Richard and Maya slowly and reluctantly broke apart after the sweet and gentle kiss that they just shared under the big tree. The sound of other people, mostly families, having a fun time at the park penetrated their senses. They gazed each other with all the feelings they have for each other.
“I love you very much, Maya!” Richard repeated as he caressed Maya’s face gently with the back of his right hand.
“I love you very much too, Ricky.” Maya said softly, lovingly, with the sweetest smile on her face.
“So, my love, does this means, tayo na ulit? You are my girlfriend again?” Richard asked Maya with a big smile, just like a kid who can’t believe that he got his most fervent wish from Santa Claus.
Maya smiled at the love of her life, “Hmmmm, may isa pa yata akong condition!”
“My love, kahit ano pa iyan and even though I haven’t heard it yet, yes, yes, yes and a thousand yes na kaagad ang sagot ko.” Richard said promptly. He felt he can do anything as long as he and Maya are a couple again.
“Rickyyyy, ikaw talaga. Yes agad-agad!!!Hindi mo pa nga naririnig ang kondisyon ko. Paano pala kung ang condition ko, maglangoy ka ng ilang laps diyan sa La Mesa Dam o kaya i-try mo iyong giant trampoline at kailangan maka-one thousand bounce ka.” Maya teased Richard.
“Maya, my love, anything. Basta I know that you love me and tayo na, kakayanin kong lahat iyan.” Richard said lovingly, unfazed. “But I know you love me and I know you will not subject me to a penitensya kind of kondisyon naman.”
“Well, tama ka naman diyan, Mr. Lim.” Maya said, smiling. “All I want is manligaw ka pa rin ulit. Gusto ko talagang makita iyang ang Ricky’s courtship version 2014.”
Richard grinned. “Sure na sure, Ms. Dela Rosa. That I have promised you already even before you said you love me still. Be ready to be captivated by my charms and my moves.” He finished teasingly.
“Confident much, Mr Lim! Siguraduhin mong makaka-captivate ako ng charms and ‘the moves’ na iyan.” Maya bantered back.
“Fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa, the one and only love of my life. You are in for the ride that would last a lifetime. Promise, cross my heart!”
“Ha. ha, ha, ha, parang bordering on the cheesy na ang lines na iyan ha.” Maya quipped, just happy.
They shared a laugh, then hugged each other again, before sharing another kiss. The loud sound of a thunder from a distance interrupted their moment.
“Oh no, I think it is going to rain soon!” Maya remarked, looking up. “Maybe, it is better if we head home now.”
Richard agreed with Maya’s assessment. He also noticed that the wind got a bit stronger, making the huge trees sway more than the usual. They walked with hands intertwined to the parking lot.
More than an hour later, they were in front of Maya’s house. By then the sky had gotten darker.
“Ricky, would you like to come in for coffee and some cookies since we didn’t have snacks in the park.” Maya asked Richard as soon as the car stopped.
“Okay. That would be great. Besides, I want to spend more time with my girlfriend!” Richard said smiling, teasingly.
Maya teased him back, “Mr. Ricky Lim, remember my condition for that to happen.”
They ran, laughing, to the house as big droplets of rain started to hit them, when Maya was unlocking the gate. They barely made it inside. Then, the deluge started as soon as they closed the front door, leaning against it, their faces with droplets of rain on it.
“Saved!” Maya said happily, wiping her face with her hand, then Richard’s. “Come Ricky, please have a seat first. I will just ask Sabel to make coffee for us.”
Maya lead Richard to the living room, then proceeded to the kitchen to look for Sabel. The house seemed unusually quiet to Maya. When she entered the kitchen, she noticed a note pinned on the refrigerator door. It was from Sabel, saying that she went to the supermarket. She said the kasambahay at their neighbor and the driver were going, so she hitched a ride since they needed some stuffs too. She smiled at Sabel’s last line saying that she didn’t text her anymore at baka maabala niya pa raw ang date nila ni ex-ex boyfriend.
Maya put some ground beans in the coffee maker, started it, then looked for the cookies that Sabel made the day before. She arranged everything in a tray and when it was ready, returned to where she left Richard. He was not there. She noticed the opened door that leads to the covered patio.
“Nice place to watch the rain, di ba?” Maya said by way of announcing her presence. Richard’s back was to her and he seemed to be so engrossed in watching the rain steadily falling on the plants in her garden.
Richard turned and gave her his lopsided smile. “I agree. I always like to watch the rain as it hits the ground. I find it relaxing.” He helped Maya with the tray.
“Me, too! Very peaceful din, di ba?” Maya said smiling. She led Richard to the wicker chairs in the corner. They sat side by side on the big one. She gave him a steaming cup of coffee and offered the cookies.
“Thank you, Maya. This is perfect for a rainy afternoon.” Richard said. “I like your patio a lot! It is very inviting, with a wonderful view of your garden pa.”
“This is my favorite place to do my rain watching. This is also the one place where I do my ‘Maya time’! That is, when I just wanted to relax, read or when I am mulling about something. It’s very inviting kasi, di ba, with the view and the plants. That’s my favorite spot naman to do it.” Maya pointed out to a cocoon wicker rattan swing chair/hammock with purple soft cushion in the corner of the patio.
“I agree wholeheartedly. It does look inviting.” Richard said as he took sips of his coffee and ate some of Sabel’s delicious cookies.
When they were done with their coffee and snacks, Maya stood up and held out her hand to Richard. “Come, let’s go to my favorite spot to watch the rain and continue our kwentuhan. Dali, baka it will stop na soon, ma-miss ko ang moment.”
“Okay, my love. May pagka-impatient ka rin pala like this.” He teased. “Teka, kaya ba tayo niyan?” Richard asked after noticing that only a big hook is holding the wicker swing to a suspension stand.
“Have faith, Mr. Lim, matibay iyan. Na-try na namin iyan ni Nikki noong bumisita sila nina Mom dito after I got the house.”
“S-sure? Eh mas magaan sa akin si Nikki!” He quipped.
“Sure na sure ako, Mr. Lim.” Maya smiled, sat on the cocoon swing, then patted the space beside her and motion for Richard to sit down. After he did, she made the swing moved, laughing.
Richard fell backwards, but then laughed at her playful teasing. They settled more comfortably in the chair as they silently watched the falling rain amid the beautiful garden planted with all kinds of flowers.
“You really have made a home in this house, Maya. This is so nice.” Richard remarked after a while. “How long have you had this house?”
“Yes, this is really home. I have been living here since I moved back to the country permanently in 2009. I mean, when I decided that I want the Philippines to be my home base. I still travel a lot for my work. But I want a house to go home to. Nakakapagod din ang parang nomadic existence after a while. Dito, after every assignment, I have my house to come home to, to recharge my batteries, so to speak, and breath.”
“Good for you! I’m glad you did and that you made the Philippines your base. Nagkita tuloy tayo ng mas maaga! Before we saw each other, that lunch with my mother, I was really planning on looking you up, kahit saang panig pa ng mundo ako umabot! Actually I should have done that a long time go. See, so many years have passed and got wasted!”
“Ricky, I’m glad to know that. And no dwelling na in the past na negative, please. We found each other and here we are, iyon naman ang mas importante.” Maya admonished lightly. “Di bagay sa iyo ang mala-Heathcliff na character. Papangit ka. Guwapo ka pa naman. That’s something that didn’t change through the years, Mr. Lim. Pang-GQ pa rin!” She finished wanting to make him smile again.
Richard smiled hugely at that. He knew Maya was trying to lift his spirits. “Thank you, my love. You never fail to make me smile. You know what? I will really be forever thankful that we found each other again and to you, for all your wisdom and forgiveness. Okay, no more dwelling on the past like that. Let’s enjoy the rain and our moment.”
Richard put his arms around Maya and they half-reclined on the cocoon swing as they made it sway gently. They were perfectly content to do that. Maya sighed, content. Richard moved a bit and gazed at her lovingly.
“This is so perfect. I love you,” he said.
“The best, my Ricky!” She simply said. “I love you too.”
They moved towards each other. Their lips met for a kiss that started innocently but became much more.
They sighed against each other’s mouths before their lips fused into another hot kiss, followed by caresses as they moved closer to each other in the cozy confines of the swing, as if the fire they have banked for eight years suddenly erupted.
Sabel was about to enter the patio when she noticed the couple in the swing. She retreated abruptly. In the process, she banged her shoulder against the door.
“Ay, aray!” She muttered to herself, trying to stop herself from complaining about the pain, hoping that she didn’t disturb them. She tiptoed back into the living room, then to the kitchen.
Lucky for Sabel, the rain drowned out the sound she made. However, soon after, Maya and Richard slowly and reluctantly broke apart, but not before giving each other a quick kiss again. They knew Sabel might come home soon. They both tried to catch their breaths after those kisses.
Then Maya, all of a sudden, pinched Richard lovingly in the face.
“What was that for, my love?” Richard said smiling.
“Wala lang, baka kasi nanaginip pa rin ako!” Maya said cheekily.
Richard chuckled at that, but he too, would sometime feel like blinking and shaking his head to check if he is not dreaming, that Maya is really back in his life. “I feel like that, sometimes, too.” Then teasingly, “I think I want my proof another way!” He then gave Maya a short, quick, but very hot kiss that left them breathless.
“Well, I guess, we both are not dreaming! I surely felt that!” Maya said lovingly, her lips now showing signs of being thoroughly kissed.
The ringing of Maya’s phone interrupted their idyll. Maya ignored it at first since she was not expecting any call. But it rang again.
“Maya, better answer it na. Baka importante.” Richard prodded Maya.
“Oh, sayang ang moment!” She complained teasingly, but even before Richard said that, she was thinking of picking up the call, baka nga importante.
Richard assisted her out of the swing. She went back to where she dropped of her bag in the living room, got the phone and all Richard heard, was that, her, saying hello to Rafa!
Rafa again, he thought! Who is that guy really in Maya’s life? Richard does not think Maya will say that she still love him and allow these ‘dates’ they are having, if she is committed to another person. But still he felt another pinch in his heart, having an inkling that Rafa is also someone important in Maya’s life. The guy is even going with her to visit her Mamang.
Maya was gone for around 10 minutes and Richard patiently waited for her, looking pensive while he was staring at the garden, newly-invigorated by the rain.
“Ricky, I got us coffee again!” Maya said when she returned carrying two fresh cups. “Sabel was back na pala. Hindi na raw niya tayo inabala when she arrived, kasi busy tayo. I think she saw us kissing in the swing.” Maya said, coloring a bit, but smiling.
Looking at her, so lovely and with a loving gaze only for him, he decided to concentrate on what they have, and forget about Rafa and his place in Maya’s life.
“Thank you, Maya! Remind me to thank Sabel too, for not interrupting us earlier.” He said naughtily, teasingly.
“Ikaw, talaga, Ricky Lim!” Maya pinched him on the side, lovingly. Then she sat beside him. “That was my friend Rafa pala. He told me he can’t go with me to Mindoro with me this coming week kasi he needs to fly to Bangkok for a meeting.”
“Oh!” Richard said, but inwardly, he was glad that Rafa is not going with Maya to Mindoro. Then gathering his thoughts while taking a sip of his coffee, finding the opportunity, he asked Maya about Rafa, trying to appear nonchalant about the whole thing. He just want to know, he insisted to himself. “How long have you known Rafa?”
Maya knew this question is coming as she noticed him looking closely at her and Rafa’s photo in her small gallery before they went out to dinner the night before. As soon as she had finished her conversation with Rafa, she decided to tell Richard about her friend, not that she really need to, as Rafa is just a friend, but she wants to assure and make it clear to Richard that he is the only man in her life. Hence, the new cups of coffee.
“Let’s see.” Maya started as she too, took sips of her coffee. “I have known him for more than five years, I think, maybe close to six years. We met in Geneva. He is from Barcelona and is a doctor working for WHO. We would see each other from time to time, here and there. through the years Then when I moved back here, he also lobbied for an assignment here. He is one of my closest friends. Rafa knows there was someone very special in my past. I sort of, started telling him about you, not by name, one December evening when I was feeling so sad and had a bit of wine.”
“Maya……” Richard felt guilty anew.
“Ricky, don’t feel guilty, please. I’m just telling this to you so that everything is clear between us.” Maya said, then continued.
“Rafa started courting me over a year ago. I thought of saying yes to him several times, but there was something stopping me. I realized later that it was my feelings for you. Despite what happened, I still love you and even if we parted ways and a lot of years had passed, I can’t seem to commit to another person. It felt disloyal to you to do that and at the same time, I felt like I will be short changing Rafa as I can’t give him my 100 percent, not even a quarter of me, actually. Like you, I purposely did not try to find out anything about you, in the beginning, as I was afraid that what I would discover, like your wedding, that will hurt me again. I wanted to move on. But as the years passed, my heart and my hurt healed and I was able to look at our time together and remembered the good times.
I tried to forget you, really, with work too, but ayaw ka talagang mawala dito sa puso ko. That feeling was reinforced when I read the article that you were coming back to the country, and there’s your mom nga and our project. Even before we met each other again, I already told Rafa that it is best if we remain friends. And yes, Rafa was the guy in the picture you were looking at yesterday.”
“Maya, my love. Thank you, thank you. I love you very much. Promise, it will be my life’s goal to make you happy, and I will not make you cry you anymore.” Richard promised fervently and wholeheartedly.
“Ricky, I love you very much. You are worth everything. This is worth it. Maybe what happened, happened for a reason. Maybe, we needed that to be stronger, to build a more lasting relationship. Let’s just move forward.” Maya said.
“Yes, we will Maya. I promised you that. I want a forever with you this time.” Richard said as he cupped Maya’s face, and gave her another kiss.
They stayed in the covered patio until it got very dark. Afterwards, they had a very enjoyable dinner. It was a mere coincidence that Sabel cooked kare-kare again. Maya told Richard of remembering him, when Sabel cooked that dinner the day she arrived back from Bangkok. Richard told Maya, that he had the same feeling when he went to dinner at his mother’s house, that same evening. They realized then that they were at the airport at the same time!
“See, as if fate is really working on making us meet, after all those years!” Richard remarked happily as they went back to the patio, just to continue chatting as they had too much coffee already.
“I agree!” Maya replied.
“My love, I have something to ask.” Richard said. “When are you exactly going to Mindoro?”
“Well, I’m planning to leave Manila on Thursday, then meet with the community leaders on Friday, the whole day. Then on Saturday, I’m going to Mamang.” Maya said, then asked, “Why are you asking pala?”
“Well, would it be okay, if I join you in visiting your Mamang? I want to meet her. She is your family here and you have told me a lot about her naman.” Richard answered. “I can leave Manila early Saturday morning and be in San Nicolas before lunch. I want to join you nga rin sana sa community na pupuntahan mo, but I just returned and LHI is demanding too much of my time these days. But I can manage the weekend. I want to, very much!”
“Sure, that wouldn’t be a problem. It would be wonderful. Pero unahin mo na muna ang LHI. I’m sure, marami kang kailangang ayusin and your officers are also looking to you for direction now that you are the CEO.” Maya replied. Her heart actually beat faster with the way Richard was looking at her when he asked if he could go to Mindoro with her. She felt happy with the thought that he wants to meet her grandmother, and they will finally meet. “Simon and I will just pick you up from the airport para hindi ka na maghanap ng bahay ni Mamang.”
“Great. Thank you very much, my love.” Richard said, then he stood up. “I think I better get going. May pasok ka pa bukas.”
“Ikaw din. Halika, ihahatid na kita sa labas,” Maya started walking towards the front door.
“Dito na lang, Maya. I will just lock after myself.” Richard stopped Maya by touching her arm. “Thank you for today. The best day ever. I love you, Maya, so very much.”
“I love you very much too, Ricky. You have made me so happy again.” Maya said as she touched Richard’s cheek, then wrap her hands around his nape, tiptoeing, she gave him a sweet kiss. Richard returned the kiss, and it took a while before they stopped.
Note: Feeling sad, sigh! I really made the effort to finish this, hoping to lift the spirit! Sorry if I have typos. I will check it again after posting.