Maya felt like Richard was trying to look at her very soul by the way he was gazing at her after his words that shifted their relationship to a beautiful new level. She felt this overwhelming emotion towards him. She also felt like heart was going to burst. Grabe ka Maya Dela Rosa, manlligaw pa lang si Ricky nang lagay na iyon ha! She admonished herself. Kalma lang.
Trying to collect her scattered wits, Maya gave Richard another smile that lit up her whole face.
“So, let’s watch the movie na, Ricky?” She mentioned the first thing she thought of to bring things to a normal level dahil baka hindi na makayanan ng puso niya. “Unless, you want to have dinner now?”
“Come, let’s watch your movie muna Maya. I want to see it too since you like it.” Richard said, giving Maya one of his beautiful lopsided smiles that make her heart aflutter always.
Maya settled in beside Richard into the couch. Then she played the movie from the start so Richard can watch it from the beginning. They settled in to watch the movie which Maya told Richard, is one of her ultimate favorites. Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck really looked so good on screen. When they kissed for the first time after taking an impromptu swim into the river while escaping, Maya remembered the kiss she and Richard shared the night before. Richard remembered it too. They caught each other gazing at the other after that scene. From then on, they became intensely aware of each other and their close proximity. Both fought the feeling. Maya can’t help it, she was imagining her and Richard sharing that kiss!
When the credits rolled, Richard heard Maya sniffling. “Maya, are you crying?” Richard asked, checking by looking at her closely.
“Sorry, just a little bit! Sobrang touching naman kasi. Ramdam ko ang longing nila for each other, kaso hindi naman pwede, di ba? Like Princess Ann said, she has a duty to her people and country. Hay, I just wish lang that every time na panonoorin ko ito, magkakatuluyan na sila ni Joe Bradley!” Maya said, dabbing her eyes.
“Doon sa last scene, I was wishing na lalabas ulit si Princess Ann and then will go to Joe one more time! Have you not feel his longing for her to come out pa rin kahit alam niyang hanggang doon na lang sila,” She added.
“Well, depends on how you look at it. The ending was open ended naman, just think na that they lived in an ideal world and that somehow, love had conquered all!” Richard said, smiling. “Hindi naman imposible na magkita sila ulit. See, it happened to us, di ba. Malay natin, gumawa pala ng paraan si Joe to be near Ann or vice-versa.”
“Wow, Mr. Lim, I didn’t know that you have such a romantic streak!” Maya said, smiling.
“Well, I’m feeling romantic these days.” Richard said gazing at Maya intently.
Maya felt her heart beating fast again. She gave Richard a sweet smile.
“So ilang beses mo nang napanood itong ‘Roman Holiday’?” Richard asked.
“I think this is pang-limang beses na!” Maya admitted.
“You like it that much! But I agree, it is a very good film!” Richard said. “I will get it for Mama, too. Matagal ka na bang mahilig sa classics?”
“I was more into it after Mamang died. I used to watch old movies with her when I was younger. Maliban kasi sa mga beauty pageants, mahilig din siya sa mga lumang film! Bonding time namin ang panonood ng lumang movies. Siya rin ang dahilan kung bakit mahilig ako sa books. She used to teach Literature sa college sa Mindoro.” Maya told Richard. “Maybe it was my way of coping with her death and remembering her. Then the more I watch, the more I enjoyed those movies, hayan I’m collecting DVDs na!”
“You really had a very good role model in your Mamang, Maya!” Richard remarked. “I wish I got the chance to meet your grandmother.”
“Oo nga. But she was gone too soon!” Maya said with a tinge of sadness, then smiling, she said, “I’m pretty sure my Mamang will like you had she met you.”
“Really, you think so!” Richard said, smiling. pleased with what Maya said.
“Oo naman, Ricky.” Maya said. “What’s not to like?”
“So, palagay mo ba, Ms Dela Rosa, magiging boto sa akin ang Mamang mo?” Richard asked, smiling, teasing her.
“Siguro. Pero sasabihin noon, ligawan mo muna ng husto ang apo ko, bago ka magtanong ng ganyan.” Maya teased Richard back.
“Gagawin ko naman ah.” Then Richard pretended to look up to heaven. “Mamang, liligawan ko naman ng husto itong apo niyo. Pero ilakad niyo ako para sagutin ako kaagad.”
Maya laughed at Richard’s antics, at the same time, she felt very giddy.” You are being silly, Richard Lim. Kain na kaya tayo at gutom lang iyan. Give me a couple of minutes to set up the table.”
But instead of waiting, Richard went with Maya to the kitchen and helped her set the table.
Maya put the flowers Richard gave her on the middle of the table. The bouquet he gave her the other evening, she had put on the table beside her bed. Richard got the wine from the bucket where Maya had put it and, poured a glass for Maya, and then him.
“This is a lot of food for the two of us!” Richard remarked, appreciating Maya’s effort. “Looks so good. Thank you for this Maya.”
“You’re welcome, Ricky. I hope you will like everything.” Maya said smiling.
“I’m sure I will.” Richard seated Maya, then sat on her left.
Maya started serving salad to Richard, but before they ate, Richard offered a toast.
“To us, Maya!” Richard said, looking at her with love.
“To us, Ricky!” Maya replied with the sweetest and brightest of smiles, mirroring the immense happiness she was feeling at that moment.
Maya and Richard proceeded to enjoy their sumptuous dinner. They also chatted while eating leisurely. At times, they would share a look and grinned goofily at each other. When they were finished with their main course, Maya asked Richard if he would like to have dessert.
“Maybe in a while, Maya! My tummy is so full. That was a very delicious meal.” Richard said, drinking the last of the wine in his glass. “You are a very good cook.”
“Thank you.” Maya said smiling. “I like cooking. It relaxes me. How about another cup of coffee? I can bring it to the living room!”
“That would be good. But I will help you clean up muna.” Richard offered.
“Ricky, ano ka ba, okay lang. I can do that later. Kaunti lang naman ito.” Maya protested.
“Nope, it is the least I could do for you after that very nice dinner.” Richard insisted, then started helping out Maya. Maya stopped protesting. They worked in synch until the kitchen and the dining room were in order and very clean.
“O since finished na tayo, go to the living room. I will bring coffee and the dessert. I’m sure we can eat that now.” Maya said. “I made ref cake.”
“Okay, I’m sure I can’t walk anymore after eating that.” Richard teased.
Richard went to the living room and was looking at the view when Maya walked in carrying a tray. She placed it on the coffee table. Richard walked back to the sofa and sat beside Maya.
“Thank you, Maya.” He said after Maya handed him the dessert. He tasted it and said, “Wow!” Then dived in, enjoying the dessert as well.
They ate in companionable silence. When they were sipping their second cup of coffee for the evening, Richard asked Maya her plans for the rest of the week.
“Well, tomorrow, I’m thinking of just walking around the area. See where my feet will take me. Then on the 24th, I will go to Tita Lulu and Tito Mario’s house for the noche buena like I have mentioned before,, then probably return here on Christmas Day.” Maya enumerated. “How about you?”
“Hmmmm, I’m also free tomorrow. Can we go together on that walk, spend the day together, then have dinner at one of the restaurants in the area? That is, kung okay lang.” Richard asked, hoping that Maya would say yes.
“Sure, Ricky! I would be happy to have you as company.” Maya replied. In fact, she was looking forward to that! Another day with Richard!
“Great!” Richard said, grinning. “Tapos isa pang request please.” He said, then plunged in. “Can we spend Christmas Day together? I know you will spend it with your family as I would, pero at least can we spend Christmas afternoon, together?”
Hearing Richard’s request, Maya felt very happy. She would like that too. She wants to celebrate her ‘first Christmas’ with him. Christmastime, especially when you are in a foreign country, made one missed the Philippines more and the loved ones you have left behind. Aside from thinking of her family, she also thought more of Richard during this season. Now, she will be celebrating it with him!
“I would love that, very much, Ricky.” Maya said softly.
“Thank you, Maya. You made me the happiest guy! I’m looking forward to our first Christmas together.” He simply said, making Maya’s heart rate go up with what he said.
Maya and Richard spent the rest of the evening learning more about each other, and chatting about every topic they could think of, so very happy in each other’s company that they quite forgot the time, until Richard accidentally looked at the clock and noticed that it’s midnight!
Richard told Maya that he will get going. He thanked her again for the wonderful time and then they agreed to see each other before lunch the following day. At the door of Maya’s place, Richard gave her a good night kiss on the lips, very gently, but it made Maya’s lips tingle with the lingering feeling of that wonderful kiss. They smiled at each other, then parted for the night.
“Good night, Maya, thank you for another best day.” Richard said, gazing at Maya tenderly. “Sweet dreams!”
“Good night, Ricky! Thank you too for a wonderful and very memorable day!” Maya simply said. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Drive carefully. Sweet dreams!”
Richard texted Maya several minutes after saying that he had arrived home. Just like the night before, they went to bed very happy!
The following day, Richard dressed in well-worn jeans and grey t-shirt that fitted him so well, arrived at Maya’s condo with two tumblers of coffee and breakfast, well brunch, from the cafe they have been to the day before. He was also holding a bouquet of red roses and a beautiful vase.
Richard noticed that Maya has not gotten around to buying one as the flowers he gave her the night before was put in a big jar. Maya explained that she still need to shop for stuffs for her place, as well as some big ticket items for her bedroom and guest room.
“Good morning, Maya!” Richard greeted Maya with a big smile. “I got breakfast. And these are for you.”
“Good morning, Ricky!” Maya said with a big smile. She too was dressed for going out in a pair of skinny jeans and loose cotton blouse and ballet flats. “Thank you for the flowers, and the vase for it! They are beautiful. Uy, nagdala ka rin ng breakfast! I thought we will eat there na lang sa cafe!”
“Well, baka kasi marami ng tao doon kasi too close to Christmas na and besides, I prefer to have breakfast with you like this.” Richard said.
“You have a point there. I like this better too.” Maya said. “Halika, let’s eat na.”
More than four hours later, Maya and Richard hit the streets around their area. They opted to spend the afternoon in Maya’s place. They ended up chatting and getting caught up in each other that they forgot the time again. Realizing that it was still a bit hot to go out, they opted to watch ‘An Affair To Remember’. When the movie was finished, Richard quietly handed Maya tissue when he heard her sniffling again, loudly this time.
“Thank you, Ricky!” Maya said smiling. “Sobrang touching naman kasi. Pero at least, sila pa rin in the end!”
“True. Now I truly understand you and Mama, and Mamang’s fascination with old movies. They reached out to your emotions without all the fancy stuffs nowawadays, just pure emotion and there is a kind of beautiful and innocent romance in those old movies. Aside from the very good actors that had starred in them” Richard said.
“I agree! I like rin naman contemporary movies, pero iba pa rin ang pull sa akin ng old movies. I just wished I managed to go to the top of the Empire State Building when I was in New York.” Maya said. “Hanggang sa tapat lang ako kasi walang time to go up!”
“You haven’t? Me too. Never had the opportunity or the time to do while I was in the city.” Richard remarked, then said, “Maybe, one day, we can go there together!”
“I would like that!” Maya smiled happily, feeling giddy, hearing Richard planning like this for the two of them. “So, shall we get going. Medyo hapon na kaya masarap nang maglakad.”
Maya and Richard went out several minutes. They were not planning to go far so they just took a leisurely walk while chatting. They ended up at the park beside The Mind Museum with a cup of coffee in hand.
“Ricky, do you always want to be an architect. and an engineer?” Maya asked while sipping the latte Richard got for her before they ended up in the park.
“Yes, I love to draw and at a young age, was interested in designs, even in painting. I like looking at buildings, houses, studying the lines. My father was more into me taking a business course. In the end, you see we managed to compromise. Though I leave most of the operations side of things to Mama.” Richard said. “Speaking of Mama, how about the dinner with my parents the day after Christmas?”
Maya paused and thought for a while. She is okay with meeting Richard’s parents, but she is also kind of shy to do so as she and Ricky had just started. “Sure, it would be okay to do so, Ricky?”
“Yes, it is perfectly okay, Maya. Pero it does not have to be on the 26th.” Richard said, sensing that Maya is having misgivings about it. Maybe, because everything is still so new to her and happening very fast. Besides kasisimula pa lang naman niyang manligaw, Richard mused.
“If it is okay, can we just do it after our trip to Mindoro or before the New Year? Before they leave the country. Di ba sabi mo, they will go abroad for the New Year.” Maya said.
“Sure, no worries, Maya.” Richard assured Maya.
When it got a bit dark, Richard and Maya went to one of the restaurants at Bonifacio High Street to have dinner.
The following day, Richard was back in Maya’s apartment around five o’clock in the afternoon to take her to her family’s home. He also brought a gift for Cho and pastries for the Franciscos. He only stayed a bit at her family’s home, as he will go to Quezon City to celebrate Christmas with his parents, some aunts and cousins on his father’s side of the family.
It was a wonderful Christmas celebration for the Franciscos since Maya was finally home! The food, drinks and merriment were overflowing. After noche buena, they exchanged gifts. Maya saw what Richard gave Cho, a Lego Star Wars set!
Maya’s phone also beeped after midnight, which made her jump as she was waiting for it to beep, sort of. Cris teased her after seeing her with a big goofy, smile. It was Richard wishing her Merry Christmas and telling her, he wished they were together that moment. Maya texted him back, saying that this is her best Christmas ever, with her family celebrating with her and with him in her life too. She also told Richard that she also wished they were together. But told him, they will see each other in a couple of hours. Maya’s reply earned the biggest grin Donya Esmeralda had seen from her son.
Richard picked up Maya from the Francisco’s after lunch. Tita Lulu and Tito Mario asked him to have dinner there. Maya told her aunt and uncle that she and Richard would love to, but some other time, as that day, they have already made plans. Her Tita Lulu smiled and teased her a bit on the side, which made Maya blushed. Good thing her Ate Cris and Kuya Jeff already went home as they will be going to Jeff’s family pa, otherwise, she would have been teased by them too!
Richard and Maya arrived at Maya’s place less than 30 minutes after.
“Maya, I’ll follow na lang! I will park the car first.” Richard suddenly said when they were in front of the building.
Maya was a bit surprised as usually Richard just go up with her. But she just shrugged it off. “Okay, I will just tell the reception that you would be along.” She just carried the food her Tita Lulu sent with her.
Several minutes after, Maya’s bell rang. When Maya opened the door, she saw Richard carrying a big flat rectangular gift, beautifully wrapped, also a huge picnic basket, and another beautiful floral arrangement!
“Ricky, ang dami mo pa lang dala! You should have told me para natulungan kita!” Maya exclaimed, as she helped him by carrying the gift and the flowers inside.
“It is okay, Maya. My surprises for you!” Richard said smiling. “But first thing first, I thought it would be nice to have a picnic kahit indoors so here it is.”
“Oh, this is wonderful Ricky!” Maya said liking the idea. “I know of the perfect spot.”
Maya then carried the picnic basket to the big floor to ceiling window. When she looked inside the basket, she saw that it contained a table cloth with a Christmas design, a bottle of wine, assorted cold cuts, bread, a big box of chocolate and bone china tablewares, silver knives and forks and two delicate wine glasses in protective casing so they will not break in transport.
Richard looked on as Maya arranged everything a big smile on his face.
“Ricky, this is, wow!” It was all Maya managed to say after laying down their picnic together, touched at Richard’s gesture for their first Christmas together.
“I’m so glad you like it, Maya.” Richard sat down on the table cloth beside Maya, then handed her the flowers and the big gift. “For you, Maya, Merry Christmas!”
Maya looked at the gift and the flowers. Her happiness is overflowing with Richard’s thoughtfulness. “Oh, Ricky, thank you for these. I’m so touched.” She said, then remembered her gift for him too. “Wait, I will just get something.”
Maya returned holding a big gift bag. “For you, Ricky! Merry Christmas!”
Richard was touched to have received something from Maya too. “Thank you, Maya.” He said with a big smile. “So shall we open our gifts to each other?”
“You first, Ricky!” Maya said smiling.
Richard removed the card attached to the gift bag. He opened it and smile, looking at Maya with so much love and happiness.
The best gift I received this Christmas season is seeing you again.
“Maya, seeing you again is the best gift I have received this season too.” Richard said softly. Then he opened the bag and saw a big hardbound book, doodle art book, and a big case of colored pencils. He took out the book and saw it is Douglas Adams ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, and the doodle art book which features famous castles and houses.
“Thank you for these, Maya.” Richard said again. He remembered him telling Maya that he would like to read the complete ‘Hitchhiker’s’ book in one of their chats and he understood the whimsy of giving him the doodle art book. “I hope you will like my gift too!”
Maya removed the card attached to the big gift. Like Ricky, she read it first before opening her present from him. Her heart somersaulted.
This is the best Christmas ever. I can’t wish for a more wonderful gift than finding you again after all these years. Now, my Christmas is no longer lonely.
I love you, Maya!
“R-ricky….” Maya said breathlessly, her gift temporarily forgotten. She looked at him, wonder in her eyes. Her heart beating so loud. He had told her he will court her, but she was not expecting this declaration this evening.
“Yes, Maya, I do! I think I have started falling, seven years ago.” Richard said softly, lovingly, putting his hand on top of Maya’s then looked deep into her eyes. “I know we just met again, but I have never been more sure of what I feel. I know also that it may be too fast for you, I just want you to know that I love you very much. I’m not expecting an answer now. I’m just so very happy that we are together. Now open your gift, please.”
Maya felt her hands were very cold and she can’t breath from the thump thump of her heart. She gave Richard a heart melting smile. “Thank you, Ricky.” She said simply, so overwhelmed, gazing at Ricky, then put her hand on top of his. “I’m so happy we found each other again.”
Then, she opened her gift. “Awwww, this is so beautiful! Where on earth did you find this! Thank you for this.”
Richard got her a frame movie poster of Roman Holiday!
Rchard grinned. “Through a friend of a friend who has a shop at Cubao Expo. I’m so glad you like it.”
“Maraming salamat ulit Ricky. You are making me so very, very happy.” Maya looked at Richard with love too. She may have not said the words, but Richard can see it from her eyes.
“For you, Maya, anything! “ Richard said, gazing at Maya with all the love he was feeling.
Slowly, of their own volition, they gravitated towards each other, until their faces were so close, then Richard lowered his lips to Maya and gave her a searing kiss. Maya responded. They broke apart after several long seconds, both catching their breaths.
“Merry Christmas, Maya!”
“Merry Christmas, Ricky!”
They said it with big smiles on their faces. Indeed, it was the best Christmas ever!
Note: Happy Valentine’s Day!!!! ❤ ❤ ❤