See! Two times in one week. LOL I told you I was back. Shall we see what's happened to Chantal? Has Mace found her yet? Grab an ensaimada (a spanish pastry), settle in and enjoy!!!
Hustle Into Love
* * * * *
“Where the hell is she?” Mace stared out of Lì’s office window, worry etched into his face. “It’s been over eight hours and we have nothing. She didn’t go out to walk off her mad, but if someone has taken her, why haven’t they contacted us?”
His brother put a slim hand on his shoulder. “I do not know. Someone as visible as Chantal cannot be kept hidden forever. They will call.”
“No.” Mace shook his head. “Something about this isn’t right. The only threat we’ve had has been from Hui Sun, and God knows he doesn’t need to ransom Chantal. Eric says he’s heard nothing from his contacts about any other party who might be targeting her. And up to now, those contacts have been very reliable.”
Lì frowned. “If we knew who broke through our security, we might discover who has her.”
Mace nodded. “I put Bruce on that first thing. He didn’t find any point of a break in. I’m waiting on a list of key card entries now.”
As if summoned, Bruce rapped on the open door. He gave a short nod. “I have that information you wanted, Mr. D'Avranches.”
“Come in. Let’s see what you found.” Mace held out his hand and took the single page from the security chief.
Lì crossed to stand next to him. “Hmmm. These are the employees who used their cards last evening?”
“Then I think we have—what do you call it in the west? A suspect?”
“Yes we do.” Mace’s tone was grim as he gazed at a name that had no business being on the list. “Son of a bitch.”
“I do not think calling his mother names is appropriate,” Lì murmured, “but I do understand the sentiment.”
“The choreographer, Chin Zhao,” growled Mace as he crumpled the report in his hand. “Apparently Chantal never had his key card deactivated. He has to be the ‘inside man’.”
“But what would he want with Ms. Chantal?” Bruce wondered. “Will he ransom her?”
“I do not think Chin is working alone.” Lì’s face was tight with anger. “When he left The Golden Tiger he went to work for one of Hui Sun’s casinos. He is choreographer for the Lotus Palace.”
“It keeps coming back to Sun, doesn’t it?” Mace swore lightly. “He was the one who issued the threats. He owned the bomb materials. And now, the one person who had access to Chantal yet shouldn’t have been on property, is on the man’s payroll.”
Bruce looked at his bosses. “So what do we do?”
Mace met his brother’s gaze. In it he saw the same anger he was feeling. “I think it’s time we had a heart-to-heart with Hui Sun.”
* * * * *
Chantal went perfectly still. The voice was familiar, yet she couldn’t place it. But the smug, victorious tone in it scared her to death. She knew she couldn’t show her fear, it would be like waving a red flag in front of a bull, but she was terrified. Right down to her bones.
“Are you not curious as to who has taken you?”
Chantal didn’t answer. If the kidnapper wanted to scare her by not showing themselves, she wasn’t going to play along. Instead, she cleared her throat. “What are you going to do with me? Ransom? Mace and Lì will pay anything to get me back.”
“You think you are loved so much!” The voice was suddenly spitting mad, filled with hatred and envy. “You are nothing special. There are many dancers much better than you.”
A whisper of recognition swept through Chantal, but still she couldn’t quite place the speaker. She couldn’t even tell if it was a man or a woman. “My dancing doesn’t matter to them. They care about me personally. They love me.”
“Love.” A snort was followed by a scornful laugh. “What does love matter? It is position and title that is important. Money and security. You are a fool to think otherwise.”
“Maybe,” Chantal allowed, not wanting to anger her captor too much, “but being loved is the most important thing to me, and I’m lucky enough to be loved by two wonderful men. Men who’ll do anything to get me back. If you call them—”
She was interrupted by another laugh. “I will not be contacting either man. I don’t want their money.”
Chantal frowned as she thought that through. Not a ransom then. “Is this a political statement? Get the offensive foreign influence out of Macau? Show everyone my type of dancing doesn’t belong here?”
Another snort of laughter. “I care for none of that.”
Now Chantal was really confused. “Then what do you want?”
There was a pause, then with a dramatic flourish, the speaker stepped into the light. “I want your utter humiliation.”
* * * * *
“You think I have Ms. Montgomery?” Hui Sun’s face was a study in astonishment. He gazed first at Mace then at Lì. “You believe I abducted her?”
“Good try, Sun,” Mace snarled, curling his hands into fists. The servant had said the man was in bed, and they’d had to wait almost an hour to see him, but if he had to beat Chantal’s location out of the older man, he would. His grandmother would probably be horrified, but it seemed loving Chantal brought out his baser instincts. “We know about the threat and the bomb. That was bad enough, but kidnapping a woman? That’s low, even for you.”
Sun’s eyes flashed at the insult. “I will overlook your rudeness since you are obviously overwrought. I do understand how important family is, and it seems Chantal is part of your rather interesting family.”
Lì’s quiet voice prevented Mace from responding. He throttled back his temper and let his brother take the lead.
“We have evidence the bomb came from your house.” Lì shook his head. “I did not want to believe it, but the proof is there.”
“And you think—” Sun’s jaw clenched, “—that since I did not shut you down with a bombing, I turned to kidnapping to force you into submission.”
“God damn it,” Mace exploded, losing his temper, “who else? Who else has it in for Lì, Chantal and myself? You hated the fact Chóngdé got fired. And you were furious when I fell in love with Chantal and quit seeing your daughter. You tried to ruin Lì and the casino. Are you telling me Chantal going missing right after a bombing we can trace back to you is all a bloody coincidence?”
“Yes,” Hui Sun said simply. “That is what I am saying. I know nothing of any of this.”
The matter of fact way the man spoke stopped Mace in his tracks. He stared at Sun. If he didn’t know any better, the utter sincerity of the older Chinese’s words would have made him a believer. “You’re trying to tell us you didn’t bomb the casino.”
Hui looked at Lì. “Do you believe I would do such a thing?”
Lì sighed. “I did not at first. I considered us friends—even after you tried to shut me down. But the report came back with evidence saying you were involved. I could not believe it and had the investigators check again. But the information is accurate. The bomb materials were purchased through your company. We have copies of the invoices.” He lifted his hands in a helpless gesture. “What else could I believe then?”
Sun’s face tightened. “This does not make sense.” He looked at Mace. “I told you the truth when I said I respected you for standing up to me. For making sure the casino stayed open even after I tried to sabotage it. I swear to you I did not do anything else to harm my friend’s property. I planted no bomb, and I did not abduct your lady.”
Mace stared at Hui Sun and was abruptly sure the man was telling the truth. For a long moment he fought against the knowledge, because if what Sun was saying was true, it left them back at square one. With nothing. “Damn it to hell. I’m beginning to believe you. But this is crazy. The evidence points to you. The bomb materials can be traced back to your company, SunTrust Manufacturing, and we know that one of your employees was on the premises when Chantal went missing.”
Hui’s gaze sharpened. “One of my employees? Who?”
“Chin Zhao.” Mace growled the name. “His keycard was never disabled and he used it to gain access to the private area of the hotel.”
“The choreographer that first hired Chóngdé for The Golden Tiger? That Chin Zhao?”
Sun shook his head. “You are misinformed. He is not an employee.”
“Now just a fucking min—”
Mace’s heated words were cut off by Lì’s gentle cough. Lì sent a reproving look his brother’s way before turning back to Hui. “I was told he worked at the Lotus Palace. He works with the dancers there, your own daughter included.”
“I did not hire—” Hui Sun stopped in mid sentence and his face went white.
“What?” Seeing the man’s countenance change, Mace took a step closer. “What is it?”
“You say Chin Zhao may be involved? The older Chinese’s gaze was filled with worry. “That he might have taken your Chantal?”
“It’s looking that way. He’s the only one who shouldn’t have been there.”
“What have I done?” Sun murmured, covering his face with his hands. “What has she done?”
“She?” Mace jumped on the single word. “Bloody Christ.” He stared at the other men as the horrifying truth shot through him.
Well, I'm not surprised SHE showed up in the mix again. But is she the one who took Chantal? Or was it someone else? Enquiring minds want to know if Mace has figured it out. Stay tuned for Tuesday to get your answer...
Hugs and see you then!