Delicate Touch

Chapter 3

Lynn's mouth constantly felt dry, but the nurse had told her that was likely a side effect of the medicine. The nurse had also told her that she had been unconscious for eight days, and that Sue and Yen had hardly left her side.

She had been awake since about 4 AM, and ironically, Yen had been asleep in the chair that entire time. She didn't want to disturb him; he was obviously exhausted, because her conversation with the nurse hadn't woken him. She would have loved to go back to sleep naturally, but she just couldn't. She certainly didn't want to be put under again. She wasn't in pain, just bored. Of all the things a person can stare at for entertainment, a hospital ceiling is never high on the list.

So she lay idle and watched the room slowly fill with daylight, and listened to the hospital slowly fill with morning noise.

At 8:30 Sue looked in, and the smile on her face was the most beautiful sight Lynn had ever seen.

Sue ran to Lynn and hugged her. The sisters held each other for a long time. Neither needed words.

Sue pulled away, her face wet with tears, and rested her forehead on Lynn's. "I'm sorry," Sue whispered. "I'm so, so sorry."

Lynn tried to speak but her voiced croaked. She cleared it and tried again. "For what?"

Yen stirred, and slowly woke up.

"It's my fault you almost died," Sue whispered. "Everything that happened is my fault. Trying to pull off that last hit by myself led Chow's men to our house. I couldn't resist teasing the police. I acted like what we did was a game, and that we were invincible. I was reckless and a fool, and I almost lost you forever because of it."

Lynn smiled. "I don't care. I'm still here, and I know you'll never do anything like that again. I'm just happy you're safe. That's the only thing that matters to me."

Sue kissed her forehead, then looked up at Yen, who was now standing next to the bed.

Yen hugged Lynn. "Welcome back," he said. "How are you?"

"Bored, hungry, and thirsty."

"We can fix all of those," Sue said.

"Wait," Lynn said. "There's something I want more than all of that. I want to know what happened, why we're not under arrest, and why I smell Kong Yat-hung's perfume on you."

Sue blushed. "That's a long story."

"I'll clear my calendar."

Sue playfully slapped her arm.

Yen motioned towards the door. "Do you want me to..."

"No," Sue said. "If you truly love Lynn, and if you're really going to be her husband, then you need to hear this, too."

"You haven't told him already?" Lynn asked.

Sue grimaced. "It's a story I only ever want to tell once."

Lynn squeezed her hand. "Tell me."

Sue nodded, took a deep breath, and let it out. "I got away from the police. When I got home, I saw what happened. I brought you here. I was almost too late. Then I went home, grabbed the computer and took off. I barely got out of there before the police arrived.

"Chow's men framed Hung for the attack on you. They deposited money in her account, and they left her necklace at our house, lying beside a gun with her fingerprints. So she was arrested."

"The police fell for that?" Lynn asked.

"Hung is certain that Chow had some high-ranking police in his pocket, and that's why they were willing to act on such flimsy evidence. That's also why she figured she'd be killed eventually once they had her in custody."

Sue looked sadly at Lynn, clearly dreading her next words. "I know how you feel about revenge. But this wasn't just about revenge, it was also about staying alive. We couldn't live on the run for the rest of our lives, and you were vulnerable here in the hospital. It was either Chow or us, so I went after him."

Lynn nodded, clearly unhappy, yet acknowledging that Sue was right.

"I needed help to take on Chow, and he had declared war on Hung, too. So I rescued her. We joined forces and...we took care of it." Sue looked at Lynn meaningfully.

Lynn squeezed her hand. "I never wanted you to take a human life."

Sue squeezed her hand in return. "I know. And now I know why."

They were silent for a moment.

"So why aren't you in prison?" Lynn asked.

"Well, although this might be hard for you to understand because you weren't there, Hung and I kind of...bonded when we were together. She saved my life, and I saved hers. We got to know each other a little bit. When it was all over, she didn't arrest me, and she's not going to arrest you. She knows we've quit, and she knows we want to start our lives over. She's okay with that."

"Even if Hung doesn't arrest us, what about the rest of the police?" Lynn asked. "They're not that stupid! I was attacked by Chow's men, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why. They must know we're the assasins they're looking for."

Sue sighed. "Oh, they probably do. But...when Hung and I took out Chow Nunn, and the police discovered all the things he and his brother had done – and there were a lot – Hung suddenly became the police department's superstar. She's practically untouchable. They gave her a medal. And all the police who were being bribed by Chow are suddenly scared shitless; they're not going to serve someone who can't pay them any more, and they're terrified that evidence still exists somewhere that they were on the take. I get the feeling that Hung's supervisor has guessed the truth, but he trusts Hung enough that if she's not willing to pursue something, then he won't, either."

Sue smiled and held both of Lynn's hands. "Lynn. We're free! By luck or by grace, we're free. We can start over!"

Lynn smiled also. "That still doesn't explain why I can smell Hung's perfume on you."

Sue blushed. "Well, like I said...we bonded."

Lynn raised an eyebrow. Yen smiled.


Siu-ma shouldered open the rusting door. The sound echoed around the cavernous warehouse.

He switched on his flashlight, although sunlight snuck in through some upper windows, and looked around carefully. There were many footprints in the dust, probably made by men's workboots, but they could have been there for years and therefore meant nothing to Siu-ma.

But another set of footprints attracted his attention. It had been raining off and on for the past two days, and these footprints were smaller and still slightly damp. They led to a stack of palettes leaning against a wall. The palettes leant at enough of an angle that there was a space on the floor between the palettes and the wall.

Siu-ma approached the palettes. He pretty much knew what he would find.

"Police," he called. "I'm not here to arrest you, I just need to ask you a couple of questions."

No answer.

"Look, I know you're there. I can see the footprints, and they're recent. I can call for backup and we can do this the hard way. But time is short and I just need some information."

Shaking slightly, an old homeless man tentatively crawled out from the space between the palettes and the wall, and stood up.

Siu-ma stood still, showed him his badge, and spoke reassuringly, trying to gain the man's trust. "Police. All I want to do is ask you a few questions."

The man looked around furtively, then shrugged his shoulders. "What?"

"First of all, what's your name?"

The man looked around again, then finally said, "Peng." It was obvious he was lying. Siu-ma didn't let it bother him.

"Well, Peng, I need to know if you've seen anything suspicious in any of these abandoned warehouses lately. I'm not talking about drug deals or prostitution, I mean something really out of the ordinary."

Peng looked confused and just shook his head.

"How about a bunch of men moving something in the middle of the night. Recently."

Peng worked his jaw around, staring at Siu-ma's feet, as if considering whether to reply.

"It's really important," Siu-ma said gently. "A lot of people's lives could depend on it."

Peng swallowed hard and shifted his feet. "Saw a bunch of guys moving stuff night before last. Looked like they were in a hurry."

"Using a warehouse that's usually abandoned?"

Peng nodded.

"What kind of stuff?"

"I didn't look too close. I was about a block away. Just passin' through, you know?"

"Were any of them carrying guns?"

"Not that I could see."

"Did you hear anyone cry out for help?"

Peng began to answer but immediately stopped.

"I'm not going to judge you or get angry. Please. What did you hear?"

"I heard...someone yell. A girl, or a woman, sounded like."

"Was it a scream, or did the woman say anything?"

"She yelled, 'Help.' I think."

"Just 'Help?'"

"'Help me,' or 'Somebody help.' I don't know."

"Did the men react?"

"One of 'em yelled, 'Shut up!' Somethin' like that."

"Show me."

Peng led Siu-ma out the door and down the street.

The air was muggy in the hot sun. From a quarter mile away came the sound of men and ships, but this section of the city was almost deserted. On a distant corner stood a woman in tight shorts and a tank top; her pimp leaned on the brick wall behind her, guarding his merchandise. He eyed Siu-Ma warily.

Peng and Siu-ma reached another abandoned warehouse.

"This is the place?" Siu-ma asked.

Peng nodded.

"Anything else strange happen lately? Anything at all?"

Peng shook his head.

"Do you know where the men were going?"

Another shake of the head.

"What vehicle were they using? Was there any emblem on the side of their truck?"

"I didn't see any truck or anything."

"Then how do you know they were moving stuff?"

Peng shrugged. "It just seemed like it."

"Why did it seem like it?"

Peng thought for a moment. "They...were wheeling boxes around."

"Boxes or crates?"


"Big ones?"

Peng nodded.

"Big enough to hold a person?"

He nodded again.

Siu-ma took out one of his business cards and began writing on the back of it. "This is an organization that will help you, if you'll let them. Please go see them." He gave Peng the card and some money. "Thank you for your time."

Peng nodded and shuffled off.

Siu-ma entered the building and switched on his flashlight, as it was considerably darker in here. The windows had been boarded over with wood which looked new.

Siu-ma examined the ground carefully, trying hard to disturb as little as possible in case anyone else needed to examine it later. He moved along the walls, looking for anything which seemed out of place.

He spotted something and froze. After taking a careful look, he whipped out his phone.

Chapter 2 Chapter 4

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