Authors: Nancy Fornataro
Tags: #romance, #love, #action, #contemporary, #las vegas, #lust, #showgirl
Bright Lights, Steamy Nights
Nancy Fornataro on Smashwords
Copyright © 2012 by Nancy Fornataro
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
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This book is a work of fiction and any
resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or
locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of
the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
Adult Reading Material
Teeny Cappra hated hospitals. Not just the
smells, but the sounds. The moans and groans, the efficient swish
of nurse's uniforms, but now what he really hated was the blip-blip
sound he heard coming from Clarice's room.
Today was the day. The doctor told him
earlier. There was no hope.
He sighed and heaved his enormous bulk off a
rickety plastic hospital hallway chair. As consigliore it was his
duty to talk to Al.
Trying to delay the confrontation as long as
possible, he stood in the hallway and thought fondly of Clarice.
Woman-child, innocent, trusting and disarmingly beautiful. Al met
her in Sheridan, through a friend, and married her almost
immediately. The two were blissfully happy for three years until
the breast cancer diagnosis.
Clarice went through all the treatments
cheerfully and had even joked with Teeny about her bald head being
like his. It was as if she didn't know what was coming. So like
her, he thought.
Teeny steeled himself and slowly walked in
the room. Al sat, where he'd been for weeks, silently holding her
hand, absently stroking her palm. She looked alive, Teeny had to
admit that. But the doctor told him there was no brain
"Boss--" he began.
"How can she still be so beautiful?" Al asked
him, "Even with all she's been through."
The consigliore watched his boss and realized
Al had lost weight, although he was still muscular in build. His
jet-black hair was unruly now, and over his collar in length, which
Teeny thought Al had been neglecting himself
for months, although he still had charm and charisma that attracted
women like kids to a carnival. And his face still held a hard,
A nurse came in then, checked Clarice's
monitors and gave Teeny a steely look before she left.
He took a deep breath. "Boss, listen here.
You know I love Clarice the same way I care for you and the
Al didn't look up, but just stared at
Clarice. "Yes, I know," he said softly.
"Then you gotta listen, boss. We need to
unhook all this stuff from her. Doctor says--"
Al turned, giving him a ferocious look, which
would have cowed a lesser man, "I'm tired of doctor says," he said
bitterly. "If they'd caught it earlier, we wouldn't be in this
Teeny tried a different track, as his boss
turned back to Clarice. "She wouldn't want this," he said simply,
"and it ain't a mess boss. Doc says...I mean, she's dead, Al."
Al's eyes met Teenys. It wasn't often his
right hand man used his given name. "So, what would you do if you
were in my place?"
The consigliore had tears in his eyes, but he
managed a gruff reply, "I'd pull the plug."
Al sighed deeply, and let go of Clarice's
hand after placing it on her chest. "There is really no hope,
then?" It was more of a statement than a question.
"No, boss. No hope."
"You will send the doctor in. And I will say
A few minutes later, Al heard the doctor's
name on an intercom page.
He stood and looked down at Clarice. She
looked so peaceful. No red hair, the chemo took it. But she had
pink in her cheeks, and she was so lovely still, so angelic.
He took her hand in both of his, and thought
they must be wrong. For the hundredth time, he thought they were
The doctor came in five minutes later. He
nodded to Al and, after hesitating for seconds, quickly unhooked
the bleeping machines and airway tube from Clarice.
Silence in the room was deafening. She took
one shaky wheeze, before her breathing stopped.
Dani realized, once in front of Winner Takes
All Casino, that she was down to her last ten dollars.
Since Tommy left her high and dry in Vegas,
absconding with the majority of their money as well as his lover
Leigh, the woman with all the drugs, Dani had been working odd jobs
but couldn't seem to find a permanent position. Or, even a proper
place to stay for that matter.
She used all casino restrooms to full
advantage, washing and keeping herself clean. If she pretended to
be a patron, she had full use of them.
Actually, she liked Winner Takes All
bathrooms the best. They were luxurious with sumptuous lounges
where she could rest if need be. Plus their soaps smelled like
lavender, and the attendant gave out real towels.
Dani had befriended the portly daytime
attendant, a brown haired girl named Nola.
Today, Dani whirled in and threw her
oversized carry bag on the chaise. "Anything new?"
Nola laughed, showing the gap in her front
teeth. "Nothing yet, sweetie. But don't worry, with my HR
connections there's got to be something eventually."
Dani sat and held her head. "I only have
enough money for today, and possibly tomorrow. Maybe if I don't
Nola tried to smooth and straighten her
rumpled uniform, then she talked and cleaned sinks at the same
time. "You figure you'll need to make at least ten bucks an hour.
Then you might be able to get yourself a studio apartment."
"Yes." The thought of her own place and eight
hours of uninterrupted sleep sounded wonderful to Dani. "Say," she
asked Nola, "do you mind if I get a few hours of sleep right now?
I've been walking all over the place today job hunting."
"I know what that's like," Nola said
sympathetically. "Sure, sweetie. I'll tell Harriet to leave you
alone. She's on shift in an hour just to let you know."
Dani nodded tiredly, gathered up her bag, and
fell fast asleep.
Lefty Shultz sat sipping coffee and listening
to Teeny in Winner Takes All Casino lounge.
"I can't find him no girls, Lefty. I send up
blondes, brown haired, black haired, even red haired but he don't
want any of 'em."
Nodding, Lefty replied, "Yeah. It's been a
year. He should at least start datin' or something."
They sat in silence.
"How about a movie star or rock singer?"
"Too showy," Lefty replied, as he rubbed his
old chin, "the boss is more...how you say...understated."
They sat in silence again.
"He just can't forget Clarice," Teeny said
"Wonder if he ever will? Date again, I
A stocky woman in a sensible grey business
"Oh-oh," Lefty said under his breath, "here
comes Stutgart an' she doesn't look happy."
The woman's hair was pulled into a tight bun
and Lefty wondered idly if it hurt her to wear it like that.
"Mr. Shultz," she began, nodding towards
Teeny then back to Lefty, "I need you to address the restroom
"Yeah?" Lefty half listened as he wondered
about her age. She looked around fifty or so, his age, give or
take. She wouldn't be too bad looking if she smiled once in a
while, he thought.
"It appears," she continued, "there is a
little homeless waif and one of the attendants is actually letting
her sleep in the restroom."
He sighed and rose stiffly from his chair.
"She there right now?" he asked.
She took off towards the restroom with Lefty
Teeny grinned. "Gotta teach Lefty how to be
stronger with that Stutgart dame," he muttered to himself, "they'd
probably make a pretty good couple."
Dani woke with a start as someone shook her
shoulder. She gazed up at a matronly woman and an older grey haired
man. Wait, she thought, a man in the women's restroom?
Then, glancing towards the door, she saw
orange cones and realized they'd closed it down. Probably to arrest
But as the older man looked at her and gasped
with an amazed expression on his face, she clutched her bag to her
chest, wondering just what they had in mind. Even the woman was
looking at her now with a shocked expression.
"Spitting image," the man said, rubbing his
"That doesn't matter--" the woman began.
"Oh yeah. It does. We've been combing the
damn streets for another Clarice. Now this one is here, right in
our laps. Today is a great day."
What on earth were they talking about? Dani
wondered. She also thought she might be having a dream. What did
they mean, 'a Clarice'?
Still clutching her bag, she sat up on the
couch. "I was just leaving," she mumbled.
The man looked thoughtful and spoke to the
woman as if Dani wasn't there. "The showgirls," he said, "they have
dresses, right? And you could have someone fix her hair?"
"Yes," the woman replied, eyeing him
He nodded, as if making up his mind. "Get her
cleaned up then. She's got an appointment upstairs. Half an
When the woman offered her the use of a
shower backstage at the theater, Dani gratefully accepted. She
washed her hair and soaped herself with the lavender scented bar.
She used a wonderful clean towel and robe and, for a minute,
watched the showgirls getting ready.
What a madhouse it was backstage. And how
exciting! The bright, lavish costumes and the huge headdresses,
make-up and sequins. She watched longingly then realized the old
woman was picking out a dress for her.
"Am I in the show?" Dani asked her, hoping of
all hope that she was.
But the woman just stood studying her
seriously. "Green," she said to a younger blonde woman standing by
her side, "with sequins. He likes glitz, let's give it to him. Size
ten by the looks of her, although the bust-line is huge...no wait,
size eight, let's give him an eyeful." Only then did she tightly
smile at Dani.
After the blonde woman blow-dried Dani's
hair, the two dressed her in a low-cut, green floor length gown
with an intricate sequin motif. They provided her with clean
underwear and heels, but the dress couldn't be worn with a bra so
Dani gave up on that idea.
"What am I to do, exactly?" Dani asked
The younger one said excitedly, "Girl, you're
going to the Scaletti penthouse."
The blonde put her hands on her hips. "Where
you been? He owns the joint and besides that he's a total
Dani was flabbergasted. A job! Now she could
get a job! "But, why the dress--" she began.
"Better than those jeans you were wearing
before," the older woman said severely. "Now, follow me."
They rode up to the casino's thirtieth and
highest floor in a private, mirrored elevator.
When they arrived, the woman said, "This is
Mr. Scaletti's penthouse. Stay here."
Dani waited in the posh hallway feeling very
awkward. She used one of the mirrors to check her appearance. Her
wild, red curly hair was loose and flowed past her shoulders to the
middle of her back. Her cheeks were naturally pink and her
complexion alabaster. The deep green of her eyes was enhanced by
the dress color. But she pulled at the dress straps, as she was not
used to showing so much cleavage.
Her body, she thought, was a bit too curvy
for her tomboy nature, and although she was eighteen now, she still
wasn't used to it.
The woman came out a few minutes later.
"Through that door and to your left. In the den." Then, before she
went, as an afterthought, she added, "Behave yourself."
Dani wondered what that meant. Slowly, she
made her way into the large, luxurious den.
The room smelled pleasantly of furniture wax.
It was modernistic in design with white, overstuffed couches,
chairs, many green trees in pots and a huge oak desk on her
A man sat at the desk reading something, and
she sized him up. Probably twenty-five, wide shoulders straining
against a white shirt, cuffs rolled up revealing muscular tan arms,
wavy jet-black hair a little on the long side, and a tan handsome,
rugged face. She couldn't see his eyes, though, as they were
trained now on a folder in front of him.