Despite the fact that she went to bed at past 2AM, Maya woke up at around 9AM. She smiled, remembering her wonderful afternoon and night with Richard. She never thought, nor expected, that it would turned out to be the best day of her life when she dragged herself out of bed yesterday to go to her best friend’s house. Amazing that it all happened in less than 24 hours! And in several hours, she will see him again.
Since she he can’t sleep anymore, maybe due to the feeling of anticipation of seeing Richard again, she got up to have coffee and light breakfast. She called Cafe M and asked Emily, one of the baristas on duty to bring her a tall Americano and two slices of French toasts. The staff will not be surprised with her call as she has a habit of doing that every morning due to her abnormal sleeping hours. Several minutes later, Emily rang her bell. She thanked her, then went to the coffee table by the window for her ‘morning ritual’.
While sipping her favorite brew, she opened her Mac and went online, checking on the latest news from the news websites she had bookmarked. It was a habit she got from her old job. While she had left that job more than four years ago, she never shook off the habit of being news savvy.
When Maya finished reading the headlines, and the entertainment section of the news sites, she finished her breakfast. While about to sip her coffee again, she unconsciously stared at the unit in the other tower, Richard’s. She smiled, remembering their jokes about opening the window and waving each other. While possible, she doubted whether they can see each other that well as there is a big open space in between the towers, where the huge swimming pool and a garden was built, on the 5th level of the building.
The sound of her mobile phone beeping interrupted Maya’s thoughts. It was Richard, checking if she is awake already. Looks like she was not the only one who woke up relatively early considering their late night. Richard wanted to know what time they will meet as they forgot to agree on a specific time they will meet for lunch. On impulse, and as a way of thanking him as he is taking her to the airport, and since she has time for it, Maya told Richard, they can just have lunch at her unit. Her phone suddenly rang.
“Hello, Honeybun, good morning.” Richard said, smiling as he moved a little bit on his bed, finding a comfortable spot, having just woken several minutes ago. The first thing he did, was to look for his phone and sent Maya a text message. She was his last thought when he went to sleep, smiling and his first thought when he woke up.
“Hello, Babe!” Maya said, smiling. “Ang aga nitong asaran natin ah.”
“Ha, sinong may sabi na nang-aasar ako. Serious endearment iyan Ms. Maya Dela Rosa.” Richard bantered.
“Ha, ha, ha, ha, parang hindi naman. Walang kalambing-lambing.” Maya teased.
“Hindi pa malambing iyan, Honeybun. Sige, mamaya kapag nagkita na lang tayo.” Richard felt happy that he will see Maya soon. At least, he will, then five days of not seeing her!
“Enough na nga, Ricky.” Maya told him, still grinning. “Can we meet at 11AM? That way, we have plenty of time to eat, then have ample travel time to the airport. Dito na lang sa unit ko. I will cook a special brunch for you as a way of thanking you.”
“Really, you will cook for me?” Richard asked, but glad to know that Maya will do that for him. For him, it is so much better than eating in a crowded and noisy restaurant as today is a Sunday, family day. “Hmmm, on a scale of 1 to 10 Ms. Dela Rosa, gaano kasarap ang luto mo?” He teased.
Maya smiled. “Mr. Richard Lim, 11. Off the scale kaya! Hindi lang pang-fastfood take out itong beauty ko. Kapag sinisipag naman ako and when I feel like it, I can cook.”
“Okay, okay Ms. Dela Rosa, I will take your word for it.” Richard is looking forward to tasting Maya’s cooking. “I’ll see you in two hours or so.”
“Bye, Ricky. See you.” Maya gathered her things after putting the phone down. Then she check her pantry if she has enough ingredients for the food she wanted to cook. Luckily, she went to the supermarket the other day.
By 11AM, everything is set. Right on cue, the bell rang. When Maya opened it, her heart galloped and she suddenly felt breathless. Richard looked so handsome in his shirt, jeans and loafers. He gave her a brilliant, lopsided smile that made her heart doubly aflutter.
“Hi Maya! Tama lang ba ang dating ko?” Then he gave her a big bouquet of roses and sunflowers.
“Thank you very much, Ricky.” Maya smiled happily. “I love sunflowers!”
“Really! I just thought of sunflowers all of a sudden when I was ordering flowers for you. Thought it fits you, and your sunny personality.” Richard was also happy he followed his hunch.
Richard looked at Maya’s place and liked what he saw. The place looks homey and happy with the decors and the colors she chose. It looks inviting and relaxing. It has the same lay-out as his place, but Maya managed to make hers a home. Her view is the opposite of his, so it is interesting to see an unencumbered view of Rizal from her side of the building.
“I like your place, Maya.” He remarked.
“Thank you. Too big for one person, like yours I think, but I like the big, open space.” Maya said. “I can think better this way, uncluttered. I also feel like I’m in a world of my own, with just the sky and the view of the mountains. I fell in love with this place and the view the first time I saw this. My mother was not so keen in the beginning, but she relented in the end.”
“How long have you been here?” Richard asked.
“I think more than four years, just after the building was finished.” Maya replied as she led Richard to the dining table.
Rchard nodded. A pattern was emerging. It seems like all the major changes in Maya’s life happened after her father died. He understood that on a level, the need to make all these changes when something bad or sad happened.
“Come, let’s eat. I hope you are very hungry. I ended up cooking a lot.” Maya said.
Richard pulled the chair for Maya first, before sitting on her right.
“Naku, I think it will be sulit since I skipped breakfast. Hindi na yata ako naka-breakfast sa excitement sa cooking mo.” Richard said with a smile, suddenly feeling very hungry with the wonderful smell coming the dish on the table. “Wow, that looks good.”
“I hope you like this. One of my specialties. Baked potatoes with mushroom, tomatoes, bacon, cream and pork chops.” Maya proudly said. She likes to cook, though with just her, she sometimes gets lazy, and just go to one of the restaurants in the area to eat. Or there were times, she just whipped something simple. “Sorry, no salad.”
“This is perfectly fine, Maya.” Richard said, then said thank you when Maya heaped a big serving on his plate. “And I’m not much into salad din naman.”
“What would you like to drink?” Maya asked after putting some food on her plate. “I have mango juice, wine, beer and some soda.”
“Just water, please, since I will drive.” Richard said.
Maya got a pitcher of water from the fridge and put it on the table. “We can just have coffee again in Cafe M before we hit the road.”
“Oh, that would be perfect. That I need. Thank you, Maya.”
Maya and Richard ate companionably. They chatted a bit. Maya told Richard that she will visit her friend Phailin in Thailand as she promised to be there for her birthday. Richard was glad to find out that the friend is a girl Maya met in one of the seminars she attended in Malaysia while she was working as a reporter. They became fast friends as they both like to travel and read romance novels.
“That was very, very good Maya. I’m stuffed. I never realized I was that hungry.” Richard said, his tummy groaning. He and Maya finished everything.
“I’m glad you like the food. Iyon na ang pinakamagandang compliment sa aming mga mahilig magluto.” Maya said smiling. “Minsan nga lang nakakatamad magluto kapag mag-isa ka lang kakain.”
“Well, you can surely invite me anytime you feel like cooking. Just open your window and wave.” Richard offered, half-serious. He likes spending time with Maya.
“Hmmm, that’s a thought Mr. Lim. Humanda ka nang tumaba with my cooking.” Maya said as she started gathering the plates they used.
“Basta, ba ikaw ang magluluto, okay lang akong tumaba.” Richard said, grinning, then offered to help Maya do the dishes. Maya shooed him away to the living room. She told him she will take care of everything as it is faster that way.
Thirty minutes after, they locked Maya’s door. Richard took hold of her suitcase, then they took the elevator down to the coffee shop.
“Good morning Ms. Maya, Sir Richard.” Eleonor greeted them. Wow, magkasama na naman sila. She is happy for her boss, but hmmm, wait. This should be interesting.
“Good morning, Eleanor.” Richard greeted the girl, remembering her from last night.
“Good morning, Eleanor.” Maya smiled at her. “Duty ka na ulit?”
“Yes po, Ms. Maya. Maysakit po kasi si Allen. Tinawagan ako ni Sir Emman.” Eleonor explained. “Okay lang naman po since I live nearby. ”
“Thank you, Eleonor, for pitching in. I will have the same pala. How about you, Ricky?”
“I’ll have the same. Thanks.” Richard said as he took out his wallet to pay for the drinks.
“Ricky, hwag na. I’ll take care of this.” Maya stopped him.
“But Maya, you paid for our drinks last night. Then you fed me lunch today.” Richard protested.
However, Maya prevailed. Richard let it pass. He will just take Maya to a nice dinner when she returns. Hmmm, a proper date. He likes the sound of it. He knows of a special place to take Maya.
“By the way, Ms. Maya….”Eleonor started saying, but she was not able to finish.
“Maya!” A tall, handsome, mestizo guy called Maya, then approached her, not noticing Richard. He gave Maya a hug. “Good to run into you here. I was hoping I would.”
“Tristan! Anong ginagawa mo rito sa area?” Maya was surprised as Tristan lives and works in Makati. In fact, neighbor ng mom niya ang parents ni Tristan sa Bel-Air.
“I went to Antipolo to play golf. One of our valued clients invited us. Naisipan kong dumaan dito sa coffee shop on the off chance na nandito ka. Eleonor mentioned that you were here late last night. I was still thinking whether I will call you to let you know I am here when I saw you.” He finished, then noticed the guy with Maya.
“Oh, you were with someone, pala.” Tristan looked at the silent guy whose hand was on Maya’s elbow.
“Yes. Ricky this is Tristan Romero, the one I mentioned last night. Tristan, this a good friend of mine, Richard Lim.” Maya introduced the two. She didn’t notice them sizing one another.
“Nice to meet you Tristan.” Richard said politely.
“Richard Lim? Do you happened to be the son of Mr. Roberto Lim? Tristan asked.
“Yes. He is my Dad.” Richard replied at the same time, he can’t remember if his Dad mentioned a Tristan Romero.
“Our fathers are friends. Tito Roberto mentioned you the last time he was at our house with your Mom.” Tristan said. “You just moved back from the States, di ba?”
“Oh, okay. I haven’t met your parents, though.” Richard nodded., thinking that his parents might have met the Romeros when he was in the States. “And yes, I just moved back late last year.”
“Small world naman! Magkakilala pala ang parents niyo. I mentioned you to Ricky last night, Tristan, when we were talking about the coffee shop.” Maya said as she picked up the coffee that Eleonor put on the counter.
“I still think this cafe is not a good business, Tiny, but it’s your money.” Tristan said, slipping into Maya’s childhood nickname in their neighborhood as she was really small when she was a kid, compounded by being name after a small bird.
Richard’s eyes narrowed with the nickname and Tristan’s familiarity with Maya, but kept quiet.
“Tristan, Maya please. You know I hate that nickname.” Maya said. “Would you like to join Richard and I for coffee, or tapos ka na? After kasi nito, ihahatid niya ako sa airport.”
Tristan took a closer look at Richard Lim. Hmmm, looks like I have a new competition, he thought. Mukhang kanina pa rin sila magkasama ni Maya. He would like to stay longer and check him out, but his mom just called, she needed a favor.
“Oh, maybe next time, Maya, Richard. My mom needed me to run errands for her. You know, Mom, Maya. May kakulitan. Saan ka nga pala pupunta. You and your itchy feet talaga.” Tristan said with a hint of disapproval in his voice.
“I’m going to Bangkok for several days to see a friend.” Maya said. “O paano, Ricky and I will go to my sitting room na. Nice to see you and hello to Tito Frank and Tita Loida.” She hugged Tristan, who hugged her back. “Take care and ingat sa pagmamaneho.”
“You too. Enjoy your vacation.” Then Tristan looked at Richard and offered his hand. “Nice meeting you, Richard.”
Richard shook the other guy’s hand. “Nice meeting you too, Tristan.”
Maya told Richard to go ahead, as she needed to discuss something with Eleanor before she leaves. Richard offered to carry the coffee and went ahead.
“Eleonor, bahala na kayo nina Emily sa cafe ha, habang wala ako, and kapag wala si Emman.” Maya instructed Eleonor. “Basta if there is a problem, just call Emman. I will be back in a couple of days.”
“Enjoy your vacation, Ms. Maya. Hwag po kayong mag-aalala. Kami na ang bahala rito.” Eleonor said. “Ms. Maya, by the way, Team Richard ako.” She added smiling.
“Team Richard????” Maya asked puzzled.
“Team Richard. Mas bagay po kasi kayo ni Sir Richard, kaysa kay Sir Tristan.” Eleonor said, then put her hand in her mouth, then checked if her boss got mad. “Ooops, sorry po!”
Maya laughed,. “Ikaw talaga, Eleonor. Pero friend ko lang si Richard. Baka naman may pustahan na pala rito sa cafe tungkol diyan ha.”
“Naku, Mam, wala po. Nadulas lang ako. Natutuwa lang po kasi ako sa inyo ni Sir Richard.” Eleonor said, relieved. “Nakakakilig po kasi kayo.”
“Hahahaha, o sige, I would like a slice pala of our lava cake. Ipapatikim ko kay ‘Team Richard’.” Maya teased Eleonor, who also laughed as she got Maya a slice of their bestseller cake.
Maya was still smiling when she went to her office.
“O bakit ka naka-smile, Tiny?” He said as he pulled the chair for Maya.
“Ha, ha, ha. don’t call me that. It is my day to be teased ba talaga. Pati si Eleonor, eh.” Maya said as she cut Richard a piece of the cake she brought with her.
“Hmmm, eh kasi naman hindi lang pala ako ang may TOE sa iyo, Honeybun.”
“Naku, Babe, wala iyon. Mas gusto ko na ang Honeybun kaysa sa Tiny. I hated that nickname.” Maya artlessly said, which made Richard happy. “O kain ka na lang nitong bestseller naming cake.”
Richard and Maya enjoyed their coffee time, like the previous time they were there. Soon after, Richard took Maya to NAIA Terminal 2. On the way to the airport, Maya called up her Mom to let her know that she was about to fly. She also promised to see her and Patty when she returns.
“Ricky, thank you talaga for taking me to the airport.” Maya said, holding on to her trolley, while standing at the Departure Area of the terminal.
“The pleasure is mine, Maya. I’ll pick you up when you return since it is a Saturday naman.” He stated.
“Naku, hwag na. Baka Emman is free naman noon. Magpapasundo na lang ako.” Maya protested. “This is more than enough, Ricky. Thank you.
“No, Maya I insists please. I want to see you as soon as you land, Honeybun.” He said, adding that last bit to tease her.
Maya smiled. “O sige na nga, Babe. Thank you again.”
They hugged each other.
“Enjoy vacation, Maya. I will miss you a lot.” Then he kissed her on the cheek.
Maya felt that the kiss was iba. It made her heart beat faster. She just looked at Richard, who was just gazing at her. They shared a warm, tender smile.
Maya entered the terminal. When she looked back one more time, Richard was still there, gazing at her. She waved. He gave her his lopsided smile and waved back, then gestured for her to go in.
Maya usually feels excited every time she is in the airport as it would mean, new places to see, new adventures, new experiences, and new people to meet. But this time, she has ambivalent feelings. She admitted to herself that she is already missing Richard. She mused, how can someone you just met had that much impact in your life in such a short time. She just took comfort in the fact that she will see him again after five days. She is looking forward to seeing her Babe again. She smiled, the endearment growing on her.
Richard waited until he can’t see Maya anymore, then boarded his car. He already missed her and she was just about to fly! It will be a very long week despite his busy schedule. But he does look forward to her return, very much. He had never felt like this, before, even with Natalie. He is already missing his Honeybun a lot!