Admin Note: This is a continuation of Wasted – part 9.
A/N:Yey, here’s part 10🙂 This part begins with a backtrack from other scenes in the past chapter (a different point of view, kunbaga). Thanks for reading and waiting. Without further ado, here’s the story…
Only the sound of the keyboard clacking can be heard in the office.
Liza was meticulously updating the master calendar in Lim Aviation Services. She targeted to finish updating it before her boss arrives in the afternoon. Liza smiled to herself as she noticed how the entry of one Maya dela Rosa wreaked havoc into her boss’ precisely measured routines. This morning, he took a leave in order to spend time with his newly-found son. And Maya, Liza thought to herself, believing that her stoic boss still harbors the same romantic feelings he had for his former employee.
Therefore, it was with surprise that she greeted Richard Lim as he arrived that morning.
“Good morning sir!” Liza checked the clock; it was barely midday. “I thought you were arriving this afternoon.”
“Change of plans.” Was Richard’s succinct answer, one hand on his laptop bag and another with Anton in tow.
Ah, this must be the reason for the change of plans, Liza concluded. “Oh hey Anton!” She greeted the child. Her conclusion was further confirmed when Maya did not seem to be with them.
“Hi Tita Liza!” Anton waved enthusiastically. “Office ito ni Daddy?”
“Ayun o, dun pa office ni Daddy.” Liza pointed to the room where Richard had disappeared into, likely setting up his laptop. “Pero dito sa lugar na ito nag-wowork si Daddy mo.” She indicated the whole of Lim Aviation Services.
“Liza, I’ll be doing rounds this morning,” Richard had left his laptop bag in his office. “But I’ll reserve the restricted areas for this afternoon; I’ll bring Anton with me this morning.” He took Anton’s hand and then addressed his son. “Anton, do you want to see where I work?”
Anton’s face brightened up. “Opo, Daddy!”
Liza found herself smiling as she saw the pleased and proud expression on her stern boss’ face. “Ok sir, I’ll just contact you on your phone should anything important come up.”
Richard found that doing rounds with his young son was a unique experience.
He never got to bring Luke and Nikki back when they were young as Alex forbad him from bringing their young children to the site. She claimed that it was dangerous. Abby, on the other hand, was quite a handful, which was probably aggravated by her mutism. He then was careful not to bring her during his rounds for fear that she will memorize the layout and eventually venture out on her own.
Given this, he was not quite prepared for Anton.
Anton, as most children are, is naturally inquisitive. Nonetheless, most likely owing to his disposition (inherited from his father), he took things in contemplation before raising questions. Richard was patient to answer his queries, in the hopes that this will cause his son to be more at ease with him. After all, this was the first time that they spent their day together without Maya around.
He was worried whether he could take care of Anton sans Maya, worried that Anton might suddenly search for Maya’s familiar face. Father and son barely knew each other.. By the end of their rounds, this fear proved to be unfounded. Anton would politely greet Richard’s employees who they encountered on their rounds. His bright smile and innocuous expression won many macho-looking men that day.
Employees saw the softening of their boss towards his son, which in turn gave them a light-hearted feeling, boosting their morale for the rest of the day. Nonetheless, they respected their boss too much to engage in gossip regarding the sudden appearance of his three-year-old son.
Just as father and son were concluding their lunch in Richard’s office, Liza informed her boss that an unexpected visitor has arrived. It was one of his father’s business partners.
“Mr Tanaka, good afternoon!” Richard stood up to greet the newcomer, not showing that he was surprised and a bit perturbed by the sudden visit.
“Good afternoon to you as well Richard.” The Japanese man extended his arm for a handshake as opposed to the usual bow.
Anton stood up as well and Richard placed his hands on Anton’s shoulders. “And this, Mr Tanaka, is my son, Anton. Anton, this is Mr Tanaka.”
“Good afternoon Mr Tanaka.” Anton bowed with a small smile. “Koni-konichiwa.” He stuttered but was able to say the greeting properly.
“It is good to meet you, young Anton.” The lips of the serious businessman quirked up a bit. “May I know who taught you that?”
“My mama po,” Anton murmured shyly, tugging his father’s hand for security.
Richard’s smile at this did not escape the notice of the astute businessman.
“We weren’t expecting you, Sir.” Richard said. “Have you eaten lunch? We could call up for food.” He already moved towards the phone.
Mr Tanaka declined. “I’ve already eaten lunch earlier. It’s just that I have a few hours in Manila for this layover until my next flight. Figured I might as well drop by here, just to see how LAS has been doing.” He sat down on the seat across from the CEO’s desk.
A knock came from the door and Liza came in with a tray of Japanese green tea.
“Your staff — ever so efficient, I see.” Mr Tanaka observed with delight, taking a cup for a sip after Liza left the tray on the table.
Richard just smiled in reply and proceeded to put away the eating utensils and plates onto the tray. “How may we be of service to you today, Mr Tanaka?”
Mr Tanaka observed father and son as they fluidly arranged and gathered their used utensils on the tray. He would have been surprised to learn that it was the first time of Anton in Richard’s office. “Well, if it’s not an imposition, may I request for a quick tour of the grounds?”
“That would be no problem at all,” Richard placed the tray at a side table for pick-up later. “I was going to do rounds this afternoon anyway. You may join me in that.”
Just then, the door burst open.
“Chief!” Engineer Yamaguchi tilted his head in deference. “Sorry to disturb- may problema po dun sa ibaba. I need you to see it before we act in it. I need a second opinion.” He noticed the other Japanese man in the room and bowed. “Mr Tanaka.”
Anton gave a small wave at the sweaty Japanese man; who gave him a small smile. “Sorry Chief to take your time from your son.”
“No worries Engineer Yamaguchi, I’m at work after all.” Richard raised his hand to wave it off. “I’ll be right there with you.” Turning to his guest, “Mr. Tanaka, would you prefer to wait here until we resolve this or would you like to join us downstairs then proceed to do the rounds right after?”
“I’d rather join you now, to save you time as well.” Mr Tanaka said diplomatically, interested in the current situation.
“Anton,” Richard leveled himself to his son once the engineer had left him. “Daddy just needs to work downstairs where children are not allowed. Will you be ok here?”
“Opo Daddy.” Anton gave his father a hug.
Richard ruffled his hair. “Listen to Liza ok?”
An hour and a half later, Richard and Mr Tanaka had arrived back into the receiving area of the CEO’s office.
Anton was quietly drawing on a piece of paper on the coffee table while Liza was on her desk, organizing folders and documents.
“I see you haven’t misplaced my son, Liza.” Richard laughed at the scene, remembering a time long ago when Abby got lost under Liza’s watch.
“Sir naman,” Liza’s face darkened with embarrassment, obviously recalling the same incident.
“You’re ready to have a baby then, Liza. Pwede ka na maging nanay.”Her boss shook his head, still laughing. “You and Joma should get to it.”
“Sir!” Liza almost shouted. Ano nanaman kaya itong trip ni Sir, parang masyadong Masaya, she thought in her head.
“Joke!” Richard said. “Half-meant, really.” Turning to his guest, who was looking on at this exchange with thinly veiled amusement, he asked. “Would there be anything else Mr Tanaka?”
The older man shook his head, an imperceptible grin on his lips. “It’s all ok. Besides, I need to leave soon. It was nice seeing you all and seeing LAS.”
Yes indeed, Mr Tanaka thought. I have seen more than enough.
The trip from her condo unit to the Lim residence seemed to be the longest trip that Maya has ever been (never mind that she had been on intercontinental trips). Maya sighed as she looked outside the window, trying not to be affected by the man beside her who was driving the car. She should have known that she would not have won that particular battle. With basically everyone (Lim and dela Rosa family combined) favoring the favoring the stay of Anton at the Lim residence, she could offer no resistance anymore.
Lagi naman ako talo eh, Maya thought somewhat sourly as she remembered the other day.
For the past days, Richard continued to shower Maya and Anton with ‘gifts’. Maya allowed that Anton would receive gifts but she pointed out to Richard that the foot spa machine was too much for her.
Richard then changed his tactics and focused on Anton instead. He would also, more often than not, consult with Maya whether Anton would like a certain toy, need a particular school supply or fit in a pair of designer pants.
Maya was flattered that Richard takes into account her role as Anton’s mother but he was also Anton’s father.
“Richard, daddy ka ni Anton, magulang ka rin niya kaya hindi mo naman ako kailangan lagi tanungin tuwing may ibibigay ka kay Anton.” Maya explained to him. “Kahit ano pa ‘yan, sige lang. Sigurado akong matutuwa yun, lalo na galing sa Daddy niya.”
Richard had shrugged at her then. “Sure ka ha?” At Maya’s vigorous nod, he proceeded to take out a box of a smartphone from his paper bag.
“Cellphone?” Maya’s eyes widened. “’Yan yung ibibigay mo kay Anton?”
“Oo.” Richard’s eyebrows furrowed. “Sabi mo ok lang naman di ba?”
“Oo, pero kung kunyari bag yun, damit, school supplies,” Maya qualified. “Pero Richard, iba ang cellphone. Three years old palang si Anton.”
“But Maya, he needs to be reachable at all times.” Richard felt another victory heading his way. “With him being in far San Nicolas, you somewhere around the country or the world, and me being in Manila – how do you suppose we can guarantee that, at the very least, he can contact either of us anytime he needs?”
“Pwede namang kina -.” Maya began but was interrupted.
“Kina Cristina Rose? What if you’re abroad? Then it’ll add up to Cristina Rose’s expenses. What if Cristina Rose is elsewhere? What if someone else was using it?” Richard countered.
Maya pursed her lips.
“Maya, you can’t make me return this. It’s been fully paid for and is in good working condition, obviously.” He leaned back on his seat. At the woman’s silence, he continued. “Kung ang issue mo ay yung phone, na baka masyadong advanced para kay Anton, edi palit na lang kayo.”
“Ha?” Maya was confused.
“Give him your phone and then you’ll use this one instead.” Bull’s eye, Richard, this is it, he cheered himself internally. “Like I said, this is already working and no adjustments are needed.” And I can contact you wherever you are. But he dared not voice that last thought aloud. “And Anton would be familiar with how to work your phone already and if he does call you and you’re abroad, the postpaid plan of this line will handle it.”
“Mama, andito na tayo!” Anton’s excited voice pierced through her thoughts as she recalled how the new phone in her bag came to be.
Despite the warm welcomes and Anton practically bouncing from excitement ever since he heard that he was going on a ‘sleepover’ with his siblings, Maya cannot help but feel anxious. She had become so used to being just the two of them and now they were both being slowly integrated into the Lim household.
Maya got down from the car and stared at the doorway of the large house, seeing Anton being led by his three siblings inside. True, she had stayed here for a couple of months before but everything was different now.
“Maya, kalma lang.” Richard smiled at her. He knew she was feeling hesitant about the whole arrangement and he wanted to remove that fear. HE then placed an arm around her shoulder and pulled her stroller bag as he led her to the living room. He felt triumphant as Maya complied and did not shrug off his arm.
Baby steps, Richard, baby steps.
After dinner, Maya realized that she had to prepare for her trips.
“Anton, anak, sorry, may kailangan lang ayusin si Mama.”
“Don’t worry Tita, ako bahala,” Luke took over looking after his brother since he was having his sembreak earlier after being exempted from several final exams.
With that, Maya excused herself to head upstairs while the children began to eat dessert.
Richard was busy downstairs on his laptop doing last minutes reports, after having skipped the day to make sure that his family was settled.
Maya did not accept the proffered station near Richard, instead, she worked in the study room of the Lim children.
“Knock knock,” Nikki tapped the wooden panel of the doorway.
“O Nikki,” Maya looked up from her manuals.
“I just came to say good night; I’ll continue studying in my room na. Magkukulong na ako dun until tomorrow morning,” Nikki bent to give Maya a good night kiss. “Abby and the boys are still in the guest room, they’re catching a movie on cable tv, I think.”
After Nikki’s quick visit, Maya focused on her manuals and lost track of time.
Stretching, Maya was surprised to see the lateness of the hour. She headed towards the guest room, which was silent. Slowly opening the door, the sight of the three on the bed brought a smile to her face.
Anton was curled in the middle of the bed while Abby and Luke were lying down beside him, the cable tv showing an old animated movie. She thought it would be a pity to wake Luke or Abby up, not when they seemed so comfortable. She just turned off the television.
“Hmm siguro naman babangon pa si Luke,” Maya whispered, thinking that Luke was bound to transfer back to his room anyway.
With that, she pulled a comforter over the three of them. “Makapagbasa na nga muna.”
Richard briefly took off his glasses to rub his eyes. Finally, he was finished with the day’s work.
He went to his children’s rooms, seeing the light from Nikki’s room, he passed it. He knew how his middle child can get during exams.
Luke’s room was quiet, too quiet. Peeking in, he saw no one there. Next was Abby’s room – it was also empty.
Finally, he saw the rest of his children slumbering in the guest room. His eyebrows furrowed. Where was Maya?
Closing the door to the guest room, he saw light coming from the family room.
What he saw made his heart constrict – Maya asleep on the couch in the family room, her hair fanning overhead with an open Time Airways manual on her stomach. She looked so innocent and delicate.
“Maya, if only you knew how much I want to make it all up to you.” Richard knelt down, placed the manual on the coffee table and tucked a lock of hair behind Maya’s ear. “If only you knew how much I love you. Please give me a chance.”
Not wanting to wake up anyone, Richard crouched and carried her to bed.
Richard woke up to someone shifting beside him in his bed.
Odd, he never did sleep with anyone beside him. It has been a long time since any of his kids cuddled him in bed. And of course, it had been a long time since a warm female body had sidled beside him as well. He felt this person shivering; it was a female form.
Opening his eyes slowly, he saw Maya curled up with a frown on her face.
He then remembered that he did not want to disturb his children’s rest and brought Maya to sleep beside him instead.
Maya gave another shiver.
Richard leaned over to her side and pulled the comforter tightly around her and in the process, accidentally touching her skin, which was cold as ice. He figured that she was not used to the aircon setting that he usually has for his room. Heaving a deep breath and willing for his self-control to stay strong, he brought her closer to himself to share his body warmth.
Anton woke up at his usual early hour. He stretched and ended up poking Luke’s side, waking him up. “Kuya?”
Luke grunted, rubbing his side. “Yes, Anton?”
“Sorry.” His younger brother gave him a peace sign.
“Ok lang naman,” Luke stretched and he heard his joints pop. “Kailangan ko na rin siguro bumangon.”
Anton crawled over him and climbed off the bed. He tilted his head and went around the bed, peering at Abby’s sleeping face. Seemingly dissatisfied, he peeked under the blankets and the pillows.
Luke sat up as he observed his brother’s antics. “Anton, anong ginagawa mo?”
“Hinahanap si Mama,” The little boy frowned. “Saan po kaya siya natulog?”
Saan nga ba, he wondered as well. The young boy had a point.
“Ah Anton, baka naman nagising na siya at nasa kitchen sa baba, tanungin na lang natin siya.” Luke got up and took Anton’s hand as they made their way outside of the bedroom.
Maya curled up snugly in her sleep. She did not want to wake up as she felt extremely comfortable at the moment. The bed was awfully soft and warm. She sank deeper into its folds. Just then, her pillow moved.
Maya froze. Pillows do not move out of their own volition.
She opened her eyes.
“I think I found your mama.” Luke replied as he heard definitely feminine scream from behind the master bedroom and he quickly covered Anton’s ears. Some sounds are just not meant for the ears of young children.
“Ok Dad, ako bahala sa mga kapatid ko.” Luke hesitantly knocked to get the pair’s attention, hopefully they would tone it down a bit as he might not be around the next time and Nikki or Abby might hear them. “Just…stay there.”
Luke shook his head as he hurried Anton downstairs before the curious child demanded to see his mother. “Dad talaga o, ang bilis lang pero sana man lang naglagay ng “Do not disturb” sign sa door nila. ”
“Ma.” Richard uttered after a while.
Luke looked at Nikki, Nikki looked at Abby, Abby looked at Richard, Richard look at his mother, Doña Esmeralda looked at Anton while Anton just continued playing with the dice.
“Isn’t anyone going to greet their grandmother hello?” One by one, Luke, Nikki and Abby kissed and paid their respects to their grandmother.
“It’s not that we don’t want you here but we could have been out of town.” Richard continued.
“Well, I asked Nikki,” Esmeralda noted the glance that her son shot her granddaughter, who had a confused expression. “And she said that you didn’t have any plans for the break.”
Anton shrank behind Luke’s back.
“And who might you be?” Doña Esmeralda bent a little bit to direct her question at the young boy.
Nikki gave Anton a reassuring nod.
“Ako po si Anton,” The young boy whispered slowly then made mano.
“That’s a nice name and aren’t you a polite boy?” Doña Esmeralda commented as she patted the child’s back.
Anton rushed back to the circle of his siblings.
Abby and Nikki each stood as though shielding Anton. Luke also had a protective stance.
Just as Richard was about to try to disperse the awkward situation, Luke beat him to it.
“Guys, doon na muna tayo sa family room. May ipapakita ako.”
“Onga pala kuya, we were going to show Anton a couple of videos,” Nikki took on her brother’s ruse. “Anton and Abby, you guys totally should see this.”
“Sige po, Dad, Lola.” Luke excused himself and his siblings.
Anton gave Richard a kiss on the cheek before leaving. “Daddy, smile po. Sabi ni Mama, baka magblock ang blessings po.” He tapped his father’s serious face in emphasis.
In the flash, the four siblings left their father and grandmother.
Esmeralda looked at her son with a raised eyebrow. “Well, he definitely did not get that kind of optimism from you.”
Maya was one of the first flight attendants who had gotten up to check on the passengers after they hit a particularly rough patch of turbulence.
“Lord, thank you. Akala ko kasi magiging last flight ko na ito…” She murmured a quick prayer as she surveyed passengers. Majority seemed to be quite rattled. She made good work of the passengers in calming them down, having pacified a couple of rows already before the rest of the attendants began to appear.e
She came across an elderly man who was trying to loosen his seatbelt and failing to do so as he kept on shaking.
“Sir, ako na po.” Maya leaned over, to adjust the seat belt.
“Salamat hija.” The old man thanked her.
Maya smiled at him. He seemed familiar to her but she just shrugged it off. She thought that maybe he just reminded her of Don Julio.
“Hija, if you don’t mind my asking,” The man continued. “Bakit parang mas mahinahon ka kaysa sa ibang mga stewardess? I mean, I know you’re all supposed to be calm but there’s a peaceful and serene aura coming from you. Why hija?”
Indeed, the other stewardesses, while valiantly pushing their fears away, did appear to be rattled and their smiles a tad shaky for the comfort of some passengers.
Maya fingered her necklace (one of the last gifts of one Richard Lim before she placed the embargo on gifts to her) while she contemplated her answer.
“Kasi po, Sir, alam ko po na safe na safe tayo dito sa Time Airways. Alam ko rin na turbulence lang yan, normal lang yan. Kaya kalma lang,” She paused and smiled. “At isa pa po, well-maintained kaya yung fleet ng Time Airways, the best kasi yung humahawak ng maintenance checks ng TA.”
The man raised his eyebrow in astonishment. “Really now? And what makes you say that they’re the best?”
“Siyempre po, kasi yung Lim Aviation Services po yung gumagawa nito.” Maya proudly said.
There was a flicker of something on the man’s face but he settled with a quiet nod instead.
“Sige po Sir,” Maya excused herself to attend to other passengers. “Mag-ilaw lang po kayo if kailangan niyo ng assistance ulit and I’ll be back shortly.”
“Uy, si Dad, may naalala sa bedroom…”
“Richard, Sir Chief, ready na ako.”
“Maya dela Rosa, where are you? Ventura said that you arrived in Manila hours ago but you didn’t even inform me!”
“Daddy, magiging kuya na rin po si Anton?”
Note: Thanks for reading! :] Sana naging malinaw naman yung flow nung kwento kahit medyo patalon-talon ito… Let me know what you think, leave a comment. Maraming salamat po :] Sorry medyo maikli than usual, hanggang dito na lang po muna (admittedly, bitin siya)… At maraming salamat rin po sa mga admin ng EB, led by Ms Sharpie.🙂 More power – nylcoen, itsmekhaye12, and Irish! :]