Jade phoned David as soon as she was home. Moloi answered and told her he was in a meeting with Williams. She remem-bered Moloi as an enthusiastic rookie who’d joined her father’s team shortly before she left, one of the first big intake of black recruits. Today he was a captain, David’s right-hand man and, according to him, one of the few staff he could trust to do the best possible job.

She briefed him on the latest developments. A torched office, a missing detective, a stolen computer and one uncon-scious woman fighting for her life in intensive care. A black Mercedes with no number plates seen at Grobbelaar’s offices.

Moloi said he would inform his boss immediately.

With David working late, Jade had no culinary obligations in the form of cop food. After she’d updated her case notes, she began to prepare some soup for dinner. Healthy, warming soup with lentils and chopped tomatoes. She wrapped a few giant garlic cloves in tinfoil and put them in the oven to roast.

When the soup had been bubbling for an hour, she switched off the stove, unwrapped the garlic and squeezed the soft insides out of the crispy cloves and into the pot.

She tasted it. Superb. A delicious, subtle combination of flavors. And yet she felt something was lacking.

Jade glanced over at the plastic container of chili powder. She pulled it closer and had a short mental battle with herself.

“You can’t have chili with everything,” she said.

Perhaps just a pinch would do. To liven it up a little.

Jade stirred in a heaped teaspoon and tried the soup again. Now it was perfect.

As she turned to the cupboard to find a bowl, she saw the fuzzy glare of headlights through the steamed-up kitchen window and then heard a honk outside her gate. She hurried to the door, expecting to see David.

It was Robbie, sat behind the wheel of a black BMW. He leaned out of the window when he saw her. His hair was gelled back on his head. The product had tamed the tight curls into uneven waves.

“Come here, Jade,” he called. “I want to show you something.”

Jade grabbed the keys and locked the security door behind her. She hurried over to the gate, bracing herself against the cold and wondering with an uneasy shiver how the hell Robbie had managed to find her. Was there a GPS tracker in the ammo bag?

He grinned at her and swung open the passenger door.

“I got connections who tell me things,” he said.

Jade climbed into the car. The interior smelled of expen-sive leather.

“Your connections tell you there’s a cop living next door?” she asked.

Robbie’s grin widened. “They told me he’s not home.” He reversed out of the driveway and kicked up gravel as he pulled away.

“I thought you wanted to show me something in the car. Not take me somewhere in the car.” Jade tugged her seat belt across and clicked it into place.

“We’ve got to go somewhere before I can show you.” He sniffed the air. “What the hell have you been doing? It smells like an Italian just farted in here.”

“I was squeezing garlic cloves. For soup.”

Robbie made a face. “There’s a bag in the back. Grab it, will you? I got us grilled chicken takeaways. Good food. Not this garlic crap. I got extra spicy for you. We can eat while we drive.”

“Where are we going?”

“Wait and see.”

Robbie turned onto the main road and flattened his foot on the accelerator while reaching for a piece of chicken. They flew past another car, overtaking on a solid line, Jade staring in horror at the headlights of the oncoming truck.

The driver blared his horn in warning. The BMW’s engine roared as it surged forward. They nipped sideways just before the truck rattled past. It was carrying a full load of river sand. Water dripped from the tailgate.

“They must be doing night work,” Robbie observed, lick-ing his fingers. “Do you know there’s actually a shortage of cement in the country? Too much construction. It’s a great opportunity for black market product. I’m looking into it seriously.”

“Robbie, that’s interesting, but please drive slower.”

“No worries, babe. This car has got airbags and stuff.”

“Airbags are not designed to protect people from twenty tons of mass in motion.”

“Chill. I’m a great driver, you know.”

Jade trusted Robbie’s driving skills about as much as she trusted Robbie himself. Fortunately, the traffic was on her side. When they turned onto the highway heading for Pre-toria, a wall of red taillights ahead of them signaled a serious jam. Cursing, he hit the brakes. Jade loosened her grip on her seat. Now that they were moving at the same speed as an old ox-wagon she could relax.

“We’re going the other side of the boerewors curtain,” Robbie said.

“The boerewors curtain?”

“C’mon, Jade, you must have heard that expression before.”


“It’s a great description. You know what boerewors is-don’t tell me you’ve forgotten just because you’ve been out of the country for so long. Well, northern Pretoria’s all farmers and traditional Afrikaners now. Little suburbs full of poor whites. In the old days, they’d have worked on the farms. Nowadays they still have that same mentality. I’m surprised we don’t need passports to get there.”

“Get where?”

“You’ll see.”

Robbie went through a tollgate and turned off the highway. A few minutes later, they were driving through suburbia. Small houses, narrow roads lined with trees. Jade remembered that Pretoria was also known as Jacaranda City. She wondered whether, in early summer, this street would be transformed into a purple-lined avenue as the trees produced their distinctive flowers. The branches were bare now, so she couldn’t tell.

Robbie pulled up at an intersection and parked on the pavement.

“Come on. This way.”

Pretoria’s more northerly location meant it was usually a couple of degrees warmer than Jo’burg. It didn’t feel warmer now. Outside on the street, Jade felt cold and exposed. Her foot-steps seemed very loud on the tarmac. The small houses were situated close to the road. Close enough for people to watch them walking past in the yellow glare of the streetlights.

The air smelled of burning charcoal and crisping fat. Somewhere, someone was braaing meat outdoors. She sup-posed that people on the other side of the boerewors curtain were too tough to be driven indoors at night just because it happened to be winter.

“Here,” Robbie whispered, pulling her arm. He pointed to one of the houses and crept forward.

Jade looked through the fence, across the narrow strip of garden. In the pool of light cast by the street lamp, the grass looked dry and untended. Behind the net curtains, Jade could see a shape moving slowly across the dimly lit front room. It looked odd—squat and square. It took her a moment to realize that it was the silhouette of an elderly woman in a wheelchair.

“What’s this about?” she muttered, staring at the outline of the old lady.

Robbie’s grip tightened on her arm. “Viljoen’s mother,” he hissed back at her. “This is where he’ll be staying when he’s out of jail. He’s going to live with his old mum. I’ve heard it from a reliable source.”

Jade continued to stare through the curtains. The old lady’s head was bowed as she struggled to maneuver her wheelchair across the small room. When she came to a halt by the window, Jade saw that Mrs. Viljoen was ancient and shriveled, beaten down by age and ill health. Her two sons were murderers. One was completing his jail sentence. The other one was dead. She watched the old lady lean forward and switch off the light. Her arm trembled from the effort. Who would have thought that a frail woman like this could ever have given birth to two such monsters?

“Come on. You’ve seen the place now. Let’s go.”

Jade waited a moment more, contemplating the humble little house. Then she turned and hurried back to the car.

Robbie started the engine. The fan blew warm air into Jade’s face.

“You brought me all the way just to see Viljoen’s mother?”she asked.

He glanced at the dashboard clock, then back at her.

“Not exactly. Just killing time.” His eyes flashed in the dim light. “I’ve got a job to do close by. Verna’s busy tonight. I need your help, I need you to hold the wheel.”

He climbed out of the car, opened the trunk and took out a set of number plates. Jade watched while he swapped the plates onto the front and rear of the car and threw the origi-nals back into the trunk.

Her palms were suddenly slick with sweat. Her mind was racing. It had been ten years since Robbie had held the wheel for her. Ten years since she’d leaned out of the passenger window and stared, with cold and merciless accuracy, down the barrel of her gun.

She’d worked and traveled all over the world since then, always on the move, uneasy about spending time in any one place. She’d told herself she was running from Viljoen, that she wasn’t prepared to return to South Africa until he was freed. Perhaps she had been wrong. Perhaps she was running from herself.

“Well?” Robbie drummed his fingers on the dashboard. “You up for it? We’ve got to get going. Deadline’s in half an hour.”

Jade didn’t reply. She was remembering how she had lined up the gun on her target. How she’d squeezed the trigger, her hand steady, her finger caressing the cool metal, arms absorbing the recoil, sighting, firing again. How the shots had echoed off the buildings in the dark street.

The second time, the third time, both deliberately wide. Winging him, only because the first head shot had been deadly accurate, and criminals who could shoot straight were rare. Why narrow the field of suspects? Let the police think it had been a random hit. A lucky bullet.

How she’d been thrown forward as Robbie slammed on the brakes. She’d grabbed the dashboard, yelling at him. What was he doing? Why had he stopped? He’d jumped out and rifled through the dead guy’s pockets, his shadow looming over the body in the glow of the headlights, darkening the blood that had splashed crimson onto the pavement. “Gotta make it look authentic,” he’d told her, swinging into the driver’s seat with a bulging wallet in his hand. “Let’s get out before the cops arrive.”

Jade shook her head to clear the memory. She’d done it once. She’d do it once more. But that was enough. Never again.

“Well?” Robbie asked again, his voice sharp.

Jade lifted her chin and stared him down. “No. I’m sorry, Robbie. I can’t do this with you.”

He looked straight at her, eyes narrow and predatory in the leather-scented gloom.

“Babe,” he said, “I’m going to make you change your mind.”

Random Violence