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    Casper's Game

Bell Casper is running a stealthy game in the Blue Parrot, a swanky bar in Manhattan catering to wealthy pleasure seekers. The game seems shady, and maybe it is. Leticia pretends to be his assistant. She's twenty-four and Bell's twenty-seven. Their relationship isn’t clear. Gigi is a pretty blonde, twenty-five years old. She also works out of the bar, running her own racket. She's attracted to Bell, but she can't understand why Bell and Leticia are together, or what his game is all about. She's determined to unravel both mysteries.

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                                                                            Excerpt from Chapter Three

The next evening at 9 p.m., a young woman came into the Blue Parrot. She went to Bell’s booth and handed him a stack of white envelopes.

“God, how I hate this place.” Her champagne-blonde hair flowed down over her shoulders.

“So you said last night, Leticia, and the night before that.”

  

“Why can’t you work out of a barber shop or bowling alley?” She wore jeans and a white tee with ‘Yes, I run like a girl. Try to keep up’ on the back.

“No—”

She interrupted him. “I know. No money there.”

“Right again. How’s the Kessler project doing?”

“Running about ten days behind schedule,” she said.

“What’s the problem?”

“Poor planning on your part.”

“You’re the one who did the flow chart and timeline,” he said.

“Yeah, but who made up the budget?”

“Um, the manager?”

“Right again. Here comes one of your mules.”

Bell held up his hand in a stopping motion.

Gigi didn’t stop. “Is that what I think it is? Who’s this?”

Leticia glared at her.

“Be nice, Gigi,” Bell said. “She’s my executive assistant. You go back to your barstool and wait like everyone else.”

“It’s one minute after nine,” Gigi said. “If you’ll give me my envelope, I’ll solve your silly puzzle and go collect my winnings from Blinker.”

“When you see me go to that table by the back exit, you can join the crowd of eleven other players.”

“Eleven. Cool. Nice pot tonight.”

“Go.”

“You don’t have to be snippy,” Gigi said. “You must be Leticia.” She held out her hand to the girl.

They shook hands. “How did you know my name?” Leticia asked.

“When I asked Bell what you looked like, he said to watch for a woman prettier than I am.”

Leticia laughed. “Right.” She let go of Gigi’s hand and glanced at Bell. “I’m sure he said that.”

“True story.” She turned to Bell. “All right, Bell, I’m going. Try to hurry.” She went back to the bar.

“Do I have to straighten out the Kessler project for you?” Bell asked.

“No,” Leticia said. “But we’re going to need another twenty thousand dollars by the end of the month.”

“Damn. All right. I just emailed you the specs on the next one.”

“Wonderful. You’re starting a new project before we finish Kessler.”

“Yep. Now, beat it before those six leering guys at the bar proposition you.”

“Gag. I’m out of this dump.”

Bell took the envelopes and went toward the back.

As he walked, eleven players, including Gigi, fell in behind him.

“All right, people.” Bell handed out the envelopes. “Read ‘em and weep.”

Everyone tore open their envelopes.

“What the hell?” Gigi whispered.

“Yeah,” one of the guys said. “Ditto.”

“I’ll be at my table if anyone figures it out.”

Bell left them to drop off another set of envelopes at a second table, then more at a third.