WHEN THE PLANE LANDED, Cal Dollinger took over. Yates was used to that. Most mistook Dollinger as the muscle and Yates as the brains. In truth theirs had always been closer to a more political partnership. Adam Yates was the candidate who stayed clean. Cal Dollinger was behind-the-scenes and willing to get nasty.
"Go ahead," Dollinger said. "Make the call."
Yates called Ted Stevens, the agent they had assigned to follow Olivia Hunter.
"Hey, Ted, you still on her?" Yates asked.
"I am at that."
"Where is she?"
"You're not going to believe this. Ms. Hunter got off the plane and headed straight to a strip joint called the Eager Beaver."
"She still there?"
"No, she left with a black stripper. I followed them back to some dump on the west side of town." Stevens gave him the address. Yates repeated it for Dollinger.
"So Olivia Hunter is still at the stripper's trailer," Yates asked.
"Anyone else with them?"
"Nope, just the two of them alone."
Yates looked at Dollinger. They had discussed how to handle this, how to get Stevens off the case and set it up for what was about to occur. "Okay, thanks, Ted, you can leave them now. Meet me at the Reno office in ten minutes."
"Someone else picking them up?" Stevens asked.
"Not necessary," Yates said.
"What's going on?"
"Olivia Hunter used to work the clubs for Comb-Over. We flipped her yesterday."
"She knows a lot?"
"She knows enough," Yates said.
"So what's she doing with the black chick?"
"Well, she promised us that she would try to convince a woman named Kimmy Dale, a black dancer who works at the Eager Beaver, to flip too. Hunter told us that Dale knows a ton. So we gave her rope, see if she was keeping her word."
"Which it looks like she is."
"So we're in good shape."
Yates looked over at Dollinger. "As long as Comb-Over doesn't find out, yeah, I think we're in real good shape. I'll meet you at the office in ten minutes, Ted. We'll talk more."
Yates pressed the end button. They were in the concourse now, heading for the exit. He and Dollinger walked shoulder to shoulder, as they'd done since elementary school. They lived on the same block in Henderson, outside of Las Vegas. Their wives had been college roommates and were still inseparable. Dollinger's oldest son was best friends with Yates's daughter Anne. He drove her to school every morning.
"There has to be another way," Yates said.
"We're crossing a line here, Cal."
"We've crossed lines before."
"Not like this."
"No, not like this," Cal agreed. "We have families."
"You have to do the math. On one side, you have one person. Candace Potter, an ex-stripper, probably an old coked-out whore, who was involved with lowlifes like Clyde Rangor and Emma Lemay. That's on one side of the equation, right?"
Yates nodded, knowing how this would go.
"On the other side are two families. Two husbands, two wives, three kids of yours, two of mine. You and me, we may not be that innocent. But the rest of them are. So we end one ex-hooker's life, maybe two if I can't get her away from this Kimmy Dale- or we let seven other lives, worthy lives, get destroyed."
Yates kept his head down.
"Us or them," Dollinger said. "In this case, it's not even a close call."
"I should go with you."
"No. We need you to be at the office with Ted. You're creating our murder scenario. When Hunter's body is found, it will naturally look like a mob hit to keep an informant quiet."
They headed outside. Night had begun to settle in now.
"I'm sorry," Yates said.
"You've pulled my butt out of plenty of fires, Adam."
"There has to be another way," Yates said again. "Tell me there's another way."
"Go to the office," Dollinger said. "I'll call you when it's done."