This is a continuation to I’m sorry, I love you-part 5
Depending on one’s experience in life, absence makes the heart grow fonder or absence can make the heart look for another one. The later one is more appropriate to Maya after she took he consultancy job in India.
Maya was in euphoric mode in the next two days. She was positive that Richard feels something for her even though he hasn’t verbalized anything to her. It was the way he looks at her that gives away his heart.
She completely forgot about James arrival on Wednesday until she received a message from him at midnight informing her that he has arrived at the hotel and was checking in.
She felt herself panic. Since she started dating James four years ago, their relationship has been smooth sailing. Being a pilot, he was away most of the time but it didn’t affect how they felt for each other. They’ve always found ways to communicate especially with all the communication technology available to them.
Maya went down to the hotel lobby to meet James. He has completed his check-in and was on his way to the elevator with the bell boy carrying his luggage when she met him.
“Hi, James. Kumusta?” She greeted him.
“Hi, love.” He pulled her towards him and gave her a hug. “Kumusta din?”
“Okay naman. Maganda ba ang flight? Gaano ka katagal dito?” She purposely spoke in Tagalog, aware that the bell boy could understand their conversation if she spoke in English. He seemed to be observing them with a confused look and Maya could sense why. This is the same bell boy who’d greet her and Richard every afternoon when they return from the plant site.
“Just for a day. Remember, may agreement tayo. We’ll fly to Goa on Friday morning. I got the ticket for us.” James led her towards the lift.
“Ha? This Friday na? Hindi ko pa nasasabi kay Richard na wala ako sa planta this Friday. At saka, may meeting pa kami with plant leadership tomorrow.” Again, her panic was resurging. It was good that the elevator door opened so she immediately went inside followed by James and the bellboy.
“Who’s Richard?” James asked.
“Ah… yung ka-partner ko sa project. Di ba nakwento ko na sa’yo one time? Actually, s’ya ang project lead.” She was a bit irritated that she might have to describe Richard to him and she has to make it sound neutral so he won’t sense anything.
“So, kasama mo na s’ya sa simula ng project? Dapat makilala ko s’ya.”
“Sige… maybe bukas, I mean later. Madalas naman kaming magbreakfast ng sabay bago pumunta sa planta.” She hoped that James didn’t notice the panic in her tone.
That night, Maya paced back and forth in her room worrying on what will happen the following morning. She felt guilty towards James but at the same time worried what Richard might think about her.
Maya arrived at the restaurant and found Richard already having his coffee and reading the morning paper.
“Good morning, Richard.” She gave a faint smile as she greeted him.
“Hi, good morning. Anything wrong?” Richard immediately noticed she wasn’t in her usual cheerful self.
“Richard… by the way, I have a guest this week?” She began informing him.
“Really? Good, would you be introducing your friend to me?” He asked not knowing what was coming ahead.
“Yes, James is here, in this hotel too.” She blurted it as quick as she can.
Richard face turned serious when she mentioned the name James. He knows about James but didn’t expect him to come to India to visit her. They’ve never come to a point to discuss about him at length.
“Good. At least your boyfriend visits you.” He gave her a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. He continued reading the paper.
As if on cue, James arrived at the breakfast table to join Maya and Richard.
“Hi love, good morning.” James greeted Maya excitedly.
“Good morning James.” Maya responded.
Richard placed down his newspaper the moment he heard James’ voice greeting Maya.
“Ah… Richard, I’d like you to meet James Ventura. James, this is Richard Lim.” Maya introduced the two. She was feeling very uncomfortable having the two men in her life facing each other.
“Good morning James. It’s good to meet you.” Richard extended his hand for a handshake which James accepted.
“The same here Richard. I hear that you’re the work colleague of Maya here. So, I hope she has been behaving nicely. She can be difficult at times. She’s unique, you know.” James was genuinely glad to see Richard. Although, it crossed his mind that he looked a bit younger than what Maya described him as middle aged man.
“Ah, yes… you must mean her panicky side? I’ve seen that a couple of times” He glanced at Maya and knew Maya was in that mode at that moment.
“Hey, let’s start breakfast guys.” Maya went to the breakfast buffet table to escape from the tension she was feeling. James joined her in selecting the food they will eat.
When they returned to their table, a waiter approached them to offer coffee. It is the waiter who once mistook Maya as Mrs. Lim. The waiter still thinks that Maya is Mrs. Lim.
“Good morning Sir, Madam. Would you like coffee Sir?” The waiter asked James.
“No. Thank you. Do you have tea?” James response to the waiter.
“Yes, Sir, we have various teas here. It comes with the breakfast set as well, Sir.” The waiter was attentive to the hotel guests as usual.
“Good. I’ll just have an English breakfast tea.” James gave the waiter an instruction.
The waiter took a mental note of his order. He then checked with Richard.
“And Mr. Lim, would you like a refill of the coffee?”
“Yes, please.” Richard gave his coffee cup to the waiter while he continued eating his breakfast.
After refilling Richard cup, the waiter took Maya’s cup. “And the madam, here’s your coffee.”
Seeing Maya’s cup being poured coffee, James suddenly interjected. “Ah, waiter, you don’t need to pour the coffee for her. The madam will also have English breakfast tea.”
“Madam?” The waiter asked Maya directly. He takes pride in knowing their guests’ preferences so he had to check with her.
“Yes, Vasu” Maya referred to him in his first name. “I’ll have tea this morning but I prefer ginger tea, please.”
The waiter’s face initially showed confusion. He knows that Maya usually have coffee in the morning but there seems to be a change of preference that day. So, he left the three guests to get the tea.
It was Richard’s turn to ask Maya. “Not having coffee today?”
Maya just looked at Richard, like the cat got her tongue . It was James who answered the question for her.
“Oh, so you don’t know yet. She doesn’t take coffee. She has a form of allergy to it that her stomach gets acidic when she drinks coffee. It’s a kinda weird actually but there were instances before that she’d throw up, gets dizzy or at worst is she gets severe migraine. So, she has shifted to teas.” James held Maya’s hand and found it cold.
“What? Is it true Maya?” Richard asked unable to control his surprise. For several weeks now, Maya has been with him all the time at the coffee shop and he wasn’t aware of this condition of hers.
“I’m sorry, I was just surprised because I haven’t heard of that case before.” He immediately recovered, conscious that he might have shown something that he shouldn’t have.
Finally, Maya found her voice and scolded James. “James, you described it as if it’s a major ailment. That’s not happening now. I am able to tolerate coffee now.”
“Really now?” James was all he could say.
James sensed something was going on. He found it strange that her hand was very cold and she looked serious too. He tried to read her facial expressions and then unconsciously looked at Richard who was looking at Maya intently. It dawned on him that something was happening between the two, as if there were unspoken words between them.
His thoughts were interrupted when Richard stood up and said, “Guys, I’ll excuse myself from breakfast. I need to call someone in Singapore. Maya, take your time. I’ll wait for you at the lobby.” With that, he said goodbye to James.
At the car going to the plant, Richard and Maya were both quiet while seated beside each other.
It was Richard who broke the silence.
“Maya, we’ve been taking coffee at Coffee Day for weeks now. You didn’t say anything to me about your allergy. How do you manage it? The truth, please.”
“I am on medication, Richard. On my first week here, I had minor migraine attacks and I thought it must be the food here. So, I’ve consulted my doctor and was given a prophylactic medicine for this allergy. I have caffeine allergy primarily from coffee although there are days that I can’t have soda’s and some other types of teas. I still take my medicines up to now.”
“Knowing you have a risk of getting sick in a foreign country, why didn’t you just avoid it? You could just have told me.” Richard said in his serious but concerned tone.
“Richard, at first I wanted to. But then again, what for? I made a choice.” She looked at him intently, hoping he understood how much she wanted to spend time with him during those times.
Richard saw in his peripheral that she was looking at him. He looked out the window trying to figure out what to say next.
“Richard… tomorrow, I will not be at the plant site. I’m going to Goa with James.” Maya informed him nervously expecting him to get upset but he didn’t. He stayed calm but remained quiet for a few minutes.
“Is going to Goa, then, a choice too?” He asked in a cold tone. He didn’t even turn to look at her.
“James made the arrangements himself. So…” She was about to explain but was interrupted by his questioning.
“Maya, just answer the question, is going to Goa a choice for you too?” It was then he turned to face her. The tone of his voice was demanding a definitive answer.
She was teary eyed when she said in a faint voice. “Yes, it is.”
There was silence for the rest of their drive to the plant site.