Lucia’s eyes slowly opened. Her mind was blank. She blinked hard, trying to remember where she was. Every blink reminded her of something: that she was here on business, that she was sad enough to drink herself to bed…
“Good morning.” She startled when she heard the unexpected voice and sat up. Mitch paused.
“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to scare you,” he apologized, still confused about her reaction.
“What are you doing here?” Lucia asked in an alarmed tone.
“I was here last night and you said, no you insisted that I stayed so I did,” he said, giving her the mug of coffee he was holding.
“I did.” She sipped her steaming coffee, wondering what else she might have done.
“You were pretty wined up and you sounded depressed so I thought it a good idea to stick around just in case.”
“Just in case of what, that I hurt myself?”
“Who can tell? Women handle issues variedly. But you do look better this morning,” Mitch said with a smile and gently touched her face. Lucia froze.
“Why don’t you go freshen up? We need to be at the company’s premises in the next hour and half.”
“Sure; what about you?”
“Oh I already have. See you,” he said and walked out. Lucia blinked and shook her head just to clear her head. She slapped herself on the forehead.
“What have I done?” she muttered to herself.
Lucia cleared her throat. Mitch was humming to the tune being played on the radio.
“I want to say thank you for staying the night when I asked you to,” Lucia said.
“Don’t mention it; it is my pleasure. I’m glad I did. We did share some intimate moments,” he said with a smile. Lucia’s eyes widened at the statement.
“I’m honoured that you’d confide in me, Monique.” Monique forced a smile.
When they arrived, Lucia excused herself and dialled Ted’s number. He did not answer. She sighed and entered the building. After the meeting, Mitch approached Lucia.
“So what’s it going to be tonight? Dinner outside or at my place? I promise you a very well done meal prepared by yours truly,” he said smoothly.
“Um…that sounds inviting but I need to head back home today.”
“Today? I didn’t know you were scheduled to fly out today.”
“It wasn’t on schedule. There’s something urgent I have to see to back at home.”
“About your husband?”
“Among other things, yes. I appreciate your company since I got here. Each minute has been worth remembering. So I’ll head home right away.”
“Let me drive you home.”
“No, thanks. There are some documents that the secretary has to fax me before I leave. Could you see to it that he does that? I need to show them to my husband when I get back.”
“Thanks, Mitch.” She walked out.
Lucia dragged her suitcase out of her bedroom. She heard a knock on the door. She opened it.
“Mitch!” She called out, unable to disguise her surprise.
“Hey; I saw to it that the documents you requested were worked on and upon a second thought, I decided to deliver them to you personally before you left.”
“Oh, thanks. Please come in.” He did and she closed the door.
“I can see you are almost on your way out.”
“Yes I am.” Lucia put the brown envelope he gave her in her handbag.
“Yeah I think so.” He went for the suitcase.
“What are you doing?” Lucia asked.
“Taking you to the airport.”
“What? You don’t have to do that. I can go by myself. I’m sure you have other important things to do.”
“None is as important as spending the next hour by your side.” Lucia swallowed.
“I do wish we could spend more time together but sooner or later, we would have to snap out of fantasy land and return to reality. You have to return home to your husband and me, continue with my life here. I just want you to know that I cherish every moment we spent together. It was something real-something I haven’t experienced in a while. Thank you, Monique.” She nodded.
“Since you arranged for me to get this place, I should hand over the keys to you, right?” Lucia asked.
“Yes; maybe I’ll hold on to it for a while,” he said as they walked to the door.
“Why?” They stepped outside. Lucia locked the door and gave him the key.
“Just in case you decided to come back here,” he said hopefully.
“I wouldn’t bank my hopes on that.”
They arrived at the airport. They both got out of the car. Mitch took out her suitcase from the car.
“I guess this is where we say goodbye. It was really nice meeting you, Mitch Tudor.”
“Same here.” They hugged. When they drew apart, he kissed her forehead.
“I do hope we meet again…sooner than later.” She smiled.
“I do hope so too. Take care of yourself.” He held on to her hands for a moment and slowly let go. Lucia waved at him and walked on.
Lucia gave a huge sigh of relief when the plane took off. She couldn’t wait to get home and throw herself in the arms of her husband. She couldn’t believe she was careless enough to let things go way out of line with Mitch. If she had stayed any longer, she was sure Mitch would end up falling for her and she couldn’t take on that headache especially when she had Anita to contend with. Why didn’t Ted pick up her call or even call back?
“Are you going to answer that?” Anita asked when Ted’s phone rang. He looked at the phone. It stopped ringing.
“I will call her back,” he said dismissively, putting the phone down.
“You might give her the wrong idea, you know.”
“Not in the mood, Anita. I need to finish this before I get home and I intend to go home early today.”
“Why is that? Monique isn’t back yet.”
“Yeah but I’d love to spend my evening in my house and not in the office stuck with you.”
Ted entered his house. He turned around at the smell of the aroma. Where was that coming from? He walked into the kitchen but the place was clean and looked undisturbed or at least it seemed so. He proceeded into the bedroom. When he opened the door, a fragrance which he loved flooded his nostrils. He entered, his eyes wandering around the room. Lucia turned when he closed the door.
He exhaled when his eyes fell on her. She smiled knowingly, understanding how he must be feeling because she felt the same way. She walked towards him and hugged him. He hugged her back tightly.
“Feels so good to be back home. I miss being in your arms,” Lucia said and kissed his shoulder.
“I missed you very much,” Ted said and looked into her eyes.
“I’m sorry for leaving the way I did. I shouldn’t have taken off like that.”
“The good news is that you’re back. Are you done with the formalities?”
“I don’t know and honestly I don’t care. I just woke up today and I knew I couldn’t spend another night without you so right after the meeting, I ran back.”
“And I’m so glad you did. I guess my prayers worked.”
“I’m sure they did. And besides, if there is any unfinished business, we could always do it virtually or via fax. I don’t have to stay there till every i is dotted and every t crossed, right?”
“I guess so. I thought I smelled something in the kitchen.”
“Yeah, I wanted my night back to be special so I prepared us something.”
“Oh thank God! I was wondering what I’d eat tonight. I didn’t know deciding your own meal was such a headache.” She laughed. He kissed her.
“How is Anita by the way? I do know she was here yesterday.” Ted was stunned.
“Never mind; it doesn’t matter. You didn’t do anything silly, did you?”
“Good boy. Why don’t you take a shower and then we head downstairs?”
“Sure.” He kissed her. “I’ll be right back.” He entered the bathroom. Lucia threw herself on the bed and sighed. She closed her eyes and gave a short prayer of thanks for her safe trip back home to her husband. Nothing felt much better than to be back at home no matter how fun a vacation was.
As they snuggled in bed later at night, Lucia asked, “So what did you miss about me the most?”
“Your presence because this house felt very empty without you. Even Anita mentioned it.”
When Lucia raised an eyebrow, he quickly added, “I’m sorry; I know she is a forbidden name here. I just wanted to prove a point. I hated being alone here, in the kitchen, in the hall, in bed. I missed you in every room.”
“I missed being your wife. You know people say you’d miss being single when you get married, I think they are wrong. After spending these past months with you, I don’t ever want to return to being single again. Being single does have its perks but being married to you is the best thing that ever happened to me. Just letting you know where I am at each moment as well as what I’m doing gives me this sense of worth of belonging to someone amazing. I miss being here with you, Ted,” Lucia confessed. He kissed her hair.
“Did I mention I missed your cooking?” She laughed.
“You must have been miserable without me.”
“Oh you have no idea.” He held her tightly.
The next morning, Mr. and Mrs. Bourbon entered the office hand-in-hand.
“Good morning,” Ted greeted the secretary.
“Good morning sir and madam. Welcome, madam.”
“Thank you.” They entered the office. Anita got up when the door opened.
“I wanted to give this to you personally…” Anita stopped when she saw Lucia.
“Good morning, Anita. How have you been?” Lucia asked sweetly.
“Good; welcome back, Monique.”
“Thank you, Anita. I heard you took good care of my husband when I was away. Thanks for that.”
“Any time,” she said, handing over a file to Ted. He took it.
“Excuse me,” she said and left the office.
“Now I feel that I’m back home. My reality couldn’t be made complete without a cold face-off with Anita,” Lucia said, sitting down.
“I could try talking to her again about working somewhere else.”
“Nah, don’t worry; we shouldn’t talk about it anymore. Sooner or later, she herself will show herself out. We just have to make this place unbearable enough for her to stay.”
“Hmmm…I like the sound of that.”
Allen opened his door. Anita entered, fuming.
“I can’t believe she’s back!” He closed the door.
“You can’t believe who’s back?”
“Lucia, who else?!”
“Why, she traveled?”
“She went out of state for two weeks. She was supposed to stay there for a month at least.”
“So why did she come before time?”
“I don’t know! Just when Ted and I were bonding again.”
“Bonding again, huh? Is that why I haven’t heard from you in the past two weeks?”
“Please don’t start whining, Allen. It doesn’t suit you. Can I get a drink? I need one.”
“Coming right up.”
Mr. Wilson raised his head when he heard a knock on his office door. Mitch entered.
“Good you’re here. Have a seat.” He sat.
“I hear Mrs. Bourbon has returned home.”
“Yes she has. She sent me a text informing me she had arrived safely.”
“Good to know. There were a few loose ends that need tying up and only her signature or that of her husband would suffice and since she’s not here…”
“I’ll be more than glad to go deliver it to her company, sir.”
“Great. And this envelope contains everything we’ve agreed on so she can review it with her husband. Make sure she gets this.”
Mitch sat in his chair and sighed as he looked at the two envelopes in his hand.
“I guess I’ll be seeing you sooner than we both expected, Monique,” he said to himself, smiling.