Archive for February, 2015

On the Street Where You Live – Prologue

Prologue

2005

“Maya, bilis!!! Dadaan na si Mr. Dreamboat! Halika na baka ma-miss mo.” Doris, Maya’s best friend said from the window of their apartment.

“Doris, ano ka ba, sabi ng hindi ako interesado diyan sa Mr. Dreamboat mo.” Maya protested as Doris dragged her to the window.

“I know, pero tingnan mo lang, please. Tell me if I’m wrong.” Doris insisted. “Ganitong oras iyan dumadaan for his class diyan sa College of Engineering.”

“Talagang hindi lang schedule ng daan ang alam mo, pati course ha! Doris, malapit ka nang maging stalker!” Maya teased.

Before Maya was finished with what she was about to say next,  a guy wearing black slacks and a white polo shirt was passing by, a backpack slung on his shoulder. He was tall, nicely built and is wearing glasses. When he was in front of their apartment, he unconsciously looked towards their window, and Maya gasped. Doris is right, he is one very handsome Filipino-Chinese guy!

“Friend, tama ako di ba? Super guwapo siya!” Doris said, sounding very giddy as if she had seen her favorite matinee idol in the flesh. “Saka paano ko namang hindi malalaman ang course, eh iyong uniform niya, uniform ng mga taga-College of Engineering.”

‘Well, yes, he is guwapo nga!” Maya reluctantly admitted. “So, pwede na ba akong bumalik sa pagsusulat? You know due na ang research paper natin sa Literature bukas.”

“Ha, bukas na ba iyon! Wala pa akong nasisimulan.” Doris exclaimed, panicking. “Naku, Maya, nanganganib pa naman ako diyan kay Prof. Ramirez.”

“Iyan kasi ang sinasabi ko, Doris Flores. Masyado kang naaaligaga diyan kay Mr. Dreamboat mo.” Maya lightly scolded her friend. “You can borrow my laptop pagkatapos ko so you can write yours. Ipinahiram mo kay Rachelle iyong sa iyo, di ba? Anyway, may pasok ako sa work mamayang gabi, so hindi ko naman iyan gagamitin. Absent iyong isang crew. Sayang din ang overtime pay!”

“Believe din naman talaga ako diyan sa sipag mo, Maya Dela Rosa! Hindi mo naman kailangang magtrabaho, di ba since pinapaaral ka ng Ate Cris mo.” Doris said.

“Yes, pero kawawa naman si Ate Cris sa abroad. Kayod siya ng kayod doon for me and my Nanay. Gusto ko rin naman siyang matulungan kahit pang-allowance ko lang. Kita mo naman lahat na sinagot niya, mula sa tuition ko, pang-share ko dito sa apartment at saka pati itong laptop. Tutal naman, maluwag pa ang schedule natin dahil freshman pa lang tayo.” Maya replied.

“Sabagay, may point ka naman diyan, Maya. Saka kayang-kaya mo naman talagang pagsabayin sa talino mong iyan! Hindi ko katulad na kailangan pang basahin ng ilang beses ang isang book bago ko maintindihan.” Doris said as she sat on her study table.

“Ikaw, talaga Doris! Tiyagaan lang naman talaga ang pag-aaral. O sige, aral ka na rin.” Maya said.

Maya and Doris were both taking up Bachelor of Arts Major in Journalism, in their first year in the university, with the intention of taking up Law after college. Doris, on the dictate of her lawyer-father, even if she is struggling with the demands of their current course. Maya, because it has been her dream to be a lawyer since she was a kid. The two of them both came from San Nicolas, Oriental Mindoro and were high school classmates.

Doris’s Dad got her the apartment and insisted that Maya shares it at a minimal rent. He said he was more after a flatmate for his daughter whom he can trusts. He even talked to her mother, to allow Maya to share the apartment with Doris. Teresita Dela Rosa agreed and offered to pay half of the rent. She told Maya she would feel better if she and Doris share the apartment as she worries, of her being on her own in Manila. Doris’ father prevailed on the rent arrangement though, insisting that it is also the least he could do for the family of his late friend, Arturo, whom he owed a lot.

Doris’ father told her and Maya that the best undergraduate course if they want to be good lawyers would have been Journalism as Law School requires a lot of writing too. Maya followed Doris’s father’s advice and Doris followed her best friend into the university of her choice. Doris is not really a mediocre student. It just that she lacks the drive, not really wanting to take up the course her father told her to take.

The two friends studied the whole afternoon and managed to finish the paper they needed to pass the following day. At around five o’clock in the afternoon, Maya left for her job at the fast food restaurant near the university.

When she arrived at the restaurant, there was quite a number of customers so she hurriedly changed into her uniform . When their manager saw her, she asked her to open another cash register to deal with the influx of customers.

“Good afternoon, Sir!” Maya greeted the first customer with a big smile. Then she stopped as there is something familiar about him. Oh my God, si Mr. Dreamboat pala ni Doris! In fairness, guwapong-guwapo talaga siya sa malapitan. “May I take your order, Sir?”

“I would like a cheese burger please, with large fries and large Coke.” The handsome Filipino-Chinese guy in front of Maya told her with a smile. Then she was surprised at his next words while she assembles his order. “Di ba sa Mirasol Street ka rin nakatira?”

“Ha? How did you know?” Maya asked. She does not recall them passing each other on the street.

“I saw you passed by our house several times!” The guy said. “I’m Richard Lim, by the way.” He introduced with a friendly smile. “Call me Ricky, please.”

“H-hi Ricky, I’m Maya, as you can see from my nameplate. Maya Dela Rosa.” Maya gave Richard a shy smile then gave him the tray containing his order. “Here’s your order.”

“Thanks a lot, Maya. Nice meeting you!” Richard said with a lopsided smile that made Maya’s young heart aflutter.

Maya smiled at Richard, gazed at his departing back, then shook herself out of her flight of fancy to attend to the next customer.

 

Note: Just something I managed to do several days ago while I was thinking of how I will move along Windblown and Unexpected Love. Updates on both, I’m working on already. I’m just puyat last night so I can’t think straight. Tulog muna ako ng maaga this evening.  Hopefully, tomorrow, I will have something for you guys! Have a nice weekend!  🙂 

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Windblown – Chapter 14

Plans in motion

“Maya Sweetheart, what do you think of us staying here at the resort until after the New Year!” Richard suddenly asked while he and Maya were lying on a beach mat, and enjoying that nice, sunny and breezy Monday afternoon at the beach in front of their bungalow.

“Ha, why did you think of that all of sudden?” Maya asked, getting into a half-reclining position to better look at Richard, even if both of them were wearing sunnies at that time.

“Well, I just thought na parang bitin ang trip natin. I like here it here, very relaxing. I want to spend more time with you like this.” Richard said, as he too looked at Maya from he was lying down, with her his arms. Truth to tell, he had a hard time concentrating on the view with her looking so sexy in her swimsuit. “Di ba sa January, both of us will be busy na with work, lalo na at malapit nang mag-open iyong hotel sa BGC.”

“Hmmm, you may have a point there. I’m enjoying our time here too, very, very much.” Maya replied, then thinking out aloud, she said, “Sabagay, we have spent Christmas with our families na naman. Tita Lulu and Tito Mario are planning to celebrate the New Year in Tagaytay pero wala pang definite, sabi ni Tita Lulu kanina. Tapos, di ba your Mom and Dad are going abroad for the New Year?”

“Yes, Mama and Papa are spending the New Year in Hong Kong with some of my aunts and uncles. Seniors lakad daw so excuse kami ng mga cousin ko.” Richard said smiling.

“Okay, sige.” Maya said smiling. “I would like us to welcome the New Year together, our first as boyfriend and girlfriend.”

“Thank you, Sweetheart!” Richard grinning, hugging Maya tight in his happiness! “Yes, masosolo pa kita ng ilang araw!”

“Hahahaha, Sweetheart, solong-solo mo naman ako parati. Hindi na nga tayo naghihiwalay mula ng magkita tayo ulit.” Maya said laughing, so very happy to be spending more time with Richard in that wonderful place.

“Hmmm, bakit ayaw mo ba Sweetheart! Basta promise ko dati sa sarili ko, kapag nakita kita ulit and both of us feel the same, hindi na kita pakakawalan.” Richard said, helf-jesting, half-serious.

“Really, Ricky! You thought of that!” Maya amazed. She really thought that she had heard everything Ricky said to say about the times they were apart.

“Oo naman! Why not? Ikaw kasi eh.” Richard said.

“Ha, bakit ako?” Maya asked puzzled.

“Unang kita ko palang sa iyo, you have put me under your spell.” Richard said, smiling.

“Hahahaha, witch pa ang peg ko, Sweetheart. Parang habang papalapit ang paglubog ng araw pang, chumi-cheesy ang paligid.” Maya said grinning, feeling giddy with what she is still finding out from Richard. “But I love you very much, you know.”

“I love you very much too, Sweetheart.” Richard said, gazing at Maya with love in his eyes, then he lowered his lips to hers.

Maya and Richard broke apart several long seconds after. It is getting harder and harder to control the way their bodies reacted every time they kissed heatedly. Richard would like to wait as much as he could before he and Maya express their love physically. Despite her being everywhere abroad, he knew that Maya is innocent in the ways of love, and he wants to take it slow with her.

Maya, on the other hand, felt like she is on fire every time Richard kissed her like that. She wanted more, though there is a part of her that is afraid of the unknown. But she knows, with Richard with her, she can overcome that.

Maya shivered.

“Should we go back? I saw you shivered.” Richard asked Maya solicitously.

“No, I’m okay Ricky. Can we stay here some more, until the sun sets! I like it here.” Maya said.

“Pero, hindi ka pa ba giniginaw?” Richard asked.

“I’m okay. It is not because of that I shivered, but because of your effects on my senses when you kissed me like that.” Maya admitted blushing.

“Oh!” Richard grinned naughtily. “Hmmm, I have that effect, huh!”

Maya smiled. “Errr, yes!”

“Sweetheart, don’t blush. Ganyan din ang effect mo sa akin. Minsan nga, kahit your nearness lang.” Richard said cupping Maya’s chin. “Kung alam mo lang, the control I’m exerting. What we are feeling are normal since we love each other and we are in tune to each other physically as well.”

“Really, ikaw rin?” Maya asked.

“Yes, but expressing our love that way, can wait. Especially, when you are ready.” Richard assured Maya. “Come here.”

Richard sat up, then gestured for Maya to sit between his legs, then hugged her waist from behind, putting his chin on her shoulder. “This is the way I want to watch the setting sun with you. Are you okay? Are you comfortable, Sweetheart? Lean against me para mas comfortable ka.”

Maya was very much aware of Richard’s strong and muscled arms, and bare chest around her as she sat before him, stretching her legs too and leaning against him as he instructed. She felt safe and so very much loved. “Yes, I’m very much okay, Sweetheart.” Maya said half-looking at Richard, and smiling.

Maya and Richard settled in on their mat, enjoying the cool breeze and the beauty around them. So far, like Richard had said earlier, it has been a very wonderful two days. After they have visited Mamang’s grave the day before, Richard and Maya walked around town, holding hands. They smiled when they reached the town’s covered gym where their paths first crossed seven years ago.

“You were really so beautiful that night in that violet dress. You took my breath away.” Richard said as they stared at the structure reminiscing about the fateful night that changed the course of their lives, into what they have at that moment.

“While you, my Sweetheart, looked so handsome in that sports jacket, dress shirt and jeans.” Maya said, equally smiling, remembering her first glimpse of Richard.

They smiled at each other, then continued strolling through Maya’s town. Maya showed Richard the private school where she and James graduated high school. Then they reached a quiet residential part of the town where the ancestral house of the Dela Paz’s still stands. It is a beautiful art deco house.

“Wow!” Richard managed to say, admiring the architecture of the house. “This is where you grew up? Amazing house!”

“It is, isn’t it! That was Mamang’s pride and joy!” Maya said smiling. “I had the happiest memories in that house. For some, it may looked like a museum, but that house was a very homey home for me and Mamang. “I would have asked you to come in, but I forgot to ask the caretaker to meet us here. Maybe, we can return tomorrow?”

“It’s okay Maya, we can go back some other time. I would like to see the inside. It looked well-preserved from the outside, considering na seven years na nang may last tumira dito, di ba?”

“Yes, since Mamang died and I moved to Manila, wala nang tumira dito. But Tita Lulu made sure that the house is well maintained para raw kapag naisipan kong bumalik dito sa Mindoro at mag-stay, intact pa ang house. She told me she knows how important the house is to me.”

“You really have the best family, Maya!” Richard said.

“Yes, and she even told me that she is glad that her mother has left the house to me! Imagine, happy siya for me, considering na siya ang anak ni Mamang, di ba?” Maya told Richard.

“I agree, you’re Tita Lulu is a very nice person, and you are lucky.” Richard said.

“Maybe the next time we found ourselves in Mindoro, we can stay in the house, not that I don’t like your house in the resort. But I know the house will appeal to the architect in you.” Maya told Richard, gazing at him.

“I would like that. Imagine the sense of history too, in a house like that, Sweetheart. Generations after generations of your family lived there. Thank you!” Richard said.

From the Dela Paz ancestral home, Maya and Richard traveled to one of the outlaying barangays of San Nicolas to look at Mamang’s vacant land by the beach. The place is actually situated at the base of the mountain, sloping down the beach with the whitest sand.

“Maya, you have a very nice place here. It fitted on some of the preliminary sketches I had made after I offered to help you.” Richard remarked, looking around the beautiful nature around them. They were standing at the gate of the property.

“Really, I would like to see it please when we return to Manila.” Maya said. Then she opened the wooden gate by typing in the combination in the padlock that her Tita Lulu gave her. “Sabi ni Tita Lulu, nandito lang nakatira sina Manong Larry at Manang Vilma. Halika hanapin na lang natin. Hindi ko ma-contact iyong cellphone number na ibinigay sa akin ni Tita Lulu.”

Maya and Richard walked a little bit, until they saw a small house at the next turn. Maya called from the wooden fence.

“Maya, Ineng, bakit hindi ka nagpasabi na paparine ka.” Manong Larry greeted Maya with a big smile. “Kumusta na. Pitong taon din tayong hindi nagkita ah.”

“Manong Larry, kumusta na po kayo? Nasaan mo si Manang Vilma at saka sina Simon at Sabel?” Maya greeted their old caretaker. “Hindi na nga po ako nakatawag pa na ngayon kami paparito. Pero bago po kami umalis kanina ng San Bartolome, I tried calling your cellphone number na ibinigay ni Tita Lulu.”

“Ikaw pala iyon, Maya. Mangyari, naiwan ko ang cellphone sa bahay nang pumunta ako sa gawing dalampasigan. Pagbalik ko, may tawag nga ako. Hindi ko naman matanong kung sino ang tumawag kasi wala na pala akong load. Wala pa si Sabel eh, nasa school. Magpapapasa load sana ako.”

“Nasa school po si Sabel? Nag-aaral pa pala siya?” Maya asked surprised. She and Sabel are the same age.

“Hindi na Ineng. Nagtuturo siya diyan sa elementary school.” Manong Larry said, smiling.

“Oh, ganoon po ba.Nakakatuwa naman na malaman na natupad niya ang pangarap niyang maging teacher. Manong Larry, si Richard nga po pala, nobyo ko.” Maya said, introducing Richard who was just listening to her conversation with the old caretaker. “Ricky, ito si Manong Larry, caretaker ng properties ni Mamang dito.”

“Magandang hapon po, Sir Richard. Pasensya na kayo at napakwento na kami ng husto nitong si Maya. Matagal ko na kasing hindi nakikita. Sigurado po ako na kapag nalaman ni Sabel na nandito siya, matutuwa iyon. Magkalaro po sila noong mga bata sila.” Manong Larry said.

“Nice meeting iyo po, Manong Larry. Okay lang po iyon. Kaya nga po nagpunta rito si Maya, para bumisita.” Richard assured the old guy.

“Tuloy nga po, pala kayo rito sa bahay. Ay at hindi ko man lang kayo naimbitihang pumasok. Nandiyan ang Manang Vilma mo, Maya, nasa likod at naglalaba.”  Manong Larry said as he ushered his guests inside the house.

Manang Villma was also very happy to see Maya. She and Richard spent the afternoon with the Vasquez couple. Sabel arrived from school, followed by Simon, the youngest son who is in his last year of college, and the visit got extended to dinner. Maya told Manong Larry of her plans with the beach property, and assured them that they will still have a place in the property as she is only touching the side connected to the beach. Manong Larry was happy to know that. They said goodbye to the whole family after eight o’clock in the evening, arriving back at the resort close to 9 o’clock. They decided to call it a night. After several kisses they managed to part for the night.

This morning, Maya woke up early and it made Richard breakfast. Like he did, she served it in his bedroom, much to his delight. They had a leisurely breakfast sitting on Richard’s bed. After breakfast, Richard told Maya he needed to meet with Catherine and the guy in charge of the maintenance of the resort. He asked Maya if she would like to come. Maya told him she will just stay in the house and said they can just meet for lunch and if he is free, maybe they can go for a swim.

While Richard was away, Maya called her Ate Cris, who happened to be with her Tita Lulu. She told them that Richard is now her boyfriend and that she is very happy.

“Little sis, sabi ko na nga ba! Sure na sure ako na diyan kayong dalawa papunta. I’m happy for you.” Cris said. “I like Richard.”

“Thank you Ate Cris. Grabe ang saya-saya ko.” Maya replied. “Saka na lang ang buong kwento pagbalik ko ha.”

“I will hold you to that, little sis. Pero talagang kinikilig ako diyan sa lovelife mo, parang movie lang ang peg.” Cris said. “Heto pala ulit si Mom.”

“Maya, congratulations, anak! I’m so happy for you. I like Richard too. Boto kami ng Tito Mario mo sa kanya. I’m sure kung nabubuhay ang Mamang mo, ganoon din siya.” Lulu told her niece.

“Thank you po Tita Lulu. I’m so happy. I never expected to find a love like this, but here it is. I know Richard will always make me happy, no matter what.” Maya told her aunt. “Dinalaw nga po namin ni Ricky si Mamang kahapon. Ipinakilala ko si Ricky sa kanya.”

“Talaga. I’m sure natutuwa niyan si Mamang, kung nasaan man siya.” Lulu said. “O siya sige, Maya anak, hello na lang kay Richard and please say welcome to our family from us.”

“Thanks po, Tita Lulu. I will. Magkikita kami in a short while. May tinapos lang po siyang trabaho. Bibisita po kami pagkabalik natin. We haven’t plan pa pala where we will be going for the New Year.” Maya said. The whole family decided to put it off after Christmas as they can’t decide whether to go to Baguio or Tagaytay.

“Well, about that. Loose naman ang plans natin. Di bale, kung saan natin maisipan. But I think Baguio is out though kasi ang dami raw umaakyat and the travel and the traffic may not be good for your Ate Cris. Baka sa Tagaytay na lang tayo if ever.”

“Okay po, Tita Lulu. I’m okay anywhere.” Maya assured her aunt. “Sige po, goodbye for now na.”

Maya met Richard at the resort restaurant for lunch. During lunch, Maya told Richard that she had told her family about them, and what her aunt said. Richard told her, his Mama also told him the same and that he better bring Maya to the house as soon as they return to Manila. They were both very happy that their families are very happy with the development in their relationship.

They returned to the house after their leisurely lunch, and then changed into their beach gears. Maya into a swimsuit that looks conservative but shows off her curves, and endless legs. Richard gulped when he saw her. Maya was the same, when she saw Richard bare chested and clad only in board shorts.

Hand in hand, they walked towards their private beach. They sat on the mat as they took turns in putting sunscreen on each other. They swam like kids, playing in the water, and at times, when they can’t help it, kissed each other heatedly. When they were both reaching the end of their controls, they would stop. They also snorkelled and had laid in the mat  to watch the setting sun when they got tired.

“Sweetheart, maybe we should head back the house.” Richard suggested when the sun was just a small disc in the horizon, kissing Maya’s hair.

“Oo nga. Medyo malamig na rin. Let’s go.” Maya said, untangling herself from her cozy place between Richard’s legs. “I will call Tita Lulu pa pala to inform her of our change of plans.”

“I need to call Mama also.” Richard remarked, not saying anything else.

Richard and Maya walked back to the house with their arms around each other’s waist. Maya said she will just take a shower and will meet Richard in the living room after an hour.

When she got into the room, she called her aunt and told her of the change in her plans. Tita Lulu assured her that it is perfectly okay as they are still not sure about the Tagaytay trip. Maya said goodbye to her aunt and then proceeded to take a shower.

Richard finished his shower faster than Maya. He decided to sit out in the veranda while he waits for her,  and while he calls his Mama. Donya Esmeralda answered on the second ring.

“Hi Mama, good evening!” Richard greeted his mother. “How are you and Papa?”

“Son, mabuti tumawag ka! Your Papa and I are doing good. He said congratulations. Natutuwa ang Papa mo na meron ka nang girlfriend. Finally raw, may napili ka na rin. Of course, hindi ko pa sinabi sa kanya iyong request mo and your other plan, as you requested.” Donya Esmeralda said, the excitement evident on her voice. “Oh ano, matutuloy ba ang plano mo?”

“Yes, Mama!” Richard happily said. “We are staying here until after the New Year. I will propose to Maya on New Year’s eve!”

“Son, I’m really so happy with that news! I can’t wait to meet Maya. By the way, I found the ring along the description you have given me this morning. I called Patricia. She has a design like that. And you are lucky, it is in Maya’s size.”

“Great, Mama! I’m so happy to know. Can you send it with James tomorrow?” Richard asked his mother.

“Sure, son! I will call him after this and tell him that you will stay longer in Mindoro but he still needs to go to the resort as I need to send some stuffs for you.” Donya Esmeralda said, getting into the thick of her son’s plan to propose to the woman he loves.

“Thank you very much, Mama! You are the best.” Richard told his mother. “I love you very much.”

“I love you too, son! I’m so happy for you.” Donya Esmeralda said. “Saka, aba, may vested interest ako dito. Gusto ko na yata ng mga apo!”

“Ma! Hahahaha, magpo-propose pa nga lang.” Richard said laughing. “O sige na, Mama. We will see after the New Year. Enjoy your trip to Hong Kong.”

“See you and Maya, son. Enjoy your stay in Mindoro and good luck on your proposal.” Donya Esmeralda said before ending the call.

Several minutes after he finished his call with his mother, Richard was still smiling goofily, excited about the proposal he is planning. Unbeknown to Maya, he called her cousin earlier. Luckily, he and Jeff managed to exchange numbers when he picked up Maya from the Franciscos before Christmas. He had asked Cristina Rose what is Maya’s ring size. She shrieked in delight upon hearing his request. Richard requested her to keep it a secret. Cris happily assured him that she will. She also told him he is lucky as she and Maya have the same ring size. Cris wished him luck and even called him littlle bro before they ended their phone call!

Richard then called his mother and aside from telling her that Maya is now his girifriend, he told her of his plan to propose to Maya, and asked for her help. Donya Esmeralda was ecstatic and told him that she will take care of everything. Her jeweller, Patricia can work her magic, she assured her son. She asked Richard what kind of ring he wants. Richard told her and his mother assured him, it will be in Mindoro in time for his proposal. They agreed to talk again if he managed to talk Maya into staying in the resort until after the New Year celebration. Luckily, he did. And now, everything is set, more or less, for his proposal. He grinned.

There was still a hint of a smile on Richard’s face when Maya found him sitting at the porch.

“Ricky, sorry, it took me a while.” Maya said, smiling and looking so lovely, without make-up on in another of her maxi dresses. “Shall we get going?”

“It is okay, Maya. I chatted with Mama rin!” Richard said, smiling at his lovely girlfriend and hopefully, his fiancee in two days time! “Let’s go.”

With laced fingers, Maya and Richard walked towards the direction of the resort’s restaurant for their dinner. On the way, Richard lightly caressed Maya’s ring finger. Two more days! He smiled in the dark, very, very happy and excited.

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Unexpected Love – Chapter 11

Chapter 11

Pippa plopped herself down on her sofa as soon as she got home. She was very tired from the trip. It took a long time for the bus to reach Manila. By the time they entered the city, traffic was already a bit heavy. From the bus terminal, she took a taxi to her place. Next time, maybe she could just take the RORO and bring her car over. It is more convenient and faster. But as this trip was unscheduled and unplanned, she didn’t manage to do that.

Her stomach started grumbling, but Pippa was not sure if she has something to tide her over in her fridge! It was almost empty before she left. Whatever bread she had several days ago is probably very old by now. Better order some food! She called her favourite fast food’s delivery service and order a large fries,  double cheese burger, a chocolate sundae and a large Coke.

Orders done, Pippa called Ethan’s number. He answered on the third ring.

“Hello Pippa!” Ethan greeted Pippa, happy to hear from her. “You made it safely home?”

“Hi Ethan, yes I did. I got caught in the traffic, pero okay lang. Next time, I will just bring my car over para hindi na ako mag-bus.” Pippa said.

“I think that’s a good idea!” Ethan said as he settled into the Montenegro’s veranda. Marianne took a nap and Manang Doray went to the resort so it was just him on the ground floor.

“So, what have you been up to since I left, aside from buying a mobile phone?” Pippa asked. “Speaking of, hindi ko pa pala natatawagan si Tristan!”

“Well, that’s about it. I had coffee while Tristan had breakfast and we chatted. Then after getting the phone and buying stuffs after, I headed back here, ate lunch with your Mum and Manang Doray. Now, I’m about to check my e-mail while at your porch. The signal here is better.”

“Oh, where’s Mom? I haven’t called her also.” Pippa asked, remembering that she promised to let her know she is home.

“She went upstairs to take a nap. But I think she is watching the telly.” Ethan smiled. “I will just tell her later that you have already rung.”

“I think so too.” Pippa smiled conspiratorially. She knows her Mom watches her favorite afternoon soap reiligiously. “Okay, just let her know please. Thanks Ethan.”

Before Pippa could say something more, her house phone rang. “Opps, sorry Ethan, I need to take this. My food delivery is here I think.”

Pippa told the reception to send the delivery guy to her unit. Then she went back to Ethan. “I’m back. I’m hungry so I ordered my fast food fix! I don’t think I have any food left in the house.”

“What will you have?” Ethan asked, suddenly, he too is craving for some unhealthy and greasy food.

“Burger, fries, chocolate sundae, Coke, the works!” Pippa replied!

“Wow, I wish I’m there eating those with you. I haven’t had my fast food fix since I moved here!” Ethan said.

“Well, you can have your fill when you make it here on Friday!” Pippa replied. “What time will you be coming? Oh, wait a second, the delivery guy is at the door. I will just get my food. Hold on, please, Ethan.”

Pippa returned after several minutes, munching fries. “Sorry, I’m eating while I’m talking to you. I will put the phone on speaker rin ha.”

“Go ahead, Pip, it is fine with me. I feel tortured though, imagining the food.” Ethan jested.

“Sorry, Ethan. I wish I can beam you over so you can share this.” Pippa said, smiling.

“Just teasing you, Pip! Go ahead and eat. I’m just teasing you. I know you must be hungry if your last meal was the one we shared this morning. I would like to be there with you, though. The house is lonesome with you.” Ethan suddenly said.

Pippa’s heart skipped a beat with that statement. “I wish you are here too, Ethan.” Pippa said softly. “Di bale, ilang days na lang. I will pick you up from the bus station. Just let me know approximately what time you will be there.”

“Sure about, Pip? I can just take a cab to your place.” Ethan offered.

“Hay naku, I will just pick you up. Huwag kang mag-aalala, okay lang. That way, hindi rin ako magwo-worry na baka mabiktima ka ng unscrupulous cabbies in the metro. Foreigner na foreigner pa naman ang hitsura mo.”

“Ha, but they don’t know I can speak Tagalog and I can shout ‘saklolo’!” Ethan jested.

“Hahahaha, ‘saklolo’ talaga, Ethan. I haven’t heard that word in a while.” Pippa said laughing.

Ethan laughed with Pippa. “Okay, I will send you an SMS then, when I’m near Manila. I’ll see you Friday, Pippa. I’ll say goodbye now so you can enjoy your meal.” He sighed dramatically.

“Okay, see you. Enjoy the rest of the day!” Pippa said, laughing.

“You too! I’m looking forward to Friday!” Ethan said before he ended the call.

Pippa ate her fast food fix while Ethan on the other hand, booted his MacBook and started checking his e-mail. He had quite a lot since he has not check for two weeks or so. He went through his Inbox, most of them are just junks, anyway. He was about to compose an e-mail to Werner, his acquaintance from Belgium when he notice another mail in his Inbox. It is from his sister.

Ethan opened Ally’s mail with trepidation. Ally seldom wrote. The last letter she sent him was when he was in Indonesia.

Dear Ethan,

How are you doing down there in Mindoro? I would have rung instead of sending this e-mail if you had managed to replace the mobile Mummy said you have lost in Thailand. I don’t want to be a bother to Mummy’s friend to get in touch with you. Anyway, what I will tell you is very important for a phone conversation. I’ll wait until I see you in person. 

I have decided to come to the Philippines because of it, and also to have some much needed vacation. I have booked my flight and I’m leaving London on Saturday. I should be there early Sunday. Can you pick me up at the airport in Manila?

E-mail back so I know you have read this. 

Take care and see you soon.

Ally

Instead of replying to his sister’s e-mail, Ethan decided to give her a call. Good thing, he had a back up of his phone book in his computer. Ethan hoped his sister has not left for work yet.

“Hello, Allison Bowman, here.” Ally said when she picked up the call. She had a pretty good idea that it is her brother because of the country code, but she was not one hundred percent sure.

“Hi Ally, Ethan here! I bought a new mobile today, would you believe of all days. How are you? How’s Mum and Dad? Have you seen them lately?” Ethan asked in rapid succession.

“Whoa, Ethan, slow down.” Ally said, happy to hear from her brother. “Welcome back to the real world, Ethan. I’m glad you got yourself a mobile again.”

“I realised I needed one after all.” Ethan said sheepishly, not admitting to his sister that the reason he got one was because of Pippa. “You are coming for a visit, Ally? Great! You said you want to talk to me about something?”

“Well, first, brother, Mummy and Daddy are both doing great. They are going on a cruise later in the month. I had dinner with them last night to tell them of my plans to travel to the Philippines!” Ally said. “About the other thing, shouldn’t it wait until we see each other as it is a long story and I need to give you something to go with it?”

“Could you tell me what’s it all about, please. The suspense is going to kill me, Ally!” Ethan insisted. “Since you said both Mum and Dad are doing great, then it could not be about them.”

“Okay, Ethan, but I would like to ask you first, how are you truly?” Ally asked.

Ethan knew what Ally was asking him. “I’m doing quite good, Ally. You don’t have to tiptoe around what happened anymore. I have dealt with Claudia and the baby’s death. You know, accepted that they are gone. But I must admit, I still blame myself. I didn’t see the signs and I felt like I have let Claudia down! But before you call, I was already thinking of heading back to England, to find answers, put everything in order and see if Claudia’s parents are better now.”

“Ethan, I’m glad that you are moving on. This is the longest you have said on the matter to me, or to Mummy. You just clammed up on us. “Ally said emotionally. “But please, know that it is not your fault. We, your family, never thought that. None of what happened was your fault. It was tragic but it was not your fault. And I think you will not have to come back to find your answers.”

“How can you say that, Ally! Maybe, if I had looked paid attention closely, gave her the attention she wanted from me,  she would still be alive today!” Ethan said. “And why would I won’t need to come back? Did something happen while I was away?”

“Ethan, listen, it is not your fault. There were some aspects of Claudia’s life she hid from you. I found that out after she died. Besides, you may find all the answers you are looking for in the diary she left behind.”

“What? She had one? I cleaned our flat before I had it listed at the realty agent you recommended to me. I didn’t find anything.” Ethan said, surprised.

“Well, the new owner, who incidentally, happened to be a colleague of mine at work discovered it by accident two weeks ago while having the creaking floor boards repaired. Claudia’s diary was hidden there. Jenny gave it to me, thinking that it might be very important to you, having known what happened a bit.” Ally explained. “I didn’t open it. It is not for me to do so. I thought of giving it to her parents, but the way they treated you after she died stopped me. Besides, after having it, you can decide what to do with it. Give it to them if you want to.”

“I never thought to look there! Yes, several of the floor boards were a bit loose. I have been meaning to have them fixed but never gotten around to doing so.” Ethan said. “I will wait for your arrival then. I will be in Manila, anyway, this weekend so it jibes with my schedule.”

“You will be?” Ally asked. “ What a nice coincidence! I thought your feet are firmly planted on Mindoro’s soil. Mum’s friend told Mum.”

“Yes, well, err, I’m just visiting a friend and meeting a guy a I met for some work I could do. Which reminds me, if you have some free time, could you ask Mum for my birth papers and some other documents I might need in applying for dual citizenship!”

“You will apply for one? Do you need it? Is your British one not enough?”  Ally asked, curious.

“I want to stay in the Philippines for good, Ally.” Ethan told his sister. “It would be easier if I have a dual citizenship. Besides, we are half-Filipinos naman, di ba?”

“Well, yes, you are correct. That’s one of the reasons why Mum taught us how to speak the language.” Ally said. “Okay, I will get the papers. I’ll see you on Sunday. I think you owe me a lot of stories. Now, I better get moving and go to work.”

“See you, Al. Promise, we will chat the night away. Have a good flight!” Ethan said, then ended the call. Now he needs to buy more load cards for his phone. He decided to do that, leaving a note to Marianne that he borrowed the motorbike.

While on the road, Ethan thought of what Ally had said. He was nervously anticipating reading Claudia’s last thoughts and the same time, hoping that it will contain the closure that he needed so he can completely move on. It would be good to see his sister too. He realized how he had missed her while talking to her earlier. They have always been close. In fact, it was through her, though indirectly, that he met Claudia. While Claudia is a friend of one of her very good friends, her sister was quite vocal that she didn’t like her for Ethan as there was something not right with Claudia. However, she also told him, it’s his life and that maybe, she was not being fair anyway by disliking her. Ethan thought, for sure, Ally will like Pippa. He is looking forward to introducing Pippa to her, and his sister to Pippa.

That evening, Ethan mentioned to Marianne that his sister is coming for a visit. Marianne said that Ally is also welcome to stay either in the cottage with Ethan or in the main house as there are plenty of rooms there, especially now that Pippa is back in Manila. Ethan thanked her and then told her also that he is going to Manila to meet hs Belgian friend and visit Pippa. He also told Marianne that he would be staying in Pippa’s place. When she heard this, Marianne thought, her daughter and Ethan have really gotten very, very close. She also thought that Pippa is the main reason Ethan suddenly thought of going to Manila, but she kept her counsel as her daughter is old enough to know what she is doing and she trusts Ethan.

That evening, Pippa and Ethan chatted again on the phone. Pippa told Ethan that she did manage to call Tristan and her mom. Ethan mentioned to Pippa that Ally is coming, but not about Claudia’s diary. He would like to tell her about it in person. Pippa told him they can pick up Ally from the airport, then she too can stay in her place before they travel back to Mindoro. Ethan thanked Pippa for her generous offer. Pippa assured him it is completely okay and that she looking forward to meeting his sister.

Their conversation moved on to other topics. They only realized that they have been chatting for hours when Pippa’s phone made a warning signal that its battery is almost drained. They decided to call it a night then.

“Good night Pippa.” Ethan said, very happy. “And good luck on your production meeting tomorrow.”

“Thanks a lot, Ethan. For sure, I will have a long day tomorrow. But better to finish everything before you arrive so we can spend more time together.” Pippa said.

“I’m looking forward to that. Good night. Sweet dreams!” Ethan said, smiling at the other end of the line.

“Have a good sleep, Ethan! Think happy thoughts.” Pippa said smiling.

“I will!” Ethan said, reluctant to end the call.

Pippa and Ethan finally ended the call with big smiles on their faces after several more minutes of bantering amid the warning beep of Pippa’s phone, both are very eager to see each other again in several days.

 

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Windblown – Chapter 13

Vows

Maya woke up to a dark bedroom. The only illumination came from the lights filtering through the curtains from the nearby trees. She was disoriented at first, then she remembered where she was. She checked the clock. It was just a little past 6 o’clock in the evening but it was already quite dark. Must be because of all the trees around the place, not to mentioned the shorter days and longer nights during December. She reclined against the headboard, stretching her arms, and trying to remove the remnants of sleep from her system.  She ought to get up soon as she is meeting Richard at half past seven o’clock for dinner.

Richard and Maya spent the rest of the afternoon in each other’s company, basking in the glow of their new status! They ate lunch at the main restaurant of the resort. Then Richard took Maya around the place, their hands seemingly glued together as they walked around. To everyone who saw them, they looked like the sweetest couple, with eyes only for each other. Some thought they were newly-weds on honeymoon!

Late in the afternoon, Maya and Richard  returned to the bungalow. Richard showed Maya the guest room where she could rest. It is adjacent to the room he will use and overlooking the garden. He told her she could take a nap and  he will just return for her for dinner.

Maya thought she will not be able to nap with all the excitement she had that afternoon. But as soon as her head hit the pillow, she fell into a dreamless and very restful sleep.

“Now, time to get moving, Maya Dela Rosa, your boyfriend, the love of your life, is waiting for you!” Maya told herself. Boyfriend, love of her life, words that make her feel giddy by just saying it. Richard is now her boyfriend! Sometimes, it felt like it was just a dream, but looking at her surroundings and remembering all her wonderful times with Richard since they met again, she knows everything is real. That after all these years, she found her Prince Charming again and they are poised to live their happily every after, God willing.

Maya took out a long printed maxi dress from her bag, then took a bath. Thirty minutes after, she was ready for her dinner with Richard. Instead of waiting for him, she decided to just go out of the room and look for him. Richard was not in the living room. She was about to check the veranda when she saw him coming from the direction of the kitchen, holding a wine bucket. He changed clothes, and it looked like he had just been to the shower too. He looked so handsome in blue shirt and khaki pants.

“Sweetheart, good evening! I was about to get you after I put this wine in the porch.”  Richard greeted Maya with a big smile. “Did you have a good sleep?”

“Hi Sweetheart, yes I did. It was so quiet and nice. I woke up around 45 minutes ago. The bedroom was dark but there were lights coming from outside.” Maya remarked as she approached Ricky and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

“The light is probably coming from the capiz lanterns festooned around the branches of the tree outside your window.” Richard explained. “Everything is set, Swetheart. Come your dinner awaits. I hope you will like everything.”

Richard led Maya to the front porch, the one adjacent to the living room by holding on to her elbow to guide her there.

“Wow!” It was all Maya managed to say when she saw what Ricky had prepared for this evening while she was taking a nap.

The place was transformed. In the middle of the porch, there was a table with red table cloth, and a vase with in different kinds of flowers. Completing the romantic ambiance were candles placed in coloured glasses, swaying to the breeze blowing from the sea. The food – pasta, steak, and appetizers so mouthwatering, that Maya’s stomach grumbled just at the sight of the food before her. Suddenly, she is very hungry.

“I want our first evening as boyfriend and girlfriend to be very special, Sweetheart so I had Catherine and Aldrich prepared this for us.” Richard said, smiling, happy that Maya likes what he had prepared.

“Thank you, Sweetheart. I’m touched and very, very happy.” Maya replied, then tiptoed and gave Richard a light kiss on the lips.

Richard smiled happily. “Parang bitin!” He teased naughtily. He reeled Maya to him gently, then kissed her properly.

“Ricky, ikaw talaga.” Maya smiled, her face redder than usual. “Let’s eat.”

Richard seated Maya, then took the seat to her right. He poured the two of them a glass of wine each then offered a toast.

“To the loveliest and most wonderful lady who made me very, very happy today. I love you Maya. To us!” Richard said lovingly. “To fate for making us together finally!”

“Thank you, my dearest Sweetheart! To the best boyfriend in the world, I’m so lucky  to have you. I love you. To us!” Maya said with a smile that lit up her whole face, gazing at Richard with all the love that she was feeling for him.

Their dinner was marked with their happy comfortable chatter, not running out of things to talk about or just gazing at each other lovingly. They didn’t notice the passing of the hours, so caught up were they with each other.  When dinner was over, they moved to the hammock that was located at the edge of he porch. Richard’s arms were around Maya as she half-laid on his chest as Richard pushed the hammock gently his foot.

“I love this!” Maya said after a while, feeling very relax. “This is very relaxing. I like being in your arms like this, Sweetheart.”

“Me too, Sweetheart! Having you like this is the best feeling.” Richard said. “Do you want to listen to some music?”

“Sure! But do you have a player nearby?” Maya asked, looking around.

“Wait a second.” Richard got out of the hammock, went just inside the living room. Then he returned to Maya as a beautiful music wafted from the speaker embedded in the ceiling of the porch.

“For you, my Sweetheart!” Richard said softly, lovingly, then he started humming with the music.

I had never touched a hand

That felt as soft as rain

Until tonight

I never knew a kiss

Could make me feel this way

Until tonight

But here we are now

Feeling things we’ve never felt before

Richard sang with all his heart, raining little kisses on Maya’s face, until he reached her lips. Maya open her lips to accept Richard, and their lips fused into a hot kiss while the song continued playing in the background.

I never knew that I could feel such wonder

I never dreamed that love could be like this

Yet in this rapture I’m swept away

Lost in your eyes

For tonight, love has come of age

I had never dreamed that I

Would lose my heart so soon

Until tonight

I had never felt my heart

Racing with the moon

Until tonight

Now and forever

Let me live inside your sweet embrace….

Richard and Maya broke apart, both catching their breaths, trying to control the feelings that kiss evoked in each other.

“I love you very much, Maya….

I love you very much too, Ricky….

Maya and Richard whispered to each other as the last lines of the song faded into the night.

For you and I

For tonight, love has come of age

Tonight, love has come of age….

“That was a very beautiful song, Ricky! ” Maya remarked as she settled deeply and more comfortably into Richard’s chest.

“One of my favorite songs, Sweetheart. Bagay sa atin and what I’m feeling for you.” Richard said as he caressed Maya’s hair.

Maya and Richard smiled at each other lovingly and listened to the music from Richard’s iPod, while enjoying the quiet of the night. They stayed in the hammock late into the night, just enjoying each other’s company, basking in the glow of their intense love for each other, reluctant to part.

When it became very windy, Richard carried a sleepy Maya to her room, laid her on the bed, kissed her one more time and with whatever willpower he still possessed, dragged himself to his room. It took a while for Richard to fall asleep, the wonder of the day stayed with him. Indeed, as the song said, his and Maya’s love has come of age after seven years, and he will never let go. It is forever for him and the woman he loves with all of him.

The following morning, Maya was woken up by a knock on her door. She realized where she was. Despite the nap she took, she had felt very sleepy while in the hammock with Richard. It was very nice lying in his arms. She also felt very pampered and treasured when he carried her to bed.

Richard came into the room, when Maya indicated that he could come in, carrying a breakfast tray with a single red rose on it.

“Good morning, Sweetheart!” Richard greeted with a big smile, then proceeded to give Maya a light kiss on the lips. “Did you sleep well?”

“Good morning, Sweetheart!” Maya was all smiles. “Yes, I did! Parang ang saya-saya ng boyfriend ko this morning ah.”

“Of course naman, Sweetheart. Why wouldn’t I. You are my girlfriend now and you are here with me! I made breakfast for the two of us.” Richard said grinning, placing the tray in the middle of the bed.

“Ricky, sobra-sobra na akong spoiled sa iyo.” Maya said.”Thank you!”

“Maya, Sweetheart, I’m happy to do this. Kulang pa iyan. Imagine, seven years in the making nga di ba?” Richard replied, smiling. “Halika na kain na tayo. I hope my omelette is okay. I had Catherine stocked the kitchen here too para we can make our own food if we feel like it.”

“That’s a good idea!” Maya said, then started serving Richard the food he prepared and making his coffee too.

“Sarap talaga nitong coffee mo, Sweetheart! “ Richard said as he took his first sip. “By the way, we can go to San Nicolas today if you want.”

“Really, I would like that.” Maya said. “Can we go hear mass muna sa San Nicolas Church, then visit Mamang’s grave after, magkalapit lang naman iyong church at saka iyong memorial park kung saan siya nakalibing.”

“Sure, Sweetheart, anything you want.” Richard replied.

“Thank you.” Maya said. “Masarap naman itong omelette mo. Marunong ka palang magluto.” Maya teased.

“Welllll, I think my culinary skills is very limited. Iyan lang and spaghetti bolognese ang kaya ko yatang lutuin!” Richard quipped.

“Well, I want to try that spaghetti too. I’m sure kasing sarap nitong omelette mo.” Maya said.

“Sure, pagbalik natin ng Maynila, I will cook that for you.” Richard said. “What time would you like us to leave pala so I can ask Aldrich to prepare one of the company cars?”

“Pagkatapos nating kumain and mag-shower is okay with me.” Maya replied, finishing the last of her omelette and bread.

“Good.” Richard replied. “Ako na lang ang magda-drive para we can spend the whole day ng tayong dalawa lang.” He added with a big smile. Maya smiled back, liking the idea. She always look forward to her and Richard’s time like that.

Richard and Maya chatted some more while finishing their cups of coffee. Several minutes after, and despite Maya’s insistence that she will do it, Richard took the tray back to the kitchen. He just told Maya to get ready.

More than an hour later, with Maya wearing another of her maxi skirts and a baby tee, and Richard in jeans and polo shirt, they were on their way to the church. They arrived at the beautiful centuries old church in the time for the mass. Richard and Maya, both asked God to bless their relationship. They also thanked Him for making them meet again and giving them a chance to  finally love each other. Each of them vowed that they will love the other forever.

Maya and Richard also found themselves gazing each other with all the love they are feeling during the priest’s homily, as being the last Sunday before the Ne Year, he spoke of new beginnings, a better and brighter future for the coming year, of looking forward to 2015 with optimism and spending time with the people you love all the time as life is short and uncertain, and because time flies fast.

They left the church holding hands. They decided to leave the car at the church grounds and then just walked to the nearby memorial park where Conchita Dela Paz was buried. Maya and Richard bought flowers and candles at the shop they saw near the church.

“Mamang, kumusta na po. I still miss you very much.” Maya said softly as she arranged the flowers at the base of Mamang’s grave. “Pasensya ka na kung ngayon na lang ulit kita nadalaw. Bayaan mo mas madalas na ngayon since I’m back in the Philippines for good.”

Richard handed Maya the lighted candles which she also placed at the base of the grave. “Mamang, kasama mo nga po pala si Ricky. Boyfriend ko po. My one and only love.” Maya whispered softly, but Richard still heard. He smiled.

“Mamang, sumama nga po ako kay Maya rito para madalaw ko rin kayo. Kahit po hindi na tayo pinalad na magkita, parang kilala ko na rin kayo sa mga kwento sa akin ng apo niyo.” Richard said, interlacing his fingers with Maya. “Huwag po kayong mag-aalala, I will take good care of Maya as long as I live. I will make her happy always.” He vowed.

Maya felt so happy and so lucky hearing Richard promising this on her grandmother’s grave. She gazed at him with so much love. “Mamang, I’m the luckiest girl, with Ricky as my boyfriend. I’m sure kung makikilala mo siya, you will like him a lot also. For sure Mamang, botong-boto ka sa kanya.”

Richard smiled happily as Maya said those words to her grandmother. He caressed her hand as if to express his thanks and love for her.

Richard and Maya stayed at Mamang grave for an hour, regaling her of their story, as if she was alive and in front of them listening to their chatter.

“Mamang, dadalaw na lang ulit kami ni Ricky ha.” Maya said, touching her grandmother’s tomb as if she needed the contact as she said goodbye.

“Oo nga po, Mamang. Pangako po namin ni Maya, iyan.” Richard added. “Sweetheart, can you give me a moment with Mamang, please.” Richard asked Maya all of a sudden.

Maya was surprised at Richard’s request, but decided to do the asking later. She said goodbye to her grandmother, then waited outside the mausoleum for Richard.

Richard stayed inside for several minutes, then like Maya touched Mamang’s tomb to say goodbye.

“So, ano naman ang sinabi mo kay Mamang na hindi ko pwedeng marinig?” Maya asked as they were walking towards the gate of the memorial park.

Richard just smiled at Maya. “ It’s between me and Mamang muna, Sweetheart.”

“Ricky Lim, ang daya mo ha. May secret ka na ngayon.” Maya said smiling.

“Sweetheart, ito lang, promise, you will know in due time.” Richard appealed to his girlfriend.

“O sige na nga. I’m sure malalaman ko rin iyan.” Maya said confidently.

“Yes you will, Sweetheart. Yes you will.” Richard said enigmatically, looking forward to that moment.

Richard interlaced his fingers with Maya, then raised her hand to his lips and kissed it lovingly. Soon, my love, he vowed silently.

“I love you Maya!”

“I love you, Ricky!”

Richard and Maya shared another loving look as they exited the memorial park. And from somewhere above, an old lady smiled.

 

Note:  The super beautiful song ‘Love Has Come of Age’ is from the concept album of the musical Jekyll and Hyde! The song is sobrang nakaka-in love!  If you want to listen to the complete song, the link is in my Playlist! ❤ ❤ ❤

 

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Windblown – Chapter 12

Full Circle

Richard guided Maya to the stairway that goes to the rooftop of the Lim Corporation building where a helicopter awaited them. It was the morning they will fly to Mindoro. Richard had picked up Maya from her place early for the trip as the pilots had to return to Manila promptly for Don Roberto and his friends who will go to a resort in Batangas afterwards.

“Ready, Maya?” Richard asked Maya solicitously, as they made it to the helipad.

“Sure, Ricky! I’m okay. Nandiyan ka naman eh.” Maya replied, smiling at Richard. “Di ba sabi mo, you will even hold the barf bag for me.”

“Of course. Ilan ba ang dala mo?” Richard bantered back, smiling at the lady who makes his heart very happy these days.

“Hmmm, teka, I will check. Sampu yata!” Maya quipped.

“Ha, ten?” Richard exclaimed. “Ganoon ka motion sick?”

“Biro lang, Ricky. Yes, I’m scared of heights, pero mostly when I’m inside glass elevators lang. Sa airplane naman hindi. I will just pretend that we will be riding a plane instead of a chopper.” Maya said as they neared the waiting chopper.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be here to hold your hand.” Richard said.

“Thank you, Ricky.” Maya smiled back.

They were gazing at each other when a voice interrupted them. They forgot where they were again!

“Good morning, Mr. Lim! Richard, ready to fly?” The guy greeted Richard.

Maya turned to look at the face behind the voice and saw who it is.

“Maya Dela Rosa!…..”

“James Ventura!…..”

Maya and James both exclaimed, then went to hug each other, surprised at seeing the other, there of all places.

“Magkakilala kayo?” Richard asked, surprised too. Though, come to think of it, they were both from Mindoro and almost the same age. He can’t remember what part of Mindoro their company pilot hailed from, though. He vaguely remembered his mother telling him that he came from a political family in Mindoro.

“Ricky, hindi mo ba naalala si James?” Maya said happily. “Siya kaya iyong host ng beauty pageant na sinalihan ko at kung saan ka nag-judge! Classmate ko siya noong high school also. James, si Richard iyong Chairman ng Board of Judges. Nag-proxy siya for his mother.”

“May nakalimutan ka, Maya Dela Rosa, dating manliligaw din ako!” James said, teasing. Then looked at Richard. “So ikaw pala iyon, Richard. I didn’t make the connection. Hindi ko na masyadong maalala ang night na iyon. I just proxied too, for my brother who was the original host, kasi he had a modelling assignment in Boracay at that time na biglaan. But good to see you, Maya! When was the last time we saw each other, sa burol ng Mamang mo?”

“Yes, iyon yata. Then I went to Manila na with Tita Lulu and you went to Singapore to continue your studies, sabi nung sister mo nang minsang magkita kami sa Makati several months after I moved to Manila.” Maya replied. “Ikaw pala ang pilot na sinasabi ni Ricky na from Mindoro at sabi niya huwag daw akong mag-worry sa pagsakay dahil magaling ang piloto namin.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Richard.” James said, smiling. “I promise I’ll fly you safely to Mindoro, Maya. Kailan ka pa huling nauwi sa atin? Parang hindi na kita nakita doon in recent years. Sarado rin iyong ancestral house niyo doon.”

“Naku, James, medyo matagal na rin. I worked in Macau, kauuwi ko lang sa Pilipinas.” Maya replied. “But I’m here for good na! I will be working for Richard’s company in January.”

“So, that’s why! Kahit iyong iba nating classmates, walang balita sa iyo. Hindi ka rin daw nila mahanap sa FB.” James said. “So, you will be with Emerald? Great! We will see more of each other then.”

“I never gotten around to creating an account kasi. Ayaw ko rin masyado iyang social media.” Maya said. “Kumusta na ang mga classmate natin?”

Maya and James chatted on about their high school friends.

Richard looked at Maya and James and he felt a tinge of jealousy at the ease in which they were chatting. They shared a history, longer than what he had shared with Maya so far. Tapos manliligaw pa pala ni Maya si James dati. But he tried not to dwell on it and focus instead on what he and Maya have so far. Also, whatever negative thoughts he was starting to feel was erased with Maya’s gesture.

“Richard, sorry! James and I are just catching up.”  Maya held Ricky’s hand then interlaced their fingers. She also gave Richard a loving smile.

Richard smiled back. “It is okay, Maya. Small world talaga, di ba!  Shall we get going, James? Where is Andy?” Richard asked, referring to James’ co-pilot.

Maya’s gesture didn’t escape James, nor did Richard’s answering one. It was then that he realized that Maya and Richard must be more than future employer and employee. It seems like they are in a relationship!

Richard just mentioned that he would like to go to Mindoro today with a very special friend when he called him up the other day. In the past three years that James have been working for Lim Corporation, this is the first time Richard is flying with someone who, now when he take a closer look, is, indeed, very special to him.

“Sure, Richard! Just give us a couple of minutes. May kinuha lang si Andy sa third floor. He will be along shortly.” James replied, still very curious at the exact nature of Maya and Richard’s relationship.

James courted Maya when they were senior in high school, but like the other boys in the private school they went to, nabasted din siya. He tried asking after her a couple of years ago from one of their high school classmates, whom she was friends with, but all that girl didn’t know where Maya was too. He never gotten around to creating a social media account to look for her. It turned out, it would be futile since she didn’t create one!

“There’s Andy na pala.” James said after a while when he saw his co-pilot, striding across the helipad, carrying a big duffle bag.

“Good morning, Sir Richard! Hello, Ma’am! Sorry to keep you waiting, Hininitay ko pa kasi itong mga supply na pinapasabay ng manager ng Emerald Resort.” Andy explained.

“It’s okay, Andy.” Richard assured the other pilot, then he introduced him to Maya. “Maya, this is Andres Rivera, James’ co-pilot. Andy, this is Maya Dela Rosa.”

“Hello, Andy, nice to meet you.” Maya gave the co-pilot a brilliant smile that won him over instantly.

“Please to meet you din po, Ma’am Maya.” Andy smiled. He likes his boss’ girlfriend instantly. He assumed that she is as he saw how they were holding hands and looking at each other lovingly.

Soon after, Richard assisted Maya into the chopper and they were on their way. Like he had promised, Richard was very solicitous of Maya all throughout the flight, asking her if she is okay and not letting go of her hand, even if Maya assured him that she is okay and it was not as scary as she thought.

Maya loves the attention Richard has been showering her. She felt to happy and felt very lucky to be loved by this wonderful guy. Ever since he had declared his love for her on Christmas Day, everything around her is richer and full of colours. She may have not said I love you back that evening, but she considers Richard her boyfriend already.

Richard and Maya enjoyed the rest of the evening on Christmas Day with the sumptuous picnic that Richard brought with him. They fed each other morsels of food, drank the wine, chatted or at times, shared sweet kisses, and just gazed at each other lovingly. They parted reluctantly late that night promising to see each other the following day.

Richard arrived at Maya’s place with brunch again the following day. Afterwards, he helped her put up her new frame, then they spent the rest of the afternoon watching movies and just hanging out, planning their trip to Mindoro this day. In the evening, they went to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Richard took Maya home early, and didn’t come in as they have to leave early for this trip to Mindoro.

“See that, Maya, we are almost there.” Richard pointed to a helipad they can see from the air after a while.

“Oo nga, Ricky. It’s beautiful from here. The ride is not so scary as I thought. Thank you for making it a wonderful one.” Maya said.

“For you, Maya, anything!” He simply said, giving her a loving smile.

Soon after, they descended into the helipad. Andy opened the door for Richard and Maya. Richard got off first, then assisted Maya down.

“Thank you for the ride, James and Andy.” Richard told the pilots.

“Maraming salamat sa inyo, James and Andy. Sobrang nice naman ng first helicopter ride ko.” Maya added. “James nice to see you again.”

“You’re welcome, Sir Richard, Ms. Maya!” Andy replied.

“Richard, Maya, we will go back for you guys on Tuesday!” James said. “And nice to see you too, Maya. See you around. Maybe, we can have coffee one time and catch up on old times.”

Maya looked at Richard, with that invitation. Then decided to play it safe. “Let’s include our other classmates na nasa Maynila para mas masaya. I want to keep in touch with them too. Matagal ko na rin silang hindi nakikita.”

“Sure, sure, I will go round up the gang.” James replied.

One of the resorts service car picked up Maya and Richard from the helipad. After everything was loaded into the car, they said goodbye to James and Andy. They will just wait until the refuelling is done and they will return to Manila too. They declined Richard’s offer to have some refreshments at the resort.

Several minutes after, the car stopped in front of the reception area of the resort, set in the middle of something akin to a tropical garden and facing the beach.

“Hello, Sir Richard! Good morning Ma’am!” Catherine Gomez, Emerald Resorts Mindoro’s manager greeted Richard and Maya effusively. Richard had called to tell her that he will be coming with his special guest. “How was your trip?”

“Hi Catherine, it was okay!” Richard said. “How’s everything here?”

“Everything is great, Sir Richard. We are fully booked at the moment.” Catherine replied. “Most of our guests are staying until after the New Year.”

“That’t good to know.” Richard said, then smiled at Maya. “Maya, this is Catherine Gomez, our manager here. Catherine, this is Maya Dela Rosa” Richard said, gazing at Maya, still holding hands with her, then added, “She will also be the operations manager of our new hotel in Bonifacio Global City.”

Maya smiled at Catherine. “Hello, Catherine, nice to meet you.”

“Hello, Ms. Maya. Welcome to Emerald here in Mindoro. And welcome to Emerald Resorts and Hotels.” Catherine said. She also noticed how sweet her boss is with the beautiful lady beside him, with matching holding hands pa! May girlfriend na si si Sir Richard! Ay, maraming luluha! She mused. “Sir Richard, as you requested the Lim private bungalow is ready for you and Ms. Maya’s stay.”

“Great, Catherine! Thank you. Can you tell Aldrich to bring us refreshments there. Coffee and juice, okay with you, Maya?” When she nodded, he then took hold of his and Maya’s bags. “Let’s go, Maya. We will be more comfortable in the bungalow.”

“Sir Richard, ipapadala ko na lang din kay Aldrich ang mga bag niyo ni Ms. Maya.” Catherine said.

“No, it’s okay, Catherine. Ako na lang. Magaan lang naman ang mga ito.” Richard said.

“Ricky, I can help. Give me my bags. I can carry those naman.” Maya offered.

“No, Sweetheart, I can do this.” Richard said, the endearment just slipping out naturally. He was also surprised at his slip. In his mind, Maya is his ‘Sweetheart’ already.  Then he took hold of Maya’s hand again while carrying all their bags in the other.

Richard led Maya down the path towards the beach area. But instead of heading to the cluster of villas on the left side, separated from each other by huge ornamental plants and trees, Richard veered towards the left, following a private path, until they arrived at an slightly elevated bungalow, more of a log cabin actually, with a wrapped-around porch and tall glass windows and doors. It is also facing the beach and there is a small path that led to the beach from the front of the house.

“Wow, this is a very beautiful house, Ricky. So, very inviting! One of your designs?” Maya asked, admiring the design of the house, which seemed to blend naturally into the tall trees that surround it.

“Yes, I designed a month after we met at the pageant. But only managed to have this built four years ago. This one is not being let out to guests. This is my private home here, available only to family members who would like to stay here at Emerald. So far, only my parents and I and some cousins have used this.”

Maya and Richard climbed the four steps that led to the porch. Richard unlocked the door and dropped their bags in the living room.

“Home for several days!” Richard said, as he led Maya to the waiting couch, in front of the floor to ceiling window facing the beach and the wonderful view beyond. He opened the glass door and a warm breeze blew in.

“It is a very nice home away from home, Ricky.” Maya replied, looking around, liking the place very much.

“So, it is okay with you that you are staying here with me and not at the villas?” Richard asked. It just occurred to him that he has not actually asked Maya if she is comfortable with this arrangement. In his desire to be with her, he assumed and forgot!

“Of course. The way I look at this house, there are plenty of rooms.” Maya said, then added teasingly, “And I trust you, Ricky, to behave you know.”

Richard grinned and bantered back. “Are you sure, Sweetheart?”

“Yes, ‘Sweetheart’ ,” Maya replied, smiling, imitating Richard, then remarked. “Nakakarami ka na ng ‘Sweetheart’ ah.”

“Bakit, ayaw mo ba? You are my Sweetheart. Alam ko, hindi mo pa ako sinasagot and I’ll wait, but can I continue to call you my Sweetheart while waiting?” Richard cajoled sweetly.

Maya smiled. He is really cute when he does that too. “Okay, Sweetheart.”

They smiled lovingly at each other. The knock at the door interrupted them. Richard opened the door to one of the resorts long time employee.

“Good morning Sir Richard, Ma’am!” Aldrich, holding a tray with coffee and juice and some pastries, greeted Richard and Maya. “Pinadadala po ni Ms. Catherine!”

“Hi Aldrich! Pakilagay na lang sa coffee table.” Richard replied. “How are you and your family? Kumusta na sina Manong Juan and Manang Fely?”

“Mabuti naman po sila, Sir. Since naka-graduate na kaming magkakapatid, medyo relax na sila ng kaunti. Nasa Laguna po sila ngayon kasi kapapanganak lang ng kapatid kong si Melba, dumalaw po sila.” Aldrich replied happily. Before the resort was built, his parents were the caretakers of the land.

“That’s good to know. Please tell Melba, congratulations and hello to Manong and Manang.” Richard said. “Maya, Sweetheart, itong mga magulang ni Aldrich ang caretaker namin dito, dati! Tinitingnan-tingnan nila iyong lugar habang wala pang nakatayo.”

“Ganoon ba? Hello Aldrich.” Maya said with a friendly smile.

“Hello po, Ma’am Maya. Welcome to Emerald and Mindoro!” Aldrich said to the lady who is obviously the love of his Sir Richard’s life by the way he was looking at her.

“Thank you. I’m actually from here. Diyan sa San Nicolas.” Maya said. “Pupunta rin nga kami roon ni Ricky.”

“Talaga po?” Aldrich replied. “Mabuti naman po at makakadalaw kayo ulit sa inyo. Sige po, Sir Richard, Ma’am Maya. Enjoy your snacks po. Let me know po kung may kailangan pa kayo.”

Richard and Maya thanked Aldrich. Richard then settled back beside Maya. Maya started serving Richard food and then made his coffee too. They chatted while eating.

“If I live here, I don’t want to leave.” Maya remarked after a while, looking at the deepest blue sea beyond the porch and the white sand shimmering under the intense mid-morning sun.

“I like this place a lot too. Of all the developments I did, this has a special place in my heart. Maybe it was because it was my first project or maybe because I was remembering our meeting when I was building this.” Richard said.

“Oh, Ricky! You say the most wonderful things. Thank you.” Maya replied, smiling lovingly at Richard.

“True naman iyon, Sweetheart.” Richard replied, then smiling, said, “Dito ko yata naibuhos ang unrealized meeting natin. I distracted myself, hoping that one day we will see each other again.”

Maya smiled at that. “And now here we are again in Mindoro, where we started.” Maya said enigmatically, her heart beating fast with what she would do next.

“Yes, that is true and I’m happy that you are here with me. I never thought it would happen pa.” Richard said softly, gazing at Maya with all the love he was feeling. Richard was about to sip his coffee when Maya’s next words stopped him. He almost dropped his cup.

“I love you too, you know, very, very much.” Maya said simply, putting her hand on top of Richard’s, then looking at him with all the love she is feeling for this wonderful, wonderful guy. They are indeed so lucky to find each other again. She does not want to waste their precious moments.

“M-maya, does it means?….” Richard gulped and managed to ask.

“Yes, tayo na po!” Maya said with a smile that lit up her whole face.

“YES!!!!” Richard grinned, then went to Maya, pulled her up gently, then touched her  face, lovingly, said softly. “I love you very much, Maya.”

“I love you, very, very, very much too, Ricky.” Maya answered lovingly, caressing Richard’s face too.

Maya and Richard grinned goofily at each other, sharing a heated loving look. Richard then lowered his lips to Maya’s and gave her a kiss that left her breathless. It was followed by another kiss, and another. The coffee was already cold when they broke apart, finally, so full of love for each other. Both of them are excited to see where love would lead them next.

 

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Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Happy Chinese New Year!

I will post updates as soon as I can. I’m still indisposed at the moment!

Enjoy the rest of the day!

❤ ❤ ❤

A

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Unexpected Love – Chapter 10

Chapter 10

Ethan returned to the place where he parked the motorcycle when he can’t see Pippa’s ferry anymore from where he stood by the harbor. He felt at a lost on what to do next. Before Pippa came into his life, he had established a routine for himself in Puerto Galera. Now, he can’t think of any of those. Finishing what he was reading does not appeal to him, nor does developing new game programs. He was mulling his options when he heard someone called him.

“Ethan! Hello! What brings you to town so early?” Tristan asked from his left. He was carrying a brown paper bag from the local bakery.

“Hi Tristan! I took Pippa here. How are your patients? I hope they are all doing well and on the way to recovery! How’s the driver of the jeepney?” Ethan replied, sitting on the motorcycle seat leisurely to chat with the doctor.

“They are all doing okay. Nakalabas na ang karamihan nang nadala sa clinic. The driver will need to stay in the clinic, though, for several days pa since his injuries are more serious than the others, but he is out of harm’s way.” Tristan replied. “So, where’s Pippa? I would like to say hello and tell her I can probably make it back to the house this evening.”

“Oh, I thought she managed to send you an SMS before she left! Pippa went back to Manila unexpectedly. She needed to start the new program she will be producing. Her ferry just left.” Ethan explained. He was surprised that Pippa forgot to send a message to Tristan that she will go back to Manila that day!

“She returned to Manila already! Sayang naman, we didn’t really get to chat and touch base.” Tristan said, looking crestfallen. “Hindi kasi kami makaalis ni Josh yesterday! Anyway, if I’m free later, I will just say hello to Tita Marianne.”

“She will like it. For sure, she is a bit sad at the moment since Pippa just left. She was looking forward to have some bonding time with Pippa.” Ethan replied.

“Sige, I will do that. Babalik ka na ba sa bahay nila?” Tristan asked.

“Well, when you called me, I was thinking of what I would like to do next. I got used to hanging out with Pippa in such a short time, and now that she is gone, I’m at a loose end.” Ethan admitted.

“You and Pippa have really gotten close in such a short time, huh?” Tristan said, finding an opening to check if his reading of the situation is correct. “She is normally a bit reserve with people she just met.”

“She is a very nice person and I like her a lot.” Ethan replied. He knew what direction Tristan is taking. He was fishing for information on his and Pippa’s relationship. He saw him looking at them and wondering. Well, who can’t blame him, He saw them on the bed together, no matter how innocent it was.

“I enjoyed her company very much. She is beautiful inside out, sweet, level-headed, intelligent, and nurturing.” Ethan added, not realizing that to the other man, he looks like a man in love, or on the way there, when he said those things about Pippa.

“Wow, you have read Pippa like that when you have only known her for several days!” Tristan remarked, surprised at Ethan’s insight into Pippa. He now, is able to confirm that Ethan has developed feelings for Pippa.

“I feel like I have known her a long time. I guess, sometimes, really knowing someone does not really depends on how long you know a person, but rather on how you really connected and learned about each other’s innermost thoughts. That you just found yourself opening to that person. That kind of thing!” Ethan said, then turned serious, “I’ll be direct with you Tristan, as I know you are one of the friends she values, I like her a lot and I would like to get to know her more, and spend more time with her. Where it would lead us, I don’t know yet. But I would like to assure you that I will not hurt her, in any way.”

“Ethan, I have known Pippa most of her life. It was only the last couple of years that we haven’t been regularly in touch. In all the years I have known her, even as friends, we have never stayed in a room like you and she did. She must have like you a lot too and cared for you for her to do that.” Tristan told the other man. “And I will hold to that promise that you will not hurt her. In the end, everything is up to Pippa rin.”

“Really!” Ethan felt his heart skipped a beat at that revelation He also thought that it was something Pippa had not done before. He felt very happy. “I know you like her a lot too, Tristan. I saw you looking at her.”

“Well, yes, but she has not treated me like she had been treating you. She actually treats me like a friend or an older brother!” Tristan remarked. “But, I heard from Tita Marianne that she has a boyfriend in Manila.”

“Oh that, maybe you should ask Pippa about it.” Ethan simply said. “Maybe, you should give her a call. May I also offer a piece of unsolicited advice?” Ethan asked before he can’t stop himself. He is normally a reserve and let live person but ever since he started living in Mindoro, he started to loosen up, especially after meeting Pippa.

“Sure, but maybe, we should go inside that restaurant and have coffee and some food. I haven’t had breakfast.” Tristan suggested. “How about you?”

“I had breakfast with Pippa earlier as her ferry was delayed. But I could use another cup of coffee. Too early for a beer!” Ethan  said smiling. “Besides, by the time we are finished, I would know what I would like to do next.”

Ethan and Tristan entered the restaurant and not a few ladies looked at the striking figures they created. Both of them tall and both are handsome in their own distinct way. Tristan has this boy next door look that had some of the ladies in the restaurant wanting to cook a hot dinner for him and take care of him. Ethan on the other hand, had that adventurous look on him that had the ladies longing to just ride a motorcycle somewhere with him, no questions asked!

Tristan ordered the same breakfast Pippa had, while Ethan just ordered a cup of brewed coffee.

“So, what was it you were supposed to advise me, Ethan?” Tristan asked while they were waiting for their orders.

“Oh, well, never mind that. Maybe, that was presumptuous of me. We haven’t really know each other that well for me to say something personal to you.” Ethan said.

“No, no, please continue. If Pippa likes you, then you should be okay. She is a pretty good judge of character.” Tristan assured Ethan.

Ethan likes the fact that Tristan said that Pippa likes him. “Well yes, I’m not a love guru or anything, the opposite in fact. But maybe, you should really think why you haven’t courted Pippa until now, despite the fact that you like her and the opportunities. I gathered that you haven’t right? Is it because you consider her to be a friend or is it because, she is just that – a friend and not really someone you like in a romantic way?”

Tristan just looked at Ethan after he said that. The food arrived, breaking into the sudden silence between them.

“See, I told you old chap, I maybe meddling into something very personal. My apologies! My only excuse is I like Pippa a lot, and you are a very dear friend to her.” Ethan said, not mentioning that he also know someone else who loves Tristan very much. Or he thought so! He was also wondering what came over him, doing that. That is really so unlike him! Maybe, he wants to play cupid between him and Belle whom he likes a lot too. She reminds him of his sister Ally.

“No, no, it’s okay.” Tristan said, assuring Ethan. Chewing his food thoughtfully, he said, “That’s something to think about. Thank you. So, when do you see Pippa next?” He decided to do probing of his own.

“Maybe in a couple of days! I’m heading to Manila soon to see a Belgian guy I became friends with. He stayed at The Cove too the first week I was here. We started talking some software development job I could take.” Ethan replied while sipping his coffee.

“Oh, you are thinking of staying here for good?” Tristan asked surprised.

“Well, I have been thinking more and more about it lately. I like it here, than England.” Ethan said. “My Mum’s family is from Davao. I still have some uncles and aunts and cousins there. I have seen them several times pa lang and I was too young to remember our visits there. But if I will stay here for good, I would like to have Puerto Galera as my base. I don’t mind living in Manila from time to time too.”

Tristan thought about what Ethan said. Then asked directly too, “Is Pippa a factor in that plan of yours?”

Now, it was Ethan’s time to look out thoughtfully, and processed what Tristan said. Then quietly, he said, after a while, “Yes”.

Tristan nodded, now knowing exactly where the lay of the land is. It seems like there was really a lot he had missed the past several days! Judging by the way Pippa is acting, even forgetting to text him that she is leaving Mindoro, Ethan’s feelings is not one sided.

They left the restaurant an hour later. After the silent understanding between them, their conversation shifted to the local happenings.

“O paano, Ethan, I will go back to the clinic na. Baka gusto mo munang dumaan and say hello to Josh.” Tristan said. “Iyon nga lang, mawawala na naman sa concentration ang mga nurse namin. It happens, every time you dropped by with Tita Marianne.”

Ethan just smiled. The nurses teased him a lot every time he passed by the clinic and pretended to fight over him. “Say hello to Susan and Marita and to Josh too. Now I know what I want to do, try to find a mobile phone.”

“You don’t have one?” Tristan asked.

“You are just like Pippa when I told her I don’t have one. I lost it in Thailand. I didn’t see any point in getting one until now.” Ethan said.

He may not say it, but Tristan know that Ethan’s decision to get one has something to do with Pippa again. “Well, I think you can get one here if you only need a basic one. But for a smart phone I think you may have to go to Batangas or Calapan for that.” Tristan said.

“Oh, I don’t need anything fancy. Just something I can use to call and send SMS. One of those phones where you don’t need a subscription plan.” Ethan said.

“Then, you might be able to find it in that store by the corner, near the church.” Tristan said.

“Okay, thank you.” Ethan said. “I’ll see you later if you make it to the house. Should I mention it to Tita Marianne?

“No, there’s no need for that. I will just give her a call.” Tristan replied. “See you.” He waved at Ethan, at the same time, mulling at what he said to him earlier.

Ethan found the shop and managed to find himself a nice phone, surprisingly. He both a SIM card and enough load cards for it. He is planning to call Pippa as soon as he gets her number from Tita Marianne.

More than 30 minutes later, he was back at Pippa’s house. He parked the motorcycle at its usual spot. He also noticed that Marianne’s car is back in the garage. So Manong Ben is back, he mused. He opened the front door with the key Marianne insisted that he has. The house looked empty. It’s very quiet. He turned towards the veranda and suddenly, he remembered the first time he saw Pippa standing there. He was staring at the garden when Marianne called him from the direction of the kitchen.

“Ethan, hijo, nakabalik ka na pala! Medyo natagalan ka yata.” Marianne said by way of a greeting.

“Hello Tita Marianne, na-delay po kasi iyong ferry ni Pippa. I waited with her na lang. Nag-breakfast na lang kami sa restaurant sa may harbor until the time she boarded. Then I saw Tristan in town. He said he will give you a call. I bought some things I needed also. By the way, these are for you and Manang Doray.” Ethan a bag to Marianne!

“Thank you for these Ethan.” Marianne saw ripe mangoes, grapes and avocado inside the bag and some pastries and pies. “Naku, favorite pa naman ni Manang Doray mo itong egg pie na binili mo. I’ll expect Tristan’s call then. Baka mamaya pa iyon tumawag.”

“No worries po, I’m happy to.” Ethan said with a smile. “Errr, Tita Marianne, I bought a mobile phone. May I have Pippa’s number? She told me to get it from you when I manage to get one.”

“You did?” Marianne asked surprised. In all the time he had been living there, he was disinterested in getting a new phone, now suddenly all of a sudden, he bought one. Hmmm, parang alam na niya kung bakit at kung sino ang nakapagpabili kay Ethan ng bagong phone!

“Yes. I realized I need one.” Ethan simply replied.

“Okay, here it is.” Marianne said giving Ethan her phone so he can copy Pippa’s number. Hindi siya masyadong tech savvy and does not know how to send it via that bluetooth!

“Got it Tita Marianne, many thanks.” Ethan said. “I’ll go to the cottage now. Later, may stay in the veranda? I need to send e-mails.”

“Sure, sabi ko naman sa iyo, hindi mo na kailangang magpaalam. Just come and go.” Marianne said.

“Thank you, Tita Marianne!” Ethan said.

While the WiFi signal from the router in the house reaches the cottage, it is not very strong so Ethan usually stays in the veranda to send e-mails and check something online. He went back to the cottage, humming. He was not so blue anymore.

When Ethan reached the cottage, he called the number Tita Marianne gave him.

“Hello…? Pippa said tentatively from the other line when she picked up. She thought the call might be work connected as the number is unknown.

“Hello Pip! Its Ethan! I got myself a new mobile this morning!” Ethan said grinning as he settled into the couch.

“Ethan! That was fast! Great! Nasaan ka na ngayon?” Pippa said happily.

“I’m back at the cottage. I saw Tristan pala in town.” Ethan said. “Where are you now?”

“Oh my, I forgot to text Tristan or call him before I left!” Pippa just realized. “I’ll just call him when I get home. I’m at the Batangas Port na, waiting for the bus to leave, which is about now.”

“Okay, I will just call again later, let me know when you are already home.” Ethan said as he can hear a lot of noise in the background. “Take care.”

“Okay, I will send you a text message as soon as I am home.” Pippa said. “Ethan, I’m glad you got yourself a phone.” She added, smiling and happy since she can keep constant communication with Ethan.

“Me too, Pippa! Me, too!” Ethan said happily. “I’ll wait for your SMS, okay. Good bye for now!”

“Until later!” Pippa replied, then clutched her phone to her chest with a dreamy smile after she and Ethan ended the call.

Ethan lingered on the couch, put his feet up, and stared at the ceiling with a goofy smile on his face. Soon, he will see Pippa. He is planning to go Manila by Friday, three long days, but still, he will see her soon, unlike if he waits lang in Puerto Galera for her possible return.

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