This is a continuation to I’m sorry, I love you – part 9
On the flight going back to India, Richard was imagining different scenarios on how to approach Maya when he sees her. He behaved badly the last time they met and he wasn’t sure how she would react when they meet again.
Unfortunately, the flight from Singapore to Hyderabad got cancelled due to plane engine trouble. Because he wanted to get there as soon as possible, he agreed to a re-routing via Bangalore. So, instead of a direct flight and arriving Hyderabad midnight, he arrived Hyderabad mid-day the following day. It was a long trip for him Melbourne – Singapore – Bangalore – Hyderabad. His emotions were a mixture of frustration over the long flight and anticipation of what’s forthcoming with her.
Finally, he arrived at his destination. Richard checked-in at the hotel first to take a quick shower before proceeding to the plant site. Richard arrived at the plant and was warmly welcomed by the people there. He was informed that there was an event that night at the hotel where they are staying.
He didn’t see Ryan and Maya at the plant. Earlier that afternoon, as his rented car exited the hotel premises, Richard didn’t see an incoming vehicle that had both as passengers. The two colleagues went back to the hotel so they could prepare for the group dinner arranged by the Hindra’s big bosses that night.
Although disappointed, he still looked forward to seeing her that evening. He hoped that he could speak to her and make amends. To while away the time, he spent the rest of the afternoon going around the plant to see the recent developments. He also called up Ryan to let him know that he was back.
“Bro. Good to hear from you. Where are you?” Ryan immediately answered his phone when he saw it was Richard calling.
“I’m here at the plant.”
“Where? Which plant?” Ryan pretended not to know.
“I’m here at the Nampally plant. Didn’t you ask me to come over, so I am here.”
“Ah, yeah! I just thought you wouldn’t come because you said we can take care of things here.” Ryan was grinning on the other end. Later, let’s see your persistence Richard Lim.
“I changed my mind. Anyway, I will see you tonight.” They ended the call.
The cocktail area was full of Hindra employees when Richard arrived. The moment he entered the function room, his eyes searched for the only reason he was back in India. He couldn’t find her until he noticed a group of men in a circle. When one of them left the group, he caught a glimpse of a smiling Maya talking to one of the men.
Richard’s heart somersaulted when he saw her because she looked so beautiful that evening. He immediately noticed that she changed her hairstyle. She was wearing a short messy hairstyle that made her look younger and yet sophisticated. In his mind, “She’s lovelier than the last time I saw her. No thanks to all the tears I caused her.”
From across a crowded room, his eyes were fixed on her. He could see only her despite the many people mingling around. His feet glued to the floor, unable to walk towards her. He prayed that she’d look his way so he can find the courage to approach her.
His attention was disrupted when Ryan came out from nowhere.
“Hi Richard. So, you are really here?” Ryan gave him a brotherly hug.
“Yes. By the way, I like the progress at the plant. The installations of the new equipment were efficient. I also like the boards that were not there a month ago.” Richard complimented Ryan although he would intermittently check if Maya was still with the group she was with. Unknown to him, Ryan has been watching him since he arrived. So, Ryan set his drama in motion.
“Thanks Bro. It couldn’t have been done without my partner.” Richard looked at him when the word partner was mentioned so he corrected himself. “I meant, our partner, Maya. Anyway, have you seen her?”
“Nope. Not yet. I just arrived.” Richard responded.
“Of course, you are lying. You’ve been there a lot longer than you think just watching her, my friend.” Ryan almost said it aloud.
“Alright, let me see if I can get her out of that group. I’ll bring her here.” He pointed at the direction where Maya was and then left.
Richard watched Ryan approached Maya. When he got beside her, he saw him say something in her ear that made her expression turn serious for a moment and then she smiled again.
Richard continued to observe Maya until finally she looked at his direction. Richard and Maya’s eyes locked. For a moment, she thought that she would collapse. She didn’t expect to see him that evening. She may have swayed a bit because she felt Ryan’s hand supporting her. She looked at him and he said “Don’t worry, I got your back.”
When Richard saw Ryan’s face so close to her and her smile, he felt the pang of jealousy. He is fully aware of Ryan’s capability with women. Between the two of them, Ryan is the sweet talker. His friend has his own charms that women fall for it. He would always have different girlfriends coming to their office searching for him. With Ryan expressing interest in Maya, he worried that she might also fall for him.
Finally, Ryan and Maya moved out of the circle and walked towards where Richard was. It was Maya who greeted him first.
“Hi Richard, how are you?” She smiled.
“Hi Maya. It’s good to see you” As she extended her hand, he pulled her towards him and gave her a kiss on the cheek. She smelled so nice and sweet that he wanted do more than just the customary greeting.
Before they could talk, everyone was invited to take their seats because dinner was about to be served. They were ushered in the table to join Hindra’s owner and the other managers of the company. Maya and Ryan sat at the spot opposite Richard. Richard was seating beside Mr. Prasad Singh, Hindra’s owner. In short, he couldn’t get a chance t o speak to her one on one.
Dinner was progressing very well with light conversations taking place with the guests. Ryan once in a while would check on Maya, if she was okay with dinner fully aware that Richard was observing her.
Their side conversations caught the attention Mr. Singh who said, “Ryan, I think you are monopolizing the attention of our only rose in the table.
Now, I am wondering if you two are dating?” Mr. Singh is known to be a direct person and would say anything that is in his mind.
“Ha,ha,ha,” There was laughter on the table. Richard just smiled pretending to be enjoying the joke.
Mr. Singh continued. “Well, I hope not. I was actually thinking of marrying off Maya to my eldest son. We’ve been searching for a wife for him. If Maya would agree, I could introduce him to her. If they get along and their stars are matched, we can arrange a wedding.”
“Mr. Singh, I am flattered but I think a local lady might be more suitable to your son. I am from a different culture.” Maya responded not wanting to encourage him to go further in his plan.
“Oh culture? I think you’ll be able to blend with our culture well. Filipinas are known to be beautiful, caring wives and very good mothers. You will be a good addition to the Singh family.” Mr. Singh insisted.
“Wooh” one of the manager’s joined. “It seems like we will have another party soon.” The table group continued to be in jolly mood.
The smile on Richard’s face slowly disappeared. In his thoughts, why is she even entertaining this conversation? Why can’t shejust tell them she’s taken. She just said she loves me 3 weeks ago. Has she forgotten? The green-eyed monster is awake again and he needed a break. So, he stood up and excused himself.
Richard went out of the function room to de-stress. After a few minutes, he went back but went straight to the bar area to take some wine there.
From there, he saw Maya stood up and seemed to be saying goodbyes to everyone. The person last spoke to her was Ryan who gave her a long lingering hug. Richard’s eyes were turning to tiny slits.
As she was leaving the hall, Richard caught up with her.
“Maya, wait” Richard said as he approached her.
“Yes, Richard. ” She was calm as she looked at him in the eye. He couldn’t read her thoughts as she was expressionless.
“Can we talk? About the last time…. “ He was about to apologize when she interjected.
“Ahh, would that take long? I’m actually on my way to the airport. I have a flight to catch.”
“What? Where are you going?”
“I’m going back to the Philippines, of course. We’ll just catch up some other time. Sorry, ha, I’m already late as it is.” She was in hurry.
Actually, in a hurry to get away from him. Fortunately, she really had a flight. If she would have stayed longer, she might start crying again.
Maya left hurriedly but paused when a local Indian stopped her on her way out of the main door.
“Mrs. Lim, you are leaving? Is Mr. Lim coming with you?” It was Vasu, the waiter, who mistook her as Mrs. Lim. Vasu glanced at Richard who was a few feet away from them.
“Yes, Vasu. I am going back to my country. Ahh, Mr. Lim will be staying behind. So, please take care of him for me.” After saying that, Maya immediately boarded her car that has been waiting for her for several minutes.
Vasu was still smiling when he turned and walked towards Richard.
“Mr. Lim, the madam has left. She told me that you are staying behind and that I should take care of you.” Vasu supplied the information.
“Huh?” Richard seemed to been distracted; as if he just woke up from trance.
“Mr. Lim, how long will you stay here again? The madam was with your colleague here for quite sometime….”
Richard stopped the waiter from conversing with him, “Thank you Vasu. I need to call somebody. We could chat tomorrow. And, I’m only here for a night.” With that, Richard started calling Lisa’s phone.
Ring…. Ring…. Ring….Ring…Ring…
Richard has called up Lisa 10 times and yet she wasn’t picking up. Finally, she returned his call.
“Lisa, why can’t you pick up the call sooner?” He was already upset when he got to speak to her.
“Richard, it’s midnight here in Singapore. I’m already sleeping. Anyway, what can I do for you boss?” Lisa’s voice had a hint of impatience.
Richard looked at his watch which indicated it was 11:30 p.m. Singapore time; 9:00 p.m. India time. Realizing that he has woken up his secretary, he apologized to her.
“Sorry, Lisa. I forgot about the time difference. Anyway, I wanted to request for you to book me a flight to Manila. Yes… as soon as possible. Please include also a hotel accommodation, airport pick-up etc. I’ll will need an open ticket.. Thank you.”
The moment he disconnected his call with Lisa, Richard dialed Maya’s number. He wanted to let her know that he was going to Manila. However, he couldn’t contact her as the number he is using is already unavailable. He thought of checking with Ryan her phone number so he returned to the dinner event.
“Bro. do you have Maya’s number? I was calling her but it seems I have the wrong number.”
“Oh yeah. She lost her phone in Singapore when she was there. So, she has a new unit and a new phone number.” Ryan gave Richard Maya’s new number.
Richard tried the new number, it rang but Maya didn’t respond. On Maya’s end, she saw the incoming call but she didn’t recognize the number. She no longer has Richard in her contacts list.
Moments later, Ryan called up Lisa. “Hi Babe, so how was it?”
“You’re right, he is following her in Manila. Luckily, I believed you. I had pre-booked him so it wouldn’t be difficult for me to get a flight and hotel accommodation to Manila. Hayyy, Ryan, this thing that’s on-going with the two, this is an expensive exercise.” Lisa let out a deep sigh.
“Don’t worry, Babe. I think this will end soon. I hope it will be a happy ending. Otherwise, be prepared to work with a difficult boss once again, ha,ha,ha.”
Unknown to Richard, Lisa and Ryan have been dating for several months now.