Laws of attraction
Maya arrived early the following morning. At last, her jet lag is gone. Even, if it took her a while to fall asleep last night, because of Richard and his thoughtful gesture that day. She had been thinking, geting tempted actually, of talking to him, so that she would know what really happened, and why did he not tell her that he is connected to Lim Corporation, and move on from there. She just need to get over her hurt feelings first. Let’s see, I will take it one day at time, Maya told herself.
Maya was not the only one early that morning.
“Good morning, Maya!” Richard greeted her with his usual lopsided smile when she entered the elevator. She was startled as she didn’t expect Richard to be sharing elevators with the employees. When Sir Roberto was the CEO, he only used the elevator reserved for him.
“Good morning, Sir.” She said politely. She then chatted with his EA, Lisa who was sharing the elevator with them. She remembered Lisa’s little niece. “Kumusta na ang niece mo, Lisa? Is she still taking ballet lessons?”
“Okay naman siya Ms. Maya. She is enjoying her lessons. The school you recommended is great!” Lisa replied, at the same time, noticing her boss gazing at Maya. Hmmm, she thought, something is really going on between these two. “Thank you ulit for the help.”
Maya and Lisa chatted about general stuffs, until they reached their floor.
“See you, Lisa. Sir, I will go ahead.” Then she was off like a bolt of lightning to her office.
Richard just gazed at Maya’s departing figure. He can wait, he mused. She did tell him before that she can’t stay mad long with someone she was annoyed with. Madali raw mawala ang galit niya. Richard rememebered they were talking then about her cousin who borrowed car without permission when she needed to go somewhere important. He hopes, it is the same, in his case, that her anger will subside, for them to talk, him to be forgiven, and patch things up.
Maya was greeted by her secretary with a big smile when she reached the section occupied by the foundation. She was a bit puzzled, but thought that Minerva may just be happy about something. Then, she saw it right away when she opened her office door, a brown box with beautiful purple and yellow ribbons. She pressed her intercom.
“Yes, Ms. Maya.” Minerva said when she picked up.
“Minerva, kanino galing itong box?” Maya asked, though she had an inkling on who it was from.
“Dinala po kanina nung secretary ni Mr. Lim, Ms. Maya. I put it on your table na lang, para pagpasok mo, makita mo agad.” Minerva explained. She was also getting curious why Mr. Lim’s secretary’s trips to their office are getting more frequent, with something to give to her boss. But she dared not ask. It is her boss’s business. She will wait until she mentions something.
“Oh, okay. Thanks a lot.” Maya said as she settled down to her seat, and started unraveling the ribbons with trepidation. What she saw made her teary-eyed. She lifted the framed photo from the crumpled layers of japanese paper that protected it, and touched it lovingly. There was a small card with it, but she will read it later. Ah the memories with this photo, she thought.
Richard, at his, office was also remembering the memories associated with the photo he sent Maya. He hopes that by making her remember their good times together, it would be easier to forgive his lie by omission.
Since the trip to Gamla stan, and with the exception of the night the institute gave a welcome party for the course participants, Maya’s evenings following that, were spent with Richard. They had dinner in some of the popular and interesting restaurants in Stockholm. After dinner, they usually go for a walk, chatting, getting to know each other more and more. The more Maya knows about Ricky, the more she likes him a lot. He waited for her at the lobby of her hotel every evening. When she sees him there, waiting patiently, her heart beats faster and there is an unexplained happiness in her being. Some of her colleagues noticed, and even asked if he is her boyfriend. She clarified that he is just a friend and a fellow Filipino. They were surprised, and when she asked why, they told her that he looked like he is in love with her, and it was the way he was spending most of his evenings with her.
“Maya, what is you plan this Friday night?” Richard asked as they walked around the shopping district.
“Hmmm, wala naman. Some of my fellow participants want to go out for drinks and unwind a bit. But I am not sure yet if I will go.” Maya replied as she checked the display at an H&M window. “Bakit?”
“Well, I will invite you sana to dinner with my sister Rafi, and her family.” Richard said, hoping Maya will agree. Rafi wants to meet her also. He told her about Maya when she got curious why he was always going out in the evening when he didn’t know anyone in Stockholm. Rafi must have heard something when he talked about Maya for she looked at her with so much happiness and teased him that she would like to meet the girl that finally made her brother’s heart beats faster and that is making him to act out of character. “If that is okay with you. But I guarantee you, you will like my sister, and my makulit na pamangkin. Rafi’s husband is also very nice.”
“Hmmmm, okay. Sure, this is okay? Baka it is a family dinner. Ikaw nga, parati mo na akong sinasamahan, when you are supposed to visit your sister on this trip.” Maya said, though, she feel a bit nervous about meeting Richard’s sister and at the same time, feels happy that he will introduce her to a family member.
Richard have told Maya a bit about his sister. That she have been living in Sweden since she got married to Magnus, a Swede, who works for the foreign ministry. They met each other in the Philippines, while Rafi was working as a visa officer in the Embassy of Sweden in Manila. They got married in the Philippines on the request of their parents, but she moved here soon after. Richard also mentioned that aside from her being his sister, she is also his bestfriend. They have been very closed since they were kids, having born only a year apart. Now, aside from being a stay at home wife, Rafi writes children’s books. She also does some translation work, being fluent in several languages.
Richard was waiting at the usual place in the lobby of Maya’s hotel, Friday evening. Maya came down several minutes after he arrived.
“Ricky, hi. Let’s go.” She greeted him warmly.
He looked, and caught his breath. She is so beautiful. Maya is wearing a violet dress that reached a little below her knees, with lace overlay and cinched by a ribbon-shaped belt. She had minimal make-up on.
“Maya, you look lovely.” Richard said admiringly.
“Okay lang ba this one, for the dinner?” Maya asked uncertainly.
“Yes, yes, you are very fine.” Richard assured her. He was dressed in a light blue shirt, dark pants and a coat, and he looked very handsome. She noticed that he was getting second looks from the ladies who passed by the lobby to dine at the nearby hotel restaurant.
Maya had a wonderful time with Richard’s sister and her family. Rafi was very easy to get along with, so was her husband. Philippa is a joy, looks like a doll, and full of questions. Richard was very solicitous, always asking her if she is okay, asked her if there is something else she wants, and told her that she should feel at home. She felt so cherished. A fact that didn’t escape Rafi.
“Maya, what did you do to my brother?” She asked while Maya is helping her load the dishwasher. Rafi initially refused, but Maya insisted, and anyway, Magnus wanted to consult Richard on an investment he would like to make. They went to his office, so Maya went with Rafi to the kitchen.
“Ha, what do you mean Rafi?” Maya was surprised at the question.
“I haven’t seen him this way, so caring, so loving!” Rafi remarked. “In fact, you are the first girl he introduced to me.”
“Really! But your brother and I are just friends. In fact, ilang araw pa lang kaming magkakilala, though, parang ang feeling ko ang tagal na.” Maya explained at the same time, felt her heart jumped with Rafi’s revelation.
“Hindi halata, Maya. Pero, whatever it is, hindi na ako magtatanong kasi baka Ricky will be mad at me na for being kulit to you. But I am so glad he had met you.” Rafi added, then hugged Maya. “ I hope the two of you will be together, no matter what.” She added cryptically. She knew her brother didn’t tell Maya about his connection to Lim Corporation. She was against him not telling her, but Ricky appealed to her, promised to her, that he will tell Maya soon.
Maya thanked Rafi and Magnus for having her for dinner. She and Ricky left the Erikssons’ place around 11PM. They walked back to the hotel. She thanked Ricky for another wonderful evening. They agreed to meet early the following day, being a Saturday, to go to Skansen, the open-air museum that was in Maya’s list of places to see in Stockholm.
The following morning, Maya was up early for the trip to Skansen. Ricky also brought Maya a cup of coffee when he picked her up. Maya loved Ricky’s thoughtfulness.
When they arrived at Skansen, the sights, sounds, and the interesting things she can see overwhelmed Maya’s senses. According to the information she got online, through the years, around 150 historical houses and farmsteads have been moved to the museum, the oldest open-air one in the world. It also made mentioned that the museum depicted urban life in Sweden during the 18th and the 19th century. It is like it is a living museum, Maya mused. Ricky and Maya visited most of the houses and farmstead. They also liked the fact that there are historical guides in the houses and farmsteads and that they are wearing period clothes. It made the experience much more interesting. It was like being transported to 18th and 19th century Sweden.
Maya and Richard also watched traditional glassmaking and pottery making in the workshop section of the museum’s town quarter. There was also a folk show which they enjoyed a lot. They also ate traditional Swedish food. As they went around, they ended up in the market and in it was a traditional photo booth of sort, where you can wear period costumes and have a souvenir photo taken in black and white, reminiscent of old times. Maya egged Richard in trying it so that they have a nice souvenir of the place. They posed for the photographer who was also wearing period clothes. Some of the other tourists also took photos of them, while they laughed and had fun posing. Maybe, they thought, it was not very common that two Asians posed here, wearing Swedish period clothes. Some of them even remarked that they looked good together. They just looked meaningfully at each other and smiled at their audience.They got a copy each of their photo, wherein Richard was standing a little behind Maya, his hand on her shoulder, while Maya was sitting on the bench with hands on her lap.
Maya looked at the framed photo she was holding, and smiled at the memories. She then remembered Richard’s note and opened it.
I hope we can talk, and let me explain, when you are ready.
Yours for always,
Several minutes after, Richard’s interoffice chat program beeped. There was a message from Maya’s username. All it said was: