Fast and Loose (Men of the Sisterhood #4) - Fern Michaels


Philonias Needlemeyer was many things. First and foremost, he was rich. Some said if he spent a million dollars a day until the day he died, he would never run out of money. Philonias was thirty-nine years old. Others said he was richer than God, but could not offer up proof that it was so. There were so many rumors about Philonias, it was hard to tell what was real and what wasn’t, all of which suited Philonias just fine.

Philonias was also a philanthropist. He gave to every worthy cause, and some that were not so worthy. He never stinted when it came to donating money. Philonias was a pillar of the community of Las Vegas, albeit a very reclusive pillar. What that meant was he was a stand-up guy and could always be counted on for whatever the community needed or wanted as long as he didn’t have to put his person on display, speak, or give interviews—and he never allowed his picture to be taken. Ever.

And there was a reason for that. Philonias Needlemeyer was a giant among men. He was seven feet three inches tall and weighed 360 pounds. Some said he was a big ole cuddly teddy bear. He was not a big ole cuddly teddy bear. Others said he was a gentle giant. Whatever else he was, Philonias was not a gentle giant among men. What he was, simply put, was a large man with a strange name who happened to be incredibly, obscenely rich.

Philonias was a kind man. A gentle man. A generous man. At least that was how he thought of himself. And he never argued with himself. Why not? Because he knew that he would win in the end, and what was the fun in winning all the time?

He lived in a ten-thousand-square-foot penthouse apartment at Anna de Silva’s Babylon Casino and Hotel. It was a penthouse he had inherited from his parents. Because he was such a big man and required such massive furnishings, he had purchased the adjoining ten-thousand-square-foot penthouse and had combined the two apartments into one massive unit that was the envy of every other resident at Babylon, as well as anyone else in Las Vegas who knew about it. He had a gourmet kitchen with every kitchen appliance, tool, gizmo, and gadget with a plug known to man, because he loved to putter in the kitchen. He thought of himself as an almost gourmet chef. He also knew how to clean his living quarters, how to do laundry, and how to shop for nutritious food. Philonias Needlemeyer was a man of many talents. But only because he valued his privacy, and the only way that worked was to do everything himself.

His digs, as he referred to them, had six fireplaces, all wood-burning. He had installed a surround system that would make Hollywood cringe in shame if they knew he had it. He had wall-to-wall television sets. The carpeting was ankle thick, because he liked to walk barefoot. But most of all, he had a perfect view of the city he loved. Oftentimes, at night he would sit by the hour, with all the lights extinguished, and stare out at the city, with its magnificent illumination.

All of the above was the public version of Philonias Needlemeyer. What no one knew or even suspected was that there was another Philonias Needlemeyer. That Philonias Needlemeyer hung his second hat in his adjoining penthouse, where he spent half of each and every day playing Robin Hood. Philonias Needlemeyer, aka Robin Cool Hood, was a cyber thief, or, as he liked to say, hacker extraordinaire. Not for himself, since he clearly did not need the money. It was the challenge. Because he didn’t approve of gambling, he loved to help himself to the Vegas casinos’ money and use it to do good for others. And he loved doing it right under all the noses of the casinos’ owners, including the Countess de Silva and her head of security, Bert Navarro.

Straight arrow Philonias Needlemeyer had many cyber acquaintances but no real flesh-and-blood friends. He liked it that way. The Robin Hood version of Philonias Needlemeyer had one real cyber friend, the kind of friend you would trust with your life and your money. And that person was Abner Tookus. Abner was his best and only real cyber friend because he had been the one to train the sixteen-year-old Abner when he was just a long-haired geek with magic in his fingers. They’d met at