Posts Tagged Love Happens

Love Happens – Chapter 2

 

Richard and Maya were both mostly silent on the short walk to the elevator banks. Both of them were intensely aware of each other. Maya felt the heat of Richard’s hand on her back, seemingly branding her. She was very much aware of Richard, period! He affected her so, for reasons she can’t yet fathom.  She had met equally goodlooking, though, not as handsome, and suave guys, and some even courted her. But this was the first time she was equally attracted to one in such a level, in such an instensity she was having a hard time grasping.  Though, her subsconscious must have already  known and felt it the first time they laid eyes on each other and despite the circumstances at that time!

Richard was very much aware of Maya’s unique scent and the graceful way she moves. They would look at each other from time to time, and share a smile. Earlier, he noticed Maya’s surprise when he put his hand on her back to escort her out of the room. It was something he was unable to stop himself from doing. He is terribly drawn to this beautiful lady. He must have known that she and him are fated to meet again. The instant attraction he felt the first time he laid eyes on her should have been an indication! To think, it had happened when his world shifted and it felt like someone pulled the rug from under him!

It sounded like it took a look time for the elevator to arrive when it was just a minute or two. When it finally did, Richard gestured for Maya to go in first. He pressed the button going to the penthouse of the building instead of the one going to the lobby where a small but very inviting coffee shop is. Maya have been there several times while doing the last project with Lim Corporation. She didn’t ask Richard where they were going as she presumed there are other places to have coffee in the building.

“I hope this place is okay with you, Maya.” Richard asked Maya as he opened the glass door of a beautiful and the most inviting cafe Maya had laid eyes on! She can live and drink coffee here to her heart’s content and never leave!

“More private than the coffee shop at the lobby.” Richard remarked.

Indeed, Maya thought, it was really more private as they were the only ones inside the unique cafe! It has floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides with a magnificent view of the city and the mountains beyond it, and a garden on the third side, opposite the entrance. The interiors resemble that of a country home. It evokes comfort and laid back coffee afternoons and snack times with the whole family on Sundays.

“This is the family’s private coffee shop here at Lim Corporation. My family is big on drinking coffee, so my mother thought of this.” Richard explained. “Some members of my family also holds office in this building. They congregate here once in a while. We are lucky this afternoon, we are the only ones here!”

“No, this is very much, okay. I’m not much for loud places actually. This is really a very beautiful place, Sir, errr, Richard.” Maya opted for the more formal one as ‘Ricky’ was too intimate, considering that technically, this was their first meeting! Aside from that fact, he and his company are clients. Not that there is a rule against it.

The barista greeted them with a big smile when he saw them. “Good afternoon, Sir Richard, welcome back. Good afternoon Ma’am!” He nodded at Maya respectfully.

“Hello Francis. Thank you. It’s nice to be back. It has been a while. Never had the opportunity to come up here until now.” Richard greeted the tall, older guy wearing a white shirt and dress slacks with a big smile. “Maya this is our long-time barista here, Francis. Francis, this is Ms. Maya Dela Rosa. What would you like, Maya? You can have some pasta with your coffee. Please do have some, it past snack time. You didn’t eat earlier!”

“Hello Francis. Thank you, Richard.” Maya looked at the chalk menu board, at the same time, wondering, how come Richard even noticed that she was unable to even take a sip of her coffee when she was dying too, earlier! “I’ll just have hot americano, and a serving of that mushroom truffles pasta.”

“Your usual, Sir Richard?” Francis asked. Through the years, he had gotten familiar with the preferences of the Lim and So families who frequent the cafe. Before his cancelled wedding, Sir Richard was a fixture in the cafe. But like he said, this was the first time he was here since that unfortunate incident. In all those times, he has not brought his fiancée here, for some reason. This was actually the first time he saw him here with a lady.

“Please. Thank you, Francis.”

Richard led Maya to a table by the window. He pulled the seat first for her, before sitting across her. Maya thanked him and when they were both seated, there was a tense, but not exactly uneasy silence between them, crackling with awareness of each other.  There was really this buzz between them and no matter how both of them try to ignore it, it is making its presence felt. They would gaze at each other, until Maya can’t stand it anymore. She just needed to break the silence. She asked the first thing she thought of.

“Is there anything you need….”

“Do you want to…..”

Maya laughed, a little breathlessly. It seemed she was not the only one wanting to break the silence between them!

Richard gave Maya a lopsided smile. Awww, he looks so cute. Maya thought.

“Go ahead, Maya!” Richard said. “Sorry!”

“Oh, I just want to ask what is it you would like to discuss with me. Is there anything else that I was not able to cover in my presentation earlier?” Maya explained and before she can stop herself, added, “I noticed that you didn’t ask questions while I was presenting.”

Richard smiled inwardly at her last statement. Hmmm, she noticed! He felt happy knowing.

“Oh, not really! Like what my father had said earlier, your presentation was very detailed. The thing is, I invited you for coffee on a purely personal level.” He admitted, gazing at Maya, meaningfully.

Maya looked at him in surprised. She was not expecting his answer at all.

“First, I want to thank you for your help six months ago. As soon as I entered the room earlier, I knew you were the lady who gave me Lucy’s letter during my aborted wedding. Thank you for keeping a cool head at that time.” Richard started, wanting this part to be over and done with, then he took a deep breath and plunged in, saying candidly while gazing at her intently, “Secondly, I want to get to know you better!”

“Oh!” Maya managed to utter, at the same time, thinking, he remembers me! She thought that he wouldn’t. He didn’t give any indication earlier that he remembered, except that she seemed to be the focus of his very intense gazes. “I’m sorry for what happened. I wish it had turned out differently.” Maya started saying, looking for words to say, then his second statement sunk in. It flustered her and gave her a warm feeling somewhere in her chest at the same time.

“Thank you, Maya. But don’t be. I’m glad the wedding didn’t push through.” Richard said candidly, seeing, that Maya seemed to be lost for words. “I had a lucky escape.”

“But I thought….I thought that you and Lucy were very much in love….” Maya blurted out helplessly, then shrugged. She does not really want to pry, but Richard has been dropping bombshells on her since they sat down.

“We were not, Maya, actually. Doubly so, because she jilted me and married another!” Richard said. “It was supposed to be a marriage of convenience. Love? It was something I stopped believing in a long time ago. Love is so overrated.”

Maya was startled to hear that. It was her exact sentiment after handing Richard Lucy’s letter six month ago.

“You look surprised, Maya? Did I shock you? I’m sorry, I just want to be completely honest with you.”

“No, no, Richard! You didn’t. I was just startled as it was my exact thoughts after I handed you Lucy’s letter. That love is overrated.” She explained and since it seemed like they have been injected with a truth serum that afternoon, also admitted, “You are not the only one who stopped believing in love a long time ago.”

It was Richard’s turn to be surprised. He was about to ask her why, when Francis arrived with their coffee and food. Maya noticed that Richard is having the same food and drink that she ordered.

“Sir Richard, Ma’am Maya, enjoy your food and coffee.” Francis said, after he had laid down everything on the table. “Let me know of you need anything else.”

Both of them thanked Francis. Maya started putting two scoops of muscovado sugar on her coffee, while mulling what she just admitted to Richard. She is not normally that candid! When she was done, she offered to make Richard’s coffee and asked him how many scoops of sugar she should put. He told her the same as hers.

Richard took a sip of his coffee after thanking Maya for making it for him. “This tastes better than I remember Maya. It must be because you made it.” He said, offhand, giving her a big smile. “Shall we eat!”

Maya smiled at Richard. The two of them started eating. Maya love the mushroom truffles pasta and she didn’t realize how hungry she was until the first taste of the mouth-watering pasta invaded her taste buds. They didn’t talk the first couple of minutes, though they exchanged smiles. Both lost in their thoughts about this afternoon’s revelations.

It seems like he was not the only one cynical about love, was Richard’s thoughts. He was really surprised as he thought Maya believes in happy ever afters. She is after all a wedding planner and, he believes, you have to be a little romantic for you to go to into that profession. She looks like a girl who believes in forever. What gives? He was dying to ask but he does not want to pry. He respects her privacy and her reasons.

“You are Tita Margarita’s niece, I gathered? Emman Castro is your cousin? It was him that I met with when we were planning the wedding. I have met your aunt several times at one of my parents parties, but not you.” Richard queried instead, wanting to get to know Maya more, despite the fact that he was not in the market for a serious relationship. It sounded like she is not too, if his gut feel is correct. “How long have you been in the events planning business? ”

“Yes, Emman is my cousin. Tita Margarita and my mother were sisters. She took me in and raised me like her own when my parents died in a plane crash when I was 15 years old. Emman and I, we are like brother and sister instead of cousins. I joined the business two years after I finished college. That was five years ago.” Maya said. She refused to dwell anymore on what happened to her before going into events planning. “Emman handles the social side of the business, with Tita Margarita, and I handle the corporate accounts. The arrangement suit us as he and she both like weddings and parties. I don’t. The one and only time crossed to the other side was your wedding as Tita Margarita was still recovering from her stroke.”

“I’m sorry for the lost of your parents. It must have been a very difficult time for you.” Richard said and before he could stop himself, he asked. “Any particular reason why you don’t like weddings?”

“Thank you, Richard. It was more than 10 years ago. I still miss them but I’m okay. ” Maya looked at Richard, then took a long sip of her coffee before answering his question. Maybe, it is better to lay things in the open, and diffuse this attraction she is feeling for this handsome guy. It’s an emotion alien to her and it unsettles her and the structured life she had built for herself the past several years. “You are not the only one who was left at the altar, Richard! And I’m sorry, that is all I can say about that matter.”

“I’m sorry, Maya. I don’t want to pry. Of course, I respect your privacy, but thank you for telling me that. I’m sorry too that it happened to you.” Richard managed to say. Maya surprised the hell out of him with that statement. Now, he understands why she looked like that when she was walking towards him six months ago, and the courage it took her to take those steps.

“Thank you Richard. But like you have said, don’t be. I’m past it. It was a lucky escape as well.” Maya said, then changed the topic. “This pasta is really good. This is also your favorite here?”

Richard accepted Maya’s effort to shift the conversation. They already have a lot to think about. What an afternoon it turned out to be! “Yes, it is. I missed this pasta, actually. This is the first time I have been here since I returned to Lim Corporation.”

“Really! Where have you been the past several months, if I may ask?” Maya said, thinking that Richard wouldn’t mind the question anyway since he started the conversation about his cancelled wedding earlier. “My cousin Emman mentioned that you left for parts unknown after the cancelled wedding!”

“I went to South Africa, and then to some parts of Europe.” Richard replied and then over sips of coffee, he gave her a condense version of his trip. Not about the deep soul-searching part of it, but his experience in traveling to parts unknown. Seeing Maya laughing at his anecdotes, he continued regaling her with his funny experiences, until their single cup of coffee became two and day become night without them realizing it, until a lightning lit the night sky.

“Oh, look at the time!” Maya exclaimed. She didn’t notice of the passing of time. “I should get going, Richard. I have an early flight tomorrow.”

“Okay.” Richard said. He too, was surprised to realize that Maya and him had been here for several hours. “May I take you home?”

“Thank you for the offer, Richard. I have my car with me. It’s in the basement parking of your building!”

“Oh, okay, I will just accompany you there. And before you protest, I insist. It is getting late and most of the employees have gone home.”

The two of them boarded the elevator after thanking Francis for their wonderful meal. Like on the way up, both were silent on the way to the parking garage. When they have reached Maya’s car, Maya thanked Richard. “Thank you for a wonderful afternoon, Richard. It was a lovely meal. I don’t think I can still eat dinner.”

“The pleasure is mine, Maya. I had a wonderful time also.” Richard said, gazing at Maya’s lovely face intently. “Take care. Have a safe flight and enjoy your stay wherever you are going.”

“Thank you, Richard. It’s work. I’m going to Bukidnon for one of our clients’ office there.” Maya said smiling. Then offering her hand, she said, ” Nice meeting and spending time with you.”

Richard shook Maya’s hand, but didn’t let go of it. Instead, he asked Maya, softly. “May I see you again, Maya?”

Maya’s heart skipped a beat with that softly worded, sounding like a caress, request. She took a deep breath. “Sure, Richard. Please give me a call at some point. I’ll be back in three days time.” Maya hoped she sounded calm when she said that.

“Great! I will do that.” Richard gave Maya a bone-melting smile which she returned with one that lit up her beautiful face. “Good night.”

Maya boarded her car with a big smile. Richard waited until she was on the way out of the parking garage before he returned to his office.

Both felt something big was going on between them. Something that two people who are cynical about love and relationship shouldn’t be feeling. Where do they go from there? They both asked themselves that as they went their separate ways that night.

 

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Love Happens – Chapter 1

 

Richard Lim stared at the view from his floor-to-ceiling office window, without really seeing anything. The beauty of the afternoon, when the sun is at its brightest and most vibrant and the distant mountains looking majestic and mysterious, was lost on him that day. He stared at his bare ring finger. A ring would have been there had Lucy didn’t run away from their wedding exactly six months ago!

Lucy not showing up at THE society wedding of the decade created the juiciest stir not only in the society they both move in, but  in the country in general, as the television networks reported on it in details, and Lucy jilting him at the altar went viral on social media. Memes were also created of women offering to replace Lucy at the altar. Some bashed her for running away from him and eloping with the lead singer of a popular band whom, it turned out, was her real love. They had a stormy relationship which her parents didn’t approve of. In the end, she defied them and eloped with the guy, who was not exactly unknown, especially as he has legions of fans, so her action really created quite a juicy stir. Lucy and her boyfriend got married in Las Vegas three weeks later.

One month after his aborted wedding, and after he had helped his and Lucy’s parents cleaned up the mess that her impulsive action created, he packed his bags and went to the farthest place he could think of at that moment, South Africa. One of his Harvard friends is from Johannesburg. He had an open invitation from Mattheu to visit him and his family. He had to get away from everything to keep his sanity. It felt like his life became an open book that anyone who has access to social media can just freely talk about. He needed to be away, until things dies down to a natural death, or another scandal overtakes it.

He also wanted to escape the intrigues and the whispering every time he would show up in social gatherings and official functions that he needed to attend to. Not that it affected him. He just hated to be in the spotlight like that. As for his heart, it didn’t healing as he was not really in love with Lucy. Theirs was supposed to be a marriage of convenience. He liked her and he felt that they would suit because of their similar backgrounds and the same circle that they move in, so he agreed to what his father wanted him to do, marry a Ventura to consolidate and strengthen their business holdings.

Richard gave up on love a long time ago. For him, it was something that exists in the pages of romance novels or those countless rom-coms the movie industry comes up with! It was an emotion he stopped feeling, and which he actually considers as a weakness. He had experienced it before and he had seen how love destroyed one of his closest friends. He dated, but kept his heart unattached. With Lucy leaving him at the altar, he was also not keen on getting married, ever! Indeed, he had a lucky escape!

In South Africa, he had avoided clicking on Philippine news websites and he refused to open his emails unless it was work-related. He toured around and being there for four weeks help him sort his thoughts. Afterwards, he decided not to return yet, and his father assured him it was perfectly okay, so he went to France, Italy and Spain for three more months, enjoying anonymity. He also realized that it was a good thing that he and Lucy didn’t end up together! He admitted that he was starting to feel like that when the wedding planner approached him, and indirectly gave him salvation and like a death row convict about to be executed, a reprieve. Yes, an extreme comparison but that was how he felt as the bridal march started playing. He was calm and stoic when that beautiful woman handed him the letter. He knew what had happened and all he felt was relief, tremendous relief.

From time to time, he would also think about the beautiful woman from the wedding, whom he found out later on, was indeed one of the wedding planners and a niece of the owner. He remembered her beautiful face and the way she gracefully walked towards him and the gaze they shared before everything broke loose. He dismissed the thoughts, that would crept in his brain, of finding her when he returns, as he was not in a market for another serious relationship. She looked like a woman one marries and not just play around with. There was nothing casual about her, that was his initial impression.

When he returned to the Philippines a month ago, he buried himself in work during the day, and his nights and weekends were reserved to going out with his friends, having a beer and a drink here and there, and playing pool. He steered clear of serious relationships and just went on casual dates. But that too, paled and lost its luster after a while. The women he met hoped that they would be THE Mrs. Richard Lim, that they are the one who can heal what they perceived was his broken heart. They were so easy, ready to hop into his bed just several hours after meeting him!

“Sir Richard…..”

Richard was jolted back to the present with that. He turned around and saw his secretary by the door of his office.

“Yes, Liza? Are they here?” He asked. He and the directors of the company, also his father, have a meeting with some events planner that afternoon. Typical of his father to include everyone when, in Richard’s point of view, it can be handled by their corporate communications manager! But maybe, his father wanted everyone there as the event would be a milestone for the company.

“Yes, Sir Richard. They are at the conference room, including your father.” Liza Adriano, Richard Lim’s secretary and executive assistant since he became Chief Operating Officer of Lim Corporation five years ago, said. “Is there anything else you need for the meeting?”

“No, nothing, Liza! Thank you. Please go ahead. I’ll be there in a couple of minutes.” Richard stood up, straightened his tie, then   grab his iPad and phone, and walked briskly towards the executive offices’ conference room.

When Richard entered the room, the first thing he saw and noticed was the silhouette of a woman attaching a MacBook to the HDMI cable port of the huge TV there which they use for presentations. His heart suddenly beat faster as she looked familiar.

The woman turned and he caught his breath. It is her! The woman from his aborted wedding! The woman locked gaze with Richard. She looked so beautiful in the shift dress she was wearing. It hugged all her curves, but more than that, he was immediately drawn to her doe-shaped eyes fringed with long eyelashes and pouty lips. He felt an instant attraction to her.

Before Richard can say anything, his father cut into his thoughts.

“Ricky is here, we can start now, Adrian, please.” Mr. Roberto Lim, CEO of Lim Corporation told Adrian Samonte, the company’s Corporate Communications Head.

Roberto Lim then gestured for Richard to take the seat across the alluring woman from his wedding who seemed flustered at seeing him. Was she remembering too, the last time, well the one and only time their paths have crossed? He asked himself as he settled into his seat.

“Good morning everyone, as stated in my e-mail to all of you, Manila Events Planning will present to us today the campaign for Lim Corporation’s 50th anniversary celebration. Here with us this morning is Ms. Maya Dela Rosa, MEP’s Head of Corporate Planning Services. She is not a stranger to most of you as this is not the first project MEP did for us.” Adrian said. “Maya, you have met most of us, except maybe, Sir Richard as he just got back last month from vacation.”

Most of those present, nodded, including Roberto Lim, as Maya’s Tita Margarita is a friend of his and his wife Esmeralda. So, she had done a project for Lim Corporation before! Richard thought to himself. It must have been around the time he was away.

Nevertheless, Adrian made the formal introductions with a round of hands shaking and greetings. The last hand that Maya shook was Richard. She felt a jolt when their hands touched and she barely managed to hide her surprise and reaction to a seemingly innocent touch. Richard gave her a lopsided smile. He, too needed to gain some sort of equilibrium. He needed to dispel the effect of her hand in his, brief that it was.

“Maya, you may start, please.” Adrian said, signalling Maya to start her presentation, and breaking into her thoughts. She gave Richard Lim a polite smile, then return to where her laptop was placed.

Maya stood still for several seconds when she got there to collect her thoughts which got a bit off track with Richard’s presence and its effect on her. She was not expecting him to be here as she thought he was still abroad, as Emman had mentioned to her, updating her on the latest society talks, even if sometimes, she does not want to hear about the latest society gossip. Soon after Richard Lim had left for parts unknown, her events planning company was hired by Lim Corporation for the launch of their new business, solar energy panels for homes and office use. When she felt that she was calm enough, she proceeded with the presentation, outlining to the members of Lim Corporation’s executive board the plan for the golden anniversary celebration of the company founded by Richard Lim’s grandfather, Ricardo.

The whole room listened attentively while Maya outlined the plan and the series of campaign that her company is proposing, which includes various CSR activities as a way of giving back and thanking everyone who had supported and patronized the company through the years, then full-page spreads on the history of the company on the top two major dailies in the country. She also made mentioned that her team would need to photograph every department and every executive for the newspaper spread. The anniversary celebration will be capped with a charity gala and a party for the employees of the company wherein loyalty awards will be given.

One or two times, Roberto Lim raised some questions, which Maya answered deftly and concisely. The whole time she was presenting, Maya was aware of Richard’s eyes on her. Yes, she knew that everyone’s eyes was on her, but it felt like it was just Richard and her in that big room, and despite the cold temperature, she felt flushed. She kept repeating to herself that she needed to fight the thing she was feeling, his effect on her. For God sake, she was presenting to practically all the people who run this big company! They are a major client of MEP!

Richard was also having a hard time taking his eyes off the beautiful, graceful lady before him. He knew that he should listen attentively, but his intense awareness of Maya was stronger, drowning the details of her presentation in his head, and when their eyes would lock from time to time, he felt a sudden breathlessness and he felt the effect of her innocent gaze affecting his body. Richard Lim, he told himself, snap out of it, you are in a meeting and she is doing a professional presentation. He ought to know the details for this project, but nothing registered in his head, he just watched the opening and closing of Maya’s luscious lips, and the way her body moved as she explained the campaign to them.

When Maya was done, and the other executives were finished asking for clarifications on some aspects of the execution on of the campaign, Roberto Lim, spoke. “Thank you for your presentation, Maya, very detailed and exactly what we want for our major milestone. Please start executing it according to the timeline you presented. Whatever you need from LC’s side, Adrian can handle it. However, please give my son a weekly report. He will be taking over while I’m away with my wife for a month.” He finished with a friendly smile. “Vacation.”

“Thank you very much, Mr. Lim. Yes, Sir we will do as indicated. Then I will report to Sir Richard on the progress. Have a nice vacation with Mrs. Lim.” Maya replied. She had met Esmeralda Lim at her aunt’s house several times and she likes the old lady.

The executives piled out of the room after Adrian declared the meeting adjourned. Maya stayed behind to pack her laptop away. Thinking that she was already alone, Maya started humming her current LSS! When she was finished she lifted her head and saw Richard Lim by the door, arms folded on his, now she knows, very muscular chest, as the gesture stretched the pale blue dress shirt he was wearing, much to her distraction. Maya blushed profusely.

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Mr. Lim. I thought I’m alone!” Maya said, wanting her blush to fade. “Is there anything you need?”

Richard looked at a flustered Maya Dela Rosa. She is cute. So human, unlike earlier wherein she was the epitome of professionalism and grace. He was about to go back to his office after saying goodbye to his father, when, for some unexplained reason, he decided to seek Maya out. His excuse, he was going to ask for her mobile number and other contact information. Yes, he knew, flimsy excuse as it is really Liza’s job to do, and she probably has it already in her file. But he can’t help it, he is drawn to this beautiful lady. He is physically attracted to her. He knows himself!

“Oh, you, actually!” He blurted out, and saw her startled expression, and blush. “Errr, what I mean, err…..” Richard collected his thought. Richard Lim you used to be suave! “What I mean, is would you like to have coffee with me? I noticed that you were unable to even take a sip of your coffee earlier. Are you in a hurry?”

Maya thinking that Richard wanted to discuss the plans for the anniversary further, nodded. Refusing to dwell on the fact that her heart skipped a beat with the invitation and she had replied without actually thinking about it. “Sure Sir, you want to discuss the plans in more details. Good thing also, as I would like to ask you or your executive assistant for the reporting schedule to you. I don’t have any other meeting aside from this one. In fact, I told my aunt that I would go directly home after this meeting with Lim Corporation as I’m going on a trip tomorrow.”

Richard didn’t correct Maya’s assumption. “Great!” He said with a big smile. “And please call me Ricky or Richard. May I call you Maya?”

Maya nodded and their gazes locked. She felt breathless. He felt his heart beating fast. They shared a smile.

“Shall we, Maya?”  To Maya’s surprise, Richard put his hand on her back to escort her out of the conference room. As they walked out of the corporate offices, she was intensely aware of him. As they walked, they shared looks. It felt like they were on the verge of something they were not expecting and were not really looking for.

 

Note: Finally, here it is! Slowly finding my way back, indeed! Happy Friday everyone! ❤ 🙂

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Love Happens – Prologue

Prologue

The beautiful centuries-old cathedral was decorated elegantly, fit not just for a society wedding, but THE society wedding of the decade. The wedding that will transpire that afternoon will not just be a marriage between the most eligible bachelor in the country and the current society ‘it’ girl, but of two very powerful and very influential families in the world of business and politics.

The groom, very handsome in his powder blue suit, waited patiently with his parents and his best man, his friend in college and a fraternity brother, ready for his march down the aisle. He had a somber expression on his face and people attributed it at that time to nervousness. Who wouldn’t be, if all eyes will be on you, everyone thought! The guests, all dressed to the nines, conversed in small groups, catching up and exchanging pleasantries as they awaited for the much-anticipated arrival of the bride.

Near the entrance, by the steps outside, Maya Dela Rosa and some of her assistants were waiting for the bride to arrive too! She should have been there by now, Maya thought nervously!  The ceremony will be starting in several minutes! Maya felt her stomach churning and she was getting very stressed out! She never likes the wedding planning part of the events planning business where she works and is a part owner of. Her Tita Margarita who started the business from being a small hobby to what it is now, the most sought after events planning business in the social circle where she moves, knew of Maya’s preference in not handling weddings. Tita Margarita has Emman, her gay son, and Maya’s only cousin, for that. Maya is happy to be handling their corporate accounts, while Emman handles weddings and other social events, which suits his personality to a T.

Emman loves weddings and happily ever afters. He loves attending and organizing parties. While Maya, on the other hand, is more on the sedate part by choice. Besides she does not believe in happily ever afters anymore. There is really no such thing as forever in her book. Everything ends, even life! She had seen countless of times how useless a piece of paper the marriage contract is if the person who professes to love and cherish you, found someone else and hurt you, or left you hanging without a thought about your feelings. Humans have this huge capacity to love yes, but they also have this huge capacity to hurt the one they are supposed to love and cherish. It is better to approach relationships with eyes open instead of with rose-colored glasses.

Maya ended up handling this wedding with Emman as her aunt, who have been like a second mother to her ever since her parents died in a plane crash when she was 15 years old, suffered a stroke two months before. She recovered but is still undergoing intensive physical therapy. Since this is one of the biggest and the most prominent events they are handling, not to mention the Lims and the Venturas being long time valued clients, Tita Margarita requested Maya to help her cousin in this one despite her sentiments.

Maya looked at her watched again. She can also see that the mother of the bride was getting antsy already with the delay. Maya approached her and assured her that she will find out what’s keeping Lucy Ventura and her maid of honor. She called Emman, but his phone was out of reach. She was at the end of her nerves when she caught sight of the bridal car.

“Emman, where have you been? I have been calling you! What took you so long?” Maya asked urgently. “The wedding should have been starting by now! Did something happen along the way? Flat tire? Accident?”

“Sorry, cousin, my phone died on me! So many last-minute phone calls drained the battery fast. Then, for some reason, it took Lucy a while to come out of the hotel room with Annika.” Emman said, referring to Lucy’s best friend and maid of honor. “I thought we will not be able to make it in time. But here we are!” He almost told Maya about the strange behavior he was sensing from the bride. But since they were already in the church, Emman changed his mind. Besides, they were already running late with everything.

“I’ll go in and signal the start of the wedding. Just stay here with Lucy.” Emman told Maya. Emman knew how his cousin hates ceremonies like this and avoid it like the plague if she can get away with it.

Emman asked everyone to be in formation and signaled the orchestra to start the wedding procession. The door of the church was temporarily close for Lucy’s grand entrance. The groom and the entourage walked slowly in front of the assembled guests. Upon reaching the altar, the groom patiently waited for his bride, with the same stoic expression he had been exhibiting.

When the parents of the bride reached the designated stop where they will wait for their daughter, the orchestra started playing the wedding march and the door started opening. Everyone looked, excited to see the radiant bride. But instead of the bride, it was a frantic Maya they saw. The mother of the bride looked at Maya, and then at Emman with a question on her face, so were all the guests. The groom swallowed hard.

Emman walked back to where Maya was.“What happened, Maya? Where is Lucy?” Emman asked, getting nervous at the turn of events. But deep down, he had an inkling that this would happen.

“Emman, Lucy just left several minutes after the wedding procession has started and after giving me these.” Maya showed Emman two folded notes. “I tried to stop her, but she moved very fast, then signaled the driver to leave the church! It happened in a blink!”

“OMG, we have a big problem!” Emman exclaimed.

Maya agreed. She never thought that this would happen! She only met Lucy several times and she seemed nice enough, even if times, she noticed that her mind was not really with them when they were discussing the details of her wedding. Maya noticed, even then, that she had seemed to be uninterested and it was mostly her mother who discussed things with them. But she had shrugged it off and thought it was just nerves. All would be brides experience that, even her, a lifetime ago!

Maya took a deep breath! “Emman, you better inform Mrs. Ventura!”

Emman approached the elegant older lady clinging tightly on her husband’s left arm and quietly handed her the folded note with Mom and Dad written on it.

Mrs. Elena Ventura hastily opened the note, and from where Maya was standing, she saw her expression changed from nervousness to outright dismay in a matter of seconds. She gasped and swayed.  She showed the note to her husband, Jaime. “How could she! How could she embarrass us like this!” She kept saying as she crumpled the note.

“Emman, please lead Mrs. Ventura to the staging room.” Maya said softly as her cousin became very close to the old lady while planning this wedding, and then gestured to Sophia, one of their assistants to get a glass of water for Lucy’s mother. By then, the church was buzzing.

Emman did as she told. Several minutes later, and after several sips of water, Mrs. Ventura asked Maya to give the note to Lucy’s groom. She wanted Emman to stay by her side. Maya gulped at that! She wanted to protest. She can’t be asking her to do this! Emman looked at Maya and quietly beseeched her to do just that.

Maya was left with no choice. She entered the church again. Everyone looked at her. Maya thought she will not able to make her foot to take the first hard step towards the altar. The scene reminded her of her painful experience. But this is a job and she does not have any choice. She needs to act like the professional events planner that she is.

Maya saw Richard Lim, Lucy’s groom-to-be, whom she would be meeting for the first time up close, sort of, looking at her with a blank expression, while she was walking briskly towards him! Even if she had been with Emman in planning this wedding for the past two months, she stayed in the background and handled the other details. Emman was the one who met with Richard Lim and his family.

Maya tried very hard not to get self-conscious of the stares she was receiving and to just concentrate on reaching the altar one painful step at a time. When she was nearer, hers and Richard Lim’s gaze locked and Maya caught her breath. Her heart skipped a beat. She took a deep breath to calm herself. When she reached the altar, she silently handed the note to Richard.

Richard opened the note that the lady whom, he presumed, was with the wedding planners handed him. He haven’t met her, when he and his parents met with them. If he had, he is sure he will not forget. Yes, for some reason he was aware of her, even on his wedding and the events unfolding before him! Well, almost wedding anyway! Richard already, sort of, knew what the note will say.

Maya gazed at Richard Lim as he read the note. His serious expression didn’t change. He folded the note back.

Richard Lim moved to the center of the altar, then gazed, without really seeing, at the people before him. He took a deep breath and announced to all the assembled guests, the creme de la creme of Philippine society, that the wedding wss off.

Everyone burst into a cacophony of conversation with that announcement. Maya silently withdrew from the altar. Before she return to Emman, she looked back at Richard Lim, who in turn, as if he knew that she was gazing at him, look at where she was. They shared a gaze and then she was out of the church.

Poor guy! Maya thought. She believed she knew what he must be feeling at that moment! Love, really, is so overrated!

 

Note: Sometimes, I really am, a typical Gemini, starting a lot of things at the same time! 🙂 I have been mulling over this story for weeks but it was not really taking off. But over a cup of coffee, I finished the first draft of this instead of my other updates. I hope you will like this story as well! ❤

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