“Now what do we grown-ups do?” Rod asked.
“We can sit outside and chat if you want” offered Anna, “I’ve got chairs in the garage. And if we’re just outside the door the little man won’t wake up alone.”
“That’s a good idea. If Sam gets the chairs out. I’ll go and get some drinks from the bar. Brandy Sam? What for you Anna?”
“Brandy too. And a cappuccino.”
“What a good notion. Three brandies and three cappuccinos. I’m on it.”
He cantered off leaving a laughing Anna to hand Sam the garage keys. He got out three chairs and a smallish table, before quietly closing the door.
“I don’t think we’ll get Rod to bed as early as last night.”
“No. I’m sure we won’t. But I’m glad to see it. Last night he was wiped. And hurt. Today he’s more like himself.”
“He is that,” Sam concurred as he watched the huge figure striding back across the garden with a tray balanced professionally.
They sat down and Anna took a sip of her brandy.
“Tell me how you two met. The cage fighter and the orthopaedic surgeon seem like an odd couple to me.”
“The first time I saw Sam he was wearing a pair of not too clean drawstring trousers and some flip-flops. It was in Thailand. I’d been offered an obscene amount of money to fight two Cambodian brothers. So much that I couldn’t refuse. Win or lose it would set me up for life. I was just sitting waiting for my fight when an English voice spoke behind me. It warned me to watch the smaller of the two Cambodians around my nuts, if I didn’t want them bitten off. I nodded, and my informant moved off. That piece of information was the last bit of the jigsaw and enabled me to beat the crap out of the Cambodian boys. Carelessly, I managed to dislocate a knuckle, and I was wondering what to do about it when the English voice spoke again. I turned around and saw this scruffy looking bugger, with two Chinese girls on his arms, and a doctor’s bag in his hands. Cut a long story short he fixed it, and his companions came back to my hotel with me. The girls were nurses, who worked for Medecins sans Frontiers. They clued me to the fact that Sam was actually not a local, which I found funny. So I sent him a bottle of single malt to show my appreciation. He reciprocated with a can of Red Stripe. And that’s how we became friends.”
“I see. But why was Sam dressed so scruffily?”
“I was blending. I enjoyed the real Thailand. Though it can be fucking brutal. A big black guy dressed like a local could go anywhere in relative safety. A Caucasian doctor not so much. If it wasn’t whores and beggars, it would be con men and muggers. I was safer…”
Then Anna grinned wryly.
“I’ve never seen Rod fight. I always wanted to, but never been brave enough to go.”
“I could watch him all the time. He’s incredible. It’s not just how big and strong he is, he’s graceful, and unbelievably fast. The Lin twins – the two nurses in the story – had a theory that he could pluck flies out of the air if he wanted. Mind you, they also said he was a prodigious lover and had the best tattoos they had ever seen.”
“Oh yeah. Except your dragon.”
Anna raised her eyebrows. Sam got up and pulled the t-shirt over his head to reveal a broad, hairless chest, decorated with a rampant dragon, which started on his chest ran around his rib age and finished just above his navel.
“That is an excellent dragon. But. On an orthopaedic surgeon?”
Sam grinned and put his shirt back on.
“That’s the whole point isn’t it? Everyone needs a small rebellion. Smaug here is mine. Wanna show me yours?”
“I don’t have one. And what’s Rod’s excuse? He’s got more ink on him than the Sunday Times…”
“I dunno. It has a bit to do with the cage fighting culture. But mostly I just like the way it looks.”
“On girls too?”
“Especially on girls.”
“Doesn’t it hurt?”
“Yes. It does. I nearly gave up at times, but once I started…”
“True. The worst bits are the sleeves, the underside of your arms is mightily sensitive.”
“If I live to be nine hundred I will never understand men.”