Betting on Cinderella Excerpt

     Garrett glanced past the Latino gardener and saw a woman climb out of a sporty Honda coupe, then survey the casino and grounds. Something about her. She turned toward them, and he could only stare. Mesmerizing blue eyes regarded him steadily.

     Blue Eyes came early for her interview?

     The woman came straight toward them, and Romo slid on a charming smile. Garrett was tempted to step in front of the guy, but he didn't have to. The woman aimed straight for Garrett, halted three long steps away, and pointed an index finger.

     You!" she said, eyes wide in disbelief. "You were at the wedding."

     He could only nod like a dweeb. The third row back in the church had been too far away. She was up close now and… breathtaking. Those incredible blue eyes had already locked onto his. Much better than his dreams, because he spied interest in those eyes. No way was he mistaken.

     He had dated drop-dead gorgeous models and actresses before, and none of them stopped him in his tracks like Blue Eyes. This one he hadn't been able to get out of his head. None of the others had affected him like this unique beauty—like he could glance at her a thousand times and see something different about her each time.

     And when had he become such a poet-wussy guy?

     He had wanted to call her after their second email chat last night, but Al had immediately scotched that idea. When Garrett and Aidan had decided to leave for Biloxi, he had called Al and told him to pack his bags. He was coming with them.

     "You can't do a phone interview," Al had said on the jet, after Garrett posed his plan.

     "Why not? I'm in charge. I can hire whomever I want."

     "That's right. You can. You just can't call her."

     Garrett narrowed his eyes in a look that usually sent his landscape crews running for cover.

     "You're the Prince now, and unless you know a way to disguise your voice so you sound like a seventy-year-old man, you can't call her."

     Garrett stared.

     Al was right. Dang it, Al was always right.

     So, he instructed his assistant to conduct the interview tomorrow in Biloxi, so nothing would be left to chance. Garrett didn't know the general manager. Al said he had already called the Biloxi personnel office—after he passed Andi Ryan's file to Garrett—and told them if they received an application from her, they should schedule an interview as soon as possible.

     "You want her hired?" Al had asked.

     Tempted to bark, "Of course," Garrett had taken a moment to consider. "Only if she is qualified for the finance supervisor job."

     Somehow, he knew Ms. Andi Ryan wouldn't want the job if she wasn't qualified.

     "She may need to help support her aunt," he had told Al.        That being the only scenario he could come up with for her abrupt departure from south Florida and a higher paying consulting job.

     "If not the finance supervisor job, then try to find a position somewhere in the casino. Something decent."

     What good was being the top dog if you couldn't use your position to help folks once in a while?

     "What are you doing here?" she now asked, clearly suspicious as though he'd followed her.

     "I might ask you the same thing."

     "I got a call yesterday to come for a job interview," she said, a little indignant.

     "Well, I'm here this morning for my job," he retorted, thinking fast.

     Her eyes went wide, and Romo's head snapped around to stare.

     "You work here?" she asked.

     "I'm the new landscape manager."

     He decided in that instant he needed to keep an eye on her and everything else around here. At least for the next year. Otherwise, these two may be out of a job.

     "You were Rhett Buchanan's best man, so I assumed you lived in Florida, Mr. …"

     His good manners finally drop-kicked him from his musing, and he held out a hand. "I'm uh–"

     He stopped. What did he say? If he gave her his real name, the jig would be up.

     "I'm Garrett Samuels." Close enough he wouldn't get too confused.

     "So, you don't live in Florida?"

     "No, I do."

     Her brows rose.

     He thought fast, then smiled. "I'm here temporarily. I do contract landscape consulting for development projects. I do the same thing for Rhett's projects, so I'll go back and forth between here and Florida until this one really gets going."

     "We're going to have a construction project?" Romo cut in to ask.

     "I was told a casino expansion and a new hotel," Garrett told them cagily. "This is Romo…" He turned to the gardener.

     "Julio Romo." The gardener's grin was wide. He held out a hand to Andi, then hung onto hers a little too long for Garrett's liking.

     He stifled a scowl and quickly said, "And you are? You skipped out on the wedding before we could be properly introduced."

     "Andi Ryan." A brief flare of indignation darkened her eyes. "And I didn't skip out. I had to leave for… well, here. My aunt was waiting for me. She lives here."

      Romo continued shaking her hand, and Garrett elbowed him. He let go with a sheepish grin.

     "You were on the bride's side, so you must be a friend of Lily's," he said, careful to appear as though he knew nothing about her.

     She gave him a small smile. "Yes. We went to college together at Florida Atlantic University in Jupiter."

     "Are you in horticulture, too?" he asked innocently. He hoped.

     That made her laugh. "Heavens, no. I was an accounting major."

     Romo muttered something that sounded like "too pretty for an accountant" and picked up his hedge trimmers, no doubt realizing he should be working.

     "And you want to be an accountant here?"

     "A finance supervisor position is open," she said, watching Garrett closely. "I came over to ask if you knew where the employee entrance was. I was told to go there, and I would see signs directing me to the personnel office."

     Oh crap. Think fast.

     "This is my first day. I was hired by phone interview, so I'm not sure where–" He clapped Romo on the shoulder to stop his trimming. "Where's the employee entrance? Andi here has an interview in Personnel."


     The hedge trimmers hit the ground, and Romo's face broke into a radiant smile. "I'll take her."

     Before Garrett could protest, the gardener guided a laughing Andi toward a door at the front of the parking garage.

     That's just great.