“Welcome to my little sanctuary!” Maya said, turning on the lights, as she and Richard entered the end unit on the 16th floor of the condominium building. Richard saw a beautifully and comfortably designed living room. It has two floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, a comfortable sofa, with purple prints in front of the huge glass window, a big landscape painting on the wall and a rocking chair by the window. Maya was a bit nervous in showing Richard her place as not so many people have been there. It is her private space and she is very choosy in sharing it, even with close friends and family! However, with Richard, it just felt so right letting him into another part of her private world, especially now that they are in a relationship.
“I like your place, Maya sweetheart! It is just so you! It is very warm and welcoming too! I feel like I can spend the whole afternoon, sitting on that rocking chair, just listening to music or reading a book, or with you on my lap, I wish!” Richard remarked with a teasing smile as he looked around the living room which has white walls, but decorated in colourful pieces that somehow blended together. If there is one word to describe the place, it would be, vibrant, like its owner!
“How long have you been living here? I wish I had run into you in one of my visits to Rafi here. She lives two floors up. Then, we would have met each other sooner, sweetheart. Or maybe at one of my parents’ parties that your aunt attended. But still, we had met and that is what is important now.” Richard added with a loving smile to Maya.
“That’s true, Ricky. See, we met still! To answer your question, it has been five years since I moved to this place! I have been living here since after my aborted wedding.” Maya replied, gesturing for Richard to sit down on the sofa facing the floor-to-ceiling window which currently has a limitless view of Metro Manila sky as there were no other structures, yet, on that side of the building. “Before that, I lived with my Tita Margarita and Emman. I just felt that I needed my own space after all that had happened, to make sense of everything, to process with only just me. This place has kept my busy, decorating it, arranging my stuffs, and it had been my refuge, kept me sane those days! Do I make sense? I mean…”
“Oh Maya, yes you do, sweetheart! I wish …” Richard started, groping for words which to express his thoughts properly, and controlling the simmering anger at Maya’s fiancé’s callous treatment of her. He was wishing that he had known Maya at the time it happened so he could offer comfort and at the same time, he wished that he was at the wedding so he can punch James in the face for hurting Maya. But still, he was relieved that Maya had a lucky escape, and that they found each other. Fate does works in mysterious ways!
Maya put her right hand over Richard’s left one, seeing his expression and his concern for her.
“ Ricky, thank you.” Maya said softly, pressing his hand to let him know she appreciates his support and concern and that she is indeed, okay now, giving him a sweet smile. “We can talk later. For now, let us have dinner first.”
Maya stood up then carried the box containing Emman’s pastries and the food they order into the kitchen. Richard nodded, understanding, then he also stood up and followed her.
“Can I help with anything? Please!” He asked from the doorway. Maya’s kitchen is quite big and it looked like it has been set up for a chef.
“Okay, can you get a bottle of white wine from the fridge! Sorry, I don’t have red, if that is what you prefer!” Maya said while she took out plates from the cabinet above her sink.
She worked with a graceful efficiency which Richard likes very much. He was smiling while he looked at her. He thinks he will not get tired of watching her like this. Then he remembered that he was supposed to get the wine. He found several bottles in Maya’s refrigerator pocket. “Oh, this is okay.” Richard replied, holding a chilled bottle of white wine with a familiar label. Seems like they have the same taste in wine. “I like this brand also.”
Richard pulled the chair for Maya when she was finished setting the table for their cozy meal. She even found some candles from her drawer. Even on a short notice, she managed to make the meal setting beautiful and romantic, like they were about to eat in a fancy restaurant.
“This is very lovely, Maya! I’m glad we are eating in, instead of a fancy restaurant.” Richard remarked as he poured wine for him and Maya.
“Thank you, Ricky. Even if it was just mostly me, I like eating nicely. I, actually, prefer this, especially if it just me.” Maya replied, taking the glass of wine that Ricky was giving her. “Thanks.”
“I’m sure your guests like the table settings too.” Richard remarked. “And you must be a very good cook. The kitchen looked well used and it will rival that of a chef’s ha.”
“I do. Though at times, I felt like it is too much effort with only just me. But when I’m mulling over something or when I have time, I’m here at the kitchen trying out new recipes.” Maya said smiling.
“Your friends must have love coming here to dinner or lunch.”
“Well, actually, aside from Emman, you are the only other male, who have been here. I called this my sanctuary as I never brought anyone here, except, Tita Margarita and Emman. This is my sanctuary in the real sense of the word.” Maya admitted.
“Thank you, sweetheart, for letting me in, Maya.” Richard said softly, meaning the words literally and figuratively. He was overwhelmed at Maya’s love and trust, something he knew she does not give lightly. “I love you very much.”
“I love you very much too, Ricky. Thank you for coming into my life.”
Richard raised his glass, and offered a toast. “Cheers and here’s to us, sweetheart! Our first dinner as a couple and I would have not have it another way! To my lovely, talented, girlfriend!”
“Cheers, Ricky. Thank you. And you my handsome and wonderful boyfriend!” Maya replied, the word boyfriend rolling smoothly in her tongue. It really has a very nice ring to it.
They drank to it, then gave each other smiles that lit up their faces with the love they are feeling for each other. They shared a kiss, forgetting about their hunger for a while, until Maya’s grumbling stomach interrupted their moment. They both laughed and proceeded to make a dent on the mouth-watering food before them, enjoying each other company very much, chatting as they eat. The more time they spend with each other, the more they feel happier and contented.
“Dessert and coffee?” Maya asked Richard after they have finished two glasses of wine each and all the delicious food they bought at Emilio’s. “Emman sent a box of my favourite blueberry muffins. His note said, that it was a welcome back to me, present.”
“Maybe, later for the muffins, sweetheart!” Richard said with a big smile. “I’m too full from our dinner. But a cup of coffee would be great.”
“Okay, for me too. I don’t think I can eat another bite. That was one of the most delicious dinner I had. You are right about that restaurant.” Maya stood up, then put ground beans into the coffee maker. “Go to back to the sofa, please, and I would just bring the coffee there. That’s my favorite part of the evening, when I have the time, sitting there with a glass of wine or coffee and just staring at the beautiful night, at that sofa or the rocking chair, relaxing.”
“Sure! I can help you first, with the dishes!” Richard offered, standing up with the intention of bringing the plates to the sink.
“No, I’ll do it later, sweetheart. Just go and relax, please.” Maya insisted, then lightly pushed Richard towards the direction of the living room after she made him put down the plates he was holding. “Go on. I’ll follow soon.”
“Okay. Thank you for the dinner, sweetheart. I can get use to this fast. You, taking care of me, like this.” Richard said, looking at Maya with love in his eyes. Then he lowered his lips to her for a quick kiss, before he walked towards the living room.
Maya was still smiling and humming lines from her favorite love song , while getting coffee mugs from the cabinet. Her phone rang while was waiting for the coffee to finish brewing.
“Welcome back, Cuz!!!!” Emman said cheerfully, when Maya picked up the call. “Did you get the muffins I left at the reception? I was planning to give you that in person, but one of our clients, you know the ‘momzilla’, requested an emergency meeting!”
“Emman, please don’t call Mrs. Benitez a ‘momzilla’. You might blurt that out accidentally, sige, in front of her!” Maya said smiling. “And yes, I got the muffins, thank you.”
“Good, good! So, how’s everything?” Emman asked, and Maya knew what exactly he was asking her. At that moment, she saw that the coffee was ready.
“Well, can I just tell you about the whole thing, tomorrow?” Maya said, pouring coffee into the mugs with the phone on her left ear, and then unable to resist telling her cousin. She knows Emman will be happy for her and she can’t contain her happiness at that moment! “I need to bring the coffee to the living room. My boyfriend is waiting.”
“Boyfriend!!!!!” Emman shrieked. “Richard Lim is now you boyfriend! Since when, Maya Dela Rosa? From a calesa kind of person, you transformed into a bullet train when it comes to relationship, overnight!”
Maya laughed, a happy, lilting laugh, her cousin really has a weird way with words! “Tomorrow, I will tell you about it. Dinner?”
“Mayaa!!!!” Emman protested, then sighed loudly. “Okay, torture your poor cousin about the details. But I want to know everything, as in everything! But seriously, Cousin, I’m so happy for you.”
“Thanks a lot, Emman. Until tomorrow. See you at the office, okay, then dinner. Oh, and don’t tell Tita Margarita yet. I want to be the one to do it.”
“Of course, Cuz. But I’m pretty sure, Mommy will be so very happy for you and Richard.” Emman said. “Awwww, my cousin has finally found someone whom she loves very much, and I’m sure he is, not like that cad James.” Emman said fiercely.
“He is not. He is not.” Maya said, softly.” He is the most wonderful guy in the world!”
The two cousins said their goodbyes. Maya put sugars on the coffee, just like how Richard liked it then walked towards the living room.
“Sorry, I took so long….” Maya started saying with a big smile, then stopped after seeing Richard, half-lying, half-reclining on the sofa, in deep sleep!
“Poor, baby.” She murmured. He must have been pretty tired from all the traveling they did, plus the accident, their late nights and other things.
Maya put the tray down and then removed Richard’s shoes. She lifted his legs and made him comfortable on the big sofa. He didn’t even open his yes. He just grunted and sought a more comfortable position. Maya went to her room and got a spare comforter from her linen closet. Then she dimmed the light. She stared at Richard’s sleeping form, so at peace, so handsome, so wonderful and she was filled with this overwhelming love for him. She thought then that she would not get tired of looking at him like this.
Maya retired to her room after cleaning the kitchen. Before long, she also went to sleep, comforted by the fact that Richard was sleeping nearby. She never thought much of being alone before, but at that moment, she felt so very happy that Richard was in the same space. That was her last thought when sleep finally claimed her.
Several hours later, Richard woke with start, disoriented. He looked around and realized where he was, in Maya’s place! Then everything came back to him. He was waiting for Maya to bring the coffee, and he was staring at the beautiful night, when he suddenly felt very sleepy. He just thought of resting his eyes for a while! Apparently, he went into deep sleep. Must be the rich food, the wine and all the traveling they did!
He was completely unaware when Maya went into the living room with the coffee. She had also removed his shoes and covered him in blanket, apparently while he was snoring on her sofa! He just zonked out on Maya on their first evening together as boyfriend and girlfriend! He thought that Maya, will not mind, but still, he would have love to share a cup of coffee with her as they chatted about stuffs and perhaps cuddle on that big sofa. They haven’t had that talk yet about Andrea and he had a feeling that had they did, he would also have known by then what happened to Maya and her ex-fiance!
Richard stood up to find the toilet. He found it near the left corner of the living room. On the way back to the sofa, he noticed the door to the right of the living room was slightly ajar. He took a peak and found his girlfriend, sleeping on a beautiful, antique sleigh bed. She looked so angelic and peaceful while she slept like a babe. She also looked very beautiful. He chuckled, hearing that she was snoring lightly. She looked and sound adorable. How he loves this wonderful woman! He wished he can share the bed with her. Then Maya moved, and he thought he woke her up. He was closing the door when he heard her calling his name. He opened the door fully.
“Ricky, where are you?” Maya murmured, then opening her eyes and looking at him with an unfocused stare. “Go back to sleep, it is not yet morning.” Then she moved a bit, then patted the space beside her on the bed, sleepily indicating for him to lie there.
Richard hesitated a bit, thinking that Maya maybe just talking in her sleep.
“Ricky, sleep please, here.” She murmured again, burrowing deep into her pillow.
Richard went to the side Maya indicated. The bed dipped when he sat on it, then made himself comfortable beside his sleeping girlfriend. Maya moved closer to him, putting her head on his chest in her sleep. He put his arms around her and then with her warm and unique scent enveloping him, he went back to sleep, a very deep sleep.
Maya woke up at dawn with masculine arms around her middle. At first she panicked, then instinctively realized whose arms were around her, Richard’s! She thought she was dreaming earlier when she had told Richard to go back to sleep, beside her! She was not. She looked at her boyfriend’s sleeping form and smiled. With a contented sigh, she went back to sleep, cocooned in Richard’s loving embrace.