Hong Kong - Monday December 30th, 1996
The airport café was crowded but BJ found a vacant table and set Carol’s hand luggage down. ‘Wait here, I’ll get us some coffee.’
Carol sat and watched the mass of humanity passing the café as the arrivals and departures board constantly changed, signalling flights to and from every country on the globe.
BJ returned with two cups and sat opposite her. His dark hair had fallen over his forehead and she leaned forward and brushed it back with her fingers.
‘There seems to be a great deal to say and no time to say it,’ he remarked. She nodded wordlessly. ‘You should have stayed for New Year,’ he added.
Her throat constricted. ‘It wouldn’t make any difference if I stayed another day,’ she said. ‘I’d still have to leave you.’
‘I know.’ His hand covered hers. ‘Thank God you came,’ he said softly. ‘I was dead before. Bob Lee knew it, kept worrying about me.’
He smiled into her eyes. ‘You walk in, save my life and walk out again,’ he accused.
‘I need to go.’ Carol’s emotions threatened to engulf her but she gazed at him steadily. ‘I couldn’t just stay on and on; I have my work at home. And I want to see this through to the end. I’ll be in Sydney on the thirteenth.’
BJ nodded. ‘I’m relying on you to report back, Miss Monk.’
‘I will, inspector.’
A muscle twitched in his cheek. ‘You’ll write to me?’
She gripped his hand and said shakily, ‘Yes, if you want me to.’
‘I do.’ BJ stared down at his coffee slowly cooling in front of him. ‘Who knows where we’ll all be in six months’ time? I don’t know how much Hong Kong will change. I hope, not very much, although I admit I’m concerned. If it changes too much, I might be looking for a new start somewhere.’ He raised his eyes to hers. ‘Would you mind if I turned up on your doorstep one day?’
Carol smiled through her tears. ‘No, I wouldn’t mind that.’
‘Good. I don’t think we’ll say goodbye,’ BJ said carefully, ‘After all, you’re only eight hours away.’
The smile quivered on Carol’s lips. ‘Not very far at all.’
Later, Carol sat looking down at the tarmac. The apartment towers with their gold and blue lights flanked the runway. BJ was indistinguishable in the distant terminal, but she knew he was there, and waved her hand as her aircraft began to roll forward.
In minutes a magical, iridescent carpet glowed beneath her in the dark night. A chain of brilliant jewels outlined the black harbour below, deeply reflected in the water where the bright lights of ships sparkled in an ever-changing pattern.