Richard was in the middle of telling an anecdote about his student life in Harvard, when he realized that Maya has fallen asleep, and was snoring lightly, while half-lying on his chest. He smiled at her lovingly. She must be tired from all the activities they have done the past several days, coupled with the extra work she did at the hotel while serving her notice. She took in extra hours so that some of her colleagues can go on leave. She told them, it was her way of thanking them for taking her in. Maya told him that they were so happy for her, that one evening, they organized a surprise going away party for her.
He was reluctant to move Maya as he might interrupt her slumber, but she will rest better if she is in a regular bed. Slowly, he lifted her into his arms, then stood up, carrying Maya to his bed. She stirred a bit, but didn’t wake up when he put her down. He covered Maya with the comforter after removing her shoes.
Richard stared at his beautiful, sleeping girlfriend. How he loves her! He never expected this when he took that flight to New York, but he is very happy at this wonderful and unexpected development in his life. He has not gotten around to telling Maya about his tumultous relationship with Alexandra. The truth is, he just wanted to forget it and start anew with Maya. He wanted to put the whole thing in the past where it belongs. Maya never asked him, anyway. He thought it was because she is that kind of person, positive, happy and believes in the best of everyone. For sure, she would even find a goodness in Alexandra and all her actions. Richard wanted to be the best person, the best man, for her.
Maya stirred a bit, then burrowed herself deep into the comforter. Richard dimmed the lights. He decided to take a shower before going to bed. When he was done, he laid down beside Maya, hugging her, then slowly succumbed to sleep too. He was comforted by the fact that Maya was sleeping beside him, for the first time. He promised to be a perfect gentleman and he will be. Richard had the most restful sleep that night.
During the night, positions shifted as both Richard and Maya unconsciously sought the warm of each other body while sleeping. By morning, Maya was half-lying on Richard’s chest, while Richard’s arms were around Maya’s. They were lying like one person in the middle of Richard’s big bed.
Maya woke up with a start, and realized that she was not alone in the bed, and that she was not lying on her own bed. She didn’t panic as the arms around her felt familiar. She looked and saw Richard sleeping peacefully. He looked so much younger, but still as handsome, without his glasses on. She smiled and caressed his face gently, lovingly. Richard slowly opened his eyes, looked at Maya, and offered her his lopsided smile.
“Good morning, my love!” Richard turned and cradled his head on his hand and arm. “Did you sleep well?”
“Good morning, Ricky.” Suddenly Maya felt shy, conscious that she and Ricky were on the same bed, even if she was fully clothed and so was he, in a white t-shirt and pajama bottoms. “Sorry, I seemed to have just conked out on you. The last thing I remember was us, watching the night in the terrace. Grabe, tinulugan kita! I’m so sorry!”
“Yes, na-bore ka yata sa kwento ko kaya bigla mo na lang akong tinulugan.” Richard teased Maya.
“Sorry na nga. Promise, babawi ako.” Maya said smiling. “I will make breakfast. What do you want?”
“How about a good morning kiss?” Richard said smiling.
“Well, aside from that.” Maya said, but gave him a quick kiss on the lips, anyway. “Iyan lang muna. I haven’t brush my teeth. Saka, I look like a fright na yata.”
“Ms. Maya Dela Rosa, are you fishing for a compliment? You are beautiful my love, kahit bagong gising.” Richard lovingly caressed Maya’s cheek. “And I don’t care kahit hindi ka pa naka-toothbrush.” Then he kissed her gently.
Maya responded to Richard’s kiss, and in that lovely morning, they shared several heated kisses and caresses, before Richard stopped, while he still can. He wanted to take things slow with Maya. This, being her first relationship.
“Maya, my love, we better stop. I promised you I will be a gentleman. I would like to honor that promise, and it is getting quite hard to do so, with your tempting self here in my bed.” Richard said lovingly while catching his breath, and hiding from Maya the evidence of his desire for her.
Maya blushed and buried her face on Richard’s broad chest. “Ikaw kasi.”
Richard smiled at that. “I know. I love you, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa.”
“I love you more, Mr. Richard Lim.” Maya replied.
They smiled at each other, then Richard got out of the bed. He held out his hand to Maya. Maya asked if she can use the bathroom. Richard said there are some spare toiletries in the guest room. He got it for Maya so she can take a bath. He also loaned her one of his dress shirts to wear, and he found a pair of leggings Maya can wear in the room that Rafi used. An hour later, they were in the kitchen, drinking coffee.
“So tuloy ba tayo sa Central Park, today?” Richard asked.
“Yes please. But I needed to go back to the apartment. I don’t have a change of clothes.” Maya said, conscious that she is naked under the clothes Richard loaned her. “We can go there after our coffee.”
“Okay, we can eat breakfast after, then pick up the food I ordered for our picnic.” Richard suggested.
“That’s sounds like a good plan.” Maya said, smiling at Richard, looking forward to their day together.
Three hours or so after, they were walking at the Conservatory Garden inside Central Park. This is Maya’s favorite place in this huge park. They chatted while they enjoyed the beauty of the garden divided into three styles, English, French and Italian. When they got tired of walking, they found a nice spot for a picnic in Cherry Hill, overlooking Bow Bridge. Maya spread the picnic blanket at the base of a big tree. Richard sat down and leaned against the tree and then put Maya between his legs, leaning against him.
“Coffee, my love?” Maya asked as she held the coffee thermos they brought with them.
“Yes, please. Ikaw?” Richard asked.
“I will have a cup too.” Maya said as she handed Richard a steaming cup of coffe after putting two sachets of sugar in it and stirring it slowly.
“Thank you, Maya. Your coffee tastes very good.” Richard said as he took a sip of his steaming coffee. “When will you know if you will be assigned abroad?”
“I don’t know yet. But there is a big chance. They need a radio and TV producer, actually, in Kabul and that I can do. Pero baka naman it is a job for a more senior staffer. Ako naman, I will start pa lang.” Maya shrugged. “Pero I’m okay naman. Handa naman ako kahit saan ako ma-assign. Iyon nga lang maiiwan kita.”
“I hope, not so soon. Pero if ever, okay lang naman sa akin. There are a lot of ways naman to communicate these days. I will just be here.” Richard assured Maya. “Like I have told you before, we can find ways to make this relationship work despite the distance. Basta, don’t let go of your dreams. I love you with all my heart and all of me and it will not change, no matter what.”
“Thank you, my love.” Maya gave Richard a kiss. “You are the best. I’m so lucky to have you. I love you very much also, and the thought of life without you is unthinkable.”
“I’m the lucky one, Maya.” Richard said as he hugged Maya tight. “Hindi mo alam kung paano mo binago ang buhay ko.”
They shared a loving look as they continued to drink their coffee, then ate the sandwiches and cold cuts the deli packed for them. More than two hours later, they decided to head out of the park. Richard took Maya home.
“Good luck again on your first day of work, my love. I’m sure you will be great.” Richard said while standing on the doorsteps of Maya’s apartment building. “Dinner tomorrow night?”
“Thank you, Ricky.I’m excited na nga. Baka hindi ako makatulog nito!” Maya smiled at Richard. “Okay for dinner. Can I text you tomorrow on what time we will meet? I don’t know yet how long will have to be at work.”
“Of course, no hurry. And if you can’t, just call me and let me know.” Richard assured Maya. “I’ll get going. I love you. Good night.”
“I love you, too.” Maya gave Richard a quick kiss. “Good night. Drive carefully.”
Maya went inside the apartment, still smilling, so happy with the way her life is turning out.
“Hi roomie, I’m back!” Emman greeted Maya as soon as she entered the apartment. “I will not ask kung saan ka galing. Kasama mo na naman ang guwapong-guwapong Prince Charming mo. Pero di ba, dapat kahapon ka pa bumalik from your parents’ house?”
“Yes, kahapon pa. Nag-picnic lang kami ni Ricky sa Central Park.” Maya replied as she put her things on the table by the door.
“Wow, talaga naman! In this weather, medyo malamig na ah! Sabagay, meron ka namang human warmer. Eh ako man iyan, go na go.” Emman teased Maya.
“Ikaw talaga, Emman.” Maya smiled. “O kumusta naman si Edselyn?”
‘Hayun, ganoon pa rin. Luka-luka pa rin ang pinsan ko na iyon! Kalog na kalog. We had fun the whole weekend.” Emman replied. “O siya, magpapahinga na ako at maaga pa akong papasok bukas. Kadarating ko lang rin. Good luck sa bagong work ha. The hotel will not be the same without you there.”
“Thanks Emman.” Maya said. “I passed by there yesterday. May ibinigay lang ako kay Doris. Pakisabi na lang sa kanila na dadalaw ako the soonest.”
Maya went to her room, thinking that by then, Richard was already home.
Indeed, Richard was home. He was waylaid by the doorman/reception staff, Franklin, when he entered the building holding a small package he got from the convenience store near the apartment. He needed a can of shaving cream.
“Mr. Lim, good evening, Sir.” Franklin greeted Richard as he approached him. “Someone came looking for you earlier. In fact, she has been here thrice the past several hours. I rang your place, but no one answered, then I remembered you leaving with Ms. Dela Rosa earlier. The lady said she will be back.”
“She? Did she leave a name?” Richard was puzzled on who could that be since he and Maya just parted, and Rafi naman was spending the Thanksgiving weekend with Charlie’s family in Virginia. Besides, Franklin knows both of them. Wala na siyang ibang maisip na nakakaalam ng place niya, or that he was back in the apartment.
“Yes, she did. Let me just check my log.” Franklin went to his desk and checked the name he jotted down. “She said her name is Alexandra Coronel.”
Richard was so surprised, he was not able to react quickly. “Alexandra Coronel!”
“Oh, you don’t know her then?” Franklin remarked.
“No, I know her. But I was not expecting her nor I’m aware that she is in New York at the moment.” Richard clarified. “But let me know if she comes back, okay. Thanks a lot.” He added, wondering why is Alexandra looking for him. First, she badgered his mother on his whereabouts, then Rafi too. What gives?
“I think, there is no need for that.” Franklin suddenly said. “I think I saw her, about to enter the lobby. Yes, that’s her.”
True enough, the revolving door revealed Alex, chicly dressed in a designer coat, haute couture dress, and Manolo Blahnik boots.
“Hello, Richard.” She said upon seeing Richard standing by the strict doorman she encountered earlier. “At last, I have caught you. You are a difficult man to pin down.”
“Hello, Alexandra!” Richard said politely, not saying anything more.
“Can we talk? Can we go up to your apartment. I have something important to tell you.” She said, straightforward, quite impreriously, then added, “this is too private for an audience.”
Richard looked at Alexandra for a while, then nodded. “Okay, let’s go up. But you can only stay for a short time Alexandra. I’m tired and I will have a full day at work tomorrow.”
Thy rode the elevator silently. When they got inside Richard’s apartment, he told Alexandra to sit on the sofa, and asked her if she would like a drink. She decline. Instead of sitting, she walked towards the big window.
“Richard, I’ll be quick and straight. I’m pregnant. And before you ask, if you are thinking of asking that insulting question, yes the baby is yours. It probably happened the last time we made love.” Alexandra said.
Her words didn’t sink it with Richard, at first, then it penetrated his consciousness, and he felt like there was a sudden buzzing sound in his head. “W-what? How did it happen? I thought you were on the pill?”
Richard remembered him and Alexandra having a making up sex after they got back together in September, just before the fight that ended their relationship. He was not really into it, but she insisted, saying that it would prove that they were really okay. She initiated the whole thing. But he participated in it, he admitted to that, hoping that it will help patch their relationship faster.
“Well, I stopped. I wanted to get pregnant.” Alexandra said defiantly.
“Without even telling me? Don’t I have a say in it also?” Richard felt like raising his voice and getting mad at Alexandra’s selfishness, but he controlled himself. He need a cool head and shouldn’t be surprised with this attitude, with this action of hers.
Instead of saying sorry, Alexandra just said “It’s my body, anyway.”
“Now, you are telling me that you are pregnant and that we are having a baby, out of the blue!” Richard was having a hard time believing Alexandra’s gall. “Ganoon na lang iyon Alex? Hindi mo ba naisip ang consequence ng action mo. Are you even ready to be a parent?”
“Yes, I am telling you that I’m pregnant and that you are the father. That was why I was trying to reach you. But your mother, and also your cousin won’t tell me where you were staying!” She said, her voice rising.
“So, how did you find me?” Richard asked, wanting to buy time to process everything, and at the same time, calm Alexandra.
“Well, I lucked out before your cousin and her family moved out. It was your niece Abigail who answered the phone when I tried calling here one more time. I was planning to appeal to Rafi and tell her why I was trying to reach you. Abby told me that they were moving back to their place so her Uncle Richard can have his place again. I pumped her for information. Luckily, that cousin of yours didn’t tell your niece to lie!” Alexandra said sarcastically.
“Rafi will not do that. And don’t you have any shame, doing that to an innocent child!” Richard is starting to get angry at Alex’s actions.
‘Why not, I didn’t do anything wrong. I just chatted her up. Besides, the end justifies the means, isn’t it?” Alexandra continued. “So, when do you want us to get married? It better be soon. I don’t want to walk down the aisle with a big tummy. Sayang naman ang Vera Wang gown ko!”
“What, get married! No way, Alexandra! I’m so sorry. I will do right with the baby, support you and our child, give her or him my name and if you don’t want the baby, I will take care of the child, I will raise the child but I will not marry you.” Richard said clearly and in a very calm tone. “I thought that you understood that you and I can never be, especially now.”
“Why is that Richard? Is there someone else? Kaya ba iniiwasan mo ako?” Alexandra said agressively. She was thinking that if there is another girl in Richard’s life, she will find her.
Richard realized then that he can’t drag Maya into this situation. Alexandra sounded unpredictable and unstable at the moment. He tried to calm himself and reasoned out with her. “Alex, Alex, please listen to me. We should get married for the right reasons, with the right person. We are not. Somewhere out there is a guy for you. I’m not that person. We will just make each other miserable if we get married.”
Unfortunately, Alexandara was not up to listening to reason. “No Richard, it’s marriage or I will have this baby aborted! Think about it. I will be at my parents’ apartment. Don’t take long.” Then she stormed out of Richard’s apartment.
Long after she left, Richard just stared at the New York skyline, having a drink at the terrace where he spent a very nice time with Maya the night before, trying to think of a way out of this situation. He love Maya will all his heart and the thought of marrying another is killing him. However, Alexandra has not given him much room to maneuver.
“Oh God, what a mess!” He exclaimed, at the same time praying he will find a win-win solution, no matter how difficult it will be, especially now that he found the love of his life.
Richard thought, he will be a father, there is another human being involved in this, a defenseless one at that. He was not so sure if Alexandra will not make good of her threat to have their baby aborted. He needed to think. One thing was foremost in his mind at that time, aside from the welfare of his unborn child, he need to resolve this without dragging Maya in. She does not deserve this. He loves her too much for her to get drag into this situation which he already had an inkling then will not have a happy outcome no matter what.