Seth Walker looked out across the floor of The Lucky Strike Casino, trying to figure out where the bad vibe was coming from. Across the way, he heard one of the machines hit a high payout, but it wasn't anything he needed to handle. One of his men looked over at him, and he nodded to indicate he should take care of it. The man turned and headed toward the machine, allowing Seth to scan the room again.
Something was there.
He could feel it in the thick tension in the air, nagging at his mind for him to pay attention. He lifted his finger up to his ear and hit a button to call the other security manager on the opposite side of the building.
A beep, then a deep voice spoke into his ear, a voice that secretly sent a rush of pleasure through him. "Yes? What's going on, Seth?"
"Jarrod, are you picking up on anything?"
A moment of pause and Jarrod answered, "Not, really. Nothing is going on over here. Just watching high rollers lose a shit load of money. And a couple really hot chicks. The usual."
Jarrod was Seth's best friend and his roommate. They'd been together since they were boys, both coming from families that didn't worry about where they were or what they were doing, allowing them to spend most of their time together growing closer, learning each other's thought patterns. It's what made them such an unstoppable team.
They had even loved the same woman once back in school, before they'd left her behind to join the military. Their connection to her was special. Unfortunately, that was one time they hadn't known what the other was thinking, until they both had committed to the military. Each had thoughts of marrying her after serving his time. That is, until the other found out.
That's when they made their pact. Stay together, because their friendship was the foundation of who they were. Each wanting happiness for the other, but knowing if they married the woman the other one loved, then it would mean unhappiness forever for the other one. It was unconscionable. Those years had been tough for them because her friendship had meant the world to them. But they both couldn't have her; so instead, they decided to leave her behind.
After getting through the pain of leaving her and growing closer in the process, Seth and Jarrod pushed themselves harder and harder, focusing on refining their bond until they could almost complete the other's sentences. After their military career, the FBI offered them their own small unit. Their little group got singled out to do more and more local missions, and began to focus on trafficking--both humans and drugs--which eventually brought them home finally to Las Vegas.
While they were doing missions in other states, a human traffic ring was identified back home, with the main location being at The Lucky Strike Casino. It was rumored it was the meet and greet point for clients looking to buy women.
Seth and Jarrod managed to get jobs as security, hoping they'd find more information on the leader of the ring who they suspected was a man known in the trafficking world as The Greek, or Boss, as his lackey's called him.
Crackles brought Seth's attention back to the moment, followed by Jarrod's soft exhale in his ear.
"Just keep your eyes open," Seth responded.
"Will do. You do the same."
Deciding to walk the room, Seth left his perch by the casino entrance. Something just wasn't right tonight. The machines were making the usual noise, pushing out coins and tickets. The loud ring of the shiny metal hitting the trays was especially annoying for some reason.
The people all seemed to be the usual type of crowd. Drunk and rowdy, waiting and hoping they would hit the big one. Few seldom did.
A couple of women walked past him in small tight skirts with shirts clinging close enough to their skin their nipples puckered through, straining for a touch. Seth eyed the two women letting his gaze drop to their chests. He was definitely a breast man. He loved to feel the heavy globes in his hands while making the tight little nipples pucker with his fingers and mouth.
Damn, he needed a woman in his life. He liked sex like the next man, but lately he and Jarrod hadn't had time to get laid, since their mission was stretching out longer than expected. Everyone on his team was getting antsy, keeping him on his guard. Rumors were flying about something big going down, but Seth couldn't find out what or where. His informants told him some big players in the drug trade were headed to Las Vegas; they also suspected they were there for the female exchanges as well.
It was about time something happened. He was tired of this waiting.
His skin was tight, hot, so fucking laced with adrenaline. When he got home tonight, he thought about jacking off to relieve some of the tension. He needed to be calm, collected and alert when it happened, not focused on sex.
Instantly, images of Jarrod rose up in his mind--Jarrod handcuffed to his bed while his large muscular body strained against the mattress. Of course, Jarrod wouldn't really want to be let go. Oh no, he would lift his body high for Seth's mouth and hands. He could imagine all that smooth skin under his fingertips, and under his own body.
These fantasies were getting worse these days with Jarrod's steady presence in Seth's life. It made Seth wish they were more. He suspected he was bisexual, and even though he and Jarrod had shared women, he had never touched Jarrod; except maybe when they were all in that moment just before climax, he'd risked brushing a hand across his friend's sweat soaked skin unable to help himself. That's as far as he'd let it go though. He couldn't do anything else and risk what he and Jarrod shared as friends.
However, Seth would indulge in a little fantasy as he watched Jarrod step out of the shower, padding around their house half-naked with little beads of water clinging to his skin, making Seth's fingertips ache with the need to touch, to savor, but his heart knew he could never go that far. Instead of acting on his emotion, all he could safely do was watch Jarrod whenever the opportunity arose, letting his gaze wander down the lean, muscular, tanned flesh.
Jarrod's blond hair was cut short, except for a small piece that hung just over his forehead; his dark blue eyes held an intelligence few had. He had a strong jaw with a straight nose. He reminded Seth of a movie star who always had a bright devil-may-care smile for the cameras. He was just...sexy.
Shaking his head to clear those delightful images, Seth concentrated on the floor where anything could go wrong at a moment's notice. He needed to stay focused.
Making his way to the middle bar area where he could get a good look at what was going on around him, the uneasy feeling pounded at his brain, not allowing him to forget that something wasn't right. Damn, he hated when his gut was trying to tell him something.
"Hey, boss," the bartender greeted Seth as he walked up. Peter placed an ice water on the counter for him, which he took, gulping down half before pulling it away from his mouth. "Seems like a pretty light night," Peter continued as he went back to making other drinks.
"Yeah, so far. But it's early." As Seth tilted his head back for another drink, something caught his attention at the corner of his eye. His heart sped up.
A pretty brunette tilted back her glass and let the shot flow down her lean throat. The skin of her neck was smooth and tan, a perfect place awaiting a kiss.
As she lowered the glass, he thought there might be something familiar about her, but he couldn't place it. He continued to watch her, hoping it would come to him. A light sheen of sweat glistened on her skin, which was a little strange considering they always kept this place a cool sixty-five degrees, and she wasn't doing anything too strenuous.
Seth's gut tightened as she banged her glass down on the bar a little too hard for what he thought was normal. He studied her movements as she picked up a cocktail napkin and patted her forehead. It didn't seem as if she was registering how intoxicated she was, as she looked down into her glass expecting more dark liquid to magically appear.
The guy sitting next to her was not her boyfriend, Seth noticed. He was the lowest scum of the earth, the owner's son. Darrell always caused problems within the casino. And now, Seth could only imagine what Darrell was planning on doing with this poor woman, who Seth suspected was drugged.
Damn, time to be the hero.
Seth heard Darrell's words drift over and wanted to choke him, but he refrained knowing he would have to play this carefully. This little punk always pissed Seth off.
Moving slowly, he skipped over a couple of seats to get a little closer to the couple, but far enough away not to draw any notice. He kept his back to them so Darrell wouldn't notice, but Seth kept his ear tuned to their conversation.
"Come on, darlin'. Let's go to my room. You feel good, right?" Darrell played with the woman's hand, rubbing his fingers back and forth over the top.
Seth heard the woman murmur something. God, he wished he could get a better look at her, but her dark hair kept falling forward into her face whenever he would risk looking.
"No. I don't think that's a good idea," she was saying, but the words coming out sounded low and drawn out.
"Don't you feel good? Don't you want me to take care of you? I told you I would."
Seth balled his hands into fists, trying to keep from knocking the shit out of the bastard right then. He tapped his ear twice to signal to Jarrod, who he knew would be close in a second. It was a special code they'd developed when they needed assistance without risking someone hearing them.
When Seth looked up, he saw his friend rounding one of the pillars on the other side of the casino; a light aura surrounded him, making people look and smile before turning away. Once Jarrod arrived, he watched from the other side of the bar, quickly picking up on Darrell and his new friend.
The woman swayed again as if she might try getting up from the chair. Her ankle gave way, making her fall back down onto it. Darrell immediately picked her up, pulling her into his chest.
"I just," she started to say, "I don't know. I need to do something. I...can't... I don't remember." She rubbed at her eyes.
Darrell held on and watched her. He was so consumed by her he wasn't paying anyone else any attention. The bastard smiled like a wolf just waiting for a sheep to step into his trap. Or maybe she had already.
"Amy, you aren't looking so good. Why don't I go ahead and get a room for you? I can take care of you. Women like you come in here all the time, sweetheart. You lose everything at the tables. No one to go home to. Well, I'm here now, baby. And maybe, if we play our cards right, Daddy will let you stay with me."
"Um, what? What are you talking about?" She placed her hand on his chest, or rather, she tried placing her hand on his chest, but the appendage appeared to be too heavy. She looked down at it, then back up at her companion. "What did you do to me?"
Seth stood rigid beside the couple. He was so ready to take Darrell out, but curiosity was now getting the better of him. Darrell's earlier words registered. Let him keep her? That sounded interesting, as if maybe his daddy kept women for other reasons? Could they be on to something? The kidnapped women came through here somehow. Seth needed to figure out what Darrell knew.
Darrell leaned closer to Amy. "I didn't do anything, doll. Maybe that drink hit ya a little harder than you expected. That's all." He rubbed the skin of her arm like a lover, which for some reason made Seth see red.
He could feel his blood pressure rising, becoming a volcano ready to erupt. Taking a deep breath, he forced his rage down in order to remain focused.
"Baby, I'm going to love you, I am." Darrell pulled her away from the bar, holding her close as he guided the woman further into the crowd toward the elevators.
Seth had to follow. He needed to help the woman while he could.
He looked up to make sure Jarrod was close. He was and he gave a little wave to indicate he knew whom to watch. Then Seth heard Darrell's voice again, this time a little lower, but loud enough for Seth to hear because Darrell still needed to compensate for the noise around them.
"We've got the whole night to ourselves, baby. Yeah, let's go this way. I'm dying to feel your skin. I bet you didn't expect to get so lucky tonight after your bad luck, but you drew me in, you did. Mmm... Yeah, I'll talk Daddy into letting me keep you for myself. I'll treat you better than the other ones, I promise." Darrell pulled Amy by her arm, trying to get her closer to him, if that was possible.
That's when Darrell finally looked around and locked eyes with Seth.
Yeah, motherfucker, I'm right here.
"Hey, Seth," he laughed, his nerves showing through. "My woman here has had too much to drink. Women can't handle alcohol well. You know how it is."
Seth bit the inside of his jaw, tasting his coppery blood. He wanted to yank her out of Darrell's arms, but instead he forced a smile and let them pass.
He looked over at Jarrod and saw him making his way around the bar while watching the couple moving through the throng of people.
"What's happening?" he said as he drew closer.
"I think I finally found what's been bugging me tonight. Something is going on with that woman. I'm almost positive Darrell's drugged her."
Both men moved into position to follow, to make sure the couple did go further into the hotel and not out the back door.
Seth couldn't help enjoying Jarrod's presence by his side. On missions together, they worked like a well-oiled machine, both minds working as one as they continually found themselves in trouble. The adrenaline in his system now brought those memories back for a minute as he recalled those times in the midst of fighting, which also made him think about what happened after the victories. Hot, sweaty, dirty sex--just to remember he was alive.
As much as he liked reliving those erotic moments, he needed to watch Darrell and the woman. There would be time later for such dreams. He hoped.
"Did you get a look at her?" Jarrod asked while they continued to follow their targets.
"No, not really. Just saw the side of her face mostly. Darrell made a few comments that were a little strange, though. The rest of the team out back?"
Jarrod didn't answer right away, making Seth quickly look at him. They both continued a slow pace behind the pair, but obviously, Seth's men weren't where they were supposed to be.
"Where the hell are they?" Seth took a deep breath, looking ahead to make sure his targets were still in sight. They were, but now Darrell was maneuvering towards the elevators dodging people here and there. The place was packed, so it was taking a little longer, which was good.
"You better answer the fucking question right now, Jarrod, or there is going to be more than one ass kicking tonight."
"Seth, you have to understand. Trent and a couple of others are away from the post because Trent saw something. A few women were being taken to one of the outer buildings. He swore he wouldn't get caught. He said he'd be back before we knew he was gone. He had to check it out."
"Fucking bastard. Here is a chance to maybe find something out, and we have to sit on our goddamned hands because our troops are away from their post." Seth gritted his teeth.
"No, we don't. Sally is in your ear. She stayed behind with Adam."
"Good damn thing. We are all this poor woman has." Seth glared at Darrell, as he started to tap his earpiece, but Jarrod's low whisper caught his attention.
"It will be good to finally get this wrapped up. I'm ready to move on from this mission. The other guys got it easy," Jarrod said, causing Seth to take a hard look at him for a minute and catching something foreign pass over his friend's face.
"What's going on in that mind of yours?" Seth asked, feeling his stomach tighten for a different reason now. Would Jarrod finally tell him he was moving on?
Hell, he couldn't blame him. This gig was starting to get old for sure.
"Nothing's wrong. Just ready for something else. Come on, we need keep them in our sights. We can have group therapy later." Jarrod smiled as he moved ahead.
Seth couldn't agree more. He tapped his earpiece awaiting the voice on the other end.
A female answered, "Yes, boss?"
"If Adam is still there," he said, telling all who was listening he knew Trent was gone, "send him in."
"Will do, sir."
They reached the elevators, watching as the couple got into the middle one. Seth and Jarrod stayed back to let them enter first.
"Tell me which floor the couple in elevator five gets off on. A brunette and a balding guy. Relay our destination to Adam when we find where they are going."
Finally, the dispatch answered. "Floor twelve. Give me a sec, and I'll tell you which room they go in." Sally was a master at hacking. She could infiltrate anything without being caught--a true asset to the team.
Seth's blood pumped through his veins. They needed to hurry and get up there. He and Jarrod hopped an elevator. Seth was thankful it was empty as they made their way to floor twelve. He prayed no one would get on, hoping that more people would be going down at this time of day, instead of up.
"They're going into room 1211," Sally spoke through his earpiece.