Trisha was about to leave the office when the door opened and Ryan walked in. She didn’t recall a scheduled meeting between them, so she was surprised to see him.
“Hello, what brings you here?”
They’ve been seeing each other as regularly as he could manage it in the last one month but she still acted wary around him.
“Hello. I see you are about leaving. Well, I was in town again and thought I should surprise you.”
“I am definitely surprised.” Trisha stepped forward and opened the door. “Let’s go. I need to get home early.”
“Why is that? Is someone waiting for you?” Ryan realised he would be jealous if she had a man waiting for her at home.
“No. I just prefer to eat dinner early and it’s already ten minutes past six.”
“How about I take you out to dinner then?”
Trisha looked at him and frowned. “Why?”
“Because we are friends and I would like to have dinner with you.”
Trisha hesitated. She wouldn’t mind going out to eat but she was not yet comfortable with their friendship. And especially because she continued to lie to him about who she really was.
“Come on, it’s only dinner and at a public place.” Ryan tried to convince her. “I promise I won’t ask you too many questions and I will be on my best behaviour.”
Trisha smiled. “I am sure you will break that promise because you like asking questions.”
“But I won’t break the one about being on my best behaviour.” Ryan said, smiling back at her.
“All right, let’s go. I am not really in the mood to cook anyway.”
At the restaurant, Trisha found that she was enjoying his company.
“Doesn’t it disturb your job to regularly travel out of town?” She asked curiously.
“In a way, it does, but not so much. I run my own hospital and have two other doctors working with me.”
“That’s good. You must be successful then.”
Ryan shrugged. “I guess you could say that.” He sipped his drink and looked at her. “I actually keep coming back because of you, Vivian.”
“Isn’t it obvious? I like you a lot.”
Trisha dropped her eyes to her plate. “Thank you. But I have to caution you that you don’t know me very well.”
“I know that you are a great painter, a good business woman and very hardworking. I also know that you are nice and friendly, and very beautiful.”
“Those are not very important things. Besides, I could be pretending to be nice when I am not.”
“Why would you pretend?”
“Maybe I am out to trap a rich man?”
Trisha laughed and shook her head. “Fortunately for you, I am not. But I am not exactly who you think I am either.”
“Then tell me who you really are.” Ryan said quietly. “I want to know you. I want to know the real you.”
Trisha stared at him, wondering if she should just confide in him. “Maybe I will tell you, but another time. This evening, I just want to enjoy this good food.”
And she went on eating.
When Ryan walked into the living room, Laura was there watching television.
“The globetrotter is back home again.” She said, smiling as she turned down the volume of the television.
“I’m not a globetrotter. I only travel to a town in the northern part of our country.”
“And why exactly do you do that? Who is this woman you’re seeing?”
Ryan didn’t bother to deny her assumption. “She’s just a friend.”
“Just a friend and you have travelled four times in this month alone to see her? It’s that painter of yours, isn’t it? The one you said reminded you vaguely about Trisha?”
“Yes, it’s her I go to see.” Ryan sat down beside her. “I really think she is Trisha.”
“Why don’t you ask her?”
“I haven’t done so because I don’t want her to panic and run. She’s on the run from her family, and from friends, I don’t want to lose her.”
“Oh.” Laura looked at her brother and realised something. “You like her, don’t you?”
Ryan nodded. “I do. And I think she likes me too.”
“That is nice. You know what? Maybe I should travel with you next time.” Laura added after a thought crossed her mind. “I will definitely recognise Trisha if I see her. She was, after all, my best friend before she ran away from home.”
Ryan considered the suggestion and then shook his head. “No, that’s not necessary. I will handle this all by myself. Besides, there’s still a possibility that she might not be Trisha Ogbonna.”
“All right, handle it your way. But if that lady is truly Trisha, I will so quarrel with her when I finally get to meet her. She has not treated the people who care about her fairly at all.”
“I’m sure she has her reasons for cutting everyone out the way she did.” Ryan stood up. “I’m going to my room. Goodnight, baby sis.”
“Goodnight, big bro.” Laura said.
And after he left, she wondered again if Ryan’s Vivian could be her old friend, Trisha. She would like it if she was the one, because she has been worried about her all these years.
She would call Margaret tomorrow and confide in her, she decided before going back to the program she was watching.