Richard arrived at the Francisco residence less than an hour after he left his parents’ house in La Vista Village in Quezon City. He parked his car beside Jeff’s Honda then took a deep breath and rang the bell. Maya opened the gate several minutes after. Richard gave her a heart melting smile, very happy to see her again.
“Ricky, I’m glad you are back na. You are just time for coffee and dessert!” Maya greeted Richard with a big smile too. In such a short time, she realized she had missed his company and had been watching the clock since he texted, the minutes seemed longer before he arrived! That is why when the door bell rang, she jumped a bit, earning her a teasing look from her cousin Cris.
“Hi Maya!” Richard said, then gave Maya another peck on the cheek, making Maya self-conscious. Wow, bakit iba ang pakiramdam ng simpleng social kiss pagdating sa kanya. Maya mused.
“Sure, it is okay that I join you and your family? Kasi di ba, family celebration ito for you?” Richard broke into Maya’s thoughts and kilig. “I can just wait for you outside. No worries.”
“Of course, Ricky. Ano ka ba! Don’t worry. Besides, they want to meet you to thank you for helping Cho.” Maya assured Richard. “Besides, they want to meet a friend of mine.”
“Okay, then, let’s go.” Richard said, smiling. “I’m also looking forward to meeting the rest of your family.”
They walked towards the main house, then from the living room, crossed to the dining room, with Richard’s hand on Maya’s back, until they reached the back veranda where everyone is. Before Maya can introduce Richard, Cho ran to them.
“Tito Richard, Tito Richard!” The boy then gave Richard a big hug.
“Cho, buddy! Kumusta ka na? Mabuti naabutan pa kitang gising.” Richard said, smiling fondly at the little boy, at the same time ruffling his hair. Then he looked at Maya’s family. “Good evening po sa inyo.”
“Okay naman po ako Tito Richard. Malapit na po akong maging Kuya! Talaga pong hinintay ko kayong dumating bago ako matulog, di ba Daddy and Mommy?” Cho then looked at the pregnant woman with short hair beside Jeff.
Cristina Rose stood up with Jeff’s help. “Hi I’m Cris, nanay niyang si Cho and cousin ni Maya. Maraming salamat for helping our little boy last Sunday.” Cris told the handsome chinito guy before her. Now she understand why her cousin got torete yesterday when they were chatting on the phone.
“I’m please to meet you Cris!” Richard said, giving Cris a big smile. Hmmm, ka-guwapo naman pala talaga nitong special friend ni little cousin, lalo na kapag nag-smile, she thought to herself, and mukhang ang bait-bait. Kung na-meet niya si Richard habang naglilihi siya, baka napaglihian niya!
“Ricky, let me introduce you to the rest of the family.” Maya said, guiding Richard by the arm into the other side of the veranda. “Tita Lulu, Tito Mario, Lino and Lindsay, my friend Richard Lim! Ricky, my aunt and uncle, Lourdes and Mario Francisco na like I have told you, para ko na ring mga magulang. Ito naman si Lino eh parang kapatid ko nang bunso, and ang wife niya na si Lindsay. Then you know Jeff na naman and hayan nag-self introduce na si Ate Cris na my ate in every sense of the word!”
“Good evening po ulit, Mr. and Mrs. Francisco. Lino and Lindsay, Cris and Jeff. I’m pleased to meet Maya’s family. “ Richard said smiling at everyone. “Thank you for inviting me in. Sabi ko nga po kay Maya baka I’m intruding na on a family get together.”
“Naku hijo, dapat nga dito ka na nag-dinner!” Lulu said. “Please have a seat. Thank you very much for helping Cho! Gusto ka rin naming ma-meet para mapasalamatan in person.”
“Naku, I’m glad to have helped Cho po. Saka because of him nagkita kami ulit ni Maya after seven long years.” Richard said. “Nabanggit niya po ba na ako iyong isa sa judge sa sinalihan niyang beauty pageant sa Mindoro?”
“Really! Maya said nga na nagkakilala kayo years ago. She never gotten around to mentioning that” Lulu said, curious as Maya only managed to mention earlier that she met Richard from way back. Lulu handed Richard a serving of buco pandan. Then said, “Di ba iyon, Maya iyong pageant before namatay si Mamang. You really made her very happy that evening, when you won.”
“Thank you very much po Mrs. Francisco.” Richard said, getting the dessert from Lulu.”Yes, that is where we met po, I was one my Mama’s proxy since she got sick that night.”
“Naku, please call me Tita Lulu and Mario, Tito Mario since you are a friend of Maya.” Lulu told Richard, liking Maya’s young man instantly. This is actually the first time her niece introduced a guy to them. Hmmm, parang magkaka-boyfriend na ang pamangkin ko ah. Then she decided to test a bit if her intuition is right on. “You are the first male friend pati Maya introduced to us.” She remarked offhand.
Richard grinned, liking Lulu’s revelation. While Maya on the other hand, turned crimson, which Lulu saw. Hmmm, I’m correct!
“Okay po, Tita Lulu.” Richard smiled at Maya’s aunt, liking her instantly. He had an inkling that Maya’s aunt was, sort of, fishing. She probably sensed something and he is happy to rise to her bait.
“Ricky, coffee?” Maya asked, then poured Richard a cup, then put two teaspoons of brown sugar, trying to regain her composure and hoping that she is not as red as she feels at the moment, getting self-conscious.
“Thanks a lot, Maya.” Richard gave Maya another of his bone-melting smiles. They shared a look, gazing at each other until Lulu broke into it before they completely cross over into their own private world.
“Im glad naman that you and Maya saw each other after all these years.” Lulu remarked. “Nakakatuwa naman.”
“I’m so happy nga po to have finally see her again last Sunday.” Richard replied, leaving out the missed connections between Maya and him through the years. He is leaving it to Maya to tell it to her family. Baka she gets very conscious na, lalo na at feeling niya, Lulu knows that something more than friendship is brewing between him and her niece.
Maya and Richard had a wonderful after dinner time with the Franciscos. Tito Mario and Lino asked Richard about building resorts and which one would he considers the best place he had built on. Richard told him it was Palawan and also Mindoro. Lino is an Electronics and Communications Engineer so the conversation also shifted from resorts to technology. Lindsay just listened on while the two chatted or sometimes, she, Maya, Cris and Tita Lulu talked about other stuffs on the side. Jeff also joined the conversation while holding a sleeping Cho in his arms. Like Lino, he is an ECE.
“Jeff, mabuti yata dalhin na natin si Cho sa guest room.” Cris suggested after a while.
Maya looked at the time then. “Naku, almost midnight na pala! Baka bedtime mo na rin Ate Cris and ni baby girl pamangkin. Dito pala kayo matutulog.”
“Yes, we decided to stay the night na kasi wala namang pasok na si Cho. In fact, speaking of, dito na kami hanggang Christmas!” Cris said as she stood up. “O paano, I think Jeff and I will say good night na and put our little boy to sleep.”
“Okay, Ate Cris. Richard and I will get going na rin.” Maya said. “Good night.” Then she went on to hug her cousin.
“You still owe me kwento, little sis.” Cris whispered to Maya when they hugged each other. “In fairness, I like your boyfriend-to-be!” Cris teased her cousin.
“Ikaw Ate Cris, ha.” Maya smiling.
Cris smiled, then looked at Richard, whom she caught looking at Maya with something akin to love in his eyes. “Richard nice meeting you! Thanks again and good night.”
Richard smiled at Maya’s cousin and the same time, got curious what the cousins have whispered about that cause Maya’s face to turn red. Hmmm, something to find out later. “Good night Cris, Jeff.”
Maya and Richard also said goodbye then to her aunt, uncle and Lino and Lindsay who will go home to their house beside the Franciscos. Tita Lulu told Richard to come to dinner next time. She also said Richard can come with Maya to their Christmas dinner if he is free. Richard thanked the gracious, old lady and told her, he would have taken her up in if he does not have a dinner too with his parents. Richard thanked Maya’s whole family for inviting him as well.
Maya hugged her family, so happy that evening and thanked them again for the wonderful treat for her. Soon after they were on their way home too.
“I like your family, Maya. You are lucky to have such a big one!” Richard said as he navigated the late evening traffic on the way back to BGC. “Kami, tatlo lang nina Mama and Papa. I have cousins pero nasa abroad most of them.”
“Yes, I feel so blessed that I have them.” Maya replied, sighing contently against the seat. “Mom and Dad must have been watching over me from above, giving me a wonderful family pa rin kahit wala na sila.”
“Saan pala sila nakalibing?” Richard asked.
“Sa Himlayang Pilipino sa may Tandang Sora. We used to live in Quezon City. Noong namatay sila, of course, Mamang brought me home to Mindoro.” Maya said. “I’m planning to visit their graves sa Friday. Mamang saved all our family photos para raw hindi ko sila makalimutan since they died when I was very young.”
“You really had the best grandmother, Maya.” Richard said. His heart really goes out to Maya for the lost she had experienced while so young. Mabuti she has the best family to support and they love her very much. He saw that this evening.
“I do. I’m so very grateful for that.” Maya said, then noticed that they are almost at her place. “Ricky, thank you again for today. Sa lahat-lahat!” Maya said when they stopped in front of her building. “Sobrang wonderful ng araw na ito for me, I mean ng Sunday ko pala. I think Monday na dahil past midnight.”
“I also had a wonderful time because of you, Maya. The best Sunday for me also.” Richard said, smiling at Maya. “Come, I will take you up to your unit.”
“Naku, huwag na at gabi na. May pasok ka pa mamaya. Safe na naman ako rito. Hayun, nandoon naman si Manong Guard.” Maya said.
“Maya, I’ll feel better, knowing that I delivered you right at your door, please.” Richard insisted. “Wait ka lang and I will park the car by the side.”
“Okay, if you insists!” Maya smiled at Richard. No use arguing with him on this. She actually likes the fact that Richard is the epitome of a gentleman. She also likes the attention he is showering her, a lot. Laglag na yata ang puso niya, kung hindi pa. She sighed happily.
Several minutes after, the two of them are at the elevator going to Maya’s floor.
“Wala naman akong pasok tomorrow, Maya.” Richard said while they were walking towards her unit. “Last Friday na iyong last day of work ko sa Emerald before Christmas.”
“So, what are your plans for tomorrow?” Maya asked, an idea percolating in her brain.
“Just stay at home, I think. Sleep, wake up late, relax or work from home, do some plans for a new resort or something.” Richard said. “Just very loose. Why? Do you want to go somewhere? I can take you.”
“Oh, thank you, Ricky. I do need to buy a car. But I don’t think it is a good idea to do that before Christmas.” Maya took a deep breath and said, “Errrr, I’m thinking of, maybe I can ask you to have dinner here tomorrow night. Pambawi ko sa iyo?” She finished, looking at Richard, blushing a bit as it is the first time, she invited a guy like that. Normally, they do the asking and she just met her occasional dates in restaurants.
Richard smiled. He is very happy with her invitation. He wants to see her tomorrow too. But felt that maybe, Maya wants some space since maghapon na silang magkasama ng Sunday and most of the evening before that. Ayaw naman niyang i-crowd si Maya ng presence niya.
“I would like that.” Richard said, then added softly, “very much!”
“Really, you will have dinner here tomorrow!” Maya is happy to know also. By that time, they have arrived at her front door. “Great! I’ll see you around 6PM. Or if you want to, come earlier than that. I’ll just be at home too.”
“Okay!” Richard said, grinning. “I’m looking forward to our dinner tomorrow. Good night Maya! Thank you again for a very wonderful day.”
“Thank you too, Ricky for a very great day and for being a sport with my family.” Maya said. “Good night!”
Maya and Richard, it seems, both reluctant to part for the night, gazed at each other, hearts beating faster and just felt very happy. Before he can stop himself, Richard lowered his lips to Maya’s. Maya knew what was coming. She saw it on Richard’s gaze and intent. Helpless to fight the emotions she was feeling at the moment, she angled her mouth to received Richard’s kiss. They shared a quick, gentle exploratory kiss, then slowly parted, wonder in their eyes!
“Good night, Maya. Sweet dreams!” Richard said, gazing at Maya intently.
Maya felt like she was woken again from a wonderful dream.”Good night Ricky.” She replied so very softly, still recovering from the effect of the kiss she shared with Richard.
Richard waited until Maya was inside before leaving. Maya fumbled with the key, and Richard helped her, putting his hand over hers. Then with a bone-melting smile, he said good night to her, again.
“OMG, paano kaya ako makakatulog nito! Para akong lumulutang!” Maya said to herself after she has closed the door and with weak knees collapsed on the sofa, touching the lips that Richard has kissed.
Richard felt like he was on top of the world. He stopped in front of the elevator with a goofy grin, forgetting to press the elevator button going down, realizing it only when the numbers changed and it passed by the floor he was in. This feeling of overwhelming joy is enveloping him. The kiss he and Maya shared still very much in his senses.
Both Maya and Richard had a hard time sleeping that night. Both of them remembered their wonderful day and how it ended, and too excited to see and experience where the blossoming feelings between them will take them next.
Note: As requested! Happy Saturday everyone! 🙂