What Lurks in the Dark Shadows of the Heart?
Most men who see Amanda Charles dance worship her from afar. But one "admirer" is getting too close to the glamorous showgirl...perilously close. The looks, style, and grace that make Amanda sparkle on stage have now made her something else: the target of a serial killer.
Detective Tristan MacLaughlin has drawn the case that is pulling him deep into a world of pageantry and dazzle -- and closer to the stunning, violet-eyed beauty who keeps her secrets and emotions locked tightly inside. Tristan never thought he'd be bewitched by Amanda's charms, never though he'd care. And he never imagined that by wanting her, by trying to protect her, he'd place her in the gravest danger of all.
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August 31, 2002
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Excerpt from Shadow Dance by Susan Andersen
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 an opportune 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.