Admin Note: *Contributed Story* Please give credit and thanks to Ricci. This is a continuation to The Player – part 9.
Chapter 10 – Summit
The first three months were the worst. She was unable to sleep, and was always thinking of Richard. She was tempted to call him, but pride wouldn’t let her chase him like a lovesick puppy. She was a bit hurt that he didn’t find a way to contact her.
On her sixth month, she began to doubt. Maya thought, she’d probably dreamt of their last night together, his audible confession that he loves her, or maybe she willed herself to think about it.
James was a welcome reprieve. He was funny, cool, and a happy go lucky guy – always a gentleman when it comes to her. They became good friends – a confidant when she needs someone to talk to or vent out her frustrations. She told him a bit about her relationship with Richard with none of the embarrassing details.
She had build up some measures to prevent herself from thinking of Richard – she burrowed herself at work, busied herself by going out with her colleagues after work and on weekends. She simply has no time to wallow at her situation.
[One year later]
Maya arrived in Manila together with James and the other staff from VCE. Their project was successful and now in production. She had gained the respect of her colleagues and management of VCE that they promoted her to Manager.
Maya looked up, and saw James smiling, leaning at the door frame. If she doesn’t know better, she’ll think that this guy is flirting with her.
It became a habit for Maya to be in James’ company. She admired his work ethics – very straight forward with no room for guessing – same goes with their friendship.
“I wanted to review with you that material that you’ll be presenting for the summit. We can discuss during lunch?”
“Sure.” Maya replied. She was tasked to present at the summit, and that’s what she was working on since their arrival from overseas.
This years’ summit was held in Manila Hotel – it’s the biggest gathering so far with over 1000 attendees from businessman, executives, entrepreneur, press people, politicians. It’s a prestigious event, and most of the time, an avenue to mingle, to initiate and close some deals.
One by one, the speakers were introduced, and were given 15 minutes to speak
Richard and his team of executives were seated on the VVIP corner. He was bored, and if not for his meeting with one of his business partner later, he wouldn’t have bothered to attend this summit. He was tapping his shoes, impatient, and kept looking at his watch. He was about to stand up when he heard a familiar voice.
“Maya?” Richard uttered as if chanting her name would make her appear in front of him. He followed that voice, and saw her as the guest speaker.
Richard held his breath at the vision on the stage. She’s gorgeous. His gaze riveted back to her sexy legs. “That’s her alright!”
He proudly watched her, mesmerized as she spoke with confidence on stage. She was poised and artlessly sophisticated wearing a one-piece blue dress that clung to her beautiful figure. He didn’t know how long he was staring at her, but his reverie was interrupted when he heard the audience clap, and saw her exit on the right side of the stage.
A year ago, he did what he thinks was right for him. He was selfish. He was a coward, and regretted it.
He tried to mend as usual, bury himself with work, and played just like before. It didn’t work. He kept thinking of her like a lovesick puppy – he cannot sleep, he was grouchy, he lash out on everyone within two meters from his distance.
He tried to numb himself by drinking, but once he’s sober, he comes back the same.
All the woman he went out was an annexation, a pretense that he’s alright without her. He felt empty, restless.
He even resorted to pay someone to check her out abroad. He stooped so low by stalking her, getting information on her whereabouts. Yes, he knows where she is and how to contact her. The only thing that stopped him from desperately begging her to come back is when he learned that James was also working overseas with her. He saw several photos of them – together, happily dining, eating out, walking, jogging, etc
He was devastated. He was too late.
The first half of the summit has ended, and lunch was being served at each table. His eyes discreetly roamed around the seats searching for her. His heart pounding faster than usual – it’s been a long time since he felt this urgency, and excitement – he felt alive!
He saw her seated at the table near the stage, leaning and whispering to the guy beside her. “James…” He remembered him from the photos sent out to him by his hired investigator.
Jealousy brewed inside of him as he hurriedly stood up, and stormed towards the table where Maya was seated.
“Hello Maya.” She heard him say. She was surprised, and almost stood up, but James was quick to notice her ascent, and so he slid his hand on her arm to stall her.
“Thank God for James.” Maya thought. She took a deep breath, and prepared herself before she looked at the owner of that familiar voice. James was the first one to stand up, and like a gentleman he is, assisted Maya from her seat.
Maya slowly stood up, and smiled at him confidently “Mr. Lim. This is a surprise!”
Richard frowned at her use of his surname to address him. He looked at James, and his hand on Maya’s arm. His jaw clenched with the effort it took to control himself from taking a punch at James face.
“Mr. Ventura, if you don’t mind, I’d like to talk to Maya… alone.” Richard said, reiterating the last word.
Maya felt the tension between the two so instead of making a scene, she placed her hand on James and told him that it’s OK.