— There is no time but time, Moira said dreamily.
Bourne stirred. -Translation.
— Do you know what time it is?
— I don‘t care.
— My point, she said. -We‘ve been here ten days; it feels like ten months. She laughed. -I mean that in the best way possible.
Swifts darted like bats from tree to tree, or skimmed the surface of the highest pool. The muted crash of the surf lulled them from below. Moments ago two small Balinese girls had presented them with a handful of fresh blossoms in a bowl of palm leaves they had woven by hand. Now the air was perfumed with the exotic scents of frangipani and tuberose.
Moira turned to him. -It‘s as they say: On Bali time stands still, and in that stillness lie many lifetimes.
Bourne, his eyes half closed, was dreaming of another life-his life-but the images were dark and murky, as if seen through a projector with a faulty bulb. He‘d been here before, he knew it. There was a vibration from the wind, the restful sea, the smiling people, the island itself to which something inside him resonated. It was déjà-vu, yes, but it was also more. Something had called him back here, had drawn him like a magnet to true north, and now that he was here he could almost reach out and touch it. Yet still its secret eluded him.
What had happened here? Something important, something he needed to remember. He sank deeper into his dream of a life lived on the edge of yesterday. In the dream he roamed across Bali until he came to the Indian Ocean. There, rising out of the creaming surf, was a pillar of fire. It rose up into the clear blue sky until its tip touched the sun. As a shadow he went across the sand, soft as talcum, to embrace the flames.
He awoke, wanting to tell Moira about his dream, but for some reason he didn‘t.
That evening, on the way down to the beach club at the foot of the cliff on which the hotel was perched, Moira stopped at one of the many shrines strewn around the property. It was made of stone, its haunches draped with a checkered black-and-white cloth. A small yellow umbrella shaded the upper part; onto it had been laid a number of offerings of brightly colored flowers in woven palm leaf cups. The cloth and the umbrella were signs that the local spirit was in residence. The cloth‘s pattern had a meaning also: White and black represented the Balinese duality of gods and demons, good and evil.
Kicking off her sandals, Moira stepped onto the square stone in front of the shrine, put her palms together at forehead height, and bowed her head.
— I didn‘t know you were a practicing Hindu, Bourne said when she was finished.
Moira picked her sandals up, swung them at her side. -I was thanking the spirit for our time here, for all the gifts Bali has to offer. She gave him a wry smile. -And I was thanking the spirit of the suckling pig we ate yesterday for sacrificing himself for us.
They had booked the evening alone at the beach club. Towels were waiting for them, as well as frosty glasses of mango lassi, and pitchers of tropical juices and ice water. The attendants had discreetly tucked themselves away in the windowless auxiliary kitchen.
They spent an hour in the ocean, swimming back and forth just beyond the curling surf line. The water was warm, as soft on the skin as velvet. Across the dark beach, hermit crabs went about their sideways business, and here and there bats could be seen winging in and out of a cave at the other end of the beach, just beyond a finger of rocks, part of the western half of the crescent cove.
Afterward they drank their mango lassis in the pool, guarded by a huge grinning wooden pig with a medallioned collar and a crown behind its ears.
— He‘s smiling, Moira said, — because I paid homage to our suckling pig.
They swam laps, then came together at the end of the pool over-hung by a magnificent frangipani tree with its buttery white and yellow blossoms. Beneath its leafy branches, they held each other, watching the moon move in and out of gathering clouds. A gust of wind clattered the fronds of the thirty-foot palms that lined the beach side of the pool deck, and their legs went from pale to dark.
— It‘s almost over, Jason.
— What is?
— This. Moira wriggled her hand under the water like a fish. -All of this. In a few days we‘ll be gone.
He watched the moon wink out, felt the first fat drops on his face. A moment later, rain goosefleshed the skin of the pool.
She put her head back against his shoulder, deeper into the shadow of the frangipani. -And what will become of us?
He knew she didn‘t want an answer, wanted only to taste the thought on her tongue. He could feel the weight of her, her warmth through the water, against his heart. It was a good weight; it made him drowsy.
— Jason, what will you do when we get back?
— I don‘t know, he said truthfully. -I haven‘t thought about it. But he wondered now whether he would leave with her. How could he when something from his past was waiting for him here, so close he could feel its breath on the back of his neck? He said nothing of this, however, because it would require an explanation, and he had none. Just a feeling. And how many times had this feeling saved his life?
— I‘m not going back to NextGen, she said.
His attention returned fully to her. -When did you come to that decision?
— While we were here. She smiled. -Bali has a way of opening the path to decisions. I came here just before I joined Black River. It seems to be an island of transformations, at least for me.
— What will you do?
— I want to start my own risk management firm.
— Nice. He smiled. -In direct competition with Black River.
— If you want to look at it that way.
— Other people will.
It was raining harder now; the palm fronds clashed against one another, and it was impossible to see the sky.
— That could be dangerous, he added.
— Life is dangerous, Jason, like anything governed by chaos.
— I can‘t argue with that. But there‘s your old boss, Noah Petersen.
— That‘s his ops name. His real name is Perlis.
Bourne glanced up at the white flowers, which now began to fall all around them like snow. The sweet scent of frangipani mingled with the fresh smell of the rain.
— Perlis was none too happy with you when we ran into him in Munich two weeks ago.
— Noah‘s never happy. Moira snuggled deeper into his arms. -I gave up trying to please him six months before I quit Black River. It was a fool‘s game.
— The fact remains that we were right about the terrorist attack on the liquid natural gas tanker and he was wrong. I‘m willing to bet he hasn‘t forgotten. Now that you‘re encroaching on his territory you‘ll have made an enemy.