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How much you love me?
Chapter One-Cupid's arrow
Synopsis: Alexandra is a Filipina who worked as a caregiver in Greece. She was taking care of an elderly lady who was known to be aristocrat and very difficult to deal with. She can cope with the old lady but she could not deal with the son and much more the grandson of the Andreas family.
Desperate to pay the debts she left in her country she was forced to finish her 2 year-contract. She is determined to stand her ground and face the hardships of living with this “High and Mighty” family. She had an ally though… the cousin who is at the same time the family doctor.
Despite her determination to ignore formidable Alexis Andreas, the more she is attracted to him and the more she hated him. Will she be able to escape the bait of love?
MANILA, Philippines. Ninoy Aquino International Airport.Alexandra Mendel, an average looking lady in her early thirties is sitting on the bench while anxiously waiting for her flight. This is her first time to fly long distance not to mention to a foreign land. She could still remember her conversation with Lora her bestfriend who had been in Greece who worked as a domestic helper.
"Hey, Sandy... the friend of my employer is hiring somebody to take care of his elderly mother. Would you like to go with me?"
"Are you kidding? You know that I am so skeptical about going to foreign countries. Besides, I have a stable job here..."
"You really haven't change Sandy. You are still very conservative. Anyway, I am telling you about this post because it might be good for you. This is already a big break for you to get away from Philippines, you know."
"You sound like a westerner now Lora". They both laughed at that comment.
That ended their conversation that day. Little did she know that she will take the challenge of going to Greece with Lora when her father was diagnosed with cancer and had to be treated for a long-term care. She is an only child and her father was just a janitor of a private company and her mother was a plain housewife. Her father worked so hard just to give her good education. That was how she earned her degree in Business Management and landed up a job in one of the big private companies in the country. But with her father's illness, Lora could not afford the long term expenses for his medication and treatment. She wanted her father to live or at least have treatments.
She was awaken from those thoughts when her flight was called. Her plane was one that she had never heard before. She was seated in the middle. There was a man sitting near the window and another one in her right. The man near the window looked so dignified and maybe in his late fifties. The one in her right is much younger maybe in his late thirties or early forties. She did not even understand why she had these thoughts about these strange men. She did not feel comfortable sitting in the middle of two men actually. But what can she do?
The plane had one stop. That was in Abu Dhabi. The first time she set her foot in a foreign land. She felt she wanted to go back to the plane and order the pilot to bring her back to Manila. What a crazy thought.
Athens International Airport is very huge. Alexandra was so overwhelmed at the beauty of the place. This airport was named after Eleftherios Venizelos, the prominent Cretan political figure and Prime Minister of Greece, who made an outstanding contribution to the development of Greek aviation and the Hellenic Air Force in the 1930s. Before this trip she got busied herself reading the history of the country especially the island where she is going. She wanted to know about the place that would be her temporary home for the next 2 years, hopefully. She was full of anticipation.
She was instructed to wait in the waiting area where the passengers usually wait for their rides or taxi to take them to their destination. So that's what she did. She was already been standing there for almost 20 minutes while waiting for her ride or whoever is going to pick her up to bring her to her employer. She started to worry. She was about to dial her friend's number when she felt there was somebody watching her.
The man leaning in one of the pillars had a very lazy gaze directed at her as if he is not please to see her. Then he came over to where she was and asked her in a very cold voice. "Miss Mendel, I presumed?" with a very bow, he said.
She hesitated. "Y-yes, I am... if I may ask..." she was not able to continue since the man cut her off briskly.
" I am here to take you to Andreas. Is this all your luggage?" He pointed out to her small luggage case.
All she did was nod and follow the man to the car. It was a very sleek sports car that she have everseen. She did not like this man, that is for sure. But she could not help admiring the fascinating scenery that they passed. Her long hair was flying all over her face and she was afraid it might distract the man driving so she tied it with rubber band.
The man did not even spare her a glance. He did not even have the guts to introduce himself. No talk. No question. It was just a very quite and very silent drive. After an hour they arrived to what looked like a private jetty where a yacht was waiting for them. The man introduced her to the crew and started giving instruction to sail.
They are going to an island where the Andreas family live. The cook, Alfon asked her if she wanted a drink of wanted to eat something in a very Greek accent of broken English.
"No, thank you, but if I can have a glass of water that would be nice, Mr. Alfon."
With a very polite bow Alfon left and came back just in time with a glass of water before that man who met her at the airport said to Alfon to serve dinner.
She refused of course the dinner invitation. She asked how far they should travel.
It was Alfon who answered her with a big smile, " We will be there in the island in fifteen minutes Miss Mendel. The "Madam" is waiting for you at the villa", he added.
Sandy loves sailing. She loves the smell of the ocean. She loves the breeze blowing her long hair. "I wish... this is a pleasure trip... I wish... I wish... but she is here to work. Quit thinking about yourself Alexandra." She scolded herself silently.
Finally, they arrived at the island. At first glance... Sandy fell in love with the beauty of it. The villa which turns out to be a mansion was overlooking the sea. She could see the vast expanse of the blue see in front of them. Her reverie was cut off when she heard somebody was talking to her.
"Welcome to Andreas Island Miss Mendel", the man took her hand and kissed it instead of shaking it. She was surprised by that. She felt a kind of strange feeling when that man touch her hand.
The man who met her at the airport was the one who drove the car and the man who met them sit beside him at she sit at the back seat.
"How was your trip Miss Mendel? I trust that you had a good flight"
" Yes, that was a good long flight, thank you for asking Sir."
"Did you introduce yourself to Miss Mendel Alexis?"
"NO? Why not?"
"I don't think it is necessary. I am not likely to see Miss Mendel again anyway. I just obey what maman asked and that is to bring her caregiver to her." Alexis replied with emphasis on the word "caregiver".
The man at the front seat laughed aloud amusedly. " Well, well so typical of Alexis Andreas. Pardon us, Miss Mendel. I should have introduced myself too. I guess we will have to do that when we arrived.
It did not take too long to reach the house. When the car pulled into the driveway, a young woman in her early twenties came running and give Alexis Andreas a very big kiss on the lips that shocked Alexandra.
"Behave yourself Amina!" Alexis pulled himself from the grasp of the young woman.
Alexandra step into the threshhold of the mansion...
"Welcome home, Alexandra Mendel..." a very tiny woman in her late eighties greeted her with a brilliant smile. She was sitting in a big chair that is too big for her. Sandy thought.
"Thank you Ma'am. You have a very nice welcome smile."
"And you have a very charming smile that can melt the coldest heart..."
"So, Vassilli did you introduce yourself already to Alexandra?"
"Oh Miss Mendel, you mean maman?"
"Yes, you silly man... Who else I meant?"
"I am just about to do that. Welcome to Andreas Miss Mendel. Please allow me to do the proper introduction. My name is Vassilli, and this is my nephew Alexis, my daughter Mina, and my mother Yalena."
"The dinner is about to be ready, please join us Alexandra, meantime Alexis will take you to your room so you can freshen up yourself. I am sure you wanted to do that." Then the old lady departed with Vassilli and Mina.
Alexis took her to the second floor. The room was huge with a queen size bed. It looked like a man's room though. Despite the elegance... her first impression... so masculine touch. But the best thing was a small verandah that is overlooking the ocean and the main island.
"If you need anything, you can always ask one of the servants of which you are going to meet tomorrow. Good day, Miss Mendel."
That was it and he was gone.
What is wrong with him? She said to herself. I have not even had the chance to thank him. Oh well... that is not my problem. she laid on the bed with her clothes on, intending only to close her eyes and thank God for a safe trip but she fell asleep.
She really dozed off that she almost jumped when there was a loud knock on the door. When she opened the door, there stood the formidable Alexis with a sour face. At least that was her impression of the man.
“Is this your usual habit of letting people wait for you, Miss Mendel?” That was spoken in a soft firm voice but Alexandra felt a sting on it.
She could not understand why she wanted to lash back at the remark of this very arrogant man. “Not actually, and I am so sorry if I let you wait for me. That was not my intention. I fell asleep…”
“Yeah, you fell asleep and the next thing you are going to say that you got cold feet and wanted to go home to papa and mama… is that it?”
She was about to reply but Vassilli appeared.
“What are you two talking about? Maman is waiting Alexis…”
Alexis did not even bother to reply to his uncle. He left and let Alexandra and Vassilli go together to the dining room of which to Alexandra looked so grand. The table was so long and looked like an antique. At the head of the table… to her surprise sat Alexis Andreas. On his right side was the old lady and Amina and in the other side that’s where she and Vassilli sat.
Alexandra apologized to Yalena for being late and for letting everybody wait for her.
“Poor child. You must be very tired of your long journey. You don’t have to worry Cherie everybody understands. Now, let us all eat our dinner. Shall we Alexis?”
The dinner was spectacular. All foods are so foreign to Alex. But she tried to eat whatever is on the table. One bite at a time. She was very much aware that she was the center of attraction in that dinner. The family was watching her.
At last the dinner was done. She could hardly wait to go to her room.
She expected to walk alone in going back to her room but the old lady instructed Alexis to escort her again back to her room which told her plainly that Alexis did not like it. Sandy felt kind of being challenge why she received such reaction from this man. They walk back silently taking the winding stairs to the second floor of the mansion.
When they reached Sandy's room Alexis bowed and said goodbye curtly and walked away.
Sandy did not care anyway. She is here now to earn that money she needs and she is determinued to make the best of her stay in this strange land no matter what. She just have to think of her father and mother back home especially her ailing father.
After changing into her nightdress Sandy went out to the verandah and sat on the chair. The sunset was so beautiful. It made her remember the Manila Bay sunset in Manila.
She wished... she wished she can turn around the clock and be back in Manila. She was not able to hold out the tears and she found herself crying.
Sandy found herself almost at the same place where Alexis was standing in the adjoining veranda near where she was.
Her embarassment and her mood made her replied tersely, "What do you care if I cry? I did not even know that you are there spying on me...!"
"Spying on you?Wow! What a remark... well, I am not in the habit of spying peoples lives... let alone a crybaby! I am suppose to enjoy my beautiful moments while I am here not expecting to find the 'caregiver' crying for mama on her first night!"
That last statement made really Sandy angry. "How dare you...!" She could not find a word to describe how she felt at that moment. All she could think of is to get away from this very nasty man. And she did... she even wanted to slam the door of the verandah but thinking that it was not her home actually made her backed down in doing that.
That was her first encounter with Alexis Andreas.
She was still feeling angry when she went to bed that night but her tiredness overcame her and she did not know how many hours did she sleep.
The alarm clock woke her up.
It was still very early in the morning. Her usual thing in getting up is thanking the Lord for his goodness and saying a short prayer and her favorite Psalm 23rd. Then she remembered that she is now in Greece.
She also remembered her first encounter with the arrogant grandson of her employer. A knock on the door stopped her thoughts. Putting on her robe she opened the door only to find Alexis again.
"G-good morning...I..." Why are you stammering Alexandra? She said to herself disdainfully.
"Loss for words again? Please make yourself decent and come to the office with me. I will wait for you."
"No buts Miss Mendel... You want to work that is why you are here right? Then you do what I say so we can discuss the things for your employment. Believe me... it has nothing personal. So don't be alarmed. The feeling is mutual. You don't like me, I don't like you too. So that is clear to you right?"
Sandy was not able to reply to that right away. She was lost for words. The nerve of the man. This time she really slammed the door to his face.
She got dressed quickly but also thinking why this has something to do with him? She understand from her contract that she was hired by the Lady of this house to work for her as caregiver... why would Alexis wanted to discuss her employment?
She found the answers to her questions later.
Alexis Andreas is the one who hired her and is the one to pay for her salary for the whole 2 years that she will be employed as caregiver of Yalena Andreas.
"Did you hear what I just said Miss Mendel?"
"For goodness sake, if you are going to work for me, please make up your mind. My grandmother is already kind of confused. I don't want somebody who is more confused to take care of her. Is that clear enough? Either you fix yourself or I will send you back to where you belong!" With that remark Alexis left her.
She was so wrapped up of boiling emotions inside that she wanted to hurl back insults at that insufferable man. She decided she could not really work for this man. She was so determined to go home.
She was walking back to her room when Yalena found her. "There you are child... come, sit with me in the veranda..." The old lady hold her hand as if it is the natural thing for her to do.
Alexandra wanted to tell Yalena about her decision but there is something that holds her back. She felt a pang inside her thinking that if she will go home... she will never see Alexis again... She paused in that thought. What in the world is going on with me??? Where did that thought came from?
Then it hit her like an arrow. "NO! It could not be!!!" Her heart cried out silently.
"What is wrong Alexandra? You suddenly looked pale..."