They sat in a coffee shop looking out at the worsening weather. Jade ran her fingers through her hair and shook it out. After the short sprint from the house to the car, and the equally short sprint from the car to the shopping center, she was soaked.

“That’s Cape Town weather for you,” she said. “Four seasons in one day.”

David shrugged his jacket off his shoulders, brushed off the raindrops, and hung it on the back of his chair.

“At least you saw a whale,” he grumbled. “If I’d known you were going to spend half an hour hugging the old guy, I’d have stayed and looked out of the window, too.”

They ordered some food. David chose a hamburger from the lunch menu. Jade opted for chicken and chips.

“And bring the Tabasco,” David told the waitress.

“Thanks,” Jade said.

Rain pelted down outside.

“It’s going to be a fun drive back to the airport,” David said. “For you, that is. I’m going to wind my seat back and have a nap. I always sleep well in the rain.”

“Why did they both get shot?” Jade asked. “Why did Annette hire a detective to trace Ellie?”

David nodded. “Were they really hijackings?”

“According to your evidence, Annette’s murder was a hit arranged by Piet.” Jade stared accusingly across the table at him.

“Don’t look at me that way, Jade. I have my doubts about Piet as a suspect in spite of evidence that could be good enough to send him to jail. That’s why I’m down here following leads with you, instead of up in Jo’burg pursuing the case against him. But still, how did a Diepsloot gangster with a criminal record end up in possession of his business card?”

Jade frowned. She couldn’t answer him. They sat and ate, watching the sea, hoping to see another whale.

The drive back to the airport was a two-hour slog. Traffic crawled along, and the gray sheets of rain limited visibility to a car’s length in front of them. They passed two accidents along the way.

The congestion was no better inside the airport. The queues for checking in snaked round and round Cape Town Domestic. Jade heard tourists complaining in Dutch, German, French and Italian. When they finally reached the check-in desk, they were told that the airport had just been closed due to bad weather.

“Your plane was grounded at Johannesburg airport an hour ago,” the stewardess explained to them in doleful tones. “It’s difficult for the smaller planes to land in this weather. If the airplane can’t land here, it can’t fly back again, you see.”

Her logic was inarguable. Jade tried a different angle. “Any other flights? Could we go on standby anywhere else?”

“There are a couple of planes that could take off tonight if the weather improves.” The stewardess indicated the crowded airport. “Unfortunately, I think that there will be lots of people wanting seats on those planes. I still have a few vouchers left for the Road Lodge, here at the airport. You can stay there overnight and I can check you in now for the first flight tomorrow morning.”

Jade looked at David. He shrugged. “Unless you want to rehire the car and spend the next eighteen hours on the road driving back to Johannesburg, we don’t have a choice, do we?”

The room at the Road Lodge was small, neat and clean, decorated in cheerful blue and red. It had one double bed. She remembered the times she’d shared a bed with David in the distant past. Three or four occasions, perhaps. In cheap motels and strange cities, where she’d accompanied him on investigations and accommodation was scarce. Sleeping companionably, back-to-back and fully clothed. Even if she’d always dreamt about what would happen if he rolled over in the deep of the night and kissed her the way she’d always wanted him to.

Now, looking at the double bed, she felt awkward and embarrassed all over again.

“Sorry, Jadey,” David said. “Do you want to see if there’s another room available?”

The porter caught his attention. “All the twin rooms are taken, sir. Only the double rooms are open.”

“That’s OK. We’ll live with it.”

While David showered, Jade went downstairs and bought a selection of chips, chocolate and soft drinks from the vending machines. They could have a junk-food supper and fall asleep to the sound of their teeth rotting.

After her shower, she put on the spare T-shirt she’d brought with her and folded her clothes ready for the morning. Then she climbed into bed as quickly as possible, keeping so far over to her side that she was worried she’d tumble out onto the floor.

“So Mark Myers was a freeloader,” David said. He was sitting up, propped against his pillows, programming the alarm clock on his cell phone.

“Sounds like it,” Jade agreed. “But you can never tell. We’ve only heard Mr. Scott’s side of the story. Mark might have been an honest, hardworking man who just wasn’t quite as rich as his wife.”

David put his cell phone down and turned off the bedside light. “You’re right, Jadey. Two sides to every story.”

Jade edged her feet down into the chilly depths of the sheets. David was so far away from her she’d have more chance of sharing body warmth with the person in the room next door. The discomfort of the cold bed prompted her to ask him an uncomfortable question. “What’s the other side to your story? Why did your wife leave you?”

There was a tense silence on the other side of the bed.

Just as Jade started to say “Sorry I asked,” David spoke.

“She had an affair.”

Jade’s head whipped round, facing the darkness where he lay.


“She had an affair,” he said again. His voice wasn’t angry or sad. He sounded empty and emotionless. “With a neighbor. I knew him. He was a nice guy. They managed to keep it secret until I came home early one day and caught them.”

“Oh, Jesus, how awful.” Jade’s heart was pounding so hard she wondered if he could hear it.

David gave the ghost of a laugh. “I wanted to kill him when I saw them together. I threatened him with my service pistol. I actually had it against his head. I could have pulled the trigger so easily. I don’t know why I didn’t. He ran outside as soon as he had a chance.”

“Wasn’t only his fault,” Jade said, and immediately wished she hadn’t.

She heard the bedsprings creak as David turned over. Now he was facing her, she thought, but she couldn’t see him in the dark. The expanse of cold starched sheets between them seemed like an insurmountable barrier.

“I know, I know. I told myself I’d caused it, that my working hours were crap and my job stress was through the roof, but yes, Naisha knew what she was doing. Although I never wanted to kill her. Only him.”

“Where’s he now?”

“They broke it off. He took a job in Pietermaritzburg and moved down there within a month. I don’t know if they’re still in touch. Then Naisha wanted some time apart from me, to sort her head out. She was devastated by what had hap-pened. So I found the place in Kyalami.”

Jade didn’t say anything. She didn’t know what to say. She wanted to reach out to him and hold his hand, put her arms around him, offer him some comfort just as she had done earlier for Ellie’s father in the beautiful, lonely room by the sea. But she couldn’t. David cleared his throat. After another pause, he continued.

“When we met in town, when I gave her the fingerprint disk, she told me she’d thought about it. She wanted us to try again. That’s what she said to me.”

Jade suddenly wished she was somewhere else. She didn’t want to hear what David said next. Not while she was lying beside him in a hotel bed that felt as wide as the distance between two stars. She didn’t dare to breathe, as if by not breathing she could somehow influence a decision that had already been made.

“What did you say to her?” she asked.

“I told her no.”

Now she really couldn’t breathe. “Why?”

“Don’t know. Just felt like the right decision.”

“Oh.” Jade stared up into the dark. She wished she could see his face.

“If I had my time over,” David said. He never finished the sentence. The next moment Jade heard the bedsprings twang and felt his arm coil around her and pull her towards him. Then her face was bumping against his and his mouth was on her cheek, and then suddenly, urgently, on her lips.

Jade found herself wrapping her arms and legs around him as he pulled her even closer.

His breathing was rough as he touched her with trembling hands, stroking and caressing with a hunger that echoed her own. She heard him say sorry, and whisper her name over and over before he kissed her again. She knew there was no going back. Whatever the consequences, good or bad, right or wrong, she would always have this night.

Random Violence