As they drove through the dark streets, Robbie outlined his plan.

“Guy’s name is Hirsch. Lives in one of these high-security housing estates,” he told her. “They’re going up like weeds in this area. Rich folk want to feel safe. Safe from poor people.” He laughed. “Except this guy, he’s different. He wants to keep away from all the folk who’d like to kill him.”

“So what do we do?”

“We’ve been keeping an eye on him. This evening he’s meeting his squeeze for a bit of fun. He’ll be home around nine p.m. Now Hirsch has an armed security guard who rides with him during the day. But on nookie nights he comes home alone. Drives straight into his garage. Bulletproof glass in his car windows. There’s only one chance we’ll have to take him down.”

“What’s that?”

“When he swipes his card to get into the estate. He’s got to roll his window down to do it. We take him then.” Robbie glanced at the dashboard clock. It read 20.45.

As plans went, Jade thought this one sounded suicidal. She’d never heard anything so crazy in her life.

“He lives in a security estate? The entrance will be guarded, Robbie. There’ll be armed personnel watching us.”

“Yeah, that’s true, babe. Two guards on duty at night. But they won’t be there.”

“Where will they be?”

“Responding to a call from a resident. Mrs. Chalmers, who lives in number ninety-six. All the way on the other side of the estate.”

Robbie pulled over to the side of the road and handed her a cell phone. He pulled a black beanie onto his head and adjusted the pair of mirrored sunglasses he’d put on. “We’ll call the guardhouse as soon as his car passes us. I suggest you sound frightened. Say there’s a strange vehicle parked outside your house and you’ve just seen a man run into your garden holding a gun.”

A sleek silver vehicle swept past them.

“That’s him.” Robbie put the car into gear. “Make the call and let’s get going. We’re only going to get one shot at doing this, I’m telling you now. We mess up and he sees us, we’re dead meat.”

Jade spoke with a tremor in her voice that wasn’t put on for the benefit of the guards. She felt out of her depth, shocked by the sudden turn the evening had taken. She hadn’t done this kind of job for ten years. Was Robbie even telling the truth? Or was she about to become an accomplice in the murder of an innocent man?

As soon as she hung up Robbie floored the accelerator and they sped after the silver car.

“We’ll stop behind him, but not too close,” he said. “As soon as I jump out, move into the driver’s seat and get ready to turn and go.”

The road was lined with security estates that sported gran-diose names and ostentatious entrances. Robbie slowed as he approached a construction site. “MOUNTAIN VIEW VILLAS. LUXURY DWELLINGS, SECURE ENVIRONMENT,” the gigantic sign read. The place was being built by a company called White & Co.

“That’s the second phase in progress. Hirsch lives next door. In Mountain View Phase One. Here we are.” Robbie turned into the wide paved driveway, lined with palm trees and clay flowerpots. The headlights swept the spiky shadows of leaves across their path. He flicked a knob on the dashboard and switched the lights off so they could approach in darkness. He steered with one hand, tearing at the nails of the other, his lips pulled back from his teeth. Watching him, Jade took a deep breath. She wasn’t the only one who was nervous.

Robbie eased to a stop a few meters behind the silver car at the security boom. He tensed as the mirrored window started moving slowly downwards. The area was quiet. No cars leaving, none arriving. It was just themselves and Hirsch. The perfect situation for an ambush.

Quietly opening the door, he strolled over, the gun materi-alizing in his hand as if by magic. Jade scooted across the con-toured leather to the driver’s seat. Cold air rushed in through the open door. She drew out her Glock and held it by her side.

The window of the silver vehicle was now fully down. She saw a black-sleeved arm emerge. Hirsch hadn’t seen Robbie.

Robbie reached the car, crouched and sighted. She jumped as she heard the whiplash crack of the shot. He didn’t move. He must be checking his target was down. Her gaze snapped back and forth across the area. Nobody behind them. No movement from the guardhouse.

Then the back door of Hirsch’s vehicle flew open and she gasped as a gray-suited man leapt out and sprinted round towards Robbie, a large black pistol in his hand.

Jade scrambled out of the car in a breathless instant. Their intelligence had been wrong. The armed guard was traveling with the drug lord. For whatever crazy reason, Robbie hadn’t seen the man in the backseat. If she didn’t react in time, his life expectancy would be measured in seconds.

“Crap,” Jade hissed. Now she would be forced to shoot an innocent man to save Robbie’s life—if a drug lord’s security detail could be considered innocent. At any rate, he wasn’t the one who dealt in illegal substances. He hadn’t given orders for a sixteen-year-old to die. And he wasn’t trying to kill her.

Worst of all, from her dimly lit vantage point, she would have to shoot him in the back to be certain of hitting him.

Tension thrumming through her body, and hating herself for the cowardly crime she was about to commit, Jade sighted down the barrel of the Glock, watching the man’s blond hair blow back from his pale face as he rounded the car. She saw Robbie’s horror as he stumbled backwards, trying to straighten up from his crouched position, attempting to raise his own weapon. But he was too late and too slow.

Jade squeezed the trigger. Once, twice, three times. The gun bucked in her hands, the shattering explosions ringing in her ears. The impact of the bullets sent the man reeling forward and down, like a drunk being forcefully evicted from a bar on the wrong side of town. His arms fell to his sides and he folded to the ground. His fingers scrabbled weakly on the tarmac as if attempting to clutch onto life. Recovering fast, Robbie leapt up and fired another two shots into the fallen man’s head.

Then she was back in the car, feeling the powerful engine roar as she prepared for the getaway. Robbie dived into the passenger seat and slammed the door. Jade accelerated away in a tight, fast turn.

Glancing behind, she saw two men running to the silver car. The security guards, she was sure. Back from their ficti-tious call-out. She headed back onto the quiet road, past the construction signs, her legs quivering and a terrible coldness in her heart.

Robbie was slumped onto the seat, panting.

“Shit. Thought I was dead meat there for a second. You saved my ass, babe. Keep driving. Nice and slow, like a good citizen. Turn right here, then left to the main road. We can blend in with the traffic. God, my heart is racing. That’s the problem with these drug lord fuckers. They have instincts we don’t even know about. Something must have told him to keep the guard working overtime tonight.” He drew a deep breath and looked more closely at Jade. “Hey. You OK?”

Jade shook her head, blinking tears away. She wasn’t okay. She felt like turning the Glock on herself. She’d killed a man who had no part to play in Robbie’s client’s revenge, who was loyally protecting his employer. She had stepped too far over the line now. She was a murderer, no better than Robbie. No better than Viljoen.

“I’m fine.” Snapping out the words, she joined the main road.

“No, you’re not. I can see you’re upset. I’m sorry you had to get involved. But how was I to know that stupid guard was driving him home?”

Jade’s foot slipped off the clutch and the car choked to a stop. She turned to Robbie, eyes wide.

“The security guard was driving?”

He gave a shaky laugh.

“Couldn’t believe it when I checked the corpse and saw I’d shot some dwarf in a tuxedo. I couldn’t see into the back. It was partitioned off with more of that damn tinted glass. Next thing I know I’m looking down the barrel of a Little Eagle. Nice piece. Wish I’d had time to grab it. Anyway, point is, you shot Hirsch. He was your kill.” He fixed her with a steady gaze as she restarted the car. “I owe you a big one, Jade.”

She drove on, checking the mirrors for blue flashing lights, listening for the sirens she was expecting at any moment. And feeling relief slowly dilute her terrible guilt.

Robbie laughed again, louder and slightly hysterical. He elbowed her in the side.

“You’re so cute sometimes, babe, you know that? You get all upset because you think you shot somebody innocent. As if that guard wasn’t scum like the rest of them. He’s probably the guy who did all Hirsch’s dirty work on his behalf.”

Jade ignored Robbie’s humor attack.

“I’ll tell you how you can pay me back,” she said. “Find out who’s getting paid to quash cases. You brag about your con-nections. Find me the bent cop.”

He looked at her, eyes glinting, teeth bared in a grin.

“Consider it done.”

Random Violence