Maya settled into her seat more comfortably, now that her plane has started its journey to Singapore from Paris. She has more than 13 or so hours ahead for this long flight and a change of plane in Changi Airport before she makes it back to Manila. She was looking forward to going home after two weeks abroad. This has been the longest time she was away in recent years. Normally, the company just sent her one country at a time. Of course, she also took a couple of days vacation with this trip. This have been a very productive trip, businesswise, and personally, an unforgettable and a very memorable one. She was looking forward to seeing her mom, her Ate Cristina, Abby and she admitted to herself, in seeing Richard again, very much.
It such a short time, Richard became a big part of her thoughts. Maya does not know yet what is this thing with him or what do they really have. But she would like to see where it leads. She is happy to be friends with him. She really likes their exchange of emails. Sometimes, she felt there was more to what Richard was saying in the e-mails – like meeting his parents, going on trips with her, or taking her to dinner when she returns. But Maya does not want to assume or overthink things. She decided to take things one day at the time with him. All she know, is that she enjoyed his company and their time together very much. It is helping her overcome her fears and wariness, little by little and one day at a time.
Maya can’t really sleep in planes so she decided to catch up on her reading. She downloaded books for her Kindle before she left the Manila and she still has a couple of crime novels, to read and keep her awake. When she got tired of reading, she switched to watching movies, including two of her favorite classic films, Casablanca and An Affair to Remember. She still cried at the end of both movies, even if she had seen those several times already. She thought that if Richard was with her at that moment, she will be teased about her crying bit. She smiled at that thought. After a while, sheer tiredness made her fall asleep on the last couple of hours of the flight. She was very sleepy when she arrived in Singapore. The first thing she looked for, after they landed, was a cafe so she can have her caffeine boost while killing more than two hours or so in Singapore. She does not feel like going to the shops, so she just walked around the airport, then sat near the orchids garden and relaxed a bit.
Finally, several hours later, her plane landed in Manila. She was very happy despite feeling the effects of her long flight. Maya was among the last passengers from her flight to exit, as it took a while for her luggage to be on the baggage conveyor belt. She was walking towards the arrival hall, after calling their family driver, Kuya Joma, when someone called her name.
“Maya, Maya Dela Rosa!!!” A girl in a Time Airways flight attendant uniform called as she waved at Maya happily. “Maya, Maya, good to see you! It has been years!”
Maya looked closely, smiled and exclaimed. “Edselyn Viray! Nice to bump into you here. Kumusta na? We haven’t seen each other in ages.”
Edselyn was one of Maya’s close friends, barkada in college. They have lost touch after graduation as Edselyn moved to Australia with her family. Maya didn’t know that she have been back to the Philippines.
“Yes, it has been a while! So happy to see you, Maya! Were you in my flight? I didn’t see you.” She asked after she gave Maya a big hug.
“No, I flew Singapore Airlines.” Maya said. “Kumusta ka na? I didn’t know that you are back in the country and that you are working for Time Airways na! Naku, Ruby will be glad to see you too. We ended up working together pala.”
“Talaga, I would like to see her din. Let’s get together soon. I have been back here more two months. I took care first of my job application with Time Airways. I used to work for a regional airline in Australia, pero I still like to stay in the Philippines, so I told mom and dad, I’m going back and settle here. Mabuti, my cousin told me about an opening in TA. I applied, got the job, so here I am.” Edselyn said happily, then looked at the guy beside her. “This is my cousin pala, James Ventura. He was also the pilot of my flight. Kuya James, this is Maya Dela Rosa, iyong sinasabi kong college barkada ko.”
Maya noticed then the tall, good looking, mestizo guy, beside Edselyn. He smiled at her and offered his hand. “Hi Maya, please to meet you. Eds mentioned you before, also a Ruby Ramos?”
“Nice to meet you. James. Yes, Ruby. She was the third girl in our barkada.” Maya said simply as she shook his hand, and gave him a friendly smile. “O, paano Eds, mauuna na ako. Baka paalisin na si Kuya Joma doon sa pick-up zone. Text, text na lang. Here’s my card. I’ll go ahead, James. Nice meeting you.”
She and Eds hugged one last time, promising to call each other and meet with Ruby when they are all free, then Maya walked out of the terminal. True enough, Kuya Joma was outside already and was about to drive around when she came out.
“Naku Kuya Joma, pasensya ka na. May nakita kasi akong college friend ko sa loob.” Maya said as she settled in the back seat of the car. “Kumusta na? How’s your son? May nabili pala akong Lego toys for him. Tamang-tama for his age at sa hilig niyang mag-build ng blocks.”
“Welcome back, Mam Maya. Okay naman po siya. Makulit. ” Joma said as he started getting out of the busy airport. “Thank you po sa pasalubong kay Marco. Iyong mama niyo po, excited nang makita kayo. Sasama nga po sana siya sa pagsundo sa inyo, kaso siya na ang sumundo kay Abby sa school dahil may emergency sa office si Mam Cris.”
Maya chatted with their long time driver a bit during the long journey to her family’s home in an old, quiet part of Quezon City. That house her been the only home she knew since she was born. She grew up happy in that house, until her father decided that he didn’t ‘want’ his family anymore. Good thing, her mom was a strong woman and managed to weather the storm that hit her marriage, for the sake of her children. Now, her mom is quite content running the family’s chain of bookstores. She didn’t remarry, even if a lot has courted her. She is good friends with Maya’s boss Miguel. It turned out they knew each other when they were kids.
Maya rushed to their sala as soon as Kuya Joma parked the car. She embraced her mom tight, then, Cris and little Abby. “Mom, Ate Cris, my cute na cute na pamangkin. Na-miss ko kayong lahat. So happy to be home.”
“Kami rin Maya, hija, we missed you. Let’s have dinner. I’m sure sa traffic na inabot niyo ni Joma, gutom ka na ulit.” Mommy Tessie said as she ushered Maya, followed by Cris and Abby, to the dining table.
“Oo nga mom. Saka I missed Filipino food na rin. Ano ba ang inihanda ni Ate Sabel?” She asked as she took her seat. “Wow, my favorites!”
The Dela Rosas chatted a bit while eating. Cris asked her sister how her trip have been. She also teased her sister and asked if she met a tall, handsome, prince while in Denmark.
“Naku, hindi, both of them are married na kaya, Ate Cris.” Maya jested, but she blushed about the remembered meeting with Richard.
“Uy bunso, bakit ka nagba-blush? May na-meet ka doon, ano?” Cristina Rose teased her sister. “I’m getting curious about that blush.”
“Cristina Rose, stop teasing your sister.” Mommy Tessie good-naturedly scolded her eldest, though she too is curious what made her bunso blushed.
The Dela Rosa women moved to their sala after dinner. Maya gave her pasalubong to them. She got Abby several sets of Lego for girls, her sister a Viking mug, and a Marimekko bag, and for her mom, she bought porcelain tea cups and saucers from Royal Copenhagen for her collection. She didn’t notice that she also took out the flower key ring and the Little Mermaid replica from Richard when she opened her suitcase.
“Wow, this is cute.” Cristina Rose said as she held up the key ring for a close inspection. “Georg Jensen design pa! I always like their designs, very lovely to look at.”
Maya looked and smiled meaningfully, got the key ring from her sister, touched it lovingly and simply said. “Oh, it was gift from a friend.”
“Hmmm, medyo lumalalim ang misteryo. And who is this friend?” Cristina Rose asked. She and Maya are very close so she knows her sister does not mind her teasing her like this. Maya has been her rock and main support, aside from her mom, when she found herself pregnant eight years ago, and her boyfriend Jeff disappeared from her life.
“Ikaw talaga, Ate. Bayaan mo, I owe you a lot of kwento. Abby is getting sleepy na, o.” Maya said as she pointed to her niece who was happily playing with her new Lego collection earlier while she, Cris and Mommy Tessie chatted, but is now very sleepy.
Cristina stood up to carry her daughter to bed, said good night as well, since she will go to work early the following day. She works as an editor of a magazine for career moms. Since Jeff left her, she hadn’t had another serious relationship, though, she dates from time to time. She just devotes her whole time to Abby.
When it was just the two of them, Mommy Tessie asked Maya if she would like to have coffee with her in the veranda as she missed her a lot while she was away. Maya made the coffee and gave her mom’s the one with cream as she prefers.
“So, Maya hija, sino naman itong friend na nagbigay sa iyo nung flower key ring, if I may ask?” Mommy Tessie asked as she sipped her coffee. She and her daughter has a close relationship and she is glad that she confides in her, both her kids do. It was one positive effect of her husband, Arturo, leaving her. Mother and daughters bonded. She is lucky to have Cristina Rose and Maya. They are very loving daughters.
“His name is Richard Lim, mom. Tito Miguel is a friend of his dad. His family owns Lim Holdings and Ricky handles the shipping side of the business. We actually saw each other first here in Manila, but met properly, and by accident in Copenhagen. He is a very nice guy and a gentleman.” Maya told her mom how she and Richard met and their adventures in Denmark.
There is something in Maya’s voice that her mom detected when she is telling her about Richard. If her intuition is correct, she thinks her daughter has feelings for this guy or starting to have feelings for him. In a way, she is glad, as she knew Maya was afraid to love because of her dad leaving them and Jeff abandoning Cristina Rose.
“He sounds like a a very wonderful person.” Mommy Tessie remarked. “Maya, hija, when the time comes, don’t be afraid to love, to take a chance. Life is about taking chances. Yes, you get hurt when you love, sometimes, but it is better than not loving, of always being afraid to love. I hope what happened to me and your dad did not sour you on having a lasting and meaningful relationship with the right person. Some relationships just don’t work for a number of reasons. It takes two to make it work. Sometimes, it was not just meant to be. I don’t regret loving your dad. We had our happy times and good memories too. Besides, how can I regret it when it gave me you and Cristina Rose. Someday, I might love again, I am open to that possibility.”
“Mom, why are saying these all of a sudden? We are just talking about me meeting Richard. He is not a boyfriend and he is not courting me either. We are just good friends. Surprisingly, we just clicked.” Maya said, puzzled why her mom turned serious on her. “I admit I like him, but I don’t know where it would lead. For all I know, friend lang din ang tingin niya sa akin. I am just enjoying his company.”
Maya’s mother just gave her daughter a meaningful smile. “Wala lang, just saying.”
“Mom, I am not closing my heart on a relationship. I admit I have fears, but maybe, the right person will help me conquer those. You know, my very own knight in shining armor who will slay the dragon for me.” Maya half-jested. “Halika na nga mom, sleep na tayo. I need to go to work tomorrow.”
Maya then half-hugged her mom as they went inside the house, and up to their rooms. “Good night, mom. Thank you for the things you have said. I will keep that in mind. Good night. I love you.”
The following day, Maya was at work bright and early. She had a good sleep. Maybe, because she was very tired. She just conked out after her head hit the pillow. Her co-workers chorused a welcome back greeting to her when they saw her. When she got to her desk, she saw a lovely bouquet of sunflowers.
“Hi Maya, welcome back!!!” Emman, one of the fashion buyers and a close friend of Maya greeted her and told her excitedly. “Heto, sis, may bonggang-bonggang pa-flowers for you. Ikaw na sis, haba ng hair! Hmmm, sino kaya ang may padala nito. First day of work, kaloka, may welcome back flowers agad.”
Maya smiled at Emman and made beso with him. “Nice to be back to Emman. I missed you and all your chika. I hope you will like my pasalubong for you! Hmmm, I don’t know kung kanino ito galing.”
Maya took a closer look at the flowers, curious on who sent her the beautiful arrangement. Her heart skipped a beat though. There was only one person she told recently that she loves sunflowers. She looked for the card, found it, opened it, and smiled, a smile that lit up her whole face.
“Sis, ang ngiti. Baka mapunit ang labi. Kanino galing?” Emman asked, curious.
Maya grinned at Emman, very, very happy. “Secret! Mamaya na tayo mag-usap, Emman. I have a meeting with Ms. Belmonte in an hour regarding my new responsibilities.”
“O siya, siya, ikaw talaga sis. You owe me tons of kwento, I think.” Emman told his friend. They have been friends long enough to know each other very well. He knows when to ask Maya stuffs. He respects her privacy and the boundaries of friendship. But, he has an inkling that someone is making his friend very happy.
When Emman left her office, Maya looked at the flowers, smiled, and read the card again.
Welcome back! I am so glad you are home. Have dinner with me please this evening?
Let me know. Have a great day.
Maya sat down on her chair with a goofy smile. She took out her phone and sent Richard a text message.
Thank you very much for the lovely flowers.
What a nice welcome back to me gift! 🙂
Is 7PM okay for our dinner?
Richard phone beeped as he was discussing something with Sonny. He excused himself to check his message. He hope it is from who he fervently hope it is from. He read the message and smiled. Yes, a message from Maya!
I’m glad you liked the flowers.
See you at 7PM. I’ll pick you up from your office.
Looking forward to seeing you.
He sent his reply, and still had a smile on his face when he returned to Sonny and what they were discussing. Sonny secretly smiled too. He has a feeling his boss is in love.
Richard happily went on with his day, counting the hours until he will see Maya again. Maya had the same feeling of anticipation. She will see Richard again!