been stolen. She said she would finish dressing at the same time. She still had the multicoloured blanket draped over her shoulders and the temperature in the city was rising. She walked up to her room and sat for a moment on the white duvet on her double bed. It was over an hour since she had made it. She didn’t believe they were burglars. She had had enough time to come to a conclusion and develop suspicions.

She dressed in a green T-shirt and trainers. After that she walked through the house to satisfy the sergeant and went to report nothing missing. While they settled themselves in a circle in the sitting room, Pajaks on the couch, she and the policemen on chairs, he questioned her carefully and sympathetically in good, regulation Afrikaans.

Had she been aware of anyone watching her or her house lately?


‘Have you noticed a car or any other vehicle unusual in the area?’


‘Any people loitering in the street or behaving in a suspicious manner?’


‘You were in your bedroom when they came in?’

She nodded. ‘I was dressing when I heard the gate. It makes this noise. Then I saw them running to the front door. No, not running. Walking fast. When I saw the balaclavas, I …’

‘I assume you couldn’t see their faces.’


The Pajaks couldn’t understand the Afrikaans, but their heads followed the interrogation from one side to the other, like spectators at a tennis match.

‘Skin colour.’

‘No …’

‘You seem unsure.’

She thought they were black, but she didn’t wish to offend the other policeman. ‘I can’t say for sure. It happened so fast.’

‘I understand, Miss Le Roux. You were scared. But anything could help.’

‘Maybe … one was black.’

‘And the other two?’

‘I don’t know …’

‘Have you had any work done on or around your house lately?’


‘Are there any items in your house of exceptional value?’

‘Just the usual. A few pieces of jewellery. A laptop. The TV…’

‘A laptop?’


‘And they didn’t take it?’


‘You must excuse me, Miss le Roux, but that is unusual. Listening to what happened here, this is not the typical modus operandi of a burglar. Breaking down the doors and pursuing you into the backyard …’


‘It sounds as though they meant to attack you personally.’

She nodded.

‘One has to look for motive, you understand.’

‘I understand.’

‘And that is usually of a personal nature. In most cases.’


‘Forgive me, but was there a relationship that went bad?’

‘No,’ she said with a smile to mask her relief. ‘No … not that bad, I hope.’

‘One never knows, miss. So there was a man in the recent past?’

‘I can assure you, mister, it’s more than a year since I was in a serious relationship and he was a Brit who went back to England.’

‘The break-up was friendly?’


‘Since then has there been anyone who might be unhappy over a break-up?’

‘No. Definitely not.’

‘What is your line of work, Miss Le Roux?’

‘I’m a brand consultant.’

She saw his confusion and elaborated. ‘A brand consultant. I help companies to position their brand of products in the market. Or reinvent them.’

‘Which company do you work for?’

‘I work for myself. My clients are companies.’

‘So you have no employees?’


‘And you work with big companies?’

‘Mostly. Sometimes there are smaller ones …’

‘Has anything happened at work that might have upset people?’

‘No. It’s not… I work with products, or the perception of the company brand. It wouldn’t upset anyone.’

‘An incident? With your car? With someone doing a job for you? Gardener, domestic?’


‘Is there anything you can think of? Anything that could have led to this?’

This was the question that she was not ready to answer yet.

‘So I said “no”, but I don’t believe it was the truth,’ Emma told me. The floor lamp beside her cast a soft, sympathetic glow over her euphemism.

I did not respond.

‘I … I didn’t want … I wasn’t sure whether they were connected. No, I… I didn’t want them to be connected. Anyway, it was something that happened a thousand kilometres from the Cape and it might have been Jacobus, or it might not, and I didn’t want to bother the police with something that could have been my imagination.’ She suddenly stopped talking and looked at me and smiled slowly, as if she were weary of herself. ‘I’m not making any sense, am I?’

‘Take your time.’

‘It’s just… it doesn’t make sense. You see, my brother…’ She stopped again, drew a breath. She looked at her hands, then, slowly, up at me. Emotion shone in her eyes, her hands made a small hopeless gesture. ‘Mr Lemmer, he died …’

It was the sum of her body language, her choice of words and sudden change of gear which triggered the alarm in my head. As if she had practised this phrase, this offer. There was the tiny flicker of manipulation, as if she wished to distract my attention from the facts on the table. It only made me wonder: why should that be necessary?

Emma le Roux would not be the first client to blatantly lie about a threat with that little frown of absolute sincerity. Not the first to embroider misty eyed, or exaggerate in order to justify the presence of The Bodyguard. People lie. For a million reasons. Merely because they can, sometimes. This was one of the confirming phenomena of Lemmer’s First Law: Don’t get involved. It was also one of the primary sources of Lemmer’s Second Law: Trust nobody.


She recovered quickly; I had to concede that. When she received no response, she shrugged off the emotion

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