back, sliding my ass along her boyfriend's lap. "You're a pretty brunette with long legs and a stolen wallet in your purse."

She glances over my shoulder as she bursts out in laughter. "That's absurd. Look at me. These earrings are each a full carat. I spent more on this dress than most people make in a month. Why would I steal anything?"

I feel her boyfriend's thighs tighten beneath me as I look at her. "I can't answer that. You're the only one who knows why you took it."

"I didn't take anything," she seethes before she shifts her attention to her boyfriend. "Why aren't you stopping this? Tell her she's wrong, Nolan. I want you to take me out of here now."

"Open your purse, Shelby."