“So what are you doing to retrieve them?” Lucia asked nervously after she had regained her composure.
“Everything I can and I want you to know that it will soon be over.”
“Then why come here and give me such a scare?”
“To advise you to keep your head down for a while till I’ve retrieved and destroyed them,” Allen said.
“What do you mean, keep my head down?”
“You know, don’t be caught in the public’s eye…”
“What? In case you haven’t noticed, my new life is all about being caught in the public’s eye. Why should I put my life on hold and go into hiding because you screwed up?” Lucia asked, pacing to and fro.
“It is for your own good, Lucia.”
“Is it now? Did you think about that when you were making those tapes? Or did you assume it was for my own good too?”
“I understand you’re upset, Lucia…”
“Upset? That doesn’t even nick it, Allen.”
“And in case somehow although very unlikely, someone makes you out and gives you a blackmail call, you let me know immediately.”
“Sure…my knight in shining armor!”
“Drop the attitude, Lucia. I’m trying to help you here.”
“Help me? Are you kidding me? I think it’s about time I made good on my threat to have you locked behind bars. Society’s better off with you locked away.” Allen got up.
“I hope to give you good news soonest,” he said.
“It better be.” He left her office.
“Mum!” Lucia shouted as she entered her parents’ house. She dropped her bag on the sofa.
“Mother?” There was no reply. She went to the backyard.
“I’m here, honey.” Lucia ran to her. She stopped in front of her mother who was leisurely watering her pot plants.
“I know…but you’ll get over it. Besides, I was lending him a hand…” Mrs. Baker said.
“Mum, I think I’m in trouble.”
“Trouble, you mean you messed up a business deal? Don’t worry, you’re new at it. It is bound to happen. You’ll get over it. I’m sure your father will understand.”
“No mum, I’m in trouble.”
“What kind of trouble?”
“Like blast from the past…trouble.” Her mother raised her brow questioningly.
Lucia swallowed. “Pending tape scandal.”
“What does that even mean?”
“Okay, you mean to tell me a pending scandal involving a tape. What kind of tape? Does it incriminate our business?”
“It will if it blows over.”
“What did you do that you got caught on tape?”
“The kind that gets people popular in Hollywood,” she said.
“What? Stop with the riddles, girl! What did you do?”
Lucia looked up at her with teary eyes.
“Tape…you mean….that kind of tape?” Lucia nodded. Her mother dropped the hose in despair.
“Lucia Monique Baker! What have you done?!”
“I didn’t know, mum. Apparently, Allen made some of us without my knowledge. I just found out.”
“Found out how?”
“He said his place was raided and the tapes are missing.”
“I am going to skin the boy alive!”
“What if the thief finds recognizes me and decides to blackmail us? That would be…”
“Disastrous, I know. We must call your father right now.”
“No, mother,” Lucia pleaded, holding her by the arm. She looked at her, puzzled.
“I would never be able to look at him in the eye again. And I cannot live with myself seeing that disappointment in his eyes forever. Please…let’s keep this between us.”
“I don’t keep secrets from my husband, Lucia.”
“But this is my secret, mother to daughter. You’re bound by the code.”
“Mother-daughter confidentiality code.”
“You just made that up, didn’t you?”
“Okay maybe it is not called by that but it exists. Please, mum…”
“So what do you want me to do?”
“I don’t know…I just needed to tell someone. He said I just lay low till he retrieves them and then it will all be over.”
“How sure are you that after he has retrieved them, he won’t use them to blackmail you?”
“Allen won’t do that. He wouldn’t dare.”
“He has met you, mother. He knows whose lair he will playing around. I think that’s enough demotivation for him.”
“Good. Let’s go inside.” They entered the house.
“You need to go get ready,” her mother said.
“Get ready for what?” Her phone rang. She took it.
“Hi Ted, what’s up?” She listened.
“No I’m not busy. I’m at home actually. Something came up so I had to rush home… Oh no, everything’s fine. Just a minor problem. Why, what’s up? Tonight? I don’t know if…”
Mrs. Baker signaled her to say yes. Lucia made a confused face.
“I think I can make time. What time do you need me to be ready? Okay, that’s fine. Where do I meet you? You’ll come get me? You don’t even know where I live…” Lucia glanced at her mother. “Huh, I see; okay. See you then. Bye.” She hung up.
“So you’ve been talking to Ted.”
“Young Bourbon just needed some advice, that’s all.”
“Advice? Why, where’s his mother?”
“Well, he needed some information on how to handle a Baker lady. I doubt his mother could help with that.”
“Handle a what? What’s going on, mother?”
“Nothing! At least, your crappy day will end in bliss; don’t mess it up. Now, hurry up and take a shower. I’ll be in your room in a minute.”
“You’re not planning anything unthinkable, are you mother?”
“You know me, honey. When did I ever do anything just thinkable?” They smiled at each other. Lucia took her bag and started towards her room.
“See you, mother.”
“Turn around and let me see,” Mrs. Baker said.
“Come on mum, why are you dressing me up like this? I’m not going to prom!”
“Well considering you messed that one up, it wouldn’t hurt to have this go just right, would it?” Her mother said with a tight smile.
“What exactly did Ted tell you that has gotten you so active like this?”
“I told you young Bourbon has his charm.”
“You’re not by any chance in love with him, are you, mum?” Lucia asked jokingly.
“Don’t be silly,” Mrs. Baker said as they both laughed. They heard a car horn honking.
“He must be here. Take your purse and go.”
“Don’t you want to say hi and tell him to bring me back before curfew since we’re reenacting my prom night?”
“I think I’ll do just that.” They came downstairs. Lucia opened the door. A stranger stood there.
“Good evening. You must be Miss Baker.”
“I am and who may you be?”
“I’m Mike; Mr. Bourbon asked me to chauffeur you to his location.”
“And where is his location exactly?”
“He asked me not to disclose that to you.”
“How do I know you are really working for him and not some…kidnapper?” Lucia asked suspiciously.
“For goodness’ sake, Lucia! Stop being so paranoid,” her mother said. Mike dialed a number on his phone.
“Yes sir. She wants some confirmation that my instructions are from you. Okay, he wants to talk to you.” Lucia took the phone from him.
“Hi sweetie; what are you scared of?”
“Nothing; just wanted to be sure.”
“Now you are so get into the car and get over here.”
“Where exactly is that?”
“That will ruin my surprise for you, won’t it? I’m waiting,” Ted said and hung up. Lucia gave the phone back to Mike.
“Okay, I believe you now. I’ll leave now, mother. Thanks for everything. It has been years since you helped me dress up.” Her mother smiled contently. They hugged.
“Have fun, honey.”
“When is my curfew time?” Lucia asked.
“I told young Bourbon. Bye!” She closed the door. Lucia smiled as she got into the car. Mike closed the door and sat in the car. He drove away.