I'm sorry to say it doesn't look like we'll be done by Valentine's Day as I'd hoped, but I guess that's okay since you'll still be getting a FREE READ out of it. We'll just move everything back a bit and just keep enjoying the story.
So let's see what's going on in Macau today, shall we? Enjoy!!!
So let's see what's going on in Macau today, shall we? Enjoy!!!
Hustle Into Love
* * * * *
“How much longer?” Mace stared at the street ahead and wished he were the one driving. He wanted to be doing something more than sitting on his ass. “We don’t have much time.”
“Just a few more minutes, sir.” Cái glanced in the rear view mirror. “I am following Hui Sun’s car, and his driver knows many shortcuts. He says we will get there in time.”
“We better,” Mace muttered. “If that ship has left I’m going to take it out of Sun’s hide.”
“I’d be happy to hold him for you.” Chantal’s bodyguard, Eric, who was also sitting in one of the front seats, looked as angry as Mace felt.
“Easy, you two.” Lì patted Mace’s arm soothingly. “I do believe that Hui is more anxious than we are to get to Chantal.”
“He wants to find his daughter,” Mace disagreed. He remembered the look on the older man’s face and suppressed a shudder. Once Hui Sun had recovered from the devastating blow his daughter had dealt him, he was all business. He’d called downstairs to alert Cái, who was Lì and Mace’s driver, then ordered a car for himself. While waiting for Sun to make arrangements for a few extra men, Mace had phoned Eric to have him meet them. He wanted all the help he could get. Minutes later they were heading for the harbor.
Hui hadn’t said anything else, but Mace was pretty sure Chóngdé wouldn’t be getting hugs and kisses from her father. Making a man like Sun lose face in such a dishonorable way would be a death sentence for anyone else. And family or not, Mace wasn’t sure dear old dad would be granting his daughter a stay of execution.
“We are approaching the port,” Cái announced. “Two minutes.”
“And not a second too soon!” Eric cracked his knuckles in anticipation.
“You’re sure Chóngdé is still there?” Mace glanced at his brother. “You’re positive?”
Lì nodded. “Yes, she is there. After some…convincing, one of Hui’s men finally admitted she was there supervising the last transfer of cargo. It seems it is an unusual occurrence, so it lends credence to our belief Chantal is on board.”
“She damn well better be. You called the police?”
“Yes.” Lì’ jaw tensed. “My friend was not happy—he wished to deal with his daughter himself—but it needed to be done. Chóngdé must pay for her actions.”
“She’ll pay all right.” Mace growled out the words. If he had his way the greedy little bitch wouldn’t get off the ship alive. “How many men did Sun bring? Is he sure he can trust them? Chóngdé’s paid enough of his crew off already, so how will he know who to depend on?”
“He chose only those who are on his private staff. I believe a dozen or so. Those who can be trusted absolutely.”
Eric swore under his breath at that statement.
“Trusted. Right.” Mace snorted, agreeing with the bodyguard’s disbelief. “I’ll bet Sun cleans house after this is all over.”
“Yes.” Lì looked sad. “And there are many who will pay for Chóngdé’s actions. To go against a man of Hui Sun’s reputation is no small thing.”
Mace couldn’t care less what happened to the people who’d helped Chóngdé. They all deserved whatever punishment was doled out to them. “As long as Chóngdé get’s what coming to her.”
If possible, Lì looked even grimmer. “She will, brother. She will. Between the courts and her father, Chóngdé Sun’s privileged world is at an end.”
It was more like five minutes later before Mace stepped onto the swaying deck of the Shen-Yi. Behind him came Lì, Eric, Hun Sun and all of the older man’s guards. It may have been a small army, but there was enough firepower to start a war. Mace didn’t care as long as it got Chantal out alive.
“Below deck.” Sun motioned to one of the hatches to the left. “The holds are all down there. If Ms. Montgomery is here, that is where she would most likely be.”
“All right.” Mace nodded brusquely. “I’m going to search for Chantal. You go get your daughter. And Sun?” He narrowed his eyes at the older man. “I suggest you find her before I do.”
Anger flared in Hui Sun’s face, but he said nothing. Just jerked his head in acknowledgement and barking an order at his men, led them up a set of metal steps to what looked like the bridge.
“Keep your temper,” Lì cautioned. “If we are to find Chantal we must use our heads.”
Mace bit back furious words. He knew his brother was right, but God, he wanted to do violence to somebody. “All right. I’ll be careful. I’ll take Eric with me. You stay here and wait for the police to come.”
“I will not.” Lì glared at his younger brother. “I love her, too. I want to help you find her.”
“Someone’s got to wait for them,” Mace argued. “You’ll need to tell them who the good guys are. Otherwise we might wind up in the middle of a bloody shooting match.”
“She is just as important to me as she is to you, brother.” Lì’s face was implacable. “So stop talking and let us be on our way.”
Mace knew that look. Lì could teach stubborn to a mule. The only person he’d found who was more obstinate was Chantal herself. “Damn it, Lì—”
“I will wait for the police.”
The soft voice took them by surprise. They all turned to see that Cái had followed them onboard. The younger man inclined his head. “Madam would want me to help in any way I could.”
“Madam wouldn’t want you calling her Madam,” Mace muttered, but he nodded, grateful for the extra help. “All right, Cái. But make sure you let them know there may be others on board. Innocents.”
Cái nodded. “I will. I will tell them everything. You will find her, sir. All will be well.”
“I hope so,” Mace said fervently as he turned and trotted towards the hatch, Eric and Lì close on his heels. “I hope so.”
* * * * *
“I feel like I’m in the middle of a horror movie,” Chantal muttered to herself as she tiptoed quietly down the long, dark passageway in the bowels of the ship. The freed slaves were equally silent as they trailed in her wake. So far they’d been lucky and hadn’t seen anyone. But Chantal knew that could change at any moment.
She glanced behind her at the others and sent another prayer winging up to Heaven. She had to get them out. The alternative was too horrible to think about. For all of them. But she felt like a mouse in a maze. She had no idea exactly where to go. All the hatches looked the same, and the stairs they’d climbed only led to dead ends. Chantal was beginning to get really worried.
Her mind strayed to Mace and Lì. Where were they? What were they doing? She knew they were looking for her. She’d been gone a full day, and she’s bet her last Tony award the first person they’d spoken to was Hui Sun. But would it do any good? Chóngdé seemed to think her daddy was a doddering old fool who knew nothing.
Chantal hoped her enemy was wrong about that salient point. If Hui knew or even suspected what his daughter was up to, at least then Mace and Lì might have a chance of finding out, too.
The little boy—he’d told her his name was Deshi—tugged on her baggy pants. “Out soon?” he whispered.
Her stomach clenched in dread. “I hope so,” she murmured back, not allowing him to see her trepidation. “Just a little bit farther.”
Deshi nodded but didn’t let go of her clothing. She didn’t make him. This place was scary and she was an adult. For a child it must be terrifying.
Firming her jaw, she moved forward to another open hatch door. A quick glance around told her the passageway was empty, so she motioned the others to follow her though.
Suddenly a nearby door opened, and a sailor stepped out. Chantal wasn’t sure who was more surprised, her or him, but the man’s shock at seeing a dozen plus barely clothed people wandering around gave her time to lift the gun and point it at him.
“Don’t move,” she hissed as the captives behind her milled around fearfully. “I know how to use this.”
The sailor’s astonishment melted away, and a scornful grin took its place. It was obvious he didn’t believe her. Shaking his shaggy head, he took a step towards her, his hand outstretched. “Missy should give that to me before she hurts herself.”
Chantal stared at him, irritation pushing back her panic. Another man who didn’t think she could do anything. She was all at once thankful her training had included rudimentary marksmanship. She wasn’t an expert, but she knew the basics. Like how to shoot a damn gun. Deliberately, Chantal cocked the trigger. “Believe me. I won’t be the one that gets hurt.”
His eyes narrowed warily but he didn’t back away. “You cannot escape. There are too many of us. Give me the gun and go back to your compartments.” The sailor’s gaze moved lustfully down Chantal’s body. “I will not say anything to anyone. There will be no…punishment.”
Chantal gritted her teeth. She knew a lie when she heard it. She’d bet he’d be the first one to punish her. “Go. To. Hell.”
The man snarled and without warning lunged at her. She reacted instinctively, pulling the trigger as hard as she could. There was a loud bang that made her ears hurt, and the passageway was suddenly filled with the acrid scent of gunpowder.
The sailor’s face was a study in astonishment. He and Chantal stared at each other for a long moment, before they both looked down at where a scarlet flower of red bloomed on his chest. A moment later the man dropped to his knees, then with a groan, fell forward on his face.
Behind her, the others screamed in terror. Chantal stared numbly at the second man she’d killed in less than an hour and wondered idly how many more she’d have to hurt to get all the prisoners to safety. Then the sound of shouts and running footsteps jerked her head upright. They’d been heard.
The shit was really going to hit the fan now.
Well, if we didn't know already, I guess we've figured out Chantal is no shrinking violet. LOL She'd bound and determined to save everyone. And just as determined is Mace, who is about ready to tear the ship apart to find her. Next Tuesday's installment should be a good one, so stay tuned!!!