When Jade switched on her phone again, she had three urgent messages from Robbie.

She had spent the flight in a sleepy trance, reliving the memories of the night. The car journey back from the airport passed in much the same way. Back home, she climbed out as quickly as she could, before she could follow through on any inappropriate ideas like kissing David goodbye. He had to make his own choices now. There was nothing she could do.

She phoned Robbie back. He sounded as if he was driving.

“Where were you? I’ve been hunting for you.”

“On the early flight from Cape Town.”

“I’m coming to fetch you now. We need to get going with your friend Viljoen. Chop-chop. This morning.”

Jade rubbed her eyes. She needed a shower. More than that, she needed eight uninterrupted hours of sleep. But time was limited. Piet was languishing in a holding cell. She had a busy Monday lined up.

“Why today?”

“What, you want to wait till your next birthday or some-thing? We’ve been following this guy nonstop since he came out of prison. Verna and me. We know his moves. He’ll walk to the shop later on. Before lunch. Like he does every day. C’mon. Let’s get it done. Today’s a good day, I’m telling you. I know these things. So I’m on my way. If you don’t want to go, I’ll do it for you.”

Jade sighed. “Give me twenty minutes. I need to shower.”

She showered, changed into fresh clothing and strapped on her gun belt. She walked into the kitchen in time to see David’s unmarked driving past her house. He was off to work. She wondered if he had thought of her when he stood in the shower, with the rising steam carrying the scent of her as the hot water hissed down and washed it off his body.

Robbie pulled up outside her house one minute later. He was driving his BMW, but Jade noticed it had different plates.

His timing was uncanny. How had he known exactly when the cop left home? If he’d cut it any finer, she thought he would have probably ended up in a head-on collision with David on the narrow road.

“Let’s get going.” He reversed out of the driveway and Jade steeled herself for a wild ride. In the end, it wasn’t as bad as she expected. Robbie turned onto the main road and drove sen-sibly towards the highway.

“What’s up with you? Did you take an advanced driving course?”

“Speed traps and roadblocks. Someone called in and warned me.” Robbie indicated his cell phone. He turned to her and grinned. “D-day at last. You know, Jade, you’re a gutsy chick. You’ve got bigger balls than that Muffin the Wonder Horse. You follow through. I never thought you’d do it the first time. I swear to God, right up until the moment you pulled the trigger I thought you were going to back out and I’d have to do some damage control.” He shook his head, eyeing her with admiration. “You haven’t changed, have you? Tough as ever. I haven’t forgotten how you saved my ass the other night.”

Jade had had no intention of backing out. Not since the first night after her father’s death, when she had been alone in the little house in Turffontein and Jacobs had come for her. She remembered waking from a troubled sleep to what was then the most terrifying sound imaginable. The creak of a floorboard in a house she knew was empty apart from herself. The rattling of her locked bedroom door. She was scrambling out of the window when she heard the lock splinter and the door give way. Crouching outside the gate behind his new unmarked, she saw Jacobs turn on the light. She saw the steely gleam of the long knife he was carrying. Then she’d turned and fled, running down the dark street, breath sobbing in her chest. She had escaped. And she had come back later, with Robbie, to even the score.

Robbie’s voice dragged her back to reality.

“What’re you thinking?” he asked.


“Well. Better start thinking if we’re going to get this done right.” His tone was unusually sharp. She saw him take one hand off the wheel. He lifted it to his mouth and tore at his cuticles. Jade realized he was nervous.


David arrived at work exhausted but content in a way he hadn’t been for a long while. Naisha was a beautiful woman, a charming companion, a true professional at work, an excel-lent mother at home. But he was now acutely aware of their differences. She didn’t understand police work. The inherent danger and violence in his job disturbed her. When he spoke about his day, she didn’t want to hear. Over the years, their communication had fizzled into uneasy silence. And then she had looked elsewhere for the companionship she lacked.

Jade had always been like a sister, a best friend, someone who instantly understood every thought in his head. And last night had felt so right. Amazingly, heart-stoppingly right. When he thought about it, he found it difficult not to let a silly grin take over his face. He couldn’t control the heart-pounding excite-ment that flooded his body, making almost everything seem trivial except the thought of seeing her again.

But he had Kevin to think about. The boy had lived without his father for too long already. David’s occasional weekend and evening visits always ended with tears, Kevin begging him to stay. When he married Naisha, David had promised himself he would make the relationship work, that they wouldn’t become one of the depressingly high police divorce statistics. He was resolute that if he had children they would grow up with both parents in a secure home environment.

David pushed the troubling thoughts aside. Despite his tiredness, he had a feeling it was going to be a good day.

He was wrong.

He walked over to his filing cabinet and took out the files he needed to work on most urgently. Before he could open them, he heard a tap at his door. He looked up.

Williams stood in the doorway with two senior investiga-tors from the Scorpions, the elite high-profile investigation unit that specialized in serious political and organized crime. He recognized one of them as a sniper. All three of them wore Kevlar. The sniper was in camouflage.

“What’s up?” David asked, walking round his desk to shake hands with the trio.

Williams didn’t offer his hand. His face was grim.

“Superintendent Patel, you’ve been working with Jade de Jong on the Botha case.”

David frowned, puzzled. “Yes, I have. I cleared it with you before I asked her. We’ve got a suspect in custody, and we’re making good progress. Why? Is there a problem?”

“Yes, there is.” One of the investigators stepped forward. “We’re about to arrest a second suspect related to your case.”

David felt a shiver of unease. Something was wrong here. “Who are you arresting?”

The thickset officer regarded him with a faint smile. “Jade de Jong,” he said, his voice neutral.

“What the hell are you talking about? She’s done nothing wrong.” David glared at the man, his hands bunching into fists.

“It’s not what she’s done. It’s what she’s about to do.”

“How do you mean?”

The man checked his watch, a waterproof Rolex copy. David had seen street hawkers selling them outside the station. “We’ve got confirmed intelligence that in approxi-mately an hour and a half she’s going to make an attempt on the life of a paroled prisoner, namely a Mr. Viljoen.”


The man nodded. “Her father was instrumental in his con-viction. It was a high-profile case. Attracted a lot of publicity. Both brothers received death threats while they were on trial. One died in prison, and we’ve just been informed that she’s going to shoot the other one. Today.”

David stood stock still, feeling like the world had turned upside down.

“Jade wouldn’t do that. Who told you? They must have their facts screwed up.”

“An informer.”

“Well, your informer’s given you the wrong information.” David turned back to his desk and reached for the phone. He dialed a number.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m calling her. She’ll confirm it’s bullshit.”

The officer grabbed David’s shoulder and pulled him away from the phone. The receiver fell to the floor. The man placed his finger on the cradle of the instrument, disconnecting the line. “Superintendent, you don’t understand. Our informa-tion is accurate. Our facts are confirmed. If you try to make contact with this woman now, you’ll be perverting the course of justice and we’ll arrest you along with her.”

David stared at the man in frustration.

“I can’t believe this.”

The officer shrugged. “Please come with us.”

“Come with you? Why? I’ve got a week’s worth of paper-work to finish off this morning. I’ve got a suspect in the holding cells who’ll be released in twenty-four hours unless I can prove the case against him.”

“Scorpion cases take priority.”

“If you’re so good at your job, why do you need me?”

“Patel, if we leave you here the first thing you’re going to do is to warn the suspect. Come with us, please.”

David looked at the receiver swinging on the end of its line, scraping against the tiled floor. Then he looked back at the men. He saw Williams shaking his head, pale with fury. David clenched his hands again. How could they accuse Jade of planning such an unlikely crime? He wanted to punch the investigator, but his words had planted a tiny seed of doubt. The Scorpions only made arrests when they were sure of their facts. Did he really know Jade as well as he thought? Or was there a darker side to her, one that he’d never seen? His fingers were bruising the flesh of his palms. With an effort, he relaxed his hands. “OK,” he said. “Let’s get this over with.”

He walked with the men to an unmarked car outside the building and got inside.

Random Violence