In Cambodia, out of money and desperate, Sara takes a job having sex with strangers… not as a hooker, but a cog in an unusual scam. It surprises her to find she likes the work; she changes her mind about the sex trade. Discovering that she’s working for a Russian mob makes it all even stranger… Welcome to SE Asia!
~~~~~ PG Excerpt ~~~~~
Nico looked uncomfortable. “I wish I could think of something, but the rainy season is coming. Things are slowing down in tourism. Have you ever considered going back to Australia? I know you don't want to leave, but I'd think it would be easier to find a decent paying job in your own country.”
“I don't have a return ticket,” she said. “Even if I liked that idea, now that my jerkoff husband closed our joint bank account and canceled my credit card as a sick surprise, I have no way to buy one.” She shook her head.
“Your embassy will fly you back if you can't get home.”
“And then I'd owe them for a full fare ticket. And what do I live on while I look for work? I'd arrive with no place to live and no transportation. My parents are dead, and my husband has all the money. He isn't in a charitable mood and I can't afford to get to the airport from town much less to job interviews. I couldn't get a job without some better clothes. I've gone job hunting before and I know what it's like. The fact that I was made redundant isn't supposed to make a difference but not having a job always makes it harder to find one.”
Nico signaled Ling, the Vietnamese girl who managed the guest house for him, and was Sok’s boss, to bring more coffee. “What if I loaned you enough to get home and get started?”
Sara smiled at the man. Nico looked as miserable as she felt. She knew she was putting him, all her friends on the spot, and the truth was his offer touched her. Bar owners heard every sob story there was. Half were scams of course, and this was a generous offer. Nico wasn't rich.
“You're a love, Nico, but with the cost of things in Oz even if I walk straight into an office job I'll be struggling to break even for a long time. I'd need clothes, rent, food… I've got nothing. It would be ages before I could pay you back. I'd hate that. It would weigh on me.”
“She isn’t lying,” Gina said. “It’s a place for rich people, these days.”
She sighed, looking out at the chaos of the street, the swirl of motorbikes and tuk-tuks and cars. “Worse, I'd be back there. I’ve fallen in love with this place.”
“Let's focus on things she can try right here,” Gina said. “Just assume for now that it can happen, or we can make it happen.”
“In the short term, I'm sure I could get you a job with a bar,” Nico said. “It would just be survival though… room and board in return for long hours. That would make it hard to find time to look for a better job.”
“Surviving is better than where I was at a minute ago,” Sara said.
“Then we have one option already,” Gina said cheerfully.
Nico tapped the morning paper that sat in front of him. “You can make the rounds of the foreign companies. It will be just luck and good timing if you find something. But it's worth a shot.”
Sara had already thought of that. “I’ve looked. If there is anything, they certainly aren't advertising in the papers. The only thing I've found that might work is teaching English.”
“That's the backpacker fallback,” Nico laughed. “And it's easier for a woman to get hired, especially for teaching young kids.”
Sara laughed. “I hate kids. But I hate having no money even more.”