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Authors: Erin McCarthy

Tags: #Fantasy

Sucker Bet

Table of Contents
Sucker Bet
By
Erin McCarthy

 

Praise for
Heiress for Hire

"If you are looking to read a romance that will leave you all warm inside, then
Heiress for Hire
is a must-read."


Romance Junkies

"McCarthy transforms what could have been a run-of-the-mill romance with standout characterizations that turn an unlikable girl and a boring guy into two enjoyable, empathetic people who make this romance shine."


Booklist

"Amusing paranormal contemporary romance… Fans will appreciate Erin McCarthy's delightful pennies-from-heaven tale of opposites in love pushed together by a needy child and an even needier ghost."


The Best Reviews

" One of McCarthy's best books to date…
Heiress for Hire
offers characters you will care about, a story that will make you laugh and cry, and a book you won't soon forget. As Amanda would say: It's priceless."


The Romance Reader
(5 hearts)

"A keeper. I'm giving it four of Cupid's five arrows."


Bella Online

"An alluring tale."


A Romance Review
(5 roses)

"The perfect blend of sentiment and silly, heat and heart… priceless!"

—Romantic Times
"TOP PICK" (4 1/2 stars)

"An enjoyable story about finding love in unexpected places, don't miss
Heiress for Hire
."


Romance Reviews Today

A Date With the Other Side

"Do yourself a favor and make A Date With the Other Side."

—Bestselling author Rachel Gibson

"One of the romance-writing industry's brightest stars… Ms. McCarthy spins a fascinating tale that deftly blends a paranormal story with a blistering romance… Funny, charming, and very entertaining,
A Date With the Other Side
is sure to leave you with a pleased smile on your face."


Romance Reviews Today

"If you're looking for a steamy read that will keep you laughing while you turn the pages as quickly as you can,
A Date With the Other Side
is for you. Very highly recommended!"


Romance Junkies

"Fans will appreciate this otherworldly romance and want a sequel."


Midwest Book Review

"Ghostly matchmakers add a fun flair to this warmhearted and delightful tale… an amusing and sexy charmer sure to bring a smile to your face."


Romantic Times

"Offers readers quite a few chuckles, some face-fanning moments, and one heck of a love story. Surprises await those who expect a 'sophisticated city boy meets country girl' romance. Ms. McCarthy delivers much more."


A Romance Review

Praise for the other novels of Erin McCarthy

 

"Will have your toes curling and your pulse racing."


Arabella

"Erin McCarthy writes this story with emotion and spirit, as well as humor."


Fallen Angel Reviews

"Both naughty and nice… sure to charm readers."


Booklist

 

 

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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USA

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(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

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(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

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Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

SUCKER BET

Copyright © 2008 by Erin McCarthy

First edition: January 2008

ISBN: 978-0-425-21718-4

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Chapter One

 

To: [email protected]

From: [email protected]

Subject: Private—off vamp slayers' list

Hey Slash,

About what Vixen said… if the slayers' loop has plans to meet up somewhere, I'm going to be there. I want to get stake training from those more experienced than me, and I absolutely
have
to meet you.

Is everyone meeting in Vegas? I live in Vegas, so that would be brilliant.

Smooches,

Queenie

 

Gwenna Carrick hit the send button and tried not to laugh. Smooches? Egads. She was appallingly bad at being both forceful and flirty, especially in an electronic format. Slash probably had no idea she was attempting to hit on him, which she knew she should regret, but didn't. If she could gain his confidence without the bloody mincing, she was all for it, because her experience with men was limited to her brother and her ex-husband.

Which was even more dysfunctional than it sounded, given they were both egotistical millennium-old vampires and controlling to boot.

It might also explain why she absolutely loved her fake online persona of QueenieG, who said what she wanted straight out and had a tendency to get a bit bossy when she thought she was being ignored. There was something absolutely liberating about being anonymous on the vampire slayers' loop, without any of her very long life's baggage weighing her down. Gwenna liked the power, the giddy feeling she got when she just dashed off an e-mail to the loop.

And it was amusing to be, in fact, a vampire, right smack in the midst of zealous anti-undead slayers. It wasn't often she got to be the sly, clever one, and she was enjoying it. So much so that it was getting addictive.

Her brand-new mobile phone rang on the desk next to her. "Yes?" she said, seeing on caller ID—brilliant invention—that it was Ethan, current president of the Vampire Nation. And her overprotective yet endearing brother.

"Hey, Gwen. Brittany had her baby tonight. Healthy girl, everyone is doing fine."

Gwenna smiled, relieved and ecstatic to hear that Ethan's sister-in-law had delivered successfully. She and Brittany Atelier had got close in the last few months as they had found a common thread in being the only two Impure women ever to conceive a child with a vampire.

"Is she up for visitors? I'd love to pop by."

"I think she'd be disappointed if you didn't pay a visit."

"I'll be right over." Gwenna said good-bye to her brother and turned back to her screen to shut her computer off.

One hundred and seventeen new messages on the vampire slayers' loop in the last twenty-four hours, many of them written in what she was starting to suspect was a secret code. Hints at a meeting. Implications of a planned attack on vampires.

Something was definitely in the works, and she wanted to know what it was and when it was going to happen.

Before she headed to the hospital, she dashed off another e-mail to the moderator requesting a reminder to the loop to trim posts. That always sent a flurry of responses to the list, distracting from the current topics, and muddying the waters. Then she tried to e-mail FoxyKyle, who despite her ridiculous name, was the undisputed class president of the slayers' loop, with Slash87 being something comparable to VP.

FoxyKyle's e-mail was set to private. But Slash had sent her an Instant Message.

 

Queenie,

I'm in Vegas right now too… wanna get together?

 

Slash was in Vegas? What did that mean? The question she'd never been able to answer was if the majority of the slayers' loop were just playing out a fantasy, or if they were all true slayers. Her instinct told her only a handful were slayers in the truest sense, those who had actually killed a vampire, or were planning to, and she was sure Slash and FoxyKyle fell into that category.

She clicked Reply.

 

Absolutely. Time and place?

 

His response came immediately.

 

Tonight. How about ten o'clock, at the Harrah's monorail station.

Meet by the ticket machines.

 

Gwenna hadn't been born yesterday—not by a long shot. There was something odd about a request to meet at a rail stop, but she had to take into consideration Slash was a slayer, or at least aspired to be one. He probably enjoyed the subterfuge and intrigue. Meeting in Starbucks just wouldn't have the same ring to it.

 

Sure. See you then.

 

She'd swing by and meet Slash, assess him face to face, instead of just on-screen, then zip over to the hospital to see Brittany and the baby. Gwenna shut her computer down and stood up, curious as to why Slash wanted to meet her. She knew her reasons, but what exactly were his? Wondering if Slash and FoxyKyle had known each other prior to the slayers' loop, she figured she would have to get creative and track down Foxy later. Gwenna thought it wouldn't be that difficult. She was a dab hand with the computer. There hadn't been much else for her to do in York, where she'd been in a self-imposed exile for the last three hundred years. The Internet had saved her sanity in the last decade as she'd rattled about that castle entirely alone.

No longer. She was back in the real world. The past was dead and gone.

Or knocking at her door. Gwenna groaned, knowing before she even heard the doorbell that her ex-husband, Roberto Donatelli, was standing outside her hotel suite. She had an acute sense of smell and she knew his scent, a mix of expensive cologne and alcohol. And while it probably wasn't entirely logical, she was just always aware of him. He was like a toothache one tried to ignore, but instead had you reaching for the aspirin at regular intervals.

"Damn." She stuck her tongue out, knowing he couldn't see her, but enjoying it nonetheless. Then she added a series of obnoxious facial expressions and a rude gesture or two to work it all out of her system as she walked across the room. Pasting a polite smile on her face, she opened the door.

"Hi, Roberto. What brings you by?" Gwenna kept the door mostly closed, wanting him to take the hint, knowing he wouldn't.

"Hello, my beautiful wife," he said with a charming smile, leaning in to kiss her cheek. "I just missed seeing your lovely face."

It took everything in her not to correct his use of the term
wife
, given that they had been granted a vampire divorce three centuries ago, but he had wanted to irritate her, and she refused to give him the satisfaction. She accepted the kiss, than said airily, "Well, you've seen it, so I guess you'll be on your way now."

His smile disappeared and deep lines of annoyance marred his smooth forehead. "Since when do you talk like that? This city has had a negative effect on you… since you've been living in Vegas you've gotten—"

"A backbone?" she asked dryly. God knew he must despise that. Their entire marriage had been based on him dominating her.

"No. Nasty. Impolite."

She rolled her eyes.

"See? That is what I'm talking about. This isn't like you, Gwenna."

Everyone thought they knew her. They expected her to sit down and shut up, and for most of her life she'd done just that. But while she would always strive to be a kind and compassionate person, she no longer wanted to be an undead doormat.

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