“Do you have all your bags?” Panji asked.
“Yep, they’re all here!” She pointed at the only bag that was on the floor beside her.
“Huh!” Panji exclaimed as he put his bag and suitcase on a trolley and her bag too.
“So do you mind explaining to me why it looks like you’re moving houses?” She asked out of curiosity.
“This one has all my clothes and belongings while this suitcase is to store all the things that Roni asked me to pick up for him.”
“What in the world is he asking you to get?”
Panji fished a piece of paper from his pocket and gave it to Luna, she opened the folds and shook her head,”Crazy… ”
“Tell me about it!” He scuffed, “Come on, let’s find a taxi. The photographer is coming in three days, we’re here in advance to scout the locations, I want to have a gallery of the local destinations too and not only the hotel itself.”
“But that’s not your decision to make, isn’t it? That depends on the client.” She argued.
“The son of the owners was the one who requested it.”
“Oh…. ” She nodded, “Do you know him?”
“The son of the owners of Kediri Jaya…….”
Panji glanced at her, “I might be a friend of his…..why?”
“No….nothing,” She shrugged it off.
Panji saw an available taxi and waved at the driver, he approached them, “Taxi?”
“Yes, to Indraloka Hotel,” He said.
“Okay,” The taxi driver took their luggage and put it in the trunk.
“It’s so nice here, the air is fresh and crisp…” Luna extended her arms to the side of her body.
“You’re going to love it!” He predicted. “After you!” He opened the door of the car for her.
She climbed into the taxi and sat down, Panji climbed in after her.
* * *
“Wow…..It must be great to have a lot of money. Huh! The son of Kediri Jaya must be one spoilt rich brat……..” Luna admired the hotel when they arrived there, but didn’t forget to criticize the man whom she ran away from on their engagement party.
Panji glanced at her, “It’s not like your father doesn’t have money. You have a nice big house in an upscale area?”
“My father is the CEO of a family company. And we have a big family. My father only holds a small share, he got the CEO position because he showed his negotiation abilities when he was younger. But he’s a pocket pincher, most of his money goes to the bank, for a future investment he said.”
“Out of all the properties under Kediri Jaya’s flag, this is the only one that belongs to the Erlangga family. The rest of the properties belong to a family trust fund.”
“And what about the land scandal? I heard that the two managing families of Kediri Jaya and Jenggala Finance wanted their children to marry because of that.” Her voice became softer.
Panji smirked at her questions, “You’ve heard about that, have you? I think that’s just down right stupid, it sounds like a cliche from a lame romance novel. If one company needs to be financed, and the other has the money to finance it, then they should sit down and negotiate like professionals.”
“Hmm…” She perked up then grinned, “My friend, it turns out that you’re not as dumb as you look….”
“Stop talking about things that don’t concern us and let’s check in…” He pulled her with one hand and held his bag in another.
Luna picked up her bag and walked beside him, “Hey, you left the suitcase.”
“It’s empty anyway, we can ask one of the staff to bring it in later.”
“What happens if someone steals it?”
“Oooops….too bad for Roni,” He grinned cheekily.
* * *
“Good morning…” Panji greeted the young woman at the reception table.
“Good morning, how are you?” She greeted him with familiarity, “We haven’t seen you in a long time…”
“How have you been Lusi?” He asked.
“I’m very good. You look good too. I’m sorry about your wife..”
“Thank you…” Panji’s eyes became clouded.
“We have the two rooms that you reserved, two deluxe beach view. Let me call Warta to help you with your bags.”
‘Thank you!” Panji smiled.
“Is this where you went for your honeymoon?” She assumed.
Panji shook his head, “We went to Paris for our honeymoon. My late wife wasn’t too fond of the beach, she would always want to go to the mountains for our vacations. I’ve stayed here several times in the past, alone. This is my secret hideaway.”
“So what’s the plan for today?” She asked as the followed the bell-boy to the rooms.
“Let’s settle in, then we can get to know the area of the hotel. The photographer that the company hired is a very good one, he’ll know how to set up the objects to make a good photo, what we need to do is to identify the locations.”
“Okay, so we’ll meet again in let’s say twenty minutes?” She looked at her watch.
Panji gestured to the neighboring rooms, “At the door in twenty minutes.”
* * *
Luna wondered why Panji knew every corner of the hotel as well as most of the staff, but she didn’t want to offend him by asking. Especially since she saw that he was very serious and invested in taking pictures comparing the angles and background view.
“Okay, I think we can call it a day..” He finally said.
“Thank goodness,” She exhaled in relief.
“Let’s grab a late lunch!”
“Very late lunch, more like an early dinner,” Luna complained. “I’m ready to eat a whole cow.”
“It’s just three o’clock. Come on, we’ll go to the beach front restaurant. What do you want to eat? It’s on me,” He grabbed her by the hand and pulled her.
Luna’s heart thumped feeling his big hand over hers, she couldn’t help but blush as she followed behind him. His stern and steady silhouette against the sun finally made her realize that he’s not the skinny scruffy guy who she picked up from the street a little over a month ago.
“Let’s sit there where we can get a clear view of the ocean,” He dragged her to a table at far end of the restaurant.
She threw herself on the chair and slumped her head on the table, she could feel now the grumbling of her empty stomach, “I’m starving…..”
“Don’t be such a cry baby!” He messed up the strains of her hair.
“Here’s the menu, Mr. Panji…” A waiter walked up to them.
“We don’t need the menu,” He said confidently.
“Yes we do…” Luna flung herself up, “We’re hungry…”
“Nope, because what we want is not on the menu,”
“No! Can you have Mrs. Suri’s make her delicious Ayam Taliwang and plecing kangkung? And make it spicy.” He glanced at her for a few seconds, “I think it would be a good idea to get some fried calamari rings as an entrée so little miss sunshine here will stop complaining.”
“I’ve noticed that you know everything and everyone here, do you come here often?” She asked.
“You can say that..” He replied vaguely.
“Mmm…so it turns out that you get around. Where do you come from?”
“Funny! I mean what province, or what city?”
There was a moment of silence.
“You never told me about yourself,” She started.
“Well, what do you want to know?”
“Let see….why don’t we start on how you met your wife?”
“My wife?” Panji looked away to the distance, “Her name was Anggraeni, I met her at University and we got married a few months after we graduated…”
“How nice….do you have a picture of her?” Luna asked again.
Panji turned his head to look at her, “I do, but if it’s alright with you, I want to keep it private, one day I’ll show you, but not now. I want to make sure you understand me completely first.”
“I…don’t know what you mean….but…okay…….I’ll respect your decision…….” She said.
“Hey look, here comes the calamari rings….”
* * *
“I need a mirror….” Luna exclaimed.
“Why, you look great, beautiful in fact….” He flirted
“That’s sweet, but I’m not going to look at my face….” She sassed, “I want to see if my tongue got peeled off….”
“If it did, you wouldn’t be talking so much,” He teased.
“Be quiet, you meanie…..” She pouted.
“Go on and put on your swimsuit, I’ll meet you at the beach in half an hour,” He said.
“Swimsuit? I didn’t bring any swimsuit….”
“Seriously?” He arched his eyebrow.
“No, just kidding, I did…”
* * *
Luna put on a pair of shorts and a loose t-shirt over her bikini, she spun in front of the mirror several times, wondering if she looked cute or not. She froze at the thought wondering what was going on with her mind.Luna opened her bag and took out a small bottle of perfume, spraying it behind her ears.
She picked up her towel and tossed it over her shoulder before opening the door and stepping out of the room. She looked over at Panji’s door wondering if she should knock, but they promised to see each other at the beach so she headed there. As she stepped on the sand, she could see him sitting on a beach chair she quietly walked up behind him before putting her hands covering his eyes.
“Guess who?” She joked.
He didn’t answer she grabbed her hand and pull her to the side then towards him as hard as he could, she unwillingly spun on the sand and fell backwards on his lap. He smiled as he caught her putting his arm over her body to prevent her from getting up.
“Do I still need to guess?” He asked with a low voice.
“You cheated….” She puckered.
He brought his mouth close to her ear, “I know” he whispered. She shuttered as her skin developed goose bumps, Panji rubbed his nose against her cheek, inhaling her scent, “You smell nice, not the perfume, you!”
She reacted nervously “We should go to the water before the sun sets.”
He removed his hand that was holding her down, “Let’s go…”
Luna stood up, still shaking from the closeness that they shared only a few seconds ago. She gasped as he took off his shirt and threw it on the beach chair. Surprisingly his body was firm, and lightly muscular. She quickly looked away to not seem obvious that she was ogling him.
“Aren’t you going to take off your shirt? or should I help you?” He asked cheekily.
She shook her head hiding her shy smile, pulling her shirt over he head and taking off her shorts, “I’ll race you to the water….” She said to cover her nervousness while running towards te water.
Panji laughed as he watched her. He sprinted after her, as he caught up, he circled his arm around her waist and heaved her up in the air, holding her from behind. He stepped into the water and said, “I win, I got to the water first…”
“Not fair….” She laughed while squirming.
He continued entering the ocean before gently letting go of her. Luna grasped the sea sand with her bare feet, feeling the warm salty water that covered her legs. She sprung around and began splashing him, using the palm of her hand as an oar to push the water up from the surface.
Panji covered his face with both arms at her attack, he turned his body sideways before doing the same thing, paddling the water at her and dousing her body. They laughed as they played around. Panji continued to walk to the deeper part, to avoid her splashes, she tried to run after him, but he was faster, he dived into the water disappearing under the surface.
Panji continued to walk to the deeper part, to avoid her splashes, she tried to run after him, but he was faster, he dived into the water disappearing under the surface.
She looked around trying to find his shadow inside the water, Luna lost her patience waiting for him to appear, she was about to walk back to the shore when he resurfaced behind her, “Boo….” He shouted digging his finger in her waist.
She screamed and jumped, “You’re mean!” She hit him on the arm.
Panji laughed, he grabbed her wrists to stop her from hitting him. She tried to pull herself away, but he pulled her closer, releasing her wrist to leave his hand free to touch her cheeks, tracing it with his finger. He slowly and gently brushed her slightly opened lips with his thumb.
Luna could feel her body quiver at every single caress. She closed her eyes as she felt him coming closer, touching her lips with his. His hand slid down her back brushing her skin with his finger, waking up an unknown yet familiar feeling, a deep longing and yearning that was alien to her. Tears began to drop down her cheeks when her heart was moved by strange emotions. Feelings of joy and happiness like finding a love long-lost but not forgotten.