Read Hong Kong Heat Online

Authors: Raven McAllan

Tags: #Erotic Romance Fiction

Hong Kong Heat (19 page)

Debra didn’t wait to see what happened next. Grateful for the fact that she was wearing trainers, she moved to the far side of the walkway and jogged away with her suitcase bobbing behind her.

It took less than five minutes to reach the station and to her relief there was no queue at the check-in desk. Half an hour later she sat on the train to the airport. She felt she’d run a marathon in bare feet and been told she’d been disqualified and needed to do it all over again. This skulking about was not good for the nerves.

 

* * * *

 

“Braam, are you listening? I said I wish Jack could have joined us. Damned crisis and the oil industry. I was so looking forward to the fish he bartered for. You should have seen him, he was a star. All Cantonese and arm waving. He fell in twice and the fish nibbled his dick.”

“That’s good, I knew it would… Eh?” Braam looked away from the walkway and stared at her. “Kris, you what?”

“Ha.” She sounded triumphant. “I knew you weren’t listening. So, you gonna tell me what’s up your arse or not?”

He sighed. He should be over the moon and all he could think of was how he’d screwed up. He should have explained to Debra why he’d canceled their date, not say he’d tell her later. Why had he acted like a horse’s backside? Because he wasn’t used to explaining himself was no excuse. Even though Kris had asked him not to say anything until later. That of course had gone to hell in a hand basket when Jack had told every one of the hotel’s staff. Braam had excused himself from the celebrations and rung Debra’s room, only to hear the phone ring out and not be answered. Before he had the chance to try to find her, Jack had received his crisis phone call and disappeared.

“Nothing’s up my arse, as you so elegantly call it.” Even to himself he didn’t sound convincing. Had it been Debra? She wasn’t in view now. If it was her, what was she doing in Central at this time of the evening?

“Of course not. And I lied. I’m expecting quins. Fess up, this is me. I know you.” She poked him in the ribs. Her fingers might be slim and elegant, but they could deliver a good sharp poke.

Braam winced theatrically and she grinned. “You’ve screwed up and daren’t admit it.”

“Kris, you’re crazy.”

“Braam, so are you if you think I’m buying that nothing crap. Tell me.”

“Yeah, okay, once we sit down.” He urged her toward the restaurant he’d chosen for their celebration once he knew it was only the two of them to celebrate. Once they were seated inside the Michelin starred establishment and their order taken, Kris turned to him.

“Talk.”

“You don’t half nag, you know.”

“I know.” Kris sounded smug. “Jack tells me that all the time.”

Braam ruffled her hair and she squealed. He laughed as her good humor rubbed off on him. “My brother the henpecked husband, eh?”

“Ha, not a chance. Your brother gives as good as he gets.” His sister-in-law rubbed her tummy and winked. “Hence twins.”

Braam choked on his water. In deference to Kris’ condition, he hadn’t ordered any alcohol and said they’d toast her pregnancy with sparkling water. “How on earth does he cope?”

“Very well. Now enough stalling. Is it a woman?”

Trust Kris to go straight to the point.

“Yeah, and I think I’ve been very stupid.”

“You’re a man, it goes with the territory.” Kris sat back in her chair and waited until the waiter had put warming trays on the table and described the dishes they were about to eat. “Okay, spill the beans. Who is she, where is she, what is she and why didn’t you invite her to come out with us?” Kris waved her chopsticks at him. “You ashamed of us?”

“Don’t be daft. But you said it was all hush-hush.”

“And I burst into tears all over you in the foyer and told you there and then Jack told the world and his wife. Not much hush-hush about it after that, was there? So?” She stared at him until Braam was sure he blushed.

So, he felt like he’d been rapped over the knuckles.

“Yeah, well.”
Blimey I sound like a sulky schoolboy who’s been caught out copying his homework or something.

“Braam Van Meister, there’s no yeah well about it. What did you, or more to the point, didn’t you do?”

He pushed his plate of food to one side and traced circles on the tablecloth with his chopsticks. The thought of eating any more made him nauseated.

“I told her I couldn’t see her tonight. But didn’t say why. I told her that I’d try to get up to see her later on. Okay, don’t look at me as if I’ve crawled out from under a stone. What else could I say?”

“That your brother and his wife had arrived unexpectedly and did she want to come out to dinner with us all perhaps?” Kris shook her head. “What’s hard about that?”

Put like that, nothing.

“I admit I fucked up.”

“You so did and if your lady is anything of a woman that’s the last fucking you’ll be doing for a long while. Get ready to grovel, Braam. Big time mega groveling.”

“Krista Van Meister, what would your husband say if he caught you using language like that?”

Kris giggled. “That I was right and suggest I wash my mouth out. So, what are you going to do? You have to go and see her and tell her what the hell was in your pea brain.” She waved her hand in the air and a waiter approached. “Braam, get it in a doggie bag. Then we can take it back and invite your lady to share it with us. Maybe then she’ll accept what an arse you are, but you’re so in love you couldn’t help it.”

Whoa…
Braam dipped his head in acknowledgment. She was right on every count. Whoever said love couldn’t hit you hard and fast was wrong. He asked for their food to be bagged and made rapid apologies about having to get back to the hotel. As he was a regular at the restaurant and they knew him well, there was no problem in agreeing to his request. Within a few minutes he’d paid the bill, got the food and he and Kris were in a taxi, which the restaurant had called for them.

The traffic did its usual stop-start routine as they inched toward Causeway Bay. It was typical Hong Kong evening driving conditions, but now he was going to be able to explain and apologize for being an arse, Braam could almost believe it was slower than usual.

“Come on, come on, move into the other lane and let us through.” He muttered under his breath as a double decker bus straddled two lanes and they became stuck behind it. “Seriously, what is it with bus drivers?”

Kris touched his arm. “Braam, it’s trying to turn right. Calm down. We’ll get there when we get there.”

“She didn’t answer the phone when I rang her room earlier on,” Braam told her.

“Ah.”

How on earth could that one word convey so much?

“She probably went out for a walk or something,” Kris said and hugged his arm. “You know, to calm down and not break anything. And she’ll be back and ready to listen.”

She didn’t sound convinced. Nor was he.

The bus finally moved away and the taxi shot into the gap like a hound out of a trap. Kris slid forward on the seat and Braam clamped her to his side.

“Whoa, I have to look after you until Jack gets back. No falling on your knees.”

She laughed. “Not much likelihood of that. Right, now we’re here, you go and find your lady. What’s she called, by the way?”

“Debra.” He paid the driver and helped Kris out.

“Debra. Then give me a ring if you want me to join you. Otherwise I’ll see you at breakfast.” Kris stood on tiptoe and kissed him on the cheek. “Good luck and remember to grovel. Look, the flower shop’s still open.” She walked into the hotel.

Braam watched her head for the lifts and stared at the florist’s window. Was it too twee to take flowers as an apology? The worst she could do was to throw them at him. He went inside and spent a precious few minutes choosing some blooms, before he headed back to the hotel.

The doorman held the door open for him.

“Aww, Braam, you shouldn’t have.” The guy winked. “Though I do have a soft spot for tulips.”

Braam shook his head as he walked into the foyer. “Howard, I’ll tell your wife.”

“She knows. Hey, if they’re for Mrs. Scotburn, you missed her by a couple of minutes.”

Braam stopped mid stride and turned around. His skin crawled. “Pardon?”

“Mrs. Scotburn. I called her a taxi earlier. To go to her friend’s. I asked if she was checking out and she said no.”

The sense of relief was so intense, Braam had the silly thought that it was a wonder he didn’t have a speech bubble coming out of his head saying ‘phew’.

“Damn, I thought I’d catch her before she went. Ah well, I’ll have them put in her room for her.”

The doorman nodded. “Shame, though. They’ll be past their best when she gets back.”

What?
There was no way he could question Howard and not have the whole hotel wonder what had happened. He knew that even though they hadn’t broadcast their friendship, the interaction between Debra and himself had been closely monitored.

“True, but at least she’ll know I did my best. I hoped I’d be back in time.”

Howard inclined his head in agreement. “She was mighty pleased about your news, though. Said Mrs. Jack looked radiant.”

Oh, fuck and shit.
Now he was well and truly in the mire. Braam knew enough about women to know Debra would be hurt as well as pissed off. As for meeting friends? Who were they? More to the point, where were they?

He entered the lift and pressed the button for Debra’s floor. If she wasn’t there—and, of course, why would Howard say she wasn’t if she was?—then a little illegal breaking and entering might be on the cards.

He didn’t need to be illegal. As he approached Debra’s door, he saw it was open. His pulse jumped and his mouth became dry with worry, excitement, he wasn’t sure which. Was she back?

It seemed not. The chambermaid was in the middle of the evening bed turn down service.

The disappointment hit him like a fist in the gut.

The young girl looked up at him as she smoothed the coverlet. “Oh my, they’re lovely. Mrs. Scotburn will adore them. Mind you, I wondered for a minute if she’d checked out and no one told me.”

Braam smiled noncommittally. “No, she’s gone to see friends.”

“Ah.” The maid nodded and straightened up. “That accounts for her stuff missing then. I did wonder. Er, if you’re going to arrange those,” she pointed to the flowers, “can I let you shut the door behind you? I know it’s maybe not quite what we’re supposed to do but…” Her voice trailed off.

Braam smiled and hoped it looked reassuring and not as if he was going to an execution. “Of course. I’ll put them where she’ll see them and get off to my office.” He opened the cupboard under the compact kitchen sink and took out the crystal vase that every suite was equipped with. The chambermaid left the room and Braam let out the breath he hadn’t been conscious he held. It took scant moments to put the flowers in the vase. He was no flower arranger, but the perfume surely made up for any deficiency in the display? The heady scent of the flowers filled the room and he sniffed appreciatively. Now he had to hope she wasn’t allergic to pollen or whatever. He scribbled a note and sealed it in one of the envelopes provided. As he was about to leave the room, Braam remembered the chambermaid’s words.
Stuff missing?
His skin tingled and he couldn’t help but feel as if he was committing some great crime as he opened the bathroom door.

It was as impersonal as any unoccupied hotel room. The towels were folded neatly on their shelves, the toiletries aligned perfectly and the bathmat placed over the side of the bath. There was no makeup, no perfume or sponge bag. Nothing to show the room was occupied. With a growing sense of panic and a premonition that he’d blown it, Braam left the bathroom, walked into the bedroom and opened the wardrobe.

The hotel bathrobe hung neatly on a padded hanger and the complimentary slippers were in their bag on the shelf next to them. The iron and ironing board were where they should be. The row of hangers hung neatly, side by side—with no clothes on them. The leaden lump in his stomach grew larger as Braam slid open the other wardrobe door. The one that had the safe in.

The door open, empty, safe.

She’s gone. Fuck and shit, what have I done?
Braam shut the wardrobe door slowly and felt tears prickle his eyes. Why on earth had he held back? Why hadn’t he explained? Oh it was easy to blame Kris and say she didn’t want the news broadcast, but hell, she’d shrieked it all over the foyer.

Braam walked around the compact suite. Debra had left nothing. Not even a hairgrip or a lipstick lid. No scent of her remained. He wondered if he pinched himself he’d wake up and find it was all a hot, heavy dream?

Had she known something when he’d cried off their date? Now he thought about it in detail, she had looked pale, but he’d put it down to the lighting in the hallway. Had she heard about his impending uncle-hood? However, he couldn’t fathom why she’d run when she’d heard he was going to be an uncle. Surely the fact that he hadn’t mentioned it then broken their date wasn’t such a crime to make her leave? Braam circled the rooms once more, even though he knew he’d find nothing. It was as if she’d never been there. What was it the chambermaid had said? She wondered if Debra had checked out and she hadn’t been notified? Surely not. There was no way Braam was going to ask. Thankfully he wouldn’t have to. At least he could use his security codes to scan the residents’ lists.

He checked you could clearly see his note propped next to the flowers and left the room to head up to his own quarters. As he waited for the ascending lift, the one next to it, which had descended, stopped and the doors opened. Kris got out and blinked when she saw him.

“Hey, you looking for me? I went up to the walking track. It’s so pretty.”

Braam sighed. “Nah, sorry. I was looking for my lady. She’s gone.”

“Pardon?”

The lift he called arrived and Kris took his arm and dragged him inside. She used her key, pressed his floor button and stared at him as they went upwards.

“Explain that little statement, Braam. What do you mean she’s gone? Gone how? For food? For a walk? Off you? Now after your numpty act, I can understand that one.”

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