“Welcome to Reyes, Reyes, Molina, and Associates, Atty. Dela Rosa!” Atty. Rafael Reyes, one of the founding partners of RRMA warmly shook Maya’s hand as he personally welcomed her as the newest lawyer of the firm. “We are so looking forward to having this year’s bar topnotcher as our newest associate.”
“Thank you very much, Sir. I’m looking forward to working for you.” Maya replied warmly, not expecting that she would be personally welcome to the firm by the esteemed Atty. Rafael Reyes. It was not Atty. Reyes who interviewed her for the job, but rather his cousin and the other Reyes in RRMA, Atty. Reynaldo Reyes.
Of all the big firms that tried to recruit her after topping the bar, she chose RRMA because of its very good reputation in the legal circles and because while the firm handles diverse accounts, it specializes on corporate laws, her main interest.
“Lindsay will take you to your office.” Atty. Reyes said, introducing Maya to a lady in her 30s. “Please join me and one of the partners in the meeting with one of our new clients at 2PM in the conference room. Since you mentioned that you prefer corporate law, you can assist Attorney Ryan Molina with the LAS account. You will be one of his assisting associates. I will also introduce you around, but it has to be later. I have an emergency meeting with a client in several minutes. Please excuse me!“
“Yes, Sir! Thank you very much again.” Maya said with a smile that lit up her beautiful face. She really like Atty. Reyes. He had a very grandfatherly demeanor. But she knows that he is one of the best legal minds in the country.
From where he was standing, Rafael Reyes can see Maya’s passion and excitement for the job. She somehow reminded him of his granddaughter Eliza. A pity law is not in that child’s blood, but rather modelling is! Though, come to think of it Maya Dela Rosa can also make a career at her granddaughter’s profession as she is a very pretty girl. Rafa Reyes, as he was called by friends and close associates, was really glad that they managed to recruit Maya Dela Rosa. He has very good instincts and from what he can see, he knows she will be an asset to his firm.
“This way po, Atty. Dela Rosa!” Lindsay led Maya to a cubicle near one of the big bay windows of the place. “Welcome to RRMA. Basta po kung may kailangan kayo, tawag lang kayo sa local ko.”
“Maraming salamat, Lindsay.” Maya put her bag down, then settled into her chair. Lindsay left soon after. She was barely settled into her seat when there was someone poking his head into her cubicle.
“Hi. You must be the new lawyer! The bar topnotcher! Welcome to RRMA. I’m James Ventura!” The tall, good looking mestizo guy with a warm, teasing and friendly smile introduced himself. “We came from the same school, by the way. Pero, medyo ahead ako sa iyo ng six years, I think.”
“Please to meet you, finally, Atty. Ventura! Maya Dela Rosa.” Maya stood up and shook the friendly lawyer’s hand.
“Finally?” James asked puzzled. “And do please call me James. Masyadong pormal ang Atty. Ventura.”
“Yes, James. Your reputation preceded you. Ikaw ang isa sa idol ng mga law student sa campus.” James Ventura is considered as one of the success stories of the law school where she went to. He also happened to be in the news recently due to a controversial case he handled and won.
“Oh, those stories! Urban legends!” He said smiling. The moment he saw Maya entering the premises, he was instantly attracted to her. Good thing he has the pulse of the office rumor mills and had found out the name of the new associate beforehand. He did his research and disovered that they came from the same law school. “So, kanino ka ini-assigned ni Atty. Rafa. I hope sa akin.”
“I’m joining him and one of the partners in the afternoon sa meeting sa owner ng LAS?” Maya replied. She forgot to ask her boss or Lindsay what does LAS stands for. “I think I will be assigned to Atty. Ryan Molina.”
“Oh, you will handle the tiger’s account then.” James said obliquely.
“The tiger’s account? Maya asked, curious.
“Just between you and I, kasi mahirap daw i-please iyang si Mr. Lim, the owner of Lim Aviation Services or LAS for short. Palagi pang nakapa-tiger mode.” James said, repeating what he heard from the firm’s grapevine. “Bago lang ding client ng RRMA ang company niya. Though his dad, Lim Corporation’s owner, used to be a big client. But the elder Lim moved his company to China 10 years ago. That’s what I heard from one of the partners when we took in LAS.”
“Oh!” Maya managed to say, at the same time she suddenly felt her heart jumped when she heard the last name of their client. Pero, ang dami namang Lim dito sa Pilipinas, she mused. Hindi naman siya siguro iyon.
“But anyway, he is fair naman daw. Meticulous lang and perfectionist. Good luck, Maya.” James said. “By the way, if you want, we can go to lunch together. Diyan lang sa restaurant sa 5th floor.”
Maya had misgivings about the invitation as she just met James. But at the same time, friendly naman siya and maybe this is a way to know her colleague better. Saka naisip niya sa 5th floor lang naman, same place, same building. “Okay, sige.”
“Great! I’ll see you at lunch.” James waved, then walked back to his office, the one that has the big bay window.
Maya sighed happily after James left. Finally, she is about to work in the profession she worked so hard for. Ate Cris, I wish you can see me now. Natupad na rin ang pangarap ko. Maya whispered. It has been almost ten years since her sister passed away. She was taken away from her and her Nanay so abruptly.
Maya was on her semestral vacation, her first year in college, when her life turned upside down. They received a call from an official of the Department of Foreign Affairs informing them that her sister was among those killed in a car accident in Dubai. Her mother was distraught and inconsolable. Maya took care of everything after her sister’s body arrived back home. She had to be the strong one. She was not able to enrol for her second semester at the university. Doris was the only link to the life she abruptly left behind in Manila, which had included what she thought was her budding romance with Richard Lim.
Several months after her sister died, her mother got out of the depression she was in. Teresita Dela Rosa insisted that Maya returned to school that summer. She assured her daughter that it will be okay and they have enough to get by as her sister had some money saved and she had an insurance policy. She also insisted to Maya that she was okay and that her sister would have wanted her to pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer.
So in April 2006, Maya returned to Manila, to the apartment she and Doris was sharing in Mirasol Street. But it was not the same, the big house where Richard and his family used to live was still closed down. There was no information on where the family was. Richard left without saying goodbye. Doris said that she found out from the neighbors that the family left while they were on semestral break. There was no email or call from Richard since then! It felt like he disappeared into thin air after making her life brighter and happier.
Maya shook herself out of that particular memory. She was quite young and naive back then and crushing big time on their handsome neighbor in Mirasol Street, but as it happened on top of losing the big sister she loved very much, it made quite a mark in her. She became more determined to finish her degree. She shied away from romantic relationships. She decided to work after college while pursuing her law degree as it would have been difficult for her mother to send her to law school with the money they had then. Law school was not cheap.
She was lucky, she was hired promptly in a major daily after college as she had very good grades and writes well. She worked her way up and became the newspaper’s business reporter. She only resigned when she passed the bar exams. While reviewing for the bar, she took a leave of absence and returned to work after the exams, waited for the results. Maya was happy that she passed, and with the highest score. However, she was sad to leave her boss and mentor who supported her law studies and her colleagues.
Maya booted her computer while waiting for her boss to call her again. She might as well check her e-mails and get productive while waiting for Atty. Reyes to finish his meeting. After she had finished reading her mails, she Googled Lim Aviation Services. She ended up at the company’s webpage. She just started reading on the company’s profile when Lindsay interrupted her.
“Excuse me, Atty. Dela Rosa, tapos na po ang meeting ni Sir Rafa. Pinatatawag po niya kayo sa office niya.” LIndsay said. “Tomorrow po pala, you will have your own landline and I will issue you a mobile phone and a laptop. Tapos po Attorney, feel free to decorate your office. Hindi naman po masyadong stuffy dito sa RRMA.” Lindsay finished with a smile.
“Thank you, Lindsay. Just call me Maya.” Maya liked the friendly secretary already. She walked with Lindsay to their bosses’ office.
“Pasok na po kayo Atty. Maya.” Lindsay said. “They are waiting for you. I will call na lang po kung dumating na si Mr. Lim.”
“Good morning again, Sir!” Maya greeted her boss with a smile.
“Hi Maya. Sorry at hindi na kita na-orient kanina. It has been my tradition to personally orient new members of the firm.” Atty. Reyes told Maya. “Ryan, this is Maya. She will be with you in the LAS account. I assigned her to yo because of her background! Maya, this is Atty. Ryan Molina, our expert on corporate laws. You will learn a lot from him. I gathered you have met before. Ryan said you interviewed him before. I think it was the time I was abroad and leave from the firm.”
“Hi Maya, nice to see you again, and welcome to RRMA. I’m glad that Rafa has assigned you to me.” Ryan Molina, a guy in his late 30s to early 40s greeted Maya. “Rafa, this lady is a brilliant reporter. But Journalism’s lost is our gain.”
“Hi Atty. Molina! Good to see you again too. And thanks!” Maya was all smiles. She had interviewed Ryan Molina several times during the course of her career as a business reporter. “I’m glad to be working with you.”
Before they can chat some more, Lindsay knocked on the door. “Sir, nandito na po si Mr. Lim. Napaaga daw po siya. He said he can just wait for you daw po.”
“Oh, Richard is here then.” Rafael Reyes remarked. “We might as well meet him now. He must really be in a hurry to finish this meeting and juggle his time. Let’s go, Maya, Ryan.”
“Maya, Richard Lim asked that the meeting be moved this morning as he needed to bring his daughter somewhere later.” Ryan explained to a now silent Maya. “Atty. Rafa mentioned that he told you it would be this afternoon.”
Maya’s heart started to beat faster upon hearing the name of their client. It may be a coincidence, but she has a strong feeling that after ten years, Richard and her paths are about to cross again. “Ah yes! He told me that. Matagal na bang client ng RRMA si Richard Lim?”
“Bago lang. He just built LAS here. Sa Beijing siya naka-base dati. I know him personally. We were fraternity brods in college. Nice guy. You will like him. He has a cute little girl named Abby.” Ryan chatted on while they were walking towards the conference room.
When the three of them opened the conference room, a guy who was looking out of the window, turned and offered a big smile to Atty. Reyes. “Uncle Rafa, I’m very sorry for disrupting your schedule. But it slipped my secretary’s mind that I needed to be at my daughter’s recital this afternoon. Mabuti you agreed to an earlier schedule. Tapos heto ang aga ko pa.” The guy wearing eyeglasses and dressed smartly in a gray pants, light colored shirt, without a tie, finished.
“Richard, it’s okay.” Atty. Reyes said, tapping him on the shoulder affectionately as Richard’s father, Roberto, is one of his good friends.
“Hello, Brod.” Richard then greeted Ryan who have been a fraternity brod. He was the one who have helped him with he was a neophyte. “Good to see you again. Kumusta na si Raymond? Nakalipat na ba ng Manila.”
“Okay naman siya, Brod. Next week pa siya nandito.” Ryan replied with a big smile. “By the way, bago namin makalimutan ni Atty. Reyes, meet the newest member of RRMA, and this year’s bar topnotcher, Atty. Maya Dela Rosa. She will be my assisting associate.”
Upon hearing the name, Richard’s heart skipped several beats. Siya kaya iyon? He mused, baka kapangalan lang. He slowly took a closer look at the smartly dressed lady beside Ryan with so much anticipation. When he did, he felt like he can’t breath. He felt sucker punched. It has been ten years but he can’t forget that beautiful heart shaped face, doe-eyes fringed with long eyelashes and those pouty lips. The lovely girl he knew from Mirasol Street has grown into a beautiful, poised lady!
“Hello, Maya!” Richard managed to say. “It has been a while.”
Richard’s voice penetrated Maya’s stunned state. She had been like that since the guy who was facing the window turned and greeted Atty. Reyes. Her first thought was that, “Oh my God, it is really him, after ten long years!” He is ten years older but she will recognize that face anywhere, that lopsided smile, that built. If he was a dreamboat when he was in his early 20s, he is dashing and movie star material in his early 30s!
“H-hello, Ricky.” Maya managed to say, then pulled herself together. He is a client after all. “Nice to see you again after all these years, Mr. Lim.”
“Teka, teka, you two know each other, Brod, Maya?” Ryan asked, surprised. Atty. Reyes was also looking on, curious.
“Yes, we have known each other in Mirasol Street where my family used to live.” Richard said, then he looked at Maya intently. “That’s where Maya and I started, on the street where we lived.”
Maya looked at Richard, unable to discern what he really meant, after all these years. They just gazed at each other, forgetting for a while, the presence of the two other people in the room.