Richard became a frequent visitor to the MT Holdings offices. Him standing at the lobby, talking on the phone while waiting for Maya, or sitting at the coffee shop, became a familiar sight to Maya’s colleagues who felt ‘kilig’ at the unfolding love story in their midst. The coffee, breakfast with three sunflowers, or tulips, or roses became a fixture on Maya’s office desk every morning, since the first time Richard’s driver made the initial delivery. It has been almost three months since this started happening. It has been three months since Maya and Richard met each other in Copenhagen. It has been three wonderful months of getting to know each other, of being with each other, and enjoying each other’s company every opportunity they have for Maya and Richard.
Maya couldn’t be happier with the attention Richard is showering her. Yes, there are no verbal declarations of love, but actions spoke louder than words, as they say. Maya felt Richard is wooing her the old fashioned way. She likes it, and is enjoying it very much. She is happy and okay with the way things are progressing. The more she know Richard, the more she likes him, the more she loves him. Everytime she sees him, her heart skipped a beat and she feels very happy. Life is just wonderful.
Richard felt the same. He would like to make an open declaration of his feelings for Maya. But he would like to wait for the perfect opportunity for it. He wanted Maya to feel truly comfortable with him, to trust completely his feelings for her, and to be assured that he will always be there for her no matter what, if or when she opens her heart to him and accepts his love. He may yet to say the words, but he is showing her in every way he could that he loves her.
Richard was formally introduced to Maya’s family one Friday evening. Mommy Tessie repeated her invitation to Richard to have dinner in their house, when he took Maya home one evening. He was a hit with Abby, who didn’t want her ‘Tito Richard’ to go home. Her sister also told Maya that she likes Richard very much. Mommy Tessie became Richard’s number one fan. She told Maya that her first impression of Maya’s young man was right on. Though, Maya was quick to correct her when she says that, telling her that she and Richard are just very, very good friends. But observing these two, they are not just good friends, Mommy Tessie thought.
Richard was again at Maya’s house, waiting for her in the living room, chatting with her mom. They will watch the musical ‘Wicked’ at the CCP. The tickets for this was included in the breakfast Richard sent five days ago. Maya missed seeing ‘Wicked’ while in New York, opting instead to watch ‘Evita’ as Ricky Martin was the ‘Che Guevarra’ at that time. Richard told her that he hasn’t seen ‘Wicked’ either, so he got them tickets. They agreed to make a night out of it this Saturday – theater and a late dinner afterwards.
Maya descended the stairs half and hour later. Richard caught his breath. She was very beautiful in a violet classic cut dress that reached up to her knees, with her hair loose, wearing a light make-up and killer heels that showed off her long legs.
“Good evening, Maya. You look very beautiful.” He said admiringly, as he assisted her on the last few steps of the stairs, while Mommy Tessie looked on.
“Tama si Richard, anak. I like your dress. Bagay sa iyo.” Mommy Tessie added. “Maybe, it is better if you and Richard get going now. It will start to rain soon, judging by the dark clouds. You might get caught up in heavy traffic. Malayo pa naman ang CCP from here!”
“Thank you, Ricky, Mom. Yes, we better leave now Ricky.” Maya smiled at Richard. “Sorry, it took me a bit longer to dress up.”
“It was worth it, Maya. Besides, Tita Tessie and I had a nice time chatting.” Richard said, still looking admiringly at Maya. Maya’s mom told him to call her ‘Tita Tessie’ after his frequent visits to their house. “We’ll be on our way na po Tita Tessie.”
“O sige, ingat kayo. Enjoy. I read it’s a wonderful musical! Maya just let yourself in when you return.” Mommy Tessie said.
Richard put his hand on Maya’s back as he assisted her out of the house and into the car. Maya’s mom was right. The rain started falling several minutes after they hit the road. It was not a deluge, but it fell down steadily, enough to start causing heavy traffic in the metro. Richard thought it was a good thing they left quite early and made it to CCP with a bit of time to spare.
They stood in the lobby, together with the other theater-goers, while waiting for the ushers to let people in, to their seats. Richard asked Maya if she would like something to eat or drink. She declined. She was still full from her early dinner. Richard also ate an early dinner before he fetched Maya. They were chatting about their nieces’ antics when they heard Richard’s name being called.
“Ricky, Ricky Lim!” A girl who looked like she just stepped out of a page of a fashion magazine called Richard from the side of the lobby. She approached them and gave Richard a beso. “How are you, Ricky? I haven’t seen you out and about in a while!”
“Hi Ange! Yes, it has been a while since I have been out like this.” Richard smiled at the beautiful girl who greeted him. Maya just looked on, wondering who she is. Then, Richard brought Maya forward, holding her close to him as he introduced her to the girl. “Maya, this is a friend of mine, Mary Angela Buenavista. Ange, please meet someone very, very special to me, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa.”
“Hi Mary Angela, nice to meet you!” Maya said, blushing, as she smiled at the other girl, remembering also what Emman said, about her being Richard’s ex. She is lovely and she could be mistaken for a fashion model, if she is not that already, with her tall, slim built, and the way she carries herself.
Mary Angela smiled at the beautiful, poised girl beside Richard who looked very elegant in her violet dress. She read something different in the way Richard introduced his companion. Maybe, she is Ricky’s new girlfriend, she mused. “Hi Maya, I’m please to meet you too. Just call me Angela, please.”
“So, who are you with, Ange?” Richard asked her, as he looked around.
“Oh, I’m with a friend.” She replied, and waved at the general direction of a guy standing near the stairs. Seeing Angela, the guy she pointed at started walking towards them. The guy looked familiar to Maya.
“Hi, good evening. Hey, I know you! Ms. Maya Dela Rosa!” He said, grinning at Maya. “Kumusta na?”
“Hi James? How are you? Wala kang flight today?” Maya asked Edselyn’s cousin.
“Small world! You know each other?” Angela exclaimed as Richard looked on, curious on who this guy that Maya knows.
“Yes, we do. James is a cousin of my college barkada, Edselyn. Richard, this is James Ventura, a pilot with Time Airways and my friend Edselyn’s cousin.” Maya said as she introduced James to Richard. “James, my very dear friend, Richard Lim.”
Richard shook James hand and said politely, “Nice to meet you, James.”
“Hi Richard, nice to meet you too.” James said as he shook Richard’s hand, then he replied to Maya’s earlier query. “I’m on leave, Maya, for the next couple of days. Maybe, we can have dinner, errr with Eds of course, one evening next week?” Though, James included Eds, it sounded like she was just an afterthought on his part.
Mary Angela was looking at Richard when James issued the invitation. She saw him took a deep breath, and swallowed, waiting for Maya’s reply. He seemed startled by James invitation and if she reads correctly, a bit jealous. So the mighty has fallen, she thought! The elusive Richard Lim is really in love, finally. He was not like that when they were together. In a way, there was a tinge of envy in her heart. But they did part amicably. There was no spark between them, unlike what she is seeing now between him and Maya.
“I’m not sure about my schedule for the next couple of days, James. I’m sorry. Rain check?” Maya said with an apologetic expression. This is the only way she can think of, to politely extricate herself from the invitation she didn’t want to accept. “I will just let Eds know.”
“Oh, okay then. Maybe, the next time I’m in town.” James said, looking at her intently, then at Richard, sensing something now between these too.
Before they could continue chatting, the ushers opened the theater doors so they can go to their respective seats.
“Ricky, we will go ahead. Good to see you. Keep in touch.” Angela said, as she held on to James’s arm. “Nice meeting you, Maya.”
“See you around, Ange. Nice meeting you, James.” Richard said, relieved that Maya did not accept that guy’s invitation. He is not normally a jealous person, but he felt really territorial earlier when that guy tried to invite Maya to dinner.
“Nice meeting you too, Angela. James, we will go in also.” Maya said.
Richard held Maya’s hand when they went inside the Orchestra section of the CCP Main Theater. He solicitously guided Maya to their seats at the center, with the best vantage point.
“Wow, Ricky. Thank you for this.” Maya said as she settled down on her seat. She saw Angela and James settling down to their seats, and waved at them.
“You’re welcome Maya.” Richard said, glad that Maya was enjoying herself at their first theater night together. He noticed her waving at James and Angela. “Si James, matagal mo na bang kakilala?”
“Hindi naman. Recently lang. The first time I met him was the day I returned from Paris. I saw Eds at the airport. Galing sila sa flight nila sa Kuala Lumpur. She introduced her cousin to me. Then the second time naman, remember the Friday I can’t go out with you since I will be meeting Eds and Ruby in Greenbelt? He said hello while we were having drinks.” Maya told Ricky conversationally. “I forgot to make kwento to you about it pala.”
Richard nodded. “Ah okay. I was just wondering if you had known him long. Ange said they are friends but I don’t remember meeting him before.”
“Hmmm, about Angela? Emman mentioned that she was….” Maya started saying but hesitated, not sure how to proceed.
“Yes, she was my ex-girlfriend. It was several years ago na. We parted okay and remained friends, not that close, but just like what you have seen earlier.” Richard said then explained in detail, even without Maya really asking for details. “We just wanted different things in life. It was just initial attraction and not really love for both of us. We realized that several months into the relationship, so we decided to break up.”
“Oh, okay. Thank you for telling me.” Maya said, as she touched Richard’s arm affectionately. “I didn’t mean to pry ha, Mr. Lim.”
“Hmmm, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa, nakiki-chismis ka kaya sa lovelife ko.” He teased her.
“Eh, ikaw kaya Mr. Lim, hindi? Admit it! You were also asking me kaya if I had known James long! Parang iba ang tanong mo.” Maya bantered with Richard.
Maya and Richard grinned sheepishly, and then gazed meaningfully, at each other. Unknown to them, James and Angela were both observing them, and both felt envious with what they were seeing. Then the lights dimmed and the show started.
Maya and Richard enjoyed watching the musical very much. They just stayed in their seats during the intermission and just chatted, not wanting to brave the hordes of people wanting a quick snack at the bar that has been set up at the lobby of the theater. They clapped loudly, cheered, and stood up, with the rest of the audience, as the cast made several curtain calls. Both of them agreed that the musical lived up to its great reviews from Broadway to here.
They exited the theater, closed to eleven o’clock in the evening. When they reached the side lobby, they found out that it was still raining a bit. They made a run for Richard’s car which was, luckily, just parked near the side entrance of the theater. They were also surprised to see a lot of cars still on the streets at this time of the night. Some of the drivers, honking and getting impatient, with the barely moving traffic.
“Naku, Ricky what happened kaya while we were inside the theater? It seems like traffic is on a standstill.” Maya remarked as she logged in to her Twitter account and checked the feeds of several news organizations, also the MMDA account, that she is following. “Naku, kaya naman pala. Most of the metro is flooded na since it has been raining since early evening. Tuloy-tuloy pala, a bit intense in some instances. It says here, most of the streets in Manila are not passable at the moment. Sobrang traffic din. Marami pa ring stranded kahit gabi na.”
“Oh, okay, we can try going to Quezon City through Makati, then EDSA na lang kasi baka flooded na rin sa Mandaluyong.” Richard suggested. “Pero, let’s have a late dinner muna at Sofitel. Maybe, by the time we finish, traffic has eased up na.”
Richard and Maya had a lovely dinner. They temporarily forgot the chaos on the streets outside as they enjoyed their dinner and fell into their usual easy and comfortable chatter. Having no work the following day, and because they can’t resist, they also had coffee before they hit the road again.
More than one hour after, Maya and Richard felt like they were in the middle of a huge parking lot. They managed to make it to Makati. But traffic was moving at a snail’s pace, and in some intersections, at a standstill.
“Maya, I have a suggestion. Please don’t get me wrong, okay? I just want us to rest a bit, and maybe wait out until this chaos is over.” Richard ventured, hesitant as he doesn’t want to make Maya uncomfortable, and think that he has an ulterior motive with his suggestion.
“Okay, what it is? ” Maya asked, at the same time, she is also curious why Richard was a bit hesitant.
“My place is just several streets away from here. Maybe we can go there first to wait this out? I will just take you home later when everything goes back to some semblance of normalcy. Wouldn’t it be better than spending the night on the street?” Richard asked.
Maya mulled over what Richard suggested.
“Okay. I think it is better nga. Saka, baka pagod ka na rin, we have been driving for quite sometime na. I will just send a text message to my mom. Just in case, she wakes up and found out that I am not yet home. I know she worries even if I am a grown-up na.” Maya said, as she started composing a message for Mommy Tessie. “Looks like it will take several hours before this chaos is over.”
“Ricky, just to be clear. I think I know you enough to trust you.” Maya added seriously, then teased Ricky. “Besides, I have a pepper spray, kaya behave ka ha, Mr. Lim.”
“Promise, Ms Maya Dela Rosa, I will behave. Cross my heart. Scout’s honor.” Ricky smiled, glad that Maya is taking the situation this way. “Besides, text Tita Tessie my address so she knows where to look when she comes with a shotgun, commanding you to make an honest man out of me.”
“Ha, ha, ha, ha, very funny Mr. Lim.” Maya said, shaking her head at Richard’s quip. “Drive na please, Mr. Lim and get us out of this mess. Nahihilo na ako sa mga car na katabi natin. As if, may mangyayari kapag bumusina sila ng husto. Eh hindi nga halos makagalaw ang lahat.”
Richard took a turn at the first free side street he found, then drove home to his place.