Chiang Mai – Monday, Feb. 24, 5:00 a.m. local (5:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, Feb. 23 in DC)
Sasha and Ingrid staggered down the hall and tumbled into their room, as Raven and Ice watched from the stairwell.
As soon as their door slammed, Raven whispered, “Now what?”
Ice held the stairwell door open for Raven, and they both stepped into the hall. “It’s almost dawn,” Ice said. “You need sleep too. Have you heard anything from your people yet?”
“Nothing. I’m sorry I wasted your time.”
“It wasn’t wasted,” he said, allowing his glance to linger at her. “You tracked them here. And, for me, it’s been a pleasure getting to know the niece of Theo van Torenmaas. How about we split up? You check in here and sleep for a few hours. Meanwhile, I’ll watch their door. Then you come back and switch with me, and I’ll rest in your room. If they leave, we follow together.”
“That’s an amazing offer,” she said, stifling a yawn. “Wow. I’m embarrassed to take you up on it, but I’m about to collapse.”
“I’m a night owl—and I don’t have jet lag.”
“Come with me to reception? These two aren’t going anywhere in the next 15 minutes.”
“You know, in case I run into any snags.”
“Right.” He smiled at her. “We can go this way,” he added, calling the elevator.
They stepped in. As the doors closed, an arm thrust into the elevator. The doors bounced and retreated. Raven pushed “door open.” She looked up, and her knees went weak.
“Shut the hell up. Push ‘door close’ and ‘7’,” the man said, pointing a pistol, waving it back and forth at both of them.
“Ko,” she whispered. Shaking, she pushed “7.” Ice moved closer to her, standing almost in front of her.
“You fool,” Ko said to Ice. “Do something stupid, and I’ll get two for the price of one. What a bargain.”
Ice stood taller but said nothing. Raven broke out in a cold sweat.
On the 7th floor, Ko ushered them out. “Down the hall, second door on the left. Be quiet.”
Raven and Ice walked. Ko kept the gun pointed at them, swiped a key card and signaled them to enter. Ko commanded them to sit on the end of the bed. He arranged the desk chair in order to sit and direct the gun at them.
“You won’t shoot us here,” Raven said. “Someone will hear it.”
“And you would never get away,” Ice told him. “Raven is a foreigner. The police will never let this drop. You are the one who better not do anything stupid.”
“Both of you, shut up,” Ko hissed.
“No! We will not shut up!” Raven yelled. “You killed Evy! You killed Nou! And now you’re going to kill us,” she shrieked. “And probably Sasha and Ingrid too!”
“Preposterous!” Ko said.
“We saw you with them tonight,” Raven said. “We heard them talking!”
“Shut up, I told you,” Ko said, staring at Raven. “You think you know what’s going on, but you don’t. I’ve been following you since Zen 67. You don’t know anything.” Ko grimaced.
Ice took Ko’s moment of distraction to leap. He grabbed Ko’s pistol with one hand and punched his nose with the other. Ko tumbled off his chair. His gun clunked on the ground. Ice then punched Ko hard in the stomach and neck, but Ko fought back like the tough street boy he had once been.
Grabbing a bedside lamp, Raven yanked the cord out of the socket. Before she had a chance to strike, however, Ice lay moaning, doubled over on the floor holding his ribs, mouth bloodied, while Ko was upright again, pistol in hand.
Disheveled and sweating, Ko grabbed Raven by the arm and shoved her into the desk chair next to Ice, who remained on the floor. “Sit!” he yelled at her. “Or you will be the one with the lamp on your head—or the cord around your neck!” He reoriented the pistol at her. “And, you!” he commanded to Ice, “Stay! Or I will shoot her.” Once more he turned to Raven. “Tell me what you heard Sasha say about me!”
Raven’s hands trembled. Her arm ached where Ko had grabbed it. “He said you killed Evy,” she stammered. “It seemed like Sara was next.”
“He told Ingrid I killed Evy?” Ko barked.
“He said you wouldn’t be able to squirm out of it.”
Ko hesitated. “Why would I kill the girls?”
“I don’t know,” she replied, careful not to reveal her thoughts.
“And Ingrid? Did she say anything?” Ko said, backing up.
“I don’t know!” she said, thinking back for a crumb that might satisfy Ko. “Not really. She lavished compliments on him, said he was ‘brilliant’.”
“Sasha? Brilliant? Ha!” Ko spit out. “That lying little prick,” he choked. “He’s setting me up. Don’t you see? Listen to me! Both of you,” commanded Ko, waving his gun back and forth again. “Go back to your art center,” he told Ice, who was now sitting up, leaning against the wall. “Forget you were ever here,” he told him, suddenly swiveling toward Raven and adding with great disgust, "And you! This story isn’t worth it.” Then, in one quick swoop, Ko shoved his pistol inside his jacket and bolted.
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