“Are you feeling alright, sweetheart? Are you okay, my love?” Mira asked with her sweet melodious voice and a little frown on her forehead a few minutes later as they sat on a bench in the park when Celestine woke up from her nap.
“I’m okay, Mama.” The little girl smiled. “I’m sorry I made you cry,” she said as she wiped a tear that flowed from Mira’s eye.
Reignald could not help but admire his daughter’s courage and love for her mother. He smiled as he watched how lovingly Mira touched their child’s cheek and stroke her raven hair, mustering all his composure and resilience to keep himself from pulling them both into his arms and holding them tight.
He didn’t want to terrify them by such actions. Mira doesn’t remember him and Celestine never knew him. As far as they were concerned, he never existed in their lives until now. Reignald understood that he must be strong and not do anything careless. He waited too long to be with them just to scare them away so he just sat quietly beside them.
Mira... My beloved Mira.
Very few thin lines may have appeared on her forehead, a couple of inches may have been added to her once-tiny waist, years may have changed her face and body but she was still as beautiful as he remembered actually even more because the wisdom, kindness, and love she gained over the years radiated from within her soul and gave her a more vibrant glow.
Mira kissed the little girl’s forehead and smiled. “That’s okay, sweetheart. The important thing is you’re here and you’re safe. Just promise me that you’ll never do that again. Don’t wander off like that again. Promise?”
“I promise, Mama,” Celestine answered and stuck out her pinky finger to which Mira hooked her little finger around too.
Mira suddenly closed her eyes shut as another blinding flash of light ushered a vision of two hands— her own and a man’s doing a pinky promise with his voice saying the words. “You and me. For always.”
“You and me. For always.” The voice echoed and when she opened her eyes. She could not shake off the feeling that the man sitting beside them had the same distinct voice.
“Are you okay? Does anything hurt?” Reignald asked, reaching his hand out to touch her but decided against it so he just let it land on his lap.
“I’m okay. Don’t worry about me.” Mira answered with a little smile. “Thank you again for saving my daughter. Tin, baby, say thank you to Mister Reignald. He was the one who saved you.”
Celestine gingerly went down from her mother’s lap and walked over to Reignald. “Thank you, Mister Reignald. You’re like a superhero.” She beamed as she looked up at his face.
Reignald bit his lip and held back his tears. He took a deep breath and smiled. “You’re welcome. Always, welcome, little one.” With a trembling hesitant hand, he reached out and tucked some stray hair behind her ear. “Can I... Can I have a hug?” He asked almost choking from a sob he tried so hard to hold back.
The little girl’s face lit up when she nodded her head yes and launched to his chest as her tiny hands sprawled on his back. Reignald closed his eyes and sighed as he carefully wrapped his arms around his little girl. At that moment, he was no longer able to hold back the silent tears that fell as he finally held his daughter.
Mira wondered why the man was so emotional but somehow she understood and once again voices from a past she can’t remember echoed in her mind.
“You’re such a crybaby,” she said.
“What? Me? A crybaby? You’re the crybaby,” he answered.
“No, you are. I just made you a cup of coffee and you cried.” She giggled.
He sniffled then chuckled. “Okay, so I’m a crybaby but you can’t blame me. And...”
“I love you very much, Mira. I will wake up each morning with a smile for you and the coffee you will make for me every day.”
“I love you so much too. Don’t ever lose that smile again.”
Mira shook her head and shrugged. She must be imagining these things again. She was used to having visions and conversations once in a while, like a dream that came out of nowhere but not this often. They have only been with this man for an hour and already she has had three.
Mira, you’ve gone mad. This is all because of those darned Korean dramas you’ve been binging.
“Coffee?” She suddenly asked. “Would you like some coffee, Reignald? My shop is just two blocks from here.”
He smiled widely which made the dimple on his left cheek deepen. “Yes, please, I love coffee,” he said.
“Look, Mama! He has a dimple too! Like mine!” Celestine excitedly observed as she poked her tiny finger on his cheek and then on her own.
“That’s right. You do have the same dimple.” Mira smiled.
And the same deep-set eyes, same high-bridged nose, same fair complexion, same dark hair, same pink lips, same everything.
She tried to stop her thoughts before they go any further but they went on anyway.
Oh my God, Mira! It could be him, but how? He’s much too young for you. Okay. Maybe 5 or 6 years younger but still... And if Celestine’s father was just a one-night stand, how come this man is making me feel all sorts of crazy like I’ve known him forever?
Reignald closed his eyes as he inhaled the aroma of the steaming cup of coffee in his hands before taking one hearty sip. He moaned softly and licked his lips. “Langham... This is heaven.” He sighed.
Mira covered her lips with her hand as she stifled a giggle as she watched him drink his coffee.
They were sitting in one of the umbrella table set lined up on the sidewalk just outside her café while Celestine ate dinner inside with Coleen, her shop’s manager.
“Is my coffee that good?” She asked and he slowly opened his eyes to look at her as if he has just been awakened from a trance.
“It is. And I haven’t had a real cup of coffee for so long. We don’t have coffee where I’m from, that’s why I had to live with substitutes during those years that I was away.”
“How long have you been away? Where are you from?” She asked casually.
She didn’t expect that her simple questions would make him stop and would wipe the smile off his face. He suddenly looked at her with an expression of sadness and pain in his eyes.
“Too long. Too far away,” he answered sullenly and Mira couldn’t understand why her eyes brimmed with tears.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude,” she said and looked down.
“That’s okay, Mira. You have every right to ask. You have every right to know. Ask me anything and I will answer. I will not hold anything back,” he told her and laid a hand on hers.
With that single touch, a surge of electricity suddenly flowed from her hand to her entire body which filled her with overwhelming feelings of warmth and joy and longing and passion and pain all at the same time and once again she was confronted by the familiarity of the man she just met.
“Who are you? Why do I have this feeling that you are someone important in my life?” She couldn’t take it anymore. She had to ask.
“You know, Mira. Your heart knows who I am but your mind does not remember.” He told her as he lovingly gazed deep into her eyes.
He then turned to look inside the café where they can see Celestine through the glass window. “If you want to know the answer, Mira. She is the key.”
Mira watched as her daughter laughed while Coleen made puppet impression out of spoons and forks until she reached a realization from what he just told her.
Holy shit, Mira! What the fuck, you’re a cradle snatcher!