Please take a moment to review Hachette Book Group's updated Privacy Policy: read the updated policy here.

What Happens In Vegas . . . stays in Vegas!

 

Chapter 1

 

From: Bonni Connolly <bonni@iphone.ca>
Date: Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 16:09
Subject: Fwd: Check Out This Great Offer!

To: Ava, Celia, Fredi

 

See below. My latest case has been kicking my ass and I could use some downtime. And who better to tackle Sin City with than my girls? VEGAS, BABY! Who’s in?

Bons

 

———- Forwarded message ———-

To: Bonni Connolly
From: Gladiators Casino & Resort Hotel <deals@gladiatorcasinoresort.com>
Date: Wed, Jan 10, 2018 at 9:17
Subject: Check Out This Great Offer!

Promotional pricing for the newest hotel on the Vegas Strip

Book a room now for $49 a night (minimum 3-night stay) and get
$100 worth of chips absolutely FREE

Clink LINK to book!

 

***

From: Ava Trent <Ava.Trent@edbridgegroup.com>
Date: Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 16:16
Subject: Re: Fwd: Check Out This Great Offer!

To: Bonni, Celia, Fredi

 

Oh my God! I’m in. Just tell me when and I’ll clear my calendar. What’s more overtime? I basically already sleep here! Looking forward to seeing you ladies!!! <3

Ava XO

Ava Trent, MBA, BComm

Director

Edbridge Group

Cell: 555.447.3200

e-mail: Ava.Trent@edbridgegroup.com

 

***

From: Fredi Cannon <Fredi@delightweddingdesigns.com>
Date: Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 16:20
Subject: Re: Fwd: Check Out This Great Offer!

To: Bonni, Celia, Ava

 

I’m free 1st Mar wknd – only avail time. The bridezillas will come after me otherwise. Gladiators, huh? After spending all my time with emotional women, I’m ready for some beefcake. xxxxxx

Best,

Fredi

 

It’s Your Day!

Head Designer, Delight Wedding Dresses

 

***

From: Celia Fox <foximom@iphone.com>
Date: Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 16:22
Subject: Re: Fwd: Check Out This Great Offer!

To: Bonni, Ava, Fredi

 

Yaaaas!!!! I love my kids, but, God, do I need a weekend away. First weekend in March works for me. That’s supposed to be Dickhead’s week with the kids, but I’ll line up my mother as back-up.

I’m up for anything, so long as we avoid the wedding chapels! Haha, j/k. #notreally #bringonthetequila

C

 

***

 

From: Bonni Connolly<bonni@iphone.ca>
Date: Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 16:26
Subject: Re: Fwd: Check Out This Great Offer!

To: Celia, Ava, Fredi

 

Fantastic! I’ll book two rooms. That gives us a month to save up our coins for the slot machines! Woohoo, big spenders!

We’ll figure out a full itinerary later, but since we need to get Celia tequila stat, let’s meet in the lobby bar, say, noon? Although it will really be 3pm for me and Fredi …

So pumped! It’ll be our own little college reunion, complete with copious amounts of alcohol and Celia probably puking in a bush again…

Bons

***

 

From: Fredi Cannon <Fredi@delightweddingdesigns.com>
Date: Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 16:29
Subject: Re: Fwd: Check Out This Great Offer!

To: Bonni, Celia, Ava

 

Ugh, yeah, time change is going to take some getting used to. Maybe I’ll find a guy who will volunteer to help me over my jet lag, wink wink.

Oh, Lord, I remember the bush. The best, though, was when she puked in the back seat of that fraternity bro’s brand-new Beamer. We should start a pool. Where will Celia drunkenly puke on our girls’ weekend? xxxxx

Best,

Fredi

It’s Your Day!

Head Designer, Delight Wedding Dresses

 

***

From: Ava <Ava.Trent@edbridgegroup.com>
Date: Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 16:31
Subject: Re: Fwd: Check Out This Great Offer!

To: Fredi, Celia, Bonni

 

You guys are too much! This is going to be epic and I can’t wait! But Celia’s a mom now! And Bonni’s a cop! It’ll be tons of fun, but surely it won’t get as crazy as it did in college.

XO

Ava Trent, MBA, BComm

Director

Edbridge Group

Cell: 555.447.3200

e-mail: Ava.Trent@edbridgegroup.com

 

***

 

From: Celia Fox <foximom@iphone.com>
Date: Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 16:32
Subject: Re: Fwd: Check out This Great Offer!

To: Bonni, Ava, Fredi

 

Leave the badge at home, Bon-Bon, and put me down for $20 on some blonde bimbo’s stupid designer shoes.

#fml

C

 

***

From: Bonni Connolly <bonni@iphone.ca>
Date: Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 16:45
Subject: Re: Fwd: Check Out This Great Offer!

To: Ava, Celia, Fredi

 

This is going to be the best trip ever…

Bons

 

***

 

Chapter 2

 

Bonni found a perfect spot in the bar. She was early, of course, to scope things out and get the lay of the land. Situated in the center of the casino, it was up three steps and gave a good vantage point. She settled in the chair with her back to the decorative wall behind her. A lawman never put his back to the door. It had been ingrained into her; first by her dad when she was a kid and then by her training officer in the police academy. Always be aware of your surroundings, have a backup plan, and know your escape route.

Bonni crossed her jean-clad legs and bobbed her booted toe, carefully scanning the crowd on the casino floor. She drew in a deep sigh and closed her eyes as the stress tightening her muscles began to seep out of her. It was a good plan to come to Vegas with her girls. She needed the break after the last few months. Being in Frauds for so long, Bonni would have thought she’d seen it all, and yet … How people think they can get away with shit never failed to surprise Bonni. It had taken months to build the case, get enough intel in order to file charges. But enough of work. She was done for the next few days and excited to begin the shenanigans. Bonni leaned back and draped her arms along the cushioned backs of the chairs next to her. Now all she needed was a drink.

The bar wasn’t crowded yet, but then it was what…she looked at her Apple watch, just about noon here and 3 p.m. at home. A very hunky waiter, decked out in gladiator garb, complete with a gold warrior skirt slung low on his hips, approached her. My, my, my, so there were gladiators here, after all.

‘Can I get you anything?’ he asked. His voice was low, syrupy with a slight accent, and Bonni suspected he put it on for more tips, or similar ‘aren’t I dreamy?’ scenarios. No, knock it off. She was determined to do her best not to look beyond the surface of things while she was on vacation. She needed to rein in her tendency to be suspicious.

She returned his smile. ‘An Old-fashioned would be great, thank you very much.’

The view of his leaving was just as nice as the view of his arrival. Bonni let her gaze linger on his powerful back. It had been far too long since she’d run her fingers over a man’s muscles.

Maybe she could talk the girls into getting tickets for the Thunder Down Under show, and made a mental note to suggest it. Sometimes a feast for the eyes could be almost as satisfying as…nope, who was she kidding? Physical and visual were a chasm apart.

Female voices and happy squeals rose above the sounds of the casino. Bonni bolted to her feet, knowing it had to be her crew. Her three friends exploded up the steps into the circular Coliseum bar, and Bonni’s face split with a wide smile.

‘God! I can’t believe we’re all finally together again!’ Fredi tossed her handbag on to a chair.

Celia opened her arms and Bonni fell into her hug.

‘Come on, girls, I need hugs. Hugs, hugs, hugs – it’s been way too long.’

Bonni heard the emotion in Celia’s voice and it struck a chord deep inside her. She had to fight back the gush of sentimentality that came rushing.

‘Oh, it has been soooo long!’ Ava cried. She and Fredi smooshed into the group hug.

Bonni felt like she’d come home. Home to her girls. Home to the safety of her soul sisters. The group had been inseparable through college and then they had been separated by life, but they had kept in touch religiously through the years. This was the first time they’d all been together since Celia’s wedding, together once again in a big, sloppy, emotional reunion smack dab in the middle of the bar. Ava had tears in her eyes, and Bonni smoothed her hand over Ava’s silky, dark hair. ‘Honey, it’s all good. We’re here together.’

‘I know,’ Ava sniffed – she was the romantic and the most sentimental of the bunch. ‘I’m just so happy. You know me and happy tears.’

Fredi was the first to disengage. She was like that, not normally a big fan of public displays of affection, although every now and then you might get a bit of a squishy hug out of her. ‘Okay, girls, have you checked out the dudes in this place? There is some seriously hot eye candy around here. We are going to have some fun.’ She ran from one sentence to another in a rush. Sometimes it was hard keeping her on track. Her eyes were full of enthusiasm and her dramatic eye make-up made the crystal blue of her irises seem almost translucent.

Celia waggled her finger at her. ‘Come on now. This is a girls’ weekend. It’s not for boys. Well, you guys might want to have a quick fling or a one-night stand or something, but not me.’ She threw her hands in the air. ‘I’m done with that.’

Ava rubbed Celia’s back as they followed Bonni to the group of chairs she’d claimed. ‘Now listen to me,’ she said, ‘there is hope for you yet. Don’t be a man-hater. Just because you met a dick who put two babies in your belly before walking away, it doesn’t mean all men are assholes.’

Celia flopped down on one of the low chairs and crossed her long, elegant legs. You wouldn’t know she had two kids and was a stay-at-home mom, who struggled to keep things afloat by writing greeting cards and magazine articles. She was classy, cool and looked like she had it all together. Bonni always wondered how Celia managed to stay sane.

‘Well,’ Celia said, and lifted a delicate shoulder. ‘I’m just here for the drinks and you girls. I’m sworn off men for life, and I don’t care what any of you say.’

Bonni snorted, and the rest of the girls burst out laughing. ‘Likely! We know you have needs, like the rest of us. You just like to hide it and pretend it’s a secret.’

Celia raised her nose in the air and tried not to laugh. She leaned forward and crooked her finger. The women leaned in. ‘A wise old bird once told me all a girl needs are fresh batteries and good lube,’ she whispered, like it was a leaked government secret on WikiLeaks.

They burst into gales of laughter, which attracted glances from the other bar patrons.

‘Well, true,’ Bonni said. ‘But you know we’re right.’

‘No comment, Ms Cop. I’m not here to be interrogated by you. I know what I know.’ Celia flicked a long California-blonde strand of hair over her shoulder and turned her sea-green eyes on Bonni.

Fredi stood and walked to the faux stone half-wall that ringed the bar. She was the stunning one. She was a Carrie Bradshaw lookalike: petite, beautiful, with classic features, killer legs and body, and long, flowing, curly locks she could do whatever she liked with. Only she was way more gorgeous than Carrie Bradshaw. She was a fashionista too, and not afraid to experiment with her clothes. Bonni envied that. She glanced down at her ordinary jeans, her leather ankle boots, and rubbed her palms on her thighs. She was not the kind of person to sacrifice comfort for fashion, especially after traveling for more than half a day!

Fredi spun around, her hair bouncing in a chaos of curls and her green eyes sparkling, then loped back to the seats and flopped down, announcing, ‘We are going to have some fun! This place is rocking. How amazingly cool we’re here during its opening. There’ll be all kinds of specials.’

She and Bonni were the thrifty ones.

Celia scooted forward on her seat as if she had some great secret to tell. ‘So, how wild do we want to get this weekend?’

Bonni smiled and Fredi jumped in her seat. Ava gave Celia a quizzical look. ‘What exactly do you have in mind?’ she asked. ‘Don’t forget, you’re a mom and sworn off men.’

Celia flipped her the bird and had just opened her mouth to reply when she froze, her mouth dropped open at something she’d seen behind their group.

‘OMG, guys!’ Celia’s eyes were nearly popping out of her head.

Bonni saw what had caught Celia’s attention. Her gladiator waiter was approaching with her drink on his tray. Wait till the girls get a load of him, she thought, and waited to see their reactions.

‘Ladies.’ His deep voice had Ava and Fredi spinning in their seats. Their jaws dropped in unison. Bonni smiled and bit back laughter. They’d just met their first gladiator. Promise kept! ‘Welcome to the Coliseum. We’re very happy you chose us for your Las Vegas vacation,’ he said to the women, as he bent down to put Bonni’s drink on a coaster that resembled a Roman shield and flashed them a sexy grin. ‘Are you ready for some drinks?’ He stood back, his stance clearly practiced, muscled legs wide, powerful arms crossed, and tray tucked at his side.

Her friends stumbled over each other to speak and it came out as a big, sloppy mess. He smiled and dimples peeked in his cheeks. Bonni glanced at Celia. She thought she might have to reach over and push her mouth closed. She was fairly drooling. So much for not being interested in men.

Bonni reached for her Old-fashioned and sipped, watching the girls order their drinks while flirting outrageously with the waiter. When he turned and walked away they fell silent and did the exact same thing Bonni had: watch him with tongues lolling. Then they all looked at each other and gave a little squeal.

‘Holy cow, did you ever pick the right hotel, Bonni!’ Ava nodded with approval

Bonni shrugged her shoulders. ‘It was all about timing. The email arrived, I needed a break, and who else was I going to call? I can’t believe how long it’s been since we’ve all been close enough for a group hug! And yeah, I think we’ve got the right hotel.’

Celia sat on the edge of her chair and grabbed the promotional flyer on the table. ‘Time to plan what to do. We need to find out what’s going on, what we need to see, so we don’t miss a thing.’

Fredi rolled her eyes. ‘Yes, Mom. Remember: we’re not your kids. We don’t need you to plan our days on a fridge whiteboard and make sure we have snacks and nap time. We’re here to have fun. Take one day at a time and just go with the flow. And maybe live a little bit on the wild side.’

Celia looked at her with sad eyes. ‘Go with the flow. I don’t even know what that is anymore. My days are so tightly scheduled, I no longer recognize spontaneity.’

‘We’ll get you back into the swing of things this weekend,’ Fredi promised, and reached forward to squeeze Celia’s hand.

Celia nodded and chewed her lower lip. ‘A man would be a nice diversion too,’ she whispered in a low voice.

‘You just said you weren’t interested. Make up your mind, girl! Why don’t you just stick to your batteries and good lube for the time being?’ Fredi replied. ‘Do you really want to get hooked up with a man again?’

Celia glanced up; she was like an open book and plainly showed her emotion. ‘You know, I would. There has to be a good one out there. But –’ she paused and nodded before continuing – ‘I’m not likely to find him in Vegas. Everyone here just comes for a good time. You know, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” sort of thing.’

‘Okay, how about we chill on the desperately seeking a man situation and focus on the fact that we’re here together.’ Bonni decided she had to steer the conversation away from the male species; plus, she was hungry. ‘I think I’m going to order some food here to tide me over until later. I’m starved. Anyone else?’

‘Good idea,’ Ava said, ‘Some nourishment for the drinking marathon that doth approach.’

‘Oh, that’s right. Celia’s pool is still open. Want to get your bets in before she pukes, ladies?’ Fredi asked.

‘Okay, look.’ Celia gave her a sideways glance. ‘Can we at least get one drink under our belts first? Besides, it probably won’t take much to get me plastered these days. I haven’t tied one on in so long, I don’t have any tolerance left.’

‘You? No tolerance? Not sure I believe that,’ Fredi teased.

‘Don’t worry,’ Bonni assured her. ‘We’ll hold your hair back.’ The women laughed again, and Celia tossed the brochure at Bonni.

‘My inevitable drunkenness aside, we should see what shows are on while we’re here. What about that Cirque du Soleil O? It’s the one that’s supposed to be sexy, right?’ Celia asked. ‘And I could use a bit of sexy right about now.’

‘Or Thunder Down Under,’ Ava suggested. ‘Those guys look so hot and, if we’re lucky, we might get pulled up on stage for a lap dance or something.’ She clapped her hands excitedly.

‘I’m down for that.’ Fredi smiled and nodded.

‘Doesn’t matter to me,’ Bonni said. ‘Aside from placing fifty on Celia losing her lunch in an alleyway and the quarter slots, I don’t plan to gamble much, but a show would be kickass. I vote Thunder.’

Her friends all turned and stared at her, completely aghast at her confession.

‘Won’t gamble much?’ their voices chimed in unison.

‘We’re in Vegas, Bonni! It goes without saying. You need to gamble,’ Fredi nearly shouted.

Bonni furrowed her brows. ‘Why does it go without saying?’

‘We’re in Vegas,’ Ava repeated. ‘You gotta gamble.’

Celia waggled her eyebrows, proclaiming loudly, ‘Yeah, and what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.’

Shana Gray’s fabulous Girls’ Weekend Away series begins with WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS, out now!