Chiang Mai – Sunday, Feb. 23, 8:00 p.m. local time (8:00 a.m. EST in DC)
Realizing their quarry was getting into a tuk tuk, Ice rushed over to hire another one. Speaking to the driver in Thai, he signaled Raven to get in. “I told him to trail the other tuk tuk, and stay hidden,” he explained.
“Perfect,” she said, grabbing the metal frame. No seat belt! No doors! She held on as they bumped up and down, and the wind slapped her face. It didn’t take long before they left the alleys of the Old City and were racing along the four-lane ring road, keeping up with the cars.
“Is this safe?” Raven asked.
“Depends,” Ice said. “Thailand has the highest accident rate in the world, but don’t worry. You’re not here very often.”
Raven made a face and shrugged. Too late now! Her hair flew in the wind.
They swerved around a corner, took an exit and followed the other tuk tuk down a country lane, an access road to the Ping Chiang Mai Spa. A steady stream of taxis and tuk tuks filtered through, picking up and dropping off guests along a path lined with palms and fountains. The woman and her partner got out. The man put his arm around her as they walked inside.
Raven and Ice settled up and disembarked. They followed the couple inside to a lounge and chose a table well-placed to observe, though the light was dim. Ice ordered more Thai beer, and they talked about Ice’s time in the States while keeping watch. When a third person joined the couple, Raven took a moment to focus. She gasped.
“You know who he is?” Ice asked.
“Would you mind hanging out here for five minutes while I go make a phone call?”
“No problem,” Ice said, leaning back and drinking his beer. “I’ll wait right here. Thai bodyguard and artist, at your service.”
Raven smiled. It was funny and not funny. Maybe I need a bodyguard—I have a bad feeling about that trio, she thought.
Slinking out, Raven returned to the lobby. Opposite the main entrance lay an archway and beyond it a sprawling swimming pool shaped organically, like a lake. It glowed from beneath, its lamps illuminating the surrounding tropical plants. She crossed a bamboo bridge and found a bench in the shadows beneath a banana tree, leaned down and called Anna, who would be in the middle of her day.
“Shit,” she said. “Shit. Shit. Shit,” she mumbled. Where are you, Anna? “Pick up!” she exclaimed out loud again. Anna’s phone went to voicemail.
“Anna, I’ve got to talk to you! I’m sorry! Don’t be mad. I know you think I’m in Miami, but I’m in Chiang Mai with that artist friend of my uncle, Alex Ice. I mean Ice. Anyway, something weird happened. We were at dinner, and I spotted this blond woman who looked familiar. Finally, I realized I saw her at Nou’s Starlight gala. And now she’s here. And guess who she’s with? That hot finance guy from the Bank, Sasha something. They’re together. I mean, together together. You know? And it gets even weirder, Anna. I followed them, and they’re in a lounge at this five-star spa place, the Ping Chiang Mai, meeting with another guy from the Bank. His name is Ko. All three of them were at that gala! This can’t be a coincidence. I’ll call Tanner later. Now, I’ve gotta run! Call me when you can.”
When she hung up, Ice was approaching. He crossed the bamboo bridge and stood before her. “Hey. They’re leaving. I ordered a taxi. Do you want to follow them?”
“Oh my God. This is crazy. What should we do?”
“Better decide fast.” He cocked his head, shrugged and held his hands up—the universal what-are-you-going-to-do pose.
“Are you up for this?”
“Why not? It’s way more interesting than my usual routine,” he said, waving her over.
They hurried back to the lobby in time to see Sasha, Ko and the woman getting into their taxi.
Ice spoke with a bellhop and turned to Raven. “That’s ours,” he said, pointing. “Get in!”
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