Four years ago, I was proud to be one of those people, to lend a hand when needed. Isn't there a saying a friend in need is a friend indeed?
My boss was supposed to be one of the panels for new employee recruitment but he had a family emergency so he asked me to replace him. That's the moment I met Evie after our last encounter at New York.
I was totally surprised to know she hadn't landed a single job in oil and gas industry despite graduated around the same time as me. Instead, she had been working as a cashier and part-time cleaner. It was weird considering she's married to a billionaire; how the hell a wife to one of the richest man in New York was cleaning offices and houses every single day including the weekend?
Until we had lunch together afterwards that I knew about her divorce though I didn't prude into what happened because we were not that close.
But I felt like it was my responsibility to bring her to the right path. Also because I was trying at that time; Mom kept on telling me to do good deeds everywhere and anywhere because God will grant us even better things in the future.
Which He did, He gave me the opportunity to carry my baby girl, even if she didn't make it to this world.
"This is good," Karl announces after he shamelessly moaned the entire time he's eating the chicken.
We are currently seated for the rehearsal dinner prior Evie and Augustine's wedding ceremony tomorrow, so this simple act of his attracted attention from the other guests sitting at this table.
The simple act of mine four years ago when I suggested Evie to be hired, well, she appreciated it so much that she constantly called me to update about her career progress, sometimes to seek my insights on the projects she’s working on, but last month, it was to invite me to her wedding.
"It's good, right? I think the chef is Augustine's friend. He has restaurants all over the world." An older lady who sits next to him replies.
Oh I have an idea who that friend might be.
I scan the entire hall once again but nope, no sign of him. It's been three years, and I've moved on. I really have. I've accepted that we are not meant to be. I even have a few boyfriends over the years.
It's just that, I wanna see him first if he happens to be here. I want to have the upper hand. I want to avoid being surprised. Eventhough I've gotta admit I've practised what to say and how to quickly end the conversation if I do meet him here.
After the dinner, I try my best to mingle with others but they are all Augustine and Evie's family and friends so I barely know anyone except Karl. It's a cruise ship so I can't really go anywhere except to my room which I'd prefer to be out and about rather than stuck in there.
...why did I accept her invitation; her five-day wedding celebration on a cruise. I could've made an excuse or something. We aren't even close.
Okay fine. Maybe because there's this tiny bit of me that want to see him again after all these years.
We haven't contacted each other after the last talk at our home in Aberdeen. The divorce was finalised with his lawyer since he was caught up with something else that seems to be more important than meeting me for the last time.
"Since when do you prefer the bubbles than Rose?" A deep, familiar voice startles me as my heart stops beating by how stunned I am to be caught this way.
He steps into my view with his smiley face, showing the dimple at the same left cheek, mesmerising eyes looking at me as I force myself to curve a smile of my own. Calm down, Estelle.
"I purposely ordered Rose when I saw your name in the guest list."
"You did?" No wonder the server pours me Rose despite filling others' glasses with white wine. It was weird, because Evie never knew about my obsession with Rose.
"How are you?" He leans in for a hug which I welcome it, can't help but feel belonged the moment he touches my body. His scent smells the same, his body heat feels the same, it's like he never left.
"I'm good. How about you?" I ask him once he lets go of me. The brief hug felt too brief.
"Excellent," his smile widens, "You're in Sweden now? Evie told me you came straight from Stockholm."
I nod as I hand my empty champagne glass to a server, "Yeah. Where are you staying now?"
"Barcelona?" I gasp, "Why? What are you working on there?" As soon as I finished my enquiry, my eyes catch the reflection of the ring on his fourth finger. He's married?
"What?" Wait. Hold on. What?
Then I let out an awkward laugh, finally getting his joke. He's working on... his husband.
"Hi," A voice interrupts us the moment I open my mouth to end our encounter. Because my heart is on the verge of having its own heart-quake, already cracking at the edges. If I stay here longer, hearing how much he has moved on, or that he has replaced me with someone else, I might come home with a total heart break.
My eyes quickly shift to the man who is approaching us. He is so tall -much, much taller than Owen or any of us here- and absolutely beautiful he looks like he just came out of an underwear magazine.
I'm totally dumbfounded when he kisses Owen in front of me. Uhh-
He said something to Owen in Spanish then Owen replies him in Spanish too until a few seconds later both of them turn to the awkward me. Yeah, I'm still here guys.
"I'm sorry. Hi, I'm Hugo." He holds out a hand for a handshake which I receive promptly, noticing the ring on his finger matches Owen's.
"Estelle." I mutter my name as my confidence level drops to negative value. Damn it. Owen married this gorgeous man?
It's already insulting when he goes back to being gay but now he's just rubbing salt to the wound when he has this fine specimen to replace me.
Time to really evacuate this meeting, Estelle. Go, run, before you do anything aggressive to his beautiful, flawless face.
"You're very pretty, no wonder Owen turned straight for seven years." He jokes in his Spanish accent which I laugh awkwardly, again.
He's open minded too. What else? Hit me with everything tonight. Tell me he's a Spanish prince or something. So I can drown my sorrow into sleeping pills like I did three years ago after our separation.
That was meant as a joke. I never touched a single pill since my episode at the hospital when they had to pump my stomach.
"You're obviously prettier than me, you managed to turn him gay again."
He laughs loudly in that friendly sense which makes me feel comfortable instead of wanting to punch him on the face for taking my one true love permanently.
"We should totally hang out. But I have to go now, nice meeting you, Estelle." He leans in with his cheek touching my left cheek as he makes a kissing sound, then to my right cheek, definitely surprises me with this act.
He kisses Owen next on the lips then says something in Spanish though I caught that Mi Amor in between words.
"He has a rehearsal for tomorrow's ceremony," Owen tells me right after he's gone.
Perhaps he can read the confusion on my face that he adds, "He'll be the officiator tomorrow."
"Ohhhh?" I certainly did not expect that.