A/N: Sorry for the long wait folks. I normally write much faster, but this chapter was giving me a hard time. It seems I needed to write what was in my head, and then backfill. Anyways, I'm so thrilled with the response for the first chapter! It really helped keep me going when the muse wasn't cooperating. Thanks!
So much hope you like this! Oh. And hold on.
Hatter stared out the window of the cab, "That is a hotel?" he asked as the cab approached the shining black glass pyramid.
Alice nodded, "Yeah, that's it. Impressed?"
"A bit," he admitted. He'd expected something different; he wasn't exactly sure what, but not this vast expanse of dark glass surrounded by palm trees, swimming pools, and a replica sphinx at the entry. It was a far cry from the clean lines of New York. Even the city's oldest structures with the most detailed architecture were building-shaped.
"You have to see it at night," the cabbie interjected, "Oh, at night Vegas is a new place! The lights, the action… but be careful. Well, New Yorkers, right? Shouldn't have to tell you to be careful. But stay on the main roads. And if you want to stretch your dollar, go to one of the casinos off the strip. Go downtown. The Luxor is swanky, but they gouge the tourists. Same gambling, but half the cost off the boulevard, and they'll still treat you right."
Alice and Hatter traded an amused glance. Once the man had discovered they were on their honeymoon from New York, he'd proceeded to give them a block by block tour of Las Vegas as he drove. Alice was amused to no end to see Hatter out-talked. He hadn't even been able to get any questions in edgewise to interrupt the cabbie's running monologue.
Hatter made a noise of consideration as soon as the cabbie stopped to take a breath, "Cheers, mate. I'll keep that in mind," then leaned in close to speak in Alice's ear, "Hotel is huge. We're meant to get a tour guide to find the buffet in this place?"
Alice laughed and then squeezed his hand, "Check in, then we'll get directions," she whispered back.
Hatter flashed her a grin as the taxi rolled to a halt.
"How many rooms has this place got?" Hatter murmured as he looked up through the atrium at the rows and rows of rooms above them, stacked to form the inside walls of the pyramid shape on the interior of the hotel. Each floor jutted out farther than the one below until the point at the apex. It was a truly dizzying sight, and that was saying a lot, coming from him.
"Four-thousand, four hundred and eight," the clerk behind the counter replied, "and you two are in one of our spa suites. You have a private spa tub in room, and a beautiful view. We also have twenty-four hour room service, several pools for you to choose from, and a concierge for anything else you may need during your stay. The Luxor has shopping, a casino, several restaurants and we have spectacular shows, all right here inside the hotel. I see that you have tickets included for the headlining show, Believe. You'll love it. He's an incredible magician."
"Um, thanks," Alice replied, wondering how often per day the clerk repeated that same pitch. She glanced to Hatter, "The buffet is open?"
The clerk nodded, "Of course," and handed her a map of the hotel. She pointed to the spot labeled MORE the Buffet, "It's right here."
They settled with the clerk and got their key, and then took the inclinator (and woe to anyone that called it an elevator) to their hotel room accompanied by an attendant with a luggage cart stacked with their things. Hatter had to admit that he was impressed with the hotel, and he was more than a little bit excited to have Alice all to himself for an entire week, even if he didn't much see how Las Vegas was like Wonderland. Maybe the cab driver was correct, and night time would transform the city, but he truly didn't care where he was, as long as he was with her. Alice was home for him, and Wonderland was just a place he'd left behind him.
Hatter tipped the attendant well, after all he knew how much tips were appreciated now that he was in Alice's world and accepted them himself at his tea shop, and then took a look at where they'd be calling home for the next week. The first thing he saw was the king size bed strewn with rose petals, and on the nightstand sat an ice bucket with a chilling bottle of champagne surrounded by chocolate covered strawberries and a box of chocolate truffles. Alice was already ahead of him, checking the little gift basket on the bed as she scooped up one of the lush, giant strawberries from the table and took a bite. She closed her eyes and gave a moan as the taste of dark chocolate and ripe strawberry exploded on her tongue.
Hatter swallowed hard at the sight. Suddenly he wasn't all that interested in eating anymore. Well, not the hotel buffet, at any rate.
"Incredible. You have to try these," Alice said. She opened her eyes to find Hatter staring at her, a predator's gleam in his dark chocolate eyes. The breath slammed out of her chest at the sight of that intense dark gaze fixed upon her so intently. She knew what that look portended.
He strode across the room to join her, his eyes locked on hers the whole time. He took a bite of the proffered strawberry, chewed and swallowed. Alice watched his throat work, entranced.
"Incredible," he agreed, his voice gone low with desire. "Brilliant. Don't have to leave the room, do we? Got all we need right here."
Alice nodded as her took her into his arms. She'd been about to make a joke about how desperately he'd wanted to eat, but somehow under Hatter's hungry gaze she couldn't find it in her to do so.
Luckily Las Vegas was a night time city. Despite their little interlude, they still had plenty of time to have a full evening. Tonight they'd tour the Boulevard, have dinner and then gamble, and tomorrow would be the magic show, and after that they'd figure it out as they went. They'd emerged from their suite a little disheveled, but happier and relaxed. The flight hadn't been easy on either one of them. They'd hit the buffet for a late lunch, planning to return to their room to try out the in room Jacuzzi tub before heading out for a night on the town. Hatter had been a fan of the speed and incredible variety available on the buffet, even if not all of the dishes met with his approval. The man could put away huge quantities of food, and the buffet line was more than able to accommodate him. Alice could only laugh at some of the looks he got from the nearby tables. She'd gotten so used to it, she hardly noticed anymore. Best of all, it was quick. Alice was dying for a bath, and the idea of sharing it with a dripping wet Hatter didn't hurt.
Despite the strange smell of the tap water, the giant spa tub was truly a lovely thing to have in room, and Alice and Hatter both agreed that if they made millions whilst gambling, they'd install one for themselves. They spent such a long time in it that they had to add change out the water twice and their skin was beginning to wrinkle. Hatter joked about smelling of Sensual Strawberry, but they did have to make liberal use of the scented bubbles to cut the off-putting aroma of the water. Neither one of them wanted to emerge from their bath smelling of Eau de Las Vegas water supply.
After their shared bath, Alice considered what to wear for the rest of the evening. She chewed her lip and finally selected a sapphire blue cotton jersey sundress and low wedged heels for their night out. It was comfortable and light enough to walk around town in, but still dressy enough for dinner, as long as it wasn't fine dining. Hatter was happy with anything that showed off her legs, so she knew it would please him. She'd gone on and done her hair and makeup first, knowing that Hatter took ages to decide what he'd be wearing. Now she was just waiting on him to emerge from the hotel bathroom.
Alice licked her lips as he emerged. How he managed to look sexy in whatever he wore was beyond her, but he did. Hatter forewent his usual leather jacket as an accommodation to the heat, but he didn't forgo his style. He did roll the sleeves of his burnt orange, cream, and brown paisley silk shirt up past his forearms, and he skipped a waistcoat in favor of a loosely knotted tie. He topped it off with the straw porkpie Alice had found for him that was the twin of the one he'd left behind in Wonderland, his dark hair curling over the brim.
From the look on his face when his eyes lit upon her, he was just as pleased with her choice. The thin fabric clung to every curve, and he was always a fan of her in heels of any kind, even if they were comfort-conscious wedges.
He gave her a slow smile and growled low in his throat, "At this rate we'll not ever leave the room."
Alice laughed, "We have an entire week, Hatter. Plenty of time for that." She'd never laughed so much in her whole life since Hatter had come into it. She'd made a good choice in marrying him. She couldn't ever imagine loving anyone else more, or ever loving him any less than she did right now.
He flashed her one of his bright, full-on crooked grins, "I'll take you up on that, love."
Alice slinked over to him and molded her body to his, "I expect you to." She brushed her lips over the pulse throbbing at his neck, and then flounced away, laughing, "Come on, let's go. I'm sure they're waiting for us."
"Honeymoon's not meant to be about torture," he called out after her.
The horse-drawn carriage ride was an interesting way to see Las Vegas, and it was so much fun it almost made up for the long wait, horrible service and bad food at one of the strip's supposed gourmet restaurants. At least Hatter's snarky commentary throughout the meal at least kept them both entertained, even if she was half afraid they'd get thrown out. During the tour, Hatter admitted that the garish lights, the even more garish crowds, the action and the morass of just altogether strange people did remind him of Wonderland quite a bit. More than anywhere else in Alice's world he'd seen, anyway. Another helpful cab driver found them a casino in downtown Vegas, and they planned to finish out the night there doing the obligatory gambling that you just had to do, at least according to everyone they'd talked to. They'd taken the first cabbie's advice by going to one of the casinos off of the Boulevard. It was small, and neither the stakes nor the security was as high as in the bigger casinos, but it suited their purpose perfectly. They weren't high rollers, and they had a limited budget with which to gamble. They'd both decided that one night would be the limit.
Alice liked the slot machines but not the card games, and as much as she loved Hatter, the prospect of sitting next to him all night at the card tables was mind numbingly boring. He'd started with roulette, which was marginally more entertaining, but he'd only played a couple of rounds. He admitted that anything left so much to luck would probably not bode well for him. After watching the blackjack game for a few moments he determined that it was much like a version of a game called trumpscard in his world. She figured from the mischievous grin he'd flashed her that he was a pretty good player; maybe he could even win a little bit of money. She pressed a kiss to his stubbled cheek right over the little crescent-shaped wrinkle that marked where his dimple indented as she stood to leave.
"I'll find you or you find me when you're done, yeah?" he said, a little annoyed that not only were mobile phones frowned upon inside the casino, but the walls blocked the signal even if you had brought one with you.
"Yeah. Don't lose more than fifty, okay?" she whispered, and then left him to his card game.
Hatter just gave her an incredulous look and a short laugh as an answer.
For Alice, the nickel slots were her game. She didn't think gambling was fun if she lost actual real money. For twenty dollars she could gamble most of the night, and if she lost it, then she wouldn't be terribly upset about it. For Hatter, it was about the game, the mental exercise and demonstration of skill. Something like the slots held no appeal for him. His dark eyes followed her as she walked away, a small smile upon his lips. She gave him a little wave as she went down the stairs to the slot machine room.
Hatter turned his full attention back to the game, although the image of Alice's legs didn't make it easy. He'd played the first few hands without truly making a decided effort to win, more just to judge the dealer's skill and the fairness of the cards. It was common for Wonderlandian dealers to slip in a second deal or extra cards, or any number of other ways to fix the game. This dealer seemed pretty straightforward. All right then. Time to win some money.
After a few rounds, Hatter had collected a nice pile of winnings. After a few more, he'd collected a lot of winnings, and he'd already started making plans for spending it. Perhaps a new hat for him and a dress for Alice. He'd just placed his bet for yet another go when a couple of serious-faced men in suits appeared from the door marked "private" and took up residence at his elbows.
He looked up at them and gave his charmingly innocent smile, "Is there a problem?"
"You need to come with us, sir," the goon on the left replied.
Hatter leaned back in his chair, "Gonna tell me why?"
Lefty didn't look amused, "The manager wants to speak with you."
Oh. It was like that here. Figures. Hatter grunted, "Fine. Don't have much choice now, do I? Tell me, is this how ya treat all your customers that win too much off ya?"
Righty grabbed Hatter's elbow as if to drag him, "Don't," he hissed, his voice gone cold and deadly as he shook him off, "I'm coming."
They led him up a back stairway and into a suite of offices, past a bank of security monitors. Hatter was getting angrier and angrier as they went, and it was getting difficult for him to conceal it behind his cold arrogant mask. These people took more from the customers than the customer could ever come close to taking from them, and yet when someone actually had the skill to win the game, they nicked his winnings and threatened him. It wasn't right.
By the time he was led to an office with someone inside, he was fuming. This was his bloody honeymoon, and he'd not have it spoiled.
"Are you aware that card counting is against casino rules?" the manager asked straightaway.
"What the hell for?" Hatter replied.
"It's an unfair advantage, Mister?"
"Mr. Hatter. We're going to have to ask you to leave."
Hatter gave a short laugh, "I don't see why ya had to drag me up here to tell me that."
The man behind the desk smiled, "Bad business."
Hatter snorted derisively, not trusting himself to keep his tongue in check. Their honeymoon would definitely be spoiled if he got banged up, and he sensed that this manager wouldn't hesitate to call the police if he felt it necessary.
The manager gestured to Righty, "Now if you'll just follow Mr. Green, he'll show you out."
"No. I'm not going anywhere without me wife."
A man in an actual security type uniform ducked into the office, "We've got a situation, code 505," he interrupted.
The man behind the desk blanched, "Police inbound?"
Hatter's stomach churned; the man didn't look like one that would get flustered easily. Alice was still happily playing the slot machines on the main floor. If they had dragged him away from her and she was in danger… his right fist clenched so hard his knuckles popped.
"Land lines have been cut. I tripped the alarm, but I don't know if it is functional. The door locks are jammed. We're stuck up here until they come for us."
"What the hell is happening?" Hatter asked.
"We're being robbed, Mr. Hatter," the manager replied.
Alice was down there. Oh god. Alice.
A/N: Dun dun dun. *cue music* Sneaky me is sneaky. Veeery sneaky. Thanks so much for reading, and please tell me what you think. It feeds my muse, and you know hungry muses have a hard time writing. Just sayin'.