Hong Kong - Friday December 27th, 1996
It was still dark when Carol saw BJ off in the morning. After he’d gone she sat for a while, languid and deeply content, remembering the previous night. The clock told her it was only 6:30.
She began to feel hungry and made her breakfast, smiling at BJ’s conviction that grand passions didn’t last. True, she told herself, thoughts of breakfast were bound to intrude eventually.
Then she remembered that Wanda had maintained an unexplained, implacable hatred of Guy for years - while he spoke of her without rancour, discussing her with ease, almost affection.
She pondered this as she ate. When the truth came it was with such breathtaking force she nearly dropped her coffee.
Wanda had never hated Guy. She couldn’t keep up that level of anger for so many years. She’d never stopped being Guy’s mistress, all through his marriage, then hers.
Elaine had demanded Guy stop seeing Wanda. Within weeks, Wanda had seduced and married Pat. Probably at Guy’s instigation; then they could still meet legitimately as family. If Wanda pretended to hate Guy, no one would suspect. And no doubt he used her to obtain information withheld from him by David. Of course he must have written to her about business while she was in Australia. It was the only way he could keep ahead of the game. No wonder he’d wanted Pat to take her back.
Carol had sensed Guy’s jealousy of Pat from the start. He was the trusted son, being groomed to take over the company, privy to all David’s plans. And he was a superb horseman, besting Guy two years running for the Langford Cup. Guy would have taken a special pleasure in the deception.
He must have been furious at Wanda’s death. So, why had he helped Pat conceal it then refused to betray his whereabouts?
Carol groaned aloud. She’d let herself be sidetracked, by Guy and BJ; she hadn’t kept her mind on the job. The truth had been there all along.
She hesitated. What if she was wrong? It was bizarre - but what other explanation could there be? BJ had been too close. Knowing both Pat and Guy, it simply never occurred to him.
She crossed to the phone and rang the Excelsior. She asked for Cissy Feng.
Mystified, Cissy carefully repeated Connie Wu’s phone number.
‘Thanks. Don’t tell anyone I asked, please.’
When Connie answered the phone, Carol cut short her greeting. ‘I have to go to Lantau Island right away and I need back up. Will you go with me?’
‘Today?’ Connie sounded doubtful. ‘I have to go to work.’
‘Inspector BJ will make it okay. He said you were supposed to be watching my back.’
‘Yes, but at the hotel, watching the man who was following you.’ She gave a sudden giggle. ‘All right, it’ll be fun. He wouldn’t want you to go alone.’
‘He would not,’ Carol agreed and thought, He wouldn’t want me to go at all. ‘How do we get there?’
‘By ferry. Wear a scarf around your head to hide your red hair, and put on sunglasses. The ferry leaves from Sheung Wan at 8:15. You’ll have to hurry.’
‘I’ll be there.’ Carol replaced the receiver. She hastily donned her jeans, a tan wool jumper and her blue anorak. She covered her curls with a tweed scarf then dashed off a note to BJ, sealing it in an envelope with Mike Moran’s fax and the two photographs of Pat.
Joe arrived promptly in his taxi to pick her up. As he dropped her at the pier she gave him the envelope and asked him to deliver it to the inspector.
Connie was waiting for her, also in blue jeans with a matching denim jacket, her hair plaited tightly against the back of her head. She grinned as Carol ran down the pier. ‘Great. No one will know you. I’ll get the tickets.’
BJ listened to Bob’s report on the phone tap.
‘Sylvia convinced Wing that Jimmy was temporarily suspended, pending an inquiry into his relationship with Silver Moon. He almost purred. She said she’d report any more information.’
‘Anything else of interest?’
‘No, they’re pretty cautious. One name was mentioned, in passing. Nothing incriminating. A name we both know.’ Bob lowered his voice and spoke softly.
BJ looked surprised. ‘He must keep it very secret.’
‘I asked Silver Moon’s friend.’ Bob chuckled. ‘She said he sneaks in the back, gambles a little, uses the girls occasionally. They don’t like him. He likes it rough and he’s a lousy tipper; wants the works but resents paying for it. Tries to make them do more for him on the strength of his position.’
‘I wonder if his wife has any idea,’ BJ muttered. ‘If she knew, she wouldn’t let him back in her bed.’
‘He does it for face,’ Bob said caustically. ‘Doesn’t want to be thought not up to it, then he’s scared shitless it’ll get around, so he tries to keep it a secret. I’ll bet he brags about it to his cronies, though.’
‘I always said he was paranoid.’ BJ grimaced. ‘Pity he’s not into anything criminal, unless ...?’ He paused hopefully.
Bob grinned. ‘Nothing’s come up in that line.’
There was a tap on the door and a constable delivered Carol’s note. BJ read it, his face suddenly frozen. Bob wondered what could possibly have caused that look.
BJ lifted his head and stared unseeingly at his sergeant. ‘Oh God!’ he said thickly. He pushed the note across the desk.
Bob read it through then turned the photographs over. ‘Holy shit!’
BJ spoke rapidly. ‘I want an immediate tail on Guy Langford, Wing Chang and Sung Yen-lo. It’s time for Sylvia to play her part.’
Bob nodded and hurriedly left the office.
BJ pulled a pad towards him, began to draft a message. When it was worded to his satisfaction he rang Jimmy Wong.
Jimmy snatched up the receiver. When he heard the inspector’s voice he stammered, ‘S-Sir! Jenny’s missing. She must have run away in the night. She had a phone call earlier last evening, then went to her room. We only just found out she’s gone ...’
‘Who was the call from?’ BJ interrupted.
‘She didn’t say. Sylvia and I were in the kitchen.’
BJ swore. ‘There isn’t time for this. I’ve got a message for Sylvia to pass to Wing Chang.’
‘Yes, sir, but what about Jenny?’ Jimmy insisted.
‘She knew what she was doing,’ BJ said curtly. ‘It isn’t the first time she’s got away from you. She met Miss Monk yesterday. We’ll start a search for her but the sooner they get this, the sooner she’ll be safe. Are you ready?’
Jimmy gulped, wrote down the message and read it back.
‘Wait ten minutes then have Sylvia phone it through.’
BJ disconnected the call then dialled another number. ‘Get me Inspector Mitchell, ASAP.’
Guy’s private line buzzed and he picked up the receiver.
Mary waited, pencil poised. He looks awful, she worried. He’s at the end of his rope, with Ben’s death and Captain Ho and the China Wind. Now rumour says BJ’s taken Carol away from him. Guy has terrible joss at the moment.
The voice on the other end of the line said, ‘I want to purchase a jade cat.’
‘What quality jade?’
Guy nodded to Mary. ‘Thanks, you can go.’ As she left the office, he drummed nervous fingers on the desk. ‘Report.’
He listened, an odd smile twisting his mouth. Then he put down the receiver and buzzed the outer office.
Mary answered promptly. ‘I’ve been called away,’ Guy said briskly. ‘Cancel all my appointments for the rest of the day.’
As he went out Mary watched him covertly. He didn’t look upset now. He looked excited, like when he rode the winner in the Langford Cup.
In the surveillance van BJ put down the headphones and turned to Bob, his eyes gleaming. ‘That was the call. We’ve got him.’
‘The jade cat code?’
‘From Wing Chang to Guy, exactly as I gave it to Sylvia. He’s on his way. Let’s go, Bob.’
A car was waiting to drive them down to the harbour where they boarded the police launch.
‘Okay?’ Inspector Mitchell asked.
‘Right, Mitch, let her go - and make sure we get there before they do.’
His friend winked and signalled the crew. ‘I think we can safely promise to outrun the ferry, and the Evening Star.’
The launch backed, then headed out across the harbour, leaving a foaming wake across the blue-green water.
The Lantau Ferry ploughed into Silvermine Bay. Behind white high-rises, the island rose like a great green dragon, jagged and steep. The little ship eased her way to the jetty.
The passengers disembarked. Connie said, ‘Wait for me,’ and disappeared down the street. Carol scanned the horizon for any signs of pursuit.
Just as she was wondering where Connie had got to, a large red motor bike pulled up beside her, the policewoman astride, helmeted and wearing a black leather jacket.
She tossed a second helmet to Carol. ‘I couldn’t get you a jacket. I borrowed the bike from a friend who lives here.’
Carol strapped on the helmet and mounted behind her. Connie gunned the engine and took off at breakneck speed, dodging a taxi and cutting off a bus as it drew out into the road. She shouted cheerfully, ‘Not much traffic on Lantau, very lucky for us.’
Carol took a deep breath and nodded.
The bike headed down the narrow bitumen road that snaked along the eastern side of the island, unfolding tranquil coastal scenes of white beaches, green headlands and little bright blue inlets. They passed holiday houses and complexes owned by various corporations and used by their staff for holidays; and large, secluded, Spanish-style villas in carefully maintained gardens, owned by the Hong Kong rich. Sandy paths led through the bush to well-ordered camp sites.
Connie slowed. ‘I come camping on Lantau, with my friends. Good bush walks.’ She pointed to a road sign on which a cow was depicted. ‘It means beware of cows. They run wild all over Lantau, left here by early farmers.’
‘Are they sacred cows, like in India?’
Connie laughed. ‘No, not holy cows - but lucky cows because they’re free and don’t have to work. Lots of snakes here, too,’ she added, ‘so also beware of snakes.’
Ten minutes later she pulled onto the gravel verge and turned off the engine. ‘We go quietly from here, very close now.’
They dismounted. Connie wheeled the motor bike into the bush where they left it and the helmets hidden under thick foliage.
Connie pointed to a narrow track which led through the undergrowth. ‘We go this way, come out above the bungalow. We can see from there if anyone’s around.’
They walked quietly along the track, pushing the dense vegetation aside. The path ran steeply up into the hills, twisting to reveal glimpses of the coast below.
A red-tiled roof came into view and a tall whitewashed wall. Connie put her finger to her lips for caution. They crept forward until they looked down into the paved courtyard of a villa, protected by high stone walls and a strong iron gate.
A pair of suitcases stood in the yard. The heavy, rhythmic beat of music floated out of the open front door. There was no other sign of life.
‘It looks as if someone’s ready to leave,’ Carol whispered. ‘They must have got word.’
Connie nodded. ‘We’ll have to move fast. Someone could come anytime.’
‘How do we get in?’
She pointed to a large tree growing in the courtyard, its branches spreading a pool of shade across the wall. ‘That way. Can you climb?’
‘Not that wall.’
Connie chuckled. ‘You’ll see.’ She trod softly down the slope.
Carol shrugged and followed her. At the foot of the wall Connie unzipped her jacket; around her slim waist was a length of rope with a weight attached to the end and Carol glimpsed a holster strapped underneath the WPC’s arm. Connie uncoiled the rope and began to swing it expertly. It slid up through her fingers and the weight swung around a thick branch.
‘You go first,’ she said softly.
Carol pulled herself swiftly up to the shelter of the leaves above her and Connie climbed after her as she slid down the trunk. The policewoman landed softly beside her and slipped her revolver out of its holster.
Carol pulled off her scarf and stuffed it into a pocket, then together they crossed the courtyard and went through the front door.
They were in a high-ceilinged entrance hall with a terracotta tiled floor and green bushes in tubs set around the walls. The music came from an archway at the far side and they followed the sound. It led them through to a wide living room, thickly carpeted and furnished with rich leather chairs and settees and low polished wooden tables.
A woman in an elegant suit of peacock coloured silk sat in one of the chairs, aimlessly leafing through a magazine. On one wrist she wore a heavy gold and turquoise bracelet. Her lustrous black hair was loose around her shoulders. Under a smart little blue hat her beautiful face was marred by a sulky frown as she glanced impatiently at her watch, then at the clock on the wall.
Carol stepped forward. Catching the movement from the corner of her eye, the woman grumbled, ‘At last! What took you so long?’ She turned to the doorway and her jaw dropped with disbelief.
‘Hello, Wanda,’ Carol said. ‘I thought I’d find you here.’