“Maya, Richard, good morning! Lovely day, isn’t it?” Jeremy greeted them cheerfully from the entrance of the resort’s restaurant, at the same time, he looked at them intently. He saw their interlaced fingers. Hmmm, things have really progressed rather well last night, he thought to himself. There was a tiny little pinch in his heart, seeing first hand that indeed, the lovely lady he was interested in, is very much taken! As soon as he had seen Richard Lim the day before, he knew instinctively that he does not stood a chance with Maya Dela Rosa. Too bad, in all his several years in the Philippines, she is the most interesting girl, lovely too, that he had met so far.
“Hi Jeremy, good morning! You’re up early!” Maya remarked with a big smile, disentangling her hand from Richard’s as they approached the bar where Jeremy was doing some paper works. Her hair got a bit windblown and a strand was teasing her face. She took care of that as she sat down on the bar stool in front of Jeremy. “I thought you wanted to get up late to make up for your drinking binge the other night.”
“Hello Jeremy, good morning!” Richard politely added, trying to quell the, just a tiny bit, of animosity he still feels for this guy. He took the bar stool beside the one Maya took.
“Not really a binge, Ms. Dela Rosa! Well, duty calls to this mere mortal, as Scott and Laura left for Cagayan de Oro early this morning to visit a friend who had an accident while river rafting. Someone has to man the resort as we have new guests coming. Quite a big group actually.” Jeremy explained, then added, “Marina said you and Richard are planning to go around the island today in scooters. I double checked the one I used yesterday as I noticed a bit of a weird noise coming out of it when we were on our way home yesterday, just to be sure that everything is A-okay for your excursion! They are ready for your trip.”
“Thanks a lot, Jeremy.” Maya said, then asked him, “Join us for breakfast?”
“Oh, I had mine earlier. Thanks a lot, Luv.” Jeremy said quickly, then leaned on to Maya and whispered, “Besides, I don’t want to be a third wheel! I think things are progressing rather well, eh, between the two of you.” Jeremy teased Maya.
“You are so incorrigible!” Maya laughed heartily, flushing a bit, then she hit him playfully on the arm before pinching him lightly as she would sometime do to Emman when he is being makulit.
“Ouch.” Jeremy said, laughing, forgetting for a bit, that maybe for Richard who was silent during the whole thing, what was harmless between him and Maya took a different meaning. He looked at him to check at the same time Maya did. Uh-oh!
Maya gazed at Richard since she noticed that he was not saying anything, and saw his expression before he can hide it.
Richard’s eyes had turned into slits before he can stop himself. He frowned at the easy camaraderie between Maya and Jeremy, even if his rational self knows that for Maya, Jeremy is just a friend. He tried hard to overcome the jealousy he felt. He really did!
Maya seemed to have sensed his bout with it, though. She touched his arm, and gave him a beautiful smile, then mouthed that she will tell him about it later. That action pacified him, and to get a message to Jeremy perhaps, as he doesn’t know actually what prompted him to do it, he moved closer to Maya after they told him that they will go eat their breakfast. He also took hold of her hand again and interlaced it tightly with his as they walked towards their table. To Maya’s credit, she held on to him tight, putting her other hand, lightly on his arm, and gave him a sweet smile that seemed to exclude everyone in the restaurant while they were walking to the vacant table near the veranda.
Jeremy saw the whole thing and grinned good-naturedly. Ah, he completely understands being ‘territorial’! If that was not it, then he will close his resort and enter the priesthood like his Mum is still wishing for! Well, Richard Lim does look like the right guy for Maya. He had an inkling that he had deliberately followed Maya to Mimosa, and judging by the glimpses he had yesterday, Maya is on her way to falling in love with Richard hard, if she is not yet there!
“So what was that all about?” Richard asked abruptly before he can stopped himself as he took his place after seating Maya across him. “Oh, sorry Maya! Ignore the question please.” He said, realizing that he was being presumptuous and way out of line. He needs to control himself. Richard Lim, what is happening to you! Where is that cool and collected guy! Jealousy is for poor, insecure fools! He does not have the right and Maya already agreed to taking baby steps with him. It is not a decision she does spur of the moment, he knows!
Maya, however, gave Richard a reassuring smile. She understands him getting a bit put out with the inside joke between Jeremy and her. Besides, early on, she had decided that for her and Richard to take the steps together, they should be completely honest with each other. She does not want a repeat of all the secret, subterfuge, and the ultimate betrayal she had experienced with James. Maya believes that this is crucial in finding out whether she will take the final leap into having a relationship with Richard. She had resolved also to tell him about her aborted marriage too. Fair is fair as she knows about his.
“It is all right, Ricky. I know what you were asking, about what Jeremy whispered to me, right?”
“Errr, yes!” Richard admitted sheepishly. “Sorry, for just asking you like that, Maya! I have more finesse than that!”
“No worries, Ricky.” Maya smiled at Richard reassuringly. “Jeremy just told me that he does not want to be a third wheel to us. That is why he declined my invitation to have breakfast with us. He also teased me a bit since he saw us holding hands earlier!”
“Oh….” Richard managed to say, really ashamed now of being irrational earlier and his reaction. Guilty also for, in a split second, he wanted to punch Jeremy on the face when he was whispering something to Maya!
“Yes po!” Maya said, then looking Richard straight in the eye, she continued with candor, “Jeremy and I are just very friends, you know. He would have wanted to be more than friends, I get that much, but I told him it can’t be more than that. He had accepted that. We really had quite a nice and deep talk while at the Katibawasan Falls yesterday. He helped me sort out things in my head, and really thought about the baby steps you were offering. He is a friend I would like to keep. He is a good guy!”
Richard took Maya’s hand, and said earnestly, “Maya, thank you for telling me. I appreciate it very much. My apologies again! I really don’t have the right. It just that you are making me feel emotions I have not felt before, and one of that is jealousy. Yes, the green-eyed monster reared its ugly head for a short time earlier.”
“Don’t think about it, Ricky.” Maya said, putting her hand on top of Richard’s. “My one and only relationship failed because of the secrets, the misunderstandings and things that were left unspoken between me and my fiance. I vowed to myself that I don’t want that kind of thing to happen again, should I open myself to the possibility of another relationship. Before you, I hardly entertained the thought since I was not really interested nor attracted to anyone. But since you entered my life, so to speak, and since we have agreed to take the baby steps together, I thought it would be best if we start it with all cards laid on the table, and us talking things through and thoroughly. No secrets please. If there is something in your mind say it. Everything should be out in the open. I hope it is okay with you.”
“Of course, Maya. I appreciate your candor. I will do the same. And if there is something you need to ask me, just ask away and I will answer it. I hate dishonesty also. It was what soured me on love. I was taken for a fool once. It happened a long time ago, when I was young and believed the best of people. Promise, I will tell you about it at some point, not just right now.”
“I also promised to tell you about my aborted wedding, since I know of yours.” Maya told Richard, which surprised him.
“Sure about it, Maya? You don’t have to, you know, if by doing so, would mean dredging up painful memories you would rather leave in the past.”
“Thank you, Ricky. No worries, I’m over it, and I would like you to know about that too. Consider it part of the clean slate thing between us, part of our baby steps together. But not right now, we better eat breakfast so we can start our adventure today. My stomach is starting to grumble.”
“Okay. Deal.” Richard said happily, then gestured for Marina’s nephew to approach their table so they can order their breakfast.
Both of them ordered continental breakfasts and freshly brewed coffee. They ate in companionable silence when their food and coffee arrived. They gazed and smiled at each other at times, or sipped their coffee while staring at the view, both pondering on what they discussed earlier.
Richard vowed to himself that he do his best to give Maya the same honesty and trust she is giving him and that he would not do something that will make her sad or make her lose faith in taking another chance at love and relationship. He was very grateful for that trust and honesty. He also believes that for them to build on something lasting, it has to have a very strong foundation, aside from love, both physical and emotional, there has to be friendship, affection, trust and honesty. Both of them have been through bad relationships and should be able to know better by now. He is holding on to that.
Maya thinking the same stuffs. She is very happy at the progress of hers and Ricky’s relationship. Relationship! Maya Dela Rosa, calm down.
“Shall we get going?” Richard asked, breaking into Maya’s thought. “Maya…?”
“Oh, sorry! I got lost in my thoughts.” Maya said sheepishly.
“No worries, Maya! I also did.” Richard stood up, helped Maya up from her chair, then with his hand on her back, guided her towards the parking area of the restaurant.
“Richard, Maya, wait.” Jeremy said, getting out the restaurant’s bar area. “I moved the scooters at the entrance. Here are the keys.”
“Oh, good, thanks a lot Jeremy.” Maya said, getting the keys from Jeremy. “Ricky and I will just go there ourselves.”
“Thank you, Jeremy.” Richard said, offering his hand to the other guy, who looked surprised at his gesture, but nevertheless, shook his hand. Richard was actually thanking him not just for the scooters but for being a good friend to Maya and for stepping back, when he knew that Maya is not interested in more than friendship with him. But he was unable to put it into words. He hoped Jeremy got it and it looked like he did, anyway.
“Have fun you two! If you need anything, just let me know.” Jeremy said with a smile. Maya must have cleared the air between them as he felt that Richard’s attitude towards him is warmer now as compared to the polite treatment he had been receiving since they met the day before, and the mutinous expression he had when he saw him whispering something to Maya earlier. He smiled and shook his head. Ah, what love can do to a person!
“We will!” Maya said as she and Richard walked to the restaurant’s front, where they saw the two scooters with their helmets hanging on the handlebars.
“Ready, Ricky?” Maya asked Richard as she climbed on her scooter and put on her helmet while chatting with Richard on the places they will see that day.
“Wait, Maya!” Richard said, suddenly. He was about to climb into his own scooter when he saw that Maya’s helmet was crookedly fastened and seemingly loose. He went to her and gently arranged and tightened it a bit. “Okay, is it tight? Are you comfortable?”
“Thanks a lot, Ricky. Yes, it is perfectly fine now.”
“You’re welcome!” Richard gave her one of his bone-melting smiles.
He was about to start his scooter, when Marina called him.
“Sir Richard, you forgot this!” Marina said, hefting a picnic basket! “You asked me to prepare this for you and Ms. Maya.”
“Oh, I completely forgot about that, Marina!” Richard exclaimed. With all the things that had happened since he started planning this outing, he completely forgot that he also requested Marina to prepare food. “Thank you, Marina.”
“You’re welcome, Sir Richard. Ma’am Maya, take care and have fun.” The smiling older lady told them.
“We will, Ate Marina. Thank you.” Maya said, then after Marina left. “Hmmm, I never thought of that. Good, that you did. We can stop at the Katibawasan Falls for lunch. There are picnic tables there. That would be very nice.”
“Since you will be my special tour guide, I thought the least I could do would be to provide the food.” Richard said, smiling. “Picnic at the falls, sounds like a great plan. I’m looking forward to that, Maya.”
“Great! I’m really looking forward to that, and showing you around the island I fell in love with.” Maya said, grinning happily. “Shall we get going Mr. Lim, Sir?”
“Ms. Dela Rosa, after you, Ma’am!” Richard said, grinning happily. At the same time, he wished then that it was not just the island that Maya will fall in love with. Ah, he is so looking forward to this day with her, an understanding of sorts, between them. He felt content with the steps they have taken so far. Maya felt the same. There are so many things to look forward to, from then on.