I had this and another chapter like seven pages each. Then my computer went whacko and deleted like all of it. I was very mad. I've managed to find time to re-write the first chapter, and I hope you all like it. I'll try to get the second up when I find time.

Third Time Lucky

(The Mysterious Mr. Viasco)

"A winner! Again, we have a winner!" The large crowd of men bent over the betting table groaned and turned away. "Now, now, gentlemen, don't quit now! The game's only just begun!" the operator encouraged, twirling the betting table around once.

Fluttering her long eyelashes, the young woman sighed dreamily. "Isn't he the most handsome, amazing, overly-wonderful guy you ever saw?"

"That's 'guy you've ever seen', Ruto." It was a futile attempt to try to correct her friend's grammar, but it was worth a try. The woman's attention was strained to remain focused on her job. Her hands rubbed against the glass mug, washing the beer stains out of it. She couldn't help but glance at him though, no matter how hard she tried to avert her eyes.

He was handsome all right…a cocky, arrogant smile pasted on his face, a burning gleam of insatiable greed in his deep eyes, everything opposite of what she wanted in a man. She absent-mindedly wondered how on earth he could look so comfortable in such a tight tuxedo. His perfect blonde hair was shoulder-length, a silky consistency. Of course, al these traits were nothing new to Malon. She'd seen countless men with the same gorgeous looks, the same self-evident pride, he was just like all the others.

"Earth to Malon! Hello? Anyone in there?" Malon snapped out of her trance-like state with a small jump. "He's coming this way! How do I look?" The startled young bartender blinked, swiftly grazing her flustered friend's appearance.

Ruto was a very scantily-clad, sexy woman. The same age as Malon, they got along moderately well. Her body was that of a model, and she made sure everyone noticed. Slightly vain, Ruto was a materialistic girl. She knew what right and wrong were, but sometimes had difficulty deciphering between them. She created a quick pose to show to Malon, winking with a flirty gesture.

"You look great, Ruto." Malon was known for her honesty. She found herself taking a quick look into a nearby mug for her own reflection, though she had no idea why. Her sparkling aqua blue eyes were her greatest feature. She was, in no retrospect, a model. She had a larger waistline than Ruto's, and her love handles were a definite set-back. Her red hair tended to be tangled, the split ends reaching down to her lower back. Apart from these minor "flaws", as Ruto called them, she was very pretty.

"Hello, ladies…" Malon went back to rinsing glasses, undaunted by the fact that Ruto's "god" had just spoken to them. The woman seemed to find a new one every day, anyway.

Ruto made her crush towards him very apparent. "Good evening, sir. Something I can get you?" She batted her eyelashes and twirled a piece of her hair around her finger.

"What can you offer?" He looked straight past the menu's wide selection to her, a smug grin on his face.

Ruto felt a thrilling chill go down her spine. "Whatever you like."

"How about I buy you a drink and we'll go for a stroll?" he coolly asked, flashing a pearly white smile. It made Malon's blood boil just to see his fluid hand motions, his easy predictable responses, the way he handled Ruto like she was a trained animal.

"Sounds wonderful…" Ruto's hand began to untie her apron, a seductive smile on her face.

"She'd love to…" Malon clamped her own hand around Ruto's wrist, tightly squeezing to warn her. "But she has no more breaks today." Behind her smile, there was an overflowing aura of triumphant glory.

He turned towards her, a furrowed brow reeking of offense forming. "And yourself?"

Malon's flawless plan suddenly blew up in her face. "Me?" Her confident tone was replaced with a squeak.

"Yes…such a lovely young blossom should not be without someone to care for it…" His words were as sickly sweet as honey. He was definitely experienced at telling most women what they wanted to hear.

"Better watch out…even a rose has its' thorns." Malon bitterly stated, turning away to show him she wasn't interested. Now that she had quoted one of her favorite lines, he couldn't counter it.

Crossing her invisible privacy line, he reached over the sticky counter, tightly grabbing her wrist. "But a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Ruto couldn't decide if this situation held any promise for her or not, so she did nothing to stop it. As Malon wriggled her wrist, her anger increased. Either this guy was drunk, or just plain stupid. His quote had nothing to do with the situation. "Let go of me!" she yelled.

He seemed to dislike the sudden attention they received, because he loosened his grip a little. "Aw come on…just one drink," he wheedled.

Malon was furious by now. She would not stand for treatment like this, oh no. "Just one? Have it your way!" Picking up the nearest glass of alcoholic liquor, she flung it in his face, forcing him to let go.

As if she had stabbed him with a knife, he screamed. The look he served her was something along the lines of , "I'd kill you if I could." Wiping the beverage of his precious face, he stalked off.

Try as she might, Malon could not seem to get his face out of her mind. One moment there he was, that irresistible zesty smile on his lips that shouted, "The world revolves around me and so do all of you!" The next minute…there was this hate so strong it penetrated her soul. All she had done was give him a free drink. He made it seem like she had mortally wounded him…

After the casino had closed for the night, she cleaned up and immediately headed to the office…unfortunately, no one was there. Sprinting, she returned to the main hall, spotting who she was looking for. "Wait!" she called, panting. "I'm so…glad I caught you."

The young man smiled sincerely, giving Malon a pat on the back. "Sure thing, Mal. What can a brilliant young guy like myself do to help you tonight?"

She returned the smile graciously. He looked tired, but he always agreed to help her. After all, he was her best friend and her cousin. He was still in uniform, so he must have been locking up. The security guard attire suited his fit body very well, his peculiar red eyes patiently awaited her request. His fingers gently drummed against his flashlight and large nightstick.

"Can we take a look at the security cameras?" she hesitantly asked.

"Sure…why?" He raised an eyebrow in a quizzical gesture. They used to play this game all the time when they were younger, but not for a long time."

"Don't worry…" She led him back to the surveillance room. Her keen eyes caught sight of something out of place. She liked to poke fun at her cousin every chance she got, and this was a golden opportunity. She ran a finger across the control panel, and smirked as she flicked crumbs away. "Eating on the job again, Sheik?"

"Maybe." He grinned at her, beginning to roll the day's recordings back.

"Stop!" shouted Malon, freezing the motion when "Mr. On top of the world" was positioned head-on. "What can you tell me about him?"

"You've never heard of the infamous Mr. Viasco?" Sheik amazingly asked.

"Mr. Viasco?" Malon repeated. Strolling over to a Krispy Kreme box of doughnuts, she picked up the single remaining treat and analyzed it. Cream-filled…Sheik's favorite. Making sure he saw her every move, she dangled it threateningly over a nearby paper shredder. "Keep talking, Sheik."

Sheik zoomed in on the guy's face, pointing while probing his chin. Making sure he kept one eye on the yummy hostage, he began to talk. "A Mr. Link Viasco. One of our best customers. He's been coming here for about two weeks. Let me tell you something…this guy never loses…ever. It doesn't matter what he plays…cards, slots, anything!"

Malon allowed the sumptuous chocolate-covered doughnut to fall further. "Continue."

"He's the same age as you, Mal!" Sheik fired off, his eyes rapidly shifting from hers to her captive. "No idea about his family, we have no records of anything. He leaves every day with bucketloads of money. Tell you what, if you really want to know more, we could spy on him…"

Malon didn't need to deal with any extra guilt…but she was naturally very curious…and she did need to keep customers safe. Besides, she wanted to lavish the look on his face when she exposed his cheating ways. How else could he possibly win so much, as Sheik said? She felt as if she had no other choice. She would find out more…if it killed her.

That night, laying in her plush hotel bed, Malon thought about her present life. Out here in the Midwest, it could be hard. It was worth it though. Their casino was one of the few for a while around in the city, it was no wonder every man flocked to it like ants to a sugar pile. Thinking about men made her remember Mr. Viasco. As much as she regretted to admit it…he was sort of good-looking. Shaking her head angrily, she tried to go to sleep. Tomorrow would be very busy…

The next day, Malon listened patiently as Ruto blabbered on about some man she had met on the way home. Suddenly, she heard a few garbled noises coming from the walkie-talkie Sheik had given her. Afraid she had missed something, she ducked into the back room, leaning in to the speaker. "Repeat that? I didn't hear you!"

Sheik's voice quickly returned. "I said…come in baby chick, this is mother hen."

Malon huffed in frustration, hissing violently into the speaker. "Why do you insist on making everything a game, Sheik!" After noticing the awkward silence on the other end, she sighed. "And why can't I be mother hen?"

"Beacause you're not the oldest, that's why, baby chick!" Sheik piqued up.

Malon rolled her eyes, and went back to her job. It was just a few moments later that the first message came through. "Wow…Viasco…nice." Sheik's broken voice floated out.

"What?" Malon asked, shielding herself in the back room again. She tried fiddling with the knobs and flicking the antenna, unsure of what she was doing.

"I said…Mr. Viasco's got a nice ride." Sheik repeated.

"You mean he's got a nice car?" Malon echoed. "How nice are we talking? Like, convertible nice?" She doubted it. Most men who came to drown their sorrows in beer drove a pickup at the most.

"Nope. Higher." Sheik sounded very surprised, and a whistle came through.

"Like…Jaguar nice?" Malon hardly dared to hope. She had only seen a Jaguar on the television show "Days of our Lives". She had never understood most television, anyway. Especially soap operas, for there were too many characters and too much to pay attention to. However, she knew that if you owned a Jaguar, you were flat out rich.

"No." Malon breathed a sigh of relief, only to have her heart stopped by her cousin's next comment. "A limo. That's right, a limo. Mr. Viasco just pulled up in a limo, slick shades on and all."

It was hard enough for Malon to understand slang, but her cousin was fluent in it. "You mean he's wearing sunglasses?"

"Yeah…why?" Sheik asked, unsure of why this made any difference.

"Why would he wear sunglasses in the middle of the night?" she pondered.

"Maybe he likes looking cool." Sheik suggested, trying to think of the most logical explanation he could.

"Maybe…just keep an eye on him." Malon began to think deeply, a small plan forming in her head.

Sheik had no problem with watching Mr. Viasco, after all, that was his job. He carefully took note of all the man did, witnessing as he earned over five thousand dollars in one night. He was too far to see things close up, but he could tell that nothing odd was happening…pursing his lips, he decided to take a chance. After all, you had to take some chances in life. He was in a crash collision for Mr. Viasco. Swiftly, he flicked the knob to speaker mode so that Malon could hear as well.

Wham! Just as he had planned, Sheik slammed into the man, sending him sprawling across the carpeted floor. Though Mr. Viasco was very shocked, the first thing his hand flew to correct were, curiously enough, his sunglasses. Repositioning them on his nose, he grimaced, glowering towards the security guard.

"I'm so sorry, sir!" Sheik tried to sound genuine. "I do apologize! I was not looking where I was going! Here, let me help you up!"

Mr. Viasco eyed the outstretched hand as if it were a parasite, roughly brushing Sheik and standing up himself. "No…you've done enough!"

"I truly did not mean to offend you, sir!" Sheik moved to the side, trying to avoid looking at the wannabe secret agent.

"Too bad…you did." With that, he left in a hurry.

By the time Sheik was talking to Malon that night, he was not only angry, he was furious. "I thought I knew some grumpy people…you in the morning, for instance." He gestured to Malon with a free hand. "But man, this guy topped it all." He ignored his cousin's scowl.

"Hm…well, I've been thinking…I know it doesn't sound like me at all…but I mean, well, listen…" She leaned into her cousin's ear, whispering her plan as if it were a combination for the hope diamond's safe.

Sheik gasped, and wagged a finger in his cousin's face. "Well! Malon Jessie Harkinian!" he reprimanded her with a glower. "That must be the most underhanded, scandalous, downright evil plan I've ever heard!" He leaned into her face with a glint in his eyes. "How can I help?"