Stop Dragon My Heart Around ONLY
a Las Vegas Dragons novel by Susannah Scott
Lucky Leprechaun underwear ironed? Check.
Gold plated hearing aids? Check.
Pink doggy booties, times four? Check.
Tee is Vegas’s favorite casino hostess, ready to grant her high rollers their every quirky wish. But when her own wish to financially help her Paiute Tribe finally comes true, she decides to double-down with lady luck and go for a hot hook-up with her sexy boss, Leo. Unfortunately, Tees about to find out why their romance is such a long shot—Leo is a shape-shifting dragon.
Leo needs a proper dragon mate to save his waning dragon form, and despite their magnetic sexual attraction, he knows Tee is anything but proper—or a dragon. But when threats arise from Tee’s tribe, Leos protective instincts kick in. Can he give up his dragon form for the woman he loves—even if it means shortening his life? Or has Tee finally had enough of having her heart dragged around?
Title: Stop Dragon My Heart Around
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Novels in the Las Vegas Dragons series by Susannah Scott:
Praise for Stop Dragon My Heart Around:
“It’s amazing to experience the extent of an author’s imagination, and Susannah Scott really soars!” – Sara Reyes, Kirkus Review
An Excerpt from:
Stop Dragon My Heart Around
by Susannah Scott
Copyright © 2014 by Susannah Scott. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Leonidas Ryan stood outside the doorframe of Tee’s casino office, watching her skirt-clad legs balance on impossibly high silver stilettos. Tee hustled from her bookshelf to her desk and back again. Her draped white shirt, split at her shoulders and cuffed at her elbows, exposing toned arms, silver bangles, and ample cleavage.
The bracelets jangled when Tee flipped through the photo albums, and she muttered to herself, completely absorbed in planning some over-the-top event for one of her high rollers. Leo leaned back and settled in the doorway, content to watch his employee, and the Crown Jewel’s best casino hostess, at work and unaware of his presence.
Tee made some notes on a paper beside her. Her straight, black hair slid over her shoulder in a silky cape. Her long bangs hid her face from him, but he didn’t need to see her expression.
He just knew.
Knew exactly what she would look like if she lifted her face and caught him in the doorway watching her. At first, her forehead would be furrowed, and she’d have a little line between her brows. Her full mouth would be scrunched up. Then she’d realize it was him, and her dark eyes would do that sparkly thing they did when she was pleased.
He let himself dive lust-over-heels into the daydream. In his mind, Tee smiled and crooked her finger at him, and he went to her and kissed her.
He’d not jump on her like he’d done before.
He’d let their lips linger, like lovers meeting up in the middle of the day for a rendezvous. Then he’d tug her away from her work and maneuver her over to her couch. He’d run his hand up the back of her long legs, under her skirt.
Then he’d cup her amazing ass and kiss the skin at her neck, inhaling her essence. He’d just stay there, enjoying that sensitive spot he knew she had at the juncture of her neck and shoulder until she squirmed under him. Leo could all but smell the minty almond scent of her skin. Feel her full breast tighten in his palms. Hear her panty, needy breaths.
Bloody hell, who was he kidding? He wouldn’t go slowly.
He’d push her under him.
Take what they both wanted.
“Did you want something?” Tee’s voice yanked him out of the dream.
You. Only you.
He shook away the vision. His body throbbed and every bestial dragon instinct he possessed screamed at him to grab her, take her, fly with her to the heavens.
She waved him into her office. “I’m looking for pictures of a Western-themed wedding I set up a few years ago.”
He watched her fingers piano key through the air, calling him closer to her. He stared hard at the space between her index fingers and thumb, willing his dragon mark to be there today. There was nothing. Just smooth skin and elegant fingers that tapered to her unpolished fingernails.
He swallowed the sigh he would have liked to let escape and focused on the reason he’d left the executive offices to come to the ground floor of the casino.
“You’re going to be pissed.”
She gave him a doubtful stare. “I’m working on two fake cowboy weddings. Nothing you say can ruin my fun.” When she smiled, Leo leaned toward her on the balls of his feet, wanting to get closer to her, inside her orbit.
He checked the move and instead reached overhead and jingled the dream catcher Tee kept above her doorway. The metal tubes bumped under his finger and chimed happy notes. Tee’s Paiute tribe believed the mobile caught up the bad dreams and only let through the good dreams.
“Two fake weddings?” he asked and finally walked in to her office, stopping a few feet from her desk. Terracotta tiles spanned the room and a carved mahogany bar sat in one corner. Her desk had been his signing gift to her when he’d coaxed her away from the Bellagio several years ago.
“Well, I guess technically it’s three weddings,” she said. “I’ve got a player who wants to get fake hitched to his two girlfriends.”
He shook his head. “I suppose he already has one real wife somewhere?”
“Details, Mr. Ryan. Details.” Tee smiled. “I’m the one who worries about the details here, so you and my players don’t have to.”
“Right.” Even after three years in the casino business, the idiocy of humans still amazed Leo. But Tee with her black book of high rollers was the best casino hostess on the Strip because she excelled at appeasing the humans. She even seemed to enjoy their ridiculous requests. To her players, Tee was an anti-authoritarian fairy godmother, flourishing a wand.
“Besides, I love planning weddings.”
“Even fake weddings?”
“Even.” She straightened and walked toward him. “What do you think is going to piss me off?”
“Roy’s got the Diamond Suite this weekend. His player was here first.” He said the words with pre-warning finality.
Roy was another Crown Jewel casino host. He and Tee detested each other and battled weekly over the best comp giveaways for their high rollers. The casino encouraged their not-so-friendly competition with a bonus payout each year to the top-grossing host. Twenty-five grand was up for grabs in a few weeks. Roy and Tee were neck and neck.
He crossed his arms and waited for the explosion, but she only smiled wider.
Something was up.
“Not anymore.” Her black eyes shone with the reflection of the overhead light. “The fake wedding I’m planning is for Mr. M., Roy’s player.” She used the customary semi-anonymous, one-lettered last name of a high roller. “I flipped him to my account.”
He dropped his arms. “You can’t—”
“I can.” She met his eyes with a determined look. “He stole my player from me last month to try and win the host bonus. He’s a weasel, and I’ve had players say he offered them escorts. I think Roy might be pimping girls on the side.”
That got Leo’s attention. Prostitution could get the whole casino shut down. He and Alec and the other dragon lieutenants had worked too hard to establish the safe haven at the top of the casino for their dragon-shifting people for it to all be destroyed by one reckless human.
Plus with Alec, the King of the Dragons and Leo’s closest friend, away on his honeymoon, the safekeeping of the casino and their people fell to him. He couldn’t fail. The future of their race depended on the dragons having a safe sanctuary in a crowded world full of humans. One day soon, he would return to his dragon fold in Australia. Many had thought he’d made the wrong decision following Alec to America, leaving his family without a male heir.
When he returned, he wanted to be successful, both with the casino-refuge and in securing a mate to continue his dragon line. Somewhere in the world, his dragon mate drew breath on this day. She saw the sunrise and the moon set. He longed for her with every ache of his waning dragon form. He would find her, but first the sanctuary had to be stable.
“You got proof?” He stared hard at Tee, but she glanced away.
“No. No one wants to make accusations.”
“Then don’t even say it.” He fought down the surging fury from his dragon at the perceived threat to his people. “I mean it.”
Tee took a deep breath. “Nobody did anything when Roy took my player from me last time. Besides, Roy dropped the ball. He abandoned Mr. M. with major wedding problems. Mr. M. is playing on a $500 minimum craps table right now, and his two lady loves are happy, happy, happy, dreaming of their fake weddings.”
He recognized the runaway train of indignation Tee had building. Although she was human and unaware of the many dragons in her midst, he understood her better than most of his own people. She understood the casino’s bottom line. Players had to play. When players played, the house made money. Dragons made money. Gobs and gobs of money. Money bought security and concealment.
Money was an excellent thing.
“The way I see it. I’ve averted a potential disaster for Mr. M. and the casino, and gotten a player back on the tables.”
“Let me guess.” He shook his head with a sudden realization. Tee was too pleased by half for a simple fake wedding. “You flipped Mr. M. and somehow got him out of the Diamond Suite, too, so you can have it for your bigger player coming in?”
She gave him a look from under her bangs. “It was better for everyone.”
He laughed, full-throated and loud. The sound echoed through her office. Tee leaned toward him and rested her hand on his arm. The heat of her touch transferred through his clothes to his skin, even as her laughter joined his in a resonating timbre.
Good for you. Leo met her gaze and nodded.
The corners of her eyes creased. I know, she answered with a wide-smiling, nonverbal acknowledgement.
He inhaled hard at the silent exchange and stepped back, away from her touch. These brief connections between the two of them were more staggering than even the physical desire he felt for Tee. He felt exposed. Wide open.
But it wasn’t to be. Tee wasn’t for him.
She wasn’t his mate.
She did not have his mark.
“I’ll talk to Roy,” he said, his voice too rough and his mind still on the thing between them.
They’d always been able to communicate without communicating, and it wasn’t the mind speak that his people, the shape-shifting dragons, used with each other. It was human, primal, more intense, and more personal than anything he’d experienced.
It was also unnerving. So when it happened, he retreated. He wasn’t used to running. From anything or anyone. Except his desire for Tee.
There would be someone else. Someone else better. Someone for him.
A dragon mate.
Leo stepped backward toward the doorway. “I need to go.”
“Since I’ve flipped Mr. M., you can go ahead and assign all of Roy’s comps to me for the weekend. I’ll need his restaurant and show reservations, money for the girls to shop, and an extra kicker for the tables,” she said, ignoring him.
“No.” He inhaled her clean scent and held it in his lungs. His dragon nature urged him to action, trying to override his human willpower. The human won. He exhaled slowly, not wanting her to notice his odd behavior. “I know how important the bonus is for you and the reservation, but I need to talk to Roy first. You know that.”
“Come on. Rules are made for bending.” Tee stepped into his personal space. “I need this for the school.”
“I know you’ve been sleeping on Mei and Jane’s futon to funnel most of your salary to the reservation, but there is a way to do things.” He glanced at the open door. “I’ll talk to Roy and let you know.”
“I’ve got three other whales coming in this afternoon. I need to know what I’m working with, comp wise. If they aren’t happy, they don’t play. If they don’t play, they don’t lose. They don’t lose, I can’t win.”
“Understood,” he said. “I’ve got to go.”
“Hey.” Tee frowned. “What’s going on? You didn’t have a problem being all up close and personal with me a few weeks ago.”
Leo turned on his heel to leave. The last thing he wanted to talk about was their incendiary kiss. “I’m running the whole damn casino. I’ve got people waiting on me.”
“Stop right there.” Her voice was so authoritative that he actually did stop. “What’s your deal? I feel like you’re trying to get away from me.”
“No deal. Just in a rush. After I find Roy, I’ve got a meeting with Darius.”
“Leo, we’ve been friends for years. I know when you’re lying.” She came to stand in front of him. “You don’t want to talk about the kiss, fine. But something has you upset. Is it Alec being gone? Is it too much pressure running the casino on your own? What can I do to help?”
“That was three questions.”
“Bloody hell.” Frustration flooded his brain. “My hosts are cannibalizing each other’s business and you’re all strutting around wanting me to do you favors.” He shook his head. “Just give me some…time.” He’d almost said “space,” but caught himself.
“Okay, but before you go…” She let the word trail off.
“What?” Leo’s escape beckoned at his back.
“Would you go with me to the Black Earth festival at the reservation? I need a date.”
“I’ve got to be out of town.”
“I didn’t even tell you when it is.”
“I checked your calendar with Jane. You’re free.” Tee tilted her head, not at all apologetic. “It’s this weekend. You don’t have to stay for all three nights. If you could just come out Saturday night, it would really help me out.”
“Why do you need my help?”
She lifted her chin. “I told the Chief we were dating to get him off my back about moving to the rez. He likes you.”
Exasperation fired through Leo. “You shouldn’t have done that.”
The list of reasons for him not to be Tee’s date, even knowing she wasn’t his mate, was long. He was her boss, and Tee brought high rollers into the casino, which they couldn’t risk losing. Her father was Chief of the Paiute tribe, a good human man, whom Leo considered a friend. And, the Chief allowed the dragons to hunt on the remote areas of the reservation.
All those small details aside, he wished he could say yes to whatever she wanted, and spend three days with her long legs wrapped around him in a pup tent.
“Look, I’ll let you know about the comps. But the festival isn’t a good idea. Find someone else.”
“Are you afraid of getting fired?” Her voice was teasing.
“No.” It was impossible for him to lose his job, since he and the other dragon lieutenants had an equal stake in the Crown Jewel.
“Me either. I’m friends with the boss.” She smiled. When he didn’t respond, she touched the sleeve of his suit. Her fingers were light, but her heat tunneled though the layers of clothing. “There’s no one else I can ask. I spend every waking minute here. When am I going to meet someone to date? Just think on it. Okay?”
A knock sounded on the door and a petite blonde in a va-va-voom black evening dress poked her head into the office. “Are you Tallulah Alameda?” she asked around smacking gum.
“Danny sent us to talk with you.”
“Danny is Mr. M.,” Tee explained to Leo. “Hi ladies, I’m just working on your big day. Come on in.”
The two moved past Leo to the center of Tee’s office. “I’m Angie. This here’s Trixie.” Angie pulled a tall brunette in a white evening gown into the office with her.
“I’ll just be going,” Leo said.
“Oh. My. God.” The brunette stepped forward pointing at Leo. “It’s him.”