“You are late.” Tengfei Lau scowled and flexed his fingertips. He sat silhouetted against the sunlight that rained into the room from the glass walls behind his high-back chair. The private business room on the 33rd floor of the Kowloon Imperial Hotel was otherwise empty except for the 22-foot-long conference table and two high-back leather chairs.
“Many apologies, Boss Lau,” Nianzu Chan stopped, immediately bowing his head. He wanted to explain — when he had stepped off the elevator, the two large men in black suits posted on this floor had stripped him down, taken his gun, delayed his arrival — but knew it would make no difference to a Triad deputy, especially one like Boss Lau. Instead, he feigned checking his watch.
“That is a very expensive watch. A rare piece. I do not see many like it. Even fewer on men in your line of work.” Lau’s eyes narrowed sharply, his gaze flickered between Nianzu and the watch. “Those Red Poles at the elevator were supposed to sweep you for bugs. I do not allow mobile phone or electronics in my meetings.”
Nianzu held his left arm out straight, revealing the shattered face of his watch. “It’s broken — doesn’t work.”
“Perhaps a sign of poor judgment. A man who works with his hands — so rough — possessing something so fine. Sit down.” Lau gestured to the empty seat. “You are one of our Red Poles, are you not?”
“Yes, I’m one of your enforcers, Boss Lau.”
“So you break things and you hit people. I pay you to be rough. Do I pay you to know things?”
“I don’t understand what you mean.”
“Exactly my point. And yet I hear from some of the other Red Poles that you like to ask questions. Questions unrelated to hitting people and breaking things.” Lau paused to unbutton his cuffs and roll up his shirt sleeves, revealing the ornate pattern of tattoos covering each forearm. “And when I have somebody like you who likes to ask a lot of questions, I suddenly start to have some questions. Questions like: How long have you been working for me?”
“I guess about eight months, Boss.”
“And in all of those eight months, have we ever had a one-on-one sit-down like this?”