“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 the congressman here. But very low profile guy, not very political like his father.” Jeremy replied. “He is a very nice guy, an architect.”
“Oh! His father is Congressman 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, Rafael is very low profile. 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. I think, there’s just the two of them. Kids of the congressman, I mean!”
“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!