Family Bonds- Eli & Bella…Prologue


“Hey,” Eli Bond said to the cute blonde hostess. At least he figured she was one since she was outside the show that would be starting in an hour. “Can you answer a few questions for me?”

“Sure,” she said. “I’ll try. I’m not normally doing this but just filling in. More like getting my feet wet.”

She did look a little young to him. Soft spoken too with a gentle French accent. It didn’t matter, she might be sweet on the eyes, but anyone that looked young here was most likely even younger than they appeared. 

He wasn’t stupid enough to venture into that wading pool of risk, especially in a foreign country.

“Great place to dip a toe in,” he said of the casino in Monte Carlo he was visiting. He’d been traveling around the world for almost two years on and off checking out different casinos to gather information and get his own up and running the perfect way. Plans were being finalized so the travel was intermittent now.

“It is. What can I help you with?” she asked, brushing her hair behind her ear. Her hand wasn’t steady and he wondered if it was nerves since she’d more or less admitted she was new.

“Just tell me about the shows and how they are set up. How do you seat and manage the crowd? Things like that. Who arranges what form of entertainment if you know that.”

“Oh,” she said. “I thought you wanted to know about the show tonight. I can help you with that. I don’t think I’m at liberty to tell you much more.”

He sent her a smile, noticed her nametag and said, “Bella, right? What a pretty name. I’m trying to see how different casinos manage their entertainment.” 

She turned her head to some men in another doorway. Security, he knew. They were in suits and probably hiding their weapons. What the hell was going on here that she couldn’t answer a few questions?

“I don’t understand your need to know that,” she said.

“I’m opening my own casino in America. It’s in the works now. I’m traveling around the world checking places out for ideas.”

She frowned like she doubted him. “Really? You seem kind of young to be building a casino.”

He wasn’t going to let her statement get to him. She had no idea about his background, his wealth, or his family backing. He was only making conversation.

“Age means nothing,” he said. “Again, just looking for ideas. So why don’t you tell me about the show tonight? I purchased my ticket for the second show, but do you take walk-ins? If so, do you limit the amount?”

Bella looked over to the side again and apparently realized they were being watched. Good grief, that was one thing he wasn’t going to do…make it so staff couldn’t talk to the guests. 

“We do leave some seats open for walk-ins, but I’m not positive the number. I guess it depends on the show.”

“And this show tonight? Is it one booked for a few weeks only or longer?” He’d already checked that information out on the website. Sure, he could email someone to talk and ask questions, but he’d found getting it from working staff while he explored was the best way.

He’d never thought he wasn’t easy to speak with or couldn’t dump the charm on until now. “I think this one is for a few weeks. Excuse me a second,” she said.

He looked behind him and saw someone waiting to get her attention so he moved a step to the right while she took care of them and looked around the marble entryway. Definitely going this route for sure. Luxury on the island was his first thought. 

He’d take his camera out for some pictures if he didn’t already have the security’s attention. Maybe another day.

This casino was huge. The biggest he’d been in while he enjoyed his time in the French Rivera. His room had a beautiful view and was luxurious. Everything he was going for on Amore Island.

No, the little island off the coast of Massachusetts wasn’t going to be anything like being in the Mediterranean, but he could give that vibe inside while people dropped their money on the table.

He noticed people moving in and out. Not everyone was dressed in thousands of dollars’ worth of shoes and accessories. He wasn’t even counting the diamonds and gold he’d seen. There were plenty that looked like an everyday Joe. Like the guy sitting on the bench not too far away listening to the conversation. He was in plain clothes and Eli wondered if he was additional security or not. He had the look to him.

When Bella was alone again, Eli stepped back to her. “So back to my questions.”

“He is bothering you?” one of the suited security men said, coming over.

“I’m just asking questions about the show,” Eli said, smiling. “Got my ticket right here for later.” He pulled it out and held it up.

Didn’t seem to make a difference though. “Then you know when it starts and can leave our employees alone to do their jobs,” the guy said.

“He’s fine,” Bella said. “It’s okay.”

“It’s not okay,” the big burly man said. “He’s been asking more questions than he should for a simple show. Maybe we need to bring you down for some questioning to find out the reason why.”

“Leave him alone,” the guy from the bench said. “He’s doing exactly what he said.”

“Two of you, huh?” the security guy replied and nodded his head to his partner against the wall.

Oh shit. How the hell did this turn into something that was going to throw him in the pen? Especially in a foreign country. “It’s all good,” Eli said. “I’ll take my leave now.”

“Not quite,” the first security guy said. “We can do this the hard way or the easy way. Why don’t you follow us for a few more questions anyway.”

There was no reason to cause a scene. “The easy way of course.”

The second security officer moved to the guy on the bench and said, “Same with you. Easy or hard?”

“Hard,” the guy said. He didn’t look pissed. He had no expression on his face that Eli could tell. “I’ve done nothing but sit here and watch the scene. I have no idea who this dude is.”

Eli had noticed the military cut on the man who’d now stood up. He was about the same height at a little over six foot, lean and somewhat mean looking. Not a person to cross in an alley.

“Why don’t we just go along peacefully?” Eli offered the man. “I’ll take care of any of your troubles or time.”

“No troubles because I’m not going anywhere,” the man said. 

The security guard reached to secure the man, only to find he was on the ground, the military dude’s knee in the back of the black suit, one arm behind the suit’s back.

That’s when a gun was pulled, Eli’s hands going up in the air and Bella gasping. “Dude,” Eli said. “Move back. I don’t need any blood on my conscience.” 

Other security showed up and both Eli and the stranger were manhandled more than he appreciated and escorted into holding.

Well, now he knew how to handle a situation like this in his place should it ever happen. If he got out of this country alive.

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