Note: This is a continuation to Someone Like You – part 4.
At exactly 5:30 p.m., Maya was knocking at Richard’s office. When she heard him say, “Please come in”, she entered his room.
Richard looked up when he heard the door closed. He just stared at figure standing by it and didn’t say anything.
“Sir” She walked towards his table and stood in front of him.
“Ah yes Ms. Dela Rosa, where are your things. I mean your bag?” Richard asked.
“Po? Andoon sa table ko. Bakit sir?” She gave him a quizzical look.
“Well, please get it. We’ll have our meeting at the 22nd floor. ”
“Ah ganoon sir, okay, give me 5 minutes.” Maya went out of his room.
As soon as she left, Richard almost kicked the foot of his table. He was having an inner battle.
In his thoughts, “Great, Richard. You’ve been strategizing your attack for more than an hour and all you could say is where is your bag? In the first place, you should have behaved earlier. So now you get affected when you look into her doe eyes. What’s with that sweet and innocent look anyway? And out of the blue, you can only think of taking her out for dinner. Where is your brain Atty. Lim?”
Richard quickly got his computer bag and exited his office. Outside, he was met by Liza who asked him, “Sir, tumawag si Mr. Go ng Go Enteprises.
He is asking when can you meet with them. So, hindi pala natuloy ‘yung audio conference n’yo kanina?”
“Yes, something came up. If I have available time this week, ikaw na bahalang magre-schedule the meeting with him.”
He looked at the hallway and saw Maya on the way back to his office. Richard walked towards the lobby signaling Maya to follow him.
The moment the elevator door opened at the 22nd floor of the building, Maya made a comment to Richard.
“Eh… Sir, dito ang meeting natin? Dito sa restaurant? Akala ko may extension office dito.”Her brows raised.
“Yes, we’ll have the meeting and have early dinner here. I had a very light lunch and I’m hungry. Besides, it’s better to talk here than in the office. You didn’t know that this particular floor of the building is a restaurant and a bar?” Richard followed the waiter that received them at the door. Maya had no choice but to walk after him.
As they were seated, Richard saw Maya’s unhappy facial expression. He tried to maintain his cool. “You can order anything you like.” He was looking at the menu as he spoke.
“Sir, sana sinabi n’yo ang meeting ay sa restaurant. I was expecting that we will talk in the office. Di ba mas maganda if you asked me kung okay lang? Makaka pag-usap ba tayo dito?” She looked around to see if there were other customers. The place was almost empty. She needed to be calm so her brain can properly function and the change in the venue somehow disoriented her.
“Ms. Dela Rosa, whether it is here or in the office, our talk will happen. Besides, this is not a date that needs your agreement.” Richard bit his tongue when he said the word date. Why did he say date?
“Anyway, let’s order first.” He then signaled the waiter to take their order.
After their food was ordered, Maya was eager to start the meeting with Richard. She needed to set the record straight not only to correct his impression of her but also to pre-empt any potential damage to her job as a result of his wrong assumption. After all, she is just a tempo in his office and she would like to return to her company, People, with good performance feedback.
“Sir, about our first encounter, kailangan siguro itama mo ‘yung impression mo sa akin.” She started the conversation.
“Ms. Dela Rosa, you can’t blame me if I formed an impression on you. The circumstances of our first encounter supported it. Now that you are working in our firm, I need to protect my father and the company.”
Richard’s mood suddenly changed. He appeared serious and very businesslike. He got reminded of the primary purpose of their meeting.
“Sir, kahit sa court of law, there is no judgment unless proven guilty. In my case, parang nag judge ka na agad, eh.” She countered.
“Alright, let’s be candid here and answer my questions. What were you doing in Burgos dressed like that in the middle of the night?”
“I came from a themed party. Yun ang costume ko. I’m not familiar with Makati streets because, as you now know, I work here in Ortigas area. I got lost that night and made a wrong turn. I didn’t even know that that is the red-light district of Makati. I thought na clean-up na yon ng mga Binays.” She explained in detail.
“I searched on the character you mentioned to me. Her costume is different from what you were wearing. You were supposed to be in a plugsuit and not a mini dress.”
“Ha? I don’t know that. Yung friend ko kasi ang nag-style sa akin. If you don’t believe me, siguro naman I can bring a witness to back me up?” It felt like she was in court proving herself to him.
“You said you had your OJT before in our company. So it is possible that you recognized me when we met right? And when you knew you are being assigned to us, why didn’t you see me in my office to explain. You’ve been working for us for a week.” He started laying down his other arguments.
“Ayy, Sir, if you were in my position matapos ‘yung nangyari sa kotse mo, maglalakas ba ako ng loob magpakita pa sa’yo? Yung assignment ko sa company n’yo is just temporary. I agreed kasi pinakiusapan ako ni Mrs. Cortez.
Tempo lang ako while we are looking for the right EA for your Dad. I could be with your company for 1 week or 2 weeks depending on the speed ng recruitment.” She answered in an exasperated tone. Then she made a snide remark, “Ano ba’to daig ko pang kausap ang chief prosecutor ng bansa.”
Richard was listening to her intently as she was arguing her way out of her situation. He heard everything she said. There was something in her that he finds intriguing but can’t exactly identify it. Nonetheless, the details that she shared were woven with consistency so he was getting convinced. Richard remained silent for a few minutes.
When Maya was about to say something, Richard interjected. “Alright, I believe you. You’re not a hooker.”
It was Maya’s turn to become silent; she was processing what he just said. He didn’t even apologize.
Feeling vindicated as well as upset by his lack of courtesy, Maya blurted. “So, sir, ganoon lang? Wala man lang sorry?”
His eyebrows crossed and creases appeared on his forehead. Richard asked “Why would I apologize? I told you earlier, all the circumstances in our first meeting supported my assumption.” He looked at her intently. His left arm propped on the table, his hand massaging his temple.
The waiter carrying their food arrived. They both stopped talking and just stared at each other. Both seemingly ready for another round of exchange of words.
As soon as the waiter left, Richard said,“Let’s eat. I’m really hungry.”
He started to eat his pasta; hoping that she would stop insisting he apologize. Otherwise, the discussion may go to further. He doesn’t like to lose in arguments.
Maya stared at him and then continued talking “Atty. Lim, don’t you think I deserve an apology. You misjudged me and sexually harassed me.”
Richard drank his juiced and responded. “Excuse me, I didn’t harass you. Under the law, sexual harassment is committed when someone who has authority, influence or moral ascendancy over another in a work, training or education environment asks or demands sexual favor. Did I demand any sexual favor from you? You weren’t in my employ.”
Maya stared at him; her eyes narrowing. She was getting emotional “No, but you kissed and touched me. So, come to think of it I believe that falls under acts of lasciviousness.
Richard placed down his spoon and fork. Patiently, he rehashed the act she was asking an apology for. “Yes, we both remember that do we? However, when I kissed you, you didn’t say no. When I touched you, you didn’t say no. Therefore, I can argue that it was consensual. Please recall what happened. There was no use of force or intimidation.”
Red color started to emerge from Maya’s neck to her cheek. She wasn’t just losing in the argument but her dignity was also being slayed. She was almost teary eyed and wanted to walk out on him.
Seeing her reaction, Richard suddenly felt guilt. With a deep sigh, he asked,“Maya, do you really want to pursue this discussion? We are both getting embarrassed by this. Can we just call it a truce?” He raised his two hands and made a sign of surrender.
She didn’t answer but just continued to glare at him. Richard felt uncomfortable with the dagger look she was giving him. It also seemed like tears were about to fall too.
Finally, he relented. “Alright, if the apology really means a lot to you, I’m sorry I misjudged you.”
Maya just rolled her eyes and focused on the food on her plate. They remained quiet until their dinner was completed. In the end, she didn’t touch much of the food she ordered. In her thoughts, how could she work in L.O.E when the person in front of her is obnoxious?
Later, he offered to bring her home that night but she declined. She told him that she has her own car but actually her car was still in the shop being repaired. She just didn’t want to be with him any longer.
That night, Maya fell asleep late thinking about him. She compared her impression of him 5 years ago and his 2 encounters with him. Nothing has changed. Five years and until now, her experiences with him have all resulted to tears. She even wanted to beat up herself for responding to his kiss and allowing him to touch her. She hates herself even more for enjoying that brief moment.