Archive for April, 2015

Windblown – Chapter 21

In Motion

“Happy, sweetheart?” Richard whispered to Maya as they swayed to the music among the throng of well-dressed people enjoying the fabulous party that Emerald Hotels and Resorts has thrown for the opening of their newest hotel, a boutique hotel in the heart of the Bonifacio Global City, an area that has grown a lot the past several years. From a cluster of restaurants and ‘gimik’ places many years ago, the area is now dotted with tall buildings, upscale condominium complexes, several shopping streets featuring known international brands, and a lot of new restaurants and watering holes. Emerald Hotel has joined the boom in the area with a much needed hotel.

The Who’s Who of Manila’s society turned up at the opening, not only to check out the hotel’s beautiful architecture designed by Richard, furnitures by top Filipino designers, the top performers who were invited to grace the event, but to take a closer look at the lady that captured Richard Lim’s heart.

Several weeks before the opening of the hotel, and alongside the promotions that Maya and her group did, it spread like wildfire within the Manila social circle that the younger Lim, one of the country’s most eligible bachelors is engaged to be married to the operations manager of the new hotel the Lim family was about to open at BGC. Maya had stayed in the background during the promotions, letting the hotel’s PR manager to do all the information campaign for the hotel, however words still got out that she is engaged to Richard Lim. Some lifestyle writers had requested an interview from her and Richard, but they begged off due to their busy schedule leading to the hotel opening. Richard also asked Maya if it is okay with her that she was suddenly thrust into the limelight. Maya assured him that it is okay and the important thing is them, together and the opening of the hotel is her first priority at that point. She just concentrated on putting everything in order so that the opening of the hotel will go glitch-free and that their first batch of guests will have an experience they will not forget and will tell their friends and families about it.

“Yes, sweetheart, I’m very, very happy. Everything is going well. Seeing all of these, parang bawi na rin all the long hours we poured the past more than one and half month into getting Emerald ready to welcome its first guests!” Maya said as she caressed Richard’s nape with her hands, giving him a beautiful, loving smile. She and Richard had worked like crazy the past weeks. Added to this, they also met, during their free time, with their wedding coordinator. They decided that they will get married early April in the place where their love story started, in Mindoro. “Ikaw, sweetheart? I heard several oohs and ahhs from our guests seeing the lobby of Emerald. You really did a wonderful job. The nod to Philippine Spanish heritage with the design you did is brilliant.”

“Thank you, sweetheart. Of course, I’m very happy, not only because people loves the design I made, but because I’m sharing this special moment with you.” Richard said softly and lovingly. “Iba ito kaysa sa mga nauna kong projects kasi nandiyan ka na.”

“Sweetheart, talaga, grabe mo na akong pakiligin ha.” Maya replied, moving closer to Richard and putting her head on his chest as they dance to the beautiful music being sang by the country’s well-known stage actress and singer. “I love you, Ricky and this job is more meaningful too, because of you. I’m so glad that I am here with you. Sharing this and looking forward to our future together.”

“Me too, sweetheart, me too.” Richard murmured. It felt like they were alone in the middle of the dance floor. He felt so happy, to be like that with his beautiful fiancée. Soon, his wife in less than two months!

Everyone else paled in comparison to the vision that greeted him when he finally saw Maya going down the stairs that led to the ballroom, in her deep violet strapless evening gown that showed off her beautiful figure, with barely there make-up that highlighted her cheekbones, doe-shaped eyes and heart-shaped face, carrying an intricately designed minaudière evening bag. Most people in the ballroom took a second glance too at the vision before them, radiating poise, beauty and confidence.

Maya was a bit embarrassed to be the center of attention, without intending to! But she was late in joining the party as she had last minute things to oversee and had to deal with a minor crisis with their kitchen staff before she can join the party. Richard offered to wait for her, but she insisted that he went ahead so he can mingle with their guests. Maya also caught her breath when she saw Richard waiting for her at the base of the stairs, looking so handsome in the tuxedo he was wearing, with a smile only for her. He took hold of her hand and steered her towards the guests, first introducing her, with all the love in his voice as his very lovely fiancée, and also the new Emerald’s very capable operations manager. Donya Esmeralda did the same. Maya’s family was also invited to the opening of the hotel and the Franciscos came full force, minus Cris as she was nearing her due date.

The Lims and the Franciscos really bonded in the dinner that Donya Esmeralda organized for the two families at the Manila Polo Club. Now, Don Roberto and Maya’s Tito Mario are golf buddies, together with Don Roberto’s friend Probo. The ladies go to lunch once a week since then to discuss the wedding. The group also included Ryan’s wife, Ivy as she also offered to help in the wedding preparations. Maya and Ivy became fast friends after they met over dinner in early January. Maya and Richard couldn’t be happier with the turn of things. Since they moved together, they became closer and their lives just meshed without a glitch. Their nights were always filled with wonder and it was always like the first time they made love. Their desire for each other insatiable. As they get to know of their wants and desire and what sparks each other’s passion, they moved on to trying new things and experimenting, testing the limits of their passion in the privacy of their bedroom. Sometimes, when Maya remembers the things they do together, she blushes, like she was doing at that moment.

“Hmmm, why are you blushing, sweetheart?” Richard whispered naughtily. “Do you want to get away from here? We can try the penthouse room of the hotel.” He teased.

“Ricky, ikaw talaga. As if! Gusto mo ba na maging topic tayo ng mga staff natin, hahahaha.” Maya blushed more. “At paano mo naman nahulaan na iyon ang iniisip ko.”

“Hmmm, kasi iyon din ang iniisip ko.” Richard retorted. “Unfortunately, we can’t escape yet. Kailangan pa nating mag-mingle. Di bale, sweetheart, I’ll take really good care of you when we get home.” He added with a mischievous smile.

“Really, sweetheart.” Maya smiled lovingly at Richard as they continued swaying to new music that followed the first one they danced to.

“Really, really, really.” Richard said, then stole a quick kiss on Maya’s lips. “Your wish is my command.”

“Hmmmm, I’m looking forward to all the possibilities that statement carries.” Maya teased back.

Maya and Richard smiled at each other, still lost in their world. However, they were jolted out of it when someone tapped Richard’s shoulder. Maya and Richard looked and they saw Linda Borromeo, holding a wineglass. The model was swaying a little bit as she looked at Richard.

“So, may I dance with my Ricky. How about a twirl around the dance floor, honey!” Linda asked in a challenging way. It was also obvious to Maya and Richard that she already had too much to drink. Like when they were formally introduced earlier, Linda ignored Maya. But Richard will have none of it.

“Oh, hi Linda! Actually, Maya and I are about to sit this one out. We do need to mingle again. I just want an opportunity to dance with my lovely wife-to-be before we mingle again. After all, this is our first outing in society and I want it to be a wonderful and memorable one. May I just escort to your seat. Would you like a cup of coffee?”  Richard offered politely. Then he looked at Maya, “Sweetheart, why don’t you go to Mama and her friends, I will just take Linda to where her friends are.”

Maya nodded at Richard. “Okay, sweetheart. I will go to Mama na, also check on the staff. I’ll see you later. Bye Linda.” She then tiptoed and gave Richard a peck on the cheek.

Linda was about to react negatively, seeing red. Richard, seeing this, acted fast, held Linda by her elbow firmly and guided her towards the direction of her friends’ table. “Linda, please don’t make a scene. It will not do you any good. Besides, we just dated. I thought it was clear to you that it was just a casual thing.” Richard whispered as they walked across the ballroom.

“But Ricky, I love you. What does she has that I don’t?  Mas maganda ako kaysa sa kanya.” Linda whined, the effects of the alcohol making her say things that she wouldn’t normally say to Richard.

“I’m really sorry, Linda. Someday, you will find the right guy for you. I’m not that. My heart belongs to Maya. It has always been.” Richard said, looking at Maya across the room. Their eyes met and shared a loving smile. “She is my world now.” He added softly. “She is the most beautiful girl in the world, inside out.”

What Richard was saying finally penetrated Linda’s alcohol-laden brain. Seeing the palpable love between Richard and Maya, she sighed heavily. “Okay, okay, I get it.” She then stormed towards her friends.

Richard sighed, and rubbed his neck. He never thought that Linda would be like this until now. He thought they understood each other when they were ‘dating’. He ran into her the week before at the coffee shop near his building. She invited him for coffee. Since they haven’t seen each other since December, Richard agreed. He also wanted to tell her that he is engaged to be married, even if he is sure that she had already heard about it. Linda didn’t react much when he was chatting with her. She even offered her congratulations. She also asked Richard about Maya. Richard told her how they met again. They parted as friends, so he had thought!

He had told Maya about Linda before that meeting. He knew that Linda will be one of the invited guests to the opening of the hotel. He didn’t want to conceal anything from her. Not that his ‘dates’ with Linda went beyond having dinner. At that point in his life, he had given up meaningless sex. For Richard, there was always something missing after those encounters, so he had stopped, until Maya came back to his life and made it very meaningful in every sense of the word. Maya assured him again that whatever happened before them, was just that – a part of the past! And it does not affect her and what they have.

“Is everything okay, Ricky?” Maya asked gently when he reached her side. “Okay lang ba si Linda?”

“Yes, she is fine. I think marami lang siyang nainom.” Richard assured her. “I will tell you about it when we get home.”

“Okay!” Maya said, then someone greeted them, a friend of Tita Lulu, and they ended up chatting with her.

Several hours later, the party winded down. Everyone was happy. Maya checked on the staff and the night shift before heading home with Richard for the night. Home was still Maya’s condo, as they have agreed several weeks before. While Maya insisted that Richard’s place is okay and they didn’t need to redo it, Richard pushed through with some changes, a surprise for Maya. He  included a space for her in his office. He enlarged the library and the entertainment rooms for Maya’s books and DVD collection and he had one of the rooms, converted into a nursery!

“Home, sweet home sweetheart, finally!” Maya said  as she opened the hall lights, still in high spirits despite the lateness of the hours, due to the success of the opening of Emeralds BGC. Everything went smoothly until the last guests have left at around 1AM.

“Yes, finally! Are you tired, sweetheart? Do you want a nightcap? Wine?” Richard offered.

“Maybe, juice na lang sweetheart. I can’t take the smell and taste of wine recently. Kanina nga I tried to take a sip, pero parang my stomach was rejecting it so I stopped.” Maya said.

“Okay, juice it is!” Richard went to the kitchen and poured a glass of mango juice for Maya and opened a can of SanMig light for himself. He also got something else for Maya, a big bouquet of sunflowers. He ordered it earlier after Maya had left for Emerald.  ahead of him. He just followed with their clothes for the party and changed at the hotel. He walked back to the living room with a big smile. “Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetheart!” He handed her the juice and the flowers.

“Happy Valentine’s Day din, sweetheart! ” Maya said with a big, loving smile to Richard. She stood up and gave him a kiss. “Oo nga pala, 14 na!”

“Our first!” Richard said. “I love you very much, Maya.”

“Yes, sweetheart, our first among the many, many, many Valentine, we will celebrate.” Maya lovingly said. “And I love you very much too. Thank you for these lovely flowers.”

Maya put down her drinks, then went to Richard and sat on his lap, put her arms around his neck, then she lowered her lips to him, giving him a searing kiss. “Thank for being the most wonderful fiance.”

Richard smiled at Maya. Her kiss stoked up his desire for her. He traced the seams of her lips with his thumb. Then his thumb was replaced by his lips, giving Maya a smouldering kiss to match the one she gave him a minute ago. “Shall we go to bed, sweetheart.’ He murmured huskily, several long seconds after. “Remember, your wish is my command, sweetheart.” He added teasingly as he stood up, with Maya in his arms.

Maya interlaced her hands on Richard’s nape, then when he was putting her down gently on the bed, she whispered to Richard what her wishes are for that evening. Richard grinned. “Sure you are not tipsy, sweetheart,” he teased.

“Nope.” Maya said, looking heatedly at her husband-to-be. Then she sat up and started removing his clothes.

Richard spent the rest of the evening, fulfilling Maya’s wishes. They slept as dawn was breaking, sated and naked in each other’s arms.  Maya sleepily thanked her fiance before succumbing to much-needed sleep in his arms. Richard kissed her one more time before tightening his arms around her and putting the blanket over their nakedness.

The sound of a ringing mobile phone woke up Richard. He grabbed the phone and checked the caller. “Yes, Mama. Napatawag ka po.” He also looked at the clock and realized that it was already 11 o’clock in the morning.

“Ricky, Happy Valentine’s Day sa inyo ni Maya! Sorry did I wake you up, son?” Donya Esmeralda belatedly asked, realizing that Richard sounded sleepy pa.

“Yes, Mama, pero it’s okay po. Tanghali na pala.” Richard said. “Happy Valentine’s Day din po sa inyo ni Papa.”

“Oh! Anyway, napatawag ako kasi baka gusto niyo ni Maya na dito mag-dinner bukas.” Donya Esmeralda said. “I would like to prepare a small salo-salo for key hotel officials to thank them for their hard work and for the success of our opening! Maya said we are fully booked this weekend. Good move ang suggestion niya na on the eve of Valentine tayo mag-open instead of the day itself! Hit din ang promo that she suggested as part of our opening.”

“Sure, Mama. I’m sure it will be okay. Wala naman po kaming lakad ni Maya. I will tell her paggising niya. Medyo napagod po siguro, she is still sleeping.” Richard said. His parents and Maya’s family know that they are living together. They have told them in the family dinner they had at the Polo Club. Both families assured them that it is okay with them, and that their lives are theirs to live. Besides, malapit na rin naman silang ikasal.

“Great, son! I will expect you and Maya na ha.”  Donya Esmeralda said goodbye after that.

Richard looked at his sleeping fiancée. He smiled, full of love for her. Since it is Valentine, he decided to treat her to a breakfast, or rather, brunch in bed. He grabbed some clothes then went to the kitchen. He spent half an hour making champorado for Maya. Good thing the packaged one they discovered is as good as the one you can make from scratch. As for tuyo, he found a bottled tuyo in the fridge from a well-known tapa restaurant. Maya likes it very much. He returned to the bedroom carrying his offering. Richard found Maya slowly moving from the bed.

“Good morning, sweetheart. Rise and shine. I have breakfast for you.” Richard said cheerfully. He sat on the bed.

“Ricky, good morning.” Maya said, feeling very, very lethargic.

“Sweetheart, are you okay?” Richard asked, noticing that Maya sounded very tired and sluggish.

“Not sure, sweetheart. Parang ang sama ng pakiramdam ko. Baka magkaka-flu ako. Lahat yata ng pagod natin sa opening ng Emerald ngayon ko nararamdaman.” Maya replied, leaning against the headboard.

“Oh, you better eat then, sweetheart, para may lakas ka and makainom ka ng medicine.” Richard suggested. “Heto I made coffee for you, then champorado and tuyo.” He put the tray on Maya’s lap.

The smell of freshly brewed coffee assailed Maya’s senses and her stomach started to feel queasy. She looked at the tuyo and champorado, and she can’t help it anymore, she ran to the bathroom. Her stomach heaved but nothing came out. Richard followed her and he massaged her back as she heaved over the sink. “Sweetheart, are you okay? Do you want me to bring you to the doctor?”

“I don’t think I need one, sweetheart. Baka flu lang ito or may nakain ako na hindi nag-agree sa tummy ko. I think I will just lie down for a while.” Maya said, holding on to Richard’s arm as they moved back to the bed. “Can you get me tea and crackers, please. I think my stomach can take that. Kapag hindi na lang bumuti ang pakiramdam ko saka ako iinom ng gamot.”

“Okay, pero kapag masama pa rin, I will bring you to the hospital ha. Baka kasi may nakain ka kagabi sa party na hindi nag-agree sa tummy mo.” Richard said.

“Baka nga. Promise, I will tell you kapag mas sumama pa ang pakiramdam ko.” Maya said.

Richard went back to the kitchen and made the tea for Maya. He also got some crackers from the cabinet. While he was on the way back to the bedroom, he suddenly stopped, a thought entered his head. “Hindi kaya……?” His heart beat faster. He returned to the bedroom.

“Sweetheart, hindi kaya, magkaka-baby na tayo?” He blurted to Maya as soon as he had given her the tea and the crackers, and she started eating. Hindi maalis sa isip niya. “Come to think of it, it has been a while since you last had a period.”

Maya was about to bite on the crackers when her hand stilled, upon hearing Richard’s question. “Sweetheart….” Then she recalled the last time she had a period. It has been….. “Sweetheart, it has been since before Christmas! But sometimes I’m irregular so I didn’t notice! Tapos na-busy pa tayo sa opening ng hotel. I didn’t realize that….Do you think…..?”

Richard grinned. “Sweetheart, there is only one way to find out. Diyan ka lang, I’ll be back very quickly.” Richard hastily kissed Maya, and in his house clothes, grabbed his house key and was out of the condo in a flash.

Several minutes after, Richard returned carrying a small paper bag which has the logo of a big drugstore chain. “Here, sweetheart, we can check.”

Maya opened the back and saw a pregnancy test kit. She looked at Richard. Suddenly she felt nervous and excited too. She got  up. “Sandali lang, Ricky. I will set it up. Gusto ko dalawa tayong titingin.”

“Okay, sweetheart.” Richard said, getting excited as well.

Several minutes after, Maya called Richard to the bathroom. She dropped her urine sample in the slot indicated in the test kit. They didn’t wait long, two purple lines started forming in the slot in the plastic kit.

“Yes!!!!” Richard exclaimed, hugging Maya very tight. His joy at the news, unequalled.

“Sweetheart, magkaka-baby na tayo!!!” Maya said, overcame by emotions, and  with tears of happiness flowing. She hugged Richard tight. Richard twirled her around while the two of them laughed joyfully.

“Sweetheart, magiging mommy ka na at magiging daddy na ako!!!” Richard said, wonder in his voice. Then he carried back Maya to the bedroom.

Richard laid down beside Maya, then reverently touched her tummy. “Hey there, little buddy.”

Maya laughed. She put her hand on top of Richard’s. “Sweetheart., I’m so happy. I love you very much.”

“Me too, sweetheart. I have no words for what I feel at the moment. I love you very much too and ang magiging anak natin.”  Richard said, his voice choking a bit with the overwhelming emotions he was feeling at the moment.

He kissed Maya’s tummy. Then with their hands on her tummy, they shared a sweet kiss. Both of them agreed that their first Valentine is the most memorable ever, with a new life, the product of their love, growing inside Maya.

 

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Inside the Quezon Memorial Circle

There is something for everyone at the Quezon Memorial Circle (QMC). This is what I realized when I have finally gotten around to taking a closer look at this 25-hectare park situated at the heart of Quezon City, Philippines, and the city’s most distinguishable landmark.

qmc shrine facade  qmc facade 3 qmc facade 4  qmc facade 2

I have been a Quezon City resident for more than a decade and I haven’t really been inside ‘Circle’ as the place is popularly called until two weeks ago. I initially got interested in finally checking out Quezon Memorial Circle  after all these years because it was one of the locations used in my favorite teleserye (Philippine soap/drama series).

My first attempt was more than a year ago I think, but there were a lot of people at that time, also the places I wanted to see were being renovated then, the Circle of Fun and Circle of Joy, so I gave up. I also attended an event in QMC after that but I didn’t manage to go around the place, just at the area of the park where the event was being held.

Recently, I have taken to jogging, running and walking, to keep myself fit and one of the places I found out where I can do this is at the Quezon Memorial Circle. In between brisk walking and slow jogs, I took pictures and checked out various points of interest there:

° The Quezon Memorial Shrine. The area around the shrine is a favorite jogging/running path. I even saw some practicing martial arts on the shrine’s grounds. There is a museum inside the shrine for Commonwealth of the Philippines President (1935-1944) Manuel L. Quezon, after whom the city was named, but it was closed for renovation when I checked it out. I’ll write about the shrine, which is also Quezon’s final resting place, in details when the museum opens and I can take a closer look at it too.

 jogging path

º Gardens. I prefer calling them parks within the park. There are picnic tables in some areas. People also play badminton, chess, exercise or jog in and around these areas.

park 1 park 2 park 3 park 4 park 5 park 6 park 7 park 8

º Playground, amusement parks and a zip line.  There are a lot of interesting things for kids at Circle of Joy but I suggest, though, to bring the kids in there not too early as the park employees are still cleaning the place, early morning. When I went there at around 7AM, there were quite a bit of garbage still from the night before! The Circle of Fun, on the other hand, opens in the afternoon.

circle of fun 3circle of fun 2circle of joy 3circle of joy 1pedal and paddle zipline 1

º Biking. The area around Circle of Joy is also designated as a biking area. You can rent bikes and go at the path around the playground.

bike rental 2 bike rental 3

º Zumba/aero sports venues.  On the Saturday I was there the first time, there were a lot of people participating in the zumba session near the shrine. There were other places in the park doing so. One was at the fountain area, and also in this covered court.

zumba aero sports

º Tiangges (bazaars). The first time I was there, which was a Saturday, the stalls were full of stuffs, mostly clothes. I went around and to my delight, found a stall that sells ceramics and I was not able to resist buying a bowl for my collection! There was also a food tiangge that Saturday. When I returned on a weekday, the stalls were all empty.

food tiangge food tiangge 2

º Places to eat, buy food and have coffee. Aside from the big restaurants near the entrance, in front of the city hall, there are also other places inside Quezon Memorial Circle where you can buy food and have coffee.

resto 1 resto 2  cafe 1 cafe 2

 

º The peace bell.

peace 1 peace bell

º Urban farming. I was delighted to see the house made of native materials in this area, with a banggera (a  part of old/traditional Philippine houses where one can wash plates, glasses, etc.)  in the back.

urban farming urban farming 2 urban farming 4urban farming 3

º Plant shops/nurseries for those who likes to garden. I bought some of my sunflowers from one of the stalls at the Quezon Memorial Circle.

plant nurseries plant nursery 2 plant nursery 4 plant nursery 5 plant nursery herbsplant nursery 7

º The Quezon Heritage House. This one I have toured on a separate date. When the museum was closed, and the guards were unable to tell me when it will open, they directed me to this house. I’ll write about it next.

quezon heritage housequezon house 2

The fee for vehicles going inside the park is below. There are parking spaces inside as well. There are also pedestrian underpasses now, which make QMC more accessible.

admission

So,  after several trips, Quezon Memorial Circle is not just a place I passed by on my way to other Quezon City destinations! I also  discovered that the best time to go there if you are not into jogging/running/doing zumba, and would just like to walk around and relax a bit, do something different aside from walking inside the malls, is around 9AM to lunchtime on weekdays. The place is pretty quiet and lovely, especially in summer. Inside the park, you forget about the thousands of vehicles that pass around it, non-stop, everyday!

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On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 5

Chapter 5

2005

“Happy birthday, Mama!” Richard greeted his mother the following morning after his first ‘date’ with Maya. His memorable first date with her! He kissed his mother on the cheek and then gave her the gift he bought. “Something for you!”

“Oh, Ricky, thank you very much, son. Ikaw na talaga ang pinaka-thoughtful na son ko!” Donya Esmeralda Lim, Esme to her husband and friends, exclaimed happily, pinching her son’s cheeks lovingly.

“Ma, ako lang kaya ang son mo!” Richard retorted, smiling, hugging his mother affectionately.  “I love you. Happy birthday, I hope you will like my gift.”

“Of course, son, I will like it.”  Donya Esmeralda assured Richard as she started opening his gift. “Basta galing sa iyo, Ricky, I will like it. Happy ako na naalala mo ako.”

“Iyan nga rin ang sabi ni Maya, Ma!” Richard blurted happily, and with a big smile on his face, not realizing that he raised his mother’s curiousity with that statement.

“Maya…?” Donya Esmeralda stopped opening her gift, very curious as his son hasn’t shown interest in any girl recently, wanting to concentrate on his last year of university. “And what did she say exactly, hijo?”

“Oh, Maya Dela Rosa. My new friend. She is a very nice girl, Ma. I gave her a ride yesterday on the way to the shopping district to buy the gift for you. Nagkataon na papunta rin pala siya sa bookstore. Diyan siya nakatira sa apartment complex several houses away from us.” Richard explained, grinning at his mother. His face animated as he tells her about Maya. “I asked her if you would like the thing I was thinking of buying for you and she told me na kahit ano pa iyon, she is sure na matutuwa ka kasi ganoon din daw ang Nanay niya.”

“Ganoon ba? Nag-aaral din siya sa PUS?” Donya Esmeralda asked. “And by the way, tama si Maya. Kaming mga magulang, happy na kapag naaalala kami ng mga anak namin.”

“Yes Ma. She is an AB student, majoring in Journalism. Pero gusto niya talaga maging lawyer after. Very driven kasi imagine she is working and studying at the same time.” Richard said proudly. “She is working as a crew in the fast food place at the back of the university. Next semester, balak niyang mag-apply na student assistant sa school.”

“That’s great to know, son. She does seemed like a nice and responsible girl.” Donya Esmeralda said. She is sensing something different from her son, when he speaks of this girl. But she decided to let things be. Baka naman sabihin ng anak niya, nakikialam siya rito. Besides, she wants him to have a life outside of his studies. Ito naman kasing Papa ni Ricky, parang stage father, gusto ma-achieve lahat ng anak nila and gusto pa na number one! “O siya, dalhan mo na lang ng food si Maya mamayang gabi. I will cook your favorite kare-kare and some other dishes since birthday ko. Inutusan ko na si Fe kahapon na bumili ng mga ingredient.”

“Wow, thank you Mama! I think Maya will like it. Siguro miss na nga rin niya ang home-cooked meals since malayo siya sa Nanay niya.” Richard gave his mother a kiss. “Taga-Mindoro kasi sila noong housemate niya. I’m lucky nga na nandito pa rin ako sa house natin while studying, and you, Manang and Sabel take care of everything. Hindi katulad nina Maya and Doris.”

“Oo nga. Mahirap ang malayo sa pamilya. Kaya nga ako, hanggang pwede ko pa kayo i-hold ni Grace sa poder namin ng Papa mo I will do.” Donya Esmeralda said as she resumed opening her gift. “Oh, son, thank you very much for these.” Donya Esmeralda exclaimed, finally seeing the cookbooks that Richard got for her.  She hugged and kissed Richard.

“You’re welcome Mama. I’m glad you like it.” Richard smiled. “Oh, I will have to get going. May usapan kami nina Ryan na maggu-group study today bago ang class namin. Malapit na kasi ang exams namin. Mahirap na ba, baka sa last year pa ako sumabit. Alam mo naman iyang si Papa. Malaki ang expectation for me. Lahat yata ng mga hindi niya na-fulfill, gusto gawin ko.” Richard said matter of factly. He is already used to Don Roberto and his lofty expectations.

“Naku, son, breakfast muna, anak. Sige, go take a bath na and I will have it prepared by Sabel.” Donya Esmeralda told her son. “Mahirap mag-aral ng walang laman ang tiyan. Hinay-hinay rin. While it is a very nice thing to do, following all your Papa’s wishes, take time rin to smell the flowers, so to speak. Huwag masyadong subsob sa pag-aaral. Minsan ka lang maging young.”

Richard promised his mother he will. It has been an ongoing thing for the two of them. He is more open to his mother than his father. Most of the time, it is Donya Esme who go between father and son when the pressure gets too intense for Richard and when she feels like her husband is getting out of hand. Richard also knows he can’t skip breakfast as his mother will nag him about it, so he nodded to her and went back to his room to take a bath and get ready for school. The first thing he saw was his phone when he entered his room. He smiled.

Richard: Good morning Maya!

Maya: Good morning, Ricky. Ang aga mong gising ah!

Richard: Ikaw din kaya. Full schedule ka ba today?

Maya: Yes. Have classes this morning. Tapos after lunch, library ako. Then work ako ng ilang hours.

Richard: Wow, full nga! Rest rest ka rin ng kaunti ha. What time will you be home.

Maya: Yes, I will. Meron namang free time in between. Siguro I will be home around 8pm. Bakit?

Richard: Wala lang. Okay, have a great day sa kabila ng sobrang busy mo na schedule. I’ll see you later.

Maya: See you?…

Richard: Basta. Bye Maya. Take care! 🙂

Maya: Bye, Ricky. Have a great day too! 🙂

Richard dropped his phone and looked out of the window, smiling, lost in thoughts. He was remembering the day he had seen Maya for the first time. He was studying by the window when he unconsciously looked out, watching the people passing by while resting his tired brain from all the mathematical calculations he was doing. She was laughing at what her friend said, Doris, he thought now, and her merriment lit up her whole, beautiful face. She seemed so full of life and so pretty that she took his breath away. His heart skipped a beat. She was wearing the uniform of her college so he had known what course she was taking at least, though not her major.

From then on, he always looked out of the window when he is at home and knew that Maya might be passing by. He was also thinking of how he can meet her when the opportunity presented itself that day at the fast food place. He can’t believe his luck when he saw her at the counter, looking so lovely even in her uniform. Up close, he had seen that she as a heart-shaped face with doe-shaped eyes fringed by lush lashes. Her smile was so lovely. Her lips, pouty. Her movement so graceful.

Seeing Maya again the day before was one of the best things that happened to him. Call it fate! Pinagtagpo ulit sila to get to know each other more. He didn’t notice the passing of the time as they chatted over dinner.  Maya is really a lovely person inside out. He managed to gauge that during the course of their conversion. He would like to get to know her more. At that point in his life, he can’t really afford having a girlfriend and he promised his Papa that he will concentrate fully on his studies. He was really insisting on him topping the board exams and it is putting undue pressure on him.

Richard does not have the heart to tell his father off as he knew how important that thing is for him to top the exams. However, he can’t also help himself, he is very much drawn to Maya and her bubbly personality. She is like a ray of sunshine. More like a sunflower. Isn’t it apt that she ended up living in ‘sunflower’ street! Mirasol, after all is, is the Spanish of sunflower. That much he got from a short  Spanish course he took a long time ago.

Richard ’s thoughts was interrupted with Donya Esmeralda calling his name and telling him that breakfast is ready. Richard hastily went to bath. Yes, he has a full schedule that day, but he has the evening to look forward to, very much.

Maya, on the other hand, was still holding her phone with a big, goofy smile on her face when Doris saw her.

“BFF, di ba, maliligo ka na?” Doris asked. She thought that Maya, by then would be finished with her bath as they needed to leave the house in half an hour for their classes. “Hala, kilos na kaya. Alam mo namang terror iyang si Ms. Diaz sa mga late.”

“Oh, ah errr, yes Doris! Bath! Oo nga pala!” Maya suddenly remembered that it was what she was supposed to do when her phone beeped and the exchange of text messages with Richard. “Okay, sandali lang. Naku, nakabihis ka na pala. Wait lang. Quick lang ako.”

“Naku, BFF, bilis. Grabe, parang wala ka talaga sa sarili this morning. Parang alam ko na kung bakit, dahil iyan kay ex-Mr. Dreamboat ko!” Doris said, pretending to be hurt. “Hay, hindi ko pa man nakikilala ng pormal, sawi na ako.”

“Doris, ikaw talaga, hahahahaha.” Maya laughed. “Sige na, maliligo na ako.”

“Wait, wait, wait. Isang tanong muna Maya Dela Rosa. Nag-text siya ‘no? Kaya ka ganyan. Saka hawak-hawak mo kaya iyong phone mo habang parang lumulutang ka sa alapaap diyan.” Doris teased.

Maya gave her a brilliant smile, then said “Yes,” before closing the bathroom door.

Doris settled into the couch while waiting for Maya. She is happy that her friend seemed to be on her way to being in love. Parang gaya lang sa mga pocketbook na binabasa nila! Maya told her about meeting Richard the day before after she asked her why she looked dreamy when she saw her last night. Hayun her BFF was napilitang magkwento sa unexpected meeting nila ni Richard papuntang bookstore, na nauwi sa dinner and mahabang kwentuhan.

Doris squealed with delight when Maya admitted that Richard took her home and even gave her the books. Doris said, noon pa lang pasado na si Richard dahil grabeng magpakilig, considering first date pa lang. Maya corrected her and said unexpected meeting and not first date. Doris insisted na pareho na rin iyon.

Maya was so animated when she talked about her day with Richard, Doris recalled. Mukhang mababali ng BFF niya ang pangako sa sarili na hindi muna magbo-boyfriend hanggang hindi natatapos ang law school! Maya however insisted that she and Richard are just friends at kaka-start pa lang nila ng kanilang friendship.

Doris told her na ibibili niya si Maya ng sampung favorite niyang romance novels kapag mali ang kanyang hinala na papunta na si Richard sa panliligaw sa kanya. Maya said she will list down the titles of the books she wants. Doris also teased Maya that Maya will have to clean the apartment for a whole month if she right. Of course, they were not serious about betting. But it would be fun to know who will be right in the end. Doris was sure that it will be her. Richard will be Maya’s first boyfriend! Sa dinami-dami ng nanligaw sa BFF niya noong high school sila, walang pumasa kahit isa.

The two friends went to school soon after, with Richard still the main topic of conversation. The whole day passed like a blur with all the academic requirements they needed to deal with. Doris went home after their classes while Maya went directly to the fast food place. She was walking home from the street corner at around 8PM that night when someone called her.

“Maya!…She looked and saw Richard with a big smile, coming out of the gate of their house. He was carrying a paper bag. “Hi! I have been waiting for you to pass by.”

“Hi Ricky!” Maya greeted Richard, surprised. “Sana you texted me na lang to know.”

“It’s okay. I know you were at work. Wala naman akong gagawin. Napag-review na ako kanina.” Richard said. “May I walk you home?”

“S-sure!” Maya said, her heart skipping a beat. “Pero, ang lapit na lang naman. But, ikaw bahala ka.”

“Thank you, Maya.” Richard said. “Kumusta ang work?”

“Okay naman, maraming customer. Pero masaya naman kaming mga crew.” Maya said. “Ikaw, kumustang studies mo. Natuloy ba ang group study mo with your brods?”

“Yes, we did. Na-cover naman naming lahat. Iyon nga lang, medyo intense na talaga ang lahat kasi last year na namin ito. Tapos after graduation naman, we will review pa for the board exams.” Richard said. “But it is okay. I’m just looking forward to hurdling everything.”

“Mabuti ka nga, patapos ka na. Me, I’m just starting. After four years of AB, there is four years of law school plus review rin like you. Matagal-tagal pa ang bubunuin ko.” Maya said.

“I’m sure, you can do it, Maya. I admire your determination. One day, I will call you Atty. Maya Dela Rosa.” Richard looked at Maya smiling.

Maya smiled back. “And I wll call you Engineer Richard Lim.”

They shared a smile. Only then they realized that they have reached Maya’s place.

“Richard, pasok ka muna. I’m sure, Doris would like to meet you.” Maya said.

“Okay lang?” Richard asked with a smile.

“Oo naman.” Maya repied as she unlocked the front door. She immediately saw Doris sitting in the living room, watching a teleserye. “BFF, may bisita tayo.”

Doris looked up and saw Richard. She gave him a big, teasing smile. “Hi, Mr. Dreamboat! Finally, nakilala na kita. I’m Doris.”

Richard reddened a bit, not used to being called a dreamboat, but smiled at Doris. “Nice to meet you too, Doris.”  Then he remembered the paper bag he was carrying. “Maya, I almost forgot, for you and Doris pala. Food galing sa bahay. Bigay ni Mama. May kaunti kasi kaming salo-salo for her birthday. Nakwento ko kasi sa kanya na nagkita tayo kahapon, and about what you told regarding sa gift sa kanya.”

“Oh! Thank you Ricky. Pakisabi sa Mama mo, thank you rin.” Maya said happily, touched and giddy that Richard mentioned her to his mother. “Pakisabi rin sa Mama mo, happy birthday galing sa amin ni Doris.”

“I will. O paano, aalis na ako so you and Doris can eat dinner.” Richard said.

“Hindi ka man lang ba muna mag-stay for a while? Would you like a drink. Saluhan mo kami nitong BFF ko sa dinala mo for us.” Doris asked, wanting to get to know her BFF’s future boyfriend. “Please.”

“Okay drinks na lang. I can’t eat anymore. Kanina pa kami kumakain sa house.” Richard said with a big lopsided smile.

“Coke, Ricky, or iced tea?” Maya asked, glad that Richard is staying for a while.

“Coke, please, Maya. Thanks a lot.”

Maya set the table and the three of us, sat and chatted while the best friends enjoyed the kare-kare, menudo, chopsuey that Ricky brought with him. As she chatted with Richard, Doris got to like him more for Maya. She also noticed the two of them sharing a gaze from time to time. Ah, young love. She was sure the two of them were on their way to experience that most heady of emotions that she only get to read in books.

When dinner was over, Doris excused herself. Maya and Richard stayed for a while in the living room chatting. Richard said good night at past 11PM. The following day, Doris teased Maya about Richard’s thoughtfulness and his mother, being boto to her already. Maya just smiled. Doris teasing was interrupted bu Richard’s text message.

From then on, Richard’s text messages became a part of Maya’s mornings. She looked forward to it, and Richard was the same. There were also times that Richard fetches Maya from her work, or from school, and they walked together to Mirasol Street. They also spend their free time together, watching movies whether at Maya’s place or in the cinema, sometimes with Doris and her date. Maya also got to meet Richard’s sister Grace one afternoon. Then the following week, his parents. Richard asked Maya to his house as he was going to get the books he will be giving her. His father was a bit on the serious side, but Donya Esme, or Tita Esme as she wanted Maya to call her was very friendly.

There was no declaration of love between them in all those times. To their friends, especially to Doris, they looked like and acted like boyfriend and girlfriend already. Maya felt that she was falling more and more for Richard with each time, moment she spent with him. Richard was the same, but he was waiting for the right moment to declare his feelings for Maya. He was planning to do it, while in Mindoro. Yes, he decided to push through with his plan to go to Mindoro. He wanted to do it away from the pressure of the final exams on both him and Maya. Besides, he thought it would be more meaningful if he does it in Mindoro, where everything is dear and familiar to Maya. He wanted it to be special.  He wanted to formally ask Maya if he can court her. Richard felt that he and Maya are already more than friends, but he wanted to formally declare his intentions and love for her. He felt then that they were young and had all the time in the world.

Soon, the semester drew to a close. Maya and Doris packed their bags to go to Mindoro. Richard insisted on taking them to Batangas Pier. He borrowed his mother’s car.

“Ricky, thank you again for driving us up to Batangas. Sobra-sobra na ito.” Maya said as she and Richard stood near his car at the busy port. Doris went ahead to buy their tickets, to give the love birds, she said, a special moment to say good-bye. They smiled at her and thanked her.

“No worries, Maya. I’m happy to do it.” Richard said, gazing at Maya, as if memorizing her face. “I’ll miss you a lot.” He said.

Maya got self-conscious the way he was looking at her. “Me too, I’ll miss you. Enjoy your vacation too. Text text na lang tayo.”

“Sure, I will, everyday like what we have been doing. I promise. Besides, I’ll see you soon.” Richard said meaningfully.

Maya thought Richard meant that the semester break will be over soon. “I’ll see you soon. Mabilis naman ang araw. You take care.” She was having a hard time saying goodbye to him.

“Take care too, Maya.” Then Richard did something unexpected, he kissed Maya on the cheek, and whispered. “I’ll be thinking of you, always.”

Maya was surprised at his action. Her face tingled from the touch of Richard’s lips. She blushed. “You will be in my mind too, Ricky.” She whispered softly.

Maya and Richard shared a loving smile. The hustle and bustle of the people in the pier faded in the background as they got lost in their own world.

Richard was looking forward to seeing Maya in a couple of days. Finally, he can tell her how he feels about her. Maya is looking forward to seeing Richard again when the vacation is over. At least, they can text and call each other. She didn’t have an idea that Richard plans to follow and surprise her several days after that.

 

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On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 4

Chapter 4 

2015

Maya was packing her things, having finished and survived her first day of work at RRMA, when her mobile phone rang. She jumped a bit, thinking it might be Richard. Meeting him that morning unsettled her. She can’t get him out of her mind. It was a good thing she had a light load in the afternoon, mostly orientation and discussion on work loads. Ryan did the orientation in the beginning, however, one of the clients assigned to him called and requested for a meeting. Sonny Martinez, a senior associate took over. Maya is thankful to Sonny for the detailed walk through she received from him. He is also a very nice guy, albeit on the serious side. He told Maya to ask him if there is something she would like to know and he would be there to help her anytime.

Maya checked the screen of her phone and saw Doris’ name. She does not know whether she felt disappointed or relieved to find out that it was not Richard. But come to think of it, she mused, why would he call her all of a sudden, if it is not work-related and she just started with his account, and they just met again that morning. “Hello Doris! Napatawag ka!” She greeted her best friend.

“Maya girl, I know you have just been through your first day of work and must be very tired, but I need a super, super favor, please. I’m in a bind. I need to be at an event this evening, kaso hanggang ngayon, wala pa si Lea, hindi pa bumabalik. Hindi na yata babalik iyon. Walang magbabantay kay Lance. Hindi ko naman pwedeng hindi puntahan itong event kasi kasama ito sa next issue namin. Deadline na. Hindi ko naman pwedeng isama si Lance doon.” Doris said, a note of desperation in her voice. “Saka, alam mo naman pati na hindi ko rin basta-basta maiiwan si Lance sa kung sino lang na hindi niya kilala or hindi siya kabisado. Pasensya ka na talaga BFF.”

“O sige, ako na ang bahala sa inaanak ko. Don’t worry na. Mahihintay mo ba ako? Pauwi na rin na ako. What time mo ba kailangang umalis?” Maya offered, knowing that Doris is requesting if she could watch Lance for her. She had babysat for Lance before so she knows the drill. She is glad to help Doris and she loves Lance like he is her son. He is a sweet, little boy, a very special angel.

“Maya, BFF, super thank you talaga ha.” Doris said, thinking once again that Maya is really the best friend a girl could have. “Before 8PM sana. O kumusta nga pala ang first day of work mo? Hindi man lang muna pala kita natanong kung kumusta ang unang araw mo bilang lawyer! Hilo na talaga ako. Bakit naman kasi itong si Lea, nakisabay pa. Maayos naman ang usapan namin.”

“Walang anuman iyon, Doris, para ka namang others. Basta, ikaw, anytime!” Then she paused and thought for a bit on what she would like to tell her BFF about her day. Nah, meeting Richard again is not something she can tell her best friend now, knowing that it would require at least a long serious session between friends to discuss that. “Okay naman ang first day of work ko. I will tell you about it when I see you.”

“Okay. I will expect that ha.” Doris replied. “Can you stay the night pala kasi baka gabihin ako ng husto? Dito ka na lang matulog?”

“Hmmm, I’m not sure, kasi wala akong damit na pang-office. Kapag umuwi pa ako sa bahay ko, baka hindi ka na umabot diyan sa event na pupuntahan mo. Ganito na lang, I will pick up Lance and he can just stay the night with me. Then bago ako pumasok bukas sa work, idadaan ko na siya sa school niya. On my way naman. Di ba the last time your magazine sent you to an event like that, inabot ng madaling-araw. Saka mag-i-interview ka pa ng mga guest diyan di ba?” Maya suggested, as without a yaya, she knew that Doris needed all the help she could get.

“Really, BFF. Naku, maraming salamat talaga. Buti na lang parang pangalawang nanay ka na talaga nitong bebe boy ko. May hahabulin pa nga akong deadline pagkauwi ko. Medyo lamayan ito. Babawi na lang ako sa iyo.” Doris said. “Tama ka naman doon. I will miss Lance pero alam ko naman in good hands siya sa iyo. I will just pick him up from his school tomorrow. Then I will just take him to an amusement park para makabawi rin sa kanya sa weekend.

“Naku, Doris Flores, anong bawi-bawi pa. Wala ito. Ako nga itong malaki ang utang na loob sa inyo ng Dad mo. Para na rin naman kitang tunay na sister and pamangkin ang turing ko diyan kay Lance, di lang inaanak.” Maya said. “O siya, see you in an hour.”

Maya is very grateful for Doris’s friendship. Doris was there for her when her sister died and the difficult times she had afterwards. She also supported her in her law schooling, so was her father. Father and daughter encouraged her to forge on when she felt like giving up.  Instead of being a lawyer like Maya, Doris now works as a writer in lifestyle magazine. During their second year in college, Doris decided to tell her father what she would really like to be, and that was be a writer in a fashion or lifestyle magazine and not a lawyer like him. Her father relented and allowed her to choose her career from then on.

Doris got pregnant while working as an editorial assistant in a fashion magazine after she and Maya graduated from college. Her boyfriend was a photographer who also worked at the same publishing company. They got married and moved to his house, leaving Maya in Mirasol Street. However, after more three years of marriage and Lance’s condition, they separated. Joseph Miranda told Doris she and Lance can have the house they were living in, but that was all she can get from him. He told her he fell in love with another girl and he can’t live knowing his son is ‘damaged’, according to him! By this, Joseph meant in his narrow-mindedness, Lance having autism. Doris told him she does not need him in their lives if that would be his attitude. Her son is better off without a father. Since then, she had been a single mother. Maya helped her from time to time, taking care of Lance when his nanny is on vacation or on day-off.

By the time, too, that Doris and Maya finished college, their old apartment where Doris used to check on Richard while he was passing by, and where Maya and Richard spent so many happy times, was no more. The owner had the place demolished. He built an apartment building as a replacement. He offered a unit to Maya and Doris at a discounted rent as they were among his long-time tenants before. Until now, Maya lives in Mirasol Street.

However, in all the time Maya had been living there, nothing was heard of the Lim family who used to live there. Though, from time to time, Maya would see someone taking care of the house. But the caretakers kept to themselves. One afternoon, curiosity and the longing to find answers got the best of Maya, she decided to use her budding journalism skills and interviewed the caretakers, sort of, but they got close-mouthed when she started asking about Richard. In the beginning, there was also a rumor that floated around that the whole family just packed their bags in the middle of the night, and migrated to China, but no one can confirm it.

“Maya are you going home now?” James asked when he saw Maya packing away her things.  James would like to spend more time with her. He is drawn to his new colleague. He enjoyed the lunch they had together, even if Maya avoided discussing personal stuffs. “May dala ka bang car? Sabay ka na sa akin kung wala.” He offered.

“Naku, thank you very much, James.” Maya said, as while she likes the good-looking lawyer, she feels like keeping a distance from him. Parang bilis kasi niyang maging familiar samantalang bagong kilala pa lang sila. “Pero, hindi pa kasi ako uuwi. I will meet a friend pa eh. Magta-taxi na lang ako.”

“Well, I can also just drop off where you will meet him.” James persisted. “Saan ba iyon?”

“Naku, huwag na talaga, I need to do something.” Maya insisted, not correcting James that the friend is a ‘she’ and not a ‘he’.

“O sige na nga, next time ha. With dinner, please.” James asked.

Maya thanked him again politely but did not commit to the dinner. She just told him that they should play it by ear as she just started and she is not yet sure of her entire workload. They parted ways at the ground floor of the building. Luckily, she found a taxi promptly. She made it to Doris’s house in time. Mother and son were waiting for her, with Lance bags packed. He was very happy to be staying with his Ninang Maya for the night, and playing games on her iPad. Doris has been meaning to get him one as his speech therapist said there are apps which Lance can play with and help his speech and communication skills development. Doris promised herself that she will do it as soon as she straighten out her yaya problem. She really believed Lea when she promised her fervently that she will return. Maya had already asked Doris before the apps that are appropriate for Lance and downloaded those.

“Be a good boy to your Ninang.” Doris told her little boy as she gave him a big hug and several kisses which had Lance giggling. He nodded and soon after, Maya and Lance left the house.

Half an hour later, Maya and Lance arrived at her apartment. She let him used her iPad while making a meal for him and herself. Amazing how easy it was for him to learn new app. He can figure out by himself how things work. He is a very bright boy. Having fed him an hour later, Maya got Lance ready for bed. Doris had established a routine with him and she would like to stick with it. Bedtime for Lance is at 9PM. Lance knew the routine so he went to bed without a fuss.

Lance was long asleep beside Maya but she was unable to sleep, still thinking about Richard and them meeting again. She still feel something for him. That much she admits to herself. See, she is still this affected when they met again. However, she knows that nothing will come out of it. Nothing had come out of it ten years ago, then the more that nothing will come out of it now that he is married.

Maya woke up from a restless sleep when her alarm went off at five o’clock in the morning. She dreamt of Richard. Maybe because he was her last thought before she finally fell asleep. She dreamed that she and Richard met several years after he ‘disappeared’ from her life and the first thing she asked was why did he leave without a goodbye. It was not the first time Maya dreamt like that. She had several variations of this dream.

She get Lance ready for school. He is studying at a progressive school near where she lives. The school takes in special needs children and integrate them into the regular classroom. The children with special needs are supervised by shadow teachers or shadow aides, individually. Lance’s shadow teacher was waiting for him at the entrance of the school when they arrived.

“Good morning Lance.” Teacher Genevieve greeted Lance, making eye contact with him. “How are you today?”

Lance greeted hs teacher and then told her that he played with his Ninang’s iPad.

“Good morning also to you Atty. Maya.” Gen greeted Maya. They have known each other for quite a while as they were Lance’s secondary caregivers. “Nasaan po si Mommy Doris?”

“Naku, may kailangang tapusin last night na deadline. Nag-offer na ako na idaan si Lance dito sa school. Siya na lang ang magpi-pick sa kanya.” Maya replied. “Speaking of which, I need to get going na rin Teacher Gen, doon kasi ako mag-o-office sa client namin na malapit lang din naman dito. Baka ma-late na ako.”

“Sige, Atty. ako na ang bahala dito kay Lance.” Lance’s teacher assured Maya. “Mag-start na rin naman ang class nila. Kung ma-delay naman si Mommy, pwede siyang makipaglaro sa mga classmate niya na naghihintay din ng sundo.”

“Thanks a lot, Teacher Gen. Basta kung may problema, please text Doris or me.” Maya told the nice teacher, then to Lance, she said, “Lance, Ninang Maya is going now. Mommy will pick you up, okay.” The little boy solemnly nodded, but gave Maya a spontaneous kiss and hug, which touches her a lot.

When Maya rose up again, her peripheral vision caught a guy holding the hand of a little girl about the same age as Lance. She slowly looked that way and gasped in surprise. “Hello, Richard!”

“Hello, Maya.” Richard greeted Maya with a polite smile. He is still trying to recover from seeing Maya here and trying to process the fact that Maya is apparently married and now has a kid. But she was introduced as Atty. Dela Rosa if he remembers correctly.

Before the two of them could talk some more, Lance excitedly blurted, “Abby, Abby, you are here!”

“Hello Lance.” The little girl, who was clinging to Richard greeted Lance with a big smile, then let go of Richard’s hand to hug the little boy.

“Hello Mr. Lim.” Teacher Gen greeted Richard. Then explained to a surprised Maya and Richard that the kids are very good friends. “Fast friends po iyang sina Lance and Abby since she started here. Inseparable ang dalawang iyan. Nakakatuwa nga.”

“Really, Teacher Genevieve, that’s good to know!” Richard said. “I’m glad that Abby has made friends already. I thought she would have a hard time due to the drastic changes she had experienced recently.”

“Naku, for a child like Abby na very affectionate, madali lang po siyang magka-friends. In fact, hindi lang si Lance ang naging friends niya kaagad, pero parang si Lance po yata ang best friend niya talaga.” Teacher Gen said with a big smile. “Sige po, magsisimula na ang class. Ako na rin po ang magsasama kay Abby sa shadow teacher niya.” She offered.

“Thank you, Teacher Genevieve.” Richard simply said, then he talked to the little girl. “Abby, sweetie, si Teacher Genevieve na ang bahala sa iyo ha. Daddy will just pick you up later.” He gave his daughter a kiss on the cheek. The little girl hugged him and whispered “I love you, Daddy” to him. Richard felt like there is a big lump in his throat, hearing his daughter being able to do this now. He told Abby that he loves her too. Then he composed himself and looked at Maya again. “Maya, are you going to LAS na?” He asked her.

Genevieve heard Richard’s question and it was her turned to be surprised that the two know each other that well. Maya saw her expression and felt the need to enlighten the teacher a bit.

“Teacher Gen, si Richard iyong client na pupuntahan ko.” Maya simply said. “Iwan ko na si Lance sa iyo ha. Thank you.”

“No worries, Atty. Maya, ako na ang bahala sa kanila ni Abby.” Teacher Genevieve took hold of the kids’ hands and waved at Richard and Maya.

“Maya, papunta na rin ako ng LAS, sumabay ka na lang sa akin.” Richard offered.

Maya’s heart skipped a beat at his offer. She and Richard in a car again after all the years that had passed by. However, she can’t very well decline as she is, indeed, going to his office. “Sure, Richard. Thank you very much.” She said in what she hoped was a steady voice.

Richard opened the passenger door of a dark blue BMW parked outside the gate of the school for Maya to get in. “Thank you, Richard.” Maya said with a smile. Richard smiled back at her before closing the door.

In the first several minutes after they have both fastened their seatbelts and the car was merging into the early morning traffic, they were both silent as if one is waiting for the other to speak first. Both of them realized that they are alone the car. The first time Richard offered her a ride came rushing back to Maya. Ah, what a sweet time it was, she mused. Richard was also remembering that day, Maya standing at that street corner, looking so lovely.

It was Richard who broke the silence. “Matagal na bang pumapasok si Lance sa Little Angels Center?”

“Yes, several years na rin. Doris found the school through a friend who also has a child with special needs.” Maya replied. “She is happy for the recommendation as Lance is thriving in this school. Mababait lahat ng teachers and they care for the kids talaga.”

“Doris?” Richard asked, surprised that it was Doris who decided on the school for Maya’s child.

“Yes, you remember Doris, my best friend? Siya ang mommy ni Lance.” Maya explained, puzzled at Richard’s question and reaction. Then she realized why. “Oh, you thought….”

Richard smiled sheepishly at Maya. “Yes, I thought Lance is your child.”

Maya smiled back. “I’m his godmother. May emergency kasi si Doris sa work kaya I took care of Lance. Sinundo ko siya sa bahay nila kagabi, then ako na ang naghatid sa school bago ako pumasok sa LAS.”

“I see.” Richard said simply. “That was very nice of you.”

“You know me and Doris, we go a long, long way back! “Maya said, then asked him about Abby. “How about Abby, how long have she been going to this school? Kasi parang hindi ko siya nakikita rito before, though medyo matagal na akong hindi napunta rito noong nagre-review ako.”

“Simula pa lang ng bumalik kami sa Pilipinas, siguro mga three months na.” Richard replied as he navigated the road going to his company’s headquarters. “I was glad to have found a good school for her, in Little Angels. It was recommended to me by Abby’s developmental pediatrician.”

“She is a child with special needs too?” Maya asked, surprised. She also noticed Richard using ‘I’ and ‘me’ when he was referring to the decisions made for Abby’s care, as if he is alone in caring for her.

“Yes. Abby was diagnosed with autism when she was more than two years old.” Richard said, finding it easy to say things to Maya still, despite the fact that he hadn’t seen her in a long time. They had this kind of thing between them, even ten years ago. “I researched on her condition, then worked on all the early interventions I could do, followed all the recommendations of her devt. pedia.”

“That’s what Doris and I did too. I helped Doris researched rin when Lance was diagnosed, about the same age when Abby was diagnosed. Just like Abby, Lance has autism too.” Maya said. “Pero he is a very bright boy and very affectionate din. Early intervention, you know, occupational therapy, speech therapy, had helped him a lot already.”

“Pareho pala sila ni Abby! Malaki na rin ang naging development ni Abby mula ng ma-diagnose siya. She is a very bright girl din. I thought noong una na baka mahirapan na mag-adjust si Abby sa integrated school kasi new environment and new country, pero mabuti at hindi naman. Dapat nga pasasamahan ko pa siya kay Manang Fe, iyong yaya niya, pero mukhang kaya na niya. Besides, medyo matanda na rin si Manang. Remember I told you before na yaya ko pa siya.” Richard finished with a smile, remembering one of his wonderful chats with Maya over dinner.

“I remember that.” Then Maya asked something before she could stop herself, “So working din ang mom ni Abby like Doris kaya hindi siya nakakasama kay Abby?” Then she realized that medyo personal ang tanong niya. “Oh sorry for asking. Never mind that.” She said, getting red in the face. Baka isipin ni Richard, she was prying.

Richard wa silent for several seconds, then shook his head a bit as if he had made a decision.”Abby’s mom is dead, Maya.” He told her quietly.

Maya was surprised. She was not expecting that answer. She was not expecting that Richard Lim is now a widower in his early 30s. “I’m so sorry for your lost, Richard! It must have been hard on Abby and you, especially for Abby to have lost her mother at a very young age.”

“Thank you, Maya.” Richard said, then he seemed to be lost in thoughts for several seconds. “We are okay now. It happened several years ago.” He simply said, then he shifted the topic. “Ikaw, how are you? I’m glad that you have achieved your dream to be a lawyer. Your Nanay and your Ate Cris must ve very proud of you. Kumusta na sila?”

It was Maya’s turned to look sad and pensive. Richard noticed it. “My mother is very happy when I passed the bar. She lives in Mindoro pa rin. Pinagkakaabalahan niya iyong karinderya niya. She has one na, like iyong pangarap nila ni Ate Cris na maitayo.  For Ate Cris, I’m sure she would have been very happy for me too. She must have celebrated in heaven when I passed.” She finished softly with a catch on her voice.

“Oh, you mean….? Your sister is….?” Richard was shocked to know.

“Yes, Ate Cris is gone, Ricky. Naaksidente siya sa Dubai.” Unconsciously, Maya reverted to Richard’s nickname as she held back memories of that difficult time in her young life. “She died in 2005 after my first semester as a freshman in PUS.”

“Oh, Maya, you mean, she died that semester break!” Richard was a lost for words. He doesn’t know what he felt at that moment, knowing what Maya have gone through that momentous and unforgettable time in their young lives. “I’m so sorry.” He finished, knowing that it is not enough.

“Thank you, Richard. Okay na kami ng Nanay ko. Matagal na rin naming natanggap na wala na si Ate Cris and it is just the two of us now.” Maya said, trying not to take the trip down memory lane. She doesn’t know if she is ready yet to ask all the questions in her head, for her closure. Besides, she noticed that they just stopped at the parking space reserved for Richard in front of a four-story building. “Oh we are here na ba?” She asked, looking around.

“Errr, yes. This is LAS.” Richard replied, still processing what Maya had said and what she didn’t say. “Let’s go in.” Richard got out of the car and opened the door again for Maya. He was gazing at her intently, then he smiled at her and guided her towards the lobby of the building.

Richard would like to have a heart to heart talk with Maya, tell her what happened and why he was not there when she needed him the most. But it was not the right time or moment for it. Work first. But as soon as he gets the opportunity, he would do so. He hopes Maya will hear him out. He wants to get to know Maya again, and see if they can continue what was not meant to be, ten years ago.

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The coolest reading lamp

I love to read while lying down, in the middle of the night. I can do this until dawn if the book is good that the only time I can put it down is when I am done reading it. To be able to do this, I need and want a good reading lamp. So, I’m always on the look out for one. I have tried a lot. But still, there was something lacking in the ones I got.

I also tried the tablets/phones offering a Kindle app. But I found out that reading that way was hard on the eyes. The new models of Kindle have a backlight feature, but I’m still loyal to my old basic one. Also, most of the time I still prefer ‘real books’. I like the feel of them on my hands. I like turning the pages and folding the corner of the current book I am reading to mark the page I last read.

Recently, I found myself inside this huge Wilcon Builders’ Depot in Balintawak, Quezon City as I was looking for something for our kitchen. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I found the coolest reading lamp ever.

It looks like an eyeglasses case. About the same size too. Very compact!

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Then it opens into this.

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It can also be used as a flashlight.

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It is rechargeable via a USB cable.

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Isn’t it the coolest and the most convenient reading lamp ever! It is made by Philips and has small LED bulbs. Now, I can read to my heart’s content, comfortably.

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Buying stuffs online

Instead of using a credit card, I use a Visa debit card for my online purchases. I find it more convenient.

For me, what works is Union Bank’s EON card, which is a Visa debit card. I stumbled upon it several years ago when I got my first Kindle. I have been using it since then.

I applied for my EON card at a Union Bank branch. But now, you can apply for this card at the Union Bank’s website, just fill out the form, then just get the card at a Union Bank branch. It is quicker and faster. One of my friends got hers the day after she applied for one.

I have used EON in buying stuffs at Amazon, both at Amazon US and UK, aside from Kindle books I buy from time to time (and usually, in the middle of the night!). I’m a big fan of Downton Abbey so every time a season is finished, I pre-order the season’s DVD at the Amazon UK’s website.

I  have also used my EON at the Apple Apps Store for my kid’s apps, and at iTunes for hard to find recordings of the musicals I like or old albums not available anymore in the local shops.

I bought a bag at Cath Kidston’s website using this card as at that time, there was no Cath shop in the country.

To fund your purchase, you can just deposit the amount you need approximately to buy the item that you want. But you can also put more than that and use the card as a form of a savings and spending account. However, just be aware that the bank limits your transaction to Php 20,000.00 per day. If you need to purchase something more than that amount you have to request for an increase in your daily limit. The bank said it is for the protection of the card owner. Kinda makes sense!

The annual fee is Php 350.00 and you don’t need a maintaining balance for EON. When I wanted to buy something, I just go to the nearest Union Bank branh and deposit the approximate amount I need to pay for my purchase. I usually check on my card’s transactions and charges by logging in to my online banking account at the bank’s website.

Nowadays, I have been using this card also to pay for my groceries, and other purchases in the malls and supermarkets. It is easier than carrying cash or using my regular ATM. The cashier either swipes it like a credit card, then you sign the slip or like an ATM where you need to input your PIN number. It really depends on the store and the terminals. So, be sure to sign your card too.

Just thought of sharing this. I have recommended the card to several friends who wanted to buy stuffs online too. I think there are other local debit cards available now, but since this one works me, I didn’t check the others anymore.

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Windblown – Chapter 20

Nesting

Welcome to my place!” Richard said as he and Maya entered the penthouse of an upscale condominium complex two streets away from Maya’s place. “Come, my sweetheart, make yourself comfortable.”

“Wow, this is a certainly huge place for one person, sweetheart! It’s also very beautiful!” Maya looked around as she followed Richard towards the living room of his spacious place which has two levels. She likes the hardwood floors used for the flooring instead of marble or tiles, and the floor-to-ceiling windows of the place, taking advantage of the light and highlighting the view. Hardwood was also used for the stairs that lead to the open second level of the beautiful place.”Did you design the interior of this condo?”

“Yes, I did. I got this unit bare. I requested the developer to leave the designs of the unit itself to me. I want to make it airy and laidback, for the place to flow. You know, comfort before useless aesthetics. I like to be able to move around comfortably since I also use this place as an office. I like thinking of new designs here than the office in Eastwood.” Richard explained as he guided Maya towards the sofa and sitting beside her, hugging her to his side.

“When I bought and designed this place, I also thought that it would be a suitable place to start a family, initially at least. Though at that time naman, wala pa akong planong magpakasal. I was not even in a serious relationship.” Richard added with a big loving smile for Maya.

“Really, sweetheart! No serious relationship!” Maya said lovingly.

“Nope, kasi I was pining for this beautiful princess. Mabuti na lang she came back and made my life full of colors.” Richard looked at Maya like she is the most beautiful girl in the world. At times, there is still a part of him that find it hard to believe that they are together now and that it had happened.

“Sweetheart naman talaga. Ikakasal na lang tayo para ka pa ring nanliligaw sa akin sa sobrang sweetness and pa-kilig.” Maya said, very thrilled.

“Of course, sweetheart! Hindi naman natatapos ang lahat sa proposal and sa marriage. Dapat araw-araw pa rin ang courtship and until our last breaths. That’s part of me, loving you, very, very much!” He cupped Maya’s face, then gave her a sweet kiss.

“Thank you, my sweetheart. I’m the the luckiest girl talaga. I love you very much.” Maya replied, giving Richard tiny kisses. “So, how about giving me a tour?”

“Sure, sweetheart.” Richard stood up and offered his hand to Maya. He showed her around the first level of the place first, which aside from the living room, has the dining room, kitchen, laundry area, an entertainment room, and a medium size room which Richard said is for a kasambahay. He made it bigger than the usual maid’s room by gutting out a storage room and combining it with the builders’ original very small maid’s room. The kitchen is a cook’s dream. However, Richard told Maya

Richard guided Maya to the second level of the house. The stairs led to a family room which has floor-to-ceiling windows too, then beyond it are two guest bedrooms. At the other side of the family room is Richard’s small gym, his study, then at the end is his bedroom. It is the best and the biggest room in the house, decorated in understated elegance.

“So, what do you think of the place, sweetheart?” Richard asked Maya as he led her to the sitting room of his bedroom. This part of the room led to a small balcony which Maya can see has a small lanai.

“I love your place, sweetheart, especially the way you have designed it. You are very talented. The place also has this positive feeling in it. I don’t know, hard to explain but I feel the positive aura of the place. Maybe, because I can feel the talent you have put in order to make this place a home. It is certainly big enough, not just for a family, but a big family!”

“Do you think you can live here? We can just also live in your place. I like it din and we have wonderful memories in that place already.” Richard told Maya, wanting to leave the decision to her as she has just started nesting, so to speak, after living abroad for years. He can adjust, for her. Besides, they need a house when their family expands. He wants kids. He is looking forward to the coming of his and Maya’s adorable angels.

“Thank you for saying that Ricky. I really appreciate your willingness to move to my small unit. But I know how you love this place too. It is evident in the way you made it a home. We can also make a home here. Kahit saan naman we can do that basta magkasama tayo. Us and the children we will have.” Maya said, putting her hand on top of Richard’s. “We can live here. I love the place already.”

“I’m glad, sweetheart. I look forward to sharing this place with you. In the meantime, let’s live in yours while you redecorate it the way you want to be.” Richard suggested. “Make this place your home too.”

“Oh, I don’t think it would need changes much. But let’s just live here after we got married.” Maya smiled sweetly at Richard. She, too, is looking forward to sharing this place wih Richard. She looks forward too, to children’s laughter that will fill the place, hers and Ricky’s beautiful kids.

“I can already see you here, with the kids we will have.” Richard said dreamily. “Siguro, maganda if we will have four kids, or six like what we have discussed before.”

“Four to six kids! Kaya ba natin iyan, sweetheart.” Maya said smiling, thinking already of three cute boys and three beautiful girls who will make her and Ricky crazy, but whom they will surely love to pieces.

“Why not. Mas marami, maganda. Malay mo, abutin pa talaga ng six ang kids natin. Why not?” Richard said, smiling.

“Six talaga, sweetheart!” Maya exclaimed, but not oppose to the idea. She would like a big family too. She got lucky with having cousins, but nevertheless, there are times that it is difficult to be an only child, especially of you have lost your parents at a very young age.

“Yes, baka nga we have started na on number one.” Richard said, touching Maya’s tummy. “We have not use any form of protection. How do you feel about that, sweetheart. Okay with you if we start having a family promptly.”

Maya blushed, but is liking the idea of a little Richard or a little Maya already in her tummy. “Of course, sweetheart, I’m okay with it. Product of our love iyon. Pero, baka naman wala pa.” Maya added, blushing.

“Hmmmm, then we have to be sure that there will be soon.” Richard grinned naughtily. He stood up, then put his left arm on Maya’s ankles and the other arm on her back, then lifted her towards his big bed. “I also imagine you here.” He said in a bedroom voice that sent tingles to Maya’s senses.

“Ricky….” Maya said breathlessly, still catching her breath, after Richard has put her down slowly, on his big bed. She interwined her hands on his nape, then lowered his head to hers, and gave him a searing kiss.

“Maya….” Richard returned the kiss heatedly.

The kiss turned into several kisses, with the two of them, touching each other urgently, heatedly, until they became one and managed to tempered down the ever burning fire between each other.

Richard kissed the top of Maya’s hand as he cradled her in his arms as they rest in the afterglow. He also touched her stomach reverently. Maya smiled at him. “So, did it live up to your imagination.” Maya teased Richard.

“More than, sweetheart. But I need a validation, you know, para sigurado.” Richard said naughtilly as he started caressing the underside of Maya’s right breast.

Maya gasped at the feeling. “Again, sweetheart?” She asked, smiling, but with an equally mischievous expression on her face.

Richard simply nodded. His eyes full of passion. But when he was about to move, Maya gently extricated herself from Richard’s embrace and with her hand on his broad chest, she motioned him to keep still. She then moved on top of Richard and started pampering him, first with tiny, loving kisses from his face to every part of his beautiful body, then driving him crazy with her maddening touch, until he can’t take it anymore. “Sweetheart…..” Richard said breathlessly. Maya then moved again, and drove the two of them to fulfillment.

“I love you very much, Maya. You are my life now.” Richard said after he had managed to catch his breath from Maya’s wonderful and unexpected treat to him. This is the first time she had done this. “Thank you, and I will not get tired of saying that, for making me so very happy. And I just want you to know I have never brought anyone here, before. It never felt right. Kaya pala, ikaw lang kasi ang para rito.”

“Oh, you made me very happy, too. You continue to make me happy. Ricky. Sobra-sobra.” Maya said lovingly, hugging Richard tight as her head rests on his chest, appreciating him telling her about it, getting his meaning and she felt very happy to know. Yes, intellectually, she knew that Richard could have not lived like a monk the past seven years. But she was really glad to know that no one has shared that bed with him, except her. “I love you very too, Ricky.”

Richard and Maya stayed like that for a while, content. They only moved when it got a bit late. Maya helped Richard packed his stuffs. They returned to Maya’s place around midnight, then promptly fell asleep in each other’s arms.

The following morning, Maya woke Richard with a breakfast in bed, and all the things he needed for work, laid down at the divan near the bathroom. He told her he will take care of the dishes since she cooked. He tidied up the kitchen while Maya was taking a bath.

“Thank you for the breakfast, and for preparing my things, sweetheart.” Richard told Maya, cupping her face when she was about to open the door of condo, then giving her a ‘thank you’ kiss that lasted several long seconds.

“You’re welcome, sweetheart.” Maya is happy to be taking care of Ricky. “Halika na, pasok na tayo.”

Richard and Maya rode down to the parking basement where Richard parked his car the night before. Maya has still a week to go to the office in Eastwood before she moves to her office in the new hotel in BGC. More than an hour of traveling, which the two of them spent chatting about their plans for the evening and the dinner with the families, they arrived at the offices of Lim Corporation. The employees are still not used to Richard Lim lovey-dovey with someone, as some of them said to their colleagues, but they find it so romantic. Richard deposited Maya at the entrance of Emerald’s, as he needed to see his father at the executive offices that morning.

“I’ll see you for lunch, sweetheart.” Richard kissed Maya on the lips, lightly. “Puntahan na lang kita sa conference room.”

“Okay, sweetheart. Have a great morning. Hello to Papa.” Maya said, then waved at Ricky. She waited until he boarded the elevator before going in. When she reached the conference room where they brainstormed the day before, she saw that there is only on person there, and its Diana. Maya hesitated a bit, but she realized that it is her chance to talk to Diana too. She sensed her coolness the day before.

“Good morning, Ms. Diana.” Maya greeted Diana cheerfully.

Diana looked at her with a raised eyebrow, then returned her greetings politely. “Good morning Ms. Dela Rosa.” Then she went back to the opened laptop before her.

“Ms. Diana,” Maya started.

Diana looked up inquiringly. “Yes, Ms. Dela Rosa.”

“May I talk to you about something.” Maya asked, then proceeded to do so when Diana nodded motioning for her to continue.

Maya opted to be straight with Diana as well. It was one of the things she learned while working and dealing with people of different nationalities in Macau, especially her colleagues and bosses who came from Australia, the States and some parts of Europe. While like with Ina, she knows that she does not need to explain, but she would like to. She wants to concentrate on her and Richard’s happiness and not on things like this, especially if can be smoothed out.

“I know that the fact that seeing Ricky and I together was a surprise to everyone, especially to you and Ms. Ina since it didn’t  come up in my interview with you. Ricky also told me that he didn’t mention to you and Ina that he knows me when you gave him the resumes of the candidates. Yes, I have known Richard Lim from seven years ago, but at the time I was applying for a job here, he was not my boyfriend and I didn’t realize that his family owns the company. My headhunter took care of the job hunting for me. I didn’t tell him either since I wanted to be hired on my own merit. He, on the other hand, wanted to give you and Ina a free hand in deciding who is the best person for the job.” Maya said, then she told Diana the rest of wht she had told Ina too. Looking at Diana, she can see her expression changed.

“Maya, thank you very much for telling me. I appreciate it.” Diana said more warmly, then contritely, “I’m so sorry for reacting the way I reacted. On a level, I knew I was being unfair to you. You did get hired because of your excellent qualifications. I guess, my only excuse, or defense, is that I have been burned before by someone I hired who I thought was on the level with me.   Like you, I really liked her. But because of what she did just so she got hired, and the bad judgement I thought I did, she cost me my job. Since then, I had a strong dislike of people who are not honest with me.”

“Thank rin for telling me, Ms. Diana. I understand.” Maya said, smiling at Diana. She is glad to have cleared the air with Diana too.

“Oh, please call me Diana.” Diana said, smiling now. “And I heard congratulations are in order.”

“Thank you Diana. Yes, Ricky and I are getting married soon.” Maya said happily.

“Hmmm, why do I sense that there is a beautiful love story behind that smile.” Diana teased Maya. She did like Maya a lot the first time she saw her.

Both of them laughed, with Maya promising that maybe, one day, she will tell her about it. Soon after Donya Esmeralda, Ina and the other managers arrived and the hours of the morning flew by. As he had promised, Richard picked her up for lunch. They were on their way to the elevator going up when someone called Richard.

“Brod, aakyat ka na ba? Sabay na tayong mag-lunch.” Ryan Molina asked Richard, then he noticed the beautiful girl beside him, his hand interlaced with hers. “Oh, sorry, I didn’t notice you right away, you must be Maya. I’m Ryan Molina….”

Richard continued the introduction. “Maya, sweetheart, this big lug, is Ryan Molina, our corporate legal counsel and a good friend of mine. Fraternity brothers din kami nung college and ninong ako ng anak niyang si Raymond. Brod, the beautiful lady is my fiancee, Maya dela Rosa, also Emerald’s new operations manager for our hotel in BGC.”

“The last one I know of, Brod, but not as your fiancee, until the office grapevine buzzed with it yesterday. Lakas ha.” Ryan said smiling, teasing Richard. “Now I understand, why. I’m very please to meet you Maya.”

“Hi Ryan, please to meet you too. Ikaw iyong kasama ni Ricky sa Macau, di ba? And a woman.” Maya realized why the lawyer looks familiar.

Now, it was Ryan’s turned to be surprised. “You saw us in Macau? I was with Richard nga there and also my wife Ivy sometime last year. Hmmm, feeling ko may mahaba-habang story diyan sa Macau na iyan. I now remember, my brod here, looking sad and pensive while we were there.”

“Hahaha, ikaw talaga Brod.” Richard laughed. “Halika, sumama ka na nga sa aming mag-lunch ni Maya and we will tell you all about Macau and our love story.” He gazed at Maya and the two of them shared a loving smile, remembering Macau.

Ryan looked at them. “Hmmm, baka naman mainggit lang ako sa sobrang sweetness niyong dalawa.” He teased, “Maya, pasensya ka na sa amin ng brod ko. Ganyan lang kaming magkulitan. If you don’t mind, sama na lang ako sa inyo ni Richard sa lunch, I want to hear the whole thing.”

“Of course, Ryan. Please do join us for lunch.” Maya said graciously, liking Richard’s jolly friend immediately.

The three of them went to the company restaurant in the top floor of the building. The place offers a wonderful view. At that time of the day the place was a bit full. Richard led Maya to a corner table, and Ryan followed them. It took them a while to get there as a lot hailed Richard and he introduced Maya to other company executives.

While they were eating lunch, Richard and Maya alternately told Ryan of their love story. Ryan listened with rapt attention. Then when they were finished, he said, “Hayun, kaya naman pala parang feeling ko pinagsukluban ng langit at lupa si Brod sa Macau. Now I also understand Brod, kung bakit ilang dates lang, goodbye na ang mga date mo. Pero don’t worry Maya, ikaw lang ang nag-iisa rito kay Brod. Sa iyo lang siya nagkaganyan.” Ryan assured Maya, smiling. “Pero Brod, Maya, grabe ang love story niyong dalawa, parang iyong paboritong teleserye lang ni Ivy. Masayang-masaya ako para sa inyong dalawa.”

Maya gave Ryan a big smile. “I know. Otherwise, hindi ko siya sasagutin.” She said in jest, then looked at Richard lovingly. “Thank you, Ryan.”

“Sweetheart, thank you. Love you.” Richard smiled atMaya and then addressed Ryan. “Tama iyan, Brod. By the way, talagang pupuntahan kita later this afternoon, to ask if you and Ivy would like to have dinner with Maya and I on Friday. Gusto ko ngang magkakilala kayo formally.”

“Ivy will like that, Richard, Maya. I will tell her. For sure, tuwang-tuwa iyon that you are getting married na and of course, she would like to meet the girl who finally captured your heart.” Ryan said.

“Great, Brod! Then one more thing, will you be my best man?” Richard asked.

“Of course, Brod. Magtatampo naman ako ng todo-todo niyan kung hindi ako ang best man mo, hahahaha.”

“Thank you, Brod.”

The three of them chatted about the wedding during the rest of the meal. Richard and Maya parted with Ryan at the elevator again. He took Maya back to the conference room, agreeing to meet at the lobby after Maya finishes for the day.

Richard and Maya managed to get home at half past seven o’clock that evening.

“Sa wakas, solo na naman kita.” Richard grinned as he reeled Maya towards him, on his lap. “Dalawang beses ng interrupted ang lunch natin ah.” He remarked.

“Ikaw talaga, Mr. Lim. solo mo naman ako. Ikaw at tanging ikaw lang.” Maya said lovingly as she wiggled a bit and settled comfortably into Richard’s lap. “What would you like to eat? I’ll make dinner.”

“Huwag na sweetheart, alam kong pagod ka na rin. Let’s order dinner na lang. When we move to the new house, let’s ask Mama if she can recommend a good kasambahay to us para hindi ka mapagod ng husto.” Richard said. “For now, it is nice to be like this, just the two of us. What do you think?”

“Yes, I agree, sweetheart. Gusto ko the two of us muna, like this.” Maya said. “I’ll order na. Pizza, pasta and salad, okay with you?”

Richard nodded. When Maya put the phone down after ordering. “Now I know the best way to pass the time while waiting for our order.” He then whispered something to Maya which made Maya blushed and raised an eyebrow. “Is that possible, sweetheart, remember normally, 30 to 45 minutes lang ang tagal bago dumating ang delivery.”

“Wanna bet, my love.” Richard grinned naughtily. “If I lose, I will give you the best massage ever. If I win, you have to grant a wish of mine.”

“Hmmmm….” Maya murmured, pretending to think deeply, then she, too, grinned. “Call.”

Richard grinned, then carried Maya to their bedroom to do what he whispered lovingly to her. Thirty minutes later, with Maya cradled in his arms, he said, “I won, sweetheart. Then you have to grant my wish.”

“Okay, what is it?” Maya said as she caressed Richard’s arm, still basking in the afterglow. She felt so relaxed and sated at that moment.

“I’ll think about it.” Richard grinned, and he was about to give Maya another searing kiss on the lips when the in house phone rang. “Oh, that’s our food. Stay in bed, I will get it.” Richard said as he looked for the shirt and pants, he and Maya hastily discarded in their hurry earlier.

Richard and Maya ended up eating their dinner on the bed. It lasted longer than usual as they fed each other slowly, teasingly, and lovingly.

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