“Oh my dear! What happened to your hand?” Mrs. Bourbon asked in alarm when she saw Ted’s bandaged hand.
“It’s nothing; mum. I got myself cut with glass, that’s all.”
“And so how did you get here?”
“Lucia brought me here.”
“What, my daughter-in-law came here and you didn’t bring her inside?” she said, walking towards the door. Ted stopped her.
“Let her go, mum.”
“Why is that? There’s a lot we need to discuss. We are planning a barbecue…”
“Mum, we’re in the middle of a fight right now.”
“Of course you are!” she said, dismissing it with her hand, “Couples fight all the time. Keep it up; it keeps the relationship on its toes and makes the wedding romance even hotter,” she said, winking.
“There might not even be a wedding, mum!” Mrs. Bourbon froze at the statement.
“What? What happened?”
“As I said, we’re in the middle of a fight right now,” Ted said and walked away.
“Well, you might as well clear this up as soon as possible. The families are working on a schedule,” his mother said after him.
Ted and Lucia were invited a business dinner which they attended. Lucia exhaled when she took in the glamour of the setting. Before they could take another step, Anita appeared in front of them.
“Great; all that I needed to endure tonight,” Lucia muttered, rolling her eyes.
“Hi to you too, Lucia. You look lovely in that dress. Did your new man buy it for you?” Anita asked.
“Unlike you, I can afford my own dress,” Lucia snapped at her and took a glass of champagne from a waiter passing by. She started to walk away.
“Where are you going?” Ted asked.
“I’m going to find my parents.”
“Should I save us seats?” Ted asked.
“Don’t worry, I’ll take good care of him!” Anita said. Lucia ignored her.
“Hi mum,” Lucia said, touching her shoulder as she sat beside her.
“Hi honey; where’s young Bourbon?”
“With Anita.” Mrs. Baker gave her a sharp look.
“You left your fiancé with that witch?”
“We’re not really talking anyway. I’d rather sit here with you.”
“Oh no you aren’t. This seat is occupied.”
“How? Isn’t dad sitting at your other side?”
“Yes, but Mrs. Bourbon is the one occupying this one.”
“So what, you two are best friends now?”
“Oh no, we are more than that. We are practically family now.” Lucia shook her head as she sipped her champagne.
“Is that my lovely daughter-in-law?” Mrs. Bourbon asked when she approached them.
“Hello ma’am,” Lucia greeted sweetly.
“Hello honey. Where is your other half?”
“He’s talking with Anita at the other side.”
“So why aren’t you with him?”
“They are not talking,” Mrs. Baker replied in a false whisper tone.
“You two haven’t talked it out yet?” Mrs. Bourbon asked, surprised. Lucia glanced at her.
“He…he told you?”
“No details; he just said you two are in a fight. Fights are healthy but don’t take long to resolve them before someone snatches one of you away,” Mrs. Bourbon advised. Lucia nodded with a tight smile.
“That’s exactly what I told her. She wants to sit with me,” Lucia’s mum said.
“Oh no, that’s not going to happen. Get up, I’m taking you to him.”
“Oh please; just a minute. Let me wait for my dad. I want to say hi to him,” Lucia pleaded.
“I’ll bring him to your table then you two can say hi together,” Mrs. Baker said.
Mrs. Bourbon took Lucia’s hand and made her get up. Mrs. Baker waved at her daughter as she was being dragged away.
Ted and Anita were engaged in some intense conversation when they approached them. Ted’s mother tapped Anita in the shoulder. Anita looked up.
“Mrs. Bourbon, nice to see you here.” Mrs. Bourbon signaled her to get up. Confused, she complied. Mrs. Bourbon sat Lucia down on the chair.
“Hi to you too, mum,” Ted said.
“Come with me,” Mrs. Bourbon said to Anita, pulling her away from them.
“So you bumped into her of all people when you were trying to stay away from me?” Ted asked.
“Not exactly; apparently, our parents are sharing a table and they don’t have space for me. Gosh, I need a drink,” Lucia said, looking around.
“Here; you can have mine,” Ted offered; placing his glass in front of her. She took it and sipped.
“You look restless; are you all right?”
“Far from it; our parents are busily planning our life together when we the two people concerned have no idea where we stand. It’s damn frustrating,” Lucia said, taking another sip.
“It is just a phase; we’ll get pass it. You’ve had enough,” Ted said, taking the glass from her. She chuckled.
“Get pass it? You barely look at me now. I only see the end.”
“Don’t talk like that.” Lucia’s phone beeped. She took it and read the message. She looked around.
“Um…excuse me, I need to use the washroom,” Lucia said, getting up. She walked away.
Lucia looked around when she got to the washroom.
“Hey.” She turned around. It was Allen.
“What are you doing here?” Lucia asked.
Some minutes later, Lucia returned to her table.
“Was the place?” Ted asked.
“It was okay,” Lucia said, sitting down. Few moments later, Mr. Baker and Mr. Bourbon approached their table.
“How are the latest sweethearts in town doing?” Ted’s dad asked.
“We’re good, dad,” Ted replied.
“Do you mind if I steal your lady for a few minutes? There are some people I’d like her to meet.”
“Sure.” Mr. Bourbon took Lucia’s hand as she got up. Ted smiled at her. They walked away. After a minute of pleasantries, Mr. Baker went on to chat with another couple. Ted sipped his champagne. Anita came to his table.
She sighed as she sat down. She muttered something under her breath.
“What is it?” Ted asked.
“The bathroom is disgusting. I can’t believe they don’t have cleaners on standby,” Anita fumed as she poured hand-sanitizer liquid onto her palms and rubbed them vigorously.
“Lucia said the place was okay,” Ted said. Anita half-chuckled.
“Okay? Unless she didn’t make it to the bathroom or she went to some other one.”
Ted glanced at Lucia who was chatting with her dad. Then a moving figure caught his eye. For a split second, his eyes met Allen’s. Allen gave him a sly smile and walked away. Ted felt his blood boiling. He emptied his glass in one gulp.
When the dinner was over, Ted said to Lucia, “I think you should go home with your folks. I’ll take Anita home. I’ve some things to talk over with her.” Lucia glanced at Anita who winked at her.
“Sure,” Lucia simply said as she took her purse and kissed his cheek, “Goodnight.” She walked away.
“Trouble in paradise?” Anita asked. Ted did not reply.