Excerpt 2

Because of printing press deadlines, the Sunday papers had missed
the story of Gordon’s death. Monday’s Pretoria News made up for
it with its sensationalist headlines.

Foul Play Suspected, the Police Will Not Rest…

At least they got that straight, thought Watson as he stirred extra
sugar into his morning cup of coffee. Weariness weighed down his
limbs and he resisted the urge to plant his nose in the hot liquid.
The police will not rest. Not this policeman, at any rate.
He stifled a yawn.
The night had been anything but restful. He’d spent it in the
spare bedroom of the Pretorius mansion. The gesture was
window-dressing. In an emergency his presence would have been
useless. For body-guarding duties, he needed to be much closer.
Like in her bed.
Yeah, right.
The dark hours had engulfed him as he tossed and turned in
the spare bedroom’s bed, feeling very much the spare wheel.
Memories flooded back. Annette LeRoy, seventeen years old,
holding his hand at the bioscope, a barrier of popcorn crumbs and
salt grating between their fingers. Annette LeRoy stunning in her
ball gown at the school dance, her body pressed to his in a tango.
He had been patient, waiting for a signal from her, a signal, he
now knew she’d been too innocent to give. Annette LeRoy’s
mother shouting that he, Trevor Watson, was not good enough
for her daughter.
The police will not rest.
When he’d joined the police force fifteen years ago, it was
with the ambition of solving convoluted crime puzzles, like his
childhood heroes Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes. He didn’t
want to live down to his sidekick surname, didn’t want to be a
passive observer, didn’t want to chase speeding cars or petty
thieves. His dream was to be the finest investigator ever.
Reality had caught up with him with a sobering crash.
Crimes in South Africa were seldom sophisticated or puzzling.
Worse still, policemen were expected to squash political
disturbances. Six years ago, when ordered to ride an armoured
personnel carrier into Soweto in full combat armour and to shoot
at the rioting students, he’d had to ask himself who the real
criminals were.
The police will not rest.
Heroism comes in different flavours, like Beechies chewing
gum. After the Soweto disaster, many of his colleagues had quit
the police force altogether, or turned to the bottle, or started
taking bribes to justify the rotten image they held of themselves.
Anything to deal with the nightmares.
Not Watson. Watson became the most conscientious
investigating officer and the cleanest cop between the Limpopo
and the Orange River. Satisfied his ambition. Helped fuck-all with
the nightmares.
The knock on his door was a welcome disruption.
“May I come in?”
Annette, dressed in a nightgown, only a nightgown, entered
the guest bedroom. Watson clamped his jaws together, all too
aware of her breasts and hips and legs.
“Good morning, Trevor. Sleep well?”
Why was she here, in his bedroom, two metres from his
bed, practically naked, worse—titillatingly worse—than naked?
Why? What was her game plan? Did she imagine he’d wipe out
the past fifteen years, take her back without a word of explanation
or apology? Had she killed her husband and wanted him to cover
it up in exchange for what lay under the nightgown?
“Sorry to bother you so early,” Annette said and Watson
forced himself to pay attention, “but I found this.”
She thrust something at him. Watson took it automatically.
A bolt of heat burst up his arm as their fingers touched for the
briefest of moments.
“Aren’t you going to read it?”
When her folded arms covered her chest, he managed to
look away. The object in his hand was an ordinary white envelope,
one you would use for a birthday card. The paper inside came
from a smallish spiral-bound notebook. Watson read the words.
Felt a clammy hand reach into his gut and squeeze. The words
were ridiculous, the idea of an anonymous death threat even more
so. Killers seldom warned their victim in advance. And yet…
Annette asked, “Is someone trying to kill me?”

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