“Wake up, my Cinderella!” Richard said softly, looking lovingly at his sleeping girlfriend, or if his heart’s fervent desire will be granted tomorrow, his fiancee. Not contented with just looking at her, he started giving her feather kisses on her brows, eyes, cheeks and finally her pouty lips.
Maya at first thought, she was dreaming, and what a very nice dream it was! She dreamt that Richard was kissing her oh so softly and lovingly after he called her his Cinderella. She mumbled, “Yes, my Prince Charming.” Then slowly, she opened her eyes and the first thing she saw was her boyfriend’s handsome face, with a big, loving smile on his lips.
“Hello, Sweetheart!” Richard said. “ I hate to wake you up when you are sleeping so peacefully, but it is getting late and it looks like it’s going to rain. The roads going down may turn muddy and slippery.”
“Hi Sweetheart! I thought I was dreaming. In my dreams I heard you called me ‘Cinderella’!” Maya said cupping Richard’s face affectionately. “That’s why I called you, Prince Charming!”
“I did. When I first met you, I thought that you were like Cinderella. You disappeared into the night after you captivated me.” Richard said, smiling. “The difference was, she left a glass slipper for her prince, and you just disappeared into thin air, as if I just imagined you! But I can’t be, since I was never the same since then.”
“Ikaw talaga, Sweetheart, grabe ka talagang magpakilig. Akala ko ba nagmamadali tayo at uulan na?” Maya kissed Richard’s lips lightly. Then looked him in the eyes with so much love. “You know what, you looked like Prince Charming too, the first time I caught a glimpse of you from the stage.”
“I love you, Maya. I thank God every day that we found each other again.” Richard said, overcame with emotions. He will never get enough of loving her and thanking God and fate that they met again and is having this second chance.
“Me too, Ricky! I love you very much.” Maya replied, touching his beloved face.
Maya and Richard shared a kiss, then another, and another, until they got lost in their world again. They only realized it when the sound of the rain interrupted their interlude.
“Naku, Ricky, inabutan na tayo ng ulan!” Maya sat up from the hammock, her lips so well-kissed.
“Okay lang, Sweetheart. Mukhang hindi naman malakas at matagal. Palipasin lang ng natin ng kaunti.” Richard laid down on the hammock more comfortably and reeled Maya back to his chest and cuddled with her.
“This is the nicest!” Richard remarked, smiling broadly. “You in my arms like this, as we watch the falling rain and in a world of our own. I can stay like this forever!”
“Forever, Sweetheart?” Maya asked suddenly, liking the idea of a forever with this wonderful guy.
“Yes, why not, Sweetheart?” Then whispered lovingly, “I want a forever with you, Maya.”
“Oh, Sweetheart! I would like that too.” Maya hugged Richard tight, then gave him a quick kiss. “I would like that too, Ricky.”
Richard grinned broadly, hearing that. His heart somersaulted with joy. He is so looking forward to the evening he had been planning for Maya and him tomorrow.
Maya and Richard stayed an hour more in the hut, contented to watch the rain with their bodies intertwined, closer not only physically, bt emotionally as they felt they have unconsciously stepped into another level of their relationship that afternoon.
It was tricky going down the mountains with the road muddied. But Richard turned out to be very skilled at navigating the tricky road. He told Maya that during his 20s, he used to do a lot of dirt bike riding with his friends from the university. Like going up, it was an exhilarating ride going down with Maya holding on to Richard’s waist tight, their thighs rubbing as they navitaged the rough road.
Richard and Maya reached the resort, both slightly wet and muddied as there was still a bit of a drizzle when they left the falls and there were puddles of water on the road which they hit quite a lot, and every time they did so, Maya laughed and shrieked happily, waiting for the splash of the muddy water. There were instances where Richard teased Maya and deliberately hit the puddles, which earned him loving pinches from her.
They were a sight. Catherine just shook her head when she saw them. She also envied their obvious happiness at how their afternoon turned out. They waved at her, then went straight to the bungalow and took a shower.
Richard was coming out of the kitchen, wearing navy blue loose cotton pants and a polo shirt, with two steaming cups of coffee when Maya went down after her refreshing shower. She was dress in a long flowing skirt with ethnic prints and a salmon coloured sleeveless blouse.
“Just what I need, Sweetheart.” Maya took the tray from Richard and brought it to the veranda. She put it on the coffee table and made a cup for Ricky. “What are our plans for this evening, Sweetheart?”
“Hmmm, I’m thinking, we can just stay in tonight. Have dinner brought here, then we can watch movies. Parang with this weather, it’s just very nice to stay indoors.” Richard sipped his coffee and enjoyed the first rush of the hot drink through his system. “Unless of course, you want to do something else.”
“Your plan is perfect Sweetheart, just what I have in mind as well.” Maya smiled. “It’s nice like this, just the two of us!”
“Great! I will just order our dinner, Sweetheart. What would you like?” Richard fished his mobile phone from his pocket.
“Hmmm, how about sinigang na hipon or anything na may sabaw. Parang masarap kainin in this weather!” Maya suggested.
“Okay, I like that as well.” Richard called the restaurant and order sinigang na hipon, as well as grilled pork with ensaladang mangga and bagoong, grilled eggplant, and calamares for their appetizer. For dessert, he ordered buco pandan.
“Kaya ba nating lahat na kainin iyan, Sweetheart?” Mara remarked smiling when Richard put his phone down.
“Kaya iyan, Sweetheart. We haven’t eaten since our picnic.” Richard sat down again and resumed drinking his coffee.
“Sabagay.” Maya said she said smiling. She also realized that she was very hungry and her tummy was grumbling a bit, just thinking of the food they will have.
More than an hour later, their dinner arrived. It was a lot of food for two people but surprisingly, they worked an appetite for everything. Maya felt like her tummy was groaning from all the delicious food she and Richard enjoyed eating as the dining room of the house overlooking Donya Esmeralda’s flower garden. They left the door opened, to let in the smell of the roses, and other flowers which she can’t identify in the dark, in bloom. The screen door served as a deterrent to small insects and mosquitoes. Maya remarked to Richard that they never gotten around to fully exploring the garden. Richard promised that they wil do so the next day.
Soon after the restaurant staff tidied up and pick up the dishes, Richard and Maya settled into the living room and watched an old movie musical, ‘Gigi’, which Richard borrowed from his mother’s collection of movies in the house. When the movie was ending, Richard noticed that Maya was not saying anything much and when he checked from where she was half-lying, on his broad chest, he realized that she had fallen asleep. Too much activities in one afternoon, plus their sumptuous dinner lulled her into sleep!
Richard smiled lovingly at his sleeping girlfriend. He carried her to the guest bedroom. Maya didn’t even stir when he put her down the bed. he made her comfortable, covered her with comforter, then gazed lovingly at his sleeping beloved before kissing her good night and closing the door softly.
Unlike Maya, Richard found it difficult to fall asleep. His mind was full of his upcoming proposal to Maya. He smiled happily, several more hours and their journey to forever will start. When he managed to fall asleep, he dreamt of two kids playing with him and Maya in the spot where they have been near the falls, a beautiful girl with mischief in her eyes and cute little boy with an angelic expression on his face as he looks at his mom.
The following morning, Maya woke up with a start. “Oh no, I slept on Ricky again!” Maya muttered, seeing that it was quite bright outside and she was still wearing the clothes she wore the night before. She got out of bed fast and took a quick shower, with the intention of making breakfast for Richard to make up for conking out on him again.
Several minutes after, she walked down towards the direction of the kitchen. The house was very quiet. She was hoping that Richard was still in bed. However, when she walked into the kitchen she noticed the coffee being brewed in the coffee maker in the corner. But no signs of Richard. She walked towards the opened sliding doors that led to Donya Esmeralda’s flower garden and that’s where she saw him, putting finishing touches on the breakfast he had been putting on the table.
“Good morning, Sweetheart! Glad that you are up! I was about to get you.” Richard smiled at Maya as he put forks and spoons on the placemats he had put on the table.
Maya walked briskly towards Richard, gave her a hug. “Sweetheart, tinulugan na naman pala kita. I’m so sorry.” She said in a contrite tone. Then proceed to help him.
“It’s completely okay, Maya. You must have been tired from our outing at the falls.” Richard caressed her face. “Besides, I like putting you to bed like that.”
“Sobrang swerte ko naman talaga sa iyo, Sweetheart. I love you so.” Maya said. “I feel so love and cherished. Thank you.”
“Sabi ko naman sa ito, Maya, for you, anything.” Richard said lovingly. “Halika na breakfast na tayo. I had the restaurant staff cooked us champorado and tuyo for breakfast! Parang masarap din this morning!”
“I agree with you. Medyo matagal na rin akong hindi nakakain ng mga ito.” Maya thanked Richard as he seated her on the chair facing Donya Esmeralda’s magnifiicent garden. “Wow, your mom’s garden is really very beautiful! I can spend hours here. Who maintains it when she is not here?”
“Mama hired a very good gardener who tends it lovingly. We got lucky with Mang Jaime.” Richard sipped the coffee Maya made for him, savouring the taste. Maya really has a knack for making it better. “I thought the best time to see this place is in the morning , when the sun is just coming out from that direction, so I had breakfast set up here.”
“Thank you, Sweetheart.” Maya said simply, lovingly, putting her hand on top of Richard’s. “You are making me so very, very, happy everyday.”
“You don’t have to thank me all the time, Sweetheart. It makes me so happy to see you happy. I love making you happy.” Richard put his other hand on top of his and Maya’s clasped hands. “I will be happy to do it for the rest of our lives.” Richard added obliquely, looking at Maya intently as if looking deep into her soul.
Maya’s heart made a lurch. This is not the first time Richard hinted of a forever between them. Her heart sang. She smiled at him lovingly. “And I the same, Richard! I would like to make you happy too!”
“You are, Maya! You are! You don’t know how much.” Richard lowered his lips to Maya and gave her a sweet kiss.
They resumed eating several long moments later. After the breakfast that they had enjoyed so much, Richard and Maya opted to stay in the bungalow, just lazing around. After lunch, Richard told Maya that he will just meet someone again. Maya said to go ahead as she would just read a book.
Richard went to the main resort to talk to Catherine and Aldrich and to check if everything is in place for his special evening with Maya. His two co-conspirators were beside themselves in excitement with what is about to take place that evening. There is even an added kilig on Catherine’s part. Richard smiled at them. His happiness was overflowing!
When Richard returned to the house, he found Maya in the day bed in the garden, her half-read book lying on her chest. She was napping. He gave her a quick kiss, then joined her there. They had a very restful nap amid Donya Esmeralda’s flowers and the centuries old trees that shelter the bed and made the place cooler.
They were woken up from their nap by the loud sound of a firecracker going off. That early, someone was already welcoming the new year. Maya realized that it was already twilight.
“Ricky, Sweetheart! Grabe, ang haba ng tulog natin!” Maya exclaimed. “Pagabi na pala.”
“It’s so nice here with you, Sweetheart. I slept like a babe.” Richard stretched his muscular arms upwards, shaking off sleep.
“We forgot to talk earlier about our plans this evening. I assumed that we will just go the resort to welcome the new year, with the other guests?” Maya asked. “Or do you have another plan in mind?”
Richard gave her a mysterious smile, then looked discreetly at his watch. “Just get ready, Sweetheart. I’ll see you in an hour or so.” Before Maya could ask more questions, he took hold of her hand and led her inside the house. He deposited her in front of her room and with a big smile left her there, whistling a line from West Side Story, “Tonight, tonight/ It all began tonight/ I saw you and the world went away….”
“What happened kaya kay Ricky? Parang nagmamadali at sobrang excited!” Maya mused, but shrugged it off. She too felt very excited for this evening for some unexplainable reason. Maybe, because this will be hers and Richard’s first new year’s celebration together.
Maya took a bath. She was at a lost on how to dress for dinner as she forgot to ask Richardif they need to dress up. Come to think of it, she mused, he was a bit evasive! Since it was New Year’s Eve, Maya decided to dress up a bit. Good thing, she always brings a more dressy outfit every time she goes somewhere as she never knows what will happen. She likes being prepared and that help during this trip, when Richard and her decided to extend! This time, she packed a violet cocktail dress that reached to her knees and hugged her curves. The dress is sleeveless and classically cut, with a deep V neckline.
When she had finished dressing up, Maya went out of the room and looked for Richard. His room was opened, and yet no sign of Richard. He was not in any of their usual meeting places. When she reached the front porch, she noticed the big bouquet of sunflowers on the hammock there. Attached to the beautiful flowers was a note from Richard that they will have dinner by the beach, and that he would be waiting for her there.
Maya took the flowers with her. She walked down the path leading to the beach. By then, she had realized that she was in for another surprise treat from Richard. What it was she had no clue, but is looking forward at finding out! The path was lit by candles in colourful glasses. When Maya was nearing the beach, she saw a table, inside a tent festooned with capiz lanterns, beautifully set for two, with flowers of all variety decorating the middle. The table also sat on a big platform with red carpet. When she reached it, she asaw a group of musicians by the far side of the tent. She was about to check where Richard is, when he came behind the musicians. He was dressed in jeans, shirt and a sports jacket, similar to what he wore the first time they saw each other in San Nicolas all those years ago. He had a big smile on his face.
“Ricky, this is so beautiful!” Maya remarked, looking around with wonder, placing the flowers she was carrying on the table. “What a wonderful surprise! Thank you, Sweetheart.”
“I’m glad you like it.” Richard gazed at Maya, lovingly. “May I dance with you, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa!” He held out his hand to her.
“Here, Sweetheart?” Maya said smiling, with her heart beating so fast.
“Yes!” Richard simply said, and waited for her to take his hand.
When Maya did, the musicians started playing the melody from ‘Love Has Come of Age!
“Oh , Sweetheart, I so love that song! We will dance to our song!” Maya went into Richard’s arms and they danced to the beautiful music being sang by the two singers in the group, as close as two people could be, cheek to cheek, body to body and heart to heart.
“You know, if this was seven years ago and this was the main room of the San Nicolas Golf and Country Club, this was the first thing I would have done the first opportunity I got, ask you to dance with me.” Richard murmured softly to Maya as he savoured this moment with her, caressing her hair.
“Really!” Maya looked up at Richard’s handsome face. “And if you did, I would have said yes, to the exclusion of anyone else there.”
“I would have danced the night away with you,” Richard continued. “Then I would have asked if I could take you home, and see you again, and again until we got to know each other better. Then, I would court you and declare my feelings for you. Then if you had agreed to be my girlfriend, I would have proposed to you and ask you to be with me for always.”
“Oh Ricky….” By this time, Maya’s heart was galloping from the emotions she was feeling, waiting on what he would say next and where this would lead.
“Then if you had said yes, we would have been married and probably have several kids now.” Richard continued saying in his voice, full of love for Maya. “It didn’t happen seven years ago, but as we are meant to be, what we have started seven years ago, came to fulfilment this time. We are having another opportunity for that love that didn’t come to a culmination the first time around. I’m so glad to have a second chance with you, Maya.”
Richard then let go of Maya, knelt on one knee before her, got something from his pocket, and asked her with all the love he is feeling what he had been wanting to ask her fervently, “Marry me, please. Let’s not waste our second chance. I want a forever with you, Maya.”
Maya felt tears in her eyes from sheer happiness. She had difficulty breathing from the loud thumping of her heart. Here it is the promise of forever with Richard. She didn’t have inkling that Richard is planning a proposal, this evening. But the night is so perfect for this, the moment so right. Filled with emotion, she knelt before him too, touched his beloved face, then softly said,”Yes!”
Richard grinned, so very happy that Maya agreed to be his wife! He gently put the beautiful platinum ring on her finger, kissed her hand, then guided her up. He caressed her face, then lowered his lips to her. They shared their first kiss as an engaged couple, with all the love they are feeling, as the singers where singing the most beautiful part of the song. ‘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 love very much my beautiful fiancee.” Richard whispered lovingly, so full of love for his Cinderella.
“I love you very much too, my husband to be.” Maya whispered back. She felt like she was floating on air. She felt like she was dreaming, but seeing Richard’s handsome face so full of love for her, she knows that this is real.
Richard led Maya to the table, while the musicians quietly faded away into the night. Richard prepared a feast for his proposal dinner, including a bottle of the best champagne that Donya Esmeralda could get hold of. While they were eating, Maya asked Richard how did he pull the proposal in such a short time. Richard told her that he had help from his mother and told her of James’s special trip to Mindoro the day before for all the things he needed for this.
“Sweetheart, you are the best ever when it comes to surprises.” Maya said as she and Richard were enjoying their dessert. “I’m looking forward to meeting your mother, I mean meeting her as your fiancee, and thanking her too!” Maya felt very happy saying the word, fiancee! She and Richard are now engaged and it fills her with so much happiness.
“She is looking forward to meeting you too, Sweetheart. She told me, I better bring you to the house as my fiancee.” Richard said smiling.
Richad and Maya walked down the beach barefooted, enjoying the cool breeze after their long and leisurely dinner. They also brought the rest of the champagne with them, and a mat. They laid down on the mat when they found the perfect spot, and watched the countless stars, waiting for the coming of the new year, in their own private world. At midnight, the sky was lit by a thousand fireworks. Richard told Catherine and Aldrich to make it extra special that evening as they will not be just be welcoming the new year, but celebrating his and Maya’s engagement as well, if everything went according to plan, which it did, beautifully.
“To us, Sweetheart!” Richard said, hugging Maya tight and kissing her hair.
“To us, Sweetheart.” Maya replied lovingly, giving Richard a quick kiss too.
Richard and Maya toasted each other. Both of them grinning goofily. Then they shared a long, heated kiss, so full of love they have for each other, as the old year gave way to the new one, and with it, the start of their beautiful life together, finally!
Note: And finally, I’m back! 🙂