Settlement

The heat of the sun brushed off my bare shoulders as I pranced through the streets of Makati on my way to the office. I can smell the aroma of coffee beans and pastries from Starbucks. Looking at the time, I realized I was thirty minutes early before the scheduled settlement meeting with the clients.

“10:30 AM. Perhaps I should buy pastries and coffee for the other party and his counsel to show peace.” I thought to myself.

As a lady lawyer, it has always been a struggle to find a field where I can excel. The natural bias against women who are lawyers still thrives to this day. I chose the art of settlement as my forte.

I first show my intention to make peace by showing etiquette: using words I know the other person would want to hear. I must consolidate the wishes of the opposing client to mine. After assuming the opposing counsel’s trust, I submit mine and try to present it in a manner that won’t pose as a detriment to his/her client. Presto, I play them into my hands. It doesn’t just end with words though, appearances can be held in your favor: I dress for the occasion. Having a youthful face and sincere eyes will always play in my favor. I also make sure that I look presentable: not too slutty, but leaves something for others to wonder. Most of the counsels I’m put up against are men, so I suppose mild seduction also helps. For example, now, I’m wearing a black off-shoulder blouse tucked in a black pencil skirt with a small slit that has white highlights. I finish it off with a pair of 3-inch stilettos and pearl earrings and a necklace to show power. It’s meticulous and sometimes ridiculous, but appearances do matter.

I don’t want to call it as it is, but to be frank I sort of manipulate the opposing counsel to succumbing to a settlement that I personally think would benefit my client more, without the other party knowing — lawyering, such a glamorous and noble profession.

After entering the glass door of my firm, I was immediately greeted by Malcolm, my secretary.

“Good morning Atty. Evangelista, your 11:00 AM is already inside the conference room.”

“Is the opposing counsel there yet Malcolm?” I asked.

“Not yet miss. I was informed that he’ll be running a little late.”

“Good he’s a man. Do you have any inside information as to who is?”

“I was informed that the other party changed counsels because of the incompetence of the previous one. I don’t really know who he is but I heard he has a pretty solid record.”

“What law school did he graduate from?”

“Ateneo Law School.”

“You know the school, but you don’t know who he is?” I asked puzzled.

“I just overheard it from the opposing party when I let them in the conference room.”

“So, you’re telling me that your basis for the information are biased praises from the opposing counsel’s client?”

“…Yes. I’m sorry ma’am.”

“It’s okay Malcolm, it’s not your fault. Don’t blame yourself.” I cheered him up.

“What’s your plan of attack attorney? Is there anything I can do to help?”

“You can start by prepping the pastries and coffee from Starbucks. Serve it to them first. Let’s hope the opposing counsel’s already there when I make my entrance. He’s from Ateneo right? I’ll just have to base his personality from my past adversaries.”

“Cocky, arrogant and intelligent lawyers?” He answered jokingly.

“Yes Malcolm.”

“Okay ma’am. Best wishes. I know you’ll close this. I’ll fix the pastries and coffee first.”

“Wait, before you go, do I look okay?”

“Maybe you should put your hair down madam.” I abided by his wishes and put my hair down.

“Better?”

“Beautiful, miss.”

“No falling in love with your boss Malcolm.”

“It’s been a struggle ma’am, but I’ve accepted the fact that you don’t date younger men.”

“Yes, even if they’re good looking younger men.”

“I’ll go ahead attorney. Good luck.” While Malcolm was walking away, I couldn’t help but stare at his butt. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t date younger men but it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate beauty when I see it. I guess me having a dry spell for around eight months now isn’t helping at all, but I have to forego my primal urges for now, to face the real enemy.

I gracefully and confidently walked down the hall leading to the conference room. I was told by Malcolm that the opposing counsel has already arrived. Perfect. Another day at the office for one the firm’s best closers — or so I thought.

Thump. Thump.

I think my heart just skipped a beat.

Thump. Thump.

I couldn’t help but be startled. As soon as I entered the conference room, I saw my client, the opposing clients and their counsel — someone I know; someone that used to play a part in my life, a person… that I once had.

He still has that stern, angsty appeal I used to drown myself into before.

Considering my pride and ego, I forced myself to speak and to look unintimidated by his presence.

“Good morning gentlemen, sorry for the… delay. I hope you indulged yourselves with the food. It’s going to be a long morning.” I spoke as I walked towards the table. I shook the hand of the opposing party and then I directed my attention to him, the opposing counsel.

“Atty. Ang, it’s been awhile.” I said as I mustered up the courage to shake his hand and look at his eyes. He took my handshake and I swear I felt electricity spread through my body as I felt his strong grip once again. It still feels the same.

“It hasn’t been that long Atty. Evangelista. It’s been what — three, four years?” He replied with a confident tone. It felt like ages ever since I heard his voice.

“Four years I believe.” I politely replied.

“I see you’ve been keeping count.” He cockily replied. This bastard — he’s still such a prick and a clever know-it-all. We always had debates and we almost always tried to outwit one another. Two can play at that game.

“Not really, I’m just not that person who forgets easily. I’m sure you know that.” I smiled at him and he replies with a smirk.

“Attorney, you two know each other?” My counsel asked me.

“Yes.” I replied confidently.

“And how so?” The opposing party asked Matthew.

“She’s… an intimate acquaintance of mine.” He replied with a damn smirk on his face.

“But I assure you gentlemen, our personal ties won’t be a problem.” I exclaimed.

“Always the one who had to say what others wanted to hear weren’t you attorney?” Matthew shrugged. I am appalled, but of course I can’t let that show. It’s obvious that he just wants to get under my skin. I know him too well.

“Not really attorney, I have always been straightforward and honest, as opposed to others.” I shot at him. He gave an uneasy look. Good, I got him.

“Well, allow me to be straightforward Atty. Evangelista, we’re not taking any form of settlement at the moment.” He snapped.

“And why is that Atty. Ang?” I inquired. He stood up and placed his hands inside his pockets. The vivid image of his broad shoulders and his toned arms sent a little chill down my spine. Focus Stella. Focus on the case.

“As you may have already known, I’m the new counsel for this on-going case. I want to know everything about the facts before I allow my client to settle with yours. I want to make sure there will be no irregularities. I’ve already talked to my client about it and he agrees.”

“So what was the point of this whole meeting attorney?” I asked.

“Well I wanted you to know that I’m going to handle the case, you know — in the spirit of equity and fair play? I didn’t come here to settle, I came here to make things clear.” He expounded. He shouldn’t have said that, he really should not have said that.

“Well I guess this is better than settling for something that has not proven its worth yet.” He looked at me with an uncomfortable scowl. The two clients didn’t know what the hell was going on.

“Atty. Evangelista, I’ll confer with my client this afternoon, but may I drop-by your office tonight to discuss matters regarding about the case?” He said with a stern and stoic look.

“Yes of course. The sooner we resolve this case, the better.” I smiled. I adjourned the meeting and gave everything in my power to resist slapping the living shit out of Matthew. I was infuriated with the whole exchange. What bothers me even more is the fact that he had the guts to implicate our past relationship like it was just one of his little sexual exploits — cocky, arrogant smartass!!

I told Malcolm to not let anyone inside my office. I dialed my best friend. I needed to let out some steam.

“Hello! What’s up?”

“Rinna, I can’t fathom everything that’s happening right now!!”

“What’s wrong Stella? Did something happen?”

“YES, SOMETHING HAPPENED. I’m handling this case and guess who’s opposing counsel!”

“Mara the little bitch from UP?”

“No. Even worse!”

“Uhhh, that asshole of a blockmate you had back in UST? Uhhh, Drew?”

“NO.”

“Sweetheart, I’m in the middle of checking papers, tell me straight.”

“Leonel Matthew Ang.”

“Matthew… your ex?? YOUR FIRST?”

“Really, that’s how you remember him? Not even as the guy I dated back in my law school days?”

“Oh my gosh!!! I’m laughing so much right now.”

“I can hear your joy. I don’t find anything amusing in my situation right now.”

“GIRL EVERYTHING’S AMUSING. Isn’t it awkward to face an ex in court?”

“I don’t know. What do you think?”

“How is he? What does he look like now? Is he still a hottie?”

“Stop saying those things Rinna!!”

“Well, answer! Does he still look good? Or did his broad shoulders and toned arms diminish through time? WAS THERE SEXUAL TENSION??”

I couldn’t answer. Everything about his looks didn’t deteriorate. He still had those broad shoulders and toned arms. Of course, his stern but sincere eyes were still in place. His tall stature still commanded control but his big, firm hands also exhibited gentleness each time I felt his touch.

“Stella??? HELLO?”

“Never mind those trivial matters! I don’t know what to do!”

“What is there to do? Be professional. He’s just your ex! It’s not your fault… wait whose fault was it again as to why you two split-up?”

I couldn’t answer, because I knew it was my fault. He had his faults, but I ultimately blame myself. He was still in love with his best friend, but I was too blind to see that he couldn’t be straight with me so we could address the situation because he was too afraid. He couldn’t trust me because I didn’t give him the right assurance that I wouldn’t leave him — that I would do everything in my power to stay. He loved me, but he couldn’t trust me.

“Atty. Evangelista, your 2 PM is already in the conference room.” Malcolm informed through the intercom. I bid goodbye to Rinna and just asked for luck and prayers. She’s right. I didn’t have a choice in the matter, I must be professional, after all, it’s just another day in the office.

I proceeded with my normal day at the office. We even had a senior partner treat us to wine, steak, and cheese during dinner because of his recent win. Life as a lawyer has its perks mainly alcohol and money. It’s also fulfilling to help other people of course.

I was in the parking lot about to go to my car when Malcolm called me.

“Ma’am, Atty. Ang is in your office.”

I paused.

“Malcolm, I’m a bit intoxicated from the wine courtesy of Atty. Gonzales. Can you repeat what you just said?”

“Atty. Ang said he told you during your conference with him that he’ll meet you this evening to discuss matters about the case.”

SHIT. I completely forgot about all that! What the fuck, that was so careless of me!!

“Uhm, Malcolm tell him to wait for about five minutes.”

“Yes miss.”

I had to get my shit together before I go and see him. I feel a bit tipsy but I can still manage. At least the intoxication will get rid of that sense of awkwardness.

I sheepishly make my way back to my office. While I was walking through the halls I kept whispering, “shit”, repeatedly. The only good thing about this is if I do something stupid, nobody from the office will be able to see because most of the associates and partners already went home.

I make my way to Malcolm and he leads me inside my office. I go inside my office to see him sitting down with his legs crossed, arrogantly smiling at me. I force a smile back. I take a seat and ask him to sit in front of my desk.

“I’m apologize Atty. Ang, I for-“

“Well you’ve always forgotten things that seemed to involve me.” He quickly retorted. I glared at him and his smirked was wiped off his face.

“Have you been drinking?” He asked concerned.

“We had a little wine earlier, but I’m not drunk.” I snapped back.

“And your secretary told me that you were driving?”

“Yes. I have a car attorney, is it such a peculiarity that a woman owns a car?”

“But you’re intoxicated.”

“And you just finished smoking but you don’t hear me bitching about it. Have not done that before?”

“We both know that I can handle alcohol better than you. The flush on your cheek is already a sign of a higher level of intoxication. I still remember that.”

“My personal life is not your concern attorn-“

“Cut the attorney bullshit Stella.”

“Excuse me?”

“Both you and I know we’re way past the last name basis.” He leans on my desk. The proximity made me feel so uncomfortable so I stood up and proceeded to get the file on the case. My heart was beating excruciatingly, but I was trying my best to be stoic and focus on professional matters.

“Since you persist, Matthew, let’s discuss the case.” I get the file and as I turn around, I see him standing so close to me — his face literally inches from mine.

“Go ahead. I’m listening Stella.”

“Why must you stand this close?”

“Why? Do I still make you uncomfortable?” He insults me. I will not let him get the upper hand.

“FINE. I do believe that the case requires intricate evaluation of the mortgage involved between your client and mine.” Each time I’m able to let out a statement about the case, he comes closer and I’m forced to take a step back. The recurring process occurred until my back was completely against the wall.

“I can easily scream and Malcolm will come inside my office to kick your ass.” I retorted.

“That’s actually a viable option since I am not one to back down from a fight but the problem my dear, is that his office hours end at 9:00 PM. Am I right?”

Shit. I forgot Malcolm automatically leaves at 9:00 PM. How does Matthew even know all this?

“D-did you plan this?” I stuttered.

“Plan? How could I be capable of such a feat? That’s a big accusation Atty. Evangelista!” His sarcasm compelled me to slap him but I couldn’t move. I was under his will.

“Well if there’s a person that planned something else tonight, it must be you. I mean look at you. Your outfit is a clear indication that you meant to seduce your opposing counsel, am I right?”

I couldn’t answer him. I couldn’t even look at him. I know that he’ll take my silence as a small victory because it’s an indication of me being under his will. He raised my chin and tilted my head. His eyes met mine. I could feel his breathing, as I know he could feel mine. My body temperature was rising.

“Well Ms. Evangelista, you seduced me pretty well.” He leaned closer and I pushed him away, dropping the files in the process.

“Stop what you’re doing.” I whimpered.

“No.” He asserted. He leaned close and I continued trying to stop him. He grabbed my hands and pinned my wrists on the wall and kissed me. He kissed me hard. I felt his soft lips devour mine. He inserted his tongue in mine. I couldn’t even respond because I was still so dazed and confused. I kept on fighting but he was just too strong. He grabbed both my wrists using his right hand and removed his necktie with his other hand. He tied my hands together and hanged it from my wall lamp. He continued devouring my lips as he removed his Americana.

“Stop, Matthew please.”

“Is that you begging Stella?”

“NO.”

“Then I won’t fucking stop.” He nibbled my ear and kissed my neck. He left trails of hot kisses from my neck to my collarbone. His right hand suddenly groped my right boob and I let out a moan. He raises my top and starts massaging my breasts. He knew how much touching my breasts turned me on. Each forceful squeeze he gave made me moan louder and louder. I was mentally slapping myself because I could see him smirking as he looked at my flushed sex face.

“Did you miss my grip?” He whispered in my ear. I couldn’t answer and he continued to play with me. He raises my bra and starts to lick my left nipple.

“NO, PLEASE STOP. NO.” I kept on moaning as he circled his tongue around both of my nipples. He starts sucking on my left nipple and playing my right one. My legs are becoming weak as the sensation echoed through my body. After licking, biting and sucking my breasts, his lips trailed down my tummy to my lower stomach. He caresses my legs and starts to raise my skirt. Despite the presence of my black stockings, I could still feel the electricity of his touch. He rubs my vagina just to hear me squirm and moan before finally removing my black underwear. I try to close my legs together but he overpowers me and inserts his middle finger inside of me.

“Someone’s really wet. Do you know who?” He teases.

“No.” I barely respond.

“You really don’t know?” He asks as he starts to stroke my vagina harder.

“AHHH NO AHHH” I moaned. He inserts a second finger and I moan even louder.

“Well then I’ll have to show you who then.” He vigorously fingers me and starts to lick my clit. He inserts his tongue inside of me as he continued fingering me and I kept on moaning and moaning. I remembered how good he was going down on women. I couldn’t take it anymore. I missed his touch, I missed his voice, I missed him so much. I want him so much. I moaned louder as I succumbed to the pleasure of his touch. He stops and unties me from the lamp and I fall out of exhaustion. He removes his polo and he removes his shoes and his pants, exposing his broad shoulders and his fit stature. He makes me stand up and removes all my garments except my stockings. He kissed me passionately and forcefully. I can feel the years of frustration from every kiss, lick and touch that he did to me. He positions me to kneel and he fucks my mouth. I was met with a familiar taste — him. I lick him and start thrusting his penis inside my mouth. He holds my head and continues fucking my mouth for a few minutes and he raises me up to kiss me again. He leads me to my table and he proceeds on spinning me around. He starts to trail kissing from my nape down to my back. I lose it. I completely lose it. He knew how sensitive my back was. He knew that I lose my senses each time he slides his lips all over my back. How much fire it trailed down my spine. He goes up to whisper in my ear, as he grabbed my neck with my back still facing him, “Did you miss this? Did you miss me?”

“Y-yes.” I stammered.

“I’ll make you miss me even more.” He bit my ear. He starts positioning his penis at the entrance of my vagina and suddenly fucks me. I raise my right leg on the table for him to have a better position to thrust in me. I lean on the table to ready myself for his size. God he’s so big. It hurt before because I was a virgin, but it hurts even now because of his size. He continues to thrust in and out of me. He starts to kiss my back and play with my nipples as he thrusted from behind me. I kept moaning his name. “MATTHEW, MATTHEW, MATTHEW, YES, YES, OH FUCK ME, FUCK ME HARDER. I MISSED YOU, I MISS YOU SO MUCH. I WANT YOU. YES, YES.” I kept on moaning. All the years of me saying that I didn’t need him was biting me in the ass — literally and figuratively.

He changes our position and sits down on my office couch. He makes me face him and continues thrusting in and out of me. He looks at me as I bounce on him. I encircle my arms around him as he scratches my back and sucks my nipples while thrusting so hard.

“I’m coming, I’m coming, I’m coming.” I moaned.

“Let’s come together.” He stammers. Through the years we were together, he always had a hard time making me come, but after taking my virginity, he always made me come during sex and this circumstance was of no exception. We come together and I fall on him.

I think the exhaustion and the alcohol got into my head. Everything felt blurry after we had sex. I could only feel warm kisses all over my body.

I wake up and I find myself… not in my room. Where the fuck am I?

“Good morning Ms. Evangelista.”

I see Matthew standing in front of me, shirtless but with his pants on. The sunlight easily perpetrated the white drapes of his condominium and illuminated the whole room. The light exposed every edge of his face and body. I looked at him uneasily. I couldn’t find the strength to speak anything else aside from the three words that poured out of my mouth.

“I’m sorry Matthew.”

He smiled back. Right then, I knew that this day will allow me to win the biggest settlement that I could ever have in my life.