5. Bride

THE BANGKOK BRIDE

Lucky Two Crows

About The Bangkok Bride

The book is an addition to the series. Between Book 3 and 4, while Lucky is preparing for his revolution and Taylor is learning how to run a billion dollar multi-national corporation, Lucky admits to marrying a Thai girl when he was 20 years old, left Thailand and never went back. Taylor insists they find her an annul the marriage, and prove she never was pregnant. The wheels are set in motion for their return to Asia, and for Lucky to test his skills as an Aikido master and mix martial arts fighter, in life or death fighting.

Chapter 1

Lucky Two Crows:

Eight months had passed since Taylor, Jimmy. Lily and I returned from Shambala.

Taylor Banks was now confidently in charge of Shambala Natural Foods. She pretty much went along with the Tribe business structure, but couldn’t help but define the ruling hierarchy. She took over Robert’s huge and previously never used office, and hired Jimmy and Lily to decorate it with Japanese ambiance. After that, for one week, she invited anyone who was interested to tour of the office of Shambala’s new owner and CEO. With that gesture there was no mistake: Taylor was the new boss, and unlike Robert, everyone could see what she looked like. Jennifer became her COO, chief of operations, and she hired my business partner Peter to be the CFO, a trusted overseer position, to keep an eye on the finances. Peter was still my partner at L&P Investigations, though we weren’t doing much investigating.

Upon our arrival in Shambala, Robert St. Clair had kept his word: to finance my revolution. Taylor didn’t know this, so my sudden wealth looked like a loan from Lily Vahn, something she had offered me in front of Taylor while in Asia. What else would she do with all her millions? Her “loan” ended up in the neighborhood of five million dollars. Lily worked with Peter to pay the bills, half of which was spent renovating the warehouse next to Jimmy’s dojo, which included my penthouse apartment, and purchasing state-of-the-art computer equipment for our awesome control center.

It was a rainy March night, and I was invited to spend it with my girlfriend Taylor at her Frank Lloyd Wright mansion in Troutdale.

Because she was now totally into organic foods, and could afford it, she hired a full-time live-in chef, a charming young woman named Nancy. Her boyfriend Zach worked as the gardener and all-around handyman. He had built a solar greenhouse, was clearing land for a fruit orchard, and had plans for a vineyard. Because Zack was a wine connoisseur, Taylor put him in charge of building a wine cellar and stocking it with several hundred bottles of the best the West Coast had to offer, plus a whole lot of wine from France and South Africa. Zack and Nancy took Lily’s large in-house apartment, and were loving their new life. They were also well paid, and had their pick of cars to drive. The Tesla coup was still Taylor’s favorite.

Taylor also hired a live-in housekeeper named Amira, who was an illegal Syrian refuge, and former IT marketer. She once lived a well-earned upper-middle class life, with her own home, husband, pets and children. Because it was important to the forty-year old woman, who lost her husband and two children to the war, Taylor’s mansion was now the home to three dogs and four cats, plus two parrots and a shit load of aquarium fish. Amira now lived well beyond her former upper-middle class, and became Taylor’s adopted older sister. Because they both had a love for mystery and intrigue, they shared their detective books and stories.

On this particular night, after a wonderful organic zucchini casserole, with a papaya salad, fresh Idaho trout, and two bottles of twenty-year old wine, Taylor and I decided to have our long over-due heart-to-heart. I had hinted on marriage in the past, but she was too busy running a billion dollar corporation to think of such things. And I was pretty busy myself, orchestrating the building renovations, recently laying out a coffee shop cafe, a yoga studio, a corner pub called The Dojo, which was also a sports bar, and a trendy clothing store: all on the ground floor of my four-story building. These stores were all intended to be legitimate covers to hide whatever might be going on upstairs. Filling up four stories of space took quite a bit of my time and imagination. I was also helping Jimmy teach Aikido several nights a week. Anyway, both Taylor and I had our plates full.

But by this time the Shambala Foods business was growing, and Jennifer kept asking Taylor to relax, and let the tribes do their job. My construction contractor had similar advice: the subs had the plans, and I should give them the space to make it right. So this was a night for Taylor and I to be together, to take it easy, and feel proud of our accomplishments.

Nancy had a knack for creating beautiful art with her culinary talents. She would not only cook the perfect meal, she would set the table with the correct flowers, a white linen tablecloth, two white porcelain plates per setting, two wine glasses, real silver utensils, two forks, two spoons, perfectly folded white cloth napkins, and a home-made chocolate heart on the top plate. With Zack’s help she would choose the right wine, dim the lights to just right, or light candles, and select the best jazz, at the right volume. In other words, Nancy was an ambiance master. During the evening she would read a book in the other room, and appear whenever Taylor rang the bell.

This time she brought us a third bottle of wine, and lit twenty candles, before turning off the lights. The dogs and cats were somewhere else, the other house lights were off, and except for Diana Krall, softly singing her sweet jazz songs, and the faint trickling sound of the outside fountain: there wasn’t a sound. Nancy poured the wine and left two plates of her homemade cheesecake, each with a chocolate-coated strawberry on top, before Taylor excused her for the night.

After the yummy cheesecake, Taylor and I had a long stare-down. “You are so fucking beautiful,” I couldn’t help but say. Of course I had said this to her a hundred times, but somehow it must have been the great wine, trout, cheesecake, candles, music and waterfall trickle, which made it all that more romantic, as if I had said it for the first time.

“Don’t you think it’s about time to talk about what we’ve been avoiding?” she asked.

“You mean about me not paying my grocery bill?” I joked.

She laughed. “You can have free food for life, Lucky. And that’s a hint.”

“I didn’t come here ready to get down on my knees, if that’s what you mean.”

“It’s exactly what I mean, you silly man. I think we should have the before that moment talk. This is the time to get rid of all doubts. You know . . . kill the monsters in the closet.”

“You think I have a dark side I’m not showing?” I said, giving her a sinister look.

“Maybe?”

‘What do you mean maybe? What could I possibly be hiding from you?”

“Something in your past?”

“Holy shit, Taylor. We all have a past . . . things we did . . . mistakes . . . things we aren’t proud of . . . the things we don’t want to share with anyone.” I was saying all this in a halting manner. I didn’t notice it at the time, forgetting that Taylor was a behavior scientist and an ex-detective, that there was something I was covering up. She could tell. “I mean . . . you must have things you did, which you would never tell me.”

“Like stories of all those hunky men I slept with? The size of their penis and what not?”

“As long as I’m the biggest and hunkiest, I don’t care.” We laughed and I added, “If you’re sleeping with one right now, I think it would be a good time to confess.”

“Okay . . . I’m having an affair with Zack.”

“You’re not!” I acted alarmed.

“Of course I’m not, but it sure would bother you if I were, wouldn’t it?”

“Sure it would. You’re my woman. I don’t want to share you anymore than you want to share me.”

“True enough. Anyway, I will tell you my deepest darkest secret, if you tell me yours.”

‘Why would I want to do that?”

“So it’s out of the way and there will never be a secret between us. We want to be walking to the top of the mountain together Lucky, and there’s no way I want to have an avalanche with you.”

“Okay, Taylor, let’s do it. You start.”

She chugged the rest of her wine and poured another, for both of us. I think she was a bit tipsy, at least I know I was, and too eager to fill her glass and mine to the rim. A good pour: an avoidance pour. We had another long stare down.

“Well . . . you will still love me when I tell you my sexy secret, eh?” she asked in a way that made me want to stop playing this game immediately, and throw her on the couch, and make passionate love. I leaned over and kissed her lips instead. My god they tasted good, wine soaked and all.

That was a mistake, a good mistake, which led to a make-out session, which led to the couch, which led to her bed: too much wine, but great sex. We agreed to talk about our secrets the next night.

This night was too much fun, to not keep repeating it forever.

2

Lucky Two Crows:

A week went by before Taylor and I had time for our second romantic candlelight dinner at her house.

This time I requested Thai food, to set the mood. Taylor was confused. “Set the mood for what? Thai sex?”

Nancy started us out with a cold glass of Singha beer and vegetable spring roll appetizers. She followed with a wonderful pad thai, and delicious vegetable curry. Taylor knew of my memory with quotes and songs, but now I surprised her with my spoken Thai, which she had no idea how badly I was botching. I told her in Thai that the food was delicious, aroi, but I would rather be in bed with her.

“Is that your hidden secret? You’re really a Thai man pretending to be an American Indian?” she said.

We both laughed as Taylor rang the bell, asking Nancy to bring us the first bottle of wine. “No Thai wine? What’s the closest to Thailand? Australian red? Bring us a bottle of that.”

“I’m pure Blackfeet, but all this is the first clue of my hidden secret,” I said after Nancy poured the wine and left.

“In a tomboy healthy way? Hmm. So you did have a girlfriend?” I asked, surmising that her secret really had nothing to do with her boyfriends, or the size of their penises. “It’s okay, Taylor. You can tell me.” We had promised to just listen, and hold back on our judgments. If we were to ask questions, they were to be unemotional detective ones. “What about this girlfriend?”

“Well . . . I was in college. I think I was around twenty. Jill. She was really pretty . . . and well . . . you know.”

“You had a lesbian love affair?”

“More than an affair.”

“What do you mean . . . more?”

“We were lovers for six months.”

“What?”

“Lucky . . . we’re not supposed to get emotional about these dark secrets. Yes I had a girlfriend. And yes we had sex. And no, I’m not a lesbian.”

“It sounds like you were a lesbian. Gay is gay. You’re either gay or not gay.”

“Fair enough, though it still sounds like you’re being emotional about it.” She waited until my shrugging shoulders subsided. “You want a pragmatic answer, I will give you one. I’m bi-sexual: so there. I haven’t had another female lover since that college girl Jill. With you I’m 100% heterosexual: not interested in having sex with anyone but you. You know that’s the truth, don’t you?”

“I do. Up until now I thought not with another man. It’s just . . . what would you think if I were to tell you that I had had sex with a man for six months?”

“I’d be outta here, right now,” she answered with a nervous chuckle.

“I believe that’s the truth, Taylor.” Now it was her time to shrug, and for me to wait. “You’ll be relieved to hear that I don’t have a gay past, though my answer to that would be the same as yours: the past is the past and here we are, two grown people in love. Right?”

Taylor raised her wine glass, nodding for me to raise mine. We clicked and took our sips. An uncomfortable cloud hung over us. She rang the bell, and Nancy appeared. “Do you have anymore of those spring rolls with that wonderful peanut sauce?” Nancy nodded. “Bring us all you have, and another bottle of this wine, and then that will be all for the night. Maybe you and Zack can have a night out . . . go to a movie. Take Amira.” We waited until Nancy was finished serving us, and said goodnight.

“Are you still attracted to women?” I asked while eating a spring roll.

“Jesus, Lucky. Of course I am. But I don’t act on it. Do you? I know you don’t.” She was frustrated with my question, and blurted out, “I wasn’t a lesbian slut, and I didn’t open my vagina to the whole football team, or walk the Portland streets as a hooker. I was just a young college girl who found comfort in the arms of a loving person . . . who happened to be another lonely girl. It’s not a big deal. I got over it. Now you get over it.”

“You’ll let me know when you find your next girlfriend, so we can have a three-some?” I joked.

“You’re all I want, Lucky.” She leaned over and gave me a long kiss. “Okay. That was my deepest darkest secret, what’s yours?”

I took a deep breath, drank some wine, then stared into space. Simon and Garfunkel came to mind, and I started singing,

“Can you imagine us years from today,
Sharing a park bench quietly
How terribly strange to be seventy
Old friends, memory brushes the same years,
Silently sharing the same fears
Time it was
and what a
time it was
it was
A time of innocence
a time of confidences.
Long ago
it must be
I have a photograph
preserve your memories
they’re all that’s left you.”

“It sounds like what I think about Jill,” Taylor offered. “It’s a beautiful song, but I think it has something to do with an old love that you had. Right?” I nodded.

“It’s okay, Lucky. I probably won’t be as brutal on you as you were with me.

There was a woman in your life, and it’s your darkest secret. How bad can it be? You didn’t kill her, did you?”

“Yeah right. My darkest secret is I kill women I love. You’re next, baby.”

“That’s not funny. I know it has something to do with Thailand. I was a detective, you know? You thought you could ease me into your story with pad thai, spring rolls and peanut sauce? Well, it worked. I’m primed and ready. Let’s hear it. No more distractions. Okay?”

“Okay. I was also twenty, so we relate to a time of innocence, right?”

“Lucky! Stop trying to appease me. Just get on with it.”

“You know I grew up in foster homes, and left when I was sixteen. I was living on the Portland streets for years. I mostly made money with computer repair work, and spent my spare time learning Indian things, riding horses and shooting arrows. I also began my Aikido training when I was sixteen. By the time I was twenty I had two black belts, and was performing in powwows, and winning races in motocross.”

“Sounds like you had a busy life. No time for girls?”

“I wasn’t a virgin, if that’s your question, but no . . . I was too busy for a girlfriend. Most girls bored me too. Jimmy was my sensei at the time and one night the subject of Muay Thai boxing came up. The following week we went to a fight, where we met two of the fighter’s agent, a guy from Bangkok, who told me of a school there. He said he could arrange it, that I could go there and study Muay Thai for six month, and earn the equivalent to a black belt. And then come back and make a lot of money in the new sport of mixed martial arts.”

“Bangkok?

“I was all over it. With my two Aikido black belts and then kickboxing, I would clean up. At the time I had saved up a few thousand dollars and decided to go for it. I was young and into mastering everything. Why not Thai boxing?”

“This isn’t sounding like a deep dark secret, Lucky. More like a great adventure. I had no idea you knew how to box.”

“You have no idea how many ways I can kick ass. Anyway, I bought a round trip ticket to Bangkok and left two weeks later.”

“You know Lucky . . . I’m going to give you a pass on the deep dark secret for a moment. We’ve known each other for a year already, and I can’t believe you never told me you lived in Bangkok and learned Thai boxing. I’m ready for more details before you hit me with the punch line. What was it like when you arrived in Thailand as a twenty-year old Indian boy?”

“It was pretty wild. By the way, I left my tomahawk at home.”

“Sorry . . . I meant young man.”

“Just playing with you, Taylor. I took a taxi from the airport and asked the driver to take me to any cheap hotel in Bangkok’s Khoa San district, which was where the boxing school was located. I think it cost me something like three dollars a night for a decent room with daily maid service. I liked it there, and ended up making a deal for something ridiculous, like $88 a month. Unbelievable. Walking around that first night, I was fascinated, and a bit overwhelmed, by the colorful street life: the venders selling you name it, street carts filled with all sorts of Thai food. There were so many lively bars with pretty girls and old western drunks. And many young backpackers like me. I had walked into this totally alive world. It was like Wow!”

“Remember all those small towns we went to in India and the Philippines?” Taylor interrupted with excitement. “The crazy traffic congestion, scooters and trucks and people walking everywhere, street food, and all the colors and smells. I loved it and it was nuts. I can’t imagine doing that when I was twenty.”

“You were too busy screwing girls.”

“Stop it, Lucky,” she said, poking me in the ribs. Then she laughed. “That was funny. Go on.”

“Well the next day I met the cousin of the guy I had met in Portland. His name was Oak, a master Muay Thai instructor. He welcomed me as a student and set up a grueling daily schedule. I was soon deeply involved in an often brutal training routine, dedicating eight hours a day, six days a week to fighting; learning both Muay Thai and the Thai language. Oak insisted that if I were to live in Thailand for six months and fight Thai boxers, I would need to talk to them, in their language. And, because I was the only English speaking student, it was a pain in his ass to have to say everything twice.”

“So that’s how you learned to speak Thai. What did you say to me before in Thai?”

“I want to eat your pussy in bed.”

“You didn’t . . . oh . . . you did. Well, I guess that can be arranged. That is if your darkest secret doesn’t totally turn me off.”

“What I say shouldn’t have anything to do with my giving you pleasure.”

“I’m a women, Lucky.”

“Okay, but remember . . . you’re being a detective, asking questions, and aren’t supposed to be emotionally attached. You should be asking pragmatic detective questions. Like I did with you. I wasn’t emotionally affected when you revealed that you’re a lesbian.”

“Bullshit. And I’m not a lesbian.”

“Anyway, do you want the revelation of my deepest darkest secret to lead to you receiving pleasure?”

“Why not? But you’re still trying to placate me. Just . . . just say it.”

“You’re ready for the punch line?” She nodded, rolling her eyes. “You sure?” She was sure. I knew when she flipped me off, so I continued. “One night, two weeks after I arrived, I went to a nearby bar, to have a beer, or two. I was bruised and worn out from that day’s training. A very pretty young girl, who spoke good English, sat next to me.”

“Okay. Now this is the juicy part I’ve been waiting for. Your first hooker.”

“Actually she told me that she wasn’t a prostitute, right off, and was there because it was the only job she could find, being new to Bangkok.”

“And you believed her?” Taylor interrupted.

“Just listen. She was from the North Country, Isaan, and was hired to talk to men, that’s all. It’s a real job. Speaking English was a plus. She would earn half the price of every drink she sold, and wasn’t allowed to leave.”

“She was a bar girl?”

“Yes, and even though she was technically a bar girl, she was young and innocent, and only doing it for the money.”

“Isn’t that why they all do it . . . bar girls and hookers?” Taylor asked.

“True. I’m making a point here . . . that she had no ambition to go to the next level, selling her body. Mamasan managers know they can bring in lots of Western men with pretty young girls like her. Yes, they can make more if a guy pays a bar fine to take her away, but I don’t remember it being a hooker bar. It was basically a drinker’s bar, with pretty young girls selling drinks and providing conversation. Tani, that was her name, was a bright girl, but she was young, just graduated from high school: a farm girl. She was scared of older Western men, so she latched on to me, a guy around her same age. I started going there every night. We laughed a lot and enjoyed each other’s company.”

“Your first real girlfriend?”

“Pretty much. She was a knockout. Like you. I probably would have gone nuts if I had met you when you were eighteen.”

“Both of us,” Taylor agreed.

“She was so pretty and sexy, and she didn’t seem to notice that about herself. After about the third night with me she had absolutely no interest in talking to other men, and within a week Tani and I had fallen in love.

“Puppy love?” Taylor asked, still intrigued.

“Pretty much. Remember, I was only twenty years old, and she was eighteen. Yes, we were puppies. I had been a devout student, learning many skills, but knew very little about being a lover. I wasn’t quite, but she was a virgin. I was her first man, and making love was the best thing that had ever happened for either of us. We couldn’t get enough of each other.”

“You used a condom?”

“What? Let me tell the story, okay? Tani and I were sort of like we were, before we reached Shambala? Remember that feeling?”

“How can I ever forget? How was ours different?”

“We’ve always had more mature sex and love. I didn’t know what I was doing then. It was an exciting new thrill, but not so grounded in reality. And it was what it was. On my days off we toured Bangkok and the surrounding countryside, and did the things young people in love do, without a care in the world.”

“So all this happened in the beginning of your six months in Thailand. Did you stay with this girl Tani?’

“I did.” That stopped the story. We both silently drank our wine and ate some more spring rolls. I wasn’t sure I wanted to get to the punch line, and I think Taylor didn’t want me to either. Ten minutes later I broke the ice. “How about those Trailblazers? Do you think they can beat the Warriors?”

“Lucky . . . you know I don’t give a shit about basketball. I’m hesitating . . . because I know you’re getting very close to revealing your deepest darkest secret, and I don’t know if I want to hear it. Did you kill her?”

“Didn’t I tell you my darkest secret is I kill the women I love?” I clenched the table knife, and gritted my teeth, then relaxed. “Shit Taylor, of course I didn’t. I only kill puppies.” We both rolled our eyes.

“Then what already?”

“The punch line?”

“Yes, the fucking punch line, Lucky. No more stalling.”

“Why don’t we finish this bottle of wine, and go to your room. I will yok-sot khong khun, then yet mak mak. Multiple multiples. I will tell you the rest of the story in the morning, or next week.”

“Holy shit Lucky. Here you are, this big stud fearless dude, and you can’t tell me you knocked her up. Come on.”

“You’re getting ahead of the story. After I tell you . . . then we’ll yet mak mak. Okay?” She had no idea what that meant, but got the drift. “It was near the end of the fifth months, in a fit of passion, to make her happy, we got married.”

“I didn’t see that coming. You married a Thai girl?”

“You asked for it Taylor, so here goes. A month later, on the day of my departure, Tani told me she was pregnant.”

“So you did knock her up?” Taylor calmly asked. “You’re telling me that you married a Thai girl and got her pregnant? Is that all? Married?” she almost yelled. “Pregnant?” she did yell.

“This is supposed to be unemotional,” I reminded her.

“Fuck that.” She continued in a more controlled voice, “Was she really pregnant?”

“I didn’t think so. After six months there, I began to understand the Thai people. Her revelation was anti-climatic, to say the least. Why did she wait until the day I was leaving to reveal something so important?”

“So you would change your mind. and not leave?”

“Exactly. I wouldn’t be able to verify it unless I were there, so I would either cancel my ticket, or leave not knowing, until she sent photos.”

“So what did you do?”

“I needed to get back to my life in Portland, and didn’t have the money to buy another ticket, so I said goodbye. But I promised I would return for her, or at least buy her a ticket to Oregon.”

“That never happened,” Taylor surmised. “What did you do?”

“I got back into my life, and things happened as they do and the years went by. She never did send pregnant photos, so I never believed that story. I also never thought the marriage really counted: sort of shotgun Thai style. Sixteen year later and here we are.”

“What about the girl?” Taylor asked. “Do you think you’re still legally married to her?”

“No.”

“Do you think she had your child?”

“No.”

“Okay then. Let’s finish this bottle of wine, do your yet mak mak with me, whatever the hell that means, and talk about it in the morning. I need to go to another place with all this, and you’re the man to take me there.”

So we let all the lesbian, marriage, and baby shit go for the time being, surrendering to our passion, and it was good.