Wanna Get Lucky?
(The Lucky O'Toole Vegas Adventure Series Book 1)
by Deborah Coonts
Wanna Get Lucky? is the first book in Deborah Coonts' humorous romantic mystery series set in Las Vegas. Other books in The Lucky O’Toole Vegas Adventure Series: Lucky Stiff, So Damn Lucky, Lucky Bastard, Lucky Catch, Lucky Break, and five novellas (Lucky in Love, Lucky Bang, Lucky Now and Then: Parts 1 and 2, and Lucky Flash).
Wanna Get Lucky? is currently available totally FREE. Author Deborah Coonts stops by today to share an excerpt from the book. Read on to find out how you can get four free novellas as well!
A young woman plunges from a Las Vegas sightseeing helicopter, landing in the Pirate Lagoon in front of the Treasure Island Hotel in the middle of the 8:30 Pirate Show. Almost everyone writes her off as another Vegas victim. But, Lucky O’Toole, head of customer relations at the Babylon megacasino, smell a rat, though she’s got a lot on her plate: the adult film industry’s annual awards banquet, a spouse-swapping convention, sex-toy purveyors preying on the pocket-protector crowd attending ElectroniCon… Still Lucky can’t resist turning over a few stones.
When a former flame is one of the snakes she uncovers, Lucky is certain the woman’s death was no Sin City suicide. To top it all off, Lucky’s best friend, Teddie - Las Vegas’s finest female impersonator - presses to take their relationship to the next level. Leave it to Lucky to attract a man who looks better in a dress than she does.
Lucky must manage the Babylon’s outrageous festivities, solve the crime, and struggle to keep her life and libido from spinning out of control.
I found Dane licking his wounds in the casino. He didn’t look happy.
“You know anything about snakes?” I asked.
“You mean other than what I just learned from your friend, Miranda, back there?” He hooked a thumb over his shoulder. “Are you sure she doesn’t crawl on her belly and live under a rock?”
“Well, I don’t know about living under a rock, but one time she decided to live in a mud hut on the beach next to the Santa Monica pier. Something about showing the world the plight of some obscure tribe of cannibals in the Amazon.”
“She would like cannibals. I bet she’s still chewing on the hunk she took out of my ass.” Dane threw a quick look over his shoulder toward the lobby. “I hope she chokes on it.”
“You’re a big boy. I’m sure you’ll find a way to get even.” And I wanted ringside seats. I grabbed his hand and tugged him with me as I headed for the elevators. “Right now we have a more pressing problem. What do you know about real, slither- through-the-grass snakes?”
We skidded to a stop in front of the elevators. I punched the up button. Reluctantly I let go of Dane’s hand.
“What kind of snake?”
“How the heck should I know?” The elevator hadn’t come so I punched the button again, then again and again.
“Punching the button a zillion times won’t make it come faster,” he said.
“Maybe not, but it makes me feel better. I’d take the stairs but we’re going all the way to the top.” I turned and looked at him. “You haven’t answered my question. What do you know about snakes? I can do rodents, but I’m not well versed in reptiles.”
“We had an annual rattlesnake round-up back in my hometown. I participated a couple of times until a buddy of mine got bit and damned near lost a leg. Does that help?”
“It’s better than nothing.” The elevator door finally opened, and I dodged the people trying to get off as I pulled Dane inside. I inserted my card in the slot and punched the button for the Penthouse floor.
“So where’s the snake?” Dane asked after the doors had closed and we’d started skyward.
“In Mr. Ballantine’s suite.”
“Ballantine? You sound like you know this guy.”
“Oh yeah.” I crossed my arms and leaned against the side of the elevator. Just thinking about Mr. Ballantine set my blood to boil. “Our first meeting concerned cockroaches. Now it’s a snake. He’s moving up the food chain.”
Dane chuckled, “You gotta tell me about the cockroach.”
“Cockroaches, plural. Hundreds of them.”
“I think I’m going to like this story.”
“Are you familiar with the hotel rating system?” At Dane’s affirmative nod, I continued. “Like all top hotels, the Babylon jealously guards its rating. We opened at the top of the heap, and we intend to stay there.” The elevator slowed its ascent, then dinged its arrival at the fifty-second floor. “Some of our guests try to blackmail us by doing things that might threaten the rating.”
We stepped out of the elevator and turned right, heading for the King David suite. “They stage some unpleasantness, then threaten to report it to the rating services unless we pay for their room and whatever.”
“Hence the cockroaches.”
“Five star hotels are not infested with bugs.”
“But they could be,” Dane said. “How did you know it wasn’t legit?”
“The bugs were technically water bugs, indigenous to the coastal states. They couldn’t survive in the desert. They were brought in and planted in that room. I could have wrung Mr. Ballantine’s neck, but I stifled myself. This time, he may not be so lucky.”
“So we’re on our way to a potential homicide?”
“Don’t encourage me,” I said as we rounded the last corner. “He’s one of the few people I’d like to meet on the edge of a cliff with no witnesses.”
“Remind me not to get on your bad side.”
Three big, tough-looking security guys were standing outside Mr. Ballantine’s suite peering in through the doorway when Dane and I arrived.
“It’s got Denny,” one of them said when he caught sight of us.
Dane and I pushed past the guards. What we saw stopped us in our tracks.
“Holy Shit,” Dane mumbled.
In the middle of a beautiful, hand-knotted, silk Persian carpet, writhed one of our security guards, presumably Denny.
Wrapped around his middle was the largest snake I had ever seen.
The thing looked to be every inch of twenty feet, although it was hard to tell. It had already circled Denny’s waist twice and was going for a third coil.
“Get this thing off of me!” Denny grunted. “I can’t breathe!” He looked a little blue.
I grabbed the nearest guard and pointed to his gun. “Give me that thing.”
Wordlessly he handed it over.
“Dane, grab the snake’s head and hold it still.” I ordered as I chambered a round and made sure the safety was on. “Everybody back.” Dane dropped to one knee and grabbed the reptile’s head. Muscles bulging, he wrestled with the thing as it writhed. Twice he lost his footing.
I tucked the gun in my belt, shouldered-in next to Dane and grabbed the snake with both hands. Finally, the two of us managed to pull the writhing body away from Denny just enough. Dane put his knee on the snake holding its head to the floor. “Hurry,” he growled through gritted teeth.
I let go and grabbed the gun. Thumbing off the safety, I pressed the barrel to the snake’s head. I shut my eyes and pulled the trigger.
The recoil knocked me on my ass.
For a moment time stood still.
I was still deaf from the report when I opened my eyes. Breathing heavily, Dane knelt on hands and knees, his head hanging between his arms. Denny pushed weakly at the now inert body of the snake.
I crawled over to him, grabbed the slippery beast and tried to move it. Dead weight, the thing weighed a ton. “Help me here,” I said to Dane.
It took us a couple of minutes to unwrap Denny.
“You okay?” I asked him as he took deep, measured, lungfuls of air.
Dane stood, then grabbed my hand and pulled me to my feet. We escorted Denny to the gaggle of security guards who still filled the doorway. One took Denny’s arm.
My Nextel vibrated at my hip. I grabbed it. “What?”
“I got reports of gunfire on one of the upper floors in the north wing,” Jerry stated rather matter-of-factly as if gunfire erupted in the hotel every day. “You know anything about it?”
“Yeah, it was me.”
“Yeah, me. I pulled the trigger.”
“Cool. Who’d you shoot?”
I turned and surveyed the room through slitty eyes. “Nobody…” Ballantine lurked in the far corner behind a chair that looked like King David’s throne. The minute I saw him, my blood boiled over, my temper erupted, and I could almost feel his spindly little neck in my hands. “Yet.”
I dropped my Nextel in my pocket as I stormed toward Ballantine.
The creep shrunk behind the chair.
I was a few feet from him when Dane grabbed my arm, pulling me to a halt. “Whoa there,” he whispered in my ear. “He’s not worth it.”
Ballantine peeked around the edge of the chair.
I felt like making a lunge for him, but common sense slapped a lid on my temper. I straightened, threw my shoulders back, and slowly smoothed my dress. I took a deep breath, then blew several strands of hair out of my eyes. I stepped away from Dane.
He let me go but stayed close. I guess he was worried my temper might erupt again. He needn’t have worried. Past getting mad, I was well on my way to getting even.
Ballantine shrank back.
I crooked a finger at him. “Come here, little man.” I waited until, visibly shaking, he stood in front of me, staring at his toes. “What kind of snake was that?
“Where on earth did you get it?”
“From a guy I know here in Vegas.”
“How’d you get it into the hotel?”
“In a trunk. It took three bellmen to get it on the cart.” A tinge of pride crept into his voice.
For a moment I saw red again. Dane must’ve sensed it. He grabbed my arm, but I shook him off. I leaned down and put my mouth next to Ballantine’s ear. He flinched but stood his ground. “Listen to me and listen good. Pack your things. Stop at the front desk and pay your bill, which will be large as it will include damages for this attempted extortion.” I lowered my voice. “Then get the hell out of my hotel. If you darken my doorway again, or if I get even a hint that you have said anything unsavory about this hotel or any of its employees, I will hunt you down myself. And when I’m through with you, I will personally deliver your sorry carcass to the police.”
Ballantine visibly paled.
“I don’t think you’d like being a boy-toy for some lifer in the State Pen.” I turned on my heel, shouldered past Dane, then retrieved the gun from the floor where I had left it.
At the doorway, I slapped the gun in the chest of its owner. “Why do you carry this thing if you’re afraid to use it?”
The guard grabbed the gun with both his hands and stared at me like I had two heads.
“Men,” I muttered as I stalked off down the hall.
Praise for the Book
"Wanna Get Lucky? sizzles. It beguiles and surprises. It’s belly-laugh funny. And that’s just the beginning. Add in unforgettable characters, crimes to die for, the ka-ching of high-stakes casinos, and Laura-Ashley-decorated bordellos, and you have a read that’s utterly irresistible from first page to last. Watch out, Janet Evanovich. The new hot number is Deborah Coonts!" ~ Gayle Lynds, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Spies
"Wanna Get Lucky? is a winner on every level. Deborah Coonts has crafted a first-class murder mystery coupled with a touching and unexpected love story. Against a flawlessly-rendered Las Vegas backdrop, Lucky’s story is funny, fast-paced, exuberant and brilliantly realized." ~ Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Just Breathe
"Deborah Coonts hits it out of the park with her debut novel, Wanna Get Lucky? Peppered with delightfully witty characters and 'only in Vegas' hijinks, it’s definitely on my This Year’s Best Read list." ~ Stephen J. Cannell, New York Times bestselling author of the Shane Scully novels
"Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts paints a dead-on portrait of Las Vegas that is somehow dark, outrageous, and hilarious at the same time. She is a true Vegas insider and her fabulous fictional character, Lucky O’Toole, 'chief problem solver' at a Vegas mega casino, is wise, witty, and brimming with cheery cynicism. Wanna Get Lucky? goes down faster than an ice-cold Bombay martini - very dry, of course, and with a twist." ~ Douglas Preston, New York Times bestselling author of Blasphemy
"Get ready to win big - with a novel that will keep you glued to the pages all the way to the end. Wanna Get Lucky? is as entertaining as the city in which it’s set." ~ Brenda Novak, New York Times bestselling author of Trust me, Stop Me, and Watch Me
About the Author
My mother tells me I was born a long time ago, but I'm not so sure - my mother can't be trusted. I do know that I was raised in Texas on barbeque, Mexican food and beer. I currently live in Las Vegas where family and friends tell me I can't get into too much trouble. Silly people. I have owned my own business, been a tax lawyer and a flight instructor, and have survived a teenager. And now, I make stuff up for a living.
I write a mystery series set in Las Vegas - funny, sexy and romantic. I've been told they are comedic thrillers - sounds like an oxymoron to me, but you get the drift. The first in the series, Wanna Get Lucky?, came out May 2010. There are currently six books in the series, Lucky Break being the latest, and four between-the-books novellas.
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