This is a continuation to Love and Other Foolish Crap – Part 1.
A/N: Thank you so much for your wonderful comments and warm reception of the story. I hope you have not waited too long for this next installment.
Earlier that morning…
Maya stared at the rack full of clothes that were hanging in her closet. There were rows of pencil skirts, silk blouses, lace-trimmed tops, blazers, and suit jackets. And none of them were hers. She also noticed the array of pumps and slingback heels on the shelves. Those too, weren’t hers. What the…
Right on cue, her bedroom door opened and in came her mother, Teresita, looking very pleased with herself.
Maya plucked one of the skirts from the rack and waved it around. “Ma, ano ‘to?” she asked accusingly.
“Why it’s the wardrobe that goes with your new look honey,” her mom replied sweetly.
“Ma naman eh!” whined Maya, sounding more like an 8-year old instead of a successful career woman. “I don’t need new clothes!”
Teresita patted her back affectionately and said, “Of course you do. Those old outfits, hindi bagay sa ‘yo anak.”
“They were all perfectly fine! Besides na-bully mo na ako into a new hairstyle and contacts.” She was so frustrated she’s almost on the verge of tears.
“I’m doing this because I love you. It’s not bullying,” she said pretending to have her feelings hurt. “A lot of women will give anything to have a figure like yours. But what do you do? You choose clothes that are bland and too big for you.”
“Ma, I do not want to flaunt my body especially in the workplace,” Maya objected. “I’ve earned my place in the MRO world without having to use feminine wiles.”
“Honey, nobody said anything about flaunting. Wala ka bang tiwala sa ‘kin?” Teresita said, trying to placate her only daughter.
“Ewan ko. I really don’t like to wear skirts. And these look like it would restrict any movement,” she said referring to the pencil skirts. “Mukhang masyadong manipis naman ‘to,” she commented on one of the blouses. “And I’d much rather wear sensible shoes. Those look dangerous,” she pointed at the high-heeled shoes.
“Nonsense!” Teresita waved her off. “Comfort does not have to mean boring. Corporate women all over the world wear these every day.”
“Pwedeng ‘wag na lang Ma? Just give me back my stuff. I’ll even wear light makeup (Lip gloss is considered light makeup, right?) to make you happy,” Maya bargained.
“I’m glad you’re going to finally give makeup a try,” her mother said excitedly. “But there’s one tiny detail I forgot to tell you.”
“You’re old wardrobe, pinamigay ko na lahat.”
Oh dear! What is that look on his face? Surprise? Disgust? Horror?!
Richard muttered something barely audible.
“Eleven?” What in the heck is he talking about?
Her sharp tone seemed to have brought Richard back out from a daze. He regained his composure and looked like the suave and confident leader of LAS once again. Maya was wondering if she just imagined that brief flash of shock on his face earlier.
“Ah, nothing. I was just crunching some numbers in my head,” he explained.
Kaya hindi niya ‘ko nakikila because he was doing mental math? She decided to let it go.
“Well, I hope that number is my pay raise when we clinch this deal with Lufthansa.”
Richard laughed. It was a deep, rich bass. Very masculine. Whoa, when did she think of Richard in that context? Erase, erase.
“So, do you want to go over some details before the meeting?” she asked taking the seat in front of him.
“I didn’t know you wear skirts,” he commented, ignoring her question.
“I don’t.” She fiddled with her skirt as she felt the heat coming from her cheeks.
He raised an eyebrow.
“I already told you, my mom forced me into this. Bakit? What’s wrong with it?” she asked a little defensively.
“Wala naman. I was just thinking that you’ve already impressed our clients without having to show your legs,” he told her.
“What?!” Maya exclaimed as she abruptly got off on her feet.
Richard put his hands in front of him and rolled his chair back from the desk. He looked up at Maya whose hands were now on her waist as she was shooting daggers at him. “Okay that didn’t quite sound right. What I am saying it’s just bad timing. The Lufthansa team has already met you on several occasions. And then you suddenly have this transformation the day of the proposal presentation. It’s just a little distracting.”
“Are you listening to yourself right now? Do you know how ridiculous you sound?” she almost screamed at him. “This “transformation” just made me look like every other woman in this building. I would hardly call it distracting! You make it sound as if ngayon lang sila nakakita ng babaeng nakapalda at makeup.”
“You used to not care about such things!” he replied, unrelenting.
“And I still don’t. But you know that’s not the point.”
“Look, if napipilitan ka lang sa makeover pwede namang ibalik sa dati.” Richard was now up on his feet as well.
“You know what? Kung hindi lang ako nagmamadali kanina, ginawa ko na ‘yan. In fact I was planning to do something about it before the presentation.”
Richard secretly let out a sigh of relief.
“But since you’re suddenly being so irrational. I’ve decided that I’ll gladly put up with this makeover,” she said with a fake saccharine smile. “Anyway, I’m going back to my office. Wala na ‘ko sa mood makipag-meeting.”
She turned away and left him to stare at her retreating back. A very sexy back.
The meeting with Lufthansa started without a hitch. No one seemed surprised to see Maya looking like she did. If they were, it didn’t show. But Richard could see the men eyeing her with more interest this time and he knew it had nothing to do with business.
When it came time for Maya to give her presentation, everyone was enthralled. Richard had seen Maya give her talks and pitches so many times before. She can hold everyone’s attention and keep them engaged. She is a very consummate speaker especially when she starts talking about the business at LAS. And now there’s yet another reason that drew her audience to her. Who knew there was one gorgeous woman hiding beneath those severe suits and boxy pants? Definitely not him. And somehow he felt betrayed. Which was ridiculous, as Maya had pointed out.
Richard was seated at the other end of the long conference table where he was free to observe Maya without looking like a dog drooling over a juicy piece of meat. She was wearing a one-button jacket over a white silk Henley tucked in a basic pencil skirt. It was meant to be simple and demure. The top two buttons of her shirt were left open, exposing parts of her décolletage. It was innocent enough but the sight excited him. And that skirt was just hugging every curve of her small waist, shapely hips, and pert backside. Instead of her usual practical dress shoes she was wearing high-heeled pumps that showed off the luscious length of her world-class legs. His eyes skittered to her face which was now unobstructed from her spectacles. She wasn’t wearing much makeup. Maybe a little lipstick. The little hint of color emphasized her sexy lips. He was used to her hair pulled back in a ponytail or a bun not tumbling down her shoulder and back begging him to run his hands through it. A certain part of his anatomy leapt in attention. He cursed under his breath and instinctively struck the table in disgust. Everyone turned to him in surprise.
“Sorry. Will you excuse me for a minute?” he addressed the group. And then he turned to Maya who looked a little bit annoyed with the interruption and nodded, “Please carry on”.
This is unacceptable! Richard was staring at his reflection in the bathroom mirror after he had left the conference room.
He’s a man who knew how to work hard and play hard. But he never mixed the two. Never. At LAS it was all business, all the time. And it’s not about to change. Nothing will distract him from his work, not even Maya. His body immediately stirred to life at the thought of her.
He smacked the bathroom wall. Damn it! She didn’t need the makeover. Why can’t she just stay the way she was? Pure business, absolutely professional, and most of all, inconspicuous. Definitely not a distraction.
“It must be this stupid holiday. Nahawa na siguro ako sa lahat ng kalokohang ito,” he said out loud and cringed at the thought.
She’s not even my type. He’s been with countless of women who are far more beautiful and sexier – supermodels, actresses, beauty queens, etc. This reaction to her was just plainly preposterous. Maybe he’s been too long without a woman. And there’s a number of women who will gladly jump at the opportunity to be his next bedmate. Yes, this was just a temporary aberration in his brain, one that he would remedy as soon as possible.
Richard straightened his suit and looked at himself one more time on the mirror. There was a smug smile on this face. He was ready to put everything back in order.
The meeting was done by the time that he got back to the conference room. A few people had already left while some lingered to make small talk. He chatted briefly with a few people from Lufthansa before he excused himself to look for Maya.
He saw her in one corner talking to Michael Zimmerman, Lufthansa’s Deputy CFO. Richard knew the guy and he thought he was likable enough. Then he saw Michael’s hand linger on Maya’s elbow while being overly attentive to her. Richard had this sudden urge to knock him to the ground.