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!