Their first meeting is fraught with tension when Jordan, ex-cop and self-employed bodyguard, accuses Kent of following him. He believes Kent could be going after his present client. Kent takes umbrage with that, since the only reason he's ever been in the same area as Jordan was while picking his sister Kelly up from work.
They meet again, when Jordan approaches Kent to apologize for his accusations, and they part on marginally amiable terms.
Then Kelly disappears, and Kent is certain the man she's been dating is responsible. A man he's never met. With no proof he can take to the police, he asks Jordan to find her. Because her disappearance eerily echoes that of the unsolved case which caused Jordan to quit the force, he agrees to look for her.
Now all they have to do is locate Kelly, alive, while fighting their slowly growing interest in each other.
As Kent got out of the car, he could tell from the crowds he saw ahead of him that it was a busy evening at the Art Walk. Not terribly surprising as the late May weather was perfect for spending an evening outdoors.
He wended his way through the crowds, sometimes going into one of the galleries if something caught his eye. As he exited one of them he overheard two guys in their late teens talking about some of the graffiti they'd seen in one of the alleys behind the shops and decided to check it out. He'd always had a soft spot for street art, deeming some of it more creative than a lot of the paintings hanging in the galleries.
The alley between Ninth and Tenth, paralleling Santa Fe, was surprisingly well lit so he was able to study much of the graffiti. Some of it was amateurish, but the majority made his walk well worth it. One piece in particular mesmerized him with the amount of detail the artist had been able to achieve using only cans of spray paint.
"Impressive, for what it is," a man said from behind him, his voice deep and intense.
Kent spun around and then took two steps back, his eyes widening in shock. "What are you doing here?" he managed to get out.
"I might ask you the same question," the Dangerous Man replied. "Are you following me?"
With a gulp, Kent said, "I was here first so maybe you're following me?"
"I did when I saw you come down the alley. Before that? No. Quite the contrary in fact. It seems every time I turn around there you are."
Since the man was keeping his distance, or at least hadn't come any closer, Kent smiled briefly. "I've seen you three times before today. All of them when I was waiting to pick up ..." He almost said, "My sister," but decided that might not be his best idea. "A friend to go out to dinner."
The man gave a sharp shake of his head. "A pat explanation, but not terribly believable, especially now."
"It's the truth, damn it."
"Who is this ... friend?"
"That's none of your damned business." Kent was beginning to get pissed at the man's inquisition.
"I'm making it my business. I don't like being spied on. Downtown, on Colorado, here. Shall I go on?"
"Huh? Where on Colorado?"
The man seemed to think about that, the gaze of his steel-gray eyes moving from Kent to the far end of the alley and back again. "In the area around Eighth."
Kent barked out a laugh. "Since I live a couple of blocks from there, that's not too surprising."
"I'm aware of that." He paused a beat. "Mr. Ryland."
"How the hell ...?"
"When I think someone's more interested in me than I like, I make it my business to find out who they are. In your case it wasn't too hard. I made note of your license plate the second time I saw you in LoDo, sitting in your car when I walked by. After that, it was easy enough to find out your full name and address."
"Do you do that with any car that happens to be around you?" Kent asked scathingly.
"Not all of them." The man's lips turned up momentarily. "Only the ones that show up once too often at the same time of day I happen to be in the area, at meters or in on-the-street parking spots limited to ten to fifteen minutes."
"If someone did want to track your movements don't you think they'd be a little smarter than that?"
"Presumably, but I'm not willing to take the chance." Again, the man checked the end of the alley, this time in both directions. "How about we take this discussion somewhere less secluded and a bit safer?"
"How about we forget we ever met. I'll go home, you go ... wherever it is you hang out that you'd rather no one knows about."
"I prefer my suggestion." The man pulled back his jacket just enough to let Kent see the butt of a pistol in a shoulder holster.
Kent sucked in a breath. "I suppose I could be convinced, as long as it's in public, like the coffee shop I saw a couple of blocks from here."
"That's fine with me." The man started toward the near end of the alley, stopping when Kent didn't move. "Relax. I'm not going to shoot you as long as you don't give me a reason to. Right now, we're two friends taking in everything the Art Walk has to offer."
"In an alley."
"That was your choice. Now, move it."
Kent bristled at the man's harsh words but did as he was ordered.