David Dun: At The Edge

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David Dun At The Edge
  • Название:
    At The Edge
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  • Жанр:
    Триллер / на английском языке
  • Язык:
    Английский
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At The Edge: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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David Dun


At The Edge

Prologue

Kenji Yamada had never seen anything so magnificent as Catherine Swanson's thighs. He sat beside her in the back of his Rolls-Royce Seraph with the twelve-cylinder motor at idle and the CD player whispering Sinatra love songs.

Her scent filled his nostrils with a heavy-sweet floral fragrance that included a hint of musk. A black linen sheath dress with a high collar left her shoulders bare, the flawless perfection of her skin like emperor's silk.

Her eyes made him feel wanted and close, while her fingers caressed the back of his head, stirring long-forgotten memories. Years ago at prep school, the most beautiful girl in his class lived in an ivy-covered brick house and wore designer tennis shoes from a store in New York. He had taken her in the rain under a maple tree. Shoulders like that.

Over Catherine's left breast she wore a diamond pin emblazoned with the letter C. Her fine chestnut hair was damp velvet in the moonlight.

For the joy of knowing her, of touching her, Kenji was risking both his marriage and his professional perch atop the Amada Corporation. This was not the worst of his sins- it was just the most personal. Still he felt no hesitation, not the slightest pause, as he contemplated his headlong fall into the unknown.

He nuzzled her neck while his attention focused on the thigh and black garter that seemed to be sliding free of the dark linen fabric. He ran his fingers over Catherine's arms, the muscle, and shape, how they flowed down to slender long fingers.

Tentatively he kissed Catherine's mouth. When he felt her tongue in reply, she turned in the seat and he kissed more confidently. Just visible on her inner thigh, at the edge of her panties, was a tattoo-a tiny rose with the initials TS on either side of the stem. Above the old-fashioned silk stockings, her legs were baby smooth.

His experienced fingers felt for the zipper on the back of her dress and, for the first time, he hesitated.

The wife of Senator Tom Swanson, the most coveted but untouchable wife he had ever met, an established, conservative woman with an impeccable reputation, would not be committing adultery in the backseat of Kenji Yamada's car. Notwithstanding that he was a successful businessman, polished, sophisticated, a powerful-looking fellow with exotically handsome eyes. He was also notoriously married.

She looked at him, the moonlight spreading across lips that now formed a challenging smile. Stifling his doubts, goaded by the smile, he pulled the zipper down to her waist.

''Kiss me'' was all Catherine said as he lowered the gown.

He had never hungered for a woman as he did for Catherine Swanson. It was love, but love of power; it was the dream, nurtured since boyhood, of forbidden fruit; it was raw animal attraction; it was his circumstantial celibacy, now five days old; it was his age; and it was that life might be escaping him without him having grabbed enough of it.

He thought he detected something in her glancing eyes- he knew it wasn't desire.

And then his world changed forever. The door flew open, a blinding strobe lit the night air.

''You son of a bitch," Catherine shouted at the photographer.

Kenji said nothing, grabbing for his loafers, trying to figure out how he could climb across Catherine to the man popping the pictures. Realizing such a move was impossible, he reached instead for the door handle on his side of the car. Catherine tried to cover her brassiere, then get the dress down somewhere near her knees, but it was too late. More efficient-sounding clicks and whirs and flashes. The camera was getting it all.

As Kenji ran around the car, his fear, the humiliation, the shattering of his sense of personal control, vanished, and he became the pragmatic old Kenji who had climbed the corporate ladder with a measure of ruthless ambition equaled by few.

The photographer was disappearing into the night. Kenji circled to the front passenger's side and in the glove box found his 9mm Smith amp; Wesson semiautomatic pistol, which his security chief had given him and until tonight he had shot only at an indoor range.

The disaster of being caught and not in control had brought about a deadly calm. He got in, slid behind the wheel, and shot the Rolls down the road, its lights illuminating the photographer who ran toward a van still a hundred yards distant. Kenji was a few car-lengths behind and bearing down fast when the man left the road for the forest.

Kenji stopped the car and got out. Even in the shadows of the full moon, he could see the layer of dust that covered the huckleberry, the salal, and higher up the redwood boughs. He could hear only the sound of the man moving through the brush and the purr of the car's motor. As a precaution against something he hadn't yet defined, he shut off the engine and took the key.

"Stay here," he told Catherine. Then he shouted at the forest: "All I want is the film. Then you can go."

Silence.

"I'll give you money," he yelled. "We can talk."

Nothing.

Picking a redwood tree by the side of the road, he aimed to its center and peeled off three shots in rapid succession.

He heard crashing and plunged into the forest after the retreating sounds. It felt like he was wading through heavy water. Vines tore at his silk Armani socks. The thin soles of his handmade calfskin shoes were slick and his feet moved crazily. Densely packed boughs obscured his surroundings. Even the full moon couldn't find its way through the green mass that was a redwood forest. Oddly, he thought of ticks and Lyme disease, of poison oak, of falling in a hole. Still, he moved forward, following the sound, until the quiet compelled him to stop.

His breaths came heavy, pushed by the nagging realization that he could not lose this race.

"You don't want to stumble around in the dark woods with a wild man shooting at you," Kenji yelled.

No response.

"I would pay you ten thousand dollars."

He heard a single sharp crack as though the man had shifted his weight. He listened intently to brushy sounds overlaid with a noise like falling Venetian blinds. He staggered foward at a near run.

When the photographer moved, Kenji moved, but his gut told him that he was lagging farther behind.

"All right, twenty thousand cash."

There was an urgency about this situation unlike any other in his forty-one years. The equation was simple. His Harvard-educated Japanese wife would not stand for philandering of any kind. If she left him for adultery, then his position as head of Amada, a subsidiary of her father's sprawling financial empire, would go with her. And under anybody's laws he could be disinherited. Kenji Yamada would become the paper tiger, sentenced to a living death.

Of late, his wife had become wily. She had caught him once. A hot day, a cool drink, a soft leather couch, the brown of it matching the skin of his personal secretary, a woman impressed with his power, his position, and his good looks.

Without artifice his wife would never have discovered his secret, but she had resources and she used them. It was a simple matter to plant a bug in his office. She had heard every groan, each exclamation of success, Kenji's bragging about doing two women in the same day-everything. He had been given both warning and ultimatum: one last chance. That chance was about to be spent by a two-bit photographer running through a darkened forest. He had to find this man hiding in the woods; he had to get the film.

Kenji made his desk-softened body go faster, risking injury. The photographer was getting tired, the pauses longer, the scurrying less frenzied. The chase would not go on much longer; at some point the man would disappear.

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