Lucia went to a supermarket to buy some groceries. She took her almost full basket over to the counter. When it was almost her turn, she remembered to add another item. When she turned, her eyes fell on Allen.
“What an unfortunate coincidence,” she said, walking past him.
“I’m sorry for having to run into you like this. We need to talk.”
“You’re not stalking me, are you Allen? I wouldn’t hesitate getting a restraining order against you.”
“I know. Listen, you and I go way back and I shouldn’t have turned my back on you when you needed me. I should have been there for you as any good friend would.”
“Uh huh,” Lucia said, taking a can of sweet corn and a packet of potato chips off the shelf. She walked back to the counter.
“I want to help you now, Lucia. I will testify in your favour.” Lucia glanced at him curiously.
“Why the sudden change of mind? Your new girlfriend dumped you already?”
“Please let me help,” Allen said desperately. Lucia paid for her items and she took her grocery bag.
“Let me help.”
“Allen…” He took it from her. Lucia sighed and followed him out of the supermarket. She unlocked her car doors and Allen put the bag in the back seat.
“Please let me make this right. Things might not have worked between us but your friendship is really important to me.”
“I appreciate your efforts but it is too late for that now.”
“How, you have someone else to testify for you?”
“No; there will be no trial. It is over.”
“What do you mean?”
“We settled or should I say my husband settled it with her so there will be no trial. So spare yourself the headache.” She opened the driver’s door.
“You should be wary of her; I think she’s still into your husband, Lucia.” Lucia chuckled.
“News flash of the day! See you are around, Allen,” she said as she got into her car and drove away.
Lucia was working in the office when she heard a knock on the door.
“Come on in.” The door opened and Anita entered. Lucia fisted her palms when she saw her.
“Hi Monique; sorry to barge in like this. Your husband asked me to…” Ted entered.
“Hey,” he greeted and noticed his wife staring hard at Anita.
“I came to show you the reports I’ve made so far.”
“Good.” Lucia got up.
“I’ll leave you two to it,” Lucia said, walking out.
“There’s no need to leave the room. It will only take a minute,” Ted said.
“That’s all it would take for me to hurt someone,” she said and left the room. Ted sighed.
“Trouble in paradise?” Ted sat.
“She’s not amused that you’re working here.”
“Why, she sees me as a threat?” Ted looked at her.
“You are no threat. She wants you gone.”
“So why haven’t you shown me the door yet?”
“Because I gave you my word and I intend to keep it.”
“Even when it threatens to destroy the marriage you so cherish?”
“Show me the reports, Anita.” She gave the file to him. He opened it.
“Okay, that’s a lot of information. What exactly am I looking at?”
“These are the quarterly budgetary reports and these ones are…let me see…” she indicated with her index finger. She moved around such that she stood beside him. Ted glanced at her.
“What are you doing?”
“What? I’m showing you how I structured the report,” Anita said innocently.
“You do realize that Lucia could walk in any moment, right?”
“Oh I doubt she would. She can’t seem to stand the sight of me.”
“And I’m barely doing same so please keep your distance.”
“Okay, let me quickly show you…”
“It’s okay; I’ll figure it out myself. You may leave now.”
“Ted, come on.”
“Anita, get out.” She sighed and walked out.
Few minutes later, Lucia entered with a gentleman.
“Hey, this is Mr. Wilson, an associate of Mr. McLean. He wants to have a word with us. Do you have a minute?” Lucia asked.
“Sure of course. Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Wilson.” They shook hands and sat.
“Considering the big move our company wants to take with yours, we need a representative from your side to come over to our headquarters and see to all the formal paperwork.”
“Sure, I could come,” Ted said.
“I suggest you appoint someone else. The whole process could take a while.”
“How long?” Lucia asked.
“Perhaps a month since there are other propositions we would want you to see.”
“Okay, we will discuss it and let you know who we will be sending over.”
“Or I could go,” Lucia interjected with a shrug. Ted cast a sharp glance at her.
“Yes, that would be great. You are co-owner so you’d be in the best position to take decisions beneficial to your company,” Mr. Wilson agreed.
“No, we’ll talk about it first. Thanks for letting us know, Mr. Wilson.”
“Sure; I’ll be on my way now.” He got up and shook hands with them. He left the office. Ted turned to look at Lucia.
“What was that?”
“What was what?”
“Why would you just decide to go over there?”
“As he said, I’m in the best position to do this. You can stay here and manage things whiles I handle things out there.”
“You don’t have to do this. Someone else can do that.”
“Someone else, like who?”
“Anita can go; she’s more than qualified. She has done this several times.”
“I want to do this. I want the experience.”
“Which is good but Anita knows more…”
“What is this about, Ted? Do you really want her to go because of business or because of the ultimatum I gave?” He hesitated.
“Both.” Lucia got up.
“No. She’s not going.”
“Why not? This way we can both be assured of a very good job done and the two of us will not have to fret of her presence around here.” Lucia chuckled.
“Yeah, for a month and she’ll be back…till God knows when. That wasn’t the deal. I won’t let you ease your way out of my terms with such a cheesy proposition so you could find yourself back in my bed.”
“Point of correction: our bed.”
“It will be just your bed very soon if you don’t man up and kick her out.”
“Lucia, nothing is going to happen. Let it go.”
“Then I’m leaving.”
“You’re going to abandon me here for a whole month?” Lucia shrugged.
“A deal is a deal, Ted. Either she leaves or I do.”
“So if l let her go, you would not go out of state?”
“Maybe, that’s unlikely though.”
“Lucia, I gave her my word…”
“Fine; since your word to her means more to you than the vows you made to me at the altar, I know where you stand. I’m leaving.”
“I won’t let you.”
“We’ll see about that,” Lucia said and walked out.
Lucia came out of the bathroom later that night to find Ted lying on the bed, watching the news on TV.
“What are you doing here?” Lucia asked.
“Doing here? This is my house and my bedroom.” She nodded and took her phone. Ted quickly got out of the bed and stopped her when he saw her walking out.
“Lucia, please let’s talk about this.”
“Talk about what?”
“About your decision to go over to the associate’s headquarters. Anita can handle that.”
“I don’t want her out of town for a month, Ted. I want her out of our lives forever!”
“I’ll get her to work somewhere else…it will take time to convince her.”
“Convince her? Why are you talking as if she holds all the cards?”
“She can still take you to court.”
“Which I’m more ready to handle if that should happen.”
“Lucia, I can’t stand it when we fight. Please, don’t leave. I’m sure when she’s done with the work out there, she’d agree to work somewhere else.”
“Yeah and I’m sure the moon will come out during daytime tomorrow,” Lucia snapped cynically. Ted held her.
“We are all that matters. We will be fine. Anita’s presence is only for a while. I’ll get her to go somewhere else so please bear with me. If she makes you feel insecure, there’s no need.”
“Insecure? We both know she still loves you and she’ll stop at nothing to have you back.”
“Which I won’t; I chose you, remember?” He leaned his forehead against hers.
“Please…don’t leave. I don’t know how I’m going to survive a whole month without you,” He said softly. He kissed her. She pushed him back with her hand on his chest.
“You can’t have us both, Ted.”
“I don’t have her. You’re the only woman in my life.”
“That’s not how I see it. Goodnight,” she said and left the bedroom. Ted sighed in despair.
Two days later, Ted came to the office and was surprised to see Anita there.
“What are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be at the airport right now?” he asked.
“Yes but your wife called me off. She said she’d be the one going.”
“What? When did she call you?”
“Last night. You didn’t know?” Ted took out his phone and dialled her number. The line was busy. He looked at his watch. He had about twenty five minutes to get to her and stop her.
“I’ll be back.” He rushed back to his car and drove off.
Lucia settled down in her seat on the plane. She took out her phone and saw she had some voicemails.
“Lucia, don’t you get on that plane. Please let’s talk about this, okay? Don’t leave me here. I’m begging you, Lucia.” She shook her head and deleted the message. She sent a text message back to him.
Ted arrived at the airport. He took his beeping phone out of his pocket. It was a message from Lucia.
“Just took off; will let you know when I land. Love you.” He dialled her number.
“Get out of the plane right now, Lucia.”
“When we are in the air? How do you expect me to do that?”
“Then get on a plane coming back the minute you arrive.”
“I’m sorry, Ted. I really want to do this. And if you claim I’m all that matters to you, then prove it by keeping yourself together. I’ll talk to you later, honey,” Lucia said and hung up.
“Lucia, Lucia!” He ran his fingers through his hair in desperation.
After the checkpoints, Lucia was directed to a black Mercedes car at the airport when she landed.
“Hi, Mrs. Bourbon. I am Mitch Tudor; I’ve been assigned to see to your welfare during your time here. Welcome by the way.”
“Thanks, Mr. Tudor.”
“Call me Mitch, please. I hope we get to know each other better than just business people.”
“Hope so too,” Lucia said with a smile.