“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.