Maya woke up when her alarm went off. She set it at seven o’clock, even if she got home late from the wonderful dinner with Richard’s parents. She needed to get going early because she thought a very impatient little girl will knock on her door soon. Even before Maya was finished with what she was thinking, she heard a knock.
“Come in, Abby.” She guessed.
The door opened. It was indeed Abby, dressed in leggings, a Disney t-shirt and sneakers, with her little Hello Kitty sling bag strapped on her. “ Good morning po Tita Ninang, you are not dressed yet! Di ba ngayon po tayo pupunta sa zoo?” She said as she hugged Maya and gave her a kiss.
Maya smiled, and kissed her lovable pamangkin. “Good morning, Abby. Ang aga mo ah. We will leave at 9 o’clock pa.”
“But Tita, that is so late already. Where is Tito Richard? I want to give him a call. Pretty please po.” She cajoled sweetly.
“Hmmm, okay we will call him. Why don’t you watch your favorite Barbie DVD while I get ready and while we are waiting for your Tito Richard.” Maya suggested as she opened her closet, trying to find her most comfortable jeans, to go with a loose cotton blouse, and espadrilles.
“Okay po, Tita Ninang, I will just stay in the TV room while waiting for you. I will just ask Ate Sabel to load the video for me so you can dress na. Basta, don’t forget to call Tito Richard ha. Kasi, he might have forgotten his promise. Thank you, Tita. I love you.”
“I will Abby. And no, he didn’t forget. We talked about this trip last night when he was driving me home.” Maya explained to the sweet little girl, who apparently, is at an age where she misses a father figure too. Good thing Richard is good with kids and loves her niece too. She guess he is a pro at it since he told her, he sometimes babysat Nikki while in the States visiting his sister.
Maya’s phone rang after she had been to the shower.
“Good morning, sweetheart.” Richard said while trying to find his keys to go to Maya’s house. “Ready na kayo ni Abby?”
“Hi sweetheart, good morning. Just about. She is very excited about the trip. She was ready to go an hour ago pa!”
“Talaga, nakakatuwa naman. Nikki was like that. Ganyan yata talaga ang kids. I will leave my place in 10 minutes. See you, sweetheart.”
“See you, drive carefully.” Maya said.
Richard arrived 45 minutes after they put the phone down. When Abby saw Richard, she ran to him, and hugged him tight. “Tito Richard, yehey, you are here. Can we leave na po.”
“Ha ha ha, we will Abby. Where is your Tita?” Richard asked as he looked for Maya.
Sabel offered to get Maya for him.
Several minutes after, Maya came down. Richard was struck anew by her beauty and simplicity. She looks very lovely in her casual outfit. Maya thought naman, upon seeing her boyfriend, how guwapo he is in his polo shirt, jeans, and sneakers.
“Good morning sweetheart.” He gave her a soft kiss after checking if Abby was looking. He saw her putting away her DVD, so the coast was clear.
Maya gave Richard a very loving smile, touched his face and kissed him back.
They said goodbye to Mommy Tessie who just woke up, and was drinking a cup of coffee in the veranda while reading her favorite newspaper. She asked if they have eaten breakfast. They told her they will just get something on the way as Abby wanted to get going.
When Maya got into the car after they have settled Abby in the back, Richard handed her a coffee tumbler.
“For you.” He said. “Alam ko na hindi ka na makakapag-coffee sa excitement ni Abby. We can just grab some sandwiches when we get to the zoo.”
“Wow, thank you. Ang thoughtful naman talaga ng sweetheart ko.”
Richard smiled, then started driving. It took them more than an hour to reach the zoo. As soon as they have paid the entrance fee, Abby dragged them to all the animals she wanted to see, which was all! She happily went from one part of the big zoo to the other. She also wanted a photo with a lovable orangutan there. Richard and Maya posed with her.
“Cute naman nung family doon o, guwapo the husband, pretty the mom and cute iyong little girl.” Richard and Maya heard someone remarked. They smiled.
When Abby got tired, they went to the area where one can feed the big fish in the pond, a place suited for relaxing also.
“She is cute. Pamangkin mo?” A woman, who was probably in her early 30s said to Richard. She was looking at him with a flirty expression. She noticed that he was not wearing a wedding ring, so was the woman with him. “I’m Carla, by the way. I’m here with my nephew.”
Richard smiled politely at the woman. Then he held Maya’s hand, and pulled her closer to him. “Nice to meet you, Carla. This is my girlfriend, Maya. Yes, she our pamangkin, her name is Abby. Sweetheart, okay lang naman si Abby there ‘no? But let’s see if she needs more food for the fish. Excuse us, Carla. Enjoy your day with your nephew.”
“Sweetheart, suplado mo.” Maya teased Richard when they were not within Carla’s hearing. “Pati pala rito sa zoo, may admirer ka.”
“Ha, ha, ha, sweetheart. A bit annoying kasi, nakita na niyang kasama kita, di ba.” Richard said. “Hindi niya alam, wala na akong nakikitang iba kundi ikaw.” Then he gave Maya a light kiss.
“Ikaw talaga, sweetheart, sobra-sobra ka nang magpakilig ah.” Maya said lovingly. “Halika na nga. I need to check if Abby needs a change of clothes na, baka basa na ng pawis.”
Richard looked on while Maya took care of Abby, checking if her niece’s clothes are already soaked with sweat. She wiped the little girl’s forehead also, then said something funny to her, which made Abby giggled, then hugged her aunt tight. His heart skipped a beat, imagining Maya doing the same for their daughter, or for their son. He felt so happy with his imagination, – a little girl who is the spitting image of Maya, or a boy who looks like him.
“Ricky, Ricky, sweetheart.” Maya had to call Richard several times before he heard her.
“Sorry, sweetheart.” He smiled sheepishly.
“Hmmm, what were you thinking of? Ang laki kaya ng smile mo?”
Richard gave Maya a lopsided smile and then simply said, “wala”.
“Meron kaya, pero I’m sure sasabihin mo rin sa akin iyan. Let’s go get some ice cream for our little girl.”
They were walking towards the ice cream stand when someone called Maya’s name. They looked and saw James, holding a little boy’s hand. He is about the same age as Abby.
“Maya, small world talaga. Fancy seeing you here of all places.” James said happily. Then he noticed Richard. “Hi Richard, nice to see you again. And who is this pretty little girl?’
“Hello po, I’m Abby. I’m my Tita Ninang’s niece and this is my favorite tito, Tito Richard.” The little girl said to James. Then she went to the little boy. “Hi, I’m Abby. I’m seven years old.”
The little boy was a bit shy in the beginning, but James prodded him to introduce himself.
“Hi Abby. My name is Pocholo. But you can call me Cho. That is what my mom, dad and Uncle James call me. I’m seven also like you.”
“Nice to meet you Cho.” Maya said.
Richard also said hello to the little boy and ruffled his hair affectionately.
“May pamangkin ka pala na same age as Abby, James?”
“Yes. He also has a baby sister. I thought of taking Cho here para malibang. His dad is in the hospital kasi, and my sister is taking care of him.” James explained as he looked at Maya closely. He also noticed Richard standing very close to her, with his hand on her back.
“Oh, I hope nothing very serious.” Maya said.
“He has dengue, but the doctors said he is getting better.”
Richard who was looking on, felt Abby tugging at his hand. He stooped down and she whispered to him that she wanted her ice cream, and would it be okay if they also get something for Cho too.
“Maya, I will get the kids ice cream. You catch up with James.” He said. “James, would it be okay if I take Cho too, to the ice cream stand, just there.” He asked James and pointed out at the ice cream stand in the corner of the park part of the zoo.
“Sure, sure, no problem Richard. Thank you.” He was about to pull his wallet out when Richard told him he will take care of everything. He took hold of the kids hands and they walked hand in hand to the ice cream stand, with Maya looking on, imagining Richard doing the same with their kids.
James saw Maya’s look and confirmed his earlier observation.
“Ehem, ehem, earth to Maya.” He teased.
“Oh, sorry, James. Got lost in my thoughts.”
“Parang alam ko na kung nasaan ang mind mo.” James remarked smiling. “Poor me, hindi pa nga ako nanliligaw sa iyo, basted na.”
“Ha, what are you saying?”
“Kayo na ni Richard, isn’t it? You two looked so in love when I saw you at the CCP. Angela thought the same. Pero, you introduced him then as a very good friend.” James said.
“Yes, kami na.” Maya smiled, then looked at Richard lovingly.
“Ouch, ang puso ko.” James jested. ”Seriously Maya, I’m happy for you. Seeing you with him, I knew already where your heart is. Huwag kang mag-aalala, hindi naman ako ganoon ka-broken hearted. Nandoon pa lang ako sa stage that I would really like to get to know you better.” He assured Maya.
“Oh, James. Somewhere out there is a girl for you.” Maya said. “Minsan, love comes calling when you are not looking.”
“I know, don’t worry about me. Richard is a lucky guy, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa.”
Richard returned several minutes after with the kids holding big ice cream cones. He also gave one to Maya, and Cho handed one to his Uncle James. James and Cho thanked Richard again and told them, they will head to the other side of the zoo.
“Maya, nice seeing you again. I will tell Eds we have seen each other.” James said with a smile. “Richard, we will go ahead. Thank you for the treat. And take good care of Maya. You are a very lucky guy,” was James parting remarks.
“Hmmm, and what was that sweetheart?” Richard asked, his eyebrow raised, puzzled at James’s remark.
“O di ba you heard him, sabi niya swerte ka raw sa akin.” Maya teased.
“Maya Dela Rosa…..”
“Okay, okay, okay Mr. Lim.” Maya said, laughing. “He caught me looking at you lovingly, he asked me kung tayo na and I said yes. Then he told me, he knew, noong nakita pa lang niya tayo sa CCP that we love each other. Pati nga raw si Angela. Sabi niya pa, hindi pa nga siya nanliligaw, alam na niyang basted na siya.” Maya finished.
“Hmmm, mabuti, he realized that.” Richard said, grinning. “Kung hindi ako na ang bahalang magpa-realize.” He jested. “Sabi ko na nga ba, unang kita ko palang, alam ko nang he likes you.”
“Ikaw talaga, Mr. Lim. If ever naman, wala siyang pag-asa talaga kasi ikaw lang for me.”
Richard smiled, caressed Maya cheek. “Thank you sweetheart. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“Hmmm, kaya ko nga kayo iniwan, so you can make basted.” Richard told Maya teasingly while they were walking, eating their melting ice cream, and looking at Abby who was happily walking ahead of them. “You needed to put the guy out of his misery since you are taken na, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa.” He added, still smiling.
Maya laughed at Richard’s statement. “Ikaw talaga. Ang sama mo, Mr. Lim. Well, mukhang hindi naman ganoon ka-broken hearted si James. Saka, don’t you think, parang bagay sila ni Ruby, di ba?”
“Matchmaking, my dear?” Richard asked, smiling at his girlfriend who has a big heart for her friends. “Well, I do hope that he find the girl for him, not just my girl.”
“Just wishing. Mahirap makialam sa love life ng iba. Dito lang ako sa love life natin Mr. Lim.” Maya said. “Halika na nga, doon tayo sa mga giraffe.”
They smiled at each other, then they continue to happily looked after Abby, pointing out various animals and plants to her, and from time to time, exchanging loving glances, fingers interlaced.
They left the zoo at 4’o clock in the afternoon. They stopped at a cupcake house in the mall on the way back to Maya’s house. Abby had a hard time choosing from the wide array of cupcakes on display. Maya and Richard laughed with her and told her she can have several.
Maya and Richard ordered a cupcake each as well and a cup of coffee after having snacks as the speciality shop also serves regular food. On the way out, they also bought a big box of assorted cupcakes for Mommy Tessie and Cristina Rose.
When Richard parked his car at the usual place infront of Maya’s house, Abby was still sleeping deeply. Maya and Richard smiled.
Richard gently carried Abby to her room. He laid her down on the bed. Maya removed her niece’s shoes and cover her with her Disney princesses comforter. They looked at the sleeping little girl lovingly, with Richard’ arm on Maya’s shoulder. This was the scene that Cristina Rose saw when she arrived shortly after Maya and Richard. She smiled.
“Maya, Richard, hi. Thank you very much for taking care of Abby. Mukhang napagod ng husto itong little girl ko sa excitement.” She said by way of greetings.
“Hi Ate, oo nga. Sobrang nag-enjoy siya sa zoo. Bad kami ni Richard, bukod sa ice cream at chips sa zoo, we also had sugar overload diyan sa cupcake house sa mall.” Maya said sheepishly, hoping that it is okay with her sister.
Cristina Rose smiled. “Naku, mahilig pa naman iyan sa sweets. But that’s fine. You know naman that she can have those on weekends. Kapag weekends lang. Iyon pala iyong malaking box na nakita ko sa baba.”
“We had fun with Abby, Cris.” Richard added. “She is a joy.”
“Yes, she is.” Cris said as she lovingly caressed her sleeping daughter’s head.
“Err, Ate Cris, Ricky and will go down na. We will chat with Mom a bit and have coffee and cupcakes at the veranda. Join us?”
“Hmmm, kayo na lang love birds. Thank you. I need to rest. Tiring day. Mom is not yet home. She went out to watch a movie with Tito Miguel after her meeting with her friend.” Cris told them.
“With Tito Miguel, ha.” Maya smiled, but didn’t say anything anymore. Her Tito Miguel is a widower and she had an inkling that he wants to court her mom.
While they were walking down the stairs, Richard asked Maya about her Miguel remark, so Maya told him.
“Well she deserves to be happy. Tito Miguel is a good guy. He was a very good husband to Tita Helen.” Richard remarked. Maya told him what happened to her parents in one of their heart to heart discussions. He is happy that her mom is going to have a second chance at love.
Richard and Maya stayed in the veranda until midnight, just chatting, cuddling, and enjoying each other’s company. Not going beyond kissing, barely though. They were perfectly happy in their own private world.