Ted entered his office and dropped his keys and phone on the desk. He took off his coat and hang it. The door opened as he sat down.
“Just who I needed to see to make my day bright,” Ted said cynically as he switched on his computer.
“Haha…behind all that overt hostility, I happen to know you love me, Ted,” Anita said.
“Oh really, that’s news to me. What can I do for you, Anita?”
“I’m here to remind you that you have a meeting with your associates today.”
“Today, oh no…I have…”
“And let me also remind you that this meeting has already been postponed to today. This meeting is long overdue, Ted.”
“I know; but I need to get to the office.”
“Oh, you mean your other office.” He glanced at her.
“Yes; you have a problem with that?”
“Oh no. But this should be your primary concern, Ted. Your father is counting on you to sustain his company. The other one, well, Monique can handle it, right?”
“I guess you’re right. When is the meeting?”
“Okay; I might as well just get that done and over with.”
“Great; so how was the weekend?” He looked up at her.
“I was just asking a casual question. How was your weekend?”
“Look Anita, this is an office and these are working hours. If you have nothing worthwhile to do, better find someone to help out, okay?”
“Okay, you’re not going to tell me. I heard you went outstate with Miss you-know-who last weekend.”
“I don’t kiss and tell.”
“So how was it?”
“How did you think it was? We just met up with some businessman. That’s all.”
“Oh really, so why you didn’t return at the time scheduled? You found yourselves some…common ground to…interact, huh?” Anita said cunningly.
“I must say, Anita…my tolerance for your foolishness is really running low and one of these days, you’ll find yourself on the street before you know it.”
“Uh huh,” she said and left the office.
“Such a pain in my neck,” Ted fumed.
Lucia sat on her bed, filing her nails when her door opened.
“Hi sweetie, why don’t you join us downstairs?”
“Just to chat…have some family time.”
“No thanks, mum. I don’t want to be caught in between your arguments with dad.”
“No arguments tonight, I promise. We both want you to join us.” Lucia looked at her mother suspiciously.
“Am I in trouble?”
“Don’t be silly. Come on, get up and let’s go.” She got up and left the room with her mother.
“That’s my baby girl,” Mr. Baker said proudly as Lucia walked downstairs with her mother. She gave her parents another suspicious glance as she sat.
“What is going on?”
“Nothing; I said just to chat. Isn’t that right, honey?” Mrs. Baker said.
“Exactly. How’s work, dear?”
“It’s going great, dad. I’m finally getting a grip about it all.”
“That’s good. How about the training course you requested sometime back; are you still interested?”
“Sure of course; the sooner the better.”
“What about your other job, working with Mr. Bourbon?”
“It’s going well, mother. Nothing to worry about.”
“Oh I’m not worried; not at all.”
“So what’s going on between you two?”
“What do you mean?”
“Your mother told me about you two staying back at the hotel after your business meeting,” her dad added. Lucia looked at her mother in surprise.
“Mum! What did you say?”
“Nothing; just that you had decided to stay back with young Bourbon. Isn’t that all I said, honey?” Mrs. Baker asked innocently.
“We just want to know if you two are…you know more than partners.”
“We’re friends, daddy; nothing more.”
“So there was no intimate moment between you two back at the hotel?” her mother asked curiously.
“No mother; we slept in different rooms, for crying out loud!”
“Of course you did but that doesn’t mean you two weren’t…close. No intense moment where the earth stood still…”
“Honey…” Mr. Baker said.
“What? I’m recalling our pre-dating times, dear. What’s wrong with that?”
He smiled. Lucia shook her head.
“So was there?” Mr. Baker asked. Lucia looked at him, stunned.
“What? We’re all adults here, aren’t we?” He asked with a shrug.
“You need not be shy about such things with us, baby. You know you can talk to us about anything…even the intimate things,” her mother assured her.
“Yeah I know but I’m not really comfortable with this. I don’t want to talk about it.”
“So there was something, huh?” Her mother asked, her eyebrows rising with expectation.
“Are you two okay? You’re not tipsy, are you?”
“No, we’re not.”
“Okay yeah, we had a moment but that was it. Besides you told me, no little Bourbon, right?” Her mother smiled approvingly.
“Can I go to my room now?” Lucia asked, getting up.
“Hey, where are you going? Sit down. We’re just getting started,” her father said.
Lucia sighed as she threw herself on the sofa.
Lucia picked up her ringing phone and lay on the bed.
“Hey, you sound exhausted,” Ted remarked.
“You’ve no idea the torture my parents just put me through. What’s up?”
“I can say the same thing. Apparently, our parents have been talking and they seem to have plans for us.”
“Interesting. They see us as pawns in the chess game of business.”
“Yeah; I’ve a strong feeling in my gut that this is going to get shockingly interesting.”
“You mean like arranged marriage-interesting? You’re not the only one thinking it, dear.”
“Nice to hear your voice. Sorry I couldn’t make it to our office today. Had some things to take care of,” Ted apologized.
“Don’t apologize. Couldn’t make it myself. Have had a long day.”
“Same here. I’ll leave you to rest now. Just wanted to hear your voice before I get to bed. I don’t want the first voice I heard in the office to follow me into my dreams,” Ted said.
“You mean Anita’s voice.”
“She’s a thorn in my flesh. Apparently she found out we stayed behind at the hotel last weekend.”
“She did? Her spies are not doing a great job.” He chuckled.
“Talk to you tomorrow, Lucia.”
“Yeah sure; maybe I’ll drop in at your office.”
“You will?” He asked excitedly.
“Hey, don’t get too excited. I said maybe; don’t you dare hold me to that.”
“Sleep tight.” She cut the line. She saw a message alert from Allen. She deleted it and put the phone away.
Trust is like an investment;
Sometimes you gain the expected returns;
And sometimes you lose everything;
You’d never know if you made the right choice
Until you’ve taken the risk.
Some people cannot be trusted;
Because they are not wired to handle the responsibility that comes with it;
Like bad business;
Trying to make it work is by pumping in too much of yourself
Is like trying to hold water in a woven basket.
Trust is not easy;
You can only earn trust by first proving yourself trustworthy;
To be able to keep someone’s trust starts with trusting yourself
To remain dependable at all times
Because trust lost may never be regained.
You may never find someone trustworthy
If you don’t give someone the chance to prove himself;
The same way you want someone to call you his confidant;
Give someone the opportunity to do same.
Man betrayed God’s trust when he disobeyed in the garden;
But He didn’t give up on us;
He came back for us by laying down His life so we may have life;
Isn’t that a great reason to totally trust Him with ours
Knowing that He gave it to us in the first place?
“Hi mum,” Lucia greeted when her mother answered the phone.
“Hi honey; are you already at the airport?”
“No; actually I won’t make it back today.”
“Why, is anything wrong?”
“No, not at all. We decided to stay the night.”
“We, you mean and young Bourbon?” Lucia chuckled.
“Yeah, he suggested we stay behind and hang around a bit.”
“Huh, that sounds interesting. Whatever happens, don’t come back with little Bourbon in your womb, you hear me?”
“Come on mum, you raised me better than that!”
“I know but I’ve met the young guy and I must say he has his charm. You two can have all the babies you want after you’ve locked yourselves down.” Lucia laughed.
“I hear you, mum. Tell dad I said hi. See you soon.”
“You too, honey. Have fun.” Lucia cut the call. Ted entered.
“So where are we off to?” Lucia asked.
“I thought you said you wanted to do your pedicure stuff. I can keep you company.”
“I can always do that later. Maybe we should just talk. We haven’t ever since…you found out about me.”
“Okay, I’d love to have a bit of fresh air. Why not find a breezy spot outside?”
“Good idea,” Lucia said, getting up from the bed. They left the room.
“So I’ve been wondering, what was the only daughter of Mr. Fitzgerald doing, serving as a nurse?” Ted asked as they got settled with a glass of cocktail each.
“Well, my parents were forcing me to enter into the family business and I wasn’t ready so I left home. They tried to pressurize me into coming back home by freezing my account and all but I managed to get myself a job at the hospital where you came in dying,” Lucia narrated.
“I see; so what made you change your mind about joining your father in business? Was it because of me?” Ted asked.
“Oh no, not at all…when I lost my memories, I didn’t know where to turn and what was ahead of me. So when my mother proposed that I joined my father, I agreed and I’d say I haven’t regretted the decision so far.”
“So…you’re saying you’re not going to run off again?”
“No, I doubt it. Why do you ask?”
“Well we are partners now so if you decide to run off, you’d leave me stranded.” Lucia chuckled.
“Are you sure that’s the only reason why you don’t want me running off again?”
“No, you know why. Looking for you after my surgery was painful because I didn’t how you looked like and your files had miraculously vanished from the hospital’s system,” Ted said.
“Yeah, that sounds like my mother’s handiwork.”
“So…what do you remember about your boyfriend, Allen?”
“Well, I recently recalled the times he used to hit me and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. I don’t know I stayed with him though if he was abusing me.”
“Well, you were away from home and you needed someone to protect and care for you. As long as you thought you could handle his abusive side, you were okay.”
“I remember touching your face one day after he had hit you. Your face really felt bruised. I couldn’t see you but I could feel your pain. You didn’t deserve that.”
“Hey Ted!” They both looked up.
“Jon! Hey, what are you doing here?”
“I came to spend some quality time with my fiancée away from home. And who’s this lovely one?” He asked, shaking Lucia’s hand.
“She’s Monique Baker, my business partner. We came to meet someone.”
“I see. How’s Anita doing by the way?”
“She’s fine…as energetic as ever.”
“Can imagine. Wedding bells to ring anytime soon?”
“Nah, I doubt it.”
“Not surprised. She seemed so eager for my liking. But this lady over here, I think you two would be great.”
“Thanks, we’ll think about it.”
“See you around.” He walked away.
“Interesting guy,” Lucia remarked.
“Yeah, he is. So now that we’re on the issue, I wish to know where we stand.”
“Stand on what?”
“As in…the last time we talked that was before my surgery, I talked of us being together and you told me to hold on till after the surgery. Then you disappeared and months later, here you are,” Ted said.
“Yeah, and you recently canceled your wedding.”
“Yeah; and you just found out your boyfriend was abusing you. We’re both damaged.”
“Yeah, pretty much. We both need time to heal. It would be unreasonable if we just rushed into something we’re both not ready for, don’t you think?” Lucia said.
“I agree. But I’ve waited for you for so long that I must say with all honesty that, I’m ready to get married right now and call you my wife.”
“You…don’t mean that.”
“Oh yes I do. Don’t you want to be Mrs. Bourbon?”
“The name makes me tingle a bit. Of all the names in the world, why choose that?”
“I’d say ask my father but he wouldn’t have the answer either. But come to think of it, being together will make us both very powerful.”
“Thinking just like my mummy.”
“Your mummy? Why, she knows about us?”
“Yeah…she warned me not to return with little Bourbon inside me.” Ted laughed.
“Wow…Mother Baker is keeping tabs on me already, isn’t she? Thanks for the heads up.” There was a pause.
“So if I hadn’t called off the wedding, would you have stopped me or would you have watched me marry Anita?” Ted asked, glancing at her. Lisa exhaled.
“I just want to know what you were thinking.”
“Part of me prayed that you would call it off…”
“And the other part? You also wanted me to move on?”
“Yeah, I thought me coming clean with you was like opening a can of worms which would make things more complicated. And Anita was so excited about life with you. It seems her life revolves around you and I didn’t want to take it away from her.”
“If I had found about you after our wedding, I would never have forgiven you.”
“And that is why, I want you to promise me you won’t leave me again.”
“I’ve nowhere else to go, Ted. I’m home now.”
“My home is wherever you are, Lucia. So don’t render me homeless ever again.”
They went back inside after dusk.
“Dinner after shower?” Ted asked.
“I think I’d just order room service,” Lucia mimicked teasingly.
“Haha…very funny.” He opened his door.
“Oh no…,” Lucia muttered.
“Why, what’s up?”
“I left my keycard inside.”
“Well, you could just come in with me and we could order room service.”
“I guess I don’t have a choice,” Lucia said, entering his room.
She threw herself on the bed.
“What would you like to have?” Ted asked.
“Okay.” He picked the phone.
“You like it?” Ted asked as they ate.
“Yeah, they do have great chefs over here. I’ll give them that. And your order was great. Thanks.” He smiled.
“Have you informed the front desk guy about your keycard situation?” He asked.
“Yeah, he said he’ll come up and open it for me. He has a few things to see to at the moment.”
“Why, you want me to leave already?”
“Are you kidding me? Of course not. I just want to make sure we don’t end up making little Bourbon tonight.” They both chuckled.
“No, we are not. Or else my mother will have your head.”
“Which I very much need. Up for a movie?”
“Yeah, what’s the latest? I’ve been in the dark for some time now.”
“Who can blame you? Our kind of work makes leisure sound very luxurious.”
“I want to lie down.”
“Okay; I’ll clear this up when the guy comes up to open your door. Get up.”
They got settled on the bed. Ted made Lucia put her head on his lap.
“Don’t fall asleep, Lucia.”
“I’ll try.” He played with her hair.
“What would Anita think if she found out we are here together?” Lucia asked.
“I know for sure she’d be furious and since we’re both out of her reach, she’d take it out on her poor décor.” Lucia chuckled. She turned to look at him.
“I’m glad to be here with you, Ted.”
“Me too.” They spent the next minute just staring at each other.
“What are you thinking?”
“Just how lucky I am that Lucia and Monique happened to be the same woman. Because Lucia was someone else, it would be tough choosing who to be with.”
She smiled. She sat up.
“And I’m lucky to be Monique Baker so I could meet you again.” They kissed.
Their magical moment was interrupted with a knock on the door.
“Miss Baker? I’m here to open your door.”
“Okay, thank you. I have to go.”
“You too.” He kissed her again and she got up. She took her shoes and opened the door. He opened Lucia’s door.
“Thank you sir, I’m sorry for inconveniencing you.”
“Don’t mention it, ma’am. I’m at your service. Goodnight.” He walked away. Ted came up behind Lucia and held her.
“Part of me wished he never came back.” She chuckled.
“Me too.” She turned and hugged him.”
“Sweet dreams, Lucia. I know who you’ll dream about tonight.”
“Huh, we’ll see.” She entered the room and closed the door.
Ted glanced at his watch. I’ve forgotten how it feels traveling with a woman, he thought to himself. A black Mercedes pulled over close to his car. Lucia got out. The driver took the luggage out of the car and handed it to her.
“Thanks.” The driver nodded and sat back in the car and drove off. Lucia looked around. Ted signaled his driver to go help Lucia with her luggage.
“Let me help you with your bag, ma’am. I’m with Mr. Bourbon.” “Oh, thank you.” Her gaze met his and she walked to him. “You’re ten minutes late,” Ted said coldly.
“Our flight will take off for another fifteen minutes, Ted.”
“We agreed to meet…”
“Yeah I know. Can we go in?” “Sure.”
Throughout the check in points, Ted watched Lucia like a hawk. “Why are you watching my every move?” Lucia asked.
“What, I’m not,” Ted lied.
“Oh yeah? You’re watching me as if I’m going to get lost the next minute.”
“Well, considering the fact that you didn’t even want to come in the first place…”
“Oh come on, I’m here, am I not? Besides, I know my way around the airport, thank you.”
When they got settled in the plane and it took off, Lucia took a magazine from her handbag and began to flip through. Ted put on ear pieces and closed his eyes. About an hour later, they arrived at their destination.
They were driven to a five-star hotel and given rooms opposite each other.
“Thank you,” Lucia said sweetly as she took her luggage from the attendant and gave him a tip. He thanked her and left. She inserted her key card into the door slot and it opened. She turned to see Ted opening his door.
“Would you like to have dinner together after you’ve freshened up?” Lucia asked.
“No thanks; I’ll just order room service. Goodnight,” he said and closed the door. Lucia stood frozen at the spot with a dropped jaw.
“Oh okay, if that’s how you want to play it, I’m all in,” she said and entered the room.
“Jerk!” she muttered when the door closed behind her.
Later when she was warmly wrapped in her night-robe, enjoying a bowl of ice cream on her comfortable queen-size bed, she heard a knock on the door. A spoonful of ice cream paused right at her lips.
“Who is it?”
“It’s me,” Ted answered.
“Okay, what do you want?” “Um…just checking up on you. Are you okay?”
“Yeah, my dad didn’t ask you to check up on me, did he?”
“No, he didn’t.” He chuckled. There was silence for some seconds.
“Are you going to open the door or are we going to continue this conversation shouting across this door?” Ted asked.
“I’m fine with the distance,” Lucia said with a shrug, licking her spoon clean.
“Come on Lucia, open up.” Lucia moaned in reluctance as she got out of her little comfort zone. She opened the door halfway and leaned on it.
“What is it, Ted?”
“I’m sorry for blowing you off earlier.”
“May I come in?”
“I’m in my night-robe.”
“So? It is not like you’re naked.” “You’ve ten seconds to tell me what you want before I slam this door in your face.”
“I wish we could talk about tomorrow’s meeting…”
“You want to talk business during non-official hours? Sorry, I’m not up for it.”
“It’s Monique, Ted.”
“What?” “Lucia was the sweet nurse who took care of you in the hospital, she’s gone. I am Monique, the daughter and heiress of Mr. Fitzgerald Baker and his enterprises; we are two different people. So don’t call me Lucia. I’m not her anymore.” “But…”
“And your ten seconds are up. Goodnight.”
“Wait…” The slam of the door stuck the rest of the words in his mouth. He sighed and entered his room.
Lucia stood in front of the mirror, putting on her earrings when Ted knocked on her door the next day.
“Are you ready?”
“Almost; I’m coming.” She opened the door and turned back inside. Ted paused at the door when he saw her unzipped dress. She turned to look at him.
“What is it?”
“Nothing…thought you were dressed.”
“I am; just give me five minutes.” “You mean fifteen minutes.” “Don’t start, Ted.” She put on the second earring and reached behind her to zip up the dress. “Leave that to me,” he said softly as he took her hands away and zipped her up. A slight moan escaped her throat.
“Nah, I’m good. Soon, I’m not going to fit in this dress, though.” “Looks good on you.” She stared at him in the mirror.
“What, is it wrong to give a lady her due compliments?” She took a necklace from its case and tried it around her neck. He took over and put it on her.
“It’s perfect.” His hands rested on her hips. They stared at each other in the mirror. Lucia felt his fingers slowing digging into the dress. She held her breath. Ted’s phone rang. He took his hands from her body and took the phone from his pocket to answer it.
“Hello.” He listened.
“We’ll be right there.” He canceled the call.
“He’s here.” Lucia put on her shoes.
“Do I look okay or am I a little overdressed?”
“As I said before, perfect.” Lucia smiled. She took her purse and they left the room.
“Nice meeting you two. You two do look good together. You’ll make a great team,” Mr. Scott complimented.
“Thanks, Mr. Scott.”
“This is my private card. You can call me anytime,” He said, handing it to Ted.
“Thank you,” He said, glancing at it.
“I’ll take my leave now. I’m sure you two have other things planned for a day beautiful as this,” He said, winking at Lucia. “We sure do.” The two gentlemen stood and shook hands. Mr. Scott shook Lucia’s hands. Lucia got up.
“I’ll go ahead and start packing up,” she told Ted.
“We’re leaving, right?” “Yeah…but not now.”
“You said we’d leave right after the meeting.”
“Yeah, but at least let’s have lunch first.”
“We just did.”
“I mean…it wouldn’t hurt if we hang around for a few hours, would it?”
“Hang around doing what?”
“Just wait for me, I’m coming.” He went after Mr. Scott who had taken the lead. Lucia shook her head and went up to her room.
There was a knock. Lucia opened the door and Ted entered. “You’ve packed up already?”
“It was just for a night, Ted.” “Why do you want to return home so soon? Do you have something to do back there?”
“Like…getting myself a luxurious manicure and pedicure and body treatment.”
“They offer all those services here,” Ted said.
“Yeah, but I prefer to have it at home. Why do you want to stay?” “To stay away from all the drama back there, even if it is just for another day.”
“Sorry for you but I’m leaving,” Lucia said, taking her suitcase from the bed.
“Because unlike you, I didn’t plan to stay another night. But I’ll stay for just one reason.”
“What is that?”
“If you ask me to.”
“Do you want me to?” He chuckled and gave his hair a light scratch.
“Okay, see you back at home.” He stopped her by the arm. “Please.” She let go of the bag. “Was that so hard?” They both chuckled and he hugged her.
“I missed you so much. Thought I’d never see you again.”
“Who are you referring to?” He let go of her and looked into her eyes.
“I am talking to you. You may be Monique Baker for all I care but you’ll always be Lucia Baker to me. The thing is, I like both of you.”
“You’re pathetic, you know that?” “Yeah I know; I hear that’s what happens when you fall in love,” Ted said. They hugged again.
Lucia entered Mr. McLean’s office to find him and Ted already seated.
“Good morning; sorry I’m late,” she apologized as she sat.
“Good morning, Ms. Baker. You’re right on time. I know you two have a lot on your plates so I won’t waste your time. Hope the transition is going well for you two.”
“Yes sir.” After some minutes of business talk, Mr. McLean said, “There’s a business network dinner coming off this weekend. It is a good opportunity for you young folk to meet up with great minds. Are you up for it? I can get you tickets.”
“Let me check my schedule,” Lucia said, taking out her phone. When she opened her calendar, she realized she had an out-of-state business trip with Ted. She bit her lower lip. After the confrontation at the hospital, she doubted he was still up for it. “Um…sure, I don’t think I’ve anything…”Lucia was saying when Ted cut in, “Actually no; we have a weekend business trip to meet a potential investor.” He threw Lucia a deadly look that made Lucia subconsciously want to vanish.
“Oh already, that’s great. Okay then, I’ll get you tickets for the next one.”
“We are grateful, Mr. McLean.” “It is my pleasure.” Ted looked at his watch.
“We’ll take our leave now. Thanks for your time, sir.” They shook hands.
“My regards to your dad, Ms. Baker.”
“Sure, Mr. McLean. Have a nice day.” They stepped out of the office. Ted who was walking in front of Lucia suddenly stopped and turned, making Lucia almost bump into him.
“Gosh! You startled me. Did you forget something in the office?” “Why did you say or almost say you were free this weekend? Did you forget about our trip or did you not want to come with me?” Ted asked.
“Oh no, it’s not like that. Well, because of what transpired at the hospital and because of what you said, I didn’t think you would want me to come along.”
“Seriously? This is a business trip not some pleasure get-away.”
“I know that. I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable.”
“What happened at the hospital has nothing to do with this. And besides, the fact couples fight doesn’t mean they are going to get a divorce, does it?” Ted asked.
“What’s with the metaphor? We are not a couple, are we?” Lucia asked. Ted sighed and walked away. He unlocked his car door and opened it.
“Ted, wait.” Lucia approached him.
“I know I’ve hurt you with my actions or should I say my inactions…and I want to let you know that I’m sorry. We were friends before and I enjoyed our connection. And I really want to gain your friendship and trust back.”
“It is going to take more than ‘I’m sorry’ to gain my trust back, lady,” Ted said and got into his car. “Ted…” He started the car and drove away. Lucia sighed and walked to her car.
Lucia pulled over at Allen’s apartment. Allen opened the door a few seconds after Lucia had knocked.
“Hi Lucia. Come on in.” She entered and looked around the place.
“Want a drink?”
“A glass of water will be fine, thanks.” She sat. As her eyes roamed the room, memories of her time with him began flashing in her mind. She remembered her bruised and teary face. She touched her forehead to hold back the headache but to no avail. Flashes of Allen hitting her to the point where she fell and hit her head on the bed post came to mind.
“Hey…are you okay?” Lucia startled when Allen touched her shoulder. She began panting. “What is it?” She took the glass from him and drank. Allen sat beside her.
“You remember what?”
“I remember…everything.” “Okay…you already told me that.”
“No! I remember what you did to me, Allen. How you used to abuse me.” Allen’s face turned pale.
“Lucia…I was a total jerk back then and I’m very sorry.”
“You made me forget my memories and when Ted came looking for me, you lied to him.” “Oh boy, he figured you out, didn’t he?”
“That is not the point, Allen! I was your punching bag, wasn’t I?” “I’m sorry.”
“And you still had the guts to come see me in the hospital? You’re pathetic,” Lucia said, getting up.
“Lucia please…” “Don’t let me ever see you anywhere around me or I’ll have you arrested and if my mum finds out about this, you’ll surely rot behind bars.” “Lucia…” She left the apartment and slammed the door behind her. Allen collapsed onto the sofa.
There was a knock on Ted’s door. He raised his head to see Anita entering.
“I need your signature on these papers,” she said, handing over a file to him. He took them and signed them. He raised his hand to give it back to her with his eyes on his computer but after a few seconds of the file not leaving his hand, he looked up. Anita took it.
“What was that for?”
“I just needed to know if I had your attention.”
“Come on, we’ve been through a lot together and now all you do is to avoid eye contact? I’m not just any employee,” Anita said. “That’s all you are to me, Anita and if you’re not comfortable with that, I’d be glad to get you fired this instant.”
“Whoa, what’s with the attitude? What’s the matter, the love of your life refused to rub your feet last night?” She asked teasingly. When he eyed her, she sat down. “Come on, the fact that our wedding has been called off doesn’t mean we can no longer be friends, right?”
“I’m kind of busy here, Miss.” “Miss, wow…is that where we are right now? Tell me, why are you so grumpy?”
“I’m not grumpy; I’m just not in the mood to play dumb games with you.”
“Is this about Lucia?” He looked at her.
“What about Lucia?”
“Are you thinking about her?” “Maybe I am. What is it to you?” “What if I told you, I know where she is?”
“What do you mean?”
“You wouldn’t believe it…she’s closer than you think.”
“You know who Lucia is?”
“For quite some time; ever since you told me about her, I did a little investigation and found her out.”
“So why didn’t you tell me?”
“Are you kidding me? Who’ll will deliberately give her fiancé the green card to call off their wedding?”
“But I called it off anyway.”
“Yeah but at least, if I don’t get you, she won’t either and I can live with that.”
“Wow. For a moment, I forgot the kind of woman I almost married.” “Oh please, I’m not the devil. This is basic human instinct. I wanted to protect what was mine as long as it was mine.”
“Anyway, thanks. I found her too.”
“You did? You sure?”
“Sure about what?”
“Sure you found the real Lucia Baker?”
“So you’re going to get married to her and spend the rest of your happy days on the beach and enjoy the view of the sunset?” “Very funny; no. I guess you won, Anita. I’m not going to be with either of you,” Ted said. Anita smiled.
“Gladly,” she said, getting up. “You’ll be fine. Sooner or later, you’ll realize I’m the best one for you,” she said with a wink and left the room. Ted sighed and buried his face in his palms.
Lucia pulled over at Peace General Hospital and got out, grinning all over. She felt lighthearted. Soon, she was going to tell Ted everything and they would be happy together. And it certainly felt good to come back here…where it all started. The memories flashing in her mind nearly tears to her face. She was the one who held Ted’s hand when he came in…threatening to die. She remembered how scared how he was when his sight was failing; how he played the guitar for her and got her flowers.
“I think I’m in love with her, doc,” Ted told Dr. Grant.
“Monique, so soon? What about Lucia?”
“Lucia…isn’t coming back, doc. She’ll always have a place in my heart, no doubt but I have to move on. She’s like a sweet angel in my dreams but I can’t live in my dreams forever, I definitely have to wake up. And in my reality, it is Monique. It is just ironic that both ladies have the same surname. Isn’t that a bit weird?”
Dr. Grant shifted in his seat. “So…Monique hasn’t told you yet?”
“Told me what?”
“Lucia!” Lucia turned to find her colleague Cindy. They hugged.
“It has been a while, dear. What are you also doing here? Did you two plan a reunion?” Cindy asked Lucia.
“What are you talking about?”
“Did I just hear someone call Lucia? Did she come back and you didn’t tell me, doctor?” Ted asked as he got up.
“No, she never came back. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Ted walked out of the office and looked around.
“Your patient lover, Ted.”
“What do you mean? Is Ted here?”
“Yes, Lucia…he’s in Dr. Grant’s office.”
Lucia turned at the sound of her name and the sight of Ted made her want to faint but her legs refused to give her away. He walked towards them with slow steps. Lucia swallowed hard.
“It is so nice to have you two back,” Cindy said cheerfully. Ted stood right in front of a slightly trembling Lucia.
“Could you please give us a minute?” Ted asked firmly but politely, his eyes fixed on Lucia. “Sure. Don’t leave without saying goodbye to me, okay Lucia?” “Sure.”
She walked away.
“What are you doing here?” He asked coolly.
“I came to see Dr. Grant.”
“Why, are you ill?”
“Oh no, I just came over to say hi.”
“Why did she call you Lucia?” “Ted…I can explain.”
“Just tell me why she called you by that name.”
“Because that’s her name,” Dr. Grant replied. Ted turned to look at him.
“What about Monique, is that your undercover name?”
“No; it is my name too.” Ted glanced at the doctor for confirmation.
“That’s true. I remember her name in the files to be Lucia M. Baker.”
“And you knew that I never saw your face when I was here, right?” She nodded.
“So why didn’t you say anything when we first met outside?”
“Can we please take this conversation a place more private?” Dr. Grant suggested. “I’m listening.”
“The accident I got myself involved in caused me to lose my memories so I didn’t know you to be you when we first met.”
“Ted, please…” the doctor insisted. They all walked into his office.
Dr. Grant sat whiles Ted and Lucia stood.
“Sit down, please.”
“I’m good,” Ted replied, looking at Lucia.
“I regained them not so long ago.”
“Exactly when is ‘not so long ago’?”
“About three months, I think.” Ted looked at Dr. Grant.
“So when I brought her to meet you, you knew who she was?”
“I told him not to tell you anything,” Lucia answered in his defense.
“I wasn’t ready. I didn’t think it was a good idea. You were back together with Anita and you seemed happy. I didn’t want to ruin that.”
“Seemed happy? Hello lady, have you met me? You’ve been around us this whole time. For goodness’ sake, I even confided in you with the fact that I didn’t love Anita and that I only loved Lucia.”
“I know…and I’m sorry.”
“Sorry for what exactly, Lucia? For watching me struggle to love someone even to the extent of allowing me to go the altar and get married? How heartless could you be?!” Ted exclaimed.
“It wasn’t my intention to hurt you. I didn’t know exactly what I hoped to achieve by bringing up the past when it was obvious that you had moved on.”
“That is no excuse. I fell in love with you twice…one without eyes and the other, still blinded with your second name and each time you refused me. Why?”
“It is not like that, Ted.”
“Did you have anything to do with our parents agreeing on the McLean project outcome?”
“No, I didn’t. It was a surprise to me as well.”
Ted paced around a few times with intermittent chuckles. “Wow…I kept praying that Lucia would come to me but she was near me all this while. No wonder I felt the way I did right from the minute we met. I can’t believe this.” He stopped and looked at her.
“You told your boyfriend to tell me to leave you alone, didn’t you?”
“When you disappeared after your accident, I went to meet your friend and I asked him to give you a message and he told me that you didn’t want anyone from your past to come bothering you…and that I should move on.” “Allen?”
“Yeah, that’s him,” Dr. Grant confirmed.
“Oh no. That can’t be.”
“No, I don’t even remember my time with him in the past. Why would he say that?”
“So that I wouldn’t come back looking for you.”
“I had no idea.”
“It still doesn’t clear you in any way, Lucia or Monique or whatever you want to call yourself.”
“I know…I didn’t want to disrupt your re-adjusted life. I was planning on doing that soon though.”
“Well sorry you didn’t get to do it your way. And I must say I’m disappointed in you, doctor. You knew how much I was suffering from this whole Lucia missing drama but you kept quiet and watched me. You two are heartless,” Ted said and turned to walk away.
“And I don’t want to see your double-self anywhere around me.” He walked out. Lucia turned a teary face towards Dr. Grant.
“It was bound to happen sooner or later.” Lucia sat.
“He’s going to hate me.”
“Yeah for a while but he’ll come around. He’s loved you this much for a while. It just can’t go away especially when the two women he was in love with turned out to be the same person.”
“I’m not so sure.”
Lucia Baker and Monique Baker…the very same person. Why didn’t he think of that possibility? He recalled hearing someone call Lucia’s name after a meeting with McLean and he had mistaken her to be the secretary. It must have been Mr. Baker calling her daughter. And at the mall…it must have been her and Allen. That jerk… Why would she look on and even escort Anita to the altar to marry him? Doesn’t she love him like he does? He fell in love with her twice…with and without eyes. Tears filled Ted’s eyes.
Names identify us. Some names echo our well-to-do backgrounds, others are a nagging reminder of the trail of bad luck that have followed us for generations. We feel proud when the mere mention of our names does the talking for us and takes us places in ways our efforts would never accomplish; but for others, when their names come up, the only prayer on their lips is for the earth to open and swallow them up so they would not have to face the shame which comes along with it.
Names are important; they are legacies-people live and die day in and day out but their names live on (some gloriously, others infamously). Some people are doomed to stick to one way of life because of their names, for others, the sky is only the beginning.
But earthly names are irrelevant compared to what our Father above calls us. We were all born broken, flawed and confused. Our names and images in the mirror never cease to remind us of some terrible mistakes we may have made and how we ended up where we are right now. But all hope is not lost yet.
When Christ died on the cross for us, He wiped the slate clean. We are new people with brand new identities. When God looks at us, He does not see the old, unfaithful us but He sees us as washed clean. When the accuser stands to call us names, the precious Blood of the Lamb defends us. When we are accused of being sinful, we are called the Redeemed; when we are referred to as doomed, we are called Forgiven. When we are pointed at as stray, we are called Holy and Beloved, the Children of the Most High.
Life might have scarred you with harsh and shameful names but always remember, you were reborn with a new lovely name that no one or nothing can take away from you.
So what is your name? When life breathes down on you, how do you respond?