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Authors: William C. Dietz
bike’s distinctive features, including the huge headlamp, the teardrop-shaped gas tank, and the simple saddle-type seat. A pair of metal panniers completed the look. There was no windscreen; nor did Lee want one. The bubble-shaped visor attached to her helmet was enough protection.
    The bike started up at the touch of a button, produced the throaty roar that Lee loved so much, and pulled away from the curb. Traffic was heavy, but based on the stories her father liked to tell, it was nothing compared to the old days. Back before half the population died.
    The Hollywood Freeway took Lee to the Silver Lake Boulevard off-ramp, and it wasn’t long before that morphed into Beverly Boulevard. Maximo’s was half a mile to the west.
    Lee spotted the restaurant’s sign, slowed, and turned into a pristine driveway that led past the white stucco building to the lot in back. A valet came out to greet her. He was dressed in a red bolero-style jacket and black trousers. Lee braked, toed the bike into neutral, and removed the helmet. “I’ll park it myself. Where should I put it?”
    The valet had been expecting to see a man, and his expression changed subtly. “Yes, ma’am. Slot five is available.”
    Lee nodded, put the Harley in gear, and rode it over to a slot that was sandwiched between a low-slung red sports car and a black limo. She’d never been to Maximo’s, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out that the restaurant was popular with the city’s movers and shakers.
    She left the helmet sitting on top of the gas tank and crossed the lot to a door sheltered by a red awning. Once she was inside, a woman in a black cocktail dress came forward to greet her. There was a frown on her face. “Yes? Are you looking for work? The manager will be in tomorrow.”
    That was when Lee remembered the way she was dressed. The outfit consisted of a waist-length leather jacket, a tee shirt, ripped jeans, and her combat boots. Not the sort of ensemble the staff and customers were used to seeing. “No,” Lee replied. “I’m employed. Has Deputy Chief McGinty arrived? He asked me to meet him here.”
    The frown was magically transformed into a smile. “Of course! You’re Detective Lee . . . Please follow me.”
    Lee followed the hostess into a large dining room. The tables were covered with white linen and set with gleaming silverware. An elaborate buffet occupied most of one wall, and it appeared that Sunday brunch was well under way.
    As Lee followed the hostess between two rows of tables, she got the impression that the restaurant’s well-dressed clientele had come for more than the food. They were there to see and to be seen. Heads swiveled, and there was a sudden buzz of conversation as Lee approached the table where McGinty was seated.
    *   *   *
    McGinty saw heads turn as Lee entered the room. Part of that had to do with the way she was dressed. She looked like a biker babe—but a babe with a difference. Lee’s hard-edged charisma had very little to do with her looks. It came from somewhere deep inside. So why did he dislike her? No, it wasn’t dislike so much as a feeling of discomfort that stemmed from the fact that she was Frank’s daughter. That wasn’t fair, of course, but what was.
    *   *   *
    Lee saw that McGinty was looking at her. He was dressed in a blue blazer, an open-collared dress shirt, and khaki slacks. Somehow, Lee got the feeling that her boss was no stranger to the restaurant or to the people who frequented the place. That was something of a revelation since the possibility that McGinty had an existence separate from the LAPD hadn’t occurred to her. McGinty stood. “Thank you for coming on such short notice.”
    All of Lee’s internal alarms went off. McGinty was being nice.
    â€œLet’s order something to eat,” McGinty suggested.

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