“Home, sweet home, soon!” Maya remarked when she and Ricky reached the turn-off to the village where their families’ beach houses are. She felt very happy to be going back, unaware of what await her and Ricky there. She was looking forward to being in the beach house again and spending more time with Ricky, either at his house, her home or by the beach. She and Ricky were both looking forward to returning to the place that is already very special to them as this was where the two of them started.
While eating dinner the night before, and they were discussing their plans for the following day, they both realized that they would rather go back to the beach place as they have seen most of the interesting spots in the area where they were, and also because they have decided to go to Miguel’s place and the areas near it, some other time. Maya admitted to Ricky that she kind of, miss the beach place, and their laid back times there. Ricky admitted that he, too, suddenly thought of the beach house. They have checked out of the hotel the following morning after an early breakfast and started their journey ‘home’.
Maya and Richard decided to take the Laoag-Batac route on the way back. They stopped at Batac and visited the Marcos museum there and the crypt of the former president. They had snacks in town and then continued on back to their beach places southwards, passing through all the places that by then have were special places in their hearts because of all the beautiful memories they shared there.
“Yes, it will be! Home, sweet home! We can continue our vacation here, and I’m looking forward to spending more time with you, walking along the beach, dining, swimming, and also watching you while you paint, if I may.” Ricky said, then smiling, taking his eyes off the road for a while, and gazing at Maya with a big smile on his face, he remarked. “But it was a wonderful and very memorable road trip isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is, Ricky. I wouldn’t exchange it for the world!”
“Me too, Maya. Me, too!” Ricky said, love for Maya in his eyes.
They gazed at each other, then shared a sweet and meaningful smile, both remembering the rest of their first wonderful vacation together. Like they have agreed the morning after their date, Ricky and Maya took the car again and traveled back towards the direction of Paoay from Fort Ilocandia. They first went to the Malacanang of the North, overlooking Paoay Lake. It is a beautiful house with a magnificent view of the lake. It was apparently built to take advantage of that beautiful view.
Maya remarked to Ricky that despite everything, it is a very beautiful piece of architecture. It took advantage of the nature and the beauty around it and incorporated it in the house’s brilliant design. She especially liked the tall and wide windows on the second level of the house, as well as the terrace on the ground floor where one can sit for hours and pass the time by just staring at the view. They explored each and every room, mainly because Maya would like to do so. Ricky just went with her, happy to see her enjoying herself.
When it was a bit cooler, they traveled to the famous Paoay sand dunes. They rented an all-terrain vehicle to see the magnificent sand formation Ricky had been there before, during the Lim Corporation’s planning conference, but still, seeing it again through Maya’s eyes made him appreciate it more, and made it more special.
Maya and Ricky were jostled around and had to hold tight, Ricky holding Maya tight with arms around her, as they went around this majestic product of mother nature. Maya also managed to snap some really beautiful pictures of the place. When the sun was setting, they asked their driver if they can be let off at the beach and will just walk back to where their car was parked. They spent the rest of that day, watching the setting sun, hands intertwined and with Maya leaning against Ricky’s chest. Even without a declaration from her, Ricky was sure at that moment that Maya loves him too. He can feel it. He just knew. He was that attuned to her.
When it got dark, they traveled towards the direction of Laoag City. However, instead of finding a restaurant in Laoag, they opted to return to Fort Ilocandia and had a marvelous dinner there. They felt so full after another sumptuous meal in that place. Ricky asked Maya if she would like to walk around the resort, and its beautiful grounds before they turn in. She readily agreed. They walked around for an hour, chatting or at times, or just enjoying each other’s company in companionable silence. From time to time, they would share a heated gaze, then just smiled at each other happily. No words needed. Both of them, just enjoying the moment very much!
Ricky brought Maya to her door at around midnight. It was there that they almost kissed if not for some noisy hotel guests who had a bit of a drink. They smiled sheepishly at each other, then Maya said softly that she will go in. Ricky wished her good night and sweet dreams and just before she entered her room, touched her cheek gently, then gave her one of his bone-melting lopsided smiles.
Both of them slept well that night. In the morning, like the day before, Ricky picked up Maya from her room for breakfast. He was carrying a bouquet of the most beautiful red roses. Maya teased him that her room was turning into a flower shop. She thanked him for the flowers and put it with the sunflowers on top of the bags she had packed before she went to bed the night before. After breakfast, they went back to their rooms and got their things, and among Maya’s things were the flowers that Ricky gave her. She wanted to take all of them back to the beach place. She also packed the violet dress that Ricky gave her. She had offered to pay for it, but he refused, insisting that it was a gift, and considered it a remembrance of their first ‘official date’!
“You are smiling.” Maya remarked when she saw Ricky with a goofy smile as he was parking the car in front of her family’s beach house. “Bakit, Mr. Lim?”
“Wala lang, naalala ko lang ang very happy memories natin the past days.” Ricky replied. “Eh ikaw din kaya ang laki ng ngiti mo just now.”
“Well, pareho tayo ng naalala. Thank you for the best several days, Ricky. I wouldn’t forget it for the world. Thank you for everything.” Maya said, then she looked where she had put the flowers and the dress, and smiled happily.
“ Maya I should be the one thanking you. I have never felt this happy before.” Ricky said. “The more time I spend with you, the more thankful I am that our paths have crossed. My heart is just full of love for you every time I see you. I love you much, Maya and I will prove that to you, every moment I could!”
“Ricky…..” Hearing those words, and Ricky’s vow, Maya’s heart somersaulted. Ah, to be loved by this guy very much. “I……” She swallowed, it felt like all the oxygen in her system went to her head and she felt dizzy, giddily dizzy if there is such a term to describe her state then!
“Maya, like I said, I can wait. Manliligaw muna ako sa iyo ng husto. I would like us to get to know each other as close as two people can get. I would like to savor and enjoy each and every moment with you.” Ricky said, cupping Maya’s chin and looking at her intently. He does not want to pressure her. He felt that Maya needed time as this is the first time she is entering into a relationship if ever. He can wait. He wanted her to be one hundred percent sure.
Maya nodded and gave Ricky a smile, grateful to this wonderful and patient guy. He went out of the car and opened the door for her. Despite her protestation, he walked her to the veranda of the house, carrying her things.
“I’ll go ahead, Maya. I’ll see you later for dinner. Have a good rest. I’ll just pick you up from the beach.”
“Thank you for everything again, Ricky. Pasok ka muna and drink coffee with me.” Maya said. “No need to pick me up. I can walk to your place like I usually do.”
“Thank you Maya. You need to rest din. I’ll just see you this evening and that means picking you up, too. Let me just do that please.”
“Okay. Ikaw ang bahala. Pahinga ka na rin ha. You have been driving us around for several days na.”
“Yes, Ma’am! Though I don’t feel tired naman doing that. Basta ikaw ang kasama ko.” He quipped with a boyish grin.
“Ikaw talaga, Ricky!”
“Totoo naman, hahahaha. Okay, aalis na talaga ako. Sige, pasok ka na.”
“Thanks a lot, Ricky.” Maya said smiling, then she gave him a peck on the cheek.
Ricky was startled at first, then he smiled, liking her spontaneous gesture very much. “See you later, Maya.”
Maya waited until Ricky drove away, before she entered the silent house with a big smile on her face. She felt very happy. She wondered where Manang Miring is. She went to the kitchen to find her after putting her things, and her flowers on the coffee table in the living room.
Ricky was also still smiling when he parked the car at the driveway of his grandfather’s house. He got his bag from the backseat of the car, then remembering his phone, which he earlier placed in the side pocket of the car, he retrieved it. No one seemed to be at home, he mused, when entered the house. He dropped his things, including is phone on the sofa. He was about to look for either Manang Auring or Manong Tunying, when a voice from the second level of the house stopped him.
“Ricky, you are back!” Lorraine said happily from the spot where he first saw Maya the week before.
Before Ricky can reply, she ran down the stairs and hugged him tight. “I miss you very much, honey!”
“What are you doing here, Lorraine? How did you find out where I am?” Ricky said in a tight voice, disentangling himself from Lorraine’s embrace. He should have expected this, that she will find him here. She can be quite tenacious when there is something she really wants.
“I asked your father for this place. I figured out that you will be at this beach house.” Lorraine said smugly. “Ricky, hindi ka ba natutuwa na makita ako? Please let’s patch things up. Promise I will shape up and be a good girl from now on. Let’s give our families the marriage they want and expect. I still love you, Ricky.” She said rapidly, not wantingto give Ricky a chance to send her away before she can say her piece, before she can plead to him to give her another chance. “I know you love me too. Hindi naman tayo tatagal ng ilang taon kung hindi. Please forgive me na. Hinding-hindi na talaga mauulit. It was just a lapse in judgment.”
“Lorraine, I don’t want to sound like a broken record. I’m really sorry, I thought we understood each other the last time we talked. We are over. Mas mabuting naghiwalay tayo ng maayos. We were friends once, our families are friends and we will see each other kahit paano in gatherings. We are not just meant to be. It was not just the drugs and the infidelity that broke us, you know. It was just the catalyst!” Ricky said firmly. “Magbago ka for your sake, please, and not for my sake. Please iayos mo na ang buhay mo. You have seen what drugs had done to Bettina, gugustuhin mo pa bang matulad sa kanya?”
“Ricky please, please give me another chance.” Lorraine pleaded, not wanting to hear what Ricky just said and refusing to accept defeat. She tried to hug and kiss Ricky. He sidestepped it and moved a little farther away from her.
“Lorraine, I’m really, really sorry. You traveled here for nothing.” Ricky stressed. “I hope you will find that someone you can really love and who can make you a better person. I think it is best if you return to Manila as soon as you can. You see, I’m….”
Before Ricky can continue, he and Lorraine heard a scream and a loud crash from the direction of the veranda.
Ricky ran to checked and saw Manong Tunying on the ground, groaning, while a semi-hysterical Manang Auring was cradling his head on her lap.
“Manang, ano po ang nangyari?” Ricky asked urgently. “Tara po, dalhin natin si Manong sa ospital.”
“Nahulog po siya hagdan, Sir Ricky, habang nagkukumpuni at naglilinis ng alulod.” Manang Auring said tearfully.
The two of them, with Lorraine’s help, brought Manong Tunying to the car. The older guy was complaining of a pain in his head and all over his body.
“Lorraine, I will take you the airport when I return. Please pack your things.” Ricky said hastily before going into the car. Then he and the caretakers were off to the hospital in town.
While Manong Tunying was being attended to, Manang Auring was with him, Ricky remembered that Maya was supposed to come for dinner. And there was also the added complication of Lorraine being there! He decided to give Maya a call to tell her that Lorraine is at the beach house. That was when he realized that he didn’t have his phone with him!
He decided to wait until the doctor gives the diagnosis on Manong Tunying’s condition before leaving the hospital. He wanted to be sure that he will be okay and that the injuries are not serious. He will just go to Maya’s house and explain the situation to her, than he will go back to the house and deal with Lorraine. Thank God, he had told Maya about her! He sat on one of the chairs by the emergency room and waited for the doctor.
While Ricky was waiting in the hospital, his phone started ringing. On the third time it rang, Lorraine got curious on who had been calling him the past several minutes. She looked at the screen. Maya Dela Rosa? Who is she? She had a bad feeling about this girl. Baka ito iyong kasama ni Ricky sa trip niya! There’s only one way to find out. She grabbed the phone, however it stopped ringing before she can press ‘Answer’.
Lorraine looked at Ricky’s phone before putting it down again where she got it, and vowed that she will not give up. She does not have any plans of going to that airport and go back to Manila unless Ricky is going back with her and that he had agreed to push through with their wedding. Instead of packing her things, which she had put in Ricky’s room, she decided to make herself a merienda, and with a magazine, she settled in the veranda to wait for Ricky’s return. She might as well relax and enjoy the view while waiting, she mused.