Apr 10, 2013

When the Fireworks Begin (Chapter XVIII)

Sam finally decided to give his phone the much deserved rest.  He has been trying to reach Devon for an hour, but her phone just kept on ringing until it was finally unreachable.   Sam called her office, but they said that she has filed for a sick leave. 

Sam visited her but her parents refused to let him see her, saying that Devon was not feeling well and was sound asleep. This was the first time Devon was able to sleep for more than two hours in weeks.

“Sorry, hijo,” Aling Linda carefully explained. “She needs to rest.  It has been awhile since she slept, we cannot wake her up.” 

Sam understood and left. Now, a day after his visit, she was still unreachable. She has been avoiding him since the day James saw them holding hands.  Sam sighed.  His phone rang disrupting his thoughts.  He quickly answered it, hoping that it was Devon.

“Hello,”  Sam answered. 

“Finally!”  Aleli exclaimed in the other end of the line. “I have been trying to call you for an hour but your line was busy.”

Sam sighed and leaned back.  Sam, James and Aleli have known each other since college.  Even when the two started dating, Sam never felt that he was the third wheel and this is how he realized that James has always thought of Aleli as a friend and never more.

“I was busy with work,” Sam denied. “And you’re calling because?”

“Let’s eat out. I am bored to death. James would not answer my text messages and calls. He also doesn’t want to eat lunch with me,” Aleli whimpered.

Sam sighed.  “You know that he is preoccupied, why do you keep on badgering him?”

“Because I like to be with him,” Aleli reasoned out. “Please, Sam.  I just need someone to talk to.”

Sam gave Aleli a dramatic sigh. “Okay. I will leave the office in 10 minutes.”

Aleli shouted in glee. “Goody! See you in Chef Anton’s!”

Thirty minutes later, Aleli and Sam are already sharing a glass of wine in the posh Chef Anton restaurant.

“I never thought that being back will be so damn lonely,”  Aleli pouted.  “I have run out of stores to shop,  my pantry is full, and I have already attended all the parties.”

Sam shook his head, Aleli is somebody who does not have to sweat for a living.  Her parents, who owned a string of fashion lines and export businesses have made sure that their only daughter is well-provided for.  She does not have to work to live comfortably. 

Despite from living a sheltered and spoiled lifestyle, Aleli is far from being dumb.  Sam winced when he remembered how Aleli ran a classmate to the ground in a debate during their college years.  This particular classmate, thinking that Aleli was one of the kids who got into the prestigious university solely because of their parents’ money, decided to take Aleli head-on on the debate.  It only took Aleli four sentences to grind their classmate’s points to dust.  But this display of wit was not one of Aleli’s interests.  She decided to take fashion designing and landed an esteemed scholarship in one of New York’s fashion schools.   

“If you’re so bored here, why stay?” Sam impatiently asked his friend.  The waitress arrived to take their orders. 

“Because, I need to learn how to manage the fashion line and besides, I am putting my education into practice,” Aleli explained snottily, after placing her order. 

Sam smiled.  “I can’t be your playmate, Aleli. Remember that Dad’s taking a year off from the company, and I am taking over.”

“I know,” Aleli said, sighing dramatically.  “But James refuses to even talk to me. I don’t even get it. We parted in good terms, we even exchanged e-mails. Hell, we’re FB friends and he even follows me in Twitter!”

“You have to understand that he’s really shaken right now,” Sam tried to explain. “James and Devon just broke up.”

Aleli’s delicate features contorted with displeasure. “Devon,” she said, as if she just tasted something bitter.  “I don’t get what he sees in her. She’s plain!”

“Hey, she’s not,” Sam reacted quickly and before he could stop himself.  “She’s nice.  She values her family very much, she is funny, and incredibly witty. Imagine, juggling two part-time jobs, studying and still able to graduate cum laude in very commendable. Besides, you can’t say anything about her physically. She’s pretty, morena, and definitely not plain.”

Aleli eyed Sam suspiciously. “You’re attracted to her,” she summed up.

Sam eyed his friend. Is he that obvious? “Of course not. I just happened to know her enough.”

“Enough, to like her,” Aleli mocked. 

Sam sighed.  There’s no point in arguing with Aleli. 

“Well, one thing is for sure,” Aleli continued.  “Tito Edwin is the only one happy with everything that is happening.”

“What do you mean by happy,” Sam cautiously asked. 

“Well,” Aleli paused dramatically.  “Remember the dinner in the resort?”

Sam nodded, feeling his heart skipping a beat.

“I saw him wandering in hallway. He told me that James is in the garden and that he looks sad. He said that he and Devon were having relationship issues, and it seems like that James has still some feelings for me. Tito Edwin told me that it was the perfect time to talk to him. So I did, and James refused me, point-blank. I kissed him and he pushed me away!”

Sam raised his eyebrows. “So?”

Aleli raised her hand, as if Sam was so stupid to get her point. “Tito Edwin would not say such things if he likes Devon for James. Why would he encourage me to talk to him? He does not want to let that plain girl be part of the Rocafort family.”

Sam’s thoughts started racing.  Everything seems to be falling into the right place.  And then he remembered something from that night.  A subtle remark from Mr. Rocafort that seems so insignificant at that time. Mr. Rocafort offered him a glass of wine and casually told him, “To your forthcoming happiness.”

What do you mean by that Tito, Sam asked.

Mr. Rocafort smiled and told him before leaving the dining area, Everybody gets what they want Sam.

He has an idea of what I was feeling for Devon.  Was he referring to Devon and James’ soon-to-happen breakup, Sam thought wildly.  He remembered what Devon told him, they look good together. Was she referring to that night, did she saw them that night and realized that she could never take Aleli’s place, Sam thought.

Aleli obviously unaffected by what she has told Sam, started digging into her food.  Sam was seized by the sudden urge to stand up.  He has to tell Devon, but eventually decided against it.  Sam remembered his father once telling him, If there is one person in this business I don’t want to be against with, that is Edwin Rocafort.

Edwin Rocafort’s reputation of being a ruthless businessman is widely-known.  But it does not necessarily mean that Mr. Rocafort can be equally ruthless when it comes to his son’s relationship, Sam thought.

“Earth to Sam,” Aleli snapped.

Sam snapped out of his thoughts.  He has to collect himself, he should think clearly about the situation and not rush into it.

What good will it bring if he decides to tell Devon the truth on how Tito Edwin pushed Aleli toward James? Perhaps he should talk to James.  But talking to James will mean that he will lose Devon.  He would certainly try to win Devon back, and where will it put him,  Sam told himself.  He tried his best to listen to Aleli but all that he could hear was his inner self debating.  Should he follow his heart’s desires or make his loved one happy?


James was in a middle of a meeting, with Mr. Rocafort silently watching his son.  James showed signs of lack of interest, it seems that his mind is elsewhere, and Mr. Rocafort knows where it is.  

All throughout the meeting, Edwin Rocafort will notice his son with the far-away look in his face, he would tap his pencil on the pad and doodle on the paper, pretending to listen to the presentation. He sighed. 

After the meeting, and when everyone in the board room has left. Edwin Rocafort approached James.

“At least, try to listen,” Mr. Rocafort stated.

James looked at his father and said, “At least, pretend that you care.”

James walked out of the board room even before Edwin Rocafort could react.  He shook his head.  He stared out the window and wished that life would have been simple.  He is one of the most powerful men in the country, and his life will never be simple.  He started out of the room when he saw someone blocking out his way. It was Sam.

“If you’re looking for James, he’s probably in his office ,” Mr. Rocafort said.

But Sam did not budge from his position in the door.  “I came to see you.”

“What do you want? I just finished a meeting, and I am really...” Mr. Rocafort sighed.

“How can you live with it,” Sam asked, distraught.

Mr. Rocafort eyed him. “What do you mean?”

“How can you live with the fact that you just ruined your son’s happiness?” Sam pressed.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Mr. Rocafort denied.

But Sam was not listening. “You planned all of it. Somehow you managed to do it. You made sure that Devon saw what was happening between Aleli and James.”

Mr. Rocafort eyed Sam suspiciously.  “You have great imagination, Sam.”

Sam became furious. “You made sure that Devon saw them!”

“What’s so bad about that?” Mr.  Rocafort snapped. “So what if she saw them?”

“You goddamn hurt her,” Sam nearly shouted.

“Everybody gets hurt!” Mr. Rocafort answered back.  “You fall from your bike, someone steps on your foot, somebody leaves you. Everyone gets hurt.”

“You have no right...” Sam angrily started.

Mr. Rocafort suddenly felt all the frustration of trying to make everything fall into their right place. “I have the right to do what’s good for my son!”

“By ruining other people’s lives? By making them unhappy?” Sam pointed out.

“Don’t pretend that you are not going to benefit from this,” Mr. Rocafort said sarcastically.  “You like Devon, now that she’s free, you can have her.”

Suddenly his anger towards this man in a spotless suit is running out, he is beginning to pity him. “Is that how you see people? Relationships? Something that you can just own, just one of your business takeovers?”

“She saw what was coming. If she followed her common sense, then this would not have happened. Her parents would have not been involved,” Mr. Rocafort explained.

But before Sam could react, a cold voice interrupted them.

“What do you mean you’ve got her parents involved,” James coldly asked.

Sam looked behind him and saw the ruffled James standing behind them. He doesn’t know how much he has heart, but he guessed it was enough.

“Don’t mind what I have said,” Mr. Rocafort calmly instructed James.

“Don’t mind? You just confessed on sabotaging my relationship with Devon, and now you’re telling me to not mind it? I don’t know the whole story yet, but I will,” James slowly empathized each word.  “You better tell me now.”

“There is nothing to tell,” Mr. Rocafort denied, trying to pass between James and Sam.

“There is,” James carefully regarded his father. 

“I didn’t do anything. In fact, I helped her,” Mr. Rocafort smirked.

James looked at his father’s eyes.  This man who is a known shark in the business, always knows what he wants and gets it.  This man, who happens to be his father, is known to use his upperhand and force to get what he wants.  James finally realized what he did to her.

“You blackmailed her. I know how you work. You threatened her,” James angrily said. Mr. Rocafort did not respond, his silence affirming what James thought. He tried to get into his father, but Sam was able to hold him back. “If you lay one finger on her...”

“I did it for you,” Mr. Rocafort said, looking tired despite his polished look.

“You did it for yourself,” James angrily answered back. “You did it so no one would question your authority, your power! You did this to keep your bloody company!”

“I have dedicated my life to this company,’ Mr. Rocafort angrily expressed. “You have no idea the sacrifices I did for this company which fed you, put you to school, and placed that expensive excuse for shirt on your back.”

Mr. Rocafort swallowed hard, James fury evident in his eyes. But Mr. Rocafort is not yet done with his tirade.

“And I am not going to let a second-rate lecturer with a pathetic future to be the wife of the future president of this company,” Mr. Rocafort is now shouting. “My son deserves more. I deserve more!”

For a brief moment, James and Edwin Rocafort looked at each other square in the eye.  Nobody backing down, until James finally broke the silence.

“From now on, you leave her alone. Leave us alone,” James angrily demanded.

“Or what?” countered Mr. Rocafort. “You’ll walk out on me?”

James looked straight on. “Watch me,” James turned around and started to walk away.

“You will be nothing without me. The moment you step out that door, you are no longer my son. I am disinheriting you,” shouted Mr. Rocafort.

“Keep your money and power,” James answered, calmly.

James left, leaving his father staring at his back. Sam quickly followed James out of the door.  Edwin Rocafork sank into the plush swivel chair inside the boardroom, realizing, for the first time that he cannot control everything.  He, the powerful Edwin Rocafort who was joked to be so capable of making everyone follow his wishes that even the weather will obey him, cannot even make his own son take his side.  For the first time, he realized that there are just some things that will not bend to his will.


Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.