He looked up at me and shot me a cheeky smile. “Why don’t you let me worry about that?”
Pfffht. As if I’d let him shop for me. “You don’t know my size. And I don’t trust your taste.”
He gave my toe a sharp squeeze and laughed. “Wow, so I pick out leopard print leggings for you one time and suddenly you think I have bad taste. Hey, just trust me. And I know your size. I’ve felt you up.”
A flash of his hands all over me flooded me with warmth. I ignored it, ignored the fact that I was lying in bed in front of him, stripped to my underwear, legs slightly askew. “Shoes?”
He leaned over and picked up my boot from the floor, peering at the sole. “Size eight.”
“But I hate high heels. I can’t walk in them.”
“So I won’t get you high heels.”
“You’ll be able to see the bandages on the top of my foot.”
“So then people will see the bandages. People get tattoos all the time here, I’m sure even the high rollers.”
“I have to have—”
“A long dress. I know. Just trust me. I know what I’m doing.”
And with that he got himself ready to go out and left me lying in bed, sore and slightly immobile. I flipped on the television and got wrapped up in a few episodes of Mythbusters before I started getting worried. Not about what clothes he was bringing me—though I was having visions of stripper platforms, cheetah-printed mini-skirts, and bikini tops—but because I wondered if that was all he was going out there to do.
I had to make a decision and I had to do it now. I couldn’t live in this indecisive, wishy-washy state of not knowing whether I could trust Camden or not. One minute I thought I could, the next I was afraid I couldn’t. It was making me feel bipolar, and in some strange way, wasn’t really fair to him. I had to decide how I felt about him and then I had to stick to it. If I got burned either way, then that was the risk.
I studied the patterns in the ceiling hoping to find a pattern in my thoughts. Camden led me on. He screwed me over as I was screwing him over. He had evidence on me that would put me in jail or at least get a warrant out for my arrest. He had a father who wanted nothing more than to serve me overdue justice. Camden had obvious control issues and his own methods of payback for all the wrongs I’d caused him. He had a meeting with Javier, Raul, and Alex and learned there was a giant price tag on my head. There were many reasons not to trust him.
But despite all my suspicions, it came down to two things. One: he’d had all these opportunities but so far hadn’t seized any of them. If he was just biding his time, I didn’t know. But it seemed the longer we were together, the more complicated things got. If he wanted to get rid of me, it was easier to do it sooner than later. The other reason was the most simple one. The most honest one. I had reason to trust him because I felt he could be trusted. Call it a gut feeling or primal instinct, but that’s what it came down to. I trusted him because I felt like I could, that I should.
Were hunches something to bet your life on? Well, I was in Sin City, where people did it every day. I’d just have to act like the high roller I was pretending to be and take the risk.
With that decision made, I felt a cloud of anxiety lift. It was so much easier to just worry about one thing. I must have been relieved enough to doze off because when I came to it was dark out and Camden was in the room holding a few heavy garment bags and shoe boxes.
“This game,” he announced, placing the packages on the floor with a dramatic flourish, “is a lot more fun when you’re playing it at Armani instead of a thrift store.”
“Who’s going first this time?” I asked as I sat up, my interest piqued.
“You,” he said. “I only have a tux. To put it on would ruin my private fashion show.”
I felt a little bit like Kim Novak in Vertigo as he unzipped all the bags and lay the selection of dresses out on his bed. To my surprise, they were all gorgeous. This man had excellent taste underneath the kinks.
There was a metallic olive green strapless gown, straight down to the floor, nothing poofy; a slinky material halter dress in gold that seemed to melt into the covers; and a long, black silk dress with the front cut down to the navel and the back cut down to what I guessed would be your crack. A layer of thin black lace covered the open areas, making it seem a more subdued dress at first glance, until you looked up close. It was risqué, daring, and elegant. It was perfect.
“I thought so too,” he said, noting the way my eyes were fastened on it. “And I thought it would go well with these.”
He opened up one of the shoe boxes and showed me a pair of strappy sandals with a modest two-inch heel. The straps were in the shapes of twisting roses and glittering with hundreds of silver rhinestones. Perhaps not so modest after all.
“They’re beautiful, Camden,” I said in a hushed breath. “I gotta be honest here. I’m starting to feel a bit like Cinderella or something.”
“Well, I’m certainly not your Prince Charming,” he said, gathering up the other dresses. His arms flexed beautifully against his black t-shirt.
“Thank god for that,” I told him, feeling bold. “Prince Charming never had your body or your tattoos.”
“Or my cock,” he shot in, grinning wickedly.
I bit my lip as my eyes traveled to his crotch and back. “If he did, Cinderella definitely wouldn’t have gone home at midnight.”
“And how late are we staying out tonight?” he asked.
“Until the last chip has fallen.”
I stood up, cautious with my leg. It felt tight and heavy but other than that it was fine.
“Do you mind turning around?” I asked, making the motion with my hands.
He ruffled his hair with amusement. “I don’t think I will. I bought you the clothes, I get to see the show.”
He stood there in front of me, surrounded by boxes and bags, the two beds on either side of us. Though the smile on his lips was playful, the look in his eyes was not. It wasn’t a mean look but it wasn’t soft. Each of his features stood out in their beautifully masculine way, all hard edges and second chances. This wasn’t the time for me to be bashful and he knew it.
Seeing as I was already in my underwear, a black pair that had cheeky coverage, I lifted my tank top above my head and let it drop to the carpeted floor. His gaze intensified, like a heat-seeking missile. I brought my hands behind my back, and as elegantly as possible, I undid the clasp and slipped my bra off of my arms, tossing it to the bed.
Though his gaze, his pose, his very being, reminded me of a wolf about to pounce, he didn’t move. I felt his eyes roam up and down my body like silk, sending shivers down my back. He was turning me on without laying a hand on me.
It wasn’t necessary for the dress, but I shimmied out of my underwear and stepped out of them. Now I was absolutely, completely nude, save for my bandaged leg. To anyone else I would have looked a bit silly. But not to Camden. I could see in the way he regarded me that I was nothing short of a phoenix coming out of the ashes, just like the one on his hips. Now I had become his tattoo.
I slowly walked over to him, owning my body as I never had before, shoulders back and head high. I gestured to the dress.
“Will you help me?”
He licked his lips; it was probably involuntary but it caused heat to flare between my legs, my own lips to part open. He reached over and picked the black dress up in his hands and leisurely unzipped the side of it, his eyes never leaving mine.
I raised my arms above my head, my bare breasts rising as I did so, surrendering to him. Our gaze never broke, and the heat only built, connecting us. He took the dress and carefully slipped it over my arms and pulled it down. His knuckles brushed against my nipples and I clenched my jaw, supressing the shudder that wanted to roll through me.
He dragged it down over my breasts and over my stomach, slowly, so slowly, like the fabric was an extension of his hands and lips. Every hair on my body was raised, my skin tense and wanting. He came closer to nudge it over my hips, letting his fingers rest on them as gravity took the remainder of the dress to the ground.
Now fully clothed, I lowered my arms. He was so close to me, too close. His hands burned on my hips.
“Thank you,” I whispered, breaking his heated gaze and looking at the ground.
“One more thing,” he said, breaking away. He bent down and rummaged through one of the bags and pulled out a jewelry box. Before I could say anything, he flipped it open and I saw a sparkling pair of diamond chandelier earrings nestled in dove grey velvet. I’d never had such sparkles so close to my skin.
And, even though Camden had bought it with stolen money, even though we were only dressing up so we could clean what he stole, this cemented my Cinderella comment. I felt like a princess.
“They’re beautiful,” I told him, taking the box from his hands, our fingers brushing against each other. “Thank you. I guess I better go make myself look pretty. I think I’ll put my hair up.”
He beamed and stepped away. “I hoped you might.”
I gave him a quick smile and ushered myself into the bathroom with my makeup kit. The minute I shut the door in the spacious, tiled room I exhaled loudly. My heart had been hammering a mile a minute back there, the tension building until I almost couldn’t take it. It was like the moment I decided to trust Camden was the moment I wanted to hand my body over to him again. I supposed the tattoo was the first step.
I pinned my hair up in sections then applied some classic makeup. Black winged liquid liner and red lipstick sealed the deal. The earrings were the world’s most beautiful accents, sparkling from the bathroom lights and reflecting on my shoulders like dancing pixie dust.
When I came out, I saw Camden by the bar, pouring a bottle of champagne into two flutes. I thought I’d heard the pop of the cork while I was in there.
He looked…well there was no point describing how he looked. It would never do him justice. It was Camden in an extremely well-tailored, suave and sexy tuxedo. The sheen of the black lapels, his bowtie coupled with his spiked-up black hair, his nose ring and the glasses—he was one bad-ass spy. I had to keep my teeth pressed together to prevent my jaw from dropping to the floor.
“Well, well, well, Mr. Bond,” I said as I slinked toward him.
“Well, well, well, Ms. Watt,” he said, handing me my champagne flute. The bubbles sparked and fizzed between us. “I think this town is about to get its hands dirty.”
We clinked our glasses.
Dressed to the nines, Camden and I turned heads in every casino we entered. The cashiers and dealers regarded us with some sort of respect instead of the usual cageyness that would put us on their Suspicious Activities Report. We looked the part and acted the part, and that, combined with never cashing in amounts more than $7000 and actually playing more than a few games, let us slide under their radar. Of course, we didn’t stay in one casino. We went to the Cosmopolitan next door to start, then the Monte Carlo, then down the other side of the strip to the Venetian, the Palazzo, and the Wynn before ending at the Bellagio. We saved the best for last.