Delicate Touch

Chapter 2

"You can slow down, you know," Hung said. "It's not going anywhere."

Sue looked up, baffled.

"Your cereal. You look and sound like a hog eating at a trough."

Sue gave an embarrassed smile. "Sorry. It's just that I haven't eaten in a while." She continued shoveling the cold cereal into her mouth.

"Why not? I wasn't aware you were poor."

"Lynn woke up yesterday."

Hung smiled. "Excellent!"

"It wasn't much. I don't think she knew where she was. She probably won't even remember it. But she was awake for a few minutes. The doctor said that was a major step, and they moved her out of ICU last night."

"I'm glad."

Sue set down her empty bowl. "But that's why I haven't eaten much until now. As long as Lynn was at death's door, I couldn't eat or sleep. I never left the hospital. But now that I know she'll live, I'm okay. That's why I came here last night, because I finally felt like my life had been restored. That's why I slept so long, and why I'm so hungry." She poured herself a second bowl.

" long will you be staying?"

They looked at each other.

"How long will you let me?" Sue finally asked.

"That depends. There are these little brown things called cigarettes. I happen to like them."

Sue scowled. "They stink and you'll be dead by forty."

"It's my life to throw away."

"Says the woman who arrested a crack dealer yesterday."

Hung narrowed her eyes. "Don't you dare compare nicotine to...don't..." But she couldn't think of any comeback, so she lamely finished with, "Just...don't."

Hung's phone rang. She answered it, and her face became very still.

"I'll be right there." She hung up.

Sue looked at her inquisitively.

Hung looked grave. "Another girl's missing."

Sue absorbed this news and looked troubled. Even with her entire life focused on Lynn being in the hospital, she had heard about the spate of disappearing teenage girls which had gripped Hong Kong in the last week. Each had been taken without a trace. The police were being embarrassed. The public outcry was deafening. It had even pushed the gun battle at Chow Nunn's office building out of the headlines.

"What can I do to help?" Sue asked.

"Nothing. Just go be with your sister."

Hung kissed her good-bye.

It was a good kiss, and Hung realized that she was actually in bliss that Sue was there.


Siu-ma walked over to greet his boss as she arrived. Behind him, Feng was dealing with a furious father and a sobbing mother. Hung was selfishly glad that that wasn't her job this morning. She didn't do crying.

"Luo An Hua, 15," Siu-ma said. "Went to get some ice cream with her friends last night, just two blocks away. Left them to walk home alone about 9:20. Never made it."

"And we're only just hearing about it now?"

"Her parents were out last night. They assumed she was in bed when they got home."

"Son of a bitch!" Hung exclaimed. "Why the hell did she walk home alone? Is she a moron? Does she not listen to the news?"

Siu-ma shrugged. "Her friends say they actually mentioned something to her, but she said it was only two blocks so she wasn't worried."

"Anyone see anything?" Hung asked, already knowing the answer.

Siu-ma shook his head. "Security camera footage will be delivered about noon, but there weren't many."

"You know where this ice cream shop is?"


"I want to retrace her steps. Come with me."

Hung silently walked the girl's likeliest route and was disheartened by what she saw. It was the same as the other abductions – if it truly was an abduction and not a runaway, which was always possible. A teenage girl alone. No witnesses that they knew of. Very few businesses with external security cameras. Not even a traffic cam.

Whoever was taking these girls was a complete professional. No doubt about it.


Feng sat with his head in his hands, listening to one of his patrolmen report that another tip had led nowhere. He didn't have the energy to look up any more.

"Is there a policewoman who can handle herself in a fight and can pass as a teenager?" Siu-ma asked. "We could use her as bait and sew a GPS and a listening device into her clothing."

"To expose an officer to that kind of risk would require special permission from the chief," Feng said. "I'm not sure he would grant it, and I'm not sure I would have the heart to ask anyone to put themselves in that much peril. If the officer was separated from her clothing we would lose her. If it's kidnappers, once they realized she's an adult, or perhaps even a cop, she would be killed. If it's a serial killer, she's dead anyway. It's too risky."

"Is there any evidence this is a mass kidnapping rather than a serial killer?" Hung asked.

"The analysts say that this many victims in such a short time doesn't fit any known serial killer profile, because there's no cooling off period," Feng said. "Also, Cyberwatch says someone's advertising a fresh set of Hong Kong sex slaves on the darknet, and that it seems legitimate. They've got someone pretending to be an interested buyer, trying to feel them out. We don't know if it's real, or if it's related." He sighed. "Realistically, all options are still open."

Siu-ma turned to Hung. "What about that crack dealer you arrested yesterday?"

Hung shook her head. "He's useless. The missing girls are a big story, and he was just using it to try to save his own skin."

"Hung, see if the latest victim shared anything similar with any of the other victims," Feng said.

"Right." She turned to Siu-ma. "Coming?"

Siu-ma looked thoughtful. "Maybe that crack dealer was lying, but there's always a chance he wasn't...and...I don't know, maybe I have a hunch. I just feel something. I want to look into his claim further."

Hung laid a hand on his arm. "The single most valuable asset any police officer has is their hunch. I know what that feels like, so if you've got one, follow it. Even if it's wrong, the experience will make your instinct better. Do what you need to do."

Siu-ma nodded.

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