Incident at the Lotus Pond

There is a knock on the bedroom door, “Miss Feng are you awake?

  That voice sounds like Cheng, the bodyguard, clutching a black tracksuit in her hands, she replies,“I am, but I was about to take a bath. Did you need me for something?”

    “Cui Liquin is here.”

    Hmm..I wonder what she wants. “I will be right out.”

    She grabs her bottle of water then opens the bedroom door, “Miss Cui.”

    “Miss Feng I wanted to bring this personally, CEO Qiao left this  cufflink on the plane.” Cui Liquin holds out a black diamond cufflink, praying Feng LiMei doesn’t take it from her hand. She bought a pair of expensive cufflinks for her brother’s birthday next week they were still in her purse.

    LiMei takes the black diamond cufflink in her hand not even looking at it, “He isn’t here but I will give it to him when he returns.” Now leave seeing you reminds me of how shameless Rui was on the plane and I need to hurry to Uncle Xinghi’s.

    Cui Liquin regrets her decision to use her brother’s birthday gift she anxiously asks,“Do you recognize the cufflink?” You couldn’t possibly… give it back to me. 

   “I wasn’t paying attention … so no. But if it was on the plane most likely it is Rui’s..CEO Qiao’s…” She carelessly tosses the expensive cufflink onto the table, it rolls along the glass surface then falls onto the luxurious beige carpet.

    LiMei sits down putting on tennis shoes, as she ties them she looks up, “Anything else?”

     Cui Liquin was bent over about to pick up the cufflink, startled she quickly straightens up,  yes I need to get a fucking picture of you. You just cost me a lot of money! “Well, have you been to Phnom Penh before? Since CEO Qiao isn’t here would you like to go to dinner with me?”

    “I’m sorry I plan on checking out the gardens here.’

    “I heard they are amazing, may I accompany you? I was going to eat and go back to my room which sounds boring.” It would be easy to ask her to take a selfie with me looking at the exotic flowers.

    That does sound boring but I don’t have time to make friends right now. How can I politely refuse. Yeesh! LiMei glares at Cheng who is standing over by the window, why did he let this annoying woman in! He could have taken the stupid cufflink from her without bothering me!  LiMei takes a moment to respond, Actually, maybe I can use her as a diversion in the garden, yeah..good idea. “If you don’t mind waiting while I bathe and change.”

    I do mind but Uncle Shi needs your damn picture. “That’s fine.”

    “Cheng could you get Miss Cui a drink while she waits?” A little payback for you carelessly letting her into the room without my permission.

    ‘”..” I guess the CEO wouldn’t mind Feng LiMei hanging out with Cui Liquin.  But looking at them though they don’t really seem to be compatible.

    Cui Liquin frowns looking around the luxuriously decorated room and all the beautiful roses, I didn’t expect them to be staying in the Honeymoon Suite. No way are they married. I would have heard the gossip.

     LiMei undresses hurriedly sprinkling the herbs into the bath then slips into the water. She sighs, I don’t have time to soak but my body feels better already just laying in the water

     LiMei splashes the scented bubbles around, it is cool how the dried jasmine and flower petals open up in the water, Rui really has some magical medicinal herbs. Thinking of Rui she hugs herself, I can’t wait to go camping in the mountains with him. The waterfall and cave with the Ice Black Lotus sounds amazing, sleeping under the stars holding onto him..ahhh.. 

     LiMei closes her eyes picturing the two of them happy and together in the mountains. She is almost asleep when Cui Liquin knocks on the bathroom door, irritated by the intrusion LiMei ignores her frantically knocking on the door.

      “Miss Feng it will be dark soon.”

     LiMei opens her eyes, so noisy, “I won’t be long.” She gets out of the bath then applies the vaginal ointment Rui left, ohhh..so cool and numbing Then she puts on the black tracksuit, drying her hair she looks in the mirror, LiMei you need some sleep tonight! You look like a panda! Maybe I should get some face cream from Rui too. Haha.. 

     She puts her hair up in the white jade hairpin, looking in the mirror she decides not to put on any makeup. Although she doesn’t usually wear very much it feels good to have a bare face. Lastly she puts on her bunny charm necklace, ready!

     When she comes out of the bathroom Cui Liquin is looking at the spectacular view from the window, Dammit this view should be mine! I am stuck in a single room on the second floor, while this little slut enjoys CEO Qiao’s pampering. I mean my god look at us there is no comparison, I am more elegant, curvaceous,  Feng LiMei doesn’t even look fully developed!

     “Let’s go.” LiMei grabs her purse and a fresh bottle of water, so thirsty!

     Cheng stands looking at the two women mesmerized by LiMei’s natural beauty. Morgan wait until you see Qiao Rui’s little woman, if you don’t think she is beautiful you are blind!  “Miss Feng could you wait one moment?” Morgan hasn’t returned from having a smoke. He calls him, “Hey she wants to leave.”

    “I’m downstairs by the elevator, there was a huge line to get your damn coffee.” 

    “Wait there we will come down.”

     “En.”

  Cheng looks at the two women, one tall stylishly dressed wearing designer clothes and high heels the other one a petite girl in a baggy track suit with tennis shoes, he has a faint smile, what an odd pair, “We can go.”

     The three of them walk in awkward silence to the elevator.When they arrive at the first floor Morgan meets them, “Miss Feng and?”

    “My name is Cui Liquin.”

    Morgan looks at LiMei, this little chick looks like she is in high school wearing that black tracksuit and no makeup. Cheng is right she does look like a little fairy but how old is she? 

    For some reason he has a sudden urge to ask LiMei her age, “Miss Feng how old are you?” Both Cheng and Cui Liquin are interested in the answer as they glance at LiMei at the same time waiting for her answer.

     “What?” LiMei drinks more of her water, she wasn’t paying attention to his question thinking about how she will lose these two bodyguards. The ruggedly handsome man with facial paralysis holding the coffee doesn’t seem to take guarding me seriously, the baby faced one who picked us up at the airport appears distracted.

     Cui Liquin’s ears perked up when Morgan asked LiMei her age. “He asked how old you are.”

     “I am twenty two.”

     “…” all three of them have the same reaction as they stare at the delicate girl with the long ponytail in front of them. She is lying.

    Cui Liquin walks next to LiMei, “How did you meet CEO Qiao?”

     LiMei throws her empty water bottle into the trash, “I was in a bike accident and he was my doctor.” That is all the information I am giving out. “There is the entrance to the gardens”, LiMei decides to separate the two bodyguards, she sees a small outdoor cafe by a lotus pond, “Mr. Morgan your coffee smells so delicious, I want one. Is that where you got it.” LiMei points to a crowd of people at a counter. He realizes he has been walking drinking coffee while on duty, dammit it wasn’t even for me. He quickly tosses the cup into the trash. “No, I got it in the Starbucks by the lobby.

     Cui Liquin wants to take a picture of LiMei then go to the Heart of Darkness Club to buy the aphrodisiac to drug Qiao Rui. “Miss Feng the line at the cafe looks really long why don’t we walk over to the lotus pond on the left. I would like to take a picture of them for my father.”

    LiMei smiles,“They do look beautiful, I have never seen so many in bloom.” Good job annoying woman! I’m happy you invited yourself along. I can distract the bodyguards then the exit to the parking lot isn’t far from there.

   Fluttering her eyelashes LiMei gazes at Cheng then in a sweet voice she asks,“Cheng while we are looking at the lotuses could you get me a Iced Caramel Macchiato?” 

  Cheng looks at Morgan for his approval, Morgan nods,”Go ahead.” 

  LiMei stops Cheng holding onto his sleeve,“Wait.” She turns to Cui Liquin, “Sorry, Miss Cui, did you want a coffee?” Cheng’s face turns red looking down at the small holding onto his black suit jacket.

  “No, I’m good.” I want to take the damn picture and get the hell out of this garden.

   LiMei let’s go of his sleeve, “Extra ice please.Thanks alot I’m so hot.” She fans herself with her hat and several strands of her hair fall onto her delicate face. 

   Cheng without thinking pulls out his handkerchief then gently wipes her forehead that has a thin layer of sweat, “You should drink water instead of coffee in hot humid weather.”

   LiMei looks up at the gentle expression on Cheng’s face then blushes, “Yeah, but I really want a iced coffee.”  This guy looks more like a male god than a bodyguard!

   “…” Morgan’s mouth drops open noticing Cheng’s abnormal behavior, “Go get the goddam coffee!”

   Cheng snaps out of his infatuated daze, “Right!” He hurries over to the cafe looking at his handkerchief still clutched in his hand,what was I thinking!

   Morgan follows behind LiMei and Cui Liquin as they walk over to the lotus pond. When they arrive LiMei glances back to make sure Cheng has got in the line at the cafe.  How am I going to distract this guy, she looks back at Morgan who is biting his fingernail..gross!  Well,he seems like he isn’t taking watching me too seriously that is why I asked Cheng to go get the coffee. He seems more dedicated he hasn’t taken his eyes off of me. My intuition tells me Cui Liquin has some ulterior motive for hanging around so I don’t feel guilty using her, if I tripped her into the pond Morgan would  pull her out then I could escape.

   Cui Liquin takes out her phone then holds it towards Morgan, “Could you take a picture of us?”

  He glares at her, I’m a fucking bodyguard! 

   She pushes the phone to him smiling coquettishly, “Just a couple pictures for my father.” 

   He reluctantly takes the phone, Cui Liquin stands by the pond waving at LiMei, “Feng LiMei let’s take one together.”

   Cui Liquin’s shoes are 10cm heels, LiMei thinks just with a slight nudge she will tumble into the pond. Morgan studies LiMei’s face while she stares at Cui Liquin, her bright green eyes have a mischievous gleam. What is the little girl thinking.

   Morgan holds up the camera and pushes the button. Not sure if LiMei was in the picture, Cui Liquin grabs for LiMei’s arm, “Get closer.” When she does LiMei moves slightly so Cui Liquin loses her balance. Her dress is tight so she can’t stretch her leg to regain her balance. She staggers backwards tripping over her heels exclaiming, ‘Uhhh..” LiMei faintly smiles, turning to run away she can’t move, a strong arm has her by her thin waist. 

     The sound of splashing can be heard from the pond as Cui Liquin flails about in the water wailing, “Help! Help!” Morgan ignores the pleas from the water, bending down to LiMei’s ear “Where do you think you are going little girl?” LiMei looks up with black lines on her forehead, “Shouldn’t you be saving Miss Cui?

   “I’m paid to keep you safe, not that unsightly woman.”

   “Well I was going to get her a towel.”

  “She can wait until Cheng returns with your coffee.”

   Two men who witnessed her fall come over to help Cui Liquin out of the pond. Once they pull her out she stomps over to LiMei, her body drenched,  leaves hanging off her hair, her red dress and designer shoes ruined and mudstained.  Still spitting out the pondwater she lunges towards LiMei stretching out her arm, “You little bitch!”,  as her palm is about  to strike LiMei a large hand blocks it. Morgan tells Cui Liquin,“Don’t blame Miss Feng for your own clumsiness.” as he tightly grips her hand her face contorts in pain. 

   A hotel employee walks over with a towel, “Miss do you need to see a doctor?”

   Cui Liquin furious with her nails digging into her palm screams at Morgan, “Do you know who I am?” She is the daughter of the mayor of Pushong City.

      She only got the flight attendant job recently because her friend said Henri Armand uses the private airport. She traded with her friend this trip to meet Rui, she saw him at a charity event with her father and thought he was handsome.

   “Don’t care.” He hands her the phone.

   She grabs it from him angrily asking, “Did you get the picture?”

   “…” LiMei thinks that is a strange question, but now she needs to think of another way to escape, that bodyguard was more alert than I expected, how did he notice I wanted to take the opportunity when Cui Liquin fell into the water to run?

   The hotel employee has been standing there watching the scene, “Miss you should dry off you will catch a cold.”

   “Hmmph..” Cui Liquin wipes her face and hair. Yossing the towel to the ground she glares at LiMei and Morgan then huffs off looking at her phone, the moron at least snapped a picture before that happened. I will send to Uncle Shi right now. I need him to kill that insufferable bastard bodyguard too!

   Cheng comes back with the iced coffee, he hands it to LiMei, “Where is your friend?”

   She takes a sip of the iced coffee enthusiasticly exclaiming, ”Yummy…thanks! Oh…Cui Liquin she left. Let’s go to the gazebo by the koi pond.

  LiMei walks along the path with the two tall bodyguards following behind her as she looks at the brochure, where is another exit? 

   Morgan stares at her back wondering about her behavior at the pond.Where was the little chick planning on going? It doesn’t look like she would want to leave the CEO by the way she was clinging onto him. He lights a cigarette then takes a long drag on it. She knows the language, is she meeting someone tonight while the CEO is gone?  Furrowing his eyebrows deep in thought as he tries to figure LiMei out., what is she planning?

   The three of them attract attention of passerbys as they walk along, a beautiful petite girl being followed by two tall muscular men in black. Ignoring the stares of people passing them, LiMei smiles when she sees a little girl walking with her parents along the path in front of them holding a pink balloon, Suddenly the little girl lets go of the balloon, before it can sail too far in the air with lightning speed LiMei jumps grabbing the string then hands it back to the little girl wrapping her tiny fingers around the string,“Hold it a little tighter.”

   The cute little girl smiles up at LiMei, “Bawwwooon.”

   LiMei can’t help but chuckle as the parents say “Thank You.”

   “Your daughter is beautiful, how old is she?”

    “Three next month.”

     LiMei pats the little girl on the head and then continues surveying the area for an escape route.

   Both Morgan and Cheng stare at each other, the girl jumped at least four feet into the air like she had wings snatching the thin string. Does she know martial arts? Morgan knows if he hadn’t been staring at the strange look on her face she could have escaped in the blink of an eye at the pond.

   LiMei strolls along towards the ancient style gazebo, there is a stand with an old woman selling chocolate covered bananas on a stick.She walks over then turns towards Morgan and Cheng, “Do you guys want one?”

   They both shake their heads no, so LiMei tells the woman, “I will take one chocolate with the nuts and could I have a plain banana on a stick.”

   LiMei takes out some money handing it to the woman as she takes a bite of the chocolate covered banana. The old lady’s brown gnarled hands hold the money as she speaks in broken Chinese, “Too much..too much money.” 

   LiMei holds the woman’s warm hands curling them around the money, speaking in Khmer she says, “For you, buy your grandson a present.”

   The woman has a complicated look on her face, speaking comfortably in Khmer, “How do you know my grandson’s birthday is coming?”

   LiMei points with the banana, behind the stand there is a decorated bag which has a toy truck sticking out. She saw the bag as she walked over to the wooden stand.

   The old lady smiles happily, showing three teeth as she looks deeply into LiMei’s eyes, “May Buddha protect you on your dangerous journey.”

   LiMei has an ominous feeling as a chill goes down her spine, she smiles thinking the old lady’s eyes seemed to look into her soul when she said those words.

   Composing herself she holds the lady’s hand,”លាហើយសូមអរគុណចំពោះការប្រសិទ្ធពរ” 

   LiMei finishes one of the bananas tossing the stick into the trash, then sips her iced coffee, “I see the gazebo ahead.”

   When they reach the gazebo LiMei sits down biting the chocolate covered banana, “I never had one of these before it really is tasty.” She picks a piece of the plain banana tossing it into the pond watching the koi quickly swim over.

   Cheng’s curiosity gets the better of him wanting to ask LiMei some questions he walks over to where she is standing, “Miss Feng, do you know martial arts?”

   LiMei is still distracted by what the old woman said, “Some.” She tosses another piece of banana into the water. What danger? I’m just going to see Xinghi. She takes a bite of the banana absentmindedly staring into the pond watching the piece of banana bob in the water as the koi swim over to it.

  “How do you know Khmer?”

   LiMei is still staring at the fish,“I only know a little.” Xingi taught her when Kuang Bo was recuperating at his compound. LiMei impulsively asks as she  gazes up at Cheng,  “Are you superstitious Cheng?”

   He looks down at her serious expression, “I guess a little. When I was young there was an elderly woman in the apartment complex where my parents and I lived. Everyone said she was crazy. She had a bunch of talismans stuck all over her door..she was always spouting weird shit. I used to deliver fruit to her, one time,  I mean I was just a kid, she scared the shit out of me pulling me by my shirt into her apartment looking all wild eyed. The old woman was wearing a torn gray dress, her white hair was sticking to her head. She stared at me with black beady eyes that I will never forget as she told me not to take the alley I always walked down to the market or I would die. I gotta say looking in those crazy eyes I almost pissed my pants like she was gonna kill me.”

  He laughs recalling the incident, “I literally ran out of the door breathing heavily thinking fuck this.. I’m never delivering to that old witch again. But you know what… she scared me into not taking that route home and the next day they found some kid from the market who had been robbed and had his throat slit.”

   LiMei sips her iced coffee as she thoughtfully listens, “I guess that would make me believe.” 

  Morgan steps on his cigarette, he has high martial arts skills and overheard the conversation between LiMei and the woman at the stand. He casually walks over to them, nonchalantly leaning on the railing , “So Miss Feng you should forget your plans for tonight.”

  ????  LiMei scrunches up her nose listening to Morgan, What the hell ! Is this guy a worm in my belly? 

  Morgan smirks then  pulls another cigarette out of his pack, last one…fuck! When he goes to light it up LiMei quickly snatches the cigarette out of his mouth then crumples it up, “No Smoking area.”

  Morgan’s amber colored eyes are filled with a murderous gleam looking at the cigarette crushed in her small hand.  That was my last fucking cigarette! 

   Cheng starts laughing watching the scene, “Old man your reaction was a little slow! Ha..ha..”

   Morgan angrily shoves him, “Do you want to test me?” 

   Cheng staggers backward from the force, he smiles holding up his hands, “We are working remember.”

   “…”

   LiMei looks like a satisfied cat holding the crushed cigarette gloating but then realizes her hand is dirty now from the tobacco. She walks over to a fountain nearby rinsing her slender hand in the water then wipes it on her tracksuit.

   Morgan sneers as he watches her wipe her hand on her clothes, what an unruly girl! What does the CEO see in her anyway! His eyes narrow,that girl has some tricks up her sleeve too, I need to find out what she is planning. He stands with his hands in his pockets as Cheng and LiMei start walking toward the hotel.

    LiMei decides to tease him a little more tired of his sarcasm, “Morgan stop glaring at me and hurry up, let’s go eat.”

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