Jack Higgins – The Iron Tiger

She leaned against him, caught in a strong current there was no denying, and was aware of his hands, fumbling at the cord of her dressing gown.

As it opened, she pulled away, straggling frantically. ‘No, Jack, no P He paused, head slightly forward, trying to see her more clearly in the half-darkness, and she pushed him away violently with both hands. ‘Not this way, Jack! I’m not one of your kept women!”

For a long moment he stood there, almost invisible in the shadows, staring at her, and then, without a word, he walked rapidly away.

As another brilliant flash of lightning illuminated the empty verandah, Janet turned with a dry sob, went back inside and threw herself on the bed, anger and frustration sweeping through her.

Drummond had left the window of his bedroom open deliberately in spite of the cold. He lay in bed, propped against a pillow smoking a cigarette and thinking about Janet Tate as the rain drummed endlessly on the roof.

If that was the way she wanted it, then.to hell with her. As he reached to stub out his cigarette in the ashtray on the locker at his bedside, there was a movement by the window, something stirred and Famia emerged from the shadows.

Her hair was unbound, hanging to her waist and she wore a loose silken robe fastened with a scarlet sash. There was a slight rustling of silk and as she moved into the narrow circle of the lamplight, the robe slipped to the ground.

She stood there for a moment, magnificent in her nakedness, breasts pointed with desire, hands flat against her thighs.

She moved forward quickly and his arms went out to enfold her, crushing her softness against him. He held her close, staring blindly out of the open window at the night as she moaned softly, digging her nails into his shoulder.

And after all. why not? This was one kind of answer and as good as any other.

In the darkness of the terrace, the old woman listened for a moment, then nodded to herself in satisfaction and crept quietly away.

It was close to dawn when he awakened, the sweat cold on his flesh. It was still raining hard outside and he hitched the blanket over his shoulders and turned into her warmth to sleep again.

Outside, the sound that had awakened him came nearer, the roar of an engine thundering through the rain. There was a squeal of brakes, boots running across the courtyard. Drummond got out of bed, reached for his dressing gown and padded to the window. As he moved out on to the verandah, Tony Brackenhurst stumbled on the top step and dropped to one knee, his face wild and strained in the light of the porch lamp.

Tor God’s sake, man, what is it?. Drummond demanded.

‘Chinese troops,’ Brackenhurst gasped. ‘At HoweeL They over-ran my camp, slaughtered my men..

‘Chinese?’ Drummond said. ‘A patrol, you mean?.

‘Hundreds of the bastards! Hundreds 1’ Brackenhurst sobbed.

Drummond stood stock-still for a moment and then pulled Brackenhurst to his feet. ‘Have you told anyone else about this?’

Brackenhurst shook his head. ‘No, I haven’t had time.’

‘Good, if word gets out too soon we might have a general panic and that plane of mine can take no more then fifteen in this kind of flying country.’

That’s what I thought,’ Brackenhurst said.

1 bet you did. Now this is what we do. From here, we go to the mission to warn Father Kerrigan and Janet We’ll leave them my jeep and they can follow us in with Kerim as soon as they’re ready..

“What do we do then?

‘Come back to town in your Land Rover and break the news to the Khan. This might prove to him just how useless it was to rely on the border tribes for information.’

He returned to his bedroom and dressed quickly, pulling on fur-lined boots and his old naval flying jacket Famia sat up in bed, the blankets clutched to her breast and watched him.

.When will you be back?’ she said.

He took the Smith & Wesson.38 from a drawer, checked that it was loaded and slipped a box of spare cartridges into his pocket. ‘God knows, but you’ll bs all right You don’t need me. You never did..

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Categories: Higgins, Jack