Chapter 23



An old balding Thai man with thick glasses stood in the doorway.  He wore a sweater buttoned over a white-collar shirt that was closed all the way to the top and his black slacks fit loosely.  The old man reminded Cameron of someone’s grandfather.

“Come in, come in,” said the old man.  Cameron was surprised by the man’s deep froggy voice and unmistakable British accent.

The young man turned away from the door.  “There you go,” said the young man, punctuated with another of his open mouth smiles.  He slid by Cameron and the women back down the stairs.

The older man stepped back from the door, “Welcome, I am Ananda.”

“Hello, my name is Cameron.”

Cameron stepped through the door.  He held his hand out to the old man only to have his wrist grabbed by Marie.  Cameron flashed Marie a glance and she subtly shook her head.  Cameron lowered his arm and proceeded to introduce Marie and Nicole.  “Ananda,” said Cameron, “this is –.”

“–Miss Marie and Miss Nicole,” interrupted Ananda.

“Bénisse, personne n’est content que nous,” the women said almost in unison with their heads bowed.  Ananda returned the greeting.

Something occurred to Cameron, neither of the women had met Ananda before, yet he knew them by name.  Ananda had been waiting for them after all and was sincerely pleased to see them.

Faded pink floral wallpaper covered the walls and white panel curtains muted the daylight, making the room hazy and ethereal.  The only furniture in the room was an old sofa that sat between an empty coffee table and the windows and against the far wall, an old round tapestry covered table.  On the table were a small Buddha statue much like the one in the restaurant below and a short lamp with an embroidered shade and hanging red tassels.  The French doors centered on the interior wall were draped and closed.

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