Claimed for the Master's Pleasure(10)By: Jan Bowles
Jake picked up the telephone. “Frank, bring the car around. I’m on my way down.”
Lia reluctantly followed Jake from his private office and stepped into the waiting elevator. Still a little unsteady on her feet, she leaned against the interior wall. She hadn’t fainted in years, but then the knowledge that she would lose her inheritance was hardly an everyday occurrence.
“I hope you’re not feeling too bad, Ms. Constantine.”
“No need for the small talk, Mr. Benetti,” she curtly advised him as the elevator doors closed. “As soon as I’m home, I can forget all about you and your seedy club.”
“Very well,” he answered, his face hardening into granite. He kept his gaze firmly from hers. If she didn’t know any better, he seemed reluctant to look at her. Well, good, the feeling was mutual.
His expensive aftershave reached her nostrils in the close confines of the elevator. It annoyed her that she actually enjoyed savoring the intoxicating scent. It seemed to surround her. Out the corner of her eye she covertly studied him. She guessed by his surname and dark looks he came from Italian stock. He was much taller than she’d originally thought. At least six three and broad, too. Jake Benetti looked like a man who took care of himself, and as a personal trainer, she should know. He wore a white, short-sleeved shirt, and had his suit jacket folded across one arm. Covered in masculine hair, his forearms showed the prominent veins of a man who indulged in hard physical exercise. His upper arm development pressed provocatively against the linen sleeves. A gold Breitling watch circled his wrist. No doubt he could afford anything he wanted.
His face remained passive and unmoved. Yet she could just glimpse the faint traces of laughter lines etched around his eyes and mouth. Perhaps he’d been happy once? According to his secretary, Madeline, he hadn’t always been the selfish prick he was now. What had caused him to become so unhappy?
When the elevator reached the ground floor and the doors parted, the noise from the casino hit her. Jake Benetti slipped on his suit jacket. “Allow me,” he said, cupping her elbow in his palm as he began guiding her from the elevator. A jolt of electricity flowed through her arm at his surprisingly gentle touch.
For the first time in her life, Leah stepped into a casino. It wasn’t the opulent, air-conditioned interior that first grabbed her attention, but the sheer noise. Hundreds of slot machines were busily working away. The sound of their infernal bleeping echoed around the large hall. People were transfixed. Their eyes glued to the spinning reels and messages that flashed before them, as the machines ravenously swallowed their hard-earned money. “Dumb idiots,” she whispered to herself.
Someone must have won, because an overweight, middle-aged woman shrieked with delight as her slot machine vomited up huge quantities of coins. There was so many, they spilled out onto the lush casino carpet.
As they crossed the floor, Jake was stopped several times by people eager to shake his hand. She figured he was well liked and respected.
“Mr. Benetti, let me touch you for luck.” An elderly lady with purple hair approached him. She looked genuinely pleased when he shook her hand.
“Good luck, Libby.”
“Oh, thank you, Mr. Benetti. You’ve made my day. I can’t lose now. I’m on a roll.”
As they continued walking Lia commented, “Does that happen often?”
“All the time,” he replied. “I don’t know why they think I’m gonna bring them luck. For Christ’s sake, I’m the guy who hopes they lose.”
A large man with a ruddy complexion walked toward them. He held out his arms. “Boss, good to see you.”
“You, too, Paulie.” They vigorously shook hands before parting company.