“Mr. Lim!” A voice called Richard making him to look at his back. He was currently doing his rounds, seeing if everything in the event was smoothly running. His executives are even telling him to just sit down and relax but he just couldn’t help it. It’s a huge thing for LAS to be hosting this year’s Summit because their reputation is in line, even his reputation.
Richard noticed an old man, wearing a white mask, was walking towards him. He has no idea who this man is but he knew that he’s one of the company owners because of the color of his mask.
“Richard!” The man said. The voice of the man somehow reminded Richard of who this man is.
“Mr. Ventura.” Richard said and offered his hand for a shake. Frank gladly accepted it. “It’s good to see you here, Sir.”
“Ang formal mo naman Richard.” Frank said. “Well, I thought I’d bring my son here for his first Summit. Balak kong siya na ang magpatakbo next year eh. Tutal, uso na ang 2nd generation. Is Roberto around?”
“Papa is not here, Tito.” Richard answered. “I’m very sorry to hear about James, Tito. I wasn’t able to attend his burial kasi nasa ospital pa ko.”
Frank gave Richard a weak smile. “Sayang siya no, Richard? The two of you could’ve been buddies in this business world, just like me and your father. You haven’t met him, right?”
Richard shook his head. “No. But based from what people say, I believe that he was a really great guy.”
“He is, he is.” Frank said as he nodded. His son’s death is still too fresh to him. He still couldn’t accept that his son died just because of a car accident. In three years, he tried to move on, but he just couldn’t. “Ah, how’s the new heart? Roberto told me what happened to you. Actually, he’s been talking about you ever since you were diagnosed with your heart disease. What was it nga ba?”
“Coronary heart disease po Tito. Mama said, it runs in the family and apparently, nasaktuhan ako. My new heart is fine.” He shortly replied. He doesn’t really want to talk about his disease. For him, it’s part of the past and it’s too painful to reminisce.
“Good thing at may nakuhang puso, ano? My son, James, secretly signed up to be a heart donor. Nalaman na lang namin nung dinala siya sa ospital. The doctors we’re rushing to remove his heart because someone needs it.” Frank said. “I should get going. I hope I’m not disturbing you too much. I’ll meet you later? I want you to meet my other son.”
“Of course, Tito. I’ll see you later.” Richard said. He was quite amazed that James donated his heart. Ever since he received his new heart, he has been so appreciative of organ donors. Because without them, people like him will die right away even though there’s still hope. Richard watched as the old man walk away. As he watched, he had this feeling like someone is staring at him. But when he moved his eyes, he saw no one. He just walked away and went back at their table.
“Huy Maya! Sino bang tinititigan mo? May nakita ka na bang pogi?” Emman whispered to her. He caught her staring somewhere on the front tables. Maya slapped his arm right after he asked that. “Aray naman, roomie.”
“Shh. Ano ka ba Emman! Hindi ako nangha-hunting ng lalaki!” Maya said as she continued to look at this guy who’s wearing a white mask. “Emman! Nakikita mo ba yung lalaki dun sa ilalim nung Lim Aviation Services?”
“Oh my pink walls, roomie! Marunong ka nang magboy hunting!” Emman squealed. “Eh teka, alin ba dun? Maraming lalaki eh.”
“Ayun! Yung may puting mask.” Maya said as she points to the man.
“OMG girl! Mukhang mabango! Ikaw ha, marunong ka nang pumili. Eh teka, white mask? Edi ibig-sabihin –“
“Nakita kong kausap siya nung tatay ni James kanina. Kaya tandaan mo, Emman. Hindi natin siya kakausapin, okay?” Maya said as she continued to eye that man.
“Ha? Wait Roomie, uulitin ko. HA? Hindi natin kakausapin? Akala ko naman, may nagustuhan ka na!” Emman exclaimed.
Maya sighed. “Sorry, Emman, pero hindi eh. Basta ang goal ko ngayong gabi, maidaos ‘tong Summit nang hindi ako kinakausap ng ni isa mang Ventura.” She said. Emman was about to reply when they heard the voice of the emcees through the speakers.
The program of the Summit started and it went on the usual program it had for years. Some company owners said their speech but Richard decided to not to say anything for he would be getting a lot of attention because of their Summit version alone and also because he’s planning to leave early.
After the program, the dinner was served. Maya kept glancing around, making sure that no Ventura is around her. Emman kept telling her that she’s actually anonymous because of their mask but she still kept looking, even at the men Frank has talked to, especially the man on the LAS table.
“Hey, have you heard that the CEO of Lim Aviation Services just got back last year?” Patricia, one of Time Airway’s executives asked.
“Oh? What happened to him?” Ms. Pacheco asked back.
“Rumor has it na inatake daw sa puso si Mr. Lim. And he underwent surgery so he can have his heart replaced. Kawawa no? Napakabata tapos inatake sa puso.” Patricia answered.
“Trish, baka naman hindi totoo ‘yan. Sabi mo nga, rumor has it.” Ms. Pacheco replied. The whole table of Time Airways had Richard as their topic ever since Patricia started it. Even Emman joined the whole conversation, but Maya doesn’t seem to be hearing anything. She’s busy looking around and keeping her head down.
(A/N : Listen to the song on the player at the left. Thank you!)
“Ladies and gentlemen, how was the food?” The emcee asked. “At this hour, we would like to ask all the single men and women here at the center.” There was a chorus of murmurings inside the room. Then men and women started standing up from their seats and walked towards the middle.
“Girl! Tara na!” Emman exclaimed and looped his arm around Maya. He stood up and practically dragged Maya out from her chair.
“Teka lang Emman!” Maya tried to sit back but Emman pulled her more and before she knew it, they’re already at the center.
“Sir, lakad na kayo.” Liza said to Richard.
“What? No. I’m not going.” He reasoned out as he sipped on his wine.
“Sir, hindi pwede ‘yan. Ang sabi single men and women. No exceptions!” Joma said.
Richard narrowed his eyes at them. “You two are unfair, you know that? Tinataboy niyo na ako just because you have each other. Dapat may exception ‘to!” Richard said as he tried to hide his smile but he really failed.
The people on their table laughed. Then the single men and women stood up from their table. All of them are telling Richard to stood up and join them.
“Fine, fine.” Richard said and he stood up. It might be the perfect time to leave.He thought. He was about to head for the doors when Sonny called him. And when Richard turned, Sonny pushed him to the middle of the room and before he knew it, he too, was already at the center.
“I see that we have a lot of single men and women tonight!” The emcee said. “So, I would like to instruct all the ladies to go to my right side while the men on the left.” She continued. The group of the men and women were soon separated from each other. “Next, I want the guys to form a circle, facing inside.” The group of men obliged, and formed a circle on the middle part of the room. “And lastly, girls, find a partner.”
Maya quickly looked around to see where Emman has been but she couldn’t see him. The masks really did its part on this part of the program. Everyone is really anonymous. They might distinguish what rank they are but it is hard for them to distinguish what company they belong too.
Since Maya was almost on the side of the males, she was barged by the other women who raced for some men to dance with. And when a woman hit her hard, she lost her balance and was about to fall when a set of arms caught her.
“You okay?” He said. Maya didn’t face the man, but she just nodded.
“As most of you have already noticed, it’s already the time for the ball. But since everyone out there is single, we’re mixing it up a bit. We will have our very own version of speed dating.” As the emcee said that, most of the people inside hooted their delight. Well, except for one person wearing a black mask and one wearing a white mask. “As the music plays, you will dance with your current partner. And after you hear this bell,” a sound of a bell was played, “the men will exchange their partner with the ones on their right. The women also need to move to their right. Am I understood?”
A chorus of yeses was heard from the room. “Alright! Ladies, please face your partners, and we will start when the music plays. Enjoy!”
Maya looked to her right to look for the man she has to dance with next. Her eyes widened when she saw that it was James’ younger brother. Even though he was wearing a mask, he knew that it was him. And the white color of his mask and its gold designs even proved it. It was none other than Jeffrey Ventura.
While the lady in front of Richard was busy looking at the man next to him, Richard was looking at the lady on his right. It was Diana. He sighed when Richard saw her. Of all women, it has to be Diana? After the catering incident days ago, Diana was always trying to steal Richard’s attention. She would always offer him if he wants coffee, if he needs something, etc. And Richard finds it all annoying. Right from that moment, he knew that Diana developed this crush for him but she still couldn’t seem to get his message that he’s not interested.
The music started playing. Richard held his partner’s hand and his other hand found its way on her waist. He slightly leaned in and spoke in a soft tone. “I’m sorry but I may have to keep you for the whole dance. Is it okay with you?” he asked.
Maya was startled when her partner held her hand and felt his other hand on her waist. She didn’t have any choice but to put her hand on the man’s shoulder. She wasn’t expecting him to lean down and to offer her to dance with him for the whole ball. But when he did, Maya already knew her answer. “Okay lang sa’kin.”
Richard smirked when he heard the lady oblige. “Thank you. May iniiwasan lang ako.” He said. The lady shot her head up to face him and said, “Ikaw rin?” Richard chuckled with her reply. “Panong ako rin? Don’t tell me may iniiwasan ka rin?” he asked back. The lady nodded and cocked her lips to her right. “Iniiwasan ko yung mamang nasa kanan mo. Kaya please lang, wag mo akong ipasayaw sa kanya ha?”
Richard smirked at what the lady said. There’s just something in her that made him smile. It was then when he saw that the lady was wearing a black mask with some blue feathers. Time Airways.
“Sino bang iniiwasan mo?” Her voice brought him back from his reverie. “The lady on your right. I’m avoiding her.”
Maya nodded when she heard the man’s answer. She looked at her right and saw a pretty lady dancing with another man, but her attention is on the man she’s currently dancing with. “Anong meron sa babaeng nasa kanan ko at ayaw mong isayaw?” she asked. The man smiled and said, “Kapag ba sinabi ko sa’yo yung dahilan, sasabihin mo rin yung dahilan kung bakit ayaw mong isayaw yung nasa kanan ko?” Maya gulped and shook his head. She doesn’t really want to be discussing James during this ball. When Maya looked at the man again, she noticed that he was wearing a white mask. But the peculiar thing about his mask is that it only has white designs on it. And Maya was sure that there was no company that has white as its assigned color.
When the bell rang, the two of them just held each other tight and did not make any move to let each other go. Richard saw from the corner of his eye, the disappointment on Diana’s face. He sighed in relief and turned his attention back at the lady in front of him. “Thank you.” He said.
“Ay naku, Sir. You’re very welcome po.” Maya relied. She saw the man smirked. Ang pogi namang ngumiti ng lalaking ‘to.Ano pa kaya kapag tinanggal na yung mask niya? “Oh? Naging formal ka na ngayon.” He said. “Eh Sir, white masked kayo eh.” Maya answered. The man in front of him chuckled. “Do you know who I am?” he asked. Maya shook his head. “Hindi po. Hindi ko po kayo makilala gawa nung mask niyo.”
Richard smiled at the lady. There’s something very familiar when he looks at those eyes of hers. “Would you believe that you’re the first person in this event that doesn’t know me because of this mask?” he asked. He smiled even more when the lady shook her head. “Since I don’t know who you are, and you don’t know who I am, I would like to introduce myself.”
“Ay naku Sir, nakakahiya po at hindi ako nagpapakilala. Ako po si –“
“I’m R.” Richard said, interrupting what the lady was about to say.She just stared at him when he gave his name. “The first letter of my name is R. So, my lady, my name is R. And yours?” he said as he smiled.
Maya smiled. She really finds this man amusing. “M. My name is M, Mr. R. It was nice meeting you.”
Richard felt his heart stop when the lady smiled. “I’m honoured to meet you, Ms. M.” The two of them laughed at their own foolishness and didn’t notice how many times the bell already rang. The whole ball was running smoothly except to their spot. No matter how many times did the bell already rang, they just kept on holding each other tightly, and neither of them had the plan of letting go of each other.
A/N : Pasensya na po kung ginabi. Nagsimba pa po ang yours truly. May part 2 pa ang kilig bukas! 😉