Maya hummed with the music she selected from her iTunes album while cleaning and tidying up her place the following day. She woke up late, but greeted Monday with a big smile and a very happy disposition. She had an egg salad sandwich and instant coffee for breakfast. Soon after, she started doing her household chores. She likes having music in the background when she is doing chores, cooking and also while driving. It makes her feel better, not that she needed that this morning with the overdose of kilig she got from Richard the day before.
Be still my heart/Lately its mind is on its own/
It would go far and wide/Just to be near you
Even the stars/Shine a bit bright I’ve noticed/
When you’ re close to me
Still it remains a mystery…
Maya had a big, goofy smile on her face as she cleaned shelves, rearranged the living room furniture, and hung two frames – a print of Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers and a poster of a ballerina in motion she found in one of her trips to Holland for a training.
Anyone who’s seen us/Knows what’s going on between us/
It doesn’t take a genius/To read between the lines…
The song says exactly what she feels at that moment. She was remembering the kiss she and Richard unexpectedly shared the night before. She does not know what it really meant, but she does not regret it. It fact, it made her very happy and felt very giddy.
And it’s not just wishful thinking/Or only me who’s dreaming/
I know what these are symptoms of/
We could be in love….
“‘We could be in love, we could be’….” Maya continued singing happily, at the top of her voice as she put in the shelf the books from the last box parked at her living room.
“Now that’s done, the supermarket next!” She told herself. It is almost lunch and she has plenty of time to prepare for the dinner with Richard. She is excited about it and is looking forward to another beautiful and wonderful moment with Richard.
Maya is planning to cook for Richard her fettuccine carbonara, pork kebab with sour cream dip for the main course and a refrigerated cake for dessert. As for starters, she is going to make avocado salad with boiled shrimps, boiled eggs and mayonnaise. She hopes she can find very good avocados for the salad, one of her special dishes.
Maya hit the nearby supermarket after taking a quick shower and eating a light lunch. She was lucky. She found everything she needed for the dinner. It was only when she arrived back home, two hours later, that she remembered that she forgot to buy a bottle of wine. She decided to just go out again later for that.
While Maya was busy preparing for her and Richard’s dinner, Richard was out buying something for Maya. Like Maya, Richard felt like he was on top of the world that morning, remembering their wonderful day and the kiss he initiated before they parted for the night. He woke up late too, had a leisurely brunch. He checked with his secretary if there is something he needed to attend to urgently. When there was none, he went to his study, sat in front of his drawing board, and started making a plan for the place Maya wants to convert into a small private resort or vacation house for rent in Mindoro. He also made some calls and went out to get the stuffs he would bring for the dinner with Maya.
Happy with everything, Richard went back to his place, intending to spend the afternoon working. However, it was quite difficult to concentrate, thoughts of seeing Maya again crowding his head, making him smile goofily. He stopped and just rested on the sofa, thinking of how best to say to Maya what he wanted to say to her that evening.
Maya’s phone rang as she was preparing all the ingredients she needed for the pasta she will be cooking. Good thing, she had already made the refrigerated cake and have put the pork pieces for the kebab in barbecue marinade.
“Hello, Ate Cris! Happy Monday!” Maya greeted her cousin happily. “Napatawag ka?”
“Hi Maya? Are you busy? Mangungumusta lang sana ako.” Cris said. “Mag-isa kasi ako sa bahay. Pumasok pa si Jeff. Si Cho naman isinama nila Mommy and Daddy sa Star City. Matagal na kasing gustong pumunta roon ni Cho. Hindi na nila ako isinama kasi maraming tao, baka raw mahirapan pa ako. Tama naman si Mom. Kaya heto, home alone ako. Naisip kita bigla.”
“Okay naman ako, Ate Cris.” Maya replied. “Magluluto lang ako.”
“Magluluto, hindi ba medyo maaga pa for that. Pasado alas dos pa lang ng hapon. Saka di ba you usually eat out?” Cris asked.
“Errrr, may bisita kasi ako later.” Maya said smiling giddily, and blushing.
“Hmmm, sino? Pero wait, parang alam ko na kung sino!” Cris teased. “Tama ako, di ba, si Rchard ang bisita mo?”
“Yes, I invited him to dinner, pa-thank you ko sa pagsama niya sa akin sa shopping yesterday and paghahatid-sundo sa akin.” Maya said.
“Talaga naman, parang hindi na kayo naghihiwalay niyang would be boyfriend mo ah.” Cris remarked.
“Ha, Ate Cris, would be boyfriend! Hindi pa nga nanliligaw!” Maya protested, smiling.
“Hindi pa pala nanliligaw nang lagay na iyon si Richard ha, eh para mo nang boyfriend kagabi, lalo na kung makatitig sa iyo, little sis. Tapos hatid-sundo ka na, may pa-chopper ride pa hanggang Mindoro!” Cris said. “Ikaw na little sis! Paano na lang kaya kapag nanligaw na iyan sa iyo, baka himatayin ka na lang sa kilig. Heto nga akong may asawa ng tao, kinikilig na sa mga da moves niyang would be sweetheart mo!”
“Hahahaha, ikaw talaga Ate Cris!” Maya said happily.
“Teka, maalala ko, may utang ka pang kwento sa akin tungkol kay Richard. Hindi tayo nakapagkwentuhan kagabi.” Cris said. “So what’s the story behind you two? Pagpasensyahan mo na itong nosy cousin mo, hahahaha.”
Maya smiled. Aside from loving her Ate Cris like a sister, she is also her best friend, so she started confiding in her, just like her cousin did when she fell in love with her Kuya Jeff and when she got pregnant with Cho even before the two of them got married. “Well, you all know how we met. What you didn’t know was how I felt when I saw him.”
Maya settled in into the sofa and told her cousin of her and Richard’s ‘journey’ the past seven years.
“Wow, talaga, little sis! Ilang beses pala kayong kamuntik na magkita! So funny naman na napagkamalan niya kayong happy family nila Jeff sa Macau! “Cris said. “Pero in fairness, hindi mo naman siya masisisi kasi sino ba naman ang hindi mag-aakala eh mukha kayong family sa gondola. May mommy, may mukhang daddy and then added to that kamukha mo pa si Cho!”
“So true, Ate Cris. Pero iyang si Cho, guardian angel namin. Imagine ng dahil sa kanya nagkita kami ni Ricky ulit!” Maya said smiling.
“Tadhana iyan, Maya. Kung talagang para kayo sa isa’t isa and by the looks of it, mukhang papunta kayo diyan, you will see each other again and sabi nga nga sa hinaba-haba ng prusisyon, sa simbahan din ang tuloy.” Maya’s cousin told her.
“Hahahaha, Ate Cris, iyan na yata ang pinaka-advance sa lahat ng advance! Simbahan kaagad!” Maya smiled at the thought.
“Eh, how do you feel naman about him? Mahal mo na ba?” Cris asked her cousin directly.
“I don’t know, Ate Cris. Hindi pa kasi ako na-in love eh.” Maya replied honestly. “Basta ang alam ko lang ang lakas ng tibok ng puso at kabog ng dibdib ko tuwing makikita ko siya kahit noong simula palang, iyong noong sa Mindoro, and when he smiles at me. Tapos ang saya-saya ko kapag kasama ko siya. Saka kahit hindi kami nagkita ng seven years, hindi rin siya nawala sa isip ko. I looked for him in every guy I met or dated. Strange di ba, considering na iyong question and answer lang sa pageant ang conversation namin!”
“Ganyan talaga iyan, Maya. I guess there this is an instant connection between you two! But little sis, congratulations. Kasama ka na sa bilang ng mga in love.” Cris said, smiling as she found a more comfortable position as her baby just kicked. “Parang agree din itong baby ko sa love life mo sis, sumipa.” She told her cousin.
Then Cris continued, “Basta, Maya kung hindi pa naman love iyan eh wala na akong ibang masasabi pa. But do enjoy it lang. Wala nang kasing heady ang feeling, kundi ang feeling ng in love. Mukha namang mabait, responsable and matinong tao si Richard. And I do think the feeling is mutual.’
“Talaga, Ate Cris!” Maya said, feeling giddy and very happy. She almost confessed to her cousin then that she and Richard already kissed. But she hesitated as it was a private, tender moment between the two of them, for the two of them. “Thank you.”
“O sige, magluto ka na at baka maagang dumating si Prince Charming.” Cris said. “I’m happy for you, Maya.”
“Bye, Ate Cris. Kisses to Cho!” Maya told her cousin, smiling at her use of the word. Prince Charming! And she is Cinderella, huh!
With a smile, she grabbed a can of Coke from the fridge and started preparing the kebab, alternating meat and veggies in skewers. When she had made ten, she put the skewered meat and veggies in the oven, then grated the cucumber, chopped garlic finely for the sour cream dip. Having mixed the dip, she started working on the pasta. When the sauce was simmering on the stove, and the kebab was done, just keeping it warm it in the oven, she took a bath.
Maya looked at the clock, when she came out of the bathroom and smiled. She is on schedule. She took out a sleeveless cream cotton dress from her cabinet. She looked herself in the mirror and having checked that she looks okay, she went back to the living room, deciding not to put any make up on.
Maya was about to start the movie she started watching the other night, when her house phone rang. She looked at the clock again and saw that it was just half past five o’clock in the afternoon! Richard is early, or maybe, that is not him yet! But she was not expecting anyone else. She pressed the pause button of her player, then answered the call.
“Yes po!” She greeted the girl at the reception.
“Ma’am Maya, nandito na po si Mr. Lim.” The girl said.
“Okay, pakipaakyat na lang please. Thank you.” Maya said, the feeling of anticipation started building again.
Several minutes after, Richard rang Maya’s door bell.
“Hi Maya, sorry I’m a bit early.” Richard said as soon as Maya opened the door, giving her a big smile, then gave her a kiss on the cheek, which made Maya felt warmer. He was also holding a huge arrangement of flowers of all kinds with a big sunflower in the middle, and a big eco bag.
“Hi Ricky! It is okay! I did tell you that you can come early, di ba?” Maya replied with a big smile too. “Please come in.”
Richard entered Maya’s place and noticed the changes. “You have been busy! But I like the changes you have made.” He remarked. “These are for you.” He handed Maya the flowers and the bag.
“I just thought of making some changes, making this place more of a home than like a warehouse with all the boxes! Thank you for the flowers.” Then Maya looked inside the bag and saw a bottle of white wine, then several DVDs. “Oh, you got me some old movies! Thank you for these, and the wine too. I forgot nga to buy earlier.”
“I hope wala ka pa ng mga movie na nandiyan or you haven’t seen them. I noticed you had a lot.” Richard said, gesturing towards Maya’s shelves.
“Hmmm, ‘Casablanca’ and ‘Sabrina’, I have seen these, but I lost my copies of these movies. May friend na nanghiram then forgot to return na before she left Macau too. Now I have them again! I like watching these movies again and again. Tapos ito namang ‘An Affair to Remember’, I haven’t seen and have been planning to. Pati na rin itong ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’! Thank you very much for these Ricky. You’ve made my old movie buff heart very happy!” Maya told Richard happily.
“Would you like something to drink? Coffee? Juice? We can eat na also. Tamang-tama actually ang dating mo, katatapos ko lang magluto. Sana magustuhan mo.” Maya asked.
“Hmmm, since it is still early, a cup of coffee please.” Richard said. ‘I’m sure I will like what you cooked!”
“Okay, coffee, coming up.” Maya replied. “Please have a seat. Doon na lang muna tayo sa living room.” She then went to the kitchen to make coffee for her and Richard and also to chill the wine.
“Here you go, Ricky. Sorry it is instant ha.” Maya said when she returned to the living room, holding two mugs of coffee.
Richard thanked Maya and then took a sip of the coffee. “Parang brewed ah. Masarap ang timpla mo.” He said, liking Maya’s timpla.
“Thank you!” Maya said simply.
“You were going to watch a movie before I arrived?” Richard asked seeing Maya’s DVD player and TV in pause mode. “What were you going to watch? Maybe, we can watch together.”
“Well, I started watching ‘Roman Holiday’, with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. Sure we can watch it. Okay lang ba sa iyo na manood ng old film?” Maya asked.
“Okay lang. I would like to see it too. My Mama loves old movies too, especially Hepburn’s films. I sometimes, watched with her when I visit the house. Though, I don’t remember seeing this one with her.” Richard said.
“Really, your mother likes old movies!” Maya remarked. “Kumusta pala ang dinner mo sa kanila? I forgot to ask you last night.”
“It was okay. Kami lang ni Mama ang nag-dinner. Si Papa didn’t make it. Doon na siya nag-dinnner sa friend niya na dinalaw. Kalalabas lang kasi sa hospital ni Tito Probo.” Richard replied. “By the way, she wants me to bring you to dinner one of these days!”
Maya was surprised to hear that. “She is inviting me to dinner! But why? Hindi naman niya ako kilala except as a new employee, and bago lang rin tayong nagkita ulit.”
Richard smiled and gazed at Maya meaningfully. “Well, because I told her about you.” He simply said. “She wants to meet you not as an employee.”
“Really! And Mr. Richard Lim, what did you exactly tell your mother about me?” Maya asked, very, very curious!
“Secret!” Richard said, not elaborating.
“Rickyyyy! Ang daya mo.” Maya replied, pouting.
“Basta, let me know when you are free ha! How about Friday night, after Christmas?” He asked, smiling.
“Hmmmmp, maybe, I will not go until you tell me what you told your Mama.” Maya said, teasing Richard.
“Maya naman, you are not playing fair!” Richard complained good-naturedly!
“Ha, at bakit ikaw ba, playing fair Mr. Lim? May pa-secret secret ka pa diyan.” Maya said, not giving in.
“Okay, okay, since I do want you to meet my parents, I will tell na.” Richard said, finding the opening for what he wanted to ask Maya this evening.
“I told Mama that we knew each other from seven years ago. I also told her of our missed meetings through the years.” Richard said, then took a deep breath, here it is. This is it Richard Lim. “She also asked me directly if I like you, you know, and if I am planning to court you. Maybe because she sensed something from my tone of voice when I was speaking of you.”
Maya waited with bated breath for the rest of Richard’s words. Her heart starting to beat fast!
Richard looked at Maya intently then said softly, “And I told her that I like you very, very much and that I’m not just planning to court you, I will court you.”
“R-ricky…..” Maya said breathlessly.
“May I court you formally, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa?” Richard asked as he gazed lovingly at Maya.
Maya felt like there was a ringing sound in her ear and she felt like she can’t hear her thoughts anymore because her heart galloped at what he said, and all the blood rushed to her brain and her face. She looked at Ricky and read something in his expression that made her feel so very, very exhilarated.
Maya found herself, uttering the words, softly. ‘Yes, you may!” She suddenly felt self-conscious.
Richard gave Maya a brilliant, loving smile. “Thank you, Maya!”
Richard and Maya gazed at each other, the movie and the dinner forgotten. They felt like they were at the edge of a precipice, about to jump together towards something very, very wonderful!