“Good morning, sweetheart!” Richard said cheerfully when Maya opened the door of her apartment! “I brought breakfast for us. Since maaga pa, we have time to eat. Padala iyan ni Manang Fe.” He showed her the paper bag he was carrying. “And these are for you.” He handed Maya a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers.
“Good morning, sweetheart!” Maya replied, giving Richard a kiss on the cheek, trying to shake off remnants of sleep from her system! “Ang aga mo nga, Mr. Lim ah! Hindi ka talaga masyadong excited sa trip natin ha.” Maya teased. “Oh and thank you for the beautiful flowers. Parang espesyal na espesyal ang araw na ito, sweetheart!”
“Sweetheart naman, slight lang! Excited lang talaga. Our first out-of-town trip na tayo lang and sa place pa na special to you. And yes, not only this day, buong weekend, is going to be very special.” Richard said enimgmatically. He is indeed early. It was just seven o’clock in the morning, and their flight is at past 12 o’clock in the afternoon. If you only know, Attorney Maya Dela Rosa how special is this weekend for me. I hope you will like everything I have prepared. He grinned broadly at Maya, slung his arm over her shoulders and started guiding her to the dining room. “Don’t tease me na nga, let’s have breakfast.”
“Wait, wait, wait, hindi pa ako naliligo, sweetheart! Nakakahiya, twice mo na akong nakitang ganito. And where did you leave Joma? Nasa ibaba ba siya?” Maya asked. Joma was supposed to drive them to the airport for their trip to San Nicolas that Friday morning.
“Iniwan ko muna sa bahay. Naglakad lang ako papunta rito. Sabi ko sa kanya, I will just text him when we are ready to leave. Saka nasa bahay pa ang mga gamit ko. Naisip ko daanan na lang natin paalis. Maaga pa naman.” Richard replied, putting the bag he was carrying on the dining room table. “Sweetheart, you still look very beautiful kahit kagigising mo pa lang. You should know that. But knowing you, you would want to take a bath first. Okay, please do so, and get ready na for our trip. I will take care of everything.”
“Thanks a lot, sweetheart. You are the most wonderful sweetheart in the whole wide world.” Maya gave Richard a quick kiss, pinched his cheek lovingly, then said ‘I love you’ before heading back to her bedroom to take a bath.
Richard started preparing their breakfast. By now, he is very much familiar with the lay-out of Maya’s apartment. He had dinners here several times this week. If a talent for cooking runs in Maya’s family, owing to the fact that her mom owns a restaurant and her sister was a chef, then she too, has the talent, a lot of it. The food she made for him were all divine.
The evenings Richard has spent in Maya’s apartment were the highlights of his days this week. Since Maya’s car has not been delivered yet, Richard picked up Maya every morning. Normally they shared a breakfast on the way to work, and then he brought her home in the evening, and they have their private moments before they part for the night. Maya stopped insisting to Richard that she can take a cab. On the days she reported directly to LAS, Richard and Maya even took a delighted Abby to school first before going to the office.
When Richard was finished heating the omelette and the bacon that Manang Fe packed, he toasted several slices of bread, and started brewing coffee. By the time he heard Maya’s bedroom door opened, everything was set.
“Wow, spoiled na spoiled naman talaga ako sa iyo, sweetheart.” Maya looked at the beautifully arranged dining table. He put the flowers in a vase and placed it at the center of the table. “Beautiful table setting, sweetheart, parang inspired na inspired ka talaga ha at masayang-masaya!”
“Of course, naman, sweetheart. I am, sobra, simula ng bumalik ka ulit sa buhay ko and especially noong naging tayo na!” Richard said, looking so handsome in his yellow polo shirt and a pair of well-worn jeans, holding the chair for Maya. “You are the love of my life, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa. I love you.”
Instead of sitting promptly, Maya interlaced her hands around Richard’s nape, caressed it gently. “And you are mine, Mr. Richard Lim. I love you very much.” She stood on tiptoes and locked her lips with Richard. His response was instantaneous. He put his arms around Maya and they shared a searing kiss. They were both breathing hard when they broke apart.
“Breakfast, sweetheart!” Maya smiled through her thoroughly kissed lips! “Baka mahuli pa tayo sa flight natin!”
“You are lethal kasi, Attorney.” Richard retorted, smiling at his girlfriend. He gave Maya a quick kiss on the cheek after he had seated her and before moving to his chair on Maya’s right side.
Maya served breakfast to Richard and the two of them chatted while they enjoyed their omelette, bread, fruits and coffee. Maya felt so happy at that moment. This is the second breakfast that she and Richard had shared in her apartment and it occurred to her that it would be like this everyday of their lives if ever!
Most of her colleagues knew already that Richard is now her boyfriend. Ryan was the first to know, when he saw them holding hands at the lobby of RRMA, Monday morning after their trip to Tagaytay. Richard told him that he and Maya are in a relationship. Several RRMA employees, including Lindsay apparently overheard his declaration and by lunch, the news spread throughout the small firm.
Maya only found out to what extent when she surfaced from what she was doing around lunch and saw James by her door. He asked her directly if the latest office rumor is true, that the tiger of LAS is her boyfriend now. He even said that he know that it is her personal life, but he just wanted to confirm if he is ‘sawi’ na talaga. Maya laughed at James dramatics and admitted it. She does not think that James is that heartbroken. They still went to lunch as friends. They were joined by Ryan.
When Maya returned to her office, it was Lindsay naman who told her that she is kinikilig to know that ang guwapong-guwapong owner ng LAS ang boyfriend niya! Maya just shook her head and took everything in stride, good-naturedly. Anyway people were not mean, just curious, and most are happy for her and Richard. For sure, it has reached the ears of Attorney Reyes as well, but being the professional boss that he is, he didn’t ask her or tease her about it when they saw each other in the corridor, just greeted her warmly and asked how is she doing.
“Sweetheart?….” Richard asked, when he saw Maya staring off with a smile on her face as she sips her coffee. “Hello, sweetheart.” Richard waved his hand in front of Maya’s face.
“Oh, sorry, sweetheart!” Maya said sheepishly. “Seeing us like this, made me happy. Bigla ko tuloy naalala kung paanong ang bilis na nag-spread sa RRMA na tayo na.”
“That one, hahahahaha. Si Ryan kasi. But I don’t mind, sweetheart. Sabi ko na naman sa iyo, I will tell it to the world.” Richard said.
“Katulad na lang kung paano mo sinabi kay Liza!” Maya teased, smiling, remembering the scene at Richard’s office Tuesday morning.
When Maya and Richard arrived at the LAS office that Tuesday after taking Abby to school, the first thing that Liza saw when they entered the executive offices was their intertwined hands. She was about to shriek in delight at what she was seeing, but stopped herself, last-minute, covering her mouth instead to hide her kilig, kasi she thought that she might be jumping to conclusion despite her boss and the lovely attorney’s clasped hands.
Richard and Maya looked at each other, smiled, then when they were at Liza’s cubicle, Richard smiled at Liza and told her that, yes, he and Maya are in a relationship! He also thanked her for booking the tickets for him and Maya. Liza then smiled at the two of them and told them excitedly that she was very happy for the two of them. She didn’t notice that her voice was loud enough for the whole staff to hear! By the time, Richard and Maya made it to their respective offices, the whole LAS knew too that they are in a relationship!
“Hahahaha, ito talagang si Liza!” Richard remarked laughing. Richard had actually told Liza to buy lunch for all the staff that day, seeing that everyone was smiling when they looked at Maya and him when they were on the way out to have an early lunch as they had a meeting at one o’clock that afternoon. Everyone was in a happy mood as they worked! “I was just saving you from her grilling you know. You told me last Sunday that for sure, she will grill you.”
“True, sweetheart. Ikaw pa naman kasi tawagan mo siya on a Sunday just to book tickets, pwede namang Monday. But really, sweetheart, you are the sweetest! Ay parang sobrang sweet ka na, s’weetheart’, ‘sweetest’! Maya teased.
“Eh, why not, talaga namang sweet ako.” Richard quipped.
“Hahahaha, oo nga sweetheart. Halika na, get ready na tayo to go to the airport. Lakad na lang tayo pabalik sa house mo, instead of calling Joma and asking him to come here. I want to say goodbye to Abby. Tamang-tama since nandoon pa pala ang things mo.” Maya suggested. “Doon ka na muna sa living room. I’ll just tidy up the kitchen.”
“I’ll help you.” Richard offered, as he had done so in the past several times he had dinner here.
“No need na sweetheart, this time, I will do it. Ikaw na ang nag-prepare ng breakfast. Partners tayo, di ba? Here’s your coffee, off you go, Mr. Lim.”
“Okay, you are the boss, Attorney!”
Maya tidied up the dining table, put the left over food in the fridge, then placed the dirty plates to the sink. She started doing the dishes while humming, thinking that she was already alone in the kitchen.
Richard, instead of going to the living room, stood at the doorway, holding his cup of coffee, watching Maya went around the small kitchen with graceful movement, humming, lost in the task she was doing. He likes looking at her like this, he likes moments with her like this, overwhelmed by the sudden rush of emotion, he put down his coffee cup, then slowly crept to her, hugged her by the waist and kissed her at the nape.
“Oh….” Maya exclaimed, almost dropping the plate she was rinsing. She put it down and turned to face Richard. Richard was grinning at her, gazing at her! “Sweetheart! Ikaw talaga, kamuntik ko nang mabitiwan iyong plato! Bakit?”
“Wala lang,” Richard shrugged. “You looked so lovely while you were doing that. You sound very happy too. Ayaw mo ba?” He asked, pretending to pout, “I’m hurt.”
“Sus, ikaw naman sweetheart, tampo kaagad! Alam mo na naman ang sagot diyan. Ginulat mo lang ako. O heto, para hindi ka na ma-sad.” Maya stood on tiptoes and gave Richard a kiss. As soon as their lips met, Richard deepened the kiss, which lasted several minutes.
Maya and Richard grinned at each other. Then Maya, put her hands on her waist. “Sweetheart, living room. Hala ka, kapag naiwan tayo ng flight natin, bad shot ka na kay Nanay. For sure, kung ano-ano na ang inihanda noon para sa iyo. Excited na excited sa pag-uwi natin iyon.”
“Okay, okay, I’m going na, sweetheart. Ayoko namang hindi pa ako nakikilala ng future mother-in-law ko, bad shot na ako!” Richard said, then grinning, he went to the living room, not waiting for Maya to react on his future ‘mother-in-law’ statement.
“‘Future mother-in-law’!” Maya repeated softly after seeing Richard’s departing figure. She felt a certain thrill in hearing that from the man she loves with all her heart and is hoping to share a future with. “May binabalak kaya itong si Ricky sa pagbisita namin sa Mindoro! Pero too early pa naman into our relationship for that.” Maya mused, then shrugged, went back to tidying up the kitchen.
Half and hour later, and with Richard carrying Maya’s small suitcase, they entered the living room of the Lim’s family house. Abby looked up from the cartoons she was watching and upon seeing Maya with her father, launched herself into her.
“Tita Maya!!! I’m glad to see you! I thought you and Daddy left already.” The little girl chattered happily.
Maya hugged the little girl. “Not yet, baby. Pwede ba naman kaming umalis nang hindi ako nakakapagpaalam sa iyo. Mamaya pa naman ang flight namin ng Daddy mo.”
“Thank you, Tita Maya.” Abby said, leading Maya to the sofa where she had sat before.
“Maya, I will just get my things.” Richard said, then when Maya nodded, he went to his room. He sat on the bed, opened his suitcase to double-check everything. Then he opened his sling bag and searched for a small velvet bag. He opened the box inside it and looked again at the ring that he is hoping would be on Maya’s finger from the following evening onward. He hopes she would like the platinum ring he had ordered from a well-known jewelry designer. He closed the box with a big smile on his handsome face.
“Ricardo, hindi pa ba kayo aalis?” Manang Fe asked when she saw him getting out of his room.
“Paalis na po, Manang Fe. Kinuha ko lang itong mga gamit ko. Si Maya naman, hayun nagpapaalam kay Abby.” Richard replied.
Manang Fe looked at her old alaga, smiled and hugged him. “Good luck anak. Masayang-masaya ako para sa iyo.” Richard had told her several days ago about his plan to propose to Maya while they are Mindoro visiting her mother. He also told Manang that he would like to ask Mrs. Teresita Dela Rosa’s permission first before he does so. The old lady was overjoyed with his news.
“Maraming salamat po, Manang Fe.” Hugging back the old lady whom he considers as his second mother. “Kayo na po ang bahala sa bahay.”
“Oo naman, Ricardo. Huwag kang mag-alala. O sige, lumakad na kayo at baka mahuli pa kayo sa biyahe ni Maya.”
The two of them walked to the living room, where they saw Abby in Maya’s arms, half-lying on her chest, as they watch the adventures of Dora the Explorer and her friends! Manang Fe and Richard shared a look, both thinking that Abby and Maya look like the very picture of a mother and daughter having a bonding moment.
“Sweetheart, let’s go.” Richard said by way of calling Maya’s attention.
She gave her a loving gaze, then faced Abby. “O baby, magpapakabait ka ha. Babalik din kami ni Daddy mo sa Sunday.”
“Yes po, Tita Maya. I hope I will get to meet Lola Nanay Teresita also in the future.” The little girl said.
“Lola Nanay Teresita….?” Maya asked, surprised.
“Yes po, di ba po, Nanay ang tawag ninyo sa kanya, and magiging grandmother ko siya, kaya Lola Nanay Teresita. I asked Daddy po kasi kung ano ang pangalan ng mommy mo Ate Maya.” The little girl explained.
“Oh okay! I’m sure Nanay will like the name your name for her. Sa bakasyon mo sa school, you can go to Mindoro with your Daddy and I to meet her or kapag nandito siya sa Manila, ipapakilala kita.” Maya smiled at the cute and super bright little girl before her, as Richard looked on, also surprised at what his daughter said. She did ask him all sorts of questions again when he told her that he and her Tita Maya are going to Mindoro to visit her mother.
“That’s a nice name for Tita Maya’s mommy, Abby.” He remarked, then stooped down and gave Abby a kiss. “Good bye, baby. be a good girl to Manang Fe and Ate Sabel. I love you.”
“I love you, Daddy. I love you, Tita Maya.” Abby said sweetly.
Maya gave the little girl a kiss too. Then she stood up and went to Manang Fe, gave the old lady a hug. “Hello po, Manang Fe! Good morning po.”
“Hello Maya!” Manang Fe said, touching Maya’s face affectionately. “Mag-ingat kayo ni Ricardo sa biyahe ah. Ako na ang bahala kay Abby.”
Richard and Maya, after several more minutes, left the house, with Abby, Manang Fe and Sabel, sending them off by the gate. Joma took them to NAIA Terminal 2 where they will take their flight to San Nicolas.
“So, this is it, sweetheart! Happy to be going home?” Richard asked as they settled in into their seats after their plane has taken off. He intertwined his hand with Maya’s.
“Oo naman, sweetheart. I’m really looking forward to seeing Nanay, and importantly, I will be introducing to her the love of my life.” Maya said sweetly. “Sweetheart, I’m so happy. Walang pagsidlan. Thank you for making me so happy.”
“Me, too, sweetheart. My heart is overflowing and I’m really looking forward to meeting your mother and being with you in this wonderful weekend.” Richard said softly, with a broad smile on his face, while caressing Maya’s hair. Ah, this is going to be the best weekend ever, Richard mused. I hope everything goes according to my plan. Richard pulled Maya closer to him. She leaned against his chest. They passed the time chatting about the things they can do while in Mindoro, with Maya completely unaware of Richard’s beautiful plan for her that weekend.
More than an hour later, they exited the San Nicolas Airport. Maya looked around, searching for her cousin Melinda. Her mother said Melinda will pick them up from the airport.
“Cuz, here!” Melinda waved vigorously at Maya from the side entrance of the airport. She met Maya and Richard halfway.
“Mely, nice to see you. Kumusta na ang makulit kong pinsan?” Maya said, hugging her young cousin whois like a younger sister to her, instead of a cousin, then she looked back at Richard, took his hand. “Mely, this is my boyfriend, Richard Lim. Ricky, this is my cousin Melinda Dela Paz, Mely for short.”
“Hi Mely, nice to meet you.” Richard greeted Maya’s cousin with one of his bone-melting lopsided smiles.
“Hello po, Kuya Richard. Glad to meet you din po.” Maya’s cousin said, staring at her cousin’s boyfriend and thinking to herself how handsome he is and mukhang mabait! “Welcome to San Nicolas. Speaking of, tayo na po, kasi si Tita Tessie, kanina pa excited sa pagdating ninyo. Kung maiiwan nga lang niya ang Cristina’s today, feeling ko sasama iyon sa akin.”
“Sweetheart, you go ahead with Mely. Sunod ako. Ako nang bahala dito sa mga bag natin.” Richard said, so that Maya can chat a bit with her cousin.
“OMG, Ate Maya, ang guwapo ng boyfriend mo!” Mely whispered to Maya, after checking if Richard is just behind them, seeing him lagging a bit behind, she blurted out what she wanted to say when she saw her cousin’s boyfriend. “Wala bang kapatid, o kaya pinsan iyang si Kuya Richard na pwede sa akin?”
“Hahahaha, ikaw talaga Melinda, puro ka kalokohan. Pero I agree, guwapong-guwapo nga iyang Kuya Richard mo.” Maya said laughing giddily like her cousin. “Saka sobrang bait pa and wala na akong mahihiling pa. Kaso sorry ka, isa lang siya.”
“Hay, ako kaya kailan makakahanap ng ganyang prince charming.” Mely sighed dramatically. “I’m so very, very happy for you Ate Maya. I’m sure kung nabubuhay si Ate Cris, masayang-masaya rin iyon para sa iyo.”
“Thank you Mely.” Maya said simply, then looked at Richard, pointed at the silver car parked near the big acacia tree. “Mabuti, nahiram mo itong kotse ni Tito Fernando.” Maya told her cousin.
“Oh, alam mo naman iyang si Tito Fernando, para kay Tita Tessie and sa iyo, softie. Siya kaya ang nag-offer na gamitin ko na lang ito sa pagsundo sa inyo. Otherwise, gagamitin ko sana iyong owner ni Kuya Simon.” Melinda said.
“Talagang super nice naman iyang si Tito Fernando.” Maya said, as the cousins waited for Richard.
They loaded everything in the trunk of the car. Melinda insisted that the two of them sit in the back, so Maya can point to Richard interesting places in San Nicolas as they traveled to the Poblacion where Maya’s family home is. Half an hour later, Melinda stopped at a beautiful and well-maintained two-storey old house. The ground floor of the house, which would have been the ‘silong’ in the old days was converted into a homey restaurant, with a simple sign that says ‘Cristina’s Place’.
Teresita Dela Rosa who have been on tenterhooks, eagerly and nervously, anticipating her daughter and her daughters boyfriend’s arrival jumped a bit when she heard the car stopped. She took a deep breath then walked towards the entrance of the restaurant. Her first glimpse of her daughter’s boyfriend was him helping her out of the car, caressing her hand tenderly as if to reassure her that everything will be okay, and looking at her with so much love. Ay ngayon palang, hijo, pasado ka na sa akin!
“Nay!!! Maya exclaimed happily, when she caught sight of her mother standing at the entrance of Cristina’s. She ran to her.
Teresita Dela Rosa met her daughter halfway. “Maya, anak, good to see you! I missed you!” Nanay Tessie said, teary-eyed as she hugged her daughter tight. “Sa susunod nga ‘nak, baka pwedeng dalas-dalasan mo ang uwi mo kapag may pagkakataon.”
“Opo, Nay! Na-miss ko rin po kayo ng husto at saka itong bahay natin.” Maya said, then she looked up, gazed at Richard and silently beckoned him to her. When he reached her side, she introduced him to her mother. “Nay, ito nga po pala si Ricky, Richard Lim po, boyfriend ko. Ricky, ang nanay ko, si Mrs. Teresita Dela Rosa.”
“Ikinagagalak ko po ngayong makilala, at last, Mrs. Dela Rosa.” Richard said formally, respectfully. “Mano po.” He said as he took Maya’s mother hand.
“Richard, ako man, ganoon din. Mula nang sinabi sa akin ng anak ko na may boyfriend na siya gustong-gusto na kitang makilala.” Nanay Tessie said, smiling at the man who finally caught her daughter’s elusive heart. “Welcome to our place. Please call me Tita Tessie. Masyado namang formal iyang Mrs. Dela Rosa. At saka, teka, bakit nga ba, nandito tayo sa kalye. Tara sa itaas.”
“Sige po, Tita Tessie, ako na ang bahala dito sa Cristina’s,” Melinda said. “And Kuya Richard, Ate Maya ako na rin ang bahala sa mga maleta ninyo. Ipapaakyat ko na lang kay Bugoy. Sige, umakyat na kayo at ng makapagpahinga and merienda. Susunod na lang ako kapag dumating si Chona.”
Nanay Tessie, Maya and Richard thanked Melinda and they all went up to the second level of the beautiful house via a grand staircase at one side of the restaurant.
“Maupo muna kayo, Maya, Richard, mga anak.” “Nanay Tessie said. “Magpapahanda lang ako ng merienda kay Maring. And Richard welcome to our house!”
“Thank you very much po Tita Tessie, for having me.” Richard said simply.
“Nay, ako na lang po kaya, maghe-hello na rin po ako kay Manang Maring.” Maya offered.
“Naku, ako na, Maya anak. Ikaw nga itong galing sa biyahe. Samahan mo na muna rito si Richard. Pwede ka namang mag-hello kay Maring mamaya.” Nanay Tessie insisted, then before her daughter can protest, she was off to the kitchen.
Richard looked around the beautiful sala, filled with antique furniture, and framed photos of Maya and another girl, whom he presumed, is Cristina Rose. “You have a beautiful home, Maya!”
“Thank you Ricky. It was my mother’s maternal family’s ancestral home, passed on by my grandmother to my mother. It was an unwritten agreement through generations from that side of the family, that the houses passes on to the eldest female daughter. In the case of my mother, siya lang, kasi isa lang siyang babae. Iyong kapatid niya na mas bata sa kanya, iyong father ni Melinda.”
“It’s a very nice tradition.” Richard remarked. “Ensuring the continuous care of this house. I’m sure the women in your family love this house so much kasi well-maintained and very homey.”
“Yes, and it would have been passed on to my Ate Cris had she lived.” Maya said. “Bukas nga pala, can we visit her grave muna bago tayo mamasyal? Dapat kasi mamaya, pero parang mas okay bukas, para makapagpahinga tayo ng husto today and makapag-bonding with Nanay.”
“Sure sweetheart.” Richard assured Maya, taking hold of her hand. “Gusto ko rin ngang dumalaw sa puntod ng sister mo. Magpapakilala ako. Sasabihin ko na ako ang very lucky guy na sinagot ng sister niya.”
“Matutuwa iyon. I did confess to her before, in one of our e-mails I think that I’m crushing big time on this wonderful guy. I told her about you, kaya.” Maya revealed.
“Really, sweetheart! I’m glad to know.” Richard said, holding Maya’s hand. “I love you, and I’m happy to be here with you.”
“I love you too, sweetheart. With you here with me, I feel so happy at the moment, wala na akong mahihiling pa.” Maya said, gazing at Richard. Richard lowered his lips to her, before he can stop himself and remember where they are. They shared a sweet kiss, broke apart smiling, and remembering belatedly that Maya’s mother would come back anytime.
Unknown to them, Nanay Tessie overheard a part of their conversation, and saw them sharing that tender kiss. She smiled. Ah love! She knew for sure that she had already met the man who her daughter will spend the rest of her days with. Her daughter’s forever! And as a mother, she couldn’t ask for more, she is very happy for her daughter!
Note: Happy weekend everyone! 🙂