Archive for June, 2015
“More wine, sweetheart?” Richard asked Maya, seeing that her glass was near-empty. They were sitting in a two-person garden swing at the back veranda of the Lim family home, an hour after they have put Abby to sleep and half an hour after they have finished their wonderful dinner – Manang Fe’s very delicious binagoongan, and Sabel’s pinakbet with bagnet. They were simply stuffed with the rich dinner they had.
Richard asked Maya if she was already sleepy, and she told him she was not yet. Grinning she even told him, “Remember I was the queen of puyatan while I was in law school.” So they ended up at the back veranda, with the white wine they started drinking during dinner, toasting Richard and Abby’s return to Mirasol Street. They had a glass each during dinner and the ones they brought to the veranda was their second.
“No more na, sweetheart, just this one! Baka hindi na ako magising ng maaga bukas. Madi-disappoint ang mga bata.” Maya said, smiling. “I will just finish this one, then I will go home.”
“I wish you are not going home, that you don’t have to go home at all!” Richard said all of a sudden, half-teasingly.
“Ricky,” Maya protested, flushing a bit with the thought! Well, liking it too, she must admit! “I do have a house.”
“Just saying…” Richard said, gazing at Maya lovingly, then grinning, he teased, “But since uuwi ka, I can wake you up tomorrow morning, I can drop by bright and early and wake you up with kisses. I’m sure by my 100th kiss you will be very much awake.”
“Hahahaha, sure ka ba, sweetheart, baka lalo akong hindi magising.” Maya bantered back, riding along Richard’s playful mood.
“I’m sure, sweetheart. Eh si Princess Aurora nga isang kiss lang ni Prince Philip, nagising na kaagad. Iyon pa kayang 100 special kisses ng prince charming mo, sweetheart.” Richard grinned at his joke. It must be the wine or just the sheer happiness at the moment!
“Hahahaha, corny mo talaga, sweetheart! Pataas ng pataas ang corny meter mo.” Maya said laughing. “Pero, kahit ikaw pa ang pinaka-corny na boyfriend, super love pa rin kita. Saka in fairness, sweetheart, you know your Disney princesses ha.”
“That comes with the territory kapag may little girl ka, hahahaha. Pati nga si Dora the Explorer, and her cousin Diego, also Phineas and Ferb, and of course, SpongeBob and Patrick!” Richard said, smiling. Being a parent, he had taken a crash course in the current children’s cartoons so he can watch them with Abby, and understand what they are watching! “Pero siyempre, number one ang Disney Princesses kay Abby!”
“So true. I also did that with Lance. Since I take care of him from time to time, I have to know what kids like to watch these days and to see if they are suitable for his age.” Maya then faced Richard, then cupped his face, lovingly. “You know what, sa lahat ng sinabi mo earlier, may isa roon na hindi corny, pero baka this will sound cheesy naman, hahahaha.”
“Hmmmm, ano? Let me be the judge if it is cheesy or not.” Richard smiled at Maya indulgently.
“Iyong prince charming part. You are my prince charming, Mr. Richard Lim, you know, and just like what happened to Sleeping Beauty, you came back into my life, and woke me up.” Maya said, blushing a bit. “Sabi ko sa iyo, medyo cheesy eh. Basta, since we are talking about fairy tales, why not!”
“Maya, sweetheart, what a beautiful thing to say! Not cheesy at all, slight lang hahaha.” Richard put his glass down, cupped Maya’s face too, then caressed it a bit with his thumb. “I love very much, Attorney Maya Dela Rosa!” Then he added teasingly, “Kahit ikaw pa ang pinaka-cheesy na girlfriend sa buong mundo.”
“I love you very much too, Mr. Richard Lim.” Maya looked at Richard with all the love she is feeling, so very happy at that moment.
Richard lowered his lips to Maya and they shared a kiss. They broke apart after a while, and grinned at each other, very happy to be with each other in such a romantic setting. The Lim household had settled in for the night. The weather was cool, a breeze was blowing and it was very quiet in where they were. They opted not to switch on the lights as the moonlight was enough to illuminate the place, giving it a warm, romantic glow.
“I really like your place, Ricky, it’s so peaceful, especially this veranda! This moment is just perfect. Lahat naman ng moments ko with you, but this is especially so. I just feel very, very content at the moment.” Maya looked around the veranda and all the beautiful flowers that encloses it. Being there, she felt that she and Richard are in into a world of their own.
With that statement, suddenly Richard saw an opportunity to test the water and to let Maya get use to the idea. “Can you see yourself living here, sweetheart? With me and Abby?” He asked all of a sudden.
Maya was startled at Richard’s question. Yes, she had told Doris that she is ready where her relationship with Richard will take her, but hearing this question, she was still surprised. “Ha, why are you asking that, all of a sudden?” She prevaricated as she would like to gather her thoughts first. Saying it to Doris with conviction was way so different from hearing the actual thing, the near actual thing, all of a sudden!
“Because my beautiful and loving sweetheart, me, I can see you living here, with my daughter, our daughter, and the children we will have when the time comes.” Richard got hold of Maya’s now cold hands, and interlaced it with his, then said softly, looking deep into her eyes. “I want a future with you, Maya when the time comes!” Then he kissed her hand gently. “Get use to the idea, sweetheart.”
Maya touched Richard’s beloved face, gently, lovingly, then said softly, “I want a future with you, sweetheart, when the time comes. There is nothing I would rather be, than be where you and Abby are.”
Richard grinned broadly. “Thank you, my sweetheart. You and Abby are my life now.” He put his arm on Maya’s shoulder, then reeled him towards him. Maya leaned against his broad chest, and the two of them enjoyed the night, sharing thoughts, hopes and dreams, talking about the past and their experiences, catching up some more on the time that they were not only apart, but it different countries, at the same time, when they can’t help it, they exchanged sweet kisses.
“You know, parang ang tagal na pero nung Tuesday lang pala nang gabi, when we went here the first time.” Richard said after several minutes of companionable silence. “When I came back to this house after I took you home, I sat in my old room, then nagmuni-muni. It was then that I realized that I feel the same for you. That my love for you is unchanged. It had just laid dormant the past decade. That evening, I vowed that I will court you earnestly and with all of me, until you say yes. I don’t want to waste my second chance with you.”
“Talaga, sweetheart.” Maya was smiling as she listened to Richard narrating this. “So, kahit sinagot na kita, ligawan mo pa rin ako ha.” She teased.
“Of course, sweetheart, never-ending naman iyan eh. As long as we live.” Richard promised, and they have sealed that promise with another kiss.
Richard took Maya home a little past midnight. They didn’t notice the passing of time as they chatted on. Maya asked Richard if he would like to go in when they reached her door. Richard declined, teasing Maya that maybe he wouldn’t want to go home, if he comes in. Maya gave him a big, sleepy smile. They exchanged a good night kiss before retiring to their own beds for the night, for now, as Richard had said. Maya felt into a very nice, dreamless sleep and Richard was the same, considering that he has not sleep in the old house since the night they hastily left for China.
Richard was woken up by the ringing of his mobile phone the following morning. At first, he wanted to ignore it as when he checked the time, it was just 6 o’clock! However, it may be important so he got out of the bed and retrieved his phone from where he dropped it.
“Ma, good morning!” Richard greeted his mother, trying to shake off remnants of sleep from his system. “Napatawag ka po.”
“Good morning, son! Did I wake you up? I thought I had calculated the time correctly! Anong oras na ba diyan?” Donya Esmeralda Lim asked her son, noticing that he sounded sleepy on the phone.
“Ma, di ba pareho lang po tayo ng timezone!” Richard said, puzzled.
“Son, you forgot. Di ba I told you two weeks ago that your Papa and I are flying to San Francisco to visit some of his cousins.” Donya Esmeralda reminded her son. “Sobrang subsob ka naman yata diyan sa work mo, you forgot na!”
“Oh, yes, I remember! Kumusta naman po sina Tito Carlos and Tita Bella?” Richard asked, remembering that particular conversation with his mother. As usual, that time, Donya Esmeralda nagged her only son about getting married again and having someone to take care of him, someone who will love him and Abby. She also made mentioned of Maya out of the blue, telling him to check on her so he can move on. He was surprised at his mother’s statement and asked her why she thought of that out of the blue. She said, why not, mukha naman daw si Maya pa rin ang mahal niya. Since nasa Pilipinas na siya, maybe he can check and malay niya, single pa rin si Maya and available.
“Okay naman sila. Heto, relax-relax lang muna kami sa bahay nila, we are about to have snacks.” Donya Esmeralda asked. I called since I want to know how’s the move? Hindi pa kanina kayo lumipat ni Abby diyan sa bahay sa Mirasol.”
“Kahapon, Ma, Sunday morning na po rito.” Richard corrected his mother.
“Oo nga pala! Bakit ba laki kong nakakalimutan! May jet lag pa yata talaga ako. I haven’t been sleeping well since we got here. But don’t worry, son, it will pass.” Donya Esmeralda said. “O, back to the move? Okay lang ba kayo diyan nina Abby, Fe, and Sabel, and your new driver?”
“Okay na okay lang kami rito, Ma. Abby slept through the night. Otherwise, tumakbo na iyon dito sa room ko.” Richard replied. “Sina Manang and Sabel naman, of course, tuwang-tuwa na nakabalik na kami rito. You know them, ayaw ng mga iyon sa service apartment, lalo na si Manang Fe, para raw siyang nakakakulong. Manang Fe even cooked her specialty binagoongan for Maya and I last night. Tapos si Sabel naman….”
“Maya??? Wait, is she?….” Donya Esmeralda cut whatever Richard was saying next upon hearing the name.
Richard realized that hearing Maya’s name would certainly piqued his mother’s attention. He had been meaning to ease Maya and them being in a relationship now into the conversation at a certain point, but he had unconsciously mentioned her already, preempting himself! “Yes, Mama, the one and the same. She is now my girlfriend. And tama ka nagdilang-anghel ka, I found her again and she is still single. Instead na closure and moving on, we are continuing what we had started 10 yerars ago.”
“Really, son! Saan at paano kayo nagkita ulit ni Maya? Kailan mo siya naging girlfriend? Kasi di ba magkausap pa lang tayo the other week. Pero, son, hindi naman ako magtataka na kayo na, lalo pa at nalaman mo na single pa siya. I have a feeling naman kahit noon pa na siya ang one true love mo. Mabait si Alexandra and all, pero hindi ko nakita sa kanya ang spark and the chemistry na nakita ko noon nang magkasama kayo ni Maya.” Donya Esmeralda said lengthily, while Don Roberto was signalling to her, and asking what was it all about, seeing her with a big smile on her face. Donya Esmeralda signalled to her husband that she will tell him about it later.
“Really, Ma, bakit ngayon mo lang sinasabi sa akin ito?” Richard was surprised by his mother’s revelation. “I never thought you had an idea on how I felt about Maya ten years ago! The other week, out of the blue you started mentioning her.”
“I did son, I do, pero ayaw ko namang makialam sa love life mo before. Then when we were in China, I didn’t talk about it anymore since you already had a new life there by the time I got okay. I felt sad that the first time we were there, hindi man lang kita ma-comfort.” Donya Esmeralda said. “But all these years son, after Alexandra died, I wished and I have prayed constantly na makahanap ka ng happiness and find your true love again.”
“Thank you, Ma. Okay naman po ako. Ang importante naging okay ka after that terrible ordeal. And in the end I still I found Maya and the love that you were wishing for me. I’m so blessed and lucky. I’m so very, very happy with her in my life again for good!” Richard told his mother. “Not all people gets this lucky Ma! I never thought that I would find her again, even if I had plans on searching for her as soon as I get Abby settled here, especially in our house in Mirasol. Ma, not only did I find her, so unexpectedly, we finally have a chance in continuing the relationship we started ten years ago.”
Richard then told his mother how he and Maya met again, and then how he realized how much he still loves her, how he courted her again and how Maya agreed to be his girlfriend the other night.
“Would you believe it Ma, after all these years, walang naging ibang boyfriend si Maya! She told me wala raw kasing ibang nakapagpatibok ng puso niya maliban sa akin!” Richard said. “I have been thanking God Ma, and fate na pinagtagpo pa rin kami ni Maya! Gaano karaming tao ang nagkakaroon ng ganitong chance di ba?”
“I’m happy for you, and Maya, son. I’m sure naman in Maya’s heart, wala ang mga naging karibal mo. Sure ako na marami, sa ganda at talino pa naman na iyon ni Maya. Ricky, you are indeed very, very lucky son. Imagine mo, meeting her all of a sudden like that, and she is still single! Ganyan talaga ang true love. Minsan, there is really one person for us. That no matter what you do or wherever you go, sometimes di mo malimutan iyong taong iyon. Natutuwa rin ako to know that Maya has achieved her dream, and the same time felt sad on the passing of her sister. Pareho pala kayong may pinagdaaan na matindi that year.” Donya Esmeralda said, happy for her son, at the same, she remembered that hellish time in their family’s life. But the good thing is they are all okay, and her son is on his way to his forever with the woman he loves. “And how is my apo Abby taking all of these?”
“Surprisingly well, Ma. I think it was instant love between Maya and Abby. Maya is used to taking care of a special needs child too, kasi iyong inaanak nga niya na classmate ni Abby, ganoon din ang condition.” Richard told his mother about Abby’s question to Maya the day before, when they finally met.
“Hahahaha, ang bright and bibo naman talaga ng apo ko. Akalain mo iyon!” Donya Esmeralda laughed. “So kailan nga ba magiging bagong mommy ni Abby si Maya, son? Sabihin mo lang kung kailan at ng makauwi kami lahat diyan sa Pilipinas. It is about time na rin naman na bumalik kami diyan after ten years.”
“Really, Mama? Is Papa okay with it already? What do you think his reaction would be if he finds out that Maya is my girlfriend, not that it matters much? I respect Papa of course, and I would like him to like Maya and be happy for us, but if not, then so be it. I love Maya and this time I will stand by her no matter what.” Richard vowed.
“Yes, napag-usapan na namin ng Papa mo ang pag-uwi at some point. We are thinking of Christmas. Gusto ko na rin na bumalik diyan. Matagal na naman iyong nangyari. Iba na ang panahon ngayon.” Donya Esmeralda said. “As for you having Maya as a girlfriend, I think okay na okay naman ang Papa mo roon. Yes, I must admit, he was against you having a relationship with her ten years ago. But it is nothing personal to Maya. Ayaw ka lang niya talagang magka-girlfriend at that time. Ewan ko ba sa Papa mo, sabi ko naman noon na pabayaan ka na lang sa love life mo! Nakikita niya kasi na iba ang feelings mo for Maya. I’m sure kung ibang girl iyon and he sees that you love that person a lot, ganoon din ang reaction niya. Anyway, I will tell him about you and Maya pagkatapos nating mag-usap. Nagtatanong na nga kung ano ang pinag-uusapan natin.”
“Good to know, Ma. I hope everything is okay with Papa also. I just want to share our happiness with him as well. Let me know lang po kung mapapaaga ang pag-uwi niyo.” Richard said.
“Well, it depends on you, son. When are you planning to propose to her and when are you planning to get married? For sure, we will be there.” Donya Esmeralda asked.
“I’m planning to propose pa lang Ma. Sana pag-uwi namin sa Mindoro. I want to meet her mother first.” Richard smiled, thinking that ten years ago, he was also planning to go to Mindoro to court Maya. “Baka po in the next couple of weeks. The soonest I can arrange the trip the better.”
“Good luck, son, and the earlier the better, para naman madagdagan na ang apo ko!” Donya Esmeralda said.”Ito kasing si Grace, ayaw pang mag-asawa. I’m really happy for you son. O siya sige, please hug and kiss my apo for me.”
“Nasaan po pala si Papa, Ma? Baka pwede rin ako mag-hello.” Richard asked as an afterthought.
“Naku, lumabas kasama ng uncle mo. Baka tiningnan iyong gini-grill.” Donya Esmeralda replied. “Di bale, I will just tell him you said hello. Ako na bahala sa Papa mo. Please send my regards to Maya also. I hope to meet her again really soon. Call your sister din ha. I’m sure she will be happy for you rin. Balitaan mo ako kung kailan ang wedding!”
“Ma, well, pray that she will say yes sa proposal ko. And yes, Ma, I will call Grace this evening. In a while kasi pa-Tagaytay kami nina Maya, Abby and Maya’s inaanak. Ipapasyal namin doon sa amusement park doon. I love you Ma, Enjoy your vacation.”
“That’s very nice. I’m sure Abby will like that. Thanks son, we will. I love you too. Bye.”
Richard looked at the clock after he and his mother ended the phone call. It was almost 7 o’clock in the morning! They are planning to leave at 8 o’clock. He still have time. He grinned and typed a message for Maya.
Good morning, sweetheart. Rise and shine! 🙂
It took Maya several minutes before she replied.
OMG sweetheart, good thing you texted, I overslept! Tanghali na pala! Good morning!
Richard smiled at that.
Sabi ko naman sa iyo, I should have come over and woke you up with 100 kisses! 😉
Maya replied teasingly.
Hmmmm, maybe I should go back to sleep! 😉
Maybe you should. I can be there to wake you up in several minutes.
Several seconds later.
Naku Mr. Richard Lim, baka hindi na tayo makapuntang Tagaytay niyan. I’ll see you in 30 minutes. I love you!
Richard pretended to be disappointed.
😦 😦 Oh well, better luck next time, Richard Lim. 🙂 I love you too sweetheart! See you.
Maya replied with smileys.
🙂 🙂 🙂
Both of them grinned after they have put their phones down, looking forward to spending the whole day with each other and the kids. Both of them were thinking that it would be like this always when they are married!
Note: My apologies for not updating the past days!
“Go ahead, Ethan, please use the bathroom first. I will just unpack my clothes. How about you? Do you want me to do it for you?” Pippa offered. She likes arranging her clothes in a cabinet instead of all of them getting crumpled in a suitcase, even if it is just for several days. The room that the hotel gave them as a beautiful, antique aparador.
“Thank you, Pippa darling. But I can do it myself.” Ethan hastily said. “I will use the bathroom first, then.”
“Ye, please go ahead. I’m not going to get settled in until I have arrange my stuffs.” Pippa smiled self-deprecatingly. “I’m a bit obsessive-compulsive when it comes to my things and traveling.”
“Whatever makes you happy, darling, that’s okay. I hope it is okay too that I’m on the messy side.” Ethan said, cupping Pippa’s chin.
“Sure, but I’ll nag you about it, once a while ha, and maybe arrange your things for you.” Pippa said teasingly.
“Oh, that’s fine with me, Pippa. I don’t mind, except I will do it this evening.” Ethan was afraid that Pippa will see the box containing the engagement ring he bought if she arranges his things. “I’ll go ahead and take a shower.” With a kiss on Pippa’s forehead, Ethan was off to the bathroom.
Pippa was humming while she put her clothes inside the clothes cabinet with an intricately designed front. The whole room, is actually furnished with antique furniture, from the four-poster bed to the night tables, aparador and the tokador. When she had finished doing that, and while waiting for Ethan, she sat cross-legged on the bed, opened her laptop, and made some notes on the places they will see in the morning, and the whole of their travel to Ilocos and Cagayan regions. They decided to leave off Batanes for another time as it would need a trip by itself!
“The bathroom is yours, darling.” Ethan said after several minutes, getting out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist, freshly shaven.
Pippa seemed to be engrossed in what she was doing, as she didn’t hear Ethan right away. She looks so beautiful with her brows knitted, typing on her Mac, sitting cross-legged on the bed. Ethan slowly crept on to her, then kissed her on the nape. “My lovely darling, it’s your turn. Bathroom is yours.”
“Oh, I’m sorry Ethan, I didn’t hear you!” Pippa said, smiling sheepishly. Ethan looked so neat, as he had shaved. and smelling of the soap that Pippa has grown to like very much, a smell she considers distinctly Ethan’s.“I’ll go in then. Here are the itinerary I plotted for tomorrow, please check if everything is okay with you. I also made a list of the places we can see in Ilocos Norte, after here in Sur, and Cagayan Valley with a summary of information. I made some revisions to our original plan.” Pippa handed the laptop to Ethan, gave him a quick kiss and went to the bathroom with her night-clothes.
Ethan put down the laptop first, went to his backpack and got a pair of boxers and t-shirt. He usually sleeps in the nude, but in deference to Pippa he had taken to wearing a t-shirt and pair of boxers to bed. After checking where the engagement ring is, he went back to the bed, checked Pippa’s itinerary, which looks fine, especially one of the places she had included in the list, fits with his plan. It looks to very nice in the photos he had seen. He had surreptitiously checked it the night before, when Pippa was in the bathroom.
He then waited for Pippa by trying to read the latest Ken Follett book that he and Pippa bought the day before. However, after a page or two, he found himself nodding and yawning, he tried to move so he will not fall asleep, but it was a losing battle. He turned on the TV, but nothing in the telly caught his attention. He gave up. For sure, he will wake up when Pippa comes out of the bathroom. Maybe, he can just take a very quick power nap!
More than an hour later, Pippa got out of the bathroom and saw Ethan fast asleep on the bed. The book that he started reading was on the floor. Pippa presumed that it fell as Ethan was in a bit of an awkward position on the bed, as if he was not intending to fall asleep yet. She picked up the book and placed it on the side table.
The driving was probably too much for Ethan as he told Pippa that has not done it in a while, added to this is the fact that he is not used to driving in the Philippines. He also spent longer hours driving than her. Pippa was afraid the position was not comfortable for Ethan and he will feel the effect of it in the morning, so she tried to move him gently so as not wake him up. Luckily, he just moved and didn’t wake up.
She pulled the blanket over him and looked at his beloved face with tenderness. Sharing the bed with him the past weeks, even if was of the innocent kind, made her realized something, he is the one she wants to wake up with every morning for the rest of her life. She gave him a tender kiss on the lips. He murmured her name but didn’t wake up. Pippa settled in beside him. Ethan put his arms around her while in sleep and it touched Pippa a lot. Even in sleep, he sought her.
The following morning, Ethan’s freshly showered face hovering over her was the first thing that entered her consciousness. She sensed him first before she saw him. She gave him a sleepy smile. “Good morning, honey. Kanina ka pa ba gising? What’s the time? Parang mataas na ang araw!” She saw that he is ready to go out in in his favorite cargo shorts and a t-shirt.
“Lovely morning to you, my darling Pip.” Ethan said, then lowered his lips to Pippa’s, giving her a good morning kiss before she can react and protest that she hasn’t even brush her teeth yet. “Sorry, I just slept on you last night. I must have been very tired from all the driving we did yesterday!”
“It’s okay, honey. That’s why I didn’t wake you up, para na rin makapagpahinga ka. I felt tired nga rin. I decided to sleep early na rin para we have energy for our sightseeing.” Pippa said, as she got out of the bed and go to the aparador to get new clothes.
“Wow, you really arranged your clothes neatly and nicely in that beautiful, old thing!” Ethan said, seeing the insides of the closet when Pippa opened it. “I noticed in your flat, but never thought much about it.”
“I told you!” Pippa said laughing, then she was off to the bathroom.
More than half an hour later, she came out of the bathroom, wearing a beautiful patchwork skirt and a white sleeveless top. She opted not to wear make-up. Her hair was tied in a ponytail. “I’m done, let’s go to breakfast.” She said, giving Ethan a brilliant smile. She is so looking forward to hers and Ethan’s adventures today and the next day and the next. Her heart is suddenly filled with an unexplained excitement for all the things they will see and experience starting today.
Ethan smiled at his radiant, lovely girlfriend. He, too, is excited for the start of their very special day. They ate breakfast at the hotel, longganisa, eggs, coffee and juice. One hour later, they were in Calle Crisologo, renting a calesa for the day. The kutsero know already here to take them as he had done it for the countless tourists that come to Vigan.
Mang Erning, their very friendly kutsero, told them that the usual sightseeing route would be to Bantay to see the bell tower and then the church, then to a burnayan, the hidden garden, the Baluarte zoo, an abel Iloco weaving place. As for the old grand mansions they can visit, and the museum, they are within walking distance of the hotel where they are staying, and Calle Crisologo. He did ask them in what particular order they want to go, or if there is somewhere else they want to go aside from the places he had mentioned. Pippa and Ethan everything sounds fine with them. They told Mang Erning that if they still have time they will take a car trip to Santa Maria and see the beautiful centuries old church there and stop at the Quirino Bridge, otherwise they will just do it the following day. Mang Erning said their plan is a good one. The tour will depend on how long do they want to stay in a place they will see.
Mang Erning first took them to Bantay. On the way, he also suggested where is the best spot to take a souvenir photo of them in his calesa, which had Pippa and Ethan smiling broadly as he assured them it’s a pam-Facebook shot! They just love their kutsero and considers themselves lucky to chance upon him when as soon as they got out of their hotel! He stopped the calesa after the arch that says Vigan and took their photo with the signage in the bakground.
“I can use it as the new cover photo of my Facebook page,” Pippa said happily, reviewing the shot. She likes hers and Ethan’s photo. Ethan’s arms were around her as he smiled handsomely at the camera.
Ethan smiled at her. “Maybe, you should wait before making a final decision, darling. I think everything in this place is picture perfect!”
“You are probably right, honey!” Pippa said. “I will surely have a hard time picking photos for the blog I’m going to write. At least, it would be easier with the videos.”
“I’ll help you.” Ethan offered, squeezing Pippa’s shoulder reassuringly. “We are in this together!”
“Thank you again, Ethan. You are the best and ever supportive boyfriend!” Pippa said, hugging Ethan and giving him a kiss. Ethan returned the kiss and they got engrossed in it and didn’t realize that the calesa has stopped at the gate of the church compound in Bantay!
“Ehemmm, Sir Ethan, Ma’am Pippa, nandito na po tayo.” A smiling, indulgent Mang Erning told them. “Dito ko na lang po kayo hihintayin.”
Pippa blushed and Ethan grinned happily at the old man. “Thank you po Mang Erning.” He assisted a still blushing Pippa down the calesa. They looked at each other lovingly, then walked hand in hand towards the entrance of the church.
They went inside the San Augustine Church first as per Pippa’s request when they were discussing the places they will go to. She likes being inside old churches, and this one, which is one of the oldest, still standing, churches in the region She wanted to go inside first before they explore the bell tower. Inside the beautiful centuries-old church, Pippa uttered a solemn silent prayer. She prayed for her and Ethan’s relationship, that they will be together for the rest of their lives. Ethan, not a very religious man, and a non-practicing Catholic, also found himself praying inside the church which has seen the flow of life for several centuries now.
Getting out of the church, they went to the place handling the tour to the Bantay Belfry/Bell Tower. Since it was still quite early, and it was on a non-peak tourists season, the was not much people going up, and having their photos taken in front of the very picturesque and towering belfry. Their guide introduced herself as Manang Lucing. While Pippa was busy taking photos, Ethan whispered a request to Manang Lucing, which had the old lady, grinning.
“Manang Lucing, bago po kami umakyat, pwede po ba kaming magpa-picture ni Ethan.” Pippa requested the smiling lady.
“Sure na sure po, Ma’am.” Manang Lucing said, taking the camera from Pippa.
Ethan and Pippa posed in front of the steps leading to the belfry which was built in the late 16th century according to the information Pippa researched. Ethan’s arms were around Pippa as they grinned at the camera.
“Ma’am, check ninyo po ang pictures,” Manang Lucing said, then remarked, “Bagay na bagay po kayong dalawa.” She told them.
Ethan and Pippa thanked the old lady and shared a loving smile. Soon after, the three of them walked towards the entrance to the bell tower. After unlocking the door, Manang Lucing guided them to the top of the belfry. When they reached the highest point that can be accessed, she told them to take all the pictures they want, and that she will just wait for them in the bottom.
“Wow, look at the view from here!” Pippa remarked as she looked out of the tower and the panoramic view that is a feast to the senses. “Ethan come, I feel like I’m on top of the world here! I’m so liking the start of our adventure together.”
When Ethan didn’t say anything, Pippa turned around to check what he was doing. He was looking at her with a big, loving smile. “Ethan…?” He walked towards her, gazing at her intently, lovingly.
When Ethan reached Pippa’s side, by the big window which framed her lovely self, he got something from his pocket, and knelt before her on one knee. “Pippa, will you marry me? Share the adventures of a lifetime with me, please.” He finally managed to say, amid the fast beating of his heart and his hands that suddenly got so clammy. He waited for Pippa’s answer.
Pippa was so surprised at Ethan’s proposal, than she was unable to react right away. She never thought that Ethan is planning this! Now she understood why he went missing in the mall. He went out to buy her an engagement ring. She swallowed for she is suddenly breathless, her throat constricted, staring at Ethan’s. This is what she had prayed for in the church, but she never expected that her prayers would be answered this fast!
“Pippa…..” Ethan said softly, getting more nervous, starting to think that maybe his proposal is too soon. But he has never been surer in his life than this.
Pippa knelt also, touched Ethan’s beloved face. “Yes, Ethan, I will, gladly.” She managed to say as tears of happiness started flowing from her beautiful, expressive eyes.
Guiding Pippa up, Ethan stood up, then gently wiped Pippa’s tears away. “Thank you with all my heart, Pippa darling. Promise, it will be my goal in life to make you happy always. Everyday with you would be a wonderful adventure that would last a lifetime, our lifetime!” He then put the beautiful ring on Pippa’s finger, slowly, lovingly. It was a perfect fit. He then raised her hand to his lips and kissed it. “I love you will all my heart, with all of me, and with all that I could give you to make you happy and loved always.”
“Ethan, Ethan, honey. You made me the happiest girl in the world. I love you very much, with all of me and all I can give you too. You are my life now. I am so looking forward to all our adventures together. It will be so wonderful with you by my side for always.”
With that, and amid the beautiful, blue sky, the panoramic view outside, and the centuries-old bell tower who already bore witness to a lot of things throughout its long history, Pippa and Ethan sealed their promise to each other with a kiss.
“Daddy, Daddy, you are back!” Abby shouted as she ran towards Richard when she saw him entering the living room of the Lim family home with Maya. She hugged her father’s pant leg tight. Then she looked at Maya shyly, and gave her a sweet, angelic smile that made Maya fell in love with her instantly. She is just the sweetest girl.
“Hello, sweetie!” Richard let go of Maya’s hand, gave the bag he was holding to Sabel, and lifted Abby into his arms, then kissed her. “See, I have Tita Maya with me na. Why don’t you say hello to her properly, sweetie.” He said with a big smile, then he looked at Maya lovingly. “Maya, sweetheart, this is my little princess, Abby, the sweetest and the most kulit girl in the world.” He said then affectionately pinched Abby’s nose.
“Daddy, put me down first, please.” Abby requested her. Richard did. She then went to where Maya was. “Hello Tita Maya.” Then she raised her arms to Maya, in a gesture that indicated that she wants to be hugged.
Maya crouched down to Abby’s level, then hugged the little girl tight, gave her a kiss on the forehead and established eye contact. “Hello Abby, I’m please to meet you. I have been looking forward to meeting you again. Hindi kasi kita masyadong nakausap sa school eh.”
“Me too, Tita Maya! I have been waiting the longest time for you and Daddy. Tita Maya, Daddy said you are his girlfriend now. Are you going to be my new mommy?” The little girl asked directly. “I would like you to be! That would be the best thing ever!” Abby added artlessly, not knowing that she had put the adults on the spot.
“Oh, your daddy told you about me being his girlfriend.” Maya remarked, gathering her thoughts and thinking on how best to answer the little girl. “Yes baby, I am and he is my boyfriend now, but errr….” She looked at a smiling Richard. She was flushing. She can also see from her peripheral vision that Richard’s staff were observing them, with smiles on their faces, especially Manang Fe, whom she can see very clearly, was all ears and eyes!
“Baby, Tita Maya and I are going to talk about that pa. For now, she is my girlfriend.” Richard told Abby, saving Maya. He never thought that his daughter will ask that! For, he guessed, in Abby’s mind, that is the natural progression of things, kaya pala she was asking all sorts of questions earlier when he told her! “For now, why don’t we look at Tita Maya’s treat for you. I’m sure you will like it.”
“You have a treat for me, Tita Maya?” Abby asked, forgetting her question already, getting distracted and looking with anticipation on what Maya’s treat could be.
“Yes, I have, baby. Your daddy said your favorite food is spaghetti, so I cooked my super special spaghetti for you!” Maya said, smiling at the cute little girl.
“Yehey, thank you Tita Maya!” Then Abby did something Maya was not expecting, she hugged her tight and gave her several kisses, then said, “ I love you already, Tita Maya! Really, really!”
Maya was touched at Abby’s gesture. She got teary-eyed.”And I love you too, baby, really, really, really.” Maya hugged her tight also and showered her with kisses and tickled her, which has the little girl in stitches, giggling a lot. Apparently, she likes being tickled.
“Can we eat it now, Tita Maya. Daddy can we have spaghetti na. I’m hungry na Daddy. I was super hungry na waiting for you. What took you so long?” Abby said after a while, complaining a bit, looking at them innocently.
Richard grinned, then looked meaningfully at Maya. Maya blushed. She elbowed Richard, who continued grinning. She mouthed the word ‘later’ to him, playfully threatening him with retribution.
“Come Abby, naihanda ko na ang masarap na masarap na spaghetti mo.” Sabel said from the doorway leading to the dining room. “Hello po Ma’am Maya. Good afternoon po.” Sabel greeted Maya with deference. Hindi niya ipinahalatang kinikilig siya. Ang ganda naman pala talaga nitong girlriend ni Sir, she mused. Beauty and brains! In love na in love ang amo ko, in fairness, ang lagkit ng tinginan nila. Ay!
“Hello, Sabel.” Maya said with a friendly smile. She didn’t get to meet Sabel when she was in Ricky’s house ten years ago, but she had seen her once on the street. Before she can say something more, Abby tugged at her hand. ‘Yes, baby, ano iyon.”
“Tita Maya, can you go with me to the dining room.” She asked Maya sweetly. “Ikaw po ang gusto kong katabi.”
“Of course, sweetie.” Maya said, touching Abby’s chin affectionately, then whispered to her, “Pero bago tayo kumain, samahan mo muna ako kay Manang Fe. Ibibigay natin itong flowers. Hindi pa kasi ako nakakapag-hello sa kanya.”
“Okay po, Tita Maya.” Then she put her hand with Maya’s then half-ran towards Manang Fe, followed by her father who was just smiling, bemused at the way her little girl is monopolizing Maya’s attention since they arrived. He had not even gotten around to formally introducing Maya to Manang Fe as his girlfriend!
“Manang Fe, Tita Maya has something for you.” She said before Maya could say anything.
“Good afternoon po, Manang Fe! Mano po!” Then she took the old lady’s hand and put it on her forehead. “Kumusta na po kayo? Para po pala sa inyo.” Maya gave the smiling old lady the roses she had bought for her earlier. “Welcome back po to Mirasol Street.”
“Naku, maraming salamat dito, hija.” Manang Fe said smiling. “Natutuwa nga ako at nakabalik na kami rito. Pero, hija higit akong natutuwa na malamang nobya ka na ni Ricardo. Mahal na mahal ka ng alaga kong iyan, Maya, kahit noon pa man. Masayang-masaya ako para sa inyong dalawa.” Then to add to the surprises and revelation that Maya has been experiencing so far upon entering the Lim mansion, Manang Fe embraced Maya tight. She was also teary-eyed. She then went to Richard and embraced him too. Richard and Maya shared a loving smile, touched at the old lady’s gesture.
Richard had told Manang Fe that morning that Maya is now his girlfriend. The old lady was ecstatic. She told him that she is very happy that he have found love at last, and to a wonderful woman who she is sure will love not only him, but Abby as well. She has not seen proof of this, but she knew the kind of person Maya was 10 years ago and Manang Fe believes that it has not changed. She told Richard na ngayon lang niya nakita na ganito siya kasaya.
It was from Manang Fe that Sabel learned that Maya is now Richard’s girlfriend, after she told her that they will have her as a visitor that afternoon, her Ricardo’s girlfriend. Sabel was also happy for her employer and for Abby na mukhang magkaka-mommy na ulit. Hindi niya na-meet dati si Ma’am Maya pero nakita niya ito sa sala ng mga Lim, kasama ni Sir Richard niya. Nakita rin niya ang dalawa na magkausap at magkasabay na naglalakad galing sa school. Isang beses na rin niyang nakasalubong at nakangitian si Ma’am Maya niya pagkatapos itong ipakilala ni Sir Richard sa mga magulang niya. Tandang-tanda niya kasi nga wala namang ibang isinama noon ang sir niya sa bahay.
Richard told Abby about her Tita Maya as his girlfriend while they were having a father and daughter time that morning while Manang Fe, Sabel and Joma were busy loading everything in the van and doing some last-minute checking on the place they will vacate. Abby jumped with joy. She also asked questions such as if a girlfriend is the first step to getting married and having a new mommy. Richard never thought that he would put forth the question to Maya directly! Uunahan pa siya sa kanyang proposal! Amazing, how biba his daughter is with Maya. Sometimes, she could be shy and reticent with people she just met. He grinned broadly. Everything is going so well. Him and Maya, and now her and his daughter. He can see that she has also charmed his staff.
“Ricardo, uy, Ricardo,” Manang Fe called Richard louder. She shook her head, seeing her alaga with a bemused expression.
“Sweetheart…” Maya also whispered. “Let’s eat na with Abby.”
“Oh okay,” He said with a smile. “Halika na.”
With Maya holding Abby’s hand, and Richard guiding Maya towards the dining room with his hand on her back, everyone trooped to the dining room, where Sabel had put the cake on the table and transferred Maya’s spaghetti into a serving dish. Manang Fe put her flowers in a vase and placed it at the center of the table.
“O kain na kayo. Maraming salamat dito sa spaghetti mo Maya at sa cake.” Manang Fe said.
“Tita Maya, Daddy, can I have cake too after the spaghetti.” Abby asked.
“Of course, baby, pero eat ka muna ng spaghetti at saka kaunting cake lang ha.” Richard said. Abby sometimes gets hyper when she eats too much sweet stuffs.
Maya got Abby’s plate and put a big serving of spaghetti on the little girl’s plate, then she got Richard’s plate, and served him as well. He mouthed a thank you while looking at her with love. Seeing this, them looking like a family already made Richard very happy. Not only him, Manang Fe, who was seated at the nearby breakfast table with Sabel and Joma also looked happily at them. Hay parang totoong pamilya na talaga sila, nakakatuwa naman talaga, she thought. Joma on the other hand, said to himself, sabi na nga ba eh. Masaya rin siya para sa boss niya.
“Tita Maya, your spaghetti is the best po.” Abby said after her second serving of Maya’s spaghetti. “Dad, Tita Maya, can I have cake naman?”
“Thank you, Abby. Alam mo ba paborito rin ni Lance ang spaghetti ko.” Maya said as she cut a small slice of cake for the little girl. She was very happy at the moment. Everything is just perfect.
“Talaga po.” Abby said. “Thank you, Tita Maya.” The little girl then concentrated on eating her cake.
Richard and Maya looked at the little girl with love, then at each other. Richard put his hand on top of Maya’s and caressed it. He was just so happy.
Manang Fe, Sabel and Joma also thanked Maya for the food. The wine they didn’t get around to drinking. When they were finished, they returned to the living room. Richard asked Sabel for coffee for him and Maya and juice for Abby. The little girl sat beside Maya on the sofa. While they were drinking their coffee, Abby was watching her cartoons. She was lost on the current one she was watching.
“Mukhang everything is okay na Ricky.” Maya said in between sips of her coffee, looking around. “Ang bilis ninyong naka-settle down.”
“Yes, since nga inayos na ng decorator. Sabel and Joma were also here yesterday to dust the house and double-checked kung maayos na lahat.” Richard replied. “Thank you again, sweetheart for the food and everything. The wine we can drink later so I can have my way with you,” he whispered naughtily, then hugged Maya to his side.
Maya elbowed him lightly, then whispered back, “Ikaw talaga, sweetheart, marinig ka ng anak mo. Hindi ka pa off the hook for putting me on the spot kanina. Ikaw kaya ang may kasalanan kung bakit tayo natagalan.”
“Really, sweetheart, ako lang. Parang hindi naman ako mag-isa sa mga kiss na iyon ah, Attorney Dela Rosa.” He teased.
“Okay, okay, this time talo sa kaso.” Maya grinned. Richard kissed her lightly on the forehead and smiled lovingly at her.
More than an hour later, they told Abby that they have to go out for a while. The little girl nodded, but extracted a promise from Maya that she will come back to tuck her to bed. She went with Sabel to her room to finish her homework. She didn’t protest this time as she sometimes does, if the homework requires a lot of writing. She has the trip to Tagaytay to look forward to.
“Maya, Ricardo, dito na kayo maghapunan, magluluto ako ng specialty kong binagoongan.” Manang Fe said when they were leaving.
“Sige po, Manang. Sandali lang naman po kami ni Maya. Nakapag-set na ako ng appointment doon sa car dealership.” Richard had told Manang Fe earlier that he will accompany Maya to a car dealership in the evening.
“Thank you po, Manang Fe. Paborito ko po ang binagoongan. Isa iyan sa mga specialty rin ng Nanay ko.” Maya hugged the old lady. “Sige po, babalik na lang kami ni Ricky mamaya.”
“O siya, sige mag-iingat kayo ha.” Manang Fe said.
Richard and Maya walked to where Richard parked his car with hands intertwined. Before they got in, they shared a quick kiss, just so happy at that moment.
“Kailan mo pala sinabi kina Abby at Manang Fe ang tungkol sa atin? I presumed na alam na rin nina Sabel and Joma.” Maya asked when they were on their way.
“Hahahaha, she did put us on the spot ‘no! Kaya pala ang dami niyang questions kanina. I hope you don’t mind.” Richard said, smiling, remembering Abby’s precociousness. There are really moments, where he doubts if she really has autism as she acts like a normal kid, and at times, sounds older and wiser than her age. “Si Manang, I told naman pagkagising ko kaninang umaga. I was just so happy, sweetheart. Then I guess, sinabi niya kay Sabel. It is a small household so Joma is bound to know too.”
“No, I don’t mind, sweetheart. I’m happy and I want to shout it to the whole world that you are my boyfriend na. I told Doris also.” Then Maya remembered Doris’ phone call. “Speaking of Doris, I forgot to tell you earlier, as you distracted me with those kisses, not that I’m complaining, you know,” she said smiling, “She called to tell me na hindi siya makakasama sa atin kasi may interview siya sa Ilocos. Pero si Lance makakasama, with his yaya. Sabi ko okay lang naman.”
“Oh, sayang naman. But I guess it can’t be helped. Mabuti Lance will be there. Abby is looking forward to that trip, lalo na ng malaman na kasama ka and si Lance.” Richard said, then putting his hand over Maya’s, he said, “Sweetheart, thank you again for being so wonderful and loving to my little girl. I’m so happy.”
“Siyempre naman, sweetheart, precious little girl mo iyon. Lahat ng mahal mo, mamahalin ko kasi I love you very much. Besides, she is so easy to love. I love her already.” Maya said, squeezing Richard’s hand.
“Basta, thank you, thank you pa rin.” Richard said as he raised Maya’s hand to her lips and rained kisses on it. “I love you very much too, sweetheart, more than you know.” He said softly, lovingly.
Two hours later, they were back in Mirasol Street. Maya is now the owner of a red automatic sedan. It will be delivered after all the financing paperwork has been accomplished. Richard thought of offering to pay for the car, and if she refuses, offering her a loan instead of her doing it with a bank. But he stopped himself from doing that. He does not think it will sit well with Maya, knowing how independent she is. He wants her to do things her way pa rin even if they are in a relationship.
“Manang, we are back.” Richard called when they were going up the second level of the house.
But it was not Manang Fe who greeted them, but Abby in her sleep clothes. “Daddy, Tita Maya, hug me to sleep please.” It has been Abby’s nightly request, coupled with lullabies that he usually plays from her iPad.
“Okay, sweetie, let me just talk first to Manang Fe ha.” Richard said. “Sweetheart, go ahead with Abby. I will just tell Manang na maya-maya na tayo magdi-dinner.” On the way back, they both were still feeling full from the merienda they had earlier. “Abby will tell you about her nightly ritual.” He kissed Maya lightly on the forehead, the same with Abby. “Run along, sweetie, I’ll follow soon.”
Maya took hold of Abby’s hand and led her towards the direction of her room. “You know where is my room po, Tita Maya?” Abby asked.
Maya was startled at how observant Abby is. But she shouldn’t be surprised, Lance is like this also, when he wants to and when you thought that he does not pay attention to things. Usually he does, like a recorder. “Yes, baby. I was here before with your dad. Halika na, so we can tuck you in to bed. Remember we will go pa to an amusement park tomorrow. Kaya dapat matulog ka ng maaga.”
They entered the little girl’s room and it is how Maya remembered it to be, except this time, there are more personal touches, like Abby’s collection of stuffed toys, mostly cats, and some dolls, Barbie and some dolls with big heads and buttons for eyes. Maya tucked Abby in.
When Richard opened his little girl’s room a short while later, he heard Maya’s soft voice instead of the usual lullabies that Abby likes. He stood in the doorway quietly for a while as he listened to her tell the tale of a princess who met her prince ten years ago. He smiled. She was telling his daughter how they started. Looking at the scene, he thought, if he had not already decided to propose to Maya, this scene alone would make his decision. But he has already made plans for his proposal. He smiled broadly.
Maya looked up then and saw Richard framed at the door, with a big smile on his face. They shared a loving look.
“So what happens, next Tita Maya, did the princess find her prince again?” Abby asked, breaking into the private world they were starting to get into. Abby saw her father then. “Daddy, I requested Tita Maya to tell me a story, instead of the lullabies.”
“I heard part of it, baby. But maybe, Tita Maya can continue the story next time, you need to sleep na.” Richard said, knowing his daughter, she wants to prolong staying awake if she can get away with it. “Para rin you have something to look forward to.”
“But Daddy…..” She started to protest prettily.
“Baby, promise I will continue the story and finish it.” Maya said. “Good night na muna ngayon. Remember, maaga pa tayo bukas.”
“Okay po. Good night Tita Maya. Thank you again.” The little girl said, then asked for another hug from Maya, then whispered to her ears. “I hope you will be my mommy soon.” Then loudly, she said, “I love you, Tita Maya.”
Maya was startled and touched at what the little girl said. “Awwww,” she thought to herself, you are the sweetest little girl ever. ” I love you too, baby girl.”
“Good night, Daddy. You are the best daddy ever.” She said as her father hugged her and gave her a good night kiss.
Several minutes after, Abby’s eyes drooped and she went to a deep sleep. Richard and Maya arms around each other, looked at their sleeping angel, with love.
Note: ❤ Happy Father’s Day! ❤ Mabuti, umabot pa this one sa Father’s Day! 🙂 Hinabol ko, medyo hinihingal pa! 🙂 I hope you had a wonderful celebration with the men in your life – dad, husband, dad-in-law, brothers, uncles, friends who are dads, and those who are both a mom and a dad to their kids!
Maya spent the rest of the morning at the nearby supermarket, buying ingredients for the spaghetti that she will cook for Abby. She also decided to buy a chocolate dedication cake from a local bakeshop. She asked the shop staff to write ‘Welcome back to Mirasol Street’ on the cake. She also brought flowers for Manang Fe, red and white roses, and a bottle of wine.
Her mobile phone rang when she was unlocking the door of her apartment. By the time she was in, and about to answer her call, the phone has stopped ringing. She dropped her groceries on the kitchen table and checked her missed call. It was Doris who was trying to reach her.
“Yes BFF, napatawag ka? Sorry hindi ko nasagot kaagad. Kagagaling ko lang sa grocery eh. ” Maya said when Doris picked up her call. “Magluluto kasi ako ng spaghetti.”
“Hi Maya, okay lang naman. I though na baka nga out on errands ka since Saturday or baka kasama mo si Richard.” Doris said. “Tungkol kasi ito sa lakad natin bukas. Unfortunately, I have to go to Laoag early tomorrow morning kasi biglang na-confirm iyung interview that I was trying to schedule with the elusive retired feisty actress na naka-base na sa Pagudpud, si Miriam Bonifacio. Naalala mo, siya iyong sobrang frank na actress na sobrang galing naman sa acting. She is not active in the business for several years now. She just walked away, di ba? We would like to include her in the current issue we are working on, kasama nung lawyer that I interviewed recently.”
“Oh, so hindi kayo makakasama sa amin nina Ricky at Abby sa Tagaytay?” Maya said, a bit disappointed. She was looking forward to seeing her bestfriend and Lance again, to their bonding with Abby, and of course, with Ricky. Para na rin sana maipakilala niya si Ricky kay Doris as her boyfriend. However, she understand the nature of Doris’ work. Mas matindi pa sa demand ng work ni Doris ang naging demand sng dati iyang trabaho. “Sayang naman, but I understand BFF. No worries. Nasabi mo na ba kay Lance?”
“No, Maya, ako lang ang hindi makakasama sana.” Doris clarified. “Kung okay lang ba sa iyo na sina Lea and Lance na lang ang sumama sa inyo nina Richard at Abby sa Tagaytay? Lance is over the moon and counting the hours na until tomorrow since I told him about it yesterday.”
“Okay na okay naman BFF. No worries, ako na ang bahala sa kanila. Kahit nga kami lang ni Lance okay lang.” Maya assured her friend. “Akala ko kasi isasama mo si Lance sa Laoag for a little vacation after your work.”
“Naku, hindi kasi bibiyahe pa ako by land from Laoag to Pagudpud. Saka di ba may school si Lance. Isama mo na si Lea sa trip mo para naman on the side eh magkaroon kayo ng you and me time ni Mr. Dremboat. Para makapanligaw siya ng husto at mapag-isipan mo naman nang husto kung sasagutin mo na siya.” Doris said in a teasing tone. “Alam mo na namang support na support ko iyang lovelife mo.”
“Hahahaha, ikaw talaga BFF, walang kakupas-kupas! Dapat magsama kayo ni Attorney Ryan, iyong boss ko na close friend ni Ricky!” Maya said, smiling “Pero BFF, kami na kasi ni Ricky eh!”
“Kayo na? You mean as in sinagot mo na si Richard? Ibinigay mo na ang matamis mong ‘oo’ sa nag-iisang lalaking nagpapatibok niyang puso mo? May boyfriend ka na rin sa wakas!!!” Doris asked excitedly, in rapid succession. “Kailan pa naging kayo? Parang the last time we talked yesterday morning, wala kang nabanggit!”
“Yes, Richard is now my boyfriend. BFF, I’m so happy!!!!” Maya said happily and giddily. “Kagabi ko lang siya sinagot.”
Maya told Doris about her dinner with Richard the night before and the trip home, him letting her drove his car and him telling her he love her very much after they shared a kiss. “Hayun BFF, pagka-park namin ng car kagabi, I was just so happy to be with him. We kissed, then he told me he loves me very much. It was a perfect moment, so I told him that I love him too! Sinagot ko na! Masyado bang mabilis ang mga pangyayari? For me kasi, I have never been surer in my life than at that moment. I love him very much.”
“Maya’ I’m so happy for you BFF. Imagine sa tinagal-tagal man ng panahon at sa dami ng mga nangyari sa mga buhay ninyong dalawa, in the end kayo pa rin pala!” Doris said. “BFF bilang number one fan ng love team ninyo ni Richard at nag-iisang saksi sa pagmamahalan ninyong dalawa, ito lang ang masasabi ko, KINIKILIG AKO TO THE MAX!!!!” Doris shouted on the phone with matching tili!
“BFF, nabasag yata ang eardrums ko doon, pero salamat ha, for everything, for the support you know at maraming iba pa.” Maya laughed at her best friend’s reaction. “I never felt like this before. Iyon bang sobrang saya ka lang. Bigla kang napapangiting mag-isa and kapag kasama ko siya, parang kami lang dalawa ang nasa mundo. Kapag tinititigan niya ako niya ako para akong matutunaw! Kapag magkausap kami, parang tumitigil ang orasan. Just the thought of him makes my heart sing. Tapos siya ang huling nasa isip ko sa pagtulog ko sa gabi.” Maya finished eloquently.
“Ganyan talaga ang true love, Maya BFF! You are lucky to have found love, with a wonderful guy like Richard. Alam ko he will cherish you. The fact kasi that you have surpassed ten years of being apart and all the trials, then kayo pa rin, malaking bagay iyon. He is also lucky to have you. Ikaw ang yata ang pinaka-loving and most giving person that I know. You deserve all the happiness and blessings coming your way after ng mga unos sa buhay mo.” Doris said. “Saka ten years na rin naman ang history ninyo ni Richard kahit most of it magkahiwalay kayo. Sa buong panahon na iyon hindi nagbago ang feelings ninyo for each other and that is a very good foundation na. It does not happen to everyone.”
“Thank you very much BFF. I agree with what you said wholeheartedly. I love you and again, thanks again for being there with me, you and Tito Fernando. Parang kapamilya na talaga ang turing ninyo sa amin ni Nanay.”
“Naku, BFF, talaga naman. Kung pwede nga lang na maging mag-sister tayo. Kaso, iyung pudra ko, na-friendzoned ng mudra mo!” Doris said, teasing. “Teka, alam na ba ni Tita Tessie na sa wakas, may boyfriend ka na? Baka magpamisa iyon sa lahat ng simbahan sa galak.”
“Eh wala akong magagawa, one man woman yata talaga kaming mga Dela Paz ladies! Kita mo si Nanay, then si Manang din.” Maya said. “Yes, alam na ni Nanay ang tungkol kay Ricky. Tatawagan ko na nga sana siya kanina pero naunahan na niya ako, pagkagising ko, tumawag na siya. Like you said, ang saya-saya niya ng malaman na may boyfriend na ako. I told her also Ricky and I’s history. At hindi lang siya, happy, take note BFF, sabi pa naman sa akin, sa wakas daw magkakaapo na siya! Ganyan ka-advance si Mother!”
“Hahahaha, si Tita Tessie talaga, sabik na sabik na sa apo. Lance is so lucky to have her as an honorary grandmother.” Doris said. “Pero, tama naman siya, apo kung apo the soonest.”
“Sabi nga pala ni Nanay, ikumusta ko raw siya sa iyo at ihalik kay Lance kapag nagkita tayo.” Maya said, suddenly remembering her mother’s bilin. “Miss ko nga na si Nanay nang sobra-sobra, more than two months na nga kaming hindi nagkikita. Plan namin ni Ricky na umuwi sa Mindoro the next free weekend that we have. Di ba may parating na long weekend? Titingnan ko lang ang load ko and his schedule and kapag okay, bibiyahe kami pa-San Nicolas. Gusto niyang makilala si Nanay, and I promised Nanay rin that I will introduce Ricky to her the soonest time possible.”
“Talaga, meet the parent na agad-agad? Nakakatuwa naman iyang si Richard, matapos mawala sa buhay mo ng parang bula sa loob ng sampung taon, dinadaan sa santong paspasan ang lahat! Grand bawi kung grand bawi, kumbaga!” Doris teased her BFF, then seriously she asked, “Paano pala iyan BFF, what if Richard propose na to you kahit bago pa lang kayo because he does not want to waste time. Handa ka na ba?”
“Yes, BFF! I am!” Maya replied quickly and with conviction. “When I saw him again and realized that I still feel the same for him, and then when he started courting me, inihanda ko na ang sarili ko kung saan man kami mapunta, kahit sa simbahan, even if I had just started my career as a lawyer. Siya lang naman ang minahal ko, wala nang iba. Hindi naman magbabago iyon. Sabi mo nga ten years na rin ang history namin kahit most of that decade, magkahiwalay kami. He is the only one for me. Tanggap ko kung ano man siya and all the things that had happened to his life during that time. His first wife Alexandra and his precious angel, Abby. Pero for now, I’m enjoying our relationship muna. Hindi ko na muna iniisip ang engagement and kasal. Kung tuloy-tuloy na ito at kami na forever, I hope so, then I’m prepared na and more than willing to spend the rest of my life with him.”
“BFF, naiiyak naman ko sa happiness para sa iyo!!!” Doris said emotionally, sniffling. “Basta BFF matron of honor ako at ring bearer si Lance.”
“Hahahaha, Doris naman! Of course when that time comes! Pero matagal pa iyon. Kasisimula pa lang namin ulit ni Ricky!” Maya told her best friend.
“Naku BFF, malay mo bukas mag-propose na siya sa iyo!” Doris teased. “Sabihin mo lang kaagad if he did na ha, para makapag-diet ako ng husto at ng sexy ako sa matron gown ko.”
“Hahahaha, impossible iyan, bukas agad, as in. Pero promise ko sa iyo kapag nangyari iyan, when the right time comes, si Nanay at ikaw ang unang makakaalam!” Maya said.
“Okay, BFF. Love you. O paano, paalam na, see you when I see you. Bahala ka sa bebe boy ko ha. Hello na lang kay boyfie, saka na lang kamo kami magkumustahan. O siya magluto ka na ng spaghetti para sa future daughter mo, I presumed para kay Abby iyan. Di ba ngayon ang lipat nila pabalik ng Mirasol? I’m sure hit iyan. Iyan na yata ang pinakamasarap na spaghetti para kay Lance, at siyempre para sa akin din ah!”
“Surely BFF. Ingat ka sa biyahe at good luck sa interview mo.” Maya said. “Yes, the spaghetti is for Abby. Ricky said to drop by around 4 o’clock later. Sabi ko ako na ang bahala sa snacks, tulong ko sa paglilipat nila. Gusto ko ring makilala ng husto si Abby. Kasi di ba, isang beses pa lang kaming nagkita, di pa kami formally introduced. Nandoon rin kasi si Manang Fe sa bahay ni Ricky, maghe-hello ako.”
“Naks naman, mommy na mommy at future wife na talaga ang peg ng BFF ko.” Doris added.
“Hahahaha, Doris, ikaw talaga. O siya, goodbye na tayo at magluluto na ako!” Maya said, smiling.
Maya checked the time after and Doris and she finally ended her phone call! “OMG, pasado alas una na pala, kailangan ko nang magluto!”
Maya got moving briskly. She was finished with everything by 3PM. While she was warming the spaghetti sauce, Maya took a bath. She chose to wear shorts and a floral blouse. When she had checked her phone she saw a message from Ricky.
Hi sweetheart, we are here at Mirasol na! Settling in. I missed you.
Maya smiled at that. “Sus, ito talagang sweetheart ko, sobrang sweet! Para iilang oras pa lang kaming naghihiwalay.” She typed a reply.
Hello my sweetheart. I’m done na. I will be there in 15 minutes. I missed you too. See you!
She was about to put the phone in her bag when it beeped again.
Wait, stay there, sweetheart, I will pick you up. No buts. I’m going out of the house na!
Maya just smiled and shook her head. “Ang kulit talaga ng sweetheart ko!”
Several minutes after, Maya’s doorbell rang.
“Hi, sweetheart!” Richard said with a big grin. He looked very happy.
“Hi sweetheart! Parang ang saya-saya natin ah.” Maya said, smiling lovingly at her boyfriend. He looks so handsome and so mabango talaga. She will never get tired of looking at him like this and seeing him with one of his bone-melting lopsided smiles. “Halika pasok ka muna. I will just put the spaghetti in a container.”
“Of course, I’m here with my beautiful and wonderful girlfriend again.” Richard said as he followed Maya inside. He likes her in shorts. It shows off her long legs. He likes her in everything! She is very beautiful, in whatever she chose to wear!
Maya laughed, looked at Richard. “Ikaw talaga, pinapakilig mo na naman ako eh.”
“Siyempre naman, sweetheart, that’s my goal in life and I have an ulterior motive when I offered to pick you up.” Richard confessed, gazing at Maya intently, with mischief in his eyes.
“What is it?” Maya asked curiously.
“This.” Richard said, then before Maya could react, Richard lowered his lips to her and gave her a searing kiss. Maya opened her mouth to let Richard deepen the kiss. Before they know it, they are sharing one of the most heated kisses they have shared so far. Several long moments after, they were both catching their breaths.
Richard traced the seam of Maya, kiss-swollen lips. “I missed that. I needed my vitamins before we face the troop. For sure, mamayang gabi pa ulit kita masosolo pag dating mo sa bahay.” He said grinning. “I love you very much, sweetheart.”
“Sweetheart, ikaw talaga! But I love you very much, anyway!” Maya said, grinning, pinching Richard lightly on the side.
“Ouch, sweetheart, now you have to give me another kiss to sooth the pain you have caused.” He said dramatically, with a matching pained facial expression, but the smile he was trying to hide from Maya betrayed him.
“Hay naku, Mr. Lim, nagda-drama ka na naman! Halika na, baka gutom na si Abby.” Maya said, as she started walking towards the kitchen. But then she smiled sweetly at Richard, stood on her toes, cupped his face, then she lowered her lips to him and kissed him quite thoroughly, “May masakit ba pa, sweetheart?” She whispered softly.
Richard grinned naughtily at Maya’s innocent question. “Hmmm, meron pa sweetheart, a different kind of pain naman after that kiss.” He said, grinning at her unrepentently.
Maya blushed, getting his meaning. “Naku, Richard Lim, magugutom na talaga ang anak mo!” With a loving smile to Richard, she went to the kitchen. Richard followed and helped Maya with packing the food, the flowers, the wine and the cake that she bought, at the same time, sneaking little kisses to her, which made the task longer.
It was already a bit after 4PM when they managed to get out of Maya’s apartment. Hands, intertwined and with loving gazes, they walked happily towards Richard’s home.
Note: Have a nice weekend everyone! Thank you for the likes and the wonderful comments to Chapter 1 of Beyond Forever! I hope you will like this additional Saturday night treat! GV always!
Something wet hit the page of the journal that Maria Yasmin Ventura Dela Rosa, ‘Maya’ to family and friends, was reading by the beach, then another, and another. Maya closed Ricardo Lim’s journal hastily, and clutched it to her chest tightly. She looked up at the sky and noticed that it has gotten dark the past hour or so. She got engrossed in the journal again, lost in the past, and didn’t notice the changing weather!
“Oh my God, uulan na! Mukhang malakas pa. Ano ba iyan, ang ganda-ganda ng araw kanina! Naku, mababasa itong journal!” Maya exclaimed, panicking. She needed to protect the precious journal that she found while cleaning the attic of the Ventura ancestral house in New Manila, several weeks after her grandfather James died.
The house in New Manila was bequeathed to her mother, but since it was Maya who has been staying there with her grandfather, Marina Ventura-Dela Rosa told Maya that it’s hers, since she loves that house very much. She and Maya’s father prefer their house in Ayala Alabang. Maya’s mother also told her, that eventually, anyway, it will pass on to her as per the term of her grandfather’s will stated. Maya discovered the journal while organizing things in the attic as she would like to put her grandfather’s stuffs there for safekeeping, with her and her mother’s yaya, Manang Fe helping her.
Maya looked around and checked where she really was. She realized that she had wandered a bit farther off from where the beach house her mother’s family owns. The nearest shelter is the white house several meters away that looked abandoned the past several times she passed by it. Manang Miring, the caretaker of the Dela Paz beach house mentioned that the family of the late Ricardo Lim, from Manila, owns it. It turned out, it is the same Ricardo Lim whose journal she was trying to protect at that moment. She should have just photocopied it and leave the original in a safe place to protect the almost 50 years old journal, but Maya like the feel of it on her hands, her link to a past that she is very much drawn to. She did scan all of the journal’s pages and the photos she discovered were inserted in it, to save it for posterity. She ran towards the white house, keeping her fingers crossed that she will reach it in time. The large droplets got more frequent while she was running towards it.
By the time Maya was catching her breath at the covered part the terrace of the beautiful house, it was raining very hard. Seeking a warmer place, Maya tried the glass door that lead to the living room of the house. Luckily, it was unlocked. Maya was a bit nervous entering the empty house as it belongs to another, but the desire to make sure that the journal is completely dry was stronger. For reasons, she can’t explain, Maya was drawn to the journal, which according to her mother, when she asked her about it, belonged to her mother. Marina Dela Rosa never thought much about that journal, that at times, she would see her mother caressing and holding from time to time with a pensive expression on her face. Maya Dela Rosa-Ventura, yes she and her grandmother share a nickname, aside from the fact that she is the spitting image of her grandmother, never knew that her daughter saw her holding the journal, and writing on it at times.
Maya had asked her mother if she had read the journal, after she had read it herself in one go, late at night. She was unable to put it down once she had started reading. Marina Dela Rosa told her daughter that she had been meaning to, when she saw it several years ago, while looking for a vintage Chanel dress she would like to wear for a theme party, among her mother’s things. Marina told Maya, it must have been her father James who boxed her mother’s journal, without knowing what it was, when her mother died when she was 18. Marina told Maya that she accidentally dislodged the box containing it while looking for the dress inside her mother’s old aparador.
Marina then asked why Maya was asking whether she had read it. She asked what was in it. Maya was not sure whether to tell her mother about the content of the journal at that moment, and over the phone. She told her mother she will just tell her about it when she and her father, Antonio return from their business trip. Her parents were in the States for their cargo business. It was a business started by her father’s father, her grandfather Fernando Dela Rosa, no relations to her grandmother’s family who bore the same last name.
Maya suddenly was pulled from her thoughts when the living room was suddenly illuminated by a sharp lightning, followed by a very loud thunder. Maya screamed, surprised at how loud it was. Suddenly, she heard a loud sound from one of the upstairs rooms. That, startled her more than the lightning and thunder, as the house was supposed to be vacant.
“Oh no, sabi ko na nga ba, haunted itong bahay na ito!” Maya said, her heart thumping too much from fear or nervousness, she can’t explain. Her very vivid imagination going into overdrive! She closed her eyes and tried to comfort and calm herself. “Maya, Maya, hayan na naman ang imagination mo. Kalma lang, baka naman daga lang iyon o kaya naman pusa, aso, kambing na nakapasok sa bahay! Mabuti pang makipag-meet and greet ka na lang sa multo kaysa naman mabasa itong precious journal!” In her state, it never occurred to her that she should fear the living more than the dead, na baka may ibang nakapasok na tao sa bahay na bakante, maliban sa kanya.
“Who are you, and what are you doing here?” Someone suddenly bellowed from the balcony, at the same time the huge chandelier above her flooded the living room with bright light.
Maya looked up in surprise and saw a guy rumply dressed in a white shirt and dark-colored jeans. Another lightning lit the sky, and she saw his face clearly from where she was craning her neck. She shrieked. “Oh, my God. Multo nga! Please, please nakikisilong lang po, Mr. Ricardo Lim. Malakas kasi ang ulan. I don’t want the journal to get wet!” She said, trying to be brave, saying his full name comforted her, made him more real to her. That is how she thought of him ever since she had started reading his journal and after she discovered his pictures with her grandmother. “I know you are a good ghost naman!”
“Sandali lang Miss, don’t move, please. I will go down.” The handsome and seemingly very familiar vision told Maya.
“Ganoon ba talaga magsalita ang mga multo?” Maya mused, her heart still beating very fast. “Parang normal lang at modern na modern. Saka naka-jeans din, di ba dapat naka-barong at dark pants, gaya ng sa movies!”
‘Mr. Ricardo Lim’ reached Maya finally. With arms folded, he asked her again, gazing at her intently. “Do I look like a ghost to you? Look closely, Miss. How did you know my name?”
Maya looked closely, and realized that he is no ghost. He looked liked he just got out of bed and still looked quite tired. To be completely sure, she slowly approached him and poked him on the face gently. “Oo nga, tao ka!” She blurted out.
“Of course, I’m human! Why would you think ba that I’m a ghost? Saka, you haven’t answered my question, how do you know me? I don’t think we have been introduced. Do you live nearby? Why are you here?” ‘Ricardo Lim’ asked in rapid succession.
“Your name is really Ricardo Lim?” Maya asked inanely, not quite believing yet that she is meeting this guy who is the spitting image of Ricardo Lim of the journal! Truth to tell, Ricardo Lim was a handsome man in the black and white and sepia photos she had been gazing on the past weeks. But this Ricardo Lim takes it to another notch higher. Maya, looking at him closely, felt her heart beating faster.
“Yes, let me introduce myself properly. I’m Ricardo Lim III. But you can call me Ricky.” He then gave Maya a lopsided smile that made her breathless, her heart galloping with an a feeling she can’t yet fathom. “And you are?”
“The third, this must mean, you are the grandson of Ricardo Lim, Senior, who was married to Alexandra So-Lim-Valderama! You are the current CEO of the family corporation, that is after your father Ricardo Lim Jr. took an early retirement early this year. Your mom is the former Rosemarie Madrigal, the pianist, and you are an only son, just like your dad.” Maya blurted out, her brain suddenly functioning in full gear again, remembering the information she had searched before.
“Now, I’m getting nervous.” Ricky Lim said with a hint of a smile in his voice, an imp seemed to have suddenly possessed him, looking a at the beautiful lady wearing a maxi halter dress, with doe-shaped eyes, pouty lips, and high cheekbones, clutching something to her chest. “Are you a stalker of my family?”
“Of course not. Hello, there’s Google kaya, Mr. Ricky Lim! Anything I needed to know about your family, I found there.” Maya retorted, getting flushed in the face. She does sound like a stalker, isn’t, with that statement? “I mean, I did check on your family several weeks ago.”
“So, stalker nga. Online stalker!” Ricky insisted. He likes seeing her flustered. At the same time, he was trying to cover and make light of the whole thing to drown the instant attraction he was feeling. She looks more beautiful with her trying to explain herself to him, and her witty reply. Now, he is liking the unexpected turn in his afternoon. He smiled charmingly.”So, Ms. Stalker, what is your name?”
“Hmmmp, maybe I should tell you, only if you take me seriously, Mr. Ricardo-not-a-ghost-Lim-III.” Maya said, for some reason, she is enjoying their repartee.
“Okay, serious na talaga. May I know your name and how come you know a lot about my family?” Ricky asked with a friendly smile. “Maybe, we should sit too, since kanina pa tayo nakatayo.” He then led Maya, by holding on to her elbow to the sofa by the big window of the living room overlooking a garden. He sat on one of the armchairs to her left.
“I’m Maya Dela Rosa,” Maya started after she sat down. “I live in the beach house before this one, for now. I don’t really know your family, but I do know of your family because of this.” Maya opened the journal and got a black and white photo from it. She handed it to Ricky. “That is the reason why I checked on the Lim family.”
“This is my grandfather, Ricardo! But I don’t know the lady with him.” Ricky said, then he looked closely at the photo, then back to Maya. “She looks like you. It is really uncanny! Parang ikaw talaga, except that the clothes she was wearing was from another time period. Grandmother mo?”
“That is true. My family has told me that countless of times. And you look like your grandfather! Uncanny. I never realized that when I saw some photos of the family. Medyo iba kasi ang hitsura mo doon. That’s the reason why I thought you are a ghost and also sa katitingin ko na rin sa photo niya! Kamukhang-kamukha mo kasi ang grandfather mo. And yes, the lady in the photo was my grandmother Maya, same nickname as mine. Her name, though, is Maria Eulalia, and mine is Maria Yasmin. Since she died young, 45 years old lang, my grandfather asked my parents if he can call me Maya too, in her remembrance. Everyone did eventually.”
“Maya, Maya…..” Ricky said softly. “Why does the name sounds familiar? I know it is not uncommon name, pero narinig ko na ang pangalan na niyan sa bahay namin. Oh well, I will remember it din siguro in a while. My grandfather died young also. He was 40.”
“Maybe because of a painting she did na nasa family mo, if your family still has it. I guess it is, because it has not turned up in the market after all these years. You see, our grandparents knew each other. According to this journal, the painting was given by my grandmother to your grandfather in 1965.” Maya said showing Ricky Lim the journal.
“Oh, I think I know that! My grandmother Sandra still has that painting. Now I know I remember where I have heard, or rather, seen ‘Maya’ before. It was scrawled at the corner of the painting, a painting of the beach outside actually, with a guy gazing at someone off the frame, with an obvious look of love on his face.” Ricky Lim said. Every time he visits his grandmother, he had stared at that painting. He was drawn to it.
“That’s the one! Your family still has it? I’m glad! Amazing! How’s your grandmother?” Maya asked. She read some articles about Alexandra Lim also and her charity works, but not much about her personal life. She had gleaned also that she got married again several years after having been widowed, to Victor Valderama, a property developer.
“She’s doing well, considering that she is now 79 years old. She and my second grandfather, Victor, actually the only grandfather I have known since Lolo Ricardo died before I was born, now live in Batangas, at their property there.” Ricky Lim said. “Whose journal was that nga pala?”
“Oh, this one! It’s a journal I found among my grandmother’s things. I think it belonged to your grandfather, and was continued by my grandmother after his death. May ilang pictures na naka-insert also.” Maya said. “I asked my mother about it, but while she knows that it is my Lola Maya’s, hindi niya alam na sa lolo mo ito. Manang Fe, my old yaya mentioned that the first time she had seen that journal was after your grandmother visited my grandmother one afternoon in 1975. She remembered well kasi raw sobrang lungkot ni Lola Maya after. That year din nagsimula ang entries ng lola ko sa journal na ito. My grandmother also made mentioned of your grandmother’s visit din sa entry niya, but not much else. I Googled your family, to check if the photos were that of Ricardo Lim. After reading the journal I just needed to find out more.”
“Hmmm, 1975? That year namatay si Lolo Ricardo! Baka it has something to do with that. My dad said that year rin sila umuwi ng Pilipinas from San Francisco to settle here for good.” Ricardo said, thinking and staring out., then he looked at Maya again, who he caught was staring at him. “So, not only our grandparents knew each other, they more than just knew each other, is that correct?”
“Errrr, yes. They fell in love in this very place. This is the place where they met!” Maya said softly. “I guess you have a right to read this also as he was your grandfather. Would you like to?”
“If it is okay with you, yes please” Ricky said. Somehow, he is also drawn to the journal, in the same manner that he is very much drawn to the beach painting, and this place. “Mukha namang matatagalan pa ang ulan na ito and you can’t go to your house yet, not that I’m sending you away, you can stay as long as you want, I can read it now.”
“Okay, that would be best. Honestly, the journal has become precious to me and I don’t want to part with it kahit sandali lang.” Maya admitted. “I guess, because I feel the emotions that came out of the pages of it and it is my only link to the thoughts of a grandmother whom I share a name and looks, but haven’t had the chance to be with.”
“Your grandmother must have been very beautiful.” Ricky said all of a sudden.
“She was. Di ba, kita naman sa picture.” Maya replied. “You should see her photos in some of the clothes she had worn to some parties. She was very beautiful and elegant. She was also a very talented painter.
“Not only because of what I see in the picture, but because you are, very beautiful you know, if I may say so.” He said, gazing at Maya intently.
Maya blushed, her heart beating fast. “Errr, thank you.” She simply said. “Here’s the journal.” She needed to regain her equilibrium.
“Before we go back to the past, so to speak, would you like a cup of coffee?” Ricky asked, giving Maya another of his lopsided smiles.
“Sure, it would be great in this rainy afternoon.” Maya said, returning the smile with one of her own, which lit up her whole face. “Thanks.”
“I’ll be back in a couple of minutes.” Ricardo Lim stood up and walked towards the direction of the kitchen.
While waiting for him, Maya took the opportunity to look at her surroundings. The house feels familiar and she feels at home with it, kahit noong una na akala niya walang tao, also when she passed by it the past several days. Kahit doon sa bahay ng pamilya ng lola niya, ganoon din ang pakiramdam niya. She has not been here before as her mother only told her of this place after her Lolo James died. Marina Dela Rosa said she thought the place has been sold a long time ago.
Since she is at loose end at the moment, Maya decided to take the trip to Ilocos and check the beach house on impulse. Hindi niya inakala na nandito rin si Ricky. Ricky! Imagine, she got to meet the grandson of the man her grandmother loved very much until the end. Magaan ang pakiramdam niya kay Ricky. Normally she is not completely at ease with someone she just met. Kasi nga siguro, they have a ‘shared’ past, their grandparents and their ill-fated love! Hay, she sighed.
“Why the sigh, Maya? Is everything okay?” Ricky asked when he returned carrying two steaming cups of coffee.
“No worries, Ricky, okay lang ako. I just sighed because I thought of our grandparents and their love. You will understand after you have read the journal.”
“Okay, I will do so, now.” Ricky said, giving Maya the coffee and sitting beside her this time.
Both Maya and Ricky took a sip of their coffee, looked out of the window, then at each other, with smiles of instant connection and understanding, before starting the journey to the past, to a love that had come at the wrong time for two people who found it, while not looking for it.
Maya woke up early the following morning despite the late night she had. At first, she was surprised to find herself still in her office clothes, but then the wonderful things that had happened the night before came flooding back. She had a huge grin when she got out of bed. Boyfriend! Richard is her boyfriend now! Lord, kung nananaginip lang ako, ayoko ng magising! She touched her lips, remembering the searing kisses and more, that she and Richard shared the night before.
The ringing of her mobile phone interrupted Maya’s beautiful reminiscing. At first, she can’t remember where she had left it. Then she realized that the sound was coming from the living room, where she had left her bag, with the phone in it, when she and Richard arrived at her apartment last night. Good thing, that phone is programmed to ring on full volume if it is inside a bag or a pocket!
She fished out her phone from the bag, and saw that it was her mother calling her. “Hello po, ‘Nay! Good morning!!! Kumusta naman ang pinakamaganda kong nanay ngayong umaga!” Maya greeted her mother cheerfully, happy to hear from her. She had been meaning to give her a call that weekend.
“Maya, anak, parang ang ganda ng gising mo ngayong umaga ah!” Teresita Dela Rosa told her daughter while gesturing to Chona, her helper, to serve the tapsilog and longsilog that two of their regular customers ordered. As usual, Cristina’s, the eatery that Maya and her had name after Cristina Rose was doing a brisk business that Saturday morning. They really need to expand the place to accommodate their growing number of customers.
“Magandang-maganda po talaga, ‘Nay! I had the best night po kasi last night!!! Nayyy, sobrang saya ko po ngayon. Para pa rin akong lumulutang sa saya!” Maya said, grinning happily, while getting a glass of water from the fridge, then taking a sip.
“Hmmm, parang feeling ko in love na ang anak ko!” Teresita Dela Rosa said all of a sudden. Iyon ang una niyang naisip nang marinig ang boses ng anak niya na parang may kakaiba talaga.
“‘Nay, paano ninyo naman po nasabi iyan?” Maya asked her mother, surprised at her statement. She thought her mother would just ask about her job since the last time they talked was the night before she started working for RRMA. It had completely skipped her mind to call her mother after her first day at work and the days after that!
“Para kasing may iba sa boses mo ‘nak!” Maya’s mother told her. “Tama ba ako, Maya? In love ka at may boyfriend ka na, sa wakas!”
“Errrr, ‘Nay, opo. Kagabi lang po.” Maya admitted, then teased her mother. “Daig mo pa si Madam Auring ‘Nay ah. Nahulaan mo agad with matching call pa sa akin ngayong umaga! Ano pa po ‘Nay ang nakita mo sa bolang kristal mo?” She teased her mother.
“Hahahaha, ikaw talagang bata ka! Mas maganda naman akong di hamak kay Madam!” Teresita Dela Rosa bantered. “Siyempre, Nanay mo ako kaya kabisado kita. So, sino naman itong magiging manugang ko? Sa wakas magkakaapo na rin ako! Imagine, ngayon ka pa lang nagka-boyfriend eh malapit ka nang mag-trenta.”
“Nanay naman, advance na advance, kasasagot ko pa nga lang po kay Ricky. Saka Mother, ilang taon pa kaya bago ako mag-30!” Maya said. “Nanay, I’m so happy. I’m sure kapag nakilala mo si Ricky magugustuhan mo rin siya ng husto. He is the best boyfriend in the world!!!”
“I’m sure I will. Maya. I trust your judgment, anak. Sa tinatagal-tagal mo ba naman bago nag-boyfriend, sigurado naman ako na hindi ka pipili ng basta-basta.” Nanay Teresita said. “Saan mo naman nakilala pala si Ricky, anak? Parang wala ka namang nakwento sa akin tungkol sa kanya before. Sa law school?”
“Nanay, actually, I have mentioned him before, pero hindi by name. Remember, noong isang beses na ginunita natin iyong death anniversary ni Ate Cris and the two of us spent the morning sa puntod niya, noong nasa law school na ako, and the one and only time you asked me about a boyfriend?” Maya asked, trying to jog back her mother’s memory to that particular moment.
“Hmmmm, parang naalala ko iyan. Mga 5 years ago? Noong ika-limang death anniversary ng kapatid mo? Iyong huling punta natin sa sementeryo na nagtagal nga tayo ng buong umaga.” Teresita said. “Wait, I think I remember that! I asked you kung wala ka pang boyfriend eh 22 years old ka na, turning on 23! Kasi naman noon ni crush wala akong narinig mula sa iyo simula nang magdalaga ka.”
While remembering thhe good times with her Ate Cris and all the things they wanted to do when she returns to the Philippines after her contract in Dubai is finished, which of course, was not realized anymore, Maya and her mother got into talking how fleeting life is, and that it could be gone in a snap. Hindi mo talaga masabi, they both agreed.
Teresita told Maya that one thing she had learned after Cris died is that life is too short for regrets, for fearing the unknown, for living in fear, and for not taking chances, for setting aside what you can do today, thinking that there is still tomorrow or there is still plenty of time to do the things you want to do, when in fact hindi natin alam talaga if we will still wake up the next morning!
She told her daughter to treasure every moment, and not to shy away from opportunities coming her way, but enjoy life at the same time. She told Maya to live, really live. She told Maya that it includes falling in love, the headiest and most wonderful of emotions, but she must also choose wisely. Maya asked her how would she know if she had chosen the right person. Teresita Dela Rosa assured Maya that she would know when the time comes. Maya admitted to her mother then, that she might have already found the one person she wanted to share her life with, but he disappeared from her life all of a sudden before she can truly find out, and that she had tried to look for him in the other guys she had met, but her heart only beat for that person.
Teresita Dela Rosa, seeing her daughter’s pensive mood while telling her this, and the way her eyes lit up when she spoke of the guy she had fallen in love with, took hold of her hand then told her that if he is really her destiny, then fate will find a way to make them meet again in the future, that some people no matter what the distance and the circumstances are, are just destined to be together, and that love always finds a way! Di ba anak, she told Maya, minsan meron ngang mga tao na hindi mo iniisip na magkikita or magkakakilala dahil sa layo ng kanilang estado sa buhay, magkaibang-magkaiba ng pananaw sa buhay, or magkaiba ng lahi, pero nagkikita, nagkakatagpo and they fell in love. Or kung minsan, may lovers na maraming taong nagkahiwalay, nagkaroon ng sari-sariling buhay at pamilya, pero sa huli, sila pa rin ang magkasama hanggang sa pagtanda nila. Love moves in mysterious ways, di ba, sabi nga ng kasabihan, was her last words to her daughter on the subject.
“Nanay, naalala niyo po iyong lalaki na sinasabi ko sa inyo during that conversation?” Maya asked her mother. “Si Richard Lim, si Ricky po iyon! Siya po ang boyfriend ko simula pa po kagabi.”
“Talaga, anak! Paanong nangyari?” Teresita Dela Rosa asked, surprised, but at the same time, she felt very happy with this development in her daughter’s life.
Maya told her mother how she and Richard met again at the law office where she works and how she ended getting assigned to his account. She also told her mother how she and Richard had picked up from where they left off ten years ago! Maya told her mother din how she and Richard met ten years ago, how his family left the country abruptly, but not the reason for it, and that it happened at the same time they were dealing with the untimely death of her Ate Cris.
“See, anak, tama ang sabi ko sa iyo noon! Kapag kayo talaga, pagtatagpuin at pagtatagpuin ulit kayo ng tadhana!” Nanay Teresita told Maya after she finished telling her a condensed version of hers and Richard’s love story. “I’m happy for you, Maya. I know some people might frown at the speed of your courtship, but I know you anak, hindi ka naman papasok sa hindi mo sigurado, lalo pa at kasama na rin sa pagmamahal mo diyan kay Richard ang pagmamahal sa kanyang anak.”
“Maraming salamat po, Nay! Sobrang saya ko po. Nang makita ko pa lang ulit si Richard, ramdam na ramdam ko na hindi nagbago ang pagtingin ko sa kanya. Nasigurado ko po iyon ng husto nitong nakalipas na araw kahit sandali pa lang po ulit kaming nagkikita. I feel it in my heart, in my soul.” Maya said, conviction and happiness evident in her voice. “Saka po si Abby, kahit isang beses ko pa lang po siyang nakita, mahal ko na po siya at alam ko po na mahalagang parte siya ng buhay ni Ricky. Tanggap ko rin po na widower siya. Naging open naman po sa akin si Ricky tungkol sa naging buhay niya the past ten years. ”
“Natutuwa naman ako sa iyo, Maya. Napalaki talaga kita ng tama. I’m sure kung nabubuhay ang ate mo, tuwang-tuwa rin iyon.” Nanay Teresita told her youngest. “O basta, the first opportunity, gusto kong makilala ng personal iyang nobyo mo. Base sa kwento mo, mukha namang mabuti siyang tao and that you are very lucky that you two found each other again. Hindi nangyayari iyan sa lahat ng tao!”
“Opo, ‘Nay. Kapag may pagkakataon po, and maayos na ang work ko, uuwi po ako diyan sa atin at titingnan ko po kung maisasama ko si Ricky.” Maya assured her mother. She really want to introduce Richard to her mother.
“O sige, asahan ko iyan ha, anak. Mas may linaw iyan kaysa ang pagpunta ko ng Maynila. Hindi ko maiwan itong Cristina’s eh.” Nanay Teresita said. The two of them have talked before of her mother spending a week or so again with Maya in Manila, but unable to have it scheduled because of the eatery and its demands on Maya’s mother time.
“Hindi pa po ba kayo nakakahanap ng magma-manage ng Cristina’s diyan sa San Nicolas? Kumusta na po iyong plano ninyo na magtayo ng branch sa Poblador?” Maya asked. The small restaurant, which had started as a carinderia became a popular eating place not only with the residents of San Nicolas but also those in neighboring towns, as well as the tourists that flock to the beaches of Mindoro, especially during the summer season, since a year ago. A popular food magazine has included it in the list of the things one should do and try while on vacation in Mindoro, making special mention of the kare-kare that Teresita Dela Rosa still personally prepares among the equally delicious dishes that Cristina’s offer. Na-feature rin ang Cristina’s sa isang magazine program sa TV recently. So, because of this, mas dumami pa ang mga customer nila. At times they have a hard time dealing with the influx of customers. They really need someone to manage Cristina’s and also to build a branch in neighboring Poblador para sa mga nakatira roon and to expand na rin now that they can.
“Meron na, Maya. Iyong pinsan mo na si Melinda. Di ba kaka-graduate lang niya ng HRM nitong nakaraang Abril? Ayaw niyang diyan sa Maynila magtrabaho, mas gusto niya raw dito sa atin mag-base.” Teresita said. “Nagpunta sila rito sa atin kagabi ni Kuya Rollie tungkol diyan. Magsisimula nga siya ngayon. Hinihintay ko lang. Dito ko na nga rin sa bahay natin pinatitira para hindi na siya bumiyahe pa at saka maige rin iyon, may kasama ako sa bahay.”
“Ganoon po ba, Nay? I’m happy naman na finally, may kasama na kayo.” Maya said. “Sure na sure po ako na in good hands kayo diyan kay Melinda. Masipag na, matalino pa at saka responsable. Kampante na ako. Naiisip ko nga po na baka nahihirapan na kayo. I will tell you nga sana to slow down na kasi lawyer na ang anak niyo at ako na ang bahala sa inyo”
“Naku, Maya, huwag mo akong intindihin. Okay lang naman ako. Alam mo naman na mas gusto ko itong busy ako. Asikasuhin mo na lang ang sarili mo. Ngayon lang naman sa buong buhay mo diyan na iisa na lang ang ginagawa mo. Mahigit sampung taon mo rin namang pinagsabay ang pag-aaral at pagtatrabaho. Enjoy your life, lalo na ngayon na may boyfriend ka na.” Teresita told her daughter. “Kumusta nga pala ang trabaho mo? Hindi na tayo nakapag-usap simula noong Linggo.”
“Oo nga po ‘Nay. Pasensya na kayo, hindi ko na kayo natawagan pa. Meeting Ricky again turned my world upside down in a very nice way. Tapos po, nag-babysit pa ako kay Doris.” Maya explained. “Okay na okay naman po ang work ko Nanay. Maganda po iyong law firm na napasukan ko. I like the partners, lalo na po iyong senior partner na si Atty. Rafael Reyes, parang grandfatherly, and then iyong senior kung saan ako naka-assign, si Attorney Ryan na nagkataon nga na friend pala ni Ricky since college.”
“Mabuti naman. Good choice nga na diyan ka na lang napasok. Imagine, nakita mo pa ulit ang prince charming mo.” Nanay Teresita said smiling. “Nakakakilig nga ang love story mo anak!”
“Nay, talaga!” Maya said, smiling.
“Pero Maya, aminin mo, parang pang-teleserye ang love story ninyo ni Richard. O kaya naman parang movie ng Star Cinema. Iyon bang mga rom-com anak.” Nanay Teresita said. “O kaya para ba ‘anak na sa mga pocketbook na binabasa mo ng walang bitawan hanggang madaling-araw!”
“Hahahaha, Nay, ikaw talaga, sobrang hilig sa mga romance movie.” Maya said. “Sa iyo ko yata talaga namana ang pagkahilig sa romance stories.”
“Dapat lang. Bakit nga ba hindi, parang pang-pelikula rin naman ang love story namin ng Tatay mo.” Nanay Teresita retorted, smiling, remembering her beloved husband.
‘Nay, alam ko po na si Tatay ang love of your life, pero hindi po ba kayo nakaisip na mag-asawa ulit? Di ba po, nanliligaw sa inyo si Tito Fernando? Hindi nga sumusuko eh!” Doris’ father, a widower, started courting her mother when Maya has just started law school.
“Hay naku, Maya, friends lang talaga kami niyang si Fernando, kahit ano pa ang tukso niyo ni Doris at kagustuhan ninyong magkaibigan na maging magkapatid.” Teresita said. “One man woman yata talaga ang mga Dela Paz women! Tingnan mo si Nanay, ako, and now ikaw. Wala nang ibang nagpatibok sa puso ko kundi ang Tatay mo. Iyon nga lang maaga siyang kinuha sa atin. Tama na ako roon. Hindi na iyon natutumbasan ng iba pa.”
“Well, tama ka naman po diyan ‘Nay. Now, I understand completely. Ganyan din po ako kay Ricky. I will not love another.” Maya said, thinking na wala rin talagang ibang nagpatibok ng puso niya, kundi si Richard. Ganoon din ang Mamang niya, her grandmother Conchita, hindi na nag-asawa pa kahit medyo bata pa nang mabiyuda, mga 50s pa lang siya noon.
Maya’s parents met at the airport in San Nicolas. Nagkapalit sila ng mga bagahe sa pagmamadali. Dayo lang doon sa lugar na iyon si Arturo Dela Rosa. Magbabakasyon sana kasama ng kaibigan niyang si Fernando na taga-San Nicolas, habang si Teresita Dela Paz naman, pauwi noon ng Mindoro dahil semestral break sa college. That incident started a beautiful friendship and an equally nakakakilig na ligawan. Nang magpakasal sila, Arturo, who was originally from Baguio moved to San Nicolas with Teresita, para raw hindi siya malayo sa pamilya niya. Her mother worked at first, but opted to be a stay at home mother when Cristina Rose and Maya were born. Bumalik lang siya sa pagtatrabaho sa kapitolyo nang mabiyuda siya.
“O maiba ako, Maya. Kumusta na si Doris and si Lance? Basta kung may time ka tulong-tulungan mo na lang ang kaibigan mong iyon.” Nanay Teresita said. Parang anak na rin ang turing niya kay Doris and si Lance, parang apo na niya.
“Opo, Nay. Maayos naman po sila ni Lance. Magkikita kami bukas kasi kasama namin sila nina Richard and Abby na pupunta sa Tagaytay. Ipapasyal po namin ang mga bata. I forgot to mention earlier na nagkataon na magkaklase sina Lance at Abby sa progressive school na malapit dito sa Mirasol Street.”
“That’s nice to know, Maya. Maganda iyon at ng makapag-bonding kayo, kasama ng anak ni Richard. Ikumusta na mo na lang ako kay Doris at ihalik kay Lance.” Nanay Teresita said. “O sige, tawagan na lang tayo ulit ‘nak. Nandito na pala si Melinda. Kailangan ko siyang bilinan siya ng mga gagawin bago ako pumunta sa Poblador.”
“Sige po, Nanay. I love you very much.” Maya said.
“I love you din, anak. Be happy. Good luck sa trabaho mo ha.” Nanay Teresita said. “Mag-iingat ka parati and huwag mong pababayaan ang sarili mo.” She added before ending the call.
Maya suddenly realized, with that phone call, one of the longest she had with her mother, that she misses her very much. Maybe, she should go home the soonest possible time she has kahit na weekend lang. Baka sa next long weekend, she could, Maya mused.
Maya put her phone down by the coffee table in the living room and was about to go back to her room to take a bath and do her morning rituals when the doorbell rang.
“Sino kaya ito, ang aga naman!” Maya muttered to herself. “Baka si Edselyn, naubusan na naman ng coffee. Her next door neighbor and friend, a flight attendant at Time Airways always runs out of stuffs. Hindi na kasi nito maasikasong mag-grocery because of her irregular schedule.
But it was not Eds at the door, but a very handsome Richard Lim in a pale blue shirt and jeans that hugged his muscular body, with a lopsided loving smile for Maya, and in his hand was a big bouquet of tulips and sunflower and a big paper bag.
“Good morning, sweetheart! I brought you breakfast.” He said with a big smile, showing her the big bag he was holding.
“Ricky!!!” Maya said, very, very surprised to see him bright and early! “Good morning! I thought maglilipat kayo this morning?”
“Maaga pa naman. May dala na akong ibang gamit, then babalikan ko na lang sina Abby and Manang Fe in a while. I just want to have breakfast first with my beautiful girlfriend.” He gave her another charming smile, then moved to lower his lips to hers.
“Sweetheart, wait! Hindi pa ako nagto-toothbrush man lang.” Maya said self-consciously, putting her hands over her mouth. “More than 24 hours ko nga ring suot itong damit na ito!”
“I don’t care, sweetheart.” Richard smiling, then gave Maya a quick kiss. “Did I wake you up pala? Kagigising mo lang?”
“No. Kanina pa ako gising. Surprisingly, I woke up early. Sorry pala at tinulugan kita. Thank you for putting me to bed.” Maya said, realizing then that Richard carried her to bed. “Nabigatan ka ba ng husto sa akin?”
“Hmmmm, what’s the safest answer to that sweetheart? Slight?” He teased, then laughed. Maya laughed with him. “Kayang-kaya ka pa naman nitong muscles ko, sweetheart.”
“Mukha naman, sweetheart.” Maya bantered back, then said, “Tumawag kasi si Nanay noong papunta na ako sa banyo. Medyo napahaba ang kwentuhan namin. Katatapos lang naming mag-usap nang mag-doorbell ka.”
“Oh really! Kumusta na ang nanay mo?” Richard asked. “I hope I can finally meet her soon. Ano pala ang sabi mo sa kanya? Sinabi mo na ang tungkol sa atin?”
“Yes, I did. She wants to meet you too. I told her about us after she blurted out pagkabati ko na siguro raw may boyfriend na ako.” Maya said, then smiled. “In fairness sa nanay ko, malakas ang radar. Imagine, she guessed na in love daw ako, after I answered her call. I told her that yes I do, that I have a boyfriend, and I’m in love with a very wonderful guy.” Maya said while affectionately pinching Richard’s cheek.
Richard smiled at that. Happy to know that Maya’s mother know about them. “I’m glad you told her, sweetheart. When are you planning to go and visit her?”
“Hmmm, I’m not yet sure. Pero after our phone call, bigla ko siyang na-miss ng todo. The last time kasi na nagkita kami noon pang nag-oathtaking kaming mga bagong lawyer. I’m planning to go to San Nicolas sa next long weekend.” Maya replied. “By the way, have a seat, Ricky and thank you for these beautiful flowers and the breakfast.”
“Really, you will? Okay lang ba kung sumama ako sa iyo?” Richard asked. “Ten years in the making na rin ang meeting namin ng nanay mo. I would like to finally meet the lady who gave birth to my beautiful and very loving girlfriend.” Richard said, gazing with Maya with so much love.
“Talaga, sasama ka sa akin? Sure! Sigurado ako matutuwa si Nanay noon. Saka para makita mo rin kung saan ako lumaki.” Maya said.
“Okay, just let me know when so I can clear my schedule rin.” Richard said. “Thanks a lot Maya. I’m really looking forward to meeting your mother. Halika na kain na tayo!”
“Oh, is it okay if I take a shower first?” Maya asked. “I can get you coffee muna.”
“Sure, sweetheart. No need to get me coffee. I got us coffee. Ako na ang bahala rito. Go take your shower.” Richard offered.
“Thank you, sweetheart. I will be back in a jiffy.” Maya said.
Maya went back to her room, while Richard proceeded to the kitchen and started setting the table. Thirty minutes after, Maya returned, wearing a floral skirt and a white sleeveless top.
“You look lovely, sweetheart.” Richard told Maya when he saw her walking towards him. This is the first time he had seen her again in casual clothes. ” Ready na ang food natin. I hope you will like it.” For breakfast, Richard got them tapsilog, and some fruits, with a big thermos of coffee.
“Wow, looks masarap, sweetheart. Thank you for setting the table.” Maya sat on the seat that Richard pulled for her.
The two of them chatted about the trip to Mindoro while eating, as well Richard and Abby’s move to the big house.
“What’s Abby’s favorite food, Ricky?” Maya asked as they were sipping coffee.
“Spaghetti! Kahit yata araw-araw, hindi nagsasawa doon si Abby.” Richard replied.
“Okay, I’ll bring that when I drop by your house later.” Maya said.
“Sweetheart, you don’t have to. Pahinga ka na lang today, ito na nga lang ang pahinga mo.” Richard said.
“Sweetheart, I want to, please. It is the least I could do to help you out, bring merienda.” Maya insisted. “Besides, Mr. Lim, hindi mo pa natitikman ang spaghetti ko.” She added, smiling.
“Okay, sweetheart, you are the boss. I’m sure, Abby and I will like it.” Richard said. “Thank you, Maya. I have the best girlfriend in the world.” He then took Maya’s hand and kissed it. “I love you very much.”
“I love you very much too, Ricky!” Maya replied, looking at Richard with a big smile.
She will never get tired of hearing those words from him, and her, saying to him. They shared a deep look, and before they realized it, they moved their heads, angling for the sweet kiss they shared, initially, followed by a searing one, then another. They broke up grinning goofily, with faces flushed.
Richard helped Maya with the dishes despite her insistence that she can do it herself. After their second cups of coffee, Richard told Maya that he needed to get going dahil idadaan pa niya sa big house ang mga dala niyang gamit.
“I’ll see you later, sweetheart.” Richard said softly, reluctant to let go of Maya’s hand while they were at the door of her apartment. He wished he could just spend the whole morning, cuddling with Maya.
“See you sweetheart.” Maya replied, gazing at Richard’s handsome face. “Thank you for the wonderful Saturday morning treat.”
They shared another kiss before parting for the morning, looking forward to seeing each other again, and spending the evening together. In several hours, they will live in the same street again!
Me and gadgets, whether uber-high tech or simple ones, and simple household appliances that look cool and make life easier, I just can resist them, just like the reading lamp I wrote about in April.
I saw these lanterns as soon as I entered the S & R Membership Shopping store I go to! The outdoor lanterns, look so cool and handy, not to mention cute! It reminds me of those old Coleman gas lamps! Before I knew it, the box was in my pushcart.
I thought that these lanterns will be handy just in case there is a power outage, not that it happens much, in our area, or something that would be very useful once the rainy season starts, as the season usually comes with typhoons and monsoon rains, and with those, the occassional power outages!
The lanterns are powered by three big batteries (D), bought separately. Just insert the batteries, and there it is, an emergency light! It is safer than candles, which sometimes, left attended, have been known to be the cause of some of the fires in the city. I have tried rechargeable lamps too, and most often than not, I only remember, and look for those from where they ended up getting stored, during a power outage. They are also left uncharged.
The lantern floats and is waterproof and has a 144 hours run time, according to the packaging. It has two settings: a high powered LED light and an amber night light. The box of lanterns costs Php 899.95, discounted (the original price was Php 1,199.95), just in case you want to buy one yourself.
I have put one of the lanterns on the shelf, ready to be use in case there is a power outage, or as a handy flashlight! Pwede ring reading lamp! Happiness in simple stuffs! 🙂
“So, that’s how wonderful it feels!” Maya murmured to herself after she and Richard slowly broke apart, catching their breaths and equilibrium after that earth-shaking kiss. She was taken off guard by that, in a very, very nice way. She never knew it would feel like that, like her whole universe was anchored on the feeling that Richard’s soul-shattering kiss brought.
“What was that Maya?” Richard asked gently, lovingly, cupping Maya’s chin. He heard her, but he wanted to be sure that he heard her correctly. He, too, felt the earth moved with that kiss. It felt like their souls fused with that kiss.
Maya flushed, not sure whether to admit it to Richard or not, but on the other hand, she mused, this is Richard and she is comfortable with telling him such things. “Well, I never knew that a kiss would feel like that, like your whole world is centered on that kiss and the person you are sharing it with. I mean, sometimes I would imagine what it would feel like, especially when I would read about it in the romance novels I was addicted to, but still, my imagination felt way short of the real thing.” Maya finally said with a shy smile, her lips still tingling from that kiss.
It dawned on Richard then that this was Maya’s first kiss and he felt privileged and honored to be the one she had shared it with. Yes, he initiated it but Maya shared it with him. He felt it. He cupped her face, then said softly, for he too felt the difference in the kiss. “With the right person, with the person you love, it is. I felt the same Maya. It was like my first kiss as well. Kisses are not the same.”
“Really, Ricky?” Maya asked, curious to know. She thought it would be somewhat the same with Richard, sort of, as he had girlfriends before and has been married for a number of years.
“Yes, because of what I feel for you when we shared that kiss.” Then taking Maya’s hand, Richard looked deeply into her eyes. “I love you very much, Maya. I never stopped. What I felt for you ten years ago, it is still here, in my heart. It has just laid dormant while we were apart and when so many things and circumstances have kept us apart. When I saw you again, my heart jumped and beat faster. The same way it does every time I would see you years ago. I became alive again. Suddenly, my heart feels so light and I doubly look forward to each morning. When I go to sleep at night, you were my last thought. I feel this indescribable happiness when I’m with you, when I see you kahit across a conference table lang.”
“R-r-ricky,” Maya whispered, not completely believing that she is finally hearing those words from Richard’s lips. Parang feeling niya nananaginip pa rin siya. Yes, she knows he has feelings for her, otherwise, he would have not said he will court her proper this time, but hearing those words, she felt like she was transported to a place that only her and Richard exist. Then taking a deep breath, calming herself, she admitted to Richard. “I never stopped loving you too, Ricky. Wala namang ibang naging laman ang puso ko kundi ikaw. Walang ibang nagpatibok nito ng ganito, kundi ikaw. I only feel this happiness when I am with you.”
“M-maya, you mean…?” Richard asked hesitantly, thinking that he was just dreaming too, that he was not hearing those words from Maya. But he does! He hoped he would hear it from her during the course of their courtship but he was not expecting it this soon.
“Yes, Ricky, I love you too. Ikaw lang ang nandito” Maya said, pointing at her heart, then gazing at Richard with all the love that she is feeling. “And you are right, I may have not kissed anyone like that before you, but I think I would have known the difference too. I felt like it went beyond our lips fusing together. I felt it deep into my soul.”
“Maya, Maya, sweetheart, you are making me the happiest guy in the world.” Richard said, his voice suddenly unsteady! “So this means, tayo na, ha? You are my girlfriend na, finally! Sinasagot mo na ako?” He babbled.
Maya smiled, seeing the happiness and the love on Richard’s handsome face. “Opo, Mr. Lim, tayo na po. You are my boyfriend na po.” She said, touching his face lovingly. “I love you very much!”
“Maya, I’m the happiest guy in the world at the moment! Thank you. I love you very, very much, sweetheart.” Then he lowered his head to hers again and they shared another beautiful kiss.
“I love you very much, Ricky. Parang feeling ko nananaginip ako, and yet, here we are.” Maya said, touching Richard’s face lovingly. “Parang nakikita ko ang mga sarili natin 10 years younger, inside a car din after our first unofficial date. Naaalala mo iyon, noong nag-bookstore tayo. Kung alam mo lang, sobrang happy ko that night.”
“This is real, Maya. Fate made us meet again so we can continue what we started ten years ago. Not so many people have second chances like this. I promise not to waste it. I will love you until the end of my days and it will be my goal to make you happy.” Richard said eloquently. “And sobrang happy ko rin that night. For me, that was our ‘first date’.
“Thank you, Ricky. You are right. Ayaw ko na ring sayangin ang panahon. Ten years na ang nawala sa buhay natin. But you and I, we can’t regret those ten years. It made us better persons. It shaped us to be the persons we are now, and in your case, it gave you Abby pa. Tapos you found love din naman with Alexandra even if it was a different kind of love.”
“I completely agree, Maya. Let us move forward together from now on and let’s not waste our moments.” Richard said, cupping Maya’s face and giving her another kiss, this one more intense than the first kiss they have shared. Maya returned the kiss with all the feeling she has in her. “And thank you very much, Maya, for understanding that Abby is a part of my life now and that Alexandra was part of it.”
“Ricky, I do. I just want you to know. Alexandra was there for you when you needed someone and who can’t not love Abby. She is a precious girl.” Maya assured Richard. “The past is the past and we can’t do anything about it. Good thing, we have the present to build on towards our future, wherever it would lead us.”
“I love you, you know, Ms. Dela Rosa, you and your big loving heart.” Richard said, so overwhelmed at that moment. He is sure already where the present would lead them, to a future together.
“I love you too, Mr. Lim, kahit ilang lifetimes ang dumaan, ikaw pa rin ang nandito sa puso ko.” Maya whispered lovingly.
Maya and Richard stayed in the car for several minutes more, savoring the moment and the change in their relationship status. Maya’s head was pillowed on Richard’s chest as he caressed her hair slowly, interspersing it with soft little kisses.
“Halika na ihahatid na kita sa apartment mo. As much as I want to stay with you here all night, alam ko na you had a long day na rin.” Richard reluctantly said after a while.
“Halika sa itaas na nga tayo magkwentuhan. We will be more comfortable there. Don’t worry, I’m not sleepy pa naman. Besides, wala naman tayong pasok bukas. Though, oo nga pala, maglilipat pa kayo in the morning.” Maya said. She, too, was reluctant for the wonderful evening to end.
“Oh, no worries about that. Hindi naman iyan kailangang sobrang agang gawin. Kami-kami lang naman nina Manang and Abby. Besides, Sabel can help and nandoon din naman si Joma.” Richard assured Maya. “Halika, I will take you up to your place.”
Richard opened the door for her. Hands intertwined and with sweet smiles for each other they went up to Maya’s apartment.
“Coffee, juice, water?” Maya asked as she and Richard entered her apartment. She dropped her things on the table and told Richard to sit on the sofa while she gets them something to drink.
“Nothing at the moment. I just want to be with you.” Richard said softly, lovingly. Then he led Maya to the sofa. But instead of letting her sit beside him, he reeled Maya in and she ended into his lap. “I just want to cuddle with my girlfriend.” He whispered softly, lovingly.
Maya smiled, thrilled at hearing the word ‘girlfriend’ again. “Yes, boyfriend. I love saying it and hearing girlfriend from your lips. Imagine, after all these years, boyfriend na talaga kita, Ricky! Hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala.”
“Sweetheart, ako rin. We are so very, very lucky. Pagkatapos ng sampung taon at ng lahat ng nangyari sa buhay natin, tayo pa rin! You know what, sweetheart, kahit hindi tayo nagkita sa RRMA, I was really planning on looking for you pagkatapos ko lang ma-settle si Abby and the business too. Shot in the dark, pero I was determined to find you and see if I can pick up where we have stopped before. I was hoping for kahit kaunting chance lang or a closure at least if you are not free na to have me. Kaya nga nang sinabi mo na hindi ka pa taken, sobrang saya ko kaya.” Richard said, hugging Maya tight. “I’m been thanking God ever since for this second chance.”
“Talaga, sweetheart! Pero kung hindi sa RRMA, sure ako na magkikita pa rin tayo since you are moving back here at Mirasol. Imagine, pagkatapos tayong paghiwalayin ng circumstances, kahit ano pala ang gawin natin, pagtatagpuin pa rin tayo. You know, there is a part of me, that has been waiting for you. I was so reluctant to let you go and what we had started years ago. Like I have said, in all those years, wala talagang ibang pumasok dito sa puso ko. Not Jason, or the guys that have courted me while I was working as a journalist or even while at law school. Wala akong maramdaman sa kanila na katulad ng naramdaman ko sa iyo. I just wished then, that someday, I will see you again and see if the feeling is still the same, na sana we will end up together pa rin despite the odds kasi the feeling is still there or para na rin maka-move on since we didn’t have a closure if ever man na that you have moved on na rin. Pero nang makita ulit, I felt again what I felt for you ten years ago, like you, parang nabuhay ng sobra-sobra. Hindi talaga nagbago. Even when I thought that you were married and have a kid na. I fought it lang a bit since I thought you were married. Pero nang malaman ko na widower ka, my heart jumped. I’m so happy, Ricky, that we found each other again and that what we felt for each other ten years ago is still here, very much alive in our hearts.” Maya said emotionally, touching Richard’s face softly and his heart.
“I love you very much, Maya.” Richard said with all the love he is feeling. “I can’t find words to describe what I am feeling at the moment. I can’t thank God enough for still making this possible, for us ending up with each other pa rin sa hinaba-haba ng panahon.”
“I love you very much too, Ricky.” Maya replied. “Sobra-sobra.”
Maya and Richard gazed at each other with all the love they are feeling, wanting each other to know, wanting to show it in every way they could. Richard cupped Maya’s chin, caressed her lips with his thumb softly, then his lips replaced his thumb. Richard gave Maya a searing kiss which she responded wholeheartedly. His tongue sought entrance to her mouth and when she let him in, their tongues dueled and mated into a love dance.
“Ricky….” Maya whispered against Richard’s mouth, unable to put into words the effect of Richard’s kisses and caresses on her. He is driving her crazy with emotions that she was feeling for the first time. She felt like she was on fire.
“Maya, sweetheart…” Richard murmured in between kissing Maya. He can’t get enough of her. At the back of his head, he knew that things are going to get out of hand soon, if he does not put a stop to the fire that has ignited between them. But he wanted more, a couple of minutes more of this, of being with Maya like this. He deepened his kiss again. Maya responded. She also started touching him, caressing his hair, seeking what, she can’t fully explained. She just wanted to be with Ricky as close as possible.
Maya somewhat had an idea of effect of what they were doing on Richard. She can hear his shortness of breath and the evidence of his desire for her from her perch on his lap. She felt his hand moving to the underside of her breast and she waited with bated breath for that touch that she knew was coming. She didn’t wait long, as Richard cupped her left breast through the opening of the sheath dress she wore that morning. Maya gasped from the effect of his touch. She felt like she have been singed. She felt the heat traveling to her inner core. She wanted more. Her body undulated against Richard, silently begging for more.
“Maya, sweetheart, what you do to me….” Richard whispered, trying to stop the conflagration that was consuming him and Maya fast. “I love this, but we need to stop, sweetheart while we still can, while I still can.” He said in between gasping for breath.
Maya tried to get out of the haze of desire enveloping her, knowing that Richard was right, they needed to stop, for now. She wiggled and Richard groaned loudly, as if he was in pain.
“Sweetheart, don’t move like that, you are killing me.” Richard said with a pained expression, still fighting off the intense desire he was feeling for Maya.
“Oh!” Maya realized what she had done and the effect on it on Richard’s body. She flushed, realizing the full extent of Richard’s desire for her.
“You are lethal, sweetheart.” Richard said, smiling lovingly at Maya, trying to catch his breath.
Maya just smiled and hugged Richard. She should feel uncomfortable with the level of intimacy she and Richard had reached that evening, considering this was all new to her, but she was not. For her, it was perfectly okay and normal between them. She is ready to go where it would lead Richard and her. But maybe that night is not the time to take their relationship to the physical level.
“Sweetheart, are you okay?” Richard asked after a while, looking at Maya’s thoroughly kissed lips. “I’m sorry, I got carried away.”
“Ricky, sweetheart, don’t be. Dalawa naman tayo roon.” Maya assured Richard. “I maybe innocent in the physical aspect of a relationship between a man and a woman, but I know about it on a theoretical level. Sa dami ba naman ng bodice-ripper novels na nabasa ko, sweetheart,” She finished with a smile.
“Hmmm, really, those sexy poses on the cover, hanggang loob ng books? Mas intense pa?” Richard asked. “There must be something in those books, maybe I should start reading that too!” He teased after Maya nodded.
“Hahahaha, Ricky, ikaw talaga.” Maya laughed. “You don’t need to find out what women found in those. I think you are doing pretty well for yourself.”
Richard grinned. “Really, sweetheart. So kasing-level ko na ang mga bodice-ripper heroes?” He asked still teasing.
“Richard Lim, ang ego!” Maya teased, pinching Richard on the side.
“Ouchy naman, sweetheart! Kasasagot mo pa lang sa akin, battered na ako.” Richard teased, pretending to be hurt, by pouting his lips.
“Oh, poor you.” Maya said, then gave him a quick kiss on the lips. “Better?”
“So much better.” Richard grinned. “May masakit pa dito sa side ko.”
“Ha, sobra na iyan Mr. Ricky Lim ha!” She protested smiling, but still, gave him another kiss.
They shared a big smile after, then gazed deeply into each other’s eyes. They cuddled for a while, until Richard realized that Maya was not moving or saying anything anymore while he caresses her hair. He checked and saw her sleeping. Her head pillowed on his chest. He also noticed her steady breathing.
“My poor sweetheart!” Richard said affectionately, lovingly. She must have been very tired. They had a very long, but very wonderful day. He looked at the clock and realized that it was already past midnight.
With Maya still in his arms, Richard stood up slowly, then walked towards the door to the left of the living room, guessing it to be Maya’s room. He opened the door and he was right. A big bed dominated the room, with a small reading lamp by the side. The other wall was covered with a floor-to-ceiling book-case and beside it a small study table and a settee against the big wide window. It was a very nice and cozy room.
He laid down Maya gently on the bed. “Ricky….” she whispered sleepily.
“Shhhh, go back to sleep, sweetheart. I’ll let myself out.” Richard said, covering her with the comforter. He also turned on the air con unit he saw. He went back to the bed and kissed Maya on the forehead. “Good night, sweetheart. I love you.” He whispered to her now sleeping form again.
Richard slowly closed the door of Maya’s room and let himself out of the unit, making sure that Maya was tucked in safely for the night. He got out of the apartment building with a big smile on his face. The love of his life is sleeping safely for the night. In several hours, he will see her again. He can’t wait! Richard doubted if he can sleep very well that night with all the happiness in his heart,
He drove off into the night, leaving Mirasol Street one more time, then he will be back there for good! He will be with the love of his life everyday, on the street where they started! He found himself humming ‘On the Street Where You Live’ from My Fair Lady while driving home. But unlike poor Freddy Enysford-Hill with Eliza Doolittle, he has Maya’s love. He found the love he had been looking for all his life and that wonderful lady loves him back! Life is just so perfect at that moment!
Inside the La Mesa Ecopark
Entering the La Mesa Ecopark through its canopied entrance is like being transported out of the city and into a forest in a blink of an eye.
Recently, I managed to do what I have been wanting to do – to go back to the ecopark, which is one of the places right at my ‘doorstep’ but haven’t been to, in a long time. The first and only time I went there was more than a decade ago.
The first of the two trips I took there again was on a weekday. There were fewer people and some of the kiosks/food stalls were closed. It was amazing, just to walk around. I brought my daughter and she got antsy so we left after more than an hour or so.
I came back on a Saturday since I missed exploring parts of the park. There were a lot of people – families carrying picnic stuffs, and groups just going around the park like my companions and I opted to do. The park was more alive. Some of the kiosks that were closed on a weekday were opened. Nevertheless, it was still very relaxing and peaceful to be there, as you can sit just in a corner, under the trees, and do some deep thinking, contemplate life and the universe (magmuni-muni) if that is what you would like to do, like what I want to do sometimes, or write the next chapter of my stories!
La Mesa Ecopark offers a variety of activities and points of interest for everyone, aside from taking in as much of the over abundance of nature around you.
• Butterfly Haven. A guide walked you through the stages of the development of a butterfly and see full-grown ones up close inside a small enclosure.
• Swimming. La Mesa Ecopark has two swimming complexes. One is near the entrance and the other one is near the fishing lagoon. The second time I was there, I thought of going in and see the inside of the first of the two swimming facilities. However, I was unable to do so as the place was booked for a private event. As for the second pool, I only caught a glimpse the first time I was there. It does look quite inviting from what I could see of it.
• Picnic. Fancy eating al fresco under the canopies of trees? You can do it through the designated picnic places at the Lopez picnic grounds. The use of the concrete picnic table is free of charge.
• Food stalls. There are some food stalls/kiosks in the park, just in case you don’t want to carry picnic stuffs.
• Fishing. You can try your hand at fishing in the lagoon. Standing at the other side of the lagoon, picnic area side, I did see some big fishes. If you are not into fishing, just looking at the lagoon is very relaxing and there are picnic huts for rent at the other side.
• Climbing the flower terraces. The view from the top of the Shell Flower Terraces is breathtaking. You also get to see the dam and the surrounding areas, and in the process, get a bit of exercise too, climbing up the many steps to the top!
• Exploring the amphitheatre. The Petron Amphitheatre looks like a small rice terraces. Two people brought a tent and pitched it at a vantage point of the amphitheatre the second time I was in the park. Quite a nice set up. Looking at them, I imagined myself bringing a laptop next time, and doing that too!
• Communing with nature at the mini-forest. Beyond the amphitheater is the mini-forest. You can hike around and enjoy the cool air whilst looking at the trees and beautiful foliage around you. There are walking paths and you will not get lost (as one of the guys with a high-powered camera we chanced upon, when we were about to venture into the forest, assured us, and he was right!) It was very peaceful doing so.
• Going around the orchidarium. From the lagoon side, you can explore and have a relaxing time inside the Drilon Orchidarium. There was a group of students doing some activities when we were exploring the place.
• Zipline (Zip across the flower terraces). Bungee fun. Water bike. Calesa/Horseback riding. These are some of the other activities you can try in the park. There is a boating lagoon, according the map I got, but when I asked the park reception about it, as I was unable to locate it, I was told that they don’t have it anymore.
• Walk around. If you are not keen on swimming or doing other strenuous activities, you can just stroll around the ecopark and enjoy nature without having to travel far out of the city.
I left the place happy. Next time, I will bring a picnic and try one of the pools, or the tent with the laptop near the amphitheatre. For the two times I have been there, I was just contented with going around the park, especially at the mini-forest.
For more information about the La Mesa Ecopark (opening hours, rates, facilities, and various activities you can do, how to go to the place, please click on this link).
“Brod, baka naman matunaw na si Maya niyan sa mga titig mo.” Attorney Ryan whispered teasingly to Richard after their meeting with Mr. Christopher Dy, the operations manager of Time Airways and his team has ended. The meeting took two hours, but they were successful in agreeing to a service agreement between TA and LAS.
Richard asked Maya and Ryan to stay after the meeting as he wanted to discuss the finer points of the contract they will draft for his company. Before they resume, Richard suggested a short break. Maya excused herself to go to the restroom, and get something from the office she was using. He and Ryan stayed in the conference room. Richard had asked Liza to buy food and make some coffee.
Ryan had seen Richard gazing at Maya intently just before she left the room. He had been doing so, the past hours, when he thought that no one was looking at him. Earlier that afternoon, he heard Maya thanked Richard for the flowers and the coffee. He had seen the flowers when he knocked on Maya’s office to tell her they needed to be on their way to LAS. Hmmm, things were really progressing fast, huh, he mused.
Richard flushed at Ryan’s teasing. He thought that he was doing the looking, surreptitiously, and that no one noticed. He can’t help himself. Maya looked so lovely today in the purple sheath dress she was wearing. Her face was almost completely devoid of make-up. But that made it highlights her best features such as her expressive doe-shape eyes, pouty lips and high cheekbones. He had a hard time concentrating.
“Ikaw talaga, Brod, ako na naman ang nakita mo!” Richard quipped at his friend, grinning broadly. “Last time I checked, it’s not a crime to look at the woman you will marry!”
Ryan almost fell from his chair, hearing that. “Ha, magpapakasal na kayo? Magpo-propose ka na? Nag-propose ka na? Kailan pa? Dapat akong best man mo ha!” He fired in rapid succession, astounded at how fast really were the developments between these two the past several days. Daig pa ang whirlwind sa tingin niya! Tornado lang, Richard Lim!
“Brod, you should see your expression. Close your mouth, baka dapuan ng langaw.” Richard said, laughing so hard. “Brod, speedy kung speedy ako kasi nga making up for our lost time, pero hindi naman ako si Flash Gordon! I wish, pero naman, Brod, Maya and I just saw each other again! Nanliligaw pa lang ulit ako. Nanunuyo. It has been ten years! Pero of course, I’m sure that I’ll marry her if she will have me.”
“Richard naman kasi, linawin mo ang statement mo! You can’t blame me for jumping to conclusion! Malay ko ba! Para kasing tuwing makikita ko kayo, may sarili kayong mundong dalawa.” Ryan said laughing hard too. “But Brod, hindi naman ako magtataka na doon nga kayo papunta. It’s a matter of time, kahit pa ang bibigat ng mga karibal mo,” he added.
Before Richard can react again, and ask Ryan about his ‘karibals’ in Maya’s heart, Liza interrupted them. “Coffee Sir Richard, Attorney Ryan!” She offered. “Gawa po iyan ni Attorney Maya! Nasa pantry kasi siya when I went there. She offered to make coffee for you two. Iyong sandwiches po na pinabili ko, to follow na lang, pabalik na siguro si Benjie.”
“Thank you, very much Liza. Nasaan na pala si Maya?” Ryan asked before Richard could.
“She will be along shortly daw po. She will work on something lang daw po while having coffee.” Liza replied, then she excused herself and left the room.
“Oh, okay. Sipag talaga nitong bagong associate ko, parang inspired na inspired.” Ryan said, sipping his coffee, teasing Richard. “Hmmmm, ang sarap nitong kape ah. Parang kakaiba. Parang tinimpla ng may halong pagmamahal.”
“Brod, ikaw talaga, hindi ka nagbabago, still incorrigible, alaskador!” Richard replied. “Hindi pa nga ako sinasagot eh.” He added in between sips of coffee. “And yes, masarap talaga ang coffee ni Maya. You are lucky to have her as your employee. Kahit noong unang kilala ko pa lang sa kanya, masipag siya, responsible and driven.Working student na siya noon. Hindi na bago sa kanya ang dalawang work na magkasabay like she did while in law school, though, that one was tougher on her kasi demanding din naman ang maging journalist. And see, she made it!” He finished, the pride in Maya’s achievements evident in his voice.
“Really, she is really admirable!” Ryan said nodding. “Brod, may I ask, if you don’t mind? Hindi ba talaga naging kayo dati ni Maya? Para kasing naging kayo, base sa mga nakikita ko.”
“If what happened did not happen, then we would have been.” Richard said, sipping his coffee. “I was really planning in following her to Mindoro that semestral break! Hindi ba isinasama pa nga kita sa Mindoro pero hindi ka pwede! Manliligaw pa lang sana ako ng husto when Mama and Grace were kidnapped. Kaya hayun, naunsyami ang panliligaw ko.”
“Yes, I remember that. I can’t remember why I begged off from going with you. Pero hindi na na natuloy di ba?” Ryan asked.
“No, hindi na. Bigla na kaming umalis. Nag-sorry na nga ako kay Maya when we saw each other again. Kasi kahit sa kanya, hindi rin ako nakapagpaalam, mahigpit ang bilin ni Papa na huwag kong sabihin kahit kanino na aalis kami, lalo na kay Maya.”
“You know what, I understood your father and his knee-jerk reaction to what happened to your Mama and Grace, pero to tell you specifically not to inform Maya, parang may kakaiba naman sa instructions niya.” Ryan said, thinking, his lawyer mind going in gears.
“I did wonder about that Brod, for years. There were times I wanted to ask Papa about it, pero ang dami na rin naman niyang worries, and besides, I got married na rin so I let it slide na lang. Pero naiisip ko rin na baka kasi nakita niya how Maya and I were getting closer at that time. That I was acting differently towards her than my old girlfriend, si Inez. Alam mo naman iyon, he didn’t like for me to get distracted while studying. But it is water under the bridge now. Ang importante na lang, nagkita kami ulit ni Maya. Fate made us meet again.” Richard said, took another sip of coffee.
“Tama ka naman doon, Richard. Kasi ang importante ang ngayon and what you are having with her. Tutal naman, nangyari na ang mga nagyari.” Ryan said, nodding his head in agreement.
“By the way, you were saying about my ‘karibals’?” Richard asked, not being able to help himself. He just wants to know, hindi naman masamang malaman, di ba? Actually, may idea na siya doon sa isa, that Attorney James Ventura. But who are the others?
However, before Ryan can reply, Maya returned. “My apologies for taking so long. Have you started? I had to email a document to a client. He texted while I was making coffee.” Then looking at Ryan, she explained, “Attorney Ryan, ito iyung pina-check ko sa iyo kaninang umaga and you told me okay na for sending. I just saw rin your e-mail to me. When Mr. Fernando texted, I e-mailed it to him promptly.”
“Oh, okay. He texted you ha! I did tell him naman that I will have you e-mail it as soon as we are finished with it. Mabuti we did na.” Ryan remarked. “Anyway, hindi pa naman kami nag-start ni Richard. We are chatting a bit and enjoying your delicious coffee. Thank you for this Maya.” He said, holding up the cup.
“Thank you for the coffee, Maya. Masarap as always.” Richard added, giving her a big smile.
“You’re welcome, Attorney Ryan, Richard.” Maya still finds it a bit awkward to call Richard by his first name when they are in a business setting, but he insisted.
Before, she could say more, her phone rang. She grab it, hoping to put it on silent fast. Nakalimutan niya. However, she saw the name of the person calling, and thinking that it was business related, she started asking to be excused.
“Go ahead, Maya, please answer your phone call.” Richard said.
When Maya was going out of the room, Richard and Ryan both heard her saying hello to a ‘Jason’.
“Iyon Brod, isa iyon sa mga karibal mo.” Ryan said. “Bago naming client. He is the CEO of a company that brought a lot of big name foreign brands in the Philippines. From the prominent Fernando family, one of those young entrepreneurs. He and Maya knew each other before. Maya also disclosed to me that dati iyong nanligaw sa kanya. Siguro, she told me kasi nga magiging client namin. Alam mo naman iyang si Maya sobrang honest.”
“Oh!” It was all Richard managed to say, looking at Maya from the glass window of the conference room and saw her still talking on the phone.
“Brod, hwag kang mag-aalala.” Ryan said, breaking into whatever thoughts Richard’s mind was going into. “Ex-manliligaw ang sabi ni Maya. Saka feeling ko naman nasa iyo ang puso ng beautiful lady ng RRMA.”
“Sorry about that,” Maya said, returning to where she was seated earlier, curtailing Richard’s reply to Ryan. “Sir, si Mr. Jason Fernando po ang tumawag. He just wanted to thank me for sending the documents.”
“He called pa just to thank you!” Richard blurted out before he could stop himself.
Maya, and also Ryan was surprised at what he said. Ryan because he always see Richard as a very affable guy, Maya because she was not expecting him to comment as it was nothing to do with him and LAS, except that she and Ryan are officially on LAS time that moment.
Realizing what he said, and seeing Maya’s surprised expression, and Ryan’s now teasing expression, he flushed a bit and modify his statement. “I mean, errr, he could have texted na lang or replied to Maya’s e-mail since she is in a meeting.” He managed to say, then ended it with by saying, “Oh well, let’s go back to our meeting.”
Maya was puzzled by Richard’s action. Was he jealous? But how would he know about Jason Fernando? Then she looked at Ryan Molina and saw him smiling to himself. Aha, I know why, she mused. Ikaw, Attorney Ryan ha, may pagka-mischievous ka rin ha! Maya let it passed for now. She will just tell Richard about Jason when they have dinner later. Hmmm, jealous much, Mr. Lim! I didn’t know you have it in you. Para kasing steady ka lang diyan. Baka kapag nalaman mo na he called me on the pretext, lalo kang magselos. Jason, after thanking Maya for the mail, did invite her to dinner that evening. However, she declined as she already is going to have dinner with Richard. Besides, she is not interested in going to dinner with Jason.
The three of them concentrated on the documents before them, while having their second cups of coffee and Liza’s sandwiches from a nearby deli. Two hours later, they were done.
“So, everything is good to go. Maya and I will just draft the whole thing and send it here by Tuesday morning, sa next punta sa LAS ni Maya.” Ryan said as he gathered papers and put them in his briefcase.
“Yes, that’s about it. TA and LAS in partnership, long-term! Great.” Richard said smiling.
“So paano, Maya and I will get going. Maya, sumabay ka na sa akin pauwi, Friday ngayon, suweldo pa, mahirap sumakay.” Ryan offered. “On the way ko naman ang place mo, I think.”
Before Maya could react, Richard spoke. “Brod, if Maya is done for the day, ako na lang ang maghahatid sa kanya.” Richard offered, not noticing a silent Maya. “Anyway, we will have dinner later.”
“Maya….” Ryan asked, looking at Maya. He did notice.
” Yes, Attorney Ryan, I will go home later na lang. I will just work from here.” Maya said instead.
“Oh, you don’t have to. You can go home also, anyway it’s a Friday and you have finished the work I assigned to you way ahead of schedule. But it is up to you.” Ryan said. “O paano, Brod, Maya, mauuna na ako. Have a nice weekend.”
Ryan left the two of them in the conference room. At first there was a bit of silence as Richard realized something. Maya got uncomfortable in front of her boss with his offer!
“Maya, I’m so sorry. I should have let you speak for yourself.” Richard said, looking at her contrite. “I know, Ryan is still your boss even if we are friends and he knows I’m courting you.”
“Yes, Ricky, I was going to talk to you about that nga. I know you two are friends, but he is still my boss. As much as possible, I want to separate my personal life from my professional one, which I had just started several days ago..” Maya said, imploring Richard to understand where she is coming from.
“I want to be discreet as much as possible when our personal relationship is concern since you also happen to be a client, even if we have known each other from years back. The other day was different when I saw you two talking at the RRMA building lobby since it was beyond office hours. This one, not yet. I’m still, technically, on company time and I went here to LAS on official business. Had you let me speak for myself, I would have declined and stay here pa rin, to work from here, until we are ready to leave for our dinner. I do have some things I want to finish before I call it a day. The other associates of the firm are working hard, baka nga most of them are still at work hanggang ngayon, and I want to do the same. I don’t want to be accused of slacking because I’m friends with a friend of my boss or the partners of the firm.”
“I’m really sorry, Maya. I understand. That will not happen again.” Richard said, then admitted sheepishly, “I guess hearing about that Jason Fernando unsettled me a bit.”
“See, you even know about him! Judging by your reaction earlier, I know you knew who Jason is. Attorney Ryan had told you di ba?” Maya asked. “I’m planning to tell you about him naman during our dinner this evening, and if you had asked.” Maya continued. “But let’s forget about it. I just spoke because I don’t want to have any misunderstanding between us. I have to juggle our personal and professional relationships. I don’t want to be always explaining to other people that you are a friend, a special one at that, even before you became a client.”
“Yes, Attorney. Sorry na nga.” Richard said with a charming smile. “Forgive me.”
Maya smiled at him. “Oo naman. Kaya nga ha, no holding my hand on company time. Especially if my boss and your employees are around, okay?.”
“Yes po, talo na po ako Attorney.” Richard said, raising his hands in mock surrender, giving Maya one of his cute lopsided smiles.
“Sige na Mr. Lim, pupunta na muna ako sa office ko. I’ll see you in two hours.” Maya said smiling sweetly at Richard. When she was at the door, she had a parting shot at Richard. “And Mr. Lim, you have nothing to worry about Jason Fernando.” With that, she left.
Richard had a huge grin on his face after hearing that. He gazed at Maya’s departing back with a loving expression. Then, he too, stood up and went back to his office, humming a happy tune. Liza, when she heard her boss doing so, smiled and shook her head. Iba na talaga ang in love, was her bubble thought!
Two hours later, Richard knocked on Maya’s door. His employees have all gone home, an hour ago, including Liza
“So, dinner time na Attorney.” Richard said by way of a greeting. “Let’s go na, Maya, I’m hungry na.”
“Okay. I was about to tidy up my desk na nga.” Maya said. She gathered her things and several minutes after they were on their way out of LAS. “Saan tayo magdi-dinner?”
“I’m thinking of trying that nice Italian restaurant in Makati that Ryan has recommended. Friday naman. I had Liza made a reservation earlier.” Richard replied as he opened the car door for Maya.
“Sounds good.” Maya said as she fastened her seatbelt. “So, all set na ba kayo sa paglipat ninyo tomorrow? By the way, I talked to Doris pala this morning. Yes daw, makakasama sila ni Lance sa Tagaytay on Sunday.”
“That’s great! Matutuwa si Abby niyan.” Richard said as he navigated the road going to Makati. “Have you been to that Sky Ranch?”
“Yes, one time with my law school classmates, after the bar exams. We felt like celebrating after four weekends of exams, so we took an impromptu day trip to Tagaytay and went around the place. Our last stop was that amusement park. Nagmukha nga kaming bumalik sa pagkabata lahat.” Maya smiled as she narrated that trip. “I’m sure magugustuhan doon nina Abby at Lance. Meron namang mga ride na pang-age nila. I’m looking forward to meeting her formally and getting to know her better.”
“She is looking forward to that too, Maya.” Richard said. “She had asked me, actually, out of the blue, if you will like her. I told her you will and that Lance loves you.”
“Oh she did!” Maya replied, smiling. “Well that is true, I like her already. She seems like a very smart and sweet girl, Ricky.”
“She is that, Maya.” Richard said. “Abby is worth everything. She is the best of Alexandra and I.”
“Ricky, may I ask a personal question?” Maya ventured, him having brought the name of his wife up.
“Sure, Maya, anything.” Richard said.
“Filipina rin ba ang naging wife mo or Chinese?” She asked. “You met each other in Beijing?”
“Filipino-Chinese like me. We met at the university, but our parents were friends, it turned out. We just gravitated towards each other since we have a similar background. We became good friends. Upon the prodding of our families, I guess, and because we clicked well, we became a couple and then we married. However, after we had Abby, we had realized that what we felt for each other was affection, as one good friend to another, and not the kind of love between a man and a woman that we see in movies, in literary works or, in our friends who are very much in love.”
“Oh!” Maya said. She never expected that Richard will open like this when she asked a bit about Alexandra. But she was glad he did.
“Yes, but Alexandra and I were okay with it at that moment since we didn’t have anything else and there was Abby to think of. Some marriages, we said was built on less. We loved each other in our very own way. Then she got sick. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. After Abby turned two, she died, as if she just waited until Abby had her second birthday.” Richard narrated. “She was a good person and a good friend. She told me to be happy,” he finished.
“I do believe she was, Ricky. You were lucky to have her and she had given you your angel Abby. Thank you for telling me.” Maya simply said, putting her hand on Ricky’s arm. Richard nodded and put his hand on top of Maya’s, driving with one for a minute or two.
Soon after, they arrived at the restaurant. They were immediately led to the table reserved by Liza, at a secluded part of the beautifully decorated and relaxing restaurant. Maya and Ricky started their dinner with mushroom soup for Maya and a seafood one for Richard, followed by two different kinds of pasta and grilled fish, with one glass of white wine each, and for dessert they had Crème brûlée and Panna cotta, with cappuccino.
“I’m so stuffed, Ricky.” Maya remarked while they were sipping their coffee. “That was a very good meal. In fairness to Attorney Ryan, this restaurant is great!”
“I’m glad you like the place, Maya.” Richard said smiling. “So, tomorrow, we will buy your car, don’t forget din.”
“Oh, that. Yes, I need one.” Maya said. “I’m a bit rusty, though. I have not driven one in a while.”
“That’s easily remedied. You can drive on the way home. Do have your license with you?” Richard said, and offered.
“Ha, naku, baka maibangga ko ang car mo, BMW kaya iyan. I’m used to driving a simple sedan.” Maya sounding nervous. “I do have my license and it is current, but I wouldn’t dare!”
“It’s only a car, Maya. And I’m sure, you will do okay.” Richard assured her. “I will be with you.”
“Okay, but don’t kill me ha, if by the end of the evening it has scratches.” Maya said.
“I will not, promise.” Richard said, smiling. “Cross my heart.”
“Okay.” Maya said, gulping.
They chatted some more, had another cup of coffee each and soon, they were on their way out of the restaurant. However, before they reached the door, someone called Maya’s name. When Maya looked at the source of the voice, she saw Jason Fernando getting up from the table where he was having dinner with three other guys.
“Fancy seeing you here, Maya!” Jason said by way of a greeting. Then he noticed that Maya is with a tall, good-looking Chinito guy, he introduced himself. “Hi, I’m Jason Francisco, a friend of Maya’s.” He offered his hand to Richard.
“Richard Lim,” Richard said, shaking Jason’s hand. “I’m a friend of Maya’s, from way back!” He added.
“Jason, hello!” Maya said politely.
“So you will be here rin pala. Had you agreed to have dinner with me, I would have brought you here too.” Jason remarked, gazing at Maya intently.
“Oh. Well, like I have told you earlier, I had plans for this evening. Ricky and I agreed to have dinner tonight kasi. Di ba, Ricky?” She asked Richard, gazing at him, and taking hold of his hand and slowly interlacing it with hers.
“Yes, we did.” Richard said, surprised at Maya’s gesture that did not escape Jason’s notice.
“O paano Jason, Richard and I need to get going. Nice seeing you again. Have a nice evening.” Maya said.
“Okay Maya. See you around!” Jason said, then politely to Richard, “Nice meeting you, Richard.”
“You too!” Richard said.
Jason returned to his table and Maya and Richard went to where he parked his car.
“So, what was that all about? Not that I’m complaining that you initiated holding my hand.” Richard said, smiling, teasing Maya while they were walking. “Parang feeling ko, you were driving a message across.”
“Well, I just want him to finally take a hint that I’m not interested, not before and not now. Hayun, I wanted to imply lang that I’m taken.” Maya admitted. “I don’t want to lie naman to him and introduce you as my boyfriend eh hindi naman kita boyfriend.”
Richard smiled. “Eh kasi naman that’s easily remedied, sagutin mo na kasi ako.” He teased Maya. “I am not your boyfriend YET! Emphasis on the ‘yet’ Attorney.”
“Hahahaha, confident much, Mr. Lim. Di ba manliligaw ka pa ng husto?” Maya said, bantering with Richard. “Kasisimula mo pa lang ah.”
“Iyon na nga ang ginagawa ko, Attorney.” Richard retorted, then said “Well, sabi niya sa hinahaba man ng prusisyon….”
“So continue, Mr, Lim….”
“Sa hinahaba-haba man ng prusisyon, may naghihintay na ‘Oo’ sa dulo.” He said, grinning.
“Ikaw talaga, corny pa rin. Pero, in fairness hindi halatang nagselos ka sa kanya kanina.” Maya teased.
“Well, di ba sabi mo naman wala akong dapat ipag-worry kay Jason Fernando.” Richard bantered back, gazing at Maya lovingly. “See, tama naman ako kanina, may ibang motive iyang Jason Fernando na iyan when he called you.” He added.
They shared a sweet smile. A horn beeped and that snapped them out of the private world they were in.
“Halika na nga, uwi na tayo. Key please, Mr. Lim.” Maya said, holding out her hand, then she uttered a silent prayer after Richard gave her the key and opened the door at the driver’s side for her.
“Go, Maya, you can do it.” Richard, patting her on the shoulder before moving to the other side and getting into the passenger seat.
Maya started the car. At first her driving was wobbly. But several minutes after she got the hang of it. She laughed, happy to be driving again. Half an hour later, they have reached her place. She parked the car, then made a whopping sound.
“See, I told you, you can do it. It’s just like riding a bike again.” Richard said, grinning.
“Oo nga! Thank you very much for the experience, Ricky! That was fun!” Maya said happily, then hastily unfastened her seat belt, she hugged Richard spontaneously. Richard hugged her back tight.
They loosen their embrace after a while, then gazed at each other intently, meaningfully. Richard can’t help himself anymore, he lowered his lips to Maya’s. Maya knew what was coming and she waited with bated breath, lips half-opened. Their lips met, fused and they shared a searing kiss in the privacy of Richard’s car.