This is a continuation to The Rightful Owner – part 5
Richard was having breakfast at his mother’s residence when James arrived. Both of them were no longer living with Dona Esmeralda but they take turns visiting her whenever possible. The current set-up had allowed them both to have privacy of their personal life although their mother has knack of finding out their secrets anyway.
“Kuya, ang bilis mo talaga.” James joined Richard on the table and started filling up the plate that was set-up for him. James looked a bit upset.
“Anong ang bilis? What did I do?” Richard gulped down the last of his coffee.
“You had a dinner date with Maya the other day. Pls. don’t deny it. I saw it written in Liza’s calendar. Don’t tell me you are competing with me, brother.” James eyed him carefully; watching for any signs that would confirm his suspicision.
“James, I’m not in for any competition with you. I met her because I wanted to get to know her being the new face of TA. Although you selected her, I also need to know the people who will represent us.” He replied dryly. He was partly lying. He also wanted to find out what she thought about their Bali encounter.
“Sige, I accept that but I think there’s another reason. Are you trying to stop me from courting her? And why do I have a feeling that you are interested in her as well?” James tested whether he would take the bait.
“She is beautiful, I agree. I’m not trying to stop you. But to become a member of our family, I’m not quite sure about that. And also, she might not be interested in you, brother.” He countered but kept his emotions hidden.
The last statement of Richard gave away a hint to James that he quickly caught on. He knew the poker face meant he was hiding something from him. “How can you say that unless…you…what did you do with her?” James eyes thinned. Richard is a silent worker compared to him so James was suspicious.
Richard felt James’ temper slowly rising. He knew him so well that he could interpret every expression James has.
“Alright, I had dinner with her. I kissed her when we were in Bali. Take note, before you told me you like her.” Richard finally admitted. Although he is not the kiss and tell type, but this case was an exception. He didn’t want to keep it a secret as he knew that eventually it will come out. He better come out early and clean. They’ve fought over a woman five years ago and it took them a year before they patched up.
“I knew it!! You’re trying to get even with me.” James slammed the table that caused a loud sound in their dining area.
“Ricky! James! anung pinagtatalunan n’yo? Don’t tell me it’s about a girl, again.” Dona Esmeralda appeared in the dining room when she heard the voices of her sons from the hallway going to the living room.
“Wala, Ma. May inemphasize lang si James.” Richard didn’t want to cause their mother worry.
With the arrival of their mother, both men discontinued their conversation. The topic of their discussion was too personal for the two of them. They resumed eating their breakfast while Dona Esmeralda watched on. Eventually, she left them alone.
“Kuya, you can’t stop me from pursuing her. Whatever you’ve done, it doesn’t matter to me.” James gave him a serious look.
“Go ahead then, if you are really interested in her. I have no secrets hidden from you, James. Just make sure she is the right one for you. I don’t want you to get hurt like the last time.” Richard concern on his brother was genuine. Other than making sure that the TA future is secure, the welfare of his brother was more important to him. With James’s expression that morning, Richard realized that his brother was really serious in courting Maya.
Richard stood up and patted the shoulder of his brother. “I’ll see you in the office later. We have a meeting on the 5 year plan.” He went to the garden area and found Dona Esmeralda tending her orchid plants.
An hour before the meeting, Richard was in his office reviewing several documents. The T.A. management team will be meeting soon and he wanted to make sure he understood the data of TA before coming into that meeting. Then, James entered his room.
“James, when will you learn how to knock?” Richard reminded his brother.
“Sorry, nakasanayan lang bro.” James apologized. As he sat on the chair in front of Richard’s table, he stated. “Kuya, I meant every word I said about Maya.”
Richard raised his head from the material he was reading. “James, I said go ahead. I’ll stay out of your way. If I have to speak to her, it will be purely business.” Richard assured his brother.
“Eh kasi Kuya, I thought you were trying to get even with me. Alam mo na.” James was tentative.
Richard met James’s eyes directly. “I’m not trying to get even with you. If you are referring to Alex, she is history, bro. Tapos na ‘yung episode natin doon. We are wasting time discussing this issue over and over again.”
On his way to the office after breakfast with James, Richard thought about Maya. While he finds her interesting and attractive, her words that she only considers him as part of work stuck in his mind. And maybe, she really meant that Bali was a moment of insanity. All those factored in, Richard construed that she wasn’t interested in him and with James in the scenario too, he thought it was better to give way to his brother.
“Thank you Kuya.” James smiled at his elder brother. Then he tried to lighten the mood, “So, ano naghahanda ka na bang i-turn over sa akin ang Time Airways?”
“Ha,ha,ha, in your dreams bro. Also, don’t be presumptuous declaring you own half of this company. You might have forgotten the complete stipulation in your father’s will. Paano kung maunahan kitang mag-asawa?” Richard challenged James.
James shook his head. “No, I haven’t forgotten. We both love Papa pero may pagka weird kasi ng humor ng tatay natin. Who would be in his right mind tie up a company’s ownership to the marriage of his sons?” He still couldn’t believe the last will of his father linked 30% shares of Time Airways to his or Richard’s marriage.
James’s father, Eduardo Ventura, died 5 years ago and left the management of T.A. to Richard while James was out of the country at that time. During that period, Richard and James were not in speaking terms. With the last will and testament left by Don Eduardo, Richard had no choice but to take over T.A. leaving his own business, Lim Aviations to the care of his right hand man, Ryan.
“Alam mo bro, nuong una I also questioned that. But then, I realized he did it to ensure that T.A. ownership stays within the family. Each of us has 10% share, kung sino man mauna sa atin mag-asawa will get 30%, that will give that son 40% ownership and with Mama’s 10%, we will retain 60% controlling shares over other shareholders. That makes T.A. safe from take overs.” Richard explained to his brother.
“But why tie it to a marriage. Pwede naman ibigay na lang outright to you or me yung shares or hatiin.” James further questioned.
“Yan ang hindi ko masasagot. But, I’ve always believed that the 30% is not really intended for me, James. I am just watching over the company until you are ready. I am not a true Ventura, although it was Papa who brought me up. You know I have my own business and the sooner you are ready to manage T.A., the better for both of us. Pero, kung hindi ka magtitino ay baka mag decide akong i-keep ang 30%. I hope you understand that it will be difficult for me to let go of a business that I help Papa build.” Richard uttered a more lengthy explanation to James hoping he would see the big picture.
During the planning meeting, James decided to send a message to Maya to keep himself awake from the boredom of the discussion.
“Hi Maya, did you get the flowers that I sent today?”
A few minutes later James got a response. “Yes, I got the red roses. Thank you.”
He followed up with another message. “Are you free Saturday for dinner?”
There was an immediate response. “Sorry, I already have a date.”
“Date? Anyway, when I can get a date with you?” James realized that there might be competition in the offing.
“I have a busy schedule. Will check with my assistant. Have a good day.” It meant the end of their exchange of messages.
A few seconds later, Richard’s phone vibrated signaling an incoming message. He took it out of his pocket and checked.
It was from Maya. “Hi, good morning. Are we still on this Saturday?”
Richard stared at the message for several minutes thinking how he would answer it. He almost forgot about the dinner with her. He looked around the table and found everyone attentive except for his sleepy brother on the other side.
“Yes. You were supposed to let me know the venue.” He decided to keep the invitation. After all, he initiated it. He pocketed his phone but it vibrated again. He took it out and read the message.
“I assume you are coming from Pasay, how about we meet somewhere in Pasig?”
“Yes, that will be fine.” Richard’s short reply.
“Are you okay with Filipino food?” came another message.
“Yes, pls. send the address and time.” He asked so he could plan ahead of time.
“It’s at Café Juanita sa Kapitolyo. 7:00 p.m. Do you know the place?”
“No, but I can find it.” Richard was getting distracted from the meeting so he failed to understand a question that was asked of him by their operations director. In the end, he asked for a repeat of the question. It was only then he was able to respond. When he checked again on his phone, there was another message from Maya.
“You don’t know the place. So, how about we go there together. Can you fetch me somewhere in Greenhills that night?”
“Yes. Can I call you later? I’m in a meeting.” He texted back. He watched his phone for an incoming reply from her but there was none. He didn’t realize he was staring at it until he heard James’s voice.
“Richard, are you with us?”
“Ha?” He was startled. “What? Of course I am here.” He replied defensively.
“Ok, thank you. So, could you answer the question of Ms. Torres about the manpower plans for the next five years.” James started facilitating the meeting.
“What about it?” Richard realized that he missed the discussion and the question.
“Richard, the question was, what are your thoughts with regards to the timing of beefing up the people resources?” James wondered what caused his brother’s inattentiveness. It was so unlike him.
After a momentary silence from the Richard, he responded to the question satisfactorily. Then, he called for a 15 minutes bio break. Richard immediately went back to his room and called up Maya.
“Hi good morning.” Richard said as soon as Maya said hello.
“You said you were in a meeting.” Maya sounded happy from the tone of her voice.
“About Saturday, I can pick you up. Just tell me the time and place.” Richard took a pen as he wrote down the address and time given by Maya.
“Alright, I’ll see you on Saturday.” Richard’s short goodbye. After putting down the phone, he concluded to himself. “She’s a distraction, a tempting one.”
The T.A. management team meeting went on for another hour. After the meeting, Richard caught James almost running to catch the elevator.
“James, where are you going?”
“ABN, I’m going to surprise someone with a visit.” James decided that if Maya wasn’t available on Saturday, he will just give her a surprise visit that day. He got in touch with Emman during their break ealier and discovered that Maya was just in her home studio so he saw an opportunity there.
“Don’t you have work to do here?” Richard wondered why his brother doesn’t seem to get serious with work. Women can wait; Maya can wait. Somehow, he is upset.
“Bryan will keep me updated. I’ll be back tomorrow, don’t worry. Everything is under control in marketing.” James waved goodbye to his brother as the lift opened.
After Richard’s call, Maya was smiling. She had been thinking about Richard for the past few days. The more she told herself that she shouldn’t have a crush on him, the more she thought about him.
“Mayabels, bakit ang tamis ng smile mo d’yan?” Emman asked as soon as he saw Maya.
“Wala. May nakausap lang ako sa phone.” She didn’t want to tell Emman yet since he would start teasing her again.
“Huuu, wala. Obvious kaya. Parang kilala ko ang kausap mo. Si, Mr. Lim ano?” He guessed it right because Maya’s eyes sparkled with the mention of Mr. Lim.
“Naku… in-love na ang reyna ng mahahabang buhok. After so many light years, parang may nakahuli sa mailap mong puso.” He tickled her sides.
“Emman, ikaw ha. Tumigil ka d’yan. Parati na lang ako nakikita mo. It’s about work yung dealings ko kay Mr. Lim.”
Emman gave Maya a piercing look. “Girl, magpakatoto ka nga sa sarili mo. It’s more than business. Kahit anung sabihin mo sa akin, I will not believe you, kasi I’m seeing the spark dyan sa mata mo everytime ma mention ang pangalan ni Mr. Lim.”
“Emman, tantanan mo na ako. At saka ‘wag kang ganyan during the formal signing ng contract with T.A. ha? Baka ma-conscious ako.” Other than a dinner with him, Maya expected that her next meeting with him will the formal signing of her contract as the face of T.A.