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Lucky by Sharon Sala
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Experience the glamor and glitz of Las Vegas with Lucky Houston, the youngest daughter in a family full of girls, in this unforgettable romance.

HarperCollins; October 2009
368 pages; ISBN 9780061747144
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Title: Lucky
Author: Sharon Sala

Chapter One

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Lucky Houston shifted restlessly in the nest she'd made of her bus seat, moaning softly as the dream carried her through the ride with no end.

Don't let 'em do it, Lucky girl. Don't let 'em bury me. It's all a mistake. I'm not really dead.

A tear seeped from beneath her sooty lashes and hung on the high curve of her cheekbone as the nightmare continued. She was unaware of the solicitous glances from fellow passengers across the aisle as she struggled with the horror in her mind.

Queenie! Something's happened to Di! I can't find her. Lucky shuddered softly as the dream played on. Queenie! Queenie! I can't find you either! What's happened to my family? What's happened to my world?

The Greyhound bus had been her home for the better part of four days. Lucky Houston walked up the steps and plopped into a seat with her head full of dreams, but now that she was about to arrive at her destination another kind of dream had superseded the first.

Her bones vibrated with every catch and jerk of the leather seat at her back while a thin film of sweat beaded across her skin. The nightmare danced behind her eyes as her head rocked with the motion of the bus's maneuvers through city streets.

After days of despair, after countless hours of fear alternating with hope, the inevitable was at hand, and she was sleeping through it.

Clods of dirt hit the top of the white pine casket with a dull thump, splattering upon impact. Queenie's fingers felt warm. And Johnny was so cold. Don't put too much dirt on top of him! He won't be able to breathe!

Lucky's cry for help went unheeded. Someone had to stop them! They had to uncover Johnny before it was too late. Instinctively, her hand flew up; in her mind she could see the shovelful of dirt falling toward her. But it wasn't dirt that she felt. It was the seat in front of her.

She woke with a start, then sat up, her eyes wild, her lips trembling. It was then that she realized that Cradle Creek and Johnny Houston's grave were countless miles and too many days behind her to worry about it now. And with the squealing of brakes, reality came calling.

Amid blinding heat and a pall of diesel fumes, the Greyhound on which she was riding turned off of the busy thoroughfare of downtown Las Vegas and into the bus terminal with bulky finesse. Lucky leaned back in her seat, shaking from the leftover nightmare, as well as the realization that she was in Las Vegas, the land of her father's dreams.

Weak from the onslaught of emotions the dream had left her with, she felt her legs shaking as she struggled to get out of her seat.

"Good lord," she mumbled, as she pulled damp, hot denim from the backs of her legs where it had stuck. "I haven't even gotten off the bus yet, and I feel as used up and worn out as that prostitute looks who lived across the street from our old house. Oh, Queenie, I think I'm going to need backup and you're nowhere in sight. What do I do now?"

No sooner had she admitted her misgivings than Lucky imagined she could hear the ghost of her father, Johnny Houston, whispering in her ear. Just go for it, girl.

Without giving herself time to panic at the thought of being alone in a city of this size and reputation, Lucky grabbed her carry-on bag from the empty seat beside her and slung it over her shoulder as she wound her way down the aisle behind other anxious bodies trying to disembark. Her quest for a new life was about to begin.

Nicholas Chenault was cursing. Silently and constantly, while the motley assortment of people who traveled by bus, as well as the hodgepodge who accumulated at the stations, kept coming too close to the shining chrome and mirrored glass of his champagne-colored Jaguar.

At thirty-six, and as a son of the privileged class of what Las Vegas residents called the City That Never Sleeps, Nicholas had never before had the dubious pleasure of visiting the bus station. And if it weren't for Cubby Torbett's imminent arrival, he would have abandoned his post hours ago.

But his father, Paul Chenault, needed Cubby in more ways than could be counted. Bound to a wheelchair by the aftermath of a stroke, the once vital, elder Chenault's activities had been drastically limited. Were it not for Cubby Torbett's presence in their household, Nick would not be able to carry on the family business in such a close, hands-on fashion.

For the fifth time in as many minutes, Nick stuffed his hands in the pockets of his gray linen slacks and scrunched his shoulders, feeling the sanded silk fabric of his blue shirt slide and then stick to his back from the blast of heat and air swirling around the building. He didn't know what was worse: what he'd been forced to deal with here, or what was waiting for him to cope with back home.

If Charlie Sams, chauffeur for the Chenault family, hadn't been arrested yesterday, he would have been here picking up Paul Chenault's valet/nurse. As it was, Nick was still trying to explain to the authorities that he had no idea a man in their employ had been buying and selling drugs, or that he'd been doing it while on duty, and without their approval, from a limousine belonging to the Chenaults. All Nick knew was that he'd trusted Charlie, and it had been a mistake. Something Nick rarely made.

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