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?
Lucia entered the office to find Anita seated with her arms crossed.
“Hey…what’s the emergency? You sounded rather serious on the phone,” Lucia said as she sat. “Why are you here?” Anita asked simply.
“What do you mean?”
“I know who you are; we both know where you come from. We both know you don’t belong here.”
“I’ve no idea of what you’re referring to, Anita.”
“I know you are Lucia Baker, Monique.” Lucia chuckled.
“I know; you’ve never ceased to remind me each time you get the chance.”
“No, I know exactly who you are; the Lucia Baker, the nurse who attended to Ted at Peace General Hospital.” Lucia’s eyes widened in shock.
“Huh! You can’t even deny it, can you?” Lucia swallowed.
“And some way somehow you ended up being the daughter of the business legend, Mr. Baker and here you are! You had Ted in your sight for almost a month and you wasted your chance to be with him. Now that he’s here and has chosen me, you’ve reappeared in another guise to compete for his heart. What is your problem?!”
“I’m not competing for anything, Anita.”
“Oh really? Can you honestly tell me there’s nothing going on between you two?”
“Yes I can because it is the truth. We are just partners.”
“Thankfully it won’t be long. Soon, this charade will be over and either your dad or Ted’s will take over this company and we wouldn’t have to see you again. But I want you to promise me one thing.”
“And what is that?”
“That when you leave, you’ll stay gone. Don’t let me even smell you from a thousand miles from here.”
“And why would I do that?” “Because if you continue to lurk around like the slithering snake you are, I’ll tell Ted who you are in excruciating detail. Trust me, I can get very creative when I’m well motivated and you, Miss Baker have given me a full dosage of it. And something tells me that by the time I’m done, you seeing Ted again would be really far from reality. He’ll come to hate you more than he despises me. And it is more than fine with me. If I don’t get to be with him, you are definitely not going to. Am I clear on that?”
“You don’t scare me, Anita.” “Then you should be because by the time I’m through with you, you’ll find yourself exiled from here for a very long time. Do not take my words lightly, dear.”
“Are you by any chance threatening me?”
“Am I threatening you….um…let me see…maybe I am. That is not my intention though but if that’s how you want to see it so as to understand what I’ve been saying then yes, I’m threatening you, Miss Baker,” Anita said in a dead serious tone. Lucia chuckled again.
“And what’s so funny? Do I look hilarious?”
“Come to think of it, yeah. You’re the one engaged to the guy and have great rapport with his parents but apparently, someone as insignificant as me happens to be such a big threat to your fairy tale ending.”
“Very funny but yes, I’ll agree with you on one thing; you’re insignificant. But life has taught me not to underestimate anything nor anyone, no matter how petty they may be.”
“Well, I’m not going to let you scare me away. Although I’ll give it to you; you do look like a scarecrow but I’m going to take my chances. If I wanted to have Ted, I’d have him just with a snap of my finger so instead of threatening me, you should be thanking me.”
“Thank you? Ever since you came into our lives, he doesn’t look at me the same way anymore!” Anita accused.
“And you blame me for that? From what I heard, you cheated on him with a colleague. Don’t blame me if you don’t have what it takes to keep your man, Anita.” Lucia stood.
“I understand your present situation has made you desperate because obviously, the survival of your future dreams depend on you leeching on Ted but I assure you, I’ve no bad intentions against you, Anita. So stop being paranoid or it will make you mad. Do you know the statistics of young beautiful women who end up in the nuthouse simply because they freaked out about non-existent threats? You’d be surprised. I’ll see you,” Lucia said and walked to the door.
“And one thing…” Anita said, stopping Lucia. She turned. “What?”
“You’re out, Lucia. You’re no more my bridesmaid.” Lucia chuckled.
“Please honey, we both knew from the jump that this was all a fallacy. There wasn’t going to be a wedding in the first place,” Lucia replied and left the office.
“I hate you!” She screamed.
Lucia arrived home to find her father and Mr. Bourbon chatting heartily.
“Mum, is that Mr. Bourbon dad is chatting with?”
“Yes dear; I’m sure everything’s settled now.”
“You’ll find out soon.” Her mother smiled.
“I never knew they were buddies. Thought they were…”
“Business rivals? Of course they are but they are also pro-players. They have an interesting love-hate relationship which has thrived all these years. They know when to join forces so they can both benefit at the end.”
“I see. And exactly what is the end benefits they are about to enjoy together?” Lucia asked.
“All in good time.”
“Mum, Ted’s girlfriend threatened me today.”
“Threatened you, how, why?” “She knows I’m the nurse who attended to Ted and she has threatened to tell on me unless I disappear.”
“What does she mean, disappear?”
“Meaning I don’t show up after this whole deal with McLean is wrapped up.”
“But you like Ted, don’t you?” “That is not the point, mum. If she tells Ted, he might come to resent me for not telling him all this while and I wouldn’t forgive myself for that.”
“So take this as a cue and go tell Ted yourself. It will be better.” “He’ll not hate me any less, mother.”
“Trust me, you don’t want a desperate woman giving him her carefully concocted version of your story to Ted. Desperate women are most dangerous especially when they have nothing to lose,” her mother advised.
“Okay, I’ll tell him after the meeting is over.”
“The sooner the better. And let me know how it goes.”
“Sure. I’ll be in my room.”
“If you’re hungry, I’ve some fruit salad in the fridge which you can help yourself with whiles you wait for dinner.”
“Thanks mum; I’ll do that after I’ve taken a shower.”
“Okay dear.” She left to her room.
Two days later, Ted, Anita, Lucia and her dad converged again to meet Mr. McLean.
“Well, I’ve read your reports and I must say I’m really impressed with your work,” Mr. McLean said.
“Thank you, sir,” Ted said.
“This has made decision-making surprisingly harder for me because your reports have shown that my company would be in equally good hands of either in Bourbon’s camp or that of Baker’s. So after a very hard look at things and discussing it with the big guys, I’ve come to this conclusion. I’ve decided to leave the company in the hands of both companies.”
“What does that mean? This wasn’t the agreement, Mr. McLean,” Anita protested.
“I know, Miss but I’m thinking about the welfare of my company. Each of you can make my company better but with both hands on board, this company will go places that even I thought impossible. Besides, both Mr. Bourbon and Mr. Baker are cool with it.” Anita glanced at Ted in shock.
“Did you know about this?”
“No; I’m shocked as you are.” Anita looked at Lucia who didn’t wear surprise on her face.
“I see; so you found a way to still hang around, didn’t you?” “Excuse me? I had no idea Ted and my parents met behind closed doors and decided this.” “So, henceforth, this company now belongs to Mr. Ted Bourbon and Miss Monique Baker, representing their respective companies,” Mr. McLean announced.
“This is unbelievable!”
“What do you say, Ted?”
“If this is what my father wants, sure I’m okay with it.”
“Uh huh, perfect cover up.”
“And who are you again, young lady? How are you even affected by this? You’re not related to the Bourbons, are you?” Mr. McLean asked. Lucia giggled earning her a dark glare from Anita.
“She’s with me; she works for me,” Ted replied.
“I see. So, you two should come see me in my office tomorrow and we’ll talk more about this,” he said, referring to Ted and Lucia. “Yes sir,” they both replied. Mr. Baker shook Mr. McLean’s hands.
“Thanks; it was a pleasure doing business with you.”
“Anytime, Baker.” Ted shook Lucia’s hands with a smile.
“I guess we’ll be seeing each other more often from now on.” “Uh huh,” Lucia said, stealing a sideway glance at Anita who fumed and walked out.
“Forgive her misconduct. She must have woken from the bad side of her bed today,” Ted apologized.
“It is okay. See you tomorrow, Ted Bourbon.”
“Can’t wait,” he replied, squeezing her hand.
“After all these months of hard work, why would you want to throw it all away, son?” Mrs. Bourbon asked Ted.
“I’m not throwing it away, mother. This is Monique’s first try and she really did well. I think she deserves it.”
“And so do I; I really worked hard on the project too,” Anita chipped in.
“But you are not the company’s heir; I am,” Ted snapped at her. “Look, mum, dad…we’ve acquired a lot of other upcoming and collapsing companies. Surely we can let this one slide.”
“Why are you pushing for this so hard? Do you like this girl?” his mother asked.
“Good question,” Anita said. Ted cast a glare at her.
“It is not that, mother. I’ve gone through the records, dad. A lot of damage was caused. Acquiring it will incur us more cost than profit. A lot of repair is required.”
“But we can handle that, can’t we?” Mr. Bourbon asked.
“Of course we can; I just don’t think it’s worth our time,” Ted said. There was a pause.
“Okay, if you say so,” Mr. Bourbon said.
“What? You’re letting go?” Anita asked.
“Shut up, Anita. The owner of the company has agreed. Who are you to challenge that?” Ted said. “Show some respect, Ted. You shouldn’t talk to her like that,” his mother scolded.
“You should have heard how she spoke to me when I was in the hospital with my sight gone.” “Come on Ted; that was long ago. Are you really going to dig that up now?”
“So how far with the wedding preparations?” Mrs. Bourbon asked. Ted and Anita glanced at each other.
“It’s going well…” Anita was saying when Ted cut in, “There will be no wedding.”
“I don’t want to.”
“What happened, son? You two going through a rough time?” his dad asked.
“Yeah…” Anita said, trying to save the situation.
“No…it will be a terrible mistake if we do this. We don’t love each other…”
“I love you, Ted!” Anita cried out desperately.
“Oh yeah, if I weren’t Mr. Bourbon’s son and heir, would you want to be with me?” he asked her. She swallowed. “That’s what I thought,” he said. “Well, believe it or not, love doesn’t come easy to people like us. Every woman out there wants a piece of what we have worked so hard for…so they feign interest till they get what they want. And it is no surprise if Anita is such a woman.”
“No offense, lady; just being honest here.”
“But I might find the right one out there.”
“Are you in love with someone else?” his mother asked. Ted looked at his mum.
“I knew it! It’s Monique, isn’t it?” Anita asked, her voice getting hysterical.
“Shut it, Anita! Your voice is getting on my nerves.”
“Who’s she, son?” Mrs. Bourbon asked.
“Someone I met at the hospital. I haven’t seen her since then but I can’t seem to take my mind off her. So till I do so, I don’t want to commit to anyone else.”
“Lucia? She might be married for all you know, Ted!” Anita said, emotions building in her voice. Ted sighed as he buried his face in his palms.
“Anita dear, I think you should leave us. This is a family matter now,” Mrs. Bourbon said. Anita glanced at the parents, shocked. “But I am family too.” “Apparently…not yet,” Mr. Bourbon said. Anita shook her head as she took her bag and got up.
“I can’t believe this.” She walked out.
“Thank you for sending her away. Her voice was driving me nuts.” “That makes two of us,” Mr. Bourbon said with a chuckle. That got him a glare from his wife. “What? I’m trying to make him feel better.”
“Go get some rest, son. We’ll continue this talk later.”
“Okay.” He went to his room.
Anita was so angry that she took it out on her drive back home. She sped like never before.
“So she thinks she can just appear in our lives, charm her way to win the project and then snatch my man away from me too? Then she must be walking upside down. She’s really going to regret crossing my path; she’s going to wish she never left her nurse post at that damned hospital!” She stepped harder on the accelerator.
“Lucia?” She turned to see Allen approaching her.
“Allen! Thank God, I really needed someone to talk to!” They hugged.
“You’ve been gone for so long.” “I know; I got some job out of town but I’ve given some time off so I decided to come and see you.”
“Aww…that was so thoughtful of you. Let’s sit.” They sat and ordered drinks.
“So what’s up with you? How’s working with your father turning out for you?”
“Hmm…very interesting. And I got myself into a mess too.” “Why, what happened?”
“I met someone from my past…I mean, from the hospital.” “Okay…how bad can it be?” “Because I had lost my memories, I didn’t know the one he was looking for was me till recently and I don’t know how to tell him that I’m Lucia.”
“What name did you use?” “Monique.”
“Oh, I see; you took mum’s advice.”
“Yeah, and see where it got me.” She sucked the drink from the straw.
“What do I do?”
“Is he going to stick around for long or he’ll soon be history?”
“I doubt he’s going anywhere.” “Then you should tell him.”
“Uh huh, how’s he like?”
“Some business guy…” Flashes of his encounter with Ted came to mind. Allen panicked inwardly. “How close are you two?” Allen asked.
“Pretty close; we work together.” “You don’t say!”
“I know, right? The world’s such a small place.”
“Yeah, way too small. So you say, you’ve regained your memories…all of them?”
“Not all; I still don’t remember our time together. I know, it sounds horrible.”
“Oh no, not necessarily.”
“Why, there are no fond memories of us together?”
“I didn’t mean that; some things are best left locked away. I’m glad we can sit together and talk like friends. Let’s make a toast…to friends.”
A few days later, Ted was driving through town when he saw a couple walking hand in hand. He looked harder and he recognized the lady as Monique. He stopped the car, got out and called out her name. She stopped and turned.
“Ted! Hey!” Allen froze when his eyes fell on Ted. Oh no, it was the guy who came to him some months ago. If Lucia found out the truth…
“Are you two headed somewhere?” Ted asked.
“No, not really; we’re just strolling. Meet Allen, an old friend of mine.”
“Hi,” Ted, offering his hand. Allen shook it.
“Allen, this is Ted, a colleague and friend.”
“She has said a lot about you,” Allen said.
“Oh yeah, hope they are good things.”
“Pretty much.” Ted and Lucia smiled at each other.
“Good to see you, Ted. It has been a while.”
“Yeah, you’ve been avoiding me.” “Oh no, since we wrapped our project up, I’ve been really busy at my dad’s office. It’s not intentional, Ted,” Lucia explained. “We’ll meet with Mr. McLean this Wednesday.”
“Yeah, will be there.”
“Will be expecting you. Take care of yourself, Monique.”
“You too, Ted.” Ted sat in his car and drove off.
“He’s cute, isn’t he?” Lucia asked Allen.
“Yeah, he is. You like him?”
“A little; I’m keeping it under control. He’s to marry a colleague of hers soon. I don’t want to get in the middle of that.”
“He likes you too?”
“Uh huh; but he’s been a real gentleman about it. It’s charming. Aha! He’s the one I was talking about. Can you believe he was my patient at the hospital? My last patient?”
“He was…interesting. Maybe you should tell him…sooner or later.” “Why?”
“It would be better if he heard it from you than from someone else or he figuring it all by himself.” “Okay…I will do so the very minute I get the chance,” Lucia promised.
“Allen, Allen…I swear that name sounds familiar. Haven’t I seen him before?” Ted asked himself over and over; the thought nagging at him like a thorn in his flesh.
The future remains uncertain; Though little sneak peeks we may see;
But if there’s anything I’ve learnt about spoilers;
It’s that they don’t always turn out to be as expected.
We’ve all been endowed with various talents;
Some to sing to soothe the soul; others to write to lift up spirits; Some to play (be it instruments or sports) to make people forget their woes;
And even some to just talk so people would feel cared for;
The future is yet unknown but the present is ours to decide;
How bright it will be tomorrow depends on how hard we work today;
A little counsel here, a little more practice there;
Then we have reason to hope for a brighter tomorrow.
The news may frustrate us, the government might disappoint us even more;
But in the end, it is entirely up to us;
Whether to wallow in despair or seize the obstacles and turn them into opportunities;
To stay buried or come out conquerors.
So whatever you can do, don’t let it go;
Cherish it like a jewel;
Because it may very well be the key;
To the door that holds all the answers.
Tomorrow may seem bleak but it is not for us to decide;
Today is what we have been given so let’s make hay now; Today is all that matters;
Let’s make the very best out of it.