“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.”
“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.
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!
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.