The Solitaire Series Reminder: Each week, a story will appear on my blog, and be free to read for one week only. The next story will take its place, and the first story will be available on Amazon and other e-retailers. But if you follow this blog, you can read the stories for free every single week! Read more about the Short Story Deal here.

Throughout the series, there will be collections of stories, and we will even be producing some really cool swag along the way. Watch for contests, prizes, and even some fun “in-person” events!

Janice glared at the black man in the red suit with the big top hat-wearing the wine-colored scarf. She slipped the hundred he tossed her way into her pocket anyway. Perks of the job. Free drinks from assholes who hit on her because she was pretty, and an occasional hundred or more from some gambler who was doing well, even if she had asked him for help.

That had been a pretense of course. She wanted information from him, and he seemed to be an easier target than the scarred man who’d left the club with him. Jack, he’d called him? Sounded right.

And normally a man like Red Hat would stop for her when she asked them for help. But she’d seen him come out of the club once, and then be escorted back inside. Janice wondered what that was about.

She knew his place had a game going on. The jerk who just threw money at her and his scarred friend from earlier certainly hadn’t been inside for the music, and she hadn’t seen them bellied up to the bar or sitting in the couches where the old dudes usually watched the young chicks like her dance. Lord knew what they did with themselves, but she’d rather be spared that knowledge.

No, there was a backroom filled with high stakes gamblers. She wanted in, not because she was a gambler herself, but because it was her job.

The bouncers had kicked her out because maybe she’d been a bit too flirtatious, and certainly flipping off the one-way mirror at the top of the stairs hadn’t been a brilliant move, except if your intent was to see what kind of attention that got you. Her plan had worked. There was someone up there.

Someone important.

Her success meant getting back inside, which should be pretty easy.

First, she slipped her phone from her pocket and dialed a number.

“Come get me,” was all she said.

A mere thirty seconds later, a sedan with a Lyft light pulled up to the curb, and she slid into the back seat.

“What happened?” the driver barely glanced at her in the mirror.

“I got kicked out, so I need to change. Drive around the block.” The car moved away from the curb and out of the parking lot.

At her feet was a black duffel bag, and she pulled it on to the seat and unzipped it. Removing the red wig she had on, she ran her hand over her own dark hair, shaved close to her skull. Not too sweaty, and the tape was still in place. She tossed the wig aside and selected a blond one instead, one with longer hair. She set it in place on her head, securing it.

Janice pulled the black dress over her head and tossed it aside, too. The car swerved as it switched lanes quickly and then came to a sudden stop.

“Sorry,” the driver said over his shoulder. Her eyes met his in the rearview.

“Eyes on the road,” she told him. “There’s nothing for you to see back here.”

He snorted laughter, but his eyes moved back to the front and he returned his focus to driving.

She selected a blue number, low cut, one that would be short on her, and pulled it on. She selected some platform heels, what her boss called her stripper shoes, but their real purpose was to add a few inches to her height. She set them on the seat.

Then she took out a mirror, wiped off the makeup she’d been wearing, applied some moisturizer, and went for a new look.

This time she applied more blush, highlighting her cheekbones and adding more eyeshadow, making her look older and more mature than she was. When that was done, she straightened the wig one last time.

Her target would be different this time, not the young boys in the club, but the men passing through to the back room.

And she’d be looking to avoid the attention of management and security now that she knew someone big was watching.

“Get me back in there,” she told the driver.

“Yes, ma’am,” he said. A few moments later they drove back into the parking lot, pulled into the circle drive, and the valet who had looked down on her when she got kicked out of the club opened her door for her. She swung her feet out, slipped on the heels, and stood.

“Ma’am?” the driver said.

She turned her head to look at him. He pointed at her rear.

She felt back there, realizing her dress was partially tucked into her underwear, and she pulled it out, smoothing it over her ass and the back of her legs. Damn bullshit, getting dressed in the back seat.

She heard laughter from the direction of the driver but slammed the door, turned, and walked inside, carrying a tiny black purse that contained everything she needed.

She found it funny that the same security guard who had escorted her out less than an hour before stood aside as she came in, and then checked her out as she went by. Asshole.

But she smiled anyway and headed for the bar. This seemed to be the place where men headed to the back room and the games there passed by, and she bet she could make one of them stop either on the way in, or if he won big, on the way out.

This was Vegas. There was nothing illegal about gambling, so there was no reason to hide it unless you were an organization with predatory practices. Even though the odds favored the house, the games had to be fair.

Also, lending money at exorbitant rates and collecting payments with violent tactics when gamblers didn’t pay was illegal.

Organizations ran the gambit, from high stakes poker and blackjack tables to sports betting. And gambling law is no simple thing to understand. Illegal gambling as a business is Federally forbidden, but states and their gaming commissions actually determine what is allowable in their states and what isn’t. When it comes to the legal arenas like financing and fair play, there are several jurisdictions that come into play, including criminal and constitutional law, and sometimes even competition law. In cases like this one, in Vegas, task forces were usually organized by both the Nevada Gaming Commission and the FBI in cooperation.

That made Janice’s job a hard one. She went undercover, gathered evidence, always aware it was very possible that not a shred of it would be relevant, and she’d have to gather more, different evidence, or in some cases start her investigation all over again.

This was her third year operating in Vegas, about two years longer than the average agent lasted in her position, but she had several things going for her. Her military training meant she was in great shape and able to handle herself without backup in most situations. She was also a master of disguise, had no family to speak of, so nothing really going on at home. She didn’t even have a cat or a goldfish.

Her boss described her as the perfect agent. She described herself as a cold-blooded bitch out for justice.

I hope you are enjoying reading this series as much as I am. This story and the rest of the series is available on Amazon now. You can read the other stories in this series on Amazon here! Stay tuned for another FREE story right here next week. I hope to see you then!

Troy Lambert
Troy is a freelance writer, author, and blogger who lives, works, and plays in Boise, Idaho with the love of his life and three very talented dogs.

Passionate about writing dark psychological thrillers, he is an avid cyclist, skier, hiker, all-around outdoorsman, and a terrible beginning golfer.