“Ricky, Sweetheart, wake up na please.” Maya said sleepily as she tried to wake up Richard who had slept through the beeping of the alarm they have set. It has already beeped twice and Maya felt she will have a headache already if she let it ring one more time, just so Richard will be forced to shut it down and get up. “You need to go back to your place and dress for work.”
“Mamaya na, Sweetheart. Maaga pa.” Richard mumbled, burrowing deeply into the comforter, then putting his arm around Maya’s waist, then trapping her with his legs.
Maya scratched her head, then looked at Richard, then she suddenly smiled. She just know the way to wake him up, fast. She started kissing him. She first kissed his eyebrows, then she moved to his nose, his jaw, then she gave him featherlight kisses around his lips. Maya saw Richard’s eyes slowly moving, and she caught him closing them again, pretending to be still asleep. Hmmm, so that is the way you want to play it, Mr. Lim, Maya mused, an impish look about her. She knew that Richard is anticipating a kiss on the lips, instead of that, her lips moved to his neck, leaving little bites, then she removed the blanket covering his nakedness, and started planting little kisses on his broad chest, on his tummy, then moving lower and lower, slowly. Maya heard Richard caught his breath, anticipating where her lips are headed next. But then, she stopped, and waited. She didn’t wait long.
“Continue please, Sweetheart.” Richard said huskily, opening his desire-laden eyes. “Why did you stop? It’s just about to get very interesting.” He complained lovingly, in that bedroom voice that never fails to thrill Maya.
“Nope! It’s wake up time, Sweetheart.” Maya said, sitting on the bed crossed-leg with a big grin, trying to fight the effect in her system of touching and teasing Richard. Her twin peaks are refusing to cooperate, though. They seemed to be begging to be touched, played with. “Sabi ko na effective na panggising iyan sa iyo, Sweetheart.”
“You are so cruel, Ms. Dela Rosa.” Suddenly, he got up and then grabbed Maya by the waist, tumbling her down the bed. “Payback time, Sweetheart.” He grinned naughtily. He saw that Maya was not unaffected at what she did. So he thought of persuading her to participate in a very, very pleasant activity before they face the world!
“Rickyyyyy, we will be late. First day of work ko pa naman.” Maya protested, at the same time, trying to focus as Richard’s hand started wrecking havoc to her system.
Richard didn’t listen to Maya’s plea. He looked at the clock surreptitiously, made a rapid calculation and know that they can still make it to work. It will be a bit tight, but with the short cut he know, they can make it to Eastwood in time for Maya’s briefing with the other hotel managers. Like Maya, he started by kissing her eyebrows, moving to her cheeks, hovering over her lips as his hand slowly crept under the hem of the t-shirt she was wearing, until it reached its target, her breasts. He started playing with them one after the other, at the same time, he swooped in for a searing kiss on Maya’s pouty lips. With the twin havoc to her senses, Maya lost her ability to protest and let her be swept away again in the passion that Richard ignited that morning. They reached the peak together after they drove each other crazy with each touch, each kiss, with each sigh, and moan. Afterwards, they grinned at each other. Maya told Richard then that she will go to bath alone, otherwise, they will not really make it to work in time. Richard just grinned as he leaned against the headboard contently, liking his wonderful morning. What a way to wake up, he mused. He wants this everyday of his life. A plan has started forming in his head!
Despite the fact that hey have indulged in the best ever morning activity, Richard and Maya made it to the offices of Emerald Hotels and Resorts in the Lim Corporation Headquarters in Eastwood, several minutes before 9 o’clock in the morning. They walked towards the elevator with their hands intertwined.
“See, we made it, Sweetheart. Sabi ko naman sa iyo eh.” Richard whispered lovingly to Maya. “So, bukas ulit ng umaga, I want a repeat of the way you woke me up.”
“Ricky, ano ka ba, may makarinig sa iyo.” Maya said, blushing, at the same time, grinning hugely at Richard. “But I’ll think about your request, Mr. Lim.” She said primly, but with mischief in her eyes.
“Thank you, Sweetheart. I love you.” Richard stopped in the middle of the lobby, unmindful of the employees looking at them and gawking, as this is the first time most of them have seen Richard Lim doing this, making a blatant public display of affection in the middle of the lobby to booth. In fairness, some of them thought, the lady with him is very pretty and they look very much in love.
“I love you too.” Maya said, touching his face gently. “Halika na. I think sobra na ang PDA natin in front of your employees.”
They both smiled at each other, then continued to walk towards the elevator, still hand in hand. Unbeknown to them, Ina and Diana were among the people who have observed their tender moment at the lobby of Lim Corporation. Both of them can’t believe what they saw.
“Is that what I think it is?” Diana said with an eyebrow raised, looking at Maya and Richard’s intertwined hands as they got into the elevator reserved for the executives of Lim Corporation. “How come? Kailan pa kaya iyan nangyari?”
Ina was as flabbergasted as Diana at what they saw. She also felt like a giant hand has squeezed her heart. Richard is taken and the lucky lady is their newest employee, the girl who didn’t mention in her interview her connection to Richard, apparently a very close connection! She tried to recall her interview with Maya, and she can’t remember an instance wherein Maya hinted that she knows Richard Lim personally. She did put in the application form that she does not have any relatives working for Emerald, which was what they asked routinely of new employees or applicants, just so they know, not because it is prohibited. Not that it matter if they are in a relationship. Maya was hired on the basis of her qualifications, not because of her connections. Ina just felt that Maya did not do a full disclosure to her. Of course, she admit to herself, her personal feelings is into this as she likes Richard Lim a lot and was hoping that he would ask her out. But on the other hand, Richard also have seen the applicants CVs and he didn’t mention that he know Maya. Now, Ina got more puzzled at the turn of events.
“I don’t know what to think Diana.” Ina said after a while. “I think they are more than boyfriend and girlfriend. I saw the beautiful ring on Maya’s finger when she touched Richard’s face!”
“Oh well, let us see what Maya has to say.” Diana said, unable to help herself, said, “Baka kailangan niyang magpaliwanag sa atin.”
“No Diana, let it be. Whatever Maya’s relationship with Richard is, that’s between them. It has nothing to do with her hiring. She was hired because of her excellent qualifications.” Ina said, taking the moral high ground.
“But Ina, she was not completely honest with us.” Diana protested. “She should have disclosed her connection to the Lims.”
“Diana, let’s give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe, there is a perfectly good explanation to what we are speculating about. They seemed to be very happy. You know, as much as I want Richard to notice me in a romantic way, he didn’t. Besides, setting that aside, it’s nice to see him finally with someone whom he obviously love to pieces.” Ina insisted. “Besides, Maya didn’t do anything wrong. Whether she is connected to the Lims or not, she would still get hired as she has excellent qualifications. You know also that Donya E and Richard do not influence or meddle in our hiring process.”
“Hay naku, Ina, bahala ka na nga. Di na uso ang pa-martir effect. Fight for your man.” Diana said, still not letting it go, for some reason that Ina can’t understand. Siya nga ang dapat na masama ang loob since she has feelings for Richard!
“Diana, Diana, he was never mine.” Ina insisted, wanting her colleague to understand. “Halika na nga. Enough of that.”
Mocha frappes in hand, Ina and Diana took the elevator to their floor. By that time, Richard and Maya were at the entrance of the suite of offices that Emerald occupies in the building.
“Do you want to stay in my office while I find out from Mama where are you suppose to go and report this morning?” Richard asked, still holding her hand in his.
“No, Ricky, don’t please. I can manage. Thank you, Sweetheart. But I need to be like a regular employee even if you are my fiance. Would that be okay?” Maya asked Richard, pleading prettily to him to understand.
Richard smiled gently. “Of course, Sweetheart. I just carried away. I just want your first day at Emerald, your first day at work to perfect.”
Maya looked lovingly at her fiance. “Sweetheart, the fact that I know you are there, so very supportive makes it perfect already even if I haven’t started. I can take on all the challenges and whatever I will encouter today, because I know you are there, supporting me and loving me.”
“Thank you, Sweetheart. O sige na nga, I will let you be. Pero, I’ll pick you up at lunch ha.” Richard said, giving Maya a quick kiss. “That’s for luck, Sweetheart.”
Richard then left Maya at the reception to go to his office at the other side. Maya was about to introduce herself to the receptionist when she got called simultaneously, by Donya Esmeralda and Ina. Donya Esmeralda got to Maya first.
“Good morning Ma’am.” Maya greeted Donya Esmeralda formally while accepting her mother-in-law-to-be’s beso.
“Hija, anong Ma’am! Di ba sabi ko sa iyo call me Mama. After all, you will be my daughter-in-law soon. I don’t think it would make the two of us less professional if you call me Mama,” Donya Esmeralda said. “Where’s Ricky?”
“Nagpunta na po sa office niya, Ma – errr, Mama.” Maya replied shyly, conscious of the fact that Ina and Diana unintentionally heard what Donya Esmeralda said. She wonders what is going on in their heads as when she applied she didn’t mention anything about being connected to the Lim family, to Richard at least. She acknowledged the two. “Hello Ms. Ina, Ms. Diana, good morning.”
Diana just gave Maya a polite smile and acknowledged her greeting with a tilt of her head. Ina was friendlier. She gave Maya a smile. “Good morning, Maya! Ready for for work?”
‘Yes, Ms. Ina.” Maya replied.
“Tamang-tama, let’s go na to the conference room and meet the other managers and the general manager of the new Emerald Hotel you will work for. I need to brief all of you, then you can brief your respective staff.” Donya Esmeralda said as she linked her arm with Maya’s. The two of them walked ahead of Ina and Diana.
“Hmmm, and the plot thickens.” Diana muttered under her breath.
“Diana, shush, enough na.” Ina told her. Diana shut her mouth reluctantly.
Seeing Maya with Donya Esmeralda, and the way they interacted convinced Ina that Richard found his true love at last, and that Maya will be a very much welcome addition to the Lim family. But it added to big puzzle that greeted her this morning as she knows for a fact that Donya Esmeralda only met and knew Maya the day she interviewed her. She even asked Ina to brief her on the background of the applicant that she and Diana vetted and chose for the operations manager’s position in their new hotel in Bonifacio Global City. But oh well, she thought, in the scheme of things, it is none of her business!
Maya spent most of the morning in the briefing room with Donya Esmeralda, Ina, Diana and the managers of the hotel which will open the following month. They are targetting February 14 as its opening. The public relations manager did a presentation of the promotions that they will do. Maya was tasked by the general manager, Anton Magno to make sure that everything is in order in time for the opening.
When the meeting was about to break for lunch, Donya Esmeralda excused herself as she needed to go to another meeting in Makati. Maya was about to head out of the room too, when Ina called her. Diana was not with her then.
“Maya, I guess congratulations are in order.” Ina said, smiling. “Sorry for eavesdropping ha, pero I heard Donya E saying that you will be her daughter-in-law.”
“Errr, thank you Ms. Ina. Yes, Richard and I will get married in three months time.” Maya said happily. “Ikaw pa lang dito sa Emerald ang nakakaalam.”
“Oh, thank you for telling me.” Ina said, then because she can’t help it, asked, “Matagal na ba kayo ni Richard? Sorry for asking ha.”
“I’ve known Richard years ago and it’s a long story, pero everything that led to our engagement happened over the holidays.” Maya said with a smile. She knew that she does not owe Ina an explanation but she has a pretty good idea why she started asking that question – the fact that she knew Richard even before during her interview and didn’t mention it. She decided to clear the air. “Ms. Ina, may I be frank with you?”
“Yes, of course, Maya. And please do call me, Ina.” Ina offered encouragingly.
‘The thing is, I didn’t tell Ricky I ended up applying in his family’s company in the beginning. I didn’t know actually, I just found out when my headhunter told me I had an interview with you guys. On the other hand, Richard didn’t tell me either that he saw my resume. You see, I want to be hired on my own merit and not because I know someone. Ricky felt the same way. He wanted you and Diana to weigh in the candidates base on merits. We only told each other about it after you and Donya Esmeralda hired me.”
“Thank you for explaining Maya. You don’t have to, you know. And yes, you were hired because of your excellent qualifications. In fact we are lucky to have you. What’s between you and Richard is personal and hindi na kasama sa work. But I do appreciate you telling me.” Ina said, then teased Maya to lighthen the mood. “Paano ba iyan, maraming ladies na malulungkot when they find out that Richard Lim is taken for life.”
Maya laughed at that. She is secure enough in Richard’s love that she does not feel jealous at all. “Talaga. Marami ba sila, Ina.”
“Well, for sure maraming may crush and may gusto, pero Richard was not interested. I think the whole company is already buzzing with the fact that he is not only in a relationship, but he is engaged! Of course, the engage part, they don’t know yet. But I think people will put two and two together when they see your beautiful ring. And most will be happy for the both of you, for sure.” Ina finished with a smile. She does not have it in her to hate Maya. She is a very nice girl and I think she has a pretty good idea why Richard fell for her. She will just need to move on. She just wish that she will find her own Richard! “Halika na nga, Maya, let’s have lunch. Are you free? O baka pala may lunch kayo ni Richard!”
“Wait lang, Ina, let me just make a phone call.” Maya excused herself, then called Richard to tell him that she will have lunch with Ina instead, and that she will explain about it later. Richard said it is okay as he is not finished yet with his meeting. He also knew instinctively that Maya may have a very good reason for doing this.
“Halika na, Ina.” Maya said with a smile. “Nasaan pala si Ms. Diana?”
“Oh, I think she went ahead. Baka may lunch siya kasama nung isang manager sa kabilang department.” Ina said, steering Maya towards the elevator and the employees restaurant on the second level of the building.
Maya and Ina had a great lunch and they became fast friends. Maya is glad that she took the time to get to know the HR manager. She is a nice person. They returned to the conference room after lunch and buckled up on their planning sessions for the new hotel.
“Ricky, have you been waiting long?” Maya said as she strode to where Richard was waiting for her at the lobby of the building. “Sorry, may mga tinapos pa kami.”
“It’s okay, Sweetheart. I finished early.” Richard said, smiling lovingly at his fiancee. “So, how’s your first day of work, my Mrs. Lim-to-be?” He asked her as he interlaced their hands while steering her towards the direction of the parking garage. “Nagkita ba kayo ni Mama? I called her this afternoon and she told me she was in a meeting in Makati.”
“It was great, Ricky, very interesting. You know this is the first time that I will be working in a hotel even before it opens. I like the challenges and the opportunity. It is a whole new experience for me.” Maya said excitedly. “And yes, I have seen your mother. She conducted the first part of the meeting/planning session this morning. Funny, I called her ‘Ma’am’ when we saw each other at the reception and she promptly told me to call her Mama still.” Maya then narrated the rest of her conversation with Donya Esmeralda to Richard.
“Mama is right.” Richard said as he opened the passenger door of the BMW for Maya. He closed the door and got in the driver seat. “By the way what’s with the lunch with Ina?” He asked when they were on the road, going to BGC.
Maya told Richard about the gist of her conversation with Ina and the fact that she and Diana heard Donya Esmeralda called her, her future daughter-in-law.” Yes, I know I don’t have to explain to her, but I wanted to. I like her. I’m glad I had lunch with her. Now I have a friend at Emerald.” Maya finished happily.
“Yes, our relationship is our business Maya and you were hired because you are the best candidate for the job. But I understand where Ina is coming from.” Richard said. “But if the whole company knows, I don’t care. I want to shout it to the world, Sweetheart that I’m the lucky guy you will be marrying soon.”
“Oh Sweetheart, you are the sweetest fiance ever. Thank you. I love you.” Maya said, giving Richard a quick kiss, then putting her hand on top of his while they were waiting for the traffic light to turn greeen.
They shared a loving smile, then continued driving on, towards Maya’s place. It was Maya’s turn to ask Richard how his day have been. Richard told her, then asked her opinion on some of the plans he wanted to execute for the company. They discussed the pros and cons of his plans all the way home. Richard liked the fact that he has Maya to share his day like this. He feels so happy. He hopes Maya will agree to his proposal. He just wants to be with her always and he does not think he can wait.
“So, what would you like for dinner?” Maya asked when they entered her place more than an hour later. “I could rustle something up, maybe a simple pasta dish and salad.”
“Sweetheart, I know you had a full day, let’s just order dinner.” Richard suggested. “Is Italian, okay with you?”
“Yes, that would be fine. Sabagay, I’m a bit tired na nga rin.” Maya told Richard what she would like to have if he will be ordering from the Italian restaurant they have been too before.
While waiting for their food, Maya poured a glass of wine for each for them. They cuddled on the sofa enjoying their quiet time together, sipping their wine and snacking on cheese and crackers.
“Maya, I have something to ask, if it is okay.” Richard said after a while. He then took another sip of his wine for courage, he mused. He hopes Maya will agree.
“What it is Sweetheart?” Maya asked a bit intrigued, brows knitted.
“Well, since I practically live here and I want to stay with you always and anyway, we will do it in three months time, can we move in together now, please?” He asked, then added as if his meaning is not clear. Truth to tell, he is a bit nervous in asking. “I mean can we live together as a couple while we are preparing for our wedding, even before our wedding.”
Maya was not surprised Richard had asked this as she likes being with Richard all the time, spending moments like this, or just being a regular couple, watching movies, sharing a meal or sleeping with their arms around each other. “Yes, Sweetheart.” She said simply with a smile, looking at him with so much love.
“Really!!!!” Richard asked with a big grin. He can’t believe that Maya will agree promptly. He was kinda prepare to plead his case lengthily. “Thank you, Sweetheart. You made so very happy. Now where do you want to stay, here or my place?”
“How about here, then we decide later on whether we will live in your place or this one after we get married?” Maya suggested. “By the way, come to think of it, I haven’t been to your place!” She finished with a smile.
“That’s easily rectified! After dinner, we can go there and pack my things.” Richars suggested..
“Okay, it’s a deal.” Maya said, burrowing deep into Richard’s chest. She is very happy at hers and Richard’s decision. Richard felt the same.
The doorbel rang. Richard stood up to get the food. He told Maya he will set up the table. They had another wonderful dinner. at ease with each other like an old married and still very much in love couple. Both felt very content at that moment as they both know that their life together will be like this everyday from then on – together in good times and in bad times, in sadness and happiness, in taking care of each other when the other is sick or down, and most of all in loving each other for always.