Sara entered her daughter’s room to find her coiled up on her bed, hugging a pillow tightly. Lucia seemed to be sobbing quietly. She sat beside her and touched her gently.
“What’s going on with you, Lucia? You’ve locked yourself up here since you returned and you didn’t even come down for dinner. What’s wrong?”
“I’m fine, mother; I’ve just lost my appetite.”
“Which is unlike you. Whatever it is, it is not worth starving yourself over, I assure you. Come down and tell me about it.”
“I don’t want to.”
“But you have to.” She pulled Lucia’s arm forcing her to sit up. She wiped her tears with her thumb and gave her the smile which only she could give to make Lucia feel better.
“It will pass.”
“Stop playing with your food, honey. Eat something,” Sara urged Lucia. Lucia dropped her fork in frustration.
“I hate myself.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I thought regaining my memory would add more meaning to my life but it is taking everything away.”
“What do you mean?”
“When I was away, I met someone where I used to work…” “At the hospital?”
“Yeah…he was a patient and…” “And what, you fell for him? Come on Monique, you know that’s against the regulations!” “Uh huh, tell that to my heart.” She sighed.
“But it ended before it even started.”
“What do you mean?”
“I had the accident and forgot all about him in the process. So I thought I was starting all over when I moved back here and started working with dad. What I didn’t know is that the guy from the hospital is right in front of me and I didn’t recognize him. When I finally did, he’s engaged to someone else.”
“Sorry about that, honey. It happens. Who knows, he might not have been that into you in the first place. Even if he was, perhaps it wouldn’t have worked out. You should be glad about this. Fate might have spared you some terrible heartache if you two had gotten close.”
“Maybe; but what if I’ve lost the guy who was meant to make my life complete?”
“If you two are meant to be together, then fate will find a way.”
“So what, I should just fold my arms and wait for fate to work in my favor?”
“What would you rather do, go and destroy things between him and his fiancée?”
“Of course not,” Lucia replied quietly.
“Does he seem happy with this other girl?”
“I’m not too sure. From what I remember, she was the reason he ended up in the hospital in the first place.”
“Love hurts and love heals. Who knows, they might be destined to be together.” Lucia took the glass of water and sipped.
“Do I by any chance know this guy?” Sara asked. Lucia gave her a sideways glance whiles sipping her water. She put the glass down and cleared her throat.
“I doubt you do.”
“Okay, who is he?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“I want to know whether this guy is actually worth losing your appetite over and if he even deserves you in the first place.” “That is not your place, mum.” “But it is! I won’t let any riffraff come and break my daughter’s heart.”
“He is not a riffraff, mum; that I can assure you.”
“So give me a name.”
“No, I can’t.”
“Can’t or won’t?”
“Both; for everyone’s sake, let’s just close this chapter, okay?”
“I will if you finish your plate.” “Okay.” Lucia took the fork and started eating. She looked at her mother who wore a surprised look.
“So you’d rather eat what you’ve no appetite for than tell me who he is?” Lucia smiled.
Lucia entered the office the following morning to find Ted already there. His unexpected presence at such an early hour startled her.
“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to startle you,” he apologized.
“It is all right; what are you doing here so early by the way?” Lucia asked as she put her handbag down. He walked towards her. “Monique, I want to talk to you about something.”
“About yesterday.” Lucia’s brain went to work to recall the previous day’s events.
“Ah, you mean your fiancée asking me to be her maid of honor. Yeah, I didn’t see that one coming.”
“No, I’m not talking about that.” “Then what?”
“Monique, I know I don’t know you but I’ve this unsettling feeling whenever I’m around you.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know…it feels like there’s something going on between us but I can’t quite place my finger on it.”
“If you’re referring to that fraction of a second where time froze when we stared at each other, let me help you clear the air. It happened at the spur of the moment, it means nothing…at all. Besides, you’re about to get married, you shouldn’t be thinking of any other woman except your wife-to-be,” Lucia said.
“I know but I just want to be sure…”
“Sure of what?”
“Whether I’m the only one feeling this way; that all this is in my head and you do not feel attracted to me in any way.” “Feel attracted to you? Are you kidding me? I’d be weird if I said I didn’t. You’re a very good-looking gentleman, Ted Bourbon. Of course I admire you…”
“I didn’t say admire…I said attracted,” Ted emphasized. “That’s exactly what I meant. I wish we got the chance to get to know ourselves better before you know, committing to Anita like that. Because such a status kind of puts an embargo on you,” Lucia said with a slight chuckle. “We can still do that,” Ted said, taking a step closer to her. Lucia stepped back.
“I…I don’t think so, Ted. Anita deserves better than that.” He sighed.
“The truth is, I’m not really sure she’s the one for me.”
“So why propose to her?” “Because she has been the one there for me all this while although she’s betrayed me once or twice along the way but she’s been there. With my line of work and my family influence, I’m not sure I can find the perfect girl out there. Most of them out there are vultures, ready to just snatch up everything you’ve worked so hard for,” Ted said despairingly.
“So what, you’re settling for Anita, is that it?” Lucia asked. Ted shrugged in reply. “And…Anita is the only woman you’ve liked so far?” Lucia asked cautiously.
“Oh, I met this lady sometime back….it is a long story but she disappeared before we could actually see each other. It is quite complicated. She’s gone so I’ve to move on.”
“What happens if she comes back? Would you ditch Anita and go to her?”
“It depends; if she gives me a tangible reason for leaving me the way she did and if I find that I’m really in love with her, of course I would.” Lucia nodded.
“And what if her reason doesn’t sound good enough?”
“I don’t know; I can’t really say hypothetically. I have to see her and then see how it goes,” Ted replied.
“I think you’re too messed up in your head to get married to someone you don’t really love. You need to sort yourself out first,” Lucia advised.
“Uh huh, tell me again. And that brings me back to this, I know it would sound odd to you but I’ve this feeling whenever you’re near that this isn’t the first time we’ve been around each other.” Lucia swallowed and folded her arms to prevent her from giving herself away.
“What do you mean, you’ve the same feeling you had when you were with this other woman?” “Not exactly but conflictingly familiar. As I said, I cannot place my finger on it.” Thank God, Lucia muttered to herself. She raised her head when Ted took another step towards her. She felt her knees growing weak. Ted stared at her intently. Lucia stared back. He touched her face gently. Lucia was screaming inside. What is he trying to do? Force her to reveal herself?
“I swear the touch of your face feels so familiar…” He said softly. Lucia stepped back.
“I’m sure your mind is playing tricks on you. I am Monique, the daughter of Fitzgerald Baker.” “Yeah, that’s another thing. The two of you happen to share the same…” Lucia’s eyebrows raised. Oh no, he cracked it. The door opened.
“Here you are. I was calling you but you weren’t picking up,” Anita said as she walked to Ted and kissed him.
“Oh yeah, I think I put it on silent. I didn’t want to be bothered.” “Bothered by what?” Anita looked at Lucia and back at Ted. “Nothing; let’s go outside. I’ve something to show you,” Ted said.
“Like a surprise?” Anita asked excitedly. Ted gave Lucia a ‘we’ll-continue-this-talk-later’ look and took his coat.
“I’ll see you later, Monique!” Anita said.
“Sure.” They left the room. Lucia sighed in relief. She touched her chest where she found her heart beating very fast.
“Whew…that was close.”