Rebound was a 4 part series, which ended yesterday. Out of the 35 hits that was registered on the 4th part, 11 readers voted yes they wanted to read about the office romance between Ahmed and Tia.
I’m dedicating this series to the 11 wonderful readers who showed me their support.
Ricochet Part One
“Hey, you’re back.” Winnie greeted when she saw Tia walking through the door, “How did it go? Were you able to stop him?”
Tia shook her head, she threw her bag on her desk and turned on her computer. “They’re probably in the middle of their honeymoon now.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, for you, but I’m glad for Daniyati….Does that make sense?” Winnie commented.
“It does…” Tia gave a short reply followed by a sigh.
“Are you alright?” Winnie asked again.
“Yeah, I am. I’m going for some coffee.” Tia got out of her seat and went to the kitchen. She knew that she wasn’t alright. Even though he kissed her, but Ahmed never actually confessed anything to her. Now they were back to their normal lives away from the laid back setting that was Bali, will his feeling towards her change? Could it be that he was only caught in the moment? It would be safer for her to assume that way. She shouldn’t let her hopes up.
“Hey the boss is looking for you!” Ronald told her.
“The boss?” Tia’s heart thumped.
“Yeah, Mr. Dodi.”
“Ah, okay. I’ll be right there.” She wondered if she felt relieved or disappointed.
Tia walked to her supervisor’s desk, he had just arrived at the office, as she could see, he still had his jacket on. “Tia, take a seat.”
“Mr. Dodi, how was your weekend…” Tia smiled hypocritically.
“How was yours?” He replied.
“I had enough rest to recuperate.”
“Yes, I can see that, you look healthy, and even darker, that’s a nice tan, by the way.”
“A tan? This was because my mother made me sit on the balcony all day. She said that it would help with my cold.”
“Is that so? I’ll keep that in mind.” Dodi smiled calmly. “Okay, you can go back to your desk, I’ll let it go just this once, but don’t do it again. You’re lucky that Mr. Ahmed wasn’t here, if he knew that you weren’t really sick, he wouldn’t take it as easily.”
“I understand. Thank you.” Tia nodded.
“Here, these are yours.” Dodi stood up and gave her a pile of papers. “I covered part of your work, but not all….”
Tia walked back to her desk with her hands full, she sighed and shook her head. This is going to be a very long day.
* * *
Ahmed complained below his breath, his mother’s concern for his emotional state and his father’s futile attempt to show sympathy was not something he had expected. They were under the impression that he was heartbroken and depressed over Daniyati’s wedding.
“Thank goodness that girl had enough senses to resign from her position.” His mother commented. “I can’t imagine how awkward it would be for you to meet her everyday at work.”
“Luckily nobody in the company knows about your relationship with her.” His father added, “Can you imagine the extent of the gossip? The last thing we want is for the employees to be talking about us behind our back. That’s why I don’t agree that you to get involved with somebody from work. It’s too much trouble. Those girls only see you for your position and money. You can’t trust their sincerity.”
“I agree with your father, Ahmed. You should find someone from our own class, someone who can see pass our wealth, and love you for who you really are.” Princess Latifa backed her husband.
Ahmed he didn’t attempt to convince them otherwise. Not because he didn’t want to, but it was because he thought that if he told them about how he felt at the moment, they wouldn’t understand him. The last thing he wanted was for his parents to think that Tia was taking advantage of his broken heart to get close to him.
He parted with his father and mother on the elevator, as their offices were on different floors. Entering the office space he swept the area with his eyes, looking for the face he had been missing all night. He saw her sitting at her desk drowned under a pile of paper. He hid a smile, her serious and concentrated face was adorable in his eyes.
“Good morning,” Him boomed cheerfully.
“Good morning….” The staff responded.
He glanced as she looked up from behind the stack of paper. Her faced blushed at the sight of him. On purposely he passed beside her as he headed to his office. He wanted to call her name and hold her, but he knew perfectly well, that if he was to keep his relationship with her, he had to keep it under wraps. How ironical, now that he was mentally ready to show the world that he was in love, the circumstances wouldn’t allow it.
Ahmed pondered on how he was going to tell her about it. He didn’t know how she would take the news. Finally he decided that it would be better to keep it to himself. He didn’t want her to feel sad.
* * *
Tia was becoming frustrated, it was already 8:00 PM, and she had finally finished. Every body had left, she was alone in the office. But this was the price she had to pay for playing truant at work.
She almost jumped in fear when she heard a rustle at the door, “A ghost or a psychopathic murderer?” She thought to herself, grabbing her scissors and holding it in her hand. She slowly crept to the door to find out what it was, she leaned her body against the wall preparing to attack.
She saw the door slowly opening. Tia took a deep breath she braced herself and dared herself to pull the intruder by the arm and pushed him against a desk. “I’m armed, and I’m not afraid to use it!” She shouted pointing the scissors.
“If you missed me that much you should go ahead and say it. You don’t need to try to rape me.” Ahmed teased.
“You scared the life out of me!” She complained.
“I thought that you would be working overtime, that’s why I came back to the office after my meeting to take you home.” He explained.
“You’re going to take me home?” She asked in disbelief.
“You don’t mind do you?” He asked.
“No, no at all….” She blushed.
“Have you finished?” He asked.
She nodded, “Barely…..but thank goodness I have…”
Ahmed smiled, “That’ s what happens if you cut work.”
“Um….you really didn’t have to you know…” She muttered.
“I wanted to. Let’s go, there’s something that I wanted to talk to you about.” He said.
Tia felt a knot in her stomach, she had a bad feeling about this. She didn’t say anything, walking closely behind him.
Ahmed had made sure in advance that his parents had left the building, he pressed the elevator button and let her enter first. His silent during the elevator ride made Tia even more uneasy.
He opened the door of the car for her and let her enter. “Thank you.” She said.
“Do you want to find something to eat? My treat…..” He offered.
“I’m not hungry….” She replied while looking out the window.
“Listen, I wanted to talk to you about what happened back in Bali…” Ahmed started.
Tia smiled sarcastically, as she thought, “Don’t worry about it.” she let out, “I understand perfectly.”
“You understand?” His voice was full of doubt. “I don’t want you to miss understand, I really do…”
“You don’t need to explain!” She cut him off, “I thought as much…”
“Hey, don’t be upset, I want ….”
“Can you stop there at that convenience store, please. I have to buy some feminine products. It’s urgent.” Tia said.
Ahmed looked at her puzzled. He exhaled and turned the car to enter the parking lot. He parked the car, got off and opened the door for her.
“Can I see your car keys?” She opened her palm.
“Mm…I don’t see why not….” Ahmed gave it to her.
Tia received the key then threw it to the small garden behind them.
“Hey what are you doing?” Ahmed bellowed running to the garden to look for his keys.
Tia took the opportunity to run to the street, she quickly hailed a cab and jumped in. She could see from the corner of her eyes that he ran after her and her ears could hear him calling her, but she didn’t care, she wasn’t going to make a fool out of herself by allowing him to patronize her.
She gave the address to the taxi driver, leaning her head against the window she bit her lips to prevent her tears from falling.
* * *
“Why did you arrive home this late?” Her father scolded as she entered the living room.
“I had to work overtime.” She really wasn’t in the mood to explain.
“That’s what happens if you skip work to fool around.” He growled. “Did you think that I wouldn’t find out how you went off to Bali and shacked up with some man?”
“Papa, it’s not what you think.” She rebutted, she couldn’t control her tears anymore.
“Did you or did you not, go to Bali, to Jason’s wedding and shared a room with a man?” He repeated the question.
“I did, but it’s not like what you’re imagining, nothing happened, even though we shared the room, he slept on the couch.” Suddenly the memory became painful for her.
“It doesn’t matter, does it? Everybody is already making their own conclusions about you. Who is he?” He interrogated.
“What does it matter who he is? He’s nobody! Leave me alone, I’m an adult now, I don’t need you to run my life!” She shouted.
“How dare you talk to me that way!” He yelled at his daughter.
Tia ran into her room and locked the door. She laid down on her bed, ignoring her father pounding on the door. Covering her face with the pillow, she began to cry, her heart felt like it had been broken into a million little pieces.
* * *
“What happened to you?” Ronald looked at her oddly.
“Don’t tell me you cried all night?” Winnie held her head with sympathy.
Tia shook her head, “I’m just tired from working overtime last night, that’s all.” She replied.
“Eh-he, I believe you!” Winnie replied sarcastically.
Tia sighed, “Yesterday was not my day, that’s all. Nothing that a dose of work can’t fix.”
“Hmm, remember that you can talk to me about anything. Sometimes it helps to let it out.” Winnie said.
“I know, it does, but this case is different.” Tia murmured. “Very different.”
* * *
“Good morning everybody….” Princess Latifa entered the office followed by an elegant and smart looking young woman.
“Good morning….” They replied.
“As you know Daniyati, our HR Manager has resigned, I want to introduce you to Ratna. She will be taking over Daniyati’s position. She will be our new HR Manager.”
“Good morning…” She greeted with a gentle but affirmative voice.
“Good morning….” Tia parroted her friends.
They all watched as the boss’ wife passed by them to show Ratna around the office. As always, as soon as they left the room, the staff began to gather for the morning dose of gossip.
“Wow, what an elegance…..” Tia forgot her sorrow now that she’s in her nosey mode.
“She’s the daughter of Mr. Sumitro, one of the share holders of the company.” Winnie explained.
“Is that so?” Tia wondered, “How do you know all this?”
“You should know by now that I’m the gossip queen, of course I know these things. I make it my responsibility to know these things.” Winnie hooted.
“Believe her,” Ronald butt in, “Nobody can beat Winnie in that field.”
“Oh be quiet!” She slapped him. ‘i know who she is, because she’s been here before. If I remembered correctly, Mrs. Al Rashid tried to hook her up with her son a few years ago, before you started working here, but she didn’t succeed. That sly old she fox hasn’t given up, and now she’s taken the opportunity that there’s an opening in the company to bring Ratna closer to her son.”
“Is that so?” Tia could hear her own heart shatter.
“Hey! Get back to work! Stop slacking around Tia Chang!” Dodi yelled at them from his desk.
Tia rolled her chair back to her desk, for some strange reason she found it hard to concentrate today.
* * *
“Ahmed, guess who’ll be working with the company?” Princess Latifa knocked on the door of her son’s office.
Ahmed looked up from his computer, his face turned sour seeing the woman who walked into his office with his mother.
“And what position do you want her to fill?” Ahmed asked nonchalantly.
“Human Resources of course!” His mother replied.
“Human resources? They teach human resources in textile design school do they?” His voice was sarcastic.
“What’s wrong with studying textile design?” Ratna asked without taking offence.
“Nothing!” Ahmed cleared, “But from textile design to human resources, that’s a big jump.”
“Ratna is a smart girl, she’ll get the hang of it soon.”
“We’ll see…..” Ahmed looked back at his computer determined to ignore them.
“Ahmed…” Princess Latifa said to her son, “I want you to invite all the staff to a dinner tonight. I’ll cover the cost.”
“A dinner? What for?” Ahmed sneered.
“To welcome Ratna to our company of course. They have to start getting to know the future Mrs. Boss.” Her voice sounded more like an order than anything else.
Ahmed rolled his eyes in despair. “Like I don’t have enough problems already.” He mumbled.
* * *
“I don’t feel like going.” Tia shook her head.
“Oh come on, it would be good for you, it’ll help you take your mind off Jason.” Winnie argued.
“Jason?” Tia didn’t expect to hear her say that.
“Don’t pretend, you came back from Bali, failing on your mission. I understand that it would be depressing for you.”
“Right…Jason!” Tia said again. “Stop that!” She covered herself with her hand when her friend sprayed perfume on her.
“You have to smell nice and look good who knows you might meet someone interesting at the restaurant.” Winnie winked.
“Oh, cut it out!”
* * *
“Okay everybody mix the seating positions with people from other departments. You should take this opportunity to mingle with each other.” Ahmed announced at the restaurant in an attempt to stay clear of Ratna.
“Good idea, sir…” Dodi nodded.
“But I should sit next to you…” Ratna protested.
“What better opportunity to get to know the staff than mixing with them tonight?” He smirked, this gave Ahmed a better idea, “Dodi, who’s the biggest trouble maker in your department? Have this person sit with me.” He said.
“That’s easy, that would be Tia Chang!” Dodi replied.
Tia looked at her supervisor while pouting.
“Go ahead, sit near Mr. Ahmed.” Dodi looked at her with a serious face.
Tia didn’t want to argue in front of her colleagues, the worst thing that could happen to her right now, is if they suspected she felt something for Ahmed.
She walked to his side and sat on the chair that Ahmed pulled out for her.
“Dodi, why do you consider Miss Chang as your most difficult subordinate?” He asked again.
“She’s not difficult, Tia does a very good job, she’s detailed oriented, smart and efficient, but she’s stubborn, hot headed at times and she likes to chat with Winnie from accounting during work hours.” He explained.
“Is that so?” Ahmed pretended to look at her with surprise. “We can’t have that in our company. Starting tomorrow, you have to come to my office twice a day in the morning and in the afternoon for one on one mentoring sessions.”
Tia gasped, “What the……”