Hong Kong - Christmas Day, 1996
Bob Lee slipped into the bedroom and stabbed at the buttons on his mobile. Once again BJ’s answering machine invited him to leave a message after the tone. He swore at the phone and telescoped the aerial with a snap.
Sue Ann opened the door, a suspicious frown in her warm brown eyes. ‘Don’t you dare hide in here,’ she warned. ‘I need you to keep the drinks going. Your mother’s getting pissed off with all your comings and goings, and so am I!’
‘Sorry. I’m trying to get hold of BJ. Can’t raise him anywhere. His mobile’s switched off again.’
She saw the concern in his eyes and came over to him. ‘It’s serious, isn’t it?’
‘Yes.’ He hugged her. ‘I really am sorry to spoil your party.’
‘It’s your party too and mostly your relatives. Bob, do you want to go and find BJ? I can cope for a while.’
He rested his cheek against the soft wave of her long, dark hair and thought for a moment. ‘There’s no use me chasing him all over the island,’ he decided. ‘He’ll get my messages sooner or later.’ He draped an arm across his wife’s shoulders. ‘Come on, love, I’ll get the drinks and do my duty here.’
DCI Tan rode the lift to Guy Langford’s office where BJ was on the point of leaving.
‘Don’t go, Inspector, there’s been a development.’
Guy frowned. ‘Brian? This isn’t your territory. I’ve just been telling BJ nothing was taken that we can see.’
‘Documents could have been copied or filmed,’ Tan said. ‘No one would lift a file - too easily missed.’
‘Arthur interrupted them before any harm was done. I’m hoping he’ll be able to tell us soon.’
‘He won’t be able to do that.’ Tan’s expression was grim. ‘I’ve just come from the hospital. I’m afraid Yi’s dead.’
BJ’s eyes narrowed. ‘Murdered?’
‘It’s rather hard to explain it otherwise,’ Tan said. ‘The man was unconscious. It’s difficult to stab yourself through the heart in that condition.’
Guy said, ‘Bloody hell!’ and looked helplessly at the DCI.
‘The sister said a Mr Langford rang this morning.’
‘That was me,’ Guy confirmed. ‘Unless David called as well. I was anxious to talk to Arthur but they couldn’t tell me when he’d be likely to regain consciousness - or if he’d remember anything when he did. The doctor said there could be temporary amnesia after a blow like that. Shit! Now we’ll never know.’
‘What happened, sir?’ BJ asked quietly.
‘A man claiming to be Arthur Yi’s brother asked to see him and was allowed to sit with him for a while. Presumably he stabbed him; there was no one else, except the hospital staff. They’re not under suspicion.’
‘I didn’t know Yi had a brother,’ Guy commented.
‘In fact, he does,’ Tan said, ‘but John Yi lives in Singapore and is there at the moment. It certainly wasn’t him.’ He drew up a chair and sat down. ‘I’ll need a statement from you, Guy. Anything you know about Yi and his associates ...’
‘Of course.’ Guy nodded. ‘I don’t know very much about him. His records would be with Personnel.’
‘I’ll speak to them later.’ Tan smiled. ‘I’ll just get you while you’re handy, then there’ll be no need to bother you further.’
BJ went to the door. ‘I’ll be off then, sir. I’m on my way over to the New Territories.’
Guy looked up. BJ said, ‘I thought I’d have a Christmas drink with my sergeant, Jimmy Wong.’
‘The man who was disgraced over the prostitute’s death?’ Brian queried.
‘That’s the one,’ BJ said cheerfully and left the office.
Sue Ann answered the telephone, forestalling her husband who’d leapt to his feet at the first ring. She spoke briefly to the caller then beckoned Bob. He left his disgruntled mother and went to the phone.
‘BJ?’ he asked.
‘No, another woman,’ Sue Ann muttered. ‘Must be your lucky day.’
He picked up the receiver. ‘Sergeant Lee.’
‘Sergeant?’ Connie Wu’s voice was breathless. ‘It’s Constable Wu. Sorry to bother you at home, sir, but I can’t locate Inspector BJ and it’s urgent.’
‘All right, constable, what’s wrong?’
A few minutes later Bob pulled on his black leather jacket and found Sue Ann in the kitchen. She looked him over in silence then said, ‘I hate you, Bob Lee.’
‘I know.’ He kissed her cheek. ‘You’re the perfect policeman’s wife and I love you.’
‘Sweet talk won’t do it,’ she said in exasperation. ‘Just once, just once, I’d like to entertain our families, knowing you’d be here the whole time.’
Bob grinned sympathetically and left the apartment.
Jimmy opened the door to BJ and took a step back, his cheeks reddening slightly. ‘Sir!’
‘Are you going to invite me in, sergeant?’
‘Of course, sir.’ Jimmy led the way into the tiny apartment. ‘It’s just, we weren’t expecting company, and ...’
‘Don’t worry, Jimmy, I don’t need entertaining.’
Sylvia came forward; Jimmy introduced BJ. She shook his hand, suddenly embarrassed, but he smiled kindly and apologised for taking her unawares. He’d come to see Jenny.
Jimmy took him through to the tiny balcony.
‘How are the injuries?’ BJ asked.
‘Much better, sir. I ... can I come back to work?’
‘You’re supposed to be under suspension. I’ll tell you when I want you.’
Jimmy opened the sliding glass balcony door and BJ stepped through, firmly closing it behind him.
Jenny sat gazing pensively into the street below. She’d changed her clothes and was wearing Sylvia’s jeans and a warm pullover. She looked up as the door opened and stiffened as she saw who’d joined her.
‘Jenny.’ BJ nodded and pulled a chair forward. He sat down and smiled at her. ‘I’m sorry about Ben Price.’
Jenny blinked rapidly. ‘Thank you.’ She waited warily.
‘I have to ask you some questions. About this morning.’
Jenny gave him a nervous look. ‘This - this morning?’
‘You went into the office. No, don’t lie to me. Jimmy was worried about you and rang me for advice.’ He watched her scared face for a moment then said, ‘I’m the only one who does know. So far, I haven’t mentioned it to anyone else. However, we’re now faced with a murder investigation.’
She went white. ‘B-But Mary s-said Arthur was only unconscious.’ She bit back the words.
‘Tell me what happened this morning?’ BJ invited softly.
She swallowed. ‘I remembered some work I hadn’t done yesterday. I - I didn’t want to get into trouble so I caught the train in this morning and finished it, that’s all.’
‘Did you see the security guard?’
‘Oh, yes, he let me in. I went up to the office, finished my work and left.’
‘Just like that?’ he asked slowly. ‘You went to your office, did your work and left. You’re quite sure?’
‘Q-Quite sure, Inspector BJ. What else?’
‘You didn’t see anyone else?’
‘Only - only Arthur.’
‘Did he let you out when you left?’
She looked away. ‘Of c-course he did. And - and I said “Merry Christmas, Arthur” and left.’
‘And he was all right when you left?’
‘Yes, yes, he was fine.’ She glanced at BJ’s still face. ‘Perhaps - perhaps he didn’t lock the door when I left - and the thieves got in that way.’ Her cheeks were suddenly suffused with colour. ‘When - did he die? Was it - the thieves? Did they kill him?’
‘No.’ BJ relented. ‘He was in hospital, still unconscious but expected to recover. Someone stabbed him to death.’
‘Oh! Oh!’ Jenny gave a little gasp. ‘Then it wasn’t - oh!’
‘No, it wasn’t.’ He rose. ‘If that’s all you can tell me, I’ll be on my way.’ He paused at the door. ‘Your brother knows where to find me, in case there’s anything you want to tell me later.’ He gave her his gentle smile.
Jimmy was waiting anxiously inside. ‘She’s not to go back to the office,’ BJ told him.
‘Make sure you stay here, I may need you soon. And look after Jenny.’
Carol sat on her bed, her hands tightly clenched. The walls were closing in around her; if she didn’t hold on as hard as she could, they’d fall and crush her to death. She wished there was somewhere else she could go, at the same time knowing she had to wait for BJ.
A knock on the door brought her swiftly to her feet. She opened it the width of the security chain, then slipped the restraint free with a relieved smile and threw the door fully open.
Bob Lee entered, followed by a couple of men carrying electronic equipment. He stood aside as they filed in then drew Carol into the corridor.
‘Connie phoned me. I couldn’t raise BJ, but we’ll get the room swept and get you out of here.’
‘I’m glad you came.’ She gave a brittle laugh.
Bob looked at her sharply, noting her taut face and the suppressed panic in her eyes. ‘It’s all right, Carol.’
She fought back the urge to clutch him. ‘It must have been someone on the staff with a pass card, or they let someone in. My housemaid denied it, but she was uncomfortable. She’s hiding something. And she knew I’d been out with BJ.’
Bob grinned. ‘Cissy Feng is a friend of Connie Wu. She’s been watching you for us since Monday. It was Cissy who warned us you were being followed. She spotted the man when he slipped out after you.’
Carol stared at him. ‘Whose idea was that, to have Cissy watch me?’
‘BJ thought you might get into trouble. He wanted to keep an eye on you.’
A warm feeling of relief flooded through Carol. He’s been looking after me from the beginning, she thought. I needn’t have worried. ‘It’s okay, Bob,’ she said, ‘I’ll stay here.’
He followed her back into the room where the silent search continued, swift and thorough.
There was a sharp knock at the door. Bob opened it and BJ came swiftly in. He gave the scene a comprehensive glance and strode over to Carol.
‘I just heard,’ he said softly. ‘Are you all right?’
She felt her face flush. ‘I’m fine.’
Bob said, ‘A word, sir.’ BJ nodded and went outside with him.
The men completed the sweep and began to pack up there equipment. BJ and Bob returned.
‘Right, I’m taking you out of this,’ BJ told Carol curtly. ‘Pack your things, Miss Monk.’
She was startled. He went to the wardrobe and lifted her cases down. ‘I’ll be back for you shortly. I need to speak to someone.’ He saw her indignant face and grinned. ‘I know, bloody cheek,’ he said, and left the room.
‘He’s got a lot on his mind,’ Bob placated, ‘but he’s right. You can’t stay here.’ He put the cases on the bed and opened them. ‘Do you need any help?’
‘No.’ She opened a drawer mechanically then burst out, ‘He can’t do this, just order me around.’
Bob grinned understandingly. ‘I’m afraid he can, and he does know what he’s doing. In fact,’ he shrugged, ‘I was going to do the same thing.’
She sat down stubbornly on the bed. ‘Then, tell me why?’ she demanded.
‘He’ll do that, when he’s ready.’
‘Oh, fine! In the meantime, I just do as I’m told?’
‘Yes, that’s it,’ Bob encouraged. ‘You’ve got a lot of sense, Carol.’
She got up and packed her bags without further argument. Face, she told herself, you’ll lose face if you carry on in front of the sergeant and his men. Just give in gracefully. She had a private grin. Damn! Now they’ve got me doing it, she thought ruefully.
Bob walked over to the waiting men and examined the set of listening devices with interest. He issued some instructions and the men left.
BJ came back. ‘All ready?’ he inquired. ‘Good girl.’
Carol resisted the impulse to hit him and stepped aside meekly. After a rapid discussion with Bob in Cantonese, he went to the door and opened it. A bellboy waited outside. BJ indicated the cases and the boy took them out.
Carol followed BJ through the lobby. His white Volvo stood outside. The uniformed doorman opened the passenger door; Carol compressed her lips and got in and BJ drove them away from the hotel.
As he turned into Gloucester Road he glanced at her, a smile lurking in his eyes. ‘All right, say it.’
She gave a reluctant grin. ‘Am I that transparent?’
‘Your safety is of paramount importance and your life has been threatened,’ he said. ‘We’ve just had another murder to deal with and I’m not prepared to add your name to a toe tag in the morgue. Bob told me the state you were in when he arrived,’ he added gently.
She was silent. He gave her another quick look as he wove through the traffic then he told her about Arthur Yi.
‘And you think I’ll be next?’ Her voice was subdued.
‘Bob had a call earlier today, from a Wanchai prostitute, a close friend of a girl called Silver Moon.’
‘Guy’s girlfriend? The one they pulled from the harbour?’
‘You’re well informed,’ he said grimly.
‘Daphne told me about her. And yesterday I saw a newspaper headline with the same name. I bought a copy.’
‘Silver Moon worked for me. She had another client, a local businessman, Sung Yen-lo.’
‘The man at Guy’s party?’
‘The same. He and Guy were rivals for Miss Moon.’ BJ paused. Carol glanced at his set face then away again. ‘She gave information to one of my sergeants.’ He continued, ‘about some weapons shipments. That same night she disappeared. Next morning the sergeant was involved in a deliberate accident. He survived but immediately afterwards his name was blackened to throw a question mark against any information he might give me. That was the brain child of either Sung Yen-lo or Wing Chang.’
‘Do you know who killed her?’ Carol asked quietly.
‘It was done on the instructions of the same pair of villains.’
‘And it’s Wing Chang’s man who’s watching me?’
She digested this. ‘Was Silver Moon very beautiful?’ she asked.
‘Very,’ BJ said, ‘before they cut her face as a warning to all police informers.’ There was a long silence. Finally he said, ‘Silver Moon’s friend was suspicious about her death so she kept her eyes and ears open and set out to attract Sung Yen-lo. She was entertaining him last night when he received a phone call. She overheard him mention your name. She believes you’re in danger.’
He swung the car into Fenwick Street. ‘You’re in the heart of the Wanchai District now.’
‘Where are we going?’
‘My place. You’ll be safe there. No one can get near you without my knowing.’
‘You’ve done pretty well so far,’ she said. ‘Bob told me about my housemaid.’
‘Sergeant Lee should keep his fat mouth shut,’ BJ returned briefly.
‘BJ, was Guy - did Guy care very much about Silver Moon?’
His throat constricted. He cleared it and answered, ‘I don’t think so. Guy’s a connoisseur of beautiful women. He liked to outdo Sung and he liked to have Silver Moon beside him. Face. She could silence a room by just walking into it. I don’t think he was in love with her, if that’s what you mean. In fact,’ he continued, ‘the night before Pat left, Guy had another woman on his boat, all night. His - private parties are quite well known. He can’t take girls home and too many of the firm have apartments at Eastern Dawn. If he wants a secret affair the boat’s handy.’
‘I see.’ Carol sat up very straight. ‘I’m not a child, BJ.’
‘I know it.’
‘I don’t need to be warned about Guy.’
‘Is that what I was doing? I’m sorry.’
BJ drove through the narrow, twisting streets above Central. Finally he drew up outside his apartment block and parked the car. He got out and came around to open her door. Passers-by looked at them curiously as he lifted her cases from the boot and carried them inside.
‘There’s bound to be gossip,’ he commented cheerfully. ‘A woman staying in Inspector BJ’s apartment? It’s unheard of.’
They climbed the stairs to the first floor and BJ unlocked the door.
‘Make yourself comfortable.’
He took Carol’s luggage through to the bedroom, stripped the sheets from his bed and went to the linen closet beside the bathroom, returning with fresh sheets and pillowcases.
Carol stood by the door, watching him make the bed with military neatness. ‘Where will you sleep?’
He looked up, his eyes twinkling. ‘On the sofa.’
‘Aren’t you a bit long for the sofa?’ she asked doubtfully.
‘I’ve slept in worse beds. I can fold up, you know.’ He gave the bed a final pat and came out. ‘It’s all yours, Carol. I won’t intrude on your privacy,’ he added diffidently. ‘Please trust me.’