|Someone Like You
Author: judevanderhall PM
Dianne is 30, directionless and dissatisfied. An unplanned reunion with her former flame, Luke, forces her to re-evaluate her life and choices. But she broke his heart 8 years ago, and he's not quite over it.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Humor - Chapters: 4 - Words: 10,819 - Reviews: 39 - Favs: 16 - Follows: 31 - Updated: 09-26-11 - Published: 09-12-11 - id: 2951831
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Fructus Vitae warehouse was an unremarkable, grey building down a long street of other unremarkable, grey buildings. Alexandria was the warehouse and factory outlet centre of Sydney, and it would be Luke's home, Dianne presumed, for the next few months. When she entered the warehouse, she could hear the familiar sounds of The Fugees bouncing on the walls of the empty building. It only took recognising a few bars of Killing Me Softly to transport her back to her first conversation with Luke, where they shared their mutual love for Lauryn Hill.
"Hello?" She called out.
There was no answer. She sighted an office and conference room on the second level and walked up some stairs at the back of the warehouse. With every step, the music got louder, and when she arrived at the door of the music's source, she took a deep breath and knocked three times. The door opened to reveal a man, probably in his early 30s, grinning from ear to ear, with a cup of coffee in his hand and favouring the right side of his body.
She smiled in kind – his grin was infectious. "Yes, yes I am."
"Di's here?" She recognised Damien's voice calling out from somewhere behind the Wall of Human that the man in front of her made.
The man looked over his shoulder and, still not moving from his spot, answered, "Sure is."
"And do I hope to have the same pleasure of knowing your name?" Dianne asked with a quirk in her mouth.
"Of course - I'm Evan," he said in a broad Northern English accent, "Luke's business partner." He held out his hand and continued, "Pleasure to meet you!"
Dianne took his hand and was ready to have her hand crushed with his, but it was surprisingly delicate – and soft. "What hand cream do you use?" She asked without thinking.
Evan was amused by the shorter woman and answered proudly, "It's baby smooth, eh?" Dianne nodded. "It's Dove – I've been using it since I stopped playing." He stepped aside and let her enter. "That is – when I stopped playing rugby."
"Ah, yes, Luke mentioned we had a former elite athlete in our midst," she said as she followed the limping Englishman to the communal workspace, where there was an assortment of desks and computers in the middle of the room. "I apologise in advance if my woeful hand-eye coordination offends you in the future," she continued, "because it will."
Evan laughed as Damien walked over to meet them and high fived Dianne out of the blue. "Hola senorita – buenos dias," he began with a cheeky grin. "You like that? I know you like a little of the Spanish. I definitely know you feel safer using Spanish. Maybe there'll be a lot of Spanish today."
"Maybe you should shut up," she said through a smile.
"Oh! You speak Spanish?" Evan said with glee, unacquainted with Damien's reference to the previous evening. "Como esta? Yo habla español tambien, pero solo un poco!"
Damien started laughing as Dianne turned to Evan and said politely, "I don't actually speak Spanish; it's just a bit of an inside joke."
"There's no joking in my workplace – let alone any laughing," Luke interrupted when he walked out of an adjoining office. He could hear them outside and thought he'd best make his entrance. "It means we're not being productive." The trio looked up to him who had in tow a small, weedy man in ill-fitting trousers. "Morning," Luke said with a smile – a much genuine one than Dianne had seen on his face since they met again. "I was joking, by the way," he told Damien and Dianne. He seemed in good spirits and very relaxed, which endeared him to Dianne.
"I like them already," Evan told his business partner.
They heard a small cough beside Luke, who took the liberty of introducing the person. "This is Brian, our comms guy."
He pushed his glasses up his nose and slicked back his hair, which was straw-like in both colour and consistency. "Brian," he began – his voice resembling someone with a permanent cold, "Brian Elliot - pleased to meet you." He punctuated his introduction with a fit of sneezes and wiped his nose, first with the back of his hand, then the ball of his palm. "Sorry, I'm allergic to dust."
"And peanuts," Luke said.
"And everything else," Evan added with a sly grin.
"I was born with a deficient immune system," Brian explained matter-of-factly to the two new arrivals, completely unaware that his bosses were obliquely teasing him. "I have to be vigilant." He blew his nose with a hanker-chief he took out of his pocket. He then took out a bottle of hand sanitiser and thoroughly disinfected his hands.
Damien turned to Dianne, biting his tongue to stop himself from laughing, and gave her a look that would have roughly translated into words as, is this kid for real?
"So, I've planned for all of us to have brunch, so we can all get to know each other better and discuss our plans for the next few months," Luke started, "but before we do, we have a Skype session with one of our partner farmers in Ghana."
A loud, clear ringing cut through the music just as Luke finished his sentence and, with a remote on a nearby desk, Evan turned off the stereo and turned on the plasma screen sitting on one wall, where a smiling African man came into view. Luke, Evan, Dianne and Damien sat on the desks in front of the TV with Brian awkwardly standing to the side.
"Hello Peter," Luke said, "can you hear and see us?"
"Yes," Peter replied, "how are you Sir Luke and Sir Evan, you have friends with you!"
"Yes, these are our Sydney people."
"Finally in Sydney!"
"That we are mate," Evan said, "and they'll be working with you soon too."
"Hello," Brian squeaked from the periphery.
"It is good to meet you all." Peter waved and, like excited kids, Damien and Dianne waved in return. "Welcome to the team," he told them.
With that simple greeting, Dianne realised that for the first time in her life she was excited about her job.
# # #
It was an uncharacteristically balmy Sunday afternoon for June, and Dianne was with her family at her parents' house in Edgecliff. It was a beautiful structure – a freestanding Federation mansion that had been lovingly restored by the previous owners. She was enjoying lunch in the garden with her papa and sister; her mama was still in her office.
"Cecilia tells me you have a new job?" Enrico, her papa, mentioned to Dianne in perfect Tagalog.
Dianne looked at her sister sternly before nodding slowly. She and her sister could speak and understand the language, as their parents made it a point to teach them. "Yes – it's with a farming company," she answered in the same language. Her family had a habit of conversing in both English and Tagalog.
"Agriculture is very lucrative," he continued.
"Yes – something like that."
Enrico studied his daughter carefully; she was avoiding eye-contact, which usually meant she was hiding something. He decided not to push it, just happy that she was working again. "Your mama will be happy."
Cecilia bit her tongue, knowing their mama would definitely not be happy if she knew it was with Luke. She instead continued to eat as Dianne shrugged. "Let's hope she is."
"Hope I'm happy about what."
A Filipino woman walked through the open French doors towards them, and sat at the patio table next to her husband. Justice Leonida Gomez was a judge in the NSW Supreme Court; she was the first Asian woman judge of this Court; and, the first Filipino. She walked with a distinct air of grace and dignity, and with a drive that hadn't diminished at even 60 years of age. And, for such a small woman, she could be very firm and surprisingly intimidating.
"Dianne got a new job."
Justice Gomez nodded pleased. "Good," she stated simply. "Doing what?"
"Agriculture," Dianne answered.
"Similar to what I was doing at Rio Tinto."
"That's good – is it permanent?"
"At the moment, I'm on contract for the first phase of the project."
"I' m glad you're working again even if it is contract at this moment."
They ate in silence for the rest of the meal and after lunch Cecilia stood up to make them coffee.
"There was an article in the Fin Review that I read, which I found interesting," Enrico began; her papa was a Director for McKinsey and Dianne forgot that he had a subscription to the paper. She already knew what he was about to say next: "It was on young millionaires. And, Leo," he addressed to his wife, "you would not believe who was profiled."
Her mama reacted in surprise. "Him? A millionaire!"
"Yes, he's started some kind of fruit delivery service in the UK and is back in Sydney to expand here." Enrico looked pointedly at Dianne. When Dianne mentioned the area of work she would be entering, the pieces fell into place for him and, he was guessing, his wife was able to join the dots too.
Leonida looked at her daughter with a quirk in her brow: "Agriculture – you say?"
Cecilia walked out with a tray of coffee and served them, noticing how tense her sister was. Dianne swallowed and said, "Like I told you, it's a contract role."
Her mama's lips pursed and she shook her head. "Are you chasing this boy again?"
Dianne frowned. "What? No! He just offered me a job."
"Of course," her mama sighed.
"What do you mean of course? It was Damien who organised it for me," she fibbed.
"I don't know how I feel about this; it doesn't sound like it's very stable."
"Oh, okay," she began sarcastically, "it's only worth millions."
"In another country – yes – but not here in Sydney; what do you even hope to achieve?"
"You know mama, you always do this."
"You know very well what you do!" Dianne said in a huff. "This is a great opportunity, and I met his business partner and the team the other day and I'm very excited about this project." She knew she sounded like a petulant child, but her mama had the uncanny knack of drawing out this part of her.
Cecilia realised that the proverbial shit had hit the fan while she was making coffee, and their parents found out who Dianne would be working for. She braced herself for the argument she knew had already begun.
Leonida shook her head. "You could be doing so many other things rather than working with a start-up that I'm assuming doesn't even pay very well."
"It pays enough – I had a look over the contract myself."
"I do not understand your choices Dianne – first, you divorce Alex, a very nice man; then you quit your very good job. Do you want to be 30 with nothing to show for it?"
"And where exactly does my happiness come into the equation?"
They had this fight many times in the past and they could never – and probably would never – agree. Leonida had her reasons for putting her daughters under so much pressure to be successful; and, as much as Dianne knew what those reasons were, there had to be a point when she could claim ownership over her own life and happiness.
"You do this to get back at me." The judge said with dismissive wave, which only annoyed Dianne.
"No mama, I do this because you stifle me. I'm 30 years old. When are you going to let me make my own decisions?"
"When you begin making the right ones!" The judge returned with a quiet rage.
Enrico laid his hand over wife's hand; he had seen this all before: "Leo..."
"I know, but your daughter can't see reason."
Dianne gritted her teeth, more fired up than she intended to be. "Actually," she stood up, "screw this. I'm going home."
Cecilia looked after her sister as she disappeared into the house. She looked back at her parents and exhaled slowly. "I think you should ease up, ma."
Leonida turned her attention to her youngest. "Oh, and you're starting with me now, are you?"
"You know what," Cecilia said quietly, shaking her head, "just forget it. I don't want to ruin the rest of the afternoon."
Leonida worried that Dianne would be an influence on Cecilia, knowing how much she looked up to her elder sister. Leonida took the cup of coffee and drank from it before saying calmly, "I only want what's best for the both of you."
"I know you do, ma, but Dianne's obviously going through some things at the moment; maybe you should trust her a little."
Leonida felt the weight of Cecilia's words – and she had carried the weight of this sentiment with her for much longer than her family probably knew. She loved her daughters dearly, but it was difficult to reconcile herself with some of the decisions they made – especially Dianne. Leonida shook her head. "Trust her? This is the same girl who wanted to get married before she even graduated from her degree, with a boy she'd been dating for barely three years."
Enrico had watched the whole scene – and many more before it – with a heavy heart. "It's only a contract. At least she's got a job at the moment," he offered gently.
Leonida accepted this, and conceded with a nod. Still, she couldn't help but wonder whether her daughter had an ulterior motive for working with Luke Casey.
- # -