This is a continuation to I’m sorry, I love you – part 1
Chapter 2 – Coffee Date
Maya woke up to the sound of her alarm from her phone. She immediately checked her phone, it was 12:30 p.m.. She overslept!
She immediately took out her clothes from the closet and went to the bathroom. She had an appointment at 11:00 a.m. and she was already late. As soon as she came out from the shower, she heard an incoming text message sound from her phone. She took her phone to read the message.
“Good morning. This is Richard Lim. We’re supposed to meet at 11:00 a.m. at the lobby lounge of this hotel. See you in an hour.” The number registering in her phone indicated it came from a local phone.
She re-read the message checking whether she misunderstood it. But it said that they were to meet in an hours’ time. Then she suddenly realized that India is 2 ½ hours behind Manila and therefore, her watch should be indicating that it was only 10:00 at that time.
She gave a sigh of relief. She didn’t want to give a bad impression on her new work partner if she will come in late for their first day of meeting. She quickly put on a light make-up and readied herself to go to the lobby lounge.
At the agreed time, Maya was comfortably waiting at the lobby lounge of Taj Hotel. She seated herself fronting the reception area allowing herself to observe people checking in and out of the hotel. As she looked around, she saw him from afar alighting from the elevator, he was the man at the coffee shop last night. Like a camera lens adjusting its focus, Maya’s eyes were appreciating his looks. At daylight, he looked more handsome and dapper in his casual clothing. His Chinese features are more pronounced especially his chinky eyes which is Maya’s weakness in men.
She thought, “Hayy, naku ang gwapo talaga ng lalaking ito. Hindi kaya ito ‘yung ka-meeting ko? Sana hindi, otherwise, it will be difficult to work with him. Mahirap mag-concentrate.”
As the man walked towards the lobby lounge, Maya’s heart was pounding. The man then stopped in front of her and said, “You must be Maya?”
“Ah… eh… yes. I’m Maya.” She responded hesitantly. She stood up. In her mind, “Lord, ito ba ang love at first sight? Bakit ganito ang feeling ko?” Her heart was pounding.
“Hi, I’m Richard Lim. We’ll be working together on this Hindra project.” He extended his hand and gave her a pleasant smile.
The moment their hands touched, Maya knew was something different. Looking into his eyes, it seemed the world stopped and there was no one else but him. She felt her world swinging, her heartbeats racing. He smelled so nice and very manly. She was lost for words that she could barely respond to his questions that ensued.
The next thing she heard him ask was… “Ah, Maya, are you okay?”
“Ha?” She asked wondering what he said.
“I asked you if you are okay? Is there something wrong?” He asked again.
As if waking up from a dream, she responded, “Ah, okay, I’m okay. I was just confused earlier because I thought I was already late for our meeting. My watch has not been adjusted to India time. So, I was in a hurry going down to this lobby.” She explained defensively trying to regain her composure.
“So, you must be hungry for lunch. Let’s just have it here at the Arena.” He led her to the hotel’s lobby restaurant.
The walk over to the restaurant gave ample time for Maya to recover herself. When they got seated in a table, she appeared more composed and in control of her heart.
“Maya, what would you like to order?” Richard asked glancing at her after he folded his menu.
“Hmmm, I’m not sure.” She was flipping thru the pages of the menu.
“Any preference? Are you okay with spicy food? Most of the food here are spicy and stronger in taste compared to other states in India.”
“I’m okay with spicy food although I have allergies on certain foods like coconut and milk. Basically, I can eat anything except that I can’t digest coconut and milk products.” She shared shyly.
“Then, how about ordering the Chicken 65. I think that would be a safe starter for you to get you more accustomed to the food here.”
“Alright, I’ll go with your suggestion then. Thank you.”
Over lunch, Maya felt more at ease with Richard. He speaks well and she could feel a certain air of politeness in him when he speaks to her. He spoke highly of the company and the project that they will be working on. Richard will be the over-all lead consultant. By end of lunch, she had a better understanding of what to expect with their client and was excited to work with him.
By afternoon, Maya craved for something sweet. She remembered that she will need to go to coffee shop where she first saw Richard. A lot can happen over coffee… she wondered what it will be for her.
Upon entering the coffee shop, Maya observed that the place is quite average. There was nothing extraordinary about the place. “Yung title lang pala ang catchy dito sa place na’to” She thought. She went to the counter and ordered a chocolate cake and a bottle of mineral water. After paying, she was directed to take a seat and her order will be delivered there.
She chose a couch seat that seemed comfortable. As she sat there waiting for her order, she saw Richard come in. He immediately saw her.
“Hi. You’re here too.” He approached her.
“Yes. I thought the name of the place was interesting.” She smiled wondering if he remembered her looking at him the night before. He seems to have no recollection at all.
“Yeah. I was curious the first time too. Have you ordered? Can I get you anything?” He offered.
“Thanks. I already ordered.”
Richard, then proceeded to place his order. A few minutes later, he returned to her table and sat beside her.
“Hope you don’t mind me joining you?”
“It’s okay. I’m alone anyway. It’s always good to have company in a new place.” As she moved to allow additional space for Richard, her order arrived.
“Hmmm. You like chocolate cake? You didn’t order coffee? I recommend their brewed coffee, it’s their bestseller here.”
“I didn’t order. I’m not sure what to order on the coffee list. Maybe, I can check again.” The truth was she’s not supposed to take coffee but she didn’t tell him that. She was about to stand when Richard stopped her.
“Just remain, here. I’ll take care of it. ” He immediately stood up to order a coffee for her.
When he came back, his order was waiting for him. He is also having the same coffee.
“Maya, if you don’t mind my asking, what made you take this job? It’s a long way from home and you’ll be travelling a lot.” He seemed curious to know more about her.
“I’m interested in this type of work, travelling, meeting lots of people. I’ve never travelled to India before so this is a good opportunity for me. So, I took it.” She explained.
“Don’t you have a family, say a boyfriend or husband?” Richard probed deeper. The way he asked made her heart leap.
For a moment she hesitated whether she would admit that she has a boyfriend. “Ahh… I have a boyfriend. He is a pilot. On the aspects of travelling that is something that we have in common. So, he is supportive.”
It was like a side comment when he said, “Hmm.. but sometimes a lot of things happen when one is away too long or travel too much.” He sipped his coffee.
“Yeah..” She smiled and in her thoughts she was saying to herself “yeah, just like what’s happening to me right now.” She just prayed that he could read her mind.
“By the way” Now, it was Maya’s turn to ask questions, “How about you? How did you end up doing consulting?”
“Ah! It’s a long story. But to make it short, I own an engineering company with business consulting services. I’m based in Singapore. I met the owner of Hindra in Singapore few months back and then he personally asked me to lead this project for him. So, I just travel back and forth from India and Singapore.”
“How about your family?” She wanted to know more about his personal details.
“I have 2 sons, one in college and the other one is in senior high school but they are now in based in Australia. By the way, I’m divorced.” He openly shared to her.
“Ahhh, so maybe my question should be… any girlfriend here or in Singapore?” She asked before she even thought about the appropriateness of the question.
He gave a dry smile. “Walang time for that. Anyway, how’s Manila nowadays” He changed the topic.
“It’s okay. Have you been there before?” She asked as she took a bite of her cake.
“Maya, I was born and raised in Manila. I lived there for 20 years until we moved to Singapore.”
“Ha? You mean you’re a Filipino?” She almost choked on the cake she was eating.
“Yes, you can say that. My parents are Filipino-Chinese living in the Phils until the late ‘80s. We moved to Singapore in the 90s.”
“That means you’re….” She hesitated mentioning his age as he might feel offended.
“Maya, you can do the math and yes, I am a middle-aged, divorced man.”
“But you look younger.” It was compliment that came out naturally for her.
“Thank you. Probably, because I don’t have a wife.” He chuckled.
“So, why are you still single?” She re-stated her earlier question. Her thoughts were starting to run different scenarios in her head.
“Let’s just say that I am not looking, okay na ba ‘yon na sagot?” He spoke in Tagalog that caught back her attention.
“Okay! at lalong okay dahil marunong ka pa lang mag-Tagalog. Hindi na dudugo ang ilong ko sa kaka-English sa’yo.” But in her mind, another conversation was taking place.
“Yes! Not looking daw. Good, may pag-asa ako. Let’s see how you can resist Maya dela Rosa, Richard Lim. You are going to be my other project here.” She completely forgot that she left a boyfriend back in Manila.