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Author’s Note: This story is completely fiction.
Chapter 2 – Lunch and Revelations
Texas Roadhouse was one of the many restaurants along Bonifacio High Street. Tony suggested it earlier. He was craving for a good steak. He also asked Maria what she wanted to eat, and her answer was a burger. Tony had been doing a lot of research about where to eat not just around the area, but around Manila. Texas Roadhouse had both what they wanted.
Taking just a quick glance at the menu, he knew exactly what to order. It was going to be the Bone-in Rib-eye for him. The largest steak on the menu. He then glanced at Maria who was seated across from him. She had a frown and was biting the bottom part of her lip.
Maria was torn as to what to order. All the burgers looked good. But what she noticed the most was the price. It wasn’t her first time at an expensive place. On special occasions or team outings, she would go to places such as Vikings. They offered high end food buffet for less than P900. Now P600 for a burger?!
“Have you decided?” Tony asked.
“Tony, it’s all so expensive,” she admitted. “I would have been fine with McDonald’s.”
Tony could only chuckle and shake his head. “She will have the Bacon Cheese Burger, medium well. I will have the Bone-in, medium. One Combo appetizer and a Caesar Salad, please,” he told the waitress as he took the menu from Maria.
“Drinks?” the waitress smiled, taking both menus.
“Um… Coke Zero please,” Maria replied.
“Mango Shake,” Tony replied as well.
“Very well.” The waitress then walked away, leaving the two in their booth seats.
“Thank you again, very, very much for the clothes,” Maria smiled widely. She gave her Old Navy shopping bag next to her a brief hug. Never had she had such nice clothes.
Tony chuckled again. “It was my pleasure, Maria.”
“How will I ever thank you? Repay you?”
Tony raised his hand up. “You saying thanks is good enough. Do not worry.”
“You have always been so kind. Even back many years ago. Always giving me my favorite chocolate.”
“Have you ever tried the blue Snickers? I mean the one with the blue wrapper.”
“Blue?” Maria’s eyes widened in shock. “A special kind?”
“Crisper is what it’s called. Instead of peanuts, they have the rice crispies. You know, like the cereal.”
“Oh! I have never tried that. I have not seen them here.”
“I will get you some. I honestly prefer it over the original.”
“Really? Well then, I cannot wait to try it.” Maria smiled widely casino şirketleri from cheek to cheek as she clapped silently.
Tony smiled. Maria was obviously the same Snickers lover.
“So, how many years will you be positioned here?” Maria asked.
Tony gave a slight shrug. “At least 5 years.”
“Where is your office? Still the same as before, Ayala Avenue?”
“No. Anta actually relocated a few years ago. Do you know the Net Lima building?”
“Yes. Why but you are not staying in Forbes Park like Mr. Franks before?”
“It was offered.” Forbes Park was the most expensive village in the country. It was right at the edge of Bonifacio Global City, or BGC as it was called. Obviously they where in it. The company normally paid for the rent anyhow. “But I don’t have a family like him,” he admitted. “So I opted for a condo nearby. And when I retire, I might want to buy it.”
“You are not married?” That was surprising news for Maria.
“Divorced, no kids.” Tony sighed. “Amber. She was too career focused. What about you?” Now was the time to get some needed questions answered.
“Me?” Maria frowned. “My life is a boring story.”
“Well then who is Randy?” Tony questioned. “I heard you grumble his name as you were texting him earlier. A boyfriend? Husband?”
“Randy?” Maria then laughed.
Tony was about to ask why, but was interrupted when the waitress arrived with their drinks and appetizers.
“He is a gay guy,” Maria informed him. “We are renting an apartment together. Also, we work together on the same team.”
“Surely you have a boyfriend.”
“No. Never. Never been kissed either,” she confessed. “Like I said, my life is boring.”
“Well, so is this 50 year old’s life,” Tony pointed to himself.
“No. You have travelled the world. I wish to do that one day.” Maria reached for a wing and started to eat.
“Perhaps so. Travelling for work isn’t always a good thing.” Tony watched her start to eat. “Good?”
“Very delicious!” Maria replied. She just finished the wing and grabbed a potato skin.
Tony reached for a cheesy jalapeño bite. He felt happy making her happy. She had quite an appetite by the looks of it. Not that he was complaining.
“Maria, since I am back in town, I barely know anyone, would you accompany me to places like Mall of Asia? There are many places that I would like to see.”
“It would be my pleasure. We have the same off days right?”
“Yes. But there are other things I have to do. Like get a new car. The company has casino firmalari given me a company driver, with a Toyota Camry. The driver I can use any time, but the car is old. The company is offering to buy car within a budget.”
“I suggest something big. An SUV. Some streets of Manila can get flooded. Not here, but other places. Better to be safe.”
“So I have been told.”
Maria felt her cell vibrate again. “Excuse me.” She stopped eating and then pulled it out of her pocket, reading a text from Randy. It was the 2nd time she pulled out her cell since their arrival. She and Tony exchanged numbers earlier. “My God!”
“What happened?” Tony asked. That didn’t sound good.
“I guess I will be sleeping at the office this weekend, till Monday night,” Maria sighed as she placed her cell on the side of the table.
“Sleep at work?”
“Yes, there are bed bunks and showers there. It’s okay.”
“Is it Randy?” Sleeping in the office didn’t sound okay.
“Yes, he and his boyfriend are back together again. So that means… you know.”
Yes, Tony knew. Sex—makeup sex to be exact.
“Even if I have my own room, they get really loud. I even asked Randy why not ask Mark to move in with us. It will help with the expenses. He said it will just make things more complicated, more drama.”
“Why not rent your own place? I am sure you earn enough for it.”
“I am paying for a small townhouse that has not yet finished being built in Cavite, it is a new subdivision, new everything. It’s 25 years to pay. After 1 and a half years, it should be finished. I can live there. Work in another call center by that time. It is an investment for myself.”
Smart girl Tony thought. Her head was obviously in the right place. She was obviously brought up well. “Then why not stay with your Mom in… Ermita was it?” He couldn’t recall exactly.
Maria sulked. She gulped for a moment the spoke, “She is dead. My father was drunk, got very angry. Killed her, and then killed himself. I was 17.”
“Oh my God! Maria, I am so sorry!” Tony gasped in complete shock.
“I stayed with my lola and lolo (grandmother and grandfather) in Batangas for only a year. Our house burned down. It was an accident. My greedy tito (uncle) Jun then sold their land. He rebuilt a smaller house, but then he tried to… tried to…” Tears started to run down Maria’s cheeks. The memories were so painful.
Tony reached for both of her hand, holding them tightly in his. “What, Maria?” he asked through clenched teeth. He prayed to God güvenilir casino that he wouldn’t hear a certain word that started with an R.
“… Rape me,” she continued as her voice faded. “I ran away here to Manila. I had no one and just had to continue living, starting to work. I never finished college.”
“Did you tell anyone? The police?”
“No. No one in the province would have believed me. They would just say I’m joking, this girl from Manila, making up stories. I started working as a waitress then became a call center agent. I have no other family. Randy has become like a brother to me. Not even he knows.” Maria took a deep breath trying to stop her tears. She felt like a heavy burden was somewhat lighter on her shoulders. “My mom would want me to be strong. I am still trying.”
Tony was in more shock if ever possible. She just told him her deepest most painful secret. “I am glad you told me, Maria. And trust me when I say you are strong—the strongest woman I have ever met. Listen…” he pondered for a bit trying to think on how to word things. “Don’t sleep at your office this weekend. You can sleep at my place,” he offered. “I have more than enough space. A spare bedroom. Work is no place to sleep.”
Maria look at him through the last tears that were still in her eyes. She bit her bottom lip.
“Trust me, I won’t hurt you,” he gulped. He was hoping that she would trust him. God’s he wanted to just wrap his arms around her and keep her safe. “Or, if you don’t trust me, you can stay at one of the hotels nearby. I will pay for the accommodations.”
At the center of the table, Maria looked at their intertwined fingers. She was holding onto her just as tight as she was. Odd that she felt… safe. She didn’t question why and just wanted to feel it more. However, she knew very well that she didn’t want to cross any line and make Tony upset or feel like she was using him. “With you but… You have already given so much to me today. The clothes are a wonderful gift. I don’t want to be a burden to you. I am no one.”
“No, do not ever, not once think that you are a burden to me. All the more, think that you are no one. Believe me, you are special to me.” Tony’s voice was filled with the most sincerity.
“Excuse me,” the waitress arrived back with the main course.
After setting it down, Tony noticed that Maria seemed like she lost her appetite as she just stared at her food. “Please eat. It is never good to skip meals.”
Maria did as told, taking a small bite out of the burger. It was delicious, but she didn’t feel like reacting.
“After this we will shop a some more. You will need more clothes and sleepwear. Bag, necessities, whatever else you need to spend some time at my condo.”
Maria didn’t feel like objecting anymore. Tony… Safe…
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