Archive for February, 2016
Sometimes, all we need is a cup of coffee, some pastries, and a laid-back chat with a friend to get out of the funk we found ourselves into! Most of the time, after a cup of coffee with a friend, I feel better and energize. A nice coffee shop is my default place when I go to the mall with one of my closest friends. We would go around the shops, then chat and catch up while drinking our favorite brew.
In recent years, a lot of nice coffee shops have sprouted in the metro, and I’m glad as it means more choices and more nice places to relax and talk.
One day, I will write about those coffee shops! For now, I’ll go back to updating my stories. My apologies for the lack of updates. There were just quite a number of things that I needed to deal with the past days! Hopefully, I will have something for you guys in a day or two!
Cheers and good vibes as always!
❤ Antigone ❤
“Ma’am, what would you like to drink? Coffee, tea or soda?” The beautiful flight attendant asked Maya, giving her polite, professional smile. She and Richard were the last one in their row to be served drinks and snacks on their flight back to Manila. Even though, she just had coffee before boarding the flight, Maya opted to have another cup. “Coffee, please, Miss.”
The flight attendant nodded in acknowledgement. Maya was about to ask Richard if he would like coffee as well, when the flight attendant suddenly exclaimed, “Ricky!” Surprise evident in her voice.
Maya looked in surprise. For a while, she thought the flight attendant will hug and kiss Richard on the cheek, but she stopped herself last-minute. She just settled into giving Richard a brilliant smile, seemingly very happy to see him.
“Hello, Andrea! How are you?” Richard said politely, calmly. He already noticed that it was her even before she asked Maya for her drink preference. It has been years since he last saw her.
“I’m good! How about you, Ricky?” Andrea asked, gazing at Richard intently. “I had imagined meeting you again countless of times, but not here! I had been meaning to look you up since I returned to the country several months ago. But I had to look for a job first.”
“I’m okay, Andrea.” Richard said simply. Then gazing at Maya, he said, “Sweetheart, this is Andrea Ramirez, a cousin of a friend of mine from Occidental Mindoro. Andrea, please meet my girlfriend, Maya Dela Rosa!”
“Nice to meet you, Andrea.” Maya said, giving Angela a friendly smile. She was startled when Richard introduced her as his girlfriend, but she recovered fast!
“Oh, nice to meet you, Maya!” Andrea said, not really surprised that this beautiful girl is Richard’s girlfriend. What can she expect that he is still single and available after all these years! It could have been a wife he was introducing to her and not just a girlfriend! She realized a long time ago what she had let slipped through her fingers! Of course, she had read about his aborted wedding. It happened just days before she returned to the Philippines for good.
“How about you, Ricky? What would you like to drink?” Andrea went back to the task at hand, tearing herself away from her thoughts.
“Coffee, please Andrea!” Richard replied. He thanked Andrea politely after handing the cups of coffee to him and Maya, as well as their snacks.
“Okay, enjoy your snacks. I need to go back to my station.” Andrea said, then as if was just an afterthought, she asked. “Oh, by the way, let me know if we can have dinner with me and my cousin. Francis is here at the moment. He would love to see you again.”
“Oh, he is here! I’ll just give him a call and see if our schedules will jibe. Thank you Andrea.” Richard said, giving her a noncommittal reply. While he is reluctant to see Andrea again, he would like to see her cousin again.
Richard looked thoughtfully at Andrea’s departing back. He does not feel a thing, no anger at her anymore, no love, just detachment. He had truly put the past behind him. He knew that already, but seeing Andrea again after all these years, just reaffirmed it. He gazed at Maya, again and smiled.
“So, I’m your girlfriend, huh?” Maya asked with a teasing smile of her own, and a lift of her eyebrow when Andrea was out of earshot with her beverage and food cart.
“Well, I can’t say that you are my ‘almost girlfriend’. It would sound complicated!” Richard teased back, smiling. “I just want to let her know that you are someone very important to me.”
Then turning serious, he held Maya’s left hand, played with it, absent-mindedly, gathering his thoughts. “I’m sorry for putting you on the spot, Maya. As you have probably guessed, Andrea was part of my past. She was the girl whom I thought broke my heart, many years ago. The one I was supposed to tell you about at one point. She was the reason why I stopped believing in love a long time ago.”
“Oh…” Maya said, putting her other hand on top of Richard’s. She remembered him mentioning something about it when he got jealous of Jeremy. It was just the day before, and it felt like ages ago as a lot had happened since then.
“Later, when we get to your place, I will tell you about what had happened. I want you to know. We promised each other no secrets and everything out in the open.” He finished, putting his thumb on her chin and looking deep into her eyes.
“Okay. Thank you, Ricky.” Maya replied, really appreciating his candour. “And I will tell you about James, like I have promised.”
“Thank you for that too, Maya. Though, like I have said, you don’t have to.” He said, then spoke softly again, and from the heart. “Actually, I’m happy to have seen her. I’m really over her a long time ago, but seeing her put a closure on the whole thing. In hindsight, I’m also glad that what happened between me and Andrea, and between, and Lucy and me, had happened. If those didn’t happen then I would have not met you. We would not have this. I would have not fallen head over heels and I wouldn’t know what really love is. I know the difference, Maya. What I felt before with Andrea was nothing compared to what I am feeling for you, what you are making me feel. You made me believe again in happy ever after. I love you very much!”
Maya felt her heart so full, hearing Richard said that. At the same time, she suddenly remembered what she had blurted out in between sleep and wakefulness that morning. She had whispered to Richard that she loves him. She flushed, remembering.
“What is it?” Richard asked Maya, sensing that she remembered something really very important, by just looking at her flushed, expressive face.
“Errr, I just remembered something, I have been trying to remember, something I thought I have said before falling to deep sleep last night, or errr, early this morning.”
Richard waited with bated breath, “And…?”
“I remembered it now, very clearly.” Maya gave Richard a beautiful smile, one that lit her already beautiful face. Then gazing deeply into Richard’s eyes, she said softly, meaningfully, “I said, ‘I love you’”.
“Maya…” Richard like his heart just tripled its beat, waiting, and hoping, and waiting….
“I meant it, you know. I love you very much, Ricky.” Maya said with all the love she was feeling for this wonderful guy. They may have known each other a short time, but she is never surer of something in her life, except him and his love for her and his love for her. She can feel it. Tita Margarita was right, she would know the difference when the time comes. “And I would like to take that final leap with you, into this wonderful and beautiful thing between us.”
“Maya, sweetheart, you have just made me the happiest guy in the world.” Richard gulped, feeling his throat constricting from the intense emotion he was feeling for his beautiful, wonderful love. “Thank you for trusting me with your love and your heart. I will take very good care of it.”
“I know, Ricky.” Maya said, “I just know, sweetheart.”
Richard smiled, then raised Maya’s hand to his lips and kissed it tenderly, then looking deep into her eyes, he said softly, “I love you very much.”
“I love you very much too, Ricky.” Maya said, her eyes shining with love.
They shared a quick kiss.
It was this tender scene that Andrea saw when she looked where Richard and his girlfriend sat. It could have been her! She whispered with regret. She went to the galley with a heavy heart. What do you expect Andrea, that he would still be there, pining for you after all these years! She decided it was a momentary delusion on her part when she thought that she can still win Richard back. She changed places with a colleague when it was time to say goodbyes to the passengers so she will not see them anymore.
More than an hour later, Maya and Richard were in Richard’s car, going to Maya’s place. Maya’s head was on Richard’s shoulder, their fingers interlaced, whispering sweet words to each other, just very happy.
“Sweetheart, instead of that Italian place, maybe we can just order food from a restaurant we will pass by.” Richard suggested since it was already late. “I just remember it is along the road we will take to your place.”
“Sure, Ricky! It is up to you.” Maya replied.
Richard called the restaurant. Joma, the Lim family driver, who picked them up at the airport earlier parked the car in front of a beautiful garden restaurant offering Asian fusion cuisine, more than 30 minutes after. He picked up the food that Richard ordered. They arrived at Maya’s place several minutes later. Luckily, the traffic was not that heavy. Maya was starting to feel hungry.
“You know, my cousin Rafi lives here.” Richard said while they were walking towards the elevator. “I have been meaning to tell you but forgot!”
Maya was about to reply while pushing the elevator button going up when the receptionist called her attention.
“Ms. Maya, Ms. Maya, I almost forgot, I’m sorry.” The girl told Maya as she approached her, and Richard. “This is from Sir Emman.”
“Thank you, Cindy.” Maya said getting the box of pastries from her. There is a note on top of it, but as Maya was about to read it, the elevator opened, letting out a beautiful girl, wearing a black cocktail dress. Maya have seen her before and had ridden the elevator with her one time. She looked familiar but she can’t place where she had seen her!
“Chard, I missed you! Why didn’t you tell me that you are coming over!” The girl exclaimed, then gave Richard and exuberant hug. “Wow, you even brought food from Emilio’s.”
“Errrr, woohoo, slow down!” Richard said, smiling, disentangling himself from the girl’s embrace, then seeing Maya was looking at them with a curious expression on her face. He took hold of her elbow and propelled her forward. “I’m here because of Maya, my girlfriend.”
Rafi looked at the girl beside Richard, in surprise, grinned, delighted and spoke animatedly before Richard can finished the introduction. “I’m so glad to meet you, Maya!!! I’m Rafi, Richard’s cousin! I think we have shared the elevator once. I remember, because I like the top you were wearing!”
“Oh, you are Richard’s cousin! I thought ‘Rafi’ is a guy!” Maya said smiling. “I’m Maya Dela Rosa I’m please to meet you Rafi! Ricky was just telling me that his cousin lives here!”
“Well, my parents hoped I would be a boy, so they had chosen Rafael as a name, but I turned out to be a girl.” Rafa replied, smiling.
“I didn’t see you at his wedding!” Maya remarked. She had a pretty good memory of people and faces and while Rafi looked familiar when they shared the elevator ride, she knew she has not seen her before in person.
“Oh you were there?” Rafi asked, surprised. “I was in the States so I was not able to attend Chard’s wedding.”
“I was the wedding planner. Well, our company handled the planning.” Maya said, then seeing Rafi that close, Maya also remembered where she had ‘seen’ Rafi before, from the cover of a fashion magazine she had bought.
“You were the wedding planner! And now you two are together! It sounds like a very interesting and beautiful love story you two had. I would love to hear about it.” Rafi said excitedly. “I can cancel my dinner and join you, guys instead. That is, if that is okay with you.” She said with a beseeching expression to her cousin.
“Where are you going Rafaela?” Richard asked, curious. He had a feeling that Rafi is avoiding her parents again.
“Errr to a party with the parents! You know how they are. Mama will subtly introduce me to her friends’ single sons, hoping I will like one of them!” Rafi sighed. “Parents and matchmaking and their desire to have a grandchild to bounce around.” She complained good-naturedly.
“Well, just bear it Cuz, for this evening.” Richard said, then pointing to a Mercedes that just parked in front of the building. “Mang Lem is here.”
“Chard….” Rafi said. “Maya, help me please.”
“Go, Rafi. Besides I want my evening with Maya, ALONE. She just agreed to be my girlfriend this evening.” He said grinning, happily, then looking at Maya with love.
Rafi looked google-eyed at her cousin. Oh my, this is serious! My mighty cousin has fallen big time. She smiled. “Okay, okay, I will leave you two love birds. But you owe me a dinner, Chard, and please be there too, Maya. I want to hear the whole story on how cupid finally hit my cousin.”
Maya and Richard, gazing at each other first, then smiling at Rafi, promised her that they will invite her to dinner. Rafi was off in a flash after that.
“Maya, sorry if my cousin is like a….” Richard said, looking for the correct word to best describe his cousin to someone who just met her.
“…like a tornado!” Maya finished with a smile.
“Yes, that’s the word! Thank you, sweetheart.”
“Honestly, I like her. She reminds me of Emman. I’m sure they will get along well. She is Rafaela Alcantara, isn’t she, the commercial model?”
“Yes, she is. She is doing that on the side. But she would really like to break into fashion design. That was what she studied in New York.”
“Oh, okay! I’m looking forward to getting to know her better.” Maya said, pressing the elevator button again. Richard took hold of the box of pastries for her as well.
“We can set a dinner with her next week, depending on when you are free.” Richard said as he ushered Maya inside the elevator. “Then also, let’s have dinner with my parents when they returned from their vacation so I can introduce you to them!”
Maya looked at Richard in surprise, not thinking straight, pressing the button to her floor, she said.“But I know your parents already! I have met them at my aunt’s parties. Besides, I just presented to you and your father last week!”
“I know, sweetheart, but I want them to meet you as my girlfriend! And I want yo to meet them as my parents and not as a friend of your aunt or as a client.” Richard said simply.
“Oh…” Maya said, her heart skipping a beat, hearing that, then she took a deep breath, suddenly feeling nervous all of a sudden. “Will that be okay, Ricky? Maybe, it is too soon to do that. Anyway, we just started.”
“No, Maya, sweetheart! It will be perfectly okay. And I think they will be very happy for the two of us.” Richard assured Maya. He knew what was going in her head. That it was also too soon after his aborted wedding and that when his father met her the week before, she was just their events planner and a niece of a family friend.
“Okay, if you are sure….” Maya said, agreeing with just a tiny bit of hesitation.
“Thank you, sweetheart. Everything will be okay. Don’t worry. Besides, seeing you, seeing us, my parents can see the difference in me and that time I was with Lucy, and my father never liked Andrea. They can see how in love we are. I love very much, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa, just in case you have forgotten the past two hours or so.” Richard finished, teasing.
“I love you very much too, Mr. Richard Lim.” She said, smiling. Her eyes full of love, touching Richard’s face softly.
Richard smiled back, caressing her face with his free hand. Then he lowered his head, giving Maya what he intended to be a quick kiss on the lips. However, the moment their lips met, it turned into so much more. They got lost into the intense kiss and more, that they forgot where they are. Richard didn’t even notice that he had dropped the box of pastries on the floor, and the paper bag containing their food.
“Ehhmmm, is this your floor?” Someone asked behind Maya and Richard.
They broke apart, then looked at the opened elevator door, to a smiling Caucasian guy standing just outside. Maya blushed to the roots of her hair.
“Yes, this is our floor. Thank you. Have a nice evening.” Richard managed to say, still trying to recover from the intensity of that kiss. His arms around Maya, he ushered her out of the elevator, grabbing the food bag.
Maya mumbled a ‘have a nice evening’ to the guy whom she knows, lives beside her unit. He and his wife are from Finland, and he is working at the telecoms company in the Central Business District.
“Have a nice evening too!” He said cheerfully. “Oh, you forgot the box!” The guy said, handing out Emman’s box of pastries to them with an indulgent smile.
They thanked him again, smiling back. For sure, the stranger will not forget them that fast!
Maya and Richard walked hand in hand towards her place, grinning at each other. Both of them never thought that one day in their lives, they will be caught having an intense PDA moment in an elevator!
Happy Valentine’s Day! Spending the day at home with the husband and the little one, just having a beautiful laid-back Sunday! The little one made cards for her Mom and Dad and she was greeting everybody ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’, early in the morning! 🙂
Sharing with you some beautiful love songs I like very much! Apt for this day! 🙂
I will post updates soon! Enjoy the day with you loved ones! Be happy and good vibes always!
❤ Antigone ❤
I can’t lose her again! I can’t lose Maya, again! I will not allow it! I will do everything so we can be together forever, this time!
“Ricky…! Ricky….Ricky, are you okay, hijo?”
His mother’s voice shook Ricky out of the trance-like state he found himself into. Where did those words come from? Again? He hasn’t lost Maya. They just started!
“Yes, Mama, I’m okay.” Ricky looked at his worried mother, then took her hand. “Have you been calling my attention long, Mama?”
“Well, for a minute or so. I was getting worried na nga. You just went off tangent while sitting there, after your Papa left.” Rosemarie Lim said. “Maybe, you need to rest a bit, son. You just arrived from Ilocos this morning, di ba? Baka pagod na pagod ka na.”
“Yes, Ma! But don’t worry, I’m okay. I had little sleep, that’s true pero okay naman ako. I wanted to see Maya kasi kaagad kanina dahil baka may sinabing hindi maganda si Lorraine sa kanya kahapon. It’s a long story Ma. I’ll tell you about it some other time. Then, I was surprised at how Papa acted, earlier. I was not expecting that. I expected that you and him will not like the fact that Lorraine and I have broken up, not about Maya’s family!”
“Ricky, hijo, let your father be in the meantime. Please talk to your Lola Sandra.” Rosemarie Lim told her son. “She is the best position to help you with that, I think, since baka alam niya ang pinanggagalingan ng Papa mo. Whatever had happened in the past, I’m sure she had known about it. Besides, for sure your grandmother can talk sense into your Papa.”
“But do you have at least an idea why is Papa like that Mama? Ang tagal na noon, I was not even born then! Siya naman, how old was he when Lolo died, 15 di ba?” Ricky asked, brows knitted, as for the life of him he can’t understand his father’s irrational behavior! “Wala ba siyang nabanggit sa iyo in the past regarding Maya Dela Rosa-Ventura?”
“Wala akong malala, and I don’t understand either, where your father is coming from. But I have a feeling your grandmother will be able to help you. Give him time rin, Ricky. Maybe he is like that also because he was all set to have Lorraine as his daughter-in-law. You know your Papa. Lorraine can’t do wrong in his eyes. And Lorraine never showed her bad side to your father. She did something really bad, isn’t it? Kaya kayo nag-break?” Rosemarie Lim probed.
“You have an idea, Mama?” Ricky looked at his mother in surprise, it seemed like the afternoon was full of revelations he hasn’t really thought of at all. “Of what she was up to?”
“Not the whole story! I think unless you tell me about it or Lorraine does, then it stays between the two of you. But I have heard stories about her in the theatre circle, though there was no proof. She was into drugs, isn’t it? I dismissed it since she of all people should know the effects of taking drugs. I thought what happened to Bettina hit her hard too!”
“I thought so, Ma.” Ricky started saying, deciding to tell his mother a bit of it. “But I caught her in my place, doing drugs, with another guy.”
“Oh, you mean….” It was Rosemarie Lim’s turn to be surprised.
“Yes, Ma! And that was all I can say in the matter, forgive me please.” Ricky said. “The rest is between Lorraine and me. You know, Ma it was not really what broke us up. It was just the last straw.”
“Thank you for telling me, hijo.” Rosemarie Lim said. “While you were telling me and your Papa that you have broken up with Lorraine, after I got over the initial shock of hearing it, I knew that there must be a very compelling reason why you did that. I know you, you are a very cautious person and you don’t do impulsive things. It must have been something terrible, for you to end your engagement like that.”
“Thank you Mama for the support and for believing in me.” Ricky said. “Promise, Mama, you will like Maya very much. She is the woman for me. My forever! I just met her, but it felt like I have known her all my life. She is also beautiful inside out.”
“I love you son. I defer to your father in most things since I don’t want discord, you know that. But I would like to meet your Maya soon. She sounds like an exceptional girl, the way you stood up for her, and the way you described her now. I haven’t heard you speak like this.”
“She is Mama. I’ll introduce you to her, soon. I hope Papa will come around. But if not, so be it. I love Maya and I am of age, I’ll fight for her.”
“He will, son. Despite all his faults, your Papa is okay. Talk to your Lola soon. Do you want me to call her and ask her to talk to your Papa?” Rosemarie Lim offered.
“No need, Mama. Thank you. I will just bring Maya to her as soon as I can arrange it. Maybe, she does know why Papa acted like that. That is, if it is okay with you na kay Lola Sandra ko muna ipakilala si Maya.” Ricky asked his mother. “Maybe, if Maya’s business partner and friend is okay by this weekend, we can go to Batangas to visit Lola Sandra.”
“Of course, hijo. Okay lang. Do what you think is best. I’m behind you. Basta para sa kaligayahan mo. Bayaan mo dahan-dahanin ko rin iyang Papa mo. Mahirap lang salubungin ang init ng ulo niya. You know he does not see reason kapag sinabayan mo siya. I’ll do what I can do.” Rosemarie Lim assured her son, touching his face affectionately. “Dito ka na mag-dinner. I haven’t seen you in a while.”
“Mama, sorry, can we do it tomorrow? I have promised Maya I will have dinner with her. Baka kasi nasabihan na niya ang mga kasambahay niya.”
“Okay, tomorrow then! Huwag kang mag-aalala, wala rito ang Papa mo. May usapan sila ng Tito Robert mo na pupunta sa isang gallery exhibition tomorrow night.”
“But I can stay a bit, medyo maaga pa naman po sa usapan namin ni Maya. We can have tea.”
“Oh, good. Sige, magpapahanda ako kay Cynthia.”
Rosemarie Lim stood up and then went to the kitchen, leaving Ricky alone in the sala. Ricky sighed tiredly, still unable to understand his father and his action. It caught him blindsided. His father is usually an amiable person. He may not be the warmest father, but he knows that he loves him. He thought everything would be smooth sailing as far as his and Maya’s relationship is concern. But not only there was Lorraine, there was his father too!
While he was growing up, Richie Lim was not a very hands-on father. He was busy with the business that his great-grandfather had built. He had been managing and growing it with his uncle, Jose, his grandfather Ricardo’s only brother. However, when he has time, they do father and son bonding, even if it was in the form of him teaching him the business at a young age. Ricky never thought that it was not out of the ordinary.
His father was his hero and followed his wishes as far as his career was concerned. He never thought of rebelling. He also planted the seed in his head about courting Lorraine when he saw how close they were getting after Bettina died. He thought he had a good father, if not the best father. He can be forceful at times, get bad-tempered, but he didn’t stay mad for so long.
He saw his mother carrying a tray, so he stood up to help her.
“I can manage, Ricky.”
“Nasaan si Cynthia, Ma, bakit ikaw pa ang nagdala niyan?”
“I forgot inutusan ko nga pala siya sa deli sa kabilang street. I need some cold cuts and some cheese for tomorrow, may bisita nga pala ako, but that’s for merienda. So we are on for dinner ha. Come son, let’s eat na.”
Ricky poured the tea for his mother, then poured one for himself. Then he and is mother enjoyed their tea, catching up. Ricky told her how he met Maya, and about his grandfather’s journal. Rosemarie Lim said she was not aware of the journal, but she too like the painting that Maya Dela Rosa-Ventura did. She also pointed out that his grandmother could have not been affected by the whole thing since she had kept the painting.
Ricky was about to say something more, when his phone beeped. It was Maya saying that she will leave the hospital soon and she will see him at her home as they have agreed on earlier. He remembered that he was supposed to get wine before he goes to her house. Besides, he would like to change for dinner as well.
“Mama, I’m sorry, I have to get going. Maya just texted. She is on her way home. I would like to go to my place first.” Ricky said, putting is tea-cup down, then standing up.
“Okay, hijo. Until tomorrow then! Come at 7PM please.” Rosemarie Lim said, standing up and offering her cheek for her son to kiss. “Enjoy your evening, and tell Maya that I look forward to meeting her.”
“I will, Mama. Thank you. I love you.”
“Love you, too, hijo.”
Half an hour later, Ricky entered his place, carrying two fresh bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine he bought on the way. Whistling, he dropped everything on the coffee table in the living room, then he took a quick shower. Before he left his room, to go to Maya, he remembered their grandparents’ journal.
Ricky stared at the journal for several minutes, wanting to continue reading it in light of his father’s reaction, but he didn’t have the time. He would just ask Maya if she can just copy the journal into a flash drive so he can read it later. He went to his office at home and looked for one.
He was out of his house several minutes after. He navigated the early evening traffic, crossing EDSA to the entrance of Maya’s village at Mckinley Road. He was asked by the guard where he was going and he mentioned Maya’s name. The guard nodded. Maya told him in her text message that she will inform the guard about his visit.
Ricky double-checked the address that Maya gave him, then easily found the street where her grandparents’ house is. He stopped in front of a beautiful bahay na bato inspired mansion.
So, this is where my Maya lived with her husband and daughter!
Ricky blinked. Where that thought came from? Before he can think about it in detail, Maya came out of the house.
“Ricky!” She greeted, then gave him a kiss on the cheek.
Ricky hugged her and then kissed her lightly on the lips. “I miss you!”
Maya smiled at that. “Kanina lang tayo naghiwalay ah.”
“Well, I do, sweetheart. Now that I have found you and that we are together, there is a part of me that does not want you out of my sight. Parang baka mawala ka sa akin ulit.”
“Ulit? You mean, noong hindi tayo nagkita sa Ilocos, kahapon?” Maya asked, curiously.
“No, it is more than that. I will tell you about later.”
“Okay, pasok na tayo. Nakahanda na ang dinner natin. I hope kare-kare is okay with you.”
“My favorite, sweetheart! Wait lang may kukunin lang ako.” Ricky got the flowers, the wine, and the journal.
“For you, sweetheart!” Ricky gave Maya a bouquet of red roses, then the wine. “Here’s the journal by the way! I managed to go home before going here. And this is for Manang Fe.” He added pointing to the other bouquet.
“Thank you for this, Ricky. Another lovely bouquet!” Maya said taking hold of the flowers, while Ricky carried the wine, the other bouquet and the journal as they walked to the front door where an old lady was waiting.
“Good evening po!” Ricky greeted the old lady, who had a startled expression on her face, before she recovered and offered him a smile.
“Good evening po, Sir.” Manang Fe said, still trying to recover her equilibrium.
“Manang Fe, si Ricky po, boyfriend ko. Ricardo Lim III. Ricky, si Manang Fe!” Maya made the introduction. She can see that Manang was surprised that she introduced Ricky as her boyfriend. She didn’t have the time, earlier, to tell Manang Fe. She got home a bit later than she projected because of the traffic. Labasan na sa mga opisina sa Ayala Avenue so she was caught in a bit of a traffic.
Ricky gave the flowers to the old lady. “Please to meet you po, Manang Fe. Ricky na lang po. Para po sa inyo.”
“Thank you, Ricky.”
Then she made a remark that had Maya and Ricky looking at her in surprise.
“Kamukhang-kamukha ninyo po iyong lalaki sa painting. Akala ko nga po, nakakita ako ng multo.”
“Manang, ano pong painting?” Maya asked her, surprised. Manang has not mentioned any other painting to her of Ricardo Lim, as she presumed that was what she was pertaining to.
“Noong nasa Ilocos ka, Maya, naisipan kong maglinis ng todo sa attic, kaya nga yata ako nagkasakit. Sorry, hija di ko napigilan. Sanay akong busy. May nakita akong painting na nasa pinakasulok. Hindi siya naka-kwadro ng maayos, pero nakabalot ng mabuti, nang buksan ko nakita ko larawan ng isang lalaki, kamukhang-kamukha nitong si Ricky. Nakalimutan kong banggitin sa iyo nung isang beses na tumawag ka. Sabi ko ipapakita ko na lang sa iyo pag-uwi mo.”
“Talaga po, Manang. Nasaan po iyong painting?” Maya said, looking at Ricky, who understood right away, who was the subject of the painting.
“Nandoon sa library. Ibinaba ko na nga.”
“Sige po, Manang Fe. Dinner mo muna tayo, then tingnan po natin ang painting! Tamang-tama po, related rin po ito sa itatanong ko sana sa inyo ngayong gabi, tungkol kay Lola Maya.”
“O siga, sige, mauna na ako at i-check ko lang pagkain ninyo. Iniwan ko sa kusina si Fely,” Manang Fe said, referring to her grandniece who helps her in the house, and whom Maya and her grandfather has been sending to school.”
When the old lady was out of earshot, Ricky asked Maya what was in his mind when he learned about the painting.
“Did your grandmother mention in her journal about another painting of my grandfather that she did?”
Maya tried to recall. At first, she thought none, then she remembered some paragraphs from her grandmother’s first entry. “Not directly I think, kaya nagulat din ako na may painting pang isa ang Lolo mo. Pero iyong unang entry niya she mentioned that she had dealt with the grief, by the only way she knew, and that was painting.”
“So, she painted Lolo Ricardo, again.” Ricky remarked, feeling very sad all of a sudden. Being in the house where the first Maya had lived, he sort of can feel the extreme sadness she must have felt, knowing that the love of her life was gone forever, and she was facing life without even the thought that he was just somewhere, living a life with his family.
Ricky sighed. “Maya, it seems there is more to our grandparents love affair than what we know!”
“I agree, Ricky. I feel very sad all of a sudden, hearing about the painting.”
“Ikaw rin? Ako rin! Parang ang bigat sa dibdib.”
Then cupping her face, looking deeply into her eyes, he said. “Maya, I promise you that what happened to our grandparents will not happen to us. I love you very much.”
Maya was a bit puzzled with Ricky’s statement, but decided to ask about it later. “I love you much too, Ricky and I can’t imagine my life without you.”
Still cupping Maya’s face, Ricky sealed his promise with a deep kiss. They walked to the dining room, hand in hand. They will deal fully with the past, so they can have their future together, that was what they have resolved to do.
“What are your plans this afternoon, sweetheart?” Ricky asked, as he and Maya were enjoying their coffee and dessert after the delicious food he had.
“Depending on the load here at the cafe, I’m planning to see Emman. I was there this morning but he was sleeping. I also missed the morning ICU visiting hours. One of my day shift staff is absent. But two others will come for the late afternoon to evening shift, so I think I can still make it to the next visiting hours in the hospital.”
“I can drive you there, then we can have dinner later, if you want.” Ricky offered, wanting to be with Maya as much as he could, as the following day he needed to go to back to work as he was already in Manila. For sure, a lot of paper works are waiting for him at his office.
“Don’t you need to rest pa? Halos wala ka pang tulog, Ricky! I can manage naman. I have my car with me.” Maya protested. She really thinks Ricky needs to rest. Ang haba rin kaya ng biniyahe niya pabalik ng Maynila. Besides, hindi pa nga niya nakuhang mag-rest from their Ilocos trip where he did all the driving!
“No, I’m okay, Maya, really. I want to do this. I’ll just rest this evening.” Ricky insisted. “I will go and see my father for a bit, then I can come back for you later in the afternoon. Would that be okay?”
“Sure, but baka kapusin ka sa oras kung may pag-uusapan kayong importante ng Papa mo!”
“I don’t think it would take long. Hopefully, my mother is home as well, parang isang kausap na lang sa kanilang dalawa. I will just tell them that Lorraine and I have broken up almost a month ago, and that there would be no wedding. It is for the best. It is up to Lorraine to tell her parents, but I want my Papa and Mama to learn about it from me.”
“I think it has to be done, immediately, Maya, especially now that we are in a relationship. I want to tell them also about us.”
Maya suddenly felt very nervous, hearing Ricky’s plan, for some reason. “Do you think it will be okay, Ricky? Your family and Lorraine’s very much wanted the marriage. Maybe, they will not take things lightly. Baka it is too soon to tell them about us. We are just started naman. Maybe you can just tell them that you have broken up with Lorraine and saka na about us.”
“No, Maya, I want them to know immediately. I want to neutralize whatever else Lorraine is planning, if ever. Besides, I don’t want my father unwittingly giving out information to her again. My father has always had a soft spot for Lorraine. She is like the daughter he never had, especially after my cousin Bettina died. He was the one who told Lorraine about the beach house.”
“Okay, it is up to you, Ricky. Do what you think is best.” Maya acceded reluctantly. “How about your grandmother, what if she finds out that I am the granddaughter of the Maya Dela Rosa that her husband loved? Would that be okay? She knew about it, I think, as she was the who gave my grandmother the journal. My grandmother wrote about your grandmother’s visit to her. She didn’t say much, though. Her entries were mostly about the extreme sadness she felt at your grandfather’s passing and her love for him, also her narrative of the events that your grandfather had written.”
“Don’t worry about anything, Maya! I’m sure it will be okay. I’m not sure if my grandmother really knew. But I wouldn’t be surprise if she did. But my Lola Sandra is a very nice lady. As for Papa, and also Mama, though Mama does not care much for stuff, really, except her music, they just need to get used to the fact that Lorraine and I can’t be. It is my life, Maya. I’m sure they will come around, especially, when they meet you in a couple of days time or sooner if I can arrange it”.
“Soon? You will introduce me to your parents that soon?” Maya asked, a bit surprise how fast things were happening.
“Yes, I would like to, if it is okay with you. I want to tell them that you are the woman I love very much. I want you to get to know them better too, and I want them to know my beautiful and wonderful girlfriend! Don’t worry about a thing.” Ricky said. “Would that be okay? You can also meet my grandmother, you know. We can go to Batangas one weekend, when Emman is better and spend time with her, and my Lolo Victor.”
“S-sure, Ricky!” Maya managed to say, overwhelmed. “I’m sure my Mom would like to meet you as well, and my Dad when they find out that I already have a boyfriend.”
“I would gladly meet your parents anytime. I want to, very much, actually. When are they coming back from their business trip?”
“I think in two weeks time. Manang Fe said, Mom called and told her several days ago, they might extend their stay in the States and visit some relatives in the East Coast.”
“Okay, just let me know when we will have dinner with them. By the way, our grandparents journal is at my place. I brought it back with me. It was a good thing I put it in a safe place before we left for our road trip as Lorraine stayed in my room while I was away with you!”
“She had assumed too much, Maya.”
“But do you think she will stop now?” She asked.
“I hope so. I think so, but the way she was acting, I am not sure, honestly. But I will not let her bother us anymore, Maya. That I promise you, sweetheart. I’m really sorry I came into your life with this ‘baggage’, this problem. I really wish she would see reason and let us be!”
“Ricky, please do not think about it anymore. It does not matter how you came into my life or if you had a ‘baggage’ with you as you said, the important thing is you came, and you are in my life now, and I’m very happy because of you. The past is over and done with and we have the present and a possible future together to think of, okay?”
“Okay, sweetheart. I will just concentrate on working on our future together and enjoying the present with you. I love you very much.” Ricky gazed at Maya.
“That’s the spirit, sweetheart!” Maya said, with a big smile. “Speaking of the journal, if you would like to continue reading it, you can keep it for a while. I have been meaning to tell you that I have scanned it also, and has made sa PDF copy pala for my iBooks app. I can also send that to you if you would like to have a soft copy.”
“Yes, I would like to have one, Maya. Thanks. I would like to continue reading it, especially the part that you told me, the one that was the same as my nightmare. I think, I will be okay reading that now. Just give me a copy of the PDF file please. I will return the original. I’m nervous keeping the journal with me as I may misplace or damage it accidentally. I will feel better if it is in your safekeeping.”
“Okay, I will just e-mail it to you. Just bring the journal the next time we see each other.” Maya said with a smile. She was about to ask Ricky if he would like another cup of coffee, when Jocelyn approached them, looking frazzled, and asked for Maya’s help.
Jocelyn said there was a sudden influx of customers at the cafe, a coaster of foreign tourists, wanting their coffee and tea and snacks after looking at the gallery upstairs, and she and Henry got swamped. Ricky insisted on helping out, even if it was just to bring the drinks and the food to the customers.
When everything had settled down, Ricky and Maya went back at the garden, drinking their second cup of coffee.
“That was fun, Maya!” Ricky said, happy to have helped Maya. “But I guess with lots of customers, tiring. Good feel tiredness naman.”
“True, kahit nakakapagod, fulfilled naman. Thank you for your help, Ricky.” Then she remembered that Ricky was supposed to see his parents.” Di ba you are going to see your parents pa! Are you not late yet? Huwag mo na akong ihatid sa hospital para makausap mo na sila. Where do they live? Malapit lang ba? We can have dinner at home. Magpapahanda na lang ako ng food! I’ll give you the address! That way, I can drive my car home also.”
“Yes, malapit lang naman dito!” “Ricky said. “Okay, sounds like a plan. What time do I go to your house?“
“Maybe, around 7PM? Is that okay with you?” Maya said, then handed Ricky a piece of paper. “Here’s the address! Just bring the journal some other time, it does not have to be this evening, so you save time.”
“Okay, thanks sweetheart. I better get going if I want to catch Papa at home. I haven’t called, but usually, he does not go out this time of the day.” Ricky said, standing up. “Thank you for the food and I’ll see you later. I love you.”
“See you later, sweetheart.” Maya also stood up. “I’ll text you if there is an adjustment in our dinner schedule. I hope everything goes well with your parents.”
“Thanks, sweetheart. It will. Don’t worry.” Richard kissed Maya one more time, grinning, he said, it is for luck. Then he was off.
Maya sat down on the bench again and took a sip of her coffee. She was feeling a little nervous about Ricky’s parents reaction, especially it was so soon after breaking his long-standing engagement to Lorraine. But she trusts Ricky, and she leaves it up to him. She finished her coffee, then went back to her paper works. She also called Manang Fe and told her they have a guest that evening.
By the time Maya was deep in her paper works, Ricky was sitting in the living room of his parents penthouse unit in a very upscale and very private condominium building. Luckily, his parents were both at home, just like he predicted.
“So, what brings you here, Ricky?” Richie Lim asked his son, while his mother sat beside him, not saying much. His Mom has always been like that, just deferring to his father. But Ricky know it is just her way of pacifying her strong-willed husband. She hates discord. But if she needs to, she can also assert herself. “I thought you and Lorraine are on a vacation. Sinundan nga niya sa Ilocos di ba? Where is she? Bakit hindi mo siya kasama ngayon?”
“Papa, the last time I heard, Lorraine returned to Manila this afternoon. Pinahatid ko siya sa airport.” Ricky said at the same time realizing that Lorraine hasn’t called her father and hadn’t told him what happened. It was a good thing. He wouldn’t put it pass her to run crying to his father and making him believe that she was the aggrieved party.
Manang Auring had texted him while on his way to his parents to say that Manong Sonny had brought Lorraine to the airport in Laoag. “I’m not sure if her flight has arrived here yet.”
“Not sure? Pinahatid? You mean to say, naiwan si Lorraine sa beach house sa Ilocos! You did that? Why Ricky? Why did you leave your fiancée there! First you disappeared without a leave by, then this? What is happening Ricky?”
“Papa, Mama, that’s why I’m here, to tell you that Lorraine and I have broken up, almost a month na po. That’s why I went to Ilocos. She wanted me back, and her been bugging me at work and at home all the time. I thought it was best that I went away for a while. I thought of the beach house in Ilocos. Her trip, the one she told you about was her last-ditch effort to get me back.”
“What….? Bakit ngayon lang namin ito nalalaman ng Mama mo, Ricky! Halos kumpleto na ang preparations sa kasal ninyo.” Richie Lim asked his son. “Sabi naman ni Lorraine, nagkaroon lang kayo ng kaunting tampuhan.”
“Oo nga, hijo.” His mother added. “Does Lorraine’s parents know since the last time I saw her mother, which was several days ago, wala naman siyang nabanggit sa akin.”
“Mama, I don’t think they know. I think the reason why Lorraine wanted to patch things up is because she was afraid of what her parents reaction would be, and not because she loves me.”
“Iyon naman pala, Ricky. Willing naman siyang makipagbalikan eh. Baka you two can still work on your relationship. Ganyan naman talaga, minsan, walang relationship na smoot- sailing parati.” His father insisted.
“Papa, Mama, I’m really, I can’t. Please don’t let me go into details, except that she did something that I can’t forgive. Sa amin na lang ni Lorraine ang details of what happened. It is not reparable. I don’t love her at all, the way two people who will spend forever together should love each other.” Ricky said. “I hope you will understand.”
“But, why Ricky? Isipin mo na lang ang effect nito! The Tans are our close family friends. You and Lorraine suit each other.” Richie Lim told his son, raising his voice about, then turned conciliatory. “Hijo, why don’t you think about it first.”
“Papa, please, there is nothing to think about. Lorraine and I are over….”
“Richie, let our son be….” Mrs. Rosemarie Lim, started, only to be cut by her husband.
“No, I want to put some sense into your son.” Richie Lim said, losing his cool again.
“Papa, nakikiusap ako, just accept it. I don’t love her, period, I realized that ng maaga pa. I think it is the same with Lorraine. Hindi naman niya talaga ako mahal, just the idea of me and because of our families! I know that now since I met the woman whom I love with all my being. ”
“In more than three weeks after you have broken up with someone you have been together for five years, you have fallen in love! That’s implausible! Maybe she is the reason why you broke with Lorraine, in the first place.”
“No Papa, she is not. Matagal na kaming wala ni Lorraine nang makilala ko si Maya by accident. Leave Maya out of this, please.”
“Maya…?” Richie Lim suddenly asked. He never thought that he would hear a name like that again. “Do we know her?”
“Maya Dela Rosa, Papa. I love her very much. I met her in Ilocos. Her family owns the beach house before us.”
“So the past is intruding to the present eh! Correct me if I’m wrong, related siya kay Maya Dela Paz Dela Rosa! Apo? Pamangkin?”
“How did you know about her, Papa?” It was Ricky’s turned to be surprised. “Actually, granddaughter po si Maya ni Mrs. Dela Rosa-Ventura.”
“I know a lot son, but one thing I can tell you, walang magandang dinala sa pamilya natin ang pamilya na iyan. I think you better cut your ties with her, hanggang maaga.”
“Papa! Why are you like that? You are being unfair! Saka kung ano man ang nangyari sa Lola ni Maya and kay Lolo Ricardo, it was in the past. Sobrang tagal na noon. Hindi naman sila nagkatuluyan, ah. If you can only read Lolo Ricardo’s journal.”
“I have, and that is why I don’t think it is a good idea.” Richie Lim stressed. “And that’s all I would say in the matter, please excuse me son, I have an appointment.” Then looking at his silent wife, he said, “Rosemarie, talk some sense into your son!”
Ricky’s father left the house several minutes after. Ricky just sat there in his parents living room, stunned, he never thought that his afternoon would turn out like this!
Somehow, he needed to make his father see reason. It has been five decades or so since his grandfather fell in love with Maya’s grandmother, and the way his father was acting, it seemed like it had happened recently! And where was his resentment coming from? He can’t give up, Maya and he will fight for her.
“I love you very much, Maya!” Ricky whispered to Maya, in between their heated kisses. “Finally we are together again! That was the longest 24 hours of my life!”
Framing his handsome face, and looking at him with all the love she was feeling, she said softly, “I love you very much too, Ricky. I’m so happy that you are here in Manila now!”
Ricky, at first, thought that he just imagined it, or misheard her, then finally it registered what Maya had just said, catching him unawares as he was not really expecting to hear it at that moment. “Maya… you mean…that you…you….?” He had to ask, not really believing he just heard the words he had been wishing he would hear from Maya’s lips soon.
“Yes po, Mr. Ricky Lim. Mahal din kita.” Maya said, giving Ricky a sweet, happy smile, caressing his face gently, and looking at him with all the love she is feeling for this wonderful, wonderful guy!
“Maya, sweetheart, you made me the happiest guy in the whole universe!” Richard hugged Maya tight, then rained in little kisses all over her face, then he swung her around suddenly, laughing as he twirled her around!
“Hahahaha, put me down na, Ricky.” Maya said laughing, her heart full of joy! “You are making me dizzy. Baka tayo ma-fall!”
“Matagal na akong na-fall, Maya!” Ricky said, grinning, teasing her, then he slowly put her down and cupped her beautiful face, kissed again! “I’m sorry, Maya. I got carried away! I’m just so happy. I never expected to hear those beautiful words from you so soon. I wished, of course, very much, often! But I also thought that Lorraine had done something that will make you rethink about loving me and being with me.”
“Ricky, nothing that she will do will change what I feel for you. I almost admitted it to you when you took me home yesterday. Had we had that dinner last night, I would have declared my love for you then, I think!” Maya said with a smile. “I’m just so happy too that you are finally here. And that was the longest 24 hours of my life too. I can’t imagine my life without you.”
“Thank you again, Maya.” Then looking Maya in the eyes, he said, “You know, when I jumped into my car last night to follow you in Manila, my only goal was to be with you, but this is so much better and very wonderful. I didn’t know then what kind of lies Lorraine had fed you! I know you will not believe her, but I just want to be completely sure that we are still okay. Besides, Ilocos was not the same without you! I missed you terribly.”
“I didn’t give much credence to her words, really!” Maya assured Ricky again. Then brows knitted she asked, while still in Ricky’s loose embrace,“Did you get my long message? I have sent you one when I was unable to reach you, explaining everything, about why I needed to return to Manila promptly, and that you shouldn’t worry. I even said, I will just call you and that you can call me when you see my message.”
“Maya, we better sit down, while I explained to you what happened when I got home from the hospital.” Richard said, taking a deep breath. He remembered what Lorraine did and he was still annoyed at her action! He never thought really that she would sink that low!
“Okay, we can sit on the bench over there.” Maya said, pointing to a two-sitter wooden bench at the other side of the small garden, with a matching driftwood table. “Sandali lang, Ricky, I will get you something from the cafe. Coffee, pastries, pasta? What would you like to have! Nag-breakfast ka na ba?”
“Coffee is okay Maya, and some food if it is not too much trouble.” Ricky replied, then sheepishly, he admitted “I haven’t had the chance to drink coffee or eat anything this morning as I wanted to be here as soon as I have rested a bit. Nagbaka-sakali nga lang ako na nandito since sabi ni Manang Miring, may sakit si Emman.”
“What time did you leave Ilocos? And what time did you arrive?” Maya asked, carrying her coffee and flowers to where Ricky and her would sit.
“Well, a little past 10PM, I think, and I arrived home at around 5AM!” Ricky replied, cupping Maya’s elbow and guiding her while they walked the short distance to the bench.
“Five in the morning! That meant you drove all the way, no stopping at all?” Maya looked at Ricky in surprise.
“Well, I stopped just twice for a toilet break and to stretch my legs! I wanted to get back here fast, and before the morning traffic in all the towns I’ll be passing by. I only slept a bit when I got home. I don’t want to look like a fright when I finally get to see you! But I can’t keep still, until I see you again. So here I am. But don’t worry, I’m okay. I don’t feel tired.”
“Oh, Ricky!” Maya felt overwhelmed with Ricky’s gesture, and the fact that he thought of her first instead of food. He even managed to bring her that beautiful bouquet. “So, go and sit, please, and I will get you something to eat.”
“Thank you, Maya.” Ricky taking hold of Maya’s right hand before she went back to the cafe, then giving her one of his devastating smiles that never fails to make her heart beat faster. “I love you.” Then he kissed her hand softly.
“No worries, Ricky. I’m happy to do it. Thank you for loving me. I love you too!” Maya said softly, felt herself flushing, as she is still getting used to the fact that she is exchanging ‘I love yous’ now with Ricky! She touched his face and then she was off to the cafe.
“Ma’am Maya, ang guwapo guwapo naman, and parang ang bango-bango ni Sir! Oh my God, sana ganyan din ang maging boyfriend ko!” Jocelyn blurted out giddily as soon as she saw Maya entered the cafe. “Saka Ma’am ang pa-flowers, ang bongga.”
Maya smiled at Jocelyn. “So tama ang hula ko na ikaw ang kakutsaba ni Ricky sa surprise na pagpunta sa garden.”
“Guilty, Ma’am!” Jocelyn admitted sheepishly. “Pagdating kasi kanina rito ni Mr. Lim, hinanap ka. Papaghintayin ko lang sana sa loob ng cafe, crossed my heart Ma’am kahit gaano siya ka-guwapo sa paningin ko, tapos I will inform you, pero he explained that he came all the way from Ilocos to see you. Eh di ba doon ka galing? Saka Ma’am, in fairness, di ba naman napaka-romantic noon. Parang tinawid ang pitong bundok para sa iyo, makita ka lang. Then, he asked nicely naman if he can surprise you. Kaya hayun, sabi ko nandoon ka sa garden. Abswelto na po ako, Ma’am?”
Maya laughed. “O siya sige, oo na. But please bring Ricky a cup of coffee also, then a blueberry cheesecake and our mushroom truffles pasta.”
“Right on, Ma’am. Balik ka na po kay Sir, and ako na ang bahala.”
“Thank you, Jocelyn.”
“Basta sa love life mo Ma’am, 101 percent ang support ko.”
“Ikaw talaga, para ka nang si Emman magsalita.”
“Basta Ma’am, kapag kulang ka ng bridesmaid, pwede ako. Baka sakaling ako ang makasalo ng flowers mo.” Jocelyn quipped.
“Hahahaha, eh how sure are you na kami na?” Maya teased Jocelyn. She really likes the girl and she is used to her being familiar and her irreverent teasing like this.
“Naku Ma’am, feeling ko na naman kayo na talaga. Tapos kung not ‘yet’ naman, medyo malapit na iyon sa ‘yes’. Isang letter lang kaya ang difference nun, Ma’am.”
“Jocelyn, ang mga napupulot mo talaga diyan sa kaka-online mo! O sige please make Ricky’s food na. Thank you. And please you can still call me kapag na-swamp kayo ni Henry, since absent si Marigold. I’m sure Ricky will not mind me pitching in sa cafe while he is here.”
“Surely Ma’am Maya. I’m really happ for you. Imagine, may napili ka na rin. Maraming magiging miyembro ng Team Sawi kapag nalaman nilang taken ka na!” Then seeing Maya’s mock angry expression, Jocelyn raised her hand, “Okay na talaga Ma’am, last na iyon, off to the kitchen na ako!”
Maya was still grinning when she returned to where Ricky was waiting for her.
“O, why are you grinning!” Ricky asked Maya when she sat down beside him on the bench.
“Ito kasing si Jocelyn, kung ano-anong kalokohan ang nasa ulo. Kaya yata sila nagkakasundo ng husto ni Emman.”
“Jocelyn? The nice girl who told me where you are.” Ricky smiled. “I told her I wanted to surprise you.”
“Well, she did admit as much. And you are such a wonderful surprise! I thought medyo matatagalan pa talaga bago tayo magkita ulit. I was getting worried na nga rin na hindi kita matawagan. I called up Manang Miring to get Manang Auring’s number kanina. Then she told me na nagpunta ka nga raw sa bahay! After talking to her, medyo napanatag na ako.”
“Maya, I’m sorry if you got worried. Good thing, that Manang Miring explained everything to you! I thought of texting you while I was on the road, na-drain naman ang phone ko.”
“It is okay Ricky. Manang even called up Rosario when I was unable to reach you still. Then si Manang Auring din tinawagan niya when Rosario was unable to tell her kung saan ka pumunta, and nalaman ko nga na on the way back to Manila ka na. Sobrang thank you ko nga kay Manang Miring, sobrang resourceful. I thought nagpapahinga ka pa. If you haven’t gotten in touch with me by lunch, I was planning to call you again.”
“I have to thank her as well, Maya. I’m really sorry for what had happened, especially with Lorraine! Did she say bad things? Nabastos ka ba niya? After what she had done last night, I would have not put it pass her! Really, Maya, sobrang mali ng pagkakilala ko sa kanya.”
“Well, she was a bit antagonistic towards me, pero hindi naman siya outright na nambastos, or anything. She was, how to put it, indifferent and uncooperative, as if she knew something that I don’t know and she had that over me.”
“I think, my phone! She knew I have left it behind and that you were calling. That was not the only thing she did, Maya! I never thought she would sink that low! But she did!”
“Bakit, what did she do ba?” Maya asked, wanting to know at what extent Lorraine went to, just to get back Ricky, one more time.
“Well, when I got home, I was really surprised that she was there! Naputol lang ang usapan namin noong naaksidente si Manong Tunying. Then I rushed him to the hospital. When I returned after I have been to your house and Manang Miring told me that you went to my place, I asked her what did she tell you. She actually denied at first that you have been there! Then I got my phone to check if you had called or left a message. I was puzzled na wala kang message. Then, wala ring missed calls. I checked my call logs and it was cleaned. Wiped out!”
“Really, but Ricky, I sent you a long message!”
“I know Maya! Lorraine when she was cornered admitted that not only she wiped out my call logs, she also deleted your message! Maya, I barely held on to my temper. But in the end, I realized that it was a waste of energy to get mad at her. Mahirap siyang makaintindi. I packed my bags and just left. I just arranged for Rosario to stay in the house. Kahit paano naman kasi may pinagsamahan kami and she is a friend of the family.”
“She did that! That’s so terrible!” Maya said, and admired Ricky for his patience and concern for Lorraine despite the bad things she did. “But bayaan mo na nga lang si Lorraine, Ricky. I’m sure she will eventually get it. No harm done naman when we met.” She was about to ask something when she saw Jocelyn approaching them.
“Kain ka na muna, Ricky. Jocelyn is here!”
“Hello po ulit, Mr. Lim, Ma’am Maya.” Jocelyn said as she put down Ricky’s tray on the table.
“Hello, Jocelyn. Thank you very much again for earlier, and this.” Riky said, gesturing to the food. “I’m sure these are masarap.”
“Talaga pong masarap iyan, Mr. Lim. Recipe po ni Ma’am iyong pasta.” Jocelyn said. “Sige po maiwan ko na kayo.”
“Thanks a lot, Jocelyn.” Maya said. Jocelyn nodded and with a final wave of her hand, she went back to the cafe.
“Really, sweetheart, this is your recipe?” Ricky said, the endearment just slipping in, naturally.
“Sweetheart…? Maya said, smiling, feeling giddy with the endearment.
“Yes you are, my sweetheart? Bakit ayaw mo ba, sige palitan na lang natin. Anong gusto mong itawag ko sa iyo? Huwag lang darling ha!” Ricky said, giving Maya another of his bone-melting smiles.
“No, Ricky, ‘sweetheart’, is fine, more than fine!” Maya said, softly, then flushing she admitted, “I just have to get used to it. I haven’t called anyone ‘sweetheart’ before, and no one has called me that before, you know.”
Ricky grinned, his love for this wonderful girl, overflowing, taking hold of both of her hands, and slowly caressing them! “Then, get used to it, sweetheart. I’m really a very lucky guy to have you.”
“I’m lucky to have you, Ricky. I know that.” Maya replied, putting her left hand on top of Ricky’s hand. “O you better eat your brunch na. And yes, that is my recipe. One of the things my mother taught me.”
“Thank you, again, sweetheart,” Ricky said lovingly.
“You’re welcome, sweetheart,” Maya replied sweetly, rolling it around her tongue and she liked the feel and sound of the endearment. “Kain na, please. Ayaw ko na nagpapagutom ka.”
“Yes, Ma’am!” Ricky said with a grin.
Their eyes met and locked again. Unable to help it, they shared another kiss. They just both felt the strong need to physically connect to each other like that, before Ricky finally answered the call of his grumbling tummy. They chatted in between, enjoying the beautiful morning in each other’s company.
“Good morning, sweetheart!” Richard greeted Maya cheerfully when she emerged from her bungalow the following morning. He was sitting on the veranda of his bungalow. Obviously, he was just waiting for her to get out of hers. He stood up, then walked towards her, smiling broadly. The way he was looking at her, it felt like they haven’t seen each other for a long time, when in fact, they just parted several hours before!
When she woke up that morning and found herself tucked in her bed with the clothes she was wearing the night before, she felt a bit disoriented. Then she remembered everything!
Richard carried her in his arms to her bungalow, probably after spending more than two hours by the driftwood, enjoying the quiet night and taking advantage fully of their last evening in Camiguin. She had apparently fallen asleep as they were chatting, with his arms around her, keeping her warm and her, half-lying against his chest, listening to the musical cadence of his voice. The last thing she remembered, before she nodded off, was Richard telling her about another of his and his South African friend Mattheu’s funny adventures while studying for a post-graduate course at Harvard.
By unspoken agreement, they shied away from talking about their exes or any part of the painful past that affected their ability to love before they had, luckily, crossed paths. They just resolved to enjoy that beautiful place in each other’s company, one last time, getting to know each other more. Richard told Maya how it was to grow up as an only child of Filipino-Chinese parents and his wish that he has a brother or a sister, or both! Maya also told Richard that she wished for the same. But her Mom was unable to conceive anymore, after giving birth to her due to a medical condition. Luckily, Emman is like a brother to her and her Tita Margarita, like a second Mom after her parents untimely death. They also talked about their growing up years, and the scrapes and misadventures they got into, to their college days and the courses they opted to take, among other things.
She realized that she had conked out on Richard, when he was gently and slowly putting her down by her door. She started apologizing, but Richard gently hushed her away, then asked softly for her key. She fished it from her pocket, feeling groggy. He got it from her hand, opened the door with one hand, at the same time, continued supporting her, lest she fall. He carried her inside after opening the door, gently putting her down on the bed. He tucked her in, placing the blanket securely around her, then he gently kissed her on the forehead before whispering a soft good night and ‘I love you’. The last time she remembered in her sleepy state was her whispering good night as well, then mumbling something, which she can’t remember anymore, and the gentle closing of her door. She had a rested, dreamless sleep.
Maya smiled, a smile that lit up her already beautiful face, appreciating very much Richard’s gesture, sweetness and thoughtfulness! If she hasn’t yet fallen for this guy, she would surely have with what he has been doing, to show his love for her. He is a perfect gentleman and just so very wonderful! She closed her eyes a bit, thanking God, that after the heartache caused by that cad, James, she has found someone like Richard. Opening her eyes, slowly, she gave Richard a smile that lit up her face, love in her eyes.
Richard smiled back, and gazed at Maya, with all the love he is feeling for her. Each day that passes by, she looks more and more beautiful. Despite what had love has caused him in the past, he is still willing to try again. For this lady, he will take the leap into the unknown in a blink. Loving her is worth it. Those were his thoughts as he gazed at her.
Besides, Richard mused, Maya may not have said the words aloud, but he heard her whispering a soft ‘I love you too, Ricky’ after he had tucked her to bed. Richard doubted on whether she would remember it now as she was in that state, the thin line between wakefulness and sleep when she mumbled it. But he is happy to know. He hopes he will hear it soon, when Maya is very much awake, and them looking at each other’ eyes with all the love they are feeling for each other! But he can wait. Knowing that she loves him back is enough for him. He felt like he was at the top of the world that morning! Maybe, it was the reason why he woke up early despite the fact that he made it to bed at 3AM, and why he feels very chirpy despite the lack of sleep!
“Ricky, good morning! You are up early too! Were you waiting for me to wake up? You should have just texted me or knock at my door. I have been awake for an hour or so! I was just arranging my things! I also called Emman to tell him not to pick me up at the airport as you will take me home!” Maya said happily when Richard reached her side. Emman ribbed her a bit, wanting to find out more. But she deflected her cousin and promised him that they will go for a ‘cousin time’ when she gets back, meaning, drinks in his favorite watering hole and a chat.
“It is okay, sweetheart, you needed your sleep. I just woke early despite our late night. But strange, despite the lack of sleep, I feel rested and happy. It must have been because of you, and another wonderful night with you!” Richard said with a big smile. “How about you, did you sleep well?”
Hearing Richard called her ‘sweetheart’ never fails to give Maya a thrill. “Yes, I slept very well. Dreamless, just restful sleep too, no nightmares at all about the accident. I think our wonderful time by the driftwood helped a lot. Sorry again I conked out on you. Thank you for putting me to bed. That was so sweet of you. I hope I didn’t tax your tender shoulder. You should have just woken me up instead of carrying me like that, even if I like very much that you did!” Maya added with a smile.
“I’m glad you slept well. My shoulder is not so tender. Now it just felt like I pulled a muscle while at a gym. I was happy to carry and put you to bed.” Richard put his thumb on her chin, gently, then said softly, “I love you. I will never get tired of saying that to you, and in showing you.”
Maya flushed, so very happy to hear it. “Thank you, Ricky.” She touched his face and caressed it softly, wanting to communicate to him that she may have not said the word yet, but she does love him back, very much. She just needed a little bit of time, to conquer her lingering fear. She had drilled it into her being, and it was a bit difficult to erase it overnight! But she wanted to, very much. She wants to love Richard fully and completely!
“Errrr…. Ehemmmm!” A masculine voice teasingly said, breaking into Maya and Richard’s private world. “Good morning!”
Maya and Richard looked and saw a smiling and sheepish Jeremy with a tall, handsome guy, wearing glasses who looked vaguely familiar.
“Good morning, Maya, Richard! I’m so sorry for barging in on you so early in the morning. This is Rafael Reyes, from last night.”
“Hello Maya, Richard, how are you? I just thought of checking on the two of you before I travel to Cebu!” Rafael Reyes said, smiling at Maya and Richard. “How’s your shoulders, Richard? I saw you massaging it last night. I think it was what cushioned your fall. Sorry I was unable to check on you last night!”
“Oh, that’s why you look familiar!” Maya said, having placed him as the guy who almost hit Richard and her! “Hello, Rafael! So nice of you to check on us!”
“We are okay, Rafael, no harm done. The right shoulder is a bit tender, but it will be okay in several days.” Richard assured the guy, who he thinks is probably the same age as him.”You are not from Camiguin, too? I thought you live here.”
“I am from Camiguin. But I don’t live here anymore. I’m base in Manila. I was just visiting the family, and we were having one of our rare family dinners when my sister has gotten ill last night.” Rafael explained. “I’m staying in Cebu today and tomorrow to see some friends, then flying back to Manila the day after.”
“Oh! How’s your sister now?” Maya asked. “I hope she is better!”
“She is still in the clinic, but doing so much better. Thank you for asking after her. The doctor needed to hydrate her so she stayed overnight. Like Richard suspected, it was food poisoning. The oysters we had as appetizer! She ate a lot of it, her favorite.” Rafael said. “I will not keep you two. Sorry to ambush you even before you can have breakfast. Maybe I can just invite the two of you to dinner when you get back to Manila. I’ll just ask Jeremy for your contact information.”
“Okay. Just give us a call, please.” Maya said, liking the other guy. He was under no obligation to see how they are, knowing that they were okay when they parted. But still, he took time to see them.
“Yes, Rafael, do give Maya and I a call.” Richard offered his hand to the other guy. Then Rafael was off.
“So you do know him, Jeremy?” Maya asked when Rafael had left.
“Yes, most of the island does, actually. He is the eldest son of a businessman from around here. But he is quite a low profile guy as compared to the father.” Jeremy replied. “He is a very nice guy, an architect.”
“Oh! His father is Mr. Juancho Reyes? I think my father knows his father. He was at a party or two at my parents’s house.” Richard remarked. “Though, you are right. I just know there is a son, but haven’t seen him in social gatherings. I just met Marixi, the sister, the one who got food poisoned!”
“Small world eh?” Jeremy replied. “So, you two, would you like to have some breakfast? Here or at the restaurant?”
“Maya? Here or at the restaurant?” Richard asked, deferring to Maya.
“Here please, Jeremy.” Then looking at Richard, she smiled and said, “Nice that we can enjoy the beautiful view before us one more time, di ba?”
“Sure, Maya, you the boss!” Richard said, smiling back, gazing at her. Then looking at Jeremy, “Here it is please, Jeremy. Thank you very much, for everything.”
“No worries, Richard, Maya.” Jeremy said, smiling, seeing the new intimacy between the two. Things have really progressed well, really well, between these two, he thought to himself! “Anyway, I’ll see you later, before you leave.”
Maya and Richard sat on the wicker sofa, waiting for Marina to serve their food, after Jeremy left with a wave. They held hands, Maya snuggled against Richard again.
“Back to Manila in several hours!” Richard said, playing with Maya’s hair . “I wish we don’t have to leave yet.”
“Yes, me too!” Maya said. “But the responsibilities and ‘real life’ await.”
“We can always come back!” Richard said, then cupping Maya’s face, he said. “I promise you, we will.”
“I’m with you there, Ricky. Thank you.” Maya said gazing at Richard, then she saw Marina approaching with her nephew. “There’s Ate Marina and our brunch. By the way, have you packed your things?”
“Yes, I did! How about you?” Richard asked.
“Done! That was what I was doing earlier. We can leave immediately after our brunch!”
“Okay, I will settle our bill after eating, then we can go.” Richard replied as he stood up and guided Maya up so they can eat.
“Ricky, I will pay my bill, okay.” Maya insisted, having read into Richard’s intention to settle everything. “Please no arguments, on this.”
Seeing Maya’s adamant expression, Richard can really sense that it is really important that she pays her way, he relented. “Okay, but I will pay for our meals since I arrived, please.”
“Okay. Thank you, Ricky.” Maya pressed Richard’s arm, communicating to him that she was glad that he understood her insistence on paying her way. “Shall we eat?”
“Okay.” He gave her another lopsided smile, then pulled the chair for her.
“Thank you, Ate Marina.” Maya said as Marina was about to leave to go back to the restaurant.
Marina prepared a feast for Richard and Maya’s last day at the resort. Over cups of coffee and mango juice, Richard and Maya enjoyed their sumptuous breakfast while looking at the beautiful view before them, with a cool breeze blowing from somewhere, thrown in.
“It felt like we have been here a long time, when this is just the third day for me!” Richard remarked as he enjoyed his second cup of coffee. “It felt like a lifetime since I left Manila!”
“Yes, I feel like I have been here in months instead of just a week, because I feel right at home on my first day here, then came you, and made the place much, much more for me.” Maya finished with a smile.
Richard took hold of Maya’s left hand, then pressed it gently. “So many wonderful things had happened to us here. Even the near accident has its silver lining.”
“Yes, but that’s something I wish will not happen again ever!”
Half and hour later, Richard and Maya were at the restaurant saying good-bye to Jeremy after they have settled their bills and thanked the staff who served them. Richard even gave a big tip to Marina and her family for all the help they did, much to the delight of the older lady, her sister and nephew.
“So come back, please!” Jeremy said to Richard and Maya. “Mimosa is always open for you guys.”
“Of course, we will Jeremy, thank you very much again, for everything!” Richard shook Jeremy’s hand, his animosity towards him, gone! “If you are in Manila and you need a place to crash, let me know.”
“Thank you very much, Richard. I’ll take note of that.” Jeremy said.
“Jeremy, really, let me know if you are in Manila. Richard and I will treat you to dinner!” Maya added, then hugged Jeremy. “Thank you for everything.”
“No worries, Luv.” Jeremy hugged Maya back, then whispered to Maya, “Don’t forget to invite me to the wedding. Or you and Richard can have it here, Mimosa and me, having played cupids, eh!”
Maya laughed, then pinched Jeremy lightly. Richard looked on, smiling indulgently, a complete change from his expression the day before. “You are indeed incorrigible! Take care, my dear friend, and keep in touch, okay!”
Richard and Maya left after that, but not before looking back wistfully at the resort, then the receding island when they were at the ferry. Several hours later, they were at the Laguindingan International Airport, waiting for their flight, which was already delayed by an hour due to air traffic congestion in Manila.
“Coffee, Maya!” Richard handed Maya a steaming cup of coffee he got from a cafe in the airport.
“Thanks a lot, Ricky. Maybe we can just postpone our dinner to tomorrow, since we will be arriving late home. It is more important to see your family doctor for your shoulder!” Maya suggested, taking a sip of her coffee.
“Oh, I would rather have dinner with you, Maya. The doctor can wait. I’ll see him tomorrow. I feel really okay Maya.” Richard assured her. “But if you are too tired, we can do it tomorrow, and the next day and the next day.”
“Fine, fine, fine Mr. Lim. You win.” Maya said, laughing.
They enjoyed their coffee while smiling and teasing each other. Halfway through, there was a boarding announcement for their flight.
”Finally!” Maya said.
Richard took hold of his and Maya’s bags while Maya disposed of their coffee cups.
Hand in hand, they boarded the flight that would take them back to the real world, holding on to the love for each other that was realized in that beautiful island!
Jeremy put his phone down on the coffee table in the living room of his penthouse unit in an upscale condominium building in Makati after he texted Natasha. Smiling, he went to his room and took a shower. When he got out, he eagerly checked if there was a reply from her. He was a bit disappointed that there was none, but he was not surprised. He had given Natasha enough to think about and absorb for a while. He hoped though that she would see things the same way he would like to see or envision it to be, them in a romantic relationship!
He went to bed, but unable to sleep, still too keyed up with what happened that evening. He stared at the ceiling, put his right arm behind his head, using it as a pillow, then thought about his friendship with Natasha, and how it was, and how it is about to change big time once he let her know that he likes her a lot in romantic way. Stephen is right! Maybe, it is about time he does. He had tried, but unable to suppress anymore, what he feels for her. He sometimes wondered, how he lasted that long, being just friends with her!
Jeremy smiled, remembering his first meeting with Natasha. She was like a prickly cactus that evening. Later, when they became friends, she admitted to him that, that night was not one of her best nights. Then, he teased her mercilessly about it, acting out how she had been, in an exaggerated manner, and they have a good laugh about it.
Natasha told him that she was actually going through something that evening. She just saw her father with his second family. He was indifferent to her, and it hurt, especially after she had observed him being sweet to his daughter who was just a year younger than her! Yes, her father was already in relationship with his wife number two while he still married to Natasha’s mother! Added to that, one of her friends was going through a bad break up. Natasha is very cynical about love. It was one of the first things he had found out about her when they got pass their several false starts. It was the main reason why they ended up friends instead of being in a relationship. She nipped everything in the bud, when he started letting her know that he was interested in her romantically!
The moment their eyes met, that evening at the coffee shop he felt a pull, a very strong instant attraction to her. She looked so lovely, sitting there, trying to go for nonchalance after he heard her dishing the dirt on him, base solely on what she had seen on television or read in the papers and online, to Seb! She looked cute with that lovely flush on her face. He had known who she was. He had seen her as a cute theater kid, to the lovely teenager she had become in The King and I and The Sound of Music, two of his Mum’s favourite musicals.
He has not followed much of her career after that as he stopped going to the theater when his Mum died , and everything just went downhill with his father. Several years after his Mum died, they are still very much at loggerheads on most things. Sometimes, Jeremy wished his father would just let him be! How he missed his Mum, even after all these years!
While he was talking to Seb, he was very much aware of Natasha’s presence opposite him, serenely sipping her espresso. She just looked on at them, listening to them discussing the musical. Except for her initial falter when she introduced herself, she was as cool as a cucumber most of the time. He didn’t see her expression changed when he introduced himself, like what happened to people when they realized it is him, the famous singer. It was liberating that she was not in awe of his celebrity status. In fact, later on, Natasha admitted to him that one of the reasons she left early that night was because of all the fans that approached their table for photos. It was too much for her.
Of course, the following day, the shit hits the fan, so to speak, when their photo, him kissing Natasha good night on the cheek, went viral and she was paraded on social media as Jeremy Ledesma’s new flame, the latest in a string of party girls that people thought he was dating or passing his time with. She was put under intense scrutiny and worse, bashed by his so-called fans who were hiding under usernames and aliases! She was also sought after for interviews by entertainment bloggers and showbiz reporters. Both of them were, as it was the first time, a photo was taken with his ‘date’ that’s not in a bar or a party venue.
He clarified that he and Natasha had just met by accident because of their common friend, Sebastian. But it didn’t stop the talk or the bashing. At that time, they can’t reveal yet that they will be working opposite each other in a hit musical. There was a press conference scheduled to announce him joining the musical and present the other cast members several days after that meeting with Seb and Natasha. He can’t preempt that! It was what his management company’s condition to Seb and to the producer of the show. He communicated as much to Seb that evening.
Initially, his manager was against him doing the musical as it would take too much of his time, his schedule was packed. Besides, he said, theatre was not his forte. But Benedict relented when he insisted that it is something he would like to do for a long time. He wanted to prove that he was not just another pretty face who can carry a tune.
Besides, he wanted to do it also for his Mum. It has been something they both love and a big part of his happy childhood with her. He had been wanting to do theater for so long, even before he became a famous singer. His father objected as he wanted him to join the family business. He never liked Jeremy putting himself in the public limelight. He was also the main source of his Mum’s unhappiness and early death, in Jeremy’s mind! He rebelled and did the things his father hates.
The day after he and Natasha first met, when he found out about the viral photo, Jeremy called Seb to get Natasha’s number, wanting to apologize to her for what had happened. Well, that was his excuse. He actually wanted to see her again, not only because of the musical, but because he was very much attracted to her. He wanted to pursue her romantically. It was just that, due to the people asking for photos the night before, he forgot to get her number.
When Natasha, told by Seb beforehand that Jeremy will get in touch, picked up the call, her voice sounded frosty. He asked her if they could meet! She declined politely, saying that she didn’t want to add more fuel to the fire. She also told Jeremy that while she knows things like that are part and parcel of being the Jeremy Ledesma, she does not appreciate being on the spotlight in that manner. Outside of her work, she told him, she was a private person.
He apologized profusely, especially as he can’t disclose yet that they would be working together in a musical. Natasha said she understood and that it was beyond his control, anyway. People will say whatever they want to say, and see what they want to see, believe what they want to believe. After that, luckily their viral photo was overtaken by another one, that of another showbiz couple who were caught on camera kissing in a parking lot! Of course, they were still asked if there was something between them when they were presented to the media, but they both denied that there was. The of them also explained that, they met for coffee because of the musical, like Jeremy had previously said. After the press conference, he invited her for a drink, but she declined. The next time they saw each other was on the first day of their rehearsals.
Jeremy’s phone made a beeping sound in the middle of his introspection. At first, he frowned, wondering who could be messaging him in the middle of the night? Then he suddenly remembered his text message to Natasha earlier. Maybe, it’s her! Finally! He scrambled out of the bed fast, woke barefooted, in his boxers to where he had left his phone, earlier, in the living room. Good thing, he still heard the faint sound of it beeping!
Excitedly, he swiped his phone open. His excitement turned into disappointment several seconds after. It was not Natasha who sent him a message via Viber, not a text message from her after all! The message was from a commercial model he had dated for a couple of times. She even sent a photo of herself in a provocative dress, holding a drink at the watering hole in Bonifacio Global City where he met her one Saturday evening. Ashley was asking if he would like to join her and her friends, and she even promised to make it worth his while.
Jeremy wondered why did he ever date her! He ignored the message, put his phone on silent, then went back to bed. He was through doing meaningless stuff. He will just concentrate on his campaign to win Natasha.
The days that followed were busy days for Jeremy. He rehearsed for his upcoming concert, guested in a musical variety show and did a photo shoot for a magazine. He also shot a commercial for a car company, who wants to introduce their latest model to the young and hip crowd, and thought that he would be the best ambassador for their new product.
He asked the producers if Natasha, should she agree, can be one of the guests in his concert. They have said yes. He was planning to tell Natasha about it when they see each other again for the awards ceremony they will go to. They haven’t communicated with each other since ‘the kiss’, but that’s not unusual. There were times that they don’t talk for days due to their busy schedules.
Wednesday evening came! He was excited, not because he might win another award, but because he would see Natasha again. He ordered flowers for her and it was delivered just before he left his place. At first, he hesitated doing so as Natasha might ask all sorts of questions as it was outside his norm, but he wanted to do it, so he dialled the number of the florist that he uses from to time. The florist smiled when he told her what he wanted and told him, he was in luck as their new shipment had just arrived.
He texted Natasha when he was about to leave his place, and she just replied a short okay. Half an hour later, he was parked outside her building. He texted her again to tell him he was there. He drummed his fingers against the steering wheel, patiently, nervously and excitedly waiting for her!
Jeremy didn’t wait long. However, his eyes popped, and he gasped, when he caught sight of Natasha and what she was wearing, with matching stilettos! She was a vision in the dress she chose to wear that evening, a deep violet halter dress that hugged her curvaceous body, something she usually hides in leggings and loose shirts. Well, the dress did look very, very nice on her, even if it is more revealing that what she usually prefers or what he have seen her wear. He guess the dress was okay, and that was before she turned a bit to thank the receptionist!
“She can’t be seriously wearing that!” Jeremy exclaimed, sitting straighter from his slouching position, seeing Natasha’s dress was not so demure after all! Most of her upper back was bare! He got out of the car, fast, and met her halfway.
“Hi Jer!” Natasha greeted him as she would normally do. He can’t detect any change in her treatment of him. In fact, she sounded like the kiss didn’t happen and he didn’t send that text message. “Nervous? I’m sure you’ll win so don’t be!”
“Hi Nat!” Jeremy returned the greetings by kissing her cheek as he normally does, when they meet up. He knows he does not have the right but he was unable to stop himself. “Errr, Nat, is your dress okay? Are you sure, you want to attend the event in that?”
“Ha, what is wrong with my dress? You told me, not so formal,” Natasha asked, surprised, checking the dress she was wearing.
“Errr, yeah! But isn’t it too revealing?” He managed to say, treading carefully. “Do you have a shawl or something for that? What’s called, a wrap? It might also get cold in the venue!” He added hastily. Fast thinking there, Jer, he told himself!
Natasha laughed, her lilting laugh that Jeremy likes very much. “Come on, Jer, this is perfectly okay. Unless, the dress does not suit me? Hindi ba bagay?”
“No, Nat, you look very lovely, actually,” Jeremy admitted reluctantly.
“So, on with this dress! By the way, what brought this on? I have worn skimpier clothes on stage,” Natasha asked, finding Jeremy’s reaction a bit strange, after all this time!
“Oh nothing! Come let’s go.” Jeremy gave up explaining that he was feeling territorial and protective of her. He was in the past, but it was not as overt as this. He would just protect her the way he had been doing in the past.
Jeremy escorted Natasha to the car. He opened the door for her, then went to the driver’s side. He remembered the flowers. He grabbed it from the back seat before he went into the car.
“For you Nat!” Jeremy handed Natasha a beautiful bouquet, of tulips of different colors, as he slid into the driver’s seat!
“Wow, this is so lovely, Jeremy.” Natasha said, her heart beating faster. This was not the first time Jeremy gave her flowers, or gifts, but this is the first time he gave her tulips and usually too, he gives her flowers or gifts during the opening night of the show she was in! She looked at him a bit puzzled.
“Well, I just want to thank you for going with me this evening. I know you were a bit reluctant to do so.” Jeremy hastily said. He felt himself flushing and a bit nervous. He wanted to ease Natasha gently into him courting her, and suddenly he was nervous that she would see through him, with the flowers he gave her out of the blue.
“What are friends for! You know, you are very important to me and I want to share this evening with you, despite the crowd.” Nat said, looking at the tulips! “But thanks a lot for the lovely flowers.”
“Thanks a lot again, Nat.” Jeremy put his hand on top of Nat’s and gently squeezed it. “I appreciate you doing this very much. You are the best! I’m lucky to have you!”
Natasha looked at him in surprise, but she didn’t remove her hand. He smiled. She smiled back.
Jeremy drove off, humming his latest song, about a guy who can’t fight his feeling anymore for a girl he likes very much for a long time. Natasha on the other hand, stared at the vibrant tulips on her lap, touching one gently as she relived the kiss that she and Jeremy shared several days before!
It took several attempts before Maya managed to get out of bed the morning after she arrived back in the house that she had shared with her grandfather. It was strange not seeing her Lolo Jaime at his usual place by the veranda. Even late at night when she goes home from manning the cafe, he was there, waiting for her. She was not yet used to him gone forever! She wondered if she will ever be. She felt extremely sad when she entered the darkened house. But she tried to snap out of it. Maybe, she was just tired, and a bit frustrated that she was unable to reach Ricky.
She checked her phone as soon as she had landed at Terminal 2. There were no messages from Richard! She found it strange since she had sent him a message and his call log would have reflected all her missed calls. That was not like him not to call or text her back! She thought of calling him again, but decided against it as it was already late. She was getting worried too, but didn’t want to think about that. For sure, Ricky is okay. She believed so. Maybe, he just got busy dealing with Lorraine. She took a taxi home. While on the road, she called up and assured Manang Fe again that she was okay and on the way home and she needed not wait up for her. The old lady was not feeling well the past several days. Her voice was still hoarse when Maya called her before boarding the plane in Laoag.
Maya just dropped her bags somewhere in her room, so very tired from her long trip. She took a shower and then plopped herself down the bed. She thought of Ricky and she hoped, before sleep and tiredness claimed her, that he had managed to straighten out things with Lorraine, and that it didn’t get ugly. She hoped Ricky was okay after his latest run-in with Lorraine! She had a feeling that Lorraine was so used to getting her own way, and that, defeat and surrender are words that are not in her vocabulary.
Maya stretched her arms, yawned big, then dragged herself out of her bed. She needed to get going early, and gear up for her long day! She will visit Emman first, then go to Cafe Arts. But before she hit the shower, she retrieved her phone from the bedside table, checking again if Ricky had phone. Still no messages from him! Ano kayang nangyari roon, she muttered, getting really worried. She decided to give Manang Miring a call. Why didn’t she think of it earlier!
“Good morning po, Manang, si Maya po ito! Nandito na po ako sa bahay sa Makati. Nakarating naman po ako ng maayos. Hindi ko na po kayo na-text kagabi. Medyo gabi na kasi, baka tulog na kayo.”
“Ma’am Maya, mabuti po at maayos kayong nakauwi at mabuti rin po at napatawag kayo. Nagkausap na po kayo at ni Sir Ricky?”
“Hindi pa nga po. Medyo worried na nga po ako. Tanong ko nga po sa inyo kung pwede ko makuha iyong cellphone number ni Manang Auring. Baka po kasi alam niya kung nasaan si Ricky. Baka kasi may nangyari sa kanya. Kahapon ko pa po siya hindi ma-contact! Hindi rin po siya tumatawag or nag-text. Hind po kasi ganoon si Ricky, Manang!”
“Okay naman po siguro si Sir Ricky, Ma’am Maya, kasi dumaan pa nga po siya rito kagabi, hinahanap kayo, mga halos dalawang oras po siguro simula noong umalis kayo.”
“Talaga po, Manang! Ano po ang sabi niya? Kumusta naman po siya?”
“Okay naman po siya Ma’am. Mukha lang pagod na pagod. Hindi pa po siguro nakapagpahinga mula sa biyahe ninyong dalawa. Mangyari po, dinala nila ni Manang Auring si Manong Tunying sa hospital kahapon pagkauwi niya sa bahay. Naaksidente po si Manong Tunying habang naglilinis ng alulod, sabi ni Sir Ricky!”
“Ganoon po ba, Manang! Kumusta naman po si Manong Tunying? I hope maayos naman po ang condition niya!”
“Sabi naman po ni Sir Ricky, maayos na si Manong Tunying. Kailangan na lang daw pong ma-confine pa ng ilang araw sa hospital. Iniwan na raw po niya roon si Manang Auring. Dito nga po dumiretso si Sir, galing sa hospital kasi nga raw po, may usapan kayong magdi-dinner sa bahay nila.”
“Naku, good to know naman Manang na okay si Manong. Sayang nga lang po, hindi kami nag-abot ni Ricky.”
“Iyon din po ang sabi ni Sir. Hindi niya rin po pala kayo natawagan kai naiwan daw po niya sa bahay iyong phone niya nang isugod nila si Manong Tunying sa hospital. Kaya po pala hindi ninyo siya ma-contact, Ma’am!
“Oh! Kaya pala, Manang! I’m glad naman po na okay siya. Kaso po Manang, hindi ko pa rin siya ma-contact hanggang ngayon.” Maya said, at the same time, she realized that Lorraine was not very forthcoming with her when she went to Ricky’s place. In fact, she concealed this information from her. What else did she didn’t tell her?
“Ma’am Maya, sandali lang po. Para mapalagay ang loob ninyo, mas mabuti po, tatawagan ko si Rosario, iyong anak nina Manong Tunying at Manang Auring. Siya po kasi ang nandoon sa bahay nina Sir Ricky ngayon habang nasa hospital ang Tatay at Nanay niya. Nabanggit po sa akin ni Manang kanina nung tumawag ako at nangumusta sa lagay ni Manong!”
“Sige nga po, Manang, please. Tatawag po ulit ako, maliligo lang ako.”
“Sige po, Ma’am Maya. Tawag po ulit kayo.”
Maya proceeded to take a shower. But as soon as she got out of the bathroom and got dressed, she called back Manang Miring, hoping that she has news about Ricky by then.
“Ma’am Maya, good news po, nakausap ko na po si Rosario.” Manang Miring told Maya as soon as she had picked up the call.
“Talaga po, Manang! Ano pong sabi niya? Nandoon po ba si Ricky? Okay lang po ba siya? Manang pasensya na po sa mga tanong, nag-aalala na po kasi talaga ako sa kanya.”
“Ma’am, sabi po ni Rosario, hindi na niya inabutan roon si Sir Ricky. Wala na rin daw po iyong mga gamit. Umalis din daw po kaagad kagabi, gamit iyong kotse niya. Parang hindi na raw po muna babalik doon sa beach house.” Then the caretaker continued, “Bilin lang po ni Sir Ricky na asikasuhin niya kagabi iyong bisita nila at walang kasama roon, saka ipahatid sa airport ngayong umaga.”
Maya was surprised to hear that information. Ricky left last night? Did it mean, he returned to Manila too, after her? She felt her heart hammering against her chest all of a sudden! Glad of the news. Wait, Maya Dela Rosa, baka naman may ibang pinuntahan. However, malakas ang kutob niya na bumalik na ng Maynila si Ricky, kasunod niya. Pero bakit hindi pa siya tumatawag? Baka naaksidente? O baka naman pagod lang sa biyahe, Maya Dela Rosa, or nasa biyahe pa! Ikaw kung ano-ano ang pinag-iisip mo, she admonished herself!
“Ma’am Maya…?” The caretaker asked, breaking into Maya’s runaway thoughts. She didn’t realized that she had just gone silent on Manang Miring.
“Yes po, Manang, nandito pa po ako. Pasensya na po.” She said, then the last part of what her caretaker said, sunk in, as well. Ihatid sa airport! So it meant, Lorraine stayed at the beach house while Ricky left, just like that!
“Tinawagan ko na rin po ulit si Manang Auring, kasi po baka mas alam niya kung nasaan si Sir Ricky. Ipinaliwanag ko rin po na hinahanap ninyo siya. Sabi po niya, bumalik na raw po sa Maynila si Sir Ricky. Nagulat nga po siya, kasi ang alam niya magtatagal pa s Sir Ricky dito sa Ilocos.” Manang Miring said, confirming Maya’s suspicion!
“Manang Miring, sobrang thank you po, sa lahat!” Maya said happily upon hearing that Ricky, indeed cut short his trip and had returned to Manila last night, just like she did. “Hintayin ko na lang pong tumawag si Ricky!”
Maya checked the time and calculating the estimated travel time, if Ricky had left around 10PM, he should have been in Manila by around or before 6AM. She hopes that she gets to see him soon. But if had driven like he did on the way to Ilocos, then he needed his rest. Maya grinned, remembering hers and Ricky’s first meeting. Sa guwapong iyon, napagkamalan niya talang multo. It is really something to tell their children! Maya, children agad? Where did that thought come from? But still, she grinned! Just very happy with the thought that Ricky is okay and they are in the same city!
“Walang anuman po, Ma’am.” Manang Miring replied, then added, “Sana po magkita na kayo ni Sir Ricky. Para po kasing ang lungkot niya kagabi nang hindi niya kayo naabutan.”
“For sure po, Manang, magkikita kami noon. Maraming salamat po ulit. Paki-padalhan nga po pala ng prutas si Manong Tunying. Kunin ninyo na lang po iyong pamibili sa iniwan kong budget natin sa bahay.”
“Sige po, Ma’am. Magpapabili na lang po ako kay Manong Sonny paghatid niya kay Ms. Lorraine sa airport. Ipapadaan ko na rin sa hospital.” Manang Miring said. “Sana po makabalik kayo ulit dito.”
“Huwag po kayong mag-alala, Manang. I will. Kayo na po muna ang bahala diyan. Kung may kailangan po kayo, i-text ninyo lang ako or tawagan ninyo rito sa bahay si Manang Fe.”
“Sige po, Ma’am Maya.” Then before she ended the call, the caretaker said, and Maya can sense the smile in her voice, “Sana po magkatuluyan kayo ni Sir Ricky. Bagay na bagay po kayo!”
“Manang, ikaw talaga!” Maya said, laughing, before she ended the call from her end.
With something like spring on her feet, Maya got moving fast after the phone call. She changed into her favorite comfy clothes, ripped jeans and loose blouse, and slip-on sneakers! Then went down to greet Manang Fe and chatted with her. Manang still had a bit of a cold, but she insisted that she’s okay. She also insisted on Maya eating breakfast first before she goes to hospital and visit Emman.
Maya told Manang Fe a bit of her trip North while she was eating the omelette she had made for her. She also asked Manang if it is okay that she ask a couple of questions about her Lola Maya, later that evening. The old lady nodded. Sometimes, when Manang Fe looks at the young Maya, she felt like she was looking at her beloved Señora Maya, and even most of their mannerism are the same! It was uncanny!
Maya left for the hospital an hour later. Emman was still in the ICU but his mother said he was improving steadily. Since it was not yet visiting hours, Maya was unable to talk to him. She just told her Tita Roni that she will come back later in the day.
She then proceeded to Cafe Arts. She realized how much she had missed the place, when she gazed at it after parking her car in her usual spot. She entered the bustling cafe, greeted their regulars and then looked for Jocelyn, the staff she and Emman would like to groom as their assistant manager. Jocelyn was so happy and relieved to see Maya. Over a cup of her favorite caffe americano, Jocelyn updated Maya on how the cafe had been the past several days, when Emman was unable to report anymore due to his recurring fever and hospitalization.
“Thank you for holding the fort, Jocelyn! You did a very good job! Hindi mo na pala ako kailangan. Gawa lang ako ng checks and then babalik na ako sa bakasyon ko sa Ilocos.” She teased Jocelyn, in between sips of her coffee.
“Ma’am Mayaaaa, noooo, please!!! Baka sumunod na ako kay Sir Emman sa hospital for a different reason. Nervous breakdown ang sa akin!” Jocelyn said, smiling!
“Hahahaha, biro lang. I’m back for good.” Maya said. “Tulong na lang tayong dalawa dito sa Cafe Arts habang nasa hospital pa si Emman.”
“Of course po. Thank you Ma’am!” Jocelyn said happily. “I’m so glad you are back, Ma’am. Welcome back talaga! And with matching imaginary cartwheels iyan Ma’am.”
“Hahahaha! O sige, balik ka na sa counter. I’ll just be in the back garden, doing my paperwork. The weather is nice and I don’t want to be cooped up in my office.”
“Sige po, Ma’am. May kailangan pa po ba, kayo? More coffee with a slice of cake, or pastries?”
“Hmmm, wala na for now! But have Henry bring me another cup of caffe americano in an hour, and a blueberry cheesecake!”
“Okay po Ma’am. Ako na po ang magdadala. I’ll also bring some of the papers that need your signature. Aayusin ko lang po.”
“Thanks Jocelyn. Bahala ka na sa labas, ha! But if there are a lot of people and you need me, just holler, okay!”
“Yes Ma’am, will do.”
Several minutes after, Maya was at her special place, with her laptop, and a stack of sales reports in front of her, as well as contracts for review on some exhibits that the gallery will handle. She sat down and inhaled the late morning air. It does not feel like she is in the city, while she sits at the garden. She knows Ricky will like it there. She hopes he gets enough rest. She is also a bit excited and looking forward to seeing him again, hopefully soon! She buckled down to work, with that in thought!
She was so engrossed in the report she was reading, when a slight movement behind her broke into her concentration. Thinking that it was just Jocelyn, she didn’t look up right away.
“Is it an hour already, Jocelyn? Please put my food and coffee na lang on the table. Thanks a lot ha. Saka iyon palang mga kailangan ko i-sign, nasaan na.” She said in between jotting down a note at the edge of the current report she was reading. She didn’t notice at first that there was no reply from Jocelyn.
She suddenly looked up, heart pounding fast, when a tray was placed on top of the documents she was reviewing, and on it, aside from her coffee and cake, was a beautiful bouquet of red roses and sunflowers! And she saw what she had been hoping to see!
“Hello, Maya!” Ricky greeted Maya, giving her one of his bone-melting smiles. For someone who had traveled throughout the night, he looked rested and as handsome as ever. He was also gazing like he hasn’t seen her in months, instead of just 24 hours!
“Ricky!!!” Maya exclaimed, getting out of her chair very fast that she almost toppled down the coffee he brought, so happy to see him! She launched herself to him, without thinking, and then hugged him tight. “I’m so happy to see you.”
“Me too, Maya, me too! I’m so happy to see you!” Ricky said, hugging her tight, at the same time, caressing her hair. “I miss you very much.”
Maya loosen her hold a bit, then looked at Ricky’s handsome face, she touched it gently with both hands, not quite believing still that finally he was there. “Me too, Ricky, I miss you so much.”
They gazed at each other intently, as if memorizing each other’s beloved face, that they missed so much in the short time that they have parted. It felt like ages! It was not enough for both of them. Ricky lowered his head, and captured Maya’s lips for a searing kiss, that was followed by another, and another. They forgot where they were. Their awareness was concentrated on the fusing of their lips. It felt like they have waited for it, forever!