“Chapter 1”

She gracefully lowered herself into a seat facing him and began to sip her coffee and nibble a rice cake. ‘So what is happening in your life now Mai?’ he asked.

Placing her coffee carefully back on the table she daintily wiped a speck of rice from her lips. ‘For a start Mr Steve, I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity of staying here with Mrs Linh, she has been like a mother to me.’

Mai’s parents had been killed in the war and from an early age she had been cared for by Mr Loc until he died. The intelligence and command of English of this sweet young provincial girl had impressed Conway so much, he organized for her to come to Saigon to live and study with Mrs Linh, a wealthy and well-connected widow.

‘She has been so kind,’ continued Mai, ‘she paid for further English lessons at the best school in Saigon then registered me at a well-regarded hospitality college where I graduated with honours and am now at the National University where I am in my second year of a double degree in Foreign Languages and Economics.’

Conway’s eyebrows shot up. ‘Phew, you must be a very busy girl indeed. I am so happy to hear this. I knew Mrs Linh would take good care of you.’

She leaned over and touched his left hand. Conway glanced down at the beautifully manicured slim fingers then back up into those lovely dark eyes. What he saw there constricted his throat. He swallowed to cover his feelings and took another sip of coffee.

She continued to let her hand rest on his. ‘Do you remember what happened the last time we met?’ Her voice almost a whisper.

He put his cup down beside hers.

‘Yes I do.’

We kissed,’ she said, lowering her head.

He nodded slowly and said nothing.

‘I cherished that kiss so much. That afternoon I watched you walk away across the rice fields till you were almost out of sight. I watched you get into that taxi and drive away. I cried myself to sleep that night because I believed I would never see you again. I can’t believe you are sitting here in front me now, I am so happy.’

Conway looked at her not knowing what to say. Tears were welling again in her eyes. He reached for her and she did not resist. His true feelings for this beautiful young woman which he had always kept hidden, now surged to the surface.

‘Oh Mai.’

The kiss opened the floodgates of their true feelings for each other and became one of unbridled passion. It was a long time before they broke the embrace and stood back facing each other gasping for breath. She threw herself back into his arms and there they remained until he finally disengaged himself. ‘I should go now,’ he said quietly, ‘I will see you tomorrow night at 8pm in the Rex lobby.’

‘Yes, of course, I…I…will see you then,’ she said stepping back, her face flushed.

He pulled her in close again and pecked her on the cheek. ‘Bye Mai.’

She watched his taxi till it was out of sight, the long suppressed ache in her heart beginning again.

 

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