'A puppy?'

'Or a kitten. Not for me,' he extemporized. 'A young friend who needs cheering up-- I thought maybe a pet...'

Polite smile. The man knew his store was being checked out: it amused him. Not guns or drugs then. Politics? No. The atmosphere was tourist-trade 'Chinese': incense, ceramics, cheap brocade. Aimed at the Japanese locals. Ah-hah. 'Perhaps you have more... exotic animals for sale?'

'I have all kinds of animals. I will accommodate your request.' He spoke as if the transaction was finished.

Kou blinked, startled. The man's mismatched eyes smiled blandly.

'I think a cat will do.'


May 05