There was something almost cultural about fast cars belonging to a tall, handsome, big balled man. When you look at a Porsche 911 Turbo S, speeding the streets of Las Vegas, you don't immediately think a woman is going to step out of it, let alone a 4'10" lady with incredibly good taste in clothes. That miscalculation was precisely what Alice Cullen loved about driving one of those. Ferraris, Volvos, Audis, Mercedes, Porsches... She loved them all and the impact it brought on people when she stepped out of those. The yellow Porsche held a special place in her heart, though. It had been the very first one Alice bought herself, a car she had always wanted to have.
Her family was a wealthy Los Angeles family. Her mother, Esme, was a well-known costume designer for big movies. Although they were off the direct spotlight, it made them acquire a considerable fortune. That, along with Carlisle's plastic surgery office downtown, was a money pot. But Alice cared very little for her parents status or capital.
She grew up among big movie stars. Always on the most impressive sets watching her mother design and sew breathtaking pieces that granted her awards of all kinds. But Alice also learned about greed, deception, and people who would do just anything to be someone in that city. And she wanted no part of that.
It wasn't that she considered herself a saint or did all the right things there were. In fact, it was very much the opposite of that. She told herself she was really fighting the right battles, but Alice was fully aware her ways didn't justify the means. She fancied it anyways. It was a newfound way to be a star.
Her business line would often require something more aimless and not so flashy like a yellow Porsche and revealing dresses. But that was the thing about her also, Alice always made an impression. Turning heads and drawing attention was the very reason Alice opted to wear the dress that night.
The onyx material adorned her figure skin-tightly, with a large fend traveling from her feet up to the left thigh. The dress had a V insertion on her bust that opened all the way down to the sternum; it was a lot tighter than the skirt. Practically feeling as if the soft black lace had been glued to her skin.
Alice was never the big boobs, big ass kind of woman, and although she did have the body of a runway model, she most certainly didn't have their height. But Louboutins had always been her best friend. Alice had a whole wall of the heels in all shapes and colors. But these simple black ones with the red soles matched her dressed to kill outfit perfectly. There was nothing delicate about her look, but it was absurdly sexy and refined. That was what she was looking for tonight.
The Four Seasons was a scrumptious hotel, highly guarded and continuously under the watchful eyes on cameras. It screamed money and not new money. It was a place for people who had wealth as their heritage. That only made all the more exciting for Alice. She dropped her car off at the valet and went to check-in, where piles of foreigner and local tourists gathered.
Alice passed the regular check-in to the VIP section, where only two men stood waiting to be seen. She didn't get a glimpse on their faces as one kept looking straight and the other was strangely dressed with a cowboy hat on.
So out of style , Alice scoffed mentally and thanked inwardly when they moved forward. Immediately after, she was also brought to check-in with the next attendant. She was a regular in Vegas, and even more at the Four Seasons, it was one she hadn't bled dry—yet. They treated her like a goddess over there, mostly because she always brought in the big bucks. Alice relished on luxury, the authentic kind. Her room was always one of the highest marked, and her room service was never bellow a few thousand dollars. Alice tipped high, too; she knew the staff could benefit a lot more from it, and so did she. A well-tipped team was a discrete one.
"Staying all weekend, Ms. Brandon?" Although her last name was Cullen, Alice preferred to keep her family out of her business. It was all the more discrete that way.
"Yes, thank you, Cynthia." She told the concierge woman whom Alice had crossed paths often at the hotel.
"You know it already." Alice mused.
"Ah, course! Redoing the wardrobe." Cynthia nodded, typing down something on the computer. "Would you like us to send you some catalog options to your room?"
"That would be lovely. Burberry, Chanel, Prada, Manolos, you know my regulars." That was something she could truly appreciate about luxury hotels; they would do about just anything to satisfy their clients. "Would you please also put my credit card down on the betting cashier system? I would like to get started with the weekend already."
"Absolutely!" The woman took the black American Express Centurion card from Alice and gave it back in the next moment. "All set, Ms. Brandon. We'll have some bags be sent up as well for your choice, while you enjoy the casino."
"Thank you, dear." She took the card whilst passing on a hundred bill to the woman. She turned around to leave and didn't look back.
There was a newfound pair of eyes watching her closely now.
Jasper Whitlock first joined the FBI forces five years ago when he retired as a veteran. The Federal Bureau tracked him down thanks to his skills on the field and extreme knowledge of people. He was credited to lead the army in several operations that required meticulous intel and personal handling, something Jasper always did so splendidly. It was a skill the FBI could genuinely benefit from. Jasper hated being on the sidelines, as he found after returning home from overseas. So he accepted the retirement from the army and embraced the new adventure.
He was an agent well-known for being often sent out in undercover details because he could easily blend in and mingle. That's why he was given the Brandon operation six months ago.
They had been tracking down Alice Cullen for over a year. Still, Jasper was only brought in halfway through the investigation. Alice went by the codename Mary Alice Brandon to avoid being found connected to her family. She wasn't exactly their typical target. Daughter of two Hollywood figures, one in the movie industry and the other on the plastic surgery business, Alice had money, status, and anything a girl could ask for. But she was her own woman. The large income not tracking back to her parents started alerting their eyes, and they were digging evidence on her.
It wasn't just any money as casinos and the stock market were always involved. They were keeping their eyes on Alice until the time was proper and now was that time. They were tipped by a staff member in a casino in Las Vegas that she would be making an appearance.
From Jasper's experience with people like her, they knew just how fast she could disappear if she as much as suspected the FBI was on to her. They had to act now, but it wasn't always easy to pass a demand as pressing like that. They couldn't just show up to her and arrest her; it was a process. They needed concrete proof because, with her money, Alice could pay prominent lawyers to get her off the hook. Anything that unfolded a flawed operation would be considered persecution. They would lose any chance of actually getting her behind bars. So they needed a good plan, a trap, and evidence.
"It's a good plan." Jasper's boss told him, overlooking the folders he had been handled earlier that week.
"She's checking in tomorrow, if we want to catch up to her, we gotta get that funding." A New York to Las Vegas layover wasn't exactly ideal, but their biggest problem wasn't that. "We need your avail to the funding."
"It's too high, Whitlock. We're going to be injecting government money straight into a Vegas casino." He shook his head, as pressing as getting that woman was, there was no freaking way it would be easy to get that operation authorized. "Plus, we're not even sure we're gonna get her. We might as well be helping her pocket more if she's stealing from there as well."
"I have an informant on the inside." James had entered this operation way before Jasper, and his tracking skills aided them extensively during the investigations. But there was something about James that Jasper didn't like all that much. They weren't fond of each other, but they were civilized . "Maybe they can arrange something for us there."
"Us?" Jasper eyed him.
"You're surely not going on your own, Jasper." Laurent, their boss, said with a scoff. "That would help cut down the hotel expenses."
"We have to blend in with her. In her world." Jasper insisted. "If we want to trap her, it's not like she's going to go with the two guys who clearly rent a place in the Bronx. We're talking LA money here, her house is worth more than our yearly salaries combined." And he knew that for a fact because he had made the math.
Laurent blew out defeatedly. "I'll figure out. Have Victoria book your flights for tonight, now out of here." He tossed the file, and Jasper was up in a heartbeat.
"Thank you, sir." He didn't wait for James to follow, but he halted when Laurent called his name.
"If you wanna blend in, Whitlock, you might need to lose the boots."
It was a common joke in the office how Jasper's choice for cowboy boots totally did not fit the FBI part, but he was proudly Texan, so what else was left to do?
"We'll see about that, sir."
There they were, nearly twenty-four hours later, waiting in the Four Seasons' VIP line. James had managed with his informant to get them booked on a decent suit for the weekend. Luckily would give them enough time to trap the con artist. Jasper was definitely out of his element among people that bled hundred dollar bills at every turn, wearing his southern boots and hat.
"Terrible choice, man," James commented while they waited. "Thought Laurent told you to lose the boots, you went and added a hat." Jasper laughed amusedly at his roll of eyes.
"Don't you know rich people are eccentric?" He chuckled, his southern accent heavier than ever.
As they were called to the counter, and James dealt with their stay details, Jasper kept his eyes alert on the lobby. Many tourists gathered around, took pictures. Others mingled and fled to the casino area. Jasper caught up on the conversation next to them, and he couldn't believe their luck when the name Brandon came from the attendant.
Being the excellent agent he was, Jasper didn't look over immediately. Instead, he kept his eyes on the lobby, ears alert on the women chatting next to him. When Jasper saw her exiting to the casino, his eyes looked at the woman behind the counter. He read the name Cynthia on her tag and noticed she was younger than most behind the counters. She was probably new there.
"Excuse me, can I ask you something?" Casually, he gave her his best side smile. Flirting was sometimes part of the job.
"Oh, yes, sir. How may I help you?" She blinked, slightly taken by his charm.
"I overhead ya saying to the lady here that you send catalogs up to the room?" He couldn't really show straight forward interest on the woman herself. Alternatively, he decided to investigate her routine in the hotel.
"Oh yes, anything you want, sir. She asks for catalogs because it's the easiest way for us to know what clothing we should bring to her room." She explained, then added, "But anything you wish for, room service will arrange for you, and we'll place it straight to your bill."
Rich people really knew how to live , Jasper thought to himself.
"Lovely. It's my first time in Vegas, so it's good to know." The attendant nodded and was about to resume her work when Jasper continued. "What do you recommend for doing around?"
"The hotel has everything you need, of course. We can arrange your sightseeing, book tickets for shows, and make reservations to restaurants and nightclubs, in and out of the premises." She grabbed a flyer and circled two numbers. "In any of these numbers, we can get you settled."
"Wonderful! What about the casino? We don't have that many back in New York." He said casually.
"We have a vast selection of machines and tables on the premises, and if you're looking for higher betting, the section is to the far left of the casino. It'll be a private area that you'll need to present your room key." She approached her coworker, checking in him and James and verified the status on the computer. "Your room has clearance to the area. You will be able to have access to it, sir."
"Thank you very much, Cynthia." He smiled at her warmly, and the blush was clear across her cheeks.
"We're here for anything you need. Welcome to the Four Seasons."
As the keys were handed to each of them, the men took off to the room. The bags were already on their way to the suite, and now they needed to organize their plan.
Alice was winning, as per usual. She took a few spins at the roulette to get herself in the mood before she moved to the poker table. Her goal tonight wasn't to take anything from the casino, so she was legitimately playing clean. Her target was a stock market guy that was going to meet her there. Jacob Black was her informant for more than three years now. She had met him through Isabella Swan, who was from a well-known mobster family. They had their hands deep in the gambling business outside of Las Vegas. Bella was from the new generation who saw befriending people like Alice could only benefit them, and it did. She kept her dirty schemes away from their facilities and helped bankrupt their competitors. The Black kid was a sort of genius, knew all sorts of things, from motorcycles to the stock market.
They met in one of the Swan's luxurious parties and had been partnering up for business since. He gave Alice the intel she needed, and she gave him fifteen percent of her cut. It was a large cut, undoubtedly, but Alice preferred he gave the information to her only and exclusivity cost high.
Laying out yet another full-house, Alice collected her prize in the hotel's card and made her way to the bar. Given the hour, Jacob would be here any minute.
Distractedly, she scrolled through the timeline on her Instagram when a tall figure took the seat beside her. Alice looked up, thinking it was Jacob at last but was surprised to find a blonde cowboy. The one that had been in front of her in line. She hadn't seen his face then, but the hat was indeed unforgettable.
"Lost your horse somewhere?" Alice played amusedly, ready to go back to her phone. She wasn't expecting the way his smile would make her stomach drop.
"Ya didn't happen to see any around, did ya?" He matched her teasing tone before ordering a scotch. "Can I get ya anything?"
Alice considered it for a moment. She could always use a drink, and the man would be easy to dismiss once Jacob arrived. Usually, Alice wouldn't hesitate grabbing a drink with a stranger, other times even more. But she was there for business. The blonde didn't look like her go-to man at all. She'd never go out with anyone dressed like that, it wasn't a full cowboy outfit, but it was still a cowboy hat inside a luxurious casino. It somehow suited him. Alice couldn't really place how or why there was something so comfortable and inviting about the man.
"Cosmopolitan, please." She decided at last and the man ordered it for them.
"I didn't catch your name." He asked then.
"You won't be needing it, this is just a drink."
Alice chuckled amusedly, "Ground rules."
"Doesn't that make it all the more interesting?" She said suggestively as the drinks were served in front of them. Alice lifted her glass and smirked over her drink. "Cheers."
"Cheers." Jasper raised his glass and sipped on it. "What brings you to Vegas?"
"Give me your best guess."
"Mhm, gambling?" He laughed and something about it was so heartily that surprised Alice.
"Well, that too." She took another gulp of the drink and added, "I came to shop too."
"Don't all women?" Jasper joked, making Alice chuckle this time. He wasn't so bad after all, not half bad.
"Only the smart ones."
"Which I'm taking you are." Raising a brow at her, Jasper smirked again.
"You could say that." She sipped the cosmopolitan. "What about you?"
"I never visited, came with a friend to finally experience the Vegas life."
"New York." She snorted at his answer. "What?"
"You definitely don't look New Yorker."
Jasper laughed, shaking his head. "Born and raised in Texas."
"Ah, there you go, that's more like it."
"What about you?"
"Just a few hours out then." Alice nodded at him. "Must be a nice place."
"It is." She saw Jacob Black approaching them from over his shoulder and smiled warmly at the mysterious man. "Maybe I can tell you more about it another time, my date is here."
Jasper couldn't help but look disappointed she was skimming away already as he felt finally some progress was being made.
"I hope to see you around." He raised his glass for her.
"So do I." Alice finished the drink, putting back the glass back on the counter.
"Maybe next time you'll tell me your name."
Jasper turned on the stool to watch her go. Before, he hadn't got such a great look at her. Alice was a breathtaking woman. She moved with impressive grace, the black dress accentuating every curve in her body. He had always viewed her as work, but then again, he had never got a glimpse of the woman. She dressed refinedly, but the contrast of her pale skin against the very few black lace covering her torso and back made her so attractive.
She was small; Jasper had read that much on the files. But moved as if she was a whole foot taller than everyone else. The heels seemed like part of her. It was incredibly sexy, Jasper decided. He always thought best to accept the facts to get past them and concentrate on the work. And he would have been able to do so if Alice hadn't, an inch from reaching her date, looked over her shoulder to find his eyes.
Right there and then, he should have known that he and this entire operation were doomed. But he overlooked it, absurdly lost in Alice's brief smile.