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!