Posts Tagged BCWMH
Maya gave up. It has been more than an hour since she went to bed after her wonderful evening with Richard, and yet she was unable to sleep! She did everything, from reading a book, to listening to some music, to remembering their wonderful evening, but still, she failed to catch that elusive sleep. In the quiet of the night, when her mind was at rest, she can’t get the accident out of her head. She kept seeing in her head the split second where Richard was almost hit by the speeding car. What if he was and he ended up in the hospital, gravely injured? What if he died on the spot? She also suddenly remembered all the motorcycle accidents that she had seen in the evening news. What if Richard is gone forever!
She sat up on the bed, shaking her head, trying to shake off the image from her head! She can’t bear the thought of losing him, of not seeing him again, not seeing his bone-melting smiles, not experiencing the effects of his heated gazes and intense kisses! Strange, she had known him in such a short time and she was feeling like that! Does it means that she has already fallen in love with him? That love just happened to her like that! That despite her caution, she had done what she was shying away from, for years, afraid of getting hurt again?
She is very much attracted to him physically, and she likes him a lot as person. What is not to like? He is funny, caring, sincere, honest and a gentleman. They get along pretty well! But is it love? The deep down one that speaks of forever and happily ever after, something she had been wary of for five years, something she swore not to believe anymore. Something she thought is overrated? If ever that she has fallen for Ricky, already, it is really such a big step for her after her experience with James. And what happened to the baby steps that she and Ricky was supposed to be taking! Thrown to the wind!
Maya knows instinctively, and base on what she had seen so far, that Richard is not like James, but still, she only have known him such a short time, and James, she had known for a long time, and yet she was betrayed by him. Yes, she had known Richard a short time, and yet, she seemed to trust him more than ex fiancé. There was also this overwhelming attraction between them. She never felt like that with James, and there, lies the problem with what went wrong with their relationship. With Richard it’s different. She feels she will not recover if it is Richard who will betray and hurt her! Just the thought of losing him or being betrayed by him, is sending her to a sleepless night. She believes Richard will not do to her what James did, but she had been burned once, and while she had healed, she was still carrying the scar from that relationship.
Since she can’t sleep, anyway, with all the thoughts crowding her head and agitating her, she might as well go for a walk, just in front of her bungalow, to her favourite driftwood. Maybe the cool night air will clear her head. At the back of her mind, she knows that she is just probably having a delayed reaction to the accident. But nevertheless, she wanted to think about things and usually, that place is a happy place for her.
Earlier, Maya was able to put the accident at the back of her mind, with Richard’s wonderful surprise for her, making their last evening in Camiguin a truly memorable one. They spent more than an hour cuddling and enjoying the cool breeze in the quiet of the night before they turned in. Richard waited until she was inside before going to his bungalow. It took a while before they parted as just like the night before, they were reluctant to part and go on their on way for the night. They spent several minutes saying good night, with a lot of heated kisses in it.
Maya walked to where her suitcase was, and got a shawl. She wrap it around her shoulders and over her thin sleep shirt. At that time of the night, she was sure that she would be the only one out, so she didn’t bother changing into street clothes. Besides, it was just Richard and her at that side of the resort. It was one of the reasons why she picked that bungalow. Not only does it has the nicest view, it, together with the one Richard was occupying, is away from the main cluster of bungalows. For sure, Richard was in deep sleep by now, she mused. He looked sleepy earlier when they said good night. She also had a feeling that Richard’s shoulder was acting up, and he was just trying to bear it so as they will have the best evening. She thought he really needed a rest after what happened.
Maya was wrong. She wasn’t the only one who was unable to sleep that night. Richard tried reading a book, and playing a game on his iPhone, but to no avail. What had almost happened set it! Despite all his efforts to divert his attention, he kept reliving in his head the moment where he first saw the intense headlights of the oncoming car, and thought that it was his end. Until then, he does not know how he managed to avoid the car! He was stunned when he realized that he did, and that he was still alive. Then Maya rushed to his side, crying and at the same time, trying to be brave. He called her ‘sweetheart’! It was so right, especially at that moment. He realized that his feelings for her went deeper. The initial intense attraction has turned into so much more.
He has fallen in love with her! He loves Maya. It was what he was thinking while he was staring out in the blackened night and watching the twinkling lights. Suddenly, love happened to him, it snuck on to him when he was not looking and not thinking of it anymore. Beautiful, wonderful Maya, happened! He almost told her while they were snuggled together, but stopped himself, barely. Maya had enough of a shock to her system for one night. It can wait. Besides, they agreed to take baby steps, and him declaring his love like that, is, surely one giant leap! Maybe, she is not ready to hear it. He did promise her that they will take it one step at a time. He just decided that he will show it to her in every way he could. Maybe, that would allay her fears and the scars he thinks she has, inflicted by the guy who left her at the altar.
Richard got out of bed. Since, he can’t sleep, he might as well, walk a bit, to tire himself out and maybe the fresh air will make him sleep better. He wished, though, that Maya was there to walk beside him, and chat a bit. Had she had been beside him at that moment, for sure, he would not need the walk, though! He would just be content to look at her. But Maya needed her rest. He saw how rattled she was earlier. He smiled, remembering their protracted good night, laced with all those wonderful kisses.
Richard ventured into the night. His feet led him to the driftwood where he had that memorable first dinner with Maya the other night, and that was where he saw her! She was sitting on the fallen wood that has been fashioned into a beautiful bench for two, arms around her knees, gazing in the night. His heart beat double, seeing her, all the love he is feeling for her, rushing into his system!
“Maya…” Richard called softly. “It’s me, Ricky!” He added so as not to alarm her.
“Ricky!” Maya looked at Richard, surprised to him up and about that time of the night. “I thought you would be asleep by now. Are you in pain?” She asked worriedly.
“No, Maya, I’m okay. I just can’t sleep so I decided to go for a walk.” Richard said as he sat down beside Maya. “How about you? Why are you here? You should have woken me. It may not be safe for you to be alone here at this time of the night. How long have you been here?”
“Oh, I’m only had been here for half an hour. I can’t sleep also. I think I was having a delayed reaction to the accident. Like a song on a loop, it kept playing and playing in my head while I was trying to sleep! I can’t help it. So, to clear my head, I decided to go for a walk!” Maya said, hesitating a bit in telling Richard about the other reason why she was unable to sleep.
“Maya, don’t think about it anymore, please. Just think of happy thoughts.” Richard said, putting his arms around Maya and hugging her tight. “We are okay. Just think of that and the continuation of our adventures. You know, we still have a lot of those baby steps to take! “ He teased her. Then remembering his thoughts earlier, he mused, at least not on his side.
“Okay, Ricky. I feel better now, with you by my side! ” Maya smiled. “How about you, why can’t you sleep?”
“Well, like you, I also thought of the accident and what could have happened.” Then taking a deep breath, he forged on, life could be so fleeting, so he will say this since he was given another chance. Holding Maya’s hand, he said. “The thing is with what happened on the road, I also realized something, Maya, that is, that I have fallen in love with you. Love happened to me. I think I have done so when we met each other again last week!”
“R-ricky…! Maya was so surprised by Richard’s admission, that she was unable to form a coherent reply right away.
Richard continued on, touching Maya’s face with both his hands and looking deep into her soul.
“Maya, I was not actually planning on telling it this evening. I thought you had enough of a shock, but then I saw you here, and I realized that what happened shook the two of us more than what we let on. For me, I realized that life is fleeting and it could be gone in a snap, just like that, by the road, without you having any say in it. I have this moment with you, so I would like to take, make good use of that moment fate gave me to tell you how I feel about you. I’ll show you how much I love you. I know you have fears, I’ll be here, I’ll wait until all your fears are gone. I, too, had fears before, but my love for you is stronger than those fears! I love you very much, Maya!”
Maya felt tears in her eyes, and her heart pounding double time with each word that coming from Richard’s lips. They vowed completely honesty, everything laid down, so she made a decision too. With her hand on Richard’s face as well, she told him what was in heart.
“Ricky, the reason why I can’t get off the accident from my head, and why I can’t sleep, was the thought of losing you! I can’t bear it, thinking that I could have lost you there by the road. It opened a floodgate of strong feelings. Suddenly you became the most important person in my life right now. You awaken dead emotions and the thought of not seeing you again forever was driving me crazy. Is that love? Have I fallen in love with you? My answer is yes, I think I have fallen in love with you. That is also making me afraid. I have been hurt before. In such a short time, what I am feeling for you is much more than I have felt for my ex fiancé in all the years we have been together, and we grew up together. That was young love. What I am feeling right now for you does not compare to that. So yes, I am very afraid because you can hurt me in a way that James was not able to do!”
“Maya, sweetheart! I understand your fears. I will never knowingly hurt you. I will do my best to make you happy. I know what it is to be hurt also. We will conquer your fears together. We are in this together. I’m so happy to know that you have fallen in love with me. Let me just you, how much I love you and how good we are together in every way I could. Can you give me that?” Richard asked gently.
“Sure, Ricky! I can do that. Thank you for being so understanding. If there is someone whom I would take the final leap, Ricky, it would be you.”
“Maya, that is more than enough for me, for now. Thank you. Let us enjoy our journey together to wherever this would lead us.”
Maya nodded and then for the second time that night, snuggled closely to Richard, contented. Richard was also very much happy with the unexpected turn of events. He vowed to conquer all of Maya’s fears! He was surprised at himself. He too should have been wary, but with her, he does not feel any fear at all. He believes that they can hurdle every obstacles towards their happily ever after, with the love they are feeling for each other.
“So, how’s your island experience, so far, Ricky?” Maya asked Richard while they were drinking coffee after eating the delicious lunch that Marina had prepared for them. They were sitting at one of the picnic benches facing the majestic Katibawasan Falls, which at that time, they had to themselves. There were other tourists when they arrived there, a family, but after they have taken some pictures, they left for their next destination. Maya unpacked their picnic lunch. Ricky helped. After everything was spread out on the table, they proceeded to have their late lunch. It was just what they needed after all the sightseeing they did since they left the resort that morning.
They travelled northwards from the resort, stopping at the beautiful Station of the Cross built uphill. It was quite a climb up but the view from the top was worth it. They stayed there for half an hour, then journeyed on to their next stop, which was the sunken cemetery, marked by a big cross in the bay. Beside it was the ruins of an old church.
Richard and Maya walked hand in hand on the grounds of the church ruins and admired the centuries-old tree still standing there. They even had a selfie before the really huge and very old tree. They checked the hot and cold springs along the way, but didn’t take a dip in any of it, and the place where all the giant clams are being cultivated. The beach leading to it was beautiful and has white sand, as compared to the blackish ones in other parts of the island. They sat for a while by the beach, soaking in the beauty nature has endowed on that place.
Maya mentioned to Richard that they can also take a boat tour to White Island, which is something like an atoll with white sand and nothing much, no structures there, and it’s something one can explore in a minute. The view from the island is also incredible. She was there the day after she arrived in Camiguin and it was quite an experience. Richard said that it might take too much of their time if they will have to go there by boat. They agreed to forego that one until next time. Richard told Maya that he does not think it will be their last trip to Camiguin.
Instead, they just cruised around in their scooters, enjoying the wind, and the beautiful scenery they passed along the way, beautiful sea, under an intense and bright sunshine, and of course, most important of all, each other’s company. Sometimes, they waved at the kids who curiously looked when they passed by. They circled the island in no time at all, until they reached the Katibawasan Falls after lunch. They were still full from their breakfast so they decided to have a late lunch, and a dip in the cool water of the falls to cap their day.
“Great, Maya! This place is simply very beautiful, and I’m really glad that I took the chance, and followed you here.” Richard said with a grin. Then gazing at Maya, intently, he said softly, “But of course, it is just a bonus, it is beautiful to me because of you. Because you are here!”
Maya smiled at that, her heart jumped at what Richard that said. “Thank you for that, Mr. Lim.” She said, simply, then she teased him, “And what would you have done had I not said you can join me in my vacation?”
“Well, I would have probably camp at your veranda until you say yes!” Richard said with a smile. “Honestly, Maya, all I thought was following you and being with you. I never get pass by that stage when I impulsively left Manila to follow you! I never really thought of a fall back plan, which was so unlike me. I think I have shocked Liza when I asked her to book me a flight here out of the blue! And I guess, I would have just return to Manila the same day if you have turned me away.” He finished with a smile. “Lucky me, you are not that cruel. Had you said no, at least, I have tried to be with you. Then, I’ll just wait then until you return and our dinner. So thank you, really, for letting me join you in your vacation!”
“Oh…!” Maya felt giddy hearing that Richard acted out of character for her! “Thank you, Ricky. I’m glad you took the chance, you know.” She added softly.
“I’m glad too, Maya! I am so very glad that I took the chance.” Richard said, taking Maya’s hand, then raising it to his lips and kissing it gently. He caressed her hand then he put it back on her lap. “This is worth everything.”
Maya put her hand on top of Richard’s. They shared a meaningful gaze and stayed like that for several minutes, enjoying their beautiful moment and the wonder and tranquility around them.
“So, how about a dip into that inviting water to complete my Camiguin experience?” Richard asked after a while.
“Okay, and to complete my experience of Camiguin as well!” Maya replied, standing up from the bench. “I haven’t taken a dip in that water.”
“Really! I thought you did when you and Jeremy were here yesterday!” Richard said, liking the idea that it would be shared first time experience for him and Maya.
“No, we just stopped here to chat and rest after going around the island.” Maya said. “You know already what we have discussed here mostly.”
Richard smiled. “Ah yes, and it completely changed him, in my book, so to speak.”
Maya smiled back, remembering what transpired that morning. “I’ll just go and change.”
“Okay, I’ll just change here.” Richard said. “I already have my swim shorts on.”
Maya went to the toilet and removed her blouse and shorts. Even if she was already wearing her swimsuit underneath, she was conscious of removing her clothes by the waterfalls, even if she knows that Richard will not watch her do it. She just felt self-conscious disrobing like that. She went down to where Richard was, after several minutes, carrying her street clothes and the towel she brought with her.
Hearing Maya’s footsteps, Richard looked up. He caught his breath. Maya was wearing what can be construed as a modest swimsuit on initial look. But on a closer look, Richard can see that it maybe a modest one piece swimsuit but it flatters her body. It concealed and yet it also revealed to him Maya’s beautiful form.
Maya got self-conscious at Richard’s heated gaze. She blushed. She took a look closer at Richard, and it was her turn to lose breath for several seconds. His swimming shorts was on the modest side too, but he was shirtless. She gulped and took a deep breath to calm herself.
“Maya, you look very lovely in that.” Richard managed to say after barely being able to control his reaction to seeing Maya in that swimsuit. “Shall we take a deep!” At that moment, he felt like he would welcome the coldest water he could immerse himself into.
Maya nodded. They walked towards the stone steps that led to the natural pool by the waterfalls. Richard went in first.
“Wow, this is quite cold! But refreshing!” He said grinning, then he held out his hand to Maya. “Come, Maya. Just go down slowly, the rocks are a bit slippery.”
Maya slowly went into the water, holding on to Richard’s hand. But despite Richard’s warning, she slipped and ended up in his arms. She thought there was one more rock, but there was none!
“I got you, Maya.” Richard assured Maya, embracing her tight so she stays upright.
“Thanks a lot, Ricky. Sorry I slipped. I thought there was one more rock before my feet touch the bottom.” Maya said, still holding on to Richard.
Richard smiled. “No worries, Maya. It happens. The important thing is, I got you.”
The two of them smiled at each other, then realized how intimate their position was, with nary a space between them, and there was just Maya’s swimsuit, serving as a thin barrier between their upper bodies! Richard’s eyes darkened with passion he can’t help but feel at that moment. Before he can stop or control himself, his body had reacted to Maya’s nearness. He heard her gasped as well. So, he was not the only one!
They shared a heated gaze, passion and desire in both their eyes. Richard lowered his head, aimed for Maya’s lips. Hers opened readily to receive his. Their lips met and melted into the very heated and intense kiss that followed.
The kiss just went on and on. They were not aware of their surroundings anymore nor the cold water enveloping them and the little waves that the water from the falls created. Richard kept them afloat by bracing himself against the edge of the natural pool. They were only jolted out of the passion that enveloped them completely when a noise penetrated the haze they were in. A noisy group was going down the steps leading to the waterfalls. They broke apart a bit, both catching their breath and reining in the passion that ignited between them.
They shared a beautiful smile. Then Ricky gestured for Maya to take a swim with him towards the deeper side of the falls until the evidence of their desire for each other subsided. Maya followed and for the next several minutes they cooled down their heated bodies while watching the group, mostly teenagers posing for pictures. They swam around for half an hour more, just enjoying the cool water. However, at the back of both of their minds was the earthshaking kiss they have shared.
The intense attraction has always been between them. Richard had felt in from the start, even before he got to know Maya better. Maya on the other hand, knew that she was intensely drawn to Richard and he evoked a very strong physical response from her from the start. She just tried to ignore it. Maybe this is the reason, why they just flare up like that, so fast and so intense every time their lips meet. She was just so very much aware of him all the time. Ricky was thinking the same. He can’t even keep his eyes off her and concentrate while she was doing that presentation!
“Maya, are you okay?” Richard asked after a while. Both of them were floating on their backs aimlessly, relaxing, soaking the rays of the sun that found its way into the almost secluded place where they were, and thinking about the passionate kiss that they shared, their second one now!
Maya looked at Richard and smiled at him. “Yes, I am. Don’t worry.” She said. She knew what Richard was asking even if he didn’t elaborate.
Richard gave her a relieved smile. He also touched her lips gently. Maya did the same, smiling at him, assuring him that she is okay with everything. At that moment, a silent mutual understanding was forged between them.
They got out of the water when Maya started to shiver from the cooling temperature, with the sun slowly getting lower in the horizon. They went back to where they have put their things.
“Coffee, Ricky, why we are waiting for our swimsuits to dry?” Maya asked, sitting on the concrete table, and her feet on the bench she had sat on earlier, patting herself with the towel she brought with her.
“Sure, Maya! That would be great! Thank you very much.” Richard said, getting a towel from his backpack and started drying himself.
Maya who was going to pour coffee from the thermos was transfixed at the sight before her for several long seconds. She forgot to pour the coffee into the styrofoam cup! OMG! She muttered, wanting to fan herself. Then realising what she was doing, she pulled herself and concentrated on making the coffee like it is a very important chemistry experiment.
When Richard looked at her, after putting on the shirt that he had on earlier, Maya was the epitome of calm and innocence. She handed Richard his coffee cup.
“Thank you very much, Maya.” He grinned at her. Unknown to Maya, Richard saw her reaction to him drying himself, from his peripheral vision. She is really cute when flustered, and how he likes her the more! “You?”
“Here, I got one too.”
Richard said beside Maya on the concrete table and both enjoyed their coffee while waiting for their clothes to dry.
“So, dinner at the resort this evening?” Richard asked, in between enjoying Maya’s delicious coffee. She has a way of making it that he likes very much.
“Yes, I would rather we have dinner there, our last night there.” Maya replied, then sighed. “Back to city and reality tomorrow.”
“Okay. I would love that as well. Let me take care of it.” Richard said, then he fished out his phone and send a text message to Marina.
“Who did you text?” Maya asked, curious.
“Marina! I’m not sure what would you like to do, so I told her I will text her if we will have dinner there. I want our last night here in Camiguin to be very special.” He said, grinning boyishly, excited for his treat to Maya again. He loves making her happy and planning special treats for her.
Maya just smiled and shook her head. “Why do I have the feeling that I’m in for a special treat again!”
“Hmmmmm…!” Richard smiled and then took a sip of his coffee and refused to say anything else.
Maya didn’t ask anymore. She was just looking forward to seeing what Richard has had prepared for their last evening in Camiguin. She will never forget this place!
“Let’s have another selfie before we hit the road.” Maya said after she had finished her coffee.
“Okay, for the photo, but we are leaving?” Richard asked, looking at the time. “It is still is early for dinner.”
“Yes, but don’t you want to see the rest of the sights we will pass by on the way back to the resort since we are leaving tomorrow for Cagayan de Oro?”
“Well, I would rather we stay here a bit longer, Maya. It is so nice and quiet. We can always go back, you know to this place, anytime. Like I have told you earlier, this will not be our last time here. I love being here and I will never forget this place and the memories we have here.”
“I was just thinking the same, Ricky.” Maya grinned. “Okay, we stay here longer.”
Maya dug into the picnic basket and found some fruits. She offered a banana to Richard and she got an apple for herself. They enjoyed watching the water from high above falling loudly into the pool below in companionable silence. Still, very aware of each other and the intense attraction between them. Aside from the teenagers who were there earlier for just about 15 minutes or so, no other tourists came. They had the falls to themselves. It was like they were in their own private paradise. Both of them were reluctant to leave that place.
However, when it got a bit dark, hands interlaced, they walked back to where the scooters were parked, looking forward to celebrating their last night in Camiguin. Indeed, that night was a night to remember, in a way they both didn’t foresee, plan for, or expect!
“Bakit kaya hindi sumasagot si Ricky?” Maya asked herself as she put her phone down on her bed. “Baka naman nakatulog! Pupuntahan ko na lang siya bago ako umalis.”
Maya went back to sorting out and putting her clothes and her other stuff in her suitcase. She needed to return to Manila. Emman is in the hospital. He has dengue. Half an hour after she returned from her trip with Ricky, and while she was enjoying the cup of coffee that Manang Miring brewed for her, her phone rang. It was Emman’s mom on the phone.
Veronica Castro told Maya that Emman requested her to call to inform her that he has dengue. Emman’s mom, Tita Roni, told Maya that his condition is serious as it took several days before Emman dragged himself to the hospital to have a blood test. He basically ignored his recurring fever. Luckily, it was not yet too late for him. He was having blood transfusion that afternoon.
Maya told Tita Roni that she would return to Manila as soon as she can arrange a flight. She went online after that and luckily, managed to book a seat on the last flight from Laoag that evening. If not, she was planning to take the bus back. She wanted to be with Emman, and she know that Emman insisted that his mother phone her, because one of them has to be at the cafe. They have a staff who can man Cafe Arts, but she is not yet capable of handling their day-to-day operations single-handedly, longer than a day. Likewise, only Emman and she, can sign checks for their employees payroll and for paying the suppliers, and it was almost the end of the month.
When she was finished packing, she looked for Manang Miring. She found the older lady in the garden. “Manang Miring, sasaglit lang po ako kina Ricky. Hindi kasi siya sumasagot sa phone. Magsasabi lang po ako na alis na ako mamaya. Dapat po kasi doon ako magdi-dinner.”
“Sige po, Ma’am Maya.” Manang Miring replied. “Okay na nga po pala iyong sasakyan ninyo papuntang Laoag. Mabuti po at hindi bumiyahe pala ngayon ang sasakyan ng pinsan ko. Pagbalik ninyo po, nandito na si Kuya Sonny.”
“Salamat po ng marami, Manang.”
Maya opted to rent a vehicle to take her to the airport instead of requesting Ricky to take her. He has already driven a lot the past several days. Then if he takes her, he needed to return pa to the beach house. It is too much for him as the trip to the airport is more than an hour from where they were, in the evening.
She walked to Ricky’s place via the beach. When she arrived at the entrance to the Lim property, she immediately saw someone sitting on the veranda, engrossed in something she was reading. Maya’s heart lurched. Even before the lady looked up and gave her an initial curious stare, she knew who she is! So, Lorraine found Ricky after all, she thought to herself!
She took a deep breath and in the most calm manner she could summoned from deep within her, she approached Ricky’s ex-fiancee. Lorraine stared at her intently as she approached. Maya saw a pretty, sophisticated, and not exactly very friendly woman, waiting for her to reach the veranda. Lorraine looked familiar. She had seen her before. Ricky’s ex-fiancee tilted her head a bit, and it was than that Maya suddenly remembers a weird play Emman dragged her to one evening. Lorraine was one of the actresses in that play she had to endure for almost three hours.
“Hi! Good afternoon! I’m Maya, Maya Dela Rosa, I’m looking for Ricky.” Maya said with a polite, friendly smile. “Nandiyan ba siya?”
Lorraine looked closely at the beautiful, poise girl before her. As she had watched her approach, she knew instinctively that she was her rival in Ricky’s affection. Most probably, she was the girl with Ricky on that nearby. She lives nearby pala! Ricky just returned and now this girl suddenly showed up here from the direction of the beach! Siguro dito sila nagkakilala.
“Lorraine Tan, I’m Ricky’s fiancee!” She told the girl, whom she now remembers was the name of Ricky’s caller earlier. “Honey is not here at the moment. Just tell me why you are looking for him and I will relay it to him when he returns.”
“Nice to meet you Lorraine.” Maya said politely, offering her hand to Lorraine which she ignored, whether deliberate or not, she was not so sure.” May I speak with Manang Auring na lang, if Ricky is not around.”
“Wala rin siya. I’m the only one here.” Then in a voice tinged with annoyance, Lorraine said, “Why can’t you just tell me what you want, anyway. I told you I’m his fiancée. Do you doubt me. By the way, who are you in Ricky’s life?” She also asked point-blank.
“Oh, I’m a friend of Ricky’s.” Maya said simply, seeing the hostility in the other girl’s eyes.
“Friend…? Really?” Lorraine asked with a raised eyebrow. “Parang hindi na naman niya nababanggit sa akin.”
Maya decided then that she does not have time for this, and all the hostility coming from Lorraine. She really needed to leave or she would be late for her flight.
“It’s okay, Lorraine, I’ll just call Ricky again.” Maya said calmly. “If he returns, please just tell him also that I dropped by. I have to get going. Thank you.”
“Yeah, just do that.” Lorraine said, sounding uninterested at Maya’s plight. In her mind, she was thinking, do that, and he will not answer you still. She deliberately didn’t tell Maya that Ricky accidentally left his phone in the house.
Maya left through the direction she came from. Lorraine saw her took out her phone again. She went inside to check. Several seconds later, Ricky’s phone rang. She smiled. She heard a beep from it after it stopped ringing. She got the phone and shamelessly read Maya’s long text message to Ricky.
“So, she is returning to Manila. Good riddance!” Lorraine muttered. She looked at the phone, tinkered with it, deleted Maya’s message. She also went to Ricky’s call logs and ‘cleaned’ it. Ha, all is fair in love and war and Ricky loved her first than that girl. She loves him despite the wrong choices she had made recently and she will fight for him to the end and no slip of a girl will get him from her, and their long history.
Maya left for Laoag with Manang Miring’s cousin several minutes after she returned to the beach house. She was a puzzled where Ricky is, especially after seeing Lorraine residing comfortably in his grandfather’s beach house, and why he was not answering his calls. At least she had left a message for Ricky explaining her unscheduled return to Manila. Baka his phone is on silent mode na naman like what happened when they were on their road trip. She is sure that Ricky will get in touch with her as soon as he can, especially since they were supposed to have dinner. Baka may pinuntahan lang na importante, or emergency, and Lorraine was just refusing to tell her. Judging by Lorraine’s attitude, mukhang di naman si Ricky ang may emergency.
Maya understand that Ricky needed to deal with Lorraine also. In the short time, she had known him, he had been honest with him. She also does not doubt what Ricky feels for her. She does not have enough proof, having known him in such a short time, but she just knows that Ricky loves her and that everything he said about falling in love in a short time is true. She feels it deep in her heart. Kampante naman siya kay Ricky. Maya said goodbye to Manang Miring and promised her that she will come back again as soon as she can.
More than two hours after Maya left for Laoag, Ricky finally was able to leave the hospital. Manong Tunying will be confined there for several days as he has concussion, broken shoulders and legs. The doctor told them that Manong was lucky because mababa lang ang kinalalagyan niya ng bumagsak and he fell on the sandy part of the garden.
He went straight to Maya’s house instead of his own, hoping that he can still catch her there. He wished that he had memorized Maya’s cellphone number so he could at least borrow a phone while waiting earlier. He does not know the landline number in Maya’s place, either.
“Manang Miring, magandang gabi po, si Maya po.” Ricky greeted the caretaker as soon as she opened the gate after he rang the bell.
“Naku, Sir Ricky, kayo po pala. Hindi po ba kayo nagkita pala ni Ma’am Maya kanina? Nagpunta po siya sa bahay ninyo para sabihin na kailangan niyang bumalik ng Maynila kasi may dengue po si Sir Emman, iyong business partner niya sa negosyo niya. Ipinahatid ko nga po sa pinsan ko sa airport para sa last flight pa-Maynila. Tinawagan niya po kayo sa phone ninyo. Nung hindi kayo sumasagot, naglakad po siya sa beach papunta sa inyo.”
“Ganoon po ba, Manang. Dinala ko po kasi si Manong Tunying sa hospital. Nahulog sa hagdan habang nagkukumpuni ng bubong.” Ricky replied, at the same time, it registered in his brain that Maya has been to the house and that she and Lorraine had probably met!
Before he can asked the caretaker for additional information, she asked worriedly. “Naku, kumusta naman po si Kuya Tunying?”
“Medyo okay naman po siya. Napilay po ang balikat at medyo masakit pa ang buong katawan. Inoobserbahan po muna siya sa hospital kasi nabagok ang ulo niya nung nahulog.”
“Naku, sana naman po, wala nang ibang epekto. Di bale po, Sir, tatawagan ko na lang si Ate Auring, baka kasi may kailangan silang mga gamit.”
“Okay na po, Manang. Pinapunta na rin doon ni Manang iyong isang anak niya to help her our and to get things for they stay in the hospital. Sige po, uuwi na muna ako sa bahay. Tatawagan ko na lang po si Maya.” He also wanted to ask Manang how was Maya when she left. Was she upset, sad or annoyed? But he felt that if would just invite more questions and curiosity on the part of the caretaker. Besides, she may not be able to tell him, anyway.
“Sige po, Sir. Talaga pong hindi umalis ang batang iyan nang hindi nakakapunta sa inyo. Baka raw po kasi maghintay kayo. Pero mamaya ninyo na po tawagan kasi po nakalipad na po siya ngayong mga oras na ito.” Manang Miring said, checking the time.
“Sayang po, hindi ko na siya inabutan. Naiwan ko po kasi ang phone ko sa bahay kanina nung dinala namin si Manong Tunying sa hospital. Sana po ako na ang naghatid sa kanya sa airport. I will call her na lang po as soon as soon as she had landed in Manila.” Ricky said, calculating the time on when he can do so. “Sige po, Manang, mauuna na po ako. Thank you po.”
When he reached his home, Ricky took a deep breath before he entered the house, as if preparing himself for another round of battle with Lorraine. He already missed Maya terribly. He also needs to deal with a Lorraine in such a way that she will finally able convinced that they are really, really over. He was not worried that Maya met Lorraine as he had told her about his ex-fiancee. He was more concerned on what kind of lies and poison, Lorraine in her current state of mind, had tried or had fed Maya. What kind of damage she tried to inflict? Was she even civil to Maya?
“Hi Ricky!” Lorraine greeted from the direction of the living room. She stood up from where she was watching TV. “Are you hungry? I made dinner. Sandali lang ha, I will just heat the food for you. Kumusta pala si Manong Tunying!” She said as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
“Lorraine, what did you say to Maya?” Ricky asked instead of answering Lorraine’s question. “Manang Miring said she went here earlier.”
“Maya…? Maya who? And who is Manang Miring? Di ba Auring ang pangalan ng caretaker ninyo?” Lorraine asked, playing innocent, confident that she had removed all traces that Maya has been here and that she had tried to reach Ricky. “Wala naman akong narinig na naghanap sa inyo. I rested in your room after you left.”
“Really?” Ricky asked, not really believing her. Then the second part of what she said, registered. “Resting in my room? And why are you using my room? Didn’t Manang put in you in the guest room?”
“Well, why not. We are about to get married, and as if we haven’t shared a room before.” Lorraine said nonchalantly. “I told her I will use your room since that’s what we have been doing at ikakasal na naman tayo. Besides, do I need to justify my preference to her din kasi?”
“Lorraine!” Ricky said, trying to control his temper at Lorraine’s bullheadedness. “Ah never mind!” He decided to deal with her later. He looked for his phone. Maybe, Maya left a message for him.
Ricky found his phone among the things he had dropped on the sofa earlier. He checked his messages. No messages from Maya! Strange! So unlike the Maya he had come to know. No missed calls either and that kind of had him thinking as Manang Miring told him that Maya called him. He checked his call logs and found it empty. He looked at Lorraine.
“Lorraine, what have you done?” Ricky said, still trying to hold on to his temper. “I don’t want to accuse you of anything really, but I found my call logs empty! I haven’t touched that since last week. Did you mess with my phone?”
“Ha, baka, there is a virus lang in your iPhone. Nabura lahat ng call logs mo. You know naman all these smartphones, feeling nila mas smart pa sila sa owner nila!” Lorraine said, fidgeting, realizing that she made a tactical mistake when she deleted the logs.
Ricky knew then that Lorraine has not changed and will not change at all that she was lying through her teeth again. She was like that when he caught her in the act with that actor and the drugs.
Lorraine knows that tone of voice too. If she has to recover from her blunder and to get to Ricky’s good side, she needs to come clean!
“Okay, okay, that girl came here looking for you after trying to reach you. Your phone rang several times before she came through the beach. I introduced myself as your fiancée, then asked her to leave a message with me since you were not here.”
“Then….” Ricky asked, holding on the tiny thread of control he still has.
“Well, she didn’t leave any, just left.” Lorraine said. “Nung wala ka, umalis na. Wala naman siyang ibang sinabi.”
“That’s it?” Ricky asked. “It’s so unlike Maya to not leave a message or send me a text message, unless you did something bad that she is needed to run away from the situation.”
“Well, she is just returning to Manila! What’s the big deal? Sino ba kasi iyon? Don’t tell me, bago mong girlfriend. We just broke up. Ano iyon, your major rebound girlfriend?” Lorraine said, taking the agressive stance.
“Wait, wait, wait, how did you know that she was going back to Manila kung wala naman pala siyang ibang sinabi sa iyo?” Ricky asked, getting very suspicious.
OMG, Lorraine, you and your wits! Lorraine felt like banging her head against the wall with all the miscalculations that she made that evening.
“Errrr, she left you a long text message.” She reluctantly admitted. “I was jealous so I deleted it, before I deleted the call logs.”
Ricky lost it. In a very calm manner, he said, “Lorraine, how could you? You used to be a decent human being!”
Lorraine knew than that he was very angry at what she did. “Ricky, sorry! Please, I only did it because I was so jealous of her. I love you very much and I will do everything to save what we have. I don’t want to lose you.”
“Lorraine, you have lost me long before Maya came to my life and there is nothing to save! How many times do I have to tell you that. And it is not love anymore if you can’t see reason and if you are hurting other people, thinking only of yourself. I pity you.” Ricky didn’t mince words. “Feel free to stay in this place. I will arrange for your transportation in the morning. I’m really sorry it has to be like this.”
With that, he went to his room, and hastily packed his bags. He was about to leave the room, when he remembered his and Maya’s grandparents journal. Thank God, he put it somewhere safe before he went on vacation with Maya. Several minutes after, he was in the living room again.
“Wait, where are you going?” Lorraine asked, panicking a bit, seeing Ricky carrying his bags.
“I’m leaving. You should be okay here. I will send for our caretaker’s other daughter to be with you. She lives nearby. Her name is Rosario.” Ricky said, having made up his mind, he felt calmer. Despite coming there uninvited, Lorraine is still the daughter of a family friend and they had shared some good times together. But he refused to tell her where he is going. “Good bye, Lorraine. I hope you realized that this is really the end for the two of us. I love Maya, very much and I want a future with her.”
Lorraine just stood there, shocked at what she heard, and at Ricky’s tone when he declared his love for that girl. It was different, very, very different.
Ricky loaded his things into the car, took a deep breath, called Manang Auring, explained that he will leave the beach house at that moment, and requested that she send Rosario to the house for Lorraine. He also requested her to have Rosario arrange Lorraine’s transportation to the airport in the morning. He also told Manang Auring that he will take care of Manong Tunying’s hospital bills. Having done that, he got into the car and started his long journey back to Manila. He had decided to follow Maya, instead of just calling her when she reach Manila. He does not care if he has to drive all night, nonstop, just to be with her again!
“Home, sweet home, soon!” Maya remarked when she and Ricky reached the turn-off to the village where their families’ beach houses are. She felt very happy to be going back, unaware of what await her and Ricky there. She was looking forward to being in the beach house again and spending more time with Ricky, either at his house, her home or by the beach. She and Ricky were both looking forward to returning to the place that is already very special to them as this was where the two of them started.
While eating dinner the night before, and they were discussing their plans for the following day, they both realized that they would rather go back to the beach place as they have seen most of the interesting spots in the area where they were, and also because they have decided to go to Miguel’s place and the areas near it, some other time. Maya admitted to Ricky that she kind of, miss the beach place, and their laid back times there. Ricky admitted that he, too, suddenly thought of the beach house. They have checked out of the hotel the following morning after an early breakfast and started their journey ‘home’.
Maya and Richard decided to take the Laoag-Batac route on the way back. They stopped at Batac and visited the Marcos museum there and the crypt of the former president. They had snacks in town and then continued on back to their beach places southwards, passing through all the places that by then have were special places in their hearts because of all the beautiful memories they shared there.
“Yes, it will be! Home, sweet home! We can continue our vacation here, and I’m looking forward to spending more time with you, walking along the beach, dining, swimming, and also watching you while you paint, if I may.” Ricky said, then smiling, taking his eyes off the road for a while, and gazing at Maya with a big smile on his face, he remarked. “But it was a wonderful and very memorable road trip isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is, Ricky. I wouldn’t exchange it for the world!”
“Me too, Maya. Me, too!” Ricky said, love for Maya in his eyes.
They gazed at each other, then shared a sweet and meaningful smile, both remembering the rest of their first wonderful vacation together. Like they have agreed the morning after their date, Ricky and Maya took the car again and traveled back towards the direction of Paoay from Fort Ilocandia. They first went to the Malacanang of the North, overlooking Paoay Lake. It is a beautiful house with a magnificent view of the lake. It was apparently built to take advantage of that beautiful view.
Maya remarked to Ricky that despite everything, it is a very beautiful piece of architecture. It took advantage of the nature and the beauty around it and incorporated it in the house’s brilliant design. She especially liked the tall and wide windows on the second level of the house, as well as the terrace on the ground floor where one can sit for hours and pass the time by just staring at the view. They explored each and every room, mainly because Maya would like to do so. Ricky just went with her, happy to see her enjoying herself.
When it was a bit cooler, they traveled to the famous Paoay sand dunes. They rented an all-terrain vehicle to see the magnificent sand formation Ricky had been there before, during the Lim Corporation’s planning conference, but still, seeing it again through Maya’s eyes made him appreciate it more, and made it more special.
Maya and Ricky were jostled around and had to hold tight, Ricky holding Maya tight with arms around her, as they went around this majestic product of mother nature. Maya also managed to snap some really beautiful pictures of the place. When the sun was setting, they asked their driver if they can be let off at the beach and will just walk back to where their car was parked. They spent the rest of that day, watching the setting sun, hands intertwined and with Maya leaning against Ricky’s chest. Even without a declaration from her, Ricky was sure at that moment that Maya loves him too. He can feel it. He just knew. He was that attuned to her.
When it got dark, they traveled towards the direction of Laoag City. However, instead of finding a restaurant in Laoag, they opted to return to Fort Ilocandia and had a marvelous dinner there. They felt so full after another sumptuous meal in that place. Ricky asked Maya if she would like to walk around the resort, and its beautiful grounds before they turn in. She readily agreed. They walked around for an hour, chatting or at times, or just enjoying each other’s company in companionable silence. From time to time, they would share a heated gaze, then just smiled at each other happily. No words needed. Both of them, just enjoying the moment very much!
Ricky brought Maya to her door at around midnight. It was there that they almost kissed if not for some noisy hotel guests who had a bit of a drink. They smiled sheepishly at each other, then Maya said softly that she will go in. Ricky wished her good night and sweet dreams and just before she entered her room, touched her cheek gently, then gave her one of his bone-melting lopsided smiles.
Both of them slept well that night. In the morning, like the day before, Ricky picked up Maya from her room for breakfast. He was carrying a bouquet of the most beautiful red roses. Maya teased him that her room was turning into a flower shop. She thanked him for the flowers and put it with the sunflowers on top of the bags she had packed before she went to bed the night before. After breakfast, they went back to their rooms and got their things, and among Maya’s things were the flowers that Ricky gave her. She wanted to take all of them back to the beach place. She also packed the violet dress that Ricky gave her. She had offered to pay for it, but he refused, insisting that it was a gift, and considered it a remembrance of their first ‘official date’!
“You are smiling.” Maya remarked when she saw Ricky with a goofy smile as he was parking the car in front of her family’s beach house. “Bakit, Mr. Lim?”
“Wala lang, naalala ko lang ang very happy memories natin the past days.” Ricky replied. “Eh ikaw din kaya ang laki ng ngiti mo just now.”
“Well, pareho tayo ng naalala. Thank you for the best several days, Ricky. I wouldn’t forget it for the world. Thank you for everything.” Maya said, then she looked where she had put the flowers and the dress, and smiled happily.
“ Maya I should be the one thanking you. I have never felt this happy before.” Ricky said. “The more time I spend with you, the more thankful I am that our paths have crossed. My heart is just full of love for you every time I see you. I love you much, Maya and I will prove that to you, every moment I could!”
“Ricky…..” Hearing those words, and Ricky’s vow, Maya’s heart somersaulted. Ah, to be loved by this guy very much. “I……” She swallowed, it felt like all the oxygen in her system went to her head and she felt dizzy, giddily dizzy if there is such a term to describe her state then!
“Maya, like I said, I can wait. Manliligaw muna ako sa iyo ng husto. I would like us to get to know each other as close as two people can get. I would like to savor and enjoy each and every moment with you.” Ricky said, cupping Maya’s chin and looking at her intently. He does not want to pressure her. He felt that Maya needed time as this is the first time she is entering into a relationship if ever. He can wait. He wanted her to be one hundred percent sure.
Maya nodded and gave Ricky a smile, grateful to this wonderful and patient guy. He went out of the car and opened the door for her. Despite her protestation, he walked her to the veranda of the house, carrying her things.
“I’ll go ahead, Maya. I’ll see you later for dinner. Have a good rest. I’ll just pick you up from the beach.”
“Thank you for everything again, Ricky. Pasok ka muna and drink coffee with me.” Maya said. “No need to pick me up. I can walk to your place like I usually do.”
“Thank you Maya. You need to rest din. I’ll just see you this evening and that means picking you up, too. Let me just do that please.”
“Okay. Ikaw ang bahala. Pahinga ka na rin ha. You have been driving us around for several days na.”
“Yes, Ma’am! Though I don’t feel tired naman doing that. Basta ikaw ang kasama ko.” He quipped with a boyish grin.
“Ikaw talaga, Ricky!”
“Totoo naman, hahahaha. Okay, aalis na talaga ako. Sige, pasok ka na.”
“Thanks a lot, Ricky.” Maya said smiling, then she gave him a peck on the cheek.
Ricky was startled at first, then he smiled, liking her spontaneous gesture very much. “See you later, Maya.”
Maya waited until Ricky drove away, before she entered the silent house with a big smile on her face. She felt very happy. She wondered where Manang Miring is. She went to the kitchen to find her after putting her things, and her flowers on the coffee table in the living room.
Ricky was also still smiling when he parked the car at the driveway of his grandfather’s house. He got his bag from the backseat of the car, then remembering his phone, which he earlier placed in the side pocket of the car, he retrieved it. No one seemed to be at home, he mused, when entered the house. He dropped his things, including is phone on the sofa. He was about to look for either Manang Auring or Manong Tunying, when a voice from the second level of the house stopped him.
“Ricky, you are back!” Lorraine said happily from the spot where he first saw Maya the week before.
Before Ricky can reply, she ran down the stairs and hugged him tight. “I miss you very much, honey!”
“What are you doing here, Lorraine? How did you find out where I am?” Ricky said in a tight voice, disentangling himself from Lorraine’s embrace. He should have expected this, that she will find him here. She can be quite tenacious when there is something she really wants.
“I asked your father for this place. I figured out that you will be at this beach house.” Lorraine said smugly. “Ricky, hindi ka ba natutuwa na makita ako? Please let’s patch things up. Promise I will shape up and be a good girl from now on. Let’s give our families the marriage they want and expect. I still love you, Ricky.” She said rapidly, not wantingto give Ricky a chance to send her away before she can say her piece, before she can plead to him to give her another chance. “I know you love me too. Hindi naman tayo tatagal ng ilang taon kung hindi. Please forgive me na. Hinding-hindi na talaga mauulit. It was just a lapse in judgment.”
“Lorraine, I don’t want to sound like a broken record. I’m really sorry, I thought we understood each other the last time we talked. We are over. Mas mabuting naghiwalay tayo ng maayos. We were friends once, our families are friends and we will see each other kahit paano in gatherings. We are not just meant to be. It was not just the drugs and the infidelity that broke us, you know. It was just the catalyst!” Ricky said firmly. “Magbago ka for your sake, please, and not for my sake. Please iayos mo na ang buhay mo. You have seen what drugs had done to Bettina, gugustuhin mo pa bang matulad sa kanya?”
“Ricky please, please give me another chance.” Lorraine pleaded, not wanting to hear what Ricky just said and refusing to accept defeat. She tried to hug and kiss Ricky. He sidestepped it and moved a little farther away from her.
“Lorraine, I’m really, really sorry. You traveled here for nothing.” Ricky stressed. “I hope you will find that someone you can really love and who can make you a better person. I think it is best if you return to Manila as soon as you can. You see, I’m….”
Before Ricky can continue, he and Lorraine heard a scream and a loud crash from the direction of the veranda.
Ricky ran to checked and saw Manong Tunying on the ground, groaning, while a semi-hysterical Manang Auring was cradling his head on her lap.
“Manang, ano po ang nangyari?” Ricky asked urgently. “Tara po, dalhin natin si Manong sa ospital.”
“Nahulog po siya hagdan, Sir Ricky, habang nagkukumpuni at naglilinis ng alulod.” Manang Auring said tearfully.
The two of them, with Lorraine’s help, brought Manong Tunying to the car. The older guy was complaining of a pain in his head and all over his body.
“Lorraine, I will take you the airport when I return. Please pack your things.” Ricky said hastily before going into the car. Then he and the caretakers were off to the hospital in town.
While Manong Tunying was being attended to, Manang Auring was with him, Ricky remembered that Maya was supposed to come for dinner. And there was also the added complication of Lorraine being there! He decided to give Maya a call to tell her that Lorraine is at the beach house. That was when he realized that he didn’t have his phone with him!
He decided to wait until the doctor gives the diagnosis on Manong Tunying’s condition before leaving the hospital. He wanted to be sure that he will be okay and that the injuries are not serious. He will just go to Maya’s house and explain the situation to her, than he will go back to the house and deal with Lorraine. Thank God, he had told Maya about her! He sat on one of the chairs by the emergency room and waited for the doctor.
While Ricky was waiting in the hospital, his phone started ringing. On the third time it rang, Lorraine got curious on who had been calling him the past several minutes. She looked at the screen. Maya Dela Rosa? Who is she? She had a bad feeling about this girl. Baka ito iyong kasama ni Ricky sa trip niya! There’s only one way to find out. She grabbed the phone, however it stopped ringing before she can press ‘Answer’.
Lorraine looked at Ricky’s phone before putting it down again where she got it, and vowed that she will not give up. She does not have any plans of going to that airport and go back to Manila unless Ricky is going back with her and that he had agreed to push through with their wedding. Instead of packing her things, which she had put in Ricky’s room, she decided to make herself a merienda, and with a magazine, she settled in the veranda to wait for Ricky’s return. She might as well relax and enjoy the view while waiting, she mused.
Maya was humming as she got herself ready for bed after her wonderful date with Ricky. She hoped she will be able to fall asleep fast after that beautiful, wonderful, and very unforgettable evening! Who can forget being treated like a real princess by her handsome prince! It is every girl’s dream! Maya Dela Rosa, you and your fairy tales, she tried to admonish herself, but lost!
Ricky has fallen in love with her! He admitted his feelings! He wants to court her properly! The thought sent her in a tailspin earlier! Her throat constricted, her heart beat doubled and her face became flushed, especially when he looked at her with so much love and intensity! She felt like dancing in the middle of the hotel’s beautiful garden. To let out her giddiness, she did actually make a silent scream as soon as she had closed the door after Ricky escorted her up to the door of her room before turning in himself for the night. It took her a while to drag herself to the bathroom after falling headlong into the bed and staring at the ceiling with a goofy smile on her face.
She looked at the big inviting bed in the room. The room was so much nicer and more luxurious than the one she had shared with Ricky for two nights, and yet she yearned for the room and the beds they had in that hotel in Vigan. She already missed seeing Ricky’s face across her, that early, even if his mere presence on the bed beside her, sent her heart fluttering like a butterfly on a headlong flight to somewhere beautiful, wonderful and dizzying!
Maya does like the fact that Ricky just didn’t assume that since she had agreed to sharing a room with him, and that since they have shared a room for two nights, they can just continue to do so. To her, it meant that he really is, a gentleman. Maya also admitted to herself, that had he asked her if they can continue sharing a room, she would have said yes, most probably! She sat on the bed and to help her adrenaline go down, she took out her iPad. While going over the books she had stored in her iBooks library, she remembered the PDF copy of the journal there that she had been meaning to tell Richard about.
Staring at the page of the journal she had last accessed, she thought of Ricky’s dream, or rather nightmare while they were in Vigan, which was exactly the same as the events narrated by Ricardo Lim in the journal! A thought entered her head before she can stop herself from thinking about it, before she can stop herself from going there! What if, what if they are really reincarnations of their grandparents, and it was not Ricky telling her that he loves her, but his grandfather telling it to her Lola Maya again? But if they are one and the same persons, is it bad that their beautiful, but ill-fated love story, found a way to continue? A love that beautiful finding its way across time and space?
Maya took a deep breath and heaved a sigh, trying to overcome the convoluted thoughts suddenly crowding her head all of a sudden. There are so many mysteries you can’t really find explanation in this world, even faith, and fate! You just believed and it just happened, it is just the way it is. She would rather live in the present than dwell on whether they were reincarnations of two people who had loved at the wrong time. Besides, it is not so bad, not so bad at all, if they are, and that they found a way to continue their love story, isn’t it, especially now that it has a better chance of having a happy ending! She and Ricky are singles and free to love! He already told her he loves her and while she hasn’t said it to him yet, she does love him with all of her! With that thought in mind, she attempted to fall asleep, reliving Ricky and hers wonderful evening. She had a beautiful smile on her face when sleep claimed her.
The next thing Maya knew, there were rays of sunlight slipping through the drapes that she forgot to close fully the night before. She checked the time, and got out of the bed, so fast, panicking a bit, when she saw that it was already past 9 o’clock in the morning! While she and Ricky, did not agree on meeting on a specific time that day, by unspoken agreement, usually, they both have breakfast at around eight o’clock in the morning! She hastily checked her phone. There were no messages from him. Maybe he overslept too, or maybe, he was waiting for her to wake up. She decided to phone his room, and he answered on the first ring. She can hear a news channel in the background before he muted it.
“Good morning, Maya!” Ricky said cheerfully, even before she can tell him it’s her! “Had a good sleep?”
“Ricky, good morning! I’m so sorry, I overslept. Are you hungry? You should have phoned me earlier.” Maya said. “Just give me a couple of minutes, and I’ll be ready.”
“Take your time, Maya, no hurry! I can wait.” Ricky assured Maya. “I purposely let you sleep longer, so you can rest. I was planning on knocking on your door in an hour pa.”
“Thanks Ricky! I don’t know why, I slept like a babe and before I know it, it’s morning na.”
“Hmmm, you didn’t miss me sharing the room with you? I’m sad!” Ricky teased Maya before he can stop himself. He sounded like he was flirting with her. Well…. “Errr, biro lang, Maya! You probably had looked forward to having your own room.”
“Well, I did miss sharing a room with you, you know.” Maya answered candidly, blushing a bit at her admission! “But I know you are just nearby and I’m safe with you just a knock away!”
“Thank you, Maya. I miss sharing a room with you too.” Ricky said softly, a goofy grin on his handsome face. “I miss looking at your beautiful face across me. Kaya yata hindi ako nakatulog kaagad!”
“Ricky naman, ang aga-aga, pinapakilig mo ako!” Maya said giddily. “Pero, hindi nga nga nakatulog kaagad? Okay ka lang ba?”
“True naman iyan, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa!” Ricky said, with a goofy smile on his face as he cradled the phone, wishing that he could see Maya’s reaction. He likes looking at her flustered face when he says things like that. “Okay naman ako, Maya, couldn’t be better. I managed to fall asleep after an hour or so of tossing and turning, thinking of our beautiful evening, and besides, when I did, I had a wonderful dream din.”
The way, Ricky said that, Maya felt that the dream had something to do with her, and him. But huwag assuming Maya! Well, she just remembered her beautiful dream and it also has Ricky in it. Kaya rin siguro siya hindi nagising kaagad kasi the dream was so real. Parang ayaw na niyang magising. She blushed a bit, remembering the vivid dream.
“Thank you also, Mr. Ricky Lim. O sige, baba ko na ito ha, para nakapag-ready na ako. I’ll see you at the hotel’s restaurant in 30 minutes?”
“No, I’ll just pick you up from your room, then we can go together. Manonood na lang muna ulit ako ng news while you are getting ready. Text me kung okay ka na.”
“Okay, see you in a bit.”
“See you, Maya. Take your time, like I said.”
Ricky leaned against the headboard of his bed, and thought again of the beautiful night with Maya, and the dream he had, which had her starring prominently in it. He was very happy, and he felt like he was on the top of the world, having finally told Maya of his feelings for her! Now, he just need to show her how much he loves her, automatically looking at the flowers he ordered earlier. Cristina worked miracles. He was not so sure she will be able to procure sunflowers in such a short notice, but she did.
He realized at some point the night before, that aside from forgetting about the dress shoes, he forgot to give Maya flowers on their first ‘official’ dinner date! His mind was very much into other matters. The night really ended beautifully and he couldn’t be happier. He is looking forward to his and Maya’s journey, there in Ilocos and when they both go back in Manila. He felt that there wouldn’t be much of a problem meshing their lives together. The past week, they have lived practically with each other, smoothly and seamlessly.
While they were walking along the beach last night, he asked Maya what her favorite flowers are and she told him, sunflowers, just like her grandmother, and also roses. He woke up early, then thought of that, and on the off-chance that Cristina can get it for him, he would like to give some to Maya, like his grandfather did, to her grandmother. He remembered reading about it in the journal. Speaking of the journal, he will read it completely when they return to their beach places. He would like to check the part that Maya mentioned was exactly like his dream, or nightmare. He felt that it was important that he do so.
Thirty minutes after Maya’s phone call, Ricky was out of his room after receiving a text message from her. With the flowers on his left hand, he softly knocked on Maya’s door. She opened it after the second knock, looking so lovely in her dress of choice for that day, another knee-length skirt, and a white sleeveless blouse.
“Hi Maya!” Ricky said with a big smile, taking in her lovely self. “You look very lovely. These are for you!” He added giving her the bouquet of sunflowers.
“Ricky, where on earth you got these! They are so lovely! Thank you very much.” Maya exclaimed, happiness in her voice and her face lit up while looking at the lovely flowers. She felt giddy again. Ah, he is really such a wonderful guy, she mused.
“You’re welcome, Maya. I’m very glad that you like it.” Ricky replied grinning, happy to see her so happy with his gift. “Well, I got lucky. Cristina helped.”
“She is one very resourceful lady.” Maya said. “Let me just put the flowers inside. By the way, what are our plans for the day pala? We forgot to make plans for today last night. I just want to know what to bring, also if my dress is okay for our trip.” Well, she thought, who would be able to make plans with the way the evening went!
“Hmmm, how about we go to Malacanang of the North, then if you are up to it pa, to the sand dunes? I heard it could be quite an experience.” Ricky suggested.
“Oh, you haven’t tried riding in those ATV too, that I have seen on TV. Sounds fun. Tara lets. I’ll just change into shorts after breakfast, if it is okay.”
“Okay, then sand dunes and sightseeing in Paoay today. We can also go around Laoag a bit and have dinner there before returning here.” Ricky said. “We can go back to our room after breakfast to change out of this pair of jeans. I think a pair of shorts is better for our trip.”
Maya put the flowers on the bed, taking a lingering look at it, before she went out again. She saw Ricky leaning against the wall, looking so breathtakingly handsome in his faded jeans and t-shirt, with a goofy smile, and then when he heard her, he looked at her with love in his eyes. Maya still was not used to it or dealing with the fact that a guy really looks at her like that, so she blushed and gave him a tremulous, happy smile! Ricky took Maya’s hand, and with interlaced fingers, they walked towards the direction of the restaurant through the resort’s beautiful, landscaped gardens.
While Ricky and Maya were starting their day, Lorraine Tan has started her day much earlier than them. She asked her family’s driver to take her to the airport for her flight to Laoag.
Yes, she knows where Ricardo Lim III, and he and the girl, she is sure of that, that he is spending time with, are in for a surprise. It was not so difficult to deduce where Ricky is, once she started recalling everything she knew of him and his family, and since they have a long intertwined history, she figured out where Ricky ran to. She remembered hearing from her mother that the Lims have a vacation house that they don’t really use, but refuses to sell, in Ilocos.
She paid her Tito Richie a visit. On the pretext of catching up with him, she let Richard Lim, ‘Richie’ to family and close friends, know that she was sad since Ricky and her had a tiny bit of misunderstanding and she does not know where he is, so she can say sorry properly and patch things up. It was her fault, she told the older Lim. She used all her acting skills on Ricky’s father and it worked.
Richie Lim had always had a soft spot for her, anyway, and he has his vote as his future daughter-in-law. She mentioned to him that she knows that Ricky is in Ilocos, but not where. She also told him that she very much wanted to surprise him and patch things up, so they can concentrate on the wedding preparations. Richie Lim thought for a bit, and she got a bit nervous while waiting for his reply. She heaved a sigh of relief when he told her that Ricky might be staying at the Lim family beach house in Ilocos Sur.
On her request, Ricky Lim made a phone call to the house to confirm if Ricky is there. Lorraine was pretty confident by then that it is not Ricky who will answer the phone. She had an inkling that he was on the road. She just wanted to know if he using the beach house as a base. She also requested Ricky’s dad to inform the caretakers that she is going there, and tell them that she would like to surprise Ricky, so no word to him that she is arriving, if he is there.
The older Lim, told her afterwards that indeed, Ricky is staying there, but had been away for several days according to their caretaker. Manang Auring told him that his son will be back at some point as his things were still there. He told the caretaker that Ricky’s girlfriend will be going there as well and that she wants to surprise his son. He gave Lorraine the address and the phone number there. He also arranged for Manong Tunying to pick up Lorraine from the airport in Laoag. He was completely unaware of her machinations!
Lorraine packed her bags and then told her parents, so they will refrain from checking on her, that she and Ricky will just go on a short vacation and that they will finalize their wedding plans while spending quality time together. They believed her. Yes, she will wait until Ricardo Lim III returns to the beach house. She needed very much to salvage their relationship and she was prepared to do everything to get him back.
“Maya, Richard, good morning! Lovely day, isn’t it?” Jeremy greeted them cheerfully from the entrance of the resort’s restaurant, at the same time, he looked at them intently. He saw their interlaced fingers. Hmmm, things have really progressed rather well last night, he thought to himself. There was a tiny little pinch in his heart, seeing first hand that indeed, the lovely lady he was interested in, is very much taken! As soon as he had seen Richard Lim the day before, he knew instinctively that he does not stood a chance with Maya Dela Rosa. Too bad, in all his several years in the Philippines, she is the most interesting girl, lovely too, that he had met so far.
“Hi Jeremy, good morning! You’re up early!” Maya remarked with a big smile, disentangling her hand from Richard’s as they approached the bar where Jeremy was doing some paper works. Her hair got a bit windblown and a strand was teasing her face. She took care of that as she sat down on the bar stool in front of Jeremy. “I thought you wanted to get up late to make up for your drinking binge the other night.”
“Hello Jeremy, good morning!” Richard politely added, trying to quell the, just a tiny bit, of animosity he still feels for this guy. He took the bar stool beside the one Maya took.
“Not really a binge, Ms. Dela Rosa! Well, duty calls to this mere mortal, as Scott and Laura left for Cagayan de Oro early this morning to visit a friend who had an accident while river rafting. Someone has to man the resort as we have new guests coming. Quite a big group actually.” Jeremy explained, then added, “Marina said you and Richard are planning to go around the island today in scooters. I double checked the one I used yesterday as I noticed a bit of a weird noise coming out of it when we were on our way home yesterday, just to be sure that everything is A-okay for your excursion! They are ready for your trip.”
“Thanks a lot, Jeremy.” Maya said, then asked him, “Join us for breakfast?”
“Oh, I had mine earlier. Thanks a lot, Luv.” Jeremy said quickly, then leaned on to Maya and whispered, “Besides, I don’t want to be a third wheel! I think things are progressing rather well, eh, between the two of you.” Jeremy teased Maya.
“You are so incorrigible!” Maya laughed heartily, flushing a bit, then she hit him playfully on the arm before pinching him lightly as she would sometime do to Emman when he is being makulit.
“Ouch.” Jeremy said, laughing, forgetting for a bit, that maybe for Richard who was silent during the whole thing, what was harmless between him and Maya took a different meaning. He looked at him to check at the same time Maya did. Uh-oh!
Maya gazed at Richard since she noticed that he was not saying anything, and saw his expression before he can hide it.
Richard’s eyes had turned into slits before he can stop himself. He frowned at the easy camaraderie between Maya and Jeremy, even if his rational self knows that for Maya, Jeremy is just a friend. He tried hard to overcome the jealousy he felt. He really did!
Maya seemed to have sensed his bout with it, though. She touched his arm, and gave him a beautiful smile, then mouthed that she will tell him about it later. That action pacified him, and to get a message to Jeremy perhaps, as he doesn’t know actually what prompted him to do it, he moved closer to Maya after they told him that they will go eat their breakfast. He also took hold of her hand again and interlaced it tightly with his as they walked towards their table. To Maya’s credit, she held on to him tight, putting her other hand, lightly on his arm, and gave him a sweet smile that seemed to exclude everyone in the restaurant while they were walking to the vacant table near the veranda.
Jeremy saw the whole thing and grinned good-naturedly. Ah, he completely understands being ‘territorial’! If that was not it, then he will close his resort and enter the priesthood like his Mum is still wishing for! Well, Richard Lim does look like the right guy for Maya. He had an inkling that he had deliberately followed Maya to Mimosa, and judging by the glimpses he had yesterday, Maya is on her way to falling in love with Richard hard, if she is not yet there!
“So what was that all about?” Richard asked abruptly before he can stopped himself as he took his place after seating Maya across him. “Oh, sorry Maya! Ignore the question please.” He said, realizing that he was being presumptuous and way out of line. He needs to control himself. Richard Lim, what is happening to you! Where is that cool and collected guy! Jealousy is for poor, insecure fools! He does not have the right and Maya already agreed to taking baby steps with him. It is not a decision she does spur of the moment, he knows!
Maya, however, gave Richard a reassuring smile. She understands him getting a bit put out with the inside joke between Jeremy and her. Besides, early on, she had decided that for her and Richard to take the steps together, they should be completely honest with each other. She does not want a repeat of all the secret, subterfuge, and the ultimate betrayal she had experienced with James. Maya believes that this is crucial in finding out whether she will take the final leap into having a relationship with Richard. She had resolved also to tell him about her aborted marriage too. Fair is fair as she knows about his.
“It is all right, Ricky. I know what you were asking, about what Jeremy whispered to me, right?”
“Errr, yes!” Richard admitted sheepishly. “Sorry, for just asking you like that, Maya! I have more finesse than that!”
“No worries, Ricky.” Maya smiled at Richard reassuringly. “Jeremy just told me that he does not want to be a third wheel to us. That is why he declined my invitation to have breakfast with us. He also teased me a bit since he saw us holding hands earlier!”
“Oh….” Richard managed to say, really ashamed now of being irrational earlier and his reaction. Guilty also for, in a split second, he wanted to punch Jeremy on the face when he was whispering something to Maya!
“Yes po!” Maya said, then looking Richard straight in the eye, she continued with candor, “Jeremy and I are just very friends, you know. He would have wanted to be more than friends, I get that much, but I told him it can’t be more than that. He had accepted that. We really had quite a nice and deep talk while at the Katibawasan Falls yesterday. He helped me sort out things in my head, and really thought about the baby steps you were offering. He is a friend I would like to keep. He is a good guy!”
Richard took Maya’s hand, and said earnestly, “Maya, thank you for telling me. I appreciate it very much. My apologies again! I really don’t have the right. It just that you are making me feel emotions I have not felt before, and one of that is jealousy. Yes, the green-eyed monster reared its ugly head for a short time earlier.”
“Don’t think about it, Ricky.” Maya said, putting her hand on top of Richard’s. “My one and only relationship failed because of the secrets, the misunderstandings and things that were left unspoken between me and my fiance. I vowed to myself that I don’t want that kind of thing to happen again, should I open myself to the possibility of another relationship. Before you, I hardly entertained the thought since I was not really interested nor attracted to anyone. But since you entered my life, so to speak, and since we have agreed to take the baby steps together, I thought it would be best if we start it with all cards laid on the table, and us talking things through and thoroughly. No secrets please. If there is something in your mind say it. Everything should be out in the open. I hope it is okay with you.”
“Of course, Maya. I appreciate your candor. I will do the same. And if there is something you need to ask me, just ask away and I will answer it. I hate dishonesty also. It was what soured me on love. I was taken for a fool once. It happened a long time ago, when I was young and believed the best of people. Promise, I will tell you about it at some point, not just right now.”
“I also promised to tell you about my aborted wedding, since I know of yours.” Maya told Richard, which surprised him.
“Sure about it, Maya? You don’t have to, you know, if by doing so, would mean dredging up painful memories you would rather leave in the past.”
“Thank you, Ricky. No worries, I’m over it, and I would like you to know about that too. Consider it part of the clean slate thing between us, part of our baby steps together. But not right now, we better eat breakfast so we can start our adventure today. My stomach is starting to grumble.”
“Okay. Deal.” Richard said happily, then gestured for Marina’s nephew to approach their table so they can order their breakfast.
Both of them ordered continental breakfasts and freshly brewed coffee. They ate in companionable silence when their food and coffee arrived. They gazed and smiled at each other at times, or sipped their coffee while staring at the view, both pondering on what they discussed earlier.
Richard vowed to himself that he do his best to give Maya the same honesty and trust she is giving him and that he would not do something that will make her sad or make her lose faith in taking another chance at love and relationship. He was very grateful for that trust and honesty. He also believes that for them to build on something lasting, it has to have a very strong foundation, aside from love, both physical and emotional, there has to be friendship, affection, trust and honesty. Both of them have been through bad relationships and should be able to know better by now. He is holding on to that.
Maya thinking the same stuffs. She is very happy at the progress of hers and Ricky’s relationship. Relationship! Maya Dela Rosa, calm down.
“Shall we get going?” Richard asked, breaking into Maya’s thought. “Maya…?”
“Oh, sorry! I got lost in my thoughts.” Maya said sheepishly.
“No worries, Maya! I also did.” Richard stood up, helped Maya up from her chair, then with his hand on her back, guided her towards the parking area of the restaurant.
“Richard, Maya, wait.” Jeremy said, getting out the restaurant’s bar area. “I moved the scooters at the entrance. Here are the keys.”
“Oh, good, thanks a lot Jeremy.” Maya said, getting the keys from Jeremy. “Ricky and I will just go there ourselves.”
“Thank you, Jeremy.” Richard said, offering his hand to the other guy, who looked surprised at his gesture, but nevertheless, shook his hand. Richard was actually thanking him not just for the scooters but for being a good friend to Maya and for stepping back, when he knew that Maya is not interested in more than friendship with him. But he was unable to put it into words. He hoped Jeremy got it and it looked like he did, anyway.
“Have fun you two! If you need anything, just let me know.” Jeremy said with a smile. Maya must have cleared the air between them as he felt that Richard’s attitude towards him is warmer now as compared to the polite treatment he had been receiving since they met the day before, and the mutinous expression he had when he saw him whispering something to Maya earlier. He smiled and shook his head. Ah, what love can do to a person!
“We will!” Maya said as she and Richard walked to the restaurant’s front, where they saw the two scooters with their helmets hanging on the handlebars.
“Ready, Ricky?” Maya asked Richard as she climbed on her scooter and put on her helmet while chatting with Richard on the places they will see that day.
“Wait, Maya!” Richard said, suddenly. He was about to climb into his own scooter when he saw that Maya’s helmet was crookedly fastened and seemingly loose. He went to her and gently arranged and tightened it a bit. “Okay, is it tight? Are you comfortable?”
“Thanks a lot, Ricky. Yes, it is perfectly fine now.”
“You’re welcome!” Richard gave her one of his bone-melting smiles.
He was about to start his scooter, when Marina called him.
“Sir Richard, you forgot this!” Marina said, hefting a picnic basket! “You asked me to prepare this for you and Ms. Maya.”
“Oh, I completely forgot about that, Marina!” Richard exclaimed. With all the things that had happened since he started planning this outing, he completely forgot that he also requested Marina to prepare food. “Thank you, Marina.”
“You’re welcome, Sir Richard. Ma’am Maya, take care and have fun.” The smiling older lady told them.
“We will, Ate Marina. Thank you.” Maya said, then after Marina left. “Hmmm, I never thought of that. Good, that you did. We can stop at the Katibawasan Falls for lunch. There are picnic tables there. That would be very nice.”
“Since you will be my special tour guide, I thought the least I could do would be to provide the food.” Richard said, smiling. “Picnic at the falls, sounds like a great plan. I’m looking forward to that, Maya.”
“Great! I’m really looking forward to that, and showing you around the island I fell in love with.” Maya said, grinning happily. “Shall we get going Mr. Lim, Sir?”
“Ms. Dela Rosa, after you, Ma’am!” Richard said, grinning happily. At the same time, he wished then that it was not just the island that Maya will fall in love with. Ah, he is so looking forward to this day with her, an understanding of sorts, between them. He felt content with the steps they have taken so far. Maya felt the same. There are so many things to look forward to, from then on.
The morning after his beautiful and very memorable evening with Maya, Richard woke up before the alarm he had set the night before. He slept fitfully, when he managed to do so, after more than an hour of tossing and turning late into the night. It took him a long time to get down from the emotional high he was in after the wonderful night with Maya. He didn’t really know what to expect when he took that leap to follow her in that beautiful island paradise. The outcome of his out of character, impulsive decision was more than he had hoped for. He felt extremely happy at that moment.
Richard smiled broadly, remembering how his and Maya’s beautiful night had ended, at the veranda of her bungalow, touching his lips, remembering that moment when their lips touched and connected, in a way he never imagined! Baby steps together, she had finally agreed to that, which is already a big deal for him, having gotten a glimpse of a painful experience in what she had shared with him so far, and what he can deduced from what his mother hinted! Emman seemed to be very protective of his cousin as well. It was really a surprise, but he was very grateful, of course, that he even told him her whereabouts and the schedule of her return to Manila.
He can wait until Maya is ready to take bigger steps or the complete leap with him. They can do this together. He himself is not sure of where this ‘thing’ with her will go or take him. He is not even sure he can take another walk down the aisle in the future. But what thing he is sure of, and seem helpless to stop or ignore, is this intense attraction and fascination for her. Really, he is feeling feelings for her that he has not felt before even with the girl who broke his heart, eons ago. Andrea is nothing but a dim memory now! He was so young and believed the best of people despite his father telling him otherwise. He had a very rude awakening. He had forgiven her but he hasn’t forgotten the lesson from that first time he had fallen in love, or he thought of.
Richard heaved a sigh, shaking his head. He does not want to dwell on that part of his life. Nothing positive and productive will come out of doing so. He is here in paradise with a beautiful girl he can’t get out of his head and he was thinking of that! He stretched his arms, then got out of the bed to get ready for the day. He is planning another beautiful time with Maya and he better check if everything is moving according to his plan.
While Richard was taking a shower, Maya was still staring at the ceiling of her bungalow, with a goofy smile, at the same time, touching her lips, remembering the unexpected ending to her and Richard’s beautiful night. Baby steps, indeed! It felt like they have unexpectedly taken a giant step with that kiss, that she was sure, both of them were not expecting to happen that night, nor were they prepared on the effect it would have on them. Both of them had startled looks on their faces when they broke apart.
It just happened! The two of them walked to her bungalow after their stroll down the beach. At her door, Richard told her again what a wonderful night he had. He also asked her if she would like to go around the island with him the following day after their breakfast. That is, if it is okay with her as he knew that he had been around the island the past several days and she might be tired of going around, especially she was also out earlier with Jeremy. She assured Richard she would be happy to do so, smiling at him. He was cute to be a bit unsure and hesitant in asking her, especially after the way he barged in on her vacation.
Richard softly thanked her again for everything and they said another rounds of goodnight, without actually making a move to, for her to unlock her door and him, to go back to his bungalow. They found themselves gazing at each other, and they lost sense of everything, except this intense awareness of each other. Richard took a deep breath, Maya sensed it, then he started lowering his lips to hers. As if they have a life of their own, her lips slowly opened anticipating Richard’s kiss. Their lips fused for the first time and it felt like a high voltage of electricity traveled through Maya. She gasped in surprise and she had felt Richard’s sudden intake of breath.
They broke apart after several long seconds. It did feel like it went on forever, but it only lasted several long seconds. Both of them were flushed, unable to say anything, gazing at each other with wonder, Richard caressing, unconsciously, Maya’s lips that he had thoroughly kissed. They stayed like that for several more seconds until a night sound, broke into the stunned state they were in. Richard started apologizing for the kiss, telling her that they did agree on baby steps and he seemed to have broken it so fast. She assured him that he need not apologize for what happened as it takes two person to kiss and that she was an active participant in it. They shared a smile, embraced each other as if they have been doing it a long time, then whispered a soft good night to each other again. Richard waited until she got into her bungalow before traveling the short distance to his.
The beeping of her mobile phone interrupted Maya’s recollection of that beautiful moment between her and Richard. She checked the message and muttered, about time, Cuz! She knows her cousin inside out and the fact that she has not gotten in touch with him was probably worrying him, thinking that she got mad when he gave Richard the information on where she was staying and her flight details. Emman was asking on the text if he can call, seemingly testing the waters. Maya decided to call him herself, as she had been meaning to, to put him out of misery.
“Cousin!!!!” Emman shrieked on the phone as soon as Maya picked up the call after the second ring. “Super sorry! Are you mad at me? I hope not too mad, super please!!!”
“Good morning to you, Cousin dear!” Maya greeted her cousin, slowly putting back her phone closer to her ear. Her ears were still ringing from Emman’s shriek. “Emman, calm down please. My ears are still ringing from your shriek.”
“Maya!!! You’re not mad at me?” Emman said in a, still high-pitched voice. “I have been waiting for your call. I was so sure you will after giving Richard Lim the information on your whereabouts and flight details. We always talk everyday and update each other on what has been happening at MEP, so when you didn’t, it occurred to me that you might be mad and that maybe, I should have not disclosed those information! So, have you seen each other? What is the latest on the two of you?” Emman asked rapidly.
“Hmmm, now I know why you called. You just want to know what the latest tsismis.” Maya teased her cousin, going further by saying, “You know, not only I have seen him, I spent the evening with him, and I have said, yes.”
“What???? You and him in a relationship? You have said yes that fast? OMG, Maya Dela Rosa, is that you? My anti-relationship cousin!” Emman asked incredulously.
“Hahahaha, gotcha!” Maya laughed heartily at Emman’s reaction. “Serves you right for selling out on your cousin, Emman.”
“Cuz, naman, I thought you are not mad at me!” Emman pouted at the other line. “Besides, I really had this feeling that I should tell him your whereabouts when he called me out of the blue. You know, instinct, female intuition at work, that sort of thing. Besides, I will not have given you out to a complete stranger, and Richard asked nicely and directly. I really thought that you and him have some sort of unfinished business six months ago. I saw you with him, you know, when you went to give him Lucy’s note and I also saw you two gazing at each other before you left the church. On both instances, there was something there, was my first thought.”
“Emman, you are telling me this now? Why? I didn’t even know you went inside the church again. I didn’t see you. I thought you were consoling Mrs. Ventura.”
“Well, I also got a bit worried about you. I knew you were placed in a difficult situation by Mrs. Ventura and you must have felt that you were reliving your experience with what happened to you with that good for nothing James Madrigal. When I saw you and Richard Lim gazing at each other, it was different, I swear. I knew the two of you were clueless, and I was also puzzled at what I sensed then. But I’m right di ba? There was something there.”
“Thank you for looking out for me, Cousin. I love you.” Maya said, touched at Emman’s concern. “Errr, yes! There was something then which I can’t define. It was still there when I saw him again at Lim Corporation last week. Technically, that was our first meeting. We had coffee afterwards and chatted for hours.”
“Wow, I didn’t even know about that. So, what’s your status now? I mean, you really haven’t said yes to him, right. Kind fast, especially for you who is allergic to relationships?”
“Of course, not yet, Emman.” Maya said quickly, not realizing the ‘yet’ she had put into her sentence.
“‘Not yet’, hmmmm, so does it means, what I think it means, that Richard Lim has a better chance than your poor suitors for the past five years.” Emman asked, teasing his cousin.
“Emman, you are incorrigible.” Maya laughed. “Let’s see where this thing will take us. All I have agreed to, is taking the baby steps with him. And that is all I can tell you at the moment.”
“Okayyyyy, if you say so.” Emman said, smiling at the other line. Even if his cousin refused to say much, he can detect something in her voice. She seemed so much happier and there is a different lilt in her voice. “Good luck, Cuz! I’m happy for you, whatever that thing is, at the moment. I’m just here for you, you know. ”
“Thank you, Emman. I do appreciate it. I’m glad you are my cousin. I love you Cuz.” Maya said happily. “I’ll call you again, before I leave Camiguin tomorrow. I’ll take Ricky around the island today.”
“Oh my, I’m kinikilig.” Emman said, laughing, taking note that Maya calls Richard Lim, ‘Ricky’ now. “But you still owe me more details ha. I know there are things you have not told me.”
“Okay, promise.” Maya told her cousin, grinning happily, her heart lighter and happier for some reason.
Emman was still smiling, minutes after his and Maya’s call ended. His intuition tells him that his beloved cousin, more of a sister, actually, is on her way to falling in love, if she is not yet in love! He just wished that Richard Lim would really be the one for his beautiful and loving cousin. He believes so, despite the fact that a lot of girls had been linked to him, and that after his aborted wedding, he dated casually a lot, if the gossip columns are to be believed. Emman believes that he is good in reading people and he likes Richard Lim. He also had heard good things about him and that he is a good guy.
Maya hastily went to bath after the call. She checked the time and realized that she was supposed to meet Richard for breakfast in less than an hour. She put her swimsuit over her ripped shorts and light, sleeveless blouse, as she and Richard were planning to take a dip in the Katibawasan Falls. The weather was on the warm side that day so she thought it is best to wear comfortable clothes.
Thirty minutes after, she was out of her bungalow. Richard called her from his veranda the moment she had closed her door. It looked like he was waiting for her to come out of her bungalow. He put his iPhone in his pocket the moment she looked at him. He gave her another of his lopsided smiles that never fail to make her heart beat faster. He walked briskly towards her.
“Ricky, good morning!” Maya said, giving Ricky a smile that, again, lit up her beautiful face. Seeing him waiting for her, was a happy surprise. “I thought we will just meet at the restaurant!”
“Good morning, Maya!” Richard said, taking hold of Maya’s tote bag from her hand, hefting his small backpack, and guiding her by the elbow, down the steps. “I was up early, so I just thought of waiting for you at the veranda so we can go together. The view is nice also and it was great sitting out there while I was waiting. How are you? Did you sleep well?”
“I did, surprisingly well. It must have been the walk along the beach, and the company I had last night.” Maya said with a smile, artlessly, looking at Ricky, then blushed a bit as she remembered again how their night ended. “How about you?”
Richard smiled, seeing Maya’s reddening face. He knew then what she was remembering in particular. The kiss was on his mind also, since he woke up and when he was sitting at the veranda waiting for her. He caught his breath, when he saw her in that shorts and sleeveless blouse. She is very lovely and then his gaze zeroed in on her lips, and the memory flooded back in full force. It took supreme effort to control and compose himself.
“I did okay, when I managed to fall sleep. It took me a while.” Richard admitted.
“Oh, it must be because the place is unfamiliar to you. Isn’t it there is a term for it, ‘namamahay’?” Maya looked at Richard inquiringly.
“Hmmm, yes, but it was not because the place was unfamiliar to me. I slept okay yesterday morning, remember.” Richard replied, than gazing intently at Maya, he continued, “It was more of waiting until the excitement and the happiness I was feeling after the wonderful time I had with you, subsided.”
“Oh!” Maya managed to say, unable to stop the giddiness she felt on hearing that. She gave him a sweet, beautiful smile, face flushed.
Richard smiled back, then as if is the most natural thing in the world, he took hold of her hand, interlaced it with his, tightly while they happily walked towards the restaurant. Both of them are looking forward to another memorable day together in that island paradise.
The night was filled with countless stars, a gentle wind was blowing, cool and refreshing, and from where a finely dressed handsome man was waiting, he can hear the gentle lapping of the waves hitting the shoreline. He opted to stand and watch the beautiful silken night instead of sitting on one of the two chairs in a makeshift gazebo, waiting for the beautiful lady who has been making his heart beat faster, and in a way so alien to him, for the past several days. He wouldn’t be able to sit still anyway, as he felt like he can hear the thumping of his heart that has never been the same since he laid eyes on her.
Ricky Lim didn’t wait long. As if attuned to the lady’s mere presence, he turned and saw a vision of loveliness walking towards him. He caught his breath. It felt like there were thousand horses pounding over his poor overworked heart. Maya Dela Rosa looked as regal as a princess in the dress he chose for her earlier from the hotel boutique. He was no expert on women’s clothes, but he was immediately drawn to the lovely violet dress, and knew that it would suit her. He just knew, when it comes to her.
Maya saw Ricky waiting for her in the gazebo, set up by the edge of the hotel’s sprawling garden, near the beach. He turned and she gasped when she caught a glimpse of him. He simply took her breath away, looking so dashing in a pale blue shirt, dark-colored dress pants. He is a handsome guy, but he looks more so that evening, especially at the way he was gazing at her. She felt like she was melting under the intensity of his gaze. She felt like all the blood in her circulatory system, pumped furiously by her fast-beating heart was traveling in only one direction, towards her brain and it was making her very dizzy, heady, with emotions she was not able to fully comprehend at that moment. It made her falter. It was a good thing, she was still wearing her slip-on sneakers, or otherwise, she would have tripped.
When Maya checked the shopping bag and didn’t find a pair of dress shoes in it, she smiled broadly, liking Ricky’s omission. She had deduced that either forgot it or that he was not well-verse in ladies clothes. She found his flaw cute at the same time, she really appreciate all of Ricky’s efforts. She decided to make do with her sneakers. The dress fitted her perfectly. She felt like a princess on her way to her very first ball, and her prince standing there, waiting for her, with eyes only for her.
Ricky saw Maya faltered, his gaze went to her feet and realized that he forgot to ask Cristina and the lady manning the hotel boutique for a pair of shoes that would go with the dress! He smiled, though, as Maya still carry herself regally, as if she was wearing a pair of dainty ladies dress shoes, instead of a pair of sneakers, with that dress, which looked like it was made especially for her. He walked towards her, keeping his gaze glued to her lovely face.
“Hi Maya!” Ricky greeted Maya, then leaned and gave her a kissed on the cheek. “You looked very lovely in that dress! But I realized I forgot to get the proper shoes for it! Sorry for that. But I hope you did like the dress.” He added with a sheepish smile.
“Hi Ricky, thank you for this lovely dress! I love it very much. Parang para sa akin talaga. It is okay with the shoes. My sneakers are more comfortable and I am not really for wearing dress shoes with heels unless I absolutely have to! They looked lovely, but it is a form of torture on us women, in my opinion!” Maya assured Ricky, giving him a beautiful smile.
“Okay, I’m glad to know. But you know, you carry your get up well. Somehow, it looks good on you. Maybe, it is you and the way you carry yourself, confident and beautiful.” Ricky remarked, guiding Maya by the elbow towards the table in the middle of the gazebo which has been beautifully set for a dinner for two.
“Thank you, Ricky.” Maya replied, blushing a bit and the giddiness she had been feeling intensified. She looked around and finally, the beautiful dinner set up, sunk into her consciousness. “This is very lovely, Ricky. Wow, you went to all this trouble and you managed to do this in a very short time!”
“I thought it is about time we have a ‘proper dinner date’!” Ricky said, gazing at Maya. “ I hope this is okay with you.”
“Of course, it is! This is so lovely. But our other dinner dates were also equally lovely, you know.” Maya realized what she had said. “I mean, our previous dinners were also very nice and enjoyable.’
“Yes, I know and I enjoyed every moment of it, especially that it was spent getting to know you and being with you, but this is different.” And with that he didn’t say anything anymore. He seated Maya and then took the seat opposite hers.
The table and the set up that looked a bit big in the distance, felt smaller with the two of them seated, gazing into each other and seemingly cocooned in a world of their own. They didn’t need words, they just looked at each and shared a smile, as if conveying their gladness to be facing each other at that beautiful place and sharing that moment.
“Wine, Maya.” Ricky asked softly after a while, gesturing to the bucket with two wine bottles chilling by the side. He had requested Cristina to just prepare everything and he and Maya will just serve themselves and would just call the staff nearby if they need anything else. He wanted to have complete privacy with Maya. “White or red?”
“White, please, Ricky.” Maya said, then remarked “There seemed to be a lot of food for just the two of us.”
“I ordered a little bit of everything.” Ricky admitted sheepishly. “So you can just choose whichever appeals to you. I can’t ask you before hand as this is part of the special evening I’m planning for you this evening.”
He poured a glass each for him and Maya. He spilled some of it, the first sign that Maya saw that Ricky was somehow nervous or not as cool and collected she thought he would be. He did look so cool and unruffled earlier while her heart was going crazy with the deluge of feelings that hit her when she caught a glimpse of him.
“Thank you, Ricky.” Maya said softly.
“To us, Maya!” Ricky said smiling. “To the best road trip and the best vacation I am having.”
“Cheers.” Maya simply said. “Yes, this has been a very wonderful road trip. Thank you for everything Ricky, for all that you have been doing. Yes, for me also, this is the best time and best vacation ever.”
“You are very much welcome, Maya. And no need to thank me, you have given me so much also in such a short time.” Ricky said, looking at Maya enigmatically, hesitating a bit, then gave Maya a brilliant smile. “Shall we sample everything that they have prepared for us?”
Maya shook her head to get out of the feeling of intense anticipation she was having hearing Ricky’s last words and the way he was looking at her. She really felt that he was going to say something more to her. She gave him a sweet smile in response. “And since you were the one who went to all the trouble in having this feast prepared for us, let me do the serving.” She also gestured to Ricky not to protest her doing so.
“Thank you, Maya.” Ricky said graciously, and watched her lovingly as she gracefully ladled their dinner plates with food, a little of everything. He would not exchange this moment for anything else. He almost blurted out to her earlier what he was planning to tell her this evening. But he stopped himself last-minute, the night was young. He was just overly excited and he needed to temper it.
The two of them enjoyed the sumptuous feast before them, eating leisurely, chatting with each other fluidly. They never seemed to run out of topics to talk of. They laughed at each other’s anecdotes, and they gazed at each other intently as they enjoyed their wine, then their coffee and dessert.
“Ricky, I’m too full with all the food you have had prepared. Thank you again for this lovely dinner. I can’t remember the last time I had a wonderful time like this. I would surely missed this when I return to my life in Manila. But this moment with you is something I will always remember.” Maya said happily, feeling a bit sad, realizing that this time will Ricky will end at some point. With the effects of two glasses of white wine hitting her system, she admitted, “ In fact, you know what, earlier, I felt like a princess about to attend her first ball, with my very handsome and dashing prince waiting for me to arrive.” Then she realized what she just blurted out! “I mean, errr…,” groping for words, her face heating up.
Ricky smiled then put his hand on top of Maya’s hand. “Thank you, Maya.” He said softly, finding the moment he had been angling for. “I’m happy to be your prince. In fact, I would like to be. Maya, I like you very much. We have known each other a short time, but in that wonderful short span of time, I have fallen in love with you.” He confessed earnestly, the words tumbling out of his mouth and amid the fast beating of his heart.
“Ricky….” Maya managed to say breathlessly. It caught her by surprise, this declaration. Yes, she felt at times that she and Ricky were on the verge of something momentous, but she was not so sure at times, and it was something that she can’t really fully comprehend since the emotions he evoked in her was something she has not felt before. “I’m…..” She started saying, collecting her scattered wits.
Ricky took hold of Maya’s hands and enveloped them in his own. “Maya, I just want you to know, please. I never felt like this before in my entire life. Let me court you please, let me show you how much I love you, here, where we are, and when we are back in Manila. I want to see where this feelings will take me, us.” Ricky said earnestly, showing Maya how serious he is, at the same unconsciously caressing her hand, as if to reassure her of everything, of his feelings. “Would it be okay to court you, to show you how much I love you?”
Maya managed to recover her equilibrium, sort of, really! “Ricky, I would like that.” She said, looking at Ricky with something akin to love in her eyes too, in Ricky’s eyes. Maya actually, really looked at Ricky with love in her eyes, but she got afraid of saying it, overwhelmed with Ricky’s declaration, the heady feeling it brought forth, and how fast things have unravelled. She needed time to absorb everything. She has not felt this way before, even if there was nothing to compare with. She knew in her heart that she loves Ricky and that in such a short time, she had fallen for him also. Didn’t she admit it to herself earlier? However, the reality of him loving her back and declaring his feelings for her this soon, that evening, was quite a surprise for her, albeit a very wonderful one!
“Thank you, Maya. That is all I’m asking for now.” Ricky said, giving Maya a reassuring smile, then cupping her chin and looking into her very soul, he half-asked softly, “Just let me love you, okay?”
Maya nodded and gave Ricky a smile that lit up her beautiful, expressive face. Ricky knew in his heart that Maya feels something very strong for him as well. But he understood her hesitation, having known that she hasn’t had any relationship before. Everything happened in a short time too. He can wait. But he can’t stand not telling her and declaring his intentions towards her. She is the one he would like to spend the rest of his life with, that early he knew in his heart for reasons he can’t fully expound on at that moment. He just need to show to Maya that he is her forever, and convince her to take the leap with him.
“Shall we walk along the beach?” Ricky asked Maya after several minutes of just enjoying the moment and the wonderful shift in their relationship.
“Sure!” Maya replied quickly, wanting to prolong that special moment with him, and at the same time, ponder and let Ricky’s declaration take root into her system. Sitting there, and with Ricky gazing at her with so much love, she felt like she was in a constant state of breathlessness. She needed oxygen! Maybe a walk along the beach was the breather she needed to take in everything, she mused.
Ricky offered his hand to Maya, which she took gently, gazing at his handsome, happy face. Maya shivered from the contact and Ricky thought it was because of the wind, and the night turning cold, so he draped his arms over her shoulders and guided her towards the beach. The beautiful, silken night enveloped them, and they were, indeed, in a world of their own.
Barefooted, they walked along the beach for quite some time, sharing little smiles, enjoying the beautiful night, intensely aware of each other and the declaration of love between them. Both of them were hoping that, that night would just be one of the countless beautiful nights they will share together.
“Maya, would you like to go for a walk along the shoreline?” Ricky asked Maya while gesturing towards the lake, which by then was looking more splendid under the late afternoon sun. “Medyo malamig na, so I think okay nang bumaba sa may shoreline. Pagkatapos, we can travel na to Fort Ilocandia.”
Ricky and Maya had been sitting at the bench overlooking Paoay Lake for almost an hour by then. Mainly, they just talked about what would be their activities for the next day, and until they return to their beach places in two days time. As if by tacit agreement they didn’t discuss Lorraine anymore and the things she could possibly do. They refused to have her mar their precious moments together.
Maya also took the time to call Emman while they were at the lake. She had been meaning to give him a call, not to check on how things were, but rather to ask him if it was okay for her to stay a couple of days more in Ilocos, and to let him know that she can’t give him a date yet on when she will return to Manila. Emman assured Maya she does not have a thing to worry about and she can stay in Ilocos as long as she wanted. However, Maya noticed something different in Emman’s voice when she was about to say goodbye, like he was sick. Upon her prodding, he admitted that he had been having on and off fever for a day before she called. However, he assured her that he will be okay as he had taken a strong flu medicine already. Emman insisted to Maya that he will be okay, and that she knows naman that he does not really get sick for a long period of time. Maya was pacified, as it has been the case in the past few times that Emman was sick. However, she made Emman promised that if he gets worse, he will see a doctor and call her so she can return to Manila promptly. One of them is really needed to run the cafe and the gallery if it is going to be for several days. For a day or two, their assistant, Miranda can take over.
Ricky asked Maya if there was a problem after she had put down the phone. Maya assured him that everything was okay. She just made mentioned that Emman is a bit sick. But knowing Emman, Maya assured Ricky that he will be okay soon. He rarely gets sick and when he does, he recovers fast, she told Ricky. They returned to the topic they were discussing at that time, and that was whether they will try the ATV at the Paoay Sand Dunes, then to another one, not noticing the time really, until Ricky gazed at the lake and noticed that the sun was lower and it has gotten cooler.
“I would love to, Ricky! I want to take some pictures too. I think I know the best spots below to take those.” Maya said, smiling at Ricky.
Ricky offered his hand to her, which she took promptly. It became an automatic thing for them by then, as if their hands have a life of their own and are always seeing the other. Hand in hand, they walked back to the open hut, then descended to the open wooden platform below it. Ricky guided Maya all throughout by holding on tight to her hand and putting his other hand on her back or elbow. “Careful Maya, some of the wooden slats seemed to be a bit loose and rickety.”
“Okay. Thanks a lot, Ricky.” Maya gave Ricky a brilliant smile, then temporarily let go of his hand, walked slowly by the side of the platform and took several pictures. She then asked Ricky to pose of her. Ricky smiled at her, a bit self-conscious, as generally, he does not want having his picture taken, especially if he was going to pose for it alone. But for Maya, he did, a bit awkwardly in the beginning.
“Perfect, thanks a lot, Ricky.” Maya said happily after she has done clicking on her seemingly complicated camera several times. “You know, if you are not a CEO, you could make a living by doing commercial modelling, print ads, TV, and even the runway!”
“Oh no, not that! I’m happy where I am, Maya! I’m not really comfortable posing for a picture, much more being on display like that!” Ricky said with a laugh, then gazed at Maya thoughtfully. “But for you, sure I will, anytime. In any pose you want,” he teased.
Maya blushed at the way Ricky is looking at her. “Thank you, Ricky.” She managed to say breathlessly.
“Okay, it’s my turn. I want to take a photo of you, as well.” Ricky said.
Now it is Maya’s turn to get self-conscious. She fidgeted with her camera. She is not also into posing for a photo or for a painting. It is always the other way around. “Errrr…..”
“Come on, Maya.” Ricky cajoled, asking her to hand over the camera to him. Luckily, the model is similar to Miguel’s camera which he had borrowed before. “Fair is fair, you know.”
Maya smiled, handed over her camera, then asked Ricky softly, and a bit self-consciously where he wanted her. Hearing that, Ricky faltered, conjuring up another image, which he stamped out of his brain, as fast as the thought entered his consciousness. He gulped and with a voice a bit unsteady, he pointed to a spot with the lake in the background, near the flight of steps leading to the shore.
“Well, you can also make a living gracing the fashion magazines.” Ricky said. Maya would even be better than Lorraine in that. Maya has a loveliness in her that comes from within. It is in the way she moves and smiles, so full of life. Unlike Lorraine who looks like a mannequin most of the time. She is beautiful but in a cold kind of way and it was what got picked up by the cameras. For Maya, she has a face that the camera will love very much.
“Hahaha, I would rather work behind the camera, or behind a canvas, not in front of it.” Maya said demurely. The truth is she had been approach several times, in some instances through Emman, and asked if she would like to be a commercial model, but she declined.
“Okay, we are even then. No modelling career for the two of us!” Ricky said, smiling. “How about a picture of us, together, so I can have photos of us in my phone too.” He gave the camera back to Maya and took out his phone.
“Sure!” Maya said. The two of them posed for a selfie, and unlike in the Sta. Maria Church, there was no one who offered to take their photo. Aside from a group of Korean tourists who stopped by half an hour earlier, and the ladies manning the food kiosk, they had the whole lake to themselves, maybe it was because they were there on a weekday and that time of the year, not being the tourists season. “I will also make you a file of all our vacation photos when I return to Manila, save it on a flash drive and send it to your office.”
“Thanks a lot, Maya. But better, if I just drop by your cafe and take you up on your offer to have coffee there.” Ricky suggested, wanting to see Maya as often as he could.
“Great, then!” Maya smiled, happy with that thought that after Ilocos, Ricky and her will still see each other.
“Looking forwward to that.” He replied with a smile. “Come, let’s walk along the shoreline. Are your shoes good enough for walking there? Medyo kasi mabuhangin, unlike in other lakes’ shorelines na mabato. I don’t like to ruin a perfectly good pair of shoes, sayang naman.” Ricky asked Maya solicitously.
“Sure, Ricky. I’m sure my slip-on sneakers can take it.” Maya said, showing Ricky her sturdy and well-loved sneakers. “I would love to go there, and I’m sure it’s worth it.” She then pointed out the spots she wanted to explore.
Like earlier, Ricky escorted her down, holding her hand gently, and on her elbow, until he was sure that she was on firm grounds. Hands intertwined and with a companionable silence between them they walked the length of the shoreline, looking at the birds that gravitated towards the lake, then at the setting sun rays hitting the waters, and making it sparkle. When they had their fill, they returned to the car and traveled towards the direction of Fort Ilocandia, their next and final stop for the day. They have decided that they will just go to the sand dunes and Malacañang of the North the following day, even if those places are on their way to the resort.
In less than half na hour that they left the lake and after a lot of picture worthy scenery, Ricky took a left turn, at the road that says Fort Ilocandia is just four kilometres away from that turn-off.
Several minutes later, they were inside the hotel and resort complex. Ricky parked the car while Maya waited for him by the entrance. When he joined her, a beautiful lady, with a friendly smile, approached Ricky.
“Good to see you again, Mr. Lim.” Cristina Romero said. She had been watching out for him from the reception. He told her earlier the approximate time he and his companion would be there. Speaking of that, she was also very curious to see the special lady in Ricky Lim’s life. She looked at the lady standing beside him. Well, she is very lovely, and looks very graceful, she mused. She also has a smile that lit up her face. She must be lovely inside too. She has a kindness in her, and a confidence that bespoke of breeding and knowing her worth. There she goes again reading people, but in the hospitality business, it is a very useful skill. “Good afternoon, Ma’am. Welcome to Fort Ilocandia. I’m Cristina Romero.”
Maya offered her hand to Cristina. “Thank you, Ms. Romero. Nice to meet you, I’m Maya dela Rosa.”
Over the introductions, Ricky put his hand on Maya’s back. “Maya, Ms. Romero is the one I called up earlier to arrange for our stay here. She was the lady who arranged Lim Corporation’s last planning conference here, with my EA Liza.” Ricky explained. “She and Liza did a splendid job.”
Maya smiled and nodded in acknowledgement.
“Thank you Mr. Lim. We are happy to host Lim Corporation and count your company as one of our valued clients.” Cristina said. “Would you like something to drink, or go to your rooms? Marvin can assist you.”
“Maya?…” Ricky deferred to Maya.
“Oh the rooms please, Ricky. I want to freshen up first.” Maya said. She suddenly felt grubby after a whole day out in the sun.
“Okay, room it is.” Ricky said, then looked at Cristina while Maya was looking ahead, following Marvin who was helping them with their meager luggage.
Cristina smiled and made the thumb up signed. Ricky smiled back and mouthed a silent thank you, hastily checking if Maya noticed the exchange. He heaved a sigh if relief when he saw her chatting Marvin up. The guy looked smitten!
Marvin led them to a long courtyard with a beautiful landscaped garden, then to two adjoining rooms with a view of the beach. Marvin left them in the first room, after Ricky told him he can take it from there.
“I thought you might like your own room, Maya, since may mga bakante naman dito sa resort.” Ricky said, though he would really miss sharing a room with Maya. But there was no excuse for them to share one now and to assume that she would do so still. Technically, and in the scheme of things, they are just two friends, well more than friends on his part, sharing a wonderful time. Besides, he would like to court her properly. He respects her that much. “I’ll just be in the other room. Just knock if you need anything.”
“Sure, this is fine, Ricky.” Maya said, though at the back of her mind, she would have preferred to continue sharing a room with Ricky, for some reason. She will miss his presence on the other bed. She felt safe, knowing that he was just there. “I’m sure, you want your own room na rin.”
“Well, honestly, I’ll miss sharing a room with you.” Ricky said, gazing at Maya. “I’ll go to my room. Go rest and I’ll see you in hour. I’ll pick you up for dinner.” Then he was out of the room with a big smile before can Maya fully processed what he said.
Maya was still smiling, well feeling giddy actually as she took out her meager clothes from her shopping bag, half an hour later. She was unable to rest, feeling excited, for some unexplainable reason.
“Naku, what to wear kaya for dinner! Mukhang dressy pa naman ang kailangan sa place na ito.” She muttered while looking at the blouse and skirt she had bought in Vigan. A knock on the door, interrupted her. When she opened the door, she saw one of the hotel staff standing there.
“Good evening, Ma’am. For you po.” The girl proffered a big shopping bag with to Maya with her name on a white envelope attached to it.
Maya thanked the girl and carried the bag to her bed. She got the card, and she was right, the bag was from Ricky.
I thought we might dress up for dinner for a change. I hope I got your size right and the style is to your liking. I’ll see later. Someone will pick you up in an hour. I just needed to attend to something first. Looking forward to our special evening!
Maya felt her heart beating fast, reading the note, the feeling of anticipation of something momentous about to unfold getting stronger. She opened the shopping bag and in it, she saw a violet dress. She took it out completely, and gasped. It was so beautiful, and in the vintage style that she prefers. It has a sabrina neckline, made of lace, with a satin lining, a dainty bow cinching it at the waist, and adorned with beautiful beads!
“Oh my…..! Maya managed to say. Her first instinct was to call Ricky and tell him that the dress was too much. She had an inkling even without seeing the price tag that the dress cost a lot. But her inner self stopped her. She does want a special evening with him. She would just offer to pay for it later. He had already done so much for her!
Laying the beautiful dress on her bed, she went to the bathroom and got ready for her evening with Ricky. The feeling that something momentous was going to happen was too much in her mind, as she prepared for the special evening she was really looking forward to, in nervousness, in anticipation, and in giddiness. But whatever it is, she wouldn’t miss it for the world!
“Ricky, OMG! Sandali, stop, stop please!” Maya blurted out, touching Ricky’s arm and pressing it unconsciously in her excitement. “Wow!”
Ricky looked at Maya in surprise, and with a big smile, hearing the excitement in her voice, at the same time very curious at what set her off like that. Several seconds before that, they were just both humming a love song from the radio. He slowed down and parked the car by the side of the road. “Bakit, Maya? What is it?”
Maya grinned at him, very happy, and excitedly pointed to her right. “Look at that! It’s so beautiful! I never thought there is something like this here! Can we stop by for a while, please? Parang sayang naman kung hindi natin explore!”
Ricky looked closely at what Maya was pointing at. He grinned! Now, he understands why she got very excited. The lake is really beautiful, especially that afternoon as it shimmered under the intense afternoon sun! Oo nga pala, Paoay Lake is here, along this road! He quite forgot that in his excitement for his plan for that evening. He had been meaning to stop here and show the lake to Maya. “Sure, Maya! Let me just park the car properly!”
Ricky did that and several minutes after, they were at the open native hut overlooking the beautiful lake. There is an exposed wooden platform below that, then some steps leading to the white sandy shore with clumps of plants and grass on it. There were several boats with foot paddles that can sit two people, by the shoreline.
“So, beautiful! I can stare at it for hours!” Maya murmured, looking at the shimmering lake, seemingly mesmerized at its beauty. “Pwede pa yatang mag-boat! Nasaan kaya ang mga nagpapa-rent? Pero on the other hand, wala na tayong time for that, I think.”
“I agree, so very beautiful!” Ricky said softly, but instead of looking at the lake, he was looking at Maya. He was obviously not paying attention to the rest of what she had said. She glowed with excitement and happiness and she looked lovelier in his eyes.
Hearing the catch in his voice, Maya looked at Ricky. Instead of the lake she was admiring he was gazing at her intently. She blushed. “Ricky naman eh!” She managed to say.
“Maya, don’t be shy, you are beautiful and as serene as the lake before us. If the lake shimmer as it basks under the sun’s heat, you look so lovely and you glow, especially when you are happy and excited about something. Katulad na lang kanina sa Paoay Church. I like that about you, the way you joyfully embrace life and look at things with fresh eyes. It is infectious.” Ricky said gently. “And I’m just stating a fact ha.”
“Thank you, Ricky!” Maya said simply, unsure on how to take Ricky’s compliment. For a businessman, ha, he has a way with words, she mused. Sometimes, she feels everything is happening so fast, since she crossed path with Richard Lim III, just several days ago! She feels giddy and breathless most of the time, and somehow she needs a breather, like at that moment! Salvation came in the form of the board by the side of the hut that she spotted.
“Oh there is something there about the birds that has been sighted in the lake.” She blurted out, then moved towards it. “I’ll just check it out, pati na rin iyong nakasulat sa tabi noon na parang tungkol sa legend nitong lake yata.”
Ricky let her. He does not want Maya to feel uncomfortable. He followed her and read over her shoulder the legend of Paoay Lake. They stayed like that for several minutes, reading the tale. When Maya was finished, she smiled at Ricky. “Well, that was very interesting, and very biblical!”
“Yes, it is. But it makes for an interesting read talaga, and a lesson is in there.” Ricky said. “Would you like to go and sit by those benches there? It must be quite nice to just sit there for a while and enjoy the breeze coming from lake. Then kapag medyo malamig na, we can walk below, near the water’s edge. Don’t worry, we are not in a hurry. We have time. Malapit na lang naman dito ang Fort Ilocandia, ang last stop for the day natin. I have to make a phone call also. Bibili na rin ako ng water natin.”
“Okay. If you want to make that phone call now, I’ll buy the water and wait for you by the bench. That way, we can save time din. Baka kahapon ka pa rin hinihintay ng tatawagan mo.” She blurted out without meaning to, alluding to the calls he didn’t return or answer, then she tried to salvage her blunder, but made it worse! “I mean, errr, you did have missed calls yesterday, from Lorraine Tan ba iyon, baka importante rin katulad ng call ni Miguel! Oh sorry, Ricky didn’t mean to be such a busybody, but her name got stuck in my head kasi….” Maya stopped digging a grave for yourself, her rational self told her!
Ricky smiled and nodded. He just got confirmation that Maya is curious about his missed calls, but does not want to pry. He doesn’t know what made Maya blurt it out like that. But that is the opening he needed. Maybe, when they were resting at those inviting benches under the tree, he will finally be able to her about Lorraine.
“It is okay, Maya. No need to apologize. I’ll be along shortly.” Ricky said with smile, then moved to the side of the hut to make his phone call.
Maya, on the other hand, felt like wishing the earth will swallow her whole with her blunder. Maya naman kasi, baka akala ni Ricky tsismosa ka! She muttered. Ah, basta dedma na lang. This guy naman kasi, he is causing havoc to her equilibrium! Maya, kalma ka lang. Pero may kakaiba talaga kasi eh. What do I do? Bahala na nga si Batman, she muttered, then proceeded to the kiosk beside the hut to buy water. The lady manning the shop also told her they have halo-halo. Thinking that it would be a nice dessert to their big lunch earlier, she ordered two.
Ricky, still smiling, remembering a very flustered Maya, a couple of minutes ago, scrolled down on his phone directory and dialled his executive assistant’s number.
“Sir, so nice to hear from you! Akala ko ba incommunicado ka!” Liza greeted her boss with familiarity, as she had been his secretary, when he was the COO of the company. Sir Ricky brought her with him to the Office of the CEO when he was appointed to the position, and promoted her as his executive assistant. “Okay naman dito sa LC, Sir.”
“I know Liza, and I’m glad. I talked to Ryan the other day. Besides, I know I have left the office in his, and your, capable hands.” Ricky said. “The reason I called is I want to get the number of our contact at Fort Ilocandia. The one you coordinated with when you and Papa’s EA arranged our last planning session there.”
“Oh, si Cristina Romero, Sir.” Liza said, at the same time she was a bit puzzled, and yes, mighty curious why her boss is asking for the number after disappearing to parts unknown! He is in Ilocos, hmmmm. “Sandali lang Sir, I will check my phone directory. I’ll call you back in a minute.”
Liza hung up, looked for the number then sent the business card to her boss. “Natanggap mo Sir?” She asked when Ricky answered the phone again. “Nasa Ilocos ka pala, Sir?”
“Yes, got it. Thanks a lot, Liza.” Ricky said. “Oo, I’m in Ilocos. But not a word of my whereabouts to anyone, especially to Lorraine!” Ricky knows he can rely on Liza’s discretion and he does not want any confusion like what happened with Miguel.
“Sure, Sir, no worries!” Liza managed to say. So, all is not well in paradise! Kaya pala that spoiled princess, that’s what she calls Lorraine in her head, has been a pest lately, looking for her boss! She sometimes wonder what her boss sees in that spoiled princess, aside from her sexy body and beautiful face, but it is not for her to say anything about it. It is his life. And she will really be the last person to tell Lorraine where her boss is. “By the way, Sir, if you are going to Fort Ilocandia, I can handle the arrangement for you.” She offered last minute. It didn’t occur to her earlier.
“Oh, errrr, I will just do it myself.” Ricky managed to say. He was caught off guard with Liza’s offer. “I can handle it. Could you just tell Ms. Romero that I will be calling her in several minutes. Give my number also so she knows that it is me. Thanks a lot, Liza. I’ll let you know when I will be back.”
“Surely, Sir! I will do that.” Liza assured her boss, getting curious and more curious, but kept her counsel. She called her contact and aside from telling her that her boss will give her a call, she requested for her discretion in not disclosing to anyone where Ricky Lim is, as he would like some peace and quiet. Cris said, Liza does not have to request, but consider it done.
Several minutes after, Ricky called up Cristina Romero, and after some pleasantries, he requested two separate rooms for the evening, and a special request, which had Cristina smiling. Her romantic heart aflutter! Thinking that whoever the girl is, she is one very lucky lady. She had met the younger Lim before and found him very handsome.
Ricky pocketed his phone happily. Everything is going according to his plan! Well, except for the Lorraine issue. But Maya already gave him the opening to tell her about it. He really wanted to as he does not want any misunderstanding between them, especially if Lorraine cause trouble. He looked for Maya and saw her serenely looking at the lake.
“Maya, sorry, it took me a while.” Ricky greeted her as he sat beside her, instead of the bench across hers. “Wow, halo-halo! Something nice in this hot weather.”
Maya does not want to make much of Ricky sitting so close to her as where she was sitting offered at much better view of the lake, though it made her heart beat a little faster than usual. The bench is on the narrow side. But this, she also attributed to the fact, that Ricky’s nearness does that to her, every time!
“I thought you might like one as well!” Maya offered Ricky a long teaspoon, and then handed him his halo-halo! “They also have empanada, mukhang masarap. Would you like one?”
“Thank you, Maya. I’m still full from our heavy lunch earlier. This is more than enough. Ikaw, baka nagugutom ka. Ako na lang ang bibili for you.” Ricky offered.
“I’m good also. Thank you.” Maya smiled at Ricky, not sure, what to say next, so just dug into her halo-halo and stared at the lake.
“I’ve arranged our accommodation for this evening and tomorrow evening at Fort Ilocandia, Maya.” Ricky said, breaking the silence. “Iyon ang mga phone call na ginawa ko a while ago, and not to Lorraine.”
“Sorry, for that, Ricky! I didn’t mean to pry.” Maya said apologetically, looking up suddenly when he brought up the name she wished she hadn’t blurted out. Nakakahiya talaga!
“Like I have said, Maya, it is okay.” Ricky took hold of Maya’s hand, started caressing it absent-mindedly, gathering his thoughts and looking her in the eye. Better start at the beginning, he mused. “Remember, earlier, when I started telling you something, when we were at the garden at Paoay Church? It was actually about Lorraine. She is my ex-fiancee!….”
“Ex-fiancee….” Maya managed to say, at the same time, wondering why she kept calling Ricky if they have broken up already. She was almost sure that Lorraine was also the one calling Ricky while they were at the Lims’ beach place. Of all the things that Ricky will tell her, she was not expecting this. But she guessed, the fact that he is opening up to her like this is very important. She nodded, encouraging him to continue.
“Yes, we broke up three weeks ago. She is the reason why I am at the beach house. I just wanted to avoid her. She can’t quite accept the fact that we are done. She thought it was just like one of our fights before. You see, our relationship was a turbulent one. I was wrong to think that it can still be salvaged by our engagement. It was what our families had been angling for, and I guessed we went with the flow.”
Ricky took a sip of his water and continued.
“Lorraine and I grew up together. Our parents have been business partners and neighbors since we were kids. She was friends with my cousin Bettina, who was a year younger than me, and the cousin I was closest to. Bettina was the younger sister I didn’t have. Lorraine and I gotten closer when Bettina died at a very young age of drug overdose. We didn’t know she was taking drugs. The whole family was devastated! Lorraine said she didn’t know either. She took comfort from me, and I from her, until gradually, we became a couple. The two families were very happy with this development. We were together for five years. But looking back, I also wonder how we lasted that long considering we didn’t have much in common, except our love for Bettina. Lorraine told me that she had been in love with me since we were in our late teens. I thought I love her too. She can be sweet and caring, though looking back, it was a bit stifling at times. But still, there were our families to contend with. I thought with that we can make a life together. However, there was something missing which I can’t define even then.”
“Wala na talagang pag-asang magkabalikan kayo, Ricky. Sayang naman ang relationship ninyo. Baka after this trip, mas okay na kayong dalawa.” Maya said, though when she said that, she felt a pain in her heart.
“No, Maya. I’m quite sure of that. Otherwise, I would have not gone on this trip with you.” Ricky said frankly. “I would like to make that clear and hope that you will believe me.”
“I do believe you, Ricky. Wala ka namang ipinakita sa akin na iba maliban sa pagiging sobrang gentleman mo, and I think instinctively, I would know if I sense something off in you. Mahirap i-explain.” Maya said with a shrug.
“Thank you, Maya.” Ricky said gratefully. “You see, Maya, I’m sure now that I didn’t love her with a kind of love that we both deserve. It was not just because I caught her doing the unforgivable in my book. It was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak!”
“What happened?” Maya asked gently.
“I caught her taking drugs while staying in my condo.” Ricky finally said, what he has not told another person. He was even unable to tell it to Miguel earlier. Only to Maya! “Prior to that, someone sent me a grainy photo of her snorting cocaine at a party. But when I confronted her, she denied it as she insisted it was just a photoshopped image of her. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, considering we both went through hell when Bettina died, I let it passed, though the gnawing thoughts that she might be taking drugs, lingered.
The night I found out that she was into recreational drugs, and fooling on me, I was supposed to be in a business trip, but it got cancelled last-minute as the guy I was supposed to meet in Bacolod had a heart attack. I took the return flight to Manila instead of staying the night in the city, and found her with one of the actors from her last play, snorting cocaine on our bed, I mean my bed. We don’t really live together, but she has been staying there most nights so we might as well had been.”
“Oh, God! It must have been very devastating for you to find out!” Maya said, pressing Ricky’s hand to offer comfort.
“To be honest, Maya. I didn’t feel any rage, just felt very numbed. At that time, aside from seeing her in bed with another guy, one of the first thoughts that entered my head after the initial shock was the question. how long has she been doing this and hiding it from me. I mean the drugs and cheating on me. She insisted that it was a new thing, just since she met that guy, Matt. She said it was just to take the edge of things – her parents wanting her to be perfect, her words, and also pressuring her to leave the theatre, especially now that she is about to become Mrs. Ricardo Lim III. They never like her doing it, but Lorraine she always get her way. Yes, maybe it was recent as I think I would have noticed if it has been going on for quite a period of time, the drugs, I mean. As for seeing the other guy, I didn’t even want to hear how they ended up together!
I told her the engagement is off and that she and me, we needed to part ways for good. She pleaded and pleaded as she was afraid of what her parents reaction would be. But Maya, I felt nothing for her. Maybe pity, not love anymore if there was even that, and it is not a foundation for a happily ever after. So, I ended up here and luckily, I met you.”
“Ricky, thank you for telling it to me. I hope everything will be okay in the end.” Maya touched Ricky’s distressed face.
“I hope so, Maya. I know so, actually. I want you to know rin, among other things, because there might be trouble, knowing Lorraine. But maybe not, since we are not going to Miguel’s place. Parang blessing in disguise na rin siguro na hindi tayo natuloy. You see, Maya, when Miguel called he told me that he accidentally met Lorraine in a bar in BGC last night. He thought she was with me, that it was her voice he heard over the phone when I was talking to him yesterday morning, so he accidentally asked her where I was as he had been trying to reach me to tell me about the problem at his parents’ place. He also assumed that Lorraine and I went back to Manila, aborting our trip. Sensing that he knows where I am, she cornered Miguel and managed to have him admit that I am in Ilocos. She does not know Miguel’s place, but knowing her, she’ll find it out from one of our friends. She might have a suspicion that I’m with someone, reading between the lines, kasi nga nadulas si Miguel.”
“Oh, she might follow you here, then! Do you think she really will do that and cause trouble?” Maya asked.
“I’m not sure. But with her frame of mind, she might. I would like to say sorry in advance, Maya, if ever you will get drag into something you didn’t bargain with.” Ricky told Maya apologetically. He does not really want her to be dragged into something ugly. Hindi pa nga siya nanliligaw ng formal, tapos Maya will experience something like that agad.
“It is okay, Ricky. I can take care of myself. I just hope that everything will be okay for you.” Maya said, wanting to assure Ricky that she will really be okay and that she is a big girl. She would like to be there for him. “I’ll just be here for you, no matter what.”
“Thank you, very much, Maya for listening, for understanding, and for being here. I’m the luckiest guy in the world to have met you.”
Maya and Ricky smiled at each other, a silent understanding between them, as they both gazed at the beautiful, serene lake, hands intertwined.