Twist of Fate

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Twist of Fate
    T HE L AS V EGAS ILLUSION was so good at times that it was almost possible to believe the Powers that controlled the huge hotel-casinos also controlled the outside air temperature. Almost but not quite. Hannah Jessett stood on the chilled side of the plate glass doors and gazed out at the hotel swimming pool. The gigantic, whimsically shaped oasis with its meandering curves and unbelievably cute little bridges lay glittering beneath a broiling summer sun. The present difference between the gambling hell inside and the desert hell outside was approximately forty degrees.
    On the whole, Hannah would have preferred to stay indoors. She was not fond of deserts. She was from Seattle. But time was running out.
    Her cane skidded on a small patch of wind-tossed gravel as she shoved open the door and stepped outside. Pain shot through her left leg when she grabbed for the wrought iron railing that lined the wide steps down to poolside. For an instant she closed her eyes against the lancing agony and then she drew a deep breath.
    â€œDamn it to hell.”
    It struck her that the oath was probably somewhat redundant. She considered the philosophical ramifications of the question while she waited for the pain to subside. She should have taken that midday tablet after all.
    For a long moment she leaned against the ornate railing and wondered if the painkiller would have dulled her awareness any more than pain itself did. It was probably a toss-up. In the meantime she was grudgingly grateful for the fact that there were very few people around the pool to witness her less than graceful entrance. A couple of showgirls, all thoroughbred legs and classically contoured bosoms, drowsed beneath sunshades at one end. Hannah decided they either hadn’t gotten the word that tanning was no longer considered healthy or else they were going for the short-term cosmetic benefits and consigning the future to oblivion. Hannah wondered what sort of future a Las Vegas showgirl had. Professional lives were probably short in that line of work. Might be a crying need for good career counseling here in Vegas.
    Hannah forced her tense muscles to relax while she replaced the determinedly cool smile she had let slip a moment earlier. Forget the showgirls. Her goal was the other end of the pool where a man sat at a table beneath a fringed umbrella. Even from where she was standing Hannah could tell he was suffering. He had loosened his tie, opened his collar, and rolled up his sleeves, but the heat was taking its toll. There was a grimly determined expression of concentration on his face as he bent over a folder full of papers. Hannah got the impression that he was committed to the project at hand and would complete it even if required to do so in temperatures that hovered around a hundred and ten degrees. The dedicated type. As Hannah studied him, he glanced up and saw her. The intent look congealed into a considering frown.
    He probably knew right off who she was,

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