Posts Tagged Love Happens
Richard parked Maya’s car in his designated slot in the underground parking of his building, half an hour after they left her place. After getting out of the car, he assisted and led Maya to a private elevator which opened directly to a foyer leading to the single unit on the topmost floor. He swiped his card, and ushered Maya inside.
“Welcome to my place, sweetheart,” Richard said as he switched on lights, hoping that Maya will like his place. If things go according to his wishes, her agreeing to be his partner in life, his wife, this would probably be their home until they have kids. It is not as homey and brightly decorated as Maya’s but he is sure she can turn this place into their private paradise in no time at all. However, if she would rather stay in her place, he would defer to her. His first priority is making her happy. He can live there too.
“You have a big and beautiful home, Ricky.” Maya looked around, taking in everything at once – the big open layout of the living room, the floor-to-ceiling windows, the white walls adorned only with two big paintings, and the minimalist but very functional furniture. Yes, they have different styles when it comes to their homes, but in its own way, his place is very beautiful and inviting. It has a positive aura too.
“I hope you will consider this your home as well. What is mine is yours, sweetheart,” Richard said softly, guiding Maya towards the sofa by the window.
“Thank you, sweetheart. I will.” Maya walked towards the big floor-to-ceiling window by the living room, instead of sitting down. She looked out, admiring the thousand of lights twinkling like fireflies in the night. “The view is incredible! I like your place, sweetheart!”
“Thank you, sweetheart. I like this place very much. It is home to me for several years now. Like you, not many people have been to this place. My ex-fiancee Lucy had only been here once, and that was with her parents and mine, for dinner.” Richard volunteered as he would like to assure Maya that Lucy had not touched his place at all and that there was no memory of her in that place.
Maya understood right away what Richard wanted to convey with that statement. “Thank you for telling me, sweetheart, I appreciate it,” she said, appreciating his candor.
“It can be our special place too. But of course, your place will always be the most special one.” Richard looked at Maya, remembering all that had happened at her place since they got there the day before, especially the intimacies, not just physical or the act of it, but the emotions and feelings that went with it.
Maya gazed back at Richard, remembering also what he was remembering. Her cheeks flushed. She felt warm despite the air conditioning in Richard’s place!
Richard moved to where Maya was standing, hugged her from behind and nuzzled her neck. Maya gasped and turned. Her senses coming alive again. They looked at each other and without words, their lips met for a searing kiss. It led to another, and another until all their awareness was centred on their fused lips and the effects of those kisses on their highly sensitized bodies. Maya felt a tug on the ribbon of her wrap-around dress. Seconds later, it fell on the floor. She heard Richard gasped and looked at her with so much desire on his eyes. Then suddenly, she was off the floor and into Richard’s strong arms.
Richard carried Maya to the room nearest the living room. His bedroom. He placed her gently on the bed, and then slowly undressed. Maya looked at him with eyes dazed with desire as he removed his shirt, his pants, and finally his boxer shorts. The bed dipped slightly when Richard joined Maya in there. He started caressing her, driving her deliriously crazy until her only thought, what she sought, was the relief his touch would bring. Richard gave it to her. He moved to join their heated bodies. They flew together. It took a while for them to move after that mind-shattering union.
“So how about dinner, sweetheart?” Maya asked softly as Richard caressed her idly and maddeningly, while she nestled in the crook of his arms, her head pillowed against his chest. She can’t really think straight and just wanted to stay in Richard’s arms forever. She felt boneless.
“Hmmm…” Richard murmured against Maya’s hair. Instead of answering her, he hugged her tighter, moved a bit, and started kissing her on the neck again. She never thought it as a very sensitive part of her body, but Richard’s mere touch proved otherwise. His hand also started moving, seeking the parts of her body which he knew gives her, and him, immense pleasure.
“Food, sweetheart. Dinner at that wine restaurant…” Maya managed to say as Richard increased his assault on her senses.
Richard remained deaf to her softly spoken words. Instead, he suddenly moved, took hold of Maya’s waist, and flipped her over but gently. Maya found herself on top of him, his arms around her. She blushed, getting his meaning. He smiled tenderly, lovingly, beseeching her. She smiled back, and gave him what he wanted, what they both wanted. His instantenous reaction to her every touch, became Maya’s guide. And with that, all thoughts of dinner got forgotten again.
Maya and Richard surfaced from their bliss when their stomachs started grumbling. They giggled. Richard sighed. He got of the bed to get his phone and ordered food from the restaurant in the building that caters to the residents after asking Maya what she would like to eat. They complete abandoned their earlier plan of having dinner in that wine restaurant. He and Maya ate a hearty dinner of dim sum, yang chow fried rice, peppered squid, shrimps, and nido soup.
“Why are you looking at me like that.” Maya asked softly, as Richard looked at her heatedly while she unconsciously licked her fingers after peeling the shrimps by hand. She was wearing one of Ricky’s t-shirts. He was wearing a similar t-shirt and shorts that he hastily put when he got the food from the delivery guy. It hugged his muscled chest. Looking at him, Maya had a hard time concentrating on her food as well. He looked rumpled, his hair tousled, and very handsome. She was very much aware of him and his gazes.
“Well, that t-shirt will never be the same again. I actually envy it at the moment. So close to your body…” Richard said, his gaze heated. The t-shirt was white and thin and he can see the outline of Maya’s beautiful body from where he was sitting.
“Ricky…” Maya protested weakly, blushing profusely, getting self-conscious still despite the intimacies that they have shared. She pulled at the shirt, but it didn’t help.
Richard put his hand on top of Maya’s. He told her gently, lovingly, “You have a beautiful body, Maya. Don’t be embarrassed by it. You are beautiful inside out. I will still look at you like this until we are old and gray. You should always remember that, my love.”
Maya smiled at her wonderful, handsome boyfriend. Old and gray! It very much imply of a future together, and she is very happy with that thought and that possibility. She was really very happy that she had taken the leap with this guy.
“Thank you, sweetheart. I love you very much.” Maya said simply, overwhelmed with emotions.
“I love you very much, too, Maya.” Richard said, his face serious, conveying the intensity of his emotions, He lifted his glass. “To us, sweetheart and a future together.”
“To us….” Maya replied, clinking her glass with Richard’s.
They drank to it, then Richard stood up, offering his hand to Maya and carrying his glass and the wine bottle with his other hand. “Come, sweetheart, let’s be more comfortable.”
Richard led Maya to a couch that faces the floor-to-ceiling window of the unit. He sat and pulled her into his lap. They enjoyed looking at the city at night as they sipped their wine, cuddled together, whispered words of love to each other, and at times just chatted about things they both enjoyed doing.
When he saw her yawning, despite her valiant effort to remain awake, as they savor their wonderful time together, Richard placed his and Maya’s wine glasses on the small glass table by the couch, then carried her to his room. Just like the night before, they ended up spending the night together.
The following morning, Maya was woken up by butterfly kisses from Richard. When she opened her eyes with a big smile, she saw a tray with a single, beautiful sunflower in a glass vase, and bacon, eggs, jams and two steaming cups of coffee, by the side table. They ate breakfast together, then headed to the shower together. The simple and normally mundane act of bathing was turned into an unforgettable one.
Wearing her clothes from the day before, Maya went back to her place with Richard, in his office clothes, in tow. He waited until she changed into office clothes, then they drove together to their offices.
“Sweetheart, dinner later?” Richard asked as Maya parked her car at the drop off point of Richard’s office building.
“Sure sweetheart. Is around 6PM okay?” Maya asked, liking that they will see each other again in several hours.
“Yes, and please, I’ll pick you up this time, I will bring you home and take you to work tomorrow. Di ba, you will be at LC naman tomorrow? Would that be okay?” Richard asked, as he unfastened his seatbelt.
“Sure, sweetheart.” Maya replied. “That would be fine. I will just leave my car in my slot.”
Richard took hold of Maya’s face with both hands, then gave her a searing kiss. “That would have to tide me over until we see each other again.” Richard said, giving her one of his bone-melting lopsided smile.
Maya smiled back, her face lighting up. “Have a great day, sweetheart. See you later.”
“You too. I love you.”
“Love you too. Bye for now.”
Richard got out of the car while he was able to resist giving Maya another kiss. Maya waved one more time before she drove towards the direction of her office. Richard waited until he can no longer see Maya’s car before entering the building. When he reached his floor, he had on a big, happy smile, a fact that didn’t escape his secretary’s notice. She also heard him humming. Richard Lim, humming! She never thought she would witness it!
“Welcome back, Sir Richard.” Liza greeted her boss who seemed to be in the best of mood. it looked like he had a wonderful impromptu vacation in Mindanao. Not only he had acted strangely several days ago, he looked different. He looked happier and if she will hazard a guess…in love? Could it be that he is? Hmmm, the plot thickens, she thought. “How was your vacation, Sir?”
“Hi Liza, thank you.” Then he gave his secretary a lopsided grin, “It was the best vacation ever. Thank you again for all your help. I presumed the office ran well while I was away as I didn’t receive calls from you or from Adrian.”
“Yes Sir, everything was okay. I put all the papers for your signature and review on your table, including the report Ms. Maya had sent after you left for Mindanao.” Liza said, following her boss into his office.
“Thanks a lot Liza. Maya mentioned that to me. She said she had emailed me an initial report. I’ll check on it later.” Richard said absently as he put his things on his table.
Liza looked closely at her boss, and the way he had said Ms. Maya’s name. ‘Mentioned to him’?
“By the way, Liza, can you book me a table at that very nice wine restaurant in Mandaluyong for 7Pm. Can you also order me a bouquet of sunflowers to be delivered here at 5PM.” Richard said as he sat down.
Oookay, someone is really in love! And she thinks she knows with whom. She had seen how her boss looked at the beautiful, events manager the week before. She also saw them going to the Lim private cafe after that meeting. Well, she is happy for him, especially after that witch Lucy jilted him. She likes Maya and she is more beautiful than Lucy.
“I will do that, Sir. Would that be all?” Liza asked deadpanned and trying to hide the fact that she was very curious.
“Yes, and thanks a lot, Liza.”
Liza left after that. She did what her boss requested of her before going back to the papers she was working on before he arrived. Richard, on the other hand, started tackling the stack of papers on his desk before checking his emails. When he had finally gotten around to his inbox, he saw that he had a lot. It was going to be a long day. Good thing he will be seeing Maya later. He had something wonderful to look forward to. He buckled down to work.
While Richard was plowing through the papers on his desk, Maya was walking towards her office at MEP, holding a tumbler of coffee from the cafe at the lobby. Before she reached her office, her cousin intercepted her, as if he was lying in wait for her.
“Cuz!!! Welcome back to the land of the mortals and the land of brokenhearted.” Emman said as he gave his cousin a hug and a beso. “I’m so happy to see you. I miss you.”
“Cuz, how are you? I’m happy to be back. Why did you not wait for me yesterday?” Maya asked as she returned her cousin’s hug. “You could have had lunch with Ricky and me.”
“Cuz naman, I don’t like to be a third wheel kaya! I didn’t want to intrude into your private world yesterday!” Emman quipped with a raised eyebrow. “Pero, cuz, you and Richard Lim almost gave me a heart attack yesterday, though I’m so happy for the two of you. So kiligggg malaga hay!!!! Sana I will find my prince charming na rin like that!”
“Sssshhhh, Emman, your voice.” Maya told her cousin, as she had noticed that they were attracting the attention of their employees! “Let’s go to my office.”
“Sorry naman, Cuz. I just got excited.” Emman whispered, contrite. “We can talk about it over lunch. But I will go with you to your office to discuss some projects.”
“Okay…” Maya nodded then led her cousin to her corner office.
The two of them discussed their current projects and clients. Maya also ran with Emman the execution of her campaign for Lim Corporation’s 50th anniversary as she needed to make a report to Richard and do another presentation to the management committee of LC as per Adrian’s last e-mail to her. It was what she was working on before Richard showed up in Camiguin. It felt like ages ago, when it fact, it just happened several days ago. It was just that so many wonderful things that happened. Emman agreed with most of her ideas, and in some instances, suggested from improvements which Maya liked.
“Thanks a lot, Emman. I think I have everything for the update presentation to LC tomorrow.” Maya told her cousin as she take a sip of her coffee.
“Do you know who will handle the new TVC of LC, in line with this anniversary?” Emman asked as an afterthought when he was about to return to his office.
“Not yet. Adrian said they haven’t pick one the last time we talked. Ricky and me naman didn’t talk about business while we were together, so no idea until now. Maybe we will know by tomorrow!”
“Of course, if my boyfriend is as handsome and as hunky as Richard Lim, I will forget everything except him also. Keber ko sa work!” Emman teased his cousin. “Come, since it is almost 11AM, let’s have an early lunch at that organic restaurant we like. You owe me lunch, dinner, whatever, and a truckload of kwento. Besides, I think I have to settle for lunch. I have an inkling that you are not free for dinner. Am I right?”
“Errrr, yes. Ricky and I will have dinner. He will pick me up at around 6PM.” Maya admitted to her cousin, her whole face lighting up. “Emma, I never thought I could be this happy.”
“I knew it!” Emma exclaimed, then taking his cousin’s hand and playfully swaying it as they walked towards the elevator, he said, “You really deserve to be happy like this, Maya, after all the heartaches. I’m so happy for you. I’m sure if you tell it to Mom, she would be very happy also.”
“Thank you, Emman. Ah yes, I’m planning to tell her about it tomorrow also. I’ll ask her to lunch.” Even before she tells her, Maya knew that Tita Margarita will be happy that she is finally taking another chance at love.
Maya gave her cousin an abbreviated version of what happened since Richard followed her in Camiguin. She omitted in the telling the intimacies between her and Richard. Emman knew that they were intimate but the details, it was just for Richard and her. Her cousin, respecting her privacy didn’t actually ask for details. He just screamed silently and was very giddy as she told him about Richard’s romantic gestures and how they spent the vacation. They returned to the office two hours after, very relaxed and happy. The rest of the afternoon was spent working on their accounts. Tita Margarita was unable to report for work that day so it was just the two of them who dealt with clients.
Maya finished her work around 5 o’clock in the afternoon. She was glad to have some spare time to get ready for her date with Richard. Luckily, she keeps some clothes in her office, just in case she needs to meet clients unexpectedly in the evening. She took out a black sheath dress from the closet and started to get ready.
Richard texted several minutes before six o’clock. He told Maya that he was at the lobby of her building. When Maya got down, she saw him standing by the entrance, wearing a navy blue shirt and dark slacks, looking so devastatingly handsome. It seems, she is not the only one who store spare clothes at work. He was holding a bouquet of sunflowers, her favourite. He saw her, and gave her a bone-melting smile, only for her, while walking towards her. He took her breath away no matter how many times she was bestowed that beautiful smile. She smiled back.
Richard gave Maya the flowers. “For you, sweetheart,” he said as he gave her a kiss on the lips, unmindful of the people around them.
“Thank you, sweetheart,” Maya said softly, smiling, as she surreptitiously wiped the smudges of lipstick on Richard’s lips. They shared an intimate smile.
With hands intertwined, Richard and Maya happily walked towards his car, looking forward to another beautiful evening together.
Richard certainly felt at home in Maya’s kitchen. She is a very organized person. He deduced that from seeing how things were arranged in her cabinets and also in her refrigerator and freezer. Her system makes sense, actually, he mused as it was easy to find everything. He had just finished cooking the omelette when Maya’s doorbell rang.
Thinking that Maya will hear it, Richard continued with what he was doing. Besides, he was not sure also whether he should answer her bell or if she is expecting anyone as she had told him that not so many people have been at her place, her sanctuary. The doorbell rang a second time.
Richard called Maya loudly. When she didn’t reply, he went back to her bedroom. Upon entering, he heard loud music coming from the bathroom, with a louder voice singing along with the music. He smiled. It was Maya singing loudly in the bathroom, like she was staging a concert. She was singing Achy Breaky Heart!
Maya sang the Billy Ray Cyrus’ hit at the top of her voice with gusto. Richard grinned and shook his head. Now he knows, where Maya’s talents does not lie, and that is in singing! Honestly, her voice is more fitted for the bathroom than the ‘The Voice’s stage. She sounded so cute, singing to her heart’s content. He called her through the door. When there was still no response, he tried knocking, but it seems it was not enough with all the loud music vibrating inside, drowning even the sound of the water coming out of the shower.
Richard was in a quandary as the doorbell rang again. He decided to go to the door himself thinking that it must be important for the person at the other side to ring t the third time. At least he could check who it is. He grabbed his crumpled shirt and jeans from the pile on the floor. He grimaced when he put it back as he had traveled with it the day before. He does not like wearing clothes he had worn before even during emergencies.
He looked through the peephole and seeing it was Emman, he decided to open the door to Maya’s cousin.
“Cuz, what took you so long! Grabeeeee…” Emman’s voice tapered off, looking fully at who opened the door, almost dropping the phone he was holding. “ Grabe talaga kasi….R-richard…!” Maya’s cousin managed to say, his eyes like saucers. “What are you doing here?” He blurted out.
“Hello, Emman! Please do come in. Maya is in the bathroom. I think she will be done soon. I tried calling her but she was singing at the top of her voice and can’t hear me. ” Richard said calmly with a smile. He barely stopped himself from laughing, seeing Emman’s expression. He had shocked Maya’s seemingly unflappable cousin. “Maya and I were just about to eat.”
Emman, still looking shell shock, followed Richard to the living room. Richard’s clothes were obviously yesterday’s clothes! Emman also knew that he was here late at night. So, does that means, his cousin’s new, and hunk of a boyfriend stayed the night! OMG, his cousin must really be very much in love to have done all of this. He knows her very well. James didn’t manage into talking her into something like this in all the time they were in a relationship, considering that they were practically childhood sweetheart. At the same time, Emman felt worried that she had jumped so deep in such a short time. He was afraid that her cousin might get hurt again, and this time, she will not be able to recover from the heartache!
His thoughts might have been reflected on his face as Richard chose that moment to speak seriously and frankly with him.
“Emman, may I be frank?” He started and when Emman nodded, waiting for what he would like to say next, he proceeded.
“Maya mentioned that she told you about us. I can see the worry in your eyes, seeing us like this. I obviously have stayed the night. This may seem so far ahead of our relationship, us having known each other a short time, but I have never been surer in my life. I love your cousin very much and what I found with her is different, unique and something that I have been looking for all my life.”
Taking a deep breath, and looking earnestly at Emman, Richard continued.
“She had told me a bit about the past, though not the whole story, but it was enough for me to catch a glimpse of how she had been hurt badly. I will never ever knowingly do that to her, hurt her like that. And if I do hurt her inadvertently, as I am only human, I’ll make it up to her double. My goal in life is to make her happy as she had made me very happy by agreeing to have a relationship with me.”
Emman gulped and digested what Richard said, from the heart, he can see that. He was not expecting that much frankness, but he was glad for it.
“Thank you for being direct Richard. I just want Maya to be happy, for her to find a man who would love her the way she deserves to be love. When you asked me for her whereabouts, I thought you could be the guy for her. Don’t ask me why, I just instinctively know. I will hold on to your promise, Richard. My cousin had been hurt enough. I’m happy for you and her, you should know that.”
“Thank you Emman and my eternal gratitude again for telling me where she was. If not for you, our relationship will not be at this stage now. But it will get there at some point. Your cousin is my one and only!” Richard smiled, looking very much in love. “Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.”
“Ohhh, so great to hear that Richard. I’m so happy for my cousin.” Emma said, holding his heart, he teased Richard. “Basta, I will be the maid of honor at your wedding ha.”
“Sure, Emman and the godfather to our first-born!” Richard quipped with a grin, then seriously, he added, “That is if I can make your cousin say yes to marrying me. She may have cold feet na because of what happened to her.”
“She managed to tell you about ‘the jilting’?” Emman asked, very surprised, as his cousin never talk about it at all. When Richard spoke about knowing a bit of Maya’s past, he thought her cousin just mentioned that someone had hurt her in the past, and not about being left at the church. But it seemed like his cousin and Richard had really gotten really very, very close while in Camiguin!
“Yes, she did.” Richard said. Seeing Emman’s expression he was overwhelmed on how Maya had trusted her and gave him her love in such a short time.
“O-okay….” He just said and went back to what Richard said earlier. “You are thinking that far ahead, huh?” Emman asked Richard as he can say that he was serious about his cousin. Besides, him having been left at the altar, he would think that he would be wary of marching done the aisle again, like Maya.
“Of course. This relationship with your cousin is for keeps.” Richard said seriously. “I want a future with her.”
“Well, in that case, welcome to the family, Richard.” Emman was grinning, happy that finally her cousin had finally found someone who loves her very much. “And it should be godmother to your first-born! I will the cute little Dela Rosa-Lim’s fairy godmother. By the way, get use to my cousin singing like that in the shower. Wait until she gets to the Aegis songs!”
Richard laughed. “That would be fine with me, she can sing to her heart’s content. Thank you, Emman. But please, don’t mention my plans to Maya. I want to give her a proposal she can tell our children and grandchildren.”
“Surely, and if you need help with anything, let me know, Cuz-in-law to be.”
“Thank you, Emman. I would be honored to be your cousin-in-law, or brother-in-law or a sister-in-law. I know you like a sibling to Maya instead of just a cousin.”
The two of them shared a smile. Emman stood up.
“I’ll go back to the office now. I just want to check on her since she has not replied to my text messages and calls. I got worried lang. I’ll let you two lovebirds be.”
“Oh, you can stay and join us for our breakfast/late lunch.” Richard said, standing up too. “She must have left her phone somewhere last night.”
“No, no, no, I don’t want to be a third wheel.” Emman said, teasing. “Just tell my cousin I’ll see her at the office tomorrow.”
Before Richard can say anything else, Emman was off. He was still smiling when he closed the door on Maya’s cousin.
“Someone was at the door, sweetheart?” Maya asked, coming out of the bedroom, barefooted and wearing denim shorts and a sleeveless white lace blouse. “I thought I heard the door just closed. Sorry, it took me a while.”
“It was your cousin, Emman, sweetheart. I tried knocking on the door, but your music was loud and your voice was louder.” Richard said, smiling.
“Oh! Why did he left without waiting for me?” Maya asked, thinking that they were busted by Emman, seeing Richard was wearing his crumpled clothes. But it was okay with her, still no regrets, then she said, sheepishly, “Sorry it took me a long time to bath. I’m like that, no matter how hard I tried, especially when I’m in my own bathroom.”
Then what Richard said, sank in.
“Errrr, you knocked. So you heard me singing.” Maya asked, reddening.
Richard grinned. “Yup.”
“OMG!” Maya covered her face. “You heard my kokak voice.”
“Don’t be shy, sweetheart. It was not so bad. You will never make it to The Voice’s stage, but it was not for lack of feelings when you sang.” Richard teased, removing Maya’s hands from her face, then kissing her lightly on the lips. “Me, I’m a terrible dancer! See, I admitted that so you will feel better. You were actually cute while singing that Achy Breaky Heart song!”
“Really, sweetheart! That I need to see. I love dancing.” Maya said earnestly. “But singing in the bathroom at the top of my voice is a ritual. I feel better and ready to face my day when I do that. Now, I’m so hungry after that ‘concert’!” She added, grinning.
“We will go dancing one day so I can show how terrible I am. You have to teach me. Come, let’s eat. I made omelette and coffee. I asked your cousin to join us but he said, he does not want to be a third wheel.”
“Oh…!” Maya said, smiling. “Did he say why did he drop by?”
“I think he was worried about you. He had been trying to reach you daw, through texts and calls. But otherwise, he said, everything is okay.”
“Naku, I think I left my phone in the kitchen last night after talking to him. I will just call him after we have eaten, I think he is still on the way back to the office.”
The two of them walked back to the dining room where Maya saw the table nicely laid.
“Wow, you did all of this earlier. I really like that you know your way around the kitchen, Mr. Lim.”
“I’m a man of many talents Ms. Dela Rosa. You ain’t seen the best of me yet!”
The way Richard said it and the way, he was looking at her, Maya knows he meant more than his culinary skills.
“Hay naku, Richard Lim, let’s eat and don’t look at me like that. Otherwise, we will starve.”
“Okay, sweetheart. I will stop teasing. But one more thing, you look very beautiful as you are now.”
“Yes, sweetheart, you are.”
Maya indeed looked very lovely without any make-up on, and wearing that shorts and blouse that hug her curves. Richard was having a hard time concentrating on the food before him.
“Coffee, sweetheart?” Maya asked, breaking into his not so innocent thoughts. “I see that you made a new pot.”
“Yes, please, sweetheart. I really love the way you make my coffee. Different and the best! Just like you, sweetheart.”
“Sus, ikaw talaga, sweetheart!” Maya said, then grinned. “But thank you, sweetheart, I know, right.”
The two of them laughed and then proceeded to enjoy their first meal of the day.
“That was good, sweetheart. Really, really good! You can cook me breakfast anytime!” Maya said after they attacked their food, realising how hungry they were. Maya realized what she blurted out. She blushed. “I mean, err…”
Richard grinned, wanting to see how Maya will extricate herself from her double meaning statement. But seeing her blushed, which was cute, he teased her.
“Of course, sweetheart, everyday, if I have my way.” Then he looked at Maya heatedly.
Maya turned redder, remembering their passionate night and morning. “Ricky…”
“I love you, sweetheart. If I have my way, I would spend every moment with you. We will only surface when we are hungry or when we have too.”
Maya felt herself flushing, imagining what Ricky had just said.
“So, what would you like to do for the rest of the day? I’m right, isn’t that we will spend the rest of the day, and the evening too, together?” Richard asked after several long seconds of them just gazing at each other while they sipped their coffee absently.
“Yes, sweetheart, which reminds me, I need to call Emman. After that, it is up to you what you would like us to do. We can talk about it after I talk to him.”
Maya stood up and look for her phone. It wasn’t in the kitchen. She found it on the coffee table in the living room. She must have left it there when she brought Richard’s coffee and found him asleep on the sofa. She had several missed calls from Emman and text messages. She read the latest one, first. She was still smiling when she returned to the dining room.
“Why are you smiling sweetheart? Have you managed to reach your cousin?”
“Sort of. He texted me not to call him. Told me to just spend the rest of the day with the love of life. However, he told me that I owe him a whole day of kwento. My cousin has quite a colorful vocabulary and he teased me, that’s why I was smiling. But everything is okay. I think my cousin likes you for me. He seemed to be your number one supporter. It must have been quite a talk you had with him earlier.”
Richard answered Maya with a grin.
“I like your cousin. I’m sure he and Rafi will really get long. And since we are spending the rest of the day and the evening too, together, can we please swing by my place so I can change clothes. We can also plan our evening while we are there. Or if you want, we can stay in for dinner. I can cook us dinner.”
“Hmmm, as much as I want to taste more of your cooking, sweetheart, maybe we leave it for some other time. I just remember, are you not supposed to see a doctor also for your shoulders?”
“Okay, sweetheart. We can just go to dinner at a place that I think you would like. And I don’t think I need to see a doctor, I don’t feel any pain now. My shoulders must have just gotten bruised from impact.”
“If you say so, sweetheart! Let me just change clothes. I don’t think my clothes are suitable for dinner there.” Maya replied.
“It is not that fancy a place that it requires a dress code, sweetheart. But the food is the best.”
“Okay, but let me change first. I’ll be quick, promise. Go watch TV first.”
“Take your time, sweetheart!”
Maya was back after 15 minutes, wearing a beautiful red wrap around dress that hugs all her curves. It was fastened at the side with a ribbon and upon seeing it, Richard wanted to tug it so the dress will unravel and he can see Maya’s beautiful body again.
“Sweetheart, you look very lovely.” Richard said, his heated gaze on Maya and then as if he can’t himself anymore, he lowered his lips to her.
They stood, with nary a space between them in Maya’s living room, kissing each other as if they have not done it in weeks, instead of just hours, so hungry they were for each other. But before it could turn into another conflagration, Maya stopped Ricky.
“Ricky, I think we better stop.” She said reluctantly. “We need to get going if you want to make it to your home and dinner.”
“Yes, I know, sweetheart.” Richard replied, then stole another quick dip on Maya’s lips before he loosen his hold on her. “You are one potent lady, Ms. Dela Rosa.”
Maya smiled, then lovingly caressed Richard’s face. “And you are one irresistible guy, Mr. Lim.”
Hand in hand, they left Maya’s place. They only had eyes for each other.
There was a bit of sunlight filtering from the window when Maya woke up again. She slowly opened her eyes and realized that her head was pillowed on a wide and very comfortable chest. Richard’s! She can feel the steady beating of his heart, as her senses slowly remembers the events of last night and early that morning. Richard’s arms were around her. She lifted her head, looked, and her eyes met Richard’s smiling ones.
Richard was gazing at her, full of love, and with a big smile, his eyes almost disappearing into thin lines, happiness and contentment, evident on his face. Maya gave him a sweet smile in return and a husky, good morning, getting a bit self-conscious as this was the first time she woke up like that, a boyfriend in her bed! It felt so intimate, but wonderfully so.
“Good morning, Maya!” He touched her face, gently caressed it with his thumb. “I’m so sorry, sweetheart for just conking out on you like that. I don’t know what happened. My last thought was remembering you saying you love me back while on our way back to Manila and how happy it made me that we are now officially in a relationship.”
“I know you must have been tired, sweetheart. We had a very long, and eventful day. Not to mention our ordeal the other night. It was okay.I decided to let you sleep.” Maya replied, touching his arm affectionately. “Did you sleep well? How long have you been awake.”
“Just a couple of minutes ago. I did sleep very well, especially here, beside you. You mumbled in your sleep about wanting me to go back to sleep beside you, when I looked in on you earlier, and since I wanted to, too, here I am.” Richard said softly, grinning, then gazing at her intensely, seriously, he added, “I can really get use to this, waking up beside you every morning. It is the most wonderful feeling in the world. Iba talaga!”
Maya blushed, then as she can’t find the adequate words to say after that statement, said simply, “I’m very, very glad, Ricky.” She added softly, “It was also very nice to wake up with you beside me. Besides, I must have been calling you and wanting you beside me, even in my subconscious. I felt so happy and safe, with you lying beside me.”
The two of them shared another intense, heated gaze. Overwhelmed with the extreme happiness they were feeling, coupled with the ever-present strong physical reaction to each other’s mere presence, Richard lowered his lips to Maya’s and gave her a searing kiss. Maya responded and very soon, their lips and tongues were engaged in a very intense love dance, the heat between them just kept on building, and building, and building.
They both whispered to each other in between gasping for breath from their intense kisses. Their hands also moved of their own volition, doing exploration of their own. Maya caressed Richard’s back, and Richard’s hand crept under Maya’s sleep shirt and started exploring which left her gasping and short of breath and with the heat he generated travelling to her very core. Whatever his hand touched, it left a trail of fire in Maya. The pleasure was so intense. It was the same for Richard.
Both of them felt at that moment that they will just combust and set each other on fire, so strong was their desire and passion for each other. They were so helpless to stop the tide of their passion and the inevitable, and what they have been skirting around the past several days, or even since the first time they met, happened. Finally, they allowed themselves to be consumed by the fire they ignited in each other by a mere touch, a glance, the proximity they have been to the past several day, and all the love for each other that is bursting from their chest. They succumbed to the very strong passion they feel for each other. While the morning was unfolding, Richard and Maya made love and gave all to the feelings they have for each other. When they reached the heights together, it was beyond what their imagination can conjure. They were both humbled and awed by it.
“Maya, are you okay, sweetheart? Did I hurt you?” Richard cupped Maya’s face with both hands, caressing it lovingly, catching his breath, still trying to recover from his and Maya’s intense lovemaking. Making love with her was indescribable. He also realized that despite almost marrying years ago, he was Maya’s first and only lover. That he was the one she chose to give all of her!
Richard was awed with the gift Maya bestowed on him. It took him a while to find his wits and his ability to verbalize what was in his heart at that moment. His physical relationships and casual encounters in the past paled in comparison to his and Maya’s coming to together. It was akin to being transcendental. “I hope this is not too fast for you, sweetheart. I love you very much and I’m in awed and humbled with your gift, sweetheart. Thank you. I’m so overwhelmed and touched.”
Maya blushed. But giving herself to Richard when their relationship is still so new felt so right to her. It was something she was not able to do with James no matter how much he tried to talk her into going to bed with him, especially after they have set the date of their wedding. It was one of the things he threw back at her when their relationship came to an end bitterly. She also had the notion that she would save herself for her husband on their wedding night. But she was wrong. She does not have any regrets bestowing that gift to Richard. It just felt so great and her heart was so full. Somehow, she knew that what happened is right and inevitable.
“Ricky, I’m great. It just feel so right, us doing this and the most intimate thing between a man and a woman. I love you very much.” Maya kissed Richard on the lips, assuring him that everything was great. “I don’t have any regrets.”
“I’m glad, sweetheart. I promise that I will treasure everything that is between us. I love you very, very much.” Richard promised solemnly, sealing it with a kiss. He also thought of asking Maya how come she had saved herself like this, when she almost marry before, but realized that he didn’t want another guy to enter their bliss. Besides, he was just very happy that he was the one she gave him the honor of loving her in the most intimate way.
That kiss turned into kisses and led to reigniting the fire they just doused minutes ago. They can’t just get enough of each other. Passion consumed them again and for the next moments their world revolved on giving each other pleasure and flying to the bliss they have discovered earlier, together.
Maya and Richard surfaced from that bliss around lunchtime. They were reluctant to move from each other’s arms so they stayed longer in bed, as close as two people can get, just a blanket covering their sated bodies. They fell asleep again.
It was Maya who woke up first this time. She gazed at Richard’s sleeping form. He had a smile on his sensuous lips. The blanket only covering his lower body and his sculpted upper body, bared to her admiration. Maya blushed remembering how she had caressed that body. How much his arms enveloped her and gave her pleasure and the havoc his lips caused on her senses. Hers and Richard’s coming together is beyond the physical. She was sure of that even if this was her first experience of grand passion. How she loves this guy. She didn’t have any regrets at all in giving all of her to him.
Maya disentangled herself from Richard’s embrace and slowly started getting out the bed. She was planning to go to the office at some point that day even if her aunt and cousin were not expecting here, and of course, there is that dinner with Emman. She did wish then that she can just spend the rest of the day with Richard. She only managed to put herself towards the edge of the bed when an arm encircled her waist and dragged her back to bed. When she was back where she was before, Richard kissed her and imprisoned her in his arms.
“Ricky….” Maya laughed huskily. “I need to get up, please. It is almost noon.”
“Hmmm, can it wait later, much, much later, please sweetheart.” Richard said, then his hand moved up her chest, and touched. Maya gasped. She seemed to be very extra sensitive that morning, Richard’s mere touch set her off.
“Ricky….” Maya protested weakly, barely able to think with the havoc that Richard is wrecking on her suddenly very sensitive body, again!
Maya angled her face for a kiss and it seemed like it was what Richard was waiting for. He lowered his lips to her, gave her a searing kiss and they tongues dulled and mated. Again, they succumbed to the intense passion between them, and the only sound inside the room were their groans and moans of pleasure as they reacted to each every touch.
“I love you very much, Maya.” Richard whispered to Maya, in between light kisses, when they can catch their breath again. Everything was simply amazing. “You have made me the happiest guy! The world is so much better with you in my life.”
“I love you very much too, Ricky.” Maya said lovingly. “You did the same to me, Ricky. You made everything perfect.”
They shared a beautiful smile and just cuddled, enjoying the quiet afternoon and each other’s company in the afterglow of the physical expression of their love for each other. All thoughts of going anywhere, forgotten! However, their bliss was interrupted by Maya’s growling tummy.
“I guess, we better move and have food. We haven’t had food since last night. I can heat the leftovers, let me just go to the bathroom first.” Maya said, smiling, but still not moving from Richard’s embrace.
“Go, do whatever you need to do, sweetheart. I can do that. I think I can find my way around your kitchen. I can even cook us omelette if you have bacon, cheese and eggs, of course.” Richard offered with an indulgent smile.
“Really, sweetheart!” Maya asked, unable to help her surprise, thinking that being a Lim, he does not have to. Besides, he had this laid back bachelor reputation before. “I can’t imagine you cooking. As in, you know to cook?”
“Of course, sweetheart. While I was studying in the States, I learned to fend for myself. I kind of, like it, actually. Then here naman, I live alone. I haven’t live with anyone despite my relationships. Someone just comes everyday to clean my place.”
“Oh…” Maya digested that fact. So, that meant that he and Lucy didn’t live together prior to their marriage, and no other woman shared his place.
Richard can see the questions in Maya’s eyes. He had a pretty good idea what it is all about. He wants to reassure Maya that their relationship is for keeps so if she would like to know some things from him, is very much willing to tell her. They have not really gotten around to having to talking completely about their respective past, especially the ‘exes’ that influenced how they have dealt with succeeding relationships. While the past is the past and it was better left there, Richard knows that Maya and him have to be completely behind it for them to take their beautiful relationship forward.
“I know you have things you want to know, sweetheart. Ask away, please. My life is an open book to you. I want you to know everything there is to know about me. I love you very much. I don’t want you to have even a small doubt about that. Maybe, we can just stay here the rest of the day? Do you need to be someplace else today?” Richard suggested, really wishing that Maya will say yes as he does not want to be away from her yet.
“Hmmm, I was supposed to go to the office today to touch base with Tita Margarita and Emman, but they are not really expecting me to report today. I had made a loose arrangement with Emman that I will meet him for dinner. He called last night while I was making coffee. But, I can just call him after I have been to bath and reschedule our dinner. I’m sure it will be okay with him.” Maya said, liking his idea as well. “By the way, Emman knows about us. You know my cousin, makulit and he is good at catching me unawares. I told him last night.”
“Great, sweetheart that we can stay in. I don’t have to be anywhere today also! And it is okay about Emman knowing. In fact I owe your cousin a lot. If he didn’t tell me where you were, then probably, we are not like this yet.”
“Yet, sweetheart!” Maya said smiling. “So you mean to say, we would still end up as boyfriend and girlfriend, even you didn’t follow me in Camiguin?”
“Of course, sweetheart. It is inevitable. If I didn’t follow you, the soonest you arrived back in Manila, I will be all over you, asking you for dates and courting you earnestly. I was smitten, and so much more, as you know already.” He said grinning. Then giving Maya a quick kiss, he added, “Off you go sweetheart. I’ll get up also and go to your kitchen and make us some food.”
Maya suddenly realized that she would have to go the bathroom naked, as she can’t find her clothes from the tangled sheet and anywhere near her. She started gathering the blanket to herself. Richard saw what she was doing, and smiled. She should have not been shy as they have shared the most intimate thing between a man and a woman. But still, she suddenly felt self-conscious.
“Sweetheart, you are beautiful inside out. You don’t have to hide your body to me.” Richard said gently, but still he turned around so that his back was to Maya, then he said smiling, “I will not look, as much as I want to. Promise, cross my heart. Go now, sweetheart.”
Maya was touched by Richard’s gentlemanly gesture. “Thanks, sweetheart. There is a bathroom in the other room you can use as well. There are spare towels and toiletries in the cabinet above the sink.”
“Thanks a lot, sweetheart. I’ll do that also before I cook. And take your time.”
Richard waited until he heard the bathroom door closed before he moved out of the bed, looked for his boxers and found it tangled with Maya’s clothes on the floor, his side of the bed. It seemed they just removed their clothes with abandon hours ago, not caring where they landed. He padded to the guest room and took a quick shower. He had no other choice except to put back his boxers again.
Richard went to the kitchen and rummaged through Maya’s cabinets and refrigerator. He found a carton of eggs, several packs of some Italian-sounding cheese brand, and several small packs of bacon in the freezer. He worked quietly and happily. On the side, he also started brewing coffee. He was whistling happily as he prepared the food for the love of his life, looking forward to spending the rest of the afternoon and hopefully, another evening with her.
“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!
Maya gave up. It has been more than an hour since she went to bed after her wonderful evening with Richard, and yet she was unable to sleep! She did everything, from reading a book, to listening to some music, to remembering their wonderful evening, but still, she failed to catch that elusive sleep. In the quiet of the night, when her mind was at rest, she can’t get the accident out of her head. She kept seeing in her head the split second where Richard was almost hit by the speeding car. What if he was and he ended up in the hospital, gravely injured? What if he died on the spot? She also suddenly remembered all the motorcycle accidents that she had seen in the evening news. What if Richard is gone forever!
She sat up on the bed, shaking her head, trying to shake off the image from her head! She can’t bear the thought of losing him, of not seeing him again, not seeing his bone-melting smiles, not experiencing the effects of his heated gazes and intense kisses! Strange, she had known him in such a short time and she was feeling like that! Does it means that she has already fallen in love with him? That love just happened to her like that! That despite her caution, she had done what she was shying away from, for years, afraid of getting hurt again?
She is very much attracted to him physically, and she likes him a lot as person. What is not to like? He is funny, caring, sincere, honest and a gentleman. They get along pretty well! But is it love? The deep down one that speaks of forever and happily ever after, something she had been wary of for five years, something she swore not to believe anymore. Something she thought is overrated? If ever that she has fallen for Ricky, already, it is really such a big step for her after her experience with James. And what happened to the baby steps that she and Ricky was supposed to be taking! Thrown to the wind!
Maya knows instinctively, and base on what she had seen so far, that Richard is not like James, but still, she only have known him such a short time, and James, she had known for a long time, and yet she was betrayed by him. Yes, she had known Richard a short time, and yet, she seemed to trust him more than ex fiancé. There was also this overwhelming attraction between them. She never felt like that with James, and there, lies the problem with what went wrong with their relationship. With Richard it’s different. She feels she will not recover if it is Richard who will betray and hurt her! Just the thought of losing him or being betrayed by him, is sending her to a sleepless night. She believes Richard will not do to her what James did, but she had been burned once, and while she had healed, she was still carrying the scar from that relationship.
Since she can’t sleep, anyway, with all the thoughts crowding her head and agitating her, she might as well go for a walk, just in front of her bungalow, to her favourite driftwood. Maybe the cool night air will clear her head. At the back of her mind, she knows that she is just probably having a delayed reaction to the accident. But nevertheless, she wanted to think about things and usually, that place is a happy place for her.
Earlier, Maya was able to put the accident at the back of her mind, with Richard’s wonderful surprise for her, making their last evening in Camiguin a truly memorable one. They spent more than an hour cuddling and enjoying the cool breeze in the quiet of the night before they turned in. Richard waited until she was inside before going to his bungalow. It took a while before they parted as just like the night before, they were reluctant to part and go on their on way for the night. They spent several minutes saying good night, with a lot of heated kisses in it.
Maya walked to where her suitcase was, and got a shawl. She wrap it around her shoulders and over her thin sleep shirt. At that time of the night, she was sure that she would be the only one out, so she didn’t bother changing into street clothes. Besides, it was just Richard and her at that side of the resort. It was one of the reasons why she picked that bungalow. Not only does it has the nicest view, it, together with the one Richard was occupying, is away from the main cluster of bungalows. For sure, Richard was in deep sleep by now, she mused. He looked sleepy earlier when they said good night. She also had a feeling that Richard’s shoulder was acting up, and he was just trying to bear it so as they will have the best evening. She thought he really needed a rest after what happened.
Maya was wrong. She wasn’t the only one who was unable to sleep that night. Richard tried reading a book, and playing a game on his iPhone, but to no avail. What had almost happened set it! Despite all his efforts to divert his attention, he kept reliving in his head the moment where he first saw the intense headlights of the oncoming car, and thought that it was his end. Until then, he does not know how he managed to avoid the car! He was stunned when he realized that he did, and that he was still alive. Then Maya rushed to his side, crying and at the same time, trying to be brave. He called her ‘sweetheart’! It was so right, especially at that moment. He realized that his feelings for her went deeper. The initial intense attraction has turned into so much more.
He has fallen in love with her! He loves Maya. It was what he was thinking while he was staring out in the blackened night and watching the twinkling lights. Suddenly, love happened to him, it snuck on to him when he was not looking and not thinking of it anymore. Beautiful, wonderful Maya, happened! He almost told her while they were snuggled together, but stopped himself, barely. Maya had enough of a shock to her system for one night. It can wait. Besides, they agreed to take baby steps, and him declaring his love like that, is, surely one giant leap! Maybe, she is not ready to hear it. He did promise her that they will take it one step at a time. He just decided that he will show it to her in every way he could. Maybe, that would allay her fears and the scars he thinks she has, inflicted by the guy who left her at the altar.
Richard got out of bed. Since, he can’t sleep, he might as well, walk a bit, to tire himself out and maybe the fresh air will make him sleep better. He wished, though, that Maya was there to walk beside him, and chat a bit. Had she had been beside him at that moment, for sure, he would not need the walk, though! He would just be content to look at her. But Maya needed her rest. He saw how rattled she was earlier. He smiled, remembering their protracted good night, laced with all those wonderful kisses.
Richard ventured into the night. His feet led him to the driftwood where he had that memorable first dinner with Maya the other night, and that was where he saw her! She was sitting on the fallen wood that has been fashioned into a beautiful bench for two, arms around her knees, gazing in the night. His heart beat double, seeing her, all the love he is feeling for her, rushing into his system!
“Maya…” Richard called softly. “It’s me, Ricky!” He added so as not to alarm her.
“Ricky!” Maya looked at Richard, surprised to him up and about that time of the night. “I thought you would be asleep by now. Are you in pain?” She asked worriedly.
“No, Maya, I’m okay. I just can’t sleep so I decided to go for a walk.” Richard said as he sat down beside Maya. “How about you? Why are you here? You should have woken me. It may not be safe for you to be alone here at this time of the night. How long have you been here?”
“Oh, I’m only had been here for half an hour. I can’t sleep also. I think I was having a delayed reaction to the accident. Like a song on a loop, it kept playing and playing in my head while I was trying to sleep! I can’t help it. So, to clear my head, I decided to go for a walk!” Maya said, hesitating a bit in telling Richard about the other reason why she was unable to sleep.
“Maya, don’t think about it anymore, please. Just think of happy thoughts.” Richard said, putting his arms around Maya and hugging her tight. “We are okay. Just think of that and the continuation of our adventures. You know, we still have a lot of those baby steps to take! “ He teased her. Then remembering his thoughts earlier, he mused, at least not on his side.
“Okay, Ricky. I feel better now, with you by my side! ” Maya smiled. “How about you, why can’t you sleep?”
“Well, like you, I also thought of the accident and what could have happened.” Then taking a deep breath, he forged on, life could be so fleeting, so he will say this since he was given another chance. Holding Maya’s hand, he said. “The thing is with what happened on the road, I also realized something, Maya, that is, that I have fallen in love with you. Love happened to me. I think I have done so when we met each other again last week!”
“R-ricky…! Maya was so surprised by Richard’s admission, that she was unable to form a coherent reply right away.
Richard continued on, touching Maya’s face with both his hands and looking deep into her soul.
“Maya, I was not actually planning on telling it this evening. I thought you had enough of a shock, but then I saw you here, and I realized that what happened shook the two of us more than what we let on. For me, I realized that life is fleeting and it could be gone in a snap, just like that, by the road, without you having any say in it. I have this moment with you, so I would like to take, make good use of that moment fate gave me to tell you how I feel about you. I’ll show you how much I love you. I know you have fears, I’ll be here, I’ll wait until all your fears are gone. I, too, had fears before, but my love for you is stronger than those fears! I love you very much, Maya!”
Maya felt tears in her eyes, and her heart pounding double time with each word that coming from Richard’s lips. They vowed completely honesty, everything laid down, so she made a decision too. With her hand on Richard’s face as well, she told him what was in heart.
“Ricky, the reason why I can’t get off the accident from my head, and why I can’t sleep, was the thought of losing you! I can’t bear it, thinking that I could have lost you there by the road. It opened a floodgate of strong feelings. Suddenly you became the most important person in my life right now. You awaken dead emotions and the thought of not seeing you again forever was driving me crazy. Is that love? Have I fallen in love with you? My answer is yes, I think I have fallen in love with you. That is also making me afraid. I have been hurt before. In such a short time, what I am feeling for you is much more than I have felt for my ex fiancé in all the years we have been together, and we grew up together. That was young love. What I am feeling right now for you does not compare to that. So yes, I am very afraid because you can hurt me in a way that James was not able to do!”
“Maya, sweetheart! I understand your fears. I will never knowingly hurt you. I will do my best to make you happy. I know what it is to be hurt also. We will conquer your fears together. We are in this together. I’m so happy to know that you have fallen in love with me. Let me just you, how much I love you and how good we are together in every way I could. Can you give me that?” Richard asked gently.
“Sure, Ricky! I can do that. Thank you for being so understanding. If there is someone whom I would take the final leap, Ricky, it would be you.”
“Maya, that is more than enough for me, for now. Thank you. Let us enjoy our journey together to wherever this would lead us.”
Maya nodded and then for the second time that night, snuggled closely to Richard, contented. Richard was also very much happy with the unexpected turn of events. He vowed to conquer all of Maya’s fears! He was surprised at himself. He too should have been wary, but with her, he does not feel any fear at all. He believes that they can hurdle every obstacles towards their happily ever after, with the love they are feeling for each other.
“So, how’s your island experience, so far, Ricky?” Maya asked Richard while they were drinking coffee after eating the delicious lunch that Marina had prepared for them. They were sitting at one of the picnic benches facing the majestic Katibawasan Falls, which at that time, they had to themselves. There were other tourists when they arrived there, a family, but after they have taken some pictures, they left for their next destination. Maya unpacked their picnic lunch. Ricky helped. After everything was spread out on the table, they proceeded to have their late lunch. It was just what they needed after all the sightseeing they did since they left the resort that morning.
They travelled northwards from the resort, stopping at the beautiful Station of the Cross built uphill. It was quite a climb up but the view from the top was worth it. They stayed there for half an hour, then journeyed on to their next stop, which was the sunken cemetery, marked by a big cross in the bay. Beside it was the ruins of an old church.
Richard and Maya walked hand in hand on the grounds of the church ruins and admired the centuries-old tree still standing there. They even had a selfie before the really huge and very old tree. They checked the hot and cold springs along the way, but didn’t take a dip in any of it, and the place where all the giant clams are being cultivated. The beach leading to it was beautiful and has white sand, as compared to the blackish ones in other parts of the island. They sat for a while by the beach, soaking in the beauty nature has endowed on that place.
Maya mentioned to Richard that they can also take a boat tour to White Island, which is something like an atoll with white sand and nothing much, no structures there, and it’s something one can explore in a minute. The view from the island is also incredible. She was there the day after she arrived in Camiguin and it was quite an experience. Richard said that it might take too much of their time if they will have to go there by boat. They agreed to forego that one until next time. Richard told Maya that he does not think it will be their last trip to Camiguin.
Instead, they just cruised around in their scooters, enjoying the wind, and the beautiful scenery they passed along the way, beautiful sea, under an intense and bright sunshine, and of course, most important of all, each other’s company. Sometimes, they waved at the kids who curiously looked when they passed by. They circled the island in no time at all, until they reached the Katibawasan Falls after lunch. They were still full from their breakfast so they decided to have a late lunch, and a dip in the cool water of the falls to cap their day.
“Great, Maya! This place is simply very beautiful, and I’m really glad that I took the chance, and followed you here.” Richard said with a grin. Then gazing at Maya, intently, he said softly, “But of course, it is just a bonus, it is beautiful to me because of you. Because you are here!”
Maya smiled at that, her heart jumped at what Richard that said. “Thank you for that, Mr. Lim.” She said, simply, then she teased him, “And what would you have done had I not said you can join me in my vacation?”
“Well, I would have probably camp at your veranda until you say yes!” Richard said with a smile. “Honestly, Maya, all I thought was following you and being with you. I never get pass by that stage when I impulsively left Manila to follow you! I never really thought of a fall back plan, which was so unlike me. I think I have shocked Liza when I asked her to book me a flight here out of the blue! And I guess, I would have just return to Manila the same day if you have turned me away.” He finished with a smile. “Lucky me, you are not that cruel. Had you said no, at least, I have tried to be with you. Then, I’ll just wait then until you return and our dinner. So thank you, really, for letting me join you in your vacation!”
“Oh…!” Maya felt giddy hearing that Richard acted out of character for her! “Thank you, Ricky. I’m glad you took the chance, you know.” She added softly.
“I’m glad too, Maya! I am so very glad that I took the chance.” Richard said, taking Maya’s hand, then raising it to his lips and kissing it gently. He caressed her hand then he put it back on her lap. “This is worth everything.”
Maya put her hand on top of Richard’s. They shared a meaningful gaze and stayed like that for several minutes, enjoying their beautiful moment and the wonder and tranquility around them.
“So, how about a dip into that inviting water to complete my Camiguin experience?” Richard asked after a while.
“Okay, and to complete my experience of Camiguin as well!” Maya replied, standing up from the bench. “I haven’t taken a dip in that water.”
“Really! I thought you did when you and Jeremy were here yesterday!” Richard said, liking the idea that it would be shared first time experience for him and Maya.
“No, we just stopped here to chat and rest after going around the island.” Maya said. “You know already what we have discussed here mostly.”
Richard smiled. “Ah yes, and it completely changed him, in my book, so to speak.”
Maya smiled back, remembering what transpired that morning. “I’ll just go and change.”
“Okay, I’ll just change here.” Richard said. “I already have my swim shorts on.”
Maya went to the toilet and removed her blouse and shorts. Even if she was already wearing her swimsuit underneath, she was conscious of removing her clothes by the waterfalls, even if she knows that Richard will not watch her do it. She just felt self-conscious disrobing like that. She went down to where Richard was, after several minutes, carrying her street clothes and the towel she brought with her.
Hearing Maya’s footsteps, Richard looked up. He caught his breath. Maya was wearing what can be construed as a modest swimsuit on initial look. But on a closer look, Richard can see that it maybe a modest one piece swimsuit but it flatters her body. It concealed and yet it also revealed to him Maya’s beautiful form.
Maya got self-conscious at Richard’s heated gaze. She blushed. She took a look closer at Richard, and it was her turn to lose breath for several seconds. His swimming shorts was on the modest side too, but he was shirtless. She gulped and took a deep breath to calm herself.
“Maya, you look very lovely in that.” Richard managed to say after barely being able to control his reaction to seeing Maya in that swimsuit. “Shall we take a deep!” At that moment, he felt like he would welcome the coldest water he could immerse himself into.
Maya nodded. They walked towards the stone steps that led to the natural pool by the waterfalls. Richard went in first.
“Wow, this is quite cold! But refreshing!” He said grinning, then he held out his hand to Maya. “Come, Maya. Just go down slowly, the rocks are a bit slippery.”
Maya slowly went into the water, holding on to Richard’s hand. But despite Richard’s warning, she slipped and ended up in his arms. She thought there was one more rock, but there was none!
“I got you, Maya.” Richard assured Maya, embracing her tight so she stays upright.
“Thanks a lot, Ricky. Sorry I slipped. I thought there was one more rock before my feet touch the bottom.” Maya said, still holding on to Richard.
Richard smiled. “No worries, Maya. It happens. The important thing is, I got you.”
The two of them smiled at each other, then realized how intimate their position was, with nary a space between them, and there was just Maya’s swimsuit, serving as a thin barrier between their upper bodies! Richard’s eyes darkened with passion he can’t help but feel at that moment. Before he can stop or control himself, his body had reacted to Maya’s nearness. He heard her gasped as well. So, he was not the only one!
They shared a heated gaze, passion and desire in both their eyes. Richard lowered his head, aimed for Maya’s lips. Hers opened readily to receive his. Their lips met and melted into the very heated and intense kiss that followed.
The kiss just went on and on. They were not aware of their surroundings anymore nor the cold water enveloping them and the little waves that the water from the falls created. Richard kept them afloat by bracing himself against the edge of the natural pool. They were only jolted out of the passion that enveloped them completely when a noise penetrated the haze they were in. A noisy group was going down the steps leading to the waterfalls. They broke apart a bit, both catching their breath and reining in the passion that ignited between them.
They shared a beautiful smile. Then Ricky gestured for Maya to take a swim with him towards the deeper side of the falls until the evidence of their desire for each other subsided. Maya followed and for the next several minutes they cooled down their heated bodies while watching the group, mostly teenagers posing for pictures. They swam around for half an hour more, just enjoying the cool water. However, at the back of both of their minds was the earthshaking kiss they have shared.
The intense attraction has always been between them. Richard had felt in from the start, even before he got to know Maya better. Maya on the other hand, knew that she was intensely drawn to Richard and he evoked a very strong physical response from her from the start. She just tried to ignore it. Maybe this is the reason, why they just flare up like that, so fast and so intense every time their lips meet. She was just so very much aware of him all the time. Ricky was thinking the same. He can’t even keep his eyes off her and concentrate while she was doing that presentation!
“Maya, are you okay?” Richard asked after a while. Both of them were floating on their backs aimlessly, relaxing, soaking the rays of the sun that found its way into the almost secluded place where they were, and thinking about the passionate kiss that they shared, their second one now!
Maya looked at Richard and smiled at him. “Yes, I am. Don’t worry.” She said. She knew what Richard was asking even if he didn’t elaborate.
Richard gave her a relieved smile. He also touched her lips gently. Maya did the same, smiling at him, assuring him that she is okay with everything. At that moment, a silent mutual understanding was forged between them.
They got out of the water when Maya started to shiver from the cooling temperature, with the sun slowly getting lower in the horizon. They went back to where they have put their things.
“Coffee, Ricky, why we are waiting for our swimsuits to dry?” Maya asked, sitting on the concrete table, and her feet on the bench she had sat on earlier, patting herself with the towel she brought with her.
“Sure, Maya! That would be great! Thank you very much.” Richard said, getting a towel from his backpack and started drying himself.
Maya who was going to pour coffee from the thermos was transfixed at the sight before her for several long seconds. She forgot to pour the coffee into the styrofoam cup! OMG! She muttered, wanting to fan herself. Then realising what she was doing, she pulled herself and concentrated on making the coffee like it is a very important chemistry experiment.
When Richard looked at her, after putting on the shirt that he had on earlier, Maya was the epitome of calm and innocence. She handed Richard his coffee cup.
“Thank you very much, Maya.” He grinned at her. Unknown to Maya, Richard saw her reaction to him drying himself, from his peripheral vision. She is really cute when flustered, and how he likes her the more! “You?”
“Here, I got one too.”
Richard said beside Maya on the concrete table and both enjoyed their coffee while waiting for their clothes to dry.
“So, dinner at the resort this evening?” Richard asked, in between enjoying Maya’s delicious coffee. She has a way of making it that he likes very much.
“Yes, I would rather we have dinner there, our last night there.” Maya replied, then sighed. “Back to city and reality tomorrow.”
“Okay. I would love that as well. Let me take care of it.” Richard said, then he fished out his phone and send a text message to Marina.
“Who did you text?” Maya asked, curious.
“Marina! I’m not sure what would you like to do, so I told her I will text her if we will have dinner there. I want our last night here in Camiguin to be very special.” He said, grinning boyishly, excited for his treat to Maya again. He loves making her happy and planning special treats for her.
Maya just smiled and shook her head. “Why do I have the feeling that I’m in for a special treat again!”
“Hmmmmm…!” Richard smiled and then took a sip of his coffee and refused to say anything else.
Maya didn’t ask anymore. She was just looking forward to seeing what Richard has had prepared for their last evening in Camiguin. She will never forget this place!
“Let’s have another selfie before we hit the road.” Maya said after she had finished her coffee.
“Okay, for the photo, but we are leaving?” Richard asked, looking at the time. “It is still is early for dinner.”
“Yes, but don’t you want to see the rest of the sights we will pass by on the way back to the resort since we are leaving tomorrow for Cagayan de Oro?”
“Well, I would rather we stay here a bit longer, Maya. It is so nice and quiet. We can always go back, you know to this place, anytime. Like I have told you earlier, this will not be our last time here. I love being here and I will never forget this place and the memories we have here.”
“I was just thinking the same, Ricky.” Maya grinned. “Okay, we stay here longer.”
Maya dug into the picnic basket and found some fruits. She offered a banana to Richard and she got an apple for herself. They enjoyed watching the water from high above falling loudly into the pool below in companionable silence. Still, very aware of each other and the intense attraction between them. Aside from the teenagers who were there earlier for just about 15 minutes or so, no other tourists came. They had the falls to themselves. It was like they were in their own private paradise. Both of them were reluctant to leave that place.
However, when it got a bit dark, hands interlaced, they walked back to where the scooters were parked, looking forward to celebrating their last night in Camiguin. Indeed, that night was a night to remember, in a way they both didn’t foresee, plan for, or expect!
“Maya, are you okay?” Jeremy asked Maya as they sat on two big boulders before the majestic Katibawasan Falls. They have been gazing at the waterfalls for the past several minutes or so, both lost in thoughts. But Maya’s was punctuated by sighs so Jeremy found himself asking after a while. He had an inkling earlier that Maya was not completely with him. She seemed to be mulling over something. He kept his counsel and opted to just cheer her up. He thought he managed to do so as she would smile at him or laughed at his silly anecdotes.
The 250 meters high waterfalls was their last stop before heading back to the resort. The places where they have been were all beautiful and breathtaking, but for Maya, this waterfalls will be a favorite. She is in awe of nature’s display here. So, very beautiful and she felt peace taking over her soul by just gazing at the majesty before her.
“Yes, Jeremy, I’m okay!” Maya replied, taking her gaze away from watching the hypnotic falling water, hitting the lake below with force. “Why do you ask?” She asked inquiringly.
“Well, you seemed a bit distracted and if I may say, listless. Are you still feeling the effects of all the alcohol you drank? You should have told me if you are not feeling well. We could have done this excursion tomorrow.” Jeremy looked at Maya worriedly.
“Thank you for the concern, Jeremy. I’m sorry, I’m not very good company at the moment. There is just something in my mind at the moment.” Maya said.
“Maya, I’m not usually a meddlesome person, but I just want you to know if you need someone to talk to, I’m just here. I know we just met, but I felt like I have known you a long time. I like you. I like you a lot. I like to be more than your friend….”
“Jeremy….” Maya blurted out, getting uncomfortable.
“Wait, let me finish please.” Jeremy gestured for Maya to let him continue by raising his hand in a stop gesture. “But I have a feeling that your heart is engaged somewhere. So, can I just be your friend?” He asked charmingly.
“Thank you, Jeremy. I would be happy to have you as a friend. I’m sorry it can’t be more than that.” Maya said apologetically.
“No worries, Maya. My heart will recover.” Jeremy said, grinning. “Now, spill it out to good ‘ol Uncle Jeremy. I will hazard I guess, a good-looking Filipino-Chinese guy is making you ‘hot and bothered’, quote unquote!”
Maya smiled at Jeremy’s choice of words. “Hot and bothered! Really, ‘Uncle Jeremy’! It sounded like something out of the pages of a Mills and Boon/Harlequin romance novel.”
“Yes, I finally see a smile!” Jeremy teased Maya. “ I have two sisters who are romance novels addicts to thank for, for being able to make you smile. But seriously, if you want to talk about it, I’m just here, if not, then it’s okay.”
“Thank you.” Maya took a deep breath, then started talking. “Okay, I do have a question for you? Have you been in love? What’s really feel like? How do you know if it will last? Have you had your heart-broken before? If yes, do you want to, or have you tried risking it again? How would you know if it will not happen again!”
“Whoa, that was not ‘a question’! Jeremy said, smiling. “But okay, if it will help you, I’ll try to answer your questions as much as I could, if it will help you a bit. First, yes, sort of, I have been when I was in the uni. But it was not meant to be. She and I, we have different things we wanted out of life. It hurt for a while, but the heart recovered in time. If I am willing to risk my heart again? Then I would say yes to that, Maya, with the right person, I will. I don’t know if I will have my forever with that person, but if she is worth risking it, I will. I will work for our forever, with her. If we didn’t end up together, at least I have tried. I would have not been ruled by my fear of getting hurt again.
You see my friend, nothing is guaranteed in life, except dying. We live in uncertainties, in challenges and in changes. But that what makes life worth living, being alive. And being alive means, feeling emotions – sadness, happiness, love and lost. At the end our journey in this world, we should be able to say that we have lived. Take a risk, that is part of life. Making mistakes and rising from and learning from those are part of us being human.
You should ask yourself, if that other person is worth putting your heart on the line. Listen to your heart. But do it slowly. Don’t hurry, you will find the answer from deep within. Sometimes, things happened in our lives for a reason. It is up to us to find out and realize eventually.”
“That was very deep, profound and very wise, Jeremy. And thank you. Are you sure you are not a psychologist, masquerading as a bum resort owner? “ Maya asked, smiling. She was feeling so much better. “Seriously, Jeremy, thank you for those very moving words.”
“Well, close. I was a Philosophy major at the uni. I thought I would enter the priesthood. Yes, my family is among the minority where I came from. I’m a Catholic. But along the way, love happened and diverted my tracks. But in hindsight, I know I was not destined for the religious life.”
“Really! But I think you would have been a good priest.”
“Well, water under the bridge. I like the life I’m living now. I hope I have helped you think better. But in the end, Maya, it is you, and you alone can decide on your next course of action.”
“I know. But you have helped me put things into some form of perspective.” Maya said. “Shall we get back? I have a dinner date.”
“Ouch, my heart!” Jeremy said, exaggerating, teasing Maya. “I think I know with whom.”
Maya just smiled at him, flushing a bit. Truth to tell, she is excited with her dinner with Richard. She and Jeremy climbed up to the entrance of waterfalls where they have parked the scooters. She texted Richard and informed him that she and Jeremy were on their way back. Richard just said okay. Maya was a bit puzzled with the shortness of his reply.
More than an hour later, they were back in the resort. Maya and Jeremy parted at the restaurant. His friends immediately hailed Jeremy and invited Maya as well to have dinner with them. But Maya declined. She went back to her bungalow to freshen up. She saw a piece of paper with her name on it pinned on her door. She opened it after placing her stuffs on the table inside.
Hi Maya! When you are ready, please proceed to the part of the beach where there is a big driftwood. I’ll be waiting. I’m very much looking forward to our ‘first dinner’!
Maya felt like she can literally hear the beating of her heart after reading Richard’s note, especially the way he had signed it. ‘Yours’! Why does the word make her very giddy! She knows the place Richard is referring to, as it is her favorite spot also by the beach, especially during her sunset watching moments. Maya found herself humming a love song as she took a quick shower and get ready for her dinner with Richard.
Half an hour later, Maya was dressed in a floral skirt that reached mid-thigh and a white plain sleeveless blouse paired with flat sandals. Good thing she had brought some nice clothes. One never knows when one needs it so she always make it a point to be ready for any eventuality. She wore her hair in a bun to protect it from the wind. She walked slowly towards the place where Richard was, a bit breathlessly and yes, excited, of course.
When Maya reached the place, she saw Richard standing, gazing at the sea. He was wearing loose dark pants and white shirt that billowed in the wind. He looked so handsome in silhouette. She caught her breath. Then as if sensing her presence, he turned, gave her a bone-melting lopsided smile and a big wave. He walked towards her to guide her across the sand with a very intense expression on his handsome face.
Maya felt that she can’t breath anymore. She was so overwhelmed with emotions. She likes this guy. She likes this guy a lot. Maybe, it is really about time to take the leap. To stay out of the shadows and embrace the sun and all its brilliance. Maybe, with this guy who have known love and hurt, she can finally do it. They say that love is a gamble. Maybe, it is not so bad to bet again, to take a chance again.
“Hi Maya,” Richard greeted Maya softly when he reached her side. She gave him a sweet, tremulous smile. She looks very lovely in her simple and yet elegant clothes. She took his breath away. He was glad that he really gave in to his impulse and made this trip. He wouldn’t exchange this moment for the world.
“Hi Ricky! Were you waiting long? Sorry, it took me a while to get back.” Maya said as Richard held her elbow and guided her towards to where he was before.
“That’s okay, Maya.” Richard assured her. “It took a while also for Marina and me to set this up.”
“Oh.” Maya then finally took a closer look at the set-up up the beach. There was a table with a dainty white lace table-cloth on, near ‘her drift wood’, strewn with rose petals, two hurricane lanterns providing a soft-yellow glow and it was set for a dinner for two.
“Do you like it?” Richard asked anxiously. He wished he has more resources or more time to plan this.
“Of course, Ricky. This is so beautiful and you went to too much effort, and on such a short notice! You worked miracles.” Maya said happily, touched at his effort.
“For you, Maya and for having a memorable time with you, I’ll do everything I could.” Richard said seriously.
“Thank you Ricky.” Maya said softly.
Richard bestowed Maya a brilliant, happy smile. Then he pulled the chair for her. Soon after, Marina and her nephew Mario arrived with their dinner.
“Wine, Maya?” Richard asked Maya, gesturing towards the bucket cooling on the table. “I took the liberty of ordering white, but if you prefer red, I’ll just go and tell Marina.”
“No need to do that, Ricky. I prefer white actually. Thanks a lot.”
Richard poured them a glass each. He handed hers to Maya. “To us, and beginnings!” He toasted.
“To us, and beginnings!” Maya echoed. “Thank you again for this, Ricky. For everything!” Maya added, without putting much into words her gratefulness in Richard not pressing her. For just being there with her in that wonderful moment!
Richard gave Maya another of his beautiful lopsided smiles, tilted his head in acknowledgment and to let Maya know that he understood completely. “Thank you, very much also, Maya for this unforgettable moment.” He said simply.
The two of them enjoyed their sumptuous dinner amid the quiet of the night, with a gentle breeze blowing and the lapping of waves. They laughed heartily, shared smiles, and just got lost in each other’s company, enjoying the moment. They also talked deep into the night, as if they are in a hurry to find everything they could about each other. Maya was very happy. So was, Richard. He can’t remember a time he felt this contented.
“Do you want go for a walk, Maya, before we turn in?” Richard asked after he and Maya finished their second cup of coffee.
“Sure, Ricky! It is a nice night to walk along the beach.” Maya said.
Richard stood up and guided Maya out of her chair. He took hold of her hand, and they started walking along the beach. Maya gazed at the stars above, and sighed contentedly! It was really a wonderful night for a walk, a romantic night for a walk like this. She could have not asked for another person to share this moment.
“Maya…..” Richard started. He just can’t take it anymore. He needed to say this.
Maya looked at Richard, waiting for him to continue.
“Maya, I would just like to thank you again for accepting my dinner invitation. For allowing me to barge in on your vacation. For this moment! There is no place I would rather be, than this place with you, sharing this with you.” Richard said.
“Ricky, thank you too! I feel the same.” Then facing Richard, Maya decided to verbalize what she had decided on while having dinner with Richard. “Ricky, about what you said this afternoon, about us….”
Richard waited for what she was going to say with bated breath, hoping that it is what he wanted to her, had been wishing for her to say soon, since he returned to his bungalow that afternoon, waiting for Maya to come back from her trip with Jeremy, trying not to think of her enjoying the company of another man, no matter how innocent it was.
“I have made up my mind,” Maya continued, then said simply. “I would like to take those baby steps with you, one day at a time.”
“Maya….” Richard said, surprised at very happy at what he was hearing, his heart beating so loud! Then he gave her a smile that lit up his whole face, showing Maya how happy he was with her decision.
“Just be patient with me, please.” Maya implored, looking at Richard with her very expressive eyes.
“Of course, Maya. We are in this together.” Richard assured, Maya. Then taking her hand, he raised it gently to his lips. “Thank you, Maya. You don’t know how happy you’ve made me.”
Maya smiled at Richard. She felt she was at the top of the world at that moment.
The two of them gazed at each and they stayed like that until a strong wind blew, making Maya shivered. Richard warmed his hands and put them Maya’s to give her warm. They continued walking for several more minutes, then call it a night.
Hand in hand, sharing happy smiles, they walked back towards their bungalows, hearts so full.
Note: I may disappear for long periods of time, (really hoping/trying for shorter periods) but I am just here. 🙂 Sometimes, I just need to regroup, take a short break, or attend to stuffs. Thank you very much for the support, as always! ❤
“Please have a seat, Ricky!” Maya said softly, breaking into Richard’s turbulent thoughts, gesturing for him to sit where Jeremy sat earlier.
Maya was unsure on how to proceed after Jeremy departed unexpectedly. He served as a sort of buffer between them, but now it was just Richard and her, standing a bit awkwardly at her veranda. Her heart was beating so fast. There was a part of her that still can’t believe that this was happening, that Richard was actually there and it felt like she was standing at the edge of a precipice.
“Thank you, Maya.” Richard said, sitting down after pulling her chair and seating her first. He gazed at her for a while, then seemingly arriving at a decision, he then took a deep breath, and plunged on.
“Maya, I’m sorry for following you, when you told me not to. Yes, I did get that you were reluctant for me to do so by the way you phrased your message. I asked your cousin Emman for information on your whereabouts.” He admitted, looking at Maya with a sheepish and a hopeful expression.
“Oh, and he told you, right there and then where I am?” Maya asked, very much surprised. Normally, her cousin will not give out that kind of information about her. Yes, he is a flamboyant but he can be reticent and discreet in giving out information, especially concerning her. Emman has some answering to do when she returns to Manila or as soon as she gets hold of him!
“Yes, he did. I was also surprised that he told me, but of course, very happy that he did. He does know me, of course, as he was the one from your company who met with me and my parents for the wedding. We also meet some times at some of the social gatherings I attended.” Richard told Maya, still trying to gauge her reaction to his unexpected presence and, sort of, crashing into her vacation like this.
“Oh, okay.” Maya simply said, then gave Richard a fleeting smile. “Yes, I remember that you know each other well. But still, you must have made quite an impression to my cousin, and he must have like you a lot, to disclose where I am. Not that where I am is a secret.”
“So, Maya…” Richard broached again, wanting to be completely sure that she is not mad before proceeding. It felt like this was the best idea when he was in Manila, but maybe not. He could have waited. He was not so sure if Maya did really offer him a smile. It was so fleeting that if he was not looking so closely, he would have missed it. “I hope you are not that mad that I followed you here?” He added charmingly.
“Well, you are here now, so that question is moot and academic.” Maya said, deadpan, wanting to pull Richard’s leg a little bit more. Serves him right for following her there, Maya thought! But at the same time, she felt flattered that he did. Not just flattered, her heart hasn’t been all right since she caught a glimpse of him, earlier. Okay, okay, she will admit, she feels extremely giddy. Rapunzel levels, to borrow Emman’s term, in describing the very romantic gestures a hero would do for the heroine in the rom-com movies he drags her to from time to time.
Richard looked at Maya, unable to read her expression clearly. Truth to tell, he was getting nervous. So, to show her how contrite he was and to plead his case more, he took hold of her hand, in between his, then gazing intensely at Maya, he said, “Forgive me please, Maya. I just want to see you. Be with you. I can’t wait until you return to Manila.”
Maya’s heart rates increased tenfold, hearing Richard’s words. But still, she tried to be as calm as she could before asking directly, as she realized a long time ago, that for one to get answers, one have to seek it. She does not like living in the dark and in uncertainties after her experience with James. “What is it that you want to discuss with me that can’t wait until I return to Manila? Why did you follow me here, really, Ricky?”
Before Richard could reply, Marina arrived with Richard’s coffee, a big plate of cold cuts, as well as bread and jams in a small basket. “Excuse me, Ma’am Maya, Sir Richard, here’s your coffee. Sir Jeremy told me to give this to you also, from him, on the house. Welcome to Mimosa, Sir Richard.”
“Oh, that was nice of him. Actually, I realized I’m very hungry.” Richard said. “Please thank him for us, Marina.”
“Yes, please thank him for us, Ate Marina.” Maya told the older lady with a big smile. “Suddenly, my appetite is back.”
Marina left them after several minutes. Maya and Richard gazed at each other after she left, both thinking on how to proceed as the moment earlier was broken. It was Maya who took matters into her hands.
“Maybe, we should eat first, Ricky. I’m actually famished. My last meal was at six o’clock last night. There was a party here last night and I only had drinks since then.” Maya said as she handed Richard a plate. “Plenty of time to chat, later on. How long are you staying?”
“Okay, later, then.” Richard said with a big relieved smile. At least, she is not mad, he thought! “ Well, the same length as you are, two more days here. I have another admission, actually. I also asked Emman about your return flight, and I’ll be taking the same.” He said while giving Maya a charming, lopsided smile.
“Oh…!” It was all Maya managed to say. Then she took a big sip of her now cooling coffee to steady herself. The longer time she spends with Ricky, the harder, it is to breathe normally. “Let’s eat first!” She said nervously.
Richard gazed at Maya and he know he had unsettled her enough for the moment with his unexpected presence. As she said, they have two days to talk and he will maximize this time with her.
The two of them eat in companionable silence, gazing at each other from time to time and sharing smiles. An hour later, their tummies full, they both admired the beautiful view before them while sipping their coffee. Both felt quite content.
“It’s really beautiful here, Maya, and very restful. You are so correct, I like it here very much.” Richard remarked, and the way he said, and the way he was looking at her, it seemed that he was not just speaking of the view. “How did you find this place? Through Jeremy?” There, he found the opening he needed. Richard thought to himself.
“Oh, I just found it through Google, actually. Then I checked the reviews. Mimosa has very good reviews with the top travel websites I checked, as well as, in some of the blogs I have stumbled upon so I took my chances. I’m glad that the reviews were all right on!” Maya said. “I only met Jeremy here. I gathered it was just Marina who assisted you earlier. You should meet Scott, too, Jeremy’s friend and his partner in this resort, together with his wife, Laura. Most of us went to bed at dawn because of the party.”
“Really? It must have been fun!” Richard remarked, at the same time, foremost in his mind was the fact that Jeremy, it seems, is just a new acquaintance of Maya. But still, they looked so cozy and too familiar with each other earlier.
“It was, very much, considering that I initially declined Jeremy’s invitation. But I’m glad I joined the party. I had fun, met new friends and it turned out, what I really needed to relax and not think about stuffs I have been thinking about the past several days.” Maya finished, gazing at the beach, then shrugging, trying to be nonchalant. “Well, yes, that was it! Anyway, I’m sure you would have enjoyed it too, had you been there. It’s a pity, you missed it by a day.”
Richard latched on to what Maya had said. Stuffs to think about? Could it be that she is also as unsettled as I am? But nah, maybe, it is about her work or other personal issues, Richard Lim, don’t flatter yourself, and don’t assume too much! He admonished himself. “It is okay, Maya. But I’m glad you had fun.” He smiled at her. “You know what, I’m just happy to be here, and to see you. It was my only reason for coming to this beautiful island.”
Oh my, this is it! Maya thought to herself. She took another sip of coffee nervously while waiting with bated breath on what Richard will say next. She gazed at him.
Richard gazed back at Maya’s beautiful, doe-shaped eyes, eyes that he can stare at for hours. Then told himself, this is it, Richard Lim, and he dropped his bomb after taking a deep breath! “The thing is Maya, I followed you because I can’t stop thinking about you since we last saw each other, no matter how I tried. I can’t stand waiting for three more days, so here I am!”
Maya, at first, just stared at Richard. He can’t stop thinking about her! So, she was not the only one!
Taking hold of Maya’s hand again, he continued. ”Maya, I don’t really know what is happening. I found myself very much attracted to you, drawn to you in a way I can’t fully explain. You are making me feel feelings I haven’t felt before, and I don’t know where this is going, but I would like to know. I just want to know what we could have. Sorry, this is the best I could do. I have stopped believing in love a long time ago. But I found myself in this situation with you. I don’t know what this is, but I would like to know, and I would like to find out where it would lead us.”
Maya liked the fact that Richard was being direct with her. The least she could be, would be to lay things in the open to. Honesty is one of the foremost thing she appreciates after her experience with the duplicitous James Madrigal. She put her hand on top of Richard’s.
“Ricky, thank you very much for being honest with me like that. I really appreciate it.” She started, then forged on. “The thing is, you are the main reason why I’m here in Camiguin, taking this vacation.”
“Me…?” Richard blurted out in surprise before he could stop himself. Now, he was the one who took a gulp of his now cold coffee!
“Yes, you! You see, Ricky you are not the only one who got unsettled by our meeting again several days ago. You have been in my mind too, even if I try not to think of you. You are making me feel emotions that I haven’t felt, that I don’t want to feel after I got jilted at the altar. Aside from the fact that, technically we just met each other!” Maya said frankly. “I don’t like the feeling. I’m afraid of the emotions you are making me feel. I don’t want to get hurt again. Like you, I have stopped believing in love, in happily ever after, and forever, a long time ago. I needed to think and get you out of my head, hence this vacation. But here you are. Here we are! Where do we go from here?”
“Maya, oh Maya, thank you for being candid too. I’m glad that I’m not the only one!” Richard said earnestly, relieved. “Honestly, I don’t know either, but I would like to explore this strong feeling I’m having for you, we have for each other in such a short time we have known each other. Can we take it one day at a time? Let’s take the baby steps together? Would that be okay with you?”
Maya looked at Richard and his earnest expression. Right there, and then, she would like to take the leap of faith with him, but there was a tiny part of her that refused to jump into the unknown. James really did a number on her! “Ricky, I want to, I really do. But can you give me time to think about it?”
Richard looked at Maya and her pleading expression. He very much wanted to persuade her to take the leap, but he understands how difficult it must be for her to do so. She might also feeling very much overwhelmed at the moment. “Sure, Maya, take your time please. I understand, especially as both of us are on unchartered waters here.”
“Thank you, Ricky.” Maya said softly. “I appreciate it very much. I just needed to work things out in my head.”
Both of them were silent after that, as if absorbing everything that had unravelled between them so quickly that afternoon. Both of them felt their world has shifted, and they were not standing on firmed grounds anymore.
“What time do you need to leave with Jeremy?” Richard reluctantly asked after a while. Now that Maya has admitted to feeling something for him as well, his animosity and ambivalence towards Jeremy has decreased a bit. But he still believes that Jeremy likes Maya a lot. He would like to ask her what is Jeremy to her, just to be sure, but he really does not have the right and maybe, he can do it later. There is a part of him that does not want her to go out with Jeremy, but he was trying to rein in that negative emotion. He promised to give Maya time.
Maya checked the time. “In an hour or so! I better get ready! Would you be okay on your own here, Ricky?”
“Of course, Maya. Don’t worry about me. Just continue enjoying your vacation. You don’t have to babysit me, you know!” Richard said, smiling. “I’ll enjoy the view. Read a book and wait until you return. I just have one request, please.”
“What is it, Ricky?” Maya asked, smiling back. She likes the fact that Richard is letting her have some space to breath after their intense moment.
“Will you have dinner with me, please?” Richard asked softly, gazing at Maya intently.
“Sure, Ricky. Though I’m not sure what time will we be back. Would that be okay?” Maya said. “And where will we have dinner?”
“Not a problem! Just send me a text when you are on your way back.” Richard assured Maya. “Dinner is a surprise. Just get back safe and sound. I’ll take care of everything.”
“Okay. I’ll see you later.” Maya said, curious at the same time, feeling excited at what Richard is planning. “And I’ll just bring the dishes to the restaurant on my way out. Please go and rest. You must be tired from all the traveling.”
“Thank you, Maya. I’m not tired anymore. I did take nap while waiting for you to wake up. Enjoy your trip. Be safe and I will see you later. I’m looking forward to our dinner.”
With a wave, Richard was off. However, before he entered his bungalow, he looked at Maya one more time, and gave her a bone-melting smile. Maya answered it with a smile that lit up her whole face.
Both of them entered their bungalows with silly grins on their flushed faces!
Note: Happy Sunday, everyone! ❤ Sorry for the delay. Got sick (low-grade fever, sore throat, the works!), but I’m better now! As always, thank you very much for the likes, comments and for reading! 🙂
The sound of a door opening and people talking penetrated Maya’s consciousness. The first thought that registered in her sleep-clogged brain was that, the resort have more guests that day as compared to the days she had been there, and those who arrived the day before! She looked at the clock and saw that it was still quite early, well early for the vacation standard time she had set for herself. Since she was still very sleepy because of the night of drinking she had, she dove back under the blanket to catch a couple of hours more of precious sleep.
Her grumbling stomach woke Maya several hours later. She checked the time and saw that it was already lunchtime! She hastily got out of bed, but stumbled back abruptly, as her head hurt awfully. Awww, awww, she really had drunk more than she should, way beyond the limit she usually set for herself! Her tummy was also very queasy. Too bad, she forgot to bring antacids!
Maya never planned on drinking that much, but she felt like it the night before. It seemed like a good idea. Richard and hers exchanged of text messages unsettled her more and going around the island, enjoying the view and chatting with people she got to know the past several days didn’t cure her or alleviate the listlessness she was feeling, like she was on the verge of something she can’t control nor fight.
When she returned to the resort late afternoon, she saw Scott, Jeremy and two of their assistants setting up tables by the beach. When Jeremy saw her, he invited her to the party they will be having for their friends and friends of their friends who had arrived from Cagayan de Oro that afternoon. The resort seemed more alive actually, when she returned. Maya thought of declining as she really doesn’t want to encourage Jeremy, but he was also adamant in her joining the party, and he asked her in his very charming way. She gave in. It was not really Jeremy’s fault that she doesn’t feel anything romantic for him. Anyway, he is a fun guy and she would like him to be her friend too. Besides, maybe the party was what she needed to get out of the funk she was feeling!
Maya was surprised that she had fun. The friends and the friends of friends turned out to be a mixture of foreigners of different nationalities, mostly Europeans, and their Filipino friends based in CDO, and they were not all guys. Maya made friends with two ladies from Australia, Claire and Linda. Scott’s wife Laura and her were already friends. She was the one who introduced her to the others ladies.
Jeremy, Maya discovered is indeed, a very nice guy, indeed. He was solicitous towards her, but not pushy. He is a very good conversationalist and has a depth in him, she discovered. But still, she does not feel a spark of attraction for him. She was only planning on staying for an hour, just to appease Jeremy, but she found herself staying until the party started winding down at two o’clock in the morning. Jeremy also watched out for Maya, when he saw that she was getting way drunk, he gave her a glass of iced water. He also chatted her up and they discovered that they like the same movies, and the same British detective novels authors. He took her to her bungalow when she told everyone that she had her limits. He said good night like the gentleman that she discovered he is.
Maya sighed. For a while, she forgot Richard and the confusing and conflicting emotions she was feeling. Though, at times, especially when there was lull in the conversation, he would crept back into her thoughts. Maya Dela Rosa, stop this! She admonished herself. Maybe, you should eat lunch. She yawned, took a deep breath, then slowly got out of the bed, keeping her fingers crossed that she will not feel dizzy. She decided to order a light lunch by the veranda, instead of going to the resort’s restaurant. She needed a bit of time to be fully back to the land of the living.
Having ordered a big pot of coffee, some toasts and fresh fruits, the only food she felt her stomach can tolerate at that moment, she took a quick shower. She had just finished dressing up when there was a knock on her door. When she opened it, she was surprised to see Jeremy arranging her food on the table, instead of Marina or her sister Marta.
“Good morning, my lovely Maya! Or should I say, good afternoon to you, sleepy-head!” Jeremy greeted Maya with a big smile. He does not look hung-over! “I told Marina that I will just bring your food. They are busy at the restaurant. we have quite a lunch crowd today. I hope it is okay that I share a cup of coffee with you as well.”
“Thank you, Jeremy.” Maya said. “Sure, it’s okay. But I’m not a very good company at the moment.”
“That’s okay. How are you and how’s the head?” Jeremy asked as he sat down after pulling the chair for Maya.
“Okay, I guess. I have a bit of hangover and have a queasy tummy. But I’ll live.” Maya assured Jeremy. “And you? You don’t like you are feeling the effects of all the alcohol we consumed last night. What time did the party end?”
“I guess as much, that you might be feeling the effects of all the white wines and cocktails you had! The party ended at about 3AM and no worries, I’m used to drinking like that. That was tame, actually, compared the drinking sprees we had while in university. I also have a sure cure for your hangover.” Jeremy took hold of a tall glass, which Maya didn’t notice at first, with a green-looking smoothie inside. “Here, drink this. I’m 100 percent sure you will feel better in a jiffy! Just hold your breath and drink it straight!”
“Sure about this….????” Maya asked tentatively, staring at the alien-looking drink.
Jeremy smiled. “Maya, trust me on this, please.”
“O-o-okay….” Maya took a deep breath, then took a sip of the green liquid. She almost spat it out. “Arrgggg, what is this foul thing?”
Jeremy told her what was in the concoction and cajoled Maya to just close her eyes and drink it straight. He stood up, took hold of the glass and gently guided it to her lips, at the same time, he gently patted her back to assure her that it is okay to drink his hangover cure.
It was this scene that Richard saw when he got out his bungalow after taking a nap, and a quick shower afterwards, while waiting for Maya to wake up. He was told by the chatty Marina that the lady who was staying at the bungalow beside his would probably be waking up late today as there was a party that lasted until dawn at the resort. She was the sole welcoming committee to him when he arrived early that morning.
Seeing Maya, so beautiful in her maxi dress and her hair loose, her very long hair, it turned out, took his breath away! The last two times he had seen Maya, her hair was in a chignon. It looked like she was really cozying up to that good-looking foreigner and it was too much for his sleep-deprived state and tired body to take. So, she was here after all with a guy! What will he do next?
Richard felt like a giant hand squeezed his heart and he felt an emotion so alien to him. He felt like going over to her veranda and staking his claim, telling the other guy that Maya is his, and no one else’s. But of course, he does not have that right! If Maya sees him here, she might even feel that he is stalking her. She told him in few words that him following her here is not really a good idea. But he can’t help himself. He was unable to concentrate since their exchange of text messages the day before ended. He also kept hearing in his head one word – ‘Jeremy’! In the afternoon, he gave up. He told Liza to clear his schedule the next couple of days as he will be taking a short vacation. He realized afterwards that he gave Liza a shock. He just got back and now he was taking another vacation without prior notice. She must have been very curious as he also asked her to book a flight for him to Cagayan de Oro that same afternoon. Luckily, and through her contacts, she found him a seat on the last flight for the day. He also told her to book a hotel in Cagayan de Oro as when he looked online, he discovered that there was no more ferry going to Camiguin that day.
That was the easy part of this spur-of-the-moment thing that he did! The difficult and the tricky part was finding out where Maya was staying. She didn’t tell him. He was at a lost on how to go about it, when he thought of giving Maya’s cousin a call. Emman Castro knows him after all, and he still has his number. Emman was surprised and curious to have heard from him after six months. They chatted for a bit. Then as there was no way go about it, he asked Emman if he knows where Maya is staying in Camiguin. Emman was surprised that he even knew that Maya was in Camiguin as she only told him and his Mom where she would be! Richard mentioned that Maya and him texted each other that morning. To his surprise, Emman didn’t ask questions, and just gave him the name of the place where his cousin was staying. But before they ended the phone call, he wished Richard good luck!
Maya’s laughter brought Richard back to the present. She was laughing at what that guy was telling her. She also thanked him for the green looking drink he was helping her drink, and he distinctly heard her calling him Jeremy. So, that’s Jeremy! Richard assessed his ‘rival’. They seemed to be of the same age. He didn’t like the fact that the guy has his hand on Maya’s back. He scowled and his eyes turned into tiny slits.
It was that moment that Maya looked beyond Jeremy and saw a guy from across the veranda. He looks like….he looks like, but that can be, but he looks like….Richard Lim! She blinked, thinking that she was still experiencing the effects of too much alcohol in her system. Also, maybe, she was thinking too much of him and is now conjuring his image somehow. But after several blinks, he was still there.
“Ricky….! Maya blurted out, surprised.
Richard waved and smiled at her, overcoming whatever negative emotions he was feeling, seeing Maya with another guy. The die is cast, so to speak, he told himself, he is here, and he better find out the lay of the land.
Jeremy also turned and looked at where she was staring. “Oh, you know him, Maya! A friend of yours? Marina told me that there was a new guest who arrived early this morning, and that she had put him in the bungalow beside yours.”
“Yes, I know him.” Maya said, looking at Richard, still not fully believing that he is here, in Camiguin with her. She is completely sober now. She was not completely sure if it was because of Jeremy’s concoction or the fact that Richard is here!
Before she could say more, Maya saw Richard going down the steps, then walking towards her and Jeremy, so good-looking in his faded jeans and navy blue shirt. He carries himself well and walks with confidence.
“Hi Maya, good afternoon!” Richard greeted Maya cordially, gazing at her intensely for several seconds, then he looked at Jeremy, and simply said. “Hi! I’m Richard Lim.”
“Hello Richard, welcome to Mimosa, I’m Jeremy Edwards. My friend Scott Talbot and I own this little paradise in Camiguin.” Jeremy introduced himself before Maya could. He offered his hand to Richard. “I’m also a friend of Maya’s.” Looking at Maya and giving her a big smile.
“Nice to meet you Jeremy! Thank you. You have a beautiful place here.” Richard said more amiably, especially after hearing that Jeremy is the owner of this place and he introduced himself as Maya’s friend, not as her boyfriend as he had feared! Reading between the lines, the situation he barged in seemed to be not as serious as he had thought. He still believes, though, that Jeremy is very much interested in Maya.
“Richard, I didn’t expect to see you here!” Maya finally managed to say after she told her fast beating heart to calm down. “When did you leave Manila?”
“Well, I just thought I needed a vacation, too.” He said, trying to be nonchalant. “I left Manila late yesterday afternoon and I stayed the night at Cagayan de Oro. Then this morning, I took the first ferry going here.”
“How did you find out where I am staying?” Maya asked directly for she does not think that Richard ended up in Mimosa by coincidence, even if he said that he just needed a vacation. Why of all places, he would choose Camiguin? Besides, he just got back from his long vacation abroad!
Richard looked at Jeremy who was looking at them with too much interest, though he pretended not to. There were things he wants to say to Maya in private, very private. He does not want an audience.
“I better get going, Maya.” Jeremy suddenly said, standing up, taking with him his untouched, and now cold, coffee cup. “May I get you something, Richard, breakfast like Maya’s or drinks?”
“Oh, yes, a cup of coffee, if it is not too much trouble.” Richard replied.
“Okay, coming right up.” Jeremy said. “I guess, no more scooter trip today, Maya?” He remarked and then look at Maya inquiringly. They have agreed to explore some inner parts of the island, near Mount Hibok-Hibok that day.
“Yes, we can still go. How about we meet in two hours?” Maya said, grabbing at the lifeline Jeremy extended to her. Anyway, they did agree to explore, and she can’t just drop it because Richard arrived there unexpectedly. She felt that also needed that excursion especially now that Richard is there.
“If you are sure?” Jeremy just had to ask one more time.
Maya nodded. So he said okay and then he was gone. He wanted to give her and Richard some privacy. There was something going on here that he does not know about. Jeremy was sure of that. He felt himself de trop. He was sensing a strong undercurrent, so to speak, between Maya and this good-looking Filipino-Chinese guy. He likes Maya a lot, but it looks like he was not the only one!
Both Maya and Richard stared at Jeremy’s departing figure with different thoughts in mind. Maya was actually thinking about Richard and his unexpected presence there. Richard, on the other hand, felt a mixed of emotions. He thought he had a good reading of the situation, and yet, Maya and Jeremy are still going on a ‘date’ later even with him here! But what can he expect anyway, he just barged in, come to think of it. But he was there, and he needed to find out. It was then, or never.
Three days seemed like a lifetime while he was in Manila, so here he was, with the beautiful woman who had taken over his thoughts! Either things will get clearer or muddier after their stay in that beautiful island!
Note: And Richard listened to you, guys! 🙂 He followed Maya to Camiguin! 🙂 Actually, I was not really planning on them meeting in Camiguin next, but as most of you wished it, there it is. Pardon the typos and such. I’ll go over the chapter again later. I need a break from my laptop for a bit. The next chapter is almost done (and that was after drinking several cups of coffee and tea earlier!) I write better with some ‘background noise’, so the past two days I have been camping out at the coffee shop near where I live! I’ll just polish it and upload it, probably, tomorrow! Have a nice evening! 🙂
Maya stared at the breathtaking view before her, took a sip of her brewed coffee, and sighed, contented. This was just what she needed at that time of the year, and especially with her current state of mind. She looked at her ring finger. Instead of an engagement and a wedding ring, what’s there is a simple white gold ring with small colorful gemstones, something she got from one of her trips abroad. Yes, it has been five years since she was left at the altar by her groom!
She is over that painful, embarrassing, and at the same time, life changing period in her life. With hindsight, she knew she had a lucky escape. But being left at the altar while she and her groom where about to exchange ‘I dos’ marked her as a person and how she dealt with relationships after that. It shook her confidence, as she thought, and with the bravado of youth, that she knew what love was, and that at 22 years old, she was ready to commit herself to a lifetime to the one person she thought was her forever. She had loved her fiance James, like forever! They were childhood sweethearts. But come to think of it, did she really? He was her one and only relationship. She thought she knew him, as they have practically grew up together, but it turned out, he was a complete stranger who had led a life completely opposite of what he was having with her! He had shown only what he wanted her to see. Everything, when it unravelled, was a complete surprise to her. She was that naive!
Yes, that day was the anniversary of what she called as ‘the jilting’, also known as the day she grew up. It was the day she vowed that love only exists in the pages of romance novels and in cinema screens, not in real life. It was a belief further validated by the relationships of people she care about, from friends to relatives who were all unlucky in love, despite the fact that they have given love all that they can give. However, ‘the jilting’ was not the main reason why she was at a beach instead of her office at MEP. She was there because of Richard Lim.
Meeting Richard Lim unsettled her in a big way. It was like she was standing on wobbly legs. She can’t explained the intense attraction and the emotions he evoke in her, with his magnetic gazes, the warmth that he had shown her and his physical attractiveness that calls on to her. He had been in her thoughts since they spent that wonderful afternoon in the Lims’ private cafe. Being with him there, it felt like they have known each other for a long time. She was also very much intensely aware of him physically. It was confusing to her as even if she dated a lot, she didn’t feel that attraction to her dates. In fact, none of them evoke even a speck of the emotions that Richard had elicited from her. Emman, at times, accused her of dating only safe guys, those that she was sure of, she was not attracted to, emotionally and physically.
She really tried not to think of Richard, but she was unable to do so. He even invaded her dream and it was not just the run-of-the-mill technicolor variety, but one that borders on the stuffs you read in the pages of steamy romance novels! It was an effort to concentrate on the job she was supposed to do in Bukidnon! When Vivian, the information officer of the company that contracted MEP, asked her what were her plans after their project, she was at a lost at first, as she was just really planning on that several days in Bukidnon, then a day in Cagayan de Oro City where she was based, then fly back to Manila. But when Vivian suggested that she should see some of the tourist spots in the area since she was already there, she jumped at the opportunity. She thought then that maybe, it will quell the listlessnes she was feeling. But she told Vivian she can go on her own, when she offered to go with her. Maya knew that Vivian has a lot of things to do and she didn’t want to impose on her. Aside from that, Maya really wanted to be alone. The more she thought about it, the idea of walking barefoot on a beach somewhere, sounded more and more attractive.
She called Emman and Tita Margarita. She told them she would like to take several days off and explore the area a bit, assuring them that she can handle all the projects she was handling from there. In this day and age, and with technology, except for doing the actual presentations to clients and supervising the event itself, Maya can work anywhere as long as there is a good mobile phone signal and a stable internet connection.
Emman wished that he was going with Maya. However, it was impossible to do so as he has two weddings and a society debut to organize. Tita Margarita, who was doing so much better then, but still taking it easy, told her to go ahead as she has not have a break since she got sick. Maya also knew that her aunt thought that her vacation had something to do with what happened to her five years ago. Her aunt was her anchor when she was jilted at the altar. She had helped her picked up the pieces of her broken forever, and set her to work at MEP, at first to distract her, but she discovered that she liked the events planning business, except weddings. Prior to that, she was working in advertising agency. The same agency where James still works.
Maya took another sip of coffee, then sat cross-legged on the most comfortable wicker chair she had sat into. While her mind was still unsettled, she felt rested. From Bukidnon, she went back to Cagayan de Oro, and then she traveled to the pier that would take her to this beautiful island three days ago. She has two more days left here and she would like to enjoy every moment of it. For that day, she rented a scooter and was going around the island again, stopping at the seafood restaurant near the pier than then back to the beautiful beach resort she stumbled upon. It does not take very long to go around Camiguin. She had been around the island at a leisurely pace in the mornings, lying in the hammock in her veranda for afternoon siesta with a book and walking along the beach, sometimes, swimming, in the late afternoons, then sitting on a mat until the sun sets. Since it was not yet the tourist season, Maya had practically the whole stretch of beach to herself.
But another cup of coffee, before she leaves for the day would be good, she thought! However, before Maya could pour herself another cup, her mobile phone beeped. Thinking that it might be Emman and work, she stood up and walked to the small table inside her room where she had left her phone. Absent-mindedly, she swiped it to open, then looked at the text message from an unfamiliar number. Her heart skipped a beat when she realized who texted her.
Hi Maya! Got your number from my EA Liza! We forgot to exchange numbers last Wednesday How are you? Are you back in Manila? I hope it is not a bad time to text. But if you are busy, just reply later. I can wait. – Richard Lim
The seconds after he had sent the message seemed longer for Richard. Snap out of it, Ricky Lim? You don’t even know if she will be able to read the message promptly. You even told her that you can wait. Then his phone beeped and he almost jumped. He hastily checked his message.
Hi Richard! No, I’m still in Mindanao. I decided to take a short vacation after my business trip here. I’m in Camiguin, actually. I’ll be back in Manila three days from now. Do you want me to go to Lim Corp. and make that report to you as soon as I’m back? I did send Adrian my presentation and also the budget breakdown for the whole campaign. I have a draft of the report. I an also email it to you now, and if you have questions, I can just answer via e-mail also, or when we see each other at Lim’s.
Oh, I’m so sorry, Maya. You are still in Mindanao! No, I’m asking if you are back, not because of work. It can wait. Anyway, the anniversary is in six months time and I think we have enough lead time for that. Besides, I trust MEP to do a very good job. The thing is, I would to ask if you would like to have dinner with me? How about the day after you return?
Richard paused for a second before sending his reply, but shrugged, then pressed the send button. It was really the reason why he texted her. He even waited several days after her projected return before he made his move. He nervously tapped the table while waiting for her reply.
Maya felt herself flushed when she read his latest text. Her heart was definitely galloping. Be still my heart, she told herself.
Sure, Richard. I would love to! Where do I meet you?
Great! Thank you Maya. I’ll just pick you up from your place. Would that be okay?
Sure, Richard, I’ll just text you the address after this.
Good, and please call me Ricky please. ‘Richard’ is more for the office and acquaintances.
Okay, Ricky then! 🙂 Here’s my address….. See you soon!
Richard smiled when he found out where Maya lives. It is in the same building as his cousin Rafi!
Got it! See you, Maya. Looking forward to our dinner. Enjoy the rest of your vacation. I wish I’m there with you, though!
Richard didn’t know what prompted him to add that last sentence. Well, he does wish that he was with her at that moment, that’s the truth. He and Maya, by the beach, walking with hands interlaced talking about everything under the sun, getting to know each other, or by the veranda of their villa sharing a bottle of wine, them lying on a mat soaking in the sun, and the atmosphere, gazing at each other, and then because they can’t help it, it would led to them exchanging kisses and more….
Stop there, Richard Lim. Don’t go in there. Are you a masochist? Torturing yourself! Isn’t it bad enough that you can’t get her out of your head the past several days! He even subtly pumped his mother for information about Maya and her aunt on the pretext of telling her that they were the ones doing the 50th anniversary campaign of Lim Corporation. Surprisingly, his mother was full of information about Maya, though, she didn’t mention what exactly happened to Maya, when she was left at the altar. His mother seemed to like Maya very much, that’s what he gathered.
His phone beeped again.
You will like it here, Ricky. The place is very beautiful.
He smiled. An imp seemed to have possessed him.
I can still follow you there.
Richard left it that. A plan is forming in his head. He needed to check his schedule. It was so tempting. He was being ruled not by his head anymore, but by his desire to be with her, to see her!
Maya fretted after reading Richard’s open-ended text. Was he going to follow her there???? She was starting to go into a panic mode. She was not ready for that. He was the reason why she was there. She decided to send him another text.
Well, maybe, that wouldn’t be a good idea, Ricky. So, short time to enjoy this beautiful island. Maybe, next time?
Richard was a bit disappointed when he read her message, but he understood what she was not actually saying. Everything is happening too fast anyway!
Okay, maybe next time is better. I’ll just see you on Saturday.
Maya heaved a sigh of relief.
See you, Ricky. I really have to go now. Jeremy is here now with my scooter.
Who the hell is Jeremy? Richard scowled when he read Maya’s latest text. Is she there with someone, after all? What right does he has to ask, anyway? Now, he is more unsettled than ever.
Unbeknown to Richard, Jeremy is the owner of the resort where Maya was staying. She had exchanged pleasantries with him and his friend and business partner, Scott, another transplanted English guy, but that’s about it. She didn’t want to encourage the interest she saw in his eyes. He is gorgeous, but she feels nothing for him, not even a glimmer of attraction.
Back in Manila, Richard, brows knitted, drummed his fingers on his office table. Lord, it’s going to be a long several days before he sees her! It was like a fever in his blood, this attraction to her, the emotions she make him feel. She was very much in his thoughts since they parted for the night. It is a feeling so alien to him, and he hated not knowing, so once and for all, he needed to find out and resolves this ‘thing’ with Maya. Soon!