Ted entered the office. He called the secretary over.
“Is everything ready for the video conference?” Ted asked.
“Yes sir; will start in ten minutes.”
“Good; where’s Miss Baker?”
“She stepped out. She said it was a family emergency.”
“Family emergency? When was this?”
“A little before lunch time.” Ted glanced at his watch.
“That was about three hours ago and she’s still not back?”
“Do you want me to call her?” the secretary asked.
“I’ll do that; thanks.” She excused herself. Ted sat down and took his phone.
Lucia’s phone rang. She answered.
“Lucia, is everything okay? The secretary said…”
“Yeah, yeah, everything’s fine. I was called to come over…”
“Please tell me you’re on your way back here. The video conference is in less than ten minutes.”
“Um…I doubt I can make it back in time,” Lucia said regretfully, biting her lower lip. Mrs. Bourbon came in.
“Is that my son on the phone?” She asked. Lucia nodded.
“Was that…was that my mother?”
“Are you at my parents’ house?”
“She called me over, Ted. How could I refuse?”
“But I told her we were busy!”
“Give me the phone, dear,” Mrs. Bourbon said. Lucia gave it to her.
“Mother, what were you thinking? Why did you have to pull her away from work like that? We have a meeting in ten minutes.”
“I wanted to meet and get to know my daughter-in-law. You can’t blame me for that.”
“You have all the time in the world for that, mum. I need her here.”
“Can’t you have the meeting without her?”
“No, I can’t.”
“Then you should put it on hold and come for your fiancée then.”
“What do you mean? Didn’t she come with her car?”
“No, I asked the driver to come for her.”
“So let him bring her back.”
“I kind of sent him on an errand. He might not be back for some time.” Ted sighed.
“You deliberately did this, didn’t you mother?”
“I had no idea you two had a meeting today. I’m sorry for inconveniencing you. So are you coming?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
“I could just take a cab. It would save time,” Lucia said.
“Sure okay; I’ll try to hold them off till she comes. Bye,” Ted said and ended the call.
“He’s mad at me,” Mrs. Bourbon said, giving Lucia’s phone to her.
“He’ll get over it. Hope we can do this another time, Mrs. Bourbon.”
“Sure; I was talking with your mother and we were thinking of having a barbecue or something together.”
“Huh, that sounds nice. So whatever you come up with, we’ll be there.”
“Can’t wait to be one family!” Mrs. Bourbon said excitedly. Lucia smiled.
“Goodbye,” she said and left.
Ted sighed in relief when Lucia entered the conference room. She quickly settled down and the virtual conference started. They went to the office after it was over.
“I’d say it all went well,” Lucia remarked.
“Yeah, thank God you came in right in time. I apologize for my mother’s behavior. I hope she didn’t make you uncomfortable.” Lucia chuckled.
“Oh no; she was sweet actually. She sounded very excited for us. They are beginning to scare me, Ted.”
“I know; I feel they are pushing us. If you’re not ready for anything right now, it’s okay; I can talk to my parents…”
“It’s not that; I just want to be sure we are doing what we are doing because we want to and not because of family pressure.”
“What do you want, Lucia?”
“I want to be happy with you, Ted. We are in a good place right now, taking over McLean’s company and co-owning it, it’s great. I just don’t something to come and blow everything away.”
“Something like what?”
“You know…the past has a funny way of messing up the present.”
“Lucia, is there something I should know?” Ted asked, concern rising in his voice.
“Oh no, I’m just saying. There is nothing to worry about,” Lucia said with a convincing smile. She walked towards him and hugged him.
“We’ll be fine, Ted; I promise.” Ted held her. “Okay.”
The following day, Anita came over to Ted’s and Lucia’s office.
“I’m sorry but Mr. Bourbon has not reported yet,” the secretary said.
“Really? That’s strange; he has not reported at his father’s office either. I figured he’d be here. There’s something I need to show him,” Anita said.
“Well, Miss Baker is around. Maybe she can take a look at it for you,” the secretary suggested.
“Oh sure.” The secretary led her to the office but it was empty.
“She must have stepped out. If you would not mind waiting…”
“Not at all; thanks.” Anita sat and the secretary left the office. The office phone rang. It rang again after a minute; then again and again. When it went to voicemail, a voice spoke up.
“Lucia, it’s me again. I wouldn’t be calling if this isn’t important. I just want you to know the tape situation will soon be over. I’m kind of closing in on the thief. I’m hearing rumors that he has leaked some videos on to the internet but that shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. It is not certain that is yours, I mean ours. So please keep it cool, all right? Call me back, okay?” The line went dead.
Anita blinked hard. When it all sunk in, she chuckled to herself.
“Interesting…the universe must really love me.” The door opened and Lucia entered. She paused when she saw Anita. Anita stood.
“Yeah I know you must be surprised to see me here. I came to see Ted but he isn’t here. I figured you’d know where he is.”
“Isn’t he at his father’s office?”
“That’s where I’m coming from.”
“Then I’ve no idea; sorry,” Lucia said, walking over to the desk and sitting down.
“It must be really blissful having both families backing the two of you especially when your union spells strength and unlimited profit for both parties. If some scandal should threaten that, it would be nasty, wouldn’t it?” Anita said.
“What are you talking about?” Lucia asked in a puzzled tone.
“Someone left you a message by the way. He tried calling several times at first. I must say, you really intrigue me, Lucia. You seem very innocent at first glance but you can never know someone too well, can you? One thing I can say for sure is that we’re not that different. My best guess is Ted is not destined to be with a virtuous woman and that makes my heart laugh with contentment. Have a good day, Lucia,” Anita said and walked out. Lucia hit a button the telephone with shaky hands.
“Lucia, it’s me again…”
“Oh God,” Lucia muttered when she recognized Allen’s voice. She covered her mouth after the message had ended.
“Anita is going to hang me with this.” She called Allen back.
“Lucia, I’ve been…”
“Shut it, Allen! Why would you leave such a message on the office telephone?”
“I’m sorry but it seems your phone was out of service.”
“Couldn’t you have been more discrete about it?”
“Why, did someone hear it?”
“Would I be calling if it were not the case? The video might as well be leaked because the damage has been done already. Soon, everyone will know.”
“Who heard it? Give me a name and I’ll take care of it.”
“Just find those tapes and burn them already!” Lucia said and hung up.
Anita entered Ted’s office at the Bourbon’s company.
“Aha, finally! You’re now a hard man to find, Ted Bourbon. I’ve been looking everywhere for you.”
“Oh yeah, what’s up?”
“You need to look these documents over and give your go-ahead,” Anita said, giving him a file. He took it and opened it.
“Sure, okay. Thanks,” Ted said, closing it and putting it down.
“I even went over to your new office.”
“Yeah, I need your approval by the end of today.”
“Okay, you’ll get it.”
“Your sweetheart didn’t call to tell you?” Anita asked. Ted looked at her.
“Why would she?” Anita smiled.
“How well do you know her, Ted?”
“What is that supposed to mean, Anita? You saw someone there?”
“No; I didn’t see; I heard.”
“Listen, I won’t allow you to poison my mind against her. She’s the best thing…”
“Well, I advise you come off your high horse and listen to me. Lucia isn’t the simple sweet lady you think she is.”
“Anita, another word and…”
“Okay, because I’m a good person, I’ll ask you to call her and let her tell you herself. Even if I don’t tell you, the news will soon be everywhere. Because I care, I don’t want you to be gravely affected by the pending storm.” Ted stared at her.
“Go on; call her.”
“Get out, Anita.”
“Fine; whenever you’re ready,” she said and left. Ted hesitated before picking up his phone.
Lucia startled when her phone rang. Her heart began pounding when she saw it was Ted calling. She slowly picked it up. She swallowed.
“Are you okay?”
“I heard Anita came over today. Did she harass you?”
“No, she didn’t. She was only looking for you.”
“Anything else like what?”
“Anything that I should know about? She insinuated something a bit worrying and I wanted to know if she was just making it up.”
“I…I…have no idea what she has in mind, Ted. I’m sure she’s up to her usual troublesome self.”
“Lucia, whatever it is, no matter how gruesome it sounds, I’d prefer to hear it from you. So if there’s anything…”
“There’s nothing, Ted; I assure you.”
“So you wouldn’t mind me asking her.” Lucia’s breath got caught in her throat.
“Lucia?” The secretary entered.
“Um…got to go. Something came up, bye.” She hung up. Ted stared at his phone. He dialed Anita’s desk number.
“Come over.” He hung up. She entered.
“Guessing from your tensed look, she didn’t come clean, did she? So, you want to hear me out?” Anita asked. Ted stared at her.