Archive for January, 2015
Dear fellow adiks and followers of My Sunflower World,
Like I have mentioned in my comments before, while I will continue writing Richard and Maya Fan Fictions after our favorite and most beloved couple, I would like to write about other stuffs and stories in this blog. I started with Unexpected Love, the story of Pippa and Ethan. I hope you will like their story as well. I would like to write also about everyday stuffs too and you will see it here from time to time.
But as I have promised you, as long as the ideas keep flowing, I can think of plots that would suit Richard and Maya, the characters we love from Be Careful With My Heart, and you are there to read those stories, I would write about them. I don’t want to deviate from their basic traits, characters and personalities we came to love on television. I want their stories to be always feel good and positive even if they face challenges in their lives and relationship. This was the essence of the show we came to love unconditionally. Thank you again for the BCWMH team that created these very memorable characters and show.
I can say that the Be Careful magic still lives on for me even if it has been almost two months since it ended. I finally managed to do my BCWMH rewind for the nth time recently, and like the first time I have watched it, I still laughed, cried, got touched and felt the kilig. I am now into DVD 3! It became my stress reliever again several times that I needed badly to de-stress recently. Good thing we have videos of the show we can go back to and enjoy watching over and over again. Watching it at leisure made me noticed stuffs I failed to notice the other times, so caught I was in the story of Richard and Maya, and appreciate it more. And yes, I was still as hooked to it like the first time. I promised myself I would just watch one or two episodes at a time, but before I knew it, I almost finished the 4.5 hours DVD in one sitting.
I must be crazy writing three stories at a time. But sometimes, the inspiration just hits me and I just have to pound on my poor laptop’s keyboard so I don’t lose it. There were also times I can’t write a single sentence even after tons of coffee. But the important thing in the scheme of things, as in most things in life, is enjoying what you are doing, and I do, very much, with this blog and my interaction with you guys.
Thank you very much again for visiting my blog, leaving comments and clicking likes. I may not be able to thank each and one of you frequently, but I want you to know that I do appreciate the feedback. Parang vitamins iyan sa isang writer! Good vibes as always!
Pippa dropped her bags in the living room of her family home in Puerto Galera, Mindoro. The house is unusually quiet. Her mom is definitely not home. No one is home, not even Manang Doray, their longtime kasambahay, it seems. She should have called her mother to let her know that she will be home. But calling someone, even her mother, was the farthest thing from her mind when she took the late night trip out of Manila last night. She arrived at the Batangas Port at dawn and waited for the first boat she can take to the island province where she grew up.
Pippa decided to grab a drink first before she calls her mother. She went to the kitchen, checked the refrigerator and found several cans of Coke inside. Her mother has not changed her habits. She still prefers to drink Coke from a can than in a plastic bottle.
Drink and cellphone in hand, Philippa opened the door that leads to their back veranda and garden. She was about to sit when she noticed someone doing some yard work. She walked nearer the edge of the veranda and got a better view of the guy cutting the trunk of a dead tree. He was working earnestly in chopping the trunk into smaller pieces. He didn’t notice her. He was shirtless and from where she could see, he has a very nice, toned body, as if he is used to outdoor activities. Maybe, he is someone her mom hired to do the yard work. She had done that in the past as there is no male in the Montenegro household.
“Hello there!” Pippa called from the veranda.
The guy didn’t hear her at first so she called out a second time. He looked up and Pippa almost lost her breath. Before her was the handsomest guy she had seen a long time. Not even her boyfriend, correction, ex-boyfriend now, who is a commercial model can compare the male specimen before her. She felt an instant attraction, but fought it. She is totally off relationships at the moment. She went home to lick her wounds.
Ethan looked up to check who called his attention. He saw a tall girl, wearing a purple t-shirt and maong shorts that showed endless legs, and holding a cold can of Coke he wouldn’t mind having as yard work made him thirsty, standing at the edge of the veranda. He guessed right away who she is as he had seen photos of her in the living room. He is curious to find out, though, if she is as beautiful in person as in her photos.
He approached her. “Hello to you too! You must be Pippa, I mean Philippa!”
“Yes, I’m Pippa. You know me? Do I know you?” Pippa asked, thought she know that she has not met him before. She doubted if she can’t forget a face like his. He has a movie star look in him.
“Hi I’m Ethan!” Ethan said, giving Philippa a friendly smile that showed off his dimples. “No, we haven’t met. But your mother mentioned you. Besides, there are quite a number of photos of you doon sa living room ninyo.”
“Oh! Yes, mom likes displaying those.” Pippa said, noticing that Ethan’s Filipino has a slight accent, as if he has not spoken it in a long time or is not using to speaking it. He also spoke English with a British accent. Judging by the way he look, and talks, she doubts whether he is a common utility guy that her mother hired. She would hazard a guess that he is of mixed heritage. Maybe, he is Filipino-British, judging by the accent. Maybe not! She decided to probe into his background and his connection to her mother subtly. “Have you been doing this long for my Mom? I mean doing yard work!”
“Oh, for about a month na,” Ethan said, not elaborating. The less details he gives, the better. For now, he prefers it that way. He looked at Pippa’s face and he knows she is very curious about him, what exactly is his place in her family home. He was not really expecting Pippa to go home all of a sudden. Her mom, Tita Marianne told him that her daughter has not been home in three months due to her new assignment at work and only managed short, hurried phone calls to her.
In the course of knowing Marianne Montenegro, she had told him about her only daughter who prefers to live and work in Manila than manage the family’s beach resort here in Puerto Galera. She said her daughter is beautiful and could have made a career as a fashion or a commercial model. Marianne told him that Pippa was approached by talent scouts when she was at university but she declined. She opted to finish her degree in Mass Communications and is now working as a program producer in one of the television channels in Manila.
Remembering what Marianne told him, yes, she is correct her daughter is beautiful, very beautiful with her high cheekbones, pert nose, pouty lips, long eyelashes and heart-shaped face. In fact, Pippa reminds him of Audrey Hepburn. She should be working in front of a camera and not behind it.
When Ethan didn’t say anything, Pippa decided not to ask him any more questions, no matter how curious she is. “Okay, I’ll leave you then. I need to call my mother pa. Alam mo ba kung saan siya nagpunta?”
“Tita Marianne attended a wedding sa Calapan.” Ethan said. “Kasama niya si Manang Doray, with two other ladies!”
“Tita…?” Pippa asked, curious again, though she know that the word ‘Tita’ is loosely use anyway. There is something about this guy that draws her in.
“Errr, yes! She asked me to call her that.” Ethan answered, not really saying why he is calling Pippa’s mom, Tita.
Well, Pippa thought, if getting information from this guy is like pulling a stubborn weed, she better stop. She is tired and emotionally drained! She does not have the energy, no matter how drawn she is to him. She sighed. Off relationships, remember! Why does she always end up falling for the wrong guy, and her now ex-boyfriend Martin is number one in that list! But she does want to think about it now.
“Okay, Ethan, nice meeting you. I will just text Mom, then rest. I had a long journey. Pagpapahinga na lang muna ako sa room ko.” She smiled at him, then turned to go inside the house, at the same time typing on her phone.
“Bye Philippa! See you around.” Ethan said as his gaze followed Philippa’s departing back.
It was Ethan’s turn to be curious on why Pippa is home all of a sudden. She didn’t even call or text her mom that she is coming home apparently. He can also see that she is exhausted, and if his guess is correct, she had been crying. Her eyes were still puffy, not much, but he noticed it.
However, he has enough on his plate at the moment, Ethan thought. He didn’t come to Mindoro looking for a relationship. He is there to put his life back together. He went back to chopping the tree he felled earlier. He told Tita Marianne that he will do it, instead of her hiring someone. In fact their deal, at his insistence, is that he will do all the ‘guy work’ in the house, in exchange of her letting him stay at the small cottage at the edge of the property. He likes the place as it has a nice view of the beach. In return, Marianne told him, and that she was not accepting a no, to take his meals in the main house. It is the least she could do, she stressed. Ethan said yes as he is not very well-versed in the kitchen.
Pippa texted her mother, who promptly replied that she and Manang Doray will be back around 5PM or so. They are attending the wedding of Manang Doray’s niece Marina. She told Pippa that she is one of the principal sponsors. Mommy Marianne also told Pippa that she shouldn’t be surprised to see Ethan around the place. Pippa thought of asking her who exactly Ethan is, but before she could do so, her mother told her she needed to go. Pippa decided to reserve her many questions for later. She climbed the stairs that leads to the second floor of the house, walked towards the end room, her old room, to rest all her worries away until her mother returns.
Richard strode hurriedly through the lobby of Lim Corporation’s Headquarters in Eastwood City, wanting to arrive at his office promptly as he had scheduled a meeting with Emerald’s HR people at 9 o’clock that Monday morning. He hates being late. However, this morning, despite the fact that he left his place early, he got caught in a traffic jam somewhere in C5 due to a traffic accident. He took the elevator reserved for executives and was just in time for the meeting when he reached his office.
“Good morning, Sir Richard!” His secretary Minerva greeted him. “Nandoon na po sila sa conference room.” Then she too, stood up as she will be taking minutes.
Richard entered the conference room and greeted Emerald Hotels and Resorts HR Head, Katrina Ruiz, and their recruitment manager, Diana Ramos. “Good morning, Ina, Diana! I’m sorry I’m a bit late. There’s an accident at C5 this morning, involving three vehicles. I hope no one died or got seriously hurt.”
“Good morning, Sir Richard!” Ina greeted her boss. “Based on the news tweet I got, four were injured, but thankfully, no one died. Minor injuries lang din pati ang mga nasugatan.”
“Oh good to know.” Richard said as he sat down at the head of the table with Diana and Ina on his left and right sides. “Coffee, ladies?”
“None for me Sir, I’m good.” Diana replied. “Thank you.
“For me too! I had a latte already earlier.” Ina said. “Thanks.”
“Okay. Just for me then! Minerva, please make me a cup, just the usual. Thank you.” Richard told his secretary who stood up and made him a cup of coffee with two scoops of sugar, just the way he prefers it.
“Okay, Ina, Diana, as you know we will be opening our new hotel at Bonifacio Global City in two months. How are we in terms of the personnel we need to operate smoothly? Can you give me an update, please.” Richard asked. Normally, his mother handles this side of their operations but he decided to check anyway since she has been on leave since last week and will only be returning to work on Thursday. Time flies fast and before they know it, it is opening day already and he wants to be sure they have the best people. Service after all is a big part of a hotel operation.
“Sir, we are on track with our hirings. Diana can give you the details.” Ina said. “Diana, please.”
“Like Ms. Ina said, Sir, we have hired most of the personnel we need for our operations, including the general manager whom your mother had interviewed after Ina the other week. We just need to hire an operations manager. It took a while since we returned the previous batch of applicants to the headhunter we normally use.” Diana explained. “Last Friday, she had sent to us three new candidates and one of them looks very promising. She has an excellent experience working in a five-star hotel in Macau. She also has gone through trainings in Europe and the US, and has a master’s degree.”
“May I see her CV?” Richard asked.
Diana handed Richard a thick folder. He opened it and was surprised when he saw the name of the candidate and her photo. It is Maya! He barely managed to conceal his reaction to what he saw to Ina and Diana. He read through her extensive CV. So, all those time I have been wondering where she was, she was just working in Macau! So near! Maybe, she finally decided to come home recently after all those years and our paths finally crossed yesterday!
When he had finished reading, he schooled his expression, and looked at Ina and Diana. He decided not to let them know that he knows Maya Dela Rosa personally. He wants them to decide on their own and evaluate Maya base on merits and not because he knows the candidate for the position. For sure, with that credentials, Maya is very much qualified for the position.
“How about the other two candidates?” Richard asked the two HR officers.
“They are also okay and qualified, Sir.” Diana replied. “It’s just that, comparing their credentials to Ms. Dela Rosa, they paled in comparison. But I will also ask them to come for an interview. Maybe, we can hire them for our other hotels.”
“Okay, schedule them for interviews. Then when you and Ina have your final choice, let Mama know. As you know, Mama trusts your judgement and just do the final interview as a formality so please ensure that we will get the best person for the job! She will be back by Thursday.”
“Yes, Sir Richard! We will.” Ina assured her boss whom she wished would notice her beyond the fact that she is the HR Head of Emerald! But no such luck! She sighed and said good day to him. She and Diana went out.
“O buo na naman ang araw mo, nakasilay ka na naman diyan sa crush mo.” Diana whispered to Ina when they were out of the executive offices.
“Hay naku, what’s the use! As always, he does not see be beyond being the HR Head.” Ina said resignedly.
“Bakit nga kaya wala pa tayong nalalamang girlfriend ni Sir Richard? We have been here for three years na.” Diana remarked as they waited for the elevator. “I heard he dates naman, pati nga iyong model na si Linda Borromeo, di ba?
“Naku, Diana, I don’t know!” Ina said. “Let’s not talk about our boss’s personal life na nga, baka may makarinig pa sa atin and it is also not nice na sa atin pang HR people marinig iyan.”
The two HR officers then boarded the elevator to their floor. As soon as they arrived at their office, Diana called the headhunter and told her that they would like to interview all three applicants, at different hours on Wednesday, with Maya Dela Rosa being the last one in the schedule.
From her office in Makati, Regina Alvarez, a friend of Maya’s friend Emman gave Maya a call.
“Maya, you have an interview on Wednesday at Emerald Hotels and Resorts. Their office is in Eastwood. Would you be available?” Reggie told Maya after exchanging pleasantries with her. “Di ba I told you I will give them your CV.”
“Really Reggie! Yes, I will be available. Thank you!” Maya said smiling. She never thought she would have a job interview so soon after she returned to the Philippines. When she had sent Reggie her CV, she also stated that she will be available in December as it was the month she wanted to return home for good.
“Maya, good luck!” Reggie told Maya, as well as the two other applicants who are equally qualified and whom she had called earlier. Reggie thinks Maya will get the job. Her qualifications and extensive experience in Macau are what Emerald is looking for. But it is customary to send more than one CV so she sent three to them. The first time she sent Emerald the first batch of CVs, Maya was not yet in the country, so she excluded her.
Maya put the phone down, opened her MacBook and googled Emerald Hotels and Resorts to get a feel of the company she might end up working with. She knows about Emerald, heard of its excellent reputation in the industry, but hadn’t managed to check their complete company profile. When she got into the website, she looked first for their profile. She was startled to see Richard Lim’s name as one of the officers of the company, together with a Mrs. Esmeralda Lim. Wife? That can’t be!
Maya googled Esmeralda Lim and a picture of a lady in her 50s in some charity function came up. So, She is his mother, the one who was supposed to be a judge in the beauty pageant she joined years ago! The website also said Mrs. Lim handles the operations side of Emerald Hotels and Resorts while Richard Lim handles the building and development of new hotels and resorts for the company.
“Hmmmm, does he knows I’m applying for a job in his company?” Maya mused.
Since the text message they exchanged last night, Maya has not yet heard from Richard Lim. Maya naman, she told herself, halos wala pa nga ngang 24 hours since nagkita kayo ulit, and since that exchange of text messages. Oh well, maybe hindi since it is his mother pala who is handling that side of their company.
Richard at that time, was about to text Maya and ask if he can call. But before he does that, he wants to know what his schedule would be so he is sure that he is completely free when he has that much anticipated and seven years long overdue ‘getting to know’ dinner with Maya Dela Rosa.
“Minerva, how’s my schedule like this week?” He asked his secretary whom he had asked to come to his office several minutes ago.
“Sir, you are scheduled to fly to Catanduanes tomorrow afternoon to inspect the construction of our new resort there. Then from Catanduanes, Cebu po kayo and then Bohol, tapos fly to Manila from there.” Minerva recited from her organizer.
“Oh, that many places in a week! So, I will be back in Metro Manila by when?” Richard asked.
“Friday evening, Sir Richard!” Minerva supplied. “Heto po kasi iyong mga urgent na kailangan niyong puntahan na pina-schedule niyo sa akin last week.”
“Okay, thanks Minerva, you may go.” Richard said. He then took out his phone and was about to send Maya a message when Minerva returned.
“Sir Richard, kamuntik ko ng makalimutan, sorry po. Atty. Ryan called when you were meeting with Ms. Ina and Ms. Diana, he was asking po if he could see you quickly after your meeting with them. Urgent lang daw po. Pasensya na po Sir.” Minerva said apologetically.
“Oh, okay! Please give me 10 minutes, then I will see him.” Richard told his secretary as he wanted to talked to Maya first. He sent her the message.
Maya’s phone beeped when she was putting books in her new book shelves. She just moved to her condo in BGC a week after she arrived back in the country for good. She opted to buy one there so she is near her aunt and uncle’s place. She checked her message, then grinned happily.
Ricky: Good morning Maya, may I call you?
Maya typed in her reply promptly.
Maya: Good morning Ricky! Sure!
Upon seeing her message, Richard smiled happily and called her promptly.
“Hello, Maya! Thank you for the quick reply.” He said. “I thought you might be busy so nag-text na muna ako.”
“Hi Ricky, hindi naman. I’m just at my place, arranging things. I just moved kasi.” Maya said.
“Really, where?” Richard asked.
“In BGC.” Maya replied, then told Richard the name of the place.
“What a small world! I live two streets away from you.” Richard happily!
“Talaga. Nakakatuwa naman! Para na rin tayong neighbors.” Maya is also happy at this development. “O napatawag ka pala?”
“Oh, the reason why I called is to ask you to have dinner with me please on Saturday, 7PM? Would that be okay? I wanted it sooner sana but I will be out of town from tomorrow until Friday.” Richard said, hoping she would yes.
“Okay. Where do you we meet?” Maya asked, at the same time, thinking that if Richard is going out of town, then he will not be the one interviewing on Wednesday. She wanted to tell him, but changed her mind, saka na lang kapag she gets hired na. Mabuti na rin iyong hindi niya muna alam, Maya mused.
“I will pick you up na lang.” Richard said. “I will be coming from my place din.”
“Okay.” Maya replied.
“Maya, I’m really looking forward to seeing you and catching up.” Richard said happily. Then he added, “it is long overdue!”
Maya didn’t know how to take in Richard’s statement, so she just said, “I’m looking forward to having dinner with you, Ricky! Ingat ka sa biyahe mo.”
“Thank you, Maya. See you soon.” Richard said, reluctant to put the phone down, but he knows that Ryan must have been wanting something urgent if he asked to see him unscheduled. “Have a nice day.”
“Have a nice day, Ricky. Bye.” Maya said, then put her phone down. She felt like dancing a jig, excited on her dinner with Richard. She is much more excited about it than her job interview!
Richard flew to Catanduanes the following day. While in the plane, he though of Maya. Several more days until I see her again, he mused, grinning, just very happy with the way things are developing.
By Wednesday afternoon, Maya was at the lobby of Lim Corporation telling the receptionist that she has a job interview. When she got into the HR offices, she was directed to Diana Ramos’s office and went through half an hour of interview with her. Then she told her that their HR manager will interview her as well. Katrina Ruiz subjected her to half an hour interview as well. Afterwards, she also went through additional screenings in connection with the job she is applying for.
By Thursday afternoon, Maya was asked by Diana to come back to Emerald’s offices the following day. She was told that the Head of Operations will interview her.
By Friday afternoon, Maya was in Esmeralda Lim’s office. Mrs. Lim smiled at Maya.
“So, Ms. Dela Rosa, you have been working in Macau for the past four years!” She asked. “What made you returned to the Philippines?”
“Yes, Ma’am!” Maya replied. “I missed the Philippines, especially my family. In recent years, there was a boom in the hospitality industry here and I thought it was about time I return home.”
“Oh, good decision then! Since you are just what we need for the hotel we will be opening in BGC, The position is yours. Welcome to Emerald!” Esmeralda Lim said with a big smile, then stood up to shake Maya’s hand. She had already reviewed Maya Dela Rosa’s profile the day before and know that Ina and Diana made a very good choice in picking her for the job.
“Thank you very much, Mrs. Lim. I’m looking forward to being part of your prestigious company.” Maya smiled at Richard’s mother. She almost thought of telling her she knows her son, but it does not seems to be appropriate in that instance.
“Good, good! Please see Diana so the two of you can work on your hiring papers.” Mrs. Lim said.
Maya exited the office and went to Diana where she signed all the hiring papers. Diana told her she can start after the New Year.
Maya went home in a very happy mood. Not only she found a job, though she does not really need one that soon as financially she does not need to work at all, with the inheritance she got from her parents. But she hates being idle and she likes to continue working in the hotel industry. She can just develop the land in Mindoro on the side. She called her Ate Cris and her aunt and informed them that she got the job. They offered their congratulations and told her that they will prepare a special dinner for her the coming Sunday to celebrate.
Maya’s phone rang while she was watching the evening news that night. She checked who was calling and saw that it was Richard!
“Hi Maya, good evening! I’m back in Manila. I just landed.” Richard said. Obivously, he was still at the airport as Maya can hear flight boarding announcements in the background.
“Hi Ricky, how was your trip?” Maya asked, happy to hear from him at the same time wondering what part of the country he had been. He didn’t call or text again after the phone call that Monday. He must have been very busy and she was not expecting a text or a call anyway since they already agreed to meet, unless of course, he will reschedule their dinner.
“Good, but quite tiring! I have been to three different places the past days. I will tell you about it over dinner tomorrow. Are we still on? 7PM?” He asked, wanting to be sure.
“Yes, yes! I’ll see you tomorrow. Pahinga ka na muna this evening!” Maya said, doubly happy to know that Richard called her as soon as he had returned to Manila and that their dinner will push through. “I have a good news pala, pero bukas na rin lang!” She can’t help saying!
“Okay. I’ll be seeing you then! Good night, Maya!” Richard said. So, she got the job. He grinned. Yes, they will be working together!
Maya had the same thought after she put her phone down.
Who would have thought that when fate made them meet again, they would be this close, literally to each other. Perhaps they are really meant to be. She hopes so. He hopes so.
“Maya, anak, gising na, alas kwatro na ng hapon!” Manang Fe said as she knocked continuously on Maya’s door.
Maya stirred from the bed, yawning, then suddenly she remembered why she asked Manang Fe to wake her up. She wanted to be sure she will get up at 4PM as she wanted to have enough time to get ready for her and Richard’s birthday date. She didn’t want the risk of sleeping through the alarm she had set. She took a nap two hours ago as she felt very sleepy due to her late night with her staff. She wanted to be well-rested and fresh for her evening with Richard.
“Manang Fe, thank you po. See, hindi ako nagising sa alarm clock that I set.” Maya said when she opened the door to Manang Fe. She had set the alarm at quarter to 4 o’clock. She must have been still sleeping off the effects of the alcohol she consumed the night before.
“O siya, sige anak, maghanda ka na para sa lakad niyo ni Richard. Anong oras ba siya darating?” Manang Fe asked.
“Mga around 6:30PM daw po, Manang. Sige po, maghahanda na ako. Salamat po ulit.” Maya smiled at her old yaya, happiness in her eyes. From where Manang Fe was standing, she can see Maya’s excitement for the evening ahead.
Maya took a long, cool shower to wake her up. Then after that, she took out from her closet a calf-length strapless dress in deep blue with beads adorning the top and the waist area. The bodice hugged Maya’s body perfectly. The dress also showed a bit of her cleavage. She decided to dress up more than the usual since this is the first date she and Richard are having that they will not be coming directly from work. Besides, technically, this is still part of her birthday celebration. She wanted this night to be special, the first birthday she will be celebrating with the man she loves with all of her.
Maya applied minimal make-up. She just accentuated her best feature. As a finishing touch, she put on the butterfly necklace that Richard gave her the night before. She looked in the mirror and she felt like a princess on the way to a ball. She hummed ‘The Blue Danube Waltz’ as she looked for her evening bag and her pair of shoes that will go well with her dress.
Manang Fe knocked again on Maya’s door several minutes after, while she was still debating on whether to put a pair of stillettos or a pair of wedges. She opted for the wedges, then went to answer the door.
“Maya anak, nandito na si Richard.” The old lady informed Maya.
Maya opened the door, clutching a small purse. “Thank you po, Manang. Bababa na ako.”
Manang Fe touched Maya’s face lovingly. “Ang ganda naman talaga nitong alaga ko. Natutuwa ako talaga na lumaki kang hindi lang maganda sa panlabas na anyo, kundi pati ang iyong kalooban. Masayang-masaya rin ako na nakatagpo ka ng lalaking mahal na mahal ka at alam kong mahal na mahal mo rin.”
“Manang Fe, salamat po. Dahil po iyan sa inyo iyon at kay Mommy. Pero malaking parte po kayo kung ano ako ngayon dahil mula pa ng pagkabata ko kayo na ang kasa-kasama ko.” Maya said hugging her old yaya. “Wait pala, Manang. Mauna na po kayo. I think I would like my other pair of shoes for this dress. Pakisabi na lang po kay Ricky na bababa na ako. Thank you.”
Maya went back inside the room. She put on the stillettos. She looked and twirled around the mirror, grinning for no reason at all, except that she is very happy this evening for some reason she can’t explain. Several minutes after, she walked down the stairs.
Hearing the sound of Maya’s steps, Richard stood up from where he was sitting, with the intention of meeting her by the base of the stairs. When he caught sight of her, he was speechless. He just gazed at the woman he loves with all his heart.
“You are so very beautiful, Sweetheart.” Richard said, giving Maya a heated, admiring look. “You take my breath away, literally. This is the first time I have seen you like this. Hmmm, and the necklace fitted perfectly. I’m glad you are wearing it.” Then he gave her a quick kiss on the cheek.
“Thank you very much, Sweetheart. I just thought of dressing up since this is our first date that we will not be coming directly from work. About the necklace, I really love it and I will wear it always and treasure it since it was a gift from you.” Maya replied, blushing a bit with the way Richard is looking at her, then seeing his outfit, she gave Ricky a brilliant, loving and admiring smile too, “And you look more handsome this evening, Sweetheart. We are on the same wavelength, huh!”
Richard, indeed, looked dashing and dapper in a dark suit, with white dress shirt without a tie and the top button opened. He gave Maya a lopsided smile, showing the dimple on his left cheek. Maya’s heart went aflutter again, as it always does every time he smiles like that.
“Thank you too, Sweetheart. I want this evening to be extra special. Looks like we were thinking the same. By the way, these are for you.“ Richard handed Maya a huge bouquet of sunflowers, but this time, the flowers are mixed with tulips of different colours!
“Oh, they look so beautiful. Let me just put them in a vase.” Maya was about to go to the kitchen when Fely, Manang Fe’s niece saw her.
“Let me do it na lang Ate Maya, so you and Kuya Ricky can go na.” Fely offered. She met Richard before, when she and her aunt returned from Bulacan.
“Maraming salamat, Fely.” Maya handed the flowers to Fely. Richard also thanked Fely, and they went on their way. Before he started the car, Richard gave Maya a big smile again, gazing at her with so much love that Maya got a bit self-conscious and very giddy.
“Sweetheart, baka matunaw na ako.” Maya teased.
“Hmmm, masama bang tumingin sa beautiful girlfriend ko.” Richard said, giving Maya another smile, before kissing her hand.
Richard is very excited for their evening and how he hopes it would turn out to be. He hopes it will be as he envisioned. He hummed Tonight, tonight/Won’t be just any night…as he drove Maya and him towards McKinley Road.
Richard and Maya went inside the parking basement of an upscale building in BGC, an hour later. After parking the car, Richard led Maya to a private elevator. It led to the penthouse unit of the building. Maya had a pretty good idea now where they were going. Richard led Maya next to a big door on the left.
“Sweetheart! Welcome to my place.” Richard said when he opened the door, then turned on the lights.
“Sabi ko na nga ba, dito tayo pupunta!” Maya exclaimed, smiling at Richard. “Tapos na palang ayusin, Sweetheart! Have you moved back here na? Parang wala ka namang nabanggit sa akin?”
“Not yet, Sweetheart, but I hope soon! Depends on something that I’m hoping to happen.” Richard said obliquely. “Please make yourself comfortable. I will just check on our dinner.” He said leading Maya to the side of the room with a big sofa by the floor-to-ceiling window.
Maya looked around after Richard disappeared towards the direction of what she presumed is the kitchen. It was then that she noticed that the unit is sparsely furnished and decorated. Aside from the sofa she was sitting on, the only furnitures are the floor lamp on the side, then a big coffee table in front of her.
“Hmmm, mukhang hindi pa talaga tapos i-decorate ni Ricky itong unit niya.” Maya thought to herself.
Several minutes after, Richard came back. He grinned at Maya. “Come, Sweetheart, let’s eat first!”
Richard led Maya to the door he disappeared to earlier, which led not to the kitchen as she had presumed, but to a beautiful dining area, even if like the living room, it was sparsely decorated too. The table is beautifully set for two. The magnificent view from the floor-to-ceiling windows providing a nice backdrop to the table set-up.
“Wow, this is very nice! How did you accomplish this in such a short time?” Maya asked amazed, when she saw all the mouth-watering food on the table and the beautiful decorations, with a vase of sunflowers in the middle.
“Hmmm, after I left you earlier until the time I picked you up, I worked on this. My cousin Rafi helped with the food. She asked a friend who is a well-known restaurateur to make the food and her staff set it up here before we arrived.” Richard explained.
“I would like to meet that cousin of yours na soon!” Maya said happily, giving Richard a quick kiss. “She seems a very nice cousin.”
“Yes, she is. Para ko na iyong younger sister. I told her about you na. Saka noong una pa lang, alam na niya kaagad that I liked you a lot, that I love you. I’m sure she will tell you about it. Magkakasundo kayo noon.” Richard said, smiling. “Bayaan mo Sweetheart, you will meet her soon.”
Richard pulled the chair for Maya, then insisted to Maya that he will do everything that evening as part of his birthday treat to her.
“Happy birthday, Sweetheart!” Richard offered a toast to Maya with the wine that goes with their dinner before they eat. “I love you!”
“Thank you, Ricky. I’m having the best birthday ever because of you. My heart feels like it will burst from sheer happiness these days, and it is because of you.” Maya smiled and looked lovingly at her wonderful boyfriend. “I love you very much.”
Maya and Richard enjoyed their dinner very much. Rafi’s friend Rina lived up to her reputation as one of the best chef in Metro Manila. Both of them laughed and groaned at the end of their meal, as their tummies were so full they can barely move.
“Coffee and dessert, Sweetheart?’ Richard asked Maya after they finished the last of the wine. “Rina, also included her special flourless cake with the food she sent.”
“Oh, sweetheart, I can’t na, for now! Coffee na lang siguro. My stomach is groaning na from too much food. That was the best dinner I tasted.” Maya said.
“Me, too, Sweetheart! Okay, coffee is coming up. Why don’t you go to the sofa in the living room, and wait for me there.” Richard suggested. “That side of the place has a better view than this one actually! It is very relaxing. That is the reason why I put the sofa there. It is my favorite spot.”
Maya went to the sofa as Richard told her. Since it was facing the floor-to-ceiling window, Maya can see the whole city and beyond from it. Richard is right. The lights looked like fireflies twinkling in the night. Or maybe, those are fairies’ lights! She smiled at her thoughts. Maya Angela Dela Rosa, you and your flight of fancy. She just feel so happy and content at that moment. Life couldn’t have been better, so she had thought, not knowing yet what else Richard had planned for the evening.
“Wonderful view, Sweetheart, isn’t it? This was Rafi’s side of the place. Mine was the dining room side.” Richard told Maya as he put two steaming cups of coffee on the big coffee table. “Coffee!” He handed Maya a cup of coffee.
“Thank you, Sweetheart! Ikaw? “Maya asked Richard as she accepted the cup from him. “And you are right about the view,” she added.
“Here, I’m okay na!” Richard said, pointing to the cup he is holding as he sat down beside Maya.
“This is certainly a huge place, Ricky!” Maya remarked after a couple of minutes of a very companionable silence between them, enjoying the view and each other company as they sipped their coffee.
“Yes, it is!” Richard remarked. He gazed at Maya and marvels at how he loves this beautiful, wonderful lady. How lucky he is to have her love too! The moment was just right for what he had set out to do that evening. He took a big gulp of his coffee to fortify himself. “Share this place with me? Live with me, for always.” He said softly.
“W-w-what!” Maya asked, staring at Ricky with a very surprised expression, not sure what he meant by that. She also almost dropped her cup of coffee in the process.
Richard put down the cup of coffee he was holding, then gazed at Maya, the love for her all over his handsome face. He took hold of her now very cold hands, kissed them. Then, he stood up, got something from the pocket. He knelt down on one knee before her, holding a very beautiful platinum ring, intricately decorated with multi-colored gems shaped like a butterfly.
“Marry me please, Maya Angela Dela Rosa! Make this place a home, not only for the two of us, but for all the children we would have, God willing!” Richard said with all the love he was feeling at that moment. “There is no one I want to share my life with, but you.”
Maya just stared at Richard, trying to absorb what he said above the buzzing she was starting to feel, and the loud thump. thump of her now overworked heart.
“Maya…? Richard said as he continued looking at her lovingly.
“R-r-ricky!….Then she too knelt down, held his face tenderly. “Yes!” She finally managed to say.
Richard heaved a sigh of relief upon hearing her reply. He grinned. He actually felt like jumping from the sheer joy of knowing that Maya just agreed to be his wife! He slowly put the ring on Maya’s finger, then kissed her hand lovingly. “Thank you Maya. I thought you will not say yes!”
“Kasi naman ikaw, binigla mo ako! I never thought that you will propose this evening! May pinaplano ka pa lang ganito.” Maya smiled at Richard, very happy. Now she understand the feeling of unexplained excitement she was feeling earlier. Something unexpected and wonderful was going to happened pala, had happened! “This is really the best birthday ever. Thank you for this very beautiful ring. May katerno pala itong necklace na ibinigay mo akin.”
“I have been planning this for a while, Sweetheart. The ring was the reason I went to the jeweller, then I also saw the necklace. Naghihintay lang ako ng right opportunity this evening to propose to you. I got nervous kaya when you didn’t reply promptly. I thought baka nabigla ka or hindi pa ready.” Richard said happily.
Then cupping Maya’s face, Richard said, “Sweetheart, we may not know each other that long, and our relationship is still new, but there is one thing I’m sure of in that short span of time, I am sure that you are the one I want to spend the rest of my life with, the one I want to be with in filling this place with happiness and the laughter of the kids we will have. You are the only one I want to be my love for always. I love you much.”
“Oh Sweetheart, what can I say! I’m at a lost for words, for someone in Communications! What I’m feeling at the moment is indescribable. I have no words except to say that I feel the same, ever since I met you. The more I got to know you, the more I became sure that you are the only one I want to be with. Ikaw lang.” Maya replied lovingly.
“Wala naman sa haba ng pagkakilala natin iyon, kundi kung ano ang nandito.” Maya added, pointing at her heart. “I love you with all of my heart, with all of me!”
Maya and Richard looked at each other with all the love they are feeling. They angled their faces for a kiss. They sealed their engagement with a very long kiss.
‘I did it my wayyyyy’
“Wow, iba na talaga ang in loveeee!” Emman teased Maya after she finished her second love song for the evening. “Feel na feel ang mga love song!”
“Hahahaha, ikaw talaga Emman.” Maya laughed, then handed the microphone to Emman. “Here, it’s your turn na. Kantahin mo na ang national anthem mo!”
Emman started belting out his favorite song ‘I Will Survive’ with matching dance moves. He was followed by Minerva and her ‘Dancing Queen’ anthem, Annie with her ‘Girl On Fire’, then Wilson, Jenny, Melanie, Jason, Francis, Annie and the others, followed soon, one after the other, sometimes in duets. Richard the messenger whom Richard asked Emman to invite sang ‘My Way’, with Emman teasing him about that song being ‘deadly’ as it has been known to cause videoke brawls!
Everyone was having fun and getting merrier because of the beer, other alcoholic drinks, and cocktails they started drinking after their dinner. Maya’s cocktail of choice was Long Island Iced Tea. She noticed Emman drinking it. She sipped a taste, liking it better instead of the SanMig Light and Tanduay Ice on the table, ordered it too. By the their third and final hour in the KTV Bar, Maya was into her third glass of Long Island Iced Tea. It tasted so good, as it tasted like real iced tea! She never noticed that she has already down two and into her third one by the close of the night.
Before the evening ended, she got the microphone, and asked her staff to sing ‘Top of the World’ with her. Since everyone was tipsy, they had a rousing rendition of the song.
I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around
Your love’s put me at the top of the world
“Thank you guys for the best birthday ever!” May said after they hit the last note, everyone shouting it out in merriment. Then she saw Richard standing by the door of the room, clapping at them. “And thank you, my dearest Sweetheart for this unforgettable birthday! I love you very much, you know!”
“Thank you Atty. Richard! We love you too!” Everyone chorused after Maya.
Richard grinned at them. It looked like everyone is tipsy, well probably close to being drunk, including his lovely girlfriend! He was glad that they had so much fun. He came up several minutes before Maya and her colleagues’ allotted time was finished to settle the bill, and see how they are.
“I’m glad you had fun everyone. Now, the coaster will take you all home. Just tell the driver where you live.” Richard said, which surprised Maya, at how thoughtful, generous and considerate Richard have been, all for her birthday, and for the love of her. He even thought of a transportation for her staff. She was very touched and feel so loved by him.
“Sweetheart, you are the best!” Maya whispered at Richard while they were waving goodbye to her colleagues, feeling so overwhelmed with the love she was feeling for this wonderful guy, hugging him by the side.
Richard just smiled. Then he led back Maya to the car. As soon as Maya sat and was about to fasten her seatbelt, the effects of three glasses of Long Island Iced Tea kicked in. She leaned against the headrest.
“Ricky, I feel very dizzy!” Maya told Richard, trying to fight off the dizziness that hit her all of a sudden.
“Oh, Sweetheart! Maybe, you had too much to drink. Did you eat a lot before you started drinking? Did you drink water in between, and lastly, what did you drink and how much?” Richard asked, one question after the other, touching Maya’s face at the same time.
“I ate some of the pica-pica food and that’s it. I was not very hungry so I didn’t eat a full dinner like everyone did. Oh, and I didn’t drink water. I forgot in all the fun. I just took sips of my Long Island Iced Tea!” Maya said as she closed her eyes a bit. “I had three of that, I think. It tasted so good, parang iced tea lang. What’s in it na nga ba?”
“Sweetheart, the fact that you can’t taste all the alcohol mixtures, means it is very good and very strong since to tend to drink more of it. It has gin, rum, vodka, triple sec, tequila, sour mix, and cola normally! And you had three with no water to dilute the effect in between!” Richard said. No wonder, Maya is feeling very dizzy. Coupled with her low tolerance for alcohol, like the time they went to dinner and she blurted out that he was the one making her heart beat faster. Richard smiled, remembering that.
“Basta, Sweetheart, masarap siya!” It was all Maya managed to say. “Arrggh, everything is swirling around.”
“Sweetheart, okay, don’t panic. You will be okay. Just focus on something. Wait here, I will get you a bottle of water.” Richard went back to the KTV and bought Maya two big bottles of water. He gave it to her and ask her to drink slowly.
“Okay, I will drive carefully.” Richard promised. “Just rest and focus, okay.”
Maya just nodded. The next time Richard checked on Maya, she was sleeping. Since she looked okay that way, he just let her sleep.
“Maya, sweetheart, we are here.” Richard said when they arrived at Maya’s gate. He tried to rouse her, but she didn’t wake up. He was reluctant to ring the bell as it was already around one o’clock in the morning. “Where are your house keys?”
Maya just muttered, “bag pocket” and then burrowed more into her corner of the car.
Richard looked for the keys in Maya’s bag. Thank God, Maya is very organized! He found them in the pocket of her bag. He opened the gate, then decided to carry a sleeping Maya inside the house. He locked his car, then the gate after him. He had a hard time opening the front door, but eventually he managed to do it.
“Sweetheart, where is your room?” Richard asked when he saw that there are four rooms on the second floor of the house.
Maya finally opened her still sleepy eyes, then pointed to the room at the end of the house. Then she closed her eyes again.
Richard opened the door to Maya’s room and placed her on the bed. He removed her shoes to make her more comfortable. He was debating whether to call Manang Fe, when Maya groaned from the bed and complained that she is feeling very dizzy. Richard gave her water.
“Ricky, don’t leave me please. The room is spinning.” Maya moaned, waking up a bit.
“Okay, keep calm, Sweetheart. You just need to ride the effect of the alcohol. Drink more water, here.” Richard held Maya’s head as he guided her to the water bottle.
“I want to sleep. So sleepy, Sweetheart! I don’t want to puke.” Maya said half-coherently. “Don’t leave me, please. Stay with me.”
“Okay, Sweetheart. I will just be here.” Richard promised. He also made Maya more comfortable by loosening her clothes, pulled the comforter over them, then cradled her in his arms, until he heard her light snoring. “My poor, Sweetheart!” He gave her a light kiss on the forehead, then gently combed her hair using his fingers, which seemed to relax her, and made her settled more into sleep.
Richard made himself comfortable by removing his dress shirt, placing it on the nearby chair he saw. He went back to bed, checked on Maya and when he heard that she was snoring lightly, he settled in for the night. At the back of his mind, he is planning to wake up early so he can let Manang Fe know that he stayed the night because Maya got sick. Several hours later, he woke up with a start.
Maya also started moving, then she opened her eyes and saw him on the bed with her!
“Ricky, what are you doing here?” Maya asked surprised. She sat up, and felt the pounding of her head! “Owww…..”
“Good morning, Sweetheart!” Richard grinned. “I will not ask if you are okay. Wait I will get you something to relieve the hangover you are probably feeling.”
“You slept here? What happened?” Maya asked. She had a vague recollection of what happened, like she just dreamt it. She looked at Richard and herself, and saw that they are both still wearing the clothes they had when they went to work the day before. Well, sort of. Her clothes were loosen up. While Richard, on the other hand, was just wearing his white inner t-shirt, and his dress shirt was on the back of the chair near her study stable. He was wearing his khaki pants, though.
Richard saw what Maya did and grinned, guessing the direction of her thoughts. “Sweetheart, nothing happened! You didn’t take advantage of me last night.” He teased her.
Maya blushed.”Ha, wala naman akong sinasabi ah.”
“Ha, Maya Dela Rosa, I saw you checking kaya. See, heto pa rin ang suot nating clothes. Saka, my Sweetheart, when it happens, we will both know it.” He teased again.
“Rickyyyyy, enough na kaya!” Maya said turning bright red. “Ano ba talaga ang nangyari? May ginawa ba akong super embarassing?”
Richard smiled, then cupped Maya’s chin. “Wala naman, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa. I just think you just had too much to drink. Sabi mo sa akin kagabi, nakailang Long Island Iced Tea ka. Tapos you felt dizzy and ayaw mo na iwan kita. Not that I would leave you naman in that condition. How’s your head? Sandali, I will get my sure cure for hangover from the car.”
“Sorry for that Sweetheart! My head is pounding and my stomach feels queasy.” Maya said, still embarrassed. “Thank you for staying with me. I kinda remember everything now.”
“Don’t be, Sweetheart. The important thing is you had fun on our birthday!” Richard lovingly! “Dito ka na lang muna. Ako na ang bahala also na mag-explain kay Manang Fe. I’m sure she had seen my car parked outside.”
“Oh!” Maya just remembered Manang Fe. “Okay. Thank you again, Sweetheart. You are the best.”
Richard smiled, gave her a quick kiss on the lips, then, he went down to the kitchen.
“Good morning, Manang Fe!” He greeted the old lady, who was then preparing breakfast.
“Good morning Richard!” Manang Fe asked. She had seen Richard’s car outside but she thought that Richard just arrived early. “Nasaan si Maya? Hindi ko na nga namalayang dumating ang batang iyon.”
“Manang, nasa room pa po siya. Medyo nalasing po siya from the party last night. Kukuha nga po ako ng gamot sa car for her.” Richard said. He was about to say to Manang Fe that he stayed the night, when the old lady suddenly asked.
“Dito ka ba natulog, Richard?” Manang Fe asked as she finally noticed his crumpled clothes.
“Yes po, Manang Fe. Binantayan ko po si Maya kasi she felt very dizzy last night. Hindi ko na po kayo ginising kasi medyo gabi na. Don’t worry po, Manang, binantayan ko lang siya talaga.”
“Hijo, tiwala naman ako sa iyo.” Manang Fe assured Richard, getting what he meant.”O siya, kunin mo na ang gamot. Maghahanda rin ako ng breakfast for you and Maya. Maluluto na ito.”
“Maraming salamat po sa tiwala, Manang Fe. Kung pwede po, juice, toast bread and water po ang ihanda niyo for Maya.” Richard suggested. “Kunin ko lang po ang baking soda ko sa car.”
“Baking soda? Meron noon dito sa kusina!” Manang Fe said.
Richard smiled. “Tablets po ito, Manang. Sodium bicarbonate tablet po ito. Inirekomenda sa akin ito dati ng friend ko nang minsan nagkainuman kami at maraming nainom. Ako na nga po pala ang magdadala ng breakfast ni Maya.”
Richard got the medicine, then took the tray that Manang Fe handed to him when he returned to the house. He knocked on Maya’s door, and a freshly showered Maya opened the door. She looks so lovely even devoid of make-up.
“Sweetheart, wow! Pati breakfast! Thank you very much. You are so sweet. The best boyfriend ever.” Maya said smiling, then ushered Richard in, taking the tray from him.
“Of course naman, Sweetheart. Eat ka na and then take two of these. Quesy pa ba ang tummy mo?” Richard asked.
“Slight na lang. Nakatulong ang shower. Halika, mag-breakfast na tayo.” Maya said. Manang Fe, included food not only for Maya, but for Richard in the tray.
Maya led Richard to a side door in her room, that led to a back veranda, overlooking a bigger garden than the one in front of the house, this one not visible from the road side. She put the tray on the coffee table in the veranda. Richard pulled the seat for Maya and she started serving breakfast.
“It’s so quiet and nice here.” Richard remarked. “I really like your gardens. Manang Fe told me that you did most of the gardening.”
“Yes, I like doing it during my free time. Nakakatanggal ng stress!” Maya said as she poured a cup of coffee for Richard. “What’s our plan for later?”
Richard smiled mysteriously and mischievously. “Hmmm, secret.”
“Ricky, surprise again! Isang buong araw akong hindi mapapakali niyan.” Maya pouted prettily.
“Basta, Maya. Huwag na kasing makulit, Sweetheart.” Richard said. “Kain na lang tayo.”
“Okay, sige na nga, surprise me.” Maya finally said. She know Richard will not tell her, anyway.
The two of them had a leisurely and very enjoyable breakfast. Maya took the baking soda and Ricky was right. It relieved her upset stomach after a while.
“Maya, I’ll get going na. I’ll pick you up, later, Sweetheart.” Richard said as he and Maya stood up in front of the Dela Rosa’s gate.
“Okay, Sweatheart! See you later. Looking forward to our evening together.” Maya said then gave Richard a quick kiss on the lips. “I love you. Drive carefully!”
“I love you too. I hope you will like my surprise!” Richard said, smiling happily at Maya. He made a final wave, then drove off, leaving Maya puzzling what it could be, but knowing Richard, she know that he is planning something she will not forget.
Maya was right, Richard is planning something extra special that night. When he arrived home, he just took a quick shower, said a quick hello to Donya Esmeralda and then set off again as he still have a couple of things to do for his and Maya’s special evening.
Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!
“Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!” Richard greeted Maya as soon as she opened the gate after he rang, the morning of her birthday, which fell on a Friday and a work day. He gave her a quick kiss on the lips, then he handed her a big bouquet of sunflowers and a box wrapped in purple paper with pink ribbons.
“Thank you very much, Sweetheart!” Maya said grinning. “Hmmm, what’s this?” She asked, shaking the box a little bit, curious as always.
“Hmmm, just something I think you would like!” Richard said happily. He hopes Maya will like his gift. He is really grateful to his cousin Rafi who is a wiz at ordering stuffs online.
“I’m sure I will like it. Galing kaya ito sa iyo, so kahit ano pa ito, I will treasure it very much.” Maya said, looking lovingly at Richard.“I will open it in the car, ha. Let’s go na after I’ve put the flowers in the house, so we have all the time to eat breakfast before our meeting with the other executives and your Papa.”
Maya went back to the house quickly and handed the flowers to Manang Fe. She was back outside after a minute or two.
“Okay, let’s go.” Richard opened the door for Maya and when she was settled in, he went to the driver’s side of the car.
Maya fastened her seat belt and when they were on their way out of the village, opened Richard’s present. She had a huge grin on her face when she saw what was inside.
“OMG, Ricky, thank you very much for this!!!” Maya was holding the latest e-book reader from Amazon, the one with the built-in light and has more advance features for easier reading. She had been meaning to get this one, but decided to wait out a little bit. “Now, I can read in the dark! How did you manage to get one so fast?”
“I have to thank Rafi for that. She ordered it online, then shipped it to a cargo forwarding company in the States, and then I picked it up from their office here.” Richard said. “I thought nga na baka hindi makaabot sa birthday mo. I know how you love to read kaya I wanted to give you one.”
“Thank you again, Sweetheart.” Maya said happily, then good thing, they were waiting for the light to turn green, she gave Richard a quick kiss on the lips. “I love you very much.” This is her first birthday that she will be celebrating with her boyfriend, with Richard the man she loves very much and she just feel so full of happiness.
“I love you too! Anything to make you happy, Maya. I will do.” Richard said sweetly.
They gazed at each other, getting lost in their world. But the honking of the cars behind them pulled them back to the real world. They have been holding the traffic for the light has already turned green several seconds ago!
Like what they have been doing the past two weeks that they have been traveling to work together, Richard and Maya chatted nonstop on the way to Ortigas from Makati. Maya gave up driving herself to work as most days, she ended up leaving her car at her parking slot in LC. Richard was very happy with her decision. He likes traveling to work with her and going home with her. Luckily, their schedules mesh. Most of the time, they ate dinner somewhere, or in some instances at Maya’s house.
Since that lunch in Richard’s office, the week before, their relationship has gotten stronger and deeper. Maya also met Donya Esmeralda and Don Roberto as their son’s girlfriend two days after that. Richard and Maya went to dinner at the Lim family house in Dasmarinas. Maya felt nervous when they arrived, but whatever nervousness and self-consciousness she was feeling was vanished by Donya Esmeralda’s exuberance. Maya was welcome very warmly, not only by Richard’s mother, but also his father, her boss. Both of them insisted that she calls them Tita Esmeralda and Tito Roberto.
When Donya Esmeralda found out that Teresita Dela Rosa was in Manila at that time, she asked for her number and the two of them went to lunch the following day, while Maya’s father was meeting with the owners of the restaurant who are interested in sourcing their fresh, organic food requirements from the Dela Rosa Farm. The two mothers had a wonderful time apparently as both Richard and Maya heard a lot about it.
The day before Maya’s parents returned to Mindoro, they invited Richard to dinner. Richard got to know Maya’s parents better. Manang Fe was also back by then, and like Maya predicted, she very happy when she found out that Richard is now Maya’s boyfriend.
Through Skype, Maya also introduced Richard to her Ate Cris, her brother-in-law Jeffrey, and their son Pocholo. Cris teased her sister about making Cho the ring bearer at her wedding. Maya blushed as Richard was beside her at that time. Richard told Cris that her son will make a very cute ring bearer. Then teased Cris about making sure her sister will say yes when he proposes. Maya elbowed him, but inside, she was thrilled with the idea of her and Richard together forever. She loves him so much. Life couldn’t be better! She is sure that Richard is the only one she wants to spend the rest of her life with.
Maya’s phone rang while they were approaching Boni.
“Maya, anak, happy, happy birthday!” Mommy Tere said. “I will put the phone on speaker ha. Wait ka lang, may iba pang maggi-greet sa iyo.”
“Thank you Mom.” Maya said smiling.
“Maya, anak, happy birhday!”….
“Bunso, happy birthday!”….
“Tita Maya, happy birthday po!”….
“Maya, happy birthday sa iyo!”….
“Wow, kumpleto kayo!” Maya said happily, looking at Richard, then she thanked her family. “Maraming salamat po, Mom, Dad, Ate Cris, cute na cute na pamangkin ko, Cho, and sa iyo rin Kuya Jeffrey.”
Richard gestured to Maya that she should say hello from him.
“Hello din daw po sa inyong lahat, sabi ni Ricky. Papasok na po kami sa office.” Maya said.
Everyone in San Nicolas said hello back to Richard. They chatted a bit, then said goodbye.
“Maya, anak, enjoy your special day ha. I’m sure you and Richard have plans.” Mommy Tere said. “Sayang, hindi na namin nahintay ng Dad mo ang birthday mo!”
“Thank you again, Mom.” Maya said. “Okay lang po iyon! Alam ko naman po na kailangan niyong bumalik ng San Nicolas kaagad.”
“O sige, enjoy anak ha. I love you. Sabihin mo kay Richard drive carefully.” Mommy Tere said.
“Bye, Mom, Dad, Ate Cris, Kuya Jeffrey and Cho! Thank you again and see you all next month!” Maya said. She going home to San Nicolas for her parents wedding anniversary. “Bye din daw po sabi ni Richard.”
When Maya finished the call, she grinned at Richard. “Sweetheart, I’m having the best birthday ever. With you here, with me celebrating it, and then my family greeting me en masse!”
“I’m glad, Sweetheart. This is will be a birthday to remember, I will make sure!” Richard remarked, but didn’t elaborate. “Uuwi ka pala sa Mindoro next month?” He asked instead.
“Yes, 35th wedding anniversary nina Mom and Dad! They will renew their vows. They were not able to do it before. Now that they are both retired, they decided it is a good time to do so, with all the blessings that came their way, and their marriage as strong as ever.” Maya said. “Would you like to go with me?”
“Wow, 35! Amazing, isn’t it? My parents did that during their 25th.” Richard said, then added, “I want something like that with you, Sweetheart, and more.” Then he took Maya’s hand and kissed it. “And yes, I would like to go with you, please.”
Maya’s heart went aflutter with that statement. It is what she wants too. She smiled at Richard, not sure how to read his statement. She decided to let it pass for now. “It will be towards the end of the next month. I will remind you na lang.”
“Great. Looking forward to seeing San Nicolas!” Richard said.
Soon, they have arrived at their office. Richard parked his car in the usual slot, then he and Maya went to the deli on the ground floor and had breakfast. One hour later, with hands intertwined, they rode the elevator to their floors. By now, everyone in LC knows that their chief lawyer and the beautiful communications officer are in a relationship. Richard carried Maya’s stuffs up to her office.
“Happy birthday Ms. Maya! Good morning Atty Lim”…..
“Happy birthday po, Ma’am! Hello, Sir Richard!”….
Maya’s staff greeted her and Richard, one after the other, when they entered her department. By this time, Richard is also a familiar sight there. Minerva and Emman being the number one fans of their ‘love team’. Maya thanked them and Richard said hello to everyone with his usual charming smile.
“I’ll see you in an hour in the boardroom, Sweetheart.” Richard said, giving Maya a quick kiss before he left.
“See you Sweetheart.” Maya said. “Thank you again.”
Maya’s phone rang again after Richard closed the door.
“Hello Tita Esmeralda, good morning po.” Maya greeted Richard’s mother.
“Good morning Maya! Happy birthday hija, from Roberto and I! I hope you will have a great celebration. I’m sure it will be with Ricky.” Donya Esmeralda said smiling.
“Thank you very much po, Tita Esmeralda.” Maya said smiling. “Baka po we will eat dinner na lang. Hindi naman po ako ma-celebrate. I will do so na lang doon sa outreach program namin nina Richard.”
“Oh, the one you mentioned over dinner. That’s a good idea actually! Basta, ask your friend if there is something our foundation can to do help ha.” Donya Esmeralda offered again.
“I will po. Thank you po again, Tita Esmeralda.”
“O sige, hija. Hindi na kita aabalahin pa. Nasa office ka na ba?”
“Yes po. More than an hour ago po kami nakarating dito ni Ricky. Kalalabas nga lang po niya ng office ko.” Maya replied. “Have a nice day po!”
Maya grinned when she finally managed to sit down on her desk. The best birthday ever! Richard is the best birthday gift ever from God! She never thought she would suddenly find herself with a boyfriend so soon after shifting careers, but being in love is the best feeling ever! Se is looking forward to her evening with Richard, celebrating her birthday with him.
Unbeknown to Maya, Richard was cooking something else for her birthday. On the way out of her department, Richard stopped by Emman’s cubicle.
“Emman, good morning!” He greeted Maya’s staff and friend with a big smile.
“Good morning, Atty. Richard!” Emman greeted. “Parang naubos na naman yata ang mga sunflower sa suking florist ni Liza ah.” He teased.
“Ikaw talaga, Emman. Hindi naman masyado, hahahaha.” Richard laughed, then asked, “Are we set for this evening?”
“Yes, Sir, okay na okay na ang lahat.” Emman said.
“Great! Thanks Emman, I want Maya to have the best birthday ever. See you later.” Richard said.
“See you, Sir Richard.” Emman said. “Thank you again, too.” Richard asked Emman to call him Richard, but he is more comfortable calling him Atty. Richard or Sir Richard, being the son of their boss, and from what he heard, the future CEO of LC. But he is very happy for him and Maya. He is so glad her friend had found true love. Hay, siya kailan? Emman mused.
Richard left Maya’s office with a big, excited grin. He is so looking forward to seeing Maya’s expression this evening. He made the plan with Emman after he overheard him and Minerva discussing their birthday treat for Maya. The two of them didn’t see him when they entered the elevator from their floor one day. He heard them talking about giving Maya a surprise birthday treat since it is her first birthday in LC, something I long the lines of her plan for the staff and her. They were discussing on how best to execute it without her knowing. Tamang-tama they said, it will be on a Friday. However, Emman mentioned that Maya may have a plan already with Atty. Lim on that day. When they got off from the elevator, he called them and offered to help if it was okay with them, sort of, part of his birthday treat to Maya too.
Thirty minutes after Richard left Maya’s office, Minerva knocked on Maya’s door.
“Ms. Maya, happy birthday po! Delivery po pala para sa inyo, galing sa mga executive!” Minerva said carrying a big arrangements of sunflowers into her office.
“Oh! Wow, how beautiful!” Maya admired the flowers and then smiled, remembering how Richard’s secretary wheedled out from Emman what her favorite flower is. “Thank you Minerva, pakilagay na lang please doon sa coffee table. But may I have the card please.”
Minerva handed Maya the card and left the office. Maya smiled and was touched with the message from Roberto Lim and the other executives, but laughed when she saw how Richard signed in his greetings. She felt warm and giddy. She hoped he was the last one to sign it. She thought, still smiling.
Maya thanked everyone when she met them at the meeting more than an hour later. Richard sat beside her when he arrived instead of his usual place apparently and they got teased a bit. They smiled at their fellow officers and gazed at each other before focusing on the meeting. After the meeting, she teased him about the way he signed the card. And yes, he told her, he was the last one to do so, but for sure the staff handling the birthday flowers saw what he had put, he addded with a grin.
The day passed like a blur. Maya had a quick lunch and coffee with Richard as both of them have urgent matters to finish that afternoon. They wanted to leave earlier than usual for their birthday date, so they cut short their lunch hour. When Maya was about to leave for her date with Richard, she noticed that there was not a single person left in her department. Strange! Normally, some stayed a little longer even if it was beyond office hours. But she shrugged it off, thinking that being a Friday night, maybe, they have gimiks.
Rchard and Maya met at the lobby as usual, then proceeded to the basement parking.
“Saan tayo pupunta, Ricky?” Maya asked as they were driving towards the direction of Pasig.
“Hmmm, diyan lang sa may Kapitolyo.” Richard said but didn’t elaborate. He just smiled at Maya.
Several minutes after, they entered the parking lot of a hotel in the area.
“Hotel? What are we going to do in a hotel? This is where we will have dinner?” Maya asked curiously.
“Basta, Maya! Ikaw talaga, ang kulit.” Richard teased her. He parked the car. But before he got out, he got something from his side of the car. “For you!” He said, handling her a long, flat box.
Maya was surprised, then asked, “What’s this? Di ba binigyan mo na ako ng birthday gift kanina?”
“Just open it Sweetheart, please.” Richard prodded.
Maya slowly opened the long velvet box and out came a beautiful necklace made of white gold and has an intricate butterfly pendant made of different colorful stones.
“You told me you like butterflies so I thought you might like this when I saw this at Mama’s friend’s jewelry shop when I was looking for a gift for you.” Richard said, then got the necklace from Maya, and put it around her neck.
“Ricky, thank you for this. This is so beautiful.” Maya said, touching the necklace. “You are spoiling me too much. I will treasure this very much!”
“Maya, this is your first birthday you are celebrating with me and I want it to be extra special.” Richard replied. “I love you and seeing you very happy makes me very happy too.”
“You are the best boyfriend ever!” Maya touched Richard’s face lovingly. “I love you.” Then she lowered her lips to his and gave him a loving kiss. Richard returned the kiss, which turned into several kisses. They were both breathless when they parted. They grinned at each other.
“Come, Sweetheart, let’s go.” Richard said after a while. He got out of the car, opened the door for Maya, then he led her to a glass door at the edge of the parking lot. The glass door opened into the reception area of a KTV Bar.
“Good evening, I have a reservation under Richard Lim.” Richard told the receptionist.
“Good evening po, Mr. Lim.” The receptionist said with a big, friendly smile. “Doon po sa dulo iyong room niyo, Sir. Samahan na po kayo ni Greg.”
“Sweetheart, ano ba talaga ang gagawin natin nito. Dalawa tayong magbi-videoke?” Maya asked.
Richard just smiled, then still holding Maya’s hand, followed the waiter, who opened the door of the room.
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MA’AM MAYA!”
Everyone shouted when the waiter turned on the lights.
“OMG, nandito kayong lahat! Kaya pala nawalan ng tao kaagad sa department natin!” Maya happily said as she saw all her staff inside the big KTV room decorated in different coloured-balloons and a banner greeting her happy birthday. On the tables in the middle were a lot of food and drinks.
“Siyempre naman, Sis! Matagal-tagal na rin nating pinagpla-planuhan na gawin natin ito, one time, di ba? Bonding-bonding din!” Emman said from behind the group, then went to kiss Maya. “Happy birthday, Maya!”
“Thank you, Emman.” Then looked at all her staff. “Thank you rin sa inyong lahat, Kumpleto tayo.” She said, touched and so very happy that they are all here, for her, celebrating her birthday.
“Mag-thank you ka rin kay guwapong-guwapong Atty. Richard, he is the one who made this possible!” Emman said, teasing Richard in the process.
“Really, Sweetheart!” Maya looked at Richard with a big smile, then whispered to him. “Kaya pala pa-mysterious ka kanina ha. Paano?”
“It’s a long story, Sweetheart.” Richard grinned. “This is my other gift to you. Enjoy the night with your colleagues.”
“Thank you very much, Sweetheart.” Maya gave Richard a kiss on the cheek. “Come, let’s enjoy the night with them.”
“No, Sweetheart, this is your night with them. Enjoy. Ours is tomorrow.” Richard said. “Para sa iyo at sa mga staff mo ito. Emman and Minerva said matagal niyo na itong gustong gawin. I will wait for your downstairs!”
“Stay na lang here, Sweetheart. I don’t think they will mind.” Then, Maya teased Richard. “Ayaw mo ba akong marinig kumanta.”
“Eh kaya nga ayaw kong mag-stay!” Richard bantered back, which earned him a pinch from Maya. “Ouch, Sweetheart, biro lang!”
“Sama mo, sweetheart! Maganda kaya ang boses ko.” Maya said, pouting prettily. “Baka, takot ka lang mapakanta!”
Richard laughted, then whispered to Maya, “Consider this also as part of your team building and bonding with your team! Bumawi ka na lang sa akin bukas sa dinner nating dalawa! Doon, solo na talaga kita.” He added with a teasing, mischievous smile.
“Hmmm, and what do you mean by that, Atty Lim?” Maya asked with a smile, then seriously, she said, “Okay sige, I understand what you mean about me and my staff. Thank you very much again for this. I love you. I will see you later.”
Richard said goodbye to everyone and told them to enjoy the night. He told Maya he will just be at the coffee shop near the lobby, waiting for her. He brought an iPad with him and also some work so for sure, he has plenty to do.
Maya gave him a bright, loving smile and told him that she will see him later. She and her staff, then proceeded to enjoy the night.
“Son, good thing you are already here!” Donya Esmeralda Lim rushed to greet her son as soon as she saw him getting out of his car.
“Good afternoon, Mama!” Richard kissed his mother on the cheek. He visits his parents Sunday afternoons and stay for dinner whenever his schedule is free. This day, he arrived earlier than usual since he came from a lunch with Ryan and Ivy in Greenbelt. Instead of going back to his place in BGC, he decided to go straight to his parents’s house in Quezon City. “Bakit, Mama, you need my help with something? Where are Joma, Doris and Sabel?” Richard asked after their driver and two househelps.
“Sana, son. Can you go with me to S & R please, I forgot to get some things when Sabel and I went there the other day. I need those for our dinner this evening.” Donya Esmeralda asked her son. “Doris is out with Joma delivering my Christmas gifts to some friends. Sabel naman asked for a day-off. Mamaya pa babalik iyon, before dinner. I can’t wait for them. For sure, mamaya mas marami ng tao sa S & R.”
“Sure, Ma. Let’s go.” Richard said. “Si Papa baka gustong sumama sa atin.”
“Naku, your Papa is not here yet. He went out this morning to play golf pero hindi pa umuuwi. I think he is with Probo. Nakalimutan na naman akong i-inform. You know how he is. Let’s go, son. For sure being a Sunday and so near Christmas, baka hindi lang maraming tao roon, jampacked pa!”
“Can’t you just buy the things you need from another supermarket Mama? There is also a good one nearby, isn’t it? I think that shop has a lot of stuffs you don’t normally find in a regular supermarket din.” Richard suggested.
“No, no, please son, I want to go to S & R. This is the only place where I saw those stuffs. May iba pa rin akong bibilhin.” Donya Esmeralda insisted.
“Okay, Mama. It is okay with me, wherever you want to go. I just thought na baka mahirapan ka with that shop kasi parating maraming tao doon on a weekend sabi ni Ivy.”
More than an hour later, mother and son were inside the huge membership shopping store, so were tons of people doing their Christmas shopping or families just wanting to eat pizza and hotdogs at the store’s food court.
“Ricky, let’s just meet later. I will just call you when I’m done. Go around on your own, para hindi ka mainip. Saka I want to go on my own din.” Donya Esmeralda suggested while taking hold of the big pushcart that Richard got for her.
“Ma, are you sure? Eh parang ang bigat na nitong pushcart, wala pang laman.” Richard asked. He does not fancy going around the big store, but for his mother, he will do it.
“I’m sure son.” Donya Esmeralda insisted.
Donya Esmeralda forged on and disappeared among the throng of holiday shoppers. Richard, at first, just stood near the entrance playing a game on his phone. But he got tired of doing that. He thought of eating something, but seeing the long line at the food counters, he changed his mind. He decided to walk around and check the store’s merchandise.
Richard was looking at a Spalding NBA basketball when he felt a tug on his pant leg. He looked down and saw a cute little boy, tugging it, wanting to call his attention. He crouched until he was eye level with the boy. It was then that he noticed that there is something familiar with him.
“He can’t be……” He thought. But he looks like him, he thought. The little boy tugging at his pant leg looks like Maya’s son from the gondola ride! He is not completely sure, though, as his focus was on Maya and the guy beside her on the gondola at that time.
“Hello!” He greeted the little boy with a friendly smile.
“Mister, please help me, please. I can’t find my Dad!” The little boy told Richard calmly. Richard has to admire the kid’s composure and alertness. Based on what he have seen before, lost kids usually cry when they get separated from their parents.
“What happened? I’m Richard Lim, I will help you. Can you tell me your name and your Daddy’s name.” Richard asked gently.
“My name is Pocholo Macavinta, but you can call me Cho po. Iyon po ang tawag sa akin nag Mommy at Daddy ko, pati na rin nina Lolo and Lola, Tito Lino and Tita Ninang.” The little boy said, which made Richard smile. “My Daddy’s name is Jeff. Tumingin lang po ako doon sa Matchbox cars, tapos paglingon ko wala na ang Daddy ko.” He pointed to the toys at the other side of the shelf where Richard was checking the basketballs.
“Oh. Di bale Cho, I will help you look for your Daddy. For sure, hinahanap ka na noon. Kayo lang bang dalawa ang nagpunta rito?” Richard asked as he got hold of the little boy’s hand and they started walking.
Richard was thinking of positioning themselves near the exit so Jeff Macavinta can see his son when he exits. It is very difficult to go around the store and look for him as there were tons of people and there was even a traffic of pushcarts. He told Cho of his plan. The boy nodded. Then Richard thought of something.
“Cho, would you know your telephone number at home para makatawag tayo o kaya ang cellphone number ng Daddy mo.” He asked, though the chance of the little boy knowing that is pretty slim.
“Hindi po Tito Richard eh.” Cho replied.
“Okay, di bale, let’s just wait by the exit.” Richard said. “Huwag kang mag-aalala. I’m sure hindi naman aalis ang Daddy mo nang hindi ka nakikita.”
“Thank you very much po, Tito Richard. Saka baka mauna rin pong lumabas si Tita Ninang, kasama namin siya ni Daddy since my Mommy is sick.” Cho chattered on. “Magkakaroon po kasi ako ng kapatid. Malapit nang lumabas.”
Richard smiled at the kid’s chattiness. He also can’t help himself. Cho gave him the opening he needed. He just want to be sure, so he asked. “Cho, anong pangalan ng Mommy mo?”
“Cristina Rose Macavinta po!” The little boy replied.
So, it is not him I saw in Macau with Maya three months ago! Richard thought. Richard move on, he admonished himself. You promised yourself you will.
Richard took a deep breath, then after texting his mother where he would be, he and the little boy started walking towards the exit.
“Cho…..Cho….Pocholo!” A lady was hurrying towards Richard and Pocholo. She was so concentrated on Cho, and the face of the guy holding his hand didn’t register at first.
While Richard on the other hand, lost his breath and his heart beat so fast, when he realized who came running to hug the little boy. “Maya…..” He muttered under his breath, but she didn’t hear him amid the noise at the shop. It was a good thing they were walking by the side, there was not so many push carts there.
“Cho, kanina ka pa namin hinahanap ng Daddy mo! Thank God, you are okay.” Maya said as she hugged her nephew. Jeff was very worried when he can’t find Cho. He called Maya and they decided to comb the store from one side to the other to look for him.
“I’m okay, Tita Ninang! Nagpatulong po ako kay Tito Richard.” Cho said, smiling. “Richard Lim po ang buong name niya Tita Ninang, sabi niya, di ba Tito Richard? Tapos papunta na nga po kami sa exit para doon namin kayo abangan ni Daddy. ”
The name Cho said finally registered in Maya’s brain. Richard Lim! She slowly looked up from where she was crouching, then got up and when she is eye level to the man who helped Cho, she lost her breath, her heart galloped. Before her, gazing at her meaningfully and with a big smile on his face, for he heard Cho referred to her as Tita Ninang, is the man who created such an impression on her poor heart, that it was never the same since that night seven years ago.
“Richard…..Mr. Lim of Lim Corporation!” Maya managed to say. She was so breathless and felt there was no air going to her brain at that moment. She felt lightheaded.
“Ms. Maya Dela Rosa, how are you?” Richard said, giving Maya a lopsided smile that overworked her poor heart more. It can’t beat much faster or she will faint already!
Richard felt so overwhelmingly happy at that moment. Maya remembered him too, judging by her stunned expression. “Kumusta na ang Miss Mindoro 2007? And please call me Ricky!”
Maya was surprised and felt giddy that Richard Lim remembers her too after all these years. “Mr. Lim, errr, Ricky you still remember that! Amazing that you still remember me and that night!”
“You are very difficult to forget Maya!” Richard blurted out, then thinking that his statement may sound too forward as they just met again. “ Errrr, I mean, you missed the party after the pageant and Rebecca Bermudez said it was because of a family emergency.” He said, a bit flustered. Him, flustered! Only this girl can do that to him! “Then, I heard later,” Richard continued, “that your grandmother died just after the pageant. My condolences, Maya. It must have been a very sad and difficult time for you.”
“It was, Ricky. I grew up with my Mamang kasi. Thank you.” Maya said, but before she can ask how did he find out about that as it was not common knowledge, Jeff arrived.
“Maya, you found Cho!” Jeff said relieved. “Cho, anak, I’m glad you are okay.” He hugged his son tight. Then looked up and noticed the tall, very god looking, chinito guy beside Maya.
“Kuya Jeff, sorry, hindi pa kita natawagan kaagad na nakita ko na si Cho. This is Richard Lim pala. Cho asked for his help when he realized he was lost. Ricky, this is my Kuya Jeff, husband ng cousin ko na si Cristina Rose at Daddy nitong si Cho.”
“Thank you, thank you, Mr. Lim for taking care of my boy.” Jeff shook Richard’s hand hard, expressing his gratitude.
“You’re welcome, Mr. Macavinta. You have a very bright and alert boy. He has presence of mind for one so young.” Richard said, smiling at the guy who he thought was Maya’s husband in Macau! Asawa pala ng pinsan niya! Kasi naman Richard Lim, jumping to conclusion ka kaagad! But who wouldn’t, presented with that image, he asked back! “Please call me Richard. I’m glad to see Maya after all these years!”
“Call me Jeff, please. Maraming salamat ulit.” Jeff said, then got puzzled with Richard’s last statement. “You know each other from way back?” He asked.
“Iyon na nga, Kuya Jeff, kaya hindi kita natawagan kaagad. Nagkagulatan kami nitong si Ricky.” Maya said with a bright smile. “Siya iyong Chairman ng Board of Judges sa Miss Mindoro contest na sinalihan ko years ago.”
“Really, small world naman! Of all people, Richard, ikaw pa talaga ang na-approach ng anak ko.” Jeff said smiling. “Di ba seven years ago na iyon. Amazing that you still remember each other.”
“Well, that was the one and only time I was a judge at a beauty pageant. It was actually my mother who was supposed to be there, but she got sick and sent me instead. I’m glad that she did. Maya was pretty amazing that night. She was obviously the most beautiful, the most poised, the most talented as she danced to the swan’s dying moment from Swan Lake, and most intelligent of all the candidates that night. I still remember your reply to my question, Maya.” Richard told Jeff and Maya while gazing at Maya in a way that make her heart beat faster and her face suffused with heat.
“Ricky, you still remember all those!” Maya said blushing while gazing at Richard too.
Jeff looked at his cousin-in-law and the guy who is looking at her with admiration, and suddenly, he put two and two together. Now he understood why no one managed to make Maya’s heart beat faster all these years. It must be because of this guy. He felt a strong vibe coming from the two of them. He also thinks they are close to forgetting that he and Cho are there.
The moment was interrupted by the ringing of Richard’s phone.
“Excuse me please, I think it is my mother.” Richard said as he fished his phone from his pants pocket. “Yes Mama. You are done? Okay, give me 10 minutes I will be there. See you!”
“Maya, Jeff, I need to go. I just accompanied my mother here. Apparently, she is done.” Richard said apologetically.
“Okay. Thank you again Richard.” Jeff said, shaking Richard’s hand again.
“Tito Richard, thank you po ulit.” Cho said then gave Richard a big hug.
“Don’t do that again, Cho. If you want to see something, magpaalam ka muna sa Mommy and Daddy mo. Huwag ka ring hihiwalay sa kanila sa public places. You got lucky this time.” Richard told the little boy as he ruffled his hair affectionately. He is so thankful for this little boy. He is like an angel sent by fate so he and Maya can meet again.
“Promise po, Tito Richard. I stay na with my Daddy and Mommy, also with Tita Ninang.” Cho promised.
“Ricky, thank you again for helping Cho out.” Maya said, happy to see him and she hopes that she will see him again but she was a bit shy to ask for his number. “It is great to see you again after all these years.”
“I’m glad to see you too, Maya, very much.” Richard said, giving Maya another lopsided smile that made her heart skipped several beats. “Maya, may I have your number please, so we can catch up more one of these days? If that is okay with you!”
Maya felt giddy with that. She nodded. Richard opened his iPhone and waited for her to tell him her number. After Maya gave him the number and he saved it, Richard called it.
“There, you got my number as well.” Richard said happily.
They smiled at each other, unmindful of all the people around them, especially a grinning Jeff. Sabi na nga ba! He thought.
Maya and Richard said goodbye reluctantly, with Richard promising to give Maya a call within the next couple of days.
On the way to the parking lot, Jeff was humming…Love sweet love/Ohh, love sweet love/Ohh, love sweet love/Mmh, hmm, yeah…. then looking at Maya with a teasing expression.
“Kuya Jeff! Ikaw ha.” Maya said smiling.
“Hahahaha, little sis, tell me if I’m wrong.” Jeff said, but didn’t say anything anymore.
Maya understood what he meant. She just smiled brightly. She was so happy. It is really good to be home!
Richard felt very happy too, and humming a love song while he navigated the road going back to his parents’s house.
“Parang bakit biglang sobrang saya ka, son.” Donya Esmeralda asked, puzzled. She hasn’t seen her son like this.
“Mama, someone just made me very, very happy.” He suddenly stopped the car and hugged his mother. “Thank you for dragging me to S &R, Ma.”
“Oh, okay, son. I’m glad that you are very happy.” Donya Esmeralda said, getting more puzzled by her son’s action. But she decided to let it go for a now. For sure, her son would say something more about this at the right time. She can find it out from him, anyway.
When they arrived home, Richard grabbed a beer and sat at the veranda while waiting for dinner. He got his phone and looked at Maya’s number. On impulse, he texted her.
Maya, it was really great to see you again. Have a great evening.
Maya’s phone beeped while she was helping her Ate Cris cook dinner. A big smile wreathed her face when she read the message.
It was great seeing you also, Ricky. Have a nice evening.
Simple words exchanged, but it made both of them very happy and giddy with anticipation on meeting each other again, and making up for the lost years.
Note: Hayan, super happy weekend na to all of us. 🙂 After this chapter, pwede na ako mag-BCWMH rewind marathon. 🙂
Breathing the same air
“Cho, do you want to take a gondola ride?” Maya asked her nephew and godchild as she toured him and his mother, her Ate Cris, and her husband Jeff at The Venetian in Macau. Cris and her family were in Macau after Hong Kong. It was Cris’s, and her husband Jeff’s treat to Pocholo for his birthday. Luckily, they came while she has some free time. When Crris told her they are coming to Macau as well, she took a much needed vacation too. Too bad her aunt and uncle can’t come this time as they are busy with their various businesses.
“Can we, Tita Ninang? Really, really!” Cho said excitedly. “Mom, Dad, can we?”
“Of course, Cho!” Cristina Rose told her son. “Pero, okay lang ba na hindi ako kasama, sweetie? Ikaw na lang, your Tita Ninang and your Daddy? Medyo nahihilo si Mommy. I will just wait for you at the restaurant over there.”
“Cris, you feel nauseous ?” Jeff asked solicitously. “If it is okay with Maya, sila na lang ang mag-gondola ride ni Cho, sasamahan na lang kita.”
“No, please Honey, just go with them. I’ll be okay. I just need to sit down and keep still.” Cris assured her husband. “I can’t just sit on a moving boat feeling like this. Di ba, you want to try to try a gondola ride and since we can’t go to Venice, this is the next best thing.” She smiled at her husband.
“Sure ka, Ate Cris, I can just take Cho? Okay lang naman na kaming dalawa!” Maya said. Jeff and her cousin told her earlier that Cho will have a brother or a sister in seven months or so. Cris found out that she is pregnant the week before they left for their trip to Hong Kong Disneyland and this Macau trip to see Maya.
“Yes, yes, I will be okay. Don’t worry.” Cris assured her cousin whom she hasn’t seen in two years, and her wonderful husband. She and Jeff got married two months after Maya left for Macau. She was already three months pregnant with Cho then. Maya was not able to make it to the wedding, but visited them the Christmas after that.
Maya and Jeff, both holding Cho’s hand walked to the place where they can buy tickets for the gondola ride down the hotel’s Grand Canal. They opted for a private gondola as a treat to Cho. Jeff and Maya put Cho between them. Soon after, they were gliding along with their very friendly gondolier, with Cho happily looking around.
“Nakakatuwa naman itong si Cho, Kuya Jeff! Hindi takot sa boat ride!” Maya remarked. “You and Ate Cris are so lucky to have this cute little boy. Ang bright bright niya for his age.”
“We are, Maya. He is a joy.” Jeff remarked. “Of course, hoping kami ni Cris na girl ang susunod naming baby, pero sa totoo lang, basta healthy and maayos na ma-i-deliver ni Cris, we are happy and blessed na.”
“That’s true, Kuya Jeff.” Maya said. “Iyon naman ang pinakaimportante sa lahat.”
“How about you, Maya? No plans yet of settling down?” Jeff asked his cousin-in-law. Maya is like a cousin to him too and they got along pretty well kahit hindi sila masyadong nagkikita. Maya on the other hand, considers Jeff an older brother. Unang kita pa lang niya sa husband ng pinsan niya, magaan na ang loob niya dito. She is also very glad that her Ate Cris found herself a wonderful and a very responsible husband.
“Hmmmm, malabo pa yata iyan sa ngayon, Kuya Jeff! Wala naman akong boyfriend!” Maya said with a smile. The truth is she hasn’t had a boyfriend yet, at age 27! But that’s hers na lang to know.
“Baka naman kasi sobrang pili ka and sobrang taas ng standard.” Jeff teased. Maya is a very beautiful girl, inside out. In fact, he already noticed several guys looking at them, at her while they glided along the man-made canal. Cris told him about Maya joining the Miss Mindoro Beauty Pageant years ago and winning.
“Kuya Jeff! No kaya! I date naman!” Maya said, grinning. “It’s just that, I can’t find pa someone that makes my heart beat faster and make me feel giddy seeing him or just thinking of him. Besides, hindi naman ako nagmamadali! ” Then, suddenly, she thought of the guy who managed to do that once in her young life.
Jeff noticed Maya’s faraway, longing look, as if remembering something from her past. Ah, so there was someone who managed to do to that to her. Jeff thought to himself. That guy must have made a very strong impression to his cousin-in-law for her to remember it until now.
“I’m sure, Maya. Matatagpuan mo rin iyon. Don’t settle for less.” Jeff assured Maya.
“Of course, Kuya Jeff. I want a love story like Mamang and Lolo Kiko!” Maya said smiling, then told him a bit about hers and Cris’s grandparents love story, just in case her cousin didn’t tell her husband about it.
While they were chatting happily, with Cho clinging to both their arms as he looked around him and pointed to them the interesting stuffs he sees, a guy was looking at them from one side of the canal. He was looking at them with a sad, pensive expression.
“I found her again and I guess it was too late!” Richard Lim sighed sadly, grimacing at the blow fate dealt him. “She is married and has a kid now. Lucky guy!” He felt like someone squeezed his heart when he managed to confirm that it was Maya Dela Rosa on the gondola, with a guy and a little boy who looks a bit like her.
Who would have thought that this is what he would see when he started to aimlessly watch the gondolas ferrying passengers along the canal while he waiting for their company lawyer, Ryan Molina and his wife Ivy, who went to the souvenir shop of the hotel. He got a bit impatient as they were taking very long, and decided to walk a little bit farther than the shop. That was when he saw her. At first, he thought that maybe it was just someone who looks like her, but as the gondola approached, he was able to confirm that it is Maya! She was chatting animatedly to the good-looking guy beside her and the little boy was clinging to both of them! She looks like the Maya etched in hs brain and who invade his thoughts from time to time. She has just grown more beautiful and more poised since the last time he caught a glimpse of her.
Since Richard missed meeting her again four years ago at the airport in Singapore, he, sort of, believe that if they are meant to be, they will meet each other again, at some point. Stranger things have happened in this world. However, he is also a realist to believe that it may not happen at all. Besides, maybe, he will not feel this strange pull when he meets her again and get to know her better, so he just went on with his very demanding professional life, designing and developing boutique hotels and resorts all over the country and in some parts of Asia. Though in his heart, he does not believe that he will feel nothing for Maya if he sees her again. Seeing her again, here in Macau proved that. His heart still skipped a beat with a glimpse of her.
Now that he had seen that she has a family of her own already, he felt this overwhelming sadness. He could have actively looked for her the past several years. In this day and age of social media, it is not so difficult to find people you haven’t seen in years as long as they are visible online. And then what, just approach her like that, send a PM to her Facebook account or ask to be her ‘friend’ by sending a friend request, he asked himself? Likewise, thinking that what he felt years ago, the connection he thought they had when their eyes met, was just all on his part made him feel down. Maybe, it is time to move on, or try at least, he mused. She was just something beautiful from his past. For a time, she made him feel an emotion that was alien to him. She made him feel alive.
He took one more look at the gondola where she was, then turned his back to walk back to the shop and look for Ryan and Ivy. This is their last day in Macau as they will return to the Philippines the following day. They have arrived here two days ago to see if Emerald Hotels and Resorts, Lim Corporation’s subsidiary that handle all their property developments, can join in the hotel boom in this part of Macau. While the deal their potential partners were offering was enticing enough, Richard and Ryan didn’t accept it as in exchange the investors wanted the majority control.
“Richard, Brod, sorry natagalan kami.” Ryan said apologetically. “Ito kasing si Ivy, ang daming binili.” He said half-complaining, but smiling indulgently at his wife.
“Ha, sandali lang kaya ako.” Ivy said, gazing at her husband. “Let’s eat. The shopping made me hungry.” She suggested with a smile.
The three of them walked around, looked for a nice and quiet restaurant, and settled in to eat dinner. Husband and wife bantered and told Richard about some of the funniest, and most memorable antics of their children, while waiting for their food. Richard laughed at their stories. Being an only child, he misses having a big family. When he has a family of his own, he wants a big one.
“Ikaw naman kasi Brod, why don’t you settle down na! Eh di sana, may kwento ka na rin namin ni Ivy about your kids.” Ryan teased his boss, fraternity brother and his best friend. Richard have been the best man at his and Ivy’s wedding. When Richard offered him the job as Emerald’s legal counsel several years ago, he jumped at the opportunity.
“Oo nga naman, Richard.” Ivy seconded her husband. “Wala ka pa bang nakikita sa mga date mo. Ang gaganda naman nila. Saka iyong madalas mong kasama dati, mukhang mabait naman.” Ivy was referring to Linda, a model he dated for a while. He dated when the loneliness gets him, but there was always something lacking in those. He had stopped doing so for a while now.
“Kayong dalawa, ako na naman ang nakita niyo.” Richard laughed, a laugh tinged with sadness since the image of Maya with her husband and child suddenly propped up in his head.
“Babe, tigilan na nga natin si Richard.” Ryan told his wife, but added, “Brod, sino ba kasi iyon? Baka naman mahanap mo pa ulit. Kawawa naman ang mga nagiging date mo, goodbye na after several dates.”
“Hahahaha, let’s eat na lang. Mahabang usapan iyan.” Richard said, laughing. But when he thought that the two were not looking, he had a sad, faraway look, which Ryan saw.
While Richard and his friends were eating, Maya, Cristina Rose and Jeff with a sleeping Cho in his arms were on their way back to the hotel where Maya works, which is just several minutes away from where they were. Cris and her family is staying there instead of Maya’s apartment as the hotel is more convenient.
“Sayang Ate Cris, hindi ka nakasama. Enjoy na enjoy si Cho sa gondola ride. I took a lot of pictures naman for you.” Maya chatted as they walked, avoiding the throng of tourists with their camera’s clicking nonstop as they marvelled at this part of the hotel. Maya remembered the first time she was there. She felt like she she was suddenly transported someplace else since it was nighttime when she walked around and when she reached that area, it felt like daytime!
“Thank you, Maya. Next time. Malay mo naman, kapag malaki-laki na itong bago naming baby, mabalik ulit kami rito ng Kuya Jeff mo. Nandito ka pa noon siguro.” Cris said.
“Naku, Ate Cris, baka wala na. But for sure, we can always go back here, sama natin sina Tita Lulu and Tito Mario, saka sina Lino and Lindsay, family trip! Pwede one Christmas season!” Maya told her cousin. “I have been meaning to tell you and Kuya Jeff, that I’m thinking of returning to the Philippines late this year or early next year.”
“Really, Maya! That’s good news! I’m sure Mama and Papa will be glad to know that, pati na rin si Lino.” Cris said, grinning happily. Then she hugged her cousin. “Maya, I’m so happy you will be in the Philippines again. I misssed you a lot, little sis!”
“Awwww, me too, Ate Cris! I think it’s about time I return home.” Maya had been thinking about doing so, for several months now. She had been a way for so long. She felt a longing for the old country. It is time to move again. Maybe, she will get restless again but for now, she is longing for the Philippines.
“I agree with Cris, Maya. Iba pa rin ang sarili nating bansa. I also worked abroad, di ba, and even if the salary is bigger, hinahanap-hanap ko pa rin ang Pilipinas.” Jeff added.
“Eh ano pala ang plan mo pagbalik sa atin?” Cris asked.
“I submitted several job applications in hotels and resorts in the Philippines. Let’s see what will happen. I think something will turn up naman.” Maya spoke confidently. “If not, I can just develop one of the properties Mamang left behind in Mindoro. I’m sure Tita Lulu and Tito Mario will not mind naman. Noon pa nila sinasabi iyon sa akin. Di ba, I got na the money from Mom and Dad’s investment when I turned 25 two years ago. I can use that.”
“For sure, Maya, tatanggapin ka lahat ng mga inaplayan mo. In fact, baka nga over qualified ka pa, with your position and experience here. If you choose to develop naman one of the properties in Mindoro, lalo na iyong malapit sa beach sa San Nicolas, okay rin lang. Di ba, Mama and Papa told you na it is yours. It was what Mamang would have wanted. Kami naman ni Lino okay na okay na kami.”
“Thank you, Ate Cris!” Maya smiled at her cousin, happy in the thought that she is going back to the Philippines and she have several options when she returns.
They have reached the hotel and Maya said goodbye to her cousin and her family at the lobby. She promised to pick them up bright and early for their trip to the historic section of Macau the following day. On the way out, she said hello to her colleagues and staff who were on duty. She is not due back to work for another day.
Since she was not yet sleepy and she felt restless, Maya opted to walk on the second floor of the hotel, which interconnects to the other hotels via a network of shops. She stopped at a Starbucks kiosk and bought her favorite brew, then continued walking, sipping coffee while window shopping.
While she was looking at a display of a very nice skirt, top and winter boots, her peripheral vision saw three people walking. They were talking in a combination of English and Filipino so she looked unconsciously. Her heart skipped a beat when she caught sight of the tall guy walking with another guy and a girl. He looks like Richard Lim! But before she can check again, they took a turn and disappeared from her sight.
Maya was stunned for a few seconds, heart beating so fast, indecisive on what to do next. Then as if her feet have minds of their own, she found herself going to the direction they disappeared to. However, she can’t find them anymore as the corner forked into two other directions, then several others.
“What would I say to him anyway, if it is him?” Maya asked herself. “Introduce myself and ask him if he remembers me from a long ago beauty pageant in Mindoro! Wouldn’t it sound weird? Saka, baka naman hindi siya iyon. That I just thought it is him dahil iniisip ko siya. Dami namang Chinese dito, baka kamukha lang!”
Nevertheless, that incident unsettled Maya. Coupled with the coffee she drank, which she shouldn’t have, she was unable to sleep that night. She had panda eyes when she returned to the hotel the following morning. While waiting for her cousin and her family, she looked around, hoping to catch a glimpse of the guy who looks like Richard Lim, but she didn’t find him anymore.
Maya drove her cousin to the other side of Macau where all the popular tourists sites are located – from Senado Square to the Ruins of Saint Paul, old churches and others. They spent half a day there, then returned to the hotel as her Ate Cris was not feeling well. Maya stayed in their hotel room playing with Cho, while her Kuya Jeff went out for a walk around the complex.
In that instance, Richard, Ryan and Ivy were in the process of checking out from the same hotel. While Ivy was busy doing it, Ryan inquired if Richard is okay.“Brod, I noticed na parang quiet ka since our sightseeing trip at The Venetian. May problema ba? Is something botthering you!” Ryan asked his best friend.
“Wala naman Brod, baka pagod na rin ako. We have been traveling for quite a bit for a month na.” Richard said, unable to share to Ryan, his closest friend, about Maya. He does not think he will understand. Even he, at times, does not understand this preoccupation with her.
Ryan wouldn’t be a good lawyer if he does not know how to read people at least, on a level, and he knew that there is something bothering Richard, that he was being evasive. But he respects his desire to keep it to himself. He does not want to pry, anyway. “Basta Brod, kung kailangan mo ng kausap, nandito lang ako ha. Daanin na lang natin iyan sa inuman sa paborito nating bar sa Makati.”
“Thank you, Brod.” Richard said, trying to muster a smile.
Ivy returned to them, telling them that they can now leave the hotel. They took the hotel car to the airport. Richard glanced one more time at The Venetian when they passed by it, as if saying a final goodbye to something, or to someone.
The following day, it was Maya’s turn to check out her cousin and her family from the hotel. While doing so, she chatted with some of her old colleagues and staff at the front desk. Two years after she started working there, she transferred to Operations and has been there ever since, as an assistant operations manager. She didn’t know what made her do it, but she thought of asking one of her old Filpino staff if someone named Richard Lim is in the hotel guest list. Edselyn checked the computer, and Maya’s heart was beating fast while she waited with anticipation.
“Meron po Ms. Maya, from Taguig City, Philippines, pero nag-check out na kahapon!” Edselyn said. “He stayed with us for three days.”
“Oh….” was all Maya managed to Edselyn as she felt breathless all of a sudden. So it was really him she saw! She is very positive of that now. They almost met again! She thanked Edselyn, and when she asked curiously if there is something she can do pa, she told her she only wanted to know if they had a guest with that name.
Maya was still in a bit of a shock, thinking of what could have been, when she returned to her cousin.
“Maya, okay ka lang ba?” Cris asked, noticing her pallor.
“Ha….? Oh, yes, I’m okay, Ate Cris.” Maya assured her cousin. “Halika na. Wait for me in the lobby, please. I will just get my car.”
Maya drove her cousin to the airport, distracted with the thought that she and Richard could have met again!
“Maya, thank you for everything.” Cris hugged her cousin when they were inside the airport.
“No worries, Ate Cris, Kuya Jeff, and you little Cho. I’m glad to see all of you.” Maya said with a smile.
“Paano, little sister, see you in Manila na lang soon. Thank you ha.” Jeff said with a big smile.
“Sure, Kuya Jeff. I’m sure bago lumabas itong si Cris Jr. eh I’m back there na.” Maya said, patting her cousin’s tummy. They said their final goodbyes and she went out of the airport. She was back on being on her own again.
On the way back to her apartment, Maya looked around at the place she had called home for the past four years as if starting to say goodbye. While she had a good life here, she really feels it’s about time to go back to her real home!
“Good morning Sir Richard!” Liza greeted Richard with a big smile, as soon as he entered his office after dropping Maya off at the entrance of her office two floors below.
“Good morning Liza! Do I have anything urgent this morning?” Richard inquired, smiling and feeling at the top of the world that morning.
“Wala naman po, Sir.” Liza replied, but handed Richard a big card. “You just need to sign this birthday card. Kayo na lang po ang hindi pa nakaka-sign!”
“Sinong may birthday Liza?” It has been a tradition in LC for the executives to sign the birthday card for whoever executive or company officer has a birthday. It is included in the flowers that is sent to the birthday celebrators.
“Sir! Si Ms. Maya kaya! Even if I know, for sure, you have plans for her birthday, please sign the card na rin para kumpleto na kayong mga executive.” Liza said, smiling. She saw her boss and Maya, earlier holding hands while they walked to the elevators. She was behind them. She almost squealed with delight upon seeing them so sweet towards each other. She concluded na sila na talaga!
“Yes! She did mention that her birthday is coming up when I asked kung kailan. Give me the card.” Richard got the pen that Liza gave him, then signed his name too, together with the other executives, except that he put a heart and a smiley beside his name.
Liza laughed when she saw it. “Sir Richard, ikaw talaga. High school lang ang peg, hahahaha. Pero it’s cute naman!”
Richard laughed too, then went inside his office to start his work day. He was humming a line from a song from the ‘The King and I’…..To kiss in the sunlight/And say to the sky/“Behold and believe what you see/Behold how my lover loves me”…. when he sat on his desk to tackle his paperworks.
More than an hour later, a tall lady dressed in a figure-hugging sheath dress, parked herself in front of Liza’s desk.
“Good morning Ma’am, may I help you?” Liza inquired politely. There is something familiar with the lady which she can’t place.
“I would like to see Ricky Lim, please. Tito Patrick said this is his office now.” The lady asked, her demeanor, a bit haughty for Liza’s taste.
“I don’t recall him having an appointment with you Ms…..” Liza asked.
“I don’t have. But I’m sure, he will see me. Just tell him, Natasha Melendrez.” Natasha said, brooking no argument.
“Sandali lang po.” Liza stood up, then knocked on Richard’s door, instead of calling. While she was doing so, Liza also realized why the lady looks familiar. She is the daughter of Probo and Norma Melendrez, a close friends of the Lims, and an ex-girlfriend of Richard Lim, if what she overheard before was true.
“O Liza, bakit hindi ka na lang tumawag sa intercom.” Richard asked, seeing that Liza was not there to bring documents to him.
“Sir may naghahanap po sa inyo sa labas. Wala po siyang appointment. Si Mr. Patrick Lim daw po ang nagturo sa kanya ng office niyo.” Liza said, hesitantly.
“”Sino raw siya, Liza?” Richard asked. His uncle didn’t mention sending anyone to him when he saw him just before he entered the Legal Department.
“Ms. Natasha Melendrez daw po, Sir!” Liza said.
“Oh…” was all Richard said. He thought for a second, then said, “I guess, just send her in if I don’t have any other appointment that would get affected by it.” His Uncle Patrick has always had a soft spot, rather a blind spot, for Natasha, not knowing her true character!
“Okay po, Sir.” Liza went out of Richard’s office again and returned to Natasha Melendrez to accompany her to Richard Lim’s office.
Richard settled into his seat again, tapping his fingers on the desk, thinking what could bring Natasha to his office, five years after they parted ways. He was also wondering why she had given her maiden name when the last time he heard, it was already Ortiz. She had married one of his ex-closest friends, Nathaniel Ortiz.
“Ricky, so nice to see you.” Natasha said with a big smile when Liza ushered her into Richard’s office. She proceeded to where Richard is, then tried to give him a kiss on the lips. He deflected it, so it landed on his left cheek.
“Please have a seat Natasha.” Richard politely said, gesturing towards one of the two visitor chairs in front of his desk.
“Can we sit in the couch over there?” Natasha requested. “It is more intimate. Sitting on that visitor’s chair, I feel like I’m on a job interview.”
“Why are you here, Natasha?” Richard said, ignoring her request. He decided to cut through her phoney cheerfulness and solicitousness as if nothing bad had happened between them. “After all the things that have happened, I thought we don’t have anything else to talk about.”
“Richard, come on, Honey, you haven’t moved on from that? I regretted what I did. Isn’t it enough? Besides, Nate and I are not together anymore. Our divorce became final two months ago.”
“Please don’t call me ‘Honey’, Natasha. I haven’t been since I caught you in bed with one of my best friends, in our own bed!” Richard said calmly. “I have moved on. I don’t feel a thing anymore. I don’t care whether you and Nate are still together or not.”
“Richard, that can’t be true. You loved me. You were even willing to live in the States permanently for me. You chose me over having a place in your father’s company.” Natasha insisted. She had high hopes for this meeting. What she said was true, she regretted being unfaithful to Richard. Nate is not the person Richard is. She wants to have a second chance with Richard.
“Natasha, please! Let’s not rehash the past. I may say things you will not like to hear and which I don’t like to say to you either. Let’s just remember the happy times. The past is over and done with. Let’s leave it at that. I’m in love for the first time in my life and for me that’s what matters now.” Richard said before he could stop himself, wanting only to convince Natasha that there is no going back for them. “Besides, I did continue living in the States after we broke up and you married Nate. So, it was just not you. I’m sorry, we were not just meant to be, a big part of that was your own making.”
“Ricky…..” Natasha started, but seeing Richard’s firmed and unmoving expression, she stopped. In a way, she knew, deep inside herself that this is a futile effort anyway. She had hurt Richard in the past a lot. She was that immature and selfish. She had her chance. She just thought that she would just have another when she heard from Tito Patrick that Richard is still single and does not seem to have a girlfriend at the moment.
Natasha returned to the Philippines after her divorce became final to start anew. If not for the fact that she was pregnant with Nate’s baby, she would have not married him. Her parents insisted and rather than lose the good life she had, which her parents threatened to do, she did it. They also told her she made a big mistake when she chose Nate, by having an affair with him, over Richard. They were right. She didn’t understand why she stayed in the marriage even after she lost the baby.
Richard and Natasha stared at each other silently. Natasha, at a lost on what do to next. Richard, hoping that Natasha will leave. They had nothing to say to each other.
The door suddenly opened.
“Ricky, sweetheart, dumiretso na ako. Wala si Liza sa post niya. Sabi mo naman…..” Maya stopped when she realized that Richard is not alone. “Oh, I’m so sorry. You have a meeting. I thought it was just you since I didn’t hear a sound when I was approaching.” Maya looked at the lady sitting at Richard’s visitor’s chair. “Hello.”
Maya was about to excuse herself, when Richard got out of his chair, approached her and gave her a kiss on the lips. “Don’t go, Sweetheart. Please meet, Natasha Melendrez, daughter of Tito Probo and Tita Norma, friends of my parents.” He said by way of introduction. “Natasha, please meet my girlfriend, Maya Dela Rosa. Maya is also LC’s Head of Corporate Communications.”
Natasha took a closer look at Richard’s girlfriend. What she saw made her feel more defeated. For she saw before her a beautiful, poised her girl, her eyes shining with intelligence, looking at her with a sincere friendly expression, and looking at Richard with so much love. She swallowed hard.
“Nice to meet you, Maya.” She simply said, then to Richard, “Ricky, I will get going. Mom and I will meet for lunch. Hello to Tito Roberto and Tita Esmeralda.”
“I will, Natasha, and good luck. I hope you will find happiness too.” Richard simply said. He realized he felt tons lighter at that moment. He had forgiven Natasha a long time ago. In fact, he considered himself to have a lucky escape. Doubly so now, that he found Maya.
Maya and Richard watched Natasha walked towards the door and then closed it gently.
“Maya, let’s have an early lunch! Here at my office, if it is okay with you? I will send Liza out for food.” Richard asked. While Maya didn’t ask who Natasha is, he wanted to tell her, to clear the past completely, so to speak.
“Sure, Sweetheart! I’m free na. I just want to give this sana to you.” Maya said, then gave Ricky his favorite brew from Starbucks. “Nagpabili ako kasi kay Richard, the messenger. I didn’t realize na almost lunchtime na pala.”
They both smiled at that, remembering Maya’s wrong text message.
“Palagay ko dapat nating pasalamatan iyang si Richard Lazaro sa progress ng love story natin.” Richard teased Maya.
“Hahahaha, Sweetheart, sa palagay ko rin.” Maya said. “Teka, let me call Minerva lang to tell her I will have an early lunch. May I use your phone?”
“Sure, go I head. I will just go and see if Liza is back. I will ask her if she could order lunch for us from the restaurant downstairs.” Richard said. “What would you like?”
“Just the pasta carbonara that they have there with roast beef on the side, salad and a can of regular Coke.” Maya said. “Thank you, Sweetheart.”
Maya made her call while Richard peeked out to check if Liza is there. She saw him doing so. “Sir, may kailangan po kayo? I had to dash out earlier while you had a visitor.” Liza explained.
“Yes, sana Liza. Would you please call the restaurant downstairs and have them deliver lunch to my office for Maya and I.” Richard then told Liza what Maya wanted and told her what he would like.
“No problem, Sir! Nandiyan pala si Ms. Maya!” She remarked. At the back of her head, she realized that Maya and Natasha must have met each other if she had arrived at her boss’s office while she was away. She shrugged, thinking that it must have been okay. “Dalhin ko na lang po sa office niyo Sir, pagdating. I will just tell the restaurant manager to put it in your tab again.”
“Thanks Liza! I’m on a break na ha.” Richard said. He didn’t want to be interrupted for the next hour or so, while he talk to Maya about Natasha.
“Noted, Sir.” Liza assured her boss.
Richard returned to his office and saw Maya looking out at the view outside while waiting for him. She smiled brightly when she saw him.
“Have I told you lately that I love you very much.” Richard said as he cupped Maya’s chin and looked deep in her eyes.
Maya smiled. “Not in the last couple of hours, Atty. Lim! And I love you too.”
They shared a loving smile, then Richard lowered his lips to Maya and gave her a gentle kiss.
“Come, Sweetheart, before I get totally lost in your very kissable lips, let’s sit on the couch. I have something to tell you.” Richard took hold of Maya’s hand, interlaced it with his and gently pulled her to the couch.
“Hmmm, parang alam ko na kung tungkol saan. Is it about Natasha?” Maya asked she settled down in the crook of Richard’s right arm. “Your ex-girlfriend?”
‘“Yes, and I’m right, I was pretty sure that you will read the situation correctly.” Richard said. “How come you didn’t ask me about her as soon as she had left?”
“Well, I want you to tell me yourself.” Maya replied. “While I admit, I was curious at her sudden appearance, I also know naman that she was from your past na. Otherwise, you would have not courted me like that. I also trust you and you have not given me any reason to doubt that and the feelings you have for me.”
Richard’s heart swelled. He is so lucky to have her. He loves her so very much “Thank you for your trust, Sweetheart. I’m so lucky to have you. Despite having girlfriends before, Natasha being the most serious one from my past since I entertained the thought of marrying her, you are the only whom I feel like this, the only one I ever love.”
“Thank you for that, Ricky.” Maya cupped Richard’s face and kissed him gently. “I love you. I love you. I love you.”
Richard gazed at Maya lovingly. “And I the same! But I don’t want anything between us so I would like to tell you about Natasha.” Maya nodded. Richard took a deep breath and started speaking of the past.
“I shared an apartment with Natasha and my cousin Rafi while studying in the States. They were friends and studying designs. Both of them wanted to be fashion designers. When Rafi met Charlie and moved in with him, they eventually marry of course, Natasha and I were thrown together. Before we knew it, we were living together in the real sense of the word. She was a fun person, and that was the problem, she was like an overgrown child. She was also a party girl, refusing to grow up and accept responsibilities. While me, on the other hand, had to spend long hours studying and then finding my way in corporate America. My plan was to stay there for her as she didn’t want to live in the Philippines. I also entertained the thought of us marrying in the beginning, but was not so sure afterwards because of the way she was and me, realizing that I was not sure then if I really love her.
She used my long hours of working hard to establish a future for us, as an excuse later on, when I caught her in bed with one of my best friends who also moved to the States to study for a post graduate degree. She told me that I neglected her, and I was so caught up in my career. We parted ways and her parents, from what I heard from Mama, afterwards, pressured her to marry Nate when they found out she was pregnant with his child. Now, she came here to tell me that their divorced was final two months ago.”
“She wanted to see if she could pick up the pieces and have another chance with you!” Maya concluded on her own, understanding the situation she barged in earlier, better.
“Yes, but I told her there is no chance of that, as I already have a girlfriend and for the first time in my life, I’m in love.” Richard said looking at Maya lovingly. “There was an uneasy silence between us after that. I was hoping she would leave. Out of politeness and respect to her parents, I didn’t want to be rude, then you came in, like an angel.”
“Ricky, sweetheart, thank you for telling me. I appreciate it very much. It made me love you more. You know what? What is important to me is us, our present, and our future together if we are so lucky to have it. The past stays in the past.” Maya said.
“Sweetheart, we will have a future together. We will work on it.” Richard vowed. “We will be together in everything. Thank you for being so wonderful, for being so understanding and for trusting and believing in me.”
Richard and Maya gazed at each other with so much love on their faces, in their eyes. They both felt that their hearts will burst from too much emotions and feelings at that moment, and because they can’t help themselves, they shared another kiss. There was this overwhelming feeling to connect physically. It started as a tame one, but that was not the case several minutes after, as they were kissing heatedly, tongues duelling and mating, their faces flushed.
Before the situation completely got out of hand, the sound of a knock on the door penetrated their world. They broke apart suddenly. Richard remembered that Liza was supposed to bring in their food! Richard and Maya both tried hard to catch their breaths fast. It took Richard several minutes before he managed to open the door for Liza.
Richard and Maya had a leisurely lunch, both were very much aware that their relationship shifted to another level. It just got deeper and more wonderful! They found every excuse to touch each other, feed each other morsels of food or share a quick kiss while having lunch.
Maya Dela Rosa settled into her seat in the economy class of Singapore Airlines’s last flight bound for Singapore from Manila that night. This is her first time to be out of the country in so many years. Three years will be a long time to be away from everything familiar to her, but this move is for her own professional and personal growth. She is looking forward to working abroad. For her, it is an adventure and it may cure the restlessness she had been feeling lately. After visiting a friend in Singapore, she will travel to Macau to work at one of the new hotels in Cotai Central.
Prior to this, and right after finishing a degree in International Hospitality Management two years ago, she had work for the same hotel chain in Manila. First she was hired as a front desk personnel and then was promoted as supervisor a year ago. Due to her excellent performance, the position at the new hotel in Macau was offered to her, with a higher salary, and more room for growth. For Maya, the consideration was not so much on the salary, but rather the chance to grow and learn more about the industry. She wants to be a hotel general manager in the future. Besides, it is time to spread her wings. She is restless and she can’t explain why. She felt she had existed in a vacuum since the night she was crowned Miss Mindoro three years before.
The morning after she was crowned as Miss Mindoro 2007, Maya’s Mamang, her grandmother, died. She took a turn from bad to worse while she was in the pageant. Since then, Maya had lived permanently in Manila with her aunt and her family. Her Tita Lulu, her mother’s only sister and her husband Tito Mario treated her like a daughter and she is very close to her cousins, but she feels it’s about time she goes on her own. She is almost 23 years old. If she had her way three years ago, she would have preferred to live alone and deal with the sadness she was feeling on her own. But her Tita Lulu wouldn’t hear of it, insisting that her Mamang would have not wanted that. Lulu Francisco also said Maya was too young be on her own, and they are family so they will take care of her, of each other. Maya deferred to her then, as she loves and respects her aunt.
“Mamang, I still miss you. I love you. Please be with me in my new adventure.” Maya muttered. She always have a silent conversation with Mamang’s spirit when she wanted to be comforted, when the feeling of being truly alone gets to her. Mamang was more like a mother to her, than a grandmother. Maya barely remembered how her parents looked like since they died when she was very young. She knew, though, that they have loved her very much. She remembered family outings, her mom and dad reading her a story in the evening, and being cuddled by them.
Maya lost her parents in a car accident when she was 10 years old. Her Mamang took care of her. Like when her Mamang died, her Tita Lulu also offered to take her in then, to raise her with her cousins Cristina Rose and Lino, but Mamang insisted that she will be the one to take care of Maya. Both of them comforted each other and helped each other dealt with the lost of Teresita Dela Paz Dela Rosa, so young to have died at age 35, and her husband Arturo Dela Rosa, gone at age 40.
Maya and her parents used to live in Quezon City. Maya’s dad was an executive in an international cargo company. Her mother also worked in the same company as the personnel manager. One evening, on the way home from a party, a truck lost its break and rammed into her parents’ vehicle. They died instantly. Mamang brought her home to her native Mindoro after the funeral.
Maya’s parents left her quite wealthy. It turned out, her parents invested their earnings well. However, Mamang refused to touch her inheritance even for Maya’s schooling and expenses. She insisted on providing for her grandchild. She has hectares of farm lands, and some businesses in Mindoro. She said Maya can do whatever she wants with the money when she is 25 years old. But while she is in her care, she can well provide for her.
To entertain a young Maya, when she was feeling sad, Mamang will tell her stories about princesses and princes in faraway lands, of gods and goddesses in Greek and Roman mythologies. Mamang was a professor of literature at the college in San Nicolas before she retired. She also told Maya how she met her grandfather and the great love they had. It fueled Maya’s young mind, and she became determined to find the same kind of love when the time comes. She will not settle for less, she told her Mamang. Conchita Dela Paz also told her grandchild of her dream to join beauty contests, but her very conservative parents refused to allow her. In fact, she told Maya, it was one of her unfulfilled dreams. Mamang followed all the beauty pageants avidly – from Binibining Pilipinas, to Miss World, Miss Earth, Miss Universe, and others.
It was for Mamang that Maya, then a junior college student in 2007, decided to join, first the Miss San Nicolas Beauty Pageant, then the Miss Mindoro Beauty Pageant. Maya thought it would please and cheer up her grandmother who was already bedridden at that time. She was diagnosed with colon cancer in late 2006. It took courage on Maya’s part to do so as basically she was a shy, bookish person and she would have not thought of joining a beauty pageant on her own even if people have told her she is very beautiful and a ‘Binibining Pilipinas material’. She was the runaway winner of the Miss San Nicolas Beauty Pageant, which already made Mamang very happy. Then there was the Miss Mindoro Pageant. Ah, going back, down memory lane, meaning remembering the pageant night itself, and Richard Lim!
Maya was very nervous that night. But one thing was driving her, to win for Mamang. She gathered all the inner courage she could muster and forged on to compete. She may not win that night as all the other candidates were also very beautiful and very determined, but at least she tried for her grandmother.
When she was in the middle of the stage, for the first time, all she saw was a sea of people and bright lights. It was only when she was about to turn back to exit the stage that her eyes focused on Richard Lim. She didn’t know then that he was the Chairman of the Board of Judges, as the judges were only introduced midway through the pageant. When their eyes met, she felt like a current ran through her body and her heart skipped a beat. When she got backstage, she had to catch her breath not because of the ordeal of being on display when she was not used to it, but because of him.
Throughout that night, Maya was very conscious of Richard Lim. Her young heart was never the same after that. For the first time, a strange, wonderful emotion touched it. When the competition was just down to her and Jessica Lopez, her heart was somersaulting from nervousness, anticipation and this feeling of unexplained happiness and giddiness, knowing that he was there, sitting with the other judges. She was also beset with worry. Mamang was in a bad condition when she left. Maya didn’t want to go anymore but Mamang insisted that she should go and compete and even teased her about bringing home the crown for sure. Her cousin Cris was the only one with her that night. When James Ventura, a high school classmate, and a former suitor actually, announced her to be the winner, she thanked God and at the same time, silently offered her winnings to Mamang. Unconsciously, she had sought Richard Lim and saw him looking at her too. Suddenly, she can’t breath.
Her Ate Cris texted her Tita Lulu to let Mamang know through her that she won the pageant. Her Tita Lulu replied that their Mamang had the most beautiful smile when she was told. However, half an hour later, she took a turn from bad to worst. Her Ate Cris informed her about it when she and the two runner-ups went backstage to get ready for the after pageant party. She was just planning to say hello and not stay long, as she wanted to go home to be with her grandmother. But upon hearing that her grandmother was in a bad condition, she told Rebecca Bermudez that she will not able to attend the party completely. She understood. For a while, Maya felt a tinge of regret in not seeing Richard Lim again, but her Mamang was more important. Mamang rallied throughout the night with her family by her side, but at dawn, she had said her final goodbye to them.
The house in San Nicolas was closed down, the farmlands left in the hands of the caretakers, and the businesses sold as there was no one who can manage it from Manila after her funeral. Maya started her new life in Manila two weeks later. It had meant no more going to Mindoro twice a month and during her semester breaks.
From time to time, Maya had wondered about Richard Lim, even up to imagining their paths crossing again. However, the reality was they moved in different circles so she believed there was no chance of that. She just concentrated on her studies and finished at the top of her class. She could have not asked for a more loving family than what her Tita Lulu, Tito Mario and her cousins gave her. She and her Ate Cris are like real sisters. But there were instances wherein she felt left out also, missing a having a mom and dad of her own, and missing Mamang so much. That restlessness drove her to travel around the country whenever she has the opportunity. In recent months, that feeling increased and it was one of the reasons why she took this job in Macau.
When Emman, her gay best friend in college who is working in one of the hotels in Orchard Road, found out about her plans, he cajoled her into spending several days with him first. She thought it would be good to see him also and unwind a bit before concentrating on making her way in the international hotel management world.
Maya settled more comfortably in her seat, with the thought of reading a book throughout the rest of the flight. She was about to get her Kindle from her bag under the seat in front of her when the guy beside her, a good looking foreigner, spoke and introduced himself.
“Hi, I’m Roman Taylor!” The guy said by way of introduction. “Are you off to Singapore or just transiting?” He gave her a friendly, non-threatening smile. However, Maya sensed his interest beyond that.
“Hi.” Maya said, then politely, “I’m Maya Dela Rosa. Yes, I’m going to Singapore.”
“Really!” Roman seemed to perk up more upon hearing that. “Staying for good?”
“Not really. I’m just visiting a friend for several days.” Maya replied, not volunteering more information.
“Oh, too bad. I thought we could get to know each other and go to dinner, you know, as soon as you have settled in.” He said, looking very interested in getting to know her. “Maybe, you and your friend can squeeze it in, one evening. Have dinner with me please.”
“I’m really sorry, Roman. Thank you for the invitation, but I don’t think we can. My time in Singapore is limited.” Maya said regretfully, using that as a way out.
“Oh well, just in case you find yourself there again, here’s my card.” Then he handed her his business card.
Maya took it politely, thanking him. To avoid further conversation, Maya opted to watch a movie. Roman also settled into his seat to do the same. Roman might look like an older version of Liam Hemsworth, but she is not interested. No one had made her heart beat faster since the night of the pageant. Maybe, it will skip a beat again for someone else, other than Richard Lim, but she is not in a hurry to find out. Romance was the last thing in her mind at that point in her life. “I wonder where is he now?” She mused.
Unbeknown to Maya, Richard Lim was in the same flight. He was in business class. He boarded the plane after most of the passengers in the waiting lounge had boarded. He preferred it that way. Richard is going to Germany via Singapore to meet with potential business partners of Lim Corporation’s latest project, a luxury resort in Bohol. Richard has been in charge of the family corporation’s property developments since three years ago. So far, he had built resorts and hotels in Mindoro, Palawan, Davao, and now Bohol.
Richard’s first project was actually in Mindoro. A month after the pageant, he was back in Mindoro overseeing the building of a mountain resort at the town adjacent to San Nicolas. In the beginning, Richard was hesitant to look for Maya as not only they don’t really know each other but he realized she is years younger than him. He was not also looking for a relationship at that time. But he can’t help himself, he did. He asked around and found out that she had moved to Manila after the death of her grandmother shortly after the pageant. He believed it was the reason why she missed the party! Richard’s heart went out to Maya. His contacts didn’t know where she is staying in Manila or what schools she goes to. He thought of finding out that too. But he got busy with the project, and the next one, and the next one, as he needed to prove himself to his father.
Roberto Lim was initially very reluctant to diversify and put the family’s corporation into property developments, especially hotels and resorts. But Richard persuaded him, armed with tons of research and projections on how the industry was developing at that time and its potential for big growth and boom as more and more people travel, in search of beautiful places to stay. From time to time, he would think of Maya Dela Rosa and what could have been had the circumstances been right. Also, as if he was drawn helplessly, every time candidates for the various beauty pageants were announced, he would check if Maya is among the candidates thinking that with her beauty, intelligence and talent, she would find her way there, and win easily. But it seemed that she had laid very low since her grandmother died.
The flight attendant interrupted Richard’s thoughts and asked him what he would like to drink. She was also looking at him with interest. Richard politely asked for a cup of coffee. He then took out his laptop and started working. He needed to anyway, and this is his way of deflecting whatever signal the beautiful flight attendant seemed to be sending.
Richard got engrossed in the facts and figures he was reviewing. Before he knew it, the plane had landed at the Changi Airport. He was the last one to leave the plane. He hurriedly gathered his things, walked briskly out of the tube, going to the main airport, wanting to go the airline’s lounge, and continue working until he boards his long flight to Europe.
Richard was trying to find which direction leads to the airline lounge from the gate where he got out, when he caught sight of a girl turning on her mobile phone. Her carriage, and the half-profile of her face looks familiar. It looks like the girl also came from the same flight that he took as she was standing close to the gate where he got out. He was about to go to her, to check if he is correct, heart beating faster, when she moved while talking on the phone and took the travelator. Before he lost her in the crowd of passengers that surged in after her from the gate next to theirs, she turned as if she unknowingly felt someone staring at her. Richard saw her face and confirmed that it was indeed, Maya Dela Rosa!
“Maya….!” Richard uttered, then hurried after her but he can’t find her anymore among the throng of hurrying passengers.
Instead of going to the lounge, he decided to walk around, hoping to catch a glimpse of Maya, which was near to impossible as the airport is vast. He only stopped looking when it was time to board his flight to Frankfurt. It was a long and lonely flight for him.
Maya, at that time was already eating a late dinner with Emman at his apartment, not knowing that she almost saw again the man who have been haunting her thoughts the past three years, that they almost met again!