Lucia checked her phone again. “Where did you say you were taking me?”
“Just a hangout; and you get to meet a good friend of mine,” Ted said. Lucia sighed.
“Can’t we do this another time? I need to get back to my dad.” “Come on, daddy’s girl! I promise to take you back to him myself.” “Why do you need me to meet this friend of yours so badly?” “Nothing serious. I’m sure the two of you will get along very well and fast,” Ted said with a smile. Only he knows Lucia’s face. Although Monique seems different, there is a feeling he quite cannot shake off. Ever since he realized they both shared the same surname, there has been this nagging tick in his head telling him to check it out and that is what he is going to do so he can put it all to rest.
Lucia watched Ted closely. He seemed to be in deep thought. If only she knew what he was thinking about. He has been acting a bit awkward since that intense conversation they had a few days before.
“This friend of yours…what does he do? Is he also into business?” “No, he isn’t.” Lucia waited for more but he kept quiet. “So…what does he do?” He glanced at her. “All in good time, Monique.”
“Okay, now I’m officially uncomfortable with this, Ted. You’re taking me to meet some stranger and you refuse to open up to me about exactly who he is.”
“There’s nothing to get nervous about, Monique unless…” “Unless what?”
“Unless you’re hiding something.” “What are you talking about? Stop the car, Ted.”
“I said stop the car!” He stopped the car. Lucia got out and so did he.
“Listen, I’m sorry, ok? I don’t mean to be a jerk. I’m just looking for answers.”
“To what questions?” Lucia asked.
“It is a long story. Please let’s go and I’m sure it is nothing.”
“Just tell me what you are looking for; maybe I can give you the answers myself.”
“Where were you working before you joined your father in his business?” Lucia swallowed. “Certainly not at a bar, that’s for sure. Why, do I look like some bartender tramp who robbed you or something?”
“Funny but no. I’m serious, Monique.”
“It is a long story; I don’t want to talk about it.” They stared at each other.
“Okay, let me take you back,” Ted said and walked back to his side. He sat inside. Lucia sighed and sat in the car. Ted started the engine. Before he could turn the steering wheel, Lucia touched his hand. He looked at her.
“Let’s go meet your friend.”
“No, it is a dead end. I know it.”
“I insist; you look like you need some closure. It is the least I can do as a friend.”
“Are you sure?” Ted asked. Lucia nodded.
“Okay.” He drove back onto the road.
They arrived at a cafeteria and they both ordered a glass of water.
“I’m sure he’ll be here soon,” Ted told Lucia.
“It is okay; I texted my dad that I’d be late. So, how far with your wedding preparations?”
“Trust me, I have no idea. Anita is running around doing everything.” “And she sends you the bill, I suppose.” They both chuckled. “Women get high when they are about to take the trip to the aisle. I wonder why.”
“Perhaps it is because of the overwhelming rush of joy they feel that their lives are now going to begin with the right guy for the rest of their days.”
“Yeah right; five years from then, it is a whole different story.”
“Not all unions end like that, Ted. Take our parents for example. I’m sure they’ve had rough times but they stayed together.”
“Uh huh, we’re of a different generation now, Monique. We don’t know how to endure through it all.” “
You can if you indeed marry the one.” He looked at her.
“You are the optimist type, aren’t you?”
“I believe there is good out there; I believe in love, in happy endings. I just choose to believe.” “I used to…now, I don’t know.” Lucia was about to reply when the door opened and Dr. Grant entered. Her mouth hung open and Dr. Grant’s searching eyes met hers. Ted turned.
“Dr. Grant, you made it!” He stood. Dr. Grant walked towards him and they shook hands.
“And I want you to meet a new friend and colleague at work, Miss Monique Baker.”
“Hi,” Lucia said uneasily as she stretched her hand. Dr. Grant took it and shook it. Both gentlemen sat. The doctor was also served with water. “Colleague, huh?”
“Well not exactly; she’s the daughter of my business rival. We met when we were both interested in buying off some company. With some interesting turn of events, we ended up working together…for some time.” “I see.” Ted watched his reactions closely. He was unusually quiet and he seemed to be watching Monique closely. Could she be the one?
“I don’t know why but Ted was pretty persistent of us meeting. I was wondering, how did you two become friends? Doctor and businessman, I doubt you two hang around the same crowd. Are you old friends from college?” “Funny you should ask,” Dr. Grant asked as he sipped his water.
“I was his patient once…” His phone rang. He took it.
“Yeah? Sure okay, let me get the code for you. Excuse me guys, I’ve to rush to my car,” Ted said and walked out of the cafeteria. “What game are you planning, Lucia?” Dr. Grant asked heatedly. “Calm down, I should have known. I think he’s beginning to suspect…”
“Why haven’t you told him yet?” “Because he’s getting married. What is the point of ruining things for him? It is not like we two are meant to be or anything.”
“I’m telling him the moment he comes back.”
“Oh no, you can’t do that.” “Why not? He deserves to know the truth. He can’t continue to be in the dark like this.”
“I know; I’ll tell him when the time is right.”
“Oh yeah, when is that exactly? At the wedding when you realize how stupid it was not to have done so earlier and ruining the poor girl’s dream day?”
“And why would I do that?” “Can’t you see what is happening here? You obviously like Ted and so you keep hanging around him and his instincts are telling him there’s more to you than meets the eye so he’s confused. Perhaps he is attracted to you and he doesn’t know how to handle it. Please have some mercy and put him out of his misery.” Lucia turned to watch him talking on the phone.
“Why ruin something for him for a future we are not even sure about? Maybe it’s a crush and that is all it would ever be.” “Maybe, maybe not. Don’t you want to know for sure?”
“Not at the expense of someone else getting her heart broken. Please doctor…”
“Listen, sooner or later he’s going to find out and he’s going to get really pissed that he was lied to all this time. And I don’t want to be second on the list, Lucia so you might as well spare us all the suspense and let it out already!” Ted entered.
“It seems you two are kicking it off already. Didn’t I tell you, Monique?” He sat.
“And did I forget to mention that Monique is also called Baker, just like the nurse, Lucia Baker?” Lucia’s heart felt like it would jump out any minute.
“Oh yeah?” Dr. Grant said, his eyes not leaving Lucia’s face. “Quite a coincidence, right?” Ted asked.
“Yeah, they kind of look alike too.”
“Is that so?” Ted looked at Lucia. “How alike?”
“Very.” “Hmmm….so now at least I’ve an idea of who I’m looking for.”
“Wait, what’s going on here? You brought me here to see if I am some nurse you hooked up with at the hospital?” Lucia asked.
“I told you it was a dead end. We’ll be on our way now. Thanks for meeting us, doctor.” “Anytime, dear friend. But know this, it is a sign that Lucia is around somewhere. Very close. Don’t give up on her yet.” “Oh yeah, in a month’s time, I’d be married so she’s on a deadline.” “I hope she realizes that,” Dr. Grant said, glancing at Lucia. “Let’s go, Monique.”
“It was a pleasure meeting you, doctor.”
“Same here, Miss Baker.”
“So what, if Lucia turns up, you’ll not marry Anita?”
“It depends.” “On what? Why not just move on? Maybe she’s not that into you, you know.” “
Yeah maybe.” Ted stepped hard on the accelerator.