Whiteboy had abducted Piet. She knew that for sure. And with a dull thud of despair, she realized he must have David too.

Now he wanted her.

Jade’s throat felt dry. She was scared to speak, in case her words somehow jeopardized their safety. “Why do you want me there?” she asked.

He laughed again. “Personally, I think you’ll improve the party. Although that’s just my opinion. But let’s talk business now. If you don’t join us within a certain time, I’m going to kill your friends. The short man and your cop partner. One by one. I hope your phone’s battery is well charged, because I’ll call you first before I start, so you can listen while I do the job. I think you’ll find it entertaining.” He paused. “If I can’t get hold of you, then don’t worry. They’ll die anyway. The only question is this, Jade: which of the two will you choose to die first?”

Jade gripped her phone. Her hand felt suddenly slick.

“How do I know my friends are with you?”

“Now, now.” His voice was reproving. “Are you implying I’m a liar?”

She swallowed. “Just requesting proof.”

Whiteboy’s voice was cold. “Call Johannesburg Central police station if you want proof. If you’re a good investigator, you’ll be able to get the answers from there.”

She dared to bargain with him one more time. “I meant proof that they’re still alive.”

Now his voice was soft and icy. “You’ll know they’re still alive when I phone you again. And you listen to me killing them.”

Jade touched one of the cardboard boxes. Even in the gloom, she could see Piet’s elegant writing, smooth and dark against the grainy surface. He had sat and mourned as he packed his dead wife’s possessions away. Annette had meant everything to him, and he had lost her. Now his own life was in danger. She closed her eyes for a moment. She couldn’t even let herself think about David. The thought of him suf-fering, the thought of him dying, was too painful to bear.

“Where are you?” she asked.

“Good.” Whiteboy sounded brisk and businesslike. “You’re a sensible woman, Jade. Drive out on the M1 highway south, past Johannesburg city. Then take the Vereeniging road, the one that goes past Southgate shopping center. Are you on track here? Do you know where you’re heading?”

“Yes.” She walked back to the coffee table to write the directions on her crammed piece of paper. “Then where?”

“Then I’ll call you again. In one hour. Make sure your phone is on. Make sure it’s charged. And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, no cops. No backup, no help from anybody else. You arrive alone and unarmed.”

“Right.” Her throat was dry again.

“Look forward to it.” The connection went dead.

Jade checked the time on her phone. Seven p.m. Whiteboy would be expecting her on the Southgate road at eight. The battery was half empty, but she had no time to charge it. It would have to do.

She hurried back to the kitchen, turned on the light, and ripped open the cardboard box that said, “Adrian— Personal.” Adrian was stabbed after withdrawing money from an ATM. So his bank statements would show the day he had died.

In Adrian’s personal box, she found more than bank state-ments. She found a brown envelope labeled simply “Ellie Myers.” She glanced inside and saw a sheaf of cards, notes and letters. Records of a secret affair. She was sure that when Ellie fell pregnant she’d told Mark she was leaving him. Together with Whiteboy, he had planned a hasty revenge on the two lovers.

Jade imagined Annette preparing for her move to Cape Town, sorting through her brother’s personal particulars that, perhaps, had lain neatly packed away in a cupboard since his death. Finding the envelope. Reading the letters. Wondering who Ellie was, why she had not known about her, where she was now. Where her child was, because she was sure Ellie had referred to her pregnancy.

Family was important to Annette. Piet had said so. Impor-tant enough for her to contact a private investigator to find out what had happened to the woman her brother had loved and planned to live with. And in doing so, she’d sealed her own fate.

Jade imagined Grobbelaar trying to trace Ellie from the pink-highlighted sheet in his car. Finding no record of her, he must have decided to locate Mark, who would have realized instantly that his well-kept secret was finally out. She was sure Whiteboy had helped Mark with his clean-up campaign. Kill the detective and torch his office. Shoot Annette at her gate. Locate and destroy her computer. And create a plau-sible scenario for each one. For Grobbelaar, make it look like a brutal revenge job. For Annette, a hijacking. For Yolandi, a house robbery. Who would ever connect three such different crimes in crime-ridden Johannesburg?

Jade closed the envelope and opened the file containing the bank statements. Annette must have added the final one to the top of the pile. Adrian’s last cash withdrawal was made on 22 February 2001. He had been murdered on the same day as Ellie Myers.

Jade scribbled a swift explanation on the back of the final statement. What had happened, where to look for evidence. Where she had gone. She added the date and the time, tore it out of the file and left it on the coffee table. If she didn’t come back, somebody might find it. And it would lead them to the truth.

She remembered the case notes painstakingly written by her father and placed in his briefcase on the last night of his life. Nobody had read those notes after he died. She hoped that somebody might read hers.

Jade checked the time on her phone. Quarter past seven. She would have to run. She grabbed her keys and hurried out of the house, locking the door behind her.

She reached Southgate Mall at five to eight. The Vereeniging road was a two-lane highway, dark and arrow-straight. There were a few traffic lights along the way, largely ignored by most of the motorists traveling this route after dark.

Her phone rang at three minutes to eight.



“You’re alone?”


“Good. Go through two traffic lights after the Southgate turnoff. After the second one, you’ll see a sign for Grasmere. Turn right onto that road.”

“Then what?”

“Then I’ll call you again.”

On her way, Jade noticed a couple of other cars on the highway, speeding along with their headlights on full beam. The Vereeniging road was dangerous. But probably not as dangerous, she thought, as what was waiting for her when she left it.

She turned right at the sign onto a wide dirt road lined with overgrown bushes and grass. Jade was sure that wherever Whiteboy was, he could now see the headlights of her car.

Her phone rang.

“This is my last call. Drive another half kilometer. On your left you’ll see a small two-track lane. It’s overgrown, so look out for it. Drive down the lane and stop when you see the black Merc. You know what it looks like. You won’t miss it. Turn off the lights and get out of your car. Lean over the hood, hands on the windshield. Palms flat. Do anything different, your friends die.” He paused and she heard him breathe heavily. “Don’t make your own rules.”

Jade’s hands were trembling on the wheel and her feet threatened to slip off the pedals. She drove slowly, but even so she nearly missed the turning. It was dark and narrow, like a cave mouth in the dry, yellow growth surrounding it.

Branches swished over the roof of her car. She saw the Mercedes. It was parked ahead, lights off.

The lane widened into a clearing. In the arc of her headlights she saw David and Piet. They were lying on the grass, hands and feet tied. Graham Hope was standing over them and he had a gun aimed directly at David’s head. His metal cast was nowhere in sight. It had been a prop, Jade thought, like his wedding ring. Part of Whiteboy’s strategy of deception.

Jade cut the engine. She climbed out of the car and walked round to the front. She bent over. The hood was warm but the windshield was icy cold. She spread out her hands and placed them on the glass.

Graham Hope looked up, as if he had only just noticed her there.

“Evening, Jade,” he said cheerfully.

“Evening, Mark,” she replied.

He laughed. “You’re a smart girl, all right.”

“Were you involved with Whiteboy before he helped you murder your wife?” Jade asked. “Or did you only turn bad afterwards?”

David twisted his head round and lifted it off the grass. He started to say something, but Mark shifted his weight and smashed a heavy boot into his head. David dropped to the ground, face first. He lay prone for a moment and then strug-gled onto his side again, choking and spitting sand out of his mouth. Jade saw Piet curl into a ball, bending his knees and trying to shrink down into the long grass.

Her fingers were pressed against the windshield so hard she could feel her nails scraping the glass like cheap chalk on a blackboard.

“We’ve got a few house rules here. Rule number one is no speaking. These boys aren’t gagged because Whiteboy wasn’t sure if you’d make the deadline. And then, as you know, you were due for an interesting phone call.” Mark looked down again and frowned. “We might have to do it now, if they’re going to get out of line.” He turned back to Jade with a pleasant expression. “You know, you can tell a person time and time again that there’s no point in shouting or screaming, because a gunshot is going to be louder in any case. But do they listen?” He shook his head. “Never.”

“Where’s Whiteboy?” Jade asked.

“Here.” The voice came from directly behind her. She twisted her head round, her heart pounding. Huge hands grabbed her hair and forced her head back down onto the glass. She closed her eyes and clenched her teeth as she felt him touch her, patting and squeezing her from top to bottom. He removed her cell phone from her jacket pocket, turned it off and tossed it into the Mercedes.

“Stay there,” he told her. He walked over to her car and pulled open the door. He checked the front and rear seats and popped open the trunk. He completed his circuit of the car and then stood behind her again.

“Good girl,” he said. “You listened.”

She could hear him breathing, loud and rough, almost panting.

Then he grabbed her by the shoulders of her jacket and flung her down onto the ground.

Jade rolled over, feeling dirt and stones and tussocks of dry grass underneath her. Whiteboy grabbed her again, under her arms, his hands closing around her shoulders. Then he dragged her away, out of the clearing and into the dark shadows of the undergrowth. She heard David shout in protest and saw Mark give him another vicious kick to the head. Then the long grass obscured her vision and Whiteboy let her go. She fell backwards sprawling onto the dry ground, rocks bruising her flesh.

“At last. We’re alone together,” Whiteboy said. She couldn’t see his face as he stood above her, but she was positive he was smiling.

David tried to blink the stinging grains of sand out of his eyes. His head was ringing and his vision was still blurred after the impact of Mark’s boot. Whiteboy had dragged Jade away, and he had no doubt what the man was going to do to her. None at all. He strained against the bonds holding his hands behind his back, knowing that his struggle was useless. With a loaded gun aimed straight at his head, he wouldn’t survive long enough to draw breath even if he did manage to break the ties.

Mark nudged him with his foot, more gently this time.

“Stop wriggling. It won’t help.” He spoke more softly, his voice dropping to a conspiratorial whisper. “He’s totally insane, you realize. Insane but brilliant. He’s made me wealthier than I could ever have hoped to be. Sorted out all my personal problems, too. That’s why I humor his odd little quirks.” He gestured with his head in Whiteboy’s direction. “He wanted to do this right here, in front of you. But I think he realized that you could close your eyes and you wouldn’t see a thing. So he’s gone off to find a more private place. Of course, you’ll still be able to hear. Difficult to close your ears with your hands behind your back. He wants you to listen. I think that’s the plan.”

David listened. He didn’t want to. In the quiet night he could hear every noise they made. Each one felt like a dagger slicing through his heart.

He heard the sounds of a struggle in the dense undergrowth near the road. Jade was gasping for breath. She made tiny invol-untary noises as she struggled. Leaves crunched and rustled. Whiteboy grunted and moaned. Occasionally, David heard a breathy snigger. A branch cracked. He thought he heard the breaking of glass. A choking, gagging cry from Jade. Then a soft, throaty gurgle of pleasure, a deep exhalation. The bushes rustled again, shaking in time to a frantic, pounding rhythm. Each sound painted a picture in his mind more shocking and dreadful than reality could have been. David forced his eyes shut, shoulders shaking, tears wetting his cheeks.

Then his eyes flew open as he heard a choking scream. He sat up, trembling as the primal sound of agony and despair echoed in the stillness.

Jade screamed again, coughing. This time, the sound was weaker.

“No, don’t do that! No! Don’t kill me, please, not like that, don’t squeeze my neck! Don’t squeeze my…”

Her spluttering cries cut off abruptly. The bushes rustled again and then they were still. Silence crept back like a fog over water.

David’s heart felt as if it was erupting from his chest.

“Bastard,” Piet shouted, in hoarse, broken tones.

Mark kicked him in the head.

Random Violence