Hong Kong - Thursday December 26th, 1996
Guy opened the door of his Eastern Dawn apartment and wrung Jon’s hand.
‘Great to see you. Come in. When did you get back?’
Jon’s eyes were dark-shadowed, his even mouth a taut line. ‘An hour ago,’ he said briefly. ‘I’ve been with Daphne and Paul.’
Guy motioned him to a chair and walked over to the bar. ‘Drink?’
‘Black Label, if you’ve got it.’ He sank into the chair and loosened his tie.
Guy handed him a glass. Jon said, ‘Cheers,’ drank deeply, then set the tumbler down on a small table. He looked at Guy who sat opposite, running a thoughtful finger around the rim of his own glass.
Guy glanced up and met his eyes. He gave a rueful grin. ‘It’s a bloody mess, Jon.’
‘I just heard,’ Jon said soberly. ‘The China Wind.’
‘Gone. I was there. Captain Ho’s lost, only one of the crew’s still alive.’
‘Not fucking likely.’ He gave a short laugh.
‘Shit!’ Jon’s face was pale. ‘How did they get him?’
The crewman reckons Ho took a package on board from the Elaine MacKenzie.’
‘Oh, shit! A bloody bomb.’
‘That’s my guess. Captain Ho saw the shipment. He had a row with Ho San just before they sailed. Threatened to go to the police.’
‘God, why did we ever get into this?’ Jon struck a palm against the arm of his chair.
‘You were happy enough at the time,’ Guy reminded him dryly. ‘You’ve enjoyed the money. I had no choice.’
‘There’s always a choice.’
‘Not for me. I needed big cash, fast. I’m not complaining.’ Guy’s laugh held a note of bravado.
‘Benny’s death, was that because of the - jade shipments?’
‘What do you think?’
‘Don’t go to pieces on me now,’ Guy said sourly. ‘All the planning, the work, getting you set up in Sydney, organising the network, making sure I got the information, in spite of David.’ He scowled. ‘We’ve gone too far, taken too many risks, to turn back now. The rewards are going to be huge. Chow Lin-chi promises we’ll double our profit next year.’
Jon picked up his glass and drained it. ‘I heard Pat’s supposed to be with Lin-chi.’
‘He’s not there.’
‘You know where he is,’ Jon said slowly.
His voice was hard. ‘Did he kill Wanda?’
‘They had a fight. It was an accident.’ Guy shrugged. ‘I’m sorry, Jon, you won’t be seeing Wanda again.’
William tightened his hold on the receiver as he heard the tremor in Jenny’s voice. He’d rung her apartment a dozen times before trying her brother’s. When he’d been unable to find her, he’d been on the verge of panic. Now she seemed evasive, unwilling to see him. He had to get her alone, away from her family.
She’d argued that she was still sick.
‘You didn’t even bother to phone me,’ he accused.
‘I wanted to, honestly, but ...’ Her voice was suspended with tears.
‘I want to see you,’ he cut in. ‘If you won’t come to me, I’ll come over there right now.’
‘No!’ she squeaked. ‘You can’t. It’s late. I was just about to go to bed.’
He tried to soften his tone. ‘Please, Jen,’ he coaxed. ‘I want you. I’ll shout you a cab; please come to me.’
‘No, Bill, I c-can’t.’
Her voice had dropped to a whisper but he heard the note of fear and it aroused his suspicions. ‘Why not?’ He demanded. ‘Have you got someone else? That’s it, isn’t it? You’ve found another bloke while I’ve been away.’
She gasped. ‘I haven’t, I promise.’ Then she remembered Arthur’s words. ‘Anyway,’ she countered angrily, ‘what if I did? You go with other girls. I’ve got myself a reputation because of you.’ She gave an involuntary sob. ‘Get one of your tarts to keep you warm tonight.’
‘Jen …’ he pleaded with her. ‘When was the last time you heard about me and another woman? It’s you I want … don’t you know that? I’m worried sick about you. I’m desperate to see you.’
Jenny gripped the receiver, suddenly dizzy with joy. ‘Bill! Is it really true? You’re not just saying it?’
‘Of course not, you silly girl.’ His voice caressed her. ‘I’m going crazy thinking you don’t want me anymore. I love you, Jenny Wong, do you hear me? I bloody well adore every hair on your gorgeous head.’ He gave a shaky laugh. ‘Darling Jen, I brought you a present, from Tokyo. I can’t give it to you over the phone, can I? Are you going to come over here or do I have to come and drag you out by force?’
Shaken, she leaned against the wall and moaned slightly. He sounded so fierce ... but what if it a trick? What if he was the one Arthur had rung? Was he only saying he loved her so she’d go to him? She wanted him so badly it hurt. She loved him; surely she should trust him.
She murmured, ‘All right, yes, I’ll get a taxi right away.’
There was strong relief in his voice. ‘Hurry then, I’ll look after you. You can trust me.’
Carol smiled at BJ and gently touched his face. He kissed her fingers.
‘Happy, inspector?’ she asked.
His expression was deeply peaceful. ‘Extremely, Miss Monk.’
She curled up against him. ‘You look smug,’ he remarked. ‘Did you know about me all along?’
‘No, I wondered once or twice, the way you looked at me, your high-handed attitude; but tonight, when I was late ...’
‘I gave myself away?’
‘Completely.’ She raised herself on one elbow and looked at him. ‘Was that when you knew?’
‘No, I realised at Guy’s party how much I wanted you. He knew it, too,’ BJ added darkly. ‘He made sure I noticed exactly how well he was getting on with you. I could have cheerfully strangled him.’
Carol leaned over and kissed him. ‘Why didn’t you say something, instead of being such a gentleman?’
He held her close. ‘I thought you were interested in him. He’s more your age.’ There was a trace of irony in his voice.
‘And such a super stud, I hear,’ she said.
‘You’re pretty good yourself, BJ.’ She freed herself and sat up against the pillows. ‘Doesn’t anyone ever call you Philip?’
He smiled reflectively. ‘Only David, when he’s good and mad at me.’
Carol stroked his hair back from his forehead. ‘If I hadn’t been staying here, would you have gone on being correct and noble about me and Guy and not told me how you felt?’
His face closed. ‘Probably. I know from experience grand passions don’t last forever. No one has that much energy. Life continues, the pain lessens, the years go by.’
‘Don’t,’ she said quickly. ‘I never wanted Guy. He’s fun, charming ... and I like him, whatever he’s up to. But I wouldn’t have let it go any further.’
BJ pulled himself up beside her. ‘On the yacht,’ he said sternly, ‘I’m not a fool, Carol, he must have tried. He has an enviable record for getting girls into his cabin in double-quick time. He doesn’t take them sailing unless he’s pretty confident. With him it’s an art form.’
She chuckled. ‘Yes, he tried. I became extremely claustrophobic and nothing happened. Believe me, it wouldn’t have anyway. I didn’t want it to and Guy isn’t the type to force a woman. He likes a willing partner.’
He studied her, a frown in his eyes. ‘You were claustrophobic before, Bob told me, in your hotel room.’
‘It happens occasionally, when I’m in danger.’ She bit her lip. ‘I - I feel I can’t breathe, everything starts closing in on me. I can usually control it, but when Guy tried to make love to me I felt ill. That’s when I knew there was something wrong.’
She moved closer and kissed his cheek. ‘Do you really think,’ she murmured, ‘that I’d have gone to bed with Guy when I haven’t been able to stop thinking about a certain inspector ever since he leaned over his desk and told me if I didn’t keep off his patch he’d have me deported?’
‘I didn’t know,’ BJ said regretfully.
‘You gave me every reason to think I was a nuisance and you wanted me out of Hong Kong on the first available flight. I thought you wanted me to go with Guy.’
‘No.’ He kissed her gently; then, as her arms slid around his neck, more urgently, pulling her back down into the bed. Suddenly he lifted his head and said penitently, ‘I just remembered. Jon will be here by now. I’ll have to be off very early in the morning. I’m sorry, I always seem to be leaving you.’
‘You have a job to do, inspector,’ she said sweetly. ‘Would you prefer to go back to the sofa, to be sure you’re properly rested?’
His arms folded her closer. ‘No, I wouldn’t prefer that, thank you, Miss Monk,’ he said. ‘Let me show you exactly what I would prefer.’