Coercion (The Cassano Series Book 3) (8 page)

BOOK: Coercion (The Cassano Series Book 3)
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Chapter Nine



Zev steps aside for me to enter his office. I’m supposed to be off tonight, but I guess he can pay me by way of me staring at his long, black lashes and intriguing eyes.

Oh, and I could never forget his layers of muscle. The man has to lift some extensive weights. I wish he’d show me his dimples again, but he seems pissed.

“I wasn’t expecting this, so I don’t have shit ready that you can do. You’re going to have to give me a few minutes, so take a seat.”

I sit and stare at him as he types away on his computer. He glances up at me a few times, so I look down when he does. His attractiveness is unnerving.

“I could go home if it’s easier. Noah isn’t going to know whether I did work for you or not.”

“He might see you when you’re leaving, and he’s already pissed at me. Slide your chair around here, so I can show you the software we use,” he orders and not so nicely.

Dragging my chair around, I sidle up to him and breathe in his clean autumn scent. He smells like the crisp pine trees I recall from up east. My parents used to take me there to stay in our vacation home when I was little.

That was before my father pissed away his fortune in hotels on this very Strip. I guess earning money from them makes me feel like I’m getting some of my father’s money back.

“You’re pissed.”

He turns and gazes at me, and I didn’t realize our lips would be in such close proximity. We’re close enough for me to feel his heated breath on my skin.

His gaze flits to my lips, and he almost seems surprised by something before he blinks rapidly. I want him to kiss me, but instead, he furrows his brow.

“I am pissed. You had no business associating with Noah after I told you not to.”

“And I told you that I can take care of myself. I get to make my own decisions.”

He shifts to face more toward me. His hand shoves into my blond hair until it’s cradling my cheek. Caught off-guard, air whooshes into my lungs.

“Tara, I’m serious here. You’ve now become a pawn in a sick game Noah is eager to play.” I have a feeling I should be listening to his words, but I can’t help closing my eyes to savor the feel of his calloused hand. I bet that’s from lifting weights.

“Tara.” My eyes flip open.

“Yes, sir.”

“Fuck. Do you listen to a word I say?”

“I’m sorry. I’m distracted by you, and you say ‘fuck’ a lot.”

He smirks, and I get a small glimpse of his dimples.

“That’s because you’re distracting.”

“I am?”

“Yes, but I need you to listen to me.”

I nod. “Right, Noah.”

“No matter what he says to lure you in, and no matter how much money he offers you, don’t sleep with him.”

Before I can stop myself, my hand flies up, but it’s not to cradle his face. No, it’s to smack it. Hard.

“Holy shit. I’m so sorry. I can’t believe I smacked my boss. Please don’t fire me.” I scrunch my nose and bite down on my lip about as hard as I smacked him.

Zev jerks backward, his hand immediately going to his cheek. “What the fuck was that for?”

“I’m not a prostitute.”

“OK, OK, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have insinuated that.”

“No, you shouldn’t have.”

Zev massages his cheek again, and I look away from the guilt I’m feeling. I have let a few members of the lounges buy me dinner and take me shopping before I slept with them. It was premeditated, both of us knowing the roles we would play for the evening.

I stopped that shit, though, once Victoria reminded me I could be independent, too. I went to college and took this job so I could take care of myself.

Men can buy me all the dinners they want, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to sleep with them afterward, and I would never take cash from them.

Short of giving me a swift kick in the ass, Victoria made me realize I’m worth more than that. Actually, she gave Mr. Glover a swift kick in the balls. I will never forget that she did that for me. I begin to snicker.

“Oh, you find this funny?” He shakes his head, and I don’t know if it’s from my grin or not, but he finally grins, too. His dimples sink in, and it’s like finding a shell in sinking sand on the beach. It’s rare and beautiful. He’s beautiful.

Without a thought, I’m grabbing his hair and pulling him to me. My lips crash against his. I must be insane to smack my boss first and kiss him second. He grabs my shoulders and pushes me away.

“Don’t kiss me,” he barks.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be. I just—”

“I know. You’re my boss, and I smacked you and then kissed you. You’re handsome, and—.”

Zev grabs my cheeks and pulls me close, shutting me up. His gaze plays ping pong between my eyes and my lips.

“Fuck, you need to go.”

My forehead wrinkles. “Am I fired?”

“Lord, no. I mean, no. I’m not kissing you is all.”

“Right, sorry.”



Tara is stalling, staring at me intently and waiting for me to give her what she wants. And for the first time since high school, I wish I could. I want to kiss her on the mouth, but that’s only asking for trouble when I have enough stress in my life.

Before she can rise, there is a pounding on my door, so I slide my chair away from her. “Who is it?”

“It’s Jersey.”

“Come in.” I clear my throat as Simon enters my office.



If guilt was a middle name, its first would be Xavier. I don’t know what my brother is up to, but he looks like he did when we were kids and got caught cussing into the air vents.

My eyes flash to Tara, who used to serve clients in Elite. She’s now working under Zev and is wearing the same guilty look. She’s the exact person I need to speak to him about, so it’s odd that she’s in here.

“Hey, I need to talk to you in private.”

“OK,” he says as he clears his throat. His face is red, and he might even be sweating.

“Tara, you should go home,” he says to her.

“OK, um, I will be here tomorrow night for my shift, and I’m sorry about earlier. Good night. I mean bye.” Her eyes are all over the place as she gnaws on her lip and stands. “Bye, Simon.”

“Have a good evening, Tara.”

She’s passing me in a flash, and I grin at my brother.

“You breaking the employee rule now, too?”

He rolls his eyes. “No, what did you need?”

“I actually came to talk to you about Tara. I no sooner got into the lounge, and Noah was cornering me. Seems we’re having a role reversal.

“He told you to get him a date with Sadie. Now, he’s telling me to have you hand over Tara. What gives?”

“That dick.”

“We’ve already established he’s that, among several other vulgar words. Is this why she was in your office?”

“Yeah, that’s why. I was telling her to stay away from Noah. He had her out to dinner tonight.”

“Why do you care if he takes her out? He has spent time with other women in the lounge.”

Zev shifts back toward his computer. “She’s different. She’s … I don’t know, more naïve than the other girls. He might hurt her. She reminds me of Blanca.”

“The woman you’re not banging any longer. Are you sure you’re not looking for a replacement?”

He glances over and glares at me. “I can find all the pussy I want. I don’t need Tara’s.”

“Hmm … I didn’t say need.”

“Look, I’m not letting her near him, so send him my way if he gives you more shit about it.”

“Will do.” I grin at him. “Surprisingly, one women isn’t such a bad thing, bro. I get amazing sex and earth-shattering blow jobs before I curl up against a warm body. I sleep like a baby after. It’s awesome.”

“Good for you.”

I sigh. Zev needs to lighten up. “I gotta run and check on things at D/s, but if you’re not interested in Tara, you should encourage her to take a date with Noah.

“He’s getting majorly pissed at us and losing trust. I’m worried he’s going to take a walk. I don’t believe he would do anything stupid the first time out with her.”

“If I recall correctly, you didn’t want him near Sadie.”

“Yeah, and that was mainly because I liked her. You don’t like Tara, so no big deal, right?”

I leave my brother alone with that to think about. I saw the look on his face when I interrupted whatever they had going on between them. He so likes Tara.



Sitting by Adrian at the dining room table, I take a sip of my wine. We’ve been back home for over a week, and there are things we have to talk about. After shoving my dinner plate forward, I take another drink to calm my nerves.

“You know, we have to discuss what we’re going to do about Noah and me playing poker in the lounge. My sergeant questioned me today. This problem isn’t going to go away on its own, and I sure can’t ask for another vacation.”

Adrian’s sadness takes shelter in his walnut colored eyes before he lowers his head. “I don’t want you doing it. There has to be another way. I wish there was another person we could plant in there.”

“I know someone who would help me out, but I can’t put her in that kind of danger.”

Adrian’s head jerks up, and I instantly regret opening my mouth.


I sigh. “My friend, Tara. Remember how she moved to the Royal lounge once I assaulted Mr. Glover?”

“Right, Tara, the girl who helped me with the shopping.”

“Yes, she’s right where we need her, but I can’t put her in danger.”

“Better her than you, Victoria. I couldn’t take it if something happened to you.”

“She’s an employee. That would never fly with the members.”

“No, but she could get close to Noah in other ways.”

I give an adamant no with a shake of my head.

“He beat the shit out of a stripper after he tied her to his bed. Then, he had her murdered when he thought she was going to tell the authorities. I can’t risk Tara’s safety.”

Adrian groans loudly. “I hate this. There has to be another way to bust him. I need to tell you something. Simon and Zev have been buying drugs from Noah.

“We destroy them after, but they’re doing deals, hoping to find out something about Ferrera. Hell, no one has even seen John Ferrera’s face. The FBI doesn’t even know his identity.”

“Do you understand how dangerous it is to be buying drugs?”

“I do, but we’d rather take the risk than all of us end up in prison.”

I nod. He does have a point there. I want to go back to Arizona with Adrian and stay in our own little world, but that can never happen again if we don’t nail Sanders and this Ferrera.

Once Sergeant Bishop let Reggie and me in on more details about Noah’s case, we found out the word on the street from lower-level dealers is that Noah is the only one who knows John Ferrera.

I then found out in Arizona from Adrian’s team that Larios, the drug lord in Juarez, claims Ferrera is top dog here in Vegas. The good news about that is he’s reachable. He’s in Sin City, and I will find him one way or another.

Chapter Ten



I'm at my desk when Zev steps in.

“Hey, Ace. Glad you’re back. I heard things are good between you and Victoria, too.”

“Yeah, things are good between us, but I don’t know what lies ahead with our bullshit here.” I lean back in my chair. “Shut the door. There are some things we need to discuss.” My hands slide down my face as I wait for privacy.

“I need to discuss something with you, too.”

“I’ll get you a photo later of the cop in your lounge. Her real name is Megan, but Victoria said she’s going by Marcy. As challenging as it will be,
let her know you’re aware of who she is. Let her do business as usual.

“Victoria doesn’t believe Megan is a threat. Unless she’s doing something out of the ordinary, leave her be. The servers don’t know about the tax evasion, and a client who spends time with her isn’t going to tell, so hopefully she’ll become bored soon enough.”

“OK, fine. What else?” Zev finally takes a seat in front of my desk.

“Noah Sanders. He’s more dangerous than I thought. I found out he’s responsible for a stripper’s murder and having Victoria assaulted back when she was in the hospital.”

Zev’s mouth falls open a bit, and I see his hands snap into fists as they rest on the arms of the leather chair.

“He’s who I wanted to talk to you about. He’s cheating in the Royal lounge.”

“You’re certain?”

“Yes, and I’m not sure how to handle the situation. I wanted your opinion.”

“Send him to me.” I already knew Noah was scum, but after finding out he was behind Victoria’s injuries, I despise him. I’ll put him in his place.

“What if he bails? If he stops working with us on the drug deals we’ll never have a way to bust him, and then it’s prison for us.”

“He won’t. He’s greedy and sleazy, getting all the women and fun he wants here. He thinks he has power, so I’m going to set him straight while still letting him believe that’s true. Don’t worry about Noah.”

Zev taps his foot quickly, much like Simon does, and his fists are still clenched tightly. This whole messed up situation between us and the FBI is wearing on him.

“We need to go to the gun range soon. I need to sharpen my skills in case they’re needed. Anything else you wanted to cover?” he asks.

“Yes, since I’ve been away, I told Theo to take a little time off. He wants to take Karen and the kids to see Mom. I thought you might like to go, too.”

“Not happening.”

“Zev, you need to see her at least once and have some closure. I don’t want you living with regrets. Jersey and I can hold down the fort.”

He leans his head back and stares at the ceiling.

“I’m not ready. Maybe I’ll go over the 4
of July.”

“OK, that’s not far off. The last thing I need is for you to send Tara Northrup to see me.”

BOOK: Coercion (The Cassano Series Book 3)
9.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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