“Daddy!” Lucia screamed excitedly when she saw him enter the house. She got up from the table where she was having lunch with her mother and rushed into his arms.
“My baby!” He sighed in relief as he hugged his daughter. Lucia felt whole after a long time-being at home, in her father’s arms was all she ever needed. She felt like a teen all over again.
“It feels so good to have you back, dear. I booked the next available flight the very moment I was done with my business over there.” He held her cheeks in his palms and looked into Lucia’s eyes.
“You’re back, Lucia. Please don’t run away again,” he pleaded.
“I won’t, dad.” They hugged again.
“Let him come and eat something before you squeeze the life out of him, Monique,” her mother said. Father and daughter let go of each other.
“Monique?” Mr. Baker asked as he walked with Lucia towards the table.
“Yeah; since we’re starting afresh, I thought calling her by her middle name would be best. Don’t you think so?”
“Well…” He glanced at Lucia, “I love the name Lucia…”
“Well of course that’s because that’s what you named her and I named her Monique. She wears the Monique name very well…”
“Uh huh…if you want to turn her into a snub,” Mr. Baker chipped in. Lucia chuckled. Mrs. Baker glared at him.
“But if you wish to call her that, fine with me. But she’ll always be Lucia to me.” He kissed her forehead. Her mother rolled her eyes. Lucia and her dad both sat at the table. His wife poured him a glass of water which he drank gratefully.
After lunch with intermittent breaks of jokes, giggles and smiles, Mr. Baker held the hands of the two most important women in his life.
“I’m so glad to have this table complete again. It feels great to have this family together again.”
“And I’m glad to be back. Maybe it is because I don’t remember half of what has happened over the years but I’m happy to see you both. I missed you two very much.” His father kissed the back of her hand.
“And I’m not letting you go…ever again.”
“Let’s toast to that,” Mrs. Baker said as she raised her glass of juice. The others raised theirs and clinked their glasses.
Later as Mr. Baker was unpacking the contents to his briefcase, his wife entered and closed the door behind her.
“Hi darling, anything you need?”
“It is a great thing to have Monique back with us, isn’t it?” she asked.
“Sure it is.”
“And thanks to the clean slate we have, you can put her on board to work with the company.”
“What? Oh no, I’m not making that mistake twice, Sarah. That was what drove her away in the first place, remember?”
“But she doesn’t remember that and we won’t push it down her throat like we did the last time. Giving her an ultimatum was a terrible idea and I never stopped regretting it but we can convince her in another way.”
“I don’t know Sarah…can we wait till she has fully adjusted to this place?”
“We don’t have much time, Mike. You have heard the Bourbons are on a rampage trying to buy out all the competing companies and I don’t want that. That is our legacy.”
“Oh don’t you worry your cute little head over the Bourbons, dear. They can’t take over our company. It is too big for them.”
“I wouldn’t put it past them. Monique has a very strong character. She can fight to keep it from happening.”
“And I am weak? Is it what you’re implying?”
“Oh no, honey; that’s not what I meant. Monique is fresh blood. She can handle the pressure.”
“So can I; even better and her name is Lucia. You’re not going to scare her away again this time, Sarah. I won’t let you,” Mike warned her and walked out of the office. Sarah sighed.
Later in the night, Mike joined Lucia in the living room as she watched a talk show on TV. Lucia beamed at the sight of her dad. He reached out and took her hand.
“I really missed you.”
“I did too; I’m sorry for leaving. I know I must have hurt you by doing that.”
“Well yes but I’m partly to blame so let’s leave it at that. So tell me, what’s up with you? I mean, before the accident?”
“Well, I don’t remember…Allen told me I worked as a nurse at Peace General Hospital…”
“Nurse, you?!” Mike exclaimed, clearly shocked.
“I know, right? I can’t believe it myself! I guess I was really desperate?”
“And again I’m sorry for cutting you off. I thought that would bring you back.”
“But I didn’t so I guess my life wasn’t so bad. I believe everything happened for a reason. Perhaps I had to meet someone as a nurse so I could help him be better and now my work is done so I’m back home.”
“What if someone from your past approaches you and you don’t recognize him?”
“Well…I’d just apologize and walk away,” Lucia replied with a shrug.
“Well luckily for me, Allen was by my bedside when I woke up in the hospital. Although I don’t remember my time with him, he seems like a nice guy.”
“Your mother doesn’t seem to think so. According to her, he looks suspicious.” Lucia chuckled. “It wouldn’t be mum if she didn’t say so. No guy is as good as her husband.” Mike laughed.
“You’ll meet your good guy…I don’t know if it’s this Mike guy…I haven’t met him yet…if it’s not him, I assure you he’s out there. Who knows, he’s waiting for you out there.”
“As Lucia? That would be a problem because I’m Monique now.”
“You are Lucia and will forever be. That’s what your heart is; lovely, kind and a smart girl. Monique is only a façade of what your mother wants you to be.”
“Thanks for believing in me, dad.”
“Always, my dear. So now that you’re back, what do you want to do? Do you want to go back to the hospital?”
“Oh hell no! Not again; it’s all in the past. I’m yet to decide. Is there an opening at your office?” Mike glanced at his daughter, surprised.
“You want to work with me?”
“It’s not such a bad idea…it will be fun. I don’t know I resented it so much then but I’d love to try it out. If I’m not cut out for it, I can always walk away, right?”
“Sure…are you sure you want to do this or did your mother put you up to this?”
“Yes I’m sure and no, she didn’t. It is after all, a family business, isn’t it?”
“You’ve no idea how much that means to me, Lucia. Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it, dad. And no promises; if it is not for me, I’m quitting.”
“Agreed. Thanks again,” Mike said as he leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek.
“Goodnight, dear,” he said and got up.
“Going to break the good news to mum, aren’t you?” Lucia asked.
“You know me too well, honey. See you in the morning.”
“You too dad; sweet dreams.” Lucia hugged herself around her legs on the sofa.
Allen came over the Baker’s house to visit Lucia the next day.
“So how are you holding up?” he asked.
“I’m good; slight headaches from time to time but I’m good. You?”
“I’m fine; hanging in there. I miss you.” Lucia smiled.
“So have you decided what to do now that you’re back at home?”
“Actually I have; I’ve decided to join my father in his company.”
“Oh okay; that sounds like a good plan. Does that mean you’re not moving out of here anytime soon?” She chuckled.
“Why, you want me to leave here? Where would I go?”
“You had an apartment, remember?”
“Well, I’m sure my parents’ home is much more comfy that that one and since I’d be working with my dad, it’s only logical that I live here so we can step out together.”
“I see…and us?” Allen asked quietly.
“What about us?”
“Where do we stand? Are we over now that you’re starting over or what?”
“Allen, I don’t remember anything about you and so you don’t expect me to jump to continue whatever we were doing before. I need time to adjust.”
“Okay; I’ll give you all the time you need. When you need me, you know how to find me,” he said as he got up.
“Allen…” He leaned forward and kissed her forehead.
“I’ll see you soon, Luc…Monique.” Lucia caught his hand. “I was Lucia to you and that won’t change.”
“Everything has changed, Lucia and it all happened because of me. I just have to live with it. I’ve to go. I’ll call you, okay?” Lucia nodded. Tears filled her eyes as she watched Allen walk away.
How come I don’t remember anything about him or feel anything when he’s around? If we were really good together then I should be able to at least feel something, she thought to herself.
Ted was sipping coffee from a teacup as he stared outside his office. He turned when he heard a knock on the door.
“Come in.” The door opened. A young lady entered.
“This is the file you requested, sir. There seems to be another company interested in your intention to acquire the McLean’s property,” she informed him as she handed it to him.
“Really, who’s this other interested party?” Ted asked as he opened the file.
“FitzGerald Michael Baker of…oh no, not them,” Ted sighed.