Lucia drove to the premises of Comfy Spa and parked her car. She got out and walked inside.
“Mum, I’m inside. Where are you?”
“I’m looking at you right now, giving you a wave.”
“Yeah I see you,” Lucia confirmed and ended the phone call.
“My darling,” Mrs. Baker said fondly as she hugged her daughter.
“Good to see you, mum.”
“I know; go and change into a robe and let’s get going. I’ll be outside when you’re done.”
Lucia almost startled when she walked out to the poolside to see Mrs. Bourbon there as well.
“Surprised to see me, darling?”
“Yeah, kind of; when my mum said it was a mother daughter thing, I didn’t expect a third person but I’m glad you’re here too,” Lucia said and sat down.
“And I’m now practically your mother too so your mother wasn’t wrong. We just wanted to hang out and talk.” Lucia glanced at her mother.
“Is this why you pulled me out of work? We have a busy schedule at work today, mom.”
“I’m sure my son can handle it. Here, I ordered lemonade for you.”
“Thanks.” Lucia took the glass and sipped.
“So how are the preparations for the trial going?” Mrs. Bourbon asked.
“Um…it has been settled.”
“What do you mean, settled? No trial?” Her mother asked.
“Yep,” Lucia simply said and forced herself to drink more of the lemonade to avoid having to say more.
“How much did you pay her?” Ted’s mother asked.
“And why weren’t we consulted first?” Her mother added. Lucia placed the glass down.
“I don’t think we paid her anything at all.”
“I don’t get it; so she let it all go without a fight? That doesn’t sound like the Anita I know.”
“The thing is I don’t know what transpired because I wasn’t the one who spoke with her.”
“Who did, Ted? Gosh, and you didn’t bother to ask him what her terms were?”
“No, he said he handled it and it was all over. That was all I needed to hear.”
“I can’t believe you did this. The trial was the only fair way to rid her out of our lives for good and you just ruined it.”
“I’m sure Ted gave her a good deal perhaps work in a big company.”
“Uh huh, that’s what you want to believe. You know Anita, what does she really want?”
“Ted. She wants Ted.”
“So knowing this about her, what do you think she’d ask Ted for in exchange for her dropping her suit against you?”
“She can’t ask Ted to leave me for her. She knows Ted wouldn’t do that.”
“Uh huh, she wouldn’t ask that but that’s what she wants in the long run.”
“What do you mean?” Lucia asked, her voice breaking, her heart pounding.
“Why not ask your husband whatever deal he made with the devil? Come on Lucia, you should have asked me first.”
“It was Ted’s idea. He convinced me he could get through to her and he did. Why isn’t that good news?”
“If it was entirely good news, your darling husband would have filled you in on the details.”
“I think I’ll go inside and get my body massaged,” Lucia said, taking her glass of lemonade. She got up and left her two mothers.
“I don’t trust Anita. She is trouble. Ted shouldn’t have gone to see her,” Mrs. Bourbon said.
“I totally agree.”
Lucia was helping herself to a glass of red wine when Ted arrived home. He kissed her cheek.
“How was your day at the spa with your mother?” He sat beside her.
“You mean with our mothers? Great.”
“My mom was there too?”
“Apparently, the owner is a good friend of your mother and general manager is an old friend of my mother so there’s that.”
“Cool. So how did it go?”
“They weren’t pleased that we went behind their backs to settle things with Anita.”
“Oh no, you told them. I wanted to give my mother a heads up first.”
“Well, they asked about the trial and I had to come clean. What did you give Anita in return, Ted?”
“I told you not to worry about it.”
“I can’t help it. I need to know.”
“She said she wanted her life back so I gave it back to her.”
“What does that mean?”
“She wanted her job back.” Lucia put the glass down.
“So you did, without talking to your mum first? She is certainly not going to be amused by that.”
“Maybe but there’s nothing she can do about it.” Lucia chuckled.
“Seriously? It’s her company or her husband’s; it’s the same thing. What gives you the right to overrule her decision?”
“I said she cannot do anything about it because she won’t be working in her company.”
“What do you mean? Where will she be working?” Ted stared at her in response. She gasped.
“It was either that or a court case and that was a no-go area for me.”
“Why not? We could have won!”
“At what cost? Of having our names dragged through the mud and splashed across all newspapers and tabloids? Is it worth it to you?” Ted asked, standing up.
“If it means we rid ourselves of the cancer that she is then yes, it is.”
“Well, it was too much of a price to pay. Details about your time with Allen could come up and that wouldn’t augur well for the reputation of our companies. And remember our company is young and fragile and it can’t survive a scandal like that.”
“My time with Allen has nothing to do with this case.”
“But it does! It has everything to do with it! In case you’ve forgotten, he’s the only material witness to the incident. And you said he chose to stick by Anita’s side. Are you going to bet that he wouldn’t bring out details about your tape adventures?” Lucia stood.
“Oh so that’s what this is all about, huh? The sex tapes again?”
“Take it or leave it, that is going to haunt us for the rest of our lives, Lucia. It’s enough having to live with that but letting the whole world know that the Bourbon heir married a girl who has a sex tape history? How do you think it is going to sound?”
“Oh, so you’re ashamed of me.”
“I’m not but I can’t take it if these news break out in court. I can’t.”
“So bringing her back into our lives, into our company is a much less risk to us as a couple, as business partners than my unfortunate past coming out?”
“It is a risk I’m ready to take.” Lucia shook her head.
“The last time she came into our company, you lost control and got her pregnant. And you’ve brought her back?!”
“And who said I’m going to do so again? I’m over her, Lucia.”
“I don’t think so, Ted. I think you still want her.”
“What? Don’t be ridiculous, Lucia.”
“I’m not being ridiculous. It’s obvious. You claim you don’t love her but you don’t want to let go of her. I don’t know if it is because she’s that good in bed…”
“Shut up, Lucia! You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh I don’t? Really? Tell me you still don’t think about her and the possible future you might have had with her,” Lucia said, tears falling down her cheeks.
“I don’t think of her like that. It is you I love and want to spend my rest of my life with.”
“Why would you bring her back? You once called our company our matrimonial home. Why would you give her the go-ahead to intrude into our lives?”
“She wouldn’t dare. I have set boundaries.”
“Uh huh, not to wear the clothes that drive you crazy, not to talk in a way that would make you forget you have a wife and not make advances at you because you are so strong you can resist her!”
“ Hey,” Ted said, holding her steady to keep her calm, “nothing’s going to happen as long as we are together.”
“But I’m sorry. I can’t do that.”
“I won’t sit idly and watch this already fragile marriage come crumbling down. So you have a choice to make.”
“Oh yeah, what is that?”
“Either she goes or I go.”
“You can’t be serious. I did this for us, Lucia! I did this to protect you. Court cases can get brutal and with Anita in the picture, it could ruin you.”
“You mean, ruin you and your reputation and your company. It is all about you.”
“No; I did this for both of us so we don’t get scarred by bad press.”
“Your choice, Ted. Anita or me. You can’t have both. And till you make a decision, we’ll be sleeping in different rooms.”
“Come on Lucia, you’re taking this too far. It is not as bad as you think.”
“Stop deceiving yourself Ted and admit that you still want Anita close by for whatever twisted reason.”
“No, that’s not true. I know what I’m doing and I’m doing this for us!”
“That’s even worse. Bringing her this close to us is a sure recipe for a divorce, Ted and you know it. So it is either that’s what you want or you wouldn’t mind if it happened anyway.”
“Lucia, I think you’ve drunk more than you should and it’s affecting your thinking. Let’s go to bed and sleep it out and let’s resume this discussion tomorrow, okay?”
“Don’t patronize me, Ted. I’m no fool. You’re sleeping in the guest room tonight,” Lucia said finally as she took her wine glass and walked out.
“Lucia, come on.” He dropped himself on the sofa and sighed.
“You seem happy,” Allen observed as Anita poured him a glass of champagne.
“That I am,” Anita said with a triumphant smile.
“What are we celebrating?” He asked.
“My come-back.” She sat beside him on the bed.
“Which is what exactly?”
“I have my job back.”
“At the Bourbon company?”
“Even better; at the Baker-Bourbon company.”
“Why would you want to work there?”
“I have my reasons.”
“I don’t feel very comfortable about that.”
“Aww…is it because of your darling Lucia?”
“She is married and she has moved on. Why can’t we do the same?”
“This is me moving on.”
“Are you doing this to get closer to Ted Bourbon?”
“So if I asked you to choose, who would it be?”
“I wouldn’t advise you do that,” Anita said and sipped.
“But I am,” Allen insisted. She glanced at him sideways as she continued sipping. Allen chuckled.
“It’s him; why does it always have to be him?” Allen asked himself, shaking his head.
“Lucia, come on, open up. Let’s finish this,” Ted said, knocking on the bedroom door.
“We are done talking, Ted. She goes or I go. Till you make up your mind, this is how it’s going to be.”
“You were supposed to give me a massage today. Come on, Lucy.”
“Call Anita and fire her and we have a deal.”
“I can’t; I gave her my word. Please…”
“Then you would have to do without me. I’m sure you can live with that.”
“You know I can’t live without you.”
“Then prove it.”
“Please don’t do this. I’m begging you.”
“I’m doing this for us, Ted. Go to sleep.”
Ted leaned on the door and sighed. What to do, what to do.