Annie smiled back at Darky and sat down on the cushion next to him.

‘So you are the famous musician’, she said slowly, and looked slightly star-struck. Laura shifted uncomfortably on her cushion. It wasn’t like Annie to look impressed by someone. Normally she didn’t care who she spoke to and Laura had had no idea that Annie somehow admired Darky.

Darky laughed. ‘Famous is questionable. And I thought that no one here at the retreat centre really knew who I was.’ He glanced at Laura.

‘We only found out later on’, Ted offered to save Laura from feeling embarrassed. ‘Actually it was me who figured it out recently when I saw a glimpse of you.’

Laura squeezed Ted’s hand appreciatively.

‘This is my friend Annie who lives here in Taipei’, she said to Darky. ‘We were friends at university in London and now we are here together.’ The two girls smiled at each other.

‘That is nice’, Darky turned to Annie again. ‘If you are local, why don’t you show me some cool places in Taipei this weekend? I would like to get to know the place better.’

Annie fluttered her eye lashes and flicked her hair. Really, Annie was behaving like this with Darky, out of all people? Laura was surprised.

‘I’ve love to take you to some of the best places in Taipei’, Annie smiled. ‘How do cocktails in a hot tub sound? Or a hot spring and then a traditional wine bar?’

Was Annie really suggesting to take her clothes off with Darky? Laura didn’t know hat to say; she was so surprised.

‘That sounds fabulous’, Darky lifted his bottle of beer. ‘Let’s have a toast to new friendships!’

They all clicked their bottles, including the homeless men who everyone seemed to have forgotten about. Annie and Darky’s flirting had driven them to distraction.

‘Well, I should get back to the reception’, Ted said eventually. ‘After all I’m supposed to be manning the desk.’

‘I also want to go and get some ret’, Laura said and got up with Ted. ‘Annie, are you coming too?’ She looked at her friend who looked very cosy sitting next to Darky.

‘I’ll stay and finish my beer before coming’, Annie said and glanced at Darky. ‘I’ll be up in a while.’

‘Okay then’, Laura said. She started following Ted out of the door and turned back to look tat Annie and Darky one last time. They did look very cosy together indeed, but Laura still felt slightly nervous to leave Annie there on her own with the guys. Ted took hold of her hand and pulled her gently along.

‘They’ll be fine’, he whispered to Laura.


1 thought on “THE NEXT STEP (42)

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