Only one week had passed. Two more to go. She was there in beautiful, sunny Honolulu but she wished she were back in Seattle. More specifically, in the office where Marcus was…
As she walked along the beach with the sun in her face and the gentle breeze caressing her hair, she thought of the afternoon when she went into Marcus’ office to say goodbye because she was leaving for Honolulu the following morning. He was leaning against the wall, with his arms folded, looking at her and making her heart do somersaults. She wondered if he knew that she was in love with him.
She hadn’t meant to fall in love with him for two very good reasons. He was her boss and as far as she knew he wasn’t a Catholic. Growing up in a strict Catholic home, it was understood that the man she married would be Catholic too.
Her mother kept talking about how nice Cesar was and what a good husband he would be. No matter how many times she informed her mother that she wasn’t interested in more than a friendship with Cesar, the response always was, “Feelings change, Lea. Give Cesar a chance. I know many people who weren’t in love with they got married but over the years they grew to love each other and their marriages lasted until one of them died.”
One day, Lea said to her, “Mama, please stop talking to me about Cesar. I don’t love him and I don’t want to marry him. When I’m good and ready, I will marry the man I choose.”
Her mother shook her head. “You’re being stubborn as usual. Cesar is a good man. Where are you going to find another good man like him?”
“There are lots of other good men out there, Mama. When the time is right, I will meet one.” Shortly after that, she met Marcus. And here she was, five years later, on her way to visit her family in Honolulu.
“I’m leaving now,” she told him. “Is there anything else you need before I go?”
He shook his head. “No. I don’t want you to be late for your flight.”
“All right. I’ll see you in three weeks.” Three weeks seemed like such a long time. This was the first time since she worked there that she would be gone for any length of time. She knew she would miss him very much. Would he miss her too?
“Have safe trip, Lea.”
“I’m going to miss you,” he said quietly.
She swallowed hard, her pulse quickening. “I–I’m going to miss you too,” was her breathless reply.
“Send me a postcard”
“I will,” she promised. “Goodbye, Marcus.”
“Ligtas na paglalakbay, Lea.”
She stared at him. He had wished her a safe trip in Filipino. That had a profound effect on her. “Thank you,” she said with a smile and then she was walking out of his office.
When she arrived in Honolulu, her brother, Danilo was at the airport. They hugged and as they drove to the house where they had lived as children, she told him about Marcus. “It sounds like you really love this guy.”
“Does he feel the same way?”
“I’m not sure. I know he’s attracted to me, though.”
“And if it turns out that he does, then, go for it, Lea. It doesn’t matter if he’s Catholic or not. Religion isn’t about denomination. The religion which God the Father accepts is this: caring for orphans or widows who need help; and keeping yourself free from the world’s evil influence. This is the kind of religion that God accepts as pure and good. It doesn’t matter what denomination Marcus is, as long as he is a God-fearing man who loves his neighbor as himself, that is all that really counts.”
Lea smiled. “Thanks, Danilo. It’s good to know that I have your support.”
“You do. And if it’s God’s will for Marcus and you to be together, then it really doesn’t matter what anyone else says.”
For the rest of the drive, she asked him questions about him and the rest of the family and what to expect. When they got to the house, everyone was there and they were all very happy to see her. Of course, her mother didn’t waste any time telling her that Cesar had gotten married and making it clear that she blamed her for not encouraging him when he showed interest in her. “If you had, you would be married now.”
“Mama, for the umpteenth time, I didn’t want to marry Cesar and I’m happy that he has married the woman who will make him happy. Now, I didn’t come all this way to talk about Cesar.” And that was the end of that.
The three weeks seemed to drag even though she was surrounded by family and Danilo took her into town to shop and to visit friends. She missed Marcus so much that it was unbearable. At nights, she couldn’t sleep. She kept seeing his face and the way he was looking at her that afternoon before her trip. How she wished she were back in Seattle, sitting at her desk while he was in his office. When she went for walks on the beach, she wished that he was there with her. They would go for a swim and then relax in the sand afterwards. She imagined them holding hands and stopping at the water’s edge to kiss. Then, she would get all hot and bothered and have to run into the ocean to cool off.
As much as she loved her family, she was relieved when the day came for her to leave. There were hugs and tears and promises to visit and then, she was on her way to the airport. She couldn’t wait to get back to Seattle and to Marcus. Danilo’s parting words were, “Remember if it is God’s will for you to be with Marcus, it will happen.”
On Monday, bright and early, she was in the office. She was at her desk when Marcus arrived. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw him. He walked over to her. She tried not to stare but it was hard not. She was so thrilled to see him again after three long weeks.
“May I see you in my office after you are settled in?”
“Yes. I will be there in a few minutes.”
Ten minutes later, she went to his office, closed the door and walked over to the desk which he was leaning against with his arms folded, watching her. When she was standing in front of him, he asked, “So, how was your trip?”
“It-it was pleasant. It was good seeing my family and friends, especially my brother, Danilo.”
“What was the weather like?”
“It was beautiful and sunny. It rained only once.”
“Thanks for the postcard.”
“The office wasn’t the same without you.”
“I missed being here.”
“I missed you, Lea. I missed walking into the office and seeing you at your desk. The hours, the days, the weeks seemed to drag. I thought I would go mad missing you so much.”
Her heart began to beat even faster. “All the time I was in Honolulu, I couldn’t stop thinking about you and missing you–” the rest of her words were cut off because she was suddenly in his arms and he was kissing her. Hugging him around his waist and pressing against him, she responded eagerly to his passionate kisses.
He broke off the kiss to gaze down into her face. His breath was harsh and unsteady. “Mahal kita, Lea,” he murmured huskily.
Her eyes welled up and she whispered, “Mahal din kita, Marcus.”
He smiled and then they were kissing again. That evening, he took her for a romantic dinner and afterwards for a walk on Golden Gardens Beach where they walked along the water’s edge, held hands, stopped to kiss and gaze at the stars. They dated for a short while and then, he proposed. The first person she told about the engagement was Danilo who was thrilled for her.
Of course, her mother wasn’t pleased. She had a problem with Marcus being a Nazarene and that the wedding ceremony was held in Lakewold Gardens instead of at the Catholic Church which Lea attended. It was officiated by the minister of Marcus’ church while Father Diaz was there to offer a prayer and blessing.
While Marcus and Lea both agreed that their children would be raised within the Catholic faith, that Lea would continue to freely practice her faith, they also agreed that when their children got older, they would be free to decide if they wanted to remain in the Catholic faith or choose their father’s or another Christian faith.
Now as she stood on the terrace with Marcus gazing at the setting sun over the ocean, she smiled as she remembered Danilo’s words, “Remember if it is God’s will for you to be with Marcus, it will happen.” She silently thanked God for this incredibly special moment and for clearly showing her that this was His will for her and that peace which could only come from Him filled her.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).