Archive for May, 2015

On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 10

Chapter 10

“BFF, here!” Doris waved to Maya when she saw her enter the restaurant that serves comfort food near RRMA. They have agreed to meet there for lunch as she was in the area. She had an interview with the feisty lawyer who is called as legal counsel to the stars as she had handle quite a number of cases involving entertainment personalities. The magazine she is working for is featuring career women in their next issue.

“Hi Doris! Sorry, I’m a bit late. Marami kasing work.” Maya said as she slid down into the booth that Doris reserved.

“Okay lang iyon BFF. Mabuti nga you can still meet me for lunch. Nagbakasali nga lang ako dahil alam ko namang for sure, sobrang busy ka dahil kasisimula mo palang sa work mo.” Doris said. “Order ka na ng lunch.”

Maya waved at the waiter and gave him her order. When the waiter left, she settled more comfortably into the booth as they waited for their food. “Kumusta na? Nakabalik na ba si Lea? How’s Lance? Hindi na tayo nakapag-usap simula noong isang araw.”

“Yes, thank God, bumalik si Lea kahapon. Na-delay lang pala kasi nanganak na iyong ate niya nung paluwas na siya. Hindi naman siya nakatawag agad dahil na-washing machine ang cellphone! Hay, at least di ba, bumalik. Iyon lang ang nangyari. Si Lance, hinahanap ka sa akin noong sinundo ko. Pati na rin iyong papa ni Abby? Alam mo naman ang batang iyon, nothing escapes his notice. I asked Teacher Genevieve about it, sabi lang niya, nagkita raw kayo ng papa ni Abby sa school and magkakilala kayo. A Mr. Lim?” Doris said. “Bigla ko tuloy naalala si Mr. Dreamboat mo.”

Maya smiled at that. “BFF, siya nga iyon!” She told Doris excitedly.

“Ha, anong siya nga iyon? Si Richard Lim ang papa ni Abigail? Si almost boyfriend mo?” Doris asked, very much surprised. “Paanong nangyari iyon?”

“Yes, si Richard nga iyong papa ni Abby.” Maya replied. “We actually met at RRMA last Monday. Client and family friend nung boss ko na si Attorney Reyes iyong pamilya ni Ricky. Sobrang gulatan ang nangyari BFF! Akalain ko ba naman iyon. Naku, BFF, kung alam mo lang. Parang feeling ko mauubusan ako ng dugo nang una ko siyang makita ulit. Tapos sa kanya pa ako ini-assign ni Attorney Reyes. Well, technically sa senior partner na nagha-handle ng account niya.”

“Talaga, BFF! Eh di lumundag na naman ng husto iyang puso mo? Feeling ko siya pa rin ang nandiyan. Imagine, basted lahat ng manligaw sa iyo. At huwag ikatwiran ang pagiging busy sa law school!” Doris told her friend, whom she can see has a different glow when she spoke of meeting Richard again.

“Ikaw talaga, BFF. Welllll, yes, aaminin ko naman iyon.” Maya replied, then she gestured for the waiter to give the white sauce pasta to Doris and the spaghetti bolognese to her.

“Pero, wait teka, papa siya ni Abby. So ibig bang sabihin BFF, may asawa na niya at wala nang pag-asa ang love story niyong naunsyami? Bakit ba kasi bigla na lang nag-disappear iyang si Mr. Dreamboat!” Doris asked, thinking that Richard is very much married. Like Maya, she was also puzzled and at the same time, concerned when the whole family just left, like that. Kahit paano, naging friend din naman niya si Richard through Maya.

“Doris, something terrible happened to Richard’s family kaya they left for China abruptly.” Maya told her friend. “His father did what he thought was best for his family at that time. Sorry, hanggang diyan lang ang pwede kong sabihin sa iyo, BFF. It is not my story to tell, but Richard’s.”

“Ganoon ba, Maya. Grabe, pareho pala kayong may matinding pinagdaanan at that time.” Doris said. “Parang it was not meant to be nga pala at that time. Eh ngayon, married na siya. Hay….”

“Errr, actually ‘no. He is not married.” Maya said, turning red a bit. “He is a widower.”

“Really, BFF? He is.” Doris said. “Hmmmm, mukhang may pag-asa na pala ang love team niyo ni Mr. Dreamboat. Pero ang sad din naman ano, maaga pa lang nawalan ng mommy si Abby. With her condition, medyo mahirap iyon.”

“Well, I think Ricky is very much a hands on father naman to Abby. He is doing his best for her. Siya nga ang madalas na naghahatid kay Abby sa school and isinasama pa niya sa office niya, like today.” Maya said seriously, not realizing that she had made Doris more curious with her pronouncements.

“Teka, teka, parang kahit sasandali pa lang ulit kayong nagkikita, marami ka ng alam kay Mr. Dreamboat?” Doris asked.

Maya smiled at her friend and since it is Doris, she confessed that since she had seen Richard again last Monday and meeting him at Lance’ school, they ended up having lunch and dinner, together, as she works now in his company’s headquarters twice a week. Maya opted not to tell Doris about the visit to the house in Mirasol Street as it was something very personal between her and Richard. However, she did tell her that he is moving back to Mirasol Street.

“Wow, BFF! Nakakakilig naman talaga! You two are back where you started! Solid na solid pa rin ako!” Doris said with a big grin on her face. “Good luck na good luck sa iyo. I’m sure magkaka-lovelife ka na. Saka hindi dahil I had a bad experience eh magiging ganoon ka na rin. I was just unlucky.”

“Oo naman, Doris. Saka I’m sure, somewhere along the way, you will find someone who will really love you through thick and thin, hirap man, ginhawa at kung merong pagsubok. Someone who will love not only you, but also Lance.” Maya said. Her friend is the most loving person and she hopes Doris will find that especial someone too. “As for me and Richard, I don’t know. But I’m in, wherever it takes me. We are lucky to find each other again. Let’s see. One day at a time!”

“Yes, amen to that, BFF!” Doris said. “Halika, let’s finish na our lunch. I’m sure you need to go back soon. Ako naman, babalik pa sa office to finish this article.”

The friends continued with their lunch while chatting about Lance and Maya’s work in between. An hour later, they parted in front of Maya’s building. Doris took a cab to her office which is an hour away from Maya’s.

The afternoon passed like a blur for Maya as she got engrossed in drafting all the contracts for LAS, for Ryan’s review later and for Richard’s signature when she gets back to LAS the following day. However, despite her busy schedule, she was very much aware of the coming evening, and her dinner with Richard. She felt happier going over the papers on her desk as she looked forward to that. In fact, there were times that it was hard to concentrate! James tried to chat her up and invite her to dinner too when they saw each other at the office pantry, both wanting to get some water. However, she declined and told him politely that she already had made plans for the evening.

Richard was the same. Even Abby’s presence was not able to take his mind off completely from the dinner with Maya. He tried though as there was a time that his daughter, and Liza caught him staring into space at one point. Abby complained good-naturedly, while Liza on the other hand, smiled at him.

Liza thought she had an inkling on what’s distracting her boss. She, after all, made the reception to that romantic French restaurant for him and his ‘date’. Imagine, three months of working for him, and this is the first time he had asked him to book a dinner for him. Call it woman’s intuition, but she had a pretty good idea on who the dinner date is.

Liza’s thoughts was interrupted by Joma, her boss’s driver.

“Hi Ms. Liza!” Joma said with a big smile. Sabel was behind him.

“Hi Joma!” Liza gave the driver a big smile. Cute rin naman itong family driver nina Sir ah. May sariling charm. “Hinihintay ka na nga pala ni Sir. Hello Sabel.”

“Hi po, Ms. Liza. Susunduin lang po sana namin si Abby kasi may lakad pa pala si Sir Richard.” Sabel said.

“Oo,  Sir Richard mentioned it. Sige, tuloy na kayo sa office niya. Wala naman siyang ka-meeting.” Liza said.

Richard looked up from the document he was reading when his driver and house helper entered the room by way of knocking at the door.

“Joma, Sabel, tamang-tama ang dating ninyo, medyo inaantok na nga si Abby.” He said, standing up and going to the couch where Abby was playing with her iPad. “Baby, Ate Sabel and Kuya Joma will take you home na. Di ba, Daddy told you earlier na may pupuntahan pa siya later.”

“Yes, Daddy, you will have a date with Tita Maya, iyong ninang ni Lance. The beautiful girl I saw at school yesterday!” Abby said artlessly, which made Richard turned red and his employees, looking at him curiously. Joma was trying to hold his smile. Sabel was trying to catch his attention with a face gesture, asking what’s it all about.

“Errr, yes, not a date, baby, just dinner with Tita Maya like I have mentioned to you earlier.” Richard always made it a point to explain everything to Abby so she does not have to deal with unexpected things and situations.

“But Daddy, isn’t when a girl and a boy go out to dinner and eat, it is called a date?” The little girl insisted to her dad like a grown-up.

“Welll, yes, pero pwede rin naman na they just go out to enjoy each other’s company.” Richard explained as Joma and Sabel looked on. “Where did you learn about dates and stuffs like that about a boy and a girl?”

“It is still a date, Dad! Friendly date.” Abby still insisted. “I learned it from the movies that Manang Fe and Ate Sabel were watching.”

“Ha, Sir, pero hindi naman po namin siya pinapanood noon.” Sabel quickly protested.

“Chill, Ate Sabel. You and Manang Fe didn’t know. You both thought I was taking a nap.” Abby said giggling. “I woke up all of a sudden. You and Manang were very funny while watching so I watched what you were watching also.”

Richard smiled at his precocious and bright daughter. Yes, she has developmental delay, but in most aspects, she is very much advanced. To sum it, her brain is just wired differently. “Okay, baby, friendly date it is. Di ba, you said, it is okay for Daddy to do so.”

“Yes, Daddy.” The little girl nodded, then looked at her father. “Do you think she will like me?”

“Of course, baby, she will like you, and love you like I do. Di ba, love niya si Lance and Lance loves her too.” Richard quickly said. His daughter seemed to be full of questions all of a sudden, considering that she just nodded when he mentioned earlier about the dinner with Maya.

“Okay, Daddy. Have fun,” Abby said while nodding. “Lance said that Tita Maya is the best ninang in the whole world.”

“Yes, she is. Okay, go now to Ate Sabel and be a good girl to her and Manang Fe. Sleep early.” Richard told his daughter while hugging her. Then to Sabel, he said, “Sabel, okay na lahat ng homework ni Abby, nagawa na namin earlier.”

“Okay po, Sir Richard. Aalis na po kami. Halika na Abby.” Sabel said, taking hold of Abby’s hand and some of her school stuffs in another hand. Joma on the other hand, carried Abby’s school bag.

When the three of them left, Richard looked at the time and realized that it was almost six o’clock. It will take him an hour or so to go to Maya’s office. He decided to finish the papers on his table. When he was done with that, he called Engineer Enrique Gutierrez from the site and asked for a status updates on the planes they are doing maintenance on. Finding that everything was in order, he finished the day. He knew that he would be early, but better that than be late. He can still wait at the lobby of the building.

More than an hour later, Richard strode through the lobby of the building where RRMA is. He opted to wait for Maya at the reception area of the building. As soon as he sat down, he took out his phone and sent her a message.

Maya was in the process of saying goodbye to Attorney Ryan after they have discussed the contracts she was working on when her phone beeped. She had a pretty good idea who it might be. Actually, she jumped a little. She hoped Atty. Ryan didn’t notice it. Kalma lang, Maya Dela Rosa, dinner lang ito. Kagabi rin naman nag-dinnner kayong dalawa di ba? She admonished herself. However, for some unexplainable reason, her heart is jumping with joy. Parang iba ang dinner na ito kasi it was set, hindi katulad kahapon parang impromptu lang.

“O sige, Maya, you can leave na. Natapos mo na namang lahat ang mga dapat nating gawin. You area fast worker. Malayo ang mararating mo Attorney Dela Rosa.” Attorney Molina told Maya. He really likes this young lawyer and her work ethics.

“Thank you, Sir, for releasing me early and most especially for the vote of confidence. Good night Sir. Ingat po kayo sa pag-uwi.” Maya said.

“You too, Maya, enjoy your evening.” The older lawyer said. He thought of asking her how she knew Richard, but maybe, they don’t know each other that long for him to do so.

When Attorney Ryan left, Maya checked her message and she was right, it was from Richard, informing her that he is at the lobby of her building already.

“Wow, ang aga niya.” Maya said, smiling while looking at her phone. She texted back that she will be along shortly as she is finished for the night too. She hurriedly put away her things and shutdown her laptop.

Richard smiled when he saw Maya’s message. Looks like they can have an early start on their dinner. Great! Since Maya will be along shortly, he decided to wait for her by the elevator. However, when the elevator opened, it was not Maya he saw, but Ryan.

“O Brod, nandito ka? May meeting ka ba kay Attorney Rafa? Wala naman siyang nabanggit sa akin?” Ryan said, surprised to see Richard at RRMA’s building.

“Hi Brod, wala naman. I’m just waiting for Maya. We will have dinner somewhere.” Richard replied.

“Maya? My new associate? Brod, feeling ko talaga may hindi ako alam.” Ryan said with a teasing smile.

“Hahahaha, ikaw talaga, kahit kailan.” Richard laughed. “Maya and I went a long way back, Brod, college days pa natin. Friends kami. We lost touch lang mula noong bigla kaming umalis papuntang China.”

“Wait, wait, parang naaalala ko na siya. Nabanggit mo na siya sa akin, dati. Iyong kapitbahay mo sa Mirasol Street na gusto mong pormahan noon. Siya ba iyon?” Ryan asked, putting two and two together.

“Yes, that’s her Brod. Kaya I was so glad that we have seen each other here last Monday. I was really planning to look her up when things have settled down.” Richard said, then he saw Maya coming out of the elevator. “Brod, there’s Maya na pala.”

“O sige Brod. I’m happy for the two of you meeting each other again.” Ryan said. His brod looks different when he gave Maya a smile and a wave.

“Thanks a lot, Ryan.” Richard said as Maya reached his side.

“O paano, Brod, Maya, I will go ahead ha. Enjoy your dinner.” Ryan said giving the couple a smile. Hmmmm, bagay naman sila.

“Sige po Attorney Ryan, thank you!” Maya said.

“Brod, sige, kita na lang tayo soon. I owed you a drink.” Richard said, tapping Ryan on the shoulder.

Soon after, Ryan made a final wave at them then left them. Maya and Richard then gazed at smiled sweetly at each other.

“Hi Ricky, kanina ka pa ba? Napaaga ka yata? Nasaan si Abby?” Maya asked as Richard escorted her to where he had parked his car.

“Joma and Sabel picked up Abby. The dinner will be a bit late for her. May school pa siya bukas.” Richard and then smiled and told Maya about his conversation with Abby before she was picked up. “Imagine, she concluded that we will have a friendly date.”

Maya laughed at Richard’s anecdote about Abby. “Nakakatuwa naman si Abby! Please tell her, I would like to meet her rin! She seems like a very bright and bubbly kid, kaya pala magkasundo sila ni Lance. Super bright din for her age ha. Ganoon talaga sila. May qualities na beyond their age group.”

“True, ngayong more than seven years old na si Abby, almost eight actually, mas nakikita ko kung gaano siya ka-advance.” Richard replied as he navigated the evening traffic. “Kung hindi siya na-diagnose, you would think that she like a normal kid. Parang genius pa nga.”

“Ricky, at what age was Abby diagnosed? If I may ask?” Maya asked.

“She was diagnosed when she was two and half years old. Six months after her mother died. Noong una akala namin, she was just grieving, pero noong tumagal, Grace suggested that I have her tested. Anyway, she said, kailangan din naman iyon since I would like to enroll Abby in a play school at that time.” Richard explained.

“Oh, it must have been a very difficult time for both of you.” Maya said, unconsciously touching Richard on the arm. She feels for Abby, and for Richard too, having to cope with the death of his wife and his daughter’s condition.

“It was, but we managed, with the help of my family.” Richard said softly, then he added, “Anyway, Alexandra, my wife, didn’t want us to grieve for her.” He didn’t elaborate and Maya, even if she wanted to know about that aspect of his life, stopped herself from asking more questions. If Richard is ready and if he wants to tell her, for sure, he will, at some point.

Instead, the two of them talked about Abby and Lance, as well as how their day had been on the way to the restaurant. Before they knew it, they arrived at the building where the restaurant is. Richard escorted Maya to the elevator that would take them to the penthouse after entrusting his car to a valet.

Richard led Maya to a beautiful restaurant when they reached the penthouse.

“Beautiful place.” Maya remarked as Richard seated her at the table reserved for them, looking around and admiring the restaurant..

“Thank you. I had Liza booked this place earlier. She told me that it is a very nice place for dinner when I asked her what place she can recommend for me. Medyo lost na rin ako sa mga place here kasi matagal na akong nawala.” Richard said as he sat. “Liza seems to know a lot of good places.”

“Medyo marami na ring nag-change. Marami na rin akong hindi alam. I haven’t been out much. Lalo na past year kasi review lang ang naging life ko.” Maya told Richard.

“Really! So we can explore together pala. Check out places to have dinner or lunch.” Then he admitted, “This is actually the first time I was out like this, you know, on a date, as Abby said.”

“Date? This is a date talaga?” Maya asked, blushing a bit and heart beating faster than usual.

“Yes, isn’t it? Our first, since the last time, a decade ago.” Richard said as he gazed at Maya, meaningfully. “Ayaw mo ba?”

Before Maya can reply and serving as a respite for her galloping heart, their server arrived to take their order. They both opted to try the degustation menu that the restaurant offers. Richard also pick a wine that goes with the meal. When their server has left, they resumed their earlier conversation.

Maya smiled at Richard. “Okay as Abby said, this is a date! Sabi ko nga, date!”

She and Richard shared a smile. They chatted about places they have been, books with Maya telling Richard that she still likes bodice ripper novels as they served as her stress reliever, to movies they have seen and like, finding that they have the same taste in movies. They continued chatting in between tasting and enjoying their wonderful dinner, leisurely. By the end of the courses that were served to them, Maya and Richard felt stuffed. Maya was also feeling the effects of the wine. She was not much of a drinker so she felt its effect after the first glass she had. She and Richard opted to have coffee to go with their dessert.

“So, how have you been the past ten years?” Richard asked Maya as he stirred his coffee.

“Ha, di ba, I have told you na about that, yesterday and earlier?” Maya was surprised  at Richard’s question. She thought they have managed to catch up on each other’s life in the lunch, dinner and the car ride earlier. “Sobrang kwentuhan na nga natin the past hours.”

“Oh, what I mean is….” Richard hesitated a bit, then forged on. “Okay, this is going to be very personal, what I meant was, what I would like to ask is that, how come you are still single, until now? You are very beautiful, bright and a wonderful person.”

“That!” Maya said, blushing a bit. “Well, I was busy with law school, and work. I never really thought of having a relationship. There was no one that I liked, too.”

“None at all? You mean, you didn’t have any relationship at all?” Richard asked surprised. His heart suddenly beating very fast while waiting for Maya’s reply. Does it really meant Maya didn’t have a boyfriend in the decade they have been apart.

“Wala talaga!” Maya said simply as she took a big sip of her coffee. Then took a deep breath, then admitted candidly, “After you, sort of, there was no one who made me feel the way you made me feel. Maybe, my heart will feel that way again, but I consider myself still young, so I’ll just wait until it does. Hindi naman ako nagmamadali.” She stopped at confessing that since she had seen him again, her poor heart is getting overworked with giddiness.

“Really!” Richard replied, suddenly feeling very nervous at what he is going to say next. Maya gave him the perfect opening for it and he does not want to waste his chance and opportunity. “Maya…” He started.

“Yes, Ricky…” Maya said softly and breathlessly, seeing the way Richard is looking at her.

“Would it be okay if I try to make your heart beat like that again?” Richard asked before he lost courage. “May I make it up to you? Can we continue where we left off?”

“What do you mean, Ricky…?” Maya asked wanting to be sure that she is getting Richard’s message right.

“Maya, pwede ko bang ituloy ang panliligaw ko sa iyo?” There he said it, crystal clear.

Maya looked at Richard and see something in his expression that made her heart galloped. Taking a deep breath, she said softly, “Yes, you may.”

Richard put his hand on top of Maya’s. “Thank you, Maya, ” he said, gazing at Maya like she is his whole world.

They shared a look and amid the backdrop of the romantic restaurant, feelings were communicated. Both of them looked flushed and have goofy grins while they continued enjoying the night.

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Preserving memories

Batad 1 Batad 2

From my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary celebration, to various trips around the Philippines and beyond, to simple but very happy office and family moments, I was taken down a long, and wonderful, trip down memory lane after I have received this package.

thumb_IMG_2955_1024 thumb_IMG_2959_1024

The package contained the scanned copies of the negatives, more than a thousand frames, that I had sent to a photo shop that offers this service. It was something I have been meaning to do for years, since I have learned that technology has made it possible to do so.

While the negatives have print copies, some of them were either lost, or ruined in the photo albums (the old-fashioned ones!) through the passage of time. I did manage to scan a lot of print copies using my Canon printer with scanner. But some were already difficult to remove from the photo albums.

Since I have transferred the files from the CDs they have sent me to my computer, I have shared my grandparents golden wedding anniversary photos, which was in the 1990s, through our Facebook group page, with my aunts, uncles and cousins, who were very happy to go down memory lane with me.

Here are some other vacation photos from the negatives I have had scanned. Still looking pretty good, di ba, after all these years!  The photos were from 1995 to 2001. Oh, and the photos above were from Batad, Ifugao in 2001.

Corregidor Island

Corregidor 1 Corregidor 3

Hundred Islands, Pangasinan

Hundred Islands 1 Hundred Islands 3

Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro

Puerto Galera 2 Puerto Galera 1995

Sagada, Mountain Province

Sagada 1 Sagada 3

Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte

Siargao2 Siargao 4

Now, I want to see these places again! One of these days, I will!

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Windblown – Finale

‘Love has come of age’

The main room of the San Nicolas Golf and Country Club was transformed into something akin to a ballroom of a castle, complete with glittering chandeliers, and antique furnishings from a bygone era. Flowers of all varieties, with sunflowers being the dominant ones, colorful lanterns, and tea light candles in decorative glasses, added color and elegance to the place. The conversation flowed freely and loudly. Laughter and merriment  can be heard from every table, interspersed with the constant clanging of knives, forks, and spoons against wine glasses, as the guests clamored for the beautiful couple sitting on the dais decorated with an over abundance of sunflowers and roses to kiss, and kiss, and kiss. They have obliged with much gusto, and with grins lighting up their joyous faces as their happiness that evening was indescribable.

Everyone was having a wonderful time as they celebrated the union of two people whom they wholeheartedly believed were really destined to be together, no matter what, as not the distance, nor the years, and the circumstances managed to keep them apart. Those who knew that their love story started at San Nicolas more than seven years ago, felt that they have come full circle with this beautiful couple too.

Earlier that lovely Saturday afternoon, Maya Dela Rosa, Miss Mindoro 2007, and Richard Lim, the Chairman of the Board of Judges of that pageant night, had their union blessed by God, in front of their families and closest friends. It was like Prince Charming finally marrying his Cinderella, after searching for her everywhere, and through the years. If it is a fairy tale story, it would have narrated that the prince didn’t fall in love until he finally got reunited with his princess. The princess was the same, pining for her prince as she traveled the world. Her heart only beat for the handsome prince she caught a glimpse and connected with profoundly, a long, long time ago.  And now as they wed and with a baby on the way, they are living their happily ever after.

Maya and Richard families and friends can’t help it but get teary-eyed inside the beautiful, centuries old San Nicolas Church which had witnessed marriages being celebrated throughout its long history, as they listened to the vows exchanged between these two, coming from the bottom of their hearts. The vows told of their beautiful beginnings, of their love for each other that didn’t wane with the passing of time, and despite the fact they didn’t see each other for seven very long years, of their promises to each other as they journey towards their forever. After they uttered their heartfelt vows, tagos sa puso as most of those present will say to them later, all those present stood up, clapped and cheered with the couple. Everyone was just so happy that after all that they have been through, that there they were, about to become man and wife in front of God. When everyone has quieted down, the priest, a family friend of the Dela Paz’ continued with the ceremony, with a big smile on his old, wise face, joining in the happiness of everyone present, feeling the love between the bride and the groom that transcends everything. Ha had celebrated countless of weddings, and for him this one is very special because of the emotions and the happy vibes he can feel from everyone for this loving couple.

Maya walked down the aisle in a beautiful gown made of delicate lace with a fitted bodice, very short sleeves, a flared skirt, cinched at the waist with a ribbon. It was a gown fit for a princess. It was similar to the tea-length wedding dress that Audrey Hepburn had worn in the movie ‘Funny Face’. Maya loved that dress so much and she had wanted something in that style for her wedding dress. When the door of the church opened and she started walking towards Richard, in her very long unstructured veil, kept in place by a headband adorned with small pearls, everyone gasped at how beautiful and radiant she was.

Richard, when he saw his beautiful bride, felt his throat getting constricted, choked with emotions, he looked across the long aisle of the church decorated in tulips, roses of all varieties, and sunflowers to where his bride was, walking slowly towards him in the arms of her Tito Mario. He gave her a smile that lit up his whole handsome face. In response, his lovely bride gave him a tremulous smile, so full of love for him.

Maya felt at that moment that it was just her in Richard in the church. All the murmurs of the guests and the sound of the beautiful bridal music being played by the orchestra they hired for the occasion just faded in the background as she and Richard shared a look, a look that spoke that at last, they were there, about to become man and wife in every sense of the world, that this was the moment they have been waiting for. Maya also touched her tummy and silently communicated to their unborn child what she was feeling at that instance.

Throughout the ceremony, Richard and Maya communicated to each other the love and happiness they were feeling at that moment with the loving looks, smiles, and the heated gazes they have exchanged. When it was time to kiss the bride, Richard did it with so much feelings, which prompted their guests to tease them mercilessly. While he was doing so, he also surreptitiously caressed Maya’s tummy, as if to include their baby in the momentous occasion in his/her parents’ lives.

“I love you very much, Mrs. Maya Lim!” Richard whispered after he and Maya shared a kiss for the third time.

“I love you very much too, Mr. Richard Lim.” Maya whispered back, then cupped Richard’s face and initiated their fourth kiss at the altar amid the happy teasing of their guests.

With faces flushed, they looked and smiled radiantly at their families and friends. Both of them, felt like they were floating in outer space, weightless, from sheer happiness, and that, finally, they are husband and wife. The feeling of being blessed and finally being announced as husband and wife for the first time was indescribable for both of them. Indeed, “Mr. and Mrs. Richard and Maya Lim’ has the most wonderful ring!

The guests all proceeded to the San Nicolas Golf and Country Club for the reception, which are being hosted by Maya’s cousin Cristina Rose and her friend Emman who flew all the way from Singapore to attend her wedding, after the picture-taking in the church which was also marked by happy laughter and hugs and kisses for the lovely couple. Richard and Maya rode in an open vintage car adorned in calla lilies and sunflowers for the short trip to the country club, incorporating into the wedding, Maya’s love of old movies.

Now, here they are, more than an hour into their beautiful, fun-filled reception. Cristina Rose and Emman as hosts were a hit, considering that they only met each other several days ago. They had everyone in stitches. The guests also oohed and ahhed  when the same day edit of their wedding video was screened. Everyone, most specially Maya and Richard, also a wonderful trip down memory lane as video clips from the Miss Mindoro Pageant that Maya joined and where Richard was a judge, including the question and answer portion, was shown at the reception after the wedding video. Richard and Maya shared a look, feeling very, very nostalgic, seeing their younger selves and remembering that this was where they started. They didn’t know that the video will be shown. It was a surprise cooked by Tita Lulu, Cristina Rose, and Donya Esme with the cooperation of Rebecca Bermudez, who is among Richard and Maya’s wedding sponsors.

“Sweetheart, do you want more food? Remember you are eating for two now.” Richard whispered to Maya. They have just returned to their place on the dais after doing the reception ceremonies, which included them feeding each other a slice of cake and toasting each other, with Maya only having a small sip of tea, instead of the champagne due to her condition, and the bouquet and garter throwing. “I know you were not able to eat much, earlier.” Then he touched Maya’s tummy and the small bump there. “How are you there, little buddy, enjoying Mommy and Daddy’s wedding reception?”

“Sweetheart, I’m okay. The baby and I are okay. Ikaw din, hindi ba, hindi ka rin nakakain ng husto?” Maya asked, then teased her husband, “Sige ka, ikaw rin, baka wala ka ng energy sa honeymoon natin.”

Richard grinned at that and then whispered naughtily at Maya, “Ha sweetheart, ako pa superman yata ito. Whatever you want and whatever you wish, I can give it to you later, all night long. I missed you kaya last night.”

“Hmmm,  ikaw talaga, para isang gabi lang tayong hindi magkasama ah.” Maya replied, whispering back. As per tradition, Maya and Richard didn’t stay with each other the day before the wedding. Maya stayed at the Dela Paz’s ancestral house with her Tita Lulu and Tito Mario. That is where they will spend their first two nights too as husband and wife. While Tita Lulu and Tito Mario will stay at the resort, where most of the guests are staying. It is another Dela Paz family tradition which they would like to do, for Mamang na rin whom they have visited the day after they returned to Mindoro. Just like with Maya’s parents, they told Mamang about their wedding.

“Sweetheart, it felt like eternity kaya! In fact, hindi  nga ako nakatulog ng maayos kasi wala ka sa tabi ko.” Richard whispered. “Nasanay ka ako na katabi kita since we got together.”

“Truth to tell, Sweetheart. Ako rin.” Maya admitted sheepishly. “Nagising nga ako, in the middle of the night, I was expecting that you were there, pero mag-isa lang pala ako sa room.”

“See, kaya mamaya, babawi ako ng husto, Mrs. Lim.” Richard teased his lovely bride, who despite everything they have done together, still blushes at his naugthy teasing,

“Sure, Mr. Lim.” Maya replied with a big smile, anticipating their first night as husband and wife.

They gazed at each other heatedly, then kissed softly.

“Eheemmm, Mr. and Mrs. Lim….” Emman said. “Mr. and Mrs. Richard Lim…. Newly weds, your attention please….”

Finally, after the third time, Emman’s voice, with Cristina Rose’s teasing second, penetrated Maya and Richard’s world. They smiled sheepishly and goofily.

“Mr. and Mrs. Lim, first dance muna as husband and wife, mamaya pa ng kaunti ang start ng honeymoon ninyo.” Emman teased the happy couple amid the good-nature catcalls of their guests.

Richard held out his hand to Maya to guide her to the center of the room which was cleared for dancing as the strains of their favorite song, “Love Has Come of Age’ floated in. They looked at each other with so much love, then with eyes only for each other, danced to their own private rhythm, as closed as two person can get while dancing.

“I really love this song, sweetheart. Tamang-tama sa love story natin. I so love you very much. Sometimes, I can still believe that we are at this moment now. I still felt at times that I am still dreaming!” Maya whispered to Richard.

“Believe, sweetheart. I love you very much, and this is real. What we have is real. What we started more than seven years ago is now a reality. Our love has come of age, as the song said, at the right time and the right circumstances! See, after meeting each other again, it just flowed and now here we are.” Richard whispered back with so much feelings in his voice. “And I agree, my love, this song will always be special to me, to us.”

The two of them continued swaying to the beautiful music, feeling each other’s happiness, this overwhelming love for each other, and remembering their beginning, their meeting again after seven long years, the time they have spent since then, the discovery that they will have a baby, and the week leading to their wedding, which became a celebration of their upcoming nuptials, with their guests having a wonderful time at the picnic place near ‘their’ waterfall, to nights spent in their own private world in the bungalow, lost in each other, and still not getting enough of each other, until this beautiful, beautiful of all days.

When the song has ended, everyone clapped and tapped their glasses. Richard and Maya obliged and shared long kiss in front of their guests one more time. Their sweet music was replaced with an upbeat one and they have led the dancing from then on. The party lasted long. Like Cinderella, Richard and Maya said goodbye to their guests at midnight. The wedding car took them to the Dela Paz ancestral home, wrapped in each other’s arm, with Maya’s head pillowed on Richard’s chest.

The place was lit by electric ‘gas’ lamps, strategically place from the gate to the intricate stairs that let to the main living area of the house. There were also flowers in various pots, which were not there when Maya left the house that morning in her beautiful bridal dress. The stairs, up to the balkonahe were also full of rose and sunflower petals. Richard guided Maya up the beautiful stairs and when they have reached the doors that led to the living room, he kissed her.

“Our home here also, sweetheart.” Maya said softly.

“Yes, sweetheart.” Richard replied.

Richard then carried a laughing Maya over the threshold of the old place, that have seen countless Dela Paz’s brides doing so through the years. Richard only put Maya down when they were inside the master’s bedroom of the house. They decided that it will be their room from now on when they are staying here. The only thing that they removed from Maya’s room and transferred to their new bedroom was the big antique bed. The house has been renovated under Richard’s supervision in late February.

“Happy, my dearest wife?” Richard asked as he hugged Maya from the back, putting his arms around her waist and nuzzling her neck, giving her tiny kisses that awakened her senses very fast.

“Sobra-sobra, my husband.” Maya turned, and smiled lovingly at her husband. She tiptoed and touched her lips to his. “I love you more than life itself.” She whispered softly.

“I love you very much, my sweetheart. “Richard said, caressing Maya’s face. “You are my life now.”

Husband and wife, shared a look, and with that, understood each other. Both of them were feeling very much alive and aware of each other despite the lateness of the hour and the long day they had. Richard slowly unbuttoned the lace vintage dress that Maya changed into during their wedding reception. He punctuated his action with little kisses, on every part of Maya’s skin he exposed. The dress pooled o Maya’s feet and she was left clad in a lace strapless bra and undies that left little to the imagination. Richard caught his breath. His bride is very beautiful, especially with the slight bump on her tummy. He gave her one more kiss, then he carried and laid her gently on the bed, which was full of rose petals and adorned by tea light candles on each of the side tables, giving a softly, romantic and other worldly feel to the beautiful old room. The old four-poster bed was screen with lace curtains, evoking a feel of being transported to a bygone era.

Richard stood up again and slowly removed his tie, then slowly unbuttoned his dress shirt, revealing his broad, muscular chest. It was Maya’s turn to look and admire her husband’s physique. She looked at him heatedly with desire on her eyes as she waited for him to completely reveal himself to her. Richard slowly removed his pants, until it pooled at his feet. With a hot look at his wife, he removed his last piece of clothing and walked slowly towards the bed. For Maya, Richard looked like a sleek panther about to claim his mate. She will never get tired of marveling at her husband’s physique.

The bed dipped a bit when Richard sat on the side. He slowly caressed Maya’s face with the back of his hand. Then he traced the seam of her lips with his thumb, heightening Maya’s awareness of him. Maya’s tongue darted out, touched Richard’s thumb, then she sucked on it. Richard’s other hand, moved to unfasten Maya’s strapless lace bra, which fell to the bed, and started touching her aching breasts. His thumb in her mouth was placed by his lips giving her a searing kiss. Richard’s tongue sought entrance to Maya’s mouth, seeking hers, wanting to mate. Richard seared Maya’s lips with hot kisses as his hand played mercilessly with her breasts, massaging them one after the other, tweaking at her nipples, inflaming them, a fire that electrified her up to her core. Maya combed Richard’s hair, caressing him every part of  his body she could touch. Richard’s hand moved lower and started wreaking havoc there. Maya gasped. She groped for Richard’s hard length, wanting to give him the same pleasure he was giving her.

“Rickyyyy……” Maya whispered, the passion he has ignited in her getting too much. “I’m on fire…..”

“Maya, the thing you do to me, sweetheart….” Richard muttered as Maya continued with the assault she was doing on his body.

Both of them continued driving each other mad, to the limits of the passion and pleasure they can endure and evoke from each other that wonderful night, and when they can’t stand it anymore, Richard kissed Maya’s breasts before he positioned himself on top of her and joined their bodies. They moved to the wonderful rhythm that they have perfected since the first time they made love, driving each other to the heights, soaring, and reaching fulfillment together. It was as wonderful as their first time to make love that New Year’s day.  However, another beautiful layer has been added to this one, as this is the first time they did it as husband and wife.

Richard kissed Maya’s face and lips. “I love you, sweetheart. That was….” He swallowed, full of emotions.

“This was more wonderful than before!” Maya finished, seeing that her husband was choked with emotion. “I felt it too, sweetheart. I felt like our souls melded dear husband. I love you very much. I felt our coming together up to my soul. I felt it the first time, but this one, doubly so. I never thought our coming together would get any better that it already was, but it just did!”

“You just said what I feel, sweetheart.” Richard said, his voice overwhelmed with feelings. “I’m sure we will always be like this.”

Maya laid at the crook of Richard’s arm, hugging him. Richard put a blanket over them, and they slept naked. They woke up at dawn and another fire smouldered between them, and which they banked with the rhythm they have established.

Maya and Richard stayed at the old house another day as they have planned, lost in their own universe. They only existed for each other, and each other’s pleasure. Then on the third day, they returned to their bungalow at Emerald, their own very special place. They spent the rest of the week there, swimming, making love, relaxing. They return to Manila, but only stayed overnight as they embarked on their honeymoon that took them first to New York. Richard fulfilled Maya’s wish to go up the top of the Empire State Building, just like in  the movie ‘An Affair to Remember’. Then they flew to London, Paris and Rome, which was Richard last treat to Maya. He told her, he wanted her to have her Princess Ann moment too. They went around the places that were featured in Maya’s favorite movie. Maya thanked her husband profusely. She told her that unlike Princess Ann, she got her prince in the end and that she is living her happily ever after!

Maya and Richard returned to the Philippines after three weeks, and resumed their respective jobs at Emerald. Despite their busy days, they made sure that they will have their ‘you and me’ time always. They have moved to Richard’s much bigger place and just sold Maya’s condo to one of Richard’s cousins who wanted to move to BGC. Maya had it easy with her pregnancy after the first trimester had passed. During her second trimester, they received a wonderful news. Maya was carrying twins, a boy and a girl! They were overjoyed, thank God profusely for all the blessings coming their way. Two babies at once! Richard teased Maya that after the twins are born, they just need to work on four more, which earned him a loving pinch from his wife. After they have found that they will have two babies, Maya worked on decorating the nursery that Richard had done even before they found out that she was pregnant, for two beautiful angels instead of one. Around six months after they got married, their precious babies whom they have named Sky and Sunshine were born.

“Parang kamukha na ng mga Lim. See, balae, singkit ang mga mata! Lalo na itong si Sky, parang si Ricky lang noong baby.” Donya Esmeralda told Lulu Francisco, as she carried Sky in her arm.

“Pero balae, itong si Sunshine, Dela Paz na Dela Paz ang face. Medyo kitang-kita na ngayong three-month old na sila. Parang si Maya lang noong baby siya.” Maya’s Tita Lulu countered as she carried a sleeping Sunshine in her arms. “Tingnan mo ang mga pilik-mata, Balae.”

“Ma, Tita Lulu, hindi ba pwedeng pareho na lang na may nakuha sa amin ni Ricky.” Maya said, as she looked at her mother-in-law and aunt, indulgently.

“Oo nga naman, Mama, Tita Lulu.” Richard added with a big smile, holding his wife’s hand as they sat in their living room as they entertained the two older ladies, that Sunday. Truth to tell, the two of them have been frequent visitors to their house, wanting to see their youngest grandchildren, in the case of Tita Lulu and her firsts, in the case of Donya Esmeralda, often. “Maya and I also did that just after the twins were born, you know. Contest kami kung sino ang kamukha.” He added laughing.

The two ladies laughed at that. “Oo naman, Balae.” Donya Esmeralda said. “Pasensya na kayong dalawa, ang kulit namin ni Balae.”

“Oo nga, Richard, Maya. Our apos as so cute kasi.” Tita Lulu added. “Nakakagigil talaga itong sina Sky and Sunshine. O basta, you need to go somewhere for the resorts and such, o kaya naman para sa second honeymoon, nandito lang kamni ni Balaeng Esme para mag-alaga sa mga apo namin.”

Maya and Richard thanked their parents for the offer. The two ladies stayed at the younger Lims’ resident until dinner. Indeed, they are so lucky to have them. One thing they are 101 percent sure of, their children and their future children will be very much-loved. While Maya has returned to work at the hotel after giving birth, she made it a point to go home early and be with the twins most of the time. Richard had cut back on his traveling too, and is concentrating on the design side of the business. Most of the time, he works from home so one of them have to be with the twins, even if one of the older Lims trusted and longtime kasambahay, Doris, and her friend Lea are the children’s nannies now.

That evening, Maya had a special treat for her wonderful husband, who is her partner in every sense of the word, especially with taking care of the kids. He didn’t know how, having no siblings and younger cousin, but he had learned and had concentrated on learning, just like one of his designs – to change the babies diaper, to give them milk when they get hungry from the breastmilk Maya pumped and stores in their fridge when she started going back to work! He is a very devoted father and very wonderful and the most loving husband.

Maya took a long bath. Then she took out a beautiful lace nightgown that she ordered from the online store of a well-known shop that specializes in women’s lingerie. Her husband was not yet in the room when she got out of the bath. She knows where he is. Putting on the wrap that goes with the gown, she went to the nursery. True enough, her husband clad only in pajama bottoms was standing between the two cribs, a big loving smile on his face as he stares at their beautiful angels.

“Sweetheart….” Maya said softly, so as not to wake up the kids, then hugged Richard from the back, planting a small kiss  near his shoulder blades. “Bed? I think they will sleep throughout the night again as they have been doing now the past week.”

The effect of that touch and kiss, coupled Maya’s soft  voice, on Richard was instantaneous. It felt like he was touch by an electric rod. He caught his breath. He turned around and saw for the first time what his beautiful wife is wearing, then smiled hugely. “Sweetheart, you are the most beautiful wife. Be it with while feeding and bathing our babies, or like this.” He said, softly, lovingly, desire in his eyes.

Maya smiled and intertwined her hands around Richard’s nape, then she whispered, “Well, I thought we should start making baby number three this evening, sweetheart.”

Richard grinned, like he had won the lotto that night! He and Maya have not gotten around discussing this aspect of their married life, the resumption of their physical relationship, as they had concentrated on the twins. He gave his wife a searing kiss. Then he carried her to their room after whispering, “Lead on, sweetheart.”

Like Maya had said, the twins slept through the night, and she and Richard spent the night making love, reacquainting themselves in each other’s body, pleasuring each other.

“I love you very much, Ricky.” Maya whispered, feeling sleepy after the second time they have made love.

“I love you very, very much too, Maya.” Richard said, planting a kiss on Maya’s thoroughly loved mouth. Then he put the blanket over them, sleeping spoon-like without any clothes on.

Nine months later, little Sky and Sunshine’s baby sister, Abby, was born to their very happy and industrious parents.

 

Note: That ends another story I enjoyed writing and sharing with you! Thank you very much again from the bottom of my heart for reading and enjoying my stories. I may not be able to reply to each and every comment you made, and thank you for all the likes, and just for reading, as I see in my page views, but I would like you to know that I appreciate you taking the time do so. Seeing and reading those comments, likes and visits, inspires me. Good vibes as always! Happy Sunday! ❤ ❤ ❤

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Unexpected Love – Chapter 17

Chapter 17

“Pippa darling, is everything okay?” Ethan asked as he saw Pippa staring into space, and heard her sighing in between drinking from the cup of coffee in front of her and tapping her fingers on the table absent-mindedly. She was seated in a corner table in the cafe where they agreed to meet that afternoon. He was supposed to surprise her with a kiss while covering her eyes, as he slowly crept towards her, but heard her sighing instead, and she seemed to be lost in thought.

Pippa and Ethan agreed to meet at that cafe in Bonifacio High Street after his visit to Werner’s office. Ethan was surprised when Pippa texted him more than an hour ago to tell him that she can pick him up and meet him for coffee if he finishes early. It was just a little after 3PM. He thought she would still be very busy at work since they will leave for the Palawan trip the following day. They only agreed that morning that she will pick him up from Werner’s late office in the afternoon if she can make it. If not, then Ethan will just take a cab home. Pippa had earlier insisted that she can pick him up, but Ethan told her to take care of her work first. He assured her he can managed. Pippa just gave him a spare key to her condo.

“Hi, Ethan!” Pippa said, smiling, happy to see him, then she stood up and gave Ethan a kiss on the cheek. “Please have a seat, honey. What would you like, frappe, cappuccino, tea? I ordered mine na since I arrived a bit earlier than our agreed time.”

“Oh, kanina ka pa pala! You should have sent me an SMS so I could have been here earlier.” Ethan said as he took a seat. Then he took hold of Pippa’s hand. “Is something wrong? Tell me please.”

“I guess I’m just frustrated, tired and a bit stressed out, Ethan. The show that I cut short my vacation for, and what I have been working on hard, will be put to the back burner indefinitely. The management has a change of plans again in the final line up of our new programs. No more magazine program for now! That also means no trip to Palawan tomorrow. My production team is a bit sad, but what can we do!” Pippa explained as she unconsciously moved her hand over Ethan’s. “This thing happens, pero I never thought that the show will be cancelled this late kasi di ba ma-a-advance nga dapat ang airing. Saka kung tutuusin, okay rin naman ang uunahin and ilalagay sa slot na dapat sa magazine show, a program on emergency preparedness. Mas kailangan naman ito sa mga panahong ito, lalo na after the devastating earthquakes in Nepal, saka because of the malalakas na bagyo rin in recent years!”

“Oh, darling, I’m so sorry. I know how you have been looking forward to doing this program!” Ethan said, moving closer and putting his ams around Pippa. “So, what are your plans now, career wise and personal? Pwede ka na ulit magbakasyon?”

“For now, rest muna ako, until they green light the magazine program again. In a way, it’s a blessing in disguise din naman. Na-realized ko rin iyan while waiting for you and trying to clear my head with a cup of coffee. Now, I can continue with my much needed vacation. Also, I can also explore what I have been toying in my head before, just try to make a career out of blogging. This way I can control my content and my time. Karamihan naman, online na ngayon and I believe if I have put enough interesting content and promote it on social media, I’ll make a career out of it. For me, para rin naman iyang production work, online nga lang instead of television.” Pippa said, staring off, as if talking to herself, but basically using Ethan as sounding board. “What do you think?”

“I think it is a wonderful idea! I can help you with setting up your site.” Ethan said, liking Pippa’s idea and liking the fact that he can help her make a go of it. “You can do it, darling. You have the writing and production background for it. I can handle the technical stuffs. It is one thing I can do for you.”

“Really, honey, you will? That would be great!” Pippa said, happily. “Thank you, thank you, honey.”

With Ethan supporting her idea, it is not as scary and as unchartered waters, so to speak, as the first time she first entertained the thought of doing it, several months ago. She hesitated on sounding off Martin about it as she knew he would think she would be foolish to leave her network job, and all the benefits for something so completely unknown and untested. Truth to tell, she thinks now that one of her attractions to Martin is her job, and his perception that a lot of perks and influence goes with being a producer! He couldn’t be more wrong. While she can, on a level, Pippa has never tried to use her position for personal gains. It is against her ethics. As for benefits, in actuality, she would be okay too financially, as her father left her and her mom well off. She also got hold of the money he and her mother invested for her when she turned 25 years old. She does not spend much and she is not into designer clothes and bags naman.

“Of course, my darling. Whatever it is that you want to do next, I will support you 101 percent. I love you and that is part of loving each other. As you were there for me as I dealt with the effects of Claudia’s death.” Ethan cupped Pippa’s face and then gave her a quick, sweet kiss. “I’ll just grab myself a cup of coffee too, then we can talk in details about your plans, and our plans since the Palawan trip is off.”

Ethan stood up to go to the counter and Pippa followed him with her gaze, thanking God for giving Ethan to her. Apparently, she was not the only one looking at Ethan. She saw several admiring glances as he walked to the counter, then they looked at her, with something akin to envy. Ah, you don’t know ladies how lucky I really, really am to have this wonderful and beautiful man in my life! If  you know, tataas ang standards niyo sa paghahanap ng boyfriend or sa mga boyfriend or husband ninyo na!

Pippa is glad that Ethan is completely out of the long shadow cast by Claudia’s death and that they can move forward together. Yesterday morning, she was woken up by Ethan’s kisses. When she opened her eyes, she saw him looking at her with a big smile lighting up his whole face.

“Good morning, my darling!” Ethan said lovingly, caressing her face thoroughly, and lovingly. “Thank you very much for taking care of me, last night.”

“Good morning, Ethan!” Pippa said sleepily. “How are you, honey?”

“I’m very good, I slept well and I felt way, way much lighter. In fact, I just felt so very happy. Reading that diary liberated me, and you with me last night, made me feel so wonderfully so. I’m so lucky to have found you.” Ethan said. “I love you very, very much, Pippa.”

“I love you very, very much, too Ethan.” Pippa whispered softly. “I’m so glad you are okay now. If you want we can go to church later, diyan lang sa kabilang village and offer a prayer for Claudia and your baby.”

“Yes, we can do that Pippa. Thank you very much. You are the sweetest girlfriend and I’m a very, very lucky guy. I will not get tired of saying that to you.”

“Ethan honey, I will not get tired of hearing it. I’m a lucky girl too.” Pippa said, giving her boyfriend a loving smile.

Pippa and Ethan gazed at each other. The gaze turned into a heated look. Something was ignited between them. Ethan lowered his face to Pippa’s, capturing her lips in a searing kiss that went on forever. Pippa returned the kiss, with equal fervour. Both of them wanting more. They started caressing each other heatedly. Pippa felt like Ethan was branding her with his heated touch. From her lips, his questing mouth moved to her nape, then the valley between her breasts, and then his lips replaced the hand that had been wreaking havoc on her breasts through the thin material of her sleeping shirt. She felt like she was going crazy with want, craving for more and more of Ethan’s touch. She knew where what they have been doing would lead and she was ready for it. The time was right for her and Ethan to take their love for each other to another level. She was not afraid to do so. With Ethan, she was very much willing to cross the point of no return, with the two of them united body and soul.

“Pippa…Pippa…!” Ethan said softly.  “Earth to Pip, my darling!” He said with a quick kiss on her opened lips.

“Oh…!” Pippa then realised where she was and what she was reliving at that moment! She blushed profusely, flustered, she gave Ethan a shy smile. “Sorry, I was so lost in my thoughts.”

“It must be very nice thoughts, darling! I have been calling your attention for a while.” Ethan said, then he grinned naughtily, seeing the blush on Pippa’s oh so transparent face. “Hmmm, parang I know na what you were thinking. I have been thinking of that too, darling on my way here. Pati the whole day kahapon!” He confessed, as even if they would like to, they were unable to continue with that last night.

“Really…..?”

“Yes, really, really!” Ethan said, grinning and teasing. “And when you are ready and when we finally get to make love, darling, I’ll make sure there will be no more interruptions. Maybe, we can go to an island where it would just be us there! No sister to interrupt us!”

“Hahahaha, Ally was not intending to naman, Ethan. She was being very quiet nga. Next time, maybe I should just buy plastic glasses and cups, hahahaha!” Then Pippa looked at Ethan. “But you know, if we were not interrupted, we would have, you know, done it.” She admitted, blushing.

“Really, darling! You were okay with it?” Ethan asked, gazing at Pippa, lovingly and with a hint of desire in his eyes.

“Yes. With you, I’m sure.” Pippa confessed.

“Darling, thank you.” Ethan said, with a wealth of emotion in his reply. He felt overwhelmed with Pippa’s trust in him. His throat constricted. “Next time, let’s make sure, no interruptions. You know buying plactic cups and glasses is not a bad idea.” He added, grinning happily.

The two of them shared a meaningful look, grinning, remembering their interrupted moment.

Their passionate moment was actually interrupted by a sound of breaking glasses. Not because they were trying to rein in their passion for each other. It was so loud that it sent Pippa and Ethan out of the room fast, without even checking their appearances, thinking that something had happened to Ally. Yes, something had happened. Ally broke the glasses and the cups she was holding in her hand. She was trying to be quiet, so as not to disturb them. She thought they were still sleeping. However, she slipped on a wet patch near the sink, with the glasses  and cups she was trying to put in the dish cabinet! Pippa left those by the sink  to dry when Ethan and her went to bed the night before.

She apologized profusely for breaking the glasses and the cups, and said sorry anew, when she saw the state her brother and Pippa were in. It was obvious that she interrupted more than just their sleep! Pippa blushed, felt shy all of a sudden. Ethan hugged him to her and whispered to her that it is nothing to be embarrassed about. Later that day, Ally, a straightforward person like her brother, assured Pippa that she does not have anything to be embarrassed about, as she and Ethan are both consenting adults and it is quite normal where she had grown up.

“So, what would like to write about?” Ethan asked while he takes a sip of his cappuccino, holding Pippa’s hand.

“Hmmmm, anything that is interesting. People, places, things, gadgets, fashion, information, and human interests stuffs. Something that people would be interested in, along the lines of the magazine show I would have produced for the station. I can also incorporate short vids, together with tons of photos. Something short and snappy, pero very informative din. I’ll show you some of my ideas when we get home. They are stored in my MacBook.” Pippa said, her face lighting up as she talked about her project. “Matagal ko na kasi itong gustong gawin, pero walang courage kasi nga ang dami namang bloggers ngayon  na magagaling and anyone can create a blog. Also, wala rin akong time before to do this and give this project most of my time.”

“Okay, we can do that this evening.” Ethan said. “I’m sure you will like doing this, and you will be a success on it, darling. You have produced successful shows and it is just a matter of translating it into the cyber world. Your face lit it when you speak of this. You have the talent and the guts to finally do it. I believe in you, Pip. You can do this.I’ll be here for you.”

“Thank you again, Ethan.” Pippa pressed Ethan’s hand. “Kumusta pala ang lakad mo sa office ni Werner?”

“It was okay. I will start middle of next month. Their office is nice, with big glass windows and a pool table inside. Very laid back. Pero I don’t have to go there naman everyday kasi most of the work, I can do anywhere as long as I have a fast internet connection.” Ethan said. “So, everything is looking good.”

“Middle of next month? Then you have several weeks free pa?” Pippa said matter of factly. She had been thinking of asking if Ethan would like to travel with her part of that when he verbalized what she had been thinking.

“Yes, which is great since I would like to spend more time with you, you know just being laid back and enjoying each other’s company. Now that you are not working on a program at the moment, maybe we can explore the country together. As many places as we could in one go, leisurely.” Ethan said, then asked, “What do you think, Pippa?”

Pippa grinned at Ethan. ”I was going to ask you that, naunahan mo lang ako! That would be great! Tapos I can also write about the places we will go and see, interview people, looking for something interesting to write, that sort of thing!”

“I like it, very much. So. where do we start and when?” Ethan asked, getting very excited about the whole thing, and looking forward to seeing places with Pippa.

“Well since hindi na nga tuloy iyong Palawan trip, we don’t have to start there. We can do it at some point. How about we travel North muna, then pababa to South, then to Visayas, and Mindanao? Kahit hindi naman in one go. Basta ang importante we got to enjoy the places din. We can travel naman another time, since flexible rin ang time mo sa bago mong work. I can also think about whether I will stay pa with my job or go full blast, doing the blog. That way, I can also think about my options while we are traveling. But wait, how about Ally, baka may gusto siyang specific places na puntahan. Gaano katagal ba siya dito. Let’s ask her this evening. Babalik ba siya sa condo tonight? I forgot to ask her.”

“Yes, she will be. She said Cousin Melissa will take her home around 7PM or so mamaya.” Ethan replied. “Pero she hasn’t send an SMS yet about it. Anyway, we can just ask her when we see her, whether this evening or tomorrow. For sure, babalik kaagad iyon kasi di ba, she does not know yet na hindi tayo matutuloy sa Palawan.”

When they got home the day before from eating lunch, shopping and watching a movie from the nearby mall, Ally went online to check on her Facebook page and found a message from hers and Ethan’s cousin Melissa who it turned out is in Manila. She attended a seminar at her company’s corporate headquarters in Makati, but opted to delay her return to Davao to do some shopping and take a short vacation. Ethan was planning to call her and his Tita Miriam at some point, just to say hello, but as he was still hurting from what happened, he opted to keep a low profile first. Melissa saw Ally’s post that she is in Manila. As they have not seen each other for four years, the last time was when Melissa was in London, she had asked Ally if she would like meet with her as her flight to Davao is on Wednesday pa.

Pippa, Ethan and Ally stayed at home, Sunday evening. Pippa and Ally cooked, while Ethan made the salad, a task he told the ladies, he can’t fail in doing. After dinner, Pippa had stomach cramps, something that she experience from time to time because of her period. Ethan asked her to lay down early to ease the pain. He also bought her medicine from the nearby pharmacy, and made a hot compress for her. They had an early night, watching the first of The Hobbit movies.

That Monday morning, they left Pippa’s condo at past 8 o’clock in the morning to start their long journey to Makati. It took them more than an hour to go there from Quezon City. They dropped off Ally at Rockwell’s Power Plant Mall. Melissa was already at the cafe where they agreed to meet. The three cousins chatted for a bit and Pippa got introduced also as Ethan’s girlfriend. Pippa dropped off Ethan at Werner’s building and then return to Quezon City for her meeting with her production manager, and the rest happened. She felt so tired after the meeting. She texted Ethan and they agreed to meet at BGC.

“So, would like to go back to Quezon City now or just walk around and have dinner here?” Pippa asked Ethan.

“Home please! I prefer your condo than being in a crowd. We can just pick up food on the way home. Di ba, sabi mo there is a new restaurant near your place that has masarap food?” Ethan said.

“Yes! The place has the most mouth-watering baby back ribs, and pasta with shrimps!” Pippa replied. “Are those food okay with you and Ally? We can also order pizza and burgers there. They have several kinds, or we can order their special rice. ”

“Sounds good to me. I’m sure Ally will like those too.” Ethan smiled. “Come, let’s go home.”

Hand and hand, they walked out of the cafe, to where Pippa parked her car. Pippa felt happier and lighter. She gave Ethan a loving look, and he did the same. Both of them are looking forward to their trip.

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On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Good morning po, Manang Fe.” Richard greeted his old nanny who was putting a bowl of fresh fruits on the table, when he went to the dining room of the service apartment where they are currenlt staying, to have breakfast. “Si Abby po? Wala na siya sa room niya when I took a peek.”

“Magandang umaga rin, Ricardo! O umupo ka na at ng makakain ka ng breakfast.” Manang Fe said, directing Richard to the usual place where he sits. “Tamang-tama, kakatukin na nga sana kita ulit. Si Abby, nasa school na. Ipinahatid ko na kina Joma and Sabel bago sila mamalengke.”

“Kanina ninyo pa po ako, ginigising Manang Fe?” Richard asked, the he looked at the clock. He forgot to do so when he left the room. “Oh, past 8 o’clock na pala! I overslept ngayon! I thought maaga pa. I forgot to open the drapes in my room like I usually do kaya feeling ko madilim pa! Nakapasok na pala si Abby!  Sayang hindi ko siya nakita this morning. I did manage to kiss her good night pagdating ko.”

“Oo nga. Mabait naman talaga ang batang iyan at nakakaintindi na talaga. Matapos kong sabihin na gagabihin ka at matulog na siya, ang bilis nang natulog. Kanina pagkagising, gustong pumasok sa kuwarto mo to kiss you good morning, pero sabi ko baka tulog ka pa. Di ba sabi mo pupunta ka sa lumang bahay kagabi? Natuloy ka ba? Ginabi ka yata ng husto? Kasi noong lumabas ako ng kwarto ko para i-check si Abby at uminom ng tubig nang magha-hatinggabi, wala ka pa. Sabi ko sa kanya huwag ka na munang gisingin.” Manang Fe said. “Mga 30 minutos ang nakakaraan, kinatok na kita kasi di ba, may pasok ka sa opisina ngayon, pero noong hindi ka sumagot, minabuti ko na munang maghanda ng agahan mo.”

“Opo, Manang Fe. Medyo late na nga po ako nakauwi. Pasado ala una ng madaling-araw na po ako umalis nang Mirasol. Napasarap po ako sa pagmuni-muni sa lumang bahay. It was nice to be back there, Manang. Bumalik sa alaala ko lahat ng beautiful memories natin doon. Richard said, smiling, remembering his trip to his old home, happily. “Pero, prior to that, inihatid ko pa po si Maya sa bahay nila.” He added offhand, not realizing that his statement perked his old nanny’s radar and curiosity.

“Maya? Iyong nobya mo noon na nakatira rin dati sa Mirasol?” Manang Fe asked, surprised. “Doon pa rin pala siya nakatira! Nakakatuwa naman! Saan kayo nagkita ulit? Di ba, nawalan na kayo ng komunikasyong dalawa nang umalis tayo pa-China nang biglaan?”

Manang knew that not being able to say goodbye to Maya affected Richard, maliban ba sa naging epekto sa pamilya ng pagkakakidnap nina Donya Esmeralda at Grace. Siya ang nag-alaga rito mula sa pagkabata, pati na rin kay Grace kaya, kabisado niya ang mga ito. Alam niyang may nararamdaman ang alaga niya kay Maya noon. Unang dinig pa lang niya nang banggitin ni Ricardo ang pangalan nito, parang may kakaiba sa kanyang boses. Narinig din niya minsan sina Don Roberto at Donya Esmeralda, sa hindi sinasadyang pagkakataon, na pinag-uusapan ang pagkahulog ng loob ni Ricardo kay Maya. Para kay Donya Esme, pabayaan na lang si Ricardo na umibig kay Maya kasi mabait na bata naman daw, responsable at masikap sa buhay, at siguradong hindi makakasagabal sa plano ni Don Roberto para kay Ricardo. Pero, ayaw ni Don Roberto. Medyo nagtalo pa nga ang mag-asawa noon.

Richard smiled at his old nanny. “Yes po, Manang Fe. Lawyer na po siya ngayon. Natupad na niya ang pangarap niya, Manang! Hindi lang iyon, Manang, she topped the bar exams pa!  Nagkita kami noong isang araw sa law firm ni Uncle Rafa, iyong kaibigan ni Papa, naaalala niyo po? Doon siya nagtatrabaho ngayon. In fact, naka-assigned siya sa LAS at doon siya nag-o-office twice a week simula kahapon. She is very good kahit bago pa lang siyang lawyer, Manang, and still as lovely as ever. Nalaman ko lang na doon pa siya nakatira sa Mirasol when I offered to bring her home kasi ginabi na kami sa office. Sobrang sipag din kasi niyang mag-work.” Richard said, his voice was tinged with pride and happiness that Maya has achieved her dream, a fact that didn’t escape his old nanny. “Pero Manang, correction, hindi ko naman siya naging girlfriend noon, although I wanted her to be! Umalis na kasi tayo, di ba? Liligawan ko pa nga lang.”

“Oo nga, pero parang nobya na rin ang turing mo sa kanya noon eh. Iyon ang aking obserbasyon, hijo. Kilala kitang bata ka.” Manang Fe said, smiling. “Gusto ko nga rin ang batang iyon para sa iyo. Unang kita ko palang sa kanya, magaan na ang loob ko. Lalo na nung nabanggit mo na masikap siya kasi nagtatrabaho, habang nag-aaral. Maganda siya hindi lang sa panlabas na anyo, kundi pati ang kanyang kaloooban.” Manang Fe said, as she put a cup of coffee, in front of Richard, and started serving him breakfast as they chatted.

“Salamat po, Manang.” Richard said, then after taking a sip of his coffee, he continued, “Yes, she is that, Manang. Di bale, you will see each other again this Saturday. Pwede na tayong lumipat ulit sa Mirasol. Maayos na maayos na ang bahay. Sabi ko kay Maya, punta sa bahay after lunch. She actually offered to help us when we move. But I told her na everything is arranged na. Na-meet na rin pala niya si Abby kasi nagkataon iyong anak ng friend na special needs child din, sa school pala ni Abby pumapasok. Nagkita rin kami doon kahapon kasi siya muna ang naghatid doon sa anak ni Doris, iyong kasama niya dati sa Mirasol.”

“Talaga, Ricardo! Salamat naman at makakauwi na tayo sa lumang bahay. Mas gusto ko nga doon kaysa rito sa pagkataas-taas na apartment building na ito.” Manang Fe said. “Sige, gusto ko ring makitang muli si Maya. Nakakatuwa naman na ilang beses na pala kayong pinagtatagpo mula nang magkita kayo ulit at natutuwa ako at nakilala na rin niya si Abigail. Ano pala ang balak mo ngayong nagkita kayo ulit? Wala ba siyang nobyo ngayon? Sa ganda at bait ni Maya na iyon, sigurado akong maraming nanligaw diyan sa nakalipas na sampung taon. Hindi imposibleng wala pa siyang nobyo hanggang ngayon.”

Richard grinned at his old nanny. “Welllll, Manang…..” Then, taking another sip of his coffee and after digging into his breakfast, he said, “I have a plan.” That was all Richard said to his old nanny.

Manang Fe smiled, seeing the happiness on her old alaga’s face. “O siya, hindi ko na tatanungin pa, parang alam ko na.  Anong oras tayo lilipat sa Sabado?”

“Kahit mid-morning na po, Manang.” Richard replied. “Anyway, clothes lang naman and other personal stuffs ang dadalhin natin.”

“O sige, ako na ang bahala sa lahat.” Manang Fe assured Richard. “Papasok ka na ba sa opisina mo ngayon, pagka-almusal? Magkikita ba kayo ulit ni Maya sa opisina mo?”

“Yes po, Manang, I will, papasok ako. Pero after lunch na siguro kasi ako na ang susundo kay Abby. I missed her. Wala siyang therapy today, di ba? Isasama ko na lang siya sa office.” Richard replied. “Si Maya naman po, bukas pa ang balik niya sa LAS.

“Wala today. Bukas pa.  Matutuwa si Abigail niyan na ikaw ang susundo sa kanya at makakapunta siya ulit sa opisina mo.  Ihahanda ko na ang ekstrang damit para sa kanya para madala mo na pag-alis mo.” Manang Fe said.”Pati na rin ang iPad niya.”

“Thanks, Manang Fe, for that, and the breakfast. I’ll be in my room lang po. I need to check some e-mails pala this morning.” Richard said. He walked back to his room with a fresh cup of coffee in hand.

However, checking his emails was the last thing Richard did when he sat on the small table by the window that he is using as a temporary office table in the apartment. He looked out, took a sip of his coffee, and remembered the night before again, especially the time he took Maya home and ‘stole’ a kiss from her. He knew he surprised Maya with that. But he was not, just able to help himself when with the emotions he was feeling last night.He felt very, very happy being with her. He smiled happily at the memory, then, he hastily looked for his phone, to text her.

Richard: Good morning, Maya! I hope you slept well kahit pinuyat kita with the side trip to the old house. Are you at RRMA na?

Maya: Good morning to you too, Ricky. Yes, I am. I slept okay. I think will survive the day with several cups of my favorite brew. And you, what time did you manage to go home from Mirasol?

Richard: I left the place at past one o’clock in the morning. Traffic was non-existent naman at that time of the night so I got home fast.

Maya: Wow, that late, huh! Looks like hindi lang ako ang kailangan ng maraming kape! Are you at work now?

Richard: I’m drinking my second cup now. No, I’m still at home. I’ll work from here this morning. I’ll go to work after lunch. I’ll pick up Abby from school and take her with me to work.  Hindi pa kami nakakapag-bonding simula last night. I woke up late kaya hindi kami nagkita kanina.

Maya: That’s nice. I’m sure Abby will like that. And lucky you, having your second cup! I haven’t had one here at the office. Just the one I had at home and that was two hours ago. Sonny, the other lawyer assigned to Atty. Ryan and I have a meeting with him, in just about now. I’ll have coffee after that, hopefully!

Richard: Okay. I will not keep you. Have a nice day, Maya. I’ll see you tomorrow at LAS.

Maya: You too, Ricky. See you. Have a great day and have fun with Abby later!

Richard: I will!

Richard put his phone down with a big smile on his face. He just felt very happy. He was humming and was about to open his laptop when he thought of something.

“Joma, nasaan na kayo ni Sabel?” Richard asked when his driver picked up the call.

“Sir Richard, paakyat na po kami ni Sabel, Sir. Dala po namin iyong mga pinabili ni Manang Fe pagkatapos naming ihatid si Abby sa school niya.” Joma said, holding two eco bags while Sabel held the phone to his ear.

“Great! Knock on my door when you get here. May iuutos lang ako sa iyo.” Richard said.

“Sige po, Sir.” Joma replied.

Several minutes later, Richard heard a knock on his door. “Come in, Joma.”

“Sir?….”

“Joma, could you please go to the Starbucks near Uncle Rafa’s law office, iyong RRMA, then buy the stuffs listed on this.” He handed the driver a piece of paper. “ I have instructions there for the barista also. Ibigay mo lang ito doon sa counter ng Starbucks. Tapos, ilagay mo itong envelop sa loob ng paper bag from the coffee shop, kapag nakuha mo na ang order mo, and please  deliver everything to Atty. Maya Dela Rosa sa RRMA. Oh, and by the way, kapag wala iyong nakalista diyan, please find another Starbucks na meron ang mga iyon.”

Joma tried very hard to hide his curiosity at his boss’ order, but he is mighty curious. In the three months or so he started working for Richard Lim, this is the first time he is having him deliver something for a lady, who seems like a very important person in his life, judging by the way he was giving him all these instructions. This is a bit out of character for his boss. Sabagay, wala namang masama, and mabuti nga iyon, para hindi masyadong serious ang employer niya, at saka single na naman siya ulit, Joma thought. He used to work for Richard’s cousin, and he had mentioned before that he is a widower. In all the time he had been working for him, Richard Lim’s life had just revolved around his office and his daughter. Bahay-opisina lang talaga ang employer niya!

“Sige po, Sir. Gawin ko na po kaagad, Sir.” Joma said.

“Oh by the way, Joma, ako na ang susundo kay Abby mamaya. Isasama ko na lang siya sa office. I think Maya is in a meeting now. Hintayin mo na lang matapos and then give the bag to her. Make sure na sa kanya mo mismo iaabot ang mga iyan.”

“Okay po, Sir Richard. Areglado po.” Joma nodded, then gestured to Richard that he would get going.

Richard nodded, and thanked the driver. When Joma was out of the door, he grinned. He is very happy at his idea. He opened his laptop whistling.

When he returned to the old house after taking Maya home the night before, Richard went inside his old room again. He sat by the window and thought of his wonderful day, and evening. At the same time, being there, he remembered the time he would see Maya passing by the window and his heart beating faster than usual with the sight of her, that just the sight of her made his day complete. He thought of the time he had seen her again at RRMA, the day before, and he remembered feeling the same, a feeling that was reinforced when he spent the day and most of the evening with her, including the emotional trip to the old house.

In the middle of the night and amid the quiet but oh so familiar surroundings, he came to a realization, something that he knew all along, after their paths crossed again, that he still loves her, that his love for her has not changed through the years, but that just laid dormant, and that in all his relationships, including the good one with Alexandra, Maya is the only one who made him feel this way. His heart sang with the realization. He was drawn to her again, like a magnet as soon as they met, and despite the passing of a decade without seeing or hearing from each other.

He thought of her from time to time. She was never out of his mind completely. However, circumstances both personal and professional prevented him from looking for her when he can already. Until the other day, with fate bringing them together again. There is really a truth in the adage that there is always a right time for everything, and this is the right time for him and Maya!

There in his old room, in the place where he first caught a glimpse of her, he came to a plan to court her again earnestly and to continue where they left off ten years ago. He does not want them to start anew, so to speak, as what they had before was already great, he would like to built on that beginning. They have laid down the foundation and it is now time to build the whole beautiful structure, albeit, it is ten years after! He went home the night before in a very high spirit and it was a while before he managed to sleep.

Now, he just hopes that Maya is of the same page as him. She did admit indirectly that she does not have a boyfriend at the moment. But Manang Fe is right, she is very beautiful, inside out, for her not to have a relationship in the last decade. Did someone make her heart aflutter in all the years that they have been apart? While he does not care about her past relationships, on a level, he would like to know a bit about those, so he knows where he stands, where he could continue on with her. She seems to enjoy his company. He is banking on the fact too, that Maya admitted last night that she would have said yes, if he had courted her ten years ago. That kind of feeling does not disappear completely, isn’t it? There is only one way to find out, Richard thought, his resolve firmed, and that is to make an all out campaign to win Maya’s heart again, starting now. With that in mind, Richard happily went through his e-mails again.

More than two hours later, Maya went out of the conference room where she had the meeting with Atty. Ryan and Atty. Sonny. She was about to go to her office when Lindsay waved at her, and called her attention.

“Good morning again, Atty. Maya! May naghahanap po sa inyo, medyo kanina pa nga po siya.” Lindsay said. “He insisted on waiting for you. Nasa waiting area po siya.”

“Ha, sino, Lindsay, wala naman akong ini-expect na guest? Saka not so many people know pa that I work here na.” Maya asked, curious on who is her guest be since it is just Doris, and two of her law school friends, know where she works.

“Driver daw po siya ni Mr. Lim.” Lindsay replied. “Hindi ba po sa kanya ka naka-assign? Baka may ipinadala pong papers si Mr. Lim. Though I offered naman to the driver na pwede niyang iwan sa akin  kung ano man iyong ibibigay sa iyo at ako na lang ang magbibigay sa iyo, pero sabi niya bilin daw po sa kanya ni Mr. Lim na hintayin ka.”

“Oh, baka nga papers.” Maya simply said. Her heart started beating fast since she had an inkling that the driver’s mission is something personal. Kagabi lang naman sila naghiwalay ni Richard, wala namang nabanggit sa kanya. Then, kanina sa meeting, wala ring nabanggit si Attorney Ryan sa kanya. Pero, Maya Dela Rosa, huwag kang assuming, she admonished herself! “Thanks a lot Lindsay. I’ll go and see him na para malaman na natin.” Maya said with a smile.

Maya saw a guy, wearing a polo barong, and holding a big paper bag, sitting on one of the arm chairs in waiting area. He looked up and smiled when she entered.

“Good morning, ikaw ba iyong driver ni Mr. Lim?” Maya greeted the guy, with a big, friendly smile. “I’m Maya Dela Rosa.”

Joma looked at the smartly dressed lady before him, and smiled. Now, he understands why his boss is acting this way. She is very lovely! Mukhang mabait at siyempre matalino, abugada nga eh. “Good morning po, Atty. Dela Rosa, yes po, ako po si Joma Adriano, iyong driver ni Mr. Lim.”

“Nice to meet you, Joma. Ikaw ang naghahatid kay Abby sa school, di ba?” Maya asked conversationally. “May pinadala raw si Ricky….errr, si Mr.Lim for me. You could have left it with Lindsay para sana hindi ka na naghintay.”

Joma was a bit surprised at that question, and the almost use of a nickname for his boss, realizing that maybe, his boss and this lawyer know each other very well talaga. “Yes po, may pinadala po si, Sir Richard. Pero bilin din po niya sa akin na hintayin kayo. Okay lang naman po kasi libre naman na ako dahil si Sir na raw ang susundo kay Abby.” Joma offered the information without intending to, liking the friendly lawyer.

“Yes, he did mention that this morning.” Maya replied, but didn’t elaborate.

“Heto po pala ang padala ni Sir.” Joma gave Maya the paper bag he was holding.

“Oh, thank you for this, Joma.” Maya smiled at Joma and then looked at the bag closely and noticed the logo. She has an inkling now of what’s inside the paper bag, and it has something to do with her conversation with Richard that morning.

“Walang anuman po, Attorney. Mauuna na po ako.” Joma said. He also noticed the lawyer’s face lighting up when he handed  her the bag. He has a feeling that there’s more to this really than what he sees. Parang masayang-masaya rin si Attorney ah sa padala ni Sir Richard!

Maya went back to her office after Joma left. Lindsay saw her carrying the paper bag and just uttered a silent “Oh.” She is very curious, though.

When Maya looked inside the bag, she found a hot thermos, a slice of blueberry cheesecake, and a bottled water. When she opened the beautiful purple thermos, with a floral design done in watercolors, the smell of her favourite brew wafted into the air. Richard was very observant, and very thoughtul, parang noon lang una siyang binigyan nito ng books! It was the coffee brew she had ordered for lunch the day before. The blueberry cheesecake harks back to the time they were going out ten years ago. He still remembers that this is her favorite dessert!

She saw a small envelope inside, and grinned broadly, her heart somersaulting with joy, touched by Richard’s sweet gesture, when she read what he had written, and the way he wrote it.

Dearest Maya,

Thank you very much again for last night. I hope the coffee will be enough to fortify you for the day! I remember that you have a weakness for blueberry cheesecake! I hope that you still do! 🙂 If you are not too tired by the end of your day or too sleepy, would you like to have dinner with me? Let me know.  

Enjoy your coffee!  

Yours, 

Ricky

Maya took a sip of the still very hot coffee. Then she took out her phone and called Richard.

“Hi Maya,” Richard greeted Maya with a smile in his voice, when he picked up the call. He is very happy to hear from her this soon. “Tapos na ba ang meeting mo?”

“Ricky, thank you very much for the coffee and the cheesecake. You are a lifesaver.” Maya told him happily. “I was not sure nga if I could grab a cup pa kasi may pinatatapos si Attorney Ryan, pronto, this morning. And yes, katatapos lang ng meeting namin.”

“You’re welcome, Maya. I thought as much na baka hindi mo na maasikaso.” Richard said. “Your workload must be heavy. Minsan kasi, kapag nagkukwentuhan kami ni Ryan, nababanggit niya kung gaano kabigat ang workload sa firm.”

“Oo nga. But I don’t mind. I like keeping myself busy and the work is very interesting.” Maya said. “About the dinner, would 8PM be okay? Sorry, medyo late na ha. Baka kasi mga ganoong time pa ako matapos.”

“Yes, it is okay with me. But sure, you are not too tired by then? I know that the schedule at the firm could be very gruelling, especially for new associates.” Richard replied, thinking that maybe, going out on a weekday twice in a row is too much for Maya. He does want to be with her, but he understands the demands of her job and a career she just started. Baka kasi nahihiya lang tumanggi sa kanya. He told her so.

“Yes, I will be okay. Thanks Ricky. No worries. I’m used to long hours and a lot of hard work. Remember, I worked and studied at the same time. Sanay na ako sa ganitong schedule at sa deadlines and demanding na job.” Maya assured him. She likes the fact that Richard understands the nature of her work and is willing to adjust. But she wants to see him too.

“Great! I’ll be seeing you then. Sunduin na lang kita sa RRMA.” Richard said, his voice tinged with happiness and he was smiling broadly.

“Okay, I’ll see you then, Ricky.” Maya replied, a smile in her voice too.

“O sige, work ka na. Enjoy your coffee. Don’t forget, again, to eat lunch.” Richard said, then added softly, “I’m looking forward to our evening, Maya.”

“Thank you, again, for the coffee.” Maya said, then with her face turning crimson from the kilig she was feeling, added sofly too, “I’m looking forward to that too, Ricky. See you later.”

Both of them have big smiles plastered on their faces when they ended the call, anticipation for the evening ahead crowding their minds.

Richard took another sip of his third cup of coffee, and Maya, hers, both of them were with dreamy smiles on their faces, as they savored their caffeine fix.

 

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On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 8

Chapter 8

“This is Mirasol Street now?” Richard exclaimed, amazement in his voice when he finally saw the street where he had lived since childhood, after ten long years! “Amazing! I like the new look of the street, with all the plant boxes and the old-fashioned lamps! I’m very sure, Abby will like it here!” The street looks neat even at night, and wider. On closer look, he noticed that the plant boxes were filled with bougainvilleas and sunflowers!

Maya looked at Richard. “You are planning to bring Abby here? Kailan?” She asked, not sure if him saying that Abby will like it here, means that Abby would like it when he takes her here for a visit or something much more permanent. Her heart beat faster, waiting for his answer.

“Oh, not just bringing her here, Maya! We are actually moving back here!” Richard said with a grin. “Iyon nga dapat ang aasikasuhin ko bukas kaya ako late papasok. I’m planning to inspect the house in the morning. I need to be sure na makakalipat na kami nina Abby, Manang and Sabel this Saturday. I’m tired of living na rin in a service apartment. Saka I want a yard din where Abby can play, like Grace and I used to do when we were kids.”

“Really! That’s great! You have a beautiful house and I’m sure Abby will like it there. Tapos, for sure naman, si Manang Fe, also Sabel, will be happy to go back here. This is a pretty quiet neighborhood still, kahit malapit sa gate ng PUS. As you can see, medyo OC ang bagong kapitan ng barangay sa lugar na ito. Inayos lahat at she made sure na malinis ang paligid. Bawal ang kalat.” Maya said smiling, at the same time, it also finally registered in her brain that Richard will just be several houses away from her again! Her heart was surely, and truly, beating faster!

“That’s why I decided to move back here, for Abby. I’m sure she will thrive here. Kaya nga when you told me earlier that you still live here, I’m happy. What a wonderful coincidence, Maya! Like the fact that I met you unexpectedly again yesterday, and now, I found out that you still live here! Isn’t it great!” Richard said happily, as he slowed down in front of his old house. On impulse, he asked Maya, “Are you sleepy na? Maybe, we can just both check the house now, since nandito na tayo.”

“Ha, kasama pa ako?” Maya asked, surprised. She was not expecting that. For some reason, she felt nervous and excited to be going into that old house with Richard!

Richard looked at Maya intently. “Kung okay lang sana sa iyo, Maya. I must confess, I have been putting this off a bit, kasi nga I was not sure if I’m ready to deal with all the memories, when I see the old place again. But after having met you again, thank God, this seems to be easier now. I don’t know why.” He finished softly.

Having put it like that, Maya didn’t have the heart to say no. She understood completely what Richard meant when he said that. It felt like looking at old photographs in a photo album, there are those you can just take a look and smile readily, remembering the instance those photos were taken. The emotions and the happiness. There are photo albums where you need to prepare yourself when you look at it. There are just things and situations where you really have to take a deep breath and fortify yourself before you can go, look, and dwell into those that ask too much from you, emotionally. “Okay, sige, I will go with you. Hindi rin naman ako sanay matulog kapag hindi pa past 12MN, maaga pa naman! I guess, remnants of my law school days and puyatan for exams or recitations.”

“Really Maya? You will go with me?” Richard asked with a big grin. “Thank you so much. I appreciate it very much.”

Richard parked his car in front of the tall gate of the house. He asked Maya to stay in the car while he opened the gate with a key he fished from his messenger bag. Then he drove inside and stopped at the car port of the huge, dark house.

“Maya, sandali lang ha huwag ka munang bumaba, I will switch on some lights lang.” Richard said as he hastily unfastened his seatbelt, then got out of the car.

Several minutes after, the whole place was illuminated. Richard opened the door for Maya and assisted her out of the car.Maya took his hand. His hand felt a bit clammy. She pressed it reassuringly. Richard smiled at her and mouthed, ‘Thank you.’

“Wow, parang hindi ten years na walang nakatira!” Maya remarked, looking around the beautiful grounds, and the stairs that led to the second floor of the house which, like old houses built during the early 1900s, serves as the living area of the house.

“Mama and Papa made sure that the house is well-maintained kahit walang nakatira. Kaya nga they hired Manong Lando and Manang Lucing. Tapos, before Abby and I moved back to the Philippines, I asked my cousin to have the house renovated para pagbalik namin dito na kami titira ni Abby for good. Iyon nga lang, there was a delay in the works being done here, kaya hindi kami nakalipat kaagad. We had to stay in a service apartment muna. Last week, Manong Lando and the decorator that my cousin hired said everything is okay na, pero I want to see first bago ko i-uproot si Abby from that apartment.” Richard explained. “Halika, let’s go up and see the rest.” He put his hand on Maya’s elbow and escorted her upstairs, to the small balkonahe there. He unlocked the big narra doors.

Richard gestured for Maya to step inside first. The first thing that Maya saw was the living room of the Lims, looking as it was before, except for the sofas, which are now done in light colors, maybe because of Abby. However, the gleaming hardwood floor is the same. The floor lamps are new additions too. The grand piano is still there. Maya remembered Grace playing the afternoon she finally met Richard’s parents.

Stepping into the house is like stepping into a time machine that takes her back to the past, to ten years ago. Maya suddenly remembered her one and only time inside the house. It was towards the end of that semester. She remembered Donya Esmeralda welcoming her warmly, Richard’s sister Grace who was very friendly, as they have met the week before that in PUS. Grace saw her and Richard eating at one of the kiosks inside the campus. Richard introduced them and they got on very well, especially after Richard told her that Maya loves those bodice ripper novels that she devoured too. She remembered thanking Donya Esme, who insisted on being called Tita Esme, for the food she sent to her and Doris on her birthday. Maya smiled at her fond memories.

“O bakit ka naka-smile?” Richard asked, smiling as well, as the two of them walked around the spacious living room. He was actually looking at Maya’s facial expression instead of the insides of the place as he noticed her looking around and then, she got lost in her thoughts and has this dreamy smile on her face.

“Wala lang, naaalala ko lang iyong time na pumunta ako rito, nung kukunin natin iyong books na ipapahiram mo sa akin, and your Mama welcomed me so warmly, pati  na si Grace. Nagpa-piano pa nga siya nang dumating tayo, di ba? Though, iyong Papa mo parang serious ng kaunti, as far as I could remember. Di ba, he just nodded when you introduced me to him?” Maya recalled. “Medyo nakakatakot nga siya. Tapos iyong Mama mo naman, so warm and accommodating talaga.”

“Yes, I remember that.” Richard smiled at the memory. He actually wanted Maya to meet his parents. So, on the pretext of getting the books, he asked her to come inside one afternoon when he had picked her up from her college and they walked home together.

Richard gazed at Maya, then made a decision to admit something.“Mama acted like that kasi I think she was sensing something, call it mother’s instinct. Papa also acted like that since I think he was reading something in the situation, especially into my actions those days.” He took a deep breath, and proceeded with his admission.

“They were like that kasi ikaw pa lang ang unang girl na isinama ko sa house to meet my parents. Mama thought I was courting you or that you were my girlfriend na, I think. Papa reacted that way, kasi he thought that too. He didn’t approve of me having a girlfriend in college kasi raw madi-distract lang ako. Then he saw me with you. Prior to that, he had seen us together, walking down the street. Grace also mentioned in passing while we were eating dinner, the same day you met her, that she have met you. She really liked you and even teased me about courting you seriously as she would like you to be her sister-in-law in the future.”

Maya looked at Richard and felt herself blushing, the blood rushing to her head, making her feel dizzy. “Really, Ricky! I never knew! Wala ka bang ibang friends na girls at that time? Wala kang dinala rito, close friends na girl. Sa birthdays mo?”

“I have, pero hanggang school lang. Saka they were more of my classmates.”  Richard said. “I never thought of bringing them here, to the house because this is something private and personal to me.”

“How about iyong girlfriends mo noon?” Maya asked, wanting to know after all these years! Come to think of it, they never discuss much that aspect of Richard’s life, the life before they met each other and became very good friends or more than that, maybe, if the things that had happened didn’t happen.

Richard gave Maya one of his charming lopsided smiles. “Yes, I had one during my first two years in college, my high school girlfriend,  but it was nothing serious. We parted okay as we both realized what we had in high school was just that – a teenager kind of thing. Saka nung last years ko sa Engineering, wala,  kasi nga Papa seemed to be against it, tapos wala naman rin akong ibang nakita that I liked very much, until you came into my life.” He finished, looking at her meaningfully. “You were the only one I wanted to introduce to them at hindi iyon dahil dito ka lang nakatira sa same street.”

“Ha, pero hindi mo naman ako girlfriend at that time!” Maya blurted out. Her heart is beating loudly too, hearing these revelations after all these years, out of the blue, and when she least expected it. She felt there is more to come. She wanted to sit down as she felt her knees are getting wobbly.

“Well, may I ask you something?” Richard suddenly said, realizing that now he has the perfect opportunity to get an answer to a very important unanswered question from the past. When Maya, nodded for him to proceed and ask his question, he forged on. “I know it is water under the bridge, pero if I had courted you then, and ask you to be my girl, would you have said yes?”

“Ha, err…..” Maya was suddenly at a lost for words. She took a deep breath and tried to reply, getting tongue-tied all of a sudden. “Well, you see….Well, I…..”

Richard grinned at Maya, encouraging her to reply, and dying to hear her answer too, if he must admit! “Maya Dela Rosa, don’t take the fifth on me……” He teased her to lighten up the mood.

“Well, since it is water under the bridge…..errr, yes! I think, I would have said yes to being your girl then. I liked you a lot and I liked your company.” She finished in a rush.

“Really, really, Maya?” Richard felt suddenly very happy, but at the same time , felt a bit sad that it didn’t happen. Maya felt that too. Pero, what can they do, the circumstances were against them. “Thank you for admitting, Maya. It meant a lot to me. And so that you know, if I didn’t leave I would have courted you properly until you say yes.”

“Oh…..” Maya’s heart somersaulted with that relevation, another bombshell from Richard!

“Yes, I would have!” Richard said softly, seriously. There is really something about the night that makes one confessed one’s innermost thoughts and feelings.

“I was actually going to follow you to Mindoro several days after I took you to Batangas if circumstances didn’t intervene, and I was planning to declare my feelings for you there. I thought it would be more memorable, more special since that place have a lot of wonderful memories for you already. I was really counting the days until the semester was over so I can do that. I had a crush on you even before we, formally, met. I used to watch out for you passing by when I’m home, and when I knew you might pass by. I can’t believe my luck when I chanced upon you at the fast food place. I usually eat at home, but that evening, I studied with Ryan at the library and was very hungry so I gravitated towards the fast food place.”

With that admission, Maya felt like she just lost her breath and she was plummeting weightless, as if she sky jumped and the initial adrenalin rush, and the strong winds, had hit her senses full blast. Ricky had feelings for her that time too! She was not alone with she felt then. She just looked at Richard, who was gazing at her intently with a big warm smile on his face. It took several more seconds to recover her equilibrium.

“Thank you for telling me too, Ricky. You know, I was not really on duty that night. I was covering for someone who was absent. I guessed we were destined to meet that time, huh.” Maya smiled, suddenly feeling shy and a bit out of sort. She felt like she will melt the way he was looking at her, she needed a diversion and to process this whole wonderful day and night!  She blurted the first thing she thought of. “Halika, let’s inspect the rest of the house na so we can go home. Baka wala akong mabasang briefs and contracts bukas sa antok ko. Tapos baka hinihintay ka na rin nina Abby at Manang Fe.”

“Okay…..” Richard said, smiling. He wanted to say more to Maya, but it can wait, everything can wait, but he know, soon and too long. The past is gone but they have the present and he is willing to make the most of it. Seize the day, iyan ang motto niya ngayon. Baka rin he had overloaded Maya na with too much stuffs for the day, and night.

“Halika. Medyo late na nga rin pala. We don’t have to look at the whole house. Iyon lang room ni Abby ang kailangan kong i-check na mabuti, then the kitchen. Downstairs naman are guests rooms lang. Iyong room ko, I think okay naman. It was my old room.”

From the living room, they went to the room at the side, which will be Abby’s room. The room is painted in pale yellow with a mural of princesses and a big castle on the side. It is a beautiful room, fit for a little princess. Then off they took a peek at the next room, Richard’s. The two of them moved to the other parts of the house on the same level, a companionable silence between them. Maya likes the renovations done to the house. It didn’t destroy the charm of the old place. The decorator that Richard’s cousin had hired is very good. When they reached the back veranda, they went down through there to where Richard parked his car.

“Halika na, ihahatid na kita.” Richard said. “Can we just walk, I want to see more of the street? Would that be okay?”

“Sure, pero paano itong car mo?” Maya asked.

“Babalikan ko na lang. Anyway, since I don’t have to go to work early, I may stay a bit longer. I realized now how I missed this house. The good memories came flooding back.” Richard said. “Before kasi, mas naaalala ko iyong one week of hell that Papa and I suffered while Mama and Grace were at the hands of the kidnappers, and our evening flight out of here. Kaya nga I was reluctant to go back here, initially. Of course, I know I have to deal with it since living in this house would be the best for my daughter. I missed this house rin and this street. This is home, no matter where I have been. Mabuti the circumstances were right already and I can come back to this place, to this country.”

“Yes, this street feels like that, to me also. Ako nga ilang years pa lang dito. Ikaw dito ka na lumaki. Saka sa una lang naman talaga mahirap balikan something that touched us negatively and sadly, eventually, okay na rin naman, we adapt and adjust, and I guess, fully accept na rin. Sabi nga minsan di ba, there is nothing to fear, but fear itself.” Maya said.

“You are so correct, there, Maya.” Richard agreed. “Thank you again for helping me out. It means a lot to me, really, you never how much you are making things easier for me. I’m okay na, staying here a bit pa after I take you home.”

“I’m glad to have helped you, Ricky.” Maya said. “O huwag kang masyadong magpakapuyat. You will drive home pa.” Maya reminded him.

“Yes, Attorney Maya!” Richard said smiling, liking the way Maya said it. “I will not. I will go home soon.”

They smiled at each other, then walked down Mirasol Street to Maya’s place. Richard really liked the newly paved street and the clean look. Except for the houses getting newer and bigger, the street didn’t change much in terms of charm. He was also delighted to see the little store near Maya’s place.

“Nandito pa pala ang tindahan nina Manong Tony and Manang Bising!” Richard remarked. “Sayang sarado na. Maghe-hello sana ako.”

“Then you can do that when you move.” Maya said,smiling broadly, seeing the happiness in Richard’s face. “Here’s home na.” Maya stopped in front of a five storey-building with a small terrace in front of each apartment, that is now standing where her and Doris’s apartment and several others used to be.

“Pati pala ito, nabago na! But I think mas maganda ngayon ang place ninyo.” Richard said looking at the place. “Which one is yours now?”

“Iyong nasa dulo, second floor, end unit siya.” Maya pointed to the last unit on the second floor with a small terrace covered with plants. “Why don’t you come up so I can give you a ‘small tour’.” She suggested, smiling since it is a small apartment, especially as compared to Richard’s spacious family home.

“I would love to, Maya, pero gabi na rin. Kailangan mo nang magpahinga. Next time, I will take you up on that. “Richard said. “I’ll walk you to your door.”

“Dito na lang, Ricky. I’ll be okay. Ilang taon na rin akong umuuwi rito.” Maya said, assuring Ricky that she will be okay going up alone.

“Yes, maybe, but I will feel better if I deliver you to your door.” Richard insisted. He was thinking of the long, empty corridor at that time of the night. The place looks safe, but you never know.

Maya didn’t argue anymore. She and Richard climbed up to the second floor of the apartment building, using the stairway at the side of the lobby, instead of the elevator.

“This is it, Ricky! Thank you for bringing me home and for today, and for everything.” Maya said, when they have reached her door. “This has been a very wonderful day!”

“Thank you for today and tonight too, Maya.” Richard said. “You are right. It has been a wonderful and momentous day. I’m so happy. Good night, Maya! I’ll see you on Thursday at LAS.”

“Good night, Ricky! Yes, see you. Then if you need help pala when you move, let me know. Wala naman akong pasok sa Saturday!” Maya offered.

“Really, thank you Maya. I think everything is set. But please, just drop by the house in the afternoon so you can meet Abby properly and say hello to Manang Fe and Sabel again.” Richard suggested. He knows that Abby will like Maya and vice versa.

“Sure, I’ll do that.” Maya said smiling, then unlocking her door. “O paano, papasok na ako. Hindi ka ba talaga papasok, have coffee or juice?”

“No, I’m good. Pasok ka na. Good night, Maya.” Richard said, then he made a move that so surprised Maya. He kissed her good night on the cheek. “See you.” He said softly. Then he gave her a big lopsided smile before walking back to the stairs.

Maya just stared at him, touching her cheek. Her heart rate has not yet recovered from the sudden burst of feelings she felt with that kiss. Yes, it was just maybe a beso, but it felt differently.

Richard looked one more time at Maya, smiled again, before disappearing down the stairway. He was grinning hugely and happily as he took the stairs. He was very happy to be back in Mirasol Street!

 

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Getting fit by the bay

Of all the malls in the metro, the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, popularly called MOA, is the least one I go to because it is a bit far from where I live. The one time I was in the mall to attend a friend’s baby’s baptism party in one of the restaurants fronting the bay, I did find the place quite interesting with tons of shops and restaurants.

However, it is also pretty huge! It was tiring to walk around with a kid who refused to walk anymore due to the vastness of the mall. Kiddie carts for hire saved the day. I thought of checking out the amusement park in front of SM MOA with my little one, though. Something I haven’t done until now.

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Recently, I discovered that there is another attraction in the SM MOA Complex. The area in front of the mall, SM by the Bay, is a popular place for those who want to get fit or people who likes to be in an open space within the city with a view of the sea, and relax a bit.

The area was filled with joggers that morning, as well as bikers and people, like me, who only prefers to walk around briskly to shake off those body fats, exercise the heart, and clear the head.

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The early morning view from the bay was very relaxing. At one point, though, a not so nice smell wafted into the area, brought by the wind, but it was not enough to distract or dissuade me from soaking the beautiful and relaxing view as I walked back and forth along the sea wall that, sort of, fenced the place.

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I discovered that you can also take a ferry ride around Manila Bay at sunset from this area. Hmmm, something to take a closer look at, too!

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SM By the Bay also full of restaurants and small food kiosks, aside from the rides scattered at one side of the area, which includes a giant Ferris wheel. Some of the kiosks were opened even at early morning but when we checked out the Starbucks we saw while brisk walking, fervently wishing for a cup of very hot coffee, we found out that it will open around noon!

Sitting cross-legged on the seawall with a steaming cup of coffee after a vigorous morning exercise would have been heaven, but it was equally so with a cold bottled water and a hot dog sandwich!  With all the restaurants there, it might be worth checking it out in the evening. I have to do that next.

promenade side

We ended up having coffee and breakfast at the Starbucks in Harbour Square at the CCP Complex, an area very much familiar for Be Careful of My Heart fans like me. While drinking my caffe americano, I thought of the scenes in the show wherein Sir Chief and Maya were walking in the area, as well as at the other side of the seawall in the CCP Complex.

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Maybe, it was the reason I finally remembered that I have been meaning to buy sunflowers!  So on the way home, I passed by Dangwa in Sampaloc, Manila and bought two sunflowers in plastic containers.

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It was a great morning, indeed.

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