Archive for October, 2015
Maya walked around the grounds of the majestic Sta. Maria Church, looking for Ricky. She thought he would still be inside the church where she had left him earlier to look for a toilet. But she can’t blame him if he decided to walk around while waiting for her as she was gone for a while! It took her a long time to return to him as an old lady chatted her up after she had used the toilet. When she asked, the old lady told her some very interesting and fascinating facts about the beautiful, centuries-old church that she and Ricky have been exploring for the past hour or so. She forgot the time.
Maya saw Richard sitting on the low outer fence of the church gazing at the magnificent view before him after she walked through the old archway to the left from the front door of the church. From where he was, Maya can see up to the vast mountain range and beyond, as the church was on a hill, overlooking the whole town at one side, and the mountains on this side. Ricky looks so handsome even in profile, and Maya was unable to help herself, she took out her camera and took a photo of him, itching to sketch him like this. She was about to take another one, when Ricky, as if sensing her presence, turned and upon seeing her, gave her a beautiful, bone-melting lopsided smile. Maya pressed the button of her camera at that instant. It was the perfect shot!
“Sorry, I just have to take a photo of you. Two now, actually! “ Maya smiled at Ricky, apologetic. “You looked so serene and at peace while you gazed at that wonderful view.”
“It is okay, Maya. I don’t mind.” Ricky said smiling, standing up, then taking hold of Maya’s hand and guided her towards where he was sat earlier, facing the church this time. “Are you done? Sorry, I went out of the church. My phone rang. Then I saw this place, walked here as I attended to my call. Work. But it is okay now. I shouldn’t be disturbed for the next couple of days. It is very beautiful and peaceful here. I lost my sense of time. Besides, I know you will be able to find me.”
“Yes, sorry, natagalan ako. Napakwento kasi ako sa isang taga-rito, a retired teacher, after kong mag-bathroom. Nakakatuwa and fascinating ang mga kwento niya. Hindi ko namalayan ang oras.”
“That’s okay, Maya. Basta laid back lang naman itong lakad natin. No hurry. Kung saan tayo makarating and ano ang ma-encounter natin sa adventure natin na ito. So, what would you like to do next? Have you taken enough pictures?” Ricky asked, reluctant to leave the place where they were, actually.
“Hmmm, it’s kinda nice here. Why don’t we sit for a while and chat! Since sabi mo nga, laid back lakad ang whatever strikes our fancy. But wait lang ha.” Maya took something from her backpack, and out came a slim thermos. She also took out two styro cups from her bag. “Here, I brought us coffee. Ito iyong inihabol ni Manang Miring noong paalis na tayo kanina.”
“Wow, nagkasya ang mga iyan sa bag mo!” Ricky smiled as Maya poured him a cup of steaming coffee, then poured herself one too. “But this is wonderful Maya, especially with this breathtaking view before us and most of all, the company I’m sharing this moment with.” He finished as he gazed at her intensely. “Thank you for this Maya.”
Maya felt her face flushing. She took a big gulp of her still scalding coffee. Her heart skipping a beat! She composed herself and smiled sweetly at Ricky. “You’re welcome, Ricky. Mabuti naalala ko kaninang paalis na tayo. “
Maya turned and looked at the beautiful view before her, sat cross-legged and sighed contentedly. This is the life, she thought. This beauty, and this guy who makes my heart beat faster by my side. She was very much at peace at that moment.
Ricky was thinking the same. After the upheaval in his life recently, he never thought that he would find this tranquility, this contentment, and this was mainly because of the beautiful and vibrant lady sharing this moment with him!
Ricky and Maya chatted about every topic they could think of while sitting on the fence. At times, they would share a hearty laughter at some anecdotes the other had told. To the onlookers, they looked so happy to be together. They also thought that they were two lovers having a wonderful time.
Their moment there ended when Maya’s tummy made a hungry sound.
“Uh, oh…” She said with a smile.
“Mine too, Maya.” Ricky said. He looked at the time and realized and that it was way past their lunch time. In fact, it was almost snack time. Time passed like a blur with Maya by his side.
“Oo nga, hindi natin namalayan ang oras!” Maya remarked. She felt very happy.
“Come, let’s go for a place to it. I wonder where we can eat!”
“Hmmmm, why don’t we look around at the small restaurants I noticed below, sa kabilang part ng road, and have some empanada. I only tasted the ones from a restaurant in Manila, and also at one of the stalls at the Sunday market I sometimes go to.” Maya suggested. “For sure, mas masarap iyong mga nandito.”
“Okay. Medyo ginugutom na nga rin ako. I haven’t empanada in a while nga rin.” Richard jumped out of the fence and extended his hand to Maya. He didn’t let go of her hand while they walked towards the direction of the more than 80 steps going down.
“Wait, Ricky. Sandali lang. Selfie tayo with the church and then the bell tower, and also the town in the background. It’s really very beautiful and unique church. Wala pa tayong photos together to document this part of our adventure.” Maya then took out her iPhone and with Ricky’s arm slung over her shoulder, she took their first photo together. They have huge grins on their faces, and she had captured it perfectly when she checked the shot.
For the second and third shots, a fellow tourist offered to take it for them. Unbeknown to them, the third one, where they found themselves looking at each other instead of their volunteer photographer, they had such a look of love on their faces. In fact, Cris, the guy who offered to take their photos, called their attention twice before they reacted and broke their gazes.
Ricky had to blink twice. It sounded like this thing happened before. Not the picture-taking, but the two of them, standing in front of the church, gazing at the view before them and as if a magnetic field was pulling them towards each other. In fact, it was so vivid that he felt they were about to kiss!
“Ricky, Ricky, uy Ricky Lim! Are you okay?” Maya asked, waving her hand on Ricky’s face, breaking into his bemused expression.
“Sorry, Maya! I just had another deja vu moment! It is really strange!” Ricky said, then shaking his head and shrugging off, he took hold of Maya’s hand, then thanked Cris, and he escorted her down the steep steps down.
Several minutes after, Ricky and Maya were sitting in a simple wooden table with and monobloc chairs, a far cry from the fancy restaurants that probably Ricky Lim is used to, eating the most delicious empanada they have ever tasted. Both of them opted to eat it with two cold cans of Coke. They were in food heaven. Thanking the owner of the place, an hour later, with tummies full, they journeyed on towards the direction of Vigan.
Maya and Ricky arrived in Vigan late afternoon after stopping several times along the way as there were a lot of places that caught Maya’s interest. One of their stops was at Quirino Bridge, where they took lots of pictures, walked a bit and marvelled at its beauty before journeying on again.
“Naku, hindi na tayo makakaabot ng Paoay nito, Ricky. Sayang. Medyo gabi na. Saka, sayang naman kung mamadaliin natin itong Vigan. Parang ang ganda-ganda pa namang libutin. But I guess, we can always take another trip back.” Maya said as Ricky parked the car in front of a beautiful old house converted into a hotel. There was a cafe inside which they would like to check before they walk around Calle Crisologo. She and Ricky need another coffee fix and according to the information they found online, this one has the best coffee and the ambience is old world, like you really had traveled back in time!
“Oo nga. Sana pala, we brought clothes na lang and planned a two-day road trip.” Ricky said offhand, then thought hard, and impulsively said, “But why not? Are you doing anything else? Damit lang naman and stuffs ang hindi natin dala. Madali namang solusyunan yon! What do you think?”
“Wala naman. Sabi ko naman sa iyo, laid back vacation time ko lang ito.” Maya said smiling, liking the impulsive idea as well. “What do you have in mind?”
“Well, I’m thinking. We can hit the nearest shop, let’s buy what we need for several days, then take a road trip, hanggang Pagudpud. We can stay here overnight. Then travel to Laoag and Paoay tomorrow, stay at Fort Ilocandia for the night, then to Pagudpud, for two days. What do you think?”
“Sounds like a great idea! I haven’t tried this before. Okay.” Maya said promptly. While she has not known Ricky that long, she found herself instinctively trusting him, kahit noong una pa lang. She just can’t explain it. “In fact, I like this place, before we have coffee, let’s check if they have rooms for us.”
“Okay. Great.” Ricky got out of the car, then opened Maya’s door. With his hand on her back, he escorted her inside the beautiful hotel.
“Good afternoon, Sir, Ma’am!” The staff at the reception greeted them when they approached.
“Good afternoon! We don’t have a reservation, but we would like two standard rooms please, for an overnight stay….Allen.” Ricky said, checking the guy’s nameplate.
“Oh, I’m sorry Sir. All our standard rooms are taken, pati na po ang iba naming rooms. Bukod po sa peak season ngayon dito sa Vigan, na-booked pa po for a regional conference ng isang company from Manila. But wait po….” Allen said, as he remembered something the staff he relieved told him. After double-checking, he said, “Kung gusto ninyo po, may isa pong family suite na naging available kasi nag-cancel iyong guest namin due to an emergency. Dalawa pong queen na bed ang nandoon.”
Ricky nodded, then looked at Maya and asked. “Maya…? He left the decision to her. “We can also look for rooms in another hotel.”
“Naku Sir, and sorry to butt in, pero kasi po baka po mahirapan kayo ni Mam. I heard from some of the others that they are also fully-booked. Pero baka rin po meron pa ang ibang inn, B & B na medyo malayo na rito sa center na may bakante pang rooms.” Allen said, trying to he helpful. “If you want po, I can make calls for you, if you want two separate rooms.”
Maya, who has not shared a room with a guy, well except Emman, but does not count as they are more like sisters, him being openly gay, thought for a moment, then nodded, coming to a decision. “No need, Allen. Thank you. Okay, Ricky, let’s take the room.” She must be crazy, but she does trust Ricky. In all the time she had been with him, he acted like a perfect gentleman. Besides, she can take care of herself, if the need arises. Her Lolo Jaime insisted that she took self-defense classes after one of his friend’s daughter almost got raped while going home late at night, when she took a cab. Besides, they are just sharing a room, not a bed!
Ricky booked the room under his name. When Allen asked if he can help them with their luggage, Ricky said, they will take care of it later. Instead, they asked to be directed to the cafe of the hotel.
Entering the cafe, Maya and Ricky felt like they have stepped back in time. The place is decorated in antique pieces, from the tables and chairs to the lamps adorning the place. The reviews were right. After their coffee and pastries were served, and they had their first few sips of their coffee, Ricky spoke what was in his mind. He wanted to reassure Maya.
“Maya, is our arrangement okay with you? I mean, us sharing a room? Just tell me please. I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable with the set-up. We can always check the other hotels if they have vacancies. I’m sure marami namang ibang accommodation dito sa Vigan.” Ricky said, then looking earnestly at Maya, he said. “I just want you to know that I will not do anything that would make you uncomfortable.”
“Ricky, it is okay. Otherwise, I would have not said yes. Yes, I must admit, this is the first time I would be sharing a room with a guy, except for Emman, my partner in the cafe, but he does not count, as he is gay. But for some reason, and don’t ask me why, as I can’t explain either, I trust you, really. Sabi ko naman sa iyo before di ba, na pakiramdam ko matagal na tayong magkakilala.” Maya assured Ricky, then smiling, she teased him. “Besides, I can take care of myself. My Lolo Jaime insisted that I took some self-defense training.”
Ricky smiled at that, but turned serious as he looked at Maya. “Thank you for trusting me Maya. I will not violate that trust, I promise. Hindi mo na kailangang i-practice sa akin whatever you had learned in self-defense training.”
Maya grinned, then said softly, “I know, Ricky. I just know.”
Over the rims of their coffee cups, Maya and Ricky shared a gaze, a silent understanding between them. When they had their fill, they asked Allen for directions to the shopping complex where they could buy the clothes and supplies for their impromptu road trip/vacation.
Deciding not to take the car, they opted to walk towards the shops via Calle Crisologo. Both of them looking forward to the next chapter of their unplanned adventure. Both of them can’t explain the level of anticipation and happiness they were feeling at that moment.
Ricky put down the journal he had started reading again when he returned to the beach house after taking Maya home. It was the first thing he saw when he entered the house through the veranda. He sat down again where he sat earlier, took a deep breath and picked up the journal. He was not yet sleepy. Who would be, with the wonderful way his day had turned out. When he impulsively took a trip to the beach house, for some deep thinking and to mull over the issues in his life, he was just preparing for a week of solitude and introspection. But Maya happens, and he was very glad!
For a while, Ricky felt happy reading the journal, unlike when he read first part of it, earlier. He felt his grandfather’s happiness as he narrated his and Maya’s first several days at the beach house. However, he felt sad again, remembering how it ended.
He wanted to continue reading but he needed to sleep. He checked the time and realized that it was actually past one o’clock in the morning already! It has been a long, but wonderful day. He checked his phone, which he had forgotten somewhere in the house earlier, and saw that he has several missed calls and frantic messages, all from the same number which he promptly deleted. He does not want any intrusion to the idyll he was having with Maya.
Instead, Ricky went to sleep thinking of the lovely lady he met unexpectedly. He was looking forward to spending another day with Maya. With the journal with him, he is sure of that. He had an inkling that it was difficult for Maya to part with the journal for the night. He smiled. When sleep finally managed to get hold of him, he dreamed of a guy who looked like him, but wearing clothes from another time period, smiling at a beautiful lady dressed in a colorful top, leggings and artist smock, busily putting paints on an easel. From time to time, the lady and the gentleman shared a loving look. It was a very nice dream.
The next thing Ricky knew, a loud sound penetrated his sleep. He felt disoriented where he was in the beginning, but then he realized that he was at his family’s beach house, and the sound was coming from his mobile phone. Half-dreading to see who was calling, he checked the screen of his phone. He heaved a sigh of relief when he saw that it was Maya calling.
“Good morning, Maya!” Ricky greeted with a big smile as he leaned against the headboard of the antique bed he slept in.
“Ricky, good morning!” Maya said cheerfully, then noticing that Ricky sounded sleepy. “Sorry, did I wake you up? I know, we agreed to meet around 10AM, napaaga ako! ”
“Yes, but it’s okay.” Richard looked at the clocked and saw that it was already past 8 o’clock! “I overslept. Tanghali na pala! Nag-breakfast ka na?”
“Not yet!” Maya put the picnic basket she was holding on the veranda.” Actually, I’m outside, I have brought breakfast for you kaya nga rin ako maaga. Alam ko kasi na mag-isa ka lang. Di ba bukas pa babalik ang mga caretaker mo? Maaga kasi akong nagising kaya nagluto ako ng breakfast for us.”
“Really, you are outside!” Ricky got out of the bed fast, with a grin on his face, happy to know that he will see Maya in several minutes, instead of hours. “Wait, I will get down as soon as I can.” He quickly went to the bathroom, brushed his teeth, took a quick shower, then he put on a yellow polo shirt and khaki shorts. He went down the stairs with something akin to a spring on his feet. From the stairs, he saw Maya standing outside, looking so lovely in a yellow summer dress tied around the nape of her neck. Beside her was a big picnic basket.
“Good morning Maya!” Ricky greeted Maya happily, giving her one of his bone-melting lopsided smiles. “I’m sorry it took me a while to go down. Great to see you this morning!” He then moved to give Maya a peck on the cheek, while helping her with the basket.
Maya’s heart skipped a beat with that kiss. She knew it was a customary greeting, but she felt electricity travelled through her body with his lips touching her face. Her poor heart, it has not even recovered from the beautiful smile he bestowed her! He looks very handsome in the shirt and shorts he was wearing. He also smelled so nice, of masculine soap, seeing that he took a shower before going down to meet her. “Good morning, Ricky!” She said a bit breathlessly.
“Please come inside!”
“Maybe, we can just eat here at the veranda, Ricky. The view is very nice.”
“Okay, I would love that. I will just get plates and other stuffs. I will make coffee for the two of us din. Sorry, haven’t even done that yet.”
“I can do that, and no worries, Ricky, kasi I also brought coffee for us. Here o!” Maya took out a small thermos from her picnic basket.
“Wow, thanks a lot, Maya. Sandali lang, I will get plates. Ako na ito since you have brought breakfast.” Ricky went inside the house and several minutes after, he returned with plates, utensils, plate mats and two mugs.
Maya started setting the table. “I made champorado and tuyo for us. Mainit pa naman so hindi na natin kailangang i-microwave. I also brought some fresh fruits. Manang Miring went to the market early this morning. Kumakain nga pala ng champorado and tuyo?”
Ricky looked at Maya in surprised when he heard her mentioned champorado and tuyo. It felt like deja vu. Parang nangyari na ang scene na ito sa kanya! Then he suddenly remembered that he read about it in the journal. Baka iyon ang dahilan kung bakit familiar ang lahat. Maya’s grandmother also brought champorado and tuyo for his grandfather. Nagkataon lang!
“Bakit you looked surprised, Ricky. Ayaw mo?” Maya asked seeing Ricky’s startled expression.
“No, no, Maya. I love it. One of my favorite food iyan. Para lang nangyari na sa akin ito. You know the sudden feeling na titigil ka and felt that what was unfolding before you, seems to have happened to you already. Deja vu.”
“Oh! Yes, I understand. It happens to me as well, from time to time, especially when I hold a paint brush and was using my grandmother’s old studio!”
“Exactly! Itong ginagawa natin ngayon, parang nangyari na. Then I remember that I have read something similar sa journal ng grandparents natin. Nagkataon lang.”
Maya stopped, her brows knitted, and then she smiled. “Ay oo nga. I remember that. Pareho nga. I didn’t realize that! Basta paggising ko lang kaninang umaga, bigla kong naisip na magluto ng champorado and tuyo for us. Parang bagay sa panahon.”
“Exactly, and I really love champorado and tuyo. It has been ages since I tasted that.” Ricky said, pulling a chair for Maya.
“Thanks Ricky. Natapos mo na pala ang journal? I gathered na nagbasa ka ulit pagkatapos mo akong ihatid kagabi?”
“Yes, but a little bit lang, about their happy times here. Hindi ko pa natapos. Pagkauwi ko kasi, hindi pa ako makatulog. Siguro dahil na rin sa very nice day that I had.” Ricky said, gazing at Maya, intently, then giving her a big smile. “It was really lovely meeting you yesterday, Maya kahit napagkamalan mo akong multo.”
Maya and Ricky both laughed at what he said. Then they both enjoyed their delicious breakfast while gazing at each other at times, and at the same time enjoying the beautiful view before them, just like another couple did, 50 years ago.
Note: This used to be part of Chapter 3. I revised Chapter 3 into Chapter 4 and 5. This is part of the revision and reuploading that I’m doing. Please click on my ‘Thought Process’ post on this. 🙂 Likewise, please see the Richard and Maya index under Library for the revised chapters!
Ricky sighed and looked at Maya, putting the journal on his lap, as he took a big gulp of his now, very cold coffee. His heart felt very heavy.
“You don’t have to say a word! I know the feeling! It was like that the first time I read it too.” Maya softly said, seeing Ricky’s expression.
“I know the ending of this, Maya. We are living proof of that. But reading it, it made me feel very sad. Nandoon pa nga lang ako sa first part.” Richard made a helpless gesture with his hand. “It felt like I was living his pain all over again, also his happiness at meeting your grandmother. And at the back of my mind, I knew the ending, and it was not a happy one nga. Mixed emotions talaga.”
“Until what part have you read, so far?” Maya asked. It seems like she and Ricky are kindred spirits. He also felt what she felt the first time she had read that journal.
“Hanggang doon sa first day ng meeting nila. Hanggang doon sa inihatid niya sa bahay ang grandmother mo.” Ricky said. “I will just read the rest tomorrow, if that is okay with you, to come back and bring the journal again? Medyo gabi na rin. Please stay for dinner, then I will take you home. I insists, Maya, please.”
“Okay, I will stay for dinner. But you don’t have to take me home. Diyan lang naman ako, maglalakad lang ako sa beach.” Maya said. “Saka, if you want, I can just leave the journal. I know you will also take care of it, now that I know you.” She added smiling. “Para you can read it later, if you want. I’m sure, parang ako ikaw. Hindi rin ako napakali hanggang hindi ko natatapos. I was drawn to it from the start.”
“Thank you, Maya. I appreciate that. Promise, I will take very good care of our grandparents’ journal. Hindi ko itatakas, promise!” Ricky gave Maya a lopsided smile that sent her heart aflutter. “But I would also take you home. Gabi na. I will worry rin about you if I let you go home alone.”
“Okay. But one condition. Can I help with our dinner?” Maya offered with a smile.
Ricky smiled. “Okay. Pero, we just need to heat food naman. May mga iniwan na food ang caretakers nitong place before I arrived. Microwave food ang dinner natin ha! I hope it is okay.”
“Sure, no worries.” Maya assured Ricky.
Ricky discovered that Manang Auring and Manong Tunying left him is favorite kare-kare, also adobo and bistek. The caretakers texted him while he was on his way to the beach house to tell him that they have left food for him, that the house is in order and should he need something from Laoag, just text them. They will be back the day after as they needed to go to the wake of Manang Auring’s uncle. They will stay there until the funeral.
“Wow, kare-kare!” Maya exclaimed, seeing what was in the bowl that Ricky was holding. “My favorite! Manang Fe, my mom’s yaya and my Lola Maya’s old kasambahay cooks that very well!”
“Ikaw din! Ako rin. I love kare-kare!” Ricky said as he put the bowl of kare-kare in the microwave. “Siguro, sinabi ni Mama kay Manang Auring na favorite ko ito.”
Maya set the table. Several minutes after, Ricky pulled the chair for her. They chatted and got to know each other more while they enjoyed their kare-kare.
“How long are you staying here, Maya?” Ricky asked as he offered Maya more rice.
“I’m not sure yet. Maybe, two to three weeks.” Maya replied after thanking Ricky, and handing him the bowl of kare-kare. “I was at a loose end. I felt restless and also sad. The house in Manila is a bit lonesome. I missed my Lolo Jaime. He died more than a month ago. Siya kasi ang kasama ko sa bahay. Iyong house na pinuntahan ng Lola mo noong ibigay niya ang journal na iyan sa Lola ko. My parents naman are in the US. Eventually, I have to return as I have responsibilities in Manila.”
“My condolences, Maya.” Ricky said softly. “Kamamatay lang pala ng Lolo mo! You must missed him a lot.”
“Yes, I do. He was a guy who didn’t say much. But he is one the kindest person I know. Lolo and I, we understood each other.”
“Do you think he knew about the journal?” Richard asked all of a sudden.
“My mother was not so sure. But I think he did kasi naka-safety siya ng husto sa aparador ni Lola.” Maya said. “My Lolo Jaime loved my Lola a lot, even though, I think he had an idea that he was not my lola’s great love, and theirs were not a love match, either, I think.”
“It is a bit sad, isn’t it? To find your great love when it is too late!” Ricky suddenly said, gazing at Maya intently, then stared off, seemingly deep in thought.
“I agree! Kaya ako, I will wait.” Maya suddenly said, just wanting to pull Ricky from whatever melancholy thought he was having. “Pero, come to think of it, how would you know if that person is the one na or hindi pa?” Maya mused.
“You mean, wala ka pang boyfriend?” Ricky asked before he could stopped himself. He flushed. “Sorry, that was too personal.”
Maya smiled, Ricky is cute, flustered. “I don’t mind answering. I don’t have one. But I’m not in a hurry! Maybe, the one and only guy for me is coming soon. Malay natin, di ba.” She said, making light of the situation.
“Thank you for telling me, Maya.” Richard suddenly felt glad that she didn’t have a boyfriend. “So, do you paint also like your grandmother?” He asked, changing the topic.
“No, not like her. I do dabble in painting, but it was just a hobby. I’m not as good as her. Instead of creating works of art, I just display and curate them. I have an art gallery beside the cafe I own with a friend.”
“Really? Where is it?” Ricky asked. “Maybe, I can visit it when I return to Manila.”
“It’s in Makati. Sure, I would be happy if you would. I’ll give you the address. Besides, you should try our coffee and my partner Emman’s pastries, to die for. Kailan ka pala babalik ng Maynila?”
“I’m not yet sure. I’m on vacation.” Ricky said, then he seemed to change his mind and added more. “I decided to go here actually as I needed to work something in my head. But never mind that, I’ll figure it out, eventually. I think know what to do, anyway.” He finished cryptically.
Maya didn’t ask anymore. She felt that Ricky needed to resolve whatever he was thinking of, by himself. Besides, they just met each other. Even if it felt like she has known him for a long time, the fact is they just met each other that afternoon. “Basta, if you need someone to talk to, I’m just here.” She offered before she could stop herself. Then added, “I know that we just met each other but I felt like I have known you a long time. Maybe, because of our grandparents and their shared past. “Maya finished.
“I feel the same way, Maya. And thank you.” Ricky said, gazing at Maya. “Coffee?”
“No thanks a lot, Ricky. I should get going. Medyo late na rin. Mag-isa si Manang Miring sa bahay and hindi iyon matutulog kapag wala pa ako. I’ll help you with the dishes, first.” Maya started gathering the plates. Maya had informed Manang Miring where she was earlier, borrowing Ricky’s phone, but still, the old lady will wait up for her.
“No, leave it, Maya. I can take care of that later.” Ricky stopped Maya by holding on to her arm. Ricky felt a tingle with that touch, so did Maya. She looked at him. They gazed at each other.
Maya recovered after several long seconds. “S-sure?” She asked with a voice that was not so steady.
Ricky nodded and Maya didn’t insist. She needed air and to make sense of that touch. Several minutes after, they were out in the beach, walking towards Maya’s house. They chatted and laughed at each other’s anecdotes. They were halfway to the house when Maya stumbled.
“Maya, are you hurt?” Ricky asked solicitously.
“No, I’m okay, Ricky. Natapilok lang ako.” Maya assured Ricky.
“I think it would be better if you hold on to me. Madilim and hindi natin kabisado itong beach sa gabi.” Richard suggested, then took hold of Maya’s hand and interlaced it with his.
Maya let it be, liking the feel of it. She blushed in the dark. Several minutes after, they arrived at the entrance of Maya’s family’s beach house. “Pasok ka muna, Ricky.”
“Next time na lang, Maya. Gabi na rin.” Ricky said, then said softly, “Thank you for a wonderful afternoon and evening. I’m glad to have met you.”
“Thank you also, Ricky. I had a wonderful time. I’m glad I have you to share our grandparents’ journal.” Maya smiled at Ricky. “I’m glad to have met you too.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow?” Ricky asked, still holding Maya’s hand, and gazing at her intently.
Maya realized it and got a bit self-conscious. “Errr, yes, around 10am! Ricky, ang kamay ko please.”
That was the only time Ricky let go of Maya’s hand. “Oh, sorry.” He said, sheepishly. “Good night, Maya. Sleep well.”
“Good night, Ricky. Sweet dreams.” Maya gave Ricky a smile that lit up her whole face, before turning towards the direction of the veranda. She looked back when she reached it. She saw Ricky waiting until she gets into the house before walking back to his place. She smiled and waved at him. She was humming when she entered the house.
Ricky smiled and waved back before walking back to his house. He felt very happy. His steps felt lighter. He suddenly stopped as the whole thing felt like it has happened to him before! But he shook off the thought. How could it be? This was the first time he met Maya, and it was his first time at his family’s beach house!
Note: This used to be part of Chapter 2. Comments on the above post are in Chapter 2! This is part of the revision and reuploading that I’m doing. Please click on my ‘Thought Process’ post on this. 🙂 Likewise, please see the Richard and Maya index under Library for the revised chapters!
Sometimes, I need to have some sort of order in my head before I can write. The same applies when I am mulling over something, like decisions to make, course of action to take, and such. When I seemed to be stuck about something, I need some sort of order around me.
Usually, I rearranges the room in the house I have converted into my ‘me’ place, sometimes, our living room. If the pieces of furniture in the house can speak, they would probably mutter, here we go again, every time I’m in my rearranging mood!
My husband is used to this quirkiness, so are my siblings and my mother, and my friends whom I have shared a dormitory room and apartments. For sure, I’m not the only one with this quirk!
My collection of DVDs and CDs are arranged alphabetically and according to genres (as much as I could)! My computer files are organized in folders and sub-folders, and my digital photos into albums with sub-labels (though I have a terrible backlog on this)! I used to lovingly arranged my paper photos in albums (I guess no one does that, really, anymore)! The cables and wires in the house are tied neatly with colorful ties and hidden from sight, as much as it could be done!
I have bought tons of organizers. They are like magnets to me, can’t resist ’em every time I see them, especially the ones that look very functional, and of course, cute! You name it, I probably have it!
I feel so much better, happier, and can think clearer, after I have finished my ‘organizing’ project of the moment.
Now, I’m about to embark on another ‘organizing’ project, hence this post. 🙂
Please indulge me as I would make some changes on the chapters of Beyond Forever I have already uploaded. I have been thinking about this for a time, but decided not to, really. But, I just can’t get it out of my head, so I’ll go ahead with it.
I would be separating the ‘past’ narrative from the ‘present’ ones. Please bear with me as I have to reload some materials that you have already read and commented on. Promise, the story will be moving along smoothly, hopefully, after this! 🙂 The latest update would be labelled Chapter 7!
❤ Antigone ❤
“Please have a seat, Ricky!” Maya said softly, breaking into Richard’s turbulent thoughts, gesturing for him to sit where Jeremy sat earlier.
Maya was unsure on how to proceed after Jeremy departed unexpectedly. He served as a sort of buffer between them, but now it was just Richard and her, standing a bit awkwardly at her veranda. Her heart was beating so fast. There was a part of her that still can’t believe that this was happening, that Richard was actually there and it felt like she was standing at the edge of a precipice.
“Thank you, Maya.” Richard said, sitting down after pulling her chair and seating her first. He gazed at her for a while, then seemingly arriving at a decision, he then took a deep breath, and plunged on.
“Maya, I’m sorry for following you, when you told me not to. Yes, I did get that you were reluctant for me to do so by the way you phrased your message. I asked your cousin Emman for information on your whereabouts.” He admitted, looking at Maya with a sheepish and a hopeful expression.
“Oh, and he told you, right there and then where I am?” Maya asked, very much surprised. Normally, her cousin will not give out that kind of information about her. Yes, he is a flamboyant but he can be reticent and discreet in giving out information, especially concerning her. Emman has some answering to do when she returns to Manila or as soon as she gets hold of him!
“Yes, he did. I was also surprised that he told me, but of course, very happy that he did. He does know me, of course, as he was the one from your company who met with me and my parents for the wedding. We also meet some times at some of the social gatherings I attended.” Richard told Maya, still trying to gauge her reaction to his unexpected presence and, sort of, crashing into her vacation like this.
“Oh, okay.” Maya simply said, then gave Richard a fleeting smile. “Yes, I remember that you know each other well. But still, you must have made quite an impression to my cousin, and he must have like you a lot, to disclose where I am. Not that where I am is a secret.”
“So, Maya…” Richard broached again, wanting to be completely sure that she is not mad before proceeding. It felt like this was the best idea when he was in Manila, but maybe not. He could have waited. He was not so sure if Maya did really offer him a smile. It was so fleeting that if he was not looking so closely, he would have missed it. “I hope you are not that mad that I followed you here?” He added charmingly.
“Well, you are here now, so that question is moot and academic.” Maya said, deadpan, wanting to pull Richard’s leg a little bit more. Serves him right for following her there, Maya thought! But at the same time, she felt flattered that he did. Not just flattered, her heart hasn’t been all right since she caught a glimpse of him, earlier. Okay, okay, she will admit, she feels extremely giddy. Rapunzel levels, to borrow Emman’s term, in describing the very romantic gestures a hero would do for the heroine in the rom-com movies he drags her to from time to time.
Richard looked at Maya, unable to read her expression clearly. Truth to tell, he was getting nervous. So, to show her how contrite he was and to plead his case more, he took hold of her hand, in between his, then gazing intensely at Maya, he said, “Forgive me please, Maya. I just want to see you. Be with you. I can’t wait until you return to Manila.”
Maya’s heart rates increased tenfold, hearing Richard’s words. But still, she tried to be as calm as she could before asking directly, as she realized a long time ago, that for one to get answers, one have to seek it. She does not like living in the dark and in uncertainties after her experience with James. “What is it that you want to discuss with me that can’t wait until I return to Manila? Why did you follow me here, really, Ricky?”
Before Richard could reply, Marina arrived with Richard’s coffee, a big plate of cold cuts, as well as bread and jams in a small basket. “Excuse me, Ma’am Maya, Sir Richard, here’s your coffee. Sir Jeremy told me to give this to you also, from him, on the house. Welcome to Mimosa, Sir Richard.”
“Oh, that was nice of him. Actually, I realized I’m very hungry.” Richard said. “Please thank him for us, Marina.”
“Yes, please thank him for us, Ate Marina.” Maya told the older lady with a big smile. “Suddenly, my appetite is back.”
Marina left them after several minutes. Maya and Richard gazed at each other after she left, both thinking on how to proceed as the moment earlier was broken. It was Maya who took matters into her hands.
“Maybe, we should eat first, Ricky. I’m actually famished. My last meal was at six o’clock last night. There was a party here last night and I only had drinks since then.” Maya said as she handed Richard a plate. “Plenty of time to chat, later on. How long are you staying?”
“Okay, later, then.” Richard said with a big relieved smile. At least, she is not mad, he thought! “ Well, the same length as you are, two more days here. I have another admission, actually. I also asked Emman about your return flight, and I’ll be taking the same.” He said while giving Maya a charming, lopsided smile.
“Oh…!” It was all Maya managed to say. Then she took a big sip of her now cooling coffee to steady herself. The longer time she spends with Ricky, the harder, it is to breathe normally. “Let’s eat first!” She said nervously.
Richard gazed at Maya and he know he had unsettled her enough for the moment with his unexpected presence. As she said, they have two days to talk and he will maximize this time with her.
The two of them eat in companionable silence, gazing at each other from time to time and sharing smiles. An hour later, their tummies full, they both admired the beautiful view before them while sipping their coffee. Both felt quite content.
“It’s really beautiful here, Maya, and very restful. You are so correct, I like it here very much.” Richard remarked, and the way he said, and the way he was looking at her, it seemed that he was not just speaking of the view. “How did you find this place? Through Jeremy?” There, he found the opening he needed. Richard thought to himself.
“Oh, I just found it through Google, actually. Then I checked the reviews. Mimosa has very good reviews with the top travel websites I checked, as well as, in some of the blogs I have stumbled upon so I took my chances. I’m glad that the reviews were all right on!” Maya said. “I only met Jeremy here. I gathered it was just Marina who assisted you earlier. You should meet Scott, too, Jeremy’s friend and his partner in this resort, together with his wife, Laura. Most of us went to bed at dawn because of the party.”
“Really? It must have been fun!” Richard remarked, at the same time, foremost in his mind was the fact that Jeremy, it seems, is just a new acquaintance of Maya. But still, they looked so cozy and too familiar with each other earlier.
“It was, very much, considering that I initially declined Jeremy’s invitation. But I’m glad I joined the party. I had fun, met new friends and it turned out, what I really needed to relax and not think about stuffs I have been thinking about the past several days.” Maya finished, gazing at the beach, then shrugging, trying to be nonchalant. “Well, yes, that was it! Anyway, I’m sure you would have enjoyed it too, had you been there. It’s a pity, you missed it by a day.”
Richard latched on to what Maya had said. Stuffs to think about? Could it be that she is also as unsettled as I am? But nah, maybe, it is about her work or other personal issues, Richard Lim, don’t flatter yourself, and don’t assume too much! He admonished himself. “It is okay, Maya. But I’m glad you had fun.” He smiled at her. “You know what, I’m just happy to be here, and to see you. It was my only reason for coming to this beautiful island.”
Oh my, this is it! Maya thought to herself. She took another sip of coffee nervously while waiting with bated breath on what Richard will say next. She gazed at him.
Richard gazed back at Maya’s beautiful, doe-shaped eyes, eyes that he can stare at for hours. Then told himself, this is it, Richard Lim, and he dropped his bomb after taking a deep breath! “The thing is Maya, I followed you because I can’t stop thinking about you since we last saw each other, no matter how I tried. I can’t stand waiting for three more days, so here I am!”
Maya, at first, just stared at Richard. He can’t stop thinking about her! So, she was not the only one!
Taking hold of Maya’s hand again, he continued. ”Maya, I don’t really know what is happening. I found myself very much attracted to you, drawn to you in a way I can’t fully explain. You are making me feel feelings I haven’t felt before, and I don’t know where this is going, but I would like to know. I just want to know what we could have. Sorry, this is the best I could do. I have stopped believing in love a long time ago. But I found myself in this situation with you. I don’t know what this is, but I would like to know, and I would like to find out where it would lead us.”
Maya liked the fact that Richard was being direct with her. The least she could be, would be to lay things in the open to. Honesty is one of the foremost thing she appreciates after her experience with the duplicitous James Madrigal. She put her hand on top of Richard’s.
“Ricky, thank you very much for being honest with me like that. I really appreciate it.” She started, then forged on. “The thing is, you are the main reason why I’m here in Camiguin, taking this vacation.”
“Me…?” Richard blurted out in surprise before he could stop himself. Now, he was the one who took a gulp of his now cold coffee!
“Yes, you! You see, Ricky you are not the only one who got unsettled by our meeting again several days ago. You have been in my mind too, even if I try not to think of you. You are making me feel emotions that I haven’t felt, that I don’t want to feel after I got jilted at the altar. Aside from the fact that, technically we just met each other!” Maya said frankly. “I don’t like the feeling. I’m afraid of the emotions you are making me feel. I don’t want to get hurt again. Like you, I have stopped believing in love, in happily ever after, and forever, a long time ago. I needed to think and get you out of my head, hence this vacation. But here you are. Here we are! Where do we go from here?”
“Maya, oh Maya, thank you for being candid too. I’m glad that I’m not the only one!” Richard said earnestly, relieved. “Honestly, I don’t know either, but I would like to explore this strong feeling I’m having for you, we have for each other in such a short time we have known each other. Can we take it one day at a time? Let’s take the baby steps together? Would that be okay with you?”
Maya looked at Richard and his earnest expression. Right there, and then, she would like to take the leap of faith with him, but there was a tiny part of her that refused to jump into the unknown. James really did a number on her! “Ricky, I want to, I really do. But can you give me time to think about it?”
Richard looked at Maya and her pleading expression. He very much wanted to persuade her to take the leap, but he understands how difficult it must be for her to do so. She might also feeling very much overwhelmed at the moment. “Sure, Maya, take your time please. I understand, especially as both of us are on unchartered waters here.”
“Thank you, Ricky.” Maya said softly. “I appreciate it very much. I just needed to work things out in my head.”
Both of them were silent after that, as if absorbing everything that had unravelled between them so quickly that afternoon. Both of them felt their world has shifted, and they were not standing on firmed grounds anymore.
“What time do you need to leave with Jeremy?” Richard reluctantly asked after a while. Now that Maya has admitted to feeling something for him as well, his animosity and ambivalence towards Jeremy has decreased a bit. But he still believes that Jeremy likes Maya a lot. He would like to ask her what is Jeremy to her, just to be sure, but he really does not have the right and maybe, he can do it later. There is a part of him that does not want her to go out with Jeremy, but he was trying to rein in that negative emotion. He promised to give Maya time.
Maya checked the time. “In an hour or so! I better get ready! Would you be okay on your own here, Ricky?”
“Of course, Maya. Don’t worry about me. Just continue enjoying your vacation. You don’t have to babysit me, you know!” Richard said, smiling. “I’ll enjoy the view. Read a book and wait until you return. I just have one request, please.”
“What is it, Ricky?” Maya asked, smiling back. She likes the fact that Richard is letting her have some space to breath after their intense moment.
“Will you have dinner with me, please?” Richard asked softly, gazing at Maya intently.
“Sure, Ricky. Though I’m not sure what time will we be back. Would that be okay?” Maya said. “And where will we have dinner?”
“Not a problem! Just send me a text when you are on your way back.” Richard assured Maya. “Dinner is a surprise. Just get back safe and sound. I’ll take care of everything.”
“Okay. I’ll see you later.” Maya said, curious at the same time, feeling excited at what Richard is planning. “And I’ll just bring the dishes to the restaurant on my way out. Please go and rest. You must be tired from all the traveling.”
“Thank you, Maya. I’m not tired anymore. I did take nap while waiting for you to wake up. Enjoy your trip. Be safe and I will see you later. I’m looking forward to our dinner.”
With a wave, Richard was off. However, before he entered his bungalow, he looked at Maya one more time, and gave her a bone-melting smile. Maya answered it with a smile that lit up her whole face.
Both of them entered their bungalows with silly grins on their flushed faces!
Note: Happy Sunday, everyone! ❤ Sorry for the delay. Got sick (low-grade fever, sore throat, the works!), but I’m better now! As always, thank you very much for the likes, comments and for reading! 🙂
Finally, the DVDs are complete! Now, I can do the ultimate rewind. I was very happy to discover Volumes 51-52 when I went to the mall, Tuesday. I just thought of randomly checking if there are new DVDs released while buying some other stuffs.
Getting these volumes also means, I can now free some space in the external hard drive I’m using to record shows. I usually wait until the DVD is out before I delete the episodes I have recorded that corresponded with that particular volume. However, with the last month or so remaining episodes of Be Careful With My Heart in there, I never realized that doing so, would be a bit of an emotional moment for me!
I remembered all the times I would rush home to watch the episode I have recorded for the day, as I carefully went through my recorder, deleting episode after episode that I have painstakingly bookmarked and had watched several times.
I almost chickened out at some point. Crazy, isn’t it? It felt like I was not just deleting simple files but the memories associated with each episode I have stored in my hard drive, especially so as these were the episodes covering the last month of the series. In the end, I didn’t have the heart to delete the November 27 episode. The November 28 episode in the hard drive, I was really intending to keep, as it included the live Global Kapit-Bisig Day.
I may ‘fall in love’ with another, or is ‘loving’ another teleserye, (never thought I would still, but I’m currently hooked on On the Wings of Love, and how it happened is for another blog entry!), but BCWMH will always have a special place in my heart as this was the first teleserye I really, really got addicted to.
I wonder how long it would take me to do the ultimate BCWMH rewind! 🙂
The sound of a door opening and people talking penetrated Maya’s consciousness. The first thought that registered in her sleep-clogged brain was that, the resort have more guests that day as compared to the days she had been there, and those who arrived the day before! She looked at the clock and saw that it was still quite early, well early for the vacation standard time she had set for herself. Since she was still very sleepy because of the night of drinking she had, she dove back under the blanket to catch a couple of hours more of precious sleep.
Her grumbling stomach woke Maya several hours later. She checked the time and saw that it was already lunchtime! She hastily got out of bed, but stumbled back abruptly, as her head hurt awfully. Awww, awww, she really had drunk more than she should, way beyond the limit she usually set for herself! Her tummy was also very queasy. Too bad, she forgot to bring antacids!
Maya never planned on drinking that much, but she felt like it the night before. It seemed like a good idea. Richard and hers exchanged of text messages unsettled her more and going around the island, enjoying the view and chatting with people she got to know the past several days didn’t cure her or alleviate the listlessness she was feeling, like she was on the verge of something she can’t control nor fight.
When she returned to the resort late afternoon, she saw Scott, Jeremy and two of their assistants setting up tables by the beach. When Jeremy saw her, he invited her to the party they will be having for their friends and friends of their friends who had arrived from Cagayan de Oro that afternoon. The resort seemed more alive actually, when she returned. Maya thought of declining as she really doesn’t want to encourage Jeremy, but he was also adamant in her joining the party, and he asked her in his very charming way. She gave in. It was not really Jeremy’s fault that she doesn’t feel anything romantic for him. Anyway, he is a fun guy and she would like him to be her friend too. Besides, maybe the party was what she needed to get out of the funk she was feeling!
Maya was surprised that she had fun. The friends and the friends of friends turned out to be a mixture of foreigners of different nationalities, mostly Europeans, and their Filipino friends based in CDO, and they were not all guys. Maya made friends with two ladies from Australia, Claire and Linda. Scott’s wife Laura and her were already friends. She was the one who introduced her to the others ladies.
Jeremy, Maya discovered is indeed, a very nice guy, indeed. He was solicitous towards her, but not pushy. He is a very good conversationalist and has a depth in him, she discovered. But still, she does not feel a spark of attraction for him. She was only planning on staying for an hour, just to appease Jeremy, but she found herself staying until the party started winding down at two o’clock in the morning. Jeremy also watched out for Maya, when he saw that she was getting way drunk, he gave her a glass of iced water. He also chatted her up and they discovered that they like the same movies, and the same British detective novels authors. He took her to her bungalow when she told everyone that she had her limits. He said good night like the gentleman that she discovered he is.
Maya sighed. For a while, she forgot Richard and the confusing and conflicting emotions she was feeling. Though, at times, especially when there was lull in the conversation, he would crept back into her thoughts. Maya Dela Rosa, stop this! She admonished herself. Maybe, you should eat lunch. She yawned, took a deep breath, then slowly got out of the bed, keeping her fingers crossed that she will not feel dizzy. She decided to order a light lunch by the veranda, instead of going to the resort’s restaurant. She needed a bit of time to be fully back to the land of the living.
Having ordered a big pot of coffee, some toasts and fresh fruits, the only food she felt her stomach can tolerate at that moment, she took a quick shower. She had just finished dressing up when there was a knock on her door. When she opened it, she was surprised to see Jeremy arranging her food on the table, instead of Marina or her sister Marta.
“Good morning, my lovely Maya! Or should I say, good afternoon to you, sleepy-head!” Jeremy greeted Maya with a big smile. He does not look hung-over! “I told Marina that I will just bring your food. They are busy at the restaurant. we have quite a lunch crowd today. I hope it is okay that I share a cup of coffee with you as well.”
“Thank you, Jeremy.” Maya said. “Sure, it’s okay. But I’m not a very good company at the moment.”
“That’s okay. How are you and how’s the head?” Jeremy asked as he sat down after pulling the chair for Maya.
“Okay, I guess. I have a bit of hangover and have a queasy tummy. But I’ll live.” Maya assured Jeremy. “And you? You don’t like you are feeling the effects of all the alcohol we consumed last night. What time did the party end?”
“I guess as much, that you might be feeling the effects of all the white wines and cocktails you had! The party ended at about 3AM and no worries, I’m used to drinking like that. That was tame, actually, compared the drinking sprees we had while in university. I also have a sure cure for your hangover.” Jeremy took hold of a tall glass, which Maya didn’t notice at first, with a green-looking smoothie inside. “Here, drink this. I’m 100 percent sure you will feel better in a jiffy! Just hold your breath and drink it straight!”
“Sure about this….????” Maya asked tentatively, staring at the alien-looking drink.
Jeremy smiled. “Maya, trust me on this, please.”
“O-o-okay….” Maya took a deep breath, then took a sip of the green liquid. She almost spat it out. “Arrgggg, what is this foul thing?”
Jeremy told her what was in the concoction and cajoled Maya to just close her eyes and drink it straight. He stood up, took hold of the glass and gently guided it to her lips, at the same time, he gently patted her back to assure her that it is okay to drink his hangover cure.
It was this scene that Richard saw when he got out his bungalow after taking a nap, and a quick shower afterwards, while waiting for Maya to wake up. He was told by the chatty Marina that the lady who was staying at the bungalow beside his would probably be waking up late today as there was a party that lasted until dawn at the resort. She was the sole welcoming committee to him when he arrived early that morning.
Seeing Maya, so beautiful in her maxi dress and her hair loose, her very long hair, it turned out, took his breath away! The last two times he had seen Maya, her hair was in a chignon. It looked like she was really cozying up to that good-looking foreigner and it was too much for his sleep-deprived state and tired body to take. So, she was here after all with a guy! What will he do next?
Richard felt like a giant hand squeezed his heart and he felt an emotion so alien to him. He felt like going over to her veranda and staking his claim, telling the other guy that Maya is his, and no one else’s. But of course, he does not have that right! If Maya sees him here, she might even feel that he is stalking her. She told him in few words that him following her here is not really a good idea. But he can’t help himself. He was unable to concentrate since their exchange of text messages the day before ended. He also kept hearing in his head one word – ‘Jeremy’! In the afternoon, he gave up. He told Liza to clear his schedule the next couple of days as he will be taking a short vacation. He realized afterwards that he gave Liza a shock. He just got back and now he was taking another vacation without prior notice. She must have been very curious as he also asked her to book a flight for him to Cagayan de Oro that same afternoon. Luckily, and through her contacts, she found him a seat on the last flight for the day. He also told her to book a hotel in Cagayan de Oro as when he looked online, he discovered that there was no more ferry going to Camiguin that day.
That was the easy part of this spur-of-the-moment thing that he did! The difficult and the tricky part was finding out where Maya was staying. She didn’t tell him. He was at a lost on how to go about it, when he thought of giving Maya’s cousin a call. Emman Castro knows him after all, and he still has his number. Emman was surprised and curious to have heard from him after six months. They chatted for a bit. Then as there was no way go about it, he asked Emman if he knows where Maya is staying in Camiguin. Emman was surprised that he even knew that Maya was in Camiguin as she only told him and his Mom where she would be! Richard mentioned that Maya and him texted each other that morning. To his surprise, Emman didn’t ask questions, and just gave him the name of the place where his cousin was staying. But before they ended the phone call, he wished Richard good luck!
Maya’s laughter brought Richard back to the present. She was laughing at what that guy was telling her. She also thanked him for the green looking drink he was helping her drink, and he distinctly heard her calling him Jeremy. So, that’s Jeremy! Richard assessed his ‘rival’. They seemed to be of the same age. He didn’t like the fact that the guy has his hand on Maya’s back. He scowled and his eyes turned into tiny slits.
It was that moment that Maya looked beyond Jeremy and saw a guy from across the veranda. He looks like….he looks like, but that can be, but he looks like….Richard Lim! She blinked, thinking that she was still experiencing the effects of too much alcohol in her system. Also, maybe, she was thinking too much of him and is now conjuring his image somehow. But after several blinks, he was still there.
“Ricky….! Maya blurted out, surprised.
Richard waved and smiled at her, overcoming whatever negative emotions he was feeling, seeing Maya with another guy. The die is cast, so to speak, he told himself, he is here, and he better find out the lay of the land.
Jeremy also turned and looked at where she was staring. “Oh, you know him, Maya! A friend of yours? Marina told me that there was a new guest who arrived early this morning, and that she had put him in the bungalow beside yours.”
“Yes, I know him.” Maya said, looking at Richard, still not fully believing that he is here, in Camiguin with her. She is completely sober now. She was not completely sure if it was because of Jeremy’s concoction or the fact that Richard is here!
Before she could say more, Maya saw Richard going down the steps, then walking towards her and Jeremy, so good-looking in his faded jeans and navy blue shirt. He carries himself well and walks with confidence.
“Hi Maya, good afternoon!” Richard greeted Maya cordially, gazing at her intensely for several seconds, then he looked at Jeremy, and simply said. “Hi! I’m Richard Lim.”
“Hello Richard, welcome to Mimosa, I’m Jeremy Edwards. My friend Scott Talbot and I own this little paradise in Camiguin.” Jeremy introduced himself before Maya could. He offered his hand to Richard. “I’m also a friend of Maya’s.” Looking at Maya and giving her a big smile.
“Nice to meet you Jeremy! Thank you. You have a beautiful place here.” Richard said more amiably, especially after hearing that Jeremy is the owner of this place and he introduced himself as Maya’s friend, not as her boyfriend as he had feared! Reading between the lines, the situation he barged in seemed to be not as serious as he had thought. He still believes, though, that Jeremy is very much interested in Maya.
“Richard, I didn’t expect to see you here!” Maya finally managed to say after she told her fast beating heart to calm down. “When did you leave Manila?”
“Well, I just thought I needed a vacation, too.” He said, trying to be nonchalant. “I left Manila late yesterday afternoon and I stayed the night at Cagayan de Oro. Then this morning, I took the first ferry going here.”
“How did you find out where I am staying?” Maya asked directly for she does not think that Richard ended up in Mimosa by coincidence, even if he said that he just needed a vacation. Why of all places, he would choose Camiguin? Besides, he just got back from his long vacation abroad!
Richard looked at Jeremy who was looking at them with too much interest, though he pretended not to. There were things he wants to say to Maya in private, very private. He does not want an audience.
“I better get going, Maya.” Jeremy suddenly said, standing up, taking with him his untouched, and now cold, coffee cup. “May I get you something, Richard, breakfast like Maya’s or drinks?”
“Oh, yes, a cup of coffee, if it is not too much trouble.” Richard replied.
“Okay, coming right up.” Jeremy said. “I guess, no more scooter trip today, Maya?” He remarked and then look at Maya inquiringly. They have agreed to explore some inner parts of the island, near Mount Hibok-Hibok that day.
“Yes, we can still go. How about we meet in two hours?” Maya said, grabbing at the lifeline Jeremy extended to her. Anyway, they did agree to explore, and she can’t just drop it because Richard arrived there unexpectedly. She felt that also needed that excursion especially now that Richard is there.
“If you are sure?” Jeremy just had to ask one more time.
Maya nodded. So he said okay and then he was gone. He wanted to give her and Richard some privacy. There was something going on here that he does not know about. Jeremy was sure of that. He felt himself de trop. He was sensing a strong undercurrent, so to speak, between Maya and this good-looking Filipino-Chinese guy. He likes Maya a lot, but it looks like he was not the only one!
Both Maya and Richard stared at Jeremy’s departing figure with different thoughts in mind. Maya was actually thinking about Richard and his unexpected presence there. Richard, on the other hand, felt a mixed of emotions. He thought he had a good reading of the situation, and yet, Maya and Jeremy are still going on a ‘date’ later even with him here! But what can he expect anyway, he just barged in, come to think of it. But he was there, and he needed to find out. It was then, or never.
Three days seemed like a lifetime while he was in Manila, so here he was, with the beautiful woman who had taken over his thoughts! Either things will get clearer or muddier after their stay in that beautiful island!
Note: And Richard listened to you, guys! 🙂 He followed Maya to Camiguin! 🙂 Actually, I was not really planning on them meeting in Camiguin next, but as most of you wished it, there it is. Pardon the typos and such. I’ll go over the chapter again later. I need a break from my laptop for a bit. The next chapter is almost done (and that was after drinking several cups of coffee and tea earlier!) I write better with some ‘background noise’, so the past two days I have been camping out at the coffee shop near where I live! I’ll just polish it and upload it, probably, tomorrow! Have a nice evening! 🙂
Maya stared at the breathtaking view before her, took a sip of her brewed coffee, and sighed, contented. This was just what she needed at that time of the year, and especially with her current state of mind. She looked at her ring finger. Instead of an engagement and a wedding ring, what’s there is a simple white gold ring with small colorful gemstones, something she got from one of her trips abroad. Yes, it has been five years since she was left at the altar by her groom!
She is over that painful, embarrassing, and at the same time, life changing period in her life. With hindsight, she knew she had a lucky escape. But being left at the altar while she and her groom where about to exchange ‘I dos’ marked her as a person and how she dealt with relationships after that. It shook her confidence, as she thought, and with the bravado of youth, that she knew what love was, and that at 22 years old, she was ready to commit herself to a lifetime to the one person she thought was her forever. She had loved her fiance James, like forever! They were childhood sweethearts. But come to think of it, did she really? He was her one and only relationship. She thought she knew him, as they have practically grew up together, but it turned out, he was a complete stranger who had led a life completely opposite of what he was having with her! He had shown only what he wanted her to see. Everything, when it unravelled, was a complete surprise to her. She was that naive!
Yes, that day was the anniversary of what she called as ‘the jilting’, also known as the day she grew up. It was the day she vowed that love only exists in the pages of romance novels and in cinema screens, not in real life. It was a belief further validated by the relationships of people she care about, from friends to relatives who were all unlucky in love, despite the fact that they have given love all that they can give. However, ‘the jilting’ was not the main reason why she was at a beach instead of her office at MEP. She was there because of Richard Lim.
Meeting Richard Lim unsettled her in a big way. It was like she was standing on wobbly legs. She can’t explained the intense attraction and the emotions he evoke in her, with his magnetic gazes, the warmth that he had shown her and his physical attractiveness that calls on to her. He had been in her thoughts since they spent that wonderful afternoon in the Lims’ private cafe. Being with him there, it felt like they have known each other for a long time. She was also very much intensely aware of him physically. It was confusing to her as even if she dated a lot, she didn’t feel that attraction to her dates. In fact, none of them evoke even a speck of the emotions that Richard had elicited from her. Emman, at times, accused her of dating only safe guys, those that she was sure of, she was not attracted to, emotionally and physically.
She really tried not to think of Richard, but she was unable to do so. He even invaded her dream and it was not just the run-of-the-mill technicolor variety, but one that borders on the stuffs you read in the pages of steamy romance novels! It was an effort to concentrate on the job she was supposed to do in Bukidnon! When Vivian, the information officer of the company that contracted MEP, asked her what were her plans after their project, she was at a lost at first, as she was just really planning on that several days in Bukidnon, then a day in Cagayan de Oro City where she was based, then fly back to Manila. But when Vivian suggested that she should see some of the tourist spots in the area since she was already there, she jumped at the opportunity. She thought then that maybe, it will quell the listlessnes she was feeling. But she told Vivian she can go on her own, when she offered to go with her. Maya knew that Vivian has a lot of things to do and she didn’t want to impose on her. Aside from that, Maya really wanted to be alone. The more she thought about it, the idea of walking barefoot on a beach somewhere, sounded more and more attractive.
She called Emman and Tita Margarita. She told them she would like to take several days off and explore the area a bit, assuring them that she can handle all the projects she was handling from there. In this day and age, and with technology, except for doing the actual presentations to clients and supervising the event itself, Maya can work anywhere as long as there is a good mobile phone signal and a stable internet connection.
Emman wished that he was going with Maya. However, it was impossible to do so as he has two weddings and a society debut to organize. Tita Margarita, who was doing so much better then, but still taking it easy, told her to go ahead as she has not have a break since she got sick. Maya also knew that her aunt thought that her vacation had something to do with what happened to her five years ago. Her aunt was her anchor when she was jilted at the altar. She had helped her picked up the pieces of her broken forever, and set her to work at MEP, at first to distract her, but she discovered that she liked the events planning business, except weddings. Prior to that, she was working in advertising agency. The same agency where James still works.
Maya took another sip of coffee, then sat cross-legged on the most comfortable wicker chair she had sat into. While her mind was still unsettled, she felt rested. From Bukidnon, she went back to Cagayan de Oro, and then she traveled to the pier that would take her to this beautiful island three days ago. She has two more days left here and she would like to enjoy every moment of it. For that day, she rented a scooter and was going around the island again, stopping at the seafood restaurant near the pier than then back to the beautiful beach resort she stumbled upon. It does not take very long to go around Camiguin. She had been around the island at a leisurely pace in the mornings, lying in the hammock in her veranda for afternoon siesta with a book and walking along the beach, sometimes, swimming, in the late afternoons, then sitting on a mat until the sun sets. Since it was not yet the tourist season, Maya had practically the whole stretch of beach to herself.
But another cup of coffee, before she leaves for the day would be good, she thought! However, before Maya could pour herself another cup, her mobile phone beeped. Thinking that it might be Emman and work, she stood up and walked to the small table inside her room where she had left her phone. Absent-mindedly, she swiped it to open, then looked at the text message from an unfamiliar number. Her heart skipped a beat when she realized who texted her.
Hi Maya! Got your number from my EA Liza! We forgot to exchange numbers last Wednesday How are you? Are you back in Manila? I hope it is not a bad time to text. But if you are busy, just reply later. I can wait. – Richard Lim
The seconds after he had sent the message seemed longer for Richard. Snap out of it, Ricky Lim? You don’t even know if she will be able to read the message promptly. You even told her that you can wait. Then his phone beeped and he almost jumped. He hastily checked his message.
Hi Richard! No, I’m still in Mindanao. I decided to take a short vacation after my business trip here. I’m in Camiguin, actually. I’ll be back in Manila three days from now. Do you want me to go to Lim Corp. and make that report to you as soon as I’m back? I did send Adrian my presentation and also the budget breakdown for the whole campaign. I have a draft of the report. I an also email it to you now, and if you have questions, I can just answer via e-mail also, or when we see each other at Lim’s.
Oh, I’m so sorry, Maya. You are still in Mindanao! No, I’m asking if you are back, not because of work. It can wait. Anyway, the anniversary is in six months time and I think we have enough lead time for that. Besides, I trust MEP to do a very good job. The thing is, I would to ask if you would like to have dinner with me? How about the day after you return?
Richard paused for a second before sending his reply, but shrugged, then pressed the send button. It was really the reason why he texted her. He even waited several days after her projected return before he made his move. He nervously tapped the table while waiting for her reply.
Maya felt herself flushed when she read his latest text. Her heart was definitely galloping. Be still my heart, she told herself.
Sure, Richard. I would love to! Where do I meet you?
Great! Thank you Maya. I’ll just pick you up from your place. Would that be okay?
Sure, Richard, I’ll just text you the address after this.
Good, and please call me Ricky please. ‘Richard’ is more for the office and acquaintances.
Okay, Ricky then! 🙂 Here’s my address….. See you soon!
Richard smiled when he found out where Maya lives. It is in the same building as his cousin Rafi!
Got it! See you, Maya. Looking forward to our dinner. Enjoy the rest of your vacation. I wish I’m there with you, though!
Richard didn’t know what prompted him to add that last sentence. Well, he does wish that he was with her at that moment, that’s the truth. He and Maya, by the beach, walking with hands interlaced talking about everything under the sun, getting to know each other, or by the veranda of their villa sharing a bottle of wine, them lying on a mat soaking in the sun, and the atmosphere, gazing at each other, and then because they can’t help it, it would led to them exchanging kisses and more….
Stop there, Richard Lim. Don’t go in there. Are you a masochist? Torturing yourself! Isn’t it bad enough that you can’t get her out of your head the past several days! He even subtly pumped his mother for information about Maya and her aunt on the pretext of telling her that they were the ones doing the 50th anniversary campaign of Lim Corporation. Surprisingly, his mother was full of information about Maya, though, she didn’t mention what exactly happened to Maya, when she was left at the altar. His mother seemed to like Maya very much, that’s what he gathered.
His phone beeped again.
You will like it here, Ricky. The place is very beautiful.
He smiled. An imp seemed to have possessed him.
I can still follow you there.
Richard left it that. A plan is forming in his head. He needed to check his schedule. It was so tempting. He was being ruled not by his head anymore, but by his desire to be with her, to see her!
Maya fretted after reading Richard’s open-ended text. Was he going to follow her there???? She was starting to go into a panic mode. She was not ready for that. He was the reason why she was there. She decided to send him another text.
Well, maybe, that wouldn’t be a good idea, Ricky. So, short time to enjoy this beautiful island. Maybe, next time?
Richard was a bit disappointed when he read her message, but he understood what she was not actually saying. Everything is happening too fast anyway!
Okay, maybe next time is better. I’ll just see you on Saturday.
Maya heaved a sigh of relief.
See you, Ricky. I really have to go now. Jeremy is here now with my scooter.
Who the hell is Jeremy? Richard scowled when he read Maya’s latest text. Is she there with someone, after all? What right does he has to ask, anyway? Now, he is more unsettled than ever.
Unbeknown to Richard, Jeremy is the owner of the resort where Maya was staying. She had exchanged pleasantries with him and his friend and business partner, Scott, another transplanted English guy, but that’s about it. She didn’t want to encourage the interest she saw in his eyes. He is gorgeous, but she feels nothing for him, not even a glimmer of attraction.
Back in Manila, Richard, brows knitted, drummed his fingers on his office table. Lord, it’s going to be a long several days before he sees her! It was like a fever in his blood, this attraction to her, the emotions she make him feel. She was very much in his thoughts since they parted for the night. It is a feeling so alien to him, and he hated not knowing, so once and for all, he needed to find out and resolves this ‘thing’ with Maya. Soon!
Richard and Maya were both mostly silent on the short walk to the elevator banks. Both of them were intensely aware of each other. Maya felt the heat of Richard’s hand on her back, seemingly branding her. She was very much aware of Richard, period! He affected her so, for reasons she can’t yet fathom. She had met equally goodlooking, though, not as handsome, and suave guys, and some even courted her. But this was the first time she was equally attracted to one in such a level, in such an instensity she was having a hard time grasping. Though, her subsconscious must have already known and felt it the first time they laid eyes on each other and despite the circumstances at that time!
Richard was very much aware of Maya’s unique scent and the graceful way she moves. They would look at each other from time to time, and share a smile. Earlier, he noticed Maya’s surprise when he put his hand on her back to escort her out of the room. It was something he was unable to stop himself from doing. He is terribly drawn to this beautiful lady. He must have known that she and him are fated to meet again. The instant attraction he felt the first time he laid eyes on her should have been an indication! To think, it had happened when his world shifted and it felt like someone pulled the rug from under him!
It sounded like it took a look time for the elevator to arrive when it was just a minute or two. When it finally did, Richard gestured for Maya to go in first. He pressed the button going to the penthouse of the building instead of the one going to the lobby where a small but very inviting coffee shop is. Maya have been there several times while doing the last project with Lim Corporation. She didn’t ask Richard where they were going as she presumed there are other places to have coffee in the building.
“I hope this place is okay with you, Maya.” Richard asked Maya as he opened the glass door of a beautiful and the most inviting cafe Maya had laid eyes on! She can live and drink coffee here to her heart’s content and never leave!
“More private than the coffee shop at the lobby.” Richard remarked.
Indeed, Maya thought, it was really more private as they were the only ones inside the unique cafe! It has floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides with a magnificent view of the city and the mountains beyond it, and a garden on the third side, opposite the entrance. The interiors resemble that of a country home. It evokes comfort and laid back coffee afternoons and snack times with the whole family on Sundays.
“This is the family’s private coffee shop here at Lim Corporation. My family is big on drinking coffee, so my mother thought of this.” Richard explained. “Some members of my family also holds office in this building. They congregate here once in a while. We are lucky this afternoon, we are the only ones here!”
“No, this is very much, okay. I’m not much for loud places actually. This is really a very beautiful place, Sir, errr, Richard.” Maya opted for the more formal one as ‘Ricky’ was too intimate, considering that technically, this was their first meeting! Aside from that fact, he and his company are clients. Not that there is a rule against it.
The barista greeted them with a big smile when he saw them. “Good afternoon, Sir Richard, welcome back. Good afternoon Ma’am!” He nodded at Maya respectfully.
“Hello Francis. Thank you. It’s nice to be back. It has been a while. Never had the opportunity to come up here until now.” Richard greeted the tall, older guy wearing a white shirt and dress slacks with a big smile. “Maya this is our long-time barista here, Francis. Francis, this is Ms. Maya Dela Rosa. What would you like, Maya? You can have some pasta with your coffee. Please do have some, it past snack time. You didn’t eat earlier!”
“Hello Francis. Thank you, Richard.” Maya looked at the chalk menu board, at the same time, wondering, how come Richard even noticed that she was unable to even take a sip of her coffee when she was dying too, earlier! “I’ll just have hot americano, and a serving of that mushroom truffles pasta.”
“Your usual, Sir Richard?” Francis asked. Through the years, he had gotten familiar with the preferences of the Lim and So families who frequent the cafe. Before his cancelled wedding, Sir Richard was a fixture in the cafe. But like he said, this was the first time he was here since that unfortunate incident. In all those times, he has not brought his fiancée here, for some reason. This was actually the first time he saw him here with a lady.
“Please. Thank you, Francis.”
Richard led Maya to a table by the window. He pulled the seat first for her, before sitting across her. Maya thanked him and when they were both seated, there was a tense, but not exactly uneasy silence between them, crackling with awareness of each other. There was really this buzz between them and no matter how both of them try to ignore it, it is making its presence felt. They would gaze at each other, until Maya can’t stand it anymore. She just needed to break the silence. She asked the first thing she thought of.
“Is there anything you need….”
“Do you want to…..”
Maya laughed, a little breathlessly. It seemed she was not the only one wanting to break the silence between them!
Richard gave Maya a lopsided smile. Awww, he looks so cute. Maya thought.
“Go ahead, Maya!” Richard said. “Sorry!”
“Oh, I just want to ask what is it you would like to discuss with me. Is there anything else that I was not able to cover in my presentation earlier?” Maya explained and before she can stop herself, added, “I noticed that you didn’t ask questions while I was presenting.”
Richard smiled inwardly at her last statement. Hmmm, she noticed! He felt happy knowing.
“Oh, not really! Like what my father had said earlier, your presentation was very detailed. The thing is, I invited you for coffee on a purely personal level.” He admitted, gazing at Maya, meaningfully.
Maya looked at him in surprised. She was not expecting his answer at all.
“First, I want to thank you for your help six months ago. As soon as I entered the room earlier, I knew you were the lady who gave me Lucy’s letter during my aborted wedding. Thank you for keeping a cool head at that time.” Richard started, wanting this part to be over and done with, then he took a deep breath and plunged in, saying candidly while gazing at her intently, “Secondly, I want to get to know you better!”
“Oh!” Maya managed to utter, at the same time, thinking, he remembers me! She thought that he wouldn’t. He didn’t give any indication earlier that he remembered, except that she seemed to be the focus of his very intense gazes. “I’m sorry for what happened. I wish it had turned out differently.” Maya started saying, looking for words to say, then his second statement sunk in. It flustered her and gave her a warm feeling somewhere in her chest at the same time.
“Thank you, Maya. But don’t be. I’m glad the wedding didn’t push through.” Richard said candidly, seeing, that Maya seemed to be lost for words. “I had a lucky escape.”
“But I thought….I thought that you and Lucy were very much in love….” Maya blurted out helplessly, then shrugged. She does not really want to pry, but Richard has been dropping bombshells on her since they sat down.
“We were not, Maya, actually. Doubly so, because she jilted me and married another!” Richard said. “It was supposed to be a marriage of convenience. Love? It was something I stopped believing in a long time ago. Love is so overrated.”
Maya was startled to hear that. It was her exact sentiment after handing Richard Lucy’s letter six month ago.
“You look surprised, Maya? Did I shock you? I’m sorry, I just want to be completely honest with you.”
“No, no, Richard! You didn’t. I was just startled as it was my exact thoughts after I handed you Lucy’s letter. That love is overrated.” She explained and since it seemed like they have been injected with a truth serum that afternoon, also admitted, “You are not the only one who stopped believing in love a long time ago.”
It was Richard’s turn to be surprised. He was about to ask her why, when Francis arrived with their coffee and food. Maya noticed that Richard is having the same food and drink that she ordered.
“Sir Richard, Ma’am Maya, enjoy your food and coffee.” Francis said, after he had laid down everything on the table. “Let me know of you need anything else.”
Both of them thanked Francis. Maya started putting two scoops of muscovado sugar on her coffee, while mulling what she just admitted to Richard. She is not normally that candid! When she was done, she offered to make Richard’s coffee and asked him how many scoops of sugar she should put. He told her the same as hers.
Richard took a sip of his coffee after thanking Maya for making it for him. “This tastes better than I remember Maya. It must be because you made it.” He said, offhand, giving her a big smile. “Shall we eat!”
Maya smiled at Richard. The two of them started eating. Maya love the mushroom truffles pasta and she didn’t realize how hungry she was until the first taste of the mouth-watering pasta invaded her taste buds. They didn’t talk the first couple of minutes, though they exchanged smiles. Both lost in their thoughts about this afternoon’s revelations.
It seems like he was not the only one cynical about love, was Richard’s thoughts. He was really surprised as he thought Maya believes in happy ever afters. She is after all a wedding planner and, he believes, you have to be a little romantic for you to go to into that profession. She looks like a girl who believes in forever. What gives? He was dying to ask but he does not want to pry. He respects her privacy and her reasons.
“You are Tita Margarita’s niece, I gathered? Emman Castro is your cousin? It was him that I met with when we were planning the wedding. I have met your aunt several times at one of my parents parties, but not you.” Richard queried instead, wanting to get to know Maya more, despite the fact that he was not in the market for a serious relationship. It sounded like she is not too, if his gut feel is correct. “How long have you been in the events planning business? ”
“Yes, Emman is my cousin. Tita Margarita and my mother were sisters. She took me in and raised me like her own when my parents died in a plane crash when I was 15 years old. Emman and I, we are like brother and sister instead of cousins. I joined the business two years after I finished college. That was five years ago.” Maya said. She refused to dwell anymore on what happened to her before going into events planning. “Emman handles the social side of the business, with Tita Margarita, and I handle the corporate accounts. The arrangement suit us as he and she both like weddings and parties. I don’t. The one and only time crossed to the other side was your wedding as Tita Margarita was still recovering from her stroke.”
“I’m sorry for the lost of your parents. It must have been a very difficult time for you.” Richard said and before he could stop himself, he asked. “Any particular reason why you don’t like weddings?”
“Thank you, Richard. It was more than 10 years ago. I still miss them but I’m okay. ” Maya looked at Richard, then took a long sip of her coffee before answering his question. Maybe, it is better to lay things in the open, and diffuse this attraction she is feeling for this handsome guy. It’s an emotion alien to her and it unsettles her and the structured life she had built for herself the past several years. “You are not the only one who was left at the altar, Richard! And I’m sorry, that is all I can say about that matter.”
“I’m sorry, Maya. I don’t want to pry. Of course, I respect your privacy, but thank you for telling me that. I’m sorry too that it happened to you.” Richard managed to say. Maya surprised the hell out of him with that statement. Now, he understands why she looked like that when she was walking towards him six months ago, and the courage it took her to take those steps.
“Thank you Richard. But like you have said, don’t be. I’m past it. It was a lucky escape as well.” Maya said, then changed the topic. “This pasta is really good. This is also your favorite here?”
Richard accepted Maya’s effort to shift the conversation. They already have a lot to think about. What an afternoon it turned out to be! “Yes, it is. I missed this pasta, actually. This is the first time I have been here since I returned to Lim Corporation.”
“Really! Where have you been the past several months, if I may ask?” Maya said, thinking that Richard wouldn’t mind the question anyway since he started the conversation about his cancelled wedding earlier. “My cousin Emman mentioned that you left for parts unknown after the cancelled wedding!”
“I went to South Africa, and then to some parts of Europe.” Richard replied and then over sips of coffee, he gave her a condense version of his trip. Not about the deep soul-searching part of it, but his experience in traveling to parts unknown. Seeing Maya laughing at his anecdotes, he continued regaling her with his funny experiences, until their single cup of coffee became two and day become night without them realizing it, until a lightning lit the night sky.
“Oh, look at the time!” Maya exclaimed. She didn’t notice of the passing of time. “I should get going, Richard. I have an early flight tomorrow.”
“Okay.” Richard said. He too, was surprised to realize that Maya and him had been here for several hours. “May I take you home?”
“Thank you for the offer, Richard. I have my car with me. It’s in the basement parking of your building!”
“Oh, okay, I will just accompany you there. And before you protest, I insist. It is getting late and most of the employees have gone home.”
The two of them boarded the elevator after thanking Francis for their wonderful meal. Like on the way up, both were silent on the way to the parking garage. When they have reached Maya’s car, Maya thanked Richard. “Thank you for a wonderful afternoon, Richard. It was a lovely meal. I don’t think I can still eat dinner.”
“The pleasure is mine, Maya. I had a wonderful time also.” Richard said, gazing at Maya’s lovely face intently. “Take care. Have a safe flight and enjoy your stay wherever you are going.”
“Thank you, Richard. It’s work. I’m going to Bukidnon for one of our clients’ office there.” Maya said smiling. Then offering her hand, she said, ” Nice meeting and spending time with you.”
Richard shook Maya’s hand, but didn’t let go of it. Instead, he asked Maya, softly. “May I see you again, Maya?”
Maya’s heart skipped a beat with that softly worded, sounding like a caress, request. She took a deep breath. “Sure, Richard. Please give me a call at some point. I’ll be back in three days time.” Maya hoped she sounded calm when she said that.
“Great! I will do that.” Richard gave Maya a bone-melting smile which she returned with one that lit up her beautiful face. “Good night.”
Maya boarded her car with a big smile. Richard waited until she was on the way out of the parking garage before he returned to his office.
Both felt something big was going on between them. Something that two people who are cynical about love and relationship shouldn’t be feeling. Where do they go from there? They both asked themselves that as they went their separate ways that night.
Richard Lim stared at the view from his floor-to-ceiling office window, without really seeing anything. The beauty of the afternoon, when the sun is at its brightest and most vibrant and the distant mountains looking majestic and mysterious, was lost on him that day. He stared at his bare ring finger. A ring would have been there had Lucy didn’t run away from their wedding exactly six months ago!
Lucy not showing up at THE society wedding of the decade created the juiciest stir not only in the society they both move in, but in the country in general, as the television networks reported on it in details, and Lucy jilting him at the altar went viral on social media. Memes were also created of women offering to replace Lucy at the altar. Some bashed her for running away from him and eloping with the lead singer of a popular band whom, it turned out, was her real love. They had a stormy relationship which her parents didn’t approve of. In the end, she defied them and eloped with the guy, who was not exactly unknown, especially as he has legions of fans, so her action really created quite a juicy stir. Lucy and her boyfriend got married in Las Vegas three weeks later.
One month after his aborted wedding, and after he had helped his and Lucy’s parents cleaned up the mess that her impulsive action created, he packed his bags and went to the farthest place he could think of at that moment, South Africa. One of his Harvard friends is from Johannesburg. He had an open invitation from Mattheu to visit him and his family. He had to get away from everything to keep his sanity. It felt like his life became an open book that anyone who has access to social media can just freely talk about. He needed to be away, until things dies down to a natural death, or another scandal overtakes it.
He also wanted to escape the intrigues and the whispering every time he would show up in social gatherings and official functions that he needed to attend to. Not that it affected him. He just hated to be in the spotlight like that. As for his heart, it didn’t healing as he was not really in love with Lucy. Theirs was supposed to be a marriage of convenience. He liked her and he felt that they would suit because of their similar backgrounds and the same circle that they move in, so he agreed to what his father wanted him to do, marry a Ventura to consolidate and strengthen their business holdings.
Richard gave up on love a long time ago. For him, it was something that exists in the pages of romance novels or those countless rom-coms the movie industry comes up with! It was an emotion he stopped feeling, and which he actually considers as a weakness. He had experienced it before and he had seen how love destroyed one of his closest friends. He dated, but kept his heart unattached. With Lucy leaving him at the altar, he was also not keen on getting married, ever! Indeed, he had a lucky escape!
In South Africa, he had avoided clicking on Philippine news websites and he refused to open his emails unless it was work-related. He toured around and being there for four weeks help him sort his thoughts. Afterwards, he decided not to return yet, and his father assured him it was perfectly okay, so he went to France, Italy and Spain for three more months, enjoying anonymity. He also realized that it was a good thing that he and Lucy didn’t end up together! He admitted that he was starting to feel like that when the wedding planner approached him, and indirectly gave him salvation and like a death row convict about to be executed, a reprieve. Yes, an extreme comparison but that was how he felt as the bridal march started playing. He was calm and stoic when that beautiful woman handed him the letter. He knew what had happened and all he felt was relief, tremendous relief.
From time to time, he would also think about the beautiful woman from the wedding, whom he found out later on, was indeed one of the wedding planners and a niece of the owner. He remembered her beautiful face and the way she gracefully walked towards him and the gaze they shared before everything broke loose. He dismissed the thoughts, that would crept in his brain, of finding her when he returns, as he was not in a market for another serious relationship. She looked like a woman one marries and not just play around with. There was nothing casual about her, that was his initial impression.
When he returned to the Philippines a month ago, he buried himself in work during the day, and his nights and weekends were reserved to going out with his friends, having a beer and a drink here and there, and playing pool. He steered clear of serious relationships and just went on casual dates. But that too, paled and lost its luster after a while. The women he met hoped that they would be THE Mrs. Richard Lim, that they are the one who can heal what they perceived was his broken heart. They were so easy, ready to hop into his bed just several hours after meeting him!
Richard was jolted back to the present with that. He turned around and saw his secretary by the door of his office.
“Yes, Liza? Are they here?” He asked. He and the directors of the company, also his father, have a meeting with some events planner that afternoon. Typical of his father to include everyone when, in Richard’s point of view, it can be handled by their corporate communications manager! But maybe, his father wanted everyone there as the event would be a milestone for the company.
“Yes, Sir Richard. They are at the conference room, including your father.” Liza Adriano, Richard Lim’s secretary and executive assistant since he became Chief Operating Officer of Lim Corporation five years ago, said. “Is there anything else you need for the meeting?”
“No, nothing, Liza! Thank you. Please go ahead. I’ll be there in a couple of minutes.” Richard stood up, straightened his tie, then grab his iPad and phone, and walked briskly towards the executive offices’ conference room.
When Richard entered the room, the first thing he saw and noticed was the silhouette of a woman attaching a MacBook to the HDMI cable port of the huge TV there which they use for presentations. His heart suddenly beat faster as she looked familiar.
The woman turned and he caught his breath. It is her! The woman from his aborted wedding! The woman locked gaze with Richard. She looked so beautiful in the shift dress she was wearing. It hugged all her curves, but more than that, he was immediately drawn to her doe-shaped eyes fringed with long eyelashes and pouty lips. He felt an instant attraction to her.
Before Richard can say anything, his father cut into his thoughts.
“Ricky is here, we can start now, Adrian, please.” Mr. Roberto Lim, CEO of Lim Corporation told Adrian Samonte, the company’s Corporate Communications Head.
Roberto Lim then gestured for Richard to take the seat across the alluring woman from his wedding who seemed flustered at seeing him. Was she remembering too, the last time, well the one and only time their paths have crossed? He asked himself as he settled into his seat.
“Good morning everyone, as stated in my e-mail to all of you, Manila Events Planning will present to us today the campaign for Lim Corporation’s 50th anniversary celebration. Here with us this morning is Ms. Maya Dela Rosa, MEP’s Head of Corporate Planning Services. She is not a stranger to most of you as this is not the first project MEP did for us.” Adrian said. “Maya, you have met most of us, except maybe, Sir Richard as he just got back last month from vacation.”
Most of those present, nodded, including Roberto Lim, as Maya’s Tita Margarita is a friend of his and his wife Esmeralda. So, she had done a project for Lim Corporation before! Richard thought to himself. It must have been around the time he was away.
Nevertheless, Adrian made the formal introductions with a round of hands shaking and greetings. The last hand that Maya shook was Richard. She felt a jolt when their hands touched and she barely managed to hide her surprise and reaction to a seemingly innocent touch. Richard gave her a lopsided smile. He, too needed to gain some sort of equilibrium. He needed to dispel the effect of her hand in his, brief that it was.
“Maya, you may start, please.” Adrian said, signalling Maya to start her presentation, and breaking into her thoughts. She gave Richard Lim a polite smile, then return to where her laptop was placed.
Maya stood still for several seconds when she got there to collect her thoughts which got a bit off track with Richard’s presence and its effect on her. She was not expecting him to be here as she thought he was still abroad, as Emman had mentioned to her, updating her on the latest society talks, even if sometimes, she does not want to hear about the latest society gossip. Soon after Richard Lim had left for parts unknown, her events planning company was hired by Lim Corporation for the launch of their new business, solar energy panels for homes and office use. When she felt that she was calm enough, she proceeded with the presentation, outlining to the members of Lim Corporation’s executive board the plan for the golden anniversary celebration of the company founded by Richard Lim’s grandfather, Ricardo.
The whole room listened attentively while Maya outlined the plan and the series of campaign that her company is proposing, which includes various CSR activities as a way of giving back and thanking everyone who had supported and patronized the company through the years, then full-page spreads on the history of the company on the top two major dailies in the country. She also made mentioned that her team would need to photograph every department and every executive for the newspaper spread. The anniversary celebration will be capped with a charity gala and a party for the employees of the company wherein loyalty awards will be given.
One or two times, Roberto Lim raised some questions, which Maya answered deftly and concisely. The whole time she was presenting, Maya was aware of Richard’s eyes on her. Yes, she knew that everyone’s eyes was on her, but it felt like it was just Richard and her in that big room, and despite the cold temperature, she felt flushed. She kept repeating to herself that she needed to fight the thing she was feeling, his effect on her. For God sake, she was presenting to practically all the people who run this big company! They are a major client of MEP!
Richard was also having a hard time taking his eyes off the beautiful, graceful lady before him. He knew that he should listen attentively, but his intense awareness of Maya was stronger, drowning the details of her presentation in his head, and when their eyes would lock from time to time, he felt a sudden breathlessness and he felt the effect of her innocent gaze affecting his body. Richard Lim, he told himself, snap out of it, you are in a meeting and she is doing a professional presentation. He ought to know the details for this project, but nothing registered in his head, he just watched the opening and closing of Maya’s luscious lips, and the way her body moved as she explained the campaign to them.
When Maya was done, and the other executives were finished asking for clarifications on some aspects of the execution on of the campaign, Roberto Lim, spoke. “Thank you for your presentation, Maya, very detailed and exactly what we want for our major milestone. Please start executing it according to the timeline you presented. Whatever you need from LC’s side, Adrian can handle it. However, please give my son a weekly report. He will be taking over while I’m away with my wife for a month.” He finished with a friendly smile. “Vacation.”
“Thank you very much, Mr. Lim. Yes, Sir we will do as indicated. Then I will report to Sir Richard on the progress. Have a nice vacation with Mrs. Lim.” Maya replied. She had met Esmeralda Lim at her aunt’s house several times and she likes the old lady.
The executives piled out of the room after Adrian declared the meeting adjourned. Maya stayed behind to pack her laptop away. Thinking that she was already alone, Maya started humming her current LSS! When she was finished she lifted her head and saw Richard Lim by the door, arms folded on his, now she knows, very muscular chest, as the gesture stretched the pale blue dress shirt he was wearing, much to her distraction. Maya blushed profusely.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, Mr. Lim. I thought I’m alone!” Maya said, wanting her blush to fade. “Is there anything you need?”
Richard looked at a flustered Maya Dela Rosa. She is cute. So human, unlike earlier wherein she was the epitome of professionalism and grace. He was about to go back to his office after saying goodbye to his father, when, for some unexplained reason, he decided to seek Maya out. His excuse, he was going to ask for her mobile number and other contact information. Yes, he knew, flimsy excuse as it is really Liza’s job to do, and she probably has it already in her file. But he can’t help it, he is drawn to this beautiful lady. He is physically attracted to her. He knows himself!
“Oh, you, actually!” He blurted out, and saw her startled expression, and blush. “Errr, what I mean, err…..” Richard collected his thought. Richard Lim you used to be suave! “What I mean, is would you like to have coffee with me? I noticed that you were unable to even take a sip of your coffee earlier. Are you in a hurry?”
Maya thinking that Richard wanted to discuss the plans for the anniversary further, nodded. Refusing to dwell on the fact that her heart skipped a beat with the invitation and she had replied without actually thinking about it. “Sure Sir, you want to discuss the plans in more details. Good thing also, as I would like to ask you or your executive assistant for the reporting schedule to you. I don’t have any other meeting aside from this one. In fact, I told my aunt that I would go directly home after this meeting with Lim Corporation as I’m going on a trip tomorrow.”
Richard didn’t correct Maya’s assumption. “Great!” He said with a big smile. “And please call me Ricky or Richard. May I call you Maya?”
Maya nodded and their gazes locked. She felt breathless. He felt his heart beating fast. They shared a smile.
“Shall we, Maya?” To Maya’s surprise, Richard put his hand on her back to escort her out of the conference room. As they walked out of the corporate offices, she was intensely aware of him. As they walked, they shared looks. It felt like they were on the verge of something they were not expecting and were not really looking for.
Note: Finally, here it is! Slowly finding my way back, indeed! Happy Friday everyone! ❤ 🙂