The Trial

‘You are what you hide…’

Beijing, Ministry of Science and Technology.

Bao Yutai, the director of the Department at the Ministry of Information Industries, had turned up in person. That was unusual. Indeed, the nationalistic members of the ‘Lin Zexu group’ like Bao himself, generally refrained from holding gatherings. But on that particular occasion, it was Bao himself who had instigated the meeting with a select group of directors from the major ministries and state institutes. It had been planned in the utmost secrecy and arranged to be held at the premises of the Ministry of science and technology. The agenda contained just one item: ‘to discuss the merits of software piracy’.

Bao began the proceedings by going straight to the point.
‘As you know already, we have a very high level of piracy here in China, something in the region of 90%. Is this something to blush about? No. Rather, it should alert you to the dangers lurking behind that fact, and the dangers I’m talking about are for China, not Microsoft!’
The opening statement caused a start among those present. Bao Yutai used it to mark a carefully orchestrated pause to let it sink in. Dull clicking sounds filled the room as those words were typed on the laptops nearly everyone had brought with them.
‘Of course, you should know that China is by no means an isolated case in this matter. The level of piracy in the United States isn’t negligible either – in excess of 30% according to the latest estimates.’
One of the attendees burst out:
‘The retail price of software is way too expensive for Chinese consumers. There’s absolutely no sense in maintaining such high prices in emerging countries.’
‘You’re absolutely right,’ Bao answered, pleased to see he was finding support. In fact, we should be asking ourselves: what is the real prejudice suffered by the software editors due to this piracy? If we are to believe the official industry figures, piracy worldwide costs 250 billion dollars. Now, I’m not saying it doesn’t incur any lost earnings, but these figures in no way reflect the actual losses, if only because the pirates are in any case insolvent.’
Grasping the full significance of this argument, one of the industry and commerce administration directors stood up and said, as if he wanted to hear a confirmation:
‘If I get this right, we should rid ourselves of all feelings of guilt over piracy?’
‘Absolutely, it is precisely this guilty feeling that makes us vulnerable. It puts us in a weak position. Not only is it unjustified when you analyse the situation rationally, but it’s also dangerous. Why? Let me explain it to you, if you can bear with me for a few minutes. Whenever Microsoft decides to conquer a country, it deploys a strategy that can be broken down into two phases.
The first is to block out the market to competitors, and the second is to exploit the resulting monopoly. Or, if you prefer, first get the maximum number of users hooked to your OS software, even if that means giving it away, and then reap all the benefits of this stronghold in a financial context purged of all competitors.’
The audience was lapping up his words.
‘As far as Microsoft is concerned, piracy at present is 100% beneficial. It’s a godsend! It lets them flood the market with their own software and so create a huge loyal customer base. This tactic brings them a fortune; not just here in China, but in each of the emerging countries: India, Indonesia, Latin America, Russia… In other words, one quarter of mankind! Where, in the past, proselyte religions had to resort to weapons and physical constraint to swell the number of their followers, Microsoft achieves the same thing for its Windows operating system through a form of a viral marketing, a form of marketing that feeds on the acknowledged need for uniformity and standardisation. Microsoft is cornering the market and leaving no foothold for its competitors.’
The chairman of the State Reform and Development directorate had difficulty in fully grasping the scope of what he was hearing.
‘There’s something I don’t understand,’ he exclaimed. ‘You’re effectively saying that Microsoft is actually standing to gain from the piracy of its own products!’
‘Exactly. It’s piracy that enables Microsoft to retain its monopoly. But, what’s worse, it has allowed that firm to spread its monopoly to different layers of the population. It’s managed to do what no other brand offering products at very low marginal cost has ever achieved – having two different selling prices: a high one for those who can afford it, and a zero price for those who can’t. So you have, coexisting in the same territory, both an ultra-lucrative market and a give-away product market. The latter serves to prevent any potential rival from appearing on the scene. Unless, of course, it also happens to be a free product itself. And with the former market – the paying one – Microsoft rakes in all the dividends that come from the monopoly it’s created.’
Another member broke in:
‘If we’re to follow your argument through, we should in effect ban piracy on the grounds that it stifles free competition!’
‘You’ve hit the nail right on the head. A product that has no market value, like a pirated CD-ROM, cannot bring about competition. The only competing product for Windows happens to free – Linux. And in any case, it’s hardly making any inroads. Which just goes to show that the laws of free market economy don’t apply here!’
They all burst out in hearty laughter at the absurdity of the situation, whatever their feelings towards Microsoft may have been.
‘You could even say that Linux isn’t really the competing OS for the official version of Windows, but only for its pirated version!’
‘So piracy effectively works in favour of Microsoft?’ asked another director, still surprised by this paradox.
‘Of course it does. Piracy is used here as a marketing tool, like any other. And an incredibly powerful one at that, especially in the emerging countries. You just need to peg up the price for the legally-sold products sufficiently high to spawn a pirated product supply system that will then thrive with uncanny effectiveness. The pirated CDs are copied and packaged with industrial machinery and distributed via an extremely efficient network. Their point of sale network would make any professional distributor green with envy. All it takes is a trestle table and – hey presto! – you have a high street sales outlet. They can be dotted all over the place – go to any busy thoroughfare, train or bus station – they’re all swarming with pirated CD sellers. It’s perfectly illegal but who cares – these tens of thousands of unofficial retailers constitute a formidable army serving Microsoft’s strategy of conquering the emerging markets. Piracy is their ultimate weapon.
You have to understand that Microsoft software users are the Redmond firm’s lifeblood. In the short term, it doesn’t matter if users have paid for the licence or not. What counts is their potential value as future paying customers. Because, when a user has acquired any software, he does more than simply use it; he in fact adopts it. As he familiarises himself with its look and feel, he’ll become increasingly reluctant to switch to another competing product. Migrating from a computer environment in which you feel at home to another can be regarded as a traumatic experience. Of course, the extent of the trauma varies from one person to another, but it always brings discomfort, if not plain suffering. You see, getting to grips with a software takes time and training. The amount of each varies according to the individual, but it’s always a constraint. As with all software systems, you have to force yourself and struggle at first before you really master it. For any user, whether he be a professional or not, getting on top of your machine is always felt like a victory, a conquest, an achievement. When he gets there, a user inevitably feels some pride and satisfaction. Now, if at that point, you were to force him to change his working environment, you’d inflict a traumatic experience on him, exactly as with any other worker you’d force to give up the very tool with which he feels at one to express his skills. He will suddenly lose all confidence in himself. He will be ridden with doubts in his confidence and ability to dominate his environment. Before long, he’ll be lost, possibly overcome with shame at not being able to adapt.
Because, do you really think that the ability to adapt, that marvellous faculty that was disastrously lacking in the dinosaurs, is a natural attribute of we humans? Don’t bet on it! The worst trick you can do to your secretary, no matter how competent she is, is to order her to give up all her work tools and familiar working procedures that make up her working environment in favour of a totally new system. Of course, she wouldn’t want to lose face and will gracefully acquiesce, play the game and even show feigned enthusiasm in implementing these changes. But don’t be fooled, you could never imagine the torment you’d be putting the poor girl through.’
As Bao paused a little too regain his breath, a Secretary-General burst out truculently in a haughty tone:
‘My dear friend, I have personally learnt to drive a car many years ago, but I’m still capable of adapting from one model to another. Believe me, when I changed my old Toyota for a Lexus, any trauma – to use your expression – I might have had from the unfamiliar smell of fine-grain leather and the smooth touch of the precious wood fascia very quickly evaporated. When you’ve learnt how to drive a car, you know how to drive them all, don’t you think? Novelty is the spice of life, as they say.’
The room seemed to side along with the Secretary-General’s sound common sense, and began to fill with a rumble as each attendant came up with a personal anecdote tending to shoot down in flames Bao’s wildly exaggerated argumentation.
‘In marketing jargon, the latter continued, this first phase is called ‘’locking’’. He was eager to bring his audience back into his mind frame, having sensed the mood swing to open criticism after the Secretary’s teasing words. ‘It consists in taking control of the market by letting pirate networks distribute their software for free.’
The Secretary-General, clearly intent on upstaging the speaker, once more cut him short:
‘A bit like a fisherman who throws fish around his boat in order to draw other fish and catch them in his net? Or like a drug dealer who gets his victims hooked on hard stuff by first handing out softer drugs?’
The last comparison was not to everyone’s taste and caused a wild stir among the audience.
‘What you’ve just mentioned is none other then tactics that led to the Opium War in China. For goodness sake, we’re not in the 19th century any more!’ exhorted one of the Administration’s directors.
Bao kept his calm, his face impassive as he concentrated. Not even the slightest wrinkle appeared on his marble-smooth forehead. He was inside his bubble.
‘Your analogy is far from absurd. When users get caught in the software editor’s trawl net, it is virtually impossible to make them give up the product. In fact, Microsoft itself has already used the word ‘brainwashed’ to describe the state of dependency in which many of its users find themselves in after they’re conditioned by its software. They’re so hooked that they can’t wait for the next version the editor is prepared to serve them up, like an eager child who’s been promised a new bicycle. Be that as it may, thanks to piracy, Microsoft has conquered 93% of the Chinese market. Having got that far, they can go about forcing successive classes of those users to cough up. For that, they can benefit from the powerful legal weapons our laws have produced to comply with world trade treaties. This time I will let you choose the most fitting metaphor: they’re off to reap their harvest, they’re going to shear the sheep, they’re pulling up the nets…
That is the second phase of their conquering strategy. It began back at the end of 1998. You have no doubt noticed that it was since that date that Microsoft initiated a series of court cases against a number of Chinese companies. Their tactics are invariably the same. Microsoft always sues medium-size companies. It picks on them to set examples, or turn them into scapegoats if you prefer. And they fight them all the way into bankruptcy, the idea being to put the rest of the market off even considering pirated Microsoft products. With this strategy, they get a flood of paying customers at next to no marketing costs. For China, the timing was very sorely felt and ill appreciated by the authorities, to put it mildly. Remember, 1998 was the year of the Asian financial crisis. You can imagine how much pressure China was under!’
Bao was amused to see the looks of surprise begin to dawn on the listeners’ faces.
‘It’s very easy for Microsoft to force a PC distributor to pre-install Windows and Microsoft Office through paying OEM licences. All they have to do is drag a few non-complying businesses before the courts, make sure the case gets maximum publicity, and there you go. The other players out on the market would then much prefer to enter a friendly agreement with the US giant than having a costly court case hanging over them. Even if Microsoft were only partially to succeed in these manoeuvres, its profits would still be colossal.’
Bao marked a moment’s pause to take a few breaths, looking intently at the members of the audience with his impassive stare.
‘Now let me ask you a question. Do you think it’s reasonable to let a foreign software editor use such an extortionate marketing strategy within our soil and reap phenomenal profits from it – profits, you must realise, that bear no relation with the true costs of their software?’
A director of a commission interrupted him.
‘And what is your answer to this, Mr. Bao? Because, if I’ve understood you right, the obstacle is already insurmountable. In fact, this practice has even been condemned by the American Department of Justice after the famous court cases at the end of the Nineties. That’s exactly why China must take its destiny in its own hands. The move away from Microsoft products must be imposed directly by the State. Our country must have its own computer operating system and, not only that, it must make its use compulsory. There is simply no alternative.’
For Bao, this solution that was glaringly obvious. But his audience, less familiar with this issue, still seemed dubious. Such a radical option went against the grain of the current leaders who were in the majority converted to the credo of letting the market decide. The atmosphere in the room suddenly became oppressive and tense. Bao judged it wise not to press further on that particular point.
‘User addiction isn’t the only advantage Microsoft draws from piracy. The extensive presence of Windows fosters the development of many proprietary technologies specifically blended into its operating system. And these, in turn, further lock the markets to Microsoft’s advantage.
This matter was the subject of much investigation by judicial authorities in the United States and Europe. As you may remember, Microsoft was on the verge of being broken up. If it didn’t happen in the end, it was only thanks to a more clement political environment, namely the Bush administration, that decided to save Microsoft’s integrity.’
‘What technologies are you referring to in particular?’ asked one of the members.
‘In fact you know some already! They take the form of audio and video compression codecs built into Windows Media Player, or exchange protocols for instant messaging, peer-to-peer, telephony and such like. Each of these proprietary applications is bundled into the operating system and thus automatically dominates the market thanks to Windows’s ubiquitous user platform. Service providers have no choice other than to use Microsoft’s formats if they want to reach out to the maximum number of users. And that takes Windows around a full circle, with Microsoft the winner all the way round.’
‘Microsoft acted in the same way with technologies that didn’t even belong to it, and here I’m thinking of HTML or Java!’ added one of the participants.
‘You’re absolutely right. In these cases, Microsoft instigated the so-called ‘adopt and modify’ strategy. While on the subject, you are all aware that China has already adopted rigorous measures to get rid of its reliance on foreign technologies. And that brings me nicely to the next and last topic that I would like to discuss. Specifically, I want to bring up a highly sensitive subject: digital rights management. In its war against piracy, Microsoft has once more been trying to impose its own architecture. In any case, the designated victim of such a scheme is China. Microsoft has for a long time vowed to make our country pay for our record level of fraud. Such a system could also be interesting for criminal and terrorist organisations. And for this reason, it’s quite likely the US authorities will be granted a ‘back door’ through which they will be able to monitor any hacking and malignant uses of Palladium’s encryption functions. Needless to say, such a back door would be a godsend for intelligence services, and constitutes yet another ground for refusing this in our country. Can you imagine it: America’s NSA would have an electronic skeleton key with which it can read documents in any computer on the planet!’
Bao was now haranguing his listeners, stirring up their nationalistic feelings.
‘Today, there is a country which, by its size, by its population, by the strength of its industry, is naturally endorsed to establish worldwide standards. There is a country which, by its sheer mass, has the gravitational force to hold these standards together. And that country is China!’
He pounded those last words with unusual force and passion. The audience’s reaction produced a rumble, like a booming echo:
‘China, and China alone.’
This improvised slogan quickly went round the room and was repeated several times in chorus.
Bao joined in and, leaning even closer to his microphone, added: ‘China shall set the standards!’
The sixty odd members of the audience cheered and resonated with:
‘China, China shall set the standards to the rest of the world!’

Ministry of Information Industries
Beijing
14 April

There had been some rich pickings and Cheng was rubbing his hands with glee. Ever since he undertook to train Yaping in ‘new accountancy standards,’ he had access to a mine of information. His ploy of establishing a standardised format for travel expenses enabled him to draw up an accurate picture of the Regulation Director’s time schedule. It gave him a pass to come and go in the secretary’s office, a strategic nerve centre, where he could photograph documents lying on her desk without risk of being caught. For that task Song, the head of the spy network for which he worked, had given him a truly remarkable camera. To anyone, it looked just like a normal clamshell type cell phone, complete with the Motorola logo. But it was filled with highly sophisticated electronics and, above all, a twelve megapixel large-size CCD sensor mounted behind a high-resolution miniature lens usually reserved for professional applications. The latter on its own was worth a small fortune. Cheng could thus casually open his telephone and, while pretending to consult his text messages, take high quality snaps of documents left lying around. He had shot photos of virtually everything he saw and sent them systematically to Song, who seemed to appreciate this mass of information.
But there remained the PC itself. Despite Cheng’s charm offensive, Yaping had not yet given him the sesame to access the machine. The young woman seemed to have the knack of always staying right by him every time he worked on the accounts forms, preventing him from exploring the files inside the hard disk. Clearly, he would have to step up his seduction manoeuvres by another notch. And that meant taking his relationship with Yaping one step further.
He could rely on the fatherly encouragements from both of their respective bosses, who had warmed to this office romance. He used his humble manners and general awkwardness expertly as ramparts to ward off suspicions.
And now, the most difficult was to come. He had to get to the innards of the computer, or at least gain access to those very confidential files, the ones she carefully put away out of sight before each of his visits.
And that was why he had decided to pull all the stops out that night. Up till then, he had trodden softly in his courting game, mindful not to appear too forward. He had wanted to give the image of a bashful, withdrawing and somewhat inhibited young man to account for his lack of audacity. The young woman regarded him tenderly as a heartbroken romantic who needed time to recover the grief of a lost love. She had shown infinite patience towards the young man to whom women had caused so much misery…

It was 7 p.m., the appointed time when he was to collect Yaping from her office. He felt revulsion at what he was embarking on. While up to now the role game had been a source of innocent fun, and even quite exciting, it now made him want to run away. He was all too aware of what this woman had in the back of her mind. To put it bluntly, Yaping was expecting to have sex with him that night. On that score, his wife was quite enough for him and in fact he didn’t really mind being geographically separated from her. Perhaps he was a bachelor at heart…
As he arrived, he found Yaping busy as usual putting away the dockets inside the large steel cupboard with heavy doors protected by a combination lock. ‘How many more of files must there be tucked away in digital form inside the PC,’ he thought to himself. He imagined what it must be like to share his life with this obsessive tidier. However attractive she may be, it was the sort of mania that would put any man off.
‘Right, I think I’ve now finished,’ she sighed, looking tenderly at her handsome though timid young lover.

Stenton had summoned to the US embassy all the members of the Microsoft team who worked with the Chinese computer scientists on the Government Security program. He asked the embassy’s experts in Chinese culture to brief the newcomers, and in particular the Californian Mat McCallum and the Indian recruit Rajiv Pradham, for both of whom this was their first trip to China. It was only as an afterthought that he decided it would be a good idea to invite all the others, the GSP veterans, to join in too. A bit of brushing up would certainly do no harm. The team needed to be given the right keys to decipher the Chinese social codes, customs and rules of behaviour.
He took Kathleen Morse aside. She was in charge of the Microsoft mission in China and thoroughly familiar with local practices. Stenton knew her well from her previous operations in that country in connection with the GSP.
‘Now, Kathleen I want you to keep a close watch on that whiz kid Microsoft’s sent over, okay? You do know who I’m talking about?’
‘Only by reputation. But then, who doesn’t know Tom Bailey? He’s the genius who integrated the Internet into Windows 95 in record time.’
‘Tell me, isn’t that the version that holds the world record for the number of bugs?’
She chose to ignore the jibe. She had stopped counting the number of times she heard supposedly hilarious jokes of that type since she had taken her position.
‘To go back to your question, no I’ve never met him. In fact, he’s rarely in our premises. He’s got a rather special status. He’s free to do what he likes. You could call it star status!’
‘Kathleen, this proposal to integrate Chinese-developed security modules into the latest version of Windows certainly makes good sense. But be careful, there can always be dirty tricks. After all, we are dealing with the Chinese!’
‘Rest assured, Stenton, I’m even more pessimistic than you are. Look at the way they imposed their Linux system on their administration! We must spare no effort in preventing them from going further along that line.’
‘Yeah, it’s up to us to make sure it remains nothing more than a nationalistic dream. They can re-adapt Windows, dress it up in their national colours, or do whatever else they may want, but in the end they’ll maintain the status quo. Remember, their bottom line is political stability. That’s what being Chinese is all about. They’re programmed to do business: no sooner they get up in the morning, they’re already thinking about making money; that’s just the way they are. And then, with over 100 million PCs scattered around the country, they’d have a lot of people to convince!’
Kathleen Morse remained silent. She had gauged the intensity of nationalistic feelings in a good many of the Chinese she had met. She was aware of their determination. And she knew full well that anything was in fact possible.
‘So, when is that whiz kid is supposed to arrive?’
‘In three weeks.’
‘Okay, keep me posted. Count on me to take care of him.’

The evening out had turned out rather well. The girl had such sparkle that it was impossible to be bored in her company. Even Cheng was pleasantly surprised. It was getting close to midnight when he pulled his car in close to her apartment building.
‘There you are, Yaping, I guess this is where we say good bye.’ With his hands still on the wheel, he turned to look at her. He had pushed the boat out: first an American film, a comedy romance with Nicole Kidman, followed by a slap-up meal in a fashionable restaurant and, to finish off the evening, a drink in one the trendy bars frequented by Westerners. The full works. Yaping was overjoyed. Cheng really was Mr Right Guy.
‘I hope you spent a pleasant evening. Did you enjoy yourself?’
‘What a charming young man,’ she thought, ‘and so polite!’ She was beaming with joy. For an answer, she flung herself and kissed him on the cheek.
He carried on looking at her with a playful smile. If only she would leave now.
‘Well, good night Yaping!’
But the young woman clearly had no intention of leaving the car, or at least not alone. She drew herself close to him again, revealing her lily-white teeth through an open smile while turning her ardent eyes to his mouth. With such cues there was no mistaking she was expecting serious things to begin. He realised he could no longer back away… And so he forced himself to comply. ‘Part of the job of being a secret agent, I suppose’ he thought to himself. Slowly, he pressed his lips against the young woman’s and they remained locked in a passionate embrace, her eyes closed in pleasure. Then Cheng broke off, almost brutally.
‘I think I should go back and get some sleep now,’ he stammered naively.
He thought his mission was over, but it was wishful thinking. He felt a sense of dread as her starry eyes seemed to beckon him. Without warning, she flung her hands behind his head and gave him another long kiss, this time with fiery passion. He felt her wriggling, inpatient tongue worm its way into his mouth and whirl around inside. After what seemed a full minute, she stared at him breathing in short gasps:
‘I’ve got yummy cakes in the fridge. Come, we’ll have some with a cup of tea.’
‘What a showdown!’ thought Cheng sarcastically.
Now he was in a quandary. As if caught in a trap of his own making. The last thing he wanted was to bed that girl. But now she had made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. What would she think otherwise? That he was gay? A man simply cannot turn down such an invitation. At least women could always feign a migraine!
‘Great, that would be wonderful,’ he replied forcedly after an embarrassed pause.
She lived on the second floor of a small apartment building with an outside staircase. They hurried up the concrete steps, prompted by the bitter cold of the night.
Yaping shared her flat with another girl and they had to be careful not to make too much noise. Cheng secretly hoped this might play in his favour. He could use this as a pretext to disappear silently after eating his cake.
Yaping left him alone for several minutes in front of a portion of flan that had obviously been bought pre-packaged from one of those American fast food outlets that dotted all shopping centres.
She reappeared, fresher looking and wearing her untied long black hair down to her waist. But it was her eyes that worried him. They were glowing feverishly behind her glasses, and that was a bad sign. In a flight of panic he thought of darting away, his mind racing to find an excuse, but he knew it was already too late.
She came up very close to him. He was struck by how small she in fact was without her shoes. She tiptoed to bring her mouth against his. He felt her taut breasts press against his chest, then her hips against his thighs. She had raised her right leg to coil her body intimately against his…
And his own body was now beginning to betray him as his male organ started to throb and harden. Nature always has the last word! The young woman sensed that she had won over her prey and led him silently to her bedroom. She did not turn on the lights. The streetlights already filled the room with just the right shadowy glow. Cheng noticed the single bed and consoled himself by thinking that at least he would not have to spend the night there.
Almost mechanically, he unbuttoned Yaping’s tunic and unhooked her bra. He let his hands mould around her fulsome breasts and took pleasure in feeling their firm, resilient forms. She quickly released her skirt and let it drop to the floor. Before he could bring his right hand over to pull down her white-laced panty, she had already grabbed his manhood firmly. She was shaking it convulsively, as if wrestling with a snake. No doubt this gentle creature had never been taught about the sensitive nature of this part of the male anatomy. Desperate to end this torture, Cheng flung her backwards onto the bed, pulled away her remaining item underclothing and slipped inside her eager body. Now he just wanted to get it over and done with as soon as possible. But Yaping’s body signalled that she wanted to lie above him. He turned round, still clasping her in his arms, almost knocking her out off the bed. She immediately began wriggle and shift frantically in all directions, as if animated by invisible forces. At one moment she would be bolt upright, her hands pressed against his waist, the next perched over his chest, swinging her navel, and all the time at phenomenal speed… At last she let out a series of loud, deep gasps and slumped over him, her warm moist body shaking as she fought to regain her breath. Alas for him, it was but a short reprieve. She sat up again, slid herself back over his thighs and tried desperately to shake some life back into his retiring organ. She shook it with such force that he cringed in pain. He simply had to get the situation back into control.
‘It was so good,’ she whispered amorously into his ear.
For his part, it had been ages since he experienced such primitive and animal-like sex. Clearly, China had a long way to go if it wanted to renew with the erotic traditions of the past centuries.
‘Oh yes, it was wonderful,’ he answered, trying to remain calm and convincing. In truth, he felt deep inside a form of professional satisfaction, the feeling of having accomplished a duty. He almost wanted to say that he had done this for his country, like a good soldier! He felt reassured by this notion: he did that for … but did he in fact know for whom he really worked?
She lay there, pressed against him, purring with contentment.
‘Is it still hurting you a lot?’
‘What could she be referring to? Her gym workout with my genitalia?’ wondered Cheng.
‘That terrible heartache – is it still putting you off falling in love again?’
He felt a great relief. He kissed her on the lips, more out of gratitude.
‘I’m feeling better now… I think I’ll get over it.’
All this lying and deceit was beginning to sicken him. At the same time, he felt a hint of proud satisfaction at seeing this girl fall for it. If the ease with which she opened her bedroom door was anything to go by, the one to the contents of here computer will not stay closed for much longer! And, if needs be, he now knew the arguments to convince her.
As his tensions began to recede, Cheng felt overtaken by a sense of calm and soon began to close his eyes. Such was the great weakness of men, they always had to fall into the arms of Morpheus after making love! But he could not allow himself to drop off to sleep, otherwise he would be there until the next morning. ‘Stay awake, don’t fall asleep’ he kept repeating, ‘Stay awake…’

 

A book by JF SUSBIELLE   – Translation by Dominic KING

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