This is a continuation to Truth and Lies – part 18.
Maya woke up the following day hearing muffled voices outside her bedroom. Assuming that Lin may have arrived and wanting to present herself properly, she quickly went to the bathroom to shower and got ready to meet her. They were expecting his first cousin, Lin, to arrive that Monday from Hongkong. Lin would be her companion on days when Richard is in the office for work.
Minutes later when Maya came out, no one was in the living room. She was about to go the kitchen when suddenly she heard loud voices coming from Richard’s room. Worried that something was happening there, she rushed towards his bedroom only to pause when she saw thru the slightly opened door, the father and son facing each other.
Richard’s hands were akimbo while his father’s hands were waving in the air as if emphasizing something. She couldn’t understand a word they were saying because they were speaking in Mandarin. At that moment, Maya made a resolution to study the language if only to survive being with his family.
It was quite obvious that they were having a heated argument. It was 7:30 in the morning and both were already in their business suits. So, his father must have arrived very early. Then, Richard spoke in English.
“Dad, I am not based here anymore. I have my own life now.” He emphasized. Robert Lim responded in Chinese.
“I said No! You can’t make me and if you really care for me as your son, you will respect my decision. I am no different from you Dad.” He retained the language he was using.
Sensing that Richard was going to leave his room, Maya quickly went to the kitchen to prepare coffee for them. She would pretend she didn’t hear anything although her hands were trembling with the thought that she was the cause of their altercation.
She came out of the dining area just in time when Richard was in the living room.
“Ricky, good morning.” She greeted him while carrying a tray of coffee with two mugs. She secretly looked around to find where his father was.
He smiled at her but the creases in his forehead were still evident. “Babe, I’ll be going to the office now. Can you just wait for Lin here? Don’t go out without her. It’s better go around Shanghai with someone who speaks the language.” He reminded her as he approached her and kissed her on the cheek.
“Hmm, what about your breakfast? Have your coffee first while I prepare something for you.” She offered.
Richard smiled genuinely. “Thanks, babe. I’ll skip breakfast. But, I won’t say no to your coffee.” He quickly drank his cup of coffee. “Hmm, just as I like it,” his comment before finishing his coffee.
Minutes later, Maya was left in the condo unit wondering what happened earlier. Richard didn’t mention that his father was there earlier. She didn’t also mention that she saw them talking as he was in a hurry to leave. She will find a way to speak to him later about it.
She was about to go back to the kitchen to return the used mugs when she heard bell of the main door. When she checked who it was, she saw his father standing outside the door.
Maya nervously opened it. “Zǎo shàng hǎo.” She greeted Richard’s father good morning in a formal way. It was one of those greetings that Richard taught her.
“Good morning, Maya.” Robert Lim responded in his distinct Chinese accent. He entered the unit. Maya closed the door and followed the senior Lim.
“Sir, Richard just left for the office. Is there anything I can get you?” She offered the information although she had a hunch that she was the real purpose of his father’s return.
“Coffee will do. It’s quite cold outside.” Robert Lim seemed to have lightened up a bit as he took off his coat and left in one the chairs in the living room.
“I’ll prepare coffee for you sir. Please wait for a moment.” Maya dashed to the kitchen. Additionally, she readied tea as well in case he wanted some tea too.
When Maya came back, the elder Lim was on the phone. She let them finish the conversation while she poured coffee on the cup. Once Robert Lim ended the call she asked. “Sir, do you want sugar and cream with it? I also have tea here if you like.” She smiled tentatively.
“Just a bit of sugar, thank you.” He continued eyeing her until she handed him the cup.
“So, how long have you known my son?” He asked. He then took a sip of his coffee.
“Around, 4 months Sir.” She responded shyly.
“4 Gè yuè, such a short period.” His initial reaction. “I understand from my wife that you didn’t know that my son is a taipan, that you actually thought that he is an ordinary worker.” There was a glint of smile in his eyes as he spoke.
Maya couldn’t help but blush. “Unfortunately, yes, sir. I saw him in TM service area with tools and dirty coverall and immediately assumed he was one of the workers there. He led me to believe that he was an ordinary man but he eventually told me who he was.”
Robert Lim chuckled. “It’s not surprising that my son got smitten by you. You are beautiful just like my wife. He’s very much like me, when we want something we pursue it until the end.”
“Thank you sir.” It was the only response she could think of. However, at the back of her mind, she was knew that there was something more to their conversation than giving her compliments. She anticipated what was to come next.
“Maya, I would like to get straight to the point. I have nothing against you personally since you seem to be a very nice girl. But I want you to know that we have plans for Li Cha.” Robert Lim started.
“Sir? What do you mean?” She asked, braising herself for the bad news.
“My son asked for a period to be on his own before he gets married. We had an agreement that he would marry his Chinese girlfriend. The girl has been accepted in our family. Has he told you about it?” The senior Lim was looking at her intently so he caught the surprise on her face. “So, it seems you don’t know Maya.”
“As far as I know, sir, he doesn’t have a girlfriend when he courted me. He repeatedly told me about that.” She tried to convince his father.
“I believe you, Maya. Li Cha and Li Yan have been together for many years and I don’t exactly understand what keeps them together. But, our families have an agreement. I hope that my son will keep his word.” Robert Lim finally shared his thoughts.
Maya couldn’t respond to what she just heard. She had never asked Richard about his past nor has he shared it. They’ve been together only a month and they just cleared the issue of his identity. She felt confused especially after she has been introduced as future wife when in fact the rest of his family knew about his girlfriend Li Yan. She was embarrassed that his cousins were nice to her when in fact she could be considered as a 3rd party to another relationship. However, she had felt the sincerity of Richard to her. She couldn’t be mistaken that he loves her very much.
“Sir, I don’t know what to say…I’m confused. But, I love your son.” She responded; tears were welling up in her eyes.
“I understand Maya. Whatever happens, please just understand my son.” Robert Lim gathered his jacket and stood up. “I’m leaving now. I believe Lin will be arriving soon.”
When the main door closed indicating that Richard’s father had left, tears streamed down Maya’s face.
Lin and Maya were having an afternoon tea at Xin Tian Di when Esmeralda Lim arrived in the tea house. Maya was even surprised to have Richard’s mother join them after she had learned about Li Yan and Richard. It felt awkward seeing her again.
“Sorry, Maya, I called up Auntie Esme because I don’t know how else to explain to you about what Uncle told you. “ Lin explained. She and Maya got along well since Richard had introduced the two.
“Maya, hija. Lin told me that you were crying earlier. So, it seems my husband is meddling in our son’s affairs again.” Esmeralda touched Maya’s arm to make her feel that she understands how Maya felt.
“Tita, hindi ko pa po naka-usap si Richard. May sinabi po kasi ang husband n’yo na hindi pa namin napag-usapan ni Richard. So, medyo naguguluhan ako.” She responded to his mother.
“I understand, Maya. This must be Li Yan, right?” Esmeralda clarified.
“Opo.” Maya admitted. Then, she heard Lin also took a deep breath and rolled her eyes.
“If it’s any consolation to you, hija. The two broke up almost a year ago. I’m sure about it. I think it’s marriage agreement that’s worrying my husband. In our culture, saving face is very important. Li Yan father is one of our business partners.” Esmeralda explained further. “I suggest that you discuss this matter with Richard. This is something important, hija.”
Despite the looming problem, Richard’s mother was very kind to her. Maya didn’t feel that she didn’t like her, she was very careful with her words, just like any other mother wanting to protect her child.
The rest of the afternoon was spent shopping with Lin at Xin Tian Di. Although Maya had no interest in buying, it was Lin who did most of the shopping. During that time, she momentarily forgot her concern. She trusts Richard and would believe what he would tell her.
Maya was alone going up to Richard’s condo unit since Lin went to the beauty salon just located at the ground floor of the same building. It was 6:30 p.m. and she was assuming that Richard would arrive anytime soon from the office.
True enough, when Maya opened the door, he was already there waiting for her.
“Babe, where were you? Si Lin?” He approached her and kissed her on the lips.
She kissed him back. “Nag Xin Tian Di kami. Lin is at the beauty salon at the ground floor. She asked me to go ahead, baka naghihintay ka na kasi eh.” She explained. She tried to keep her emotion in check. She would talk to him later after dinner.
“So, let’s go out for dinner?” He asked.
“Hmm, let’s just order. Baka matagalan si Lin sa baba, then, we can all have dinner together here.” She suggested. Richard ended up calling a restaurant that would deliver their food. They expected the food would arrive within 45 minutes.
Maya was observing Richard all the time since she arrived that evening. Gone was his bad mood in the morning. He seemed happy and unaware of his father visit to her. She was tempted to bring up the conversation with his father when their main door rang again.
Thinking that it was the food delivery, Richard volunteered to get the food.
When the door opened, it wasn’t who they expected.
“Li Cha!! Huānyíng huí jiā” (Richard, welcome home). The new entrant threw her arms around Richard and kissed him on both cheeks.
Richard was too shocked to comment and stood there motionless. A second later, he managed to say “Li Yan, why are you here?”
Maya who saw the greeting stood frozen; the shock numbed her senses.