Chapter One

Lake Pontchartrain, New Orleans


"The Red Dragon is going down, Dulcie. He blew away Juan Hernandez in the Cracker tonight and this time we got us an eyewitness who'll put the Dragon away for good."

Dulcinea Quinn ignored the cool October rain beating against her. She even ignored the threatening sparks of lightning in the black sky as she stood face-to-face with Detective Bobby Halloran, her friend and onetime partner, on the pitching deck of her houseboat.

Elation rushed through her, quickening her heartbeat. "Are you sure?"

"I'm sure Hernandez won't be picking himself off the barroom floor where I left him with the medical examiner's team," Bobby said, and Dulcie heard the controlled excitement in his voice. "And I'm damn sure about my witness. He's standing right over there."

She glanced over her shoulder as the waves of Lake Pontchartrain rolled the deck beneath her feet. Ropes creaked in protest as the boat strained away from the pier. Two cops, barely visible in the bleary light from her cabin, huddled on the pier by the back of the boat. A tall man in a raincoat stood apart from them.

With dawning suspicion, Dulcie looked back at Bobby. "What do you want from me?"

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