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Stephen Knight, Derek Patterson

White Tiger

CHAPTER 1

San Francisco, California

Opulence.

There was no other way to describe the Taipan Suite at the Mandarin Oriental in San Francisco. Almost two thousand square feet of room, lavishly furnished and appointed, with accents that could lead one to believe he might be staying in its namesake in Hong Kong. But one look through the broad windows would have confirmed otherwise; barely half a mile away, the Transamerica building soared into the night sky, a stiletto of brilliance in the darkness. Further out was San Francisco Bay, still busy with ships of various sizes and shapes, either being nudged to their slips by tugboats or steaming underway for destinations unknown. The entire tableau was a lovely sight; San Francisco was, after all, the most beautiful of American cities.

Opulence. Lin Dan let the word roll off his mental tongue. It was such a strange word to him, a string of heavy vowels and sharp consonants that he could never hope to pronounce with the fluid grace of a native English-speaker. The word even maintained life and poise when pronounced by an American, though for true aural pleasure, one had to hear it spoken aloud by a Briton. A British tongue bestowed the word with the nobility it deserved, the promise of never-ending power; the words caifu, fuyu, and even fengfu, all had the same meaning, but none approached the sheer descriptive power of the single English word.

Ah, the joys of language! As a youth, Lin had hated the desultory prospect of trying to wrap his mouth around foreign idioms, which at first seemed like the songs of aliens to him, rising where they should fall, flat where inflection begged to be injected. It took time for him to develop an appreciation for foreign tongues, and to use their power to suit him and further the fortunes of the Lin family. And Lin had the foreigners to thank for that. During the lifetime of his grandparents, and most of his father’s, the Lin family was a family of scarce wealth, eking out an existence as fisherman near the city of Xiamen, in China’s Fujian province. Day by miserable day, they toiled in near-poverty, existing on what they could catch in rickety ships that would set sail in the Pacific. Lin’s favored uncle had once set off on a cloudless morning in 1975, when Lin was but four years of age. He and his crew of fourteen sailors never returned, leaving the family with only his father’s vessel. Those were bleak years, when their income plummeted by fifty percent in less than 24 hours.

But the past lay far, far behind him. After opening itself to the West, and allowing the seeds of capitalism to be sown, the Lin family had made a name for themselves. First with shipping, then trade, then electronics and real estate. The role reversal was electrifyingly swift, when he paused to think of it. But for Lin, the one lesson he had learned from his childhood was to never again be poor.

This meant surrounding himself with such trappings as those offered by the San Francisco hotel in which he now stood. But even that was dwarfed by the luxury contained in his mansion in the Sea Cliff District, where the dwellings were almost stacked on top of one another in an attempt to garner the best view of the Pacific and the Golden Gate Bridge. Lin’s was one of perhaps four premier properties there, and the value and prestige of the residence only continued to climb.

But there were certain things that were not allowed to walk the fine carpets of his personal residence or, at the very least, not more than once a year. And such a thing was approaching him now as surely as a dagger aimed for a hated heart.

Xiaohui Zhu was all Shanghainese, which was both good and bad. Good in that she exuded a sexuality that filled a room and captivated the hormones of every red-blooded male. Bad in that she did embody the very thing Shanghainese women were reviled for-a love of only money and wealth. Lin did not fear her, for he possessed what she wanted, and through that, he could control her. While she would at times be tempestuous, fiery, petulant, he and he alone provided for her the luxury apartment in Pudong she called her home, the Audi TT she so adored, and the chauffeured Bentley when she didn’t feel like driving herself. Not to mention the closets full of clothes bought during excursions to Europe and the US; if there was a woman in all of Shanghai who had an outfit for any occasion, it was Xiaohui Zhu.

On this evening, however, she was dressed in a sleek blue qi pao, the ethnic dress of mainland Chinese women. It hugged her body like a second skin; a winding dragon made its way down her breast, its gaping jaws barely grazing the unseen sweep of her pubic mound. Her long black hair was held back by ivory pins-illegal in the United States, but where there was money, anything could be had. Her eyes were fashionably large for a Chinese, her nose thin, her lips full, her face a perfect oval. Her skin was as white as possible, never seeing more sun than what might be encountered walking from shop to automobile. A true porcelain beauty, she never failed to incense Lin. She embodied xingbiede tezheng, the very essence of sex.

And sex was what they were about. For Lin, it could be nothing else; for Xiaohui, it was a means to an end. He was rough with her, as she desired it, dominating her totally as they wrestled on the king-sized bed, their bodies writhing across the fine Egyptian cotton sheets. Xiaohui cried out as he suckled her firm breasts, tongued her shaven mound, and groped her flesh with enough power to leave bruises. When the time came, he pinned her to the bed and thrust into her like a madman, and her cries of ecstasy were punctuated by the metronomic slaps of his body against hers. He covered her mouth with his own, forcing his tongue into her mouth, muffling her shrieks as his own passion began to build. He held the threatening explosion off for as long as he was able while quickening his tempo; it was a game he liked to play, seeing how long he could deny his pleasure while at the same time doing whatever was possible to entreat it forth. Beneath him, Xiaohui shuddered as she climaxed, and her muscles gripped him in a series of convulsive spasms that fractured his willpower. With a cry of his own, he ejaculated inside of her, his body trembling from the rapture which they both shared for the moment.

Afterwards, they lay panting on the bed, the sheets wet from their mingled sweat. Lin kissed her face gently, as a lover should; Xiaohui pressed her body against his, sated. For now.

“Come bathe,” she whispered after a time.

Mei you. Let me lie here… I’ll shower later.”

“Aiyah. Don’t fall asleep all sweating!”

Lin patted her rump. “I won’t,” he promised. “Go bathe. The tub is lovely.”

Xiaohui clucked her tongue in disapproval, but kissed him gently before sliding out of the bed. She walked to the bathroom and, after a time, Lin heard the Jacuzzi-sized bathtub being filled. Then, music from the audio system-Wong Fei, her favorite artist. He stretched out on his back in the semi-darkness of the room, and gazed out through the large windows at the twinkling lights that adorned the City on the Bay. He smiled to himself, already wondering if he could contain himself until morning. Xiaohui would board a China Eastern airliner for Shanghai the next day; as always, their stateside liaisons were brief, which was perhaps for the best. She drove him nearly wild with lust when she was about; even knowing she was in the same city as he was too great a distraction. It was best for all involved that she retreat to Shanghai, where she could await him… or until he summoned her again.

After a time, Lin Dan dozed.

He awoke with a gasp to find his manhood fully engorged again. Xiaohui’s head pumped up and down like a locomotive, her tongue moving across his swollen member with an artistry he hadn’t been aware she possessed. The room was completely dark now; Wong Fei continued her musical expressions from behind the bathroom’s closed door. Lin made to reach down, to grasp Xiaohui’s head; he found his arms were tied at the wrists by satin bonds. His ankles were likewise restrained at the foot of the bed.

Xiaohui felt his movements, and she stopped her motions. “Sssh,” she admonished, the sound barely audible above the music. Lin relaxed immediately, not from her admonishment, but because the pleasure- indescribable! — had ceased. He moaned in his throat and thrust his hips upward, stabbing at the dark air with his

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