Note: This is a continuation to Someone Like You – part 8.
Before lunch, Richard was already in front of Maya’s desk. They were supposed to have lunch together. Maya just finished organizing her things and was about to stand up when she saw Atty. Ryan coming to her table as well. It seemed he had a purpose with Richard.
“Oh, Bro, andito ka pala. I was looking for you so we can have lunch.” Ryan tapped the shoulder of his friend.
“Ahmm, I am waiting for Maya. We’re going out.” Richard responded. Maya looked at the two men talking to each other; her small bag already in her hand.
Ryan oblivious that it was lunch for two excitedly pursued, “Well, that’s good. We can all go together then. Maya, how about asking Sabel to join us.” Ryan turned to Maya who glanced at Richard first for reaction. Not wanting Ryan to start getting any ideas or start teasing him, Richard didn’t say anything. Maya nodded in agreement to Ryan’s suggestion. She picked up the phone to speak to Sabel.
“Hi Sabel, are you free to join us for lunch? Andito si Atty. Ryan at Sir Richard….Oo… mag-lunch daw tayo.” Sabel is the assistant of Ryan. She has become one of Maya’s friends since she joined LOE. She’s easy going and fun to be with. When Maya placed down the phone, she confirmed that Sabel was joining them.
While waiting for Sabel, Ryan and Maya discussed where they could have lunch. Richard had originally planned on having lunch again at Chateau but they ended up going to Banana Leaf instead.
Over lunch, Richard occasionally gave meaningful glances to Maya; unable to verbalize thoughts in his mind. There was a feeling of disappointment on his part. The planned lunch for two people became a party of four with Ryan and Sabel joining them. Despite that, the lunch was turning out to be a bonding moment for the three except for Richard who was relatively quiet in the group.
Richard spoke only few sentences throughout lunch that Ryan commented, “Bro, what’s on your mind? Ano may jet lag ka pa ba?”
“Not really, Rye. I’m just thinking about the case of De Dios” Richard lied. He was actually thinking whether to agree to his father’s proposal to swap EAs or not. He intended to explore that possibility with Maya over lunch. Unfortunately, the turn of events wasn’t in his favor.
“Oh, speaking of De Dios case. Look who is coming over our table.” Ryan said in a low voice only for his tablemates to hear. The three glanced at the direction Ryan was referring to and saw a tall good looking guy in short white polo barong approaching their table with a big smile on his face. The man’s eyes were directed at Maya who looked astonished.
Richard and Ryan knew the guy. He is Atty. James Ventura from the law firm AKRA.
“Hi Maya. Fancy seeing you here. Long time no see.” James greeted Maya. He bent forward and kissed lightly on the cheek while extending his hand to her.
Maya took his hand and their hands remained clasped. “James! Oo nga, it’s been a long time.” She was all smiles obviously glad to see him.
Then, she realized they were being observed by the three people in the table so she stood up. She was about to introduce her colleagues, when James spoke again. “Hello mga panyero. Kumusta na?” He extended his free hand to Ryan and Richard.
“We’re good James.” Richard had a forced smile as they shook hands. It didn’t escape his attention that James had not released Maya’s hand.
“That’s nice to hear.” James turned to Sabel and introduced himself “Hi, I’m James Ventura. I’m a friend Maya.”
“Hi James, I’m Sabel. I’m also a friend of Maya.” Sabel couldn’t hide the giddiness she was feeling. James has the looks and bearing that can easily get girls swooning over him.
“Ahh, excuse lang mga panyero. I just need to speak to Maya in private.” James pulled Maya alongside him to go to an empty corner.
Richard looked on as James and Maya talked. He saw James take out his cell phone and it appeared that Maya was giving numbers to him. Then, James handed a card to her and gave her quick peck on the cheek before Maya rejoined them in the lunch table.
If a poker faced Richard was quiet, seemingly uninterested with what just transpired, Ryan and Sabel reactions were the opposite.
“Maya, mukhang kakilalang-kakilala mo si James?” Sabel probed.
“Medyo, pero matagal na kaming hindi nagkita. Siguro 4 years na.” Maya responded.
“An ganoon, so is he still available?” Sabel made a follow-up question unmindful of the two senior partners listening to her.
“Naku, Sabel, hindi ko alam.” Maya eyebrows furrowed but she was smiling.
Ryan interjected “Maya, seems like itong si Sabel ay interesado dyan kay James. Tingnan mo ang ngiti nyan. Naku, kukulit-kulitin ka n’yan tungkol kay James. So, maghanda ka.” Ryan warned her.
“Sir naman, bisto mo kaagad ako. Pero, may tama ka dyan.” Sabel coyly responded to her boss. Sabel and Ryan have a good working relationship so she was comfortable bantering with him.
Richard, getting irritated by the conversation, suddenly changed the topic to business. “Bro, yung case bang Atlantic is also represented by AKRA?”
“Yes, but don’t ask me about the details right now. It’s being handled by one of our junior associates. It’s simple and straightforward daw naman na kaso.” Ryan turned serious. When it comes to business discussions, Richard and Ryan can be intense and forget the people around them.
Listening to the two, Maya found out they, LOE, and AKRA are on opposing sides of two on-going court cases.
After lunch, Richard couldn’t concentrate on his work. He decided to walk around the office to while away the time while he spoke to some associates. A few minutes later, he ended up going to the pantry area to get his own coffee.
At the pantry, Maya was preparing two cups of coffee for the father and son, when Richard came in.
“Hi Ricky. Nag-gagawa ako ng coffee para sa inyo. Sandali lang ha.” Maya started putting the creamer and sugar to the cups.
“Thanks Maya. By the way, how did you know James Ventura? It seems like you’ve known each other for a long time.” He asked the question which has been in his mind since lunch.
“Ahh, Oo.” Maya gave him the coffee as he sat down on the table. “Pareho kaming taga San Nicolas. Actually, ang kaibigan n’ya is my sister Kute. Pero mga four years na kaming hindi nagkikita after he passed the bar exams naging busy na sya at ako din sa work.”
In Richard’s mind, “They are friends from long way back but seemed there was more to it.” So, Richard tested, “Ah ganoon ba? Ang sweet n’yong tingnan parang may history kayo.” It was meant to be a sarcastic comment.
“Ha,ha,ha. Not really.” She was smiling when she responded. She recalled the earlier years when James was courting her. They dated for a while but they didn’t reached level of boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. She couldn’t commit herself.
Richard interpreted her smile; “past relationship or still carrying a torch for him?” Richard’s question backfired on him. He felt a little pinch in his heart but quickly dismissed it.
Richard was about to say something when Maya’s phone rang so loudly.
She immediately took it out from her blouse’s pocket while saying apologetically “Sorry maingay, naka full volume.” She had to take the call. Otherwise, it would keep on ringing and she was concerned it was creating too much noise for Richard. Richard nodded indicating he didn’t mind her picking up the call.
“Hi, James.” It was James Ventura on the other end. The moment Richard heard the name, his mood changed. Again, that tiny pinch in his heart was there. His eyes turning to tiny slits.
“Ha? Eh… James, can I give call you later?… Oo, I have to check with my boss…. No… si Atty. Bobby. Alright… Bye.” Maya returned her phone on her pocket and when she looked at Richard, she saw his brows furrowed. It was a quick call and she wondered what caused the change in his facial expression.
“Maya, what’s that about my Dad?” The tone of his voice indicated he was annoyed with what he overheard.
Although Maya was unclear why his tone changed, she felt it was necessary to explain the context of their conversation to pre-empt any misunderstanding between the two of them again.
“Actually, nag-i-invite s’ya for dinner today. Ang sabi ko, I have to check with my boss kasi baka may ipapatapos pa ang Dad mo. Then akala n’ya, you are my boss so I told him it’s Atty. Bobby.”
After hearing her explanation, Richard annoyance heightened. He stared at her intently. In his thoughts, “Great, nakita mo lang kanina, makiki pagdinner ka na agad? Kaninang lunch din, parang may glue ang mga kamay n’yo. So, are you that easy?”
Maya sitting on the other side of the table had a confused looked in her face. She wondered why he seemed angry. Surely it wasn’t because of James. Why would he be upset because of him unless he is jealous. But why should he be jealous? Don’t assume, Maya, she told herself.
She felt self-conscious as Richard continued looking at her; he was quiet as there were many things going thru his mind. Unable to bear his stare anymore, Maya excused herself to go back to her workstation.
Leaving the pantry in an upset mode, Richard realized that Maya affects his moods and even on his concentration at work. He has ambivalent feelings towards her. He likes to be with her. He feels comfortable with her around in the office. However, seeing her talking to James Ventura also upsets him.
A week after
Emman & Maya were on the phone right after James brought her home from their dinner date. In the past week, James & Maya had three dinner dates which started on the day they accidentally met during lunch time.
“Girl, ang bilis ng reconnection nyo ni James ha. Baka iba na ‘yan.” Emman commented after Maya told him about her dinners with James.
“Hayy, Emman eto na nga. He’s asking if we can continue seeing each other as in dating each other. Tinanong n’ya ako kung pwedeng manligaw uli.” Maya gave a deep sighed as she related her predicament to her friend.
“Oh..oh. Parang ang bilis naman ng re-kindling of love na ‘yan. So, ano nag-agree ka?”
“Hmmm, I didn’t yes but I didn’t say no either. Hindi ko nga matandaan kung paano ko nasagot ang tanong kasi nagulat ako. Basta, parang ang nasabi ko, ay pwede.”
“Ah ganuun, so bakit problemado ka?” Emman asked when he noticed she sounded worried.
“Hindi naman. Kaya lang, actually… alam mo na… di ba ang crush ko talaga si Ricky. Paano na?”
“Maya, wag kang assumera dyan. Wala naman sinasabi sa’yo si Richard na liligawan ka n’ya. At saka crush ba yan o love mo na? Si James is different. Dati na yang naliligaw sa’yo binasted mo lang but now that he is reviving his intention, doesn’t that tell you something?”
“Hmm, tama ka rin d’yan Emman about James. Kasi itong si Ricky, parang chinese characters, hindi ko mabasa. Although there were times that I thought there were meanings to actions but lately, he is quiet. Hindi nga nagpaparamdam ng kakaiba.”
“Pwes, go ahead my dear. Feel free to entertain James!” Emman gave her his final advise.
Since his return from the U.S., Richard has been tied up with a lot of case reviews. Coupled with other court hearings that he needed to attend to, he spent most of his time outside the office during the day while his evenings were either spent on meetings or dinner with their clients. The BMc cases are taking a lot of his time.
While reading a paper, he immediately noticed when Maya entered his room. It’s been a week since he lengthy interaction with her. He’s been seeing her only from a distance so when he saw her nearby, he felt a little excitement.
“Hi Ricky. Here are the papers for your signature. Tapos na si Sir Bobby dyan. And, here is your coffee.” Maya placed everything on top of his table. She noticed the smile on his face that made her heart skipped a bit, again.
“How are you? It’s been sometime na nagkwentuhan tayo ah. Are you free tonight?” He asked casually.
“Okay lang po… about tonight, may ipapa OT ka ba sa akin?” Maya asked.
“Nope, it’s not work. If you’re not busy, baka gusto mong lumabas like dinner or drinks?” He gazed at her appreciating the lovely face that in front of him.
“Actually, I have another dinner appointment. Akala ko its OT work. If it is work, I can cancel my appointment. So… maybe some other time na lang?” Maya responded, hoping he would propose another day but he didn’t. In fairness to James, she couldn’t just cancel her date with him just because Richard asked her out on last minute.
Upon hearing Maya’s response, he was curious who she was going out with. He immediately assumed it is James. He wanted to ask her but couldn’t. He knew he doesn’t have the right to do so. His mind was so focused on her date that he missed out the hint that Maya gave.
“Alright. I just thought it might be good to catch-up with you.” Richard resumed reading the paper for his signature as Maya left the room.
Later that day, Richard asked Sabel if she was free to render OT because Liza and Maya were both unavailable. Knowing Sabel who talks a lot, so he got the confirmation of his assumption. Maya’s date that night is indeed James.
Back in his office, Richard was in pensive mode. Richard realized that his wait and observe attitude will not work to his advantage. While he may be ambivalent towards his real feelings for Maya but there is one thing for sure, he doesn’t want her going out with James Ventura. So, from then on, he will need to make his moves before it is too late.