This is a continuation to First Love, Last Love – part 18
Maya got caught in the traffic the following day so she arrived at the office past 9:30 a.m. That morning, her nerves were so wired up that she was wondering what else could possibly happen to her after her argument with Stephanie the day before. When she has this type of gut-feeling, she would always tell herself to think positive.
When she arrived at the office, there were a pile of papers that were waiting for her signature. When she saw their payroll papers, she took it upon herself to bring it to Richard’s office for him to sign. She normally personally handles confidential matters like this one.
After knocking on the door, Maya entered his office. She was shocked with what she saw. Stephanie was embracing Richard while it looked like he was caressing her back. The two quickly separated and Maya noticed that Stephanie wiping tears off her face. She even saw him give her his white handkerchief.
She was about to step back, when Richard called her. “Maya”
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt.” It felt very awkward apologizing and at the same time seeing him embracing another girl. She tried to control whatever emotion she was feeling. Pretending that she wasn’t affected by what she saw, she went pass by them to go to Richard’s table to place the folder she was carrying.
“Richard, I brought the payroll files for your approval. If you could review and sign this morning, then, I can confirm with the bank about the payments.” She explained and proceeded to leave his office.
Before she was able to open the door, Richard was already beside her and said in a low tone. “Maya, we need to talk.”
“What about?” She looked at him. She wanted to shoot daggers at him.
“This. I mean this situation.” Still in low tone sounding like he was wanting to explain.
“Ricardo, you don’t need to whisper because dahil wala namang secret at wala naman tayong dapat pag-usapan.” She glanced at Stephanie who was wearing a smug look on her face. After that she went out of the room and proceeded to her office and locked her door.
Nobody bothered her for the next few hours which she appreciated. After her altercation with Stephanie and seeing them locked in an embrace this morning, she should feel immune to heartaches when it concerns him. She needed to, otherwise, she may lose her sanity. She has seen them together many times, she recalled the Sofitel scene. She told herself, “Maya, over-exercise na ‘yang puso mo pag-dating kay Richard. Dapat wala ng reaksyon at higit sa lahat, bawal nang umiyak.”
An incoming office communicator message flashed on Maya’s screen later part of the day.
Richard: “Can you join us here at the conference room?”
Maya: “Sir, I am finishing something.”
Richard: “We have our valued clients here. I would like you to meet them. The other managers have met them. Besides, the new VP Operations of Time Airways is here. You might know him because you used to be with them, right?”
Maya: “Okay, Sir.”
After fixing herself ensuring she looked presentable to their clients, Maya proceeded to the conference as requested by her boss. The moment she entered the room, she was in for another surprise.
She gasped when she saw James Ventura beside Richard Lim. When their eyes met, James smiled at her with warmth. She recognized the smile and suddenly an insight dawned on her. She had completely forgotten about him since she met Richard. He still looks boyishly handsome with a smile and humor that can quickly disarm women.
“Hi, I’m James Ventura, still remember me?” James extended his hand.
“Hi, James.” She responded and as soon as she extended his hand, James pulled her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. She felt awkward by his action.
“So, you two know each other. James, Maya is our HR &Administration manager. Maya, James is the new vice president for operations of Time Airways.” Richard formalized the introduction with a serious tone.
He ushered Maya to move to the other guests and continued introducing her to the rest who were present in the room. Maya appeared confident belying her inner feeling of nervousness seeing James again. Richard, on the other hand, appeared oblivious that James never took off his eyes from Maya while Maya kept on glancing on his direction.
After completing the courtesy introductions, Maya excused herself from the group feigning that she needed to do some work in her office.
A few minutes after she sat down on her swivel chair, a knock was heard and her office assistant ushered in James inside her room.
“Hi, so this is where you hid yourself.” James started as he walked towards her table and seated himself in the visitor’s chair.
“Yes, I’m working here James.” She faced him smiling.
“That’s not what I meant Maya.” He stood up and went around her table to where she was seated. He leaned on her glass table and took her hands into his. She tried to disengage herself from his hand but he wouldn’t release her hand.
“Maya, could we talk? As in, heart to heart talk? I’ve tried contacting you, thru your family, calling you on your phones but you didn’t respond to me and you even changed your phone number. You also barred me from entering your condo unit.”
“What is there to talk about James? Hindi ba wala na tayo? We’re over months ago pa.”
“Maya, it was you who broke up with me. I didn’t agree to it. I considered the last few months as a time-out but I’ve been reaching out to you. I’ve been waiting for this moment , a time when I could speak to you.”
“James, it’s over. The moment that I caught you dating another girl, to me, it was over since that time.”
James kept quiet for a while trying to figure out what else he could say to her. Finally, “I’m very sorry Maya. It was a very big mistake on my part. Please forgive me and give me another chance.” He was pleading.
“James, I’ve forgiven you.” She looked at him straight in the eyes. She was sincere.
“Oh, yes. So, that means we are back together.” James felt happy and at the same time guilty with her response.
“No, James. Hindi na. To me, loyalty is very important. I don’t think I could be happy knowing or doubting that I could be sharing you with someone else. It was a painful process trying to understand whether you really love me or you loved me because I have always been there for you.” As soon as those words came out of her mouth, she realized something and it hit her hard.
She felt the pain from her own words. All these weeks that she’s been in-love with Richard, she has been blindly going into the same situation which she ran away from James. She’s been in a one-side love affair and she was sharing Richard with someone else. Although she and Richard are not together in the truest sense, the uncertainty of their relationship, or how he feels about her was taking a toll on her.
With these in her thoughts, she couldn’t control her tears from falling. She began to sob. James thinking that he was the cause of her tears felt guiltier seeing her cry. He tried to gather her in his arms but she tried to evade him. James attempted again.
“No James. I’m fine” She pushed him back.
It was at this moment that door opened and Richard saw the scene. He immediately went inside the room.
“What’s happening here?” He asked in a thunderous voice. His eyes darting back and forth to Maya & James.
“Richard, am sorry about this. Please do not misterpret. She and I go a long way back. I was just talking to her.”
“If you were just talking to her, it’s not how I saw it when I came in.” Richard was angry.
Seeing Richard’s facial expression, James had no choice to give him more explanation. “She’s actually my girlfriend and we are having one of those quarrels that has gone too long and complicated.”
“James!!” Maya who has found her voice exclaimed in disbelief.
“Maya, is it true?” Richard looked at her. She couldn’t give an immediate reply, shocked with what was happening.
Without a confirmation from her, Richard turned back his attention to James. “Alright, I’ll leave the two of you. I apologize also for interrupting you. She’s my employee and I wanted to make sure she is safe.”
“Thank you Richard. I appreciate that.” James extended his hand to Richard who in turn accepted his handshake. Then, Richard left them alone.
When Maya heard the words, “she’s my employee”, it felt like cold water was poured down on her. So, he just considers her only as an employee. She was so stupid to even hoped that it could be more than that. But was that what he wanted to discuss with her over dinner? How about the kisses? How about their time together? How about the statement I missed you? How about being the flavor of the month? Did she expect for him to coming running on her side the moment he saw her with James? These are exactly what she meant earlier, the uncertainties of their relationship. Her mind was totally confused that she couldn’t think straight anymore.