'GUY'S fingers trembled as he lit yet another cigarette, the previous one still smouldering in the ashtray.
His hands felt clammy and he was sweating, despite the chill blast from the airconditioning. There was a heavy feeling in the pit of his stomach.
This was the most terrible thing he had done in his life, and the waiting was the hardest part.
He walked across to the window and stared out at the cityscape in front of him. Bangkok, shrouded in cloud. The rain had started and soon it would close in, relentless and oppressive. It had rained like that the night he had met her, nearly three years ago.
He had been trawling through the bars of Soi Cowboy with Greg, a good friend and an old Bangkok hand. They had been out in the street flirting with the " welcome" girls when the rain came, forcing them to take refuge in one of the bars.
It had been a standard go-go bar, and they had sat down on the bench seats around the outside and ordered a couple of beers. Half-a-dozen girls were dancing, their movements nothing more than going through the motions in time with the bland Thai pop music.
One of the girls caught his eye. She was petite, even for a Thai girl, with huge eyes. She smiled, a gorgeous lopsided smile that lit up her whole face.
After her shift she came over, demurely holding out a dainty hand.
"Hello. My name Fon, may I sit down?"
He was taken with her politeness and her beauty. They laughed at the coincidence of her name - Fon was Thai for rain - and the random selection of the bar because of the rain. It was an omen, and he was smitten.
He had spent the rest of that trip with her, and the next one, contrived just a couple of months later. He had heard all the stories of how a relationship with a bar girl was doomed to fail. But those stories were not about Fon; she was different. Greg had tried to tell him that they all said that - "This one is different" - but he ignored him, and it was too late now.
Outside the rain closed in, the visibility dropped, the grey skies pushing in from all sides. He checked his wallet: the tickets were there, but there were still a couple of hours to go. There was an empty bottle of Mekong whisky on the table, maybe the last he would ever drink. He considered going to buy another, but couldn't face braving the downpour, and suddenly the thought of the cheap sweet taste made him feel sick.
He had known it would be difficult to get a visa for Fon to come to England, so had used the opportunity to do what he had dreamed about, to take off to pastures new. He sold his modest share portfolio, rented out his house and moved to Bangkok. He knew he would have no trouble finding a teaching job, but Greg was able to find him work in IT, to which he was more suited and which paid far better.
As it turned out, this was no bad thing, as the problems with Fon started almost immediately. Nothing too much to begin with, and mostly about money.
Then there was the not coming back to the apartment when she said, or coming back drunk. They would fight, she would cry, then would smile with that extraordinary lopsided smile and look at him with those huge eyes and he would forgive her. Always. As she knew he would.
But it didn't get better. There were more problems and more fights. They made the decision to move out of Bangkok. They went to Hua Hin on the gulf coast a couple of hours south. They found a suitable business, a small bar and restaurant. Fon would run it and it would provide her with her own source of income.
There was enough IT work available for Guy even in a town like Hua Hin. It seemed like the ideal solution.
Instead, things soon got worse. It wasn't just the money - that was still as bad as ever, despite the business appearing to do well - but the lies started. Again they would fight, and again she would cry, and he would feel guilty. …