The Visit

She was stunned by what she was doing when Luke called her by the nickname he used to call her when they were kids. She missed Luke calling her by her nickname. She misses it a lot! She looked up and looked at him. His face was serious, there was no emotion in it. Athalia put the cellphone back in her bag.

"Who are you texting?" he asked her. She looked down.

Is he angry? She was embarrassed because her time was moving but she was doing something else instead of her work. Sh*t! She just did that as an excuse not to get her attention to him talking to Mickaela.

"I'm sorry, Charles just asked me something." she replied.

Charles asks if they can continue their walk later. Charles knew she was working here with Luke, she could feel in his words last night the jealousy. However, Charles respects Luke's relationship with her — as a friend. Luke sighed.

"Look at me Athalia." he demanded.

Athalia could do nothing but follow Luke's command. She looked up and he was now staring and sitting on the sofa opposite her. She can't help but swallow at the intensity of his stare. She felt awkward.

"Why?" she asked

"Are you really determined to let Charles woo you?" he asked.

"Of course." she answered quickly. Luke nodded. Suddenly, his face brightened.

"So, let's get started?" he asked. Athalia nodded.

"Sure, what are the things to do?" she asked.

"So, this day is about briefing first what you will do."

He got up and went to the study table and opened the drawer. He took a piece of paper and handed it to her.

"There are all the things you have to do. You can review it at home. For now, we will visit the hemp, first. Mr. Lereño told me that I need to report how the hemp is. And you will do it." he said while staring at her. She met his gaze. She doesn’t know about hemp. What will she report?

"I don't know anything about hemp. And as far as I know, all I have to do is monitor how much fruit you can provide to be used by the company." she said in a matter-of-fact tone. That will be her job at Pontañe Juicy-yo Company.

"That's your job when you're in the office. But, because you work for me Athalia. You will do my jobs for the company as long as it's about the reports that I will pass on to Mr. Lereño." he said with a smile on his lips. Sh*t! Why didn't I read the contract?

"So you mean you're the one who pays me?" she asked while her eyes widen while looking at him. He laughed at her reaction.

"Of course, Ath. I can double your salary in PJC." he said.

Why is he doing this? She doesn't want to ask. Whatever his reason, she won't want to know. She came here for work, not asking anything that's not related to her work.

"Are you tricking me?" she asked curiously. He laughed at what she asked.

"Ath, why would I do that to you? It's in the contract, and I'm the one who pays you Ath. It's not your boss but me." he said and the smile on his lips had disappeared and became serious.

What else can she do but accept that she's his Secretary? She wanted to hug him but she couldn’t. Athalia was afraid that she might become vulnerable and repeat the kiss that happened between them. As much as possible, she wants to avoid him.

"Okay, Luke. So, come on?" she asked so they could talk about other things regarding her work. He nodded and stood up.

"Let's go while it's still early. If we go before noon, it's already hot." he said and stood up and opened the door for me. He held out his hand to the open door and glanced at her.

"Ladies first."

She smiled. What a gentleman.

ON THE way to the neighboring town where Luke's hemp plantation was planted in a large field, she felt drowsy. She did some completed reports last night that need to be submitted this morning.

"Close your eyes first. You've been squinting for a while. We're going to travel a little further. Looks like you had a lack of sleep?" he asked. Why does she feel the sarcasm in the tone of his voice? Or she's just imagining it.

" I had a lack of sleep because I had done many completed reports to be forwarded to my department, then I woke up early this morning." she said and closed her eyes because her eyes were going to close.

"Since you meet Charles, you sacrifice your time for him. I don't know but I'm jealous, Athalia. I'm jealous because you gave him so much importance." he said which caused her to lose sleep. She turned to him. He was frowning.

"Huh? Why are you jealous of him, Luke? I'm embarrassed because I didn't accommodate him yesterday when he invited me to dinner. So when he invited me again last night for a dinner date, I accepted. You're important to me Luke, you don't need to compare yourself to him." she said.

That's true if it weren't for Mickaela. Maybe her attention was more focused on Luke. Maybe, she has no intention to let Charles woo her either. But since they have their own life, it's time for her to think about my love life.

She didn't want to tell Charles that she was lack of sleep, Charles was eager to invite her for dinner. He said they were going to a place that she would definitely like. So, I accommodated his invitation. But, why she can’t feel the excitement.

"Because you give him more appreciation than me, Ath. You can sacrifice for him. As for me, no." - He stopped the car on the side of the road and he looked at her. He stared her in the eyes. "You don't know how much I miss you Ath. I miss you so much. But, you didn't even tell me that you miss me too. You're avoiding me— she cut off the rest of what he was going to say.

"Because you have a girlfriend. Wrong. It is wrong to see we're still close, Luke. You have a girlfriend, and I'm a woman. Even if we're just friends, I'm still a woman. I know she'll be hurt when she sees we're still together. So please, bear with me Luke. Even though we're not always together, you're still my best friend. " she said and stared into his eyes. He took a deep breath and looked down.

"It's hard, it's very hard."-he said and looked up. — I will make a way for you not to avoid me like this, Ath. I understand, so it's okay. As long as I can talk to you and see you. That's enough for me. " He said and smiled.

But that did not reach his eyes. She feels that he’s hurting, but she's hurting too. It breaks her heart that they can no longer return to their former association because they have paths that they were trodden on. Athalia makes sure, that soon, she will also lose her feelings for him.

Athalia woke up because of the gentle shake of her shoulder. She opened her eyes and saw Luke shaking her shoulder.

"Here we are." She said and immediately got out of the car, turned around at the passenger's door, and opened the door for her. Athalia couldn’t help but smile. Luke is really a gentleman.

"Thank you." she said sincerely and got out of the car.

Luka walked first, she followed him into the countryside. They were in the part where she estimated twenty hectares that were in front of her. There is a barn not far away. Luke's go there. When they got to the barn, the door suddenly opened and a man in his late fifties came out.

"Uncle Amboy. How are you?" Luke asked. The old man named Amboy smiled at Luke and glanced at her. She smiled at him. Luke looked back.

"I'm all right, Sir Luke. The crops are fine, next week we can harvest them. "-he looked at her again as if he was recognizing her.—" Are you the girl who was with Sir Luke when he was a kid? " he asked. Before she could answer. Luke answered it.

"Yes, she is, Uncle Amboy. Athalia Patricia Ramos." he said and she saw out of the corner of her eye that Luke was looking at her.

"Oh. It's you! You have grown into a beautiful lady! Come in, Sir Luke. Broncio and Daniel are here. We're going to check if we can harvest the hemp this week. Ramon, William, and Lando were left in the hemp field." he said and ushered them inside the barn.

When she entered, she could not believe what she saw. The barn is nice and fully equipped. there is a bathroom, sofa set, refrigerator, kitchen, CR and there is also a bed for the workers. She couldn’t help but look at Luke nicely talking to the workers.

That is, he made it for his workers. Athalia couldn’t help but admire him, it was different when he treated his workers. Just like family.

Luke looked at her, maybe he noticed she was looking at him. He approached her and held her left hand. She looked at their intertwined hands, she felt like she was scorched by his grip. But she just let him touch her.

"She's Athalia. She's my childhood friend and my temporary secretary. Who will help me monitor the plants." Luke announced to them. A tall, bald man with a tattoo on his right arm approached her.

"It's you, Athalia. You changed. I'm Broncio, lady." he said and smiled at her. Athalia didn't know Broncio knew her.

"I didn't think you knew me. I'm sorry, I can't remember your name but I do remember your face." she replied. Broncio laughed.

"It's okay, Athalia. Call me, Uncle Brocio. Luke and you were young then. When you were in high school you didn't get used to going here. Luke and you sometimes go here when his mom wasn't in the mansion. While Luke, when he came here after many years, he already recognized us because we often Skype to discuss the plants. " he said as Luke guided her to sit on the sofa, Broncio also sat on the sofa opposite them.

While, Uncle Amboy was busy talking on his cellphone, the man who mixed the juice was probably Daniel. Daniel approached them with a tray of juice and laid it on the center table and sat on the single sofa. Meanwhile, Uncle Amboy approached them after talking on the cellphone. He sat down next to Broncio.

"Thank you." she said to Daniel and smiled at him.

"Nothing. Daniel, by the way. I'm thirty-one years old. I'm Manang Daisy's eldest." he said and held out his hand for me.

Ah, Manang Daisy, Luke's assistant. She accepted his handshake and immediately let go of it. She takes a glass of juice and drink. She was thirsty because of the long ride. Manong Amboy sneezed.

"So, how are you Athalia? Maybe you already have a boyfriend. You're beautiful, it's impossible for you that you have no boyfriend. An only blind person, won't see your beauty." he said smiling.

She couldn't help but blush at what he said. She looked at Luke who was staring at her. She immediately averted her eyes and looked at Uncle Amboy.

"I don't have a boyfriend, Uncle Amboy. But, someone is wooing me. His name is Charles Andrew." she answered honestly. There is no reason to keep it a secret. they will know it because soon she and Charles will be in a relationship.

"Oh! Charles Andrew. He's half-Russian and Half-Filipino. They're the owners of Andrew Automart Inc. Andrew is lucky for having you. What else is he going to look for in you? You're beautiful and hardworking!" Broncio's said lively with a thing ups.

She couldn't help but laugh softly at what he said. She didn't know that they knew Charles. Yes, she saw Charles in a magazine back then with a woman. But she didn’t know that he was not a full-blooded Filipino.

"Thank you for the compliment, Uncle Broncio." she said. Luke suddenly stood up to her surprise.

"I'll just go out. I'll take a picture of the hemp because I'll pass it on to Mr. Lereño." Luke said and walked towards the door of the barn without even glancing at her and came out. Is he jealous? Impossible. There was no reason for him to be jealous, he already have Michkaela.

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