Begin at the beginning
Two hours after Richard’s phone call, Maya still lies in the hammock, swaying aimlessly, staring at the ceiling, unmindful now of the beauty around her, tears falling slowly, trying to digest the fact that the man she loves belongs to someone else, and that he is about to bind himself forever to another person.
She sighed. What else can she do anyway. In the scheme of things, they are just friends. Yes, their friendship is ‘iba’ but still, he never hinted to her that he feels more for her despite the signs she is seeing. Or maybe, she is just looking for meanings she wants when there are none, assuming! He never took advantage. Richard is the perfect gentleman. One of the reasons she fell deeply in love with him. Maybe she is really just a friend to him!
Life has a way of taking an unexpected turn, sometimes when you least expect it. It could happen in minutes, in days, in months, in years or with a single event that triggers the change. In this instance, with a phone call Maya’s world took a different shift, the same way it did two years ago when she decided to take up graduate studies. Maya never thought that she would meet someone that would make her life richer and brighter, by finally pursuing one of her goals – to be in the diplomatic service.
Maya is in a hurry. She is late for her first class in at the PUS Graduate School. She overslept. Her fault din naman as she have this habit of reading books, especially romance novels until the wee hours of the morning.
“Arrrgh, of all days, bakit ba kasi wala akong self-discipline when it comes to those happily ever after books,” she chided herself.
She arrived at the designated room for her class , which is open to several other majors, including hers, since it is a general subject. She need to complete two general subjects for her masteral and this is what is being offered this semester.
Maya looked around and saw an empty chair in the front row. As much as she does not want to sit in front, she gets self-conscious as she is a tall girl. However, she does not have a choice, it is the only remaining sit since she was late. She approached the two guys sitting nearest the only empty chair.
“Hi, is this seat taken?” She asked them.
The guy wearing glasses, gave her a warm smile, and told her that the seat is vacant.
“Hi, I’m Richard Lim.” He said and offered Maya his hand.
Maya looked at the guy who was kind enough to offer her the seat and realized that he is one handsome chinito guy, with a lopsided smile. He looks like he is in his early 30s, to her 25.
“Hi, I am Maya dela Rosa, taking up Philippine Studies.” She said with a bright smile, without being aware that her smile lit up her whole face and makes her look more attractive to the chinito guy who can’t help but stare at her beautiful face. “Nice to meet you Richard. What is your major?” She asked as she offered her hand in return.
“Oh, I am taking up LLM, so is my friend here, Ryan Molino,” he replied.
Maya looked at the other guy and saw a friendly-faced middle age man. Ryan said hello to her as well.
Before they could talk further, their professor arrived. He gave them the course outline and also grouped them into three for the report they have to do as part of classroom requirements. Maya ended up being grouped with Ryan and Richard. For some reason she can’t explained yet, she feels happy that she will have more interaction with Richard.
When class was over, Richard, Ryan and Maya decided to go to the nearest cafe to discuss their topic and how they would split the work among themselves.
“So, Maya, where do you work?” Ryan asked as soon as they sat down with americano for Richard and Maya, and mocha frappe for Ryan.
“I work for The Manila Beat. I am one of their staff writers/reporters,” Maya explained. “How about you and Richard, what law firms are you connected with?”
“Well, I am actually a trial court judge in Batangas, and Richard here is a partner in a law firm in Makati.” Ryan named the firm and Maya is duly impressed as it is one of the biggest and most prestigious firms in the country.
“Oh really, your profession sounds very interesting!”, Maya exclaimed. She has been fascinated with law, mainly due to the books and legal television series she likes very much. She also thought of going to law school at some point.
“Not really,” Richard replied. “Yours is much for interesting. I think, I now know why your name sounds familiar. You are the journalist who wrote that funny, irreverent but very insightful piece on that controversial cabinet secretary, di ba? Most of my colleagues talked about that brilliant piece for days!”
Maya smiled sheepishly. She asked Ryan and Richard how long they have known each other and they told her that they were classmates and friends in law school.
The three continued getting to know each other after they have agreed on a plan on how to do their report. Maya thought the two lawyers are easy to get along to and are very down to earth. Richard, on the other hand, finds Maya very witty and a complete opposite of the girls who are pretty conscious of themselves with him, wanting to attract his attention.
Maya seems oblivious to Richard’s good looks that has been known to turn heads everywhere he goes. He smells good, he is very nice, a gentleman and very intelligent.
However, Maya, unknown to Richard was trying hard to stop her kilig, every time she loooks at him- the way his eyes disappeared into a very thin line when he laughs softly. She is also attracted to his intellect, not just his looks. She likes guys who are very articulate, without sounding pompous, and good conversationalists.
Two hours later, Ryan asked to be excused as he has a long travel to Batangas, being a Saturday.
Maya and Richard opted to stay and chatted some more. Both felt like they have known each other a long time. The chatter of the coffee shop got lost in the background as they seem to be in their own world. Like they are in a hurry to find out everything they could about each other.
Maya learned that Richard is the only son of Filipino-Chinese businessman Roberto Lim who is into property developments, and Esmeralda Lim, a well-known supporter of aspiring but brilliant performing artists. Richard is the first Lim not to join the family business and took up law instead. Richard told Maya that he tried in the beginning, by majoring in business and accountancy, then becoming a CPA, but after passing the board, decided to enter their alma mater’s law school. Now, with his background, he is his firm’s specialist in corporate laws.
On the other hand, Richard learned that Maya is the youngest daughter of Teresita Dela Rosa, a well-known potter, based in San Nicolas, Mindoro. She has a sister, Cristina Rose who she fondly calls “Kute”. Cristina helps their mom in the shop/restaurant/gallery they opened up to make her mother’s art more accessible. He learned that Maya thought of becoming a flight attendant while in college, but the lure of the written words was stronger. She took up Mass Communication and ended up in the prestigious Manila Beat after finishing university.
“Naku, it is getting late na pala talaga Richard! I better head home.” Maya noticed that they were the only customers of the coffee shop.
“I didn’t notice the time too. You are so easy to talk to, Maya.” Richard stood up and waited for Maya. “I will take you home.”
“Thank you Richard, hwag na baka maabala ka pa. Medyo late na.” Maya demurred, but at the back of her mind, she does not want the evening to end yet.
“Maya, I insist. Late na and your place is not out of the way. Nadadaanan ko nga iyong village niyo every day eh.” Richard insisted.
Maya thought that Richard is a gentleman for doing this and agreed to be driven home. While in the car going to Quezon City, they continously chatted about their interests – from books, to movies, music, and even politics where they had heated but good-natured exchange of points of view.
“Thank you Richard for taking me home and for a wonderful Saturday evening.” Maya said as she stand in front of a townhouse inside a village near Commonwealth Avenue. “Pasok ka muna and have coffee. I would like to introduce you to my nanay-nanayan, si Manang Fe, iyong yaya ko noong maliit pa ako na nabanggit ko kanina!”
“Maya, next time na lang. Nakakahiya naman sa kanya, medyo gabi. Thank you very much for a wonderful evening also and I am so glad you ended up sitting beside Ryan and I in class.” Richard said while gazing at Maya warmly and giving her his best lopsided smile. “See you next Saturday.”