Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Episode 93: Inevitable...

Mai swept into the Times building to pick up Bill at two minutes to noon, much like she had the first night they'd met at the Embassy.  
She was dressed in a stunningly beautiful traditional cream Ao Dai and cheekily called "NơI bạn có tình yêu của tôi không?" (where are you my love?) before turning and almost running directly into John who was coming to see what the commotion was all about.

John stood there, his mouth open and his eyes as big a saucers before Bill came to his rescue and smiling a little sheepishly introduced John to Mai.

As they spoke Phuong invisibly slide out of the room behind Bill and squeezed past the scrum in the hall before anonymously exiting the building.

Mai had brought a picnic lunch for them to enjoy down by the Hoàn Kiēm Lake and invited John to join them, blushing he could hardly refuse Bill's beautiful friend and accepted her kind invitation.

Instead of driving the short distance Mai sent her driver and bodyguard ahead to choose an appropriate spot for them to dine on the grass over looking her favourite spot - Tháp Rùa (Turtle Tower).

Like most days when "Hanoi Rose" walked on the streets everyone, men and women alike stopped to admire her beauty, it was as if the earth stood still until she had passed by. 

Episode 92: Pattaya

With her last ounces of energy Lea had been able to charm the taxi driver into taking them to Pattaya without the deposit, and upon arrival at Alessio's business associates home was able to quickly secure the funds to see him on his way including a fat tip.

They were completely exhausted after the four hour plus taxi ride from the airport, which on top of their detention and general ordeal was almost too much to bear and it was clear that Lea was completely frazzled and at the end of her tether.

Sensing a meltdown of major proportions, Alessio was able to coax her out of her damp, smelly clothes and then physically carried her to the outdoor shower, turning on the water he noted that the shower was surrounded by the most beautiful Frangipani bush, its flowers a deep, vibrant red, but Lea was just too exhausted to notice.

After 30 minutes he had begun to worry and so went to investigate.  He found Lea wedged into the corner of the shower in a fetal position sound asleep with the water still running.

Turning off the water he squatted down and took her in his arms, as he carried her toward the large guest bed she roused and put her lips close to his cheek a whispered...I love you. 

Alessio smiled

Episode 91: Torn

Since arriving into Hanoi John had been trying to decide if the best course of action would be to just close the Hanoi bureau altogether, especially after this latest incident.  He remembered the first correspondent that he'd sent to Hanoi only too well, the guilt remained ever present in his mind as he remembered Bill's predecessor and his still unsolved murder...  

He chided himself "I should have closed the bloody desk then..." he thought.  But now with both Bill and Lea in the line of fire it was almost too much to bear.

He was conflicted because he knew Asia was where the action was, and whether he liked it or not Bill was the only guy that could manage the intricacies and nuances of this country.  He'd proved it time and again with his insightful and clear commentary on the new Vietnam.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place again...

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Episode 90: South

It was clear that Lea wasn't getting to Hanoi anytime soon, particularly with all flights overbooked or cancelled due to the coup.  Alessio's business trip to Bangkok was in a state of flux and so suggested that they get out of the city, one of Alessio's business contacts was based in Pattaya, a fishing village south of the city.  He called his acquaintance and agreed that they would make their way to him.

Lea was in awe of Alessio, and couldn't have imagined how she would have survived without him being there every step of the way through her journey, particularly this last and most traumatic chapter...

Outside the airport he hailed a passing cyclo and instructed him to take them to the Hualumphong train station, the driver glancing at their baggage waggled his head and roared off into the traffic.  Although Alessio was frustrated he persevered and finally was able to flag down a taxi, who begrudgingly opened the trunk of the car and helped load the two large suitcases.

They sat sweating and smelly in the back of the taxi as it slowly made its way through the heavy traffic of scooters, cars and roadblocks of tanks that sat astride the road toward the train station. 

The progress was frustratingly slow and as they neared the station realized that it would be impossible to take the train, Alessio leaned over and asked the driver to continue onto Pattaya.  

The look of amazement passed over the drivers face, but smiling his toothless grin readily agreed.  Alessio and he quickly negotiated a price with the use of his fingers and gestures, of which the driver demanded half now.  Alessio reached into his pocket but realized his wallet and all his money had been taken by the military during his custody.

He sheepishly turned to Lea and asked if she had any money...

Episode 89: Date

Mai purred into the phone "Chào buổi sáng người yêu" (good morning lover) as Bill smiled to himself.  He still blushed whenever Mai overtly greeted him this way, and although he loved her fiercely he still wasn't used to someone being so open in the way they spoke to him.

"Tôi đang rất tốt đẹp, như thế nào về bạn?" (I'm great beautiful, how about you?) he replied, and although getting more familiar with the nuances of the Vietnamese language still spoke slowly and with a strong accent, and with his self consciousness kicking in quickly reverted to english.  Mai appreciated his attempts to learn Vietnamese and embrace the local customs more than he could ever imagine.

"Are you free for lunch darling?" she enquired.  He loved how she gave herself to him unconditionally, he felt a wave of warmth flood over him every time he thought about her.

Quickly looking through the day timer on his desk he noted that he was free until 3:00 pm, "I'm all yours love" he said smiling.

See you at noon she said...  

Episode 88: Conflict

Lea and Alessio embraced, both a little the worse for wear...  Alessio was sporting a deep purple welt under his right eye and clear bruising on his neck and although disheveled still sported his signature smile.  Lea sensed the smell that they both emanated, the pungent aroma evident with every breath.  She desperately wanted to get under a shower or into bath and clean off the grime and smell of fear that the last 48 hours had brought.

It was clear to both of them, particularly after their traumatic experience that they needed to leave Thailand as fast as possible.  After their release they were thrust out of the interrogation area, but not before Alessio had his watch and wallet confiscated by the over zealous guards that had beaten him during his detention.  

The last 48 hours of adrenaline infused survival had left her bereft of and energy or enthusiasm for anything Asian.  She wanted out as quickly as possible, but was conflicted in that she had promised Bill that she was going to visit him in Hanoi, but deep down didn't want to spend another minute in this infernal chaos.  

Alessio sensed her state of mind and wrapped his strong arms around her and pulled her into his chest... 

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Episode 87: Familiar ground

Uncle Duong was looking forward to seeing his old friend Phuong but was also aware that he was being watched at all times, and didn't want to raise the ire of the Revolutionary council so had his intermediary contact Phuong at the Times under the ruse of a news story.  Phuong was still versed in the code that he has used as Uncle Duong's operative all those years ago and quickly agreed to meet at the designated location.

It had been many years since they had used the safe house, but Phuong would never forget his first assignment working for Uncle Duong and the enormous confidence he had shown in him as a young boy all those years ago.  He remembered that this was his stepping stone to his illustrious career as a double agent during the American War.

He expertly navigated the teaming streets of the Old City on his way to the safe house, and as always, true to his nature he wove his way in circles around the old city before moving toward his destination to ensure that he wasn't being followed.  His innate sense of convert operations had automatically kicked in and he instinctively sank into his undercover identity.

Phuong's scooter slowed as he passed by the safe house to see if he could sense anything untoward...

Parking around the corner he crouched for sometime in the shadows of the Bougainvillea that grew so plentifully at the corner of the street to observe the comings and goings of the house...he was not surprised at who arrived...

Episode 86: Missing

Bill and Phuong walked into the office together after meeting at the Star.  Phuong was glad to see Bill and had briefed him on everything that had transpired during his absence including the fact that John had arrived and was desperate to see him, but also that Lea had not yet arrived from London and now long overdue.  Bill had missed the call with Lea during the time he was held hostage and so didn't have a clear timeline for when she was going to arrive into Hanoi.

He was now very concerned for her safety and worried that her disappearance may be linked to his kidnapping.

John arrived soon after 10:00 am and asked to speak in private, but Bill knowing that the only privacy in Hanoi was to walk led John out the door of the office and onto the street.  John was confused, but followed.  Bill explained that to have any privacy they needed to be outside amongst the cacophony of street noise to be completely free of anyone listening.  

As soon as they had begun to walk the streets of the old city John asked Bill if he knew where Lea was?  Bill said that he did not, given that had missed her last call because he had been kidnapped around that time and wasn't clear on her timing...  Bill was feeling remorseful but was honest with John.  "Look, I've met someone here but didn't know what to say to her when she called me out of the blue and said she was coming for a visit."   You know how she can be...his voice trailing off. 

"She's a damn fool" almost he said a little too loudly, the concern dripping from his voice...

Episode 85: Dropped

The phone jangled loudly as John sat up and blearily picked up the receiver.  "John is that you?" the voice enquired at the other end of the phone, but John's brain was still a little addled from being woken in the middle of the night.  He reached for the alarm clock and noted that the time was 2:00 am

His croaky voice "Yes, John here" he replied, quickly recognizing Craig's voice.  "Listen, I think we've tracked Lea but it's a bloody mess..."his voice trailing off into static.  

"Craig can you repeat?" he pleaded

But the receiver continued to crackle before dropping...   Craig, Craig are you there?   Nothing but the buzz of dial tone

Shit! John exclaimed as he reached for his address book on the dresser, flicking through the names he quickly located Craig and began dialing the ancient rotary phone.  

He noted his heart racing as he quickly tried to dial Craig's number, but in his haste realized he'd dialed the wrong number and had to start again...his frustration rose as his fingers fumbled with the keys.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Episode 84: Morning light...

Mai rolled over to Anh's soft touch as she slowly kissed her way down her shoulder and cupping her breast breathed into her ear, Chào buổi sáng người yêu (Good morning lover).

Mai roused from her sleep they kissed passionately, their tongues circling slowly and the heat building between their naked bodies.  Anh rolled onto Mai and slowly made her way down to her breasts, her teeth softly biting Mai's hardening nipples.  With every passing moment Mai's breathing becoming more ragged in anticipation of the orgasm that was building deep within her.

Anh teasingly circled her hard clit with the tip of her tongue, flicking it in the Mai loved so much...

Mai gripped Anh's hair and pulled her mouth into her engorged and dripping lips, Anh angled herself up to slide two fingers deep inside Mai, and thrusting onto her g-spot drove her to a powerful orgasm.

Her pussy pulsated as she came hard all over Anh fingers and tongue.

Anh pushed her dripping fingers into Mai's mouth as she tasted her sweet juices just the way she liked it.  Anh slipped from between Mai's legs and kissed her tenderly, her sweet taste lingering on their tongues.

After regaining her composure Mai pulled Anh into a kneeling squat over her face.  Anh held onto the headboard as she felt the urgent thrusts of Mai's tongue into her soaking wet lips, before she inhaled her lips and rock hard clit into her mouth.  The pleasure of her suction was too much to handle as she exploded in a shattering orgasm into Mai's sweet mouth.

Moments later they both fell exhausted and totally satiated onto the damp sheets, their breathing still uneven...

Episode 83: Questioning

The door opened abruptly and Officer stepped into the room followed by another soldier.  Pointing at Alessio he demanded that he stand before being roughly ushered from the room.

Lea was isolated and alone but steeling herself promised herself not to cry.  The Officer sat across from her and stared into her face.  After what seemed like an eternity he said "What is the purpose of your trip to Thailand?"  

Lea noted her reflection in the officer's sunglasses.   "I'm actually traveling to Vietnam for work, I'm a journalist" she went on a little more confidently.  

"And you have proof of this?" he replied sneeringly

"Yes, my airline ticket is in my bag."  He thrust out his hand, she bent and retrieved it from her bag, and although still shaking she handed it to him.

Without another word, he stood and left the room.  

The soldier continued to glare at Lea, his distaste evident...

Episode 82: Starting afresh

Bill's first night back in his apartment felt strange, his dissonance stemmed from knowing that one of Mai's bodyguard was keeping watch on him but it was more than that, his apartment now seemed strangely foreign yet it was the same as it always had been...  

He lay awake, the sweat cooling his body with the movement of air from the overhead fan, but sleep evaded him.  He noted the first rays of light as they began peeking through the floor to ceiling shutters.  After showering he decided he decided to walk to the Star Cafe, although it still wouldn't be open he could use the walk to clear his clattering head.

As he emerged on Cát Linh Đống Đa he noted Mai's bodyguard in the shadows before heading toward the old city and the Star.  He was hoping that Phuong would be there to greet him and was looking forward to seeing his old friend.

Crossing Nguyễn Thái Học was always hazardous although at this time of morning he successfully dodged the ever burgeoning sea of scooters that used this main thoroughfare.  

As he turned the corner onto Nguyen Thien Thuat he saw Bin Dong, the Star's owner unlocking the cafe and greeted him with the familiar Chào buổi sáng Bin (Good morning Bin), Bin spun around, a large smile creasing his face when he saw Bill walk toward him.  

Yes, it was good to be back in familiar surroundings he thought...

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Episode 81: Vindication

Although Uncle Duong had been pushed to the perimeter of the Revolutionary Council he was still considered a revered elder and when the kidnapping of the Australian journalist had surfaced with Anh as the chief suspect he drew a sharp breath.  He immediately put out word to his trusted network to ensure that his beloved niece was not involved.

As he watched the events unfold there was a sense of vindication "Mình thật sự đặt trọc cho tất cả để xem... (Her true self is laid bare for all to see) he thought to himself.   Though his operative network he also learned that Phuong was involved in some kind of clandestine effort to expose Anh, and although not common knowledge he smiled at the thought of his eager young lieutenant and the first role he had given him those many years ago to trail Anh and Mai in the Chợ Đồng Xuân.

With some admiration he noted the violence that had flared within the Chợ Đồng Xuân once Anh had been released, he recognized retribution when he saw it and had expected no less of Anh and her henchmen.

There was something more to this though, he could feel it and so asked his trusted advisor to contact Phuong and set up a private meeting with now prying eyes.  

He sighed and longed for the days of the American War and simple nature of a single enemy to fight... Ah, đó là những ngày (ah, those were the days) he reminisced...

Episode 80: Homecoming

It was late by the time Mai opened the front door to her house on Tây Hồ.  Quietly dropping her bags at the front door she slipped off her heels and let her dress fall from her shoulders as she softly tread down the hallway toward the bedroom, her nakedness warm and familiar in the humid evening air.  Without turning on a light she could see Anh's naked body stretched out on the bed in the moonlight as it seeped through the shutters by the bed and framed her athletic body in symmetrical lines.

Mai felt the familiar stirrings in her pussy as she watched from the doorway, her hand instinctively touched her hardening nipples.  Slowly rawing her fingers from her dripping pussy she put them into her mouth, and savoring the sweet taste which only heightening her sense of excitement as she crept silently toward the bed.  

Softly slipping the satin sheet from Anh body, she let her tongue slowly circle Anh's nipple, feeling it harden noticeably in her mouth as she traced it with the tip of her tongue.  Even in the darkness Mai could feel Anh's body begin to stir against hers, carefully lowering her body onto Anh's she felt the friction of her weight against Anh as she kissed her softly and felt Anh's mouth open and tongue reciprocate the slow, sensual kiss.

Anh spread her legs as Mai's thigh ground itself onto her hard clit and dripping pussy, quickly bringing her to a powerful and breathless orgasm.  Mai's was soaking wet as she inched her way up Anh's body and holding the headboard lowered her throbbing lips onto Anh's willing mouth and penetrating tongue.  She rode her mouth until she came hard, filling Anh's mouth with her juices.  Breathless Mai peeled herself from Anh's wet face, they kissed deeply to share her juices.

As the held each other in the darkness Anh whispered in an almost inaudible voice Tôi mất bạn nên tình yêu của tôi... (I missed you so my love...)  

Satiated they fell asleep in each others arms to the sounds of the quietly revolving overhead fan...

Episode 79: In the shadows

Alessio watched as the officer eyed them both suspiciously and noted that the soldiers closing in around them.  The officer demanded Alessio's passport, which he confidently pulled from his immaculate jacket pocket and handed to him, sensing trouble he pulled Lea into him.

Lea's tears continued to roll down her stained cheeks onto his jacket...  

Holding both passports, he barked orders to the soldiers around him and directed Alessio and Lea to follow him.  Taking Lea's hand Alessio confidently followed the soldiers through the crowded terminal to a nearby office where he directed them to sit.  He promptly left the room with their passports but left a soldier to stand guard on inside the room. 

The office was a small and airless 9 x 9 room, the overhead fan hardly moved the hot and tepid air as it slowly circulated overhead.   

Lea had pulled herself together and provided a half smile to Alessio as she continued to hold his hand tightly.  I'm so glad you came she said softly, a final tear glinting in the corner of her eye.  Alessio reached for his freshly pressed handkerchief and carefully dabbed it from her eye.  

He smiled and squeezed her hand in recognition, although deep down he felt a sense of foreboding as the soldier glared down at them...

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Episode 78: Familiar ground

Bill turned the key and pushed the door as Mai's bodyguard moved past him quickly and stepped into the apartment first.  Reaching for the light switch next to the door he flicked it on and moved quickly around the somewhat spartan apartment.  Mai held Bill's arm at the door, but Bill pulled free and stepped into the living room.  Realized that the airless space was oppressive after being empty for so long he reached for the master switch to the overhead fans he flipped them on as Mai stepped in behind him. 

Mai's bodyguard came from the bedroom and nodded almost imperceptibly that everything seemed clear.

Prior to entering Bill's apartment complex she had won a small concession from him by getting Bill to agree to have her bodyguards accompany them, but her whispered conversation to her team had seen them move stealthily in advance as they entered the complex much to Bill's chagrin.

To be safe Mai had positioned her body guards at the front gate and doorway to his apartment complex as well accompanying them to Bill's apartment.

She was less than pleased that Bill wanted to stay in his apartment, but also sensed that he needed to decide what was best without pushing him too far she acquiesced...but only to a point. 

She began planning their next move...

Episode 77: Investigations

It was the second day in a row that John sat with Phuong in the office, observing him go about his work.  There was something about this man that gave John confidence that Bill was in good hands.  Although quiet and somewhat reserved he noted Phuong's ability to digest, translate and summarize detailed news feeds into palatable and easy to read articles was astounding, it was as if he sensed what the intent was over the words and was able to capture the essence of the story.

Suddenly the phone rang breaking him out of his observation. John quickly reached for the jangling relic sitting on Bill's desk.  "Hello, The Times" he said almost too quickly.  However, on the other end of the phone the person was speaking in the unfamiliar Vietnamese.  John was perplex and quickly handed the receiver to Phuong who was standing along side him.

Phuong took it and putting it to his ear listened carefully to the voice on the other end, he nodded and hung up.

Turning to John he said that the call was from a trusted friend that had provided him with invaluable information that he needed to corroborate for a story he was following.  He went to his desk and gathered the small note pad from his desk headed to the door.  

Putting his head in his hands he unconsciously rubbed his eyes, noting that he still no word from Craig on Lea's whereabouts...   

Episode 76: Heat

As the aircraft touched down after its flight from Hue, a refreshed Bill and Mai deplaned onto the steamy evening air at Noi Ban airport.  After a short walk from the plane to the terminal she quickly found that she was surrounded by her familiar bodyguards who led them through the busy terminal to the car parked directly out front.

They eyed Bill suspiciously as they strode toward the terminal entrance, but given their loyalty to Mai there was not a flicker of emotion shown by any of them.  They had seen it all before, he would be just like the others they collectively thought...

Once ensconced in the car Mai leaned into Bill, and feeling his warm and familiar scent she smiled.  Where are you going to stay darling she whispered?  It's far too dangerous to go back to your apartment on Cát Linh Đống Đa.  "I'll be fine love" he said confidently.  No one will expect me to stay there, it's the perfect place.  

I know the kind of people who did this to you and they will stop at nothing to drive you away from Hanoi, you've seen what they can do, and I'm afraid that the next time...her voice trailed off as a tear glinted in the corner of her beautiful green eyes.  Don't be afraid he said pulling her into him and kissing her tenderly.  

Mai's heart melted every time he held and kissed her like this...

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Episode 75: Unsteady

Lea was feeling hot, tired and exasperated as she patiently waited in the long line for the airline ticket counter.  She looked behind her and now saw the line stretching well beyond the doors to the terminal building, there was definitely an air of panic in the air particularly with all of the military now pushing their way through the lines, sometimes leading people away...

She felt a tug at her arm and turning was confronted by an army officer demanding to see her passport, she fumbled as she tried to open her purse too quickly and it fell to the floor.  Feeling flustered she bent down and picked it, but standing too quickly felt light headed and wobbled unsteadily on her feet.

Given the obvious change in situation Alessio had returned to the airport in the hope of finding Lea, but it had taken him quite sometime because of the traffic choking all the roads to the airport.  He entered the terminal building into the sea of humanity and began scanning the lines to the ticket counters.  

Finally locating her in the crowd to tried to push his way through to her and as he neared noticed that an army officer was holding her elbow and sensing that something wasn't right he forcefully pushed his way through to her side.  

Lea breathed deeply as her momentary wooziness cleared, noting that the officer had grasped her elbow to steady her but not in a friendly way, it was this uneasy feeling that helped clear her head quickly.

After a couple of moments, she pulled her elbow from his grasp just a little too hard and handed him her passport, he began meticulously leafing through the pages, his eyes darting between the pages and her face as he sized her up...

Lea felt an arm go around her waist and turned quickly to find Alessio's handsome face inches from hers, she fell into his arms, hot tears began welling in her eyes...

Episode 74: The Yard

After Phuong's enlightening conversation with John he called the London office to see if they had heard from Lea.  No word, except that there were reports coming out of Bangkok that there was a military coup under way in Thailand.

Surely Lea can't be in Bangkok, she should have been here by now he thought as he tried to piece together the timeline.

He then put in a call to his old friend at Scotland Yard, Detective Inspector Craig Jarvis to see if he could locate her.

"Hello Craig, I need your help.  It's my niece Lea she's gone missing... 

Episode 73: Returning

The next morning Bill awoke early and reached for Mai's naked and beautiful form, he touched her in a way that made her body shiver with goosebumps before rolling her onto all fours and entering her dripping pussy from behind.  He grasped her hips and drove into her time and again at her urgent cries of pleasure, pulling her cheeks wide as his balls slapped at her ever hardening clit.

They collapsed on the bed under the overhead fan dripping from sweat, feeling totally spent Bill realized that this was the first day where he had initiated sex with Mai in the morning since his release from hospital, he could feel his strength returning finally.

He rolled onto one elbow and traced his finger along her beautiful cheek bone leaned in and kissed her passionately, Mai smiled and placing her arms around his neck held him tight.  

He was back she thought to herself...

At breakfast Bill was ravenous and ate more than he had touched in the entire time they been away, "I'm so glad to see you getting back to your old self darling" she said smiling with the double meaning playing on her lips.  They both laughed at this playful innuendo.  

We need to get back to Hanoi as soon as we can Bill said turning toward her, I need to talk to Lea and she should be there by now. 

Given their recent conversations Mai understood completely and asked for the concierge to be sent out to the terrace.  She would make all of the arrangements at once.  

Time was of the essence...

Episode 72: Strong Arm

Over the ensuing days after Anh's release she quickly exerted her influence and reclaimed the Chợ Đồng Xuân as her own.  Trung and his gang had been ruthless as she had ordered and quickly put down any opposition or dissension to the doubling of the monthly tribute after brutally making an example of one or two of the truculent stall keepers.  

She needed to find her equilibrium as she plotted her next move...however, as she pondered her options she discovered from Trung that the head of the Times newspaper had arrived into Hanoi.  Deep down she knew that this would be to her advantage...

Anh not heard from Mai, and rather than risk losing her forever she decided to not push her but rather to wait the Australian journalist out.  Surely they would recall him, especially given the trauma of recent events she thought smiling to herself. It was jut a matter of time now she thought 

And when he's gone Mai will come back to me... 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Episode 71: Terse

Mia showed the doctor to the door and in a low tone asked "Bác sĩ là anh được chứ?" (Doctor is he okay?)  The doctor, turned and in a terse tone replied "Những gì hiện nó vấn đề, ông là một người nước ngoài? (What does it matter he's a foreigner?)  Mai was rarely spoken to like this and although not accustomed to it, she shot back "Người đàn ông này là một khách mời quan trọng của Hội đồng cách mạng, vì vậy giữ lưỡi của bạn! (This man is a guest of the Revolutionary Council, so hold your tongue!") 

The doctor turned and walked to the elevator feeling slightly embarrassed that this beautiful and now obviously well connected woman had just put him down so fiercely...

Bill was feeling better that he was out of the heat and lying down, the sedative the doctor had given him was starting to take affect.

Mai walked back into the bedroom and smiled her most beautiful smile as she sat on the bed she kicked off her heels, flipping her legs around she curled into Bill and ran her hand over his handsome face.  "You need more rest baby" she said as Bills's eyes began to flutter and close, his breathing became deeper and steady as he fell asleep.

For the longest time Mai just lay there looking into his face, she felt a deep and warm feeling of love for this man, something she'd never felt before.  She did not questioned it, but merely basked in its strong glow.  

Finally she felt at peace...

Episode 70: Coup d'etat

As Lea made her way back to the line she began noticing a greater military presence than she had expected in the terminal.  As she turned around she saw that these were special forces troops clearly identifiable by their deep red berets, and full battle dress.  More soldiers were now streaming into the terminal building and she could feel the tension begin to rise around her, as the noise level increased significantly.

Within a couple of minutes the loud speakers came to life with an announcement firstly in Thai, French, then English. Although generally meant for flight arrival and departures announcements today it was the bearer of bad news...    

"Please remain calm...a state of emergency is now in force across Thailand, a state of martial law now exists. Please remain calm...the military leadership has taken control of the country and will advise you when the situation is stable."

There was real panic in the air and although Lea had never been in a situation like this she could feel the hairs on the back of her neck prickle and stand on end.  

"I wished he was here, he'd know what to do" she thought anxiously...

Episode 69: Hanoi or bust

Lea had finally gotten to Bangkok and now needed to re-book a flight onto Hanoi.  She felt torn as a big part of her didn't want to carry on to Hanoi, but rather to stay in Bangkok with Alessio. 

Her conscious was conflicted, how could she possibly make it work with Bill now that she had been unfaithful to him she wondered...  There was only one thing for it, she would tell him everything when they met and see how he reacted.  Perhaps there would still be time to get back to Bangkok to Alessio if things didn't work out with Bill.

As she made her way to the ticket counter she noticed the incredibly long lines of people all waiting... 

Lea walked to the front of the cue and enquired as to how she could rebook her flights, the harried ticket agent said that she'd have to get in the line like everyone else.  "I have a first class ticket for god's sake surely you can do something for me now" she said he voice noticeably higher.

The agent looked at her and said in a steady tone "Madam, please get in line and we will serve you as fast as we can".

Lea felt like she was in quicksand...when was she ever going to get to bloody Hanoi she said exasperatedly to herself.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Episode 68: Again

John was aghast at what Phuong told him as they walked slowly toward the Star cafe.  The roughing up and then kidnapping of a foreign journalist was beyond the bounds of decency, and even though he'd been on overseas assignment a number of times during his early career he had never felt the need to worry about his own personal safety.

Phuong wrapped up the abridged version of events for John, but he had decided to leave out the connection to Hanoi Rose as that would likely mean Bill would be sent back to London in disgrace. Phuong's sanitized version of events ended by telling John that Bill had gone to the countryside for some rest to regain his strength.  With concern etched into John face he asked where he'd gone and how long ago.

As if John wasn't already concerned enough with one of his key journalists being tortured and brutalized, his attention now turned to Lea.  Phuong had not heard from Lea and wasn't even aware that she was be assigned to the Hanoi desk...

John was perplexed, she had left two days ahead of him...but where on earth was she?  

His emotions lurched once again...

Episode 67: Losses

Mai's story filled in many of the gaps that Bill didn't know about her life, going into great detail about her childhood with her parents until their untimely deaths during the bombing raid on Hanoi in 1971. 

Bill brushed away the tears from Mai's cheek as she cried for the loss of her parents... He held her to his chest with his arms wrapped around her as she sobbed uncontrollably, the tears tumbling from her cheeks onto his shirt.

After regaining her composure she then went on to explain her adolescent years spent living with Uncle Duong, and although he was kind to her he could tell that the sense of loss was almost unbearable for Mai and that she had hidden the grief even from herself until now.

The moment instantly evaporated with a loud knock on the door...

Episode 66: Leap of faith

Lea's thoughts had wavered all throughout the flight, but when the captain came on the intercom to announce that the flight was beginning its decent into the Don Muang international airport her stomach flipped.  

Should I stay with Alessio or go onto to Hanoi as planned...she closed her eyes and turned each scenario over in her mind.  Why was it so hard she thought to herself...

As the airplane touched down with a slight thud, Lea turned to Alessio and holding his hand leaned in and thanked him for being so kind to her during the past 48 hours. Alessio smiled his magical smile, "il mio piacere bella" (my pleasure beautiful) he whispered as he looked deep into her eyes.  

Oh my god Lea felt a moment of panic and indecision, he had to stop being so damn irresistible...

As the plane came to a stop, Lea stood to get her bag from the overhead compartment, but as quick as a flash Alessio had already retrieved it and placed it on the seat in front of her.  

"I hope you find what you're looking for in Hanoi" Alessio said in his strongly accented english, Lea could do little but blush.  The stewardess then began directing them down the stairs from the upper deck of the 747, and as they got to the bottom of the stairs Alessio turned and squared Lea's shoulders and said that if she changed her mind she could find him at the Hilton Hotel.

Lea blushed deeply and smiled, desperately trying to hold it together...

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Episode 65: The visitor

John was unable to raise anyone at the office and so decided to go in early the next morning.  After a restless nights sleep he made his way to the office but found it locked. He checked his watch, almost 9:00 am and no sign of anyone.  What sort of bureau were they running out here he thought?   

Nothing could have prepared him for the heat and humidity in Hanoi, although he'd cut his teeth on foreign assignments back in the day he was ill prepared for this after being in London for so long.  The sweat accumulated in little beads on his forehead and arms, his handkerchief was already moist from wiping his brow and was uncomfortable to say the least.

At five minutes to ten, a middle aged Vietnamese man walked along the corridor toward him.  Phuong was not prepared for whomever was waiting outside the office, but just by the look of him observed that he was English perhaps someone sent out from London.

"Good day" said Phuong smiling.  John extended his hand, you must be Phuong said John smiling and shaking his hand strongly.  Phuong nodded and was surprised when he introduced himself at John.  But why had he come out to Hanoi?  

After opening the office, Phuong offered John a chair, any chance for a cup of tea ? John asked expectantly.  Phuong shook his head but asked John to follow him to the Star.  On the short walk to the Star cafe Phuong listened intently as John told him the reason for his visit to Hanoi. 

Stopping momentarily Phuong leaned in toward John and whispered to John that he had much to tell him, but to do this they must be outdoors.  

John was perplexed...

Episode 64: Traitor

Nhu Ha being kidnapped was no mere coincidence she thought, who ever was behind the kidnapping was also the same person who alerted General Binh about the Australian journalist.  

Anh chided herself for her impetuous actions, and wondered who had been working on the inside of her organization to alert General Binh, after all he was just a foreign journalist and Hanoi can be a dangerous city especially for foreigners...  

There was more, much more to this than met the eye and she vowed to get find the traitor and make a public example of them so that there could be no question of who controlled the Chợ Đồng Xuân and all that lay within.

She would show no mercy!

Episode 63: Confessions

When Bill got back to the room he was visibly shaken and pale...  Mai immediately called the reception desk and asked for a Doctor to be summoned at once.  Not to be trifled with, the receptionist quickly hung up and called the house doctor.

She then came to sit on the side of the bed and lovingly placed her hand on his cheek and caressed his chin, she smiled and looked deeply into his eyes and realized that he was troubled by something.

Bill grasped her wrist and said that he had something to tell her, her first thought was that he was going to divulge a part of his tortuous ordeal to her.  Her heart ached for him and the trauma he'd been through and so straightened herself and listened intently as Bill began to tell her the story of Lea.

For the next twenty minutes Bill told Mai the full story of Lea and the circumstances that had brought him to Hanoi, he left nothing out...  As he drew to a close he fully expected her to get up and walk away, but instead Mai sat staring at him.

She said "chúng ta đều có bí mật tình yêu của tôi" (we both have secrets my love...) before reverting to his native English. 

Bill was stunned that Mai had taken his confession in stride and that seemingly nothing had changed in her demeanour.  In fact, she leaned in and kissed him softly, looking deeply into his eyes she smiled and began to tell him the real story of Mai.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Episode 61: A moment of clarity...

Bill woke with a start, his mind had been searching for something for the past day or so but he couldn't quite grasp what it was.  His ordeal at the hands of Trung and his thugs has addled his brain to the point where he could only think of survival and had seemingly erased all other vestiges of his memory.  He desperately wanted to call Phuong, for surely his old friend would know what was making his mind restless but it was 3:00 am and he knew better than to disturb the man who had saved his life.

Instead Bill spooned into Mai and held her to his chest and kissed the nape of her neck pausing between soft kisses to breath in her scent, but even this couldn't distract him from what churned through his minds.  He closed his eyes and listened to the sounds of the night unable to quite grasp what was deep within his subconscious...

The following morning they had decided to take a picnic lunch out to the Thien Mu Pagoda just 5 km from the Citadel on the banks of the Perfume River, and enjoy the peace and quiet of the river and surrounding jungle, Bill stood beside Mai on the sidewalk outside their hotel.  

It was a relatively busy morning, although this was the first time they'd made it out of their room before 1:00 pm it was difficult to gauge whether it was busy or this was normal, when a car stopped and deposited an attractive blond westerner some distance away. Bill sensed something about this woman that reminded him of his past, but was struggling to get his brain thinking but then out of nowhere he realized that Lea was on her way to see him in Hanoi.

The first thing Mai felt was a tug on her hand that Bill had clasped so tightly all of a sudden, she turned to see him unsteady on his feet and looking a little woozy.   "Are you okay?" she asked, starting to feel concerned.

Perhaps its too soon and led him back inside the sanctuary of the hotel grounds.  Bill's memories had flooded back to him, as he tried to comprehend the timeline and expectations of the last call he'd had with Lea.  

Episode 62: Tortured soul

Once back in her seat Lea fell into a deep sleep, aided but their shattering orgasms and the complete feeling of ecstasy.  Lea woke some four hours later, opening her eyes she turned toward Alessio's to see his beautiful brown eyes staring intently upon her, he smiled his easy smile the one which Lea knew she was falling in love with...  

She couldn't help but feel the sense of dread at having to say goodbye to Alessio in Bangkok.  On the one hand she'd reasoned that whole reason for the trip was meant to win back Bill.  

One moment she'd be resolute and determined to go to Hanoi and see Bill...and the next, well, the gnawing feeling in the pit of her stomach told a far different story.  This was the one which tortured her soul and conscience to the point of distraction.

Alessio whispered "buongiorno bellissima" as he reached his hand to cup her chin and leaned into to kiss her lips so tenderly that Lea thought she might pass out.

His dashingly good looks and cultured, charming disposition combined with the way he carried himself was making her decision of leaving him in Bangkok almost impossible to imagine.  Her mind was racing...what if things didn't turn out with Bill...would she ever be able to forgive herself for walking away from Alessio.

She breathed deeply, smiled her winningest smile and leaned into the passionate kisses...

Episode 60: Wrath

Anh's reaction to seeing her mother safely ensconced back at her stall was one of relief. Nhu Ha rose from her squatting position, and putting her hands together greeting her daughter, their foreheads touching softly as they whispered their greetings to one another.  

Anh enquired after her mothers health and well being, to which Nhu Ha smiled and nodded as she began to ladle some phò into a bowl from the small pot on the brazier. She then placed a small handful of beansprouts and garnishing's into the warm liquid passed it to Anh who now also squatted beside her mother. When her father Quang shuffled toward them a few minutes later he recognized Anh squatting beside his wife, and at once his lined and leathery face broke into a broad smile.

It had been many years since Anh had eaten with her parents at the market stall, in fact since taking control of the Chợ Đồng Xuân from her bourgeois predecessor, but if nothing else the last few days had taught Anh that she knew what was important to her.  

Later that afternoon Anh was in her apartment overlooking the market when a battered and bruised Trung along with his three most trusted lieutenants reported in. He told Anh that they had forcefully conveyed the message of the new tribute to the stall owners who were less than thrilled at the change, he only had to hand out a beating to one truculent owner and the rest quickly fell into line... 

Trung then went on to tell Anh of the treatment meted out to them by the soldiers at the barracks, and smiled vengefully that scores were still be settled on that front but at a future time.  They all looked sheepishly at their feet when Anh questioned them as to the state of the Australian journalist.  

He is in the hospital recuperating they mumbled...Anh anger rose at once 

Những gì bạn đã phát hiện ra? (What have you found out?) she demanded looking squarely at Trung.  

Trung averted his eyes and shifted uneasily, before saying that the Australian had left the city earlier that day.  Anh smiled, but sensed that he wasn't telling her everything and so pressed him for details.  Trung was trying to find a way to tell Anh what he knew would be devastating.