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The flight was like no other Tristan MacLaughlin had ever taken. Not that he considered himself a huge world traveler, by any means, but when he did fly, it was usually on the commuter shuttle, packed with businessmen. And regular commuters generally slept or booted their computers to go over work. They were a different breed altogether from the boisterous revelers surrounding him now.
Certainly, on the average public transport, he wasn't accustomed to hearing the sound of cards being shuffled or the rattle of dice. And when the plane hit a wee bit of turbulence approaching the Reno airport and abruptly lost altitude for a stomach-dropping instant, Tristan was not amused to hear more than half the passengers whoop as though they were on an amusement park ride. He felt, in fact, downright grim. It hammered home the frivolous nature of the city to which he had been assigned.
The muscles along his jaw bunched and relaxed rhythmically as he stared out the tiny window at the dusty green and dun landscape below. Why him? There had been at least three detectives who had begged for this assignment -- who had actually considered it the opportunity of a lifetime to set up a task force for a case involving showgirls in a city designed for entertainment. Tristan hadn't been interested at all, and he had been stunned when Captain Weller had called him into his office to discuss the temporary transfer to Reno. He couldn't argue with Weller that his experience on the revived task force for the Green River serial murders in Seattle was exactly what Reno was looking for. But he certainly hadn't agreed when Weller had suggested that this would also be anopportune time for Tristan to be absent from Seattle, in case Palmer, a man he had been instrumental in putting behind bars, decided to make good on his threat to see him planted six feet under. Palmer had just escaped from prison in Denver, and Tristan was certain he had more important matters on his mind right now than trying to exact his promised retribution. He was going to have all he could handle just avoiding recapture. Tristan hadn't bought that particular theory when Weller had first suggested it as an additional reason to head up his Reno case, and he didn't buy it now.
But when it came to departmental politics, it wasn't necessary for him to buy a damn thing, Tristan acknowledged glumly as he waited for the majority of other passengers to finish shuffling past him before he stepped into the center aisle to leave the plane. A captain outranked a lieutenant every time, and it was clear that Weller had already made the decision to send Tristan to Reno. As far as his captain was concerned, Tristan MacLaughlin was the best man for the job. And that was the beginning and the end of it.
Once out on the concourse, Tristan intended to head straight to the baggage claim to retrieve his luggage. But he was sidetracked by his amazement at some of his fellow passengers. They hadn't even waited to leave the bloody airport before they'd begun gambling.
He shook his head as he watched his former seatmate, a talkative little white-haired lady in a red polyester pantsuit, as she plumped herself down on a padded stool in front of a bank of slot machines. She wasn't talking now. She was all business as she began feeding quarters into the machine and pulling the arm at an amazing rate, avidly watching the revolving cherries, oranges, bars, and sevens as they whirred past, finally to clunk one, two, three into a pattern between a set of red lines. Her eyes were in constant motion, darting left and right to keep tabs on the slot machines on either side of her, as well as her own. When she felt his gaze, she threw a suspicious glance at him over her shoulder.
It was as if their previous amiable conversation on the airplane had never happened. If her expression was anything to go by, she expected him to pounce on her slot machine any minute now. Personally, Tristan failed to see the attraction, and he shrugged and turned away. Removing his glasses, he pulled a snowy white handkerchief from his pocket to polish the lenses.
Tristan replaced his glasses and peered down at the man in front of him. "Aye," he acknowledged. "How did you know, then, mate?"
"I'm a detective," the man said, grinning. When his smile was not returned, he hastened to interject, "Actually, your captain said to look for a very large man with sandy-brown hair and horn-rimmed glasses. My name is Cash," he added, thrusting his hand at Tristan. "Joe Cash."
What Weller had actually said was, "He's a big, dour, sonofabitchin' Scot with blondish-brownish hair and horn-rimmed glasses. You can't miss him. Look for shoulders like a linebacker's and a face that doesn't exactly remind you of the life of the party."
Which was what the detective had done, and he had spotted MacLaughlin right away. But since he was going to have to work with the man, Cash didn't see any point in antagonizing him right off the bat by repeating the description verbatim. Besides, he had to admit he was curious about this guy. He'd wondered why Weller had called the man a Scot, since American citizenship was a prerequisite for every police officer in the United States. But when he had questioned the captain, Weller had merely laughed and said, "Sure, MacLaughlin's a citizen. But wait until you hear him speak." Then he'd added with irritated amusement that MacLaughlin was a damned brilliant detective -- a man whose lack of charm was well worth putting up with in exchange for his help in organizing the type of task force Reno so sorely needed. Cash had tried to analyze the captain's tone of voice when he'd spoken of MacLaughlin ...Shadow Dance. Copyright © by Susan Andersen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.