GILT: ALL FALL DOWN
by Geneva Lee
(Gilt Series #3)
About The Book:
The stunning final book in the Gilt series. In Belle Mére, sin and secrets go hand in hand, but when what happens in Vegas doesn't stay there, no twisted secret will be safe. Everyone here has something to hide and a lot more to lose, including their lives.
When the Dealer plays his card, will they all fall down?
About The Series:
GILT: By Invitation Only
(Gilt Series #1)
GILT: Sin Never Sleeps
(Gilt Series #2)
Chances are choices or something like that. Take for instance opening a door to find the last person you expect on the other side. You might choose to shut the door or feign surprise. A kinder person might give the guilty party across from them a gracious out.
But no one has ever accused me of being nice.
“Monroe.” I greet her by the name I know her as when she flies into the room. Then I remember myself. “I mean, May.”
May West. There’s a certain poetry to it. I wonder if she was being clever or if she’d unintentionally chosen such an infamous alias. Her usually stick-straight hair waves into soft curls over her shoulders and she’s wearing enough eyeshadow to make a porn star blush. She’s gone from looking like an entitled seventeen year-old Houser to passing for a hard-used twenty-five-year-old showgirl. If we weren’t standing so closely I might not have recognized her as my fellow classmate, boyfriend’s sister, and, dare I add, psychotic bitch? We’d made some minor progress on that front of late but something told me this less than chance encounter would put us right back at square one.
Monroe tugs up the silver, sequined tube masquerading as a dress and glares at me. I have to give her credit. The momentary flash of fear that I’d spotted when I opened the door is hidden behind a mask of annoyance.
“How much?” she asks through gritted teeth.
“I thought I was the one who paid you.” I lean against the hotel door, closing it behind us. As soon as the lock clicks her eyes narrow.
“I’m not interested in your little jokes,” she hisses. “Tell me how much you need to keep quiet.”
I blow a stream of air between my lips. “A pony. The lost city of Atlantis. Maybe a trip to see the Wizard.”
I don’t suffer from any misconceptions. If the situation were reversed, the Wicked Bitch of the West, aka my darling Monroe, wouldn’t hesitate to blast the news of my fall from virtue to every student at Belle Mére Prep. But I’m not here for that. I’d come to this hotel room for one reason: The Dealer had led me here. A few days ago a mysterious new photo had shown up on The Dealer’s feed. I hadn’t expected it to lead me to an escort agency. When I’d realized where I was I’d gambled and pretended to be interested in a job. The ploy had worked, granting me enough time to schedule an appointment with May. The only clue The Dealer had attached to his post.
But why lead me here? What did Monroe’s extracurricular activities have to do with the night that Nathaniel West died. I thought the purpose of the Instagram account was to expose the killer. I’m not so certain anymore. Unless The Dealer’s plan is simply to disgrace each of us as thoroughly as possible.
Monroe steps closer to me, jabbing a finger in my chest. “How did you even find out?”
I sidle away and walk toward the minibar. Grabbing two tiny bottles of West Tennessee Whiskey I toss her one. She can play it cool but I know she needs liquid courage as much as I do.
She rolls her eyes when she reads the label and sashays over. “I prefer gin.”
“Doesn’t your family own West Tennessee Whiskey?” I ask as I screw off the cap and down mine in a single gulp. It blazes down my throat, lighting a fire in my stomach.
“Yes, but my family owns everything.” There’s a brittle edge in her words but she swallows it down along with her shot of gin.
“What are you doing?” I ask her and suddenly this isn’t an interrogation. I’m not trying to pry information out of here. Instead I find myself wanting to shake her. I may have no love for Monroe West, but I know what this would do to her family. I liked her mother, but I was in love with her brother. With everything the two of them have been through this year, this might destroy the fragile threads holding their family together.
“Why would you care?”
That’s a cry for help if I’ve ever heard one. “Because The Dealer sent me here, which means that anyone else who’s following his posts could have opened that door.”
It’s only a matter of time before the police and FBI caught on to the account. That would be bad enough but the handful of people already following the mysterious feed wanted to know the identity of our friendly neighborhood stalker, too. The Dealer hasn’t been posting our proudest moments so no one has started sharing the pictures—yet.
“What does he have on you?” she asks, her eyes flash as if something important has finally occurred to her.
So much for hoping that Monroe is as smart as she looks. I’d had my suspicions that the blonde, air-head heiress act was for show, now I know it is. If I’m following The Dealer closely enough to wind up here it’s not out of curiosity.
I shrug. Two blondes can play dumb.
“Maybe the proof that Mackey is looking for.” She pours another glass, but she doesn’t down it this time. Sipping thoughtfully, she watches me for a sign that she’s right.
“Sorry to disappoint you, but he’s got nothing.” None of the photos on the feed seemed directed at me, but plenty of them focused on people around me. Of course, the company I keep has as good as convicted me in the eyes of the FBI. “I know what it will take for me to keep quiet.”
“Yes?” she snaps. For a second, I’d almost swear her eyes flash a demonic red but that’s probably just me.
“The truth.” If Monroe expects me to keep quiet about this discovery than I’m going to need to know why she’s doing it in the first place.
“The truth is in short supply these days.” She drops into a chair and stares out the window at the sparkling city lights. Even in the daylight, Vegas flashes its best smile, calling tourists to come hither with promises of good luck and good fortune. Monroe’s gaze grows distant as if she’s as lost to this city as anyone else.
“Why?” I continue. “You have everything. Why throw it away?”
“You think I’m throwing it away?” Her head whips around so she can glare directly at me. “Do you know what Vegas is? A place for dreamers. It’s easy to lose your way here. Ask your daddy.”
“Ask yours,” I counter coldly.
She flinches but shrugs it off with a hollow laugh. Flipping her hair over her shoulder, she goes on. “You can either lose yourself or you can make yourself.”
I’m pretty certain that Monroe West already has it made, but I keep the thought to myself. If I keep provoking her, I’ll never get my answer.
“My father made himself into a mogul. Everyone expects me to spend the rest of my life in the spa or shopping. I don’t have to work.” Her eyes flicker over to check if I’m listening. I nod for her to continue. “But I don’t want to be another parasitic heiress. God knows the world has enough of those.”
“You want to be a hooker instead?” The question slips out, and I clamp my mouth shut. When you operate at my level of sarcasm, it’s hard to contain it.
“I’m not a hooker,” she says with a withering look.
“Escort,” I correct myself, tacking on a “sorry.”
“My father made his fortune on gamblers. He made money on money. Jameson gets to take over that empire. No work. No hardship. It’s just his.”
“I doubt he sees it that way.”Defensiveness flares in my chest at the mention of my boyfriend.
“Of course not. He, like most men, has the luxury of being able to complain about his circumstances while still taking advantage of them.” She wags her finger at the space between us. “We don’t.”
Now I’m in the same class as Monroe? Will wonders never cease? Although, I don’t expect that our two girl Breakfast Club is going to meet again after we leave this room.
“There’s plenty of money in Vegas. It’s almost an insult to make money on money.”
“So you’re going to make money off sex?” I guess.
“I’m going to build my empire on sex,” she corrects me. “The youngest madame in Vegas history. I’ve learned the trade from some of the best, and let’s face it, I’m well-educated.”
I thought back to English class. I suppose you don’t need a spectacular grasp of the classics to run an escort agency.
“I won’t have any competition.” She leaves the last statement lingering in the air as bait.
I bite. “And why is that?”
“Because they’ll all be terrified that I’ll reveal that they employed me while I was underage. Instead I’ll get to play the part of business savant,” she concludes.
She already has the part of idiot down, I think.
Monroe studies me for a moment. No doubt wondering what I think of her now. “If things don’t work out with Jameson, I might have a job for you.”
“I don’t think we should be in business together,” I say dryly. Having Monroe as my high school enemy and my pimp is a bit much to swallow.
“You know where to find me,” she says, unfazed. “If you’ll excuse me, I have better things to do with my day and you must have…something to do with yours.”
Like your brother.
When she leaves I settle onto the bed and stare at the ceiling above. Various shapes emerge from the spackle like pieces of a mysterious puzzle. There was one question I didn’t think to ask Monroe: why would The Dealer want to out her? I’m beginning to question if my eyes were playing tricks on me before. I check my phone for a response but there is none. When I open Instagram, the photo is gone.
It looks like The Dealer got my message and made a move after all. It should be a victory but instead it feels like I’ve painted a big target on my back.
My sandals click across the marble floor of the West Resort lobby. Slot machines ring out in the distance and even here I can taste the stale cigarette smoke from the casino floor. It’s the same as every hotel and casino in this town. Arguably a little nicer than most. So why is it the current epicenter for crime in a city that’s no stranger to vice?
This is where the mystery began for me. Is this where it started for a murderer as well? It’s hard to believe that months have passed since the deadly party that dragged me into this world. I hadn’t even wanted to go, but my best friend, Josie, who desperately wants to be in with the cool crowd, shanghaied me into attending Monroe West’s end of the year party. It was supposed to be a celebration of the last day of our junior year—one that I wasn’t invited to attend.
We crashed, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy the look on Monroe’s face when she caught me. The two of us had never gotten along, especially after Monroe screwed my boyfriend in front of half of our freshman class. It had been war between the two of us ever since, and trespassing on her party was a declaration of battle. I’d wanted to leave after the confrontation, but instead of tracking down Josie, I met someone. He was a stranger, but something about him put me at ease. We’d spent the night together. Not in the Biblical sense but pretty damn close. The next morning he was gone.
As if waking up alone in my best enemy’s house wasn’t bad enough, I’d been forced to hitch a ride with my ex-boyfriend, Jonas, and his smarmy best friend, Hugo. I thought that was the end to a night I’d rather forget—until news broke out that Nathaniel West had been murdered.
The prime suspects? Everyone who’d been at his daughter’s party. I might have gotten away with a simple questioning until I found out that the guy I’d shacked up with that night was Jameson West—the heir to the West fortune and the victim’s son. Obviously I have questionable taste in men. Not as strange as my best friend, Josie’s penchant for older men, a vice that sent her to some dude’s hotel room and left me needing an alibi.
Jameson was everyone’s number one suspect, even mine. Especially after he started showing up wherever I was. Despite his stalker tendencies, I decided to find out for myself. I never expected to fall in love with him.
I know he’s innocent, but that hasn’t removed either of us from suspicion in the eyes of the FBI. So when a mysterious Instagram account ran by someone known only as The Dealer started posting incriminating photos of Belle Mere Prep’s most likely to be a murderer list, I took it upon myself to investigate. I need to clear our names, and I can only do that if I figure out who killed Nathaniel West.
About The Author:
Geneva Lee is the New York Times, USA Today, and Internationally bestselling author of the Royals Saga. She likes writing steamy scenes almost as much as imagining crazy ways to torture her characters. Geneva travels frequently, never says no to champagne, and spends more time with fictional people than living, breathing ones. She lives her husband and two children.