5. Be Mine (4)

I remembered Carlyle and his slimy handshake. A terrible, choking feeling rose in my throat. Already, I think, I was beginning to recognize Clément in spite of his many guises. I was beginning to understand his dark secret, though not yet his obsession with me. “Ryu will kill you,” I muttered.

“Ryu’s not going to kill me and neither are you. And I’m not going to kill him, either. We are partners of a sort, Ryu and I, though he doesn’t know it yet. I’m actually taking good care of him.”

“Oh, that’s why you’ve poisoned him, why you’re terrorizing his girl.”

“You’re not his girl. You are mine, little fool; and I am trying to save you.”

“Save me? From what?”

“From Ryu. From your father. From men who mean you great harm. Why do you think you were summoned to Tokyo? Why would your father turn you over to him?” He pointed at Ryu, who was knocked out on the bed.

“Ryu is my bodyguard.”

“And then some, I see. Think what you like. Pretend that there is no ominous intent beneath all of this lust. Whatever. Ryu will do no damage tonight and,” he added, “I have this.”

He held up a tiny black box.

“Looks like a ring box, doesn’t it?” he said. “Oh, Erin, won’t you be mine? Well, it isn’t. This,” he said with a flourish, “is the coveted microchip, the one that could put your dad and his cohorts away for a very, very long time.”

Miura was raving. He is mad, I thought. I looked at his broken face, the dreadfully discolored visage. “What are you talking about?” I said.

“Does it really matter?” he asked sorrowfully. “I am talking about a plot, a nasty blackmail plot that threatens the Consortium and involves a huge payoff that demands your demise. And only I—not Ryu, not Miura, not Carlyle, and certainly not your father—will save you.

“Still, your trust in Ryu, however misplaced, is so very appealing. I only wish you would direct it toward me.” He hung his head. “My desire is to save you, Erin. And to that purpose I’m going on a journey—a treasure hunt, a Caribbean fling—but I do want to tell you that I’ll be back.”

“I don’t care,” I said. “You are horrible.”

“Oh, don’t say that. It wounds me deeply,” he said. Then: “Take care of your boyfriend. That mickey is going to give him one hell of a headache.”