BELLA EPISODE 4: As I stepped into the restaurant, a thousand questions came like flood into my mind. I tried really hard to catch up with answers. The persistent one was, “What in Heaven’s name am I doing, coming to meet with Jeremiah’s cheating fiancée after witnessing the act of betrayal displayed by her?’’ I still had piles of work to do. Mr. Rodriquez needed to get the paperwork signed by tomorrow. I had met with Patrick earlier in the morning when he handed me the documents I needed to work with and we didn’t say more than few official words to one another. Well, we never said more than that before the incidence, anyway. He was particularly uncomfortable this time, though ofcourse, he should be; the traitor.
Sitting at the corner of the restaurant, was she, sipping what seemed like coffee or maybe tea. She was looking different in a sleeveless turtle neck top and pants trousers. Her make-up was less bold but she still looked extremely elegant. Now I could clearly see why she had her way with men. She smiled warmly as she looked up at me walking towards her. Holding her cup with both hands, she sipped again and then dropped her drink.
‘’ Isabella, how are you today?’’. She said, her smile never-fading even as I sat down.
“I’m very well, thanks,’ I said trying really hard not to give the ‘’what in the world did you bring me here for?’’ look that fought for expression on my face.
“Sorry for the short notice’’ she started ‘’I asked you here because of the meeting you witnessed of Patrick and I yesterday’’.
This time, I couldn’t help it. ‘’Meeting?’’ I asked.
She blinked repeatedly, obviously startled. Nevertheless, I continued.
“You mean the romantic entanglement you were involved in with Patrick last night? Where you both were kissing and having the time of your life while your fiancée who happened to be his boss was entertaining your guests at your engagement party? No, I won’t particularly call that a meeting.’’ I instantly felt better.
Her face lit up. She didn’t see that coming. She sat up and then relaxed. I could tell she was trying to choose her words carefully.
“Well, there is a lot you don’t understand. I called you here not to explain anything to you, but to let you know the damage you will be causing if word got out about this. Jeremiah and I have been betrothed from the moment I was born and the family ties we have is strong. Patrick on the other hand is Jeremiah’s second cousin and he happens also to be a very important factor in his business. Letting this loose will step on a lot of toes. You may not like the consequences.’’
It was my turn to have a lit-up face. Patrick was Jeremiah’s cousin? I stared at her, finding words. Her words sounded more like a warning. She had no iota of remorse. I produced a brief mental video where I grabbed her long weave-on and twisted her neck around just before hitting her head on the tea-cup she dropped a few minutes ago.
I hadn’t planned on saying anything to Jeremiah in the first place but I liked the fact that the possibility scared her. I decided to capitalize on that. By now, all my admiration for her had died.
‘’ How long?’’ I managed to mutter, my face still revealing my irritation.
‘’How long what?’’ she asked back looking confused and uncomfortable.
“How long have you been sleeping with Patrick?’’ She sat up abruptly. My question obviously shocked her because her face changed like it was about to explode. She looked at me with high intensity hoping to intimidate me with her stare. Sensing I wasn’t threatened because my own expression remained unchanged, she sat back down, shrugged nonchalantly and looked at her tea-cup.
“Like I said, you won’t understand…’’ she started to say.
“I don’t seek to understand. In fact, I don’t want to understand even if such understanding were offered to me on a platter of gold. All I know is, both of you are doing a very shameful and unfair act. You are cheating on your fiancée with his cousin and most-trusted employee and all you can think of is the damage I would cause to both families without thinking of the damage you are causing to Jeremiah. However, it’s not in my place to expose anything.’’
I saw her relax, more disgust flowed through me. It seemed that was all she wanted to hear. “Now, here is the deal, I would mind my own business, I will take it like I didn’t see anything but I can’t guarantee that for next time. That means I am asking you to stop whatever relationship you have with Patrick or next time, I won’t be watching out for ‘family’. I would be watching out for Jeremiah.’’
During my speech, I watched her jaw drop. I knew I surprised her. I surprised myself too. Pushing my chair outward, I stood up, picked up my bag, turned and walk away. Anger burned in me as I took my strides and walked out of the restaurant.
Parked outside by the left side of the parking lot was Patrick in a dark sunglasses watching me as I walked towards my car. I shook my head…. It was obvious these two were in this for the long haul.
The next few days went by at the speed of light. I hadn’t seen Jeremiah since the engagement party. Mr. Rodriquez was back in Spain but not after he had signed on for new business.
I am Jeremiah’s corporate counsel, but of course he had many like me who were consultants to him. He wasn’t particularly obliged to me and I worked with him contractually. So the company decided if they were going to hire me per time. A part of me felt he had cut me off. Maybe Lisa had found a way to achieve that. Jeremiah held majority shares in the company followed by her dad. Apparently, she ran the risk of me staying and working with Jeremiah since she probably didn’t want to cut ties with Patrick.
Days turned to weeks and eventually two months after the engagement party, I was certain I wasn’t working with Jeremiah anymore. I only hoped he was okay. It was sad that he was surrounded by deceitful people but there really was nothing I could do.
“Why not call him and say something?’’ Ego advised. We were at the salon. I poked my head from underneath the dryer to behold a gum-chewing Ego with big hair rollers making her look larger than life.
“Call him?’’ I repeated.
She nodded, ‘’Yea, babe. Call him.’’
‘’I can’t do that,’’ I frowned and returned my head to the dryer.
My mind drifted. I missed him. I felt I hurt him by rejecting his gift, (I never even thanked him it!); I never responded to his text, I never explained why I ended up with another outfit, I left his party without saying goodbye and did not even tender an apology afterward.
But then, why should I call him? Was that why he stopped giving me jobs? Was that why he never even thanked me for the successfully finalizing the tricky process with Mr. Rodriquez? He is arrogant! Why would I call him?
As my mind continued to make itself a battlefield, I felt my phone vibrate in my bag. I prayed it wasn’t my mum calling to ask when I was coming home. I had had a lot on my plate presently especially as my contract with Jeremiah seemed to be on hold and I had been doing a lot to fill the financial void that it left. I scrambled for my bag reaching for my phone and finally found it, with my head out of the dryer, I almost jumped out of my seat to see Jeremiah’s caller ID on my screen.
My heart sank, started to pound in savage drumbeats, I even sensed it whistle, maybe even jiggled wildly. My head was spinning, anxiety mixed with excitement all at once and I wondered how the tone of my voice should be. Then dead tone, I missed his call. Would he call back, what if he didn’t? My heart raced…
Silly me! If Missy were here, she would have given me that look. This was me wondering how I was going to complement the contracts I would no longer be getting from him; this was me feeling bad for hurting him and this was same me hesitating to pick his call.
I looked at Ego who was so much engrossed in CosmoGirl to even notice anything around her, by now her head was in a dryer too and she still hadn’t thrown that gum out of her mouth! I shook my head; my friend of 10 years was still an amazement. It always seemed like nothing fazed her. Thank God she didn’t know what was going on, she would have asked me to call back. Well, I wasn’t calling back, if he wanted to talk badly enough he would call back.
He called again. This time, common sense picked for me.
“Hello,’’ came out in a deliberately lively, yet official tone.
‘’Hello, Isabella. The company has been doing some massive restructuring; this affected our relationship with our external resource. We have been able to achieve a lot over the last couple of months; however, we still have a lot to do. Now, I would like to discuss a proposal with you. Can we meet at my office on Monday morning by 10am?’’ he said all at once.
I blinked. Finally! I wasn’t sure if my excitement was from the fact that I heard his voice after a long time, or because he wanted to discuss a job proposal with me or maybe it was because I would be seeing him on Monday all together.
Dear Lord, Jeremiah called!