Posts Tagged Be Careful With My Heart
“Ricky!” Richie Lim hailed his son as soon as he saw him entered the lounge of the place where they agreed to meet for lunch the following day. His son, however, continued on with a smile on his lips. He didn’t notice him!
Ricky was oblivious to his current surroundings and Richie Lim had a pretty good idea why, or rather, who was on his mind at that moment. He decided to just walked to his son, and gently tapped him on the shoulder.
“Pa!” Ricky said with a smile, seemingly realising where he was. “I didn’t see you when I came in! Saan ka ba nakaupo?”
“Son, kanina pa kita tinatawag pero hindi mo ako narinig.” Richie Lim told his son with a teasing smile. “Malayo ang iniisip mo and parang alam ko na kung bait, and kung sino!”
“Pa!” Ricky laughed, and reddened a bit. His father got him. He was actually remembering Maya and their goodbye in front of her house the night before. The goodbye lasted several long minutes due to the heated kisses they can’t help but exchanged, as if they haven’t seen each other in a long time!
“Halika na nga, kain na tayo!”
“What would you like, son? And how long can you stay? I know you have a lot to do since you just got back.”
“I can stay as long as you can, Papa. I managed to do a lot of work this morning. Maaga ako pumasok. The office is running well kahit nawala ako ng medyo matagal and biglaan.”
“Good, good to know. How about some steak for lunch?” Richie Lim asked as he ushered Ricky out of the lounge and into the restaurant where they will have their lunch. “I always love the steak here.”
“Sounds good, Pa. Medyo gutom nga ako. I only had a light breakfast.”
The two of them chatted as they walked the short distance to the restaurant. The waiter seated them at a table which offers a bit of privacy. While waiting for their food, Ricky decided to say what he had been meaning to say to his father ever since he invited him to lunch. In turned out, he was not the only one who would like to say his piece.
“Pa, thank you sa….”
“Ricky, son, sorry sa…”
Father and son looked at each other and laughed.
“Pa, go ahead please.” Ricky said, teasing his dad, he added, “Seniority, you know! You are The Second and I’m The Third!”
“Okay, son, if you say so.”
Then taking a deep breath, Richie Lim, continued. “First, I would like to say that I’m sorry for the way I acted when you told us about you and Maya. Mali naman ako doon. Hindi ko dapat sinisi si Maya sa anumang akala ko kasalanan ng Lola niya sa family natin. Even that aspect, after all these years pala, mali rin ako! You see, son, I know about Papa’s journal. I have read it too. I went to see your Lola Sandra yesterday.”
“Really, Pa! You did? How come? And alam mo pala iyong journal ni Lolo! Maya and I are planning to see her this weekend nga rin. I would like to introduce Maya to her and at the same time, ask her why you acted like that. Sabi kasi ni Mama, Pa, baka si Lola ang makapagsabi sa akin ng dahilan.”
“Well, your Mama was right. Your Lola told me na mali ang akala ko all these years! She told me some truths that made me realized how wrong I was about your Maya and Papa’s Maya. But I would rather she tells you about the whole thing since you will see her in two days time.” Richie Lim said, smiling. “If not for the gallery opening last night, I would have invited you to dinner and make amends. Pero mas mabuti na rin siguro son, na una kami nagkakilala ni Maya bago mo siya ipakilala ng formal sa amin. I saw how she interacted with people last night and it just reiterated my belief that she is the right girl for you, in a way that Lorraine is not. Besides, I know you have your reasons, very valid ones, I believe in ending your engagement with her.”
“Pa, what can I say, except to say thank you, thank you much, for accepting Maya and my relationship with her. That was what I was going to say to you earlier. I was so happy seeing you and her, talking and having a wonderful time last night. What a beautiful surprise that was. I know I don’t really need to seek your approval to love her and fight for her, but I would like that, Papa. I love you and Mama and I hope you will be happy for me.”
“You have it, Ricky, you and Maya. And like I have said last night, I’m happy for you and her, my son. I’m sure your Mama is.”
Then as if speaking alone, his mind elsewhere, Richie Lim, continued. “Sometimes, no matter what happens or what the circumstances are, love will find a way. And when one sees it, fight for it, embrace it, as you may never find it again or that it would take another lifetime for you to find it, and that is, if you are lucky. Otherwise, you will just exist and not really live at all, and that is sad, so sad.”
Ricky stared at his father. He never thought he would hear those words from his normally pragmatic father.
Richie Lim shook his head as if clearing his brain from that serious thoughts, and wanting to return to the present. “It is true son. Just be happy son with the love of your life. You and I, we are so lucky to have found love. I may not be overly demonstrative about it, and it may not started that way, but I love your mother very much.”
“Thank you, Papa.” Ricky managed to say, so very happy that he was having that conversation with his father. He never thought that their lunch would turn out like this and they would be clearing the air like this, especially after their disagreement the other day.
Father and son looked at each other, then nodded, understanding each other and feeling so much lighter, now that everything has been clear between them. It was at this moment that their server arrived with their food. The two of them enjoyed their lunch, with Ricky regaling his father of his version of what Maya had told him the night before about their trip to Ilocos. He also mentioned something about what Lorraine did that had his father shaking his head in disapproval. He also apologized for inadvertently telling Lorraine where Ricky was. Ricky assured his father that it was okay and to forget about it as he didn’t know that they have broken up and he was remiss in telling him and his mother about it.
They were having coffee, when Ricky brought out the subject that has been in my head the past several days.
“Papa, I’m planning to propose to Maya, soon.” Ricky said, feeling very nervous and very excited to be finally saying it aloud, and to his father.
“Really, Ricky! That’s great news! By the way, alam na ba ng Mama mo that you are planning to propose to Maya?” Richie Lim said with a happy smile as he took another sip of this coffee.
If Ricky had doubts about his father’s acceptance of his and Maya’s relationship, his obvious happiness and reaction to his statement completely erased it. He thought his dad would have at least ask why so soon, even if he is very accepting of his and Maya’s relationship.
“I haven’t told her Pa. Ikaw pa lang ang nakakaalam.” Then he admitted, “Frankly I’m nervous, kasi this is different, way different from my proposal to Lorraine.”
“Oh! Thank you for telling it to me, son. I would like to know that I’m happy for you and Maya. Salamat naman at magkakaapo na kami ng Mama mo. Don’t worry, son, you can do it.”
“Pa, salamat talaga. Pero, Pa, really apo kaagad? Hindi pa nga ako nagpo-propose and malay mo, hindi pa ready si Maya na magpakasal! Baka nga hindi mag-yes!”
“Naku, son for sure na iyan. Maya will say yes. I believe so. Sa pinagdaanan ba naman ng love story ninyo in such a short time, kapag hindi pa naman iyan naging okay, ewan ko na lang. Basta let me and your Mama know kung engage na kayo so we can plan the wedding. Sabihin mo lang kung ano ang kailangan naming gain and our part ha. Hasta lahat ng maitutulong namin, gagawin namin.”
“Thank you very much, Papa. Kapag sinagot ako ni Maya, balak ko po sana na mamanhikan tayo sa parents niya. Maya said they are in the States at the moment pero babalik na rin yata ng Pilipinas in a week or two.”
“Sure, Ricky, sabihin mo lang kung kailan. And I think it is very good idea para magkakilala ng husto ang mga pamilya natin. With the history between our families, it is about time na happy naman. I’m sure your Lola Sandra will be very happy with this development.”
“Oo, son Di bale, I’m sure she would be very happy when you finally introduce Maya to her.”
“This Sunday, Pa!” Rickt replied, then ask his father. “Would you like another cup of coffee, Papa?”
“No more, son. Thank you, I’m good. Baka kailangan mo nang bumalik sa office? I also have something to take care of after this, before I go home to your Mama. And don’t worry, not a word to her about your plans. Just bring Maya to dinner please, the soonest.”
“Okay, Pa. I will talk to Maya later about it and give Mama a call. If she is free tomorrow, and you and Mama are okay with, then tomorrow evening, I’ll bring Maya to your place.”
“Sure, son. Let us know. I’m sure pwede kami ng Mama mo bukas.”
Ricky paid for the bill and father and son parted ways at the entrance of the Polo Club. Ricky waited until their old family driver arrived before driving back to his office, whistling. He was just very happy with the way things are moving.
While waiting for the light to turn green at an intersection, Ricky’s mind wandered on the proposal he was planning. He smiled, goofily, hoping Maya will find his proposal romantic enough and one thing they can tell their children and grandchildren. He hopes she would not think it too soon. His beautiful thoughts was interrupted with the honking of cars behind him. The traffic light had turned green without him noticing!
Richie Lim, as soon, as he got into the car, pulled out his phone and made a call, then instructed the driver to go to an upscale housing complex at Bonifacio Global City.
“Lem, I will not be long.” Richie Lim told his driver as he was about to get off the car at the lobby of the complex. “Just look for a parking space nearby.”
“Sige po, Sir. Meron naman pong malapit dito.”
Several minutes later, Richie Lim arrived at his destination.
“Tito Richie, please come in.” Lorraine greeted Richie Lim with a big smile as soon as she opened the door to him. “Good thing you have phoned. I was about to go your house and see you and Tita Rosemarie.”
“You were about to see us?…” Richie asked inquiringly as Lorraine led him to her sitting room.
“Yes, Tito! I was just going to tell you about what Ricky did. He left me to fend for myself in Ilocos! He treated me badly. Me, his fiancée!” Lorraine said, sighing dramatically.
“Lorraine, that is why I’m here….” Richie Lim started, trying to pick his words carefully. “You see I know now what happened in Ilocos…”
“Talaga, Tito. Di ba, ang bad ni Ricky. Pagsabihan mo please, Tito. Of course, patatawarin ko naman siya and our wedding will push through.” Lorraine said fast, getting agitated. She very much wanted for Ricky’s father to believe him to salvage what was left of their relationship one more time.
“ Lorraine, Lorraine, please calm down!” Richie Lim said softly, seeing Lorraine working herself into a lather. “Please, stop this. Stop whatever it is. Listen to me. Enough of this please. Kaya nga ako nandito para kausapin ka ng maayos. Ricky told me what happened, what really happened in Ilocos.”
“ You mean….” Lorraine started, gathering her thoughts, trying to recover from what she just heard. She was so surprised. She never thought that it was what she was going to hear when her Tito Richie phoned earlier and asked her if he could see her as he has something to discuss. She thought it would be to assure her that hers and Ricky’s wedding will still push through.
“Yes, Lorraine! I’m sorry. Someday, you will find the right guy for you. The love that is for you!” Richie Lim said, trying to comfort Lorraine. “Thank you for loving my son. I hope you will move on now. Enough of ruining Ricky’s relationship with Maya. That is not you. I know.”
Lorraine felt so tired and defeated at that moment. Without Ricky’s father’s support, all was lost to her, she realized. She looked at Richie’s Lim and just nodded.
Soon after, Richie Lim said his goodbye and as soon as she had closed the door on him, she screamed in rage and frustration! She grabbed the first thing she saw and threw it on the wall. It was too late when she noticed that it was the very expensive Lalique vase that her mother inherited from her grandmother! Ah, she thought, that the least of her problem, explaining the destruction of the vase. What she needed to get ready for, would be her parents disappointed reaction when they find out that she let Ricky escape from her grasp. She can’t bear another disappointing her parents again and not living up to their exalted expectations!
Lorraine grabbed her purse, with the intention of going to Ricky’s office and trying one more time. She stopped when she was at the door. She happened to look at herself in the mirror. She looked deranged! It was then that some rational thought managed to penetrate her foggy brain. She realised that what she will do and what she was doing, is some kind of desperate move to hold on to something that had already escaped her grasp. She does not want to be this pathetic! She went back to her living room, slumped on the sofa, and stared out of the window, but not seeing the view. She lost big time, and it was her fault!
That Maya is a very lucky girl, she mused, very envious, feeling a very great loss.
Ricardo Lim II, Richie to family and friends, stared at the beautiful, poise woman circulating among the art patrons looking in awe at Santiago Ocampo’s stark but beautiful landscape paintings. He was nursing a glass of red wine that his friend Bobby gave as soon as they entered the spacious gallery displaying his son’s latest work. She had a ready, sincere, and seemingly genuine smile for everyone. She is the spitting image of her! As beautiful and it seems as charming as her grandmother. Everyone greeted her with warmth, even people he had known to be quite reserved and haughty, if he may say so.
He thought he was seeing a ghost, a ghost that he had believed for so long haunted his family long before she died and joined his father wherever he is now. He never expected he would see the granddaughter, his son’s new girlfriend, that evening! It turned out, she and her gallery organized Santi’s exhibition. He had seen Maya Dela Rosa-Ventura, her grandmother, several times when he was in his late teens. He was curious to know about her ever since he had stumbled upon his father’s journal one year before he died.
Richie Lim remembered that moment so clearly. He saw his father with a glass of his finest Scottish whiskey staring at the painting on his study with a sad expression on his face one evening, a blue journal opened before him. His father took one gulped of his drink, then put the journal inside the secret drawer, not so secret to him anyway, a drawer in his study. When his father went to bed, he snuck into the study and opened the drawer, his curiosity well and truly aroused as he felt it would answer some things that had been puzzling him.
He spent most of the night reading the journal and understanding some things that had been puzzling him, like his parents looking like a normal couple on the surface, not very demonstrative of their feelings, which he thought was because of their natural reserve and that it was just the way they were. Him, remembering the exact time, when his father got sick for a week after he had been on a trip and that he whispered for him to get well. He was about five years old at that time. His mother seemingly sad at times, when she thought no one was looking. He attributed it to the fact that they were in a strange land, but it turned out it was because his father was in love with someone else. He never loved his mother the way she should have been loved!
In Richie Lim’s young mind, he came to believe that his father may have not gone and committed adultery, but Maya Dela Rosa was very much the third person in his parents’ marriage. His father was unhappy because he was obviously pining for her, and his mother, equally so, because her husband does not love her, but another. Probably, his mother sensed it. Women, according to his female friends, insisted that they have an internal radar when it comes to those things.
When his father died, and his mother uprooted them again, to go back to the Philippines, he wondered if his mother had discovered the journal as it was not at the hiding place when he checked before closed the house in San Francisco. He was not sure whether it was his father who moved it, sensing that someone else’s read it or it was his mother. He never thought of asking as it his question might open a can of worms that would hurt his gentle mother. He wanted to let that secret die with his father.
However, he was unable to help himself, he sought the woman who made his parents unhappy for completely different reasons. The first time he saw her was in a gallery show like the one he was attending at that moment. It was not her painting on display, but an artist friend who was a friend of one of his friends parents. She seemed nice, he admitted to himself, but then he remembered his unhappy parents and his animosity towards her surfaced. He barely stopped himself from going to her and lashing out. The fact that, liked her granddaughter, she seemed so regal, so well-liked and so nice, stopped him. Besides, despite their reserves, his parents raised him well, especially his mother.
When Ricky told him and his wife Rosemarie about his and Maya’s relationship, he reacted without thinking, everything he thought belong to the past surfacing forcefully. He hated that it created a rift between him and his son. His wife, when he went home the night before, told him he acted rashly. Normally, Rosemarie, just let him be but last night, she was really annoyed at him. He almost called up his son the night before, but he stopped himself. He needed to think. He dreamed about his father, telling him things were not what they seemed, while they were sitting in a park in San Francisco. Later, he remembered that it was their last outing before he died.
He woke up early the following morning, that morning. He found himself driving towards the direction of Batangas, to find answers from the one person he thought could give him those. His mother was surprised to see him! But after spending several hours with her, he had a clearer mind and his perspective have shifted. He went back to Manila in a better frame of mind. He found the answers! Had he not promise Bobby that he will attend this exhibit he would have sought out his son and try to repair the damage that he caused with his outburst! It is time to close the past, and as his mother had said, some things are meant to be no matter what! It is something that he was sure would make his father happy wherever he was!
Robert Ocampo, Bobby to family and friends, waved his hand in front of Richie Lim to call his attention one more time.
Richie Lim looked at his friend, his mind still in the past, started to apologize but stopped as he noticed his compadre was not alone.
“‘Padre, are you okay? Sorry, it took me a while to get back to you!”
“I’m okay, I’m okay. Hindi mo naman ako kailangang samahan, all the time! Just be with your son, Bobby!”
“No, no, I brought you here. Besides, my son is busy with his friends and potential collectors of his work.” Bobby Ocampo said, then looked at Maya. “This is Maya Dela Rosa, the owner of this gallery and a good friend of my son since college. Maya, this is my good friend Ricardo Lim II, Richie to family and friends.”
He is Ricky’s father! It was the first thought that entered Maya’s head when Bobby Ocampo made the introduction. At first she does not know how to react, having met him unexpectedly and knowing that he had some objection to hers and Ricky’s relationship. But the manners and poise that has been drilled into her by her mother took over.
“Please to meet you po, Mr. Lim.” Maya said politely, respectfully, deciding to keep it safe and simple. She gave the older Lim a friendly smile and offered her hand. Ricky and his father do not look alike, though there are similarities, on a closer look. Richie Lim must have taken after Mrs. Alexandra Lim. Though, when she caught him staring at her earlier, she thought he looked familiar.
Richie Lim stared, for several long seconds, at the hand extended to him, then took her proffered hand. This is an unexpected but propitious, he thought to himself!
“Please to meet you, Maya. Ricky told us about you.” He said with a neutral, friendly smile. He didn’t know if Ricky mentioned something to her. But he had an inkling that he did and that Maya knows about what happened at their home the day before. He hopes everything would still be okay. “Is Ricky coming too? He didn’t mention when I saw him yesterday.”
It was Bobby Ocampo’s turned to be surprised. Before Maya can react and answer Richie Lim’s question, he asked, “Told you about her? Maya, do you know Ricky also?”
“Errr…” Maya groped for words! She was not expecting that Ricky’s father will acknowledge her like this.
“What Maya means is that, Ricky is her boyfriend, ‘Padre.” Richie Lim said simply, looking at Maya, wondering if Ricky had mentioned to her his reaction to knowing that she is his son’s girlfriend.
“Oh, you didn’t mention that, ‘Padre, when I asked you earlier how’s Ricky, but I’m happy to know that he and Maya are together now!” Bobby Ocampo told Ricky’s father, then looking at Maya, he added teasingly. “Kaya lang talagang wala na palang pag-asa ang anak ko Maya. Hindi na pala kita magiging daughter-in-law!”
Maya blushed at that. Tito Bobby always teases her like that when they see each other. Yes, it was true that Santi courted her when they were in college but she told him that they were better off as friends. “Tito Bobby, talaga! Love naman kita kahit friends lang kami ni Santi.”
“Pa, kinukulit mo na naman ba si Maya.” Santi said, from Maya’s left, another guy was with him. “Matagal ko nang tanggap na basted ako sa kanya.”
“Wala ka na talagang pag-asa pala, hijo.” Bobby said. “As your Tito Richie just said, Maya is Ricky’s girlfriend.”
“Really, Maya! Kailan pa? I thought Ricky is getting married to….” Santi exclaimed in surprise, then trailed off. “Oh sorry! Butt I’m happy for you and Ricky kahit masakit for me.” He said while clutching his heart in an exaggerated fashion while smiling at Maya.
“Ikaw talaga, Santi. Incorrigible!” Maya said, flushing. She is not used to being put on the spotlight like this, especially it is the first time she is in a relationship.
Richie Lim looked at Maya Dela Rosa and seeing her flushed face, he felt guilty at just blurting out hers and Ricky’s relationship like that. He was caught off guard and he never realized that it would snowballed. His intention was just to acknowledge hers and Ricky’s relationship in his own way. He felt bad, really, at the way he reacted the day before.
“Pa, Tito, Richie, I would like you to meet pala Tristan Miranda. He is with the magazine Arts and Artists. He will feature me in their next issue.” Santi said. “Maya, of course, you and Tris know each other, I presumed.”
“Yes, we chatted earlier and Tristan and I have known each other for years.” Maya said, smiling warmly at Tristan, who at some point also tried to court her. Tristan just smiled, because like Santi, Maya ‘friend-zoned’ him not so long time ago!
Bobby and Roberto shook Tristan’s hands, they chatted a bit until another guest caught Santi’s attention, and also Tristan’s. Then Bobby’s attention was called by one of his friends as well, leaving Maya and Richie Lim alone.
“Mr. Lim, gusto ninyo po ng….?
“Maya, I would like to say….”
Maya and Richie Lim spoke at the same time. They looked at each other and shared a tentative smile.
“Go ahead, please Maya.” Richie Lim said. “And please call me Tito Richie or Papa!”
Maya looked at Ricky’s father in surprise! She never expected him at all to say that after what Ricky had told her of his reaction to them being in a relationship. He had been surprising her since meeting him this evening. “Oh, thank you po. I would like to ask lang po sana if there is something I can get you, food, coffee or more wine?”
Richie Lim saw Maya’s reaction to his offer of calling him Papa or Tito Richie before she can school her expression, which confirmed that his son did mention to his girlfriend about his reaction. He had said it on impulse. He decided to be direct about the whole thing and clear the air. He had a feeling that Maya will end up as his daughter-in-law and that she is the love of his son’s life.
“Maya, may I be direct?” Richie asked, and when Maya nodded to express her agreement, he continued. “Ricky might have mentioned something to you, about my reaction to your relationship, and I would like you to know that I am sorry for my initial reaction. I am just happy for you and Ricky. I would like to get to know you better also. Would that be okay, hija?”
“Of course, Sir…” Maya started and when Richie Lim started shaking his head, smiling, she corrected herself. “Errrr, Tito Richie, yes po! I would like to get to know you better also, and I’m looking forward to meeting Mrs. Lim as well.” Maya managed to say. She can’t seemed to get her to say ‘Papa’ yet as she just met Ricky’s father. She also feels glad that he was over to whatever objection he had to her and Ricky’s relationship.
They smiled at each other in silent understanding. Since everything seemed to be going well, Maya invited Rickiy’s father to sit at the coffee table at a side of the gallery. They chatted a bit, mostly about she and Ricky’s trip up North, also the funny way they have met, which had Ricky’s father chuckling. Richie Lim found himself liking his son’s new girlfriend very much. He smiled a lot, so caught up in her vivid description of the places they have been.
It was this scene that Ricky saw when his gaze finally found Maya and his father! He decided to go to the gallery after he had found out from his mother that his father would be here! He would just like to check on Maya. Instinctively, he knew that his father will not deliberately snub Maya or do something bad to her, but he would like to know how they fared upon meeting each other, as he knew that they were bound to meet each other. He was surprised to see them chatting and smiling at each other.
“Maya, Papa….” Ricky said, calling their attention.
Both of them looked at him in surprise!
“Ricky!” Maya said with a big smile, love in her eyes. “I thought you have a dinner with your mother!”
Richie Lim was surprised to hear that as his wife didn’t mention that their son was coming to dinner. “Son, nasa bahay ka pala! Sana isinama mo ang Mama mo rito so she can also met Maya.” He said smiling fondly at Maya.
On the way to the gallery, Ricky thought of several scenarios that he would see, but he never thought or imagined that it would be this, his father and Maya getting along very well.
“Pa, I’m glad that you and Maya got to meet each other.” He said neutrally. “Maya, sweetheart, I just need to come. I hope that is okay.”
“Of course, Ricky. I did invite you. But you should have brought your Mama. Didn’t you have dinner with her.” Maya said, gazing at Ricky with love. She was just happy to see him.
“Mama was a bit tired and told me she will go to bed early. Of course, she would have loved to come and meet you, Sweetheart.”
“Well, maybe, you both can come to dinner this Friday.” Richie Lim asked both of them. “And son, can we have lunch tomorrow at the Polo Club?”
“Yes, of course, Papa!” Ricky said. “And for Friday, dinner, Maya?”
“Yes, we would love to come to dinner, Tito Richie.” Maya said with a smile.
Richie Lim grinned. “That’s great! I will leave you two, and see where Bobby is. I would like to buy your Mama a painting too. It was great meeting you, Maya. I’ll see both of you on Friday!”
With that, Richie Lim was gone, leaving Ricky staring with disbelief at what he had just witnessed. His father being very warm to Maya after his angry outburst the day before and Maya calling his father Tito Richie which he knew was because his father asked her to.
“Was that really my father, sweetheart!” Ricky asked bemused. Then looking at Maya, he said. “When I found out from Mama that this was where my father would be, I just need to come sweetheart and check on you.”
“I know, Ricky. I was also surprised to met him here. He is a friend of Tito Bobby pala. I didn’t make the connection until I was introduced to him. Of course, I noticed him staring at me. But after Tito Bobby introduced us, he was the one who told them that I am your girlfriend! He had been very nice to me. He asked me to call him Tito Richie or Papa!”
“Really! I’m happy to know that. I’m sure I will learn everything about at our lunch tomorrow. But whatever changed his mind, I am just so happy.”
“I am too.” Maya said simply, touching Ricky’s hand and caressing it.
“You looked very lovely tonight, sweetheart.” He said softly, looking at her wearing a black sheath dress that hugged her every curves. She had a light make-up on and this was the first time he saw Maya made up and looking very sophisticated. “I’m glad I came by after all. I missed you, sweetheart!”
“Thank you, sweetheart. I’m also happy that you are here and that everything is well with your father. I miss you too.”
Ricky looked happily at his girlfriend and mouthed an “I love you”, then after checking if they were quite alone in their little corner, he stole a quick but very intense kiss.
Maya grinned happily, flushing and then said ‘I love you’ back, caressing his face and wiping the lipstick that smeared his lips with her thumb.
Unknown to them, someone saw their very sweet moment. It was Ricky’s father and he had a big smile on his face.
“Welcome to my little sanctuary!” Maya said, turning on the lights, as she and Richard entered the end unit on the 16th floor of the condominium building. Richard saw a beautifully and comfortably designed living room. It has two floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, a comfortable sofa, with purple prints in front of the huge glass window, a big landscape painting on the wall and a rocking chair by the window. Maya was a bit nervous in showing Richard her place as not so many people have been there. It is her private space and she is very choosy in sharing it, even with close friends and family! However, with Richard, it just felt so right letting him into another part of her private world, especially now that they are in a relationship.
“I like your place, Maya sweetheart! It is just so you! It is very warm and welcoming too! I feel like I can spend the whole afternoon, sitting on that rocking chair, just listening to music or reading a book, or with you on my lap, I wish!” Richard remarked with a teasing smile as he looked around the living room which has white walls, but decorated in colourful pieces that somehow blended together. If there is one word to describe the place, it would be, vibrant, like its owner!
“How long have you been living here? I wish I had run into you in one of my visits to Rafi here. She lives two floors up. Then, we would have met each other sooner, sweetheart. Or maybe at one of my parents’ parties that your aunt attended. But still, we had met and that is what is important now.” Richard added with a loving smile to Maya.
“That’s true, Ricky. See, we met still! To answer your question, it has been five years since I moved to this place! I have been living here since after my aborted wedding.” Maya replied, gesturing for Richard to sit down on the sofa facing the floor-to-ceiling window which currently has a limitless view of Metro Manila sky as there were no other structures, yet, on that side of the building. “Before that, I lived with my Tita Margarita and Emman. I just felt that I needed my own space after all that had happened, to make sense of everything, to process with only just me. This place has kept my busy, decorating it, arranging my stuffs, and it had been my refuge, kept me sane those days! Do I make sense? I mean…”
“Oh Maya, yes you do, sweetheart! I wish …” Richard started, groping for words which to express his thoughts properly, and controlling the simmering anger at Maya’s fiancé’s callous treatment of her. He was wishing that he had known Maya at the time it happened so he could offer comfort and at the same time, he wished that he was at the wedding so he can punch James in the face for hurting Maya. But still, he was relieved that Maya had a lucky escape, and that they found each other. Fate does works in mysterious ways!
Maya put her right hand over Richard’s left one, seeing his expression and his concern for her.
“ Ricky, thank you.” Maya said softly, pressing his hand to let him know she appreciates his support and concern and that she is indeed, okay now, giving him a sweet smile. “We can talk later. For now, let us have dinner first.”
Maya stood up then carried the box containing Emman’s pastries and the food they order into the kitchen. Richard nodded, understanding, then he also stood up and followed her.
“Can I help with anything? Please!” He asked from the doorway. Maya’s kitchen is quite big and it looked like it has been set up for a chef.
“Okay, can you get a bottle of white wine from the fridge! Sorry, I don’t have red, if that is what you prefer!” Maya said while she took out plates from the cabinet above her sink.
She worked with a graceful efficiency which Richard likes very much. He was smiling while he looked at her. He thinks he will not get tired of watching her like this. Then he remembered that he was supposed to get the wine. He found several bottles in Maya’s refrigerator pocket. “Oh, this is okay.” Richard replied, holding a chilled bottle of white wine with a familiar label. Seems like they have the same taste in wine. “I like this brand also.”
Richard pulled the chair for Maya when she was finished setting the table for their cozy meal. She even found some candles from her drawer. Even on a short notice, she managed to make the meal setting beautiful and romantic, like they were about to eat in a fancy restaurant.
“This is very lovely, Maya! I’m glad we are eating in, instead of a fancy restaurant.” Richard remarked as he poured wine for him and Maya.
“Thank you, Ricky. Even if it was just mostly me, I like eating nicely. I, actually, prefer this, especially if it just me.” Maya replied, taking the glass of wine that Ricky was giving her. “Thanks.”
“I’m sure your guests like the table settings too.” Richard remarked. “And you must be a very good cook. The kitchen looked well used and it will rival that of a chef’s ha.”
“I do. Though at times, I felt like it is too much effort with only just me. But when I’m mulling over something or when I have time, I’m here at the kitchen trying out new recipes.” Maya said smiling.
“Your friends must have love coming here to dinner or lunch.”
“Well, actually, aside from Emman, you are the only other male, who have been here. I called this my sanctuary as I never brought anyone here, except, Tita Margarita and Emman. This is my sanctuary in the real sense of the word.” Maya admitted.
“Thank you, sweetheart, for letting me in, Maya.” Richard said softly, meaning the words literally and figuratively. He was overwhelmed at Maya’s love and trust, something he knew she does not give lightly. “I love you very much.”
“I love you very much too, Ricky. Thank you for coming into my life.”
Richard raised his glass, and offered a toast. “Cheers and here’s to us, sweetheart! Our first dinner as a couple and I would have not have it another way! To my lovely, talented, girlfriend!”
“Cheers, Ricky. Thank you. And you my handsome and wonderful boyfriend!” Maya replied, the word boyfriend rolling smoothly in her tongue. It really has a very nice ring to it.
They drank to it, then gave each other smiles that lit up their faces with the love they are feeling for each other. They shared a kiss, forgetting about their hunger for a while, until Maya’s grumbling stomach interrupted their moment. They both laughed and proceeded to make a dent on the mouth-watering food before them, enjoying each other company very much, chatting as they eat. The more time they spend with each other, the more they feel happier and contented.
“Dessert and coffee?” Maya asked Richard after they have finished two glasses of wine each and all the delicious food they bought at Emilio’s. “Emman sent a box of my favourite blueberry muffins. His note said, that it was a welcome back to me, present.”
“Maybe, later for the muffins, sweetheart!” Richard said with a big smile. “I’m too full from our dinner. But a cup of coffee would be great.”
“Okay, for me too. I don’t think I can eat another bite. That was one of the most delicious dinner I had. You are right about that restaurant.” Maya stood up, then put ground beans into the coffee maker. “Go to back to the sofa, please, and I would just bring the coffee there. That’s my favorite part of the evening, when I have the time, sitting there with a glass of wine or coffee and just staring at the beautiful night, at that sofa or the rocking chair, relaxing.”
“Sure! I can help you first, with the dishes!” Richard offered, standing up with the intention of bringing the plates to the sink.
“No, I’ll do it later, sweetheart. Just go and relax, please.” Maya insisted, then lightly pushed Richard towards the direction of the living room after she made him put down the plates he was holding. “Go on. I’ll follow soon.”
“Okay. Thank you for the dinner, sweetheart. I can get use to this fast. You, taking care of me, like this.” Richard said, looking at Maya with love in his eyes. Then he lowered his lips to her for a quick kiss, before he walked towards the living room.
Maya was still smiling and humming lines from her favorite love song , while getting coffee mugs from the cabinet. Her phone rang while was waiting for the coffee to finish brewing.
“Welcome back, Cuz!!!!” Emman said cheerfully, when Maya picked up the call. “Did you get the muffins I left at the reception? I was planning to give you that in person, but one of our clients, you know the ‘momzilla’, requested an emergency meeting!”
“Emman, please don’t call Mrs. Benitez a ‘momzilla’. You might blurt that out accidentally, sige, in front of her!” Maya said smiling. “And yes, I got the muffins, thank you.”
“Good, good! So, how’s everything?” Emman asked, and Maya knew what exactly he was asking her. At that moment, she saw that the coffee was ready.
“Well, can I just tell you about the whole thing, tomorrow?” Maya said, pouring coffee into the mugs with the phone on her left ear, and then unable to resist telling her cousin. She knows Emman will be happy for her and she can’t contain her happiness at that moment! “I need to bring the coffee to the living room. My boyfriend is waiting.”
“Boyfriend!!!!!” Emman shrieked. “Richard Lim is now you boyfriend! Since when, Maya Dela Rosa? From a calesa kind of person, you transformed into a bullet train when it comes to relationship, overnight!”
Maya laughed, a happy, lilting laugh, her cousin really has a weird way with words! “Tomorrow, I will tell you about it. Dinner?”
“Mayaa!!!!” Emman protested, then sighed loudly. “Okay, torture your poor cousin about the details. But I want to know everything, as in everything! But seriously, Cousin, I’m so happy for you.”
“Thanks a lot, Emman. Until tomorrow. See you at the office, okay, then dinner. Oh, and don’t tell Tita Margarita yet. I want to be the one to do it.”
“Of course, Cuz. But I’m pretty sure, Mommy will be so very happy for you and Richard.” Emman said. “Awwww, my cousin has finally found someone whom she loves very much, and I’m sure he is, not like that cad James.” Emman said fiercely.
“He is not. He is not.” Maya said, softly.” He is the most wonderful guy in the world!”
The two cousins said their goodbyes. Maya put sugars on the coffee, just like how Richard liked it then walked towards the living room.
“Sorry, I took so long….” Maya started saying with a big smile, then stopped after seeing Richard, half-lying, half-reclining on the sofa, in deep sleep!
“Poor, baby.” She murmured. He must have been pretty tired from all the traveling they did, plus the accident, their late nights and other things.
Maya put the tray down and then removed Richard’s shoes. She lifted his legs and made him comfortable on the big sofa. He didn’t even open his yes. He just grunted and sought a more comfortable position. Maya went to her room and got a spare comforter from her linen closet. Then she dimmed the light. She stared at Richard’s sleeping form, so at peace, so handsome, so wonderful and she was filled with this overwhelming love for him. She thought then that she would not get tired of looking at him like this.
Maya retired to her room after cleaning the kitchen. Before long, she also went to sleep, comforted by the fact that Richard was sleeping nearby. She never thought much of being alone before, but at that moment, she felt so very happy that Richard was in the same space. That was her last thought when sleep finally claimed her.
Several hours later, Richard woke with start, disoriented. He looked around and realized where he was, in Maya’s place! Then everything came back to him. He was waiting for Maya to bring the coffee, and he was staring at the beautiful night, when he suddenly felt very sleepy. He just thought of resting his eyes for a while! Apparently, he went into deep sleep. Must be the rich food, the wine and all the traveling they did!
He was completely unaware when Maya went into the living room with the coffee. She had also removed his shoes and covered him in blanket, apparently while he was snoring on her sofa! He just zonked out on Maya on their first evening together as boyfriend and girlfriend! He thought that Maya, will not mind, but still, he would have love to share a cup of coffee with her as they chatted about stuffs and perhaps cuddle on that big sofa. They haven’t had that talk yet about Andrea and he had a feeling that had they did, he would also have known by then what happened to Maya and her ex-fiance!
Richard stood up to find the toilet. He found it near the left corner of the living room. On the way back to the sofa, he noticed the door to the right of the living room was slightly ajar. He took a peak and found his girlfriend, sleeping on a beautiful, antique sleigh bed. She looked so angelic and peaceful while she slept like a babe. She also looked very beautiful. He chuckled, hearing that she was snoring lightly. She looked and sound adorable. How he loves this wonderful woman! He wished he can share the bed with her. Then Maya moved, and he thought he woke her up. He was closing the door when he heard her calling his name. He opened the door fully.
“Ricky, where are you?” Maya murmured, then opening her eyes and looking at him with an unfocused stare. “Go back to sleep, it is not yet morning.” Then she moved a bit, then patted the space beside her on the bed, sleepily indicating for him to lie there.
Richard hesitated a bit, thinking that Maya maybe just talking in her sleep.
“Ricky, sleep please, here.” She murmured again, burrowing deep into her pillow.
Richard went to the side Maya indicated. The bed dipped when he sat on it, then made himself comfortable beside his sleeping girlfriend. Maya moved closer to him, putting her head on his chest in her sleep. He put his arms around her and then with her warm and unique scent enveloping him, he went back to sleep, a very deep sleep.
Maya woke up at dawn with masculine arms around her middle. At first she panicked, then instinctively realized whose arms were around her, Richard’s! She thought she was dreaming earlier when she had told Richard to go back to sleep, beside her! She was not. She looked at her boyfriend’s sleeping form and smiled. With a contented sigh, she went back to sleep, cocooned in Richard’s loving embrace.
Ricky stared at the painting. It was like looking at himself in the mirror. Except for the clothes and the haircut, it could have been him on the canvas before him! He felt himself shivered. Maya who was sitting beside him on the couch while Manang Fe held the painting before them, sensing his reaction, squeezed his hand gently.
Manang Fe took them to the library after their sumptuous dinner. Ricky felt very happy and so at home at the house he had been to for the first time, for some unexplainable reason. It felt like there was a happy spirit welcoming him to that place. When he entered the library he was very nervous and at the same time had this feeling of anticipation at what he and Maya would see. True enough, he was not expecting the feeling that surged through him upon seeing the painting he and Maya never thought existed. It was bittersweet, seeing the image of his grandfather. He was happy at the love that he was seeing leaping from the canvas, at the same time, sad at the circumstances when the painting was done.
His grandfather was painted with extreme happiness on his expression. He was smiling, a smile that reached his eyes. It was a beautiful portrait of a grandfather he wished he had met. It was a painting done with love. It was obvious in each stroke of the brush that was used in that oil painting of Ricardo Lim, as if Maya’s grandmother wanted to commit something for eternity, wanted to remember by his grandfather like this, so full of life and happy.
Ricky thought at that moment, that he would have done the same, if God forbid, he lost Maya, he would have wanted to remember her as someone who was full of life, who loved life, and if he could paint, he would have painted Maya the way her grandmother painted his grandfather. He can feel the canvass speaking to him across the decades.
Maya was also looking at the canvas, seemingly mesmerized.
It was so painful. It felt like her heart would burst and stop functioning with the grief she was feeling as she filled the canvas with the image of her beloved. She had been painting him nonstop since that morning. She wanted a to remember him so full of life and happy. She wanted a painting of him the way she still remembers him, and that when her memory fades, she will have that to look to. It still hurts so much, she still misses him so much after all these years, but she must continue on for her daughter’s sake….
“Maya…? Sweetheart…?” Ricky said softly, seeing, that, she had gone inside her head and was staring into something only she can see, like she was not with him and Manang Fe anymore.
Maya blinked several times before the image of her grandmother painting like crazy, and what were probably in her thoughts while doing the painting, retreated from her consciousness. She became aware of Ricky and Manang Fe looking at her with concern.
“Sorry, Ricky, Manang, for a while I can imagine seeing Lola Maya painting that picture in her studio, wearing a painter’s smock over her white blouse and black leggings, her hair in a bun. It was so vivid that it felt like I was there, like I was the one putting colors on that canvas! I don’t know how to explain it, but I thought I felt what she was feeling while doing the painting.”
“Maya anak, iyan ang paboritong suot at ayos ng lola mo kapag nagpipinta siya. Baka nakita mo iyan sa isa sa mga larawan niya. Lolo mo ba, Ricky, ang nasa painting?” Manang Fe asked. She was almost sure kasi magkamukhang-magkamukha sila ng painting. “Siguro rin na-imagine mo kung ano ang nasa damdamin niya habang ginagawa iyan.”
“Opo, Manang. Si Lolo Ricardo po ang nasa painting. I believe nagkakilala sila ni Mrs. Ventura sa Ilocos noong bago sila ikasal ni Mr. Ventura.” Ricky replied, still looking at Maya with concerned. He had a pretty good idea on what Maya was experiencing earlier.
“Oh, kaya pala, anak! Kung si Maya, kamukhang-kamukha ng lola niya. Ikaw naman ng iyong lolo.” Manant Fe looked closely at Ricky and indeed, the resemblance is uncanny. She shivered.
“Manang, noong una nga po kaming nagkita nitong si Ricky, ang akala ko multo siya ng lolo niya.” Maya looked at Ricky, smiling and she started telling her old nanny about her and Ricky’s meeting. Then, she also told Manang the content of the journal.
“Napakalungkot naman ng kwentong iyan, Maya. Kaya pala ang lola mo parang nag-iba mula nang makita kong hawak-hawak niya iyang journal na iyan at nakatingin lang sa bintana matapos bumisita si Mrs. Alexandra Lim. Naalala ko nga na ganoon din ang hitsura niya noong bumalik siya ng Maynila pagkagaling sa Ilocos noong maysakit si Sir Jaime. Ang akala ko nga noon baka nag-aaalala lang siya sa kondisyon ng lolo mo Maya. Kaya pala mula noon parang may nawalang kinang sa kanya.” The old lady sighed, feeling for her old alaga, shaking her head as if wanting to dispel the extreme sadness she was feeling at that moment. “Kumusta na nga pala ang Lola Alexandra mo, Ricky?”
“Mabuti naman po siya, Manang. Sa Batangas na po sila naka-base ni Lolo Victor, her second husband. Ipapakilala ko nga po sa kanya si Maya this weekend.”
“Ganoon pa, naku nakakatuwa naman.” Manang Fe said with a smile, thinking na mukhang seryoso na ang relasyon ng alaga niya at ng apo ng lalaking minahal din ng kanyang lola. Ang tadhana nga naman, she thought to herself. “O sige, maiwan ko na muna kayo rito, tawagin ninyo na lang ako kung may kailangan kayo.”
“Sige po, Manang Fe, magpahinga na kayo. Kayo nga ang kagagaling sa sakit. Ako na po ang bahala rito.”
“O siya, sige, anak, magpapahinga na ako. Pero kung may kailangan ka, tawagin mo lang si Fely. Nasa kwarto lang naman iyon at nagko-computer. Ewan ko ba sa batang iyon, late na natutulog.” Manang Fe said with a smile. “Good night, Ricky!”
“Good night po, Manang Fe. Maraming salamat po ulit sa masarap na dinner! I’m happy to have finally met you.”
“Walang anuman, Ricky. Ako man, natutuwa na nakilala kita at natutuwa akong malaman na may nobyo na itong alaga ko. Akala ko eh tätanda na rin siyang dalagang katulad ko. Masyado kasing pihikan! Madami nang nabasted iyan!”
“Manang, naman!” Maya said, laughing, objecting to her nanny’s statement good-naturedly! “Choosy lang Manang. Saka hinihintay ko talaga itong si Ricky.” She joked, but realized that it was so true. All her life, it had seemed that she was looking or waiting for something or someone. Now that she had met Ricky and that he is now her boyfriend, she felt complete.
“Thank you for waiting for me, sweetheart.” Ricky whispered softly while they held hands, watching Manang Fe’s departing figure. “I’m so happy you did.”
“Ricky, all my life, I felt like I was looking for something or someone, and now that I have you, I realized, I feel complete. I’m so glad that we have found each other.” Maya said, touching Ricky’s face.
They shared a quick kiss, then hand in hand, they returned to where they were sitting earlier. They found themselves staring at the painting as they enjoyed their coffee.
“Maya….” Ricky started, remembering Maya’s trance like state earlier. “What exactly happened earlier? I saw you shivered while in a trance like state?”
“Ricky….” Maya hesitated a bit, then took a deep breath and continued. “Para kasing I was there, in the past, when my grandmother was doing the painting, feeling all her emotions, lahat-lahat. It was so vivid that it hurt so much. Sorry, ang hirap niya kasing ipaliwanag! Parang ako siya! Do I make sense?”
“Yes, Maya, you do. Recently, I have been having those ‘spells’ as well, especially this afternoon after my father reacted negatively to knowing that you were Maya Dela Rosa-Ventura’s granddaughter. Though I was not sure if it was completely due to that or the fact that it was a surprise to him that I’m not marrying Lorraine. But don’t worry about it.”
“He does not approve of our relationship?” Maya put her hands, on top of Ricky’s, suddenly worried.
“Not exactly just about us, I think. But the fact that our families have a history. Don’t worry about it. My mother said my Lola Sandra might help shed light on the whole thing. Kaya we will see her this weekend. If that is okay with you.” Ricky said, wishing that he didn’t tell Maya about his father’s objection. But he wanted to be honest with her. “Don’t worry about my father, okay? It will be okay. He is not a bad guy. I’m sure, if he also get to know you, he will be quickly converted and smitten.”
Maya seeing Ricky’s earnest expression, didn’t want to add anymore to his worries, so she nodded. She and Ricky can face anything together. For sure, it will be resolved at some point.
“Thank you, Maya. I love you, sweetheart. And I completely understand about feeling that we are reliving the past. Kanina pagpasok ko sa house ninyo, the thought that this was where my Maya lived with her husband and daughter entered my head! Parang feeling ko, ako si Lolo Ricardo! This is the house where your grandparents lived, di ba? Ang saya-saya rin ng pakiramdam ko and parang there was an unseen someone welcoming me to this place. Hindi lang dahil sa warm welcome ni Manang Fe, ha.”
“Yes, dito sila tumira. Ikaw rin pala nakaramdam ng ganoon! Iyong parang nasa past ka! Ricky, hindi kaya totoo na tayo ang reincarnation ng grandparents natin? Both of us are experiencing deja vu! We got attracted and we fell in love because we are really them? That we just found a way to continue a love story that was not meant to be the first time around?”
“I don’t know, Maya. Mahirap ipaliwanag, and there are things that we can’t really explain, and that we may not find the answers to those questions. But you know what, sweetheart, the important thing is the present. We were lucky to find, and fell in love with, each other. And that unlike our grandparents, we have a beautiful shot at the future. Iyon na lang ang pinanghahawakan ko. If we are them, then I’m happy that we found each other again and that our story has a happy continuation. But I do believe that we are what we are, Maya and Ricky, two different individuals from them, shaped by our period, fated to love and be happy like this.”
“Tama ka naman, Ricky. I’m happy also kung sino man tayo. Yes, we will never know. But like you, I would rather concentrate on the present we have and honor our grandparents’ love for each other, by loving each other.”
“I completely agree, sweetheart. Let us work on a having a future together. I think that would make them very happy. I love you very much, Maya.”
“I love you so very much, Ricky.”
Maya and Ricky sealed this promise with a tender kiss. Then they continue chatting while they arms around each other on the big comfortable couch.
“What are your plans tomorrow evening, sweetheart?” Ricky asked after a while, playing gently with Maya’s hair. “I’m just thinking that maybe, you can join me and my mother for dinner. She would like to meet you also.”
“Sweetheart, I would love to, but I have an exhibit at the Gallery Arts that I have to supervise tomorrow evening! Emman was supposed to handle it while I was in Ilocos, but he got sick nga. I’m going to ask you nga rin sana if you would like to attend with me.”
“Hmmm, maybe I can call my mother and I will just reschedule our dinner the day after tomorrow. Then I can go with you to that gallery thing.”
“No, no, Ricky, just go and have dinner with your mother. I’m sure she misses you very much. Please tell her I’m also looking forward to meeting her.”
“Okay, I hope your gallery exhibition is a success.” Ricky said, then he started getting up from his comfortable seat reluctantly. “I think I will get going, sweetheart. Para pareho na tayo makapagpahinga!”
“Oo nga, especially ikaw, magdamag ka pa namang nag-drive.” Maya stood up, then arms around each other, she walked Ricky to his car. “Drive carefully, and please text me when you get home!”
“I will. Good night, Maya! I’ll drop by the cafe for lunch the day after. I think I’ll just eat lunch at work tomorrow. For sure, marami na akong kailangang gawin. Would that be okay?” Ricky asked, gently caressing Maya’s chin with his thumb.
“Of course, Ricky. We can have lunch at the garden again.” Maya said, then she stood on tiptoe, giving him a quick kiss. “Good night!”
Still reluctant to leave, even if Maya can see from Ricky’s face how tired he already was, he lowered his lips, capturing hers for a quick kiss. Maya reciprocated his kiss, and it turned into something more. It went on and on until Ricky put a stop to it, while he still can. He wished then that Maya and him does not have to part for the night like when they were in Ilocos.
Maya and Ricky shared another kiss before he boarded his car. Maya stared into the night long after Ricky’s car disappeared from the street corner with a big, happy smile on her face.
By the terrace of the house, an old man smiled while sitting on the rocking chair there, observing the whole thing. So, they have found each other again, he thought! He was glad. Had he known and if it was within his power, he would have release her from their engagement to be with the one she loves. He only found out the whole thing when he stumbled upon the journal.
Maya stared at her grandfather’s rocking chair on the way back to the living room. She thought it moved a bit when she passed by. But she thought, that maybe, it was just the wind! She went inside, unconsciously humming the lyrics of an old long song, song that she didn’t realize, she was not really familiar with. She was looking forward to seeing Ricky again. She went to her room, then plopped herself down her big bed with a big smile. She only realized that she had been staring at the ceiling with a dreamy expression for a while when Ricky texted, saying that he was home.
Home now, sweetheart. I do wish that I am with you, just like in Ilocos.
Maya smiled, then texted back.
I wish that too! You will be in my dreams. Good night. I love you!
He replied quickly.
I love you too, more than life itself! And you will be in mine! Good night. See you soon!
Maya and Ricky put their phones down with big smiles on their faces. They seemed to be perpetually smiling these days! Both of them are looking forward to seeing each other again. Both of them strongly believing that their love can weather everything that would come, and that unlike their grandparents’, their love story will indeed have a happy ending, despite the fact that Ricky’s father has something against the Dela Rosa women!
“Ma’am, what would you like to drink? Coffee, tea or soda?” The beautiful flight attendant asked Maya, giving her polite, professional smile. She and Richard were the last one in their row to be served drinks and snacks on their flight back to Manila. Even though, she just had coffee before boarding the flight, Maya opted to have another cup. “Coffee, please, Miss.”
The flight attendant nodded in acknowledgement. Maya was about to ask Richard if he would like coffee as well, when the flight attendant suddenly exclaimed, “Ricky!” Surprise evident in her voice.
Maya looked in surprise. For a while, she thought the flight attendant will hug and kiss Richard on the cheek, but she stopped herself last-minute. She just settled into giving Richard a brilliant smile, seemingly very happy to see him.
“Hello, Andrea! How are you?” Richard said politely, calmly. He already noticed that it was her even before she asked Maya for her drink preference. It has been years since he last saw her.
“I’m good! How about you, Ricky?” Andrea asked, gazing at Richard intently. “I had imagined meeting you again countless of times, but not here! I had been meaning to look you up since I returned to the country several months ago. But I had to look for a job first.”
“I’m okay, Andrea.” Richard said simply. Then gazing at Maya, he said, “Sweetheart, this is Andrea Ramirez, a cousin of a friend of mine from Occidental Mindoro. Andrea, please meet my girlfriend, Maya Dela Rosa!”
“Nice to meet you, Andrea.” Maya said, giving Angela a friendly smile. She was startled when Richard introduced her as his girlfriend, but she recovered fast!
“Oh, nice to meet you, Maya!” Andrea said, not really surprised that this beautiful girl is Richard’s girlfriend. What can she expect that he is still single and available after all these years! It could have been a wife he was introducing to her and not just a girlfriend! She realized a long time ago what she had let slipped through her fingers! Of course, she had read about his aborted wedding. It happened just days before she returned to the Philippines for good.
“How about you, Ricky? What would you like to drink?” Andrea went back to the task at hand, tearing herself away from her thoughts.
“Coffee, please Andrea!” Richard replied. He thanked Andrea politely after handing the cups of coffee to him and Maya, as well as their snacks.
“Okay, enjoy your snacks. I need to go back to my station.” Andrea said, then as if was just an afterthought, she asked. “Oh, by the way, let me know if we can have dinner with me and my cousin. Francis is here at the moment. He would love to see you again.”
“Oh, he is here! I’ll just give him a call and see if our schedules will jibe. Thank you Andrea.” Richard said, giving her a noncommittal reply. While he is reluctant to see Andrea again, he would like to see her cousin again.
Richard looked thoughtfully at Andrea’s departing back. He does not feel a thing, no anger at her anymore, no love, just detachment. He had truly put the past behind him. He knew that already, but seeing Andrea again after all these years, just reaffirmed it. He gazed at Maya, again and smiled.
“So, I’m your girlfriend, huh?” Maya asked with a teasing smile of her own, and a lift of her eyebrow when Andrea was out of earshot with her beverage and food cart.
“Well, I can’t say that you are my ‘almost girlfriend’. It would sound complicated!” Richard teased back, smiling. “I just want to let her know that you are someone very important to me.”
Then turning serious, he held Maya’s left hand, played with it, absent-mindedly, gathering his thoughts. “I’m sorry for putting you on the spot, Maya. As you have probably guessed, Andrea was part of my past. She was the girl whom I thought broke my heart, many years ago. The one I was supposed to tell you about at one point. She was the reason why I stopped believing in love a long time ago.”
“Oh…” Maya said, putting her other hand on top of Richard’s. She remembered him mentioning something about it when he got jealous of Jeremy. It was just the day before, and it felt like ages ago as a lot had happened since then.
“Later, when we get to your place, I will tell you about what had happened. I want you to know. We promised each other no secrets and everything out in the open.” He finished, putting his thumb on her chin and looking deep into her eyes.
“Okay. Thank you, Ricky.” Maya replied, really appreciating his candour. “And I will tell you about James, like I have promised.”
“Thank you for that too, Maya. Though, like I have said, you don’t have to.” He said, then spoke softly again, and from the heart. “Actually, I’m happy to have seen her. I’m really over her a long time ago, but seeing her put a closure on the whole thing. In hindsight, I’m also glad that what happened between me and Andrea, and between, and Lucy and me, had happened. If those didn’t happen then I would have not met you. We would not have this. I would have not fallen head over heels and I wouldn’t know what really love is. I know the difference, Maya. What I felt before with Andrea was nothing compared to what I am feeling for you, what you are making me feel. You made me believe again in happy ever after. I love you very much!”
Maya felt her heart so full, hearing Richard said that. At the same time, she suddenly remembered what she had blurted out in between sleep and wakefulness that morning. She had whispered to Richard that she loves him. She flushed, remembering.
“What is it?” Richard asked Maya, sensing that she remembered something really very important, by just looking at her flushed, expressive face.
“Errr, I just remembered something, I have been trying to remember, something I thought I have said before falling to deep sleep last night, or errr, early this morning.”
Richard waited with bated breath, “And…?”
“I remembered it now, very clearly.” Maya gave Richard a beautiful smile, one that lit her already beautiful face. Then gazing deeply into Richard’s eyes, she said softly, meaningfully, “I said, ‘I love you’”.
“Maya…” Richard like his heart just tripled its beat, waiting, and hoping, and waiting….
“I meant it, you know. I love you very much, Ricky.” Maya said with all the love she was feeling for this wonderful guy. They may have known each other a short time, but she is never surer of something in her life, except him and his love for her and his love for her. She can feel it. Tita Margarita was right, she would know the difference when the time comes. “And I would like to take that final leap with you, into this wonderful and beautiful thing between us.”
“Maya, sweetheart, you have just made me the happiest guy in the world.” Richard gulped, feeling his throat constricting from the intense emotion he was feeling for his beautiful, wonderful love. “Thank you for trusting me with your love and your heart. I will take very good care of it.”
“I know, Ricky.” Maya said, “I just know, sweetheart.”
Richard smiled, then raised Maya’s hand to his lips and kissed it tenderly, then looking deep into her eyes, he said softly, “I love you very much.”
“I love you very much too, Ricky.” Maya said, her eyes shining with love.
They shared a quick kiss.
It was this tender scene that Andrea saw when she looked where Richard and his girlfriend sat. It could have been her! She whispered with regret. She went to the galley with a heavy heart. What do you expect Andrea, that he would still be there, pining for you after all these years! She decided it was a momentary delusion on her part when she thought that she can still win Richard back. She changed places with a colleague when it was time to say goodbyes to the passengers so she will not see them anymore.
More than an hour later, Maya and Richard were in Richard’s car, going to Maya’s place. Maya’s head was on Richard’s shoulder, their fingers interlaced, whispering sweet words to each other, just very happy.
“Sweetheart, instead of that Italian place, maybe we can just order food from a restaurant we will pass by.” Richard suggested since it was already late. “I just remember it is along the road we will take to your place.”
“Sure, Ricky! It is up to you.” Maya replied.
Richard called the restaurant. Joma, the Lim family driver, who picked them up at the airport earlier parked the car in front of a beautiful garden restaurant offering Asian fusion cuisine, more than 30 minutes after. He picked up the food that Richard ordered. They arrived at Maya’s place several minutes later. Luckily, the traffic was not that heavy. Maya was starting to feel hungry.
“You know, my cousin Rafi lives here.” Richard said while they were walking towards the elevator. “I have been meaning to tell you but forgot!”
Maya was about to reply while pushing the elevator button going up when the receptionist called her attention.
“Ms. Maya, Ms. Maya, I almost forgot, I’m sorry.” The girl told Maya as she approached her, and Richard. “This is from Sir Emman.”
“Thank you, Cindy.” Maya said getting the box of pastries from her. There is a note on top of it, but as Maya was about to read it, the elevator opened, letting out a beautiful girl, wearing a black cocktail dress. Maya have seen her before and had ridden the elevator with her one time. She looked familiar but she can’t place where she had seen her!
“Chard, I missed you! Why didn’t you tell me that you are coming over!” The girl exclaimed, then gave Richard and exuberant hug. “Wow, you even brought food from Emilio’s.”
“Errrr, woohoo, slow down!” Richard said, smiling, disentangling himself from the girl’s embrace, then seeing Maya was looking at them with a curious expression on her face. He took hold of her elbow and propelled her forward. “I’m here because of Maya, my girlfriend.”
Rafi looked at the girl beside Richard, in surprise, grinned, delighted and spoke animatedly before Richard can finished the introduction. “I’m so glad to meet you, Maya!!! I’m Rafi, Richard’s cousin! I think we have shared the elevator once. I remember, because I like the top you were wearing!”
“Oh, you are Richard’s cousin! I thought ‘Rafi’ is a guy!” Maya said smiling. “I’m Maya Dela Rosa I’m please to meet you Rafi! Ricky was just telling me that his cousin lives here!”
“Well, my parents hoped I would be a boy, so they had chosen Rafael as a name, but I turned out to be a girl.” Rafa replied, smiling.
“I didn’t see you at his wedding!” Maya remarked. She had a pretty good memory of people and faces and while Rafi looked familiar when they shared the elevator ride, she knew she has not seen her before in person.
“Oh you were there?” Rafi asked, surprised. “I was in the States so I was not able to attend Chard’s wedding.”
“I was the wedding planner. Well, our company handled the planning.” Maya said, then seeing Rafi that close, Maya also remembered where she had ‘seen’ Rafi before, from the cover of a fashion magazine she had bought.
“You were the wedding planner! And now you two are together! It sounds like a very interesting and beautiful love story you two had. I would love to hear about it.” Rafi said excitedly. “I can cancel my dinner and join you, guys instead. That is, if that is okay with you.” She said with a beseeching expression to her cousin.
“Where are you going Rafaela?” Richard asked, curious. He had a feeling that Rafi is avoiding her parents again.
“Errr to a party with the parents! You know how they are. Mama will subtly introduce me to her friends’ single sons, hoping I will like one of them!” Rafi sighed. “Parents and matchmaking and their desire to have a grandchild to bounce around.” She complained good-naturedly.
“Well, just bear it Cuz, for this evening.” Richard said, then pointing to a Mercedes that just parked in front of the building. “Mang Lem is here.”
“Chard….” Rafi said. “Maya, help me please.”
“Go, Rafi. Besides I want my evening with Maya, ALONE. She just agreed to be my girlfriend this evening.” He said grinning, happily, then looking at Maya with love.
Rafi looked google-eyed at her cousin. Oh my, this is serious! My mighty cousin has fallen big time. She smiled. “Okay, okay, I will leave you two love birds. But you owe me a dinner, Chard, and please be there too, Maya. I want to hear the whole story on how cupid finally hit my cousin.”
Maya and Richard, gazing at each other first, then smiling at Rafi, promised her that they will invite her to dinner. Rafi was off in a flash after that.
“Maya, sorry if my cousin is like a….” Richard said, looking for the correct word to best describe his cousin to someone who just met her.
“…like a tornado!” Maya finished with a smile.
“Yes, that’s the word! Thank you, sweetheart.”
“Honestly, I like her. She reminds me of Emman. I’m sure they will get along well. She is Rafaela Alcantara, isn’t she, the commercial model?”
“Yes, she is. She is doing that on the side. But she would really like to break into fashion design. That was what she studied in New York.”
“Oh, okay! I’m looking forward to getting to know her better.” Maya said, pressing the elevator button again. Richard took hold of the box of pastries for her as well.
“We can set a dinner with her next week, depending on when you are free.” Richard said as he ushered Maya inside the elevator. “Then also, let’s have dinner with my parents when they returned from their vacation so I can introduce you to them!”
Maya looked at Richard in surprise, not thinking straight, pressing the button to her floor, she said.“But I know your parents already! I have met them at my aunt’s parties. Besides, I just presented to you and your father last week!”
“I know, sweetheart, but I want them to meet you as my girlfriend! And I want yo to meet them as my parents and not as a friend of your aunt or as a client.” Richard said simply.
“Oh…” Maya said, her heart skipping a beat, hearing that, then she took a deep breath, suddenly feeling nervous all of a sudden. “Will that be okay, Ricky? Maybe, it is too soon to do that. Anyway, we just started.”
“No, Maya, sweetheart! It will be perfectly okay. And I think they will be very happy for the two of us.” Richard assured Maya. He knew what was going in her head. That it was also too soon after his aborted wedding and that when his father met her the week before, she was just their events planner and a niece of a family friend.
“Okay, if you are sure….” Maya said, agreeing with just a tiny bit of hesitation.
“Thank you, sweetheart. Everything will be okay. Don’t worry. Besides, seeing you, seeing us, my parents can see the difference in me and that time I was with Lucy, and my father never liked Andrea. They can see how in love we are. I love very much, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa, just in case you have forgotten the past two hours or so.” Richard finished, teasing.
“I love you very much too, Mr. Richard Lim.” She said, smiling. Her eyes full of love, touching Richard’s face softly.
Richard smiled back, caressing her face with his free hand. Then he lowered his head, giving Maya what he intended to be a quick kiss on the lips. However, the moment their lips met, it turned into so much more. They got lost into the intense kiss and more, that they forgot where they are. Richard didn’t even notice that he had dropped the box of pastries on the floor, and the paper bag containing their food.
“Ehhmmm, is this your floor?” Someone asked behind Maya and Richard.
They broke apart, then looked at the opened elevator door, to a smiling Caucasian guy standing just outside. Maya blushed to the roots of her hair.
“Yes, this is our floor. Thank you. Have a nice evening.” Richard managed to say, still trying to recover from the intensity of that kiss. His arms around Maya, he ushered her out of the elevator, grabbing the food bag.
Maya mumbled a ‘have a nice evening’ to the guy whom she knows, lives beside her unit. He and his wife are from Finland, and he is working at the telecoms company in the Central Business District.
“Have a nice evening too!” He said cheerfully. “Oh, you forgot the box!” The guy said, handing out Emman’s box of pastries to them with an indulgent smile.
They thanked him again, smiling back. For sure, the stranger will not forget them that fast!
Maya and Richard walked hand in hand towards her place, grinning at each other. Both of them never thought that one day in their lives, they will be caught having an intense PDA moment in an elevator!
I can’t lose her again! I can’t lose Maya, again! I will not allow it! I will do everything so we can be together forever, this time!
“Ricky…! Ricky….Ricky, are you okay, hijo?”
His mother’s voice shook Ricky out of the trance-like state he found himself into. Where did those words come from? Again? He hasn’t lost Maya. They just started!
“Yes, Mama, I’m okay.” Ricky looked at his worried mother, then took her hand. “Have you been calling my attention long, Mama?”
“Well, for a minute or so. I was getting worried na nga. You just went off tangent while sitting there, after your Papa left.” Rosemarie Lim said. “Maybe, you need to rest a bit, son. You just arrived from Ilocos this morning, di ba? Baka pagod na pagod ka na.”
“Yes, Ma! But don’t worry, I’m okay. I had little sleep, that’s true pero okay naman ako. I wanted to see Maya kasi kaagad kanina dahil baka may sinabing hindi maganda si Lorraine sa kanya kahapon. It’s a long story Ma. I’ll tell you about it some other time. Then, I was surprised at how Papa acted, earlier. I was not expecting that. I expected that you and him will not like the fact that Lorraine and I have broken up, not about Maya’s family!”
“Ricky, hijo, let your father be in the meantime. Please talk to your Lola Sandra.” Rosemarie Lim told her son. “She is the best position to help you with that, I think, since baka alam niya ang pinanggagalingan ng Papa mo. Whatever had happened in the past, I’m sure she had known about it. Besides, for sure your grandmother can talk sense into your Papa.”
“But do you have at least an idea why is Papa like that Mama? Ang tagal na noon, I was not even born then! Siya naman, how old was he when Lolo died, 15 di ba?” Ricky asked, brows knitted, as for the life of him he can’t understand his father’s irrational behavior! “Wala ba siyang nabanggit sa iyo in the past regarding Maya Dela Rosa-Ventura?”
“Wala akong malala, and I don’t understand either, where your father is coming from. But I have a feeling your grandmother will be able to help you. Give him time rin, Ricky. Maybe he is like that also because he was all set to have Lorraine as his daughter-in-law. You know your Papa. Lorraine can’t do wrong in his eyes. And Lorraine never showed her bad side to your father. She did something really bad, isn’t it? Kaya kayo nag-break?” Rosemarie Lim probed.
“You have an idea, Mama?” Ricky looked at his mother in surprise, it seemed like the afternoon was full of revelations he hasn’t really thought of at all. “Of what she was up to?”
“Not the whole story! I think unless you tell me about it or Lorraine does, then it stays between the two of you. But I have heard stories about her in the theatre circle, though there was no proof. She was into drugs, isn’t it? I dismissed it since she of all people should know the effects of taking drugs. I thought what happened to Bettina hit her hard too!”
“I thought so, Ma.” Ricky started saying, deciding to tell his mother a bit of it. “But I caught her in my place, doing drugs, with another guy.”
“Oh, you mean….” It was Rosemarie Lim’s turn to be surprised.
“Yes, Ma! And that was all I can say in the matter, forgive me please.” Ricky said. “The rest is between Lorraine and me. You know, Ma it was not really what broke us up. It was just the last straw.”
“Thank you for telling me, hijo.” Rosemarie Lim said. “While you were telling me and your Papa that you have broken up with Lorraine, after I got over the initial shock of hearing it, I knew that there must be a very compelling reason why you did that. I know you, you are a very cautious person and you don’t do impulsive things. It must have been something terrible, for you to end your engagement like that.”
“Thank you Mama for the support and for believing in me.” Ricky said. “Promise, Mama, you will like Maya very much. She is the woman for me. My forever! I just met her, but it felt like I have known her all my life. She is also beautiful inside out.”
“I love you son. I defer to your father in most things since I don’t want discord, you know that. But I would like to meet your Maya soon. She sounds like an exceptional girl, the way you stood up for her, and the way you described her now. I haven’t heard you speak like this.”
“She is Mama. I’ll introduce you to her, soon. I hope Papa will come around. But if not, so be it. I love Maya and I am of age, I’ll fight for her.”
“He will, son. Despite all his faults, your Papa is okay. Talk to your Lola soon. Do you want me to call her and ask her to talk to your Papa?” Rosemarie Lim offered.
“No need, Mama. Thank you. I will just bring Maya to her as soon as I can arrange it. Maybe, she does know why Papa acted like that. That is, if it is okay with you na kay Lola Sandra ko muna ipakilala si Maya.” Ricky asked his mother. “Maybe, if Maya’s business partner and friend is okay by this weekend, we can go to Batangas to visit Lola Sandra.”
“Of course, hijo. Okay lang. Do what you think is best. I’m behind you. Basta para sa kaligayahan mo. Bayaan mo dahan-dahanin ko rin iyang Papa mo. Mahirap lang salubungin ang init ng ulo niya. You know he does not see reason kapag sinabayan mo siya. I’ll do what I can do.” Rosemarie Lim assured her son, touching his face affectionately. “Dito ka na mag-dinner. I haven’t seen you in a while.”
“Mama, sorry, can we do it tomorrow? I have promised Maya I will have dinner with her. Baka kasi nasabihan na niya ang mga kasambahay niya.”
“Okay, tomorrow then! Huwag kang mag-aalala, wala rito ang Papa mo. May usapan sila ng Tito Robert mo na pupunta sa isang gallery exhibition tomorrow night.”
“But I can stay a bit, medyo maaga pa naman po sa usapan namin ni Maya. We can have tea.”
“Oh, good. Sige, magpapahanda ako kay Cynthia.”
Rosemarie Lim stood up and then went to the kitchen, leaving Ricky alone in the sala. Ricky sighed tiredly, still unable to understand his father and his action. It caught him blindsided. His father is usually an amiable person. He may not be the warmest father, but he knows that he loves him. He thought everything would be smooth sailing as far as his and Maya’s relationship is concern. But not only there was Lorraine, there was his father too!
While he was growing up, Richie Lim was not a very hands-on father. He was busy with the business that his great-grandfather had built. He had been managing and growing it with his uncle, Jose, his grandfather Ricardo’s only brother. However, when he has time, they do father and son bonding, even if it was in the form of him teaching him the business at a young age. Ricky never thought that it was not out of the ordinary.
His father was his hero and followed his wishes as far as his career was concerned. He never thought of rebelling. He also planted the seed in his head about courting Lorraine when he saw how close they were getting after Bettina died. He thought he had a good father, if not the best father. He can be forceful at times, get bad-tempered, but he didn’t stay mad for so long.
He saw his mother carrying a tray, so he stood up to help her.
“I can manage, Ricky.”
“Nasaan si Cynthia, Ma, bakit ikaw pa ang nagdala niyan?”
“I forgot inutusan ko nga pala siya sa deli sa kabilang street. I need some cold cuts and some cheese for tomorrow, may bisita nga pala ako, but that’s for merienda. So we are on for dinner ha. Come son, let’s eat na.”
Ricky poured the tea for his mother, then poured one for himself. Then he and is mother enjoyed their tea, catching up. Ricky told her how he met Maya, and about his grandfather’s journal. Rosemarie Lim said she was not aware of the journal, but she too like the painting that Maya Dela Rosa-Ventura did. She also pointed out that his grandmother could have not been affected by the whole thing since she had kept the painting.
Ricky was about to say something more, when his phone beeped. It was Maya saying that she will leave the hospital soon and she will see him at her home as they have agreed on earlier. He remembered that he was supposed to get wine before he goes to her house. Besides, he would like to change for dinner as well.
“Mama, I’m sorry, I have to get going. Maya just texted. She is on her way home. I would like to go to my place first.” Ricky said, putting is tea-cup down, then standing up.
“Okay, hijo. Until tomorrow then! Come at 7PM please.” Rosemarie Lim said, standing up and offering her cheek for her son to kiss. “Enjoy your evening, and tell Maya that I look forward to meeting her.”
“I will, Mama. Thank you. I love you.”
“Love you, too, hijo.”
Half an hour later, Ricky entered his place, carrying two fresh bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine he bought on the way. Whistling, he dropped everything on the coffee table in the living room, then he took a quick shower. Before he left his room, to go to Maya, he remembered their grandparents’ journal.
Ricky stared at the journal for several minutes, wanting to continue reading it in light of his father’s reaction, but he didn’t have the time. He would just ask Maya if she can just copy the journal into a flash drive so he can read it later. He went to his office at home and looked for one.
He was out of his house several minutes after. He navigated the early evening traffic, crossing EDSA to the entrance of Maya’s village at Mckinley Road. He was asked by the guard where he was going and he mentioned Maya’s name. The guard nodded. Maya told him in her text message that she will inform the guard about his visit.
Ricky double-checked the address that Maya gave him, then easily found the street where her grandparents’ house is. He stopped in front of a beautiful bahay na bato inspired mansion.
So, this is where my Maya lived with her husband and daughter!
Ricky blinked. Where that thought came from? Before he can think about it in detail, Maya came out of the house.
“Ricky!” She greeted, then gave him a kiss on the cheek.
Ricky hugged her and then kissed her lightly on the lips. “I miss you!”
Maya smiled at that. “Kanina lang tayo naghiwalay ah.”
“Well, I do, sweetheart. Now that I have found you and that we are together, there is a part of me that does not want you out of my sight. Parang baka mawala ka sa akin ulit.”
“Ulit? You mean, noong hindi tayo nagkita sa Ilocos, kahapon?” Maya asked, curiously.
“No, it is more than that. I will tell you about later.”
“Okay, pasok na tayo. Nakahanda na ang dinner natin. I hope kare-kare is okay with you.”
“My favorite, sweetheart! Wait lang may kukunin lang ako.” Ricky got the flowers, the wine, and the journal.
“For you, sweetheart!” Ricky gave Maya a bouquet of red roses, then the wine. “Here’s the journal by the way! I managed to go home before going here. And this is for Manang Fe.” He added pointing to the other bouquet.
“Thank you for this, Ricky. Another lovely bouquet!” Maya said taking hold of the flowers, while Ricky carried the wine, the other bouquet and the journal as they walked to the front door where an old lady was waiting.
“Good evening po!” Ricky greeted the old lady, who had a startled expression on her face, before she recovered and offered him a smile.
“Good evening po, Sir.” Manang Fe said, still trying to recover her equilibrium.
“Manang Fe, si Ricky po, boyfriend ko. Ricardo Lim III. Ricky, si Manang Fe!” Maya made the introduction. She can see that Manang was surprised that she introduced Ricky as her boyfriend. She didn’t have the time, earlier, to tell Manang Fe. She got home a bit later than she projected because of the traffic. Labasan na sa mga opisina sa Ayala Avenue so she was caught in a bit of a traffic.
Ricky gave the flowers to the old lady. “Please to meet you po, Manang Fe. Ricky na lang po. Para po sa inyo.”
“Thank you, Ricky.”
Then she made a remark that had Maya and Ricky looking at her in surprise.
“Kamukhang-kamukha ninyo po iyong lalaki sa painting. Akala ko nga po, nakakita ako ng multo.”
“Manang, ano pong painting?” Maya asked her, surprised. Manang has not mentioned any other painting to her of Ricardo Lim, as she presumed that was what she was pertaining to.
“Noong nasa Ilocos ka, Maya, naisipan kong maglinis ng todo sa attic, kaya nga yata ako nagkasakit. Sorry, hija di ko napigilan. Sanay akong busy. May nakita akong painting na nasa pinakasulok. Hindi siya naka-kwadro ng maayos, pero nakabalot ng mabuti, nang buksan ko nakita ko larawan ng isang lalaki, kamukhang-kamukha nitong si Ricky. Nakalimutan kong banggitin sa iyo nung isang beses na tumawag ka. Sabi ko ipapakita ko na lang sa iyo pag-uwi mo.”
“Talaga po, Manang. Nasaan po iyong painting?” Maya said, looking at Ricky, who understood right away, who was the subject of the painting.
“Nandoon sa library. Ibinaba ko na nga.”
“Sige po, Manang Fe. Dinner mo muna tayo, then tingnan po natin ang painting! Tamang-tama po, related rin po ito sa itatanong ko sana sa inyo ngayong gabi, tungkol kay Lola Maya.”
“O siga, sige, mauna na ako at i-check ko lang pagkain ninyo. Iniwan ko sa kusina si Fely,” Manang Fe said, referring to her grandniece who helps her in the house, and whom Maya and her grandfather has been sending to school.”
When the old lady was out of earshot, Ricky asked Maya what was in his mind when he learned about the painting.
“Did your grandmother mention in her journal about another painting of my grandfather that she did?”
Maya tried to recall. At first, she thought none, then she remembered some paragraphs from her grandmother’s first entry. “Not directly I think, kaya nagulat din ako na may painting pang isa ang Lolo mo. Pero iyong unang entry niya she mentioned that she had dealt with the grief, by the only way she knew, and that was painting.”
“So, she painted Lolo Ricardo, again.” Ricky remarked, feeling very sad all of a sudden. Being in the house where the first Maya had lived, he sort of can feel the extreme sadness she must have felt, knowing that the love of her life was gone forever, and she was facing life without even the thought that he was just somewhere, living a life with his family.
Ricky sighed. “Maya, it seems there is more to our grandparents love affair than what we know!”
“I agree, Ricky. I feel very sad all of a sudden, hearing about the painting.”
“Ikaw rin? Ako rin! Parang ang bigat sa dibdib.”
Then cupping her face, looking deeply into her eyes, he said. “Maya, I promise you that what happened to our grandparents will not happen to us. I love you very much.”
Maya was a bit puzzled with Ricky’s statement, but decided to ask about it later. “I love you much too, Ricky and I can’t imagine my life without you.”
Still cupping Maya’s face, Ricky sealed his promise with a deep kiss. They walked to the dining room, hand in hand. They will deal fully with the past, so they can have their future together, that was what they have resolved to do.
“What are your plans this afternoon, sweetheart?” Ricky asked, as he and Maya were enjoying their coffee and dessert after the delicious food he had.
“Depending on the load here at the cafe, I’m planning to see Emman. I was there this morning but he was sleeping. I also missed the morning ICU visiting hours. One of my day shift staff is absent. But two others will come for the late afternoon to evening shift, so I think I can still make it to the next visiting hours in the hospital.”
“I can drive you there, then we can have dinner later, if you want.” Ricky offered, wanting to be with Maya as much as he could, as the following day he needed to go to back to work as he was already in Manila. For sure, a lot of paper works are waiting for him at his office.
“Don’t you need to rest pa? Halos wala ka pang tulog, Ricky! I can manage naman. I have my car with me.” Maya protested. She really thinks Ricky needs to rest. Ang haba rin kaya ng biniyahe niya pabalik ng Maynila. Besides, hindi pa nga niya nakuhang mag-rest from their Ilocos trip where he did all the driving!
“No, I’m okay, Maya, really. I want to do this. I’ll just rest this evening.” Ricky insisted. “I will go and see my father for a bit, then I can come back for you later in the afternoon. Would that be okay?”
“Sure, but baka kapusin ka sa oras kung may pag-uusapan kayong importante ng Papa mo!”
“I don’t think it would take long. Hopefully, my mother is home as well, parang isang kausap na lang sa kanilang dalawa. I will just tell them that Lorraine and I have broken up almost a month ago, and that there would be no wedding. It is for the best. It is up to Lorraine to tell her parents, but I want my Papa and Mama to learn about it from me.”
“I think it has to be done, immediately, Maya, especially now that we are in a relationship. I want to tell them also about us.”
Maya suddenly felt very nervous, hearing Ricky’s plan, for some reason. “Do you think it will be okay, Ricky? Your family and Lorraine’s very much wanted the marriage. Maybe, they will not take things lightly. Baka it is too soon to tell them about us. We are just started naman. Maybe you can just tell them that you have broken up with Lorraine and saka na about us.”
“No, Maya, I want them to know immediately. I want to neutralize whatever else Lorraine is planning, if ever. Besides, I don’t want my father unwittingly giving out information to her again. My father has always had a soft spot for Lorraine. She is like the daughter he never had, especially after my cousin Bettina died. He was the one who told Lorraine about the beach house.”
“Okay, it is up to you, Ricky. Do what you think is best.” Maya acceded reluctantly. “How about your grandmother, what if she finds out that I am the granddaughter of the Maya Dela Rosa that her husband loved? Would that be okay? She knew about it, I think, as she was the who gave my grandmother the journal. My grandmother wrote about your grandmother’s visit to her. She didn’t say much, though. Her entries were mostly about the extreme sadness she felt at your grandfather’s passing and her love for him, also her narrative of the events that your grandfather had written.”
“Don’t worry about anything, Maya! I’m sure it will be okay. I’m not sure if my grandmother really knew. But I wouldn’t be surprise if she did. But my Lola Sandra is a very nice lady. As for Papa, and also Mama, though Mama does not care much for stuff, really, except her music, they just need to get used to the fact that Lorraine and I can’t be. It is my life, Maya. I’m sure they will come around, especially, when they meet you in a couple of days time or sooner if I can arrange it”.
“Soon? You will introduce me to your parents that soon?” Maya asked, a bit surprise how fast things were happening.
“Yes, I would like to, if it is okay with you. I want to tell them that you are the woman I love very much. I want you to get to know them better too, and I want them to know my beautiful and wonderful girlfriend! Don’t worry about a thing.” Ricky said. “Would that be okay? You can also meet my grandmother, you know. We can go to Batangas one weekend, when Emman is better and spend time with her, and my Lolo Victor.”
“S-sure, Ricky!” Maya managed to say, overwhelmed. “I’m sure my Mom would like to meet you as well, and my Dad when they find out that I already have a boyfriend.”
“I would gladly meet your parents anytime. I want to, very much, actually. When are they coming back from their business trip?”
“I think in two weeks time. Manang Fe said, Mom called and told her several days ago, they might extend their stay in the States and visit some relatives in the East Coast.”
“Okay, just let me know when we will have dinner with them. By the way, our grandparents journal is at my place. I brought it back with me. It was a good thing I put it in a safe place before we left for our road trip as Lorraine stayed in my room while I was away with you!”
“She had assumed too much, Maya.”
“But do you think she will stop now?” She asked.
“I hope so. I think so, but the way she was acting, I am not sure, honestly. But I will not let her bother us anymore, Maya. That I promise you, sweetheart. I’m really sorry I came into your life with this ‘baggage’, this problem. I really wish she would see reason and let us be!”
“Ricky, please do not think about it anymore. It does not matter how you came into my life or if you had a ‘baggage’ with you as you said, the important thing is you came, and you are in my life now, and I’m very happy because of you. The past is over and done with and we have the present and a possible future together to think of, okay?”
“Okay, sweetheart. I will just concentrate on working on our future together and enjoying the present with you. I love you very much.” Ricky gazed at Maya.
“That’s the spirit, sweetheart!” Maya said, with a big smile. “Speaking of the journal, if you would like to continue reading it, you can keep it for a while. I have been meaning to tell you that I have scanned it also, and has made sa PDF copy pala for my iBooks app. I can also send that to you if you would like to have a soft copy.”
“Yes, I would like to have one, Maya. Thanks. I would like to continue reading it, especially the part that you told me, the one that was the same as my nightmare. I think, I will be okay reading that now. Just give me a copy of the PDF file please. I will return the original. I’m nervous keeping the journal with me as I may misplace or damage it accidentally. I will feel better if it is in your safekeeping.”
“Okay, I will just e-mail it to you. Just bring the journal the next time we see each other.” Maya said with a smile. She was about to ask Ricky if he would like another cup of coffee, when Jocelyn approached them, looking frazzled, and asked for Maya’s help.
Jocelyn said there was a sudden influx of customers at the cafe, a coaster of foreign tourists, wanting their coffee and tea and snacks after looking at the gallery upstairs, and she and Henry got swamped. Ricky insisted on helping out, even if it was just to bring the drinks and the food to the customers.
When everything had settled down, Ricky and Maya went back at the garden, drinking their second cup of coffee.
“That was fun, Maya!” Ricky said, happy to have helped Maya. “But I guess with lots of customers, tiring. Good feel tiredness naman.”
“True, kahit nakakapagod, fulfilled naman. Thank you for your help, Ricky.” Then she remembered that Ricky was supposed to see his parents.” Di ba you are going to see your parents pa! Are you not late yet? Huwag mo na akong ihatid sa hospital para makausap mo na sila. Where do they live? Malapit lang ba? We can have dinner at home. Magpapahanda na lang ako ng food! I’ll give you the address! That way, I can drive my car home also.”
“Yes, malapit lang naman dito!” “Ricky said. “Okay, sounds like a plan. What time do I go to your house?“
“Maybe, around 7PM? Is that okay with you?” Maya said, then handed Ricky a piece of paper. “Here’s the address! Just bring the journal some other time, it does not have to be this evening, so you save time.”
“Okay, thanks sweetheart. I better get going if I want to catch Papa at home. I haven’t called, but usually, he does not go out this time of the day.” Ricky said, standing up. “Thank you for the food and I’ll see you later. I love you.”
“See you later, sweetheart.” Maya also stood up. “I’ll text you if there is an adjustment in our dinner schedule. I hope everything goes well with your parents.”
“Thanks, sweetheart. It will. Don’t worry.” Richard kissed Maya one more time, grinning, he said, it is for luck. Then he was off.
Maya sat down on the bench again and took a sip of her coffee. She was feeling a little nervous about Ricky’s parents reaction, especially it was so soon after breaking his long-standing engagement to Lorraine. But she trusts Ricky, and she leaves it up to him. She finished her coffee, then went back to her paper works. She also called Manang Fe and told her they have a guest that evening.
By the time Maya was deep in her paper works, Ricky was sitting in the living room of his parents penthouse unit in a very upscale and very private condominium building. Luckily, his parents were both at home, just like he predicted.
“So, what brings you here, Ricky?” Richie Lim asked his son, while his mother sat beside him, not saying much. His Mom has always been like that, just deferring to his father. But Ricky know it is just her way of pacifying her strong-willed husband. She hates discord. But if she needs to, she can also assert herself. “I thought you and Lorraine are on a vacation. Sinundan nga niya sa Ilocos di ba? Where is she? Bakit hindi mo siya kasama ngayon?”
“Papa, the last time I heard, Lorraine returned to Manila this afternoon. Pinahatid ko siya sa airport.” Ricky said at the same time realizing that Lorraine hasn’t called her father and hadn’t told him what happened. It was a good thing. He wouldn’t put it pass her to run crying to his father and making him believe that she was the aggrieved party.
Manang Auring had texted him while on his way to his parents to say that Manong Sonny had brought Lorraine to the airport in Laoag. “I’m not sure if her flight has arrived here yet.”
“Not sure? Pinahatid? You mean to say, naiwan si Lorraine sa beach house sa Ilocos! You did that? Why Ricky? Why did you leave your fiancée there! First you disappeared without a leave by, then this? What is happening Ricky?”
“Papa, Mama, that’s why I’m here, to tell you that Lorraine and I have broken up, almost a month na po. That’s why I went to Ilocos. She wanted me back, and her been bugging me at work and at home all the time. I thought it was best that I went away for a while. I thought of the beach house in Ilocos. Her trip, the one she told you about was her last-ditch effort to get me back.”
“What….? Bakit ngayon lang namin ito nalalaman ng Mama mo, Ricky! Halos kumpleto na ang preparations sa kasal ninyo.” Richie Lim asked his son. “Sabi naman ni Lorraine, nagkaroon lang kayo ng kaunting tampuhan.”
“Oo nga, hijo.” His mother added. “Does Lorraine’s parents know since the last time I saw her mother, which was several days ago, wala naman siyang nabanggit sa akin.”
“Mama, I don’t think they know. I think the reason why Lorraine wanted to patch things up is because she was afraid of what her parents reaction would be, and not because she loves me.”
“Iyon naman pala, Ricky. Willing naman siyang makipagbalikan eh. Baka you two can still work on your relationship. Ganyan naman talaga, minsan, walang relationship na smoot- sailing parati.” His father insisted.
“Papa, Mama, I’m really, I can’t. Please don’t let me go into details, except that she did something that I can’t forgive. Sa amin na lang ni Lorraine ang details of what happened. It is not reparable. I don’t love her at all, the way two people who will spend forever together should love each other.” Ricky said. “I hope you will understand.”
“But, why Ricky? Isipin mo na lang ang effect nito! The Tans are our close family friends. You and Lorraine suit each other.” Richie Lim told his son, raising his voice about, then turned conciliatory. “Hijo, why don’t you think about it first.”
“Papa, please, there is nothing to think about. Lorraine and I are over….”
“Richie, let our son be….” Mrs. Rosemarie Lim, started, only to be cut by her husband.
“No, I want to put some sense into your son.” Richie Lim said, losing his cool again.
“Papa, nakikiusap ako, just accept it. I don’t love her, period, I realized that ng maaga pa. I think it is the same with Lorraine. Hindi naman niya talaga ako mahal, just the idea of me and because of our families! I know that now since I met the woman whom I love with all my being. ”
“In more than three weeks after you have broken up with someone you have been together for five years, you have fallen in love! That’s implausible! Maybe she is the reason why you broke with Lorraine, in the first place.”
“No Papa, she is not. Matagal na kaming wala ni Lorraine nang makilala ko si Maya by accident. Leave Maya out of this, please.”
“Maya…?” Richie Lim suddenly asked. He never thought that he would hear a name like that again. “Do we know her?”
“Maya Dela Rosa, Papa. I love her very much. I met her in Ilocos. Her family owns the beach house before us.”
“So the past is intruding to the present eh! Correct me if I’m wrong, related siya kay Maya Dela Paz Dela Rosa! Apo? Pamangkin?”
“How did you know about her, Papa?” It was Ricky’s turned to be surprised. “Actually, granddaughter po si Maya ni Mrs. Dela Rosa-Ventura.”
“I know a lot son, but one thing I can tell you, walang magandang dinala sa pamilya natin ang pamilya na iyan. I think you better cut your ties with her, hanggang maaga.”
“Papa! Why are you like that? You are being unfair! Saka kung ano man ang nangyari sa Lola ni Maya and kay Lolo Ricardo, it was in the past. Sobrang tagal na noon. Hindi naman sila nagkatuluyan, ah. If you can only read Lolo Ricardo’s journal.”
“I have, and that is why I don’t think it is a good idea.” Richie Lim stressed. “And that’s all I would say in the matter, please excuse me son, I have an appointment.” Then looking at his silent wife, he said, “Rosemarie, talk some sense into your son!”
Ricky’s father left the house several minutes after. Ricky just sat there in his parents living room, stunned, he never thought that his afternoon would turn out like this!
Somehow, he needed to make his father see reason. It has been five decades or so since his grandfather fell in love with Maya’s grandmother, and the way his father was acting, it seemed like it had happened recently! And where was his resentment coming from? He can’t give up, Maya and he will fight for her.
“I love you very much, Maya!” Ricky whispered to Maya, in between their heated kisses. “Finally we are together again! That was the longest 24 hours of my life!”
Framing his handsome face, and looking at him with all the love she was feeling, she said softly, “I love you very much too, Ricky. I’m so happy that you are here in Manila now!”
Ricky, at first, thought that he just imagined it, or misheard her, then finally it registered what Maya had just said, catching him unawares as he was not really expecting to hear it at that moment. “Maya… you mean…that you…you….?” He had to ask, not really believing he just heard the words he had been wishing he would hear from Maya’s lips soon.
“Yes po, Mr. Ricky Lim. Mahal din kita.” Maya said, giving Ricky a sweet, happy smile, caressing his face gently, and looking at him with all the love she is feeling for this wonderful, wonderful guy!
“Maya, sweetheart, you made me the happiest guy in the whole universe!” Richard hugged Maya tight, then rained in little kisses all over her face, then he swung her around suddenly, laughing as he twirled her around!
“Hahahaha, put me down na, Ricky.” Maya said laughing, her heart full of joy! “You are making me dizzy. Baka tayo ma-fall!”
“Matagal na akong na-fall, Maya!” Ricky said, grinning, teasing her, then he slowly put her down and cupped her beautiful face, kissed again! “I’m sorry, Maya. I got carried away! I’m just so happy. I never expected to hear those beautiful words from you so soon. I wished, of course, very much, often! But I also thought that Lorraine had done something that will make you rethink about loving me and being with me.”
“Ricky, nothing that she will do will change what I feel for you. I almost admitted it to you when you took me home yesterday. Had we had that dinner last night, I would have declared my love for you then, I think!” Maya said with a smile. “I’m just so happy too that you are finally here. And that was the longest 24 hours of my life too. I can’t imagine my life without you.”
“Thank you again, Maya.” Then looking Maya in the eyes, he said, “You know, when I jumped into my car last night to follow you in Manila, my only goal was to be with you, but this is so much better and very wonderful. I didn’t know then what kind of lies Lorraine had fed you! I know you will not believe her, but I just want to be completely sure that we are still okay. Besides, Ilocos was not the same without you! I missed you terribly.”
“I didn’t give much credence to her words, really!” Maya assured Ricky again. Then brows knitted she asked, while still in Ricky’s loose embrace,“Did you get my long message? I have sent you one when I was unable to reach you, explaining everything, about why I needed to return to Manila promptly, and that you shouldn’t worry. I even said, I will just call you and that you can call me when you see my message.”
“Maya, we better sit down, while I explained to you what happened when I got home from the hospital.” Richard said, taking a deep breath. He remembered what Lorraine did and he was still annoyed at her action! He never thought really that she would sink that low!
“Okay, we can sit on the bench over there.” Maya said, pointing to a two-sitter wooden bench at the other side of the small garden, with a matching driftwood table. “Sandali lang, Ricky, I will get you something from the cafe. Coffee, pastries, pasta? What would you like to have! Nag-breakfast ka na ba?”
“Coffee is okay Maya, and some food if it is not too much trouble.” Ricky replied, then sheepishly, he admitted “I haven’t had the chance to drink coffee or eat anything this morning as I wanted to be here as soon as I have rested a bit. Nagbaka-sakali nga lang ako na nandito since sabi ni Manang Miring, may sakit si Emman.”
“What time did you leave Ilocos? And what time did you arrive?” Maya asked, carrying her coffee and flowers to where Ricky and her would sit.
“Well, a little past 10PM, I think, and I arrived home at around 5AM!” Ricky replied, cupping Maya’s elbow and guiding her while they walked the short distance to the bench.
“Five in the morning! That meant you drove all the way, no stopping at all?” Maya looked at Ricky in surprise.
“Well, I stopped just twice for a toilet break and to stretch my legs! I wanted to get back here fast, and before the morning traffic in all the towns I’ll be passing by. I only slept a bit when I got home. I don’t want to look like a fright when I finally get to see you! But I can’t keep still, until I see you again. So here I am. But don’t worry, I’m okay. I don’t feel tired.”
“Oh, Ricky!” Maya felt overwhelmed with Ricky’s gesture, and the fact that he thought of her first instead of food. He even managed to bring her that beautiful bouquet. “So, go and sit, please, and I will get you something to eat.”
“Thank you, Maya.” Ricky taking hold of Maya’s right hand before she went back to the cafe, then giving her one of his devastating smiles that never fails to make her heart beat faster. “I love you.” Then he kissed her hand softly.
“No worries, Ricky. I’m happy to do it. Thank you for loving me. I love you too!” Maya said softly, felt herself flushing, as she is still getting used to the fact that she is exchanging ‘I love yous’ now with Ricky! She touched his face and then she was off to the cafe.
“Ma’am Maya, ang guwapo guwapo naman, and parang ang bango-bango ni Sir! Oh my God, sana ganyan din ang maging boyfriend ko!” Jocelyn blurted out giddily as soon as she saw Maya entered the cafe. “Saka Ma’am ang pa-flowers, ang bongga.”
Maya smiled at Jocelyn. “So tama ang hula ko na ikaw ang kakutsaba ni Ricky sa surprise na pagpunta sa garden.”
“Guilty, Ma’am!” Jocelyn admitted sheepishly. “Pagdating kasi kanina rito ni Mr. Lim, hinanap ka. Papaghintayin ko lang sana sa loob ng cafe, crossed my heart Ma’am kahit gaano siya ka-guwapo sa paningin ko, tapos I will inform you, pero he explained that he came all the way from Ilocos to see you. Eh di ba doon ka galing? Saka Ma’am, in fairness, di ba naman napaka-romantic noon. Parang tinawid ang pitong bundok para sa iyo, makita ka lang. Then, he asked nicely naman if he can surprise you. Kaya hayun, sabi ko nandoon ka sa garden. Abswelto na po ako, Ma’am?”
Maya laughed. “O siya sige, oo na. But please bring Ricky a cup of coffee also, then a blueberry cheesecake and our mushroom truffles pasta.”
“Right on, Ma’am. Balik ka na po kay Sir, and ako na ang bahala.”
“Thank you, Jocelyn.”
“Basta sa love life mo Ma’am, 101 percent ang support ko.”
“Ikaw talaga, para ka nang si Emman magsalita.”
“Basta Ma’am, kapag kulang ka ng bridesmaid, pwede ako. Baka sakaling ako ang makasalo ng flowers mo.” Jocelyn quipped.
“Hahahaha, eh how sure are you na kami na?” Maya teased Jocelyn. She really likes the girl and she is used to her being familiar and her irreverent teasing like this.
“Naku Ma’am, feeling ko na naman kayo na talaga. Tapos kung not ‘yet’ naman, medyo malapit na iyon sa ‘yes’. Isang letter lang kaya ang difference nun, Ma’am.”
“Jocelyn, ang mga napupulot mo talaga diyan sa kaka-online mo! O sige please make Ricky’s food na. Thank you. And please you can still call me kapag na-swamp kayo ni Henry, since absent si Marigold. I’m sure Ricky will not mind me pitching in sa cafe while he is here.”
“Surely Ma’am Maya. I’m really happ for you. Imagine, may napili ka na rin. Maraming magiging miyembro ng Team Sawi kapag nalaman nilang taken ka na!” Then seeing Maya’s mock angry expression, Jocelyn raised her hand, “Okay na talaga Ma’am, last na iyon, off to the kitchen na ako!”
Maya was still grinning when she returned to where Ricky was waiting for her.
“O, why are you grinning!” Ricky asked Maya when she sat down beside him on the bench.
“Ito kasing si Jocelyn, kung ano-anong kalokohan ang nasa ulo. Kaya yata sila nagkakasundo ng husto ni Emman.”
“Jocelyn? The nice girl who told me where you are.” Ricky smiled. “I told her I wanted to surprise you.”
“Well, she did admit as much. And you are such a wonderful surprise! I thought medyo matatagalan pa talaga bago tayo magkita ulit. I was getting worried na nga rin na hindi kita matawagan. I called up Manang Miring to get Manang Auring’s number kanina. Then she told me na nagpunta ka nga raw sa bahay! After talking to her, medyo napanatag na ako.”
“Maya, I’m sorry if you got worried. Good thing, that Manang Miring explained everything to you! I thought of texting you while I was on the road, na-drain naman ang phone ko.”
“It is okay Ricky. Manang even called up Rosario when I was unable to reach you still. Then si Manang Auring din tinawagan niya when Rosario was unable to tell her kung saan ka pumunta, and nalaman ko nga na on the way back to Manila ka na. Sobrang thank you ko nga kay Manang Miring, sobrang resourceful. I thought nagpapahinga ka pa. If you haven’t gotten in touch with me by lunch, I was planning to call you again.”
“I have to thank her as well, Maya. I’m really sorry for what had happened, especially with Lorraine! Did she say bad things? Nabastos ka ba niya? After what she had done last night, I would have not put it pass her! Really, Maya, sobrang mali ng pagkakilala ko sa kanya.”
“Well, she was a bit antagonistic towards me, pero hindi naman siya outright na nambastos, or anything. She was, how to put it, indifferent and uncooperative, as if she knew something that I don’t know and she had that over me.”
“I think, my phone! She knew I have left it behind and that you were calling. That was not the only thing she did, Maya! I never thought she would sink that low! But she did!”
“Bakit, what did she do ba?” Maya asked, wanting to know at what extent Lorraine went to, just to get back Ricky, one more time.
“Well, when I got home, I was really surprised that she was there! Naputol lang ang usapan namin noong naaksidente si Manong Tunying. Then I rushed him to the hospital. When I returned after I have been to your house and Manang Miring told me that you went to my place, I asked her what did she tell you. She actually denied at first that you have been there! Then I got my phone to check if you had called or left a message. I was puzzled na wala kang message. Then, wala ring missed calls. I checked my call logs and it was cleaned. Wiped out!”
“Really, but Ricky, I sent you a long message!”
“I know Maya! Lorraine when she was cornered admitted that not only she wiped out my call logs, she also deleted your message! Maya, I barely held on to my temper. But in the end, I realized that it was a waste of energy to get mad at her. Mahirap siyang makaintindi. I packed my bags and just left. I just arranged for Rosario to stay in the house. Kahit paano naman kasi may pinagsamahan kami and she is a friend of the family.”
“She did that! That’s so terrible!” Maya said, and admired Ricky for his patience and concern for Lorraine despite the bad things she did. “But bayaan mo na nga lang si Lorraine, Ricky. I’m sure she will eventually get it. No harm done naman when we met.” She was about to ask something when she saw Jocelyn approaching them.
“Kain ka na muna, Ricky. Jocelyn is here!”
“Hello po ulit, Mr. Lim, Ma’am Maya.” Jocelyn said as she put down Ricky’s tray on the table.
“Hello, Jocelyn. Thank you very much again for earlier, and this.” Riky said, gesturing to the food. “I’m sure these are masarap.”
“Talaga pong masarap iyan, Mr. Lim. Recipe po ni Ma’am iyong pasta.” Jocelyn said. “Sige po maiwan ko na kayo.”
“Thanks a lot, Jocelyn.” Maya said. Jocelyn nodded and with a final wave of her hand, she went back to the cafe.
“Really, sweetheart, this is your recipe?” Ricky said, the endearment just slipping in, naturally.
“Sweetheart…? Maya said, smiling, feeling giddy with the endearment.
“Yes you are, my sweetheart? Bakit ayaw mo ba, sige palitan na lang natin. Anong gusto mong itawag ko sa iyo? Huwag lang darling ha!” Ricky said, giving Maya another of his bone-melting smiles.
“No, Ricky, ‘sweetheart’, is fine, more than fine!” Maya said, softly, then flushing she admitted, “I just have to get used to it. I haven’t called anyone ‘sweetheart’ before, and no one has called me that before, you know.”
Ricky grinned, his love for this wonderful girl, overflowing, taking hold of both of her hands, and slowly caressing them! “Then, get used to it, sweetheart. I’m really a very lucky guy to have you.”
“I’m lucky to have you, Ricky. I know that.” Maya replied, putting her left hand on top of Ricky’s hand. “O you better eat your brunch na. And yes, that is my recipe. One of the things my mother taught me.”
“Thank you, again, sweetheart,” Ricky said lovingly.
“You’re welcome, sweetheart,” Maya replied sweetly, rolling it around her tongue and she liked the feel and sound of the endearment. “Kain na, please. Ayaw ko na nagpapagutom ka.”
“Yes, Ma’am!” Ricky said with a grin.
Their eyes met and locked again. Unable to help it, they shared another kiss. They just both felt the strong need to physically connect to each other like that, before Ricky finally answered the call of his grumbling tummy. They chatted in between, enjoying the beautiful morning in each other’s company.
“Good morning, sweetheart!” Richard greeted Maya cheerfully when she emerged from her bungalow the following morning. He was sitting on the veranda of his bungalow. Obviously, he was just waiting for her to get out of hers. He stood up, then walked towards her, smiling broadly. The way he was looking at her, it felt like they haven’t seen each other for a long time, when in fact, they just parted several hours before!
When she woke up that morning and found herself tucked in her bed with the clothes she was wearing the night before, she felt a bit disoriented. Then she remembered everything!
Richard carried her in his arms to her bungalow, probably after spending more than two hours by the driftwood, enjoying the quiet night and taking advantage fully of their last evening in Camiguin. She had apparently fallen asleep as they were chatting, with his arms around her, keeping her warm and her, half-lying against his chest, listening to the musical cadence of his voice. The last thing she remembered, before she nodded off, was Richard telling her about another of his and his South African friend Mattheu’s funny adventures while studying for a post-graduate course at Harvard.
By unspoken agreement, they shied away from talking about their exes or any part of the painful past that affected their ability to love before they had, luckily, crossed paths. They just resolved to enjoy that beautiful place in each other’s company, one last time, getting to know each other more. Richard told Maya how it was to grow up as an only child of Filipino-Chinese parents and his wish that he has a brother or a sister, or both! Maya also told Richard that she wished for the same. But her Mom was unable to conceive anymore, after giving birth to her due to a medical condition. Luckily, Emman is like a brother to her and her Tita Margarita, like a second Mom after her parents untimely death. They also talked about their growing up years, and the scrapes and misadventures they got into, to their college days and the courses they opted to take, among other things.
She realized that she had conked out on Richard, when he was gently and slowly putting her down by her door. She started apologizing, but Richard gently hushed her away, then asked softly for her key. She fished it from her pocket, feeling groggy. He got it from her hand, opened the door with one hand, at the same time, continued supporting her, lest she fall. He carried her inside after opening the door, gently putting her down on the bed. He tucked her in, placing the blanket securely around her, then he gently kissed her on the forehead before whispering a soft good night and ‘I love you’. The last time she remembered in her sleepy state was her whispering good night as well, then mumbling something, which she can’t remember anymore, and the gentle closing of her door. She had a rested, dreamless sleep.
Maya smiled, a smile that lit up her already beautiful face, appreciating very much Richard’s gesture, sweetness and thoughtfulness! If she hasn’t yet fallen for this guy, she would surely have with what he has been doing, to show his love for her. He is a perfect gentleman and just so very wonderful! She closed her eyes a bit, thanking God, that after the heartache caused by that cad, James, she has found someone like Richard. Opening her eyes, slowly, she gave Richard a smile that lit up her face, love in her eyes.
Richard smiled back, and gazed at Maya, with all the love he is feeling for her. Each day that passes by, she looks more and more beautiful. Despite what had love has caused him in the past, he is still willing to try again. For this lady, he will take the leap into the unknown in a blink. Loving her is worth it. Those were his thoughts as he gazed at her.
Besides, Richard mused, Maya may not have said the words aloud, but he heard her whispering a soft ‘I love you too, Ricky’ after he had tucked her to bed. Richard doubted on whether she would remember it now as she was in that state, the thin line between wakefulness and sleep when she mumbled it. But he is happy to know. He hopes he will hear it soon, when Maya is very much awake, and them looking at each other’ eyes with all the love they are feeling for each other! But he can wait. Knowing that she loves him back is enough for him. He felt like he was at the top of the world that morning! Maybe, it was the reason why he woke up early despite the fact that he made it to bed at 3AM, and why he feels very chirpy despite the lack of sleep!
“Ricky, good morning! You are up early too! Were you waiting for me to wake up? You should have just texted me or knock at my door. I have been awake for an hour or so! I was just arranging my things! I also called Emman to tell him not to pick me up at the airport as you will take me home!” Maya said happily when Richard reached her side. Emman ribbed her a bit, wanting to find out more. But she deflected her cousin and promised him that they will go for a ‘cousin time’ when she gets back, meaning, drinks in his favorite watering hole and a chat.
“It is okay, sweetheart, you needed your sleep. I just woke early despite our late night. But strange, despite the lack of sleep, I feel rested and happy. It must have been because of you, and another wonderful night with you!” Richard said with a big smile. “How about you, did you sleep well?”
Hearing Richard called her ‘sweetheart’ never fails to give Maya a thrill. “Yes, I slept very well. Dreamless, just restful sleep too, no nightmares at all about the accident. I think our wonderful time by the driftwood helped a lot. Sorry again I conked out on you. Thank you for putting me to bed. That was so sweet of you. I hope I didn’t tax your tender shoulder. You should have just woken me up instead of carrying me like that, even if I like very much that you did!” Maya added with a smile.
“I’m glad you slept well. My shoulder is not so tender. Now it just felt like I pulled a muscle while at a gym. I was happy to carry and put you to bed.” Richard put his thumb on her chin, gently, then said softly, “I love you. I will never get tired of saying that to you, and in showing you.”
Maya flushed, so very happy to hear it. “Thank you, Ricky.” She touched his face and caressed it softly, wanting to communicate to him that she may have not said the word yet, but she does love him back, very much. She just needed a little bit of time, to conquer her lingering fear. She had drilled it into her being, and it was a bit difficult to erase it overnight! But she wanted to, very much. She wants to love Richard fully and completely!
“Errrr…. Ehemmmm!” A masculine voice teasingly said, breaking into Maya and Richard’s private world. “Good morning!”
Maya and Richard looked and saw a smiling and sheepish Jeremy with a tall, handsome guy, wearing glasses who looked vaguely familiar.
“Good morning, Maya, Richard! I’m so sorry for barging in on you so early in the morning. This is Rafael Reyes, from last night.”
“Hello Maya, Richard, how are you? I just thought of checking on the two of you before I travel to Cebu!” Rafael Reyes said, smiling at Maya and Richard. “How’s your shoulders, Richard? I saw you massaging it last night. I think it was what cushioned your fall. Sorry I was unable to check on you last night!”
“Oh, that’s why you look familiar!” Maya said, having placed him as the guy who almost hit Richard and her! “Hello, Rafael! So nice of you to check on us!”
“We are okay, Rafael, no harm done. The right shoulder is a bit tender, but it will be okay in several days.” Richard assured the guy, who he thinks is probably the same age as him.”You are not from Camiguin, too? I thought you live here.”
“I am from Camiguin. But I don’t live here anymore. I’m base in Manila. I was just visiting the family, and we were having one of our rare family dinners when my sister has gotten ill last night.” Rafael explained. “I’m staying in Cebu today and tomorrow to see some friends, then flying back to Manila the day after.”
“Oh! How’s your sister now?” Maya asked. “I hope she is better!”
“She is still in the clinic, but doing so much better. Thank you for asking after her. The doctor needed to hydrate her so she stayed overnight. Like Richard suspected, it was food poisoning. The oysters we had as appetizer! She ate a lot of it, her favorite.” Rafael said. “I will not keep you two. Sorry to ambush you even before you can have breakfast. Maybe I can just invite the two of you to dinner when you get back to Manila. I’ll just ask Jeremy for your contact information.”
“Okay. Just give us a call, please.” Maya said, liking the other guy. He was under no obligation to see how they are, knowing that they were okay when they parted. But still, he took time to see them.
“Yes, Rafael, do give Maya and I a call.” Richard offered his hand to the other guy. Then Rafael was off.
“So you do know him, Jeremy?” Maya asked when Rafael had left.
“Yes, most of the island does, actually. He is the eldest son of a businessman from around here. But he is quite a low profile guy as compared to the father.” Jeremy replied. “He is a very nice guy, an architect.”
“Oh! His father is Mr. Juancho Reyes? I think my father knows his father. He was at a party or two at my parents’s house.” Richard remarked. “Though, you are right. I just know there is a son, but haven’t seen him in social gatherings. I just met Marixi, the sister, the one who got food poisoned!”
“Small world eh?” Jeremy replied. “So, you two, would you like to have some breakfast? Here or at the restaurant?”
“Maya? Here or at the restaurant?” Richard asked, deferring to Maya.
“Here please, Jeremy.” Then looking at Richard, she smiled and said, “Nice that we can enjoy the beautiful view before us one more time, di ba?”
“Sure, Maya, you the boss!” Richard said, smiling back, gazing at her. Then looking at Jeremy, “Here it is please, Jeremy. Thank you very much, for everything.”
“No worries, Richard, Maya.” Jeremy said, smiling, seeing the new intimacy between the two. Things have really progressed well, really well, between these two, he thought to himself! “Anyway, I’ll see you later, before you leave.”
Maya and Richard sat on the wicker sofa, waiting for Marina to serve their food, after Jeremy left with a wave. They held hands, Maya snuggled against Richard again.
“Back to Manila in several hours!” Richard said, playing with Maya’s hair . “I wish we don’t have to leave yet.”
“Yes, me too!” Maya said. “But the responsibilities and ‘real life’ await.”
“We can always come back!” Richard said, then cupping Maya’s face, he said. “I promise you, we will.”
“I’m with you there, Ricky. Thank you.” Maya said gazing at Richard, then she saw Marina approaching with her nephew. “There’s Ate Marina and our brunch. By the way, have you packed your things?”
“Yes, I did! How about you?” Richard asked.
“Done! That was what I was doing earlier. We can leave immediately after our brunch!”
“Okay, I will settle our bill after eating, then we can go.” Richard replied as he stood up and guided Maya up so they can eat.
“Ricky, I will pay my bill, okay.” Maya insisted, having read into Richard’s intention to settle everything. “Please no arguments, on this.”
Seeing Maya’s adamant expression, Richard can really sense that it is really important that she pays her way, he relented. “Okay, but I will pay for our meals since I arrived, please.”
“Okay. Thank you, Ricky.” Maya pressed Richard’s arm, communicating to him that she was glad that he understood her insistence on paying her way. “Shall we eat?”
“Okay.” He gave her another lopsided smile, then pulled the chair for her.
“Thank you, Ate Marina.” Maya said as Marina was about to leave to go back to the restaurant.
Marina prepared a feast for Richard and Maya’s last day at the resort. Over cups of coffee and mango juice, Richard and Maya enjoyed their sumptuous breakfast while looking at the beautiful view before them, with a cool breeze blowing from somewhere, thrown in.
“It felt like we have been here a long time, when this is just the third day for me!” Richard remarked as he enjoyed his second cup of coffee. “It felt like a lifetime since I left Manila!”
“Yes, I feel like I have been here in months instead of just a week, because I feel right at home on my first day here, then came you, and made the place much, much more for me.” Maya finished with a smile.
Richard took hold of Maya’s left hand, then pressed it gently. “So many wonderful things had happened to us here. Even the near accident has its silver lining.”
“Yes, but that’s something I wish will not happen again ever!”
Half and hour later, Richard and Maya were at the restaurant saying good-bye to Jeremy after they have settled their bills and thanked the staff who served them. Richard even gave a big tip to Marina and her family for all the help they did, much to the delight of the older lady, her sister and nephew.
“So come back, please!” Jeremy said to Richard and Maya. “Mimosa is always open for you guys.”
“Of course, we will Jeremy, thank you very much again, for everything!” Richard shook Jeremy’s hand, his animosity towards him, gone! “If you are in Manila and you need a place to crash, let me know.”
“Thank you very much, Richard. I’ll take note of that.” Jeremy said.
“Jeremy, really, let me know if you are in Manila. Richard and I will treat you to dinner!” Maya added, then hugged Jeremy. “Thank you for everything.”
“No worries, Luv.” Jeremy hugged Maya back, then whispered to Maya, “Don’t forget to invite me to the wedding. Or you and Richard can have it here, Mimosa and me, having played cupids, eh!”
Maya laughed, then pinched Jeremy lightly. Richard looked on, smiling indulgently, a complete change from his expression the day before. “You are indeed incorrigible! Take care, my dear friend, and keep in touch, okay!”
Richard and Maya left after that, but not before looking back wistfully at the resort, then the receding island when they were at the ferry. Several hours later, they were at the Laguindingan International Airport, waiting for their flight, which was already delayed by an hour due to air traffic congestion in Manila.
“Coffee, Maya!” Richard handed Maya a steaming cup of coffee he got from a cafe in the airport.
“Thanks a lot, Ricky. Maybe we can just postpone our dinner to tomorrow, since we will be arriving late home. It is more important to see your family doctor for your shoulder!” Maya suggested, taking a sip of her coffee.
“Oh, I would rather have dinner with you, Maya. The doctor can wait. I’ll see him tomorrow. I feel really okay Maya.” Richard assured her. “But if you are too tired, we can do it tomorrow, and the next day and the next day.”
“Fine, fine, fine Mr. Lim. You win.” Maya said, laughing.
They enjoyed their coffee while smiling and teasing each other. Halfway through, there was a boarding announcement for their flight.
”Finally!” Maya said.
Richard took hold of his and Maya’s bags while Maya disposed of their coffee cups.
Hand in hand, they boarded the flight that would take them back to the real world, holding on to the love for each other that was realized in that beautiful island!
It took several attempts before Maya managed to get out of bed the morning after she arrived back in the house that she had shared with her grandfather. It was strange not seeing her Lolo Jaime at his usual place by the veranda. Even late at night when she goes home from manning the cafe, he was there, waiting for her. She was not yet used to him gone forever! She wondered if she will ever be. She felt extremely sad when she entered the darkened house. But she tried to snap out of it. Maybe, she was just tired, and a bit frustrated that she was unable to reach Ricky.
She checked her phone as soon as she had landed at Terminal 2. There were no messages from Richard! She found it strange since she had sent him a message and his call log would have reflected all her missed calls. That was not like him not to call or text her back! She thought of calling him again, but decided against it as it was already late. She was getting worried too, but didn’t want to think about that. For sure, Ricky is okay. She believed so. Maybe, he just got busy dealing with Lorraine. She took a taxi home. While on the road, she called up and assured Manang Fe again that she was okay and on the way home and she needed not wait up for her. The old lady was not feeling well the past several days. Her voice was still hoarse when Maya called her before boarding the plane in Laoag.
Maya just dropped her bags somewhere in her room, so very tired from her long trip. She took a shower and then plopped herself down the bed. She thought of Ricky and she hoped, before sleep and tiredness claimed her, that he had managed to straighten out things with Lorraine, and that it didn’t get ugly. She hoped Ricky was okay after his latest run-in with Lorraine! She had a feeling that Lorraine was so used to getting her own way, and that, defeat and surrender are words that are not in her vocabulary.
Maya stretched her arms, yawned big, then dragged herself out of her bed. She needed to get going early, and gear up for her long day! She will visit Emman first, then go to Cafe Arts. But before she hit the shower, she retrieved her phone from the bedside table, checking again if Ricky had phone. Still no messages from him! Ano kayang nangyari roon, she muttered, getting really worried. She decided to give Manang Miring a call. Why didn’t she think of it earlier!
“Good morning po, Manang, si Maya po ito! Nandito na po ako sa bahay sa Makati. Nakarating naman po ako ng maayos. Hindi ko na po kayo na-text kagabi. Medyo gabi na kasi, baka tulog na kayo.”
“Ma’am Maya, mabuti po at maayos kayong nakauwi at mabuti rin po at napatawag kayo. Nagkausap na po kayo at ni Sir Ricky?”
“Hindi pa nga po. Medyo worried na nga po ako. Tanong ko nga po sa inyo kung pwede ko makuha iyong cellphone number ni Manang Auring. Baka po kasi alam niya kung nasaan si Ricky. Baka kasi may nangyari sa kanya. Kahapon ko pa po siya hindi ma-contact! Hindi rin po siya tumatawag or nag-text. Hind po kasi ganoon si Ricky, Manang!”
“Okay naman po siguro si Sir Ricky, Ma’am Maya, kasi dumaan pa nga po siya rito kagabi, hinahanap kayo, mga halos dalawang oras po siguro simula noong umalis kayo.”
“Talaga po, Manang! Ano po ang sabi niya? Kumusta naman po siya?”
“Okay naman po siya Ma’am. Mukha lang pagod na pagod. Hindi pa po siguro nakapagpahinga mula sa biyahe ninyong dalawa. Mangyari po, dinala nila ni Manang Auring si Manong Tunying sa hospital kahapon pagkauwi niya sa bahay. Naaksidente po si Manong Tunying habang naglilinis ng alulod, sabi ni Sir Ricky!”
“Ganoon po ba, Manang! Kumusta naman po si Manong Tunying? I hope maayos naman po ang condition niya!”
“Sabi naman po ni Sir Ricky, maayos na si Manong Tunying. Kailangan na lang daw pong ma-confine pa ng ilang araw sa hospital. Iniwan na raw po niya roon si Manang Auring. Dito nga po dumiretso si Sir, galing sa hospital kasi nga raw po, may usapan kayong magdi-dinner sa bahay nila.”
“Naku, good to know naman Manang na okay si Manong. Sayang nga lang po, hindi kami nag-abot ni Ricky.”
“Iyon din po ang sabi ni Sir. Hindi niya rin po pala kayo natawagan kai naiwan daw po niya sa bahay iyong phone niya nang isugod nila si Manong Tunying sa hospital. Kaya po pala hindi ninyo siya ma-contact, Ma’am!
“Oh! Kaya pala, Manang! I’m glad naman po na okay siya. Kaso po Manang, hindi ko pa rin siya ma-contact hanggang ngayon.” Maya said, at the same time, she realized that Lorraine was not very forthcoming with her when she went to Ricky’s place. In fact, she concealed this information from her. What else did she didn’t tell her?
“Ma’am Maya, sandali lang po. Para mapalagay ang loob ninyo, mas mabuti po, tatawagan ko si Rosario, iyong anak nina Manong Tunying at Manang Auring. Siya po kasi ang nandoon sa bahay nina Sir Ricky ngayon habang nasa hospital ang Tatay at Nanay niya. Nabanggit po sa akin ni Manang kanina nung tumawag ako at nangumusta sa lagay ni Manong!”
“Sige nga po, Manang, please. Tatawag po ulit ako, maliligo lang ako.”
“Sige po, Ma’am Maya. Tawag po ulit kayo.”
Maya proceeded to take a shower. But as soon as she got out of the bathroom and got dressed, she called back Manang Miring, hoping that she has news about Ricky by then.
“Ma’am Maya, good news po, nakausap ko na po si Rosario.” Manang Miring told Maya as soon as she had picked up the call.
“Talaga po, Manang! Ano pong sabi niya? Nandoon po ba si Ricky? Okay lang po ba siya? Manang pasensya na po sa mga tanong, nag-aalala na po kasi talaga ako sa kanya.”
“Ma’am, sabi po ni Rosario, hindi na niya inabutan roon si Sir Ricky. Wala na rin daw po iyong mga gamit. Umalis din daw po kaagad kagabi, gamit iyong kotse niya. Parang hindi na raw po muna babalik doon sa beach house.” Then the caretaker continued, “Bilin lang po ni Sir Ricky na asikasuhin niya kagabi iyong bisita nila at walang kasama roon, saka ipahatid sa airport ngayong umaga.”
Maya was surprised to hear that information. Ricky left last night? Did it mean, he returned to Manila too, after her? She felt her heart hammering against her chest all of a sudden! Glad of the news. Wait, Maya Dela Rosa, baka naman may ibang pinuntahan. However, malakas ang kutob niya na bumalik na ng Maynila si Ricky, kasunod niya. Pero bakit hindi pa siya tumatawag? Baka naaksidente? O baka naman pagod lang sa biyahe, Maya Dela Rosa, or nasa biyahe pa! Ikaw kung ano-ano ang pinag-iisip mo, she admonished herself!
“Ma’am Maya…?” The caretaker asked, breaking into Maya’s runaway thoughts. She didn’t realized that she had just gone silent on Manang Miring.
“Yes po, Manang, nandito pa po ako. Pasensya na po.” She said, then the last part of what her caretaker said, sunk in, as well. Ihatid sa airport! So it meant, Lorraine stayed at the beach house while Ricky left, just like that!
“Tinawagan ko na rin po ulit si Manang Auring, kasi po baka mas alam niya kung nasaan si Sir Ricky. Ipinaliwanag ko rin po na hinahanap ninyo siya. Sabi po niya, bumalik na raw po sa Maynila si Sir Ricky. Nagulat nga po siya, kasi ang alam niya magtatagal pa s Sir Ricky dito sa Ilocos.” Manang Miring said, confirming Maya’s suspicion!
“Manang Miring, sobrang thank you po, sa lahat!” Maya said happily upon hearing that Ricky, indeed cut short his trip and had returned to Manila last night, just like she did. “Hintayin ko na lang pong tumawag si Ricky!”
Maya checked the time and calculating the estimated travel time, if Ricky had left around 10PM, he should have been in Manila by around or before 6AM. She hopes that she gets to see him soon. But if had driven like he did on the way to Ilocos, then he needed his rest. Maya grinned, remembering hers and Ricky’s first meeting. Sa guwapong iyon, napagkamalan niya talang multo. It is really something to tell their children! Maya, children agad? Where did that thought come from? But still, she grinned! Just very happy with the thought that Ricky is okay and they are in the same city!
“Walang anuman po, Ma’am.” Manang Miring replied, then added, “Sana po magkita na kayo ni Sir Ricky. Para po kasing ang lungkot niya kagabi nang hindi niya kayo naabutan.”
“For sure po, Manang, magkikita kami noon. Maraming salamat po ulit. Paki-padalhan nga po pala ng prutas si Manong Tunying. Kunin ninyo na lang po iyong pamibili sa iniwan kong budget natin sa bahay.”
“Sige po, Ma’am. Magpapabili na lang po ako kay Manong Sonny paghatid niya kay Ms. Lorraine sa airport. Ipapadaan ko na rin sa hospital.” Manang Miring said. “Sana po makabalik kayo ulit dito.”
“Huwag po kayong mag-alala, Manang. I will. Kayo na po muna ang bahala diyan. Kung may kailangan po kayo, i-text ninyo lang ako or tawagan ninyo rito sa bahay si Manang Fe.”
“Sige po, Ma’am Maya.” Then before she ended the call, the caretaker said, and Maya can sense the smile in her voice, “Sana po magkatuluyan kayo ni Sir Ricky. Bagay na bagay po kayo!”
“Manang, ikaw talaga!” Maya said, laughing, before she ended the call from her end.
With something like spring on her feet, Maya got moving fast after the phone call. She changed into her favorite comfy clothes, ripped jeans and loose blouse, and slip-on sneakers! Then went down to greet Manang Fe and chatted with her. Manang still had a bit of a cold, but she insisted that she’s okay. She also insisted on Maya eating breakfast first before she goes to hospital and visit Emman.
Maya told Manang Fe a bit of her trip North while she was eating the omelette she had made for her. She also asked Manang if it is okay that she ask a couple of questions about her Lola Maya, later that evening. The old lady nodded. Sometimes, when Manang Fe looks at the young Maya, she felt like she was looking at her beloved Señora Maya, and even most of their mannerism are the same! It was uncanny!
Maya left for the hospital an hour later. Emman was still in the ICU but his mother said he was improving steadily. Since it was not yet visiting hours, Maya was unable to talk to him. She just told her Tita Roni that she will come back later in the day.
She then proceeded to Cafe Arts. She realized how much she had missed the place, when she gazed at it after parking her car in her usual spot. She entered the bustling cafe, greeted their regulars and then looked for Jocelyn, the staff she and Emman would like to groom as their assistant manager. Jocelyn was so happy and relieved to see Maya. Over a cup of her favorite caffe americano, Jocelyn updated Maya on how the cafe had been the past several days, when Emman was unable to report anymore due to his recurring fever and hospitalization.
“Thank you for holding the fort, Jocelyn! You did a very good job! Hindi mo na pala ako kailangan. Gawa lang ako ng checks and then babalik na ako sa bakasyon ko sa Ilocos.” She teased Jocelyn, in between sips of her coffee.
“Ma’am Mayaaaa, noooo, please!!! Baka sumunod na ako kay Sir Emman sa hospital for a different reason. Nervous breakdown ang sa akin!” Jocelyn said, smiling!
“Hahahaha, biro lang. I’m back for good.” Maya said. “Tulong na lang tayong dalawa dito sa Cafe Arts habang nasa hospital pa si Emman.”
“Of course po. Thank you Ma’am!” Jocelyn said happily. “I’m so glad you are back, Ma’am. Welcome back talaga! And with matching imaginary cartwheels iyan Ma’am.”
“Hahahaha! O sige, balik ka na sa counter. I’ll just be in the back garden, doing my paperwork. The weather is nice and I don’t want to be cooped up in my office.”
“Sige po, Ma’am. May kailangan pa po ba, kayo? More coffee with a slice of cake, or pastries?”
“Hmmm, wala na for now! But have Henry bring me another cup of caffe americano in an hour, and a blueberry cheesecake!”
“Okay po Ma’am. Ako na po ang magdadala. I’ll also bring some of the papers that need your signature. Aayusin ko lang po.”
“Thanks Jocelyn. Bahala ka na sa labas, ha! But if there are a lot of people and you need me, just holler, okay!”
“Yes Ma’am, will do.”
Several minutes after, Maya was at her special place, with her laptop, and a stack of sales reports in front of her, as well as contracts for review on some exhibits that the gallery will handle. She sat down and inhaled the late morning air. It does not feel like she is in the city, while she sits at the garden. She knows Ricky will like it there. She hopes he gets enough rest. She is also a bit excited and looking forward to seeing him again, hopefully soon! She buckled down to work, with that in thought!
She was so engrossed in the report she was reading, when a slight movement behind her broke into her concentration. Thinking that it was just Jocelyn, she didn’t look up right away.
“Is it an hour already, Jocelyn? Please put my food and coffee na lang on the table. Thanks a lot ha. Saka iyon palang mga kailangan ko i-sign, nasaan na.” She said in between jotting down a note at the edge of the current report she was reading. She didn’t notice at first that there was no reply from Jocelyn.
She suddenly looked up, heart pounding fast, when a tray was placed on top of the documents she was reviewing, and on it, aside from her coffee and cake, was a beautiful bouquet of red roses and sunflowers! And she saw what she had been hoping to see!
“Hello, Maya!” Ricky greeted Maya, giving her one of his bone-melting smiles. For someone who had traveled throughout the night, he looked rested and as handsome as ever. He was also gazing like he hasn’t seen her in months, instead of just 24 hours!
“Ricky!!!” Maya exclaimed, getting out of her chair very fast that she almost toppled down the coffee he brought, so happy to see him! She launched herself to him, without thinking, and then hugged him tight. “I’m so happy to see you.”
“Me too, Maya, me too! I’m so happy to see you!” Ricky said, hugging her tight, at the same time, caressing her hair. “I miss you very much.”
Maya loosen her hold a bit, then looked at Ricky’s handsome face, she touched it gently with both hands, not quite believing still that finally he was there. “Me too, Ricky, I miss you so much.”
They gazed at each other intently, as if memorizing each other’s beloved face, that they missed so much in the short time that they have parted. It felt like ages! It was not enough for both of them. Ricky lowered his head, and captured Maya’s lips for a searing kiss, that was followed by another, and another. They forgot where they were. Their awareness was concentrated on the fusing of their lips. It felt like they have waited for it, forever!