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An unexpected love affair on NYE

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Ryan McAfee and Denise Spidle pause for a mid-shoot photo at the Palms on New Year’s Eve.
Photo: Sarah Feldberg

At 2:30 p.m. on Jan 1, 2009, fake eyelashes blurred my vision as my eyes fluttered open every few seconds, just long enough to pick a path through the Palms Casino Resort towards self parking. I'd never been awake this long in my life, and after two days without leaving the Palms, I felt like I'd known this place my whole life.

Stumbling through the daylight in oversized gorilla slippers, I felt a rosy blush as I replayed 24 hours worth of New Year’s memories in a personal, blissful haze.

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I felt like The Palms and I had stayed up all night talking, laughing and flirting over champagne. I felt like we could really cook ... both dinner and brunch. I felt like I wanted to dress up and look hot in its hallways and clubs, but knew it wouldn't judge me unwashed in the morning. I felt like I'd had a really good date, and I was doing the walk of shame to prove it.

I've never felt this way about a casino. I've had a few random nights out on the town, and don't get me wrong, we had fun, I just always thought there should be more to it than drinks and dancing. If I was going to commit to a casino, I wanted it all.

And that’s what I got. For New Year’s under the Palms’ flashing lights nowhere was off limits. We strode through every nightclub, bounced from restaurant to penthouse to fully stocked suite. The casino gave me special attention and didn't leave me floundering alone in a crowd. I wondered what it saw in the young and inexperienced 702.tv, but the Palms made me feel like I was the only girl in the room – the only reporter in Vegas. I met its important friends – DJ Paul Oakenfold, chef Kerry Simon and owner George Maloof. I played dress-up in its pricey salon. I strolled by beefy security guards with a chivalrous welcome into every party.

After it was all over, I wondered if The Palms would be interested in me after I so quickly put out ... my video. A nervous pang echoed in my chest. Would it laugh and never call again?

Early morning, I packed up my bags and resolutely decided to have no regrets. I had great memories and a story to tell.

Then I broke into a giddy grin. The Palms was on the phone and wanted to know if we would join it for Simon Says Brunch. I don't usually allow myself to say it first ... so I just silently mouthed it after I walked out the door.

"I love that casino."

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