Stop! Don’t go in there! Don’t go in there! Enough! Enough!
Maya whispered those words to herself like a mantra, hoping that it would bring to an abrupt stop her runaway trip down memory lane. But she was unable to. She careened back to that moment, when Richard Lim’s lips touched hers, and everything in her young world shifted.
Yes, he was her first! Richard Lim was Maya’s first kiss. He was also her first heartbreak, something that her young heart, she must admit, albeit reluctantly, had never recovered from. On hindsight, and sometimes, she felt a twinge of guilt on the way she reacted to everything, up to the point that she and Richard Lim fought like cats and dogs for weeks and him earning the ‘SSS’ moniker from her. But there were times when she would remember the bad stuff and affirmed to herself that how she acted was what Richard deserved at that time.
Now that she would see Richard, Richard, Richard Lim, (she refused to think of him as Ricky as it would mean dredging up long-felt bittersweet emotions) again after all these years, she felt ambivalent. However, regardless of what she feels, the only important thing is she needs to do what she needs to do so that her parents will, hopefully, finally set her free. With that resolve in her mind, she fell asleep at last! The last image in her head, Richard Lim sporting his charming, lopsided smile.
Like Maya, the deluge of memories also kept Richard Lim awake that night. Once the floodgates were opened, he was unable to stop the rush of memories. Like Maya, he made a supreme effort to block the events that follow after that kiss that shook his world. Like Maya, he didn’t succeed.
In more than 24 hours, he would see her again after all these years. He was very much curious on how she looks like now, after all the years that she had stayed in Europe. Did Europe changed her a lot? He thought of checking if Maya has a social media account, who hasn’t in this day and age, he mused, but there was something that stopped him from doing so. There was a part of him that would rather know when they see each other again. He guessed he would also like to retain in his mind the Maya that he remembers, just in case the woman she is now is totally different from what he remembers.
Meeting her again, that’s another matter to think of! Past is past, and both he and Maya are seven years older. But still, they parted as ‘enemies’. Look at how he reacted when his mother brought out the issue of Maya staying with him. He acted like his 28 year old self! He acted like the last time he saw Maya. Sighing, Richard decided to grab a can of beer, and stayed at his balcony, looking at the lights still dotting the blackened night of the city, as he sipped slowly, and contemplated life and what would the future has for him, his mother, their company, and Maya. When he became bone-tired, he went back to sleep and had a fitful sleep.
The following morning, Richard was woken up by a message from his mother.
Good morning, son! Don’t forget, Maya is coming tomorrow. The arrangement for her, please don’t forget. Here’s her number son, send her a message. Have a great day!
Rising from his bed, groggily, crankily, Richard muttered. I doubt, Ma! He just replied, ‘Okay, Ma. Thanks. You too!’ That was all he can manage that morning. He felt so tired at the same time, unsettled. He sighed. Before he headed to shower, he decided to send Maya a message, to get it out of the way.
Frowning, but not really thinking straight, Richard sent the message to the number his mother sent him. He decided to have coffee first before taking a shower as he badly needed a cup! It is going to be a long day!
Like Richard, the alert of her phone, woke up Maya that morning. She groped for it, plopped back to bed and slid her phone open. Curious to see who would send her a message very early in the morning when her phone had been pretty quiet since she returned to the country. Her eyes opened wider, and remnants of sleep disappeared from her system when she had seen who the message was from. Her mother gave her his number the night before. Her heart started beating faster and erratically.
Hello, Maya. This is Richard Lim. I’m sorry I can’t pick you up myself. I’ll send my EA, Liza and driver. Just give her a call after you landed. Here’s her cellphone number!
Reading Richard Lim’s message left Maya lost for words to describe how she felt at that moment. The message seemed so…, so…formal and clinical!
But do you expect Maya? You didn’t exactly part in the best of terms! See, he even avoided seeing you after that disastrous summer. Did he even go with his parents when they visited your parents in Barcelona! He even missed Seth’s funeral! Isn’t this better? Now you can execute your plans without qualms! No guilt, Maya dela Rosa! No guilt at all!
“… and Maya Dela Rosa, you should stop talking to yourself!” Maya muttered as she got out of bed. She had started to put her phone down, when an idea suddenly popped into her head. Hmmmm, why not, she thought. Maya smiled to herself with mischief in her eyes, then typed something on her phone, and before she changed her mind, she sent it.
OMG!!! I’m so looking forward to staying with you, Kuya Richard Thank you so much for letting me stay. I will bring Whiskey and Brandy! I’m sure you will love them.
On his way back to his room, a steaming cup of coffee on his left hand, Richard heard his phone beeped. His heart jumped, somehow knowing who the message was from. He grabbed the phone and upon seeing the text, he frowned, then, somewhat annoyed, he read it again, thinking he had read it wrong the first time.
“She called me, Kuya, again, and why ‘Richard’ I was ‘Ricky’ to her! She knows I hate the fact that she called me Kuya. She sounded giddy pa with the fact that she will be staying with me!” Richard read the rest of the message. “Whiskey and brandy, what for? Love them?”
He quickly typed a reply.
Thank you, Maya. But there’s no need to bring me whiskey and brandy. I don’t drink that much.
Maya giggled when she read Richard’s message, liking what she had started, and now for the clincher, Mr. Richard Lim. Smiling naughtily, she typed quickly.
Oh, but I am not bringing liquor for you. Whiskey and Brandy are my cats.
Richard was really annoyed after he read Maya’s latest message. “No way, she can’t bring pets here!”
Maya, no pets please! You know I don’t like them, especially cats. Besides, my building does not allow pets! Again, NO PETS!
Maya was unable to help herself when she read Richard’s reply, she laughed a hearty laugh, the first one she had in days! Of course, she knows he hated cats. He told her that, a long time ago, when everything was bright and beautiful between them. She remembered his story about his cat phobia. Of course, she does not have any intention of bringing pets to Manila. She does not have pets. She has two stuffed toy cats and those were what she was going to bring with her.
Maya deliberately misled Richard because, partly she was miffed by Richard’s text, and she had realized it was a good opening salvo for her campaign to make herself, Richard Lim’s most hated guest. She wanted him to give up on her and tell it to his mother, then her parents. She felt a twinge of guilt at what she was doing, but she was desperate.
Maya deliberately shut down her phone. She didn’t have any intention of replying to Richard Lim. He might call, so to avoid that, she turned off her phone.
Richard sipped his cooling coffee while waiting for Maya’s reply. He wanted to be sure that they understood each other. But no reply came in the next several minutes. He checked the time and saw the he needed to get going so that he will have plenty of time to fortify himself for the difficult day he will have. He thought that Maya will just reply later.
Half an hour later, the first thing that Richard did when he got out of the bathroom was to check if Maya had replied.
Maybe, she was in the bathroom too like he was! Richard drove to work, and for a while, forgot all about Maya as he had to deal with a lot of stuff and issues as soon as he reached his office. Around lunchtime, he remembered Maya and her ‘pets’. He checked his phone. Still, no text and messages from that girl! He thought of calling his mother, but the fact that she will ask a lot of questions and would probably talk a bit, stopped him. He needed to concentrate on his meeting that afternoon. He just hoped that Maya would be sensible enough and would heed his warning not to bring her pets.
Richard also informed Liza that she needed to pick up Maya from the airport. He also gave her an emphatic instructions about Maya’s ‘pets’.
“Okay, Richard. I will go to the airport early to avoid traffic. Tomorrow is Baclaran Day so there will be a bit of traffic in the area.” Liza said, reading the information that Richard handed to him on a piece of paper. “I got everything here.”
“Thanks Ate Liza. And oh, by the way, if you see that girl…..errr, Maya, holding two cats, please let her know that she better send them on the next flight to Negros or else, they will be boarded in a place that boards animals like those and she will not like it.” Richard stressed to his assistant, firmly, and for the third time.
“Noted on that Richard. You have mentioned it several times. I’m sure it will be okay. If not, I can take care of the cats. I have several as you know and I can take care of Ms. Maya’s pets. Brandy and Whiskey, right!”
“I think so. Why would she named her pets after liquors!” He said, frowning.
“Cute naman the names ah.” Liza teased, smiling, and a bit curious seeing her unflappable boss, agitated.
“Ah, basta, I thought that girl will be more matured by now.” Richard muttered massaging his forehead.
Liza opted to keep her counsel. She had never seen her boss agitated and this bothered even in the most challenging moments he had faced seen assuming mantle of his father’s company. She had a feeling that there is a lot of history between him and this ‘family friend’!
“Oh well, let’s see tomorrow! You may go and eat lunch Ate Liza. I’ll just prepare for my meeting later. Everything is set?”
“Yes Richard. Wala namang nag-cancel. And I can pick lunch for you. Skipping meals is not healthy. Your usual?”
“Okay, Ate Liza. I might as well eat. Thanks a lot.”
He was about to go back to his papers, when he remembered something he forgot again to do. “Errr, Ate Liza, favor please, can you call Manang Sol and ask her to come to my place today, and prepare the bedroom for my guest. I have been meaning to, but I forgot!”
“Sure Richard, I will take care of it.” Liza assured Richard. “I’ll get going.”
Richard attended to his paperworks, barely reacting when Liza returned with his food. He ate a quick lunch, then got ready for his meeting.
The afternoon turned out to be gruelling one. One of the possible investors for his new project that he met at that very important meeting seemed to be hellbent on being difficult, a Filipino-Spaniard, Jaime Ventura IV. He barely held on to his patience. He didn’t know how he did, but he survived the afternoon with Jaime Ventura without losing his cool.
Returning to his office several hours later, he plopped down his chair and grabbed the phone he left there. He checked if there was a message from Maya. Still nothing. His head started to throb. He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. He worked several hours more, then headed home when he realised that it was already close to midnight.
He saw a note propped up the table by the door when he arrived him. It was from Manang Sol.
Sir Richard, naayos ko na po ang room para sa bisita ninyo. Hindi ko po alam kung alin doon. Wala pong nabanggit si Ms. Liza. Inayos ko na lang po ang room na tabi ng sa inyo para po makapag-bonding kayo ng husto.
Richard slapped his forehead. He forgot to specify which room should be made for his unexpected guest! He walked around his spacious living room, thinking. There’s a part of him that wished that Maya was put in the room farthest from him. He had a feeling even then that Maya would somehow wreck havoc to his system, like she did eons ago. At the same time, he felt this excitement that he can’t explain, with her just a wall away from him.
“Oh well, what’s done is done!” He shrugged, and headed to his room to take a shower before retiring for the night.
If he had inkling on the hellish night he would experience 24 hours later, he would have made the room farthest from himself, for his guest!
Half an hour later, despite his body being bone tired from his long and gruelling day, and just like the night before, he was unable to sleep. He found himself at his balcony again, nursing a cold can of beer and just trying to relax.
Maya Dela Rosa, what are you doing to me! I can’t afford to be this distracted. Maybe, things will return back to normal when I see you again!
How wrong he was! But of course, he didn’t have an inkling of what was to happen!
Like Richard, Maya was unable to sleep. After an hour of tossing and turning, she decided to make herself a glass of milk. Glass in hand, she went to her favorite place – the azotea. Maybe the cool breeze will relax her. She should have been tired because of the busy day she had. After shutting down her phone, she spent the day helping a friend with her day care center. Running after kids for several hours, on top of double checking the things she will be bringing to Manila and going to town to buy some pasalubong and other things, should have worn her out, but didn’t! She was too keyed up to sleep, with the thought of going to Manila, to be on her own, sort of, and yes at the thought of seeing Richard again, swirling in her head.
Maya wished then that she was not planning to make his life hell. But she felt that her parents didn’t leave her with other choices. She just wished that Richard will forgive her eventually. Besides, he might be the same obnoxious person he was when they parted and she shouldn’t feel any guilt at all!
She downed the rest of her milk, then smiling she went back inside and fell into a peaceful, happy sleep, excited on her adventure and yes, as sleep claimed her, in seeing the handsome chinito from her past.
Richard did the same. He can’t explain why, but he felt excited on what tomorrow will bring.
Note: Hi everyone! I hope all of you are doing well. I’m back. I miss this. I’m rusty, though, my apologies. Have a nice day/evening. Cheers and good vibes as always! 🙂