9 months ago

Hard Luck

We ride down thirty

We ride down thirty floors to the mezzanine level. When the doors slide open, Roger takes my elbow and guides me out. The entire hotel looks like it’s gleaming. The marbled floors are buffed to a high shine. The chrome details on the ceiling stretch downwards like stalactites. “This way,” Roger says, bypassing the escalator to the top of the curved staircase leading to the gaming room. “I want the entire floor to see you.” It feels like every eye in the casino is on us. For a moment, the noise from the slots and the conversations fall mute as the seconds stretch out in a surreal dreamlike suspension of time. What have I gotten myself into? Then Roger places his hand on the small of my back and we walk together slowly down the golden staircase. No turning back now. We wind our way through the tourist tables towards an ornate set of doors where two men with beautifully tailored, monochromatic black suits stand ready. One of the men nods to Roger and inclines his head towards me. “Good evening, sir,” he says. “Evening, madam.” The man then opens the door to another room. This one is filled with tables where tuxedoed men and elegantly clad women sit together. Gold and black chips are stacked high in front of most of the men in this room. The cocktail waitresses aren’t smiling. They all have matching red lips and are wearing identical body-hugging, short black dresses. They move smoothly, deliberately, between the tables, deftly staying out of the grasp of high-rolling men sweating over their winnings. “Welcome to your new office,” Roger says to me with a laugh. He takes the two glasses of champagne a waitress offers him and hands me one. “Our clients are among the wealthiest, most powerful men and women in the world,” he says, using his glass to gesture at the room. “They come to Las Vegas on business or on a break from business. They’re preoccupied with glamour and luxury. They want to experience sensuality. They come here to play among the elites, the crème de la crème. “That’s where we—well, that’s where you come in,” he says, nodding at me. “Your job is to make these men, and sometimes women, feel as if they’ve reached the

pinnacle of their lives. It isn’t simply laughing at their jokes and seeing to their needs, but your success hinges on your ability to make our clients feel as if they’ve arrived at the inner sanctum, as if the Earth turns with their every desire. As I listen to Roger, I let my eyes move over the crowd. “Make our clients feel like they’re the most interesting people you’ve ever met, as if they’re each more exceptional than the last. You’ll be a player in their beautiful game.” My eyes lock with an attractive Indian man. He holds my gaze for a beat before nodding to Roger. The man’s gaze follows me as he whispers to a beautiful Asian woman sitting next to him. I note her delicate features as she looks to Roger, then locks my gaze. The man gets up and he walks towards us, stopping in front of me. “Hello, Roger,” the man says, “it’s good to see you.” “Rahul,” Roger says. “Have you met Sienna?” “No,” Rahul replies, his eyes on me and not Roger. “I’m sure I would have remembered.” “It’s lovely to meet you,” I say. I look up at him through my lashes and let my eyes linger over his full lips. I extend my hand and he takes it. This is part of the job. This is what you chose. These reminders do little to calm my fast-beating heart. Rahul holds my hand a little longer than necessary as he rubs his thumb across my palm, then finally lets it go. “I hope I’ll see you soon,” he says to me. “How is your night going?” Roger asks him. “I see you’re with Salma.” “She’s lovely,” Rahul says, turning towards Roger. Rahul looks at me again. “It was nice to meet you, Sienna. Welcome to the Sanctum.” Salma and Rahul return to their table. Roger seems pleased. Rahul, he tells me, is one of the wealthiest venture capitalists working in Silicon Valley. It’s rumored he’ll be running for governor of California. I wonder vaguely if Rahul knows my brother, Jax, Nevada’s junior U.S. senator. It’s a good thing I chose to wear a disguise…Jax is already furious enough that I took this job. If it became public knowledge…

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