Richard led Maya to the veranda of the beautiful vacation house. The place was lit by candles in small glass containers. The table there was beautifully set for two, with long stemmed red roses in a glass vase in the middle, and beside it, there was a cooling bottle of wine in a bucket. The food was placed on a smaller table at the side. The place has a very romantic feel, fit for the special evening Richard has planned for Maya.
Maya was dressed in a long, flowing dress that fitted her beautifully, making her look very ladylike. She had brought that very pretty dress on this trip on impulse. She didn’t exactly know where Richard would take her after visiting her Mamang so she thought it was better to be prepared for any eventuality. She was glad she did, as the dress fitted perfectly into this special occasion.
Richard looked at Maya admiringly, telling her she is so beautiful, when he picked her up, earlier, from the guest room where he led her after the wonderful kiss they have shared as soon as they have arrived at this place. He told her she can rest in there while he prepares something special for her. He refused Maya’s offer of help. Maya acquiesced in what he wanted, and stayed in the guest room. Surprisingly, she managed to nap. She must have been very tired from her trips the past several days, coupled with the late nights with her cousins Friday night, then with Richard and her family the night after that. She took a shower as soon as she woke up from her nap. She was just putting her white dainty sandals on, when Richard knocked on her door.
Richard took Maya’s breath away too when she saw him standing outside her door, dressed in loose, cotton pants and a matching shirt, unbuttoned at the chest, wearing sandals, looking very, very handsome. He gave her a heated, loving look, before taking her hand, interlacing their fingers, then leading her to the veranda and this special treat. From the veranda, Maya can see the twinkling lights dotting the other islands, and the sea beyond, sparkling into the night.
“Thank you, Ricky.” Maya said after Richard seated her. She was so very happy, overwhelmed, and was feeling a bit of anticipation for something she can’t put a name to yet. She love the table setting and all the trouble he went to for her and their special night together. “This is really beautiful. Ikaw ang nag-prepare nito lahat?”
Richard smiled at Maya, very glad to see her happy. It also took the edge off his nervousness. “Yes, I did, except for the food, those I had to order especially. I want our night, my love, to be something extraordinary. It is just the two of us here. Normally, when I stay here, I stayed alone. Mang Caloy just gets me the supply I need and then I just call him if I needed additional stuffs.”
“Oh! Actually, it’s really nice to be alone here, come to think of it. Tahimik and sure na walang istorbo.” Maya innocently remarked, which earned her a naughty and teasing grin from Richard. Maya blushed. “I mean, the peace and quiet is nice. Walang ibang sound, kundi nature! Masarap magmuni-muni. Rickyyyyyy, ikaw talaga.”
“Hahahaha, bakit, wala naman akong sinasabi, ha.” Richard said, happily teasing Maya.
“Wala ka ngang ibang sinasabi, pero ang ngiti and look mo Mr.Lim, wagas ah.” Maya teased back.
“Hahahaha, Masarap naman talagang maging alone dito. Imagine, after eight years, nasolo rin kita. Okay, okay, I will stop.” Richard said, still laughing. “Come, let’s eat na nga. I hope you will like everything I had prepared for dinner.”
Richard removed the covers of the food on the table. Upon seeing the mouthwatering feast before her, Maya was reminded of something. She looked at Richard. “Ricky, parang kamukha noong…..?”
“Yes, the food were the same ones we had on our first date in La Signora. I also bought the same wine. I want our night here to be something we will both remember until we are old and gray! Aside from meeting each other in the hotel, that dinner was how we really started.” Richard said enigmatically, then got the bottle, popped the cork, then poured Maya and him a glass each.”
“To us and our happy ever after!” Richard said as he offered a meaningful toast to her. “You are mine, and I am yours forever.”
“My love, to us, and finding each other again.” Maya replied, looking at Richard with so much love in her eyes. “Thank you for this very memorable date!”
Richard and Maya clinked their glasses, drank the wine, gazed at each other happily, lovingly. Then, Richard started serving Maya their first course. She offered to do it, but he insisted that he would like to do everything for her this evening. They had a leisurely dinner, punctuated with loving glances. By the time, they were finished the night has gotten cooler, nicer, and wonderfully so.
“More wine, my love?” Richard asked Maya after they finished the pasta. Richard told Maya earlier that he persuaded the chef at the mountain resort nearby to prepare this evening’s meal.
“No, thanks, Ricky. I think I have enough after two glasses.” Maya said smiling. She is actually feeling the effects of it. While she was not yet drunk, she was definitely getting tipsy.
“Okay, how about coffee and dessert?” Richard asked. “I have a strawberry cake cooling in the fridge.”
“That’t would be great! And that one reminds me of our dinner at your company restaurant.” Maya remarked, smiling. She stood up, then went to Richard, gave him a kiss on the lips and sniffed at him. “Thank you my guwapong boyfriend for this treat. Ang bango-bango mo, talaga.”
“Hahahaha, Maya, my love are you drunk? “ Richard laughed. He thinks Maya is not yet, but she is definitely getting tipsy.
“Nope, but I must admit, I think I’m tipsy.” Maya said sheepishly. “Maybe, coffee and cold water will sober me up. A lot of it will do me good. The cool night air will also help.”
Richard grinned. Maya is very cute in this state.
“Coming right up. Why don’t you go to the other side of this veranda and wait for me there.” Richard said, then pointed Maya to the direction leading to the left side. “The breeze is coming from that direction.”
“Okay.” Maya said.
Richard gave her a quick kiss, then went to the kitchen to get the coffee, the cake and a pitcher of cold water.
When Richard left, Maya walked towards the direction he indicated. When she rounded the corner, she was in for another surprise. The place looked like her patio. Only instead of a cocoon swing chair, what were in there were round chairs made of rattan and lined with cushioned canvas covers. They looked like giant flowers. In the middle was a coffee table with a tall glass vase filled with long-stemmed red roses.
“Coffee, water and cake for the love of my life.” Richard greeted, carrying a tray, which he put down on the coffee table.
“Thank you, Ricky. Wow, that looks delicious. May kakumpetensya na si Chef John.” Like before, Maya automatically made the coffee for Ricky, stirring it well, then handed it to him.
“Thank you, my love! That I can’t do, make coffee as good as you does.” He said smiling, settling into the chair on Maya’s right.
They quietly enjoyed the first rush of hot coffee into their system.
“I like this side of the house, better. The chairs are very comfortable and inviting. I think if I stay here with a book, I don’t want to leave!” Maya remarked after several sips that has a sobering effect on her, coupled with the water she drank.
“I like this side too. It has an unobstructed view of the sea and the mountains on the side, then also the garden below. I will give you a tour tomorrow morning.” Richard replied.
“Ricky, this is really a very good idea. This trip! I really love your ‘fortress’ too! “Maya said.
“I’m so happy too, Maya! I never thought that one day, you will be with me here, us like this.” Richard said. “This is where I spent time when I was missing you too much. This is the place I ran to when thinking of you and what could have been was too much for me. This is also where I remember all our good times, which where the best times of my life.”
“Oh, Ricky…..” Maya said, her heart, going out to him.
“This place seemed to calm me. I would just look at the wonder of nature around me. God created all the beauty around for a reason. When I see that, I thought then, that things might have happened for a reason too, and like the changing of the season, you’ll never know what the next one will bring. So many seasons after, here we are. I was led to you again, and we have our seconc chance a love that was not able to fully bloomed the first time. I will never let this chance pass again.” Richard said emotionally.
Richard. then, put his coffee cup down. He took a deep breath to calm himself, for suddenly he felt nervous for what he was about to do. He stood up, got the tallest of the red roses from the vase, and also the most beautiful and vibrant one among the lot. He walked towards Maya, then holding the rose, he knelt on one knee.
“Maya, we loved with all our hearts and being when we were younger, then we lost each other for like an eternity, then by God’s grace, we found each other again, with our feelings for each other as strong as the first time we have loved. Not so many people are blessed and lucky like that. I have never loved anyone before you, I have never loved another when circumstances separated us, and I will never will, only you. For me, it will be you forever. Will you share that forever with me? Will you do me the honor of marrying me? Share the rest of your life with me. Be mine as I will be yours forever.” Richard said with all the love he is feeling for this wonderful woman, the love of his life. He offered Maya the rose, with a platinum engagement ring attached to the red ribbon decorating it.
Maya swallowed hard. She was completely surprised. She was not really expecting a proposal from him this evening. Richard’s proposal sobered her up faster than several glasses of water and cups of coffee can do. Her heart was beating loudly, the blood going to her head. It started from the moment he knelt before her. Then with tears glistening in her eyes, she also knelt, cupped Richard’s face, looking at him with all the love she feels.
“Ricky, my love, like you I will never love another. I have only one love, and that is you. You are my fate, you are my destiny, and even if we had taken the long road to arrive at this moment, it was worth it. I will continue to love you until the end of my breath. I love you very much. Yes I would life to share the rest of my life with you, grow old with you, make a family with you. Be with you for always. Yes, I will be yours as you will be mine. Yes, I will marry you.” Maya said, her voice breaking. “I love you with all of me.”
Richard grinned happily upon hearing Maya’s declaration. He also heaved a sigh of relief. Yes, this was not the first time he had proposed, but this is so much different, this is the only time that it mattered. The emotions he was feeling at that moment was so overwhelming, and he was fervently hoping that the love of his life will say yes to spending a lifetime with him. She did!
“Maya, I love you very much. Thank you, my love. You made me the happiest guy in the world. I promised to love and cherish you for always. Finally, we will be together. Eight years is too much, my love, to be without you.”
Richard then untied the red ribbon, slipped the ring encrusted with little diamonds out of it, then lovingly put it on Maya’s finger. Richard brought Maya’s hand to lips and kissed it very tenderly. He stood up, assisting Maya. He hugged her very tight as if he will never let her go. They stayed like that for a while, just absorbing this very special moment and a milestone in their lives. They also swayed a little bit as if dancing to the sweet music in their heads.
They kissed tenderly, lovingly with nary a space between them, their first kiss as a newly engaged couple, sealing their commitment to each other, to a lifetime together and loving each other.