With unsure thoughts, Richard pushed the doors of what his father treats as his second home. Everything still looks the same, though he always thought everything was bigger. Funny how things got smaller when a person grows up. He can point out some changes here and there but the rest is still the same.
As he strode through the first floor, he could see employees staring at him. Some of them even stopped from walking just to get a glimpse of him. He almost stopped at his spot to yell at them to go back to their works. Good thing he his mind was on its proper place and managed to go inside the elevator without doing anything scandalous.
When the doors of the lift closed before him, he took a deep breath and made a mental argument inside his head if what he is going to do is really for the best. Before he could develop some second thoughts, the lift pinged and the doors opened. He was already on the top floor. He deeply breathed out before he moved.
Richard stopped at a desk and saw a lady talking over the phone while chewing gum. Even if the lady already saw him, she kept chatting over the phone and held out a finger at him. Richard’s brows lifted at her and the lady just rolled her eyes at him. He glanced at his wrist watch and saw that it was he’s already ten minutes late yet this lady is not attending him.
“Excuse me. I’m late for my meeting –“
“I’m sorry Sir, can’t you see that I’m talking to someone here?” She snapped and rolled her eyes at him again. Richard was about to yell at her but it resulted into a sigh. His father owns the company after all.
After a good five minutes, the lady bid goodbye to her ‘girl friend’ and put the phone down. She turned to look at Richard with a brow lifted and typed something on the computer. “How may I help you, Sir?” She passively asked.
Richard cleared his throat held his chin high. “I’m the ten o’clock meeting for Roberto Lim.” He said.
The lady nodded and typed something again on the computer. Richard thought it was business related but when he glanced at the monitor, he saw that she was chatting with a friend on facebook. “Your name Sir?” The lady asked.
“Lim. Richard Lim.” He said. The little sounds of the keyboard came to a halt and the lady slowly turned her chair to face him. “I believe I’m late, and it would actually be helpful if you stop facebook-ing since you’re at work.”
“Ah, Sir, are you, by chance related to ..” She trailed off.
Richard shook his head but it was more of an expression, and not an answer. Surely, the lady accepted it as an answer and she was flooded with relief. “Your name, miss?” He asked.
The lady, with her usual self back, pointed to something in front of her, where the words ‘Jannet Gomes’ was printed. Richard chuckled. He should’ve known that her name will be shown in that way.
“How long have you been working here, Ms. Gomes?” Richard asked.
“Two months.” She replied shortly as she battered her eyes at him. She leaned on the desk and focused her gaze at Richard. God, she must’ve thought I’m flirting with her.
“And, how do you find your work here?” He asked. “Because from what I’m seeing, you’re actually not enjoying every second of it.”
The lady continued to chew her gum. “Yeah. Nag-apply lang naman ako dito kasi kailangan ko ng work experience. Fortunately, mas higit pa sa work experience yung nakukuha ko. Libre internet, libre tawag, and by the end of the month, may sahod pa ako.” She said with her a-matter-of-fact tune.
“So frankly, you don’t care if Mr. Lim’s meetings are always late, you don’t care what happens to the company, as long as you’re getting paid and you’re receiving these free things, you’re good. Am I right?” He asked, with his eyes narrowed at her.
Jannet gave him a sure nod. “Yes. If you’re summing it all up, then yes.” She said. She reaches out her hand and touched Richard’s hand which was on the desk. “So, are you free tonight? I’m done by five.” She flirty said.
Richard chuckled, finding the lady so unbelievable. He removed his hand and sighed. “Is Mr. Lim inside? I have a very important meeting with him.”
“More important than me?” Jannet replied.
“Yes. It’s more important than you.” He shortly replied and walked in front of the door of Roberto’s office. “Oh, and Ms. Gomes.” He called and the lady turned with a smile on her face. Richard smiled at her. “I’m sure my father would be glad to know your contribution to his company.” He said, putting an emphasis at the word ‘father’. And just like that, the stupid smile on Jannet’s face disappeared.
“Excuse me?” She said, her voice weak.
Richard nodded with a smile. “This company’s name is Lim Visionary Vanguard. Lim. The owner of this company is a Lim, and unfortunately, I am, too.” He said and he could easily see Jannet’s face going confused on what was happening. “So please excuse me because I have an important meeting with my father, which should’ve started twenty minutes ago.” He said and opened the door, leaving a gaped Jannet outside.
Roberto was looking out of the window when Richard entered and when he heard the door click, he immediately turned around. He couldn’t have been happier when Richard called early morning saying that he wants to have a meeting with him. He immediately told his secretary to cancel his ten o’clock meeting.
“Are you sleeping with that lady outside? That Jannet Gomes? I didn’t mean to interfere with your personal life but she just told me that she’s working here because she’s just getting paid and she doesn’t care if your meetings start late and doesn’t care what this company would be like because of it. Frankly, she’s not good for this company.” Richard said instead of greeting his father. He was going to say more but when he saw Roberto gaping at him, he stopped. “I .. I didn’t mean to .. uh, ..” He trailed off.
Roberto laughed. They were both not expecting it but the older Lim laughed, the sound of it filling every corner of his office. He sat down on the couch and gestured Richard to sit on the other one in front of him. “I know Richard. I was actually planning on firing her today. She was just occupied with facebook that’s why I didn’t get the chance to talk to her.” He said. “Please, take a sit.”
Richard chuckled. “Yeah. She even flirted with me! She asked if I was free tonight and said that she’ll be done by five. Could you believe that woman?”
His father continued to laugh. “I think I now know why no one reported her to me. I think the men in this floor were truly captivated by her looks. Now I have to find another one.”
“What happened to the one before her?” Richard asked.
“The one I had before, Josh, needs to resign because his family needs him in US. I had no choice but to accept his resignation. My meeting was pilling up and I hired her in a rush. I didn’t even get the chance to do an interview.” He said.
Richard nodded. “Well, you need to fire her for sure.” He said.
Roberto sighed and smiled at his son. “So, what brought you here, son?”
The word ‘son’ sent shivers to Richard. It’s been a while since his father called him that. It’s been a long while. He gulped before he spoke. “Ah, I .. I came here to accept the renovation you’re offering.” He said.
Roberto’s face lighted up with what he said. “Really? You are?”
Richard nodded. “But on one condition.” He said and grabbed the folder inside his bag. He reached for the paper inside of it and put it on the table in front of them. “We’ll use this design. It’s just a rough sketch. There’s no plan for it yet but I want the house to look like that. And ..” He trailed off.
His father took the paper and looked at it carefully. Richard’s heart was beating fast. It’s the first time that his father is going to look at his work. He would’ve been fine if his father is just an ordinary person but no, his father is the great Roberto Lim. The one he’s admiring, his hero.
“When did you draw this?” His father asked.
“Last night.” Richard shortly replied.
Roberto nodded and placed the paper back on the table. “It’s good. Your sketch I mean.” He said and Richard felt quite proud about it. “Listen, Richard, about what happened last night –“
“Can we just forget about it?” Richard interrupted, earning him a curious look from his father. “I also came here to apologize for snapping at you last night. I .. It’s just that .. i-it’s been years, since I last saw you and . and .. I don’t know how to handle these feelings.” He stammered.
A smile crept up on Roberto’s face. “I ..I perfectly understand everything, Richard. And I’m also sorry. I know that I made a lot of mistakes not just last night but .. but with everything. I had this one chance to be your father yet I blew it.” He said. “I’m sorry, I’m really sorry.”
Richard nodded. “Okay.” He just said. “For now, it’s okay though I’m still dying to ask what happened when .. when Mama died.”
His father nodded frantically with a huge smile across his face. “I promise to answer all of your questions. I promise Richard.”
“Uhm, this whole renovation thing. Is this really for Mama?” Richard unsurely asked.
Roberto nodded without a doubt. “I was there when she was rushed to the hospital, and I was one of the last ones who were there before she died. She told me not to call you since she knew you’ll just get mad because I’m there. This was her last request.” He said, and Richard was trying hard not to believe it but his father was on the verge of crying. It’s like there’s a deeper story than what he’s telling him. “There’s so much I want to tell you Richard but, I guess I still have to gain your trust first. I perfectly understand if you’ll just call me by my first name instead of not calling me anything at all.”
Richard just nodded. His father was right. Even if the air is quite cleared between them, he’s still finding it hard to trust him again. There’s just that whole of doubt that needs to be filled with clarifications. He can’t even call him ‘Papa’ like he used to. Giving his father a chance is already a big step but he can’t seem to proceed to the next. “Richard, I hope you don’t mind but may I ask what cause your sudden change of decision?”
“It’s who, not what.” He corrected and then he smiled. “It’s Maya. She .. she want me to talk to you about this whole thing. She’s even to blame why I made that sketch.” He said. “She said that I have to put my pride down and ask you for your version of the story and I hate to admit that she was right. Through the years that passed, the only side that I knew was mine.”
Roberto smiled at his son. “I’m sorry too for just watching you from afar. I knew that I should’ve congratulated you when you graduated college –“
“You were there?” Richard interrupted and his father nodded at him. “I couldn’t let the moment pass by. You know, your mom would be in tears if she was still alive when you accepted that diploma of yours. And .. and I do regret that we ended up in bad terms. Hindi tuloy ako yung nagsabit ng medalya sa anak kong cum laude.”
“James was pretty mad at his parents that day. He said that his parents look more proud in me than to their son.” He commented. “You’re actually there?”
Roberto nodded again. “I was actually sitting in front, since the dean insisted saying that I’ve been a huge help to the university by funding your college. But I stayed on the far end of it, so you couldn’t see me.”
“You funded CEAT?” Richard asked again, pertaining to his college. “You’re the man behind that new technology for us?” He asked his questions seemingly endless. He clearly remembers that there was a time when they had to go to the other college inside their university just to use facilities their college lacks. And then one day, their dean announced that they don’t have to anymore since someone anonymous donated a huge amount of money for them.
Roberto nodded. “I was the man behind your scholarship even if your school insisted they could fund it. I’m secretly paying your condo unit and I was sending Luke over so he could check how you are doing.” He said and with each one drawing a strand of memory from Richard. “I never stopped from watching over you, Richard.”
With his heart heavy, Richard clenched his jaw just to avoid his tears from escaping. He should’ve known. He should’ve known that his father was behind it. Roberto’s confession was like a bomb dropped in front of him. He wanted to ask so bad what happened. He wants to know why his father did all of that despite of what he has done to him, but seeing him happy like this made Richard think of later. Starting something doesn’t mean he has to finish everything in an instant.
“Enough of my little confession. We still need to talk about this project.” His father said. “Uhm, may .. may materials ka na bang naisip gamitin? Can I make some suggestions? How about –“
“I’m leaving all that part of planning to you.” Richard interrupted. “And .. and .. thank you. Thank you so much. Despite of what I did, you still have my back. I really am thankful.”
Roberto smiled at his son. “I made some stupid moves too, son. You’re not the only one who did. So, let’s call it quits?”
Richard nodded. “We’re even. But you still owe me answers.”
The older Lim chuckled. “I know, but for the mean time, let’s just talk about this project.” He said.
A/N : Sorry po. Bridge lang po ang C20. I’m thinking of writing a sequel for this because .. because .. basta. Haha! Ito lang po muna ang update ko. Exam pa po eh. Salamat po sa mga patuloy na naghihintay. God bless po sa inyong lahat and thank you including me in your prayers 🙂