Another excerpt from LOST VEGAS

Here's another sample from my new crime novel. The start of Chapter 2:

>>Nick Papadopoulos couldn't concentrate on what Lola was saying. A fluorescent light above their corner booth was dying, and the buzzing and flickering drove him crazy.

The whole damned casino was falling apart. The interior hadn't been updated since the Starlite was built forty years earlier, and it still looked like something out of "The Jetsons." Contoured booths and lollipop chairs and light fixtures shaped like Sputnik. All very cool in the days when Rat Packers in sharkskin suits stopped in Fowler, Nevada, for "one night only" shows on their way to Las Vegas, but dated as hell now.

The Starlite already felt like a retirement home for astronauts when Nick took over as managing partner eight years earlier. Since then, he never got far enough ahead to pump any money into renovations. Just limped along, year after year, while his more up-to-date competitors siphoned the traffic off Highway 95.

You'd think any damned fool could make money running a small-town casino, but profits were eaten up by repairs and taxes and payroll and payoffs and the percentage raked off by the Mob. Nick could make more dough (and suffer less indigestion) in some other kind of business, but how would he tell Roberto "Bobby Crabs" Calabrese he no longer wanted to be his front man?

Nick suspected that Bobby had known the Starlite was a dud when he offered the partnership as payment for services rendered. Nick had eliminated several protected rivals for Bobby, so the mob boss could step up. After he was comfortably in place as a capo, Bobby suggested the time had come for Nick to pursue another line of work. The Starlite's manager having recently met his unfortunate demise (thanks to Nick), Fowler seemed the perfect place to start a new life. Bobby had insisted that a share of the Starlite was a better long-term investment than a simple cash payment, and even a tough guy like Nick Papadopoulos had known better than to argue with Bobby Crabs.

Looking around the outdated casino now, though, Nick thought: I should've demanded the fucking cash.

"Nicky!" Lola's voice sliced through his recollections. "You're not even listening to me."

"Sorry, hon. I've got a lot on my mind."

She was moving into a full pout. Christ, she had the lips for it. Nick wondered once again about the transplanted fat pumped into those lips. Every time he kissed her, he had the niggling feeling he was smooching someone's ass.

Lola admitted having "some" work done, but she wouldn't reveal details of her plastic surgeries. In the bedroom, she kept the lights low. Like it mattered. Whenever they were in bed together, Nick wasn't hunting for microscopic scars. That would've been quibbling.

Lola Cantrell had the face of a co-ed (granted, one who was awfully fond of cosmetics) and the curvy body of a stripper, tucked and inflated in all the right places. She was pushing forty, but she remained as firm and ripe as a fresh grape.

Nick, meanwhile, was speeding through his fifties, going to flab, silver sprinkled through his thinning black hair, his face etched with worry. Sometimes he could hear his own heartbeat thudding in his temples, like he was listening for it to stop. He should be taking it easy, putting together his retirement portfolio, pursuing a mindless hobby. Instead, he's sitting in the Starlite Casino at midnight, smoking Winstons and drinking whiskey, listening to this blow-up doll give him grief.<<

Now available for only $2.99 at Kindle and Smashwords.

1 comment:

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Hey Steve- Somehow your blog populated on my Facebook page as a similar page. Just read the first two chapters of Lost Vegas. I am a huge fan of heist stories and I really dug what I read. Glad I found out about the blog and your writing. Looking forward to following! FB is good for something after all! I roll with some pretty cool and talented crime writers via the web/ blogs. Hope to see you around.