I had a good feeling about today. Maybe it would be a tough one, but ultimately things would be all right.
Between my stint in the Army and my years working in private security, I’d learned to trust my instincts. They were attuned to trouble, and it was a welcome change to zero in on something different. Something good, even.
That was why I ignored the accessorized outfit I’d picked out last night and hung on the hook on the closet door, as I usually did.
Instead, I reached for something less somber, a combo more suited to the Nevada day than an air-conditioned casino.
Blue instead of black. Well, that was a little less somber. Swishing the skirt to shake out the back-of-the-closet wrinkles, I slid it on and gave myself a cursory glance in the mirror, then a thumbs-up. I smoothed my hair and checked for lipstick on my teeth. I grabbed the extra pack of tissues from the dresser and put them in my bag.
Because while I was optimistic about the day, I didn’t kid myself that there wouldn’t be tears—if not from me, then from someone I cared about.
The Sloan siblings had become dear to me, and not only because my best friend, Brent, had married into the family. They’d traveled to hell and back, enduring tragedy and upheaval that would tear any family apart, but they’d come out of it closer than ever.
As I headed to the door, I glanced at the pictures of my sisters in Colorado that lined the hall. I missed them terribly, but not quite as much as I detested snow. In my favorite picture of us, we had our arms around each other and a fresh dusting of powder on our jackets and in our hair, and the camera had caught me glaring at the wretched white stuff like it had personally offended me—which it had, by simply existing.
My sisters teased me mercilessly about that picture, and I grinned like I always did when I thought about it.
I’d call Audrey tonight, catch up with her, and maybe talk to Celia, hands down the world’s most adorable five-year-old. No kid was cuter, and I never hung up the phone without a smile at some clever or endearing thing she’d told me.
As I left, the hot and dry Las Vegas air evaporated all my thoughts about snow when I grabbed my car from the parking garage and drove toward the edge of town, stopping at a roped-off empty piece of land. The only thing left of the White Box Gentleman’s Club was the pitted parking lot full of vehicles, everything from town cars to news vans. The property where the bar had stood was now a bare patch of plowed ground.
I snagged a spot at the end of the row. Groups of people were clustered on the empty lot, and I headed that way. I hadn’t gone far when a Nissan LEAF hummed past me and zipped into the empty space beside my car. I recognized the compact hatchback—by sight, and by the sound of its battery-powered engine—and I bit back a smile as Detective John Winston climbed out. He’d heard every joke I could make about his vehicle—about finding a place to plug in his car while on a stakeout, about the electric motor being good for sneaking up on criminals.
I waited for him to catch up to me so we could walk over together to join the crowd, and as he reached me, I made a big show of checking my watch. “Right on the dot, as usual. You plan that, don’t you—arriving not a minute too soon or a moment too late?”
He kept a straight face, but his blue eyes twinkled. “What if I do? And note that we are walking over together, Miss Punctuality.”
With a shrug, I fell into step with him. “Too much ‘hurry up and wait’ during my formative years. So it goes when your dad is a colonel. You know, ‘If you’re not ten minutes early, you’re late,’ and all that.”
“Nothing wrong with punctuality. It’s an admirable trait.”
“It is.” I nodded with the same overly serious demeanor. Then I shrugged it off. “Now I guess it’s my little rebellion—seeing how close I can arrive without being late.”
“Whoa.” He made a down, girl motion, but he was smiling. “I know this is Las Vegas, but don’t go too wild now.”
I leaned over and confessed in a whisper, “Sometimes when I’m early, I sit in my car in the parking lot listening to a few minutes of a podcast instead of going in and twiddling my thumbs until the meeting or whatever starts.”
“I know what you need.” His voice dropped low, and he leaned closer too, like he was offering me drugs. “I have an app that tells me my ETA to the minute. You could speed up or slow down accordingly. Want me to send you a download link?”
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