enTWINed – Ch 5 & 6 (A Thai Fanfic)
We now begin Sri’s entrance into international fashion. It’s just a small showcase, what could go wrong?
NOTE: I have included some photographs at the end of the post to better explain the descriptions of the outfits worn during the showcase.
The runway was a gray slash cutting through the throngs awaiting the fashion show. Klieg lights lined the walls, waiting to spotlight the stage. Outside on the balcony, refreshments were arranged on tiers of white-covered tables. People milled around, alternately admiring and envying each other. The chairs at the VIP section as well as the stands at the far end of the catwalk were gradually filling with the chattering crowd.
Backstage, the chaos was even more pronounced as models scurried between dressing areas. Sri was critically checking a model, adjusting the fall of her teal lace sleeves, when Roni came out through the changing curtain.
“Are you sure you made this for me, P’Sri?” she griped. “Why do I get stuck with the wedding dress?” She felt like she could barely breathe in the outfit. She touched her hair, artfully upswept into a traditional bun, with a cascade of ivory orchids with gold accents and tiny jasmine flowers falling past her right ear.
“Because it’s my finale dress, and you are by far the best person for it.” Sri spoke grimly. “And besides, you owe me for causing me more work.” She turned and inspected the rose silk wrap concealing the bandages. Several strands of white jasmine were entwined around the cloth to secure it and hide the last-minute stitching on the silk armband.
Roni sighed. Her sibling was still upset over the events of yesterday. “It’s not like I meant to do that.” She grumbled half-heartedly. Sri threw her a sharp look and she subsided.
A backstage assistant hurried by. “Khun Sri, you are scheduled to begin in fifteen minutes.” She waited a moment for acknowledgement before scurrying off. The music from the stage swelled with an epic tone as Sri began lining up her models, male and female, making tiny changes.
Then with a deep breath, she smoothed her phasin-inspired skirt. “It’s time.”
Ken was a little bored with the show. Before he sat down, he was accosted by several women, clearly seeing dollar signs in his tailored suit and watch. To avoid the gold diggers, he was forced to enter the VIP section, which was less crowded but also where he felt compelled to make small talk until the show began.
Three designers had finished their showcases, and most of the designs showed too much skin for his liking. He checked his program; Chanongsri’s designs were next.
The music changed to Pleng Thai Sakorn, with its integration of Thai melodies and western classical music, and Ken sat up, anticipating the first model.
One by one they marched out, to strut down the length of the walkway and circle back. There were modern variations on the sarong and pakama, flirty mid-length dresses with peephole waistlines, and several skirts based on phasin patterns, but with a looser style. The men’s outfits were more striking, especially one with Hill Tribe-inspired short pants and a patterned short jacket of orange and purple.
The music changed when the final male model came out, with the introduction of indigenous flutes and other instruments. The final male model was in a wedding attire consisting of deep blue chong kraben pants and a cream-colored Nehru-style jacket with silver cuffs.
The model paused for a moment, then turned around and held out his hand. The woman who stepped out from the side of the stage was breathtaking.
Her top was the same fabric as the male model’s, but tightly fitted to her body. The curved diagonal lines of the ruching, with the wider final pleat, gave the appearance of a sash. Her floor-length phanung was shimmering silver silk, drawing the eye to her hourglass shape. Over the left shoulder, a fall of cream silk lined in pale rose brushed the floor. A golden takrut at her waist demarcated the two different fabrics. The nanang was a fanshape of matching rose fabric at the hip level.
After taking in the outfit, Ken finally looked at the model, and in an instant was transfixed. With complete certainty, he knew she was the tomboy twin. Her slight smile was fixed in place as she placed her palm in the man’s hand and they began a slow, measured walk down the aisle.
Roni could barely see for the bursts of intense light as photographers documented her progress. Her partner gave her a reassuring squeeze. They finally made it to the end of the walkway, and paused for a moment before turning. On the way back she felt a tingling on her back, as if she was being watched. But who could cause that?
Ken could not take his eyes off Charonsri as she paraded past him a second time. The wedding dress seemed tailor-made for her, and again he wondered if she had a boyfriend or significant other. Did her sister design the dress with a particular man in mind? His throat closed up a little at the thought.
Roni was thankful the end was near. She and Khun Pomkiat reached the other models waiting on stage to give the audience a final look at all her sister’s designs. From the enthusiastic sounds of the crowd and the number of camera flashes, she concluded P’Sri’s designs were well-received.
Her sister came out, dressed in one of her designs, and stood beside her. Roni immediately started clapping and the other models joined in. Sri grinned and bowed to the crowd before hugging her sister, so proud of her accomplishments.
Ken could not help but admire how the two of them looked together, so alike and yet not, but both glowing with happiness. He caught the younger sister’s eye and gave her a smile and subtle thumbs up. She blushed before turning her head, and he grinned harder before turning around to work his way out of the pressing crowd.
The stage manager waved them offstage to prepare for the next designer, so Roni helped herd their group behind the curtain. Once they were in their changing room, everyone broke out into excited chatter as they began removing their finery. Sri and her assistant hurried to collect and rehang her clothing before the models began the process of dismantling their hair and removing their makeup.
Roni was ready to peel the dress off when one of the models exclaimed, “Oh no, my necklace! It must have fallen off out there.” Since Sri was busy, and she was the only one still fully clothed, Roni volunteered to go look for it.
Ken was leaning against the wooden wall, out of the way but within eye-shot of the stage when he saw a side door open, and the woman plaguing his thoughts stepped out. Once again his breath seemed to stop and almost without thinking, he pushed away from the wall and headed towards her.
Roni was squinting around, trying to see how she could walk to the runway without disrupting the current showcase when a familiar rumble caught her ear.
“You look like you are getting ready to elope. Do you have a groom in mind?”
She abruptly turned and caught her heel on the edge of her floor length shoulder drape. A sudden arm around her waist kept her from tripping, but let go once she was steady on her feet.
“Khun Ken!” she whispered fiercely. “What are you doing?”
“Apparently playing the hero again, Khun Charonsri.” He gave a huff of amusement and bowed. “May I be of some service? Other than being the groom, of course. Unless you ask nicely.” His laughing eyes danced over her seething ones.
This was the person her sister described as businesslike and cold? Roni decided to opt for a haughty tone. “It appears one of the models lost her necklace, and I wanted to see if I could sneak through the crowd and look for it.”
Ken noticed other men watching her admiringly, and decided to take things into his own hands. Grabbing her elbow he ushered her back towards the double doors she came through.
“I’ll look for it for you. You stand out too much in that gorgeous dress, Beautiful. What does the necklace look like?” Roni’s eyes widened, and he took satisfaction in their confusion. It appeared that she was not used to compliments like this; he made note of this.
A split second later, she tried to dig her heels in, but he completely disregarded her actions. Once by the door he released her elbow so she could look at him. “What does it look like?”
She gave in, still off balance at the endearment. “Fine, it’s 51 cm long, red braided cording with embedded Chinese good luck coins and a small elephant pendant in brass.” Ken nodded sharply, then reached towards her shoulder. She flinched, but all he did was pluck a fallen jasmine flower from a curl of her hair.
“Go change,” he murmured, “And I’ll take care of this for you.” A second later he was striding away. Roni watched his retreating back for a moment before slipping behind the door.
Ken did not trust himself not to look back and not want to touch her. The feel of the silky fabric, warm from her body heat, had dazed him with a sudden shock of awareness. His hand could still remember the curve of her waist, and he gripped it into a fist.
First things first. He slipped through the partition separating backstage from the banquet hall and scanned for a stagehand, ignoring the titters and sighing of the models looking at him. He spotted a young man with a headset and radio, and gestured him closer. After he described the missing item, the young man nodded and spoke for a moment into the microphone. A short while later, a woman dressed in black pants and shirt hurried over with the jewelry piece dangling from her hand. Ken accepted it and thanked the pair. Success!
By the time he reached the doors again, Sri was coming out, still dressed in her outfit. Ken smiled and gave her the necklace.
“Kapkunkaa,” Sri thanked with a smile, “My boyfriend would have been upset to know that one of his pieces was lost. Excuse me, Khun Ken, I need to return and finish packing my items.” At his nod, she smiled and closed the door behind her.
Ken decided to stay at the show for a while longer. He walked through the glass doors to the large balcony outside, and picked up a glass of white wine. With the doors closed, the sounds of the event were muted. He walked to the edge and breathed in the cool night air, still scented with a touch of the sea.
His glass was eventually empty. As he turned back to the damask-covered tables, from the corner of his eye, he spotted some type of commotion inside. Through the distortion of the glass, he saw a flash of auburn hair, and instinctively knew who that was. Placing his glass on the table, he hurried back inside.
Roni was more than angry as she stood beside her sister, who was staring, horrified, at a disheveled man stumbling towards them. What was he doing here?!
“Sawasdee krup, tee rak!” he slurred, attempting to drape his arm around Sri’s shoulders. But he lurched and grabbed her sleeve instead. There was an audible tearing sound as her arm was bared to the wrist.
Heedless of how it would look, Roni used all her strength to shove the man away. He fell backwards onto his rear end as the gathering crowd opened up and several security officers reached them.
Ken pushed through the increasing throngs to where the two women stood. “What happened here?”
Roni tossed her hair back. “Her damned boyfriend showed up drunk and started making a ruckus. P’Sri tried to calm him down, but he just got louder and louder. I don’t even know how he got here.”
By now the man had gained his feet, but swayed as he looked owlishly at Roni. “Damn, bitch, you need to show me some respect!” He swung wildly at Roni, who was bracing Sri and couldn’t dodge. She closed her eyes, turned away as best as she could and waited for the slap.
She heard a thump and groan, and opened her eyes to find the bastard face down on the carpet, with Ken holding him down.
Even in this moment, Ken could not help but cheekily say, “This seems very familiar to me.”
Roni gave him a tremulous smile that told him how close she was to losing control of her emotions. He nodded to the security guards, who grabbed the prone man from the floor and hustled him away.
“Are you two okay?” Roni looked at him, her stormy eyes giving him a look of gratitude. She nodded.
“We are fine, but I’m going to take my sister out of here and back to our dressing room. Can you talk to them for me?” The other woman was silent, almost frozen as she used her hand to hold her torn sleeve in place. Roni patted her on the back, jerked a quick bow to Ken, and gently led her back behind the stage and out of the crowd.
Other workers started to restore order, but Ken did not wait to see if everything was smoothed over. He strode towards the rear doors where the security guards had headed. Something about that man looked vaguely familiar, and he was angry that the Nopphadaras had to endure such a spectacle.
He followed the sounds of struggling, and sure enough, the security team was trying to subdue him. The man looked at Ken and broke into a toothy grin, no longer swinging his arms around.
“Hey Ken! Old buddy. Can you tell these goons to leave me alone? I wanna go see my girlfriend. I own her company, so it’s only right I share the spotlight too!”
Ken curled his lip. Dean. The worst bully at university, recognizable even though five years had gone by since he had last seen him.
Dean Nawapol Namkang. The braggart’s D&G suit was badly wrinkled. An image that was incongruous with how Ken remembered him. He was always impeccably dressed at school; the cronies in his group always did his dirty work for him.
After identifying himself to security, he squatted down to be eye-level with Dean. The drunk flashed those perfectly-capped teeth again. “Heard you finally took over after your dad died. Must be pretty choice just walking right into the big office, nice and easy.”
Ken refused to be riled up. Those long dark days when he was trying to hold onto an organization that did not welcome a newly-graduated young man as a potential successor. He couldn’t mourn his father properly during that time, because of the battles to hold everything together. He worked long and hard to take the reins of his father’s company, and he was proud of his efforts.
“We seem to have a problem, though, Dean. Your disruption and your assault on Khun Chamnongsri will not be taken lightly by the police here.”
“I didn’t assault her! I went to hug her and I tripped. You’ll see. We are partners in everything, including her store. She loves me, and won’t let me stay locked up. Let go!” As he realized he was being held, he started struggling again, but by now the police had arrived, and a second later he was handcuffed. Ken spoke briefly with the security guards.
“Ell serà arrestat per pertorbar la pau i agresión con agravantes. Les víctimes hauran d’anar a la comissaria de policia i fer una declaració.” He will be arrested for disturbing the peace and assault on a person. The victims will have to go to the police station and make a statement.
“Informe a la policia prendré que el departament de policia tan aviat com hagin acabat el seu treball aquí.” Please tell the police I will take them to the police department as soon as they have finished their work here.
He handed out his business cards.
“No dubti en posar en contacte amb mi per a qualsevol pregunta.” Feel free to contact me for any questions.
Roni and Sri went through the motions of carefully packing away the clothes and accessories. The convention centre couriers were scheduled to pick them up at midnight for delivery to the shipping company. Everything needed to be correctly labelled and prepped for transportation back to Thailand.
The models had already been dismissed, so the work went swiftly and uninterrupted. As the final box was sealed, Roni sighed and collapsed tiredly into the nearest chair. “What a night, P’Sri. Why was he here?”
Sri blew out her breath. “I don’t know. I told him not to come, but he showed up anyway.”
Roni decided this was as good a time as any. “I think you need to dump him. He has been nothing but trouble for you recently.” Her tone was firm. “He’s too secretive. Has he been cheating on you?”
“Nong,” Sri chided. “He’s been good to me. He’s just….going through a slump right now.” The excuse sounded lame even to her ears, and after this fiasco she intended to find some time to think about what she wanted in the relationship. “Don’t worry, Roni, after this he is definitely in trouble with me.”
That was about all that Roni could hope for from her patient, forbearing sister. Standing back up, she clapped Sri on the back. “Come on, P’. I’m exhausted, so you must be too. Let’s just go back to our hotel and put all this unpleasantness behind us.” Sri looked ready to argue, but Roni just turned away to hunt for the exit.
Ken was pacing outside the venue. Only a few people strolled along the sidewalks, since the majority of the showcase’s patrons had left already. Well, except for those two troublesome sisters. He had promised the police that he would deliver them to the precinct to take statements for Khun Nawapol Namkang.
The side door of the building creaked open, and the two women emerged. Both appeared calm on the surface, but Roni’s hand was tightly fisted.
“Khun Ken,” Sri asked in surprise. “What are you doing here? It’s only a short walk to our hotel from here.”
“I’ve come to take you to the police department so you can give a statement regarding what happened tonight.”
Her brow furrowed. “He was arrested? I thought they just removed him from the venue.”
Ken snorted. “Maybe at first, Khun Sri, but then he assaulted you. And several members of the security team. That made a bigger problem for him.”
“Good”, Roni muttered, “Let him stay there for a while.” She winced as her sister elbowed her ribs; Ken hid a smile.
“I offer my services both as shuttle and interpreter, if you would like. The sooner we go, the sooner all this unpleasantness will be gone.” He reached out and grabbed Roni’s wrist, pulling her towards him. “Khun Roni can sit up front and help me navigate.” He used his hands to massage and loosen her fist. Walking around her, he opened the rear passenger door. “Khun Sri,” he invited.
Both of them looked unwilling to go with him, until, with a sigh, Sri nodded and folded herself into the back. Once the door was closed, he turned back to look at the other twin standing on the sidewalk. A moment later, she stomped the few steps to the vehicle and climbed in. He slid behind the wheel, and tried not to laugh at the mulish expression of his front seat companion.
They were quickly ushered into a corner of the crowded room. An older officer sat behind the desk. Ken sat down in a chair, prepared to translate.
The two women sat down as well, but the older one was nervously perched at the edge of her chair as if she was ready to fly up. Roni reached over and grabbed Sri’s hand.
“Do you know the accused, Doña Sri?” The officer’s eyes were kind but sharp.
“Yes.” Sri paused for a moment, then said, “He is my boyfriend. He didn’t attack me, he just tripped and fell.” Ken stopped as the younger one rounded on her sibling.
Roni exclaimed, “P’Sri! What are you doing?! Are you going to forgive him for this? After everything he did? Just leave him here.”
“I’m not forgiving him, but I don’t want to see him in jail here. We can resolve this at home, Nong.”
Since Ken did not translate their conversation, after a pause the officer went on with his questioning. Once the questioning resumed, the conversation smoothly flowed between the people in the room.
“Witnesses stated he forced his way into the event, and was verbally and physically aggressive towards you and several patrons. Can you tell me what he did?”
Sri looked down at her hands, clasped tightly together. Hesitantly, she began. “I think perhaps he had too much to drink, but he’s not normally that way.” She quickly reached out and grabbed her sister’s, squeezing it in warning. After a moment she continued.
“He is a partner and co-owner in my business, so he had a right to be at the showcase. I did not expect him to be here because he was in Thailand when I spoke to him several days ago. I’m sure he just wanted to surprise me.”
“Doña Sri, I understand your clothes were damaged in the altercation, and security guards were forced to subdue him in order to prevent further aggressive behavior.”
She let go of Roni’s hand. “He didn’t hurt me, and I have no intention of pressing charges. In fact, I respectfully request that he be released.”
“P’Sri!” Roni hissed, clearly angry. She flicked her eyes to the police officer. “I can’t believe you!”
Ken was taken aback. It seems that man’s boasting was in fact true. If he was the true owner of of Khun Sri’s business, there was no way he was willing to be contractually bound to Dean. There were a lot of rumors of shady dealing and dubious business practices, too many not to have some truth behind them.
Roni was all but vibrating with fury, barely contained in her seat. The officer’s eyes cooled, but Sri’s back was straight and her voice was steady.
“I know he is sorry for everything that occurred tonight, and I know he will provide restitution for any damages and injuries.”
The officer shook his head. “That is not possible, Doña Sri. Although we cannot force you to bring charges on this man, he already has charges levied against him for fighting with security and law enforcement. I’m afraid he will be remanded at least overnight until he can go before a judge and post bail.”
Sri looked stricken, Roni triumphant. Ken looked at the two tense women and felt an almost overpowering need to take care of them, despite the situation and Khun Sri’s attempt to protect this loser. But what could he do? Despite that tug of awareness with the younger sibling, he had neither a business nor a personal relationship with either woman. With the exception of his assistance now, he had no real right to get involved with this situation.
After a few more perfunctory questions, the interview was over. The officer made sure he had the correct contact information, and ushered the trio out to the precinct lobby.
Outside the police station, Ken decided it would be best to explain his decision to the Nopphadaras. He bowed and began to speak formally.
“I’m afraid I must rescind my tentative offer for now. There is more investigation required before a determination can be made for the renovation project. I hope you understand my reservations.” Ken felt more uncomfortable than he ever had, looking at these two women. One set of eyes were in shock; the other set were laser beams of anger zeroed in on him like a guided missile.
Roni took a step back, her sister’s confusion fueling her own swirling feelings of disgust and fury. “So, because of what happened tonight, you have decided we are untrustworthy.”
Ken shook his head, annoyed. “It’s not exactly that. But this is projected to cost over 36 million baht, and you must understand my caution. It is strictly a business decision.”
“Your caution? Business? You would believe what that man said over the woman whose integrity you have already researched. You will go back on your promise on little more than the words of a drunk bastard.” Roni snarled.
Ken tried to placate Roni. “Please allow me to drive you back to your hotel. That way you can calm down and we can talk rationally on the way.” He reached out his arm, intending to take her hand, but she stepped out of his reach, cradling her sister.
“You stay away from me. Stay away from my sister. And don’t you ever darken our doorstep, Khun Ken.” With a final, scathing glance, she walked past him down the precinct steps, and hailed a passing cab. He stood there, powerless to stop them as they drove away.
Roni was steaming mad at the nerve of that man, but she made sure to gently push Sri to the little office chair in their room. Her sister had said little during the drive back from the police.
She went into the bathroom and brought out a warm damp cloth. Sri was sitting on the edge of the bed, wiping her eyes. Roni knelt on the carpet, intending to clean the tear streaks.
“I’m alright.” Sri murmured, but took the cloth to rub it across her face. She gave a lopsided smile. “I bet my mascara smeared to make me look like a panda.”
Roni put her hand on her sister’s knee. “Oh, P’Sri, I’m so sorry.” She rested her cheek against Sri’s leg, and drew strength when her older sister stroked her hair. “I can’t figure out why that man showed up. Did you ask him to come?”
Sri gave her twin’s head a final pat, then continued cleaning her face. “No, I told him to stay in Krunthep, but I guess he decided to come and support me.” She gave a hollow laugh. “What a support.” Roni reached up and the two of them hugged.
At his hotel, Ken threw his jacket onto the bed in disgust and yanked off his tie. There was nothing wrong in what he did; it should be perfectly clear that his actions did not really have anything to do with the two of them. His mind flashed back to those stricken faces, and he waved his hands to dispel the image. Muttering, he stomped over to the suite’s minibar and poured two fingers of whisky into a crystal snifter. He downed it in a single shot; the burn caused his eyes to water but did not clear his mind.
On impulse, he dialed the other hotel, only to be told that there was a “Do Not Disturb” stop on all incoming calls to that room.
“That’s it, then.” He said out loud. His voice did not sound like his though. Maybe it was the lump in his throat. He poured another drink, determined to annihilate his misgivings.
Roni was bleary-eyed the following morning. The events of the evening before prevented any sleep. Instead, before the sun was more than a faint pink on the horizon, the two of the them were fully dressed and packed. She had dropped the motorcycle off at the rental company before the showcase, anticipating little chance to take another trip around the city.
Stifling a yawn, she took one last look around the hotel room. “Let’s go, P’Sri. Forgive me if I hope we never come back here.”
Sri gave a sad smile. “Still, I’m going to consider this a success, despite everything. I made several contacts that may pan out, even if the one, um, offer was rescinded.”
“Hmph. Well, anyway, I’ll have to go straight back to work as soon as we get home. Dr Cass has already texted me about a couple of tough cases she wants me to look at.”
Sri stopped and put a hand on her sister’s shoulder. “Don’t wear yourself out the moment we get home. Your arm still needs to heal, you know.”
“I know I know. And it’s just a couple of consults for now, P’Sri. I promise I won’t overextend myself. But I will be ecstatic to be back on Thai soil.”
Together the two trundled their suitcases out and shut the door behind them.
The ringing of the phone awoke him from deep slumber. Disoriented for a moment, he blinked several times until the richly furnished but impersonal room came into view. He lifted the handset and mumbled a greeting.
“Buenos días, Don Ken. Le llamo para recordarle que la limusina del hotel lo recogerá a las 7:45 para llevarlo al aeropuerto a tiempo para su vuelo de las 8:30”
Good morning, Mr Ken. This is a reminder that the hotel limousine will pick you up at 7:45 to transport you to the airport.
Ken looked at his watch on the nightstand next to a near-empty whisky bottle and sighed. He had an hour to pull himself together and pack.
“Gracias.” He managed to mumble. Once the phone was back in the cradle he pulled off the comforter and sat up, the stale taste in his mouth reminding him of his drinking spree the night before. He rubbed his face and got up to start his day.
Ken nodded to the flight attendant and handed his briefcase to her. She led him to his seat in the first class section of the Airbus and stored his belongings in the side compartment. “Would you like something to drink?”
He shook his head. “Not at the moment, kapkunkrup.”
She wai’d and left his area, and he sat down into the deep leather chair with a sigh. He did not sleep until late in the night, haunted by a certain pair of accusing eyes. Was he wrong in cancelling his offer to Chamnongsri Nopphadara? Thinking, he pulled his phone out and dialed his assistant. “I need you to review the information on Nopphadara Fashions to see if there are any lienholders or other partners in the business.”
He turned off his phone and resolutely laid back in the soft airplane seat, anticipating his arrival back home.
Posted on November 26, 2016, in enTWINed: A Thai Fanfiction (NaNoWriMo 2016), Lakorn Information, My Fan-Fictions and Novels and tagged ธีรเดช วงศ์พัวพันธ์, เข็มอัปสร สิริสุขะ, เจษฎาภรณ์ ผลดี, Cherry Khemapsorn, fanfic, fanfiction, ken theeradeth, Thailand, Tik Jesadaporn. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.