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Detective Joseph Shanahan hated rain. He hated it about as much as he hated dirt-bag criminals, slick defense lawyers, and stupid geese. The first were scum, the second bottom feeders, the third an embarrassment to the bird family in general.
He set his foot on the front bumper of a beige Chevy, leaned forward, and stretched his muscles. He didn't need to see the metal-colored clouds forming over Ann Morrison Park to know he was in for a good shower. The dull ache in his right thigh let him know this just wasn't going to be his day.
Once he felt the muscles stretch and warm, he switched legs. Most of the time, the only reminder that a 9mm slug had torn through flesh and changed his fife was the five-inch scar puckering his thigh. Nine months and countless hours of intense physical therapy later, he was able to forget the rod and pins screwed to his femur. Except when it rained and the change in barometric pressure caused it to throb.
Joe straightened, rolled his head from side to side like a prize fighter, then reached into the pocket of the sweatpants he'd chopped into shorts and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. He pulled a Marlboro from the pack, then lit the end with his Zippo. Squinting his gaze against the flame, he eyed the sleek white goose staring at him from fewer than two feet away. The bird waddled closer, stretched up its long neck, and hissed, angry orange beak wide open, pink tongue sticking out straight.
With a snap of his wrist, the Zippo, closed, and he shoved the pack and lighter into his pocket. He exhaled a long stream of smoke as the goose lowered its head and locked its beady sights on Joe'sballs.
"Do it and I'll punt you like a football."
For several tense seconds they entered into a Mexican stand-off, then the bird pulled its head back, turned on its webbed feet, and waddled away, casting one last glance in Joe's direction before it hopped up on the curb and headed toward the other geese.
"Pantywaist," he muttered and turned his gaze from the retreating threat. More than rain, shifting air pressure, and even slick lawyers, Joe disliked police informants most. He'd never known more than one or two who wouldn't screw over their wives, mothers, or best friends to save their own sorry asses. He owed the hole in his leg to his last informant, Robby Martin.
Robby's double dealings had cost Joe a chunk of flesh and bone and a job he loved. The young drug dealer had paid a higher price -- his life.
Joe leaned back against the side of the nondescript Caprice and took a deep pull, off the cigarette. Smoke burned his throat and filled his lungs with tar and nicotine. The nicotine calmed his craving like a lover's soothing caress. As far as he was concerned, there was only one thing better than a chest full of toxins.
Unfortunately, he hadn't had that one thing since he'd broken up with Wendy, his last girlfriend. Wendy had been a fairly decent cook, and she'd looked downright amazing squeezed into Spandex. But he couldnt face a future with a woman who freaked out because he'd forgotten their two month dating anniversary. She'd accused him of being "unromantic." Hell, he was as romantic as the next guy. He just didn't act sappy and get stupid about it.
Joe took another long pull off the cigarette. Even if it hadn't been for that anniversary crap, his relationship with Wendy wouldn't have worked out anyway. She hadn't understood the amount of time he needed to spend with Sam. She'd been jealous, but if Joe didn't give Sam attention, he chewed up the furniture.
Joe exhaled slowly and watched the smoke hang in front of his face. Last time he'd quit smoking for three months, and he'd quit again. But not today. Probably not tomorrow either. He'd just been given a good ream by Captain Luchetti, and if he was going to get fucked over, he damn sure wanted a cigarette afterward.
Through the smoke, his gaze narrowed, then settled, on a woman with a mass of auburn curls hanging halfway down her back. A breeze picked up her hair and lifted it about her shoulders. He didn't need to see her face to know who stood in the middle of Ann Morrison Park stretching her arms upward like a goddess worshiping the gray sky.
Her name was Gabrielle Breedlove, and she owned a curio shop in the historic Hyde Park district, along with her business partner, Kevin Carter. Both were suspected of using the shop as a front for their other, more lucrative, business -- fencing stolen antiques.
Neither store owner had a prior record and might never have come to the attention of the police if they'd stayed small-time, but they had bigger ambitions. A famous Impressionist painting had been stolen the week before from the wealthiest man in the state, Norris Hillard, better known as The Potato King. In Idaho his power and influence were second only to God's. It would take someone with a huge set of cojones to steal The Potato King's Monet. So far, Gabrielle Breedlove and Kevin Carter were the strongest leads in the case. A jailhouse informer had given the police their names, and when the Hillards had checked their records, they'd discovered that six months prior, Carter had been in the Hillard home appraising a collection of Tiffany lamps... It Must Be Love
. Copyright © by Rachel Gibson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.