It is 10.30 on a humid summer evening in Hong Kong. A woman in her mid thirties is alone on the large balcony 29 floors up, watching and listening to the bustling, noisy streets below.
Her best dress fits loosely upon her. She can smell her own perfume, taken from a bottle hardly used and bought some time ago.
Unaware of the movement behind her, it is the touch she notices first. A hand gently brushes her long black hair to one side and lightly holds her left shoulder. The hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. The nape of her neck is kissed. She inhales sharply, prepared but not prepared, for this light caress of her skin.
Above her right hip, a second hand is placed, sure and firm.
The same hand that lifted her hair, slides down her left arm and grips her wrist. Kisses, slow and sensual, cross their way to her left shoulder and move down the back of her bare arm. It is electrifying. Her body is shaking involuntarily, her heart racing. She hears her own heavy inhales and exhales of breath but the sounds of anything and everything else are muted.
The right hand above her hip slides across to her stomach and pulls her sharply backwards to press up against his body. Over her shoulder, she hears his breathing now, just as quick and just as heavy. His left hand moves from her wrist to her left hand, intertwines its fingers with hers and grips it so tight it is painful.
She wants to turn round. She wants to see the man she has not seen for two years. The man she is married to. The man who promised her he would return but was not permitted to tell her where he was going.
His face would heal. The scars would be minimal. All this she has heard before, from others who have been told the same thing. She is not ready to believe it. She will see for herself.
But not this second. Not right now. Savour the moment. Revel in his caress, a touch she had nearly forgotten.
She moves her right hand on top of his. The polished wedding band on her right ring finger glitters with the lights of the city.