Former protective services officer, Sgt. Martin Ames, is five weeks short of medical retirement from the Vegas PD when he lands one last case: spoiled English heiress, Lady Tamlyn Bradshaw, whose bodyguard is hospitalized with suspected food poisoning.
Tamlyn is on holiday, her first without her father and his ever present bodyguards. She wants to have fun, not spend the time stuck in a hotel room with a disabled cop, even if he is tall, dark and disturbingly handsome.
When food poisoning becomes murder, passions and tempers flare as Martin attempts to keep Tamlyn safe from the assailant who gains everything on her death.
Shoving her hands deep into her pockets, Tamlyn Bradshaw followed the uniformed police officer across a roomful of Las Vegas detectives, to a desk piled high with a mixture of papers, used coffee cups, and other assorted rubbish.
So far, since arriving in the US late the previous evening, she’d seen the airport, customs, immigration, a taxi, or cab as the Americans called them, and her hotel room. Not forgetting the hotel lobby, an ambulance, a very busy emergency department, and now a police station.
The officer indicated the fake leather chair to one side of the desk. “If you sit here and wait, Lady Bradshaw, Sgt. Ames won’t be much longer.”
She raised an eyebrow. Lady Bradshaw was her grandmother, not her, but she probably shouldn’t shoot the messenger as that wasn’t particularly friendly. Instead, she shoved down her irritation and used the tone she kept for the servants at home. “Define much longer, please. I’ve already sat at the front desk for forty minutes.”
“Sgt. Ames is in a meeting, ma’am. If you could sit here and wait.”
Tamlyn sat down gingerly on the seat, her fingers automatically running over the gold cross hanging around her neck. She’d planned her holiday down to the last detail…only this wasn’t in the design at all.
Raised voices came from the glass-fronted office at one end of the room, the words echoing across the squad room which rapidly fell silent. Two silhouettes were visible, one leaning on the desk, the other standing next to it.
“Martin, you’re the only person in the department with the security clearances and the experience to do this.”
“I haven’t worked protective services for over three years and for good reason. I’m five weeks from early retirement, and I don’t want to spend them running around after a spoiled heiress.”
“Did I ask what you wanted? This woman’s father is royalty and I just got off the phone with him—”
Tamlyn cringed in her seat, her cheeks burning. This was a bad idea. She’d go back to the hotel and trust God to protect her. No one knew who she was; she was just one more tourist in a city of thousands.
The angry voice continued its tirade in the office. “Royalty? In that case, I’m sure she can afford a replacement bodyguard. Even better…ask the British Embassy to provide one. My days of babysitting people are over.”
“Unless you want to be fired five weeks before your retirement date, your assignment for the next three weeks is to be Lady Bradshaw’s bodyguard. There’s the door. She’s by your desk waiting for you.”
The door flung open, and Tamlyn glanced down. She focused her gaze on her fingernails. Maybe she could just pretend she hadn’t heard.
Heavy steps crossed the room as muted conversations started up again. They stopped by the desk. “Lady Bradshaw, I presume?”
She looked up into the most intense, glittering pair of blue eyes she’d ever seen. His hair was pulled back in a long black ponytail, and he leaned on a cane. They had to be kidding. A disabled cop? His navy blue shirt and tie at least gave an appearance of professionalism. Although the gun holster on his shoulder made her shiver.
She stood, grateful he couldn’t read her mind, because she was already regretting that first thought about his gorgeous eyes. She held out a hand. “I am. You must be Sgt. Ames.”
He nodded and shook her hand briefly before indicating the door. “Let’s go. My car’s around back.” He grabbed his jacket from the back of his chair and shrugged into it.
She followed him to the door and out into the street. He had more than a slight limp. What had happened to him?
Moving with him to the car, she automatically stood there, waiting for him to open the door, then glanced though the window. Did he live in it? Coffee cups and burger wrappers littered the passenger seat, which he swept to the floor. Good grief, it’s worse than that desk. She shook her head as she lowered herself onto the seat and swung her legs inside. Her nose wrinkled at the smell as she slid her feet in between the rubbish on the floor. “When did you last clean in here?”
“I wasn’t expecting company.” He closed the door and got in the other side. “So where to?”
“The Stratosphere to begin with. Apparently you can see miles from the top of it.”
Sgt. Ames raised an eyebrow as he started the car. “I meant your hotel. Where are you staying?”
Perhaps it was her accent. “I’m on holiday,” she said slowly. “I’ve no intentions of spending it in my hotel suite. Today I want to go up the Stratosphere. Tomorrow I have tickets to a floor show. I also want to start going around the Vegas Monopoly board.”
“Lady Bradshaw.” An air of grim resignation echoed in the cop’s voice. “The captain assigned me to protect you. The best way to accomplish that is from the safety of your hotel room. Now, which hotel are you staying at?”
Tamlyn scowled. “And I thought Raleigh was boring.”
“My bodyguard. The hospital thinks he has food poisoning. That’s the reason I’m stuck with you.”
“It might be...but it might not. Which hotel are we going to?”
Tamlyn listened to the car engine turn over for several long seconds before taking a deep breath. He wasn’t going to budge. She should at least give him half a chance. “The Bellagio.”
“It’s the Grand Lake suite, but I have plans.” She leaned back as the car finally began moving out of the car park.
“Your snooty attitude may work with the hired help, Lady Bradshaw, but not with me. Until I am told otherwise, you will stay in your hotel room.”
Tamlyn’s jaw dropped. “I beg your pardon?”
“I said your snooty attitude—”
She cut him off. “I heard what you said. No one speaks to me like that.”
Sgt. Ames stared at her for a moment before maneuvering the car into the stream of traffic. “Lady Bradshaw, I’m sure you find your beauty, your position in society, and your money have gotten you most of what you wanted in life, right? Well, not on my shift. We’ll swing past my apartment and pick up a few things. Then we’ll go back to the hotel. There I’ll call your father who has requested security for you and the hospital to check on your hired help. Once I touch base with both of them, then, and only then, will we leave the hotel.”
Tamlyn scowled. Her fingers went back to her necklace, playing with it. She hated being patronized. She got enough of that at home. “Fine.”
“Fine? You’re going to give in that quickly?”
Angling herself so she couldn’t see him at all, Tamlyn nodded. “Sure, I mean, what’s the point in arguing? Your reasoning is sound...insults excluded. Besides, you seem to be the type who once you’ve made up your mind won’t change it for toffee.” So there’s no point wasting my breath any longer.