This is a continuation to Truth and Lies – part 20.
Maya was looking out the window of the car appreciating Shanghai’s tall building while traversing the smooth road condition on the way to Richard’s office. Minutes earlier, his driver promptly arrived at the condo building to fetch her. Richard wanted her to see his office location before they return to Manila. It is in the technology district of Shanghai and it was expected it would take her 45 minutes to get there.
Maya carefully chose her dress for that visit with the intent to impress him as well as his office employees. She wanted him to be proud of her. She chuckled to herself recalling the scene in his bedroom several hours earlier.
They were making out when suddenly his phone rang loudly. He was very upset and it was the first time she heard him curse. She noticed that he spoke fast on the phone, impatience was evident in his tone. As she watched him, he looked like an upset tiger walking back and forth. She realized the name of his company is very descriptive of him, “tiger” He was in tiger mode at that time.
She was stifling a giggle when he returned to her side after his call, “So, where were we babe?” He embraced her while laying her back on the bed.
But she got on her feet. “We were about to get up and have breakfast, Tiger Lim.” She blurted as she let out a snigger.
Richard gave her a quizzical look. “What?”
“Sabi ko, tiger. Para kang tiger kanina. Sino ba ang kausap mo? At galit ka? Hindi ko naman naiinitindan ang usapan n’yo, kasi Chinese.” She asked at the same time pulling him up to stand so he could get ready for work.
“Do you really want to know?” He checked with her while trying to unbutton her top again.
“Kaya nga ako nagtatanong eh. I’m interested.” She responded as she gently removed his fingers from her top. She just held his hand, their fingers intertwined.
“Okay, my uncle, Lin’s father called up and told me that another company is wooing our European partners for the exclusive dealership of one our lines in Manila. I was on the phone those partners last night but none of them mentioned to me about that. We are about to renew our exclusive dealership without me knowing they were also entertaining another company.” He face contorted in frustration.
“Ah ganoon? So, why don’t you meet with your partners and clear this out with them. I’m sure if you discuss, you can fix the issue.” She suggested.
“Babe, the truth is, I was supposed to be in Germany this week for that meeting but since it is mom’s birthday and also because I wanted you to meet my relatives on this occasion, I deferred that trip. I chose to be with you and mom.” He revealed.
“Ay, ang sweet mo naman. Thank you. But you also have to consider your business. So, okay lang if you have to travel.” She reassured him. “Kaya, Mr. Lim, you better get ready for work.” She gently tugged him again.
“Alright, I’ll get ready for work. Nasira na ang mood natin, eh.” He flashed her naughty smile.
On his way to the bathroom, he said something else. “Maya, I think it would be good if you see the office too. I have several meetings during the day but I’ll get a driver to fetch you later. From the office, we can go out for sightseeing and dinner later.”
She excitedly agreed.
Maya marveled at the 6 level hi-tech RTL building that was named after him. There were actually 2 buildings of the same size but he claimed that he doesn’t own them but they were his father’s. He joked that he would claim compensation from his Dad later on for using his name in those properties.
When she went to the 6th floor where he holds his office, his secretary who spoke good English met her. She was promptly told that Richard was still in a meeting but it should be over soon. She was ushered to the visitor’s lounge to wait.
After few seconds of waiting, Halleck, Richard’s cousin saw her. He immediately approached her.
“Nǐ hǎo (hello), Maya” Halleck greeted him.
Maya smiled and responded. “I am fine.” Then, shyly added, “ Wǒ bù shuō pǔtōnghuà ( I don’t speak Chinese).
Halleck let out a chuckle. “Yes, I know. But you were good with your little Chinese. You got the pronunciation right. So, are you here to fetch your àiren (lover).”
She thought she understood what he meant so she nodded. “Dui, But he is still in a meeting. I am waiting for him here.”
Halleck sat with her at the lounge and kept her company. Among his cousins, he is the most fluent in English. He is also the most handsome. He was quite friendly to her and so she felt comfortable with him. Since he is used to entertaining their foreign business partners, he knew a lot of jokes that kept her laughing.
Several minutes had passed before Richard’s office opened. Maya saw him come out and followed by two other people. She immediately recognized Li Yan but the other more senior man was a stranger to her. They just said goodbyes and Richard went back to his room. But soon after he closed the door, Richard came out again with a folder in his hand.
He called out Li Yan. “Yannie, Nǐ líkāile zhège.” He spoke in Chinese and handed her the folder.
Li Yan, who was by the door, turned around to face him and smiled brightly at Richard. She took the folder from him and then hugged and kissed him on the cheek. Maya who saw everything thought Li Yan’s hug took longer than a normal goodbye and thank you. Richard didn’t seem to mind which caused Maya’s eyes and lips to thin. She didn’t want to misinterpret them but there was a gnawing feeling in her stomach that tells her she didn’t like what she witnessed.
Since the lounge was a few feet away from his office, Richard didn’t see Maya.
Halleck caught Maya’s expression and seemed to have read what was going through her brain. He allayed her upset. “Do not worry, Li Cha likes you very much.” He said close to her ear. At that point, it was Richard who saw the Maya and Halleck.
Maya looked at Halleck with a raise eyebrow. He was quick and said. “You don’t believe me, then, let me show you.”
Halleck placed an arm on Maya’s shoulder as he guided her towards Richard. Richard eyes were looking at them intently.
“Li Cha, I accompanied Maya while she waited for you. She’s fun.” Halleck winked at Maya while he had a smug look on his face.
“Halleck, you are supposed to be attending the supply chain meeting.” Richard started and quickly switched to Mandarin. He was very serious in his tone as if he was giving instructions to his cousin.
After the short conversation of the two, Halleck had a smug look on his face as he turned to Maya. “Maya, I’ll see you around.”
Halleck was supposed to touch Maya’s arm but Richard simply intercepted him. He obstructed his cousin’s move. “Babe, let’s go to my room.” Richard placed his arm on her waist and steered her forward.
“Bai-bai, Halleck.” Maya managed to wave to Halleck before they entered Richard’s room.
“Babe, kanina ka pa ba?” Richard asked as soon as the door closed. He walked to his table. He pulled a chair for her to sit on beside him.
“Yes, mga 20 minutes na.” She responded observing him. At the back of her mind, she had a hunch what Halleck wanted to prove to her.
“Why didn’t you just come in to my room. Ahh! Maybe I should have given that instruction to my secretary. Then, you wouldn’t have to wait outside.” He said while starting to clean up his desk.
“It was okay, Ricky. Halleck kept me company.” The moment she mentioned the name of Halleck, his expression became somber.
“Maya, mukhang magkasundo kayo ng pinsan ko, ah?” His brows already raised and his eyes questioning her.
“Ha? Oo naman. Nakakatuwa kaya siya.” She innocently responded. Maya caught him make a face which was unusual for him. She wondered if he was jealous of his cousin.
So, she tested her theory. “Actually, masaya siya kausap, maganda ang aura. Probably because he is good looking at hindi boring.” She was again his facial expression turned sour, his eyes thinned. He shove off all his papers in his computer bag suddenly in a hurry to clear everything on his table.
“Let’s go, Babe, baka ma traffic tayo So, what you like for dinner tonight, local food or ibang cuisine naman.” He changed the subject matter. Maya secretly smiled. In her thoughts, “hmm,mukhang ang topak nito ay pag nagseselos.” She didn’t pursue her thoughts anymore, thinking there would be another time for that.
“Something different Ricky. I’m not complaining pero malapit na talaga akong maging singkit sa kakain natin ng local food.” She teased him as she stood beside him. She took a tissue from the nearby table and wiped his right cheek with it. She had wanted to do it earlier if only Richard didn’t start with Halleck issue.
“May lipstick ka, courtesy of your old friend.” She eyed him carefully. It was her turn to ask questions. He has not told her everything about Li Yan and wondered when he would come out clean. Technically, he is not lying but he was telling all either.
He just shrugged off her comment. “She was with her father to discuss about the new factory in Luohe. Since Dad wasn’t around, I had to talk to them.”
Maya couldn’t contain her curiousity anymore. Although afraid of the pain she might get from his response, she couldn’t’ help but ask the question that has been in her mind two days already, “So, Ricky, you said she is an old friend. What your definition of old friend?”
Richard looked into her eyes as if reading her. He suspected that Maya knew something about the past.
“Maya, Li Yan is a long time friend. She is a sister of one of my college buddies. It also happens that her father and my dad have a business together in our home province.” He paused.
“Hmm… meron pa Richard, pwede sabihin mo na at baka sa iba ko pa malaman.” She encouraged with a hint of threat. She was slightly getting upset for some reason when logic tells she shouldn’t.
He took a deep breath before he continued. “She was my girlfriend for three years but that was 3 years ago, okay? Matagal na ‘yon but we remained as good friends. It’s over between us, matagal na.” Maya processed what Richard was saying. The way he emphasized that it was a long time ago was convincing but his number were wrong. He said 3 years ago while his mother said a year ago.
With brows furrowed in confusion, she had another question. “Are you sure 3 years ago or 1 year ago? Sa pagka-alam ko Richard, last year lang kayo nag-break.”
Richard reaction showed he was surprised that she knew about that detail. “Babe, who told you that we only broke up last year?”
“Ah basta, it doesn’t matter. So, ano talaga?” She repeated her question. She glared at him.
“It was three years ago. But, we didn’t tell our parents until a year ago. I stayed in Manila for two years and didn’t come home until last year. We broke up when they dangled the idea that we should get married, an arranged marriage. I realized I couldn’t go thru that.” He clarified.
“So, what about now? Can you go thru that. Di ba, naka plano pa rin ang kasal n’yo?” Her questioning tone earlier was replaced with sadness, as if she was worried about their situation.
“The hell, No!” It was Richard’s immediate reaction. Richard wrapped his arms around her and said. “I was right with my decision 3 years ago. Why would I agree to that when I already have you.” His voice became soft, tender that made her heart melt. A smile slowly emerged from her lips while he gazed her lovingly.
She felt him cup her face and slowly his face descended on her. He was going to kiss her and so when his lips touched hers, she automatically received him. She wrapped her arms around him so their bodies pressed closer together. They kissed more passionately.
“I love you, Babe.” He uttered when paused to catch their breath.
“I love you…” Maya wasn’t able to finish her sentence when the door suddenly opened and his father entered the room. Robert Lim saw the two of them still in each other’s arms.
Richard was upset with the arrival of his father. “Dad, why didn’t you knock?”
“Oh, my apologies son, I didn’t realize you have a visitor.” Robert Lim walked into the room and sat on the visitor’s chair without even acknowledging Maya. He then spoke lengthily in Chinese. He had a poker face while Richard’s expression showed he didn’t like what he was hearing.
“Bù kě yǐ (No, I cannot)” He responded in a loud voice that startled Maya was still beside him.
“Ricky…” She touched his arm to calm him down.
“Dad, we’ve discussed this before and I am telling this to you right now while Maya is in front of us. The only reason why I brought her here is for her to meet you and Mom as a courtesy because you are my parents. I have no intentions of marrying someone because it has been arranged by family as a tradition. You can’t make me. So, the sooner you accept it, the better for the rest of the family. I can’t…” He was cut off by Maya.
“Ricky, stop. Pwede mahinahon mo naman kausapin ang dad mo? Please?” She was teary eyed with worry. She felt bad to be the cause of the father and son’s disagreement.
Richard seemed to have been pacified by her words. He turned to her. “Okay, babe.” He kissed her forehead, before finally saying to his father. “Dad, I’m sorry to disappoint and ruin your plans. As I said, I have no intention of giving up Maya to agree to plan that wasn’t mine in the first place.”
Robert Lim remained on his seat with anger in his eyes but he didn’t say anything anymore. He just watched Richard hold Maya’s hand as the two left him. He then remembered a similar scene 40 years ago in Luohe.