Lika was Henry Kingsley's PA & best friend. He messed up & vowed to get her back. ROMANCE
|A little girl made her way through the slum, passing adults who looked just as dirty and smudged as she was from their toil. Her small feet carried her as she dodged the people at the traditional market she had to cross to get to her destination. She ignored the splashes of wet mud on her toes; her tiny face filled with worry that shouldn't have marred a face so young.|
The little shack that was her destination sat lonely next to a bent papaya tree, providing cool shade to the tiny dwelling place. A small white smoke bellowed from it. She entered, for once forgetting her manner as she fixed her eyes on a handsome figure kneeling beside the owner of the house who was lying sick.
Riri held the crumpled money in her small hand, waving it to the man in yellow and brown flannel shirt who seemed out of place in such a humble setting. "Om dokter, tolong mampir kerumah. Ada yang sakit dirumah saya (Uncle doctor, please come by my house. Someone is sick in my house)," she pleaded with her doe eyes, extending her hand as she offered him what little money she had.
The 35 year old Chinese-American man looked up to her, his dark brows furrowed in compassion at the child. He gestured to the thin man lying on the floor next to him who was coughing like there was grovel in his throat, "Apakah sakitnya seperti dia? (Is the sickness look like his?)" he asked, thinking that it was the viral disease that ailed whoever was in the little girl's house.
Riri spared a glance at the sick man, shaking her head. "Dia luka om. Dipukul orang kemaren (She's hurt, uncle. Someone hit her yesterday)."
After giving the sick man a few medical advice and a few strips of medicine for him to take, the young doctor grabbed his bag, slinging it over his shoulder. He followed the girl through the market, adjusting his hold on the heavy bag once in a while. The little girl led him to another place in other part of the slum. The young doctor assumed it was the little girl's family member who was injured in whatever fight had commenced yesterday- something that didn't surprise him anymore with how many jobless thugs roaming around the area.
He was proved wrong when he arrived and found his patient- a helpless Caucasian woman who was just as out of place as he.
TWENTY-FOUR HOURS EARLIER
Eliska, Riri and a few other slum kids within the same soccer team let out a cheerful victory cry, laughing as a small boy in their team scored them another goal for three times in a row. The kids other team, hung their heads in defeat rather dramatically, putting collective blame on the goalkeeper.
"Uh-uh. No bullying. Be a good sport, guys," Eliska admonished the kids from the other team gently, before translating herself so the kids may understand her, "Tidak boleh bully ya. Harus sportif."
Contrary to what most people might think, the little kids from the slum had a very humble and teachable heart. They listened well to instructions, and upon her gentle rebuke, the kids flashed her various shy, toothy grins at her.
"I'm sorry, Miss Eliska," the kids said in unison. The way the kids spoke English for her sake melted Lika's heart. Somehow, in the eyes of the kids of the slum of Jakarta, Lika saw Aunt Mercy.
Lika beamed at the kids. "Now, what about we switch teams? Tukar tim," she said in both English and Bahasa Indonesia, gesturing with the kids to gather and play the game hompimpa to randomly determine new teams. After switching teams, all nine kids besides Lika jogged to their assigned post, giddy for the new game as the last goal setter kick the ball first.
Jaka, Riri's brother, kicked the ball way too excitedly, causing it to fly over into someone's home. The kids laughed at him, causing the 14 year old boy to blush as he hopped to the house to retrieve the ball. Being so used to the slum area and its people, she wasn't even worried with the fact that the kids' ball entered someone's house. The worst thing that could happen is a lady or man scolding the child, but they would usually lighten up when she just flashed her apologetic smile at them. She remained standing at her designated spot, crossing her arms leisurely as she rocked herself side to side absently, making funny faces at the kids and giggling with them.
A loud, angered shout from inside the house where Jaka disappeared into just seconds ago halted the merriment ensued between Lika and the kids. They were silenced. Another angry shouts and Lika uncrossed her arms, hastily making her way to the house anxiously, hoping to defuse the situation they little game had caused. A loud commotion from inside the house prompted Lika into a sprint. Inside, she found Jaka being cornered by an angry young man in his 20s.
"Stop! Please- Maaf Bapak. Jangan marah. Itu adalah kecelakaan. Mohon lepaskan dia (Sorry, sir. It was an accident. Please let the boy go)," she beseeched with a firm yet still respectful tone, hiding her anxiousness.
By the time the man let Jaka go and turned to her, her heart thundered. Anxiety turned into apprehension; apprehension into fear at seeing the red, bloodshot eyes that was staring back at her. She scanned around the house quickly, finding the culprit of the craze in the man's eyes. It wasn't alcohol in the middle of the day. It was worse. The used needles lying on the floor told her enough to instinctively grab Jaka by the arm and pulled him out of the house before the man could get to them.
The young man with the wild, angry eyes who wore nothing but a pair of tattered old jeans, suddenly launched himself at them, aiming his punches at Jaka. Lika shield the teenage boy who yelled out of fright. A dull pain flared at her arm and shoulder at the sudden punches she received. Ignoring the pain, she quickly hauled them out of the house to flee, but the drugged man followed after them, his punches unrelenting. She lost her hold on Jaka as she fell to the ground. A piercing scream escaped her throat; stabbing pain wracked her chest and stomach repeatedly as the man resorted into kicking her with his foot.
With the pain came the loss of her sight. After that, everything was but a blur to her. The fact that all the kids waiting outside had been bravely stepping out to defend her and Jaka was missed entirely by Lika as she clutched at her chest in agony. It wasn't registered to her how another adult had held her upright as she staggered blindly. She threw up- either out of her abdomen injury or her distress, she couldn't tell.
She passed out.
When she woke up, she found herself in a poorly lit house made of old, roughly chopped wood, smelling lightly of incense and an undertone of something herbal. She laid on her back as she stared at the face of a good-looking Asian man dressed in yellow and brown flannel, sporting a stethoscope that hung on the back of his neck.
"Calm down. Don't move, Eliska," the doctor's comforting voice sounded faraway. It felt like she was listening from underwater. He placed a gentle hand on her shoulder to stop her from getting up.
A strangled sound from her throat accompanied every breath she took. Her chest stung by a sharp pain with every intake of air. Her eyes were wild as she scanned her surroundings confusedly, scared. A familiar woman's face came into view, then her two kids'- Jaka and Riri. Jaka and Riri's mother cupped Lika's face gently, her kind, black eyes swimming with concern as she looked at her, then at the doctor. She vaguely remembered the words exchanged between them as her eyes blurred again.
"So...What are you doing here?"
"No self-respecting person roam this part of the world," The voice of the doctor echoed in her mind. She barely noticing his perfect American English accent, "Not when they have a choice."
The last thing that she remembered was the puzzled look on his face as he injected something into the IV line that was connected to her wrist. She frowned at the odd sight of the clear IV bag that he hooked on a cloth hanger which hung on top of her.
She felt as if she was being sucked into a deep end of a turbulent waters, swirling, on and on and on, making her head spun. She was helpless to fight it. Why would she? It was a pleasant sensation.
Lika emerged from the water with warm London sun shining softly on her wet face. She floated on the clear water, her eyes blinking slowly as she listened to her own breathing and the way the water gently slapping against her ears. The sky blue and the wispy clouds moved at the speed of a snail, just as her mind did.
A strong yet gentle arm slipped under her back underwater. She found herself being pressed against a rock hard chest. From here on out she could see the details of his enticing, wet, chest hair. She hummed appreciatively when she noticed the sinews and muscles of his strong chest that was covered in mildly sun-kissed skin. He had glorious body.
It took her a while to get her fascination off of the magnificent body that held her secure in his powerful arms. She looked up to him, meeting his baby blue eyes that gazed at her romantically, which was an odd thing on its own. His dark curls were wet, covering a part of his forehead. His charming, boyish smile softened the hard edges of his strong cheekbones and jaw.
"Enjoying the view?" he asked in his gentleman British accent, his voice low and husky as he smirked, flashing her those cute fangs of his.
Before she could answer, he cupped the back of her neck and brought her closer, leaning in and pressed his intoxicating lips on hers. He kissed her long and slow; every stroke of his lips made her every muscle relaxed into submission to him. He tugged at her lips demandingly, and she opened her mouth, feeling the warm velvet of his tongue pressing and tantalizing her.
When he broke the kiss, she stared up at him, dumbfounded.
"What?" He arched an eyebrow attractively as he kept his trapping gaze on her chocolate eyes, "Isn't that what you've always wanted, Eliska?"
Lika was tongue-tied at the seriousness of his question. The fact that he didn't use her nickname didn't help either; she didn't know if he was pulling her leg or not.
Henry didn't seem happy with her lack of response. This time he pulled her for another kiss. A feverish, passion filled one at that. He broke the kiss with a smack of their lips, making Lika's heart thunder in her chest.
"Come back. I need you," he quickly said with cold fire in his eyes, his gaze tainted with desire as he looked at her.
"Why?" Lika finally found her voice, "So you can use me?"
"Isn't that what you've always wanted, Eliska?" he taunted, repeating his previous question. His seductive smirk made her swallow. There was a cruel yet arousing edge in the way he voiced his words next, "...You want me to use you."
"I don't understand," she breathed.
As if making his point, he trailed the tips of his fingers down her lips. Her chin. Her neck and chest, between her breasts, before gently laying his wide palm on her stomach, leaving her breathless. He eyed her with a knowing smile to what his touch did to her.
She watched his smiling lips longingly, hoping that he would kiss her again. The destructively handsome man knew her thoughts and the effect he had on her, yet as cruel as he was, he let her go gently, letting her float on her back on the water.
"Come back to me, Eliska," he murmured in his honey-coated voice as he drifted away from her. There was gentleness in his voice that clenched her heart; the way his mesmerizing eyes softly plead to her.
She turned and swam towards him, but the space between them grew the more she tried to reach him.
"Henry," she grunted as she flailed her arms against the water, panic rose within her when she began to lose sight of him, "Henry. Henry!" she yelled.
"Whoa! Easy there."
Lika opened her eyes, finding herself back at the shack where Riri and Jaka's family dwelled in. She let out a disappointed sigh and collapsed her head back at the pile of clothes that was used as makeshift pillow behind her.
"Bad dreams?" asked the Asian-American doctor. He helped her up to a sitting position. She cringed at the dull pain on her chest, but nevertheless she felt much better than she did before. "Great. You don't seem to be in so much pain anymore. Meds working."
Lika stared at him, dumbfounded. "T-thanks," she mumbled, before fishing at her pocket for money.
She found a couple 100,000 rupiah bill on it and offered it to the doctor, not knowing if it was enough for his services. If it doesn't, she could always pay him the rest later. The doctor raised a hand, shaking his head.
"No. I know who you are," he explained, "You've been kind to this neighborhood. The water treatment plant you set up did lots of good. This is the least I could do," he said as he busied himself gathering his medical supplies, "Skin problem cases went down almost 50% at the clinic, and I'm thankful not having to deal with fungi infested skin every single day."
"You have a clinic?" she asked as she rubbed the skin of her wrist that had a patch of plaster from her IV earlier.
"Not me. A colleague of mine. Just outside of this neighborhood, near the main road," he said as he extended a hand to her, "Dr. Jonathan Young."
She took his hand and shook it. "Eliska Denali," she replied.
"An American doctor," Lika shook her head slightly, confused, "What are you doing here?"
He let out a chuckle. "I asked you the same question a few days ago. Never got the answer myself," he chirped as he shove his stethoscope into his bag, "One foreigner to another, why don't you come visit at the clinic after hours once you feel better? We can play 20 questions there."
Lika was quiet.
"We have beers," he added for good measure.
Lika smiled. "I'll take you up for that. Thank you again," she said, looking around and found no one was home, including Riri and Jaka.
"I told Ibu Fatimah and Bapak Suroso to leave you in my care so they can go to work," explained Jonathan upon seeing the look on the British woman's expression, "The kids are at school...I hope," he said quietly, knowing that it wasn't an unusual thing for the unprivileged kids from this poor neighborhood to skip school in favor to work on the streets in order to help their parents put food in their mouths for the day.
"They took care of me," Lika murmured in realization as Jonathan gave her a plate containing white rice and a small strip of dried fish on it. She took the meal from his hand.
"That, they did. Selamat makan. Bon appetit," he said with gentle order, "For your strength. Then I'll take you home myself, wherever your home is. I bet your living arrangement is better and more suitable for you to heal."
The young doctor got up and looked around to find a spoon for her to eat, hoping the family in the house somehow had one. He didn't find any. When he returned, he found the girl with the British accent was already eating from the plate using her bare hand.
Compassion filled his chest when he saw the woman forcing herself to eat the bland, nutritionally inadequate food like the locals, especially in this part did. No spoon, or forks, just bare hand. It was clear to Jonathan that Eliska Denali had submerged herself for some time in the culture. He knew what a far cry this must be to her. How comfortable her life must be before she came here. But like him, the fact that the poor in this society fought tooth and nail for food everyday must have been ingrained in the woman's mind well. He watched from his peripheral vision as he continued his packing, how the girl didn't waste a single grain of rice that the poor family had provided for her.
After she cleaned her plate, he took it from her and gave her a bowl of water to wash and some tissue to wipe her hands. The woman took her time writing a letter in Bahasa for the family and attached all the money she had on her with it.
"Ready?" he asked.
Call her a coward, call her a scaredy cat–but the helplessness in which she found herself in after the incident made Lika questioned every single decision she had made that brought her here. Lika decided that yes, running away to London had seemed like a good call months ago, but was it worth it? Escaping one pain just to to be met with another kind of pain, with cracked ribs and bruises on her face flaring up, tormenting her. The pain grew with every second as the painkiller effects began to dissipate.
The pain on her chest grew almost unbearable now. It forced her to pop a couple pills of painkiller into her mouth and wash it down with water. Looking out from the window of her apartment, she thought of Riri and Jaka's family. They must be worried about her, wondering how she was doing after disappearing on them with nothing but a thank-you letter, but the idea of returning to the slum sent a wave of fear and nausea down her stomach. She wanted nothing but to never return there, even contemplating booking a plane back to England, eager to escape this godforsaken place.
Lika went back to sit on her couch. The emptiness in her apartment engulfed her as the painkiller began to dull the pain on her ribs. The sight of her aunt's letter on the coffee table caught her. She read the last letter that she opened.
"...The next time things are getting harder, and you want to quit, the third challenge is completed, and you may open the next letter," read Lika out loud, letting out a bitter chuckle at the closing line of the letter that her aunt wrote for her, "How fitting, Aunt Mercy."
Somehow, her aunt knew that Lika would eventually got to this point where she want to run away. Again, eager to escape another pain that comes her way. She put down the letter and decided to open the fourth letter that her aunt left for her.
Challenge No. 4
IRON SHARPENS IRON
My dearest, Lika,
Are you ready to give up yet? An athlete who runs in a race does not slow down or stop when they start to feel the pain in their legs. When their muscles burn, a seasoned athlete knows that victory is at hand. Against their natural instinct, they press on harder, keeping their eyes on the prize that awaits them at the finish line.
Your fourth task is to identify your fear. Ask yourself: what is the thing that makes you want to leave and give up? What's holding you back? Press hard against it or find your way around it. Persevere. Offer solutions. You've come so far to give up now.
Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. By the time you have overcome your fear, or when you find yourself on a forked path, the fourth challenge is completed, and you may open the next letter.
Sincerely tired of running,
Your Aunt Mercy
Lika hadn't been crying in quite some time now, but reading the writing on her aunt's letter brought fresh tears in her eyes. There was one thing she feared the most now–returning to the slum. She knew she didn't have to, but she also knew that it was what her aunt would want, had she been here with her today.
Lika spent the next few hours in front of the tv with blank stares until the sun was down, only getting up to get her usual dinner–a piece of soy energy bar that tasted dry and bland, but it was fast and enough to curb her hunger. She looked into the rather empty fridge of hers and found there was only two soy bars left, enough only for breakfast and lunch tomorrow. She sighed tiredly, knowing that she was due to some quick stop at the grocery store soon to stock more of those.
The rhythmical vibration on the table alerted her of a new sms. She grabbed her flip phone–ancient, yet effective. Safe too, knowing that even the pickpocket artists in Jakarta would never give it a second of their time on the piece of dinosaur.
It was Jonathan, inviting her to his clinic for a beer. She thought for a moment, knowing that the clinic brought her too close to the slum area–which she avoided at all cost at the moment. She returned his text messages and instead invited him and his friend into her apartment tomorrow night for dinner.
It was time that Lika return his kindness for caring her in some way. He didn't want money, so she'll cook for him and his friend, giving her more reason to buy things at the grocery store other than just energy bars.
Asih was an Indonesian lady with gentle personality. Her voice was sweet and comforting, her speech unrushed, and the kindness of her soul could easily be fathomed through her eyes and her smile. She dressed plainly in beige tone, half of her long hair pulled back elegantly with a clip. There was a vintage charm about her, almost like she was from the 1940's. The way Jonathan's gaze soften when he look at her whenever she spoke let Lika know that the young doctor was smitten by her.
Lika produced three bottles of beer as they sat in the dining table at her tiny apartment. When she got to Asih, the female doctor shook her head.
"No, thanks. I don't drink," smiled Asih courteously. Lika nodded understandingly.
"She's still underage," Jonathan teased, and Asih gave him a look.
Their eyes met and smiled at each other with fondness and a bit of shyness in their eyes. The two sat side by side. Despite the subtle longing in their eyes, the two consciously putting a space between them. The way Jonathan looked at her didn't escape Lika; he wanted her close, but the young doctor clearly respected her and her culture, no matter how old school it must be to anyone from the west.
At this point, Lika didn't know what it meant when Jonathan said that they were colleagues. She couldn't be the only one feeling the chemistry between the two doctors, right? But the way they regarded each other made Lika suspect that the two had unconsciously friend zoned themselves.
Being together with them made Lika feel as if she was their chaperone. She never quite seen such an old school couple before. It was both cute and tragic at the same time.
"So tell me about you guys and this clinic you have, and how it came to be," Lika inquired in curiosity, sparing an interested glance at the two as she rested her elbow on the dining table.
"This clinic was my mother's," Asih supplied, her eyes softened in reminiscence at the mention of her mother, "During her youth she worked hard to raise seven children and send us all to school. I'm the youngest child, but my mother managed to send me to school in US, and that's where I met Jonathan," she smiled at him softly, "She passed away two years ago. I was crushed. If it wasn't for Jonathan, I would've dropped out of school early. After finishing my medical school, I pledged myself to return home and continue what my mother started."
Jonathan butted in. "We were good friends back then, but I thought I'd never seen Asih again after we graduated. I joined the army med corps, bright eyed, thinking I'd make a difference, only to get back from a war that I still don't understand and losing people I thought I would save," he glanced at Asih, smiling at her gratefully and took a sip of his beer, "I reached out to Asih and told her that I needed to get away for a while. She happily accepted me, later found out that I had PTSD. She helped me heal, and in return I promise her to help run the clinic until the unforeseeable future," he grinned at her, both gazed at each other meaningfully.
Asih chuckled shyly, blushing. "I kept on telling him he didn't have to stay. I guess it's just a matter of waiting until he gets bored here," she commented playfully.
"No way. I'll follow you to the ends of the earth."
"Smooth," she chuckled in amusement.
Lika couldn't help the awww that escaped her at their story. Asih blushed, sipping her black tea before turning the conversation towards Lika. "How about you, Eliska? What's your story?"
Lika was about to dodge her way out of the question when Jonathan gave her a meaningful look. He had let her in on his personal non-self-respecting-person excuse to stay, and the good doctor was evidently curious on hers. She exhaled softly with a shrug, absently playing with the golden pendant on her chest while her other hand grasped the neck of the Beer Bintang bottle she was nursing.
"I'm playing a game of dare with my dead aunt," Lika caved in. The couple raised their brows in unison, their curiosity piqued.
She ended up telling the couple about the seven letters that her aunt wrote for her. When Asih asked her what job she had to leave to come to Indonesia for the challenge, Lika only mentioned that she used to work for a minor celebrity in UK whom she refused to name.
"He's an arse," Lika joked, "It's probably best that I left him."
"Does his name happened to be Henry?" blurted Jonathan–a curious bloke, that one.
"I heard you muttering his name over and over again in your sleep when you were high with painkiller," the doctor supplied.
Her mind traveled to the weird trip her mind conjured in which Henry kissed her in her unrealistic fantasy. She couldn't help the longing she felt for Henry, in ways she never admitted to herself before. But with the longing, came also resentment. She wanted nothing but to put the memory of her best friend far back in her mind.
"That was someone else," she replied curtly.
Noticing her reluctance to delve more into the topic, Jonathan raised his beer for a toast, "Here's to leaving a bad job."
The three clinked their beers and cup of tea, chuckling to themselves.
Unbeknownst to Lika, that night began what would be a lifelong friendship, one that thrusted her more into their world.
Lika had been the volunteer at the clinic for two months now. The three of unlikely friends pretty much the ones who ran the small clinic which mostly cater to the unprivileged people from the slum who can't afford to go to normal doctors or clinics. Lika noticed how Asih and Jonathan often refused money from the people who can't barely afford to make money to pay for healthcare, let alone feed their own family. So the friends took whatever else their patient wished to give them, food usually.
One time, a patient brought a live, clucking chicken as gift, to which cracked both doctors in the clinic.
"Terima kasih, Ibu Rini. Tapi saya tidak bisa menerima ayam hidup di klinik (Thank you, Mrs. Rini. But I'm afraid I can't accept live chicken at the clinic)," Jonathan said softly between his amused yet kind smile.
"Kan bisa dipotong? Bisa disemur, dong, dokter ganteng (You can kill it and cook the chicken, doctor handsome)," said the 65 year old woman, which prompted another chuckle from Asih and me as we helped sterilize the medical tools in the room.
"Maaf, bu. Kami harus menjaga klinik tetap steril (Sorry, ma'am. We have to keep the clinic sterile)," he reasoned with a grin.
"Ibu ga punya apa-apa lagi untuk bayar dokter (I don't have anything else to pay for doctor)," said the old lady rather innocently.
Jonathan shook his head, smiling, "Nanti saja Bu, kapan-kapan kalau Ibu ada rejeki. Tidak apa kok, Bu (You can always pay us anytime when it's convenient for you. It's alright)," he smiled compassionately.
The lady thanked Jonathan and Asih profusely, even Lika, who most of the time just stood there in the background handling things for Jonathan or Asih when they were performing examination or any kind of mild procedure. Lika blushed at the sweet way the lady hugged and cupped her cheek, much like she did Asih.
The three of them still had their faces holding in laughter as the old lady exited the clinic.
"Live chicken. That is a first," Jonathan chuckled as he took off his rubber gloves and threw it into the closed bin in the room, "Would wonder ever cease."
Asih who was standing in front of Lika, still had a grin on her face as she wiped stainless steel medical tools with alcohol wipes, "Now you know why we do this," she said to Lika, "You seem to enjoy this too, Eliska."
"Yeah. I do now," Lika answered with an amused smile. This was by far, the least profitable business anyone could get their hands on; the way the two doctors go about it only solidify the fact. These two made just enough to stock their medical supplies, feed themselves and keep the clinic running. But honestly, Lika understood why they went to all the trouble running the clinic. The reward they got was far greater than money.
"I'm hungry," Asih suddenly announced.
"Should've accepted the chicken. We can always skin it with our scalpel," joked Lika, earning more laughter from the two friends. Asih threw a sheet of facial tissue to Lika playfully.
"You monster," Jonathan mocked, laughing still, "Have you learned nothing we taught you? The first and utmost rule in this clinic. Non nocere. Do no harm."
Lika rolled her eyes, grinning.
"I'm sure the chicken appreciates that, Jonathan," Asih quipped. The two exchanged amused yet meaningful gazes with each other again for a brief moment before both looking away shyly.
Jonathan met Lika's eyes, who was smirking at seeing the dynamic between the two. The good looking doctor only raised an eyebrow then cleared his throat, ignoring the knowing look on the British woman's face.
"Chicken," Lika muttered mockingly at Jonathan, earning a playful glare from him while Asih innocently chuckled, thinking her friend was still thinking about the live chicken offered to them just now.
Asih looked up from her work and noticed the look her friends shared. She looked at Lika and Jonathan back and forth. "What?" she asked, still with that sweet smile on her face.
"Nothing," Jonathan said quickly, breaking eye contact with Lika before turning to Asih with a rather nervous grin.
Lika took the sterile tools in the basket and turned to store them away in the cabinet, making chicken clucking sounds as she went to further tease Jonathan.
The Asian-American doctor could only smile at that while his beautiful friend, Asih, was still looking at him with a blend of amusement and confusion on her pretty face.
A knock on the door broke the gaze the two doctors found themselves sharing with each other. Asih dropped what she was doing and went to fetch her bag, producing an envelope containing money for the clinic installment that she paid every month.
"It's the landlord. I'll be back, then we'll go for lunch, yes?"
"Go. I'll finish up here," Jonathan replied.
Asih didn't come back inside as quick expected. Jonathan and Lika found her sitting on one of the bench, wiping her tears as she wept quietly. Jonathan was quickly on her side, pulling her to his chest.
"Asih, what's wrong?" he questioned softly, his expression alarmed at seeing her distress. He tucked the Indonesian woman's hair back behind her ear gently.
"Someone offered money to buy this clinic in cash and the landlord is going to take it," she sobbed, looking at him helplessly, "Unless we pay the rest of the installment for this clinic in full in two days."
"What?!" Jonathan exclaimed in disbelief.
"They can't do that. They already pledged to sell this place to you and you are paying the monthly installment already," Lika pointed out.
Asih's cried at that, and Jonathan drew her into another embrace. "Calm down, Asih. Don't panic. Let's go over the land purchase contract. I'm sure we'll find something and we can use it to remind them–"
"There's no contract," Asih wept, "I was the stupid one. He was my mother's friend, and I trusted him when he said that the contract will be drawn along with land deed handover at the notary as soon as the payment is done."
Asih covered her face in her hands and continued crying, her shoulders shook as both Lika and Jonathan stared at each other with bewildered eyes, looking for answers beyond their reach.