The morning after his beautiful and very memorable evening with Maya, Richard woke up before the alarm he had set the night before. He slept fitfully, when he managed to do so, after more than an hour of tossing and turning late into the night. It took him a long time to get down from the emotional high he was in after the wonderful night with Maya. He didn’t really know what to expect when he took that leap to follow her in that beautiful island paradise. The outcome of his out of character, impulsive decision was more than he had hoped for. He felt extremely happy at that moment.
Richard smiled broadly, remembering how his and Maya’s beautiful night had ended, at the veranda of her bungalow, touching his lips, remembering that moment when their lips touched and connected, in a way he never imagined! Baby steps together, she had finally agreed to that, which is already a big deal for him, having gotten a glimpse of a painful experience in what she had shared with him so far, and what he can deduced from what his mother hinted! Emman seemed to be very protective of his cousin as well. It was really a surprise, but he was very grateful, of course, that he even told him her whereabouts and the schedule of her return to Manila.
He can wait until Maya is ready to take bigger steps or the complete leap with him. They can do this together. He himself is not sure of where this ‘thing’ with her will go or take him. He is not even sure he can take another walk down the aisle in the future. But what thing he is sure of, and seem helpless to stop or ignore, is this intense attraction and fascination for her. Really, he is feeling feelings for her that he has not felt before even with the girl who broke his heart, eons ago. Andrea is nothing but a dim memory now! He was so young and believed the best of people despite his father telling him otherwise. He had a very rude awakening. He had forgiven her but he hasn’t forgotten the lesson from that first time he had fallen in love, or he thought of.
Richard heaved a sigh, shaking his head. He does not want to dwell on that part of his life. Nothing positive and productive will come out of doing so. He is here in paradise with a beautiful girl he can’t get out of his head and he was thinking of that! He stretched his arms, then got out of the bed to get ready for the day. He is planning another beautiful time with Maya and he better check if everything is moving according to his plan.
While Richard was taking a shower, Maya was still staring at the ceiling of her bungalow, with a goofy smile, at the same time, touching her lips, remembering the unexpected ending to her and Richard’s beautiful night. Baby steps, indeed! It felt like they have unexpectedly taken a giant step with that kiss, that she was sure, both of them were not expecting to happen that night, nor were they prepared on the effect it would have on them. Both of them had startled looks on their faces when they broke apart.
It just happened! The two of them walked to her bungalow after their stroll down the beach. At her door, Richard told her again what a wonderful night he had. He also asked her if she would like to go around the island with him the following day after their breakfast. That is, if it is okay with her as he knew that he had been around the island the past several days and she might be tired of going around, especially she was also out earlier with Jeremy. She assured Richard she would be happy to do so, smiling at him. He was cute to be a bit unsure and hesitant in asking her, especially after the way he barged in on her vacation.
Richard softly thanked her again for everything and they said another rounds of goodnight, without actually making a move to, for her to unlock her door and him, to go back to his bungalow. They found themselves gazing at each other, and they lost sense of everything, except this intense awareness of each other. Richard took a deep breath, Maya sensed it, then he started lowering his lips to hers. As if they have a life of their own, her lips slowly opened anticipating Richard’s kiss. Their lips fused for the first time and it felt like a high voltage of electricity traveled through Maya. She gasped in surprise and she had felt Richard’s sudden intake of breath.
They broke apart after several long seconds. It did feel like it went on forever, but it only lasted several long seconds. Both of them were flushed, unable to say anything, gazing at each other with wonder, Richard caressing, unconsciously, Maya’s lips that he had thoroughly kissed. They stayed like that for several more seconds until a night sound, broke into the stunned state they were in. Richard started apologizing for the kiss, telling her that they did agree on baby steps and he seemed to have broken it so fast. She assured him that he need not apologize for what happened as it takes two person to kiss and that she was an active participant in it. They shared a smile, embraced each other as if they have been doing it a long time, then whispered a soft good night to each other again. Richard waited until she got into her bungalow before traveling the short distance to his.
The beeping of her mobile phone interrupted Maya’s recollection of that beautiful moment between her and Richard. She checked the message and muttered, about time, Cuz! She knows her cousin inside out and the fact that she has not gotten in touch with him was probably worrying him, thinking that she got mad when he gave Richard the information on where she was staying and her flight details. Emman was asking on the text if he can call, seemingly testing the waters. Maya decided to call him herself, as she had been meaning to, to put him out of misery.
“Cousin!!!!” Emman shrieked on the phone as soon as Maya picked up the call after the second ring. “Super sorry! Are you mad at me? I hope not too mad, super please!!!”
“Good morning to you, Cousin dear!” Maya greeted her cousin, slowly putting back her phone closer to her ear. Her ears were still ringing from Emman’s shriek. “Emman, calm down please. My ears are still ringing from your shriek.”
“Maya!!! You’re not mad at me?” Emman said in a, still high-pitched voice. “I have been waiting for your call. I was so sure you will after giving Richard Lim the information on your whereabouts and flight details. We always talk everyday and update each other on what has been happening at MEP, so when you didn’t, it occurred to me that you might be mad and that maybe, I should have not disclosed those information! So, have you seen each other? What is the latest on the two of you?” Emman asked rapidly.
“Hmmm, now I know why you called. You just want to know what the latest tsismis.” Maya teased her cousin, going further by saying, “You know, not only I have seen him, I spent the evening with him, and I have said, yes.”
“What???? You and him in a relationship? You have said yes that fast? OMG, Maya Dela Rosa, is that you? My anti-relationship cousin!” Emman asked incredulously.
“Hahahaha, gotcha!” Maya laughed heartily at Emman’s reaction. “Serves you right for selling out on your cousin, Emman.”
“Cuz, naman, I thought you are not mad at me!” Emman pouted at the other line. “Besides, I really had this feeling that I should tell him your whereabouts when he called me out of the blue. You know, instinct, female intuition at work, that sort of thing. Besides, I will not have given you out to a complete stranger, and Richard asked nicely and directly. I really thought that you and him have some sort of unfinished business six months ago. I saw you with him, you know, when you went to give him Lucy’s note and I also saw you two gazing at each other before you left the church. On both instances, there was something there, was my first thought.”
“Emman, you are telling me this now? Why? I didn’t even know you went inside the church again. I didn’t see you. I thought you were consoling Mrs. Ventura.”
“Well, I also got a bit worried about you. I knew you were placed in a difficult situation by Mrs. Ventura and you must have felt that you were reliving your experience with what happened to you with that good for nothing James Madrigal. When I saw you and Richard Lim gazing at each other, it was different, I swear. I knew the two of you were clueless, and I was also puzzled at what I sensed then. But I’m right di ba? There was something there.”
“Thank you for looking out for me, Cousin. I love you.” Maya said, touched at Emman’s concern. “Errr, yes! There was something then which I can’t define. It was still there when I saw him again at Lim Corporation last week. Technically, that was our first meeting. We had coffee afterwards and chatted for hours.”
“Wow, I didn’t even know about that. So, what’s your status now? I mean, you really haven’t said yes to him, right. Kind fast, especially for you who is allergic to relationships?”
“Of course, not yet, Emman.” Maya said quickly, not realizing the ‘yet’ she had put into her sentence.
“‘Not yet’, hmmmm, so does it means, what I think it means, that Richard Lim has a better chance than your poor suitors for the past five years.” Emman asked, teasing his cousin.
“Emman, you are incorrigible.” Maya laughed. “Let’s see where this thing will take us. All I have agreed to, is taking the baby steps with him. And that is all I can tell you at the moment.”
“Okayyyyy, if you say so.” Emman said, smiling at the other line. Even if his cousin refused to say much, he can detect something in her voice. She seemed so much happier and there is a different lilt in her voice. “Good luck, Cuz! I’m happy for you, whatever that thing is, at the moment. I’m just here for you, you know. ”
“Thank you, Emman. I do appreciate it. I’m glad you are my cousin. I love you Cuz.” Maya said happily. “I’ll call you again, before I leave Camiguin tomorrow. I’ll take Ricky around the island today.”
“Oh my, I’m kinikilig.” Emman said, laughing, taking note that Maya calls Richard Lim, ‘Ricky’ now. “But you still owe me more details ha. I know there are things you have not told me.”
“Okay, promise.” Maya told her cousin, grinning happily, her heart lighter and happier for some reason.
Emman was still smiling, minutes after his and Maya’s call ended. His intuition tells him that his beloved cousin, more of a sister, actually, is on her way to falling in love, if she is not yet in love! He just wished that Richard Lim would really be the one for his beautiful and loving cousin. He believes so, despite the fact that a lot of girls had been linked to him, and that after his aborted wedding, he dated casually a lot, if the gossip columns are to be believed. Emman believes that he is good in reading people and he likes Richard Lim. He also had heard good things about him and that he is a good guy.
Maya hastily went to bath after the call. She checked the time and realized that she was supposed to meet Richard for breakfast in less than an hour. She put her swimsuit over her ripped shorts and light, sleeveless blouse, as she and Richard were planning to take a dip in the Katibawasan Falls. The weather was on the warm side that day so she thought it is best to wear comfortable clothes.
Thirty minutes after, she was out of her bungalow. Richard called her from his veranda the moment she had closed her door. It looked like he was waiting for her to come out of her bungalow. He put his iPhone in his pocket the moment she looked at him. He gave her another of his lopsided smiles that never fail to make her heart beat faster. He walked briskly towards her.
“Ricky, good morning!” Maya said, giving Ricky a smile that, again, lit up her beautiful face. Seeing him waiting for her, was a happy surprise. “I thought we will just meet at the restaurant!”
“Good morning, Maya!” Richard said, taking hold of Maya’s tote bag from her hand, hefting his small backpack, and guiding her by the elbow, down the steps. “I was up early, so I just thought of waiting for you at the veranda so we can go together. The view is nice also and it was great sitting out there while I was waiting. How are you? Did you sleep well?”
“I did, surprisingly well. It must have been the walk along the beach, and the company I had last night.” Maya said with a smile, artlessly, looking at Ricky, then blushed a bit as she remembered again how their night ended. “How about you?”
Richard smiled, seeing Maya’s reddening face. He knew then what she was remembering in particular. The kiss was on his mind also, since he woke up and when he was sitting at the veranda waiting for her. He caught his breath, when he saw her in that shorts and sleeveless blouse. She is very lovely and then his gaze zeroed in on her lips, and the memory flooded back in full force. It took supreme effort to control and compose himself.
“I did okay, when I managed to fall sleep. It took me a while.” Richard admitted.
“Oh, it must be because the place is unfamiliar to you. Isn’t it there is a term for it, ‘namamahay’?” Maya looked at Richard inquiringly.
“Hmmm, yes, but it was not because the place was unfamiliar to me. I slept okay yesterday morning, remember.” Richard replied, than gazing intently at Maya, he continued, “It was more of waiting until the excitement and the happiness I was feeling after the wonderful time I had with you, subsided.”
“Oh!” Maya managed to say, unable to stop the giddiness she felt on hearing that. She gave him a sweet, beautiful smile, face flushed.
Richard smiled back, then as if is the most natural thing in the world, he took hold of her hand, interlaced it with his, tightly while they happily walked towards the restaurant. Both of them are looking forward to another memorable day together in that island paradise.