‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’
The atmosphere turned chilly as soon as Richard left to fetch Celeste a drink. Celeste can’t believe that Richard is taken. The last time she checked he was very much single, and eligible. How come, suddenly, Cristina Rose’s best friend is his girlfriend! The last time she also heard, this girl doesn’t have a boyfriend. Hmmm, something is not adding up, she mused.
“Maya, I don’t think you and Richard are really in a relationship.” She told Maya in a challenging voice. “Di ba, wala ka namang boyfriend?”
Maya looked at Celeste and raised her eyebrow. “Hmmm, I don’t think I need to prove it, answer it, nor am I obligated to make an explanation to you, Celeste.”
“Ha, so hindi nga totoo?” Celeste insisted, unable to read between the lines.
Naku, this girl, dense, Maya thought, “Kailangan ko pa bang sabihin na wala siyang pakialam sa buhay ko. That it’s none of her business whether Richard and I are a couple or not. Mabuti na lang pinalaki akong tama ng mga magulang ko!”
Richard approached Maya and Celeste and asked, “What is not true, Celeste?”
“Ha, wala. Thanks for the drinks.” Celeste grabbed the drink and then without even a thank you, fled to where her friends are.
“What was that all about, Maya?” Richard asked, puzzled. “Parang inaaway ka ni Celeste, ha.”
“Naku, wala iyon, Mr. Lim. Masyado ka kasing guwapo. Hayan, na-disappoint ang isang member ng fans club mo nang malamang may ‘girlfriend’ ka na.” Maya teased Richard. For some reason, she feel comfortable doing that. Feeling ni Maya matagal na talaga silang magkakilala. She surmised, it was because Cris has been telling her about her cousin for as long as she could remember.
“Hindi nga? Bakit ganoon ang face ni Celeste pag-alis. Saka, wala akong fans club. I’m just a guy, wearing glasses, ordinary chinito nga eh.” Richard insisted.
“Mr. Richard Lim, are you fishing for a compliment? Kailan ka huling tumingin sa salamin? Guwapo ka kaya. Parang si Clark Kent or si Richard Gere.” Maya blurted before she can stop herself. Ooops, she silently castigated herself, me and me verbalizing my thoughts again! Maya Dela Rosa, hayan ka na naman!
“Hmmm, so ako ang pinag-uusapan niyo talaga ni Cris kanina?” Richard grinned. Gotcha, Maya, he thought.
For some reason, Richard likes teasing Maya. He likes Maya, period. Magaan ang loob niya sa kaibigan na ito ni Cris. It felt like he had known her a long time. Richard guessed, it maybe because Cris has told him about her a lot. Aside from the fact that he felt like he knows her thought process through her blog that he got into reading despite his busy schedule. Saka, admit it Richard, he mused, attracted ka sa kanya, unang kita pa lang at hindi mo alam na siya ang friend ng cousin mo!
“Errrr, ah, yeah.” Maya admitted, blushing. “Kasi sabi ni Cris, parang ang close natin kaagad. Nagulat siya kasi normally raw aloof ka and suplado sa mga girl.”
Richard smiled at Maya. He likes that she is very honest, artless, not coy, unlike some girls, who for some reasons, were running after him and doing stuffs that sometimes raised even his eyebrows, so very bold, just to attract his attention. Maya is not like that. With her, he feels like a regular guy, not the way other girls see him.
“Well, she is correct. It takes me a while to warm up to someone, lalo na sa mga girl. For reason I can’t fully explain and despite our taxi run in, magaan ang loob ko sa iyo. Iba ka!”
“Iba ako, in what way?” Maya asked, suddenly very curious, wanting him to elaboarate.
But instead of replying to her, Richard gave her a mysterious, lopsided smile that made her heart beat faster, then changed the topic. “So, what was it again with Celeste?”
Maya let it passed too. She felt he meant to say something but stopped himself.
“Well, kailangan mo yata ng dagdag na strategy. I don’t think she was convinced that we are boyfriend and girlfriend.” Maya explained as she sipped the wine Richard got for her.
“Hmmm, kailangan pa niya ng dagdag na proof ha. Come, let’s convince her some more, my Honeybun.” Richard said, half-teasing Maya.
“Babe, nakakarami ka na ha.” Maya threw back at Richard, smiling, then blushing a bit, remembering him holding her hand and kissing it. “Saka mahirap i-convince ang taong may blinders, parang sa horse lang. They only can see one thing or only see the things they want to see.”
“Sabagay. Hay naku, bayaan na nga natin siya. Baka naman hindi na masyadong mag-cross ang paths namin ngayong Cris is leaving for good.” He said, resigned. “Thank you for your help Maya. I really appreciate it.” Then he put his hand on top of Maya’s, affectionately.
Maya was not sure what to do. Like the kiss in her hand, earlier, she decided to ignore this one, and the feeling it evoked in her. Bakit naman kasi kumakabog ang dibdib niya rito sa pinsan ni Cris, all of a sudden.
“Naku, wala lang iyon.” She replied. “Let’s eat na.”
“Wala lang iyon, as in wala?” Richard asked, looking at Maya intently. “Ganoon, wala lang pala ako.”
“Ricky Lim, ang kulit mo.” Maya said as she touched Richard in the arm, unconsciously. “What I meant was, it was okay. I was happy to help. Hayan, English na para in two languages na. Mas madaling intindihin. I can also probably say in Spanish, though my Spanish is a bit rusty from lack of use!” She teased.
“No need na, Maya. Thank you very much again.”Richard smiled happily.
Maya smiled back, sweetly. They looked at each other a bit more, then as if they got self-conscious, looked at their food at the same time and started eating. They also chatted like two people who have known each other very long. They were like in a world of their own, too focused on each other.
Unknown to them, Cristina was observing them from a distance and happy at what she is seeing. Kanina pa ang dalawang ito ah. Ah, love, sweet love, she thought. Siguro, ganito ang pakiramdam ni Cupid, she said then shook herself out of her flight of fancy. She hopes her cousin and best friend will end up together. But she will let things take its course. She is just happy that they finally met, that their paths finally crossed through her. Hanggang doon na lang siya. Her cousin needs someone like Maya and she thinks, Richard is what Maya needed. But everything is completely up to them, to act on the feelings she is seeing, but maybe they are still unaware of.
Cristina was just about to head to some of her other guests, when she felt giant splats on her arms. Naku, uulan! Mabuti she had a contingency plan for this. With the weather being unpredictable these days, she made provisions for such an eventuality.
“Guys, guys! Mukhang uulan. Doon na tayo sa loob.” She told everyone, mostly her closest colleagues at the public relations firm where she work, well except Celeste, then Richard, and Maya, her best friend since college.
Everyone started moving inside, with their drinks.
“Maya, let’s go.” Richard said as he went to Maya’s side to assist her from getting up. “Just bring your drinks. If we get hungry pa, I’m sure we can find something to eat from Tita Susan’s kitchen.”
“Okay. Thanks.” Maya said, getting her glass.
They started walking towards the house. Maya almost jumped when she felt Richard’s hand on her elbow, assisting her over the grass and the uneven surface that made her wedges-clad feet wobbly. Gentleman talaga, she thought.
The guests ended up in the spacious living room of the Uys, which was made larger as Cristina had the sliding doors that let to the veranda, opened. It was nice and quite inviting. One can see the rain falling heavily from the veranda. Maya likes the rain, well, err, when she was just inside the house. She does not like getting caught in the rain.
“Since, mukhang matatagalan pang tumila ang ulan, and since umuulan na rin lang, videoke na lang tayo.” Cristina told everyone. She and her friends at work like to go to sing-along bars, where they rent a videoke room, to unwind, usually on Fridays, and especially after a very stressful week.
Most people agreed, except Richard. He groaned, and whispered his sentiments to Maya. “Arrrrgh, videoke! Here we go again.”
“Bakit, hindi ka kumakanta? Boses palaka ka?” Maya asked smiling at his expression. Parang bibitayin ang hitsura ni Richard.
“Hindi ah. I’m not boses palaka! ” He quickly said. “I just hate singing in public. Lalo na sa videoke. Pero I do naman. Ayoko namang maging wet blanket.”
“Hmmm, then I have to hear it, to believe it na hindi ka boses palaka.” Maya enjoys teasing Richard too.
“Ha, ha, ha, is that a challenge, Ms. Dela Rosa? Game. Pero bago ako, ikaw muna. Kailangan ko ring marinig kung papasa sa The Voice iyang boses mo!”
“You’re on. Wait ka lang, Mr. Lim.” Maya said. She likes to sing, hwag lang dancing, at doon parehong kaliwa ang paa niya.
“Okay, sinong mauuna.” Cris asked her guests.
They all shouted na, “Ikaw muna”, then clapped. Cristina has a very good voice. Pang-Aiza Seguerra level, sabi ng mga friend niya.
“Okay, okay, just to jumpstart this videoke session.” She said smiling. She sang ‘Miss You Like Crazy’. Everyone clapped when she was done as she sounded like Aiza talaga. “Thank you guys, and I would like to take this opportunity also to thank you guys for coming to my despedida. O sino nang susunod.”
“Time to shine, Ms. Dela Rosa.” Richard said as he elbowed Maya gently.
“Okay, fine, fine, Mr. Lim, watch out.” But before Maya can go and get the mic, Celeste beat her to it. She actually saw Maya and Richard exchanging sweet nothings and she also saw Richard cajoling Maya to sing. Pues, mas magaling ako, she said to herself, makikita mo Mr. Lim.
Maya just looked at Richard and shrugged. Then Cris said, “Okay, it’s Celeste’s turn, first. Then next is my best friend Maya’s turn. She and me go back a long way, as you know.” She handed the mic to Celeste.
Celeste chose “Wrecking Ball” and she started singing it out with a lot of feelings, looking at Richard all the time, vamping it out for him. She sounded like a drunk version of Miley Cyrus!
Richard and Maya thought that Celeste’s one shot of vodka was already followed by several others. Richard just hoped that she wouldn’t embarrass herself. Maya on the other hand, pity the girl, actually. She just wish that Celeste is nice, and not so bitchy, sometimes. She shrugged as she does not really know Celeste that well. Maybe, she is a good person naman, masyado lang fixated kay Richard.
Celeste finished her song, bowed unsteadily. But instead of giving the mic to Maya, she left it on the center table and went back to her friends.
“Break a leg, Maya.” Richard said. “Go, go, go Honeybun.” He suddenly blurted out, opps! But since he did, pinanindigan na niya. He cheered Maya more, while everyone looked at him.
Cris was slack-jawed, thinking, what’s going on na ba with Kuya Ricky and Maya? Sila na ba? Sandali ko lang iniwan ah, she thought.
Maya blushed, but forged on, looking at Richard as if to say, naku Richard Lim, what did you do? But she decided to ride along. Nandiyan na iyan eh, panindigan na lang. Pretend lang naman for the night and for a good cause. She will just explain to Cris what happened.
“Thank you, Babe! She smiled too sweetly at Richard, who thought, Uh, oh, he better be ready to appease Maya later. Then she started singing her favorite song.
Time, I’ve been passing time, watching trains go by
All of my life lying on the sand, watching seabirds fly
Wishing there would be someone waiting home for me
Something’s telling me it might be you
It’s telling me it might be you, all of my life
Richard listened to Maya sing, mesmerized.
Maya sang the song from the heart. She does not need to look at the lyrics on the screen to sing this song. For some reason, this song calls to her. She also looked at Richard as if there is a magnet pulling her to him. Her heart galloped with the expression she is seeing on his face. She gulped and forged on.
Looking back as lovers go walking past all of my life
Wondering how they met and what makes it last
If I found the place, would I recognize the face?
Something’s telling me it might be you
Yeah, it’s telling me it might be you
So many quiet walks to take
So many dreams to wake
And we’ve so much love to make
Oh, I think we’ve gonna need some time
Maybe all we need is time
And it’s telling me it might be you all of my life….
“I hope you like it, Babe.” Maya said with a teasing smile, trying to control the butterflies in her stomach with the way Richard was looking at her. Then as is if an imp possessed her she announced, “Now, my Babe is gonna sing for all of you.” Then she gave the mic to Richard.
Cristina almost fainted with surprise when her cousin rose from the sofa where he was sitting cozily with Maya, smiled sweetly at her best friend, then got the mic. Her cousin! Her Kuya Ricky hates singing in public! Tapos, ‘Babe’, ‘Honeybun’???? These two have a lot of things to answer for later.
“Thank you, Honeybun!” He gave Maya a lopsided smile. Then started singing. The girls felt like swooning. Celeste gnashed her teeth in envy. Maya felt her heart somersaulted as he only had eyes for her when he sang ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’, which she also happened to like a lot as one of her Dad’s favorite singer was Andy Williams. His love of old music rubbed off her.
You’re just too good to be true
Can’ t take my eyes off you
You’d be like heaven to touch
I wanna hold you so much
At long last love has arrived
And I thank God, I’m alive
You’re just too good to be true
Can’t take my eyes off you
Pardon the way that I stare
There’s nothing else to compare
The sight of you leaves me weak
There are no words left to speak
But if you feel like I feel
Please let me know that it’s real
You’re just too good to be true
Can’t take my eyes off you….
Richard felt the song was very appropriate to what he is feeling at that moment. He always like that song. He bowed when the whole living room erupted into a cheer. He does have a wonderful voice. He smiled, then returned to where Maya was, feeling a bit self-conscious. He hopes she is not too mad at his ‘honeybun’ slip earlier.
“Wow, hindi mo naman sinabi sa akin na pang-Richard Poon level pala ang boses mo.” Maya said, impressed, at the same time, felt the need to chatter on, to still her gallopping heart with the way he sang. Ayaw naman niyang mag-assume. Saka they just met each other.
Richard laughed. “Pretending lang, hahahaha. Ikaw kaya, ang ganda pala ng boses mo, parang Lea Salonga lang ah.” He bantered. “‘It Might Be You’, it is an old song too. Mahilig ka rin pala sa old songs?”
“Hahahaha, I wish. Pang-banyo lang dapat iyan eh.” Maya said. “Yes I do like old songs, because of my Dad. Aside from Stephen Bishop, favorite din namin ni Dad si Andy Williams. Isa sa mga favorite kong song niya iyong kinanta mo.”
“Really! I like him as well.” Richard said, then chatted about their favorite songs and singers. The conversation just flowed between them again.
“Maya, I hope you are not too mad about my slip earlier.” Richard ventured after a while. “Sorry.” He said with a sheepish expression.
“Naku, wala iyon. Huwag na nga nating pag-usapan. Ipaliwanag mo na lang sa cousin mo. Hayan, o palapit na siya.” Maya replied, smiling. “Saka, sige na, I will pretend to be your girlfriend for the whole night para tumigil na si Celeste. Basta, this night lang, ha.”
Richard just smiled meaningfully at Maya. He didn’t voice out his agreement, just thanked her a lot. But Maya didn’t notice that since she was too concentrated on explaining to Cris why she and Richard ended up as ‘Honeybun‘ and ‘Babe’.
Note: Happy Sunday! 🙂