Maya, in shorts, a sleeveless blouse and flip-flops was standing at the corner of Mirasol and Cadena de Amor Streets, waiting for a jeepney that would take her to the nearest bookstore, when a car stopped in front of her. She instinctively took a closer look. Her eyes widened and her heart beat faster when she saw the driver.
“Hi Maya, may I give you a ride?” Richard Lim asked from the opened window of the car. He was wearing casual clothes, a white shirt and jeans. He is as handsome as ever when she had seen him up close and finally met him several days before, after all the time Doris has been crushing on him. Doris was so envious when she told her that she met her Mr. Dreamboat. She pretended to be hurt. But she assured Maya it is okay as she just like how Richard looks and is just passing her time, crushing on him when he passed by. Her bestfriend even speculated that maybe Richard has a crush on Maya since he is aware of her and where she lives. Maya brushed it off, but deep inside, her heart went aflutter.
“Hi Ricky, naku huwag na. Makakaabala pa ako sa iyo. Diyan lang naman ako sa shopping center pupunta. May bibilhin sa bookstore there.” Maya said, her heart skipping a bit at the lopsided smile he was giving her. “Baka may pupuntahan kang importante. Really, I’m okay, magko-commute na lang ako. Thank you.”
Instead of driving off, Richard got out of the white vintage Volkswagen Beetle he was driving. He went to where Maya was standing. At last, he had seen Maya again. He never got the chance to see her again after meeting her at the fast food place where she works. His schedule has been quite tight and he need to work doubly hard on his studies as it was his last year in college. His father expected him to be the best and to top the board examination when he take it.
“Tamang-tama, doon din ang punta ko.” Richard said smiling beguilingly at her, then opening the passenger door for Maya. “Halika na. Baka mahirapan kang mag-jeep. Umulan and rush hour na.”
“Okay, sige na nga! Thank you very much, Ricky.” Maya got into the car, folding her long frame into Richard’s small cute car. She liked it. She has never ridden a Beetle before nor have seen one in recent years.
“Wala ka bang work ngayon?” Richard asked as he started driving towards the direction of the shopping district where the bookstore is located.
“Tapos na. I took the early shift. Ikaw, saan ang punta mo?” Maya asked.
“Sa bookstore din sana. Birthday ni Mama tomorrow, I want to buy her a gift. Naisip ko na bilhan na lang siya ng cookbook kasi mahilig siyang magluto.” Richard said, conversationally. “Sa palagay mo ba she will like it?” He asked Maya all of a sudden.
Maya looked at him, temporarily getting lost in Richard’s intent gaze and him asking her opinion. “I don’t know your Mama for me to make a definite suggestion or an opinion. Pero sabi mo she loves to cook, so I’m sure she will like it. Besides, I think kahit ano naman ang ibigay natin sa mga mom natin, they will appreciate basta from the heart. My Nanay is like that, basta galing sa amin ng ate ko, she appreciates naman.”
“You are right about that, Maya. Thank you.” Richard said. Maya mentioning about her family was the opening Richard needed, as he really wanted to get to know Maya better. “So, you have a sister. Ilan kayong magkakapatid? Saka, I heard from Manong Tony, iyong may tindahan malapit sa inyo na taga-Mindoro kayo.”
Richard is really aware of her or he is just mighty curious about his neighbors! Maya felt a bit flustered that he seemed to know about her than she knew about him, but there is a way to rectify that, find out about him more. “Yes, I have a sister, older than me. My father died several years ago so it is just me, my sister Cristina Rose and our Nanay. Yes, taga-San Nicolas, Mindoro kami ni Doris, iyong housemate ko. Ikaw?”
“I’m an only son, pero I have a sister too, Grace. She is younger than I am.” Richard said. “Diyan din siya nag-aaral sa PUS, Nursing. I have lived all my life here in Mirasol Street. This is where my parents started and they didn’t want to live that big old house in the corner. Namana kasi iyan ni Mama sa parents niya. Ayaw niyang iwan.”
“Oh, that is where you live. Doris mentioned nga na that you live in one of the houses at the other end of the street. Iyon pala ang bahay niyo. It’s a beautiful house. I’m sure it is full of history.” Maya said with a smile. Like old houses built during the Spanish times, Richard’s house opens and is very closed to the sidewalk. But she had a glimpse of a beautiful garden in the back when the gate opened while she was passing by one afternoon. She always like that beautiful old house.
“Well, I guess. Mama said so. But for me, it is just a house, an old beloved house.” Richard then remembered something. “Doris, is your roommate, right? Do I know her? She knows me?” Richard Lim, you are so fishing for information! He wanted to know whether Maya and her roommate talked or discuss him as it would mean, Maya is also aware of him.
“Welll, errr….” Maya paused, but then find nothing wrong in telling him. ” Well, Doris was the one who pointed you out to me when you passed by. I don’t think you have met her.” Then an imp got into Maya and say, “she calls you Mr. Dreamboat, you know.”
Richard laughed, self-consciously. “Really, me a dreamboat! Baka kailangan na rin ng eyeglasses ng friend mo.” He teased. He does not see himself as one.
Maya laughed and before she could stop herself, she blurted’ “Well, tama naman si Doris ah!” Then she realized what she had said and blushed, “Errr, I mean, you know….” She finished lamely.
Richard gave Maya hs best lopssided smile. He likes seeing her like this, she looks more beautiful in his eyes, with her face red and she, flustered. “Thanks Maya.”
Maya recovered, then teased Richard. “Hmmmp, akala ko ba hindi ka dreamboat. Parang ngayon you are happy to know that you are.”
“Well, if you think that I am, I’ll happily claim it.” He said gazing at Maya meaningfully. Luckily, they were waiting for the light to turn green so he have more time to gaze at her closely and her lovely face. For Richard, it is not so much that he looks good, but that he looks good in Maya’s eyes for her to call him a dreamboat.
Maya got self-conscious with that gaze, aside from the fact that it made her heart galloped. She blurted the first thing she thought of to get out of the sudden fluttery nervousness she was feeling. “Your car is cute.”
Richard had to shake his head from the sudden shift in the conversation, but he let Maya off the hook, plenty of time for other things, she and he live in the same street, go to the same school, so there is plenty of time to get to know her better. He is very much drawn to her ever since he saw her passing one afternoon, laughing with her friend. She seemed so full of life.
“Thank you. I love this car, though hindi ko naman masyadong ginagamit since walking distance lang ang PUS. Ganito lang, when I need to be somewhere saka ko inilalabas. By the way, pasensya na walang aircon itong Beetle ko, hindi ko pa kasi tapos i-restore.”
“Wow, ikaw ang nag-restore nito! Ang galing. I never thought na pwede pa palang i-restore ang mga ganito! I haven’t seen much Beetles around anymore, kahit doon sa probinsya namin. Dati meron pang paisa-isa, pero wala na ngayon. How did you end up restoring one?”
Richard shrugged. “I guess I’m always fascinated with old cars, or anything mechanical for that matter. I got it from my Papa. He is a Mechanical Engineer, though, he is more of a businessman, than an engineer these days. Kaya rin siguro I took up engineering for my college course, though not the same as his field. How about you? What’s your major?”
“Oh, I’m majoring in Journalism.” Maya replied. “Both Doris and I are.”
“So, you want to be a reporter after college! Television, radio or one of the newspapers?” Richard asked as they entered the building housing the bookstore that they will go to, and he was looking for a parking space. “Iyan ba talaga ang dream mo since you were a kid?”
“Whatever I could find after graduation will do. I just want to write. But what I would like to be, eventually, is a lawyer. Iyon talaga ang dream ko since I was a kid. Doris’s dad advised us that being able to write well is a good foundation for taking up Law. So since I like to be a journalist too, why not hit two birds with one stone. so to speak.” Maya explained. “Though, I need to do it while working, as I am doing now. Law school is expensive and baka hindi na makaya ng sister ko and my mother to send me there.”
“Oh, your sister is working in Mindoro or here in Manila too?” Richard asked as he led Maya to the elevator going up with his hand on her elbow , after he assisted her out of the car by offering his hand, a fact that didn’t escape Maya’s notice even if they were so caught up chatting. A gentleman, huh, she thought. She felt thrilled also at Richard’s gestures.
“No, she works in a hotel in Dubai. She has been there for several years now. Her plan is to send me to school, then save enough money to start a business in San Nicolas with my Nanay.” Maya said as the two of them walked inside the shopping center. “Gusto nilang magbukas ng small restaurant sa amin. With the influx of domestic tourists in the area, Ate Cris thought it would be a good idea. My mother is a very good cook, so is she. Iyon ang job niya sa Dubai, chef.”
“That’s a great idea.” Richard said. “I haven’t been to San Nicolas, or Mindoro for that matter, pero I heard from friends na maganda raw sa inyo. Maybe, it is about time I go there. Baka sa semestral break, I can.”
“Really! Let me know if you will be in my area. I will tour you around if you want. Doris and I are also going there for semestral vacation. I missed my Nanay na.” Maya offered to Richard.
“Oh, I will, Maya. Thanks. Looking forward to that.” Richard was happy that Maya offered. Now, he has a chance to see where she grew up and be with her when they are not hurrying back and forth to school. “Paano pala iyong parttime job mo?”
“Okay naman. I’ll be finished with my contract by then. Sa second semester naman, I will apply na lang as a student assistant. I heard from one of my classmates who is an SA, that I can work as one in the library. I will try. It is much better than my fastfood job kasi at least I will be inside the campus and the hours are more regular.” Maya said, then she noticed that they are in the section of the bookstore she wants. “Dito na ako, Ricky. How about you?”
“Oh, I thought we can go around together? I will just buy the cookbook for Mama and the complete Sherlock Holmes book that I wanted to buy.” Richard said, looking at Maya with an expectant expresssion. “Marami ka bang bibilhin. Books also?”
Maya then remembered why she was going to the bookstore. She was going to looking for more ‘bodice ripper’ period romances she is addicted to! She suddenly got shy of telling Richard about it. “Errrr, can we just meet then. Baka mainip ka sa akin. Medyo matagal akong pumili.”
Richard sensed that Maya wanted to be alone and not comfortable with him tagging at her. Hmmm, I wonder why, he asked himself, mukhang okay naman kami kanina and she seemed relaxed in his presence. “Okay, but promise me, we will go home together. Don’t leave the bookstore without me ha!”
Maya smiled sweetly at Richard. “Sure. I promised, crossed my heart. I’ll look for you when I’m done.”
“Better I think if we exchange cellphone numbers.” Richard suggested. He was planning on asking Maya about her number anyway before they parted for the evening. “May I have yours?”
Maya recited the number to Richard. Richard encoded it in his phone. Then he rang Maya’s phone so she can save his number.
“Okay, I’ll see you then.” Richard said, putting back his phone in his jeans pocket.
“See you, later.I hope you will find a good present for your mother.” Maya said.
“You too, Maya. Whatever it is you want you to buy that you don’t want me to see.” Richard said teasingly, which made Maya turned crimson.
“Ikaw talaga, Ricky. Wala naman kaya. Just stuffs.” She said evasively.
“Really.” He teased.
“Really, really. Go na nga. See you later.” She then pushed Richard affectionately towards the direction of the cookbook section.
Maya and Richard shared a sweet smile before they finally parted inside the big bookstore. Maya went directly to the romances section, while Richard headed for the cookbooks. He found two good cookbooks for his mother, one is a coffee table book on the evolution and influences on the current Philippine cuisine and the other one, the latest cookbook by a well-known Philippine chef. Then he went to the Classics section and found his Sherlock Holmes, as well as two James Bond novels omnibus books.
Richard walked around a bit after paying for his purchase, then looked at his watch after a while. Hmmm, I wonder what’s taking Maya long, he mused. He decided to look for her. He went around, and saw her glued to the shelf which has….romance books, not just romance books. He saw him looking at books which is similar to what his sister Grace is reading these days, heroines clad in gowns with a bit of flesh showing, and handsome, ripped heroes holding the heroines! Aha, so that’s why!
Maya didn’t noticed him. She had three books in one hand, and can’t seem to decide whether to get a fourth and a fifth one. Then he saw her put longingly the three other books she was juggling back on the shelf, then chose two only. Richard gathered that she wanted to buy more but only was sticking to two, maybe because that was all she budgetet for. He disappeared into the next shelf before Maya saw him. When she left the section, he took the three books she returned, good thing there was no other person there or they might raised an eyebrow seeing a guy buying those books who are obviously targetted for women readers! He then went to a cash register at the other side of the bookstore so she will not see him.
“There you are, Maya.” Richard said as he sauntered towards Maya, carrying his two packages, when he saw her standing in the middle of the bookstore, holding her phone.
“Ricky! I was about to text you.” Maya said with a big smile. “Tapos ka na ba? I’m done na.”
“Yes. I’m kinda hungry. Can we eat first before we go home!” Richard suggested, and seeing Maya hesitating, he said, “Pretty please, I’m hungry.”
Maya smiled at him. He is really cute when he does that, she mused. How can she resists. She likes being with Richard. She enjoyed their car ride and now, it will be capped by dinner with him. “Sige na nga, halika na, baka hindi ka maka-drive pauwi sa gutom!” She teased.
Maya and Richard ended up in a cafe that serves comfort food. Richard asked Maya what she would like. Maya ordered white sauce pasta with mushroom and iced tea. Richard said he will have the same. While waiting for their food, they chatted nonstop. Maya found out that Richard is taking up aeronautical engineering. He wanted to design and build planes. He know how to fly one already. He said he learned while living in the US during his high school days. He wanted to start his own aeronautics company in the long term. Maya admired Richard and his goals. She also likes his sense of humor and his being down to earth, despite the fact that she sensed, he came from a rich ubpringing.
Richard learned more about Maya when they were enjoying their dinner, followed by desserts and more drinks. He admired her obvious intelligence and her desire to achieve her goals in life despite the odds. She is also a fun person to be with. He didn’t get bored and he likes the fact that her whole face lit up when she tells him stories and stuffs that she likes. She was also full of love when she speaks of her family and even her bestfriend Doris.
The two of them didn’t notice the passing of the time as they shared their life stories, likes and dislikes, dreams and whatever they can talk about. Maya was telling an amusing anecdote when she heard the sound of a closing roll-up door.
“Oh my, Ricky, I think the stores are closing.” She said, then looked around and noticed that they and another couple where the only customers in the cafe. While the cafe closes later than the main shops, Maya realized how late it was. “Maybe, we should get going. May classes pa tayo bukas.”
Richard also realized that he and Maya have been talking for hours! “Oh, okay!” He then called the waiter and asked for the bill. When it was brought to their table, Maya tried to get hold of it.
“Ooops, none of that, Miss Dela Rosa.” Richard said, grabbing the bill. “This is on me.”
“But Ricky, let me share, please!” She pleaded.
“Just say thank you, Maya. This is on me, really. I was the one who invited you to dinner.” He insisted. “You can treat me the next time.”
Maya realized that she will not win so she capitulated. “Okay, pero next time, ha. It will be on me na. Thank you Ricky!”
“You’re welcome, Maya.” Richard smiled at her happily, liking the ‘next time’ thing. Of course, he has no intention of letting Maya pay. He will pay for their next date! Date, he mused, yes it will be that! “Come let’s go.”
Richard dropped off Maya in front of her apartment less than an hour later. Instead of just waiting for her to get out, he got out himself and opened the door of the Beetle for her.
“Thank you for everything, Richard. I have a wonderful time.” Maya said, feeling very happy on how her afternoon and evening turned out to be. She felt like she was floating.
“I had a great time too, Maya. Until next time.” Richard said with his heartmelting lopsided smile. Then he remembered someting. “Wait.” He dove inside the car and got the smaller of his two packages and gave it to Maya. “For you.”
Maya was so surprised, she just stared at the package that has the logo of the bookstore that they have been to. “What is that, Ricky?”
“Hmmmm, just something I hope you will like.” He offered with a big smile. “Say, thank you again, Maya.”
“Ricky naman eh….” Maya protested.
“What is that? I can’t hear you.” Richard, cupping his hand on his right ear, pretended not to hear.
Maya gave up, then said shyly. “Thank you, Ricky, for this and everything.”
“That’s more like it. You are welcome, Maya. ” Richard said, grinning. “Sige, you go in na. Good night Maya.”
“Good night, Ricky.” Maya said smiling at Richard, then waving and started going in, stopped and looked back. She saw him by his car, waiting for her to go in. He waved and smile. She smiled back and then go into the house. After she closed the door, she leaned against it, with a big smile on her face. Good thing the house is quiet. Doris might have gone to bed by then.
Maya remembred the package Richard gave her, she opened it. Awww, she said to herself. Inside were the three books she wanted to buy, but can’t as she only had a budget for two books. Richard must have seen her debating over the books. She ought to get mad at him for doing this, but she can’t. She felt like her heart would burst from his thoughtfulness. She took out her phone and sent him a message.
Maya: Thank you for the books, Ricky, even if you spied on me. 🙂
Richard: Ha, I didn’t kaya. You were taking so long so I looked for you! Now I know why you didn’t want me to know what you will buy. [wink, wink, wink]
Maya: Hahahahaha, busted! :-0 Anyway, thank you for these. I’m touched.
Richard: Enjoy! But don’t stay up too late. We have school tomorrow. Good night. Sweet dreams! 🙂
Maya: Sweet dreams, Ricky.
Richard grinned after he put his phone done. He felt so happy. He studied that evening, very inspired. Looking forward to seeing Maya again. Maya was the same. Though, she had a hard time concentrating on the book she started reading after studying, imagining the hero to be Richard, and the heroine, her!
Note: Happy Sunday! ❤