This is a continuation to I’m sorry, I love you-part 4
Few weeks after
People who are in love tend to be blinded by their emotions either consciously or unconsciously. Such is the case of Richard and Maya.
In Maya’s situation, she was fully aware of the feelings for Richard the moment she first met him six weeks ago. He was becoming the center of her conscious being every day. When he is around, she can only see him and feel him. The project they are working on seems to be easy and just secondary to her. While her work is demanding, having Richard supporting her had made it more inspiring for her. She is at her best. Because of this, she has lost her emotional connection with her boyfriend of four years, James Ventura.
Ring…. Ring… Ring…. Ring… Ring.
Maya’s attention to the report she was writing was disrupted by the continuous ringing of her phone. When she picked it up, it was James.
“Hi, love! How are you?” James greeted her, sounding excited.
“Hi, I’m good. Ikaw?”
“Eto, masaya. I have good news for you. I might see you there in Hyderabad soon.” He spilled out the good news to her.
“Ha? Kailan, bakit?” She was surprised by this information.
“Anong bakit? Of course, there is always a possibility that I will go there. I’ve seen the SQ flight assignments for the next month. I’m going to be covering South Asia. Medyo excited na nga ako.” James continued talking while Maya could only respond in one liners.
“Now, I am seriously considering taking a few days off when I get there so we can have a vacation. I heard Goa is like the Boracay of India. What do you think, love, should we go there?”
“Huh?” It didn’t really register in her brain what James just told her.
“Love, is there something wrong? Are you listening?” James finally noticed her flat tone on their phone conversation.
“Ay, wala James. Sige, I am okay with your plan.” She responded, hoping that whatever she agreed to, she will soon find out.
“Ayan nag-agree na tayo. So, please expect me to be there next Wednesday. See you – excited na ako.”
Maya counted the days when she will see James. It will be in three days time. She was nervous of this visit.
Alone in his hotel room, Richard was watching the Wimbledon men’s semi-finals but his mind was wondering off somewhere. He normally enjoys watching games on TV but he realized that in the last 6 weeks, he has been spending a lot of time outside his room either at the café or restaurant together with Maya. He knew early on that there is something about her that keeps him interested in her. And now, he has finally admitted that unconsciously, she has invaded his wall of defense.
Since his divorce from Corinne, he has built an imaginary wall around him bowing that he will stay away from women from then on. But Maya is different; she managed to bore a whole into that wall so she could enter his heart.
He has fallen in love with her. With this realization, he began to weigh things around their situation. It wouldn’t be easy considering their age gap, their work, their personal circumstances. He need to take things slow. With his experiences, he can’t let emotions rule his actions.
As soon as Maya arrived at the plant site on Monday morning, Shakti, one of the Hindra staff, greeted her.
“Maya, finally. Welcome back to the office.” Shakti seemed excited to see her.
“Hi Shakti. I am glad to be back. How were things here?”
“Good. It is different when you are here. You know Richard can be tough on his directions and he works so hard. He makes us work so hard.” The staff was complaining.
“Ha? How can that be? I thought we are ahead of the implementation plans. We are going to do training next week right?”
“Yes Maya. But when you are back in Manila, Richard spends long hours in the office. We can’t go home because he is still around.”
“Ah… alright Shakti. I will speak to him about it. I think I know what you are trying to say.” Maya gave a commitment to Shakti.
“We are having a meeting today, I can give him some feedback without having to tell on you.” She gave a reassurance to the woman.
“Thank you Maya. The truth is that I see him enjoying time with you. He likes working with you. One time when you were in Manila, he was upset with an engineer at the plant because he made a mistake in the pilot run of the machine. But when you called him up, he immediately picked up the call and then after that, he was okay. I think that was the week when you went to Charminar.”
“Really?, Shakti, you’re teasing me right?”
“No, Maya. I think he likes you, I mean in a romantic way.” Shakti was smiling obviously interested in her reaction.
“Hey, that’s not true. He’s just being nice because I don’t have any other friend here. He is just being friendly to me.” She tried to down-play the other woman’s observation although she hoped that Shakti was right.
When she left Shakti, Maya was smiling from ear to ear. Unfortunately, James will soon be in Hyderabad. She is dreading the day the two men might meet each other but remembering Shakti’s comment about Richard lifted her spirits up.
She proceeded to the 2nd floor where she and Richard were meeting that morning. While walking on the 2nd floor hallway, she was in a dreamy mood that she failed to see the torn part of the carpet where she walked on. The heel of her left shoe got stucked in it such that she tripped.
All the folders she was carrying flew out of her hand while she exclaimed “Ay kabayo! Ayyyyy.”
Fortunately, Richard was behind her going to the conference room as well. He immediately anticipated Maya’s fall. He reached out for her by encircling his hands around her waist. If he didn’t keep his balance well, both of them could have landed on the floor.
Maya was in shock with what just happened and more so when turned around to face the person who prevented her fall. It was Richard and his arms was still around her. Their faces were few inches apart ; the color red starting to rise from her neck to her cheek.
“Maya, are you alright?” Richard asked. She felt his breath on her face.
“Ah… eh… I’m okay. Oo naman… I think I think I am okay?” Her world was spinning and she was getting dizzy with the feeling of being so close to him.
Richard sensed that she wasn’t fine and so he tightened his hold on her afraid she might collapse. “Are you sure, you are okay?”
“Yes, I am Richard.” Her voice was weak, not from the near miss incident, but with tension of being at almost at kissing distance with him.
Richard noticed Maya was blushing and sensed that he was the reason for it. He was battling his own emotions. His eyes shifted to her lips. He was very tempted to kiss her red lips that were so inviting. He wondered how those lips would feel against his.
As if their faces weren’t that close enough, he moved his head closer to hers. Maya instinctively backed out a bit not fully sure what was coming ahead. With that step back, Richard came to his senses.
“Am sorry, Maya. I didn’t mean to..”. He couldn’t finish his sentence because he didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t tell a lie. He meant to kiss her if only she didn’t moved back. He released her from his hold.
He picked up her folders while speaking “Please be careful when you walk here. The Admin folks have been told to replace the carpet tiles but they’re quite slow in taking action.”
He handed her materials to her and walked past her proceeding to the conference room.
Maya was left standing, staring at his back. It took several minutes before she was able to join him in the conference room.
The meeting that ensued was the shortest that they’ve ever had since they’ve started working together. Shakti had arranged a 3 hours meeting that was supposed to be from 9 to 12 noon. However, in less than an hour, Maya was able to present her diagnostics findings on training and development of their client. Richard gave a full agreement on her proposal. After their meeting, they both hurriedly returned to their respective offices.
Richard was sat inside his office thinking of his behavior earlier. He promised himself to keep a professional approach to her and yet, the moment she was near him, he could not restrain himself from touching her. It didn’t help that she almost fell on the floor.
Maya in her room was busy thinking about the “what if” scenarios with Richard. What if she didn’t move back, it felt like he was about to kiss her. What if she took the chance and kissed him, then, it would properly be the end of her misery or probably the end of her contract.
She kept on replaying her scenarios back and forth until she heard his voice.
“Maya.” He was in front of her table with a tentative smile.
“Hi Richard.” She looked up to him; returning his smile; trying to keep calm.
“About earlier… at the hallway… about…ahh..” He was stuttering. He couldn’t put in words what he intended to tell her.
“Okay na Richard. I know it’s quite embarrassing, so maybe we can move on?” She didn’t want to ruin the light mood that he brought inside her room.
Richard was relieved and took a deep sigh. “Thanks, Maya. So, tayo na.”
“Ha?” Maya was confused with the double entendre of his statement.
“Tayo na. Let’s go out for lunch.” He smiled at her.
“Ah! Yes, gutom na nga ako.” Maya said as she stood up with her bag in her hand.
While they were leaving the office for lunch, Richard’s hand was on her elbow. Then, it stationed at her lower back while he was leading her towards the door.
She turned to him with question in her eyes and he understood it. He responded with twinkles in his chinky eyes. “Just making sure, you don’t trip again.”
Her heart raced from what she heard. She walked faster so she was able to distance herself from him. She stopped and looked back, “I’d prefer a different form of support.”
She smiled playfully as she extended her hand for him to hold.
He didn’t disappoint her. He reached out for her hand and cupped it with his. As they took few steps further, he shifted his hand such that their fingers were intertwined.
He stared at their hands and then looked at her as if asking for permission, she just smiled and pressed his hand. They continued gazing at each other for a while, their eyes communicating love for each other. They, then, walked hand in hand towards the nearby restaurant.
It felt natural for them to hold hands in spite of being in an environment where public display of affection is uncommon. They both didn’t care.