enTWINed – Ch 1 & 2 (A Thai fanfic)
Here it is, the first installment of what I hope is an enjoyable read.
The liveried bellhop quickly ran to the curb as the elegant gray limousine pulled to a smooth stop in front of the Hilton Diagonal Mar in Barcelona. The man that stepped out exuded an aura of power and confidence. Dressed in a tailored double-breasted suit of dark gray, he gave a nod as the hotel employee retrieved two pieces of matched luggage.
Together they walked inside, but the man’s longer legs outstripped the pace of the bellhop. When he reached the front desk, the receptionist touched her hair for a moment and gave him a flirtatious smile.
“Buenos días señor. En qué puedo ayudarle?” Good morning, sir. How may I help you?
“Tengo una reservación,” the man replied, in smooth unaccented Spanish, “Ken Tanasugarn.”
In an instant, her demeanor transformed into one of pure professionalism. Swiftly she completed the check-in procedure and handed him a key card.
“Top floor, Pasitos Suite. Disfrutar de su estancia, Don Ken.” Enjoy your stay.
“Bien.” His indifferent eyes passed over her as he handed his card to the bellhop, and turned to follow him to the bank of elevators located left of the reception desk.
Once the brass doors closed, the other receptionist hurried over to the first, to find out the identity of the handsome man who just entered their hotel.
“He’s a business tycoon from Thailand. Boss advised me that he would be arriving today. Very cold man, he doesn’t like the staff to be too friendly. I heard someone got fired during his last visit for trying to flirt with him.”
“Too bad. Good looking and rich, but who wants a man with a bad attitu…” The words dried up as they watched him walk away, the cut of his slacks tightening with each stride.
As they both watched his retreating back, they sighed in unison.
Ken yawned a little as he loosened his tie. On impulse, he strolled to the wall-to-wall glass windows, slid open the door, and walked onto the balcony. The Mediterranean Sea was a smooth azure expanse connected to land by a thin strip of sand. The groins made a zigzag pattern between blue and brown, with occasional puffs of sea-spray. The sky was still tinged with pink despite the rising sun, and he could see the demarcation where the sea and sky met on the horizon. It was both peaceful and somehow lonely.
He checked his watch. The meeting with the designer was scheduled for dinner time, so he had a few hours to himself, and on impulse, decided to change and check out the nearby area.
Barcelona, with its busy seaports and international airport, is a center of culture and trade in southwestern Europe, as well as an economic powerhouse. Like many major global cities, it is active twenty-four hours a day. But here at Diagonal Mar, life has a much slower pace. This early in the morning, the resort areas were all but deserted, and the businesses that cater to tourist just opening for another day.
Dressed in a gray t-shirt and pleated shorts, Ken stopped for a moment outside the hotel to breathe in the salt-scented air. It had been a while since he had been outside Bangkok, and he relaxed under the warming sun. He turned left from the hotel entrance, away from the International Convention Centre; after all, he would be there tomorrow for the fashion show. Instead, he strolled towards the nearby park.
The Parc de Diagonal Mar was a spectacular wedge of open space in the city, with long concrete benches resembling waves; thick exuberant plantings; and graceful wooden boardwalks. Built on the site of a former smelting plant, it was a cool oasis against the sun’s heat. As Ken walked past the twisting sculptures and immense flowerpots, he suddenly heard a female yell for help.
He hurried towards the sounds of struggle, and saw in the distance an older woman on the ground, clinging to a large bag that was being torn out of her hand by a thug in ripped jeans and a dirty brown t-shirt. He ran faster, hoping to get there in time.
Before he reached the struggling pair, a blur with auburn hair delivered a roundhouse kick to the stomach of the punk. He let out a grunt, dropped the bag and turned to this new threat.
“Puta!” he spit out, before pulling out a large knife from a holster at his waist. The young woman stayed just out of reach of his wild swings, balancing on brown leather boots, a half-smile on her face. A stream of insults flowed from her mouth as she insulted the punk, and Ken realized she was Thai.
“Look out!” he bellowed, momentarily distracting her; when she took her eyes off the thug, he lunged at her. She warded off the blow with her left arm, but a line of red rapidly soaked through the sleeve of her white blouse. She spun and delivered a well-practiced elbow to his nose. With a howl, he dropped the knife and fell to his knees, trying to staunch the blood pouring out of his broken nose.
Finally arriving, Ken easily subdued the now-sobbing man; he pushed him onto his chest and held him down with his knee across the shoulder blades. He pulled his phone out of his back pocket and dialed 112; in a low voice, he explained the situation and requested police response.
In the meantime, the young woman helped the older woman up and checked her for injuries. While brushing bits of grass off the woman’s dress, her rescuer smiled and nodded, but clearly didn’t understand Spanish.
“He could have hurt you, you know. Why did you…” Ken’s amused voice faltered as he noticed the red stain on her sleeve. He shifted, intending to go to her, but the pinned man started to struggle, and he had to focus to make sure he didn’t escape.
A few moments later, several uniformed officers arrived on scene. “Policia! Qué está pasando aquí?” Immediately, the other woman, with much gesticulation, began to explain the situation. One officer handcuffed the assailant, releasing Ken from his position. Straightaway, he strode over to the young woman. She had pulled back her sleeve to reveal a shallow cut about four centimeters long and slightly oozing.
He grabbed her arm to look more closely at the wound, only to have her pull away. He seized it back. “Be still and let me look.”
Roni could only stare at the forehead of the attractive man hunched over her arm. In the flurry of the fight, she didn’t even see him arrive, until his yell broke her concentration. She only had a moment to take in his face before the movement of the assailant brought her back to her present surroundings, almost too late to defend the slash to her face. And now she wanted to get a better look at his face.
“Are you Thai?” she asked, a bit unsteadily as the adrenaline wore off. He finally looked up at her, and her breath hitched for a moment. Full eyebrows arched over warm, brown eyes alight with a spark of intelligence, and strong jaw. The mouth quirked up in a crooked smile that somehow softened the perfection of his features. Her legs wobbled even more at his close proximity, and a moment later, he straightened up and led her to a nearby bench, carefully cradling her injured arm.
She felt better once she sat down, and blew out a quick breath before leaning over her lap. Now that the ordeal was over, she felt the need to contact her sister. Sri would have expected a phone call once she landed at El-Prat, but Roni had forgotten to do so once she cleared Customs, the lure of adventure too powerful. And now, hours later, she hadn’t made it to the hotel yet, intending to revisit some of the places she went to during her last trip to Barcelona. She hadn’t even picked up her rental vehicle yet.
Suddenly she felt something cool and wet pressed against her arm, and looked up to see her would-be rescuer with a wet cloth. The paramedics were standing next to him. Wow, so lost in her thoughts that she had forgotten the man sitting next to her.
“Thank you,” she said, wincing a little as the water stung her injury. By now the assailant was gone, dragged out of the park. When the police finished speaking to the victim, she walked over to the couple, still clutching her satchel. She sat on the other side of Roni, patted her uninjured arm and began talking.
“Gracias por venir en me auxilio. Llevo el regalo de cumpleaños de mi nieto en la bolsa y no quería dárselo a un ladron. Además, eres tan guapa que me gustaría presentarte a mi nieto. Acaba de cumplir 23 años y aún no tiene novia.”
Roni was at a loss until she heard a rumble against her ear.
“She is thanking you for saving her life and her handbag. She also says that you are beautiful and offers to take you to meet her grandson. He turned 23 today and doesn’t have a girlfriend yet.” The latter was delivered with a short laugh that tickled her ear.
“No no,” Roni reacted, making a warding gesture. Ken caught her arm before it swung out of reach and reapplied the cloth. “Gracias, no. Hey, khun,” she said, now addressing the man beside her. “Can you tell her I have an appointment that I can’t break?”
The man chuckled again, and began to translate. It seemed to take longer to explain than she expected, but it must have gone well, as the old woman burst out in a delighted chuckle, patted her arm again, and stood up to leave. Roni stood up as well, and gave her a hug. The woman returned the hug, smiled, and walked away.
Roni glared suspiciously to her right, sure this mysterious rescuer said more than what she requested. His face seemed calm but there was a devious twinkle in his eye. Before she could ask anything, he stood up. “Time to go to the hospital and get checked out.” He nodded to the paramedics and stepped back.
She protested. “I’m fine, it’s just a scratch.” She pulled away from the medics as they attempted to assist her to the nearby stretcher. “And I’m certainly not going in that thing!” The man just smiled and crossed his arms. She mimicked his stance, only to wince again as the wound rubbed the inside of her other arm. His smile slipped and he took a step forward; Roni took a step back away from him and stared him down. Finally, he gave a tiny shrug and turned to the medical crew; after a brief conversation, they started packing up their gear.
Roni relaxed, but it was short-lived.
“I promised them I would take you to the hospital instead.”
“You don’t have to do that, it’s only a small scratch. Besides, I don’t even know who you are.” She was feeling a bit defensive. Clearly, this man had a misplaced sense of responsibility. She tensed as he reached for the back pocket of his blue shorts, but he only extracted a wallet. Pulling out a business card, he handed it to her.
[Ratsadanupradit “Ken” Tanasugarn, CEO, Phra Kiao Hoteliers, Bangkok, Thailand]
Roni looked over the business card. It appeared to be legitimate, but looking at the casually-dressed man in front of her, it was hard to see him as a hi-so company elite. She tucked the card in the back pocket of her jeans, next to the airport locker key that held her luggage.
“Thank you for your help, Khun Ken, but I’m fine.”
He considered this for a moment. “Okay, how about this. We go to the hospital to ensure you don’t get an infection from whatever might have been on that knife. Besides, we still have to make a statement at the police station. It’s easier to stay together until all that is done.”
Roni checked her watch. This could take hours, and she needed to speak with her sister. She looked at her damaged, bloody sleeve and sighed. She glanced up at him and gave a calculating smile. “Can we make a stop at the airport first? I need to retrieve my things.” He gave a sharp nod and pointed out the direction to the park’s exit.
Like a row of silent soldiers, the mannequins stood vigil along the wall. Sri examined each one, making a slight adjustment here, picking off a tiny thread or bit of dust there. Her sharp eyes zeroed in on a part of a pha biang. The sash had a slight tear at the shoulder where a securing pin was located. It appeared that someone had pulled it, probably a small child.
Sighing, Sri picked up her kit of hand-spun silk threads, and, selecting the proper color and needle, swiftly repaired the cloth until the damage was barely noticeable. After final inspection, she collected her stuffs back into her repair kit, a small rolling suitcase specifically stocked for this museum.
She trundled back to the main office and parked the suitcase in its slot on the wall divider.
“Any problems, Khun Sri?” The older woman adjusted her glasses to look owlishly at the younger woman. Sri shook her head. “I repaired Number 9; all the others are fine.”
The curator nodded. “Kapkun, Khun Sri. Thank you for your assistance. When are you leaving for your show?”
Sri felt a shiver of excitement. “In two days. I want to get there ahead of time to make sure that everything arrives and is ready in time.” Although only a small part of the international fashion showcase, she wanted to be sure the crowd could see her creations to the fullest. She picked up her bag, and wei’d before leaving.
“Good luck, dear!” The woman called out to the figure hurrying away.
Sri walked into the cavernous banquet hall at the International Convention Centre. The curvilinear roof flowed along one wall until it met the wooden parquet floor, giving the feel of a boat keel. The other wall was all glass, giving the visitor a spectacular view of the seashore. Sri looked at her tablet, which contained the plans for the catwalks and viewing areas. There would be approximately eight separate designers participating in this show. In two days, the space would be filled with glitter and noise, beautiful clothes, media, and most importantly, representatives from various department stores and countries. She hoped they would appreciate her designs, which were modern and clean, but distinctly Thai. She walked over to Sala 211, which would be a shared staging area, and started planning the location of all her items in her designated area.
She was almost done when her phone gave off a soft chime. She smiled when she saw the name, and answered it.
“Dean. Good evening.” Her smile slid off when she heard the faint but distinct sounds of a nightclub through the earpiece.
“Hey, babe. I just wanted to tell you that I’m flying in tomorrow for the big bash.” His words were slightly slurred, and Sri knew that he had broken his promise yet again to her to straighten out his lifestyle. She resisted the urge to admonish him; it would do no good while he was drinking. She knew this well from their two years together, although it seemed to have worsened.
“Everything is under control, Dean. It’s not necessary that you be here.” Despite her feelings for him, his unpredictable mood swings and behavior were straining their relationship. Sometimes helpful and knowledgeable, sometimes off-putting. She used his costume jewelry in her lines, but never his fabrics or accessories. They always appeared a little shoddy, and he was vague where they were manufactured. She wanted to know the shops and individuals that supplied her textiles, and she would never budge on that.
After a few interminable minutes, she finally disconnected the phone and sighed. Recently Dean had been pressuring her to agree to a more physical connection, but she didn’t feel comfortable about it. With her refusal, her boyfriend had become distant, and she no longer trusted their time together.
Just then, her phone rang again. She looked at the screen, this time lighting up her face. “Hello, my sister. Did you make it safely here?”
The voice on the other side sounded calm, almost too calm to be her sister. “Yes, I’m in the city. I’m going to take in a few sights and meet you at the hotel later, okay?”
“What’s wrong, Roni?” Sri demanded, feeling something strange. The connection with her twin sister felt like there was a problem of some sort. She also knew that her younger sister wouldn’t admit to anything unless she was under torture. True to form, her sister glossed over.
“Nothing, Nosey. There’s a delay in securing my wheels, so I’m going to go to the markets at Les Rambles and get something to eat. I’ll be at the hotel later.”
Sri wasn’t appeased, but she knew she would have to wait until they were face-to-face. “Okay, then, I’ll see you soon. Don’t forget that I have an appointment with a potential buyer this evening. I’ve left a hotel key under your name at the front desk. Don’t go anywhere dangerous, okay? You don’t know the language here.”
“Chai chai, yes yes. I will be careful, Mom.” Her sister chuckled before the line went dead. Sri shook her head at her incorrigible sibling before turning back to the task at hand.
At the Hospital Clinic i Provincial de Barcelona, Roni tucked her phone back into a side pocket on her black backpack, and looked at her bandaged arm. The doctor had determined no stitches were needed, but closed it using steri-strips. He explained they would fall off naturally after about a week; in the meantime, the bandage covering the wound needed to be changed regularly.
Now she was just waiting for her ersatz hero to pick up the supplies and pay the hospital fees. She was annoyed at Khun Ken’s insistence to pay for everything, but at least it gave her a chance to catch up with her sister and defuse any potential fallout from her misadventures.
Roni surreptitiously watched as he walked towards her from the cashier’s office. His long legs, lightly dusted with hair, had well-defined muscles which showed that he was physically active. Almost involuntarily, her eyes traveled upwards, past the grey t-shirt that clearly outlined his chest, before colliding with those dark eyes. Although his face was impassive, she felt his amusement at her blatant perusal.
She stood up before he reached her bank of chairs. The man towered over her, easily 180cm to her 171cm, and she felt she needed every advantage possible. Smiling slightly, she accepted the white paper bag.
“Kapkun, Khun Ken,” she began, “I appreciate your help. Enjoy the rest of your time in Barcelona.” She turned to head for the exit, when he reached out and caught her elbow.
“Aren’t we going to Les Rambles to find something to eat, Khun Charonsri?”
Ken looked down at the young woman, her eyes wide with surprise for only a moment before they changed to cool indifference. When he helped her into his car to go to the hospital, she seemed small, almost tiny, and so much different from the avenging fighter that took on a mugger.
Now, with a more self-assured mien, she clearly was a confident individual. Her well-worn jeans hugged curves that were surprisingly generous. His body stirred when he remembered how the firmness of her waist felt beneath his hand. But now, her prickly exterior was even more intriguing. He wanted to spend more time with her, and, after overhearing the end of her conversation with her mother, he came up with a plan.
“Call me Roni. Everybody does. And don’t you have someplace to go?” The voice was smooth and musical, with a husky tone at odds with the woman’s appearance. She reached down to pick up her battered duffel bag, but he already anticipated her actions. Ken reached the bag several seconds before she did, and caught the flash of irritation in her eyes as he straightened up with the handles in his hand.
“I have a dinner meeting but no plans for now. Why don’t we go eat and explore together? I can drop you off at your hotel when we are done.” Expecting her reaction, he simply turned and headed for the exit. He heard a single, distinct Thai curse, and smiled when the sound of boot heels hurried behind him.
He had already put her belongings in the trunk when she caught up to him.
“Hey, khun, do you really want to chauffeur me around Barcelona for the afternoon? After all, we are only strangers stuck together because of a situation.” Her puzzled look was adorable and took him off guard. She was so unaffected and natural, did she not know how striking she was?
“It’s not often I meet a fellow Thai in a different country. I think we can enjoy each other’s company a bit longer, unless there is someone waiting for you?” The last ended on a question, and Ken held his breath for the answer.
She nodded. “There is, but that person won’t be available until later tonight, so there is nothing pressing right now.”
Ken felt a stab of disappointment. Of course a woman like her would already have someone. Still, she didn’t seem unwilling to spend time in his company, and that was enough to lift his spirits a little. “Then let’s go see the sights.”
Les Rambles is a series of streets in Barcelona, once a sewer-filled riverbed, and now a long avenue of fountains, religious sites, flower markets, artsy stores, cafes, and food stalls.
Roni loved the colors and movements along the avenue. She flitted wherever her heart took her, followed by her companion, who never complained when she suddenly turned into another shop or down a side street. At the Plaça Reial, they finally sat down at a pub and ordered the local cuisine. The waiter brought out a basket of pa amb tomaquèt; she grabbed the first piece, drizzled a bit of olive oil from a nearby decanter, and popped it into her mouth.
Her knight for the day calmly took a small piece of the bread and nibbled. She wondered what it would take to surprise him. Or make him smile.
“Have you ever been to Barcelona before, Khun Ken?” she asked. He nodded, still chewing thoughtfully.
“Approximately two years ago, I was here for an international conference for a week.” Well, that certainly sounded a bit stuffy, Roni secretly snickered. His eyes sharpened at the mirth she tried to hide. “Have you ever visited here?”
“Yes, about five years ago, when I studied for eight weeks at the Guttman Institute. That’s a hospital for neurorehabilitation and spinal cord injuries. I’m a physical therapist at a hospital in Bangkok.”
His eyebrows raised. Aha, Roni, thought, so that’s his startled look. It was boyish and charming, making him even more interesting. Roni wondered if he had a significant other in his life, but promptly dismissed the thought. They would probably never meet again after today. Despite the information he wrote on his business card, she had no intention of seeking him out. The rest of her time here would be spent with her sister.
“That must be very rewarding.”
“Rewarding. And hard. And sometimes sad. But I really enjoy what I do. And being a CEO, you must be good at what you do. You are even good at rescuing damsels in distress.”
He looked over his glass of water, those warm eyes steady. “I don’t think you were ever in distress, Khun Charonsri.”
Roni’s heart felt a little flutter as he continued. “As you said before about your employment, it can be rewarding, and hard. And even, sometimes sad.” He put down the glass, but left his hand on the burgundy tablecloth, almost in invitation.
Roni felt as if a connection had been forged; she felt unsure and almost shy. What was she feeling? Before she could answer, the beaming waitress stopped by with their orders. Once their steaming bowls of fideuà, arrived, they ate companionably in silence, and Roni dismissed those fleeting feelings.
“That was excellent,” the young woman sighed as they stepped back into the light. Noticing the shadows, she checked her watch in alarm. “Oh, I have to get to the shop before it closes!”
Ken also looked down at his watch, amazed that they had spent the better part of three hours together. The time seemed to barely pass for him. Charonsri was a fun companion, and had a childlike pleasure in their stroll through the tree-lined markets. No wonder she was strong and capable during the morning’s incident. Working in a physically demanding job must hone her muscles.
“Where should I take you now?” he asked, and she rattled off a nearby address. He handed her into the car and negotiated the narrow streets of El Raval towards her destination.
“Just drop me off here,” Roni commanded, looking out the window. Ken obligingly pulled to the curb in front of the Renaissance Hotel Barcelona.
“Are you sure this is the correct hotel?” he asked. The hotel was one of the 5 star establishments along the Carrer de Pau Claris. With her scruffy belongings, this woman didn’t look like she belonged in a place like this. Or could afford to stay here, for that matter.
“Yes.” She firmly said, “Please pop the trunk so I can get my things.” He pressed the button on the dashboard as she was opening the passenger door. He barely made it out of the car before she had pulled her duffel out of his trunk. He stood in front of her for a moment, indecisive. Now that she was in a hurry, he wanted to keep her with him a bit longer.
“Where is my business card?” he asked. Roni pulled it out of her back pocket and handed it to him. His fingers tingled as his mind registered the warmth of the paper. Pushing that aside, he quickly wrote his hotel information on the back. “I will be in town for two more days. If you need anything, please let me know.” He gave it back, their fingers brushing. She calmly took possession and tucked it back into her pocket. Did she feel any of the sizzle between them?
“Kapkun kaa, Khun Ken. It’s been…” her eyes danced for a moment, and he was caught by her smile. “…interesting.” He gave a nod and stood there until she entered the revolving door. Through the glass, he saw her head to the reception desk. With a final glance, he climbed back into the car to head to his hotel and prepare for his dinner meeting.
Inside the hotel, Roni chatted in English with the receptionist, looking at the reflection in the shiny brass wall behind the check-in desk. When she saw the car finally drive away, she thanked the woman for her directions, left the hotel, and headed out the short distance to her real destination.
Posted on November 6, 2016, in enTWINed: A Thai Fanfiction (NaNoWriMo 2016), Lakorn Information, Original Short Stories and tagged ธีรเดช วงศ์พัวพันธ์, เข็มอัปสร สิริสุขะ, เจษฎาภรณ์ ผลดี, Cherry Khemapsorn, fanfiction, Jesadaporn Pholdee, ken theeradeth, Khemapsorn Sirisukha, nanowrimo, Thailand, Theeradeth Wonpuapan, Tik Jesadaporn. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.