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Authors: Graham Masterton

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BOOK: Chaos Theory
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Rick propped himself up on one elbow. ‘But you
have
been having all-night sex with your head of security.’
Adeola went into the blue-tiled bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror over the washbasin. God almighty, she looked like one of those juju masks they sold in the backstreet markets in Lagos. Her short hair was all frizzy, her eyelids were swollen, and her lips were pouting. She climbed into the glass shower cubicle and turned on the shiny designer faucet.
‘Coffee?’ asked Rick, coming into the bathroom naked. He was stocky and muscular, with a black crucifix of hair on his chest. He had a handsome, heart-shaped face with some disturbing femininity in it, like a young Tony Curtis or a Ray Liotta.
‘Cranberry juice, that’s all.’
He opened the door of the shower cubicle and stood watching her as she soaped herself. He had a slight tic in his right eye, the result of a gunshot wound inflicted in Kuwait, so that he looked as if he were winking at her. ‘Are you sure that’s all? Cranberry juice? I mean . . . forty-seven minutes, that’s just about long enough . . .’
She turned to him. ‘There’s a time for everything, Mr Kavanagh. A time to live and a time to die. A time to be a lover and a time to be a fighter. And a time to get the hell out of the bathroom and put some pants on.’
‘You’re a goddess, you know that? Look at you.’
Adeola had a long, exotic face with feline eyes and a very strong jawline. This morning she might have thought that she looked like a juju mask, but she looked exactly like her mother, whose extraordinary appearance had made the UN African Affairs Director fall in love with her thirty-three years ago during the course of a single dinner party in Abuja, and marry her within three months. A year later, Adeola had been born. Her name meant ‘loved by all’.
Her father was white, so Adeola’s skin was paler than her mother’s, but she had her mother’s full breasts, and her hips flared out in just the same way, although her legs were much longer, like her father’s.
When she was growing up, Adeola had been repeatedly asked if she had considered a career in modelling, or acting, but she was too intense for that, too serious, too political. She wanted to do some good in the world. That was why she had eventually joined DOVE, which was now the most influential privately-financed aid agency in the world.
‘Your juice, m’lady,’ said Rick, as she came out of the bathroom, her hair wrapped up in a towel turban. He was already dressed in a white linen shirt and sand-coloured chinos. He had strapped on his shoulder holster but his black SIG-Sauer P225 semi-automatic pistol was lying on the table next to the bowl of papayas and oranges.
‘Did you talk to Captain Madoowbe about security?’ Adeola asked him, picking up her juice.
‘I did, but he’s more excited by firepower than he is by good intelligence. Personally I don’t give a flying fig how many rocket-propelled grenade launchers he and his goons are toting around. If somebody’s sneaked in and placed a bomb under the conference table, it’s goodnight Vienna.’
‘Or goodbye Dubai, in this case,’ said Adeola. She went to the window and looked out. Her suite was on the forty-eighth floor of the Emirates Towers Hotel, with a view of the royal stable buildings and the desert beyond, which was a bright pink colour this morning – almost the same colour as her cranberry juice. She could never look at the desert without having the strangest of feelings. It was like seeing her own death, waiting for her.
She went through to the bedroom and opened the closet. Most of the clothes that she had brought to Dubai were very plain and sober. Today she took out a pale lemon suit she had bought on her last trip to New York. It was a little too Hilary Clinton for her taste, but the men with whom she had to negotiate in Africa and the Middle East expected women to be modest and respectable. Even talking to a woman on equal terms made them tetchy.
‘We’re taking all three SUVs,’ called Rick, as Adeola sat in front of the dressing table, struggling to pin up her hair. ‘You’ll be in the third one, for a change. We’ll drive straight up to the entrance of the Taj Hotel, Jimmy and Miko will get out and make sure that the scenery looks tight before they give you the signal. Then and only then will you disembark.
‘If anything looks at all screwy, your vehicle will back up at high speed, execute a one-eighty, and head south-east on Al Rigga Road, foot to the floor.’
Adeola had the tip of her tongue between her teeth as she fastened an Igbo buckle into her hair.
‘You hearing this?’ said Rick.
‘I’m hearing it. I’m just having so much trouble with my freaking hair. What did I
do
last night?’
‘You mean you can’t remember?’
 
Jimmy, Miko, Charles and Nesta were all waiting for them down in the hotel lobby. They were all discreetly dressed, just like Rick, in white shirts, navy-blue sport coats and chinos, except for Nesta, who was wearing a blue blouse and a knee-length black linen skirt. They could have been mistaken for travel-company staff, rather than bodyguards.
Charles checked his huge stainless-steel watch. ‘We’re three minutes ahead of schedule,’ he said. ‘Do you want to wait or do you want to go now?’
‘We’ll wait,’ said Rick. ‘Safer to stay here than hang around at the Taj. Miko – any radio chatter?’
‘Nothing that related to us.’
‘OK . . . I haven’t received any cautions from Al Ameen, either. All the same, this is a highly sensitive conference, politically speaking, so I’d like us all to be extra watchful.’
‘I went out first thing this morning and checked out the rooftop opposite the Taj,’ said Jimmy. ‘There’s no possible access, and in any case you’d never get a clear shot from there.’
‘How about the apartments?’
‘All occupied – and again, you’d never get a clear shot. Too many trees, and the SUVs would be blocking your line of fire.’
‘OK, happy with that. Any other thoughts, before we roll?’
‘You’re confident about Captain Madoowbe’s people?’ asked Nesta.
‘No. But then I’m never too happy about African state security, no matter which country I’m in. You can be halfway through a job, and they have a military coup back home, and all of a sudden your smiley chum is your fanatical machete-swinging enemy. There’s a couple of guys on Captain Madoowbe’s team who did some pretty dubious things in Mogadishu, so let’s keep our eyes on them, too.’
They left the air-conditioned chill of the lobby and stepped out into the hotel portico. Although it was still early, the temperature had already climbed to thirty degrees and the heat hit them like an oven door opening. On the far side of the portico, three shiny black Ford Explorers were parked nose-to-tail by the curb, watched over by the sixth member of Adeola’s security team, Reuben Brock. It was difficult to mistake Reuben for a travel executive. In spite of his dark blue yachting blazer and his well-pressed chinos, and the way that his hands were discreetly clasped over his genitals, he had the bull-headed look of a minotaur, with no neck whatsoever, and a top-heavy torso that had earned him the nickname Rube the Cube.
He came across to join the rest of the team as they escorted Adeola to the rear Explorer. ‘Everything OK?’ he asked in his gravelly Pittsburgh accent. ‘Are we ready to roll?’
‘Ready to roll.’
As they were opening up the Explorer’s doors, a young Arab in a loose-fitting black coat and baggy pants came hurrying towards them from the street, his sandals slapping on the asphalt. He called out, ‘
Assalam alekum!
Keyf haleck?

Adeola turned. The young man looked innocent enough. He couldn’t have been older than seventeen or eighteen, with a maroon knitted hat and the first dark wisps of an immature moustache. When he saw Adeola, he raised his hand and said, ‘Miss Adeola Davis!
Sabah al-khayr!
Good morning to you!’
Rick immediately seized Adeola by the hips and hoisted her into the back of the Explorer. ‘Get down! Flat across the seat!’
Reuben crossed the portico and intercepted the young Arab before he could get within twenty yards of Adeola’s Explorer.
‘Back off, kid. You can’t come over here.’

Assif
, I’m sorry. I recognize Miss Adeola Davis.’
‘Sorry, kid. You didn’t recognize nobody.’
‘Please – I am a great admirer of Miss Adeola Davis. She is my heroine, working so hard in the Middle East for peace. All I want is autograph.’
The young Arab reached into his inside pocket. Reuben immediately heaved out his Colt automatic and said, ‘Hold it, kid! Don’t even think about it!’
But the young Arab folded back his coat to show that he had nothing in his inside pocket except for a spiral-bound notebook. ‘All I want is autograph.’
‘Sorry, kid, you made a mistake. Wrong person. Now beat it.’
Two of the uniformed doormen had come over now, and started shouting at the young man in Arabic, ordering him to go away. One of them kicked at him, although he missed, and almost fell over. Eventually, the young man raised both hands in mock-surrender. ‘OK, OK.
Mafi mushkila
. I go.’
He turned around and walked away, with his sandals still slapping.
Rick opened the Explorer’s door just as Reuben came back. ‘False alarm. Some autograph hunter, that’s all. Let’s get out of here before we run late. Wouldn’t want to keep His Excellency Ato Ketona Aklilu waiting, would we?’
They climbed into the three SUVs, and pulled out of the Emirates Towers Hotel with their tyres squealing on the baking-hot asphalt.
Four
 
C
aptain Madoowbe and his security team were waiting for them outside the Taj Palace Hotel. There were eight of them altogether, all wearing flappy brown suits and mirrored sunglasses, except for Captain Madoowbe himself, who was dressed in an olive-green military uniform, beautifully tailored and pressed, complete with medals and ribbons and insignia.
‘The whole of the surrounding environment is totally secure,’ he announced, as Rick and Reuben escorted Adeola up the hotel steps.
Rick took off his sunglasses and looked around with his eyes narrowed. ‘Pleased to hear it.’
Captain Madoowbe was short, with a large head and intensely black skin. His eyes were hooded and he had decorative patterns of scars on his cheeks. It may have been his strong accent, but Adeola always thought that he sounded incredibly arrogant. She had never seen any reliable evidence, but it was rumoured that Captain Madoowbe had been involved in the notorious torture and killing of several Oromo people in the Jarso district of Wollaga, several years ago, including a pregnant woman and her unborn child.
‘OK,’ said Rick. ‘If we can give the conference room a quick once-over . . .’
‘That has already been done to my complete satisfaction,’ said Captain Madoowbe.
‘All the same.’
‘That has already been done to my
complete
satisfaction,’ Captain Madoowbe repeated. He made no move to stand aside.
Rick lowered his head a little. Then he looked back up again and said, ‘You have your foreign minister to protect, Captain, and I’m sure you do that to the best of your ability. But Ms Davis is my responsibility, and I have to insist on vetting the conference room for any security problems that may specifically affect her.’
‘I do not care for your implication.’
Adeola put in, ‘Mr Kavanagh isn’t implying anything, Captain. But either he and his colleagues are permitted to vet the conference room or there
is
no conference, and I’d like to see how you explain
that
to His Excellency. You have ten seconds. That’s it. We’re leaving.’
‘But that was not ten seconds!’
‘You’re right. It wasn’t. I changed my mind. Just like you’re going to change yours.’
 
The meeting with the Ethiopian Foreign Minister lasted for four and a half hours. In common with most of the meetings that Adeola had attended in Africa and the Middle East, it was dreamlike and prolix.
They sat in a cool white room with a high ceiling and white muslin drapes drawn across the windows, so that all Adeola could see of the city outside was the occasional sparkle from a car window.
A long low table was laid out with various Ethiopian snacks which had been prepared by His Excellency’s own chef – bowls of
dabo kolo
, little balls of crunchy fried bread; plates of the warm raw meat called
kitfo
; and several different vegetarian dishes, like
misir wat
, which was made of lentils, and
fosolia
string beans.
There was coffee, and Ethiopian herbal tea, but no alcohol. Adeola drank only Ambo, the fizzy Ethiopian mineral water. She found it far too salty and metallic, but she wanted to show respect for her host.
Ato Ketona Aklilu was a small, languid man, with an obsessively neat beard and bulging eyes and an aquiline nose. He was immaculately dressed in a white silk shirt and a pale beige tailor-made suit. A large gold Rolex hung loosely on his wrist. He spoke perfect but rather pedantic English with a cut-glass British accent. He had been educated at Harrow, after all.
‘What you have to realize, my dear lady, is that since 1991 Ethiopia’s foreign policy has been to reduce our dependency on Western aid. Aid is always appreciated, especially in years of drought and famine. But the problem with aid is that it always comes with political provisos, does it not?’
‘Well, you’re right,’ said Adeola. ‘And I can tell you that DOVE has authorized me to offer you a substantial amount of new aid, particularly medical supplies and foodstuffs – well over and above this year’s agreed quota from USAID. But I’m not looking to attach any strings to it – not in the way you’re talking about. I want to work
with
you – not dictate to you. All I’m asking from you is that you seriously consider what I have to say.’
BOOK: Chaos Theory
10.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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