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