“So, ma’am, how long will you be in Boracay?” the young server asked, obviously looking to impress. Gio couldn’t blame him.
“A few weeks more, maybe a month,” he heard Min Hee reply. She had a big smile on her face, open and animated. Certainly no trace of the bored diva he encountered yesterday. Maybe she wasn’t as bad as he had imagined her to be.
The server was impressed. “Ma’am, you must be rich to have a very long vacation.”
Min Hee laughed, then leaned forward. “Don’t tell anyone, but I have a sister who took over the family business, a huge chain of hotels. I’m here in the Philippines to plot my next move.”
The server looked even more surprised—and even a little nervous at this admission. “Maybe you’ll put up a hotel here in Boracay someday?”
Min Hee gave him a conspiratorial grin. “I’ll have to get the company from her first. One step at a time.”
Gio was unable to contain his curiosity any longer. “And the photo shoot from yesterday?” he asked.
Both Min Hee and the server turned to him. The younger guy gave a nod and backed away into the kitchen, while Min Hee kept the smile frozen on her face. “Ah, Mr Museum. Sneaking up on me?” she asked, a tiny bit of annoyance in her voice.
Gio flushed. He hadn’t meant to get on her wrong side again. He started over. “Sorry, I just saw you and thought that I should come over to say hello. And to thank you for saying nice things to my boss. And uh, to make sure you’re enjoying the place.” And apologize for yesterday was the more appropriate thing to say, but Gio just couldn’t bring himself to admit it. He wasn’t convinced he was entirely wrong.
“Sorry about that,” he said. “You were close to the road, I couldn’t help but overhear.”
Min Hee held out her hand. “Apology gift.”
“What?” Gio demanded.
“Apology gift,” she repeated patiently. “It’s customary. Anything will do. I can take that in your hand.” She pointed to the red box of muffins.
Gio was beginning to regret taking that walk down the beach. He should have grabbed a tricycle back at the muffin place. “I can buy you—” he began to say, then changed his mind. This was not going as he had hoped. He really had meant to make nice with her. Besides, he could always head back to buy Mama a new batch of muffins. “Here then,” he said, handing her the box. “I’m sorry for yesterday. And today.”
But Min Hee was already opening them, her own plate of crepes forgotten. “What are these anyway?”
“Calamansi muffins,” he replied. It felt awkward to be standing by the road while she was still seated on a bar stool. Granted, they were only a few feet apart, but Gio decided that taking a seat next to her might make things less uncomfortable.
“Calamansi?” Min Hee asked, taking one and biting into it. Her phone made a small little sound like a high-pitched hiccup, but she ignored it and kept right on eating.
“Citrofortunella microcarpa,” he answered, glad to volunteer some information. “You might call it a Philippine lime. It’s small and is often used as—”
Min Hee placed a hand over a mouth. “Please, Mr Museum. No lectures. Besides, this is really good!”
“Not too sour for you?” he inquired politely.
“Not at all,” she replied. “Just a bit, but I like it.” She set it down on her plate.
Gio could see what she had been doodling on a napkin. He pointed to the caricature of the server. It was a good likeness; Min Hee had emphasized the server’s wide eyes and comb-over. “So is that what deposed CEOs do in their free time?”
Min Hee’s lips stretched in a small smile. “Everyone needs a hobby. Hostile takeovers can be so stressful.”
“And yesterday’s shoot? What was the cover story for that?”
“I have a grandmother who thinks I’m dead and Da Kyong is sending her proof that I am alive and well,” she replied with a perfectly straight face.
“You’re a good liar,” Gio told her.
Min Hee rolled her eyes. “I don’t know if you just complimented me or insulted me. Have you always been this sensitive?”
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