The Prince of Kuching
25 Thailand and Malaysia
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The Prince of Kuching
Author :CMShuk
© Webnovel

25 Thailand and Malaysia

East meets West along Bangkok's Khao San Road, where sleek clubs and eclectic market stalls vie for a visitor's attention. Called "the backpacker's ghetto", it is a location teeming with cheap places to stay, eat, or buy. During the lunch time, both foreigners and native Thai seek a break from the events of the morning. In a converted cocktail bar, a curly-haired black woman toyed with the rim of her frosty glass, seemingly lost in thought, a half-eaten bowl of seafood curry at her elbow.

Leaving some baht on the bar surface, she slipped through the front door and headed to a nearby Web Café. After paying her user fee, she sat down at one of the monitors and booted up her email.

There were no messages from Malaysia, and she hoped that Meaghan was alright. There was still one more file of evidence from the France office, but she wanted to hand it directly to her friend, sure that whatever shadowy people that dogged her tracks in France would never be able to track her roundabout travel to Thailand.

With a beep, another email message popped into her Inbox, and Ivoire began to breathe faster.

[We know where you are, Ms. Ivoire. You need to return the files you took, and all will be well. Misty.]

Ivoire quickly deleted the email without a reply, shut down the computer and all but ran out of the building into the streets, intent on reaching the hostel she where was staying. She never noticed a female figure carrying a long duffel bag quietly detach herself from the crowd and follow the tall woman down the street.

~ ~ ~

Bourbon's restaurant was not quite at capacity, but it was a close thing. As Rickie and Meaghan approached, a slim figure wildly waved from one of the outside tables.

"Selamat tengah hari, Meaghan! I'm so glad you could make it!" Unable to stop from smiling, Meaghan nodded and sat down, very aware of Rickie's warm hand on her back as he helped her into the chair. He in turn sat across from her as indicated by the young girl. A waitress discretely approached with menus, and placed a small dish of snacks in the middle of the table.

[A/N: "Selamat tengah hair" means "good afternoon" in Malaysian]

Choosing to ignore the tingling in her back, Meaghan focused on the young woman seated to her right.

"Are you getting used to being back in Malaysia, Sethe?"

Sethe nodded. "I have to practise driving on the opposite side of the road again. In fact," she turned imploring eyes to her brother, "I could really use a vehicle to drive around for a bit."

Rickie almost choked on a sweet potato ball. "You need to ask our father about that. There is no way I'm letting you drive mine." His sister pouted and wiggled in her seat, but he was unmoved. He quickly turned and focused on the woman in front of him. "Do you drive?"

Meaghan demurred. Although she had an operator's license, she hadn't driven anything since her parent's death. "I normally use the bus," she replied.

Sethe turned back to her brother. "Rickie, if you help me get my license back, then, if Meaghan needs a ride, I can drive her."

Meaghan looked at him, unsure of his reaction.

Which was a smile. "If she needs to go anywhere, she can just ask me," he drawled, enjoying the sensation of both disappointing his sister and startling his employee, "and I'll take her anywhere."

"Perfect!" Sethe clapped her hands in an abrupt about-face. "Meaghan, the next time I need to go shopping, you can be my friend and come with me. That way we can use his services, too. He can carry stuff for us!" She laughed, filling the silence from the older pair at the table.

The conversation remained light throughout lunch; although Meaghan could not remember exactly what she ordered, it was delicious. Rickie paid for all three of them, much to her consternation, but she didn't want to show Sethe how it bothered her.

After saying her goodbyes and giving Sethe her phone numbers, Meaghan was thoughtful on the drive back to the office.

"En Ahmad, is your sister serious about shopping?"

"It's Rickie," he said, automatically, "and, yes, she is very serious, especially about shoes." Meaghan looked down at her serviceable pumps and wondered how anyone could be obsessed with footwear. She looked back up at the handsome man competently driving through the afternoon traffic.

"I want to pay for my portion of lunch," she insisted. Rickie just looked at her; she felt defensive at his stare. "It's not a supervisor's responsibility to pay for food."

"I didn't invite you to lunch as your boss." Rickie smoothly said. He took his left hand off the steering wheel and, before she could protest, grabbed her right hand and brought it to his lips. Momentarily shocked, she could only stare with wide eyes as, with his eyes still on the road, he turned her hand over and kissed the palm as well.

"I just wanted to spend time with you." He lowered their hands to the buttery leather but kept them together, only releasing her when his cell phone rang. His eyebrows shot up as he looked at the Caller ID, and, giving a quick glance to his silent passenger, flipped open the phone and answered it.

"This is Rick. Apa khabar? It's what…ah, this Saturday? I can probably be persuaded…mmhmm…okay, you've convinced me. I'll be there."

[A/N: "Apa khabar" is "How are you" in Malaysian]

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Meaghan couldn't help but hear the faintest tone of a female voice coming from the phone's speaker.

He hung up the phone, and then attempted to recapture Meaghan's hand, which she successfully avoided. Rickie just smiled as they turned into the parking deck for their building.

Meaghan slammed the door to the vehicle a little hard, then felt ashamed for her little tantrum. It wasn't the fault of the vehicle that it belonged to a player who thought nothing of setting up a date with one woman while he was with another.

"It has nothing to do with me," she mumbled, then looked up to see if he heard her.

She needn't have worried; he appeared completely oblivious to her muttering, and ushered her into the cool green lobby towards the elevators.


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