“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.