Out in the open
Richard was busy typing away on his laptop, drinking the coffee he ordered earlier, unmindful of the comings and goings of the people in the busy hotel, and the second, and admiring, glances, of some of the women who passed by his table to go to the hotel restaurant or to the reception area. He was sight to behold in his dress shirt, his tie loosen a bit, and his coat draped neatly over the back of the chair beside him. He looked rumply handsome.
He was waiting for Maya at the cafe at the lobby of the hotel where she works and where he stayed for over a month, his home away from home, and where he met Maya weeks ago. Several days ago, he moved back to his apartment. His cousin Rafi and her family vacated it over the weekend as their house renovation was finally done.
Richard was sad to leave the hotel as it had meant no more notes and flowers for Maya, but at the same time, he was happy to have his own place back. He rectified the situation by picking Maya from the hotel and taking her home most evenings, either after they have been to dinner or after seeing a Broadway show. They also talked on the phone on the nights they were not able to see each other. This afternoon, early evening actually, Maya was finishing up late for some reason she refused to elaborate. She just told him that she would have to stay at work late and it is okay if they don’t see each other. However, Richard requested that that they still meet since they haven’t seen each other for two days due to his busy schedule. He assured Maya that he can wait for her. They agreed to meet at the lobby cafe.
“Ricky, hi!” Maya rushed to Richard’s side with a big smile. From her work clothes, she changed into a long, flowing skirt, a purple top, a cardigan, and her favorite walking boots. Her big saddle bag was strapped across her body and her coat, in her left forearm. She and Richard are planning to walk around that evening, in whatever direction it would take them. The weather is getting colder but she had bundled up. She needed to get use again to the cold, after living in the Philippines for four years. Autumn in New York is beautiful, but it could also get very cold, especially for someone used to the hot Philippine weather. Her coat is pretty warm and the boots are her most comfortable pair.
“Hi Maya!” Richard stood up and gave Maya a kiss on the cheek. He had been doing that every time they will meet. It ever fails to make Maya feel kilig. “Give me a second. I will just put away my stuffs.” He said as he started gathering his things.
“No hurry, Ricky. I can wait. Baka, kailangan mo iyang ginagawa mo. Tapusin mo na muna. No hurry.” Maya said, as she knows Richard was pretty busy the past several days with all the stuffs he needed to finish at LHI before he goes back to the Philippines or take a vacation, what he decided on, she does not know yet. However, she was hoping and wishing that Richard will stay longer in the States. She does not want to think of the time that he will go back to Manila.
Richard smiled at Maya. “No, it’s okay. I was just killing time habang wala ka pa.” He put his MacBook in his backpack, then put on his coat. “Let’s go. Saan mo gustong pumunta? Kain muna tayo? Are you hungry na?”
“Hmmm, I know just the place. I have something to tell you.” Maya said excitedly, a little mysteriously. “We can eat later.”
“Now, I’m intrigued.” Richard said, smiling broadly at Maya. “But I can wait. I don’t want to spoil your surprise.”
They started walking with Richard intertwining their fingers. Maya is used to him doing this from time to time, while they are walking the streets of Manhattan, but still, her heart never fails to beat fast every time he does. Maya dragged Ricky towards the direction of Times Squares, and when they were in the middle of the place, amid the huge, brightly-lit billboards, she stopped.
“I think, this is a perfect place to tell you this. These huge signs will serve as my ‘fireworks’!” Maya said happily. “Rickyyyy, I got in!!!! I got into the UN! I will work for the UN!”
“Really!!! Congratulations, Maya!!! Wow. I’m so happy for you!” Richard said, sharing Maya’s happiness. Then to Maya’s surprise, he hugged her in the middle of Times Square. “Kailan mo nalaman? Parang wala ka namang nabanggit na interview sa akin.” He asked as he embraced her tight and she can’t breath , not because of the embrace, but its effect on her senses.
“This morning. They called me up the other day, asked me to go to the UN office today, and there I was told that they evaluated my exams and my qualifications. I also went through a panel interview and afterwards, they told me, I’m hired!” Maya narrated as she hugged Richard back. “It was nerve-wracking, at the same time, quite exciting. Plus, talaga sa akin the languages that I know. I thank God for giving me the talent to learn languages fast! I wanted to tell everything to you in person.”
“When will you start?” Richard asked as loosened his embrace, but still not letting go of Maya completely, unmindful of the people that hurriedly passed by them, his concentration, only for this lady he loves and her dream that is now starting to become a reality.
“I will start on December 4.” Maya replied. “Good din that I still have several days to spend with my family. I’m going to Jersey for several days until after Thanksgiving. Ricky, I’m so happy I have been dying to tell you kanina pa! Ikaw pa lang ang nakakaalam.”
“Really, I’m honored that you told me first!” Richard said, touched at Maya’s gesture. “I’m sure your family will be happy to know. You can call them now.”
“Mamaya na. I’m still trying to absorb everything pa. I can dance here in the middle of Times Square from sheer happiness.” Maya said her face lighting up, making her more beautiful to Richard. “Thank you Ricky, for listening to all my prattle about my dreams and my goals, and also for the encouragement.”
“They are not prattle, Maya. I like the fact that you shared your dreams and aspirations with me. I’m glad to have been a part of your dreaming and to see your dreams becoming real.” Richard replied, cupping her chin, gazing at her warmly.
“Thank you pa rin. You are a very good friend in such a short time I have known you. Para ngang ang tagal na kitang kilala.” Maya replied, her heart skipped with Richard’s latest gesture. She felt instinctively that the two of them are on the brink of something. Then said innocently, artlessly, “I will surely miss you and your company when you go back to the Philippines.”
“Maya, I love you.” Richard suddenly blurted out, the overwhelming emotion he was feeling at the moment coming to the surface, especially after hearing that Maya will miss him and that the reality of them getting separated in the future, when he goes back home, reared in.
“Ha, what did you say Ricky?” She thought she misheard him, after all there is a cacophony of voices of people of different nationalities around them.
“I love you.” He repeated, cupping her chin and looking deeply into her eyes. “I have been in love with you for quite sometime. I want to be more than friends with you. I don’t want to think of the time I will go back to the Philippines and not see you, not being with you.”
Suddenly, all the other sound faded away in Maya’s brain and her being got concentrated on Ricky’s face, so full of love for her, and what he just said, she was finally absorbing.
“I don’t expect you to say anything now, Maya. I just want you to know, seeing you so beautiful in your happiness and the start of the fulfillment of your dreams, made me very happy too.” Richard added when Maya was still not saying anything. “I want to be there with you as you make more milestones in your life.”
“Ricky, Ricky,” she said earnestly, then proceeded to cup his face. “You love me!” She said in wonder. Then she smiled, a smile that lit her whole face. “I love you too,” she said softly, lovingly.
Now, it was Richard’s turn to be speechless. He was hoping that Maya feels the same, but he never expected that his declaration will have an answer so soon, the answer that he was hoping for, wishing for.
“Maya, really! You love me too?” He asked, not really sinking in, completely, what she said.
“Yes, Mr.Richard Lim, I love you too!” Maya simply said, looking at him with all the love she feels for him. “Ayaw mo ba?” She teased.
“Maya, you made me the happiest guy in the world!” Richard said as he hugged Maya exuberantly, tightly, at the same time, he caressed her hair. “I love you very much.” Then he cupped her face, lowered his lips to hers, and kissed her gently, lovingly.
In the middle of Times Square and all the tourists taking pictures and absorbing the larger than life brightly-lit signs around them, Maya and Richard sealed their love with several more kisses. They broke apart after a while and grinned happily at each other. Maya blushed a bit, realizing that she had her ‘first kisses’ in the middle of a busy tourist area, but Richard will not have it. He intertwined their fingers and caressed her face, gazing at her heatedly, lovingly.
“Ms. Maya Dela Rosa, the love of my life, where do you want to celebrate? Double celebration na ito.” Richard said, looking at Maya like she was the only person in the whole world.
“Kahit saan, Ricky, basta kasama kita, okay lang naman sa akin.” Maya said shyly, all of a sudden.
Richard looked at his girlfriend, he likes the sound of it, then remembered something. “Oh, we can combine my treat for you with a dinner in the same place!”
“Treat? You have a treat for me this evening?” Maya asked, curious.
“Yes, you mentioned something that you missed while in the Philippines. So, I was plannng to take you there.” He said smiling.
“Hmmm, alin doon? Ang dami ko kayang nasabi sa iyo.” Maya asked, her brows knitted trying to remember.
“Basta, halika na.” Richard said, and let Maya towards the direction of Fifth Avenue.
They walked leisurely. Then they stopped at the Rockefeller Center. Maya smiled. She now know what is Richard’s treat for her. “Ice skating! We are going ice skating!”
“Yes. You said you missed this. I’m a bit rusty, but I think I will get by. Besides, hold me na lang and drag me around.” Richard said with a smile. “Don’t let me fall ha, except for you.”
“Hmmm, turning cheesy, Mr. Lim. Saka, baka nga you will be the one to guide me. I haven’t skated since I was 18 or so. Remember, the Philippines school season is different from here so I was there during autumn and most of winter.”
“Then we can just glide and fall together.” Richard said, looking forward to skating with Maya, another experience they will share.
Fifteen minutes or so later, they were in the rink. They helped each other with their ice skates. Contrary to what he said, Richard skated like a pro. He held Maya’s hand and they glided gracefully across the ice. They were lost in their own world, not noticing the envious glances of some of the women skaters. They looked so in love. Around an hour later, with the cool wind turning making Maya’s cheeks rosy, they stopped to catch their breath.
“Ikaw, Richard Lim, hindi naman pala rusty ang skills mo. Para ngang pang-olympics!” Maya teased Richard as they rested on the side of the rink.
“Hmmm, maybe, it is like riding a bicycle, it just comes back to you, the skills, I mean. Saka, I don’t want to fall naman in front of my beautiful girlfriend.” He said with a teasing smile.
“Sus, bola, Mr. Lim. Nambobola ka ba, sinagot na nga kita!” Maya bantered back.
“Hindi kaya iyan bola, Ms. Dela Rosa. Kahit nga noong I was sick, I found you so beautiful. I fell in love fast!” He said, gazing at her lovingly. “I love you.”
“Ricky naman, ikaw talaga.” Maya blushed prettily. “I love you too.”
Richard and Maya shared a brief sweet kiss before heading back to the center of the rink, gliding as they were one, as close as they could move around in their skates. They stayed there for half hour more. Afterwards, they headed to one of the restaurants wherein they can see the skaters as they enjoyed their dinner. The unexpected exercise in the rink made them very hungry.
“That was wonderful! Daig ko pa ang naglinis ng 10 rooms sa exercise natin sa rink.” Maya said smiling while they were having coffee after their delicious dinner. “Thank you for this very nice treat, Ricky.”
“For you, Maya, anything.” Richard said as he put his hand on top of Maya’s. Maya then put her other hand on top of Ricky, and smiled at him sweetly. They stayed like that for quite sometime, enjoying and savoring their newly-declared love for each other.
When they got out of the restaurant, Maya and Richard were both reluctant for the evening to end, so they decided to go for a walk while thinking of what to do next.
“I know na. We can go for a carriage ride.” Richard suggested to Maya as he spotted the line for the carriage ride near Central Park.
Maya liked the idea and soon after they were ensconced snugly and warmly inside the carriage as it moved around. They were happy to enjoy each other company quietly. Sometimes they exchanged sweet kisses and loving gazes.
Richard took Maya home, as he always do, close to midnight. Maya asked Richard if he would like to come in for a cup of coffee before he goes home. Richard agreed, knowing that he and Maya can stay up until the wee hours of the morning, as the following day is a Saturday and they both don’t have to go to work.
“Here, home sweet home.” Maya said as she ushered Richard to her and Emman’s small living room. “Please have a seat, Ricky. Make yourself at home. I will just make the coffee.”
“Thank you, Maya.” Richard said as he proceeded to the usual place he has gotten used to sitting in while in Maya’s apartment, in the sofa near the window. He has been here several times, but mostly, only a short time, just while picking Maya up. In those cases, Emman was also home, unlike this evening. They usually chatted while he waited for Maya. He likes Maya’s friend. He is a very jolly person and he always tease him about introducing him to his twin. Sometimes, Emman also asked Richard teasingly if he can have him cloned, sayang daw ang lahi niya since only son pala siya, much to Richard’s and Maya’s amusement. They both told Emman he is incorrigible!
“Here’s your coffee, Ricky. I also found some cookies. I think Emman made these.” Maya came back to the living room, carrying a tray with two steaming cups of coffee and several chocolate chip cookies on a plate.
“Baka hindi na tayo makatulog nito, my love.” Richard said. “But still, I’ll have one.” He then grabbed a cookie and took a bite.
Maya was startled at first to hear the endearment from Richard, then smiled, liking it. She really need to control her kilig with Richard’s actions, her boyfriend! But how can she? Just the thought that he is now her boyfriend is sending her to kilig heaven.
“So, when are you going to New Jersey?” Richard asked as they enjoy their ‘midnight snack.’
“Hmmm, two days before Thanksgiving, I need to inform the hotel also that I’m resigning.” Maya replied. “Ikaw, what are your plans? Matagal pa ba ang work mo? When are you going back to the Philippines?” Maya asked, dreading the answer. Yes, they are now in a relationship, but there are a lot of unknown factors in it. But she is confident with Richard by her side, they can deal with everything. The important thing is their love for each other.
“I still have a month or so, maybe, until before Christmas to wrap up everything. Then I will take a vacation here, and think what I would like to do next, since we are now in a relationship. But one thing is sure, I want to be with you. Baka I will ask for a transfer in NYC na lang if possible.” Richard declared earnestly. “How about you? Will the UN send you somewhere?”
“That I don’t know yet.” Maya replied. “I would know when I start working, I think. But there is a big possibility that I will be sent somewhere. Would that be okay?”
“Of course, Maya, this is your dream. Us, in a relationship does not mean you will let go of that just to be with me. Somewhow we will make things work. I know this is so new to you, and despite the fact that I had relationships before, this is new to me also. This is the first time, I fell in love. This is the first time, I feel like this. I love you. We will make things work.” Richard vowed to Maya.
“Ricky! Thank you. I never felt like this. You are my first boyfriend. I love you with all my heart. I want ‘us’ to work too.” Maya said earnestly.
“We will Maya.” Richard promised. “Now that I found you, I will not let you go.”
They looked at each other lovingly, then slowly their faces moved closer and closer until their lips touched and they ignited. Before long, they were kissing hotly. Richard moved, then lifted Maya on to his lap, then they started touching each other in between their heated kisses.
“Maya, I love you….” Richard whispered before he lowered his lips and used his tongue to open the seam of Maya’s mouth. When he gained entrance, his tongue sought Maya’s and before long, their tongues were mating as Richard lowered his hand to the underside of Maya’s breast. Maya was also doing a lot of touching of her own.
They were reaching the point of no return, when their passionate interlude was interrupted by a loud click in the lock. Someone was opening the front door. Maya scrambled out of Richard’s lap, straightened her clothes and her hair. She just remembered that Emman was out, so it must be him. Richard grabbed a throw pillow to hide the evidence of his desire for Maya. When Emman managed to open the difficult lock, all he saw at first glance was Richard and Maya drinking their coffee. But when he came nearer to say hello, he saw Maya’s well-kissed lips, and smiled. He quickly said good night.
Richard and Maya smiled and looked at each other sheepishly.
“Maya, my love. I think I better head home. Rest ka na. I will see you tomorrow.” Richard said as he stood up.
“Okay, my love. Ingat sa pag-uwi. Thank you for the most wonderful night of my life.” Maya said as she intertwined her hands around Richard’s neck, then lightly kissed him on the lips. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” Richard said as he kissed her back. “I better stop at baka hindi ko na makayanang umuwi. Hindi na makaya ng willpower ko.” He said ruefully.
“Oh,” Maya uttered, understanding what he meant, then blushed. “Good night. Sweet dreams.”
“I’ll dream of you.” Richard said sweetly. “Lock after me. Huwag mo na akong ihatid sa labas. I will text you na lang when I’m home na.”
Maya nodded, waved at Richard, then locked the door. After she did so, she leaned against it, with a big smile on her face, so very happy and in love.
Richard on the other hand, happily drove home. It was hard to pay attention to where he was going, with thoughts of Maya and their wonderful evening, filling his head. He is so looking forward to being with her again and starting their journey as a couple. He entered his apartment whistling, then sent a message to Maya.
Home now, my love. Good night. I love you, my beautiful girlfriend.
Maya smiled broadly when she saw his message.
Good night, my love. I love you too, my handsome boyfriend.