“Is this right? You want five bedrooms upstairs?” Roberto asked to his son who’s scribbling something on a paper. It’s already noon and Roberto cancelled his meeting up to one in the afternoon. He doesn’t care if it’s important. There’s nothing more important to him now than to spend this borrowed time with his son.
“Yeah.” Richard replied shortly. His head was bowed on the paper. He’s doing another draft of the interior of the house. His father just smiled at him. His son inherited that quirk he has. The one when they do a sketch, nothing else around them matters. It’s just them and the paper.
“Is it me or the number of rooms is just too many? We only have three rooms before and it’s already enough but now you want to add two more?” Roberto continued to ask. “Sino bang balak mong patirahin dito?”
Richard just shrugged and continued to add a few more lines in his sketch. Roberto was just patiently waiting for his son to finish since it’s the only way to talk to him. After a few minutes, Richard sat up straight and cranked his head on either ways to remove that cramp feeling in his neck. His father watching totally amused. “What?” The son asked.
Roberto just shook his head and chuckled. “It’s nothing.” He said.
“No, it’s not nothing. What is it?” Richard pressed.
Roberto looked at his son and smiled at him. “I hope you will not get mad at this but, do you know that when I was young, I used to be like you? We have the same quirk, the same way how we do our work and even the same habit after sketching.” He amusedly said. “You really are my son.”
For the second time in that day, Richard couldn’t believe if everything that was happening were all true. Through the years he spent with his family, he could just count the number of times his father looked proud of him, and this was one of it. Yes, the words were not exactly what it has to be but Richard knew that his father only gives that certain look whenever he’s praising someone. But even if he knew that his father is looking at him like that now, there’s still a part of his heart that refuses to believe. It’s telling him that everything was just for show and that there’s no way that Roberto will be like that. Remember what he said at your mom’s funeral? Yes, that one. Would you still believe in this guy after that? The inner he whispered.
“Uhm .. h-here’s the uh, final draft.” He just said and gave the paper to Roberto with the smile on his face untraced. “I guess we could hire an interior designer after the house is renovated. I’m not really good with those stuffs.”
Roberto just nodded. “How about instead of doing a full floor, why don’t we do maybe just a half? Then the house will have a balcony inside, starting beside the stairs until it reaches the three rooms on the side.” He suggested, as he scribbled on the paper to show his point.
His son looked at it and nodded slowly. “Oh, okay. I think we could make that work.” He said and pulled out another piece of paper to start another draft. The suggestions his father was making were all very helpful. It must be from the years he’s been an architect and Richard knew that time will come when he’ll be the one filling in his shoes, which would be so challenging for him. After drawing just a rough sketch, he showed it to his father. “Like this?”
Roberto nodded. “Yes. See that? The house would look bigger because of that.” He asked and his son nodded. “Richard, you haven’t answered my question.”
Richard’s attention turned to his father. “What question?”
“I asked you why you need five rooms. Parang ang dami naman.” His father said.
Richard gulped before he answered. “I .. I was thinking of , umm, moving there when it’s completed.” He answered truthfully.
Roberto’s face beamed. Finally, his son is going home. He was about to greet him when something held him back. “Hm. I’m betting you’re not moving back alone.”
Richard looked at his father with a smirk on his face. “No.” He said as he shook his head. Then he returned his attention to the draft he was doing.
His father was not actually surprised at his answer. He’s already expecting it. “The house plan you made was really smooth, son, especially for an architect who just made it last night. I bet you’re really inspired while doing this.” He started, testing the waters. “And I’m guessing that your inspiration for this one is not your mother?”
Richard pencil stopped moving and his head shot to his father. His mouth gaped. “Wha- How did you know?”
Roberto chuckled. “It’s Maya right?” He asked and when he saw his son blush, he laughed even more. “See? I’m right. Richard, she’s the reason why you drew that sketch and she’s even the reason why you’re here! And I do believe that if it wasn’t for her, you will not change your mind about this renovation.” He explained but his son couldn’t utter any word.
Richard nodded. If there’s one thing he’s sure about this whole thing, it’s his love for Maya. “Well, I love her. I trust her with all of my heart. And you should be thankful to her. Kung hindi niya ako bi-nlack mail, wala ako rito.”
“She blackmailed you?” Roberto amusedly asked.
Richard nodded proudly. “Yeah. She told me that if I don’t bring my ass here, she’s going to break up with me and she’ll move out. Unbelievable.”
His father chuckled but it didn’t last long. “So .. you’re living together? For how long? How long have you been together?” he asked, with his eyes narrowed at his son.
His son gave him curious look. “We’ve been together for more than two months now. And she’s been living with me ever since.”
“What? Ever since? What is she, homeless? Aba, Richard, titignan mo kung sino ‘yang mga babaeng dinadala mo sa condo mo. You’ll never know, maybe they’re just after your money –“
“She’s not like that.” Richard interrupted. “There are so many things that I know about her and that’s none of them.” He added, his tone rising up. “It’s just complicated.”
“It’s too early to tell.” His father argued. “Saan mo ba nakilala ‘to? Graduate ba siya ng college? Is she working?” He annoyingly asked. “Look, son, I just want what is best for you –“
“O good. After merely a day, you’re thinking that it’s now okay for you to play as my father like you used to. Well, no, it’s not. If you think that you can judge my girlfriend, then you’re mistaken. You don’t have the right to do so.” Richard battered. “You simply don’t know anything about her and you don’t know why everything is messed up, just like you and me.” Richard said, his anger flaring.
“Since when did you become so judgemental? You’re not like that. Ever. Now you’re using it on her. You’re even using it on me!” Richard continued. “I thought that after this talk, you will change, but I guess I’m thinking way too ahead.” He exclaimed and gathered up his things and stood up. “I’ll just email the final draft.” He said and stormed out of Roberto’s office, leaving his father guilty.
When Richard came out, Jannet was glaring at her. She’s standing a few meters before the elevator with her arms crossed. Could this day get any better? With his anger building up, he walked fast and stopped before her. “You’re fired.” He exclaimed and got in the elevator. He saw Jannet walking fast to reach him but good thing that the elevator closed in time. He sighed deeply when he was inside. He assumed too much again.
Roberto was still on his office. He hadn’t moved any muscle since his son left. He felt so shattered inside. He thought he’s doing everything right this time but was just too mistaken when he judged Maya. Richard was right – he doesn’t know a single thing about her yet he chose to blurt out questions about her. Foul questions, in fact. Maya was the love of his son’s life and he should’ve just supported him about it. He buried his face on his hands. They could’ve ended everything in good terms. He pictured it perfectly. After Richard finished the draft, he will hand it down to him and he might give him a hug. But instead, he stormed out. Again. Just like always. And the reason for it was him again. Just like before, too.
“Damn it, Roberto. You blew it up again. Your son’s right. I should be thankful to her for giving Richard back to me and I blew it up.” He muttered. He stood up, thinking he could still talk to his son, but Jannet was the only person outside.
“Where’s Richard?” He asked.
“Umalis na po. Sumakay na po sa elevator eh.” She kindly said. Roberto just sighed and moved to go back inside his office. “Ah Sir,” Jannet called and her boss turned around. “Is he your son po? A couple of minutes ago, he told me that I’m fired and ..” She trailed off.
Roberto sighed and nodded his head. “Yes. He’s my son. And yes you’re fired.” He passively said and returned back inside his office. He has everything earlier and now his son is gone again and he doesn’t have a secretary again.
Then an idea hit him.
Maya was busy cooking when Richard got home. Her hair was tied up and Richard was aware of the ear buds that were on her ears so he sneaked up behind her and hugged her from behind. He pulled one ear bud from her ear and whispered. “I missed you.”
The woman in his arms turned around and smiled at him. “I missed you, too! Ang aga mo kasing umalis kanina eh.”
Richard gave her a small smile and kissed her head. “I needed to finish something.” He said and moved to sit on one of the stools. Maya just watched him as he sat down.
“I .. I went to LVVanguard earlier.” He started but didn’t look at Maya’s eyes. “I talked to him and as you said, I agreed to do the renovation.”
“Talaga? Eh ano? Okay na ba kayo ng Papa mo?” Maya concernedly asked.
Richard shook his head and Maya was about to bombard him with questions but Richard spoke. “I tried to, okay? Akala ko talaga nung una, magkakaayos na kami. I really thought because he looked so apologetic when I got there. He even helped me to improve the house plan that I’ve made. Tinanggap pa nga niya yung design ko eh, he even praised it!” He explained.
“Eh anong nangyari?” Maya inquired.
Richard sighed heavily. “He picked on you. He asked me why we’re living together, why you’re here, he even said that you might be a gold digger. Hindi ka nga niya kilala eh tapos he’s judging you like that? Pasalamat pa nga siya kasi kung hindi mo ko pinilit na pumunta don, hindi kami magkakausap. How dare he say that!”
Maya’s eyes narrowed at him. “Nag-away na naman kayo dahil sa’kin?” She asked.
“Yes. Eh kasi naman –“
“Richard! Akala ko ba may kasunduan tayo?”
“Ginawa ko naman eh. I just couldn’t stand that he’s talking like that about you. I’m your boyfriend and even if it meant defending you from my very own father, I will.” He determinedly said.
“Pero Richard, Papa mo pa rin siya –“
“Yeah. He’s my father alright but he’s been gone for too long in my life. Tapos ngayon na hindi pa nga siya nakakabalik ng maayos, kinokontrol na niya ako? That’s absurd, Maya.”
Maya sighed. She turned the knob of the stove off and sat beside Richard. She reached for his hand and looked into his eyes. “Rough day, huh?”
Richard sighed deeply. “Yeah.” He simply said. “I still have to finish this draft though. Maybe I’ll just ask Liza to bring this to him tomorrow morning.”
“Ay hindi na, ako na.” Maya countered.
Richard narrowed his eyes at her. “Ikaw na? Bakit? May pupuntahan ka ba?”
Maya bit her lower lip and shook her head. “Uhm, may .. may napasukan akong trabaho.”
“Really? Eh paano yung mga documents? Yung resume? ‘Di ba kailangan ‘yon?”
Maya nodded. “Eh ginawan ako ng exemption sa case ko eh.”
“Oh, that’s good.” Richard said. “Teka, ano ba ‘tong trabaho mo?”
Maya gulped before she answered. She knew that Richard wouldn’t like what her job description is. “Secretary. Sa Lim Visionary Vanguard. Secretary ako ni Mr. Roberto Lim. Ng Papa mo.”