Authors: Raven McAllan
Tags: #Erotic Romance Fiction
Debra watched them go in a wistful mood. How nice that would have been if it were her and Braam. She’d bet he’d have been able to barter much more successfully.
Ah well, maybe one day.
She pushed away the irritating thought that insisted on intruding into everything she enjoyed. The ‘you’re leaving soon, what then?’ one. She wasn’t going to think about that yet.
It’s a holiday romance. A flirt-a-thon.
Why didn’t she believe that?
Because I don’t want to. I want it to be more.
The sun was hitting the sea and making the water sparkle. Without her sunglasses it would be too bright to see. She ambled in the opposite direction from the couple she’d envied. She’d find somewhere for a coffee and check out where to get a snack for later. And damn it she knew she’d check her texts and emails.
A few hundred yards on, the boats and fish sellers petered out and opposite the sea wall, restaurants lined the promenade. Several had tiers of tanks filled with swimming flapping fish all ready to be sacrificed for dinner. Gum-booted women jumped with effortless agility amongst them and pulled out the chosen fish to be cooked in their restaurant.
Waitrons smiled and entreated Debra to go into their restaurant, to try the day’s special or perhaps sit and have a drink. With a smile, she declined them all. She wanted to wander through the tiny streets of the old village first. Otherwise she suspected she’d sit, people watch as she usually did and have to leave without seeing all she intended to. She passed a plaque, which had interesting tidbits about the old village then turned into a narrow lane. It was quiet, with most of the tarmac shaded by the houses that lined it on both sides. Halfway along, a couple of cafés vied with other. She chose the one on the left simply because an old man sitting at a table, eating dumplings and drinking tea out of an exquisite china lidded mug smiled at her. There were a few tables outside the narrow café front and one of those had the inevitable Mah Jong set ready for anyone who wanted to play.
Encouraged by the look of satisfaction of the old man as he sipped his drink, Debra ordered China tea rather than coffee. It was hot and this far back from the sea, the breeze had almost disappeared. The warm air was moved around by a large fan, which whirled from her to the old man and back again. Debra was glad of it, even if it didn’t bring much coolth.
The tea was brought to her in a glass pot and she watched as the young waiter poured it into her cup with as much formality as if it was a full tea ceremony. He set the pot on the table, handed her a magazine and went to chat to his other customer.
Debra glanced at the magazine, turned it the other way up and looked again. Why when he’d spoken to her in English did he hand her a magazine in Chinese?
The magazine was whisked from her fingers and another one dropped on the table next to her. That was better. It was a ‘What’s on in Hong Kong’? booklet. Debra took a sip of tea, gasped and waved her hand in front of her mouth. It was still too hot to drink. She checked the pages dedicated to that week, to see if there was anything that would interest her. Without looking toward the mug, Debra fumbled for it. As her hands closed around it, the waiter appeared, took it from her along with the teapot and disappeared inside. Across from her the old man moved with a speed that made her blink. For someone his age, he was incredibly agile. He had his plate of dumplings and his mug of tea in his hands as he followed the waiter into the café. A few seconds later the man reappeared and sat down at the table that had the Mah Jong set on it. The waiter came out of the café door like a jack-in-the-box, sat opposite him and rearranged the set to look as if they were mid game.
Debra sat opened mouth. What on earth? The waiter winked.
“Two minutes, ma’am. Please read.” He looked pointedly at the booklet.
Intrigued and wondering what she’d gotten herself into, Debra did as he had asked.
A minute or so later—a minute that felt like ten—a couple wandered down the lane, stared at the three of them intently and said something to the waiter. He replied in short staccato bursts. The male of the couple seemed inclined to argue, but the woman took his arm and urged him away.
He turned to Debra. “You sit here to read?”
Behind him the waiter’s eyes opened wide. A plea?
“It’s very pleasant and I was hot. I needed a seat outside.”
“And then she will come inside to have a drink,” the waiter added.
Even though she was still bewildered, Debra thought it politic to agree.
“As he says,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it.” The expression of gratitude that the waiter flashed in her direction made her think she’d given the correct response. To whom and why she hoped she’d find out.
The visitor grunted and followed his colleague down the street and around the corner. As soon as they had disappeared, the waiter jumped up and went inside, appearing a few seconds later with a fresh pot of tea and a clean mug for Debra. She looked up at him and he smiled.
“Police. They’re trying to stop people eating and drinking in the street in this old area. We say this is our land but…?” He shrugged. “There is, how do you say, an early warning system. They won’t be back for at least an hour, so enjoy.” He gave a quaint half bow and went back to where the old man was now eating his dumplings, even down to the one left mid bite, and placidly drinking tea. You would never have guessed that a few minutes before they had sat like actors in a very bad play.
Debra declined more tea, paid her bill and set off back toward the seafront and the restaurants. The whole episode had amused her. Did Braam know about…?
Enough. Give over now.
One restaurant had caught her eye. It advertised bite sized bliss. Although the description made her snigger, the idea of Chinese tapas sounded good. If there was anything nicer than being able to try lots of dishes, Debra hadn’t found it. She bypassed a couple of other restaurants and smiled her ‘no thanks’ at the waitrons until she found the one she had noted. It was busy, but there was one table for two set next to the water and she made her way toward it. A smiling waitress picked up the unwanted place setting.
“Water and the Bliss special please.” Debra knew exactly what she wanted. A clear head and some tasty snacks. Then she was going to walk back along the promenade and around the headland to look at the beach recommended in her guidebook. She might not have time to sit and enjoy its charms, but she wasn’t going to miss it. A sandy beach was one thing she hadn’t walked on for a while. Maybe she’d put some sand into a plastic bag as a memento.
Now that is silly.
Maybe she’d be better off taking a selfie.
Before that, though, she had her lunch—albeit a late one—to enjoy. Within minutes the first dishes arrived. With each one, the waitress told her in Cantonese and English what it was. It reminded her of Braam and his attempts to teach her the basics. She dragged her mind back from Braam and what he might be doing and turned her attention to the food.
Every morsel was delicious and Debra had to remind herself over and over she was going out for dinner. Otherwise she suspected she could have sat and nibbled for hours. Eventually she put her chopsticks down. She had fumbled through the meal with them and wished she had her child’s plastic Chopstick fastener to help out. But she wasn’t going to accept failure and ask for a knife and fork.
She paid her remarkably modest bill and hunted down the communal loo, before she walked back past the few boats that hadn’t managed to sell out of their fruits from the sea. It had amused her that several times, boats had drawn up near the restaurants to offload fresh supplies to the chefs. The sight of a man in white gumboots and a tall white hat, that he flapped in the air, arguing over the guard rails to someone you couldn’t see, before hauling up a bag that moved, was one she’d never forget.
Her guidebook had waxed lyrical about the islands not far from the shore and especially about the one that had a golf course. As Debra walked away from the town, she reached the feet jetty for that island and stood open mouthed before she burst out laughing. The rules of golf and how to argue your way out of a bad shot were hilarious. She took a picture to send to her son. As a reasonably good golfer, he’d appreciate it.
The weather was made for dawdling, but Debra was conscious that time was passing. She didn’t want to get caught up in the rush hour and she still held out the hope that Braam might be free earlier rather than later. Although when she reached the beach she wished she could linger.
It was idyllic, although certainly not private. Definitely no chance to get up to anything remotely personal. However, the few canoes, several dragon boats and a couple of rowing boats bobbed gently on the soft swell and created a beautiful picture. Maybe if Braam had a day off before she left she’d ask him to come back here with her.
With a sigh, Debra turned and retraced her steps toward the town and the bus station.
It was typical that she saw the bus depart as she approached the bus stance. A quick check of the timetable showed there wasn’t another one due for several minutes. She stood behind a few other people who hadn’t made it in time, took out her phone and checked if she had any messages. The screen was blank and she hadn’t. Should she text Braam?
No acting needy. He said he was going to be busy.
Instead she sent a ‘having a great time’ text to her children. The green minibus turned up before her resolve broke and she sent a message to Braam. She was
In the short time she’d waited, a queue had formed behind her and as soon as the driver opened his door they all moved forward. Debra got on, scanned her Oyster card and grabbed a seat. In theory, no one should stand, but in practice it didn’t always work. However, just in case, she wasn’t going to be the one who was turfed off.
The minibus set off with a lurch and a judder and the driver drove out of the bus station like he had an inspector on his tail. Maybe he had, but if so there was no chance the bus would be caught. It weaved in and out of the numerous bicycles that straggled over the road and over took cars and lorries with a blare of the horn.
The woman next to Debra gave a gasp and her lips moved, even though she uttered no words. If she was praying Debra hoped she’d be included in the plea for a safe journey. By the time the bus drew up outside the MTR station, with a jolt that had most people sliding to the edge of their seats, Debra felt sick. She was thankful they had arrived there on one piece. Everyone said the Italians were fast drivers. This guy could give them a run for their money.
The woman next to her harangued the driver as they got off. He shrugged and once the last person who wanted to leave had left the vehicle he set off in exactly the same way they’d arrived. Too fast and with a squeal of brakes.
Debra walked into the train station and wondered how she’d managed the journey without being ill.
An hour later, she was hot, grumpy and ready for a swim. The train had been packed, the man who almost stood on her toes sweated profusely and the woman next to her had obviously had an excess of garlic in her meal. The scents of hot bodies, garlic and Hong Kong had vied with each other and the over-worked air conditioning didn’t have a chance. Debra took out a tissue and pretended to blow her nose. Then she sat with her hand propped on her knee and the tissue over her lower face. She could cope with anything in small doses. This wasn’t one. The train got busier the nearer they got to Hong Kong Island and by the time she needed to get off, Debra had a pounding headache. The swim looked more and more inviting by the minute.
For the first time since she’d arrived in Hong Kong, she didn’t enjoy the walk back to the hotel from the MTR station. Rush hour had commenced with a vengeance and people dashed about knocking her and each other. Pain pummeled into her head like a blacksmith’s hammer on an anvil and the scents and smells of the street vendors cooking made her feel more than slightly nauseated. She reached the doors of the hotel and smiled wanly at the doorman. The cool, dim light in the foyer was as welcome as a major win on the lottery. Debra gulped the chilly air gratefully. Had she had too much sun?
She didn’t think so. It was probably lack of water, sore feet and a need to see Braam.
Braam. Try as she might, Debra couldn’t help her heart beating that little bit faster. It had been a strange experience, looking around somewhere and wanting to share that experience.
At the far side of the foyer she noticed Braam standing next to one of the men who tended the plants in the indoor garden. As ever, Braam was dressed in a dark suit and white shirt and Debra shivered in a good way at the sight. Would she ever not go weak at the knees when she saw him? She hoped not. It was juice-inducing pleasure. It was so good to see him. Debra started to walk past the lifts and toward him, at the same time as the lift doors opened and the girl she’d seen at Sai Kung bartering for fish came out.
She walked past Debra without a second glance and made a beeline for Braam. Debra stopped walking as the woman broke into a run and hurled herself into Braam’s arms.
“Braam, oh, my God, Braam, we did it.” She flung her arms around Braam, hugged him and started to cry.
Debra watched. Fascinated and with a strange feeling of foreboding in her stomach. A heavy, leaden, gut-churning sensation that crawled over her skin, as Braam hugged the woman and stroked her hair.
“What, love? Shhhh, calm down, we can sort it, don’t worry.” The tone of Braam’s voice told Debra he was worried. “Tell me.”
“We’re having a baby,” the woman said. Her words floated clearly back to Debra. “Two babies, in fact. Oh, Braam, we’re going to have twins. Be parents and a real family.”
“What?” As Debra watched and wondered if it was a nightmare and she’d wake up in her bed with Braam next to her, Braam grinned and high-fived the air.
“Woo hoo, oh yeah.” Braam swung the woman around in a circle, unheeding of any watchers. “Oh my. Two. Mummy, Daddy and their twins. Yes, oh, God, baby, that is amazing. You’re amazing. Damn, I wish I’d been with you when you found out.”