The Billionaire's Seduction(9)

By: Kristi Avalon

“How did that make you feel?”

Sophia shrugged. “Happy for her. She resembled a regular I’d seen often enough. She’d poured plenty of money into those slots. She deserved that win.”

“Do you believe in the randomness of the slot machines?”

Sliding the cap to the left again, she sent him an as-if look. “I’ve learned enough on the job to recognize things are rigged in the casino’s favor. That favoritism is what has kept me gainfully employed for nine years. Do I think some people are lucky? Sure. At random, a big win can happen, but those odds are slim, next to none.”

“You know about odds, don’t you?”

She slid the cap right, for yes. “I’m an accountant by trade. I took plenty of statistics courses in college. I’ve based my whole life on numbers.”

Liam shifted an inch forward in his seat. Since every subtlety held meaning, as part of their unusual communication, she wondered if this was a more important question. “When you’ve seen a random win, have you ever felt…jealous?”

“What? No.” She scoffed. “It’s all part of playing the game.”

“Have you ever gambled?”

“Sure,” she admitted, sliding the cap right again. “On a girls’ night out, when friends and I had a little extra cash to spend on a Friday payday.” She sighed, reminiscing on those pleasurable days, now years in the past. “But since all my friends moved to the suburbs, and then moved out of town, I don’t have them to hang out with, so I don’t spend my Fridays at the casino anymore.”

Liam spread his arms and seemed to bear down on her. “What if you came across a situation, where you didn’t have to gamble and could make money on a ‘sure thing?’”

“Is anything ever a ‘sure thing?’” she replied, keeping the cap at the center. She thought of Todd, and her heart sank. No, nothing was a sure thing. Sadly.

Reaching out his hand, he lightly cupped his long fingers over hers. An act of empathy? Camaraderie, like he’d been through a similar experience himself? “Nothing’s ever assured,” he agreed in a kind voice.

As he withdrew his hand, she found she missed its warmth. She shivered slightly, in the overly air-conditioned room.

He straightened in his chair, getting back to business. “If you had an opportunity to achieve great wealth, with little effort, would you go for it?”

“What?” She couldn’t imagine what he meant. “Be more specific.”

He replied with that slow blink of encouragement, that clever smile hovering at the edges of his lips—admittedly a little sexy, almost intimate, now that she thought about it. Though she was sure he didn’t mean it like that. He had a job to do.

He said, “If you could, without getting caught, siphon funds away from some entitled rich guy, would you?”

“Why?” she asked honestly. “I make good money. I hope I’ll do well on my own, too. Why would I take something from someone else? Especially if they’ve earned it?”

His eyes narrowed. “Sophia, do you think Alex Atlas has earned his wealth?”

“Of course I do.” She huffed, insulted. “As a future entrepreneur, I know how hard it is to create your own business. To work your ass off for little reward upfront. You have to think about things in the long run. It’s not easy, but in the end, it’s worth it.”

A strange thing happened with Liam’s eyes. The colors seemed to swirl, like a tropical hurricane had hit those dreamy depths. Then the calm came, and they settled into a perfect balance of green and blue. “You’re a wise woman, Sophia. You’ll do well, whatever you put your mind to achieving.”

She blinked, feeling strangely shy. Okay… “Thanks?”

“But I have to ask you another couple of questions.”

“Sure,” she said, exhaling, expecting nothing less.

“Sophia, have you ever lied to someone you respect? Someone you love?”

This question made her eyelashes flutter down. She stared at the cap. Which way could she move it?

She’d lied to Todd, when he’d asked her to understand if he didn’t keep in constant contact with her during his visit to his dying mother. She hadn’t been thrilled by his request, like he’d arranged upfront to use it as an excuse to avoid contacting her. Not one call or text—not one?

In her own similar situation, she would’ve given anything to have someone who supported her completely and unconditionally, to send heartfelt thoughts. Understandably, her friends who’d moved out from the city had been busy with their own lives, creating families, raising babies. But one—just one person, who had been there for her through everything, taking her calls at one a.m., because she’d just needed to cry her eyes out—would’ve meant the world.