Summary: This is loosely based on Nora Roberts book The Winning Hand. Buffy leaves her dominating ex-fiance, Angel, and runs away to Vegas. She's broke and scared, when she puts her last 5 dollars in a slot machine and wins 2 million! She's quickly taken under the wing of the casino's handsome owner, Spike.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Joss owns it all damn him!


Chapter 1 - Arriving

Buffy gripped the steering wheel in frustration trying to hold back the threatening tears. She'd been driving for the past three days, stopping to catch a few hours of sleep in rest stops here and there. She hadn't actually planned on anywhere as a specific destination, but thought going west sounded good.

Now she was stuck on some lonely stretch of highway. There was some sort of smoke coming out from under the hood of her car, but she wasn't going to bother to lift it. She wouldn't know what to do anyway. She sighed heavily.

Figures. With her luck she was surprised that it hadn't happened sooner. How did she get herself in these situations? Not bad enough that her car had fallen apart, but it wasn't as if she could call anyone for help either. Her purse had been stolen at a little truck stop yesterday, and since then she'd only had the twenty dollars in her pocket to spend on food and gas. All that was left now was eight dollars and some change. She stuck her hand in her pocket and fingered the money reassuringly.

Well, she really only had one option left. She could see the city from here, it couldn't be that far off. Stepping out of the car, she reached back in to retrieve her small suitcase. Straightening her shoulders she began to head out.

As she walked she thought about her life, or at least the life she used to have. She was starting a new life, she told herself confidently. She'd grown up in a small town in Kansas, the only child of two parents who'd waited late to have children. Her father had left when she was only about six, leaving her mother to raise her. They never had much money, but her mother had loved her with all her heart.

Her mother was in fact the reason she'd agreed to marry Angel. She knew that it would have pleased her. Angel was someone who could take care of her. And after her mother had passed away, he had. He'd been there for her, to help with the funeral arrangements, and then getting the estate settled. Not that there had been much to settle, but he'd helped out nonetheless.

When he'd asked her to marry him, she'd responded almost automatically. Of course she would. Why wouldn't she? He was caring, and kind, and was one of the wealthiest men in Trader's Corners. He'd definitely be able to take care of her.

It was only after the first few weeks that she'd realized just how *much* he wanted to take care of her. He'd started making rules that she had no desire to follow. He'd told her in no uncertain terms that once they were married she would not be allowed to work. Buffy shook her head at the thought.

She owned a small studio where she taught martial arts and basic self- defense classes. There wasn't a huge market for that in Trader's Corners, but she did have a small group of loyal students. And she loved it. It was more than just a way to make a living. It was something she would never willingly give up.

And when she'd tried to explain that to Angel, his face had gone cold. And he'd dismissed all her concerns as if they were nothing. It was then that she realized what a mistake she had made. She tried to rectify the situation, but Angel would have none of it. When she gave back his ring, he only chuckled and pushed it back on to her finger. She vaguely remembered a "don't be silly" before he'd headed out the door.

Why did Angel want her so much? She was nothing special; she'd known that most of her life. And she was by no means experienced with men. But he would not give her up. She knew she wasn't homely, but she didn't think she was exceptionally pretty either. She had light blond hair that fell just to her shoulders, and was petite in stature. She grimaced as she remembered the angry scowl Angel had sported when he'd seen her new haircut.

Lost in her thoughts, she hadn't realized she'd reached the city until the noise began to penetrate her haze. She looked up and found herself surrounded by people, and lights, and buildings. Her jaw dropped slightly. She'd never been out of Trader's Corners. When she'd seen the turn-off for Las Vegas, she had thought it would be a perfect place to lose herself. And it seemed as if she were right.

She wandered aimlessly for awhile. Just staring at all the signs and watching other people walk by her. Finally she came to one that drew her in. The Casino itself wasn't huge. It was much smaller than the one she'd seen earlier, Caesar's Palace, but it was different and it caught her eye.

The outside was done in simple white marble. There was some garden statuary standing in the grass just in front, and the signs provided the minimal amount of light necessary for safeties sake. Buffy thought it looked simple, yet elegant, though the name of the casino threw her a bit. She looked up to study the dim sign reading the words out loud, "The Crypt."

The growling from her stomach interrupted her musings and she took a few tentative steps towards the door. Might as well get something to eat. Maybe they were hiring? She pushed through and was immediately assaulted with sound. The place was full of people, talking, winning, and laughing. She bought herself a hot dog and immediately wolfed it down.

She wandered the casino, trying to figure out if there was a certain place to apply for a job. Although, without any ID, she didn't know what she was going to do.

She was fascinated by everything she saw. She'd never been in a casino before; it was all so amazing. She wandered back toward the front entrance and noticed a large slot machine. The sign called it 'Big Bertha', and she was drawn toward it. Her hand went back into her pocket, fingering her last five dollar bill. Without really thinking she pulled out the money and headed for the machine.

She read the rules on the front, trying to figure out what she had to do. She smoothed out the bill, making sure none of the corners were bent, and then placed it in the slot provided. As the bill was sucked into the machine, Buffy gulped. What was she thinking? She chewed at her bottom lip, as she watched the last of her money disappear.

Stealing herself she reached up for the big handle on the side, and pulled down. The machine started whirling and purring at her, and she watched as each little window began to spin. One by one the windows stopped. The first one was a red 7. She waited until the next window stopped spinning, gasping when she saw another red 7. She was holding her breath now in an unconscious reaction. Her bottom lip red and puffy from worrying it. When the last red 7 appeared, Buffy just stood there stunned.

She could hear sirens going off, and lights twirling at the top of the machine. She began to feel faint and wondered what would happen if she just fell to the floor right here. There were people shouting and screaming all around her, and she looked around in a sort of panic. What was she supposed to do? Then she felt cool hands on her shoulders turning her slightly. She was met with the most incredibly blue eyes she'd ever seen.

"Breathe luv." The man looked concerned, even with a smirk playing about his lips. "Or you'll faint."

But it was too late. She tumbled forward into the man's arms, grateful, at least, that she wasn't going to hit the floor.