Since she got home late the night before, Maya woke up a bit later than usual the following morning. She looked at the clock and saw that it was already 10 o’clock in the morning. She certainly slept a long time! Then, while she was trying to shake up of remnants of sleep from her system, she remembered her wonderful time with Richard the night before. She grinned. Welcome to another beautiful morning in the Philippines, Maya Dela Rosa, she told herself! She never thought, when she packed her bags and left Macau for good that this would be what awaits her, another ‘chance’ with Richard! She is very happy.
Maya took a quick shower, several minutes after, then dressed in her most comfortable pair of jeans, t-shirt, flip-flops and then she was off to the nearby shopping district. She wanted to hit the shops early to avoid the crowd later on as it was the weekend before Christmas. She just needed some things for her place and something to bring to her dinner with the Franciscos in the evening. Maybe, if there are not so many people, she can also check other shops. She needs to furnish her place and she had been putting off buying the big ticket items for it until after the holidays. But she could check what she could get.
But before she does all of that, she needed her caffeine fix, and breakfast too! Her tummy is grumbling already. Maya entered the cafe she usually frequents when she is in this area, and was about to order when someone called her name.
“Maya!” Richard called from one of the tables, a big smile on his face. He looks to happy to see her. And to her, he looks so handsome in his faded jeans, t-shirt and sneakers. He looks boyish and so appealing.
“Ricky!” Maya said, with an answering big smile too. The morning just got brighter, she thought. Tama nga siya na another beautiful morning ang araw na ito sa Pilipinas!
Richard was thinking the same. Matapos ang unforgettable evening niya with Maya, heto, a beautiful morning naman ang kasunod. He can’t believe his luck when he saw Maya entering the cafe.
“Good to you see here, Maya! Please join me. What would you like to have? I will just get it for your. I insist, please.” Richard said.
“Oh! O sige na nga. Pero next time, ako naman ha. I would just like the big caffe americano and a tuna and cheese sandwich.” Maya said after looking at the cafe’s menu board. “Thank you very much, Ricky.”
“Okay, your food coming right up. Wait for me na lang at my old table. Naiwan ko pala doon ang laptop ko.” Richard said.
Maya went to the table where she saw Richard earlier. On it, she saw the same type of coffee she ordered and a half-eaten club sandwich. Richard was apparently combining breakfast and work.
“Here you go, Maya.” Richard put Maya’s food in front of her after several minutes, then he sat across her.
“Thank you again, Ricky. What a coincidence naman that I saw you here!” Maya remarked as she put three sachets of brown sugar into her coffee. “Medyo tinanghali na nga ako ng labas ng place ko today.”
“Well, considering the late night we had, ako rin late na nagising this morning. Wala namang pasok so, it was okay. I hope you slept well.” Richard said, gazing at her intently. She was the one he was thinking about before he finally succumbed to sleep. “I’m glad to have ran into you here. Parati ka ba dito?”
“Yes, halos every morning simula nang lumipat ako sa unit ko. I like their coffee and there is a pasta here that I like as well.” Maya replied. “Too much effort to brew coffee at home kung ako lang naman. Saka, I don’t know, parang mas masarap ang coffee sa cafe kaysa sa gawa ko.” She added smiling.
“I agree. I gave up brewing coffee at home too. Marami namang masasarap na coffee ngayon sa mga cafe na in recent years, nagsulputan. Kaya hayun kung coffee machine ko hindi na nagagamit.” Richard said, then asked, “What are your plans for the rest of the day? Di ba mamaya ang dinner mo sa family mo? Saan pala nakatira ang aunt and uncle mo?”
“Yes. They live in Dasmarinas Village.” Maya took a sip of her coffee and enjoyed the initial rush of caffeine into her system. “I’m just buying some stuffs for the house diyan sa shop selling all kinds of containers and organizers, then go to the bookshop I think, tapos will buy chocolates lang for my aunt. Ikaw?”
“Hmmm, I’m free din today.” Richard remarked and when he saw Maya looking at the papers on the table and his laptop. “Oh, I just brought this since I’m passing the time.” He explained. “Pero, mamaya I will have dinner too at my parents’s house.”
“Oh, it was last Sunday nga pala when we saw each other again, and you were with your mother! Magdi-dinner ka rin sa kanila that day?” Maya asked.
“Oo. Kapag libre ako, I usually go to their house in Quezon City.” Richard said, then smiling, he narrated, “That was one of my best Sundays, seeing you again. Of course, today is another best Sunday! My mother got very surprised when I thanked her for dragging me to S & R! Considering that I tried talking her out of going there dahil baka nga maraming tao. Mabuti she is stubborn, lalo na kapag na-fixate siya sa isang bagay or task na kailangan niyang ma-accomplish, like the stuffs she wanted to buy there!.”
“Really, your Mom is like that!” Maya smiled at that, then somehow imagining Richard’s mother’s expression when he thanked her. It seems too, that Richard is not yet done with all his revelations. Maya felt very happy at that moment.
“Yes, she is. Pero sanay na kami ni Papa sa kanya. My Mama is a very lovely person, and very jolly.” Richard said, his love for his mother obvious in his tone of voice.
Richard and Maya ate and chatted as they enjoyed their brunch. Richard, upon Maya’s proddding, talked about his parents and Richard also asked how’s Mamang as a parent. Maya forgot that she was supposed to be hitting the shops early as she enjoyed Richard’s company. They shared anecdotes about their families. And just like last night, they got into talking about all kinds of stuffs too.
“Maya, would be it be okay if I go around with you? Sasamahan na kita sa shops. Unless you prefer to be alone, of course.” Richard asked after a while, gazing at Maya with a hopeful expression. “You know, I could be your taga-bitbit.” He added with a grin. He does not want yet to part with Maya. In fact, he wanted to spend the rest of the day with her.
Maya looked at Richard, her heart beating fast again. Hayan na-exercise na naman ang puso. Grabe na ang mamang ito, sobra na akong pakiligin, she mused.
“Sure, Ricky! I would be happy to. Kung sure ka na wala ka namang gagawin at kung okay lang na umikot-ikot. I know guys don’t like doing that.” Maya said smiling. “Pero promise, kaunti lang ang bibilhin ko.”
“Well, I’m not most guys!” Richard said, teasing! “I like your company, Maya. I’m sure being with you as you flit from shop to shop will not be a chore.”
“Thanks a lot, Ricky.” Maya is now definitely feeling warm and giddy again. Imagine, the rest of the morning and the rest of the afternoon with Richard! Kahit makpagsiksikan pa sila sa mga tao, okay lang. Kayang-kaya. “Shall we get going?”
They left the cafe and then walk to the first shop on Maya’s list. She bought soap dispensers and organizers for her stuffs. Along the way, they also entered a house furnishing shop that has interesting displays. They looked like a couple out on a shopping trip for a new home. Richard was very solicitous of Maya. He held Maya’s elbow at times to assist her and so that she does not get jostled by people passing by, in a hurry too. However, later on he took complete hold of her hand when, in the volume of people hurrying from all directions almost separated them. Maya liked the feeling of their hands together.
In the book shop, Richard and Maya browsed through the shelves happily. After 30 minutes, Maya had five books in her hand, aside from several children’s books, as well as cute notebooks, and other stuffs. Richard on the other hand, was holding two hardbound books. They paid for their purchases and since Maya needed to get ready for her dinner with her family soon, they went to the chocolate shop that was last on her list for the day.
Maya bought a box of sugar-free chocolate for her Tita Lulu, regular ones for the rest of the family. Richard, when they came out, was also holding several bags from the shop.
“Maya, how are you going to your aunt and uncle’s house with all the stuffs you bought?” Richard asked when they were in his car going back to her place. Maya told him earlier that she found some books for Cho too. She can’t just resist buying them.
“I’m going to take a taxi. Hindi kasi ako madadaanan nina Ate Cris dahil by now, nandoon na sila. Then si Kuya Jeff naman may kausap pa this afternoon bago ang dinner.” Maya said. “I’m planning to get a car naman, pero hindi pa ako maka-decide kung ano. Saka inuna ko na munang ayusin ang house. Kuya Jeff promised to go with me rin pero busy pa siya.”
“Hmmm, I think it will be a tall order in this area, lalo na ngayong last weekend na ng mga tao to shop for their Christmas needs.” Richard said. “I can take you there before I go to Quezon City.” He offered.
“Ricky, sobra-sobra na naman yata akong spoiled sa iyo today. I’m taking up too much of your time na. Heto, sinamahan mo na nga akong mag-shop, pina-brunch and coffee pa.” Maya protested.
“No, Maya, you are not taking up my time. In fact, I’m making up for lost time, seven years to be exact!” Richard said meaningfully. “Let me just do this please.”
“Ricky, what do you mean?” “Maya asked as he remember him saying something along that line before.
“Well, like I have mentioned before, us getting to know each other is long overdue. Seven years in the making nga eh, if you come to think of it.” Richard said, then taking a deep breath, continued, “Maya, I was drawn to you from the moment I saw you. Di ba sabi ko naman sa kagabi, I wondered about you and I can’t explain why. The thing is from the moment you entered that stage I was drawn to you. Hindi ko maipaliwanag, pero my heart was beating faster than usual that night.”
“Really, Ricky!!!!” Maya said, very surprised at another revelation, and before she could stopped herself as she was very happy by this revelation, she blurted out, “Ako rin, ganyan ang pakiramdam ko ng makita kita.” Then she realized at what she has revealed, and blushed profusely.
Richard gazed at Maya intently, happy with what he just heard. He gave her a big lopsided smile. “I’m so glad, Maya. Thank you. Hindi pala ako nag-iisa.” Then added, “You know the only reason why I attended that after pageant party was because I want to find out what drew me to you.”
“Ricky…..!” Maya blurted out, very surprised again and at the same time, her heart was beating double time.
“Yes, Maya! So we can we make up for seven lost years together?” Richard asked, gazing at Maya meaningfully.
Maya felt like she can’t breath, and only managed to say “yes” very softly.
They gazed at each other for several minutes, until a very loud honk broke their silent but momentous connection. It felt like their ‘getting-to-know-each-other’ has shifted to a new phase with that admissions on both their parts.
Maya realized then they were in front of her building and they were blocking the driveway.
“Oh….” Maya exclaimed.
“Oh….” Richard said too as he realized that he just automatically stopped the car in front of the building and got so lost in the feeling Maya was evoking in him. ‘Wait, Maya, I will just park at the guest parking and accompany you to your unit.”
“Ricky, better siguro itabi mo na lang doon sa may side, then I will get my stuffs na lang. I can manage. Di ba uuwi ka pa muna and babalik for me!” Maya suggested, still recovering from that revelation.
“No, I will accompany you upstairs. Marami kang bitbit.” Richard insisted.
Before they entered the building, Richard got something from the big bag from the chocolate shop. “Maya, for you.” He handed Maya a beautiful arrangement of chocolates.
“Oh, ito iyong gusto ko sa shop kanina and thought of buying the next time I’m there! Thank you very much, Ricky.” Maya said, appreciating Richard’s thoughtfulness.
“You’re welcome. I saw you looked at it, twice pero iniwan mo rin. I just thought of getting it for you.” He said, smiling.
Several minutes later, they were in front of Maya’s unit, looking at each other. What they admitted in the car was very much in the air.
“Pasok ka muna and have something to drink.” Maya asked.
“Thanks Maya, next time na lang. You will get ready pa for your dinner di ba. Baka makapos ka sa time. What time should I return to pick you up?” Richard asked.
“Hmmmm, how about 6PM. Malapit lang naman dito. Pero ikaw, hindi ka pa ba hihintayin ng parents mo. Sa Quezon City pa iyon.”
“It’s okay. I will call Mama and tell them that I will be there a little past 7PM. I think kaya naman. Don’t worry about me. Loose naman ang arrangement namin ng parents ko every weekend. I’ll see you in an hour.” Then Richard did something Maya was not expecting. He kissed her on the cheek. “Bye for now.” He said sofly, the gave her a heart melting smile, and off he went back to the elevator.
Maya was not sure how she managed to open her door. Inside, she walked like she was in a trance and just dropped her parcels. They hit the floor with a soft thud. Good thing there was nothing breakable in those. She touched her cheek, felt very warm, then she grinned.
Richard was also grinning foolishly as he took the elevator down. He was not really planning on giving Maya a kiss on the cheek. But he just felt so compelled to, especially after her admission that she was drawn to him from the beginning too. His throat constricted and he felt a shortness of breath as his heart beat double time when he heard those words.
Both Maya and Richard are looking forward to seeing each other again in an hour or so even if they will have to go on their separate ways for the evening. Still, they will be together again. Making up for seven lost years, indeed!