The Secret Diamond Sisters

By: Michelle Madow

Or maybe they were continuing the party from the night before.

Finally the limo pulled up to two crescent-shaped gold-plated buildings standing side by side, stretching high into the sky. They had to be the tallest buildings on the Strip. Lighter shades of gold lined the tops and bottoms of every floor, eventually stopping to leave a wide space for swirling cursive writing on the top. Peyton held her hand over her forehead to shield the sunlight, squinting to make out the words. The farther building said The Diamond Hotel, and the closer one The Diamond Residences.

“Wow.” Savannah pressed her hand against the window as they pulled into the circular drive of the Residences. Limos and luxury sedans lined the curb, and wide columns surrounded the golden double doors. Two men in white suits flanked the entrance, their hands clasped in front of them, their hair gelled back so they looked nearly identical. Beside each of them stood pedestals with arrogant sphinxlike gold lions.

Peyton had never seen anything like it.

The limo stopped in front of the entrance, and one of the men opened the door on Peyton’s side. She stepped out into the stifling desert heat and breathed in the stale dry air, focusing on her physical discomfort to hide her astonishment at her surroundings. She wanted to look pissed at her father, not like she was reveling in the energy of Las Vegas.

Before she could take another step, an elderly man—also in a white suit—approached them. He had wrinkled skin, wispy gray hair, and thin lips that looked like they were permanently pressed together. Surely he couldn’t be their father. Peyton didn’t think Adrian Diamond would be so...old. Then she caught sight of the gold badge pinned to his suit. Unless Adrian had changed his name to Bernard, this man wasn’t him.

Peyton exhaled and crossed her arms. Her father hadn’t bothered to meet them at the airport or the hotel. This was not a good start to whatever relationship Adrian Diamond planned on having with them.

If he planned on having a relationship with them at all, which she was starting to seriously doubt.

“Peyton, Courtney and Savannah Diamond?” Bernard asked, giving them a once-over. His lips pressed tighter together when he looked at Peyton. There were only four blue streaks in her hair—and they didn’t stand out much—but Peyton still got the feeling he disapproved. He probably wasn’t a fan of the Hot Topic bracelet collection up her arm, either. She shot a nasty look back at him, and he looked away, nose in the air. Hopefully everyone in Vegas wasn’t this stuck-up.

Courtney stepped forward and told him he had their identities correct. Trust Courtney to take the lead. Most people assumed that because Peyton was oldest, that made her the most responsible of the three.

How wrong they were.

“It’s nice to finally meet you,” Bernard said. “Mr. Diamond sends his apologies for not being able to greet you himself.”

“Sure he does,” Peyton muttered.

Her hostility only threw Bernard for a second. “I imagine you’re tired after your travels and would like to get situated in your condo,” he said, plastering a smile on his thin lips and motioning to the giant gold doors. “Please follow me.”

“What about our bags?” Courtney pointed to where their stuff was being unloaded from the car behind them.

“Don’t worry about your luggage—the bellhops will bring it up for you.” He turned on the heel of his polished black shoe and led them to the entrance, where two men pulled the doors open for them, and Peyton took her first step inside the Diamond Residences.

She wasn’t sure what she had expected, but it was nothing like this. The inside of the building was magnificent to the point of being otherworldly, and it took her breath away. Marble diamond-shaped tiles lined the floor, with an occasional colorful mosaic design forming the shapes of different gems. There was greenery everywhere, brilliant ferns and trees lit up with white lights surrounding the wide path that led from the entrance to a circular bar in the center of the lobby where people milled around drinking cocktails. Just past the bar, Peyton could make out gaming tables and slot machines. Groups of people dressed in everything from bathing suit cover-ups to expensive dresses walked around, holding pool bags, drinks and shopping bags, smiling and chatting animatedly. The energy was contagious, and Peyton’s veins buzzed as she took in everything around her, but she concentrated on maintaining her outer appearance of boredom. She refused to like anything her father had created.

“The Residences Tower and the Hotel Tower are connected by a hallway, so while you’ll live in the Residences, you can go back and forth to the hotel as you please,” Bernard said, his mouth barely moving as he spoke. “Would you like a tour first, or should I show you to your condo?”

“We’ll go to the condo,” Peyton said before Courtney had time to speak. Savannah pouted, but Peyton ignored her. She didn’t want to clue in Bernard that she cared. There would be time for exploring alone later.

“If you change your mind, let me know and I’ll be happy to show you around,” Bernard said, leading them down the tree-lined path to the casino. The casino played a song of its own—slot machines dinging, chips clacking as the dealer passed them out to the players at the tables, and the chatter of people throwing down money with the hope of hitting it big. There was a faint smell of cigarette smoke, but the casino must have a great ventilation system, because it wasn’t overpowering like the smoke in the Indian casino Peyton had gone to once with her friends in San Fran. Some of the machines even spoke in happy, cartoon-sounding voices, asking people to give the game a try or coaxing them to continue playing. It was a carnival for adults. The red carpet was new and plushy, and waitresses with model bodies wearing tight, low-cut gold dresses walked around delivering drinks. A person could get lost for days in a place like this.

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