“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!