Beloved Enemy

Beloved Enemy by Eric Van Lustbader

Book: Beloved Enemy by Eric Van Lustbader Read Free Book Online
Authors: Eric Van Lustbader
wife doesn’t.”
    “You may be right about me,” Krofft said, “but you’re dead wrong about Jonatha.”
    “You tried, or she looks like a Mack truck, which is it?”
    “You think you have all the answers? She’s not the type to make a move on.”
    “So you did try.” Rogers appeared genuinely taken aback.
    “To be truthful, it never crossed my mind.”
    “Why?’
    Krofft smiled. “I’ll set up a meeting. You’ll find out for yourself.”
    *   *   *
    Chaat Pradchaphet’s restaurant was named Blue Lagoon, but the regulars invariably referred to it as Chati’s. It occupied a space more or less midway down a block in posh Soi Pichai Ronnarong, where, the later it got, the more packed the street was with young, wealthy Thais, Singaporeans, Russians, and Japanese.
    The red and black lacquered interior was carved up into three spaces, sectioned off by bamboo and translucent glass-block dividers: the bar, the main dining room, and the exclusive club section in the rear, presided over by Chati himself. Sometimes, a guest or two would be invited to sit with him, at other times, a dark-haired bombshell drank and fondled him under the table. But, mostly, he sat by himself, smoking reeking cigarettes and poring over spreadsheets, like an accountant or a bookie.
    Redbird was happy to let Dandy lead the way from the moment they stepped into the restaurant. She chatted a few minutes with the manager, blew the bartender a kiss, smiled at the waiters as they passed. Best of all, she was well known to the muscle Chati employed to keep the rowdies out, also to protect him from anyone who might seek to do him harm. She had even been known to stop on their way to buy a complicated-looking Transformers toy for one of the bodyguard’s sons, who was ill.
    They were allowed access to the club after hugs and cheek kisses. One of the bodyguards must have alerted Chati via a wireless network, because he raised his head to look directly at them. The moment he recognized Dandy a smile broke out across his broad face. He dismissed the bombshell sitting next to him with a curt gesture, and she slid out, rose, and made her way across the polished rosewood floor, her buttocks rolling like the ball bearings of a well-oiled machine.
    Chati was a big man, tall for a Thai, and by Redbird’s expert estimation, weighing somewhere between three hundred and four hundred pounds. He had small black eyes, like raisins sunk in a vat of suet. His lips were small, thick, bowed, and possibly rouged, like a girl’s. Dandy introduced Redbird as Ken Douglas, an agreed-upon legend, and the two men shook hands. Chati invited them to sit. As they did so, a waiter appeared as if out of thin air and took their drink orders.
    The big man and Dandy made small talk for several minutes. Redbird listened with one ear while he checked out the patrons. He neither saw nor felt anything out of the ordinary.
    “Dhandyamongko tells me you’re looking for a man by the name of—” He snapped his fingers.
    “Pyotr Legere,” Redbird said. “He’s a bookstore owner and art dealer from Moscow.”
    “He’s a long way from home,” Chati said. “Plus, the art here is the shits.”
    “He didn’t come for the art,” Redbird said. “He was meeting someone.”
    “Does this someone have a name?”
    “Leroy Connaston.”
    Chati cocked his head. “Shot-to-death-twelve-days-ago Connaston?”
    Redbird’s interest quickened. “Do the cops have a suspect?”
    Chati laughed. “Fuck, no. This is Bangkok, man! The only time the cops can follow a lead is if they’re paid to do it.”
    The drinks came, along with several plates of bite-sized snacks.
    Redbird concentrated on the big man rather than the food. “Do you have any ideas?”
    “You want to know who killed Connaston?”
    “I might be interested,” Redbird acknowledged, “but it’s Legere I’m after.”
    Chati grunted. “What’s it worth to you?”
    “Plenty.” Redbird was playing with Dickinson’s

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