“Shall we get started?” Atty. Reyes asked, breaking into the world Richard and Maya were starting to get into when their gazes met – the past and all the unanswered questions it has. Reading their expressions, Atty. Reyes, a wise, old man, can see that there is a wealth of a past between these two. He felt, though, that it is a very private thing between Maya and Richard. It was not the time or the place for it. But he was wishing then that they will be able to bridge the past and the present soon as he can see the palpable vibes between the two. Observing and experiencing the best and the worst of human nature and actions most of your life, you tend to get to read situations and people better.
“Errr, yes Uncle Rafa,” Richard shook his head and pulled himself out of the brink of a complicated past that was pulling him in. He does not want to go there yet. He hoped his voice sounded steady and confident, for he is not. He is still trying to regain his equilibrium and composure which turned topsy-turvy upon seeing Maya again after all these years. But alas, his and Maya’s ‘reunion’ has to be conducted in private and not in front of the curious eyes of the other people in the room no matter how well he knows them.
The four of them filed into the conference room of RRMA, with Uncle Rafa in the lead, followed by Ryan, then Maya who walked so gracefully. She does not seemed to be as affected as him in their unexpected meeting. While he was a mass of nerves. He was having a hard time concentrating on the agenda at hand, on why he requested this meeting. Out of habit, he pulled a seat for Maya, just like the used to when they go on ‘dates’.
Maya looked at him, surprised at his action, this after all is a business meeting and not a social one. There was something in her eyes, before she managed to conceal it that told Richard that she was as affected and as rattled by this very unexpected meeting.
“Thank you, Mr. Lim,” Maya said softly, powering up her iPad after she sat down.
“You are welcome, Atty. Dela Rosa.” He replied, gazing at her intently. Then, instead of sitting beside Ryan Molina, Richard took the seat beside Maya, making her very conscious of him, the perfume he wore, his distinct manly smell, and the nearness of him.
Richard cleared his throat, took a deep breath and try to concentrate on the meeting that he requested from RRMA. Who would have thought that this day would turn extraordinary! When he left his place that morning, and a taciturn Abby, he thought he would just go to a run-of-the-mill meeting with his lawyers. He need to pull himself together or else, Ryan and his Uncle Rafa will be full of questions. As it is, he felt that his Uncle Rafa has a very clear reading of the situation already.
“Well, Uncle Rafa, Brod, Maya, errr Atty. Dela Rosa….” He started.
“Brod, Maya na lang kaya. Di ba okay lang Maya, since magkakilala naman kayo. Masyado namang formal iyang Atty. Dela Rosa. Tayo-tayo lang naman.” Ryan suggested, seeing that Richard is getting flustered by Maya’s presence. Richard has always been the king of composure and seriousness. He really needs to invite his Brod to drink and get the whole story out of him. Come to think of it, parang may naaalala siya. Was Maya the same girl Richard told him years ago? Parang siya nga. He tried to recall where Maya studied for her undergraduate degree and managed to connect the dots. Pupusta siya na si Maya nga iyon.
“Well, errr, yes Mr. Lim. Maya na lang please.” Maya said, getting self-conscious, not wanting the attention of her bosses on her and Richard. Who would have thought that her first day as a lawyer would be more personal than professional! Her heart is getting overworked with Richard’s nearness. After all these years, naman, may poor heart, sa kanya ka pa rin ba tumitibok, she mused!
“Well, then, please call me Ricky. Like I have requested you to do the first time we met.” Richard said, gazing at Maya, at the same time, smiling as he was remembering that meeting. That finally, they met at that fastfood place, after weeks of watching out for her every time he was at home and when he knew she might pass by. He had an idea of her class schedules so he knew when she would possibly pass by from her classes in the university. Usually, he passed by her place when he goes to school, but on the way from school, his house is first so Maya passed that way on the way home.
“Oh, if it is okay, I will call you Richard, since this is a business setting.” Maya replied, thinking that calling him Ricky is just too personal, too intimate, and too many memories associated with it.
Richard nodded, understanding and letting Maya off the hook, this time. “Okay,” he said simply. Then he went back to what he was about to say.
“Uncle Rafa, Brod, and Maya, I asked for the meeting as I need RRMA to handle several contract negotiations LAS is making with several airlines who are getting our services for their maintenance as well as a host of other legal work. Iyong iba naman minor lang. So far, I’m in negotiations with Time Airways, Seafare Airlines, and San Nicolas Air. Aside from that, there are also the contracts to be drafted for our suppliers, employees and other legal stuffs.”
Maya was surprised that he has that many clients already, considering that he just started his operations here. She needed to research more on Richard, err, LAS if she will be permanently assigned to his account.
“That’s not a problem, Richard, I will assigned Ryan, and also Maya to your account. They can draft all the contracts, review them, the works and everything else you need RRMA to do.”
He paused, then continued. “How about Maya going to LAS twice a week on a regular basis so you have a lawyer at hand, say mornings, then she will be reporting to Ryan on your legal requirements every afternoon. Then if there is some complicated negotiations that has to be done, Ryan can also join in the meetings. Di ba, you told me that you will not be getting in house lawyers for your company and is just getting us as your regular counsel and you do need a lawyer to handle the regular stuffs. Maya here was a business journalist before she became a lawyer so I think she is more than capable of handling your regular day to day requirements.”
Richard was surprised at Attorney Reyes’s unusual offer. His heart skipped a beat when realized that it would mean seeing Maya on a regular basis. But his father’s friend’s offer would work as he needs a lot of legal work at this stage of LAS’s operations. Ryan is okay but he knows he handle a lot of cases for the firm and some of his requirements are just the usual legal stuffs. He did not like Ryan’s other associate before, Fred. He seemed unable to concentrate on the job. He never doubted for instance Maya’s abilities as he had known her to be a beauty and brains girl in the months they were going out on ‘dates’.
“That would be great, Uncle Rafa! Thank you.” Richard said, then he looked at Maya and see how she is taking all of these, knowing that this is her first day on the job. She seemed so concentrated on the notes she was typing on her iPad. Then, she looked up.
“Thank you for the vote of confidence, Sir, Atty. Molina. I will do my very best.” Maya said. She was surprised that Atty. Reyes would trust her this much at the early onset of her career. It is not an opportunity she thinks a new junior associate gets. “Richard, I will do my best for your company.”
“You can do it, Maya.” Ryan added. “Besides, I will be there with you also kahit most of the time, ikaw lang ang pupunta sa LAS. Brod here, needed an in house one, sort of, early in the operation of LAS here. You can draft and review employees, suppliers contracts and others when you are there, instead of Richard sending it here. The other cases that you will handle outside of LAS, you can do in the afternoons and let’s see, how else we can fit it in. For now, prirority mo muna ang requirements ni Richard.
“Okay, we are agreed.” Atty. Reyes said. “Richard, is there anything else you want to put on the table. I heard you need to be somewhere this afternoon.”
“That’s about it Uncle Rafa. I should get going soon. Abby has a piano recital. I enrolled her in a music class this summer. Her therapist suggested it.” Richard said. “Thank you, also to you Ryan and Maya, for accommodating me this morning.”
Richard stood up, and that was also Maya’s and the rest of the party’s cue to to do. Richard shook Atty. Reyes and Molina’s hands, but when it came to Maya, much to her surprised, he gave her a beso. While it was a perfectly harmless social gesture in most cases, her heart skipped a beat at the gesture. Maya stop it, heart stop, stop that, she muttered. He is married! May anak nga na may recital di ba, she told herself.
“Maya, it’s nice to see you again. I’ll see you at LAS, tomorrow?” Richard said. He is looking forward to that. Maybe that is a better time to catch up than in this meeting. Besides, he needed to run soon or else, he would be late for Abby’s recital.
“Nice to see you too, Ricky. I’ll be there bright and early.” Maya gave Richard a smile, that sort of reminded him of her first smile to him. She also unconsciously used Richard’s nickname which made him feel happy.
Richard and Maya ended up walking together out of the conference room as Atty. Reyes and Atty. Ryan got carried away discussing one of the cases the firm is handling for a big client.
“Maya, may I have your mobile phone number?” Richard asked suddenly, then added hastily, “Para madali kita makontak kung may kailangan ang LAS.”
“Oh sure, Ricky! I can give you my personal number muna. I haven’t been issued a mobile phone by RRMA. Lindsay said I will get it tomorrow.” Maya recited her personal number to Richard, which he typed directly into his phone book. Then he pressed the call button.
“Got it and that’s my number! Thanks a lot, Maya.” He then gave Maya a lopsided smile, his lopsided smile which made her young heart aflutter every time he did ages ago. “By the way, would you like to….”
Before Richard can ask Maya what he was supposed to ask her of, someone called her name, a tall, good looking guy coming from the direction of the offices.
“Maya!” James walked briskly towards Maya. “You are done na with your meeting. Lindsay said your meeting was moved to this morning. Tamang-tama, lunch na.” Then he noticed Richard looking at him. “Oh hello, Mr. Lim. I’m Atty. James Ventura, a friend of Maya’s. Sorry for barging in! Maya and I will have lunch kasi.”
Huh, Maya thought to herself. My friend! Kanina nga ko lang siya nakilala!
“Hello! Richard Lim!” Richard said politely, and because he can’t resist it added, “I’m an old friend of Maya.” He saw James surprised expression. Guess, he was not expecting that, huh!
Richard had seen James before in RRMA, but was never introduced to him, nor was he assigned to him previously as he thinks he is handling criminal cases for the firm. He is also wondering how he became friends with Maya, when as he gathered Maya just started today with Uncle Rafa’s firm. But maybe, they have known each other in school or through her previous work. Nevertheless, a part of him dislike and bristles, at the fact that James is taking a proprietorial attitude towards Maya. Richard never thought he had it in him to act like that!
“Really, small world!” James remarked, then added whether innocently or not, Maya nor Richard can’t ascertain, “Parang kanina wala ka namang nabanggit Maya na kilala mo pala ang client natin and LAS owner.”
“Oh, I didn’t realize that the Lim you mentioned is Richard. I did wonder when I heard the last name but there are a lot of Lims in the country.” Maya said guilelessly, not realizing what she had admitted, that Richard is still in her thoughts after all these years. Richard felt doubly happy.
Richard, for some reasons, took an instant dislike on James so he added, “Maya and I were friends and neighbors in Mirasol Street, the street leading to the Philippine University of the Sciences and the Arts front gate.”
“Oh!” James managed to say. Now he is the one wondering what sort of past Richard and Maya have.
“Maya, I will get going. I need to pick up my daughter for her recital. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Richard said, then added with a polite nod, “James!”
Unbeknown to Richard, he left Maya wondering about his marital status. There is a part of her that felt sad that he is taken already. But it had been a lot of years, and it is bound to happen. He is handsome, a fun person to be with, a gentleman and sweet. He had what she was looking, and still looking for until now, in a guy, but unable to find. There is still a part of her that needs closure about a love that was not realized. She has so many unanswered questions.
“Maya shall we get going.” James cut into Maya’s thoughts.
She just nodded absently to James. Her mind was still full of Richard. She let him escorted her to the waiting elevator.
“Magkakilala ba iyang si James and Maya, Uncle Rafa.” Ryan asked, his gaze at Maya and James departing figures.
“No I don’t think so.” Uncle Rafa said, his brows knitted, then added, “But on the other hand, they might kasi they went to the same law school. Or baka naman it is James, being James, very friendly. Why do you ask?”
“Just wondering. Hayun kasama na si Maya na mag-lunch. As usual, parang may heat seeking missile yata iyang si Panyero pagdating sa beautiful ladies.” He remarked. “Idagdag pa diyan ang Brod ko, hindi maalis ang tingin kay Maya kanina.”
“Ikaw talaga, Ryan, walang nakakaligtas sa iyo.” Atty. Reyes laughed, then added, “Don’t worry about Maya, she seems like a sensible, level headed girl.”
“Sabagay.” Ryan said, then shrugged off. “Let’s have lunch.” The two of them went up to the top floor of the building where the law office has a small restaurant. Sometimes, this is where they meet ther clients.
On the way to the service apartment where he and Abby are currently staying with his old nanny Manang Fe, Richard’s thought was still on Maya. He is wondering if she is still single or unattached. She is not wearing a ring and she just finished law school. But even if she is not married by this time, she must have a boyfriend. She is beautiful and very intelligent to booth. When he knew her, she was also the most open, the sweetest, and the kindest and the most fun person he knew. Masikap rin sa buhay, juggling her studies and work. Walang arte, unlike some of the girls on campus who were not shy in letting him know how interested they were on him. Of all the things and events from his past, the times he spent with Maya were the best memories he stored in his “memory bank’. Now, he and Maya, they came full circle, and he is very much looking forward to finding out where they will go next. He hope it would be in the direction, he is thinking, despite Abby’s presence now in his life.
Time to bridge the past and the present. With that thought, Richard felt very happy and there is is feeling of anticipation in his heart, feelings and emotion he has not felt since his wife Alexandra died.