Archive for August, 2016
Richard Lim scanned the area where he was supposed to meet Seth Dela Rosa for a drink, looking for a parking space. It was difficult enough driving in the city after being away for several years. It turned out, looking for a parking space was more challenging, especially on a Friday night, at the current ‘in’ watering hole of yuppies and the idle rich kids.
He was about to call Seth to suggest a new place, when suddenly someone left, and a parking space right in front of the bar got freed up. He parked his father’s BMW carefully. He knew he would not like it if even make a tiny dent on his beloved car. He still have not gotten around to getting his own car even after several months back in the country. Anyway, his father has several cars so Richard didn’t see any need to immediately acquire one of his own.
Richard was really planning on making a life in America after his studies, and he had started to, when his father asked him to return. He wanted to groom him as his successor. He told him he is the future of the company. Richard thought it was exciting. It was a challenge he wanted to sink his teeth into, so he packed his bags and left a promising career in Wall Street to return to the land of his birth.
However, his expectations and ideals were turning to be different from reality. He had discovered that his father’s management style and business practices were completely opposite of his. But since, it has just been several months, he still would like to give his father the benefit of the doubt, so to speak. He hoped that he and his father will find a common ground soon. Otherwise, he would be left with only one option – go back to America and forge his way into the business world on his own.
Deafening music and loud conversation assaulted Richard when he entered the popular bar. It was his first time there. He rarely went out since his return as he got busy with Lim Corporation. He only goes out when Seth persuades him. He had already declined him twice in the week. But since that night was a Friday, and he sensed a desperation in Seth, he had said yes.
Seth Dela Rosa is a childhood friend. His best buddy! Their mothers were childhood friends in Negros. They went to the same boys high school and both of them went to a university in California for their business degrees, and Harvard for their post-graduate studies. While Richard stayed in the States after their studies, Seth returned to the Philippines to manage his family’s business. He would have liked to have stayed in America like Richard, but his father would not have it. As an only boy – though he has a sister who is ten years younger than him, and which Richard hasn’t met yet – his father, like Richard’s would like him to take over the family business when he retires.
Richard scanned the huge, dimly lit bar, unaware of the interested stares he was getting from the ladies. He found his friend sitting at the bar, with his arm slung over the shoulders of a skimpily clad girl. He thought his friend would be alone. He said he wanted to sound him off on something.
“Seth bro, I’m here.” Richard said tapping his friend’s shoulder to call his attention over the din of the current rave music shaking the place.
Seth looked at Richard with glassy eyes. “Ricky, bro! I’m glad you are here. Have a seat. By the way, this is….” Then he stopped, lost for words. “What is your name again, honey?”
The girl who looked like she had a bit of a drink too, pouted. “Awww, Seth, sweetie, you forgot already. It’s Giselle!”
“G-giselle….Beautiful name, honey, meet my friend Ricky, my best buddy, my bro.” He slurred. “Ricky, this is Giselle. She is a dancer, right darling, on TV? On that popular show, can’t remember the name, sorry sweetie!”
Giselle looked at Richard, noticed how extremely good-looking he is, and his uninterested gaze. She deemed it a challenge to make him react to him like most males she met. Instead of accepting his proffered hand, she hugged him tight and gave him a smack on the lips. “Nice to meet you, Ricky, so very nice.” She said in her kittenish voice, but there was no reaction from him.
“Giselle, baby girl, I thought I am the love of your life this evening.” Seth complained, kissing Giselle on the neck, which made her giggled, in what Richard would describe as a grating manner!
“Of course, darling boy, you are. Just want to be friendly, also with your handsome friend. In fact…” Giselle gestured for Seth to lowered his head. She whispered something to him which had him smiling naughtily. He nodded.
“What?” Richard asked his friend, his brows knitted. He had taken an instant dislike on that flirty girl with Seth. He had his share of conquest and one night stands when he was into clubbing in New York, but he lost the taste for it when he returned to the Philippines. He had read her type right away.
“Well, my girl just offered to make us happy, together at my place.” Seth said, grinning. “You know….”
Richard stared at his friend and the girl with a coquettish grin besides Seth. “No, I’m not interested and I’m not into that. You had so much to drink, Seth. Come, I think it better to take you home.”
Richard got off the bar stool and was about to escort his friend out of the bar, when Giselle stopped him. “I’m going home with him. Di ba, darling boy?” She said in a determined manner, then kissing Seth on the lips.
“Yes, Ricky, she is going home with me. When did you enter the priesthood?” Seth taunted Richard. “You used to be so much fun. Now, you are prig and a prude.”
Richard let it passed. He knew that his friend was not in complete control of his faculties and this was not the first time this thing happened since he returned. He also had an idea on what set off his friend again. Not wanting to make a scene, he offered to drive Seth and his lady friend for the night to his place. It was the best he could do. At least, he will be safe home, to indulge in whatever he wanted to indulge with that evening.
Several minutes after, they have arrived at Seth’s building. It was a relief to be there as Seth and his lady friend had started to make out at the back seat of the car. The girl’s giggling was already giving Richard a headache. Seth drunkenly thanked him when he and Giselle got up. While Giselle on the other hand, tried again to persuade to go up with them. He looked at her with a stern face and told her an emphatic NO.
That was the last he saw of Seth for two weeks. Until one evening, when he received a frantic call from him, asking him if he could stay in his place. He agreed.
Several minutes after he got into his place in BGC, Seth spilled the beans. He was in trouble, big, big trouble. Giselle, in turned out, is the mistress of a powerful and notorious businessman who had entered politics in the last election. He told Richard the name, and even he agreed that Seth dug a big hole for himself by tangling with that guy. The guy found out that Giselle spent days with him and he was fuming mad. He dragged Giselle out of his apartment and threatened to kill Seth.
In the beginning, Seth told him, when nothing happened several days after that incident, he got confident and went on with his life until one evening when he got of the bar they have been to in BGC, a group of guys mauled him. They also told him it was just the beginning as their boss does not forget any insult or slight done to him. The evening he called Richard, he saw the same group of guys outside his building.
“Bro, maybe it is better if you lie low for a while. Why don’t you go to Negros? At least, that guy can’t touch you there. You can manage the business from there also, di ba?” Richard suggested to his friend as they drank beer at the balcony of his place.
“I don’t like to do that, bro even if I can do that easily. You know my father and all his impossible expectations. At least, when I’m in the Manila office, I can avoid him.” Seth muttered, sighing and drinking his beer fast. It was his fourth for the night to Richard’s second.
“But what do you prefer, end up in a ditch or lie low for a while?” Richard told his friend bluntly. “You know the reputation of that guy. I hope he will meet his match soon, but not at your expense.”
Seth nodded. He told Richard he would think about it. The following morning, he asked Richard to book a ticket to Bacolod for him. Richard also took him to the airport, just to make sure that nothing happens to him.
For a month, he didn’t hear from Seth. He would have love to talk to him over several bottles of beer also as his father was driving him nuts with his stubbornness. He wanted to get away from him, even for a while. He just needed some time to himself to think things through. He never thought that salvation would come from his mother.
“Son, why don’t you go with me to Negros?” Esmeralda Lim suggested one evening after he had dinner with his parents and he and his father ended up in an argument again. His father retreated to his study. He stayed with his mother and had coffee with her. “You haven’t been there since you were a kid. Come samahan mo na ang Mama.”
“Why are you going to Negros, Mama?” Richard asked. She hasn’t mentioned any plans of going there before. His mother also seldom go the family home there. She was busy playing hostess to Roberto Lim’s numerous parties and business luncheons.
“Oh, I will attend a birthday party. Maya will have her debut in several days! She is the daughter of your Tita Tessie and Tito Arthur, remember. She is like a daughter to me also. Di ba, Seth is there also? Tessie mentioned that he is working at their main headquarters there. You can catch up with him. Take a week off from work. Maybe things will be better between you and your Papa when you return.”
Richard looked at his mother in surprise.
“Son, why look so surprised? I know what has been going on with you and your Papa.” Esmeralda Lim told her son. “Come, it will do you good to relax a little bit.”
Staring at his mother’s beautiful garden, Richard continued sipping his coffee. His mother has a point. Besides, he hasn’t taken vacation or a break in months. He sometimes work weekends too just to keep up with the demands of his father and watch over his actions. Maybe he can also take this time to think, on whether he will continue working for LC or going back to the States.
“Okay, Ma. I will go with you. When do we leave? Where are we staying?”
“We will stay at the family home. I already asked Fe to call the caretakers to open the house. And we leave on Thursday. The party is on Saturday. I will ask my secretary to book us flights. Kasama natin si Fe! Pagkakataon na rin niyang makauwi ang mabisita ang pamilya niya!”
“When are you and Manang Fe planning to return, Mama?” Richard asked, thinking fast.
“Well, I was originally planning on staying a week. But I think I would like to stay longer, around two to three weeks. How about you son?”
“I think I will stay as long as you are, Mama. I can spend sometime with Seth and also check on our office there. I think that would be okay with Papa. That way, wala na rin kaming masyadong maging argument.”
“That’s great son! Meet your Papa halfway please. I know that he could be a difficult person, but just be patient with him. He had been under tremendous pressure from his board to deliver.” Esmeralda implored.
Richard sighed. “I’m trying, Mama. You know how hard I’m trying.”
“I know son. I know.” Esmeralda tousled her son’s head, like she used to do when he was a little boy. “You are a good son, Ricky.”
“Thanks Mama.” Richard placed his cup on the table. “ I should get going Mama since we are leaving in two days, I need to finish all my pending work, meet with Papa on this, and pack.”
“Okay, son. I’ll call you tomorrow for our flight details.”
Richard drove back to his place after saying goodbye to his mother and talking to his father about the trip. To his surprise, he readily agreed to it. He said, he will e-mail him a list of what he needs to do at their Bacolod office.
Early Thursday morning, mother and son, with Esmeralda Lim’s assistant Fe landed at the Bacolod Airport. They were picked up by a company driver and taken to the family home in Talisay. The caretakers where waiting for them by the driveway.
“Salome, Isidro, good to see you again. How are you? How’s everything here?” Esmeralda Lim greeted her family’s long-time caretakers warmly. They have been with the Valderama, her mother’s family since they were newly weds, decades ago. “It is really good to be back.”
“Magandang umaga po Donya Esmeralda, Senorito Richard. Natutuwa po kami at napasyal kayo ulit dito sa Talisay. Medyo matagal-tagal na rin mula ng naparito kayo.” Manang Salome said.
“Naku, oo nga, Salome, masyadong busy. Lalo naman itong si Ricky. Bata pa ng huling mapunta rito. Tingnan mo ngayon, binatang-binata na. Magte-trenta na, ayaw pa akong bigyan ng apo.”
“Mama, ikaw talaga. I’m still too young to get married. I’m just enjoying life muna.” Richard said, smiling. “Hello po Manang Salome, Manong Isidro. I remember you taking care of me when I was young, Manang. It’s good to be back po.”
“Hay naku, hijo, feeling ko may tungkod na ako bago ako magkaapo sa iyo.” Esmeralda Lim quipped. “Tara na nga sa loob at ng makapagpahinga.”
Richard chose the room towards the back of the house. As soon as he got settled, he called Seth, who was very happy to hear from him. They talked for a while. His friend seemed happier in Negros even if he was working alongside his father. They agreed to meet the following day, around dinnertime, in the Fernandez ancestral house, Tessie Dela Rosa’s family’s home for generations.
Richard spent the rest of the day relaxing. It was very nice to be not doing anything for a change. He just enjoyed the quiet. Mostly, he read a book in his room. He loves to read, but lately, due to the demands of his father on his time, he had neglected it. Manang Salome and Manang Fe prepared a feast for dinner with they enjoyed very much.
The following morning, he woke up early. He was having breakfast with his mother when she received a call. She excused herself and returned several minutes after.
“Ricky, that was your Tita Tessie…” Esmeralda Lim started, then forged on. She had an inkling that she needed all her persuasive powers with the favor she will ask of her son. “Errrr, she would like to ask you a favor, a very big favor and she would, and me also well, will be eternally grateful if you will say yes, hijo!”
“What favor, Mama? Of course, if there’s anything I can do for Tita Tessie.” Richard likes his Tita Tessie and he remembered her cooking lots of delicious Filipino food when she visited Seth and him in Boston. She is also his mother’s bestfriend.
“She is asking if you will be one of Maya’s 18 roses ceremony. Nagkasakit kasi iyong isang kaibigan na lalaki ni Maya.” Esmeralda Lim looked at her son beseechingly. “Do it for her na son, please, and also for Maya.”
“Mama, I’m too old na for that. Bakit kasi kailangan pa ng ganyang seremonya!” Richard protested. “Mama, ibang favor na lang please, hwag lang iyan.”
“Ricky son, kasama mo naman si Seth. Hindi lang ikaw ang older guy na nandoon. Kasama rin ang ibang older cousins and mga tito ni Maya. And of course, your Tito Arthur will be a part of it as well.”
“Mama, no….” Richard said stubbornly. “See, dapat tanggalin na lang that 18 roses, wala naman pala siyang makuhang magpa-participate in that.”
“Son, please, please….” Esmeralda said, touching her son’s face with both hands. “For me, please…”
“Okay, I will do it.” Richard admitted defeat. At the back of his mind he also thought, ang arte naman ng Maya na ito!
“Thank you, son. I’m sure your Tita Tessie, and Maya also will be happy.” Esmeralda Lim hugged her son.
He was annoyed but he didn’t have the heart to defy his mother and say no. Besides, it may not be as difficult as it could be if Seth will be there. At least, they were the same age. They can surely indulge his little sister. He resigned himself to dancing with Maya Dela Rosa.
“Mama, I will just go for a walk.” Richard told his mother. He just wanted to get out of the house for a while.
Richard left the house via the stairs in the back. However, when he got to the garden, he was at a lost on where to go. He looked around and saw a path that leads to a small gate in the back. He walked that way and realized that it connected to the ancestral house besides theirs. He remembered that this is the Fernandez’s ancestral house. He forgot that they were connected. When he was a kid, the other house seemed so far from theirs!
On impulse, he approached the house, thinking of checking if Seth has not left for work yet. Maybe, he can just ride with him to Bacolod as he was at a loose end. He knocked on the thick front door, but there was no one. He saw a bell and pressed it, but still no reply. He decided to go around the house as he knew from memory that like their house, there is an entrance there.
Richard ended up at the stairs going to the veranda or rather the azotea of the house. The place was beautiful and very inviting. It was full of plants. He called, but still no one reply. He climbed and when he reached the top, he saw a girl sitting on the day bed there, holding a book. She was wearing a simple blouse and a long skirt. She was engrossed in what she was reading and didn’t notice him so he had moments to observe her.
The first thing that struck Richard was that even in a profile she was a very beautiful girl. She had long, shiny hair, a pert nose, and a slender build. She suddenly looked up and his throat constricted. Suddenly, he can’t seemed to breathe as his heart galloped. Yes, he was right, she was beautiful with her heart-shaped face, long lashes, pouty lips and very expressive eyes. She gave him a gaze that touched his very soul. He hasn’t felt like that before.
It felt like time stood still. It was only them and that moment. Everything else faded in the background.
Richard parked Maya’s car in his designated slot in the underground parking of his building, half an hour after they left her place. After getting out of the car, he assisted and led Maya to a private elevator which opened directly to a foyer leading to the single unit on the topmost floor. He swiped his card, and ushered Maya inside.
“Welcome to my place, sweetheart,” Richard said as he switched on lights, hoping that Maya will like his place. If things go according to his wishes, her agreeing to be his partner in life, his wife, this would probably be their home until they have kids. It is not as homey and brightly decorated as Maya’s but he is sure she can turn this place into their private paradise in no time at all. However, if she would rather stay in her place, he would defer to her. His first priority is making her happy. He can live there too.
“You have a big and beautiful home, Ricky.” Maya looked around, taking in everything at once – the big open layout of the living room, the floor-to-ceiling windows, the white walls adorned only with two big paintings, and the minimalist but very functional furniture. Yes, they have different styles when it comes to their homes, but in its own way, his place is very beautiful and inviting. It has a positive aura too.
“I hope you will consider this your home as well. What is mine is yours, sweetheart,” Richard said softly, guiding Maya towards the sofa by the window.
“Thank you, sweetheart. I will.” Maya walked towards the big floor-to-ceiling window by the living room, instead of sitting down. She looked out, admiring the thousand of lights twinkling like fireflies in the night. “The view is incredible! I like your place, sweetheart!”
“Thank you, sweetheart. I like this place very much. It is home to me for several years now. Like you, not many people have been to this place. My ex-fiancee Lucy had only been here once, and that was with her parents and mine, for dinner.” Richard volunteered as he would like to assure Maya that Lucy had not touched his place at all and that there was no memory of her in that place.
Maya understood right away what Richard wanted to convey with that statement. “Thank you for telling me, sweetheart, I appreciate it,” she said, appreciating his candor.
“It can be our special place too. But of course, your place will always be the most special one.” Richard looked at Maya, remembering all that had happened at her place since they got there the day before, especially the intimacies, not just physical or the act of it, but the emotions and feelings that went with it.
Maya gazed back at Richard, remembering also what he was remembering. Her cheeks flushed. She felt warm despite the air conditioning in Richard’s place!
Richard moved to where Maya was standing, hugged her from behind and nuzzled her neck. Maya gasped and turned. Her senses coming alive again. They looked at each other and without words, their lips met for a searing kiss. It led to another, and another until all their awareness was centred on their fused lips and the effects of those kisses on their highly sensitized bodies. Maya felt a tug on the ribbon of her wrap-around dress. Seconds later, it fell on the floor. She heard Richard gasped and looked at her with so much desire on his eyes. Then suddenly, she was off the floor and into Richard’s strong arms.
Richard carried Maya to the room nearest the living room. His bedroom. He placed her gently on the bed, and then slowly undressed. Maya looked at him with eyes dazed with desire as he removed his shirt, his pants, and finally his boxer shorts. The bed dipped slightly when Richard joined Maya in there. He started caressing her, driving her deliriously crazy until her only thought, what she sought, was the relief his touch would bring. Richard gave it to her. He moved to join their heated bodies. They flew together. It took a while for them to move after that mind-shattering union.
“So how about dinner, sweetheart?” Maya asked softly as Richard caressed her idly and maddeningly, while she nestled in the crook of his arms, her head pillowed against his chest. She can’t really think straight and just wanted to stay in Richard’s arms forever. She felt boneless.
“Hmmm…” Richard murmured against Maya’s hair. Instead of answering her, he hugged her tighter, moved a bit, and started kissing her on the neck again. She never thought it as a very sensitive part of her body, but Richard’s mere touch proved otherwise. His hand also started moving, seeking the parts of her body which he knew gives her, and him, immense pleasure.
“Food, sweetheart. Dinner at that wine restaurant…” Maya managed to say as Richard increased his assault on her senses.
Richard remained deaf to her softly spoken words. Instead, he suddenly moved, took hold of Maya’s waist, and flipped her over but gently. Maya found herself on top of him, his arms around her. She blushed, getting his meaning. He smiled tenderly, lovingly, beseeching her. She smiled back, and gave him what he wanted, what they both wanted. His instantenous reaction to her every touch, became Maya’s guide. And with that, all thoughts of dinner got forgotten again.
Maya and Richard surfaced from their bliss when their stomachs started grumbling. They giggled. Richard sighed. He got of the bed to get his phone and ordered food from the restaurant in the building that caters to the residents after asking Maya what she would like to eat. They complete abandoned their earlier plan of having dinner in that wine restaurant. He and Maya ate a hearty dinner of dim sum, yang chow fried rice, peppered squid, shrimps, and nido soup.
“Why are you looking at me like that.” Maya asked softly, as Richard looked at her heatedly while she unconsciously licked her fingers after peeling the shrimps by hand. She was wearing one of Ricky’s t-shirts. He was wearing a similar t-shirt and shorts that he hastily put when he got the food from the delivery guy. It hugged his muscled chest. Looking at him, Maya had a hard time concentrating on her food as well. He looked rumpled, his hair tousled, and very handsome. She was very much aware of him and his gazes.
“Well, that t-shirt will never be the same again. I actually envy it at the moment. So close to your body…” Richard said, his gaze heated. The t-shirt was white and thin and he can see the outline of Maya’s beautiful body from where he was sitting.
“Ricky…” Maya protested weakly, blushing profusely, getting self-conscious still despite the intimacies that they have shared. She pulled at the shirt, but it didn’t help.
Richard put his hand on top of Maya’s. He told her gently, lovingly, “You have a beautiful body, Maya. Don’t be embarrassed by it. You are beautiful inside out. I will still look at you like this until we are old and gray. You should always remember that, my love.”
Maya smiled at her wonderful, handsome boyfriend. Old and gray! It very much imply of a future together, and she is very happy with that thought and that possibility. She was really very happy that she had taken the leap with this guy.
“Thank you, sweetheart. I love you very much.” Maya said simply, overwhelmed with emotions.
“I love you very much, too, Maya.” Richard said, his face serious, conveying the intensity of his emotions, He lifted his glass. “To us, sweetheart and a future together.”
“To us….” Maya replied, clinking her glass with Richard’s.
They drank to it, then Richard stood up, offering his hand to Maya and carrying his glass and the wine bottle with his other hand. “Come, sweetheart, let’s be more comfortable.”
Richard led Maya to a couch that faces the floor-to-ceiling window of the unit. He sat and pulled her into his lap. They enjoyed looking at the city at night as they sipped their wine, cuddled together, whispered words of love to each other, and at times just chatted about things they both enjoyed doing.
When he saw her yawning, despite her valiant effort to remain awake, as they savor their wonderful time together, Richard placed his and Maya’s wine glasses on the small glass table by the couch, then carried her to his room. Just like the night before, they ended up spending the night together.
The following morning, Maya was woken up by butterfly kisses from Richard. When she opened her eyes with a big smile, she saw a tray with a single, beautiful sunflower in a glass vase, and bacon, eggs, jams and two steaming cups of coffee, by the side table. They ate breakfast together, then headed to the shower together. The simple and normally mundane act of bathing was turned into an unforgettable one.
Wearing her clothes from the day before, Maya went back to her place with Richard, in his office clothes, in tow. He waited until she changed into office clothes, then they drove together to their offices.
“Sweetheart, dinner later?” Richard asked as Maya parked her car at the drop off point of Richard’s office building.
“Sure sweetheart. Is around 6PM okay?” Maya asked, liking that they will see each other again in several hours.
“Yes, and please, I’ll pick you up this time, I will bring you home and take you to work tomorrow. Di ba, you will be at LC naman tomorrow? Would that be okay?” Richard asked, as he unfastened his seatbelt.
“Sure, sweetheart.” Maya replied. “That would be fine. I will just leave my car in my slot.”
Richard took hold of Maya’s face with both hands, then gave her a searing kiss. “That would have to tide me over until we see each other again.” Richard said, giving her one of his bone-melting lopsided smile.
Maya smiled back, her face lighting up. “Have a great day, sweetheart. See you later.”
“You too. I love you.”
“Love you too. Bye for now.”
Richard got out of the car while he was able to resist giving Maya another kiss. Maya waved one more time before she drove towards the direction of her office. Richard waited until he can no longer see Maya’s car before entering the building. When he reached his floor, he had on a big, happy smile, a fact that didn’t escape his secretary’s notice. She also heard him humming. Richard Lim, humming! She never thought she would witness it!
“Welcome back, Sir Richard.” Liza greeted her boss who seemed to be in the best of mood. it looked like he had a wonderful impromptu vacation in Mindanao. Not only he had acted strangely several days ago, he looked different. He looked happier and if she will hazard a guess…in love? Could it be that he is? Hmmm, the plot thickens, she thought. “How was your vacation, Sir?”
“Hi Liza, thank you.” Then he gave his secretary a lopsided grin, “It was the best vacation ever. Thank you again for all your help. I presumed the office ran well while I was away as I didn’t receive calls from you or from Adrian.”
“Yes Sir, everything was okay. I put all the papers for your signature and review on your table, including the report Ms. Maya had sent after you left for Mindanao.” Liza said, following her boss into his office.
“Thanks a lot Liza. Maya mentioned that to me. She said she had emailed me an initial report. I’ll check on it later.” Richard said absently as he put his things on his table.
Liza looked closely at her boss, and the way he had said Ms. Maya’s name. ‘Mentioned to him’?
“By the way, Liza, can you book me a table at that very nice wine restaurant in Mandaluyong for 7Pm. Can you also order me a bouquet of sunflowers to be delivered here at 5PM.” Richard said as he sat down.
Oookay, someone is really in love! And she thinks she knows with whom. She had seen how her boss looked at the beautiful, events manager the week before. She also saw them going to the Lim private cafe after that meeting. Well, she is happy for him, especially after that witch Lucy jilted him. She likes Maya and she is more beautiful than Lucy.
“I will do that, Sir. Would that be all?” Liza asked deadpanned and trying to hide the fact that she was very curious.
“Yes, and thanks a lot, Liza.”
Liza left after that. She did what her boss requested of her before going back to the papers she was working on before he arrived. Richard, on the other hand, started tackling the stack of papers on his desk before checking his emails. When he had finally gotten around to his inbox, he saw that he had a lot. It was going to be a long day. Good thing he will be seeing Maya later. He had something wonderful to look forward to. He buckled down to work.
While Richard was plowing through the papers on his desk, Maya was walking towards her office at MEP, holding a tumbler of coffee from the cafe at the lobby. Before she reached her office, her cousin intercepted her, as if he was lying in wait for her.
“Cuz!!! Welcome back to the land of the mortals and the land of brokenhearted.” Emman said as he gave his cousin a hug and a beso. “I’m so happy to see you. I miss you.”
“Cuz, how are you? I’m happy to be back. Why did you not wait for me yesterday?” Maya asked as she returned her cousin’s hug. “You could have had lunch with Ricky and me.”
“Cuz naman, I don’t like to be a third wheel kaya! I didn’t want to intrude into your private world yesterday!” Emman quipped with a raised eyebrow. “Pero, cuz, you and Richard Lim almost gave me a heart attack yesterday, though I’m so happy for the two of you. So kiligggg malaga hay!!!! Sana I will find my prince charming na rin like that!”
“Sssshhhh, Emman, your voice.” Maya told her cousin, as she had noticed that they were attracting the attention of their employees! “Let’s go to my office.”
“Sorry naman, Cuz. I just got excited.” Emman whispered, contrite. “We can talk about it over lunch. But I will go with you to your office to discuss some projects.”
“Okay…” Maya nodded then led her cousin to her corner office.
The two of them discussed their current projects and clients. Maya also ran with Emman the execution of her campaign for Lim Corporation’s 50th anniversary as she needed to make a report to Richard and do another presentation to the management committee of LC as per Adrian’s last e-mail to her. It was what she was working on before Richard showed up in Camiguin. It felt like ages ago, when it fact, it just happened several days ago. It was just that so many wonderful things that happened. Emman agreed with most of her ideas, and in some instances, suggested from improvements which Maya liked.
“Thanks a lot, Emman. I think I have everything for the update presentation to LC tomorrow.” Maya told her cousin as she take a sip of her coffee.
“Do you know who will handle the new TVC of LC, in line with this anniversary?” Emman asked as an afterthought when he was about to return to his office.
“Not yet. Adrian said they haven’t pick one the last time we talked. Ricky and me naman didn’t talk about business while we were together, so no idea until now. Maybe we will know by tomorrow!”
“Of course, if my boyfriend is as handsome and as hunky as Richard Lim, I will forget everything except him also. Keber ko sa work!” Emman teased his cousin. “Come, since it is almost 11AM, let’s have an early lunch at that organic restaurant we like. You owe me lunch, dinner, whatever, and a truckload of kwento. Besides, I think I have to settle for lunch. I have an inkling that you are not free for dinner. Am I right?”
“Errrr, yes. Ricky and I will have dinner. He will pick me up at around 6PM.” Maya admitted to her cousin, her whole face lighting up. “Emma, I never thought I could be this happy.”
“I knew it!” Emma exclaimed, then taking his cousin’s hand and playfully swaying it as they walked towards the elevator, he said, “You really deserve to be happy like this, Maya, after all the heartaches. I’m so happy for you. I’m sure if you tell it to Mom, she would be very happy also.”
“Thank you, Emman. Ah yes, I’m planning to tell her about it tomorrow also. I’ll ask her to lunch.” Even before she tells her, Maya knew that Tita Margarita will be happy that she is finally taking another chance at love.
Maya gave her cousin an abbreviated version of what happened since Richard followed her in Camiguin. She omitted in the telling the intimacies between her and Richard. Emman knew that they were intimate but the details, it was just for Richard and her. Her cousin, respecting her privacy didn’t actually ask for details. He just screamed silently and was very giddy as she told him about Richard’s romantic gestures and how they spent the vacation. They returned to the office two hours after, very relaxed and happy. The rest of the afternoon was spent working on their accounts. Tita Margarita was unable to report for work that day so it was just the two of them who dealt with clients.
Maya finished her work around 5 o’clock in the afternoon. She was glad to have some spare time to get ready for her date with Richard. Luckily, she keeps some clothes in her office, just in case she needs to meet clients unexpectedly in the evening. She took out a black sheath dress from the closet and started to get ready.
Richard texted several minutes before six o’clock. He told Maya that he was at the lobby of her building. When Maya got down, she saw him standing by the entrance, wearing a navy blue shirt and dark slacks, looking so devastatingly handsome. It seems, she is not the only one who store spare clothes at work. He was holding a bouquet of sunflowers, her favourite. He saw her, and gave her a bone-melting smile, only for her, while walking towards her. He took her breath away no matter how many times she was bestowed that beautiful smile. She smiled back.
Richard gave Maya the flowers. “For you, sweetheart,” he said as he gave her a kiss on the lips, unmindful of the people around them.
“Thank you, sweetheart,” Maya said softly, smiling, as she surreptitiously wiped the smudges of lipstick on Richard’s lips. They shared an intimate smile.
With hands intertwined, Richard and Maya happily walked towards his car, looking forward to another beautiful evening together.
“Do I look okay, sweetheart? Is this okay for the dinner with your parents?” Maya asked Ricky as she walked towards where he had been waiting for her as she got ready for the dinner with his parents. She was wearing a beautiful, violet shift dress, clutching a small black beaded evening bag, paired with her favourite black designer shoes. Her hair was in a chignon. Her makeup, understated.
Ricky who have been playing a game on his mobile phone while sipping the coffee that Manang Fe served him 30 minutes earlier, looked up upon hearing her voice. He smiled at his very beautiful, but obviously, very nervous girlfriend. “You look very beautiful, sweetheart. You always are. But this evening, you look radiant. And you are perfect and beautiful no matter what you wear. It is you and the way you carry yourself!”
Ricky stood up and walked towards Maya. Then cupping her chin, he kissed her lightly on the lips. “You don’t have to worry a single thing. My father already loves you and I’m sure my mother will. In fact, I think she already does. I told you, di ba, she had been badgering me to bring you to dinner ever since she heard about you.”
“Thank you for the vote of confidence, sweetheart. I just want your parents to like me. Last week they were expecting you to marry Lorraine, and now, out of the blue, there’s me!” Maya admitted. It occurred to her that it might be what Ricky’s parents have been thinking as everything happened so fast and sudden, kahit pa may history ang grandparents nila!
“Oh, sweetheart, please don’t think about that. And please, please, let us forget about Lorraine. She belongs in the past.” Ricky said, caressing Maya’s face. “Come let’s go. I’m sure my parents are counting the minutes until they meet the love of my life. They were so looking forward to this evening.”
Ricky took Maya’s hand and intertwined it with his tightly. They went to the kitchen and said goodbye to Manang Fe.
“Manang Fe, please don’t wait up for me po. I have susi naman.” Maya told her old nanny who looked teary-eyed, seeing her old ward so beautiful, with the man she loves.
“Sige, mag-iingat kayong dalawa sa biyahe. Enjoy your dinner.” Then as if she can’t help herself, she went to Maya, and touched her face. “Masayang-masaya ako para sa iyo, Maya anak! Masaya akong makita kang ganito kasaya. Ricky, ikaw na ang bahala sa dalaga namin ha.”
“Maraming salamat po, Manang Fe.” Maya said, hugging the old lady. “Sige po, aalis na kami ni Ricky.”
“Manang Fe, huwag po kayong mag-aalala. I’ll make sure that Maya is home safe after the dinner with my parents. I’ll take good care of her, always!” Ricky assured the old lady.
Hand in hand, Ricky and Maya walked towards Ricky’s car. They put the bouquet of roses that Maya bought for Ricky’s mother, and the box of blueberry cheesecake she got from Cafe Arts in the back seat. Ricky mentioned that his mother and her friends have been to the cafe several times and that cake was their favorite.
“Sweetheart, anong oras pala ang arrival ng parents mo on Tuesday?” Ricky asked Maya as he navigated the main road just off Maya’s house. Traffic was getting heavier as people had started hitting the streets after the offices closed down for the day. It was also payday Friday!
While they were having their wonderful lunch at the cafe’s garden, Maya excitedly told Ricky that her parents are going home earlier than expected and that she was very much looking forward to seeing them again, and introducing him to them. She also mentioned that she had told her mom about them and by that time, Maya was sure her father also knows about her daughter having a boyfriend.
Ricky was happy to know that her parents are coming home soon. He would like to meet them the soonest time possible, and asks for Maya’s parents’ blessing in proposing to her. Ricky knew it would seem a lot to ask of his prospective in-laws on first meeting but it was something he want to do very much and the soonest. He is also a bit nervous in meeting them as they may not approve of him for their daughter, just like his father initially did. But he will cross the bridge when he get there, so to speak, he told himself. He is holding on to his and Maya’s love to see him through that. In the short time they have been together, they have already hurdled a lot.
“I don’t know yet, sweetheart. I forgot to ask Mom actually sa kakakwento naming dalawa about us.” Maya said sheepishly. “But I can find out from Manong Dindo kung anong oras sila nagpapasundo, or I can call Mom again. Bakit mo pala naitanong?”
“Wala naman, I just want to know. I’m looking forward to meeting them.” Ricky said, then smiling, he added, “If you are nervous about meeting my parents, I am too, in meeting your Mom and Dad. At least, ikaw nga na-meet mo na si Papa.”
“Sweetheart, you nervous!” Maya looked at Ricky, surprised at his admission. He is the epitome of confidence! “I can’t believe it. You, Mr. Confidence himself!”
“Siyempre naman, they only got to know about me today, and besides, I’m your first, AND only boyfriend ha, ever, and I’m sure by now, they have a pretty definite standards on the person they wish you who would end up with.”
Maya laughed, then touching his arm, she said, “Sweetheart, like you told me earlier, there is nothing to be nervous about. My mother likes you already and she has not yet met you ha, what more kung makilala ka na nila in person. My dad naman is a softie. Besides they only have a couple of things they require from the person they want me to be with.
“Such as…?” Ricky asked, wanting to know very much.
“That my boyfriend would love me very much, that said boyfriend will make me happy, take care of me always, and put me and my welfare first! But most importantly that I love this person very much. And I love you very much naman, more than life itself.” Maya finished, then caressing Ricky’s arm, she added, “See, nothing to worry about as you passed those criteria, Mr. Lim.”
Ricky smiled at his girlfriend. “Thanks so much, sweetheart. I just want everything to be okay. And for the record, I love you more than life itself too and I would do anything and everything to make you happy, always.”
“Thank you, sweetheart. Everything will be okay. Kayang-kaya nating dalawa iyan. See, wala pa naman tayong hindi kinaya, basta magkasama tayo.”
The two of them shared a beautiful smile, full of love for each other. The rest of the trip from Quezon City to Makati, Ricky and Maya talked about their planned visit Ricky’s grandmother. Soon after, they arrived at the Lims place.
“Ready, sweetheart?” Ricky asked Maya as they entered the building. Hands interlaced, they walked towards the private elevator that would take them to the penthouse unit of the Lims.
“Yes, sweetheart! This is it!” Maya smiled tremulously at Ricky.
Several minutes after, the elevator opened to the private foyer of Ricky’s parents’ place. Ricky pressed the bell.
“Good evening po, Sir Ricky, Ma’am.” Cynthia, the Lims long-time housekeeper greeted them warmly. Donya Rosemarie earlier told Cynthia that her son Ricky was bringing his girlfriend to dinner. Cynthia thought she would have to endure another night serving that snooty Lorraine. Donya Rosemarie corrected her when she mentioned her name and told her Ricky is bringing his new girlfriend Maya, much to her surprised. Looking at her Sir Ricky’s new girlfriend, she can sense that she is way much different from Lorraine. Mukhang mabait at magalang, she thought.
Maya greeted Cynthia with a warm, friendly smile. “Hello po. Magandang gabi po, I’m Maya Dela Rosa.” With that, Cynthia was completely won over by the beautiful lady holding hands with her guwapong amo.
“Cynthia po, Ma’am Maya. Welcome po.” Cynthia said smiling. “Sir Ricky, nasa sala po ang Mama at Papa ninyo.”
“Thank you, Cynthia.” Ricky said as he guided Maya towards the living room of the penthouse apartment, carrying the cake and the flowers.
However, before they can reach it, Rosemarie Lim,met them halfway. Ricky’s mother had a big smile, excitement on her face.
“Son, so great to see you.” Then she looked at Maya and gave her a warm smile. She didn’t wait for her son’s introductions. “Hello Maya, I’m so happy to finally meet you. I’m Rosemarie Lim.”
“Good evening po, Mrs. Lim, I’m very happy to meet you din po, finally.” Maya smiled at Ricky’s mother, feeling relieved at her warm welcome. “Para po pala sa inyo.” Maya gave Ricky’s mother the flowers and the cake.
“Naku, hija, thank you very much. How beautiful, and oh, this is the cake I like from your cafe! By the way, call me Tita Rosemarie na lang, o kaya naman Mama. I think Mama is better.” Rosemarie Lim told Maya as she hugged her, then Ricky. “Welcome to our place, Maya. Hello again, son.”
“Iyan din ang sinabi ko kay Maya when I met her, pero she insisted on calling me, Tito Richie.” Richie Lim said as he approached his son, wife and his son’s girlfriend. It seemed he too, can’t wait until they reached the living room. “Nice to see you again, Maya. How about calling me Papa na, hija?”
Like his wife, Richie Lim also gave Maya a hug as Ricky looked on happily. His father nodded at him by way of a greeting.
Ricky was amazed at the ease his parents and Maya were with each other! Life is just so great. He couldn’t ask for anything anymore.
“Thank you po, Papa, and also Mama, for the warm welcome.” Maya said shyly, still getting use to calling Ricky’s parents Papa and Mama. She felt very happy at their warm welcome.
The elder Lims smiled at Maya happily.
“Naku, Ricky, Maya, let’s go the living room na nga. Sorry at in my excitement di ko na talaga nahintay na ihatid kayo roon ni Cynthia.” Rosemarie said.
Rosemarie ushered everyone into to the living room. They chatted for several minutes before Cynthia approached Rosemarie Lim and told them that dinner is ready. Everyone trooped to the dining room set elegantly that evening.
It was a very enjoyable and laid back dinner in which the Lim family made sure that Maya is completely at ease with them. They told her stories of Ricky when he was a boy and a teen. Maya laughed at some of their stories. While Ricky on the other hand, protested at his parents telling Maya of his youthful shenanigans!
The Lims also asked Maya about her parents. Richie Lim mentioned that he actually know his father by name as one the Lim companies have used their cargo business. However, he and her father, or her mother haven’t had the chance to meet in person. Maya mentioned that her parents were abroad but would be home in several days.
“Well, when they are settled here again, maybe we can have dinner with them.” Rosemarie Lim suggested.
“Sige po, I will tell Mom and Dad.” Maya said.
“That would be great, hija!” Richie Lim said. “Maybe your Dad and I can play a round of golf also one day. Naggo-golf ba siya?”
“Yes po, Papa.”
The four of them also talked the journal and about Ricardo and Maya’s love story and their meeting in Ilocos. From the journal, the conversation also shifted to vacations in Ilocos and all the beautiful places to see there. By the time dinner ended and they were having dessert in the sitting room, Maya felt that she had known Rosemarie and Richie Lim a long time. Ricky was very happy as well at the way the evening has turned out.
“So, son, tuloy na kayo ni Maya sa Lola mo sa Sunday?” Rosemarie asked her son and Maya as they enjoyed freshly brewed Batangas coffee from the Valderama farm and the cheesecake that Maya brought.
“Yes, Mama, we will definitely visit her on Sunday! I called Lola this morning and told her that we are definitely coming for a visit. She said be there before lunch so we can all have lunch at the farm.” Ricky replied, holding his cup of coffee in one hand and the other one, intertwined with Maya’s.
“Great, great!” Rosemarie said. “And Maya, don’t be nervous okay, I’m sure Mama will like you very much also, like Richie and I do. In fact, I think she would be happy to see you and that finally, the grandchildren of Papa Ricardo and your Lola are continuing their aborted love story. Di ba, Richie?”
“Of course, of course, Maya. In fact she is looking forward to meeting you. I think Ricky mentioned to you that I have been to Batangas the other day.” Richie said. “You have nothing to worry about.”
“Thank you very much po, Mama, Papa. Gusto ko rin po siyang makilala. I’m looking forward to our trip to Batangas.” Maya replied happily, gazing at Ricky with so much love.
They shared a look and for a moment, they forgot that they were with Ricky’s parents. The older Lims looked at them indulgently. Now, more than ever, having met Maya, they know why their son has fallen so hard in such a short time. They can see the palpable love between their son and the beautiful lady he was holding hands with. In a way, they also understand how Ricardo Lim must have fallen like a ton of bricks upon seeing Maya’s grandmother. If she is anything like the present Maya, then it was inevitable, really!
Several minutes after, they realized that they have gone into a world of their own. They smiled sheepishly at Ricky’s parents. They smiled back, gesturing that they understood. They continued chatting as they enjoyed their coffee and cheesecake. They barely noticed the passing of hours. When the clock chimed the hour, Ricky looked at his watch and was startled to discover that it was already midnight. He put down his cup.
“Papa, Mama, I think it is about time Maya and I get going.” Ricky said. “I need to work pa tomorrow, err, today na pala since it past midnight na to make up for my vacation. Maya also needs to be at the cafe early.”
“Oo nga po, Papa, Mama. I need to be at Cafe Arts early kasi nasa hospital pa po iyong friend ko and business partner. Na-dengue po kasi siya.” Maya added. “Thank you very much po for inviting me. I have a very wonderful time.
“I hope your friend gets better, soon, Maya.” Rosemarie said, then going to Maya, she held her face with her two hands, “And the pleasure is ours, hija. Please see us again soon. Ricky please bring back Maya again the soonest. I will go your cafe again, with my amigas. We really like the place.”
“Yes Mama I will bring her back soon.”
“Please let me know po Mama if you will go there, and we can have coffee at my private place in the back.”
“Yes, Mama, you should see that beautiful place. Doon ako sinagot ni Maya.” Ricky said, grinning.
“Oh really! Then I really need to see that place, hija. I’ll text you.”
Maya hugged Ricky’s mother again, then went to his father. “Thank you po again, Papa,” she said.
Richie Lim patted her back and smiled. “Basta para sa inyo ng anak ko, Maya. All I want is for him is to be happy. You have made him so happy, I can see that.”
Ricky and Maya left the Lims soon after. While on the road, they talk the dinner with the elder Lims.
“See, there was nothing to worry about, sweetheart. My parents love you.” Ricky told Maya, touching her chin with his thumb and forefinger while they were waiting for the traffic light to turn green.
“Yes, you are right sweetheart. And I love them already.” Maya grinned happily. “My parents will be like that with you, sweetheart. I’m just so happy that our parents are okay with our relationship. While we are old enough not to need their approval, I do want it.”
“Me too, Maya. Kaya nga I was so happy when Papa changed his tune so fast and imagine ha, complete turnaround pa. Kinausap pa si Lorraine!”
“That’s true. You know what your father told me when I thanked him for talking to Lorraine?” Maya asked. She and Richie Lim were left alone in the living room for a time as Ricky went to the toilet, and his mother went to the kitchen to ask Cynthia to serve the dessert and coffee in the living room.
“You managed to talk to Papa, about it?”
“Yes, when you went to the toilet and your Mama went to the kitchen. He assured me that Lorraine will not bother us and he also said sorry for sending her to Ilocos. I thanked him, and he told me that it was the least the could do, after unwittingly sending Lorraine to you. He also said that he wanted nothing to mar our relationship from now on. It was really so nice of your Papa to do that.”
“I’m glad too. So, that’s what you were thanking Papa for before we left. Tatanungin ko nga sana sa iyo, what was it all about.” Ricky said, smiling, then he teased his girlfriend. “See, you have completely won him over sweetheart with your charm, wit and beauty!”
Maya grinned. Feeling at the top of the world at that moment.
They arrived at Maya’s place an hour after they have left the Lims.
‘Won’t you come in, sweetheart?” Maya asked Ricky as she opened the gate of her family home.
“Hindi na, sweetheart. Gabi na. Go get some rest. Maaga ka pa rin bukas, or mamaya na pala iyon.” Ricky said. “Just rest early when you get home from the cafe. Maaga pa tayo for our Batangas trip. I wish we can have dinner tomorrow, err, mamayang gabi pala, but I don’t know what time I will be finished at work.”
Maya put her hands around Ricky’s nape, smiled at him sweetly. “Yes, sweetheart, of course! Ikaw din ha, huwag masyadong magpapagod and eat on time. Baka makalimutan mo na sa dami ng work mo.”
Ricky grinned at Maya. “Yes po, Ms. Dela Rosa, I will eat on time and will rest as soon as I get home. I’ll see you bright and early tomorrow. Dream of us!”
“I hope I will. Good night, sweetheart. Thank you again for a wonderful evening. I love you very much.”
“Good night, sweetheart.” Ricky said softly. “I love you very much too.”
Ricky and Maya gazed at each other with all the love they were feeling. Ricky lowered his head, and his lips met Maya’s for a searing kiss under the moonlit night. Long after Ricky had left, Maya was still at the veranda, enjoying the beautiful night, feeling so happy. How can she sleep with all the happiness inside her!
Several decades ago, in the exact spot, another beautiful lady stood and watched the beautiful moonlit night. But instead of feeling happy like her beloved grandchild, she felt extreme sorrow.
Maya Dela Rosa-Ventura was consumed by a very intense longing for the love of her life. She felt him calling her name in the middle of the night. It was what woke her up. It was so vivid. It shook and unsettled her. She can’t sleep anymore so decided to get a glass of milk and stay for a while in the veranda. She felt very sad at that moment, and she can’t explain why.
Unknown to Maya then, it was the day Ricardo Lim died.