Posts Tagged Maya Dela Rosa
While Esmeralda Lim was informing Tessie Dela Rosa that her son Richard agreed to her daughter Maya staying with him in his place in Makati, the subject of their conversation was sitting at the azotea of the family’s ancestral house in Talisay, Negros Occidental, drinking coffee, and deep in thought.
Maya was plotting her next move in the escalating battle of wills with her parents. It was the first thing she thought of doing after her parents rejected her latest plea. But her next move really, and everything for that matter, would really depend if that ‘SSS’ will let her stay in his place. Before she can execute her next move, she has to know if he had agreed to it. She hoped not. Why would he, as the one and only time they were together, they fought like cats and dogs. Maya was so sure that the ‘SSS’ still harbours a grudge towards her after all these years. He never bothered to get in touch with her, though why he should since she is just a family friend and the sister of his friend. He also begged off from going when her parents invited the Lims to spend the holiday with them in Barcelona one summer.
However, despite that and because it happened a long time ago, when she and Richard were both younger, her in her late teens and him in his late 20s, Maya knew that she shouldn’t call Richard that acronym she coined for him many summers ago, but she can’t help it. Towards the end of that long ago summer, before everything has fallen apart, she had taken to calling Richard Lim, ‘supladong sungit na singkit’ behind his back!
I wonder how he looks like now, after all these years? Maya tried to imagine. Hmmm, maybe, hindi na siya super guapo. Maybe he has started losing his hair, may beer belly and gained a lot of weight. I-Google ko kaya? Bakit nga ba hindi ko man lang siya na-check online. I’m sure there will be entries on him, having taken over the reins of the family corporation.
Maya was about to stand up to get her laptop from her room, when she saw their kasambahay, Sabel, approaching her, like a girl with a very important mission.
“Señorita Maya, tawag po kayo ng Mama ninyo,” Sabel said, then hesitating, she added, “Saka ngayon na daw po as in now na! Sabi po ng Mama ninyo huwag na kayong mag…mag…mag-dilly-dally, kung ano man po ang ibig sabihin nun. ”
Maya knew why her mother insisted on relaying that through Sabel. Teresita Dela Rosa knew that her daughter will try to procrastinate, not wanting to discuss their latest discord. She sighed. “Okay, Sabel. Nasaan ba si Mama?”
“Nasa sala po, Senorita Maya.” Sabel said promptly, relief in her voice.
Maya walked to the living room through the dining room of the beautiful old house that her mother inherited from her parents. When they returned to the Philippines several months ago, they opted to stay here than his father’s family’s house in Bacolod. The house in Talisay was much more beautiful, comfortable and quieter that his father’s family home which was situated neat the main street of the city. Anyway, it just takes several minutes to drive to Bacolod.
Maya found her mother by the small table near the window, sipping coffee. Her mobile phone was beside her.
“Mama, Sabel told me you were looking for me.” Maya said simply, not sure what mood her mother was in at that moment. It has just been several hours since she and her mother had their latest argument on how she should live her life.
“Please have a seat, Maya.” Tessie Dela Rosa told her daughter. And when Maya did as she told, she continued. “Katatapos lang naming mag-usap ni Tita Esme mo. Sabi niya, you can stay with Richard while you are taking that special Spanish course. Pumayag na raw si Richard.”
Maya was surprised that Richard Lim agreed to having her stay with him. She really thought that he would decline. All she managed to say was, “Really, Mama!”
“Yes, he did, so it is final you will stay with him.” Tessie Dela Rosa looked very satisfied with the outcome of her chat with her best friend.
“Mama, hindi ba talagang pwedeng payagan ninyo na ako ni Papa na….” Maya started again, despite the fact that her plea had fallen on deaf ears several times. She just needed to try one more time.
“Maya, hija, please, pagtatalunan na naman ba natin ito.” Tessie sighed, with a closed expression on her face.
“Hindi ka ba napapagod. Hindi ka ba naaawa sa amin ng Papa mo. Why can’t you understand that we just want you safe. You know naman kung bakit ayaw ka naming payagang mag-isa sa Maynila. Ikaw na nga lang ang anak namin ng Papa mo. Paano kung mangyari rin sa iyo ang nangyari sa Kuya mo. Hindi na namin kakayanin!” Tessie Dela Rosa continued, getting agitated. “Kung hindi nga lang kailangan ng Papa mo na i-manage ang family business ng Lolo Francisco ko, was gusto ko na lang sana na doon tayo sa Europa. Mahirap maging safe sa bansang ito!”
Maya held her mother’s hand, seeing that she was getting distressed. “Mama, please calm down. Nothing will happen to me. We all grieved for Kuya Seth pero we have to live Mama. Hindi naman dahil babalik ako ng Maynila, may mangyayari na sa akin.”
Her mother was about to say something, but Maya pleaded with her with her eyes to let her finish.
“Ma, I’m almost 26 years old and yet, I still live with you and Papa kahit noong nasa Spain tayo. We have to move forward. I want a life. Hindi naman sa ayaw ko kayong kasama ni Papa, but please let me find my way in the world.” Maya’s voice was a bit hoarse with the emotion it took to plead her case again. “I can’t exist in a bubble. Marami na naming nagbago sa Pilipinas in the past several years we were abroad.”
“I know that, anak. But please, pagbigyan mo na kami ng Papa with this. You will be staying with Richard and that it final.” Tessie stressed. “That is the only way we will allow you to go to Manila for two months.”
Maya looked at her mother’s mulish expression and know that she will not win. It is no use appealing to her mild-mannered father as he usually defer to her mother. Since her Kuya Seth died when she was 19, it has always been like this in this family. Now, the only option left for her is to execute her plan B. She said a silent sorry to her mother, and also to Richad Lim, for what she will do.
“Okay, Mama.” Maya said, sighing. “I will just stay with Richard.” The best thing to do is get herself to Manila first.
“Good, I know you will see it my way.” Tessie Dela Rosa said, completely unaware of what her daughter was plotting. “I will call back Esme and tell her that you will be at Richard’s place in two days time. I have your flight details from Doris. Just go and pack your bags.”
Doris is her father’s secretary. She made all the arrangement for her trip.
“Hmmm, why don’t I call Richard and arrange with him.” Maya suggested, as there was a part of her that is curious to know how Richard’s voice sounded after all these years.
“Esme said she will just do it herself. She just needs the details.” Tessie told her daughter. “Wala ka nang dapat intindihin.
“Muchas gracias por tu ayuda, Mama.” Maya just said, lapsing into Spanish, seeing that her mother was so insistent on controlling everything about her trip. What can she do except thanked her for all she did so that she has a place to stay in Manila even if it was not what she wanted.
“De nada, mi hija. I was happy to do it for you.” Tessie replied, then taking a sip of her coffee, she looked at her beautiful daughter. “Bakit ka nga ba kailangan pang mag-aral ng Spanish eh fluent ka na naman? You speak it so much better than some people I have known who practically lived in Spain most of their lives.”
“Mama, di ba I told you and Papa that the course I am going to take is for Spanish language teachers. I need that so I can teach Spanish here as a foreign language. Hindi naman kasi ako language major sa Spain, di ba. I majored in English Studies.”
“Kasi naman if me and your Papa had our way, gusto talaga naman namin na business course ang kinuha mo so you can take over our business, lalo na ngayong wala na ang Kuya mo and you are our only child. Ikaw naman lahat ang magmamana nito.”
“Mama, I love you and Papa and I do appreciate what you have done for me, but I am not Kuya Seth. He would have been a great CEO of our businesses, but he is gone and we have to live with that. I am not a business person and I have other interests. I wish you would really let me pursue them.” Maya said emotionally, hoping that her mother will understand this time. They have been at this countless of times. She just need to try to let her see reason, her reason, every opportunity she could.
“Well, Maya hija, we did let you pursue the degree you want to take. And now we are allowing you to take that course, for what, just to teach Spanish at some school!” Tessie countered. Really, sometimes, her daughter’s head is in the clouds.
“That is what I want Mama.” Maya said, patiently. She does not want to argue with her mother anymore as it will just get nowhere. She needed to concentrate her efforts in making them let her to live on their own. She just has the plan and it is a bit drastic, but she hopes it will work.
Maya returned to her place in the azotea after kissing her mother on the cheek and getting her laptop from her room. She Googled in Richard Lim of Lim Corporation and ended up with quite a bit of entries from society magazines and social media postings of some of his activities. Not by him but by others, some by employees who have apparently asked for a photo with him, and most of them women!
In fairness, mas lalo ka pang gumuwapo, Mr. Richard Lim! Maya muttered to herself as she clicked photo after photo of Richard Lim she found online. Her heart also skipped several beats as she stared at his photos. If she must be honest to herself, then she admits to the fact that there is a part of her that is looking forward to seeing him again after all these years.
But despite that, Maya was determined to make her parents see reason and let her be, and Richard Lim would have to a part of that plan. She sighed, closed her laptop and just stared out of the azotea without really seeing anything. When it got dark, she went back inside, ate dinner with her parents who reminded her again to be careful while in Manila. Before she went to bed, she packed her bags for her two months or more stay in Manila. She went to bed both excited and nervous about her trip, her adventure, on her own, at last!
While Maya was trying to quell down her excitement so she can sleep, Richard arrived back at the penthouse unit of the newest and the most exclusive address in Makati. It is what he had been calling home since he returned to the Philippines. He refused his mother’s offer of opening their house in a nearby exclusive village. It was too big and too traditional for him. He likes his penthouse place and the magnificent view of the city it offers, aside from its proximity to his office.
Richard ate a solitary dinner, left by his housekeeper who does not stay with him. He prefers it that way. After putting his empty plates in the dishwasher so that Manang Sol can clean it the following day, he poured himself a glass of Scotch and while sipping idly inspected his place.
Yes, Miss Maya Dela Rosa and I will fit here nicely! I don’t have to see her. She can have the room farthest from mine. If she does not like that, there are other rooms to choose from, as long as it is not the closest one to his room. He mused, determined to maintain his privacy even if he has to share his space with that girl….errr… with Maya.
Richard was about to hit the shower after downing the rest of his drink, when his phone rang. He looked and saw it was his mother again.
“Hello, Mama. Gising pa po kayo?” Richard said as soon as picked up the call.
“Oh, you know me son, I can’t sleep early and I know you also sleep late. How was work? Kauuwi mo lang ba? Kumain ka na ba?” Esmeralda Lim asked her son. She worries about him and what se perceived is his unhealthy lifestyle. She wished he will find someone who will take care of him, and love him of course as he deserves to be loved! Para rin magkaapo na siya, lalo na ngayong wala na ang Papa ni Richard.
“Work was okay, Mama. Tiring! As you know there are just a lot of things that needed to be done. I’m sure ganoon din si Papa dati di ba? And yes, I have eaten na and I got home an hour ago.” Richard said, walking towards his bedroom as he talked to his mother.
“Napatawag po kayo, Ma. May problema ba? But mabuti you called also kasi I need more details on Maya’s visit.”
“Wala naman, son. I called din because of Maya’s visit. Your Tita Tessie sends her thanks, by the way, also your Tito Arthur for letting Maya stay with you. Tessie said Maya will take the 11am flight from Silay on Wednesday. Sa Terminal 2 siya lalapag.” Esmeralda said, noticing that her son seemed to have resigned himself to Maya staying with him. He even stopped calling her ‘that girl’ and ‘her’! “Masusundo mo ba siya?”
“I can’t, Mama. I have an important meeting. Pero this is what I can do, I can send Joma to the airport and also Ate Liza, to pick her up. Ate Liza can also open the place for Maya. I will inform security that she will be staying with me so she can be issued a pass for the elevator as well. I will give you their contact numbers after this call, and you can give them, and mine too, to Maya.”
Richard was about to do that when he realized something. “Teka Ma, bakit hindi na lang si Maya ang tumawag sa akin and inform me of her arrival and arrange the details. Bakit kayo pa ni Tita Tessie. Ayaw ba niya akong kausapin directly? Di pa naman kaya na niyang gawin ang mga ito!”
“Oh, hindi naman sa ganoon, son.” Esmeralda said quickly, too quickly. Tessie mentioned to her that Maya had been pleading them to let her be on her own instead of staying with Ricky! “I just insisted to your Tita Tessie that I will be the one to talk to you and that I will take care of all the details. It is the least I can do. Besides, baka naman mahiya si Maya sa iyo. Di ba, you last saw each other around seven years ago, if I remember correctly.”
“Yes Mama, more than seven years ago na I think!” Then Richard added softly, “The summer before Seth was killed.”
“Oh you were correct, son. That was one very sad thing to have happened. Poor, jolly Seth, gone forever.” Esmeralda Lim said. “I thought the whole family will not be able to recover from his death. I don’t blame them at all for just packing their bags and leaving the country afterwards. I would have done the same, God forbid if you were taken from me like that, son. Hindi lang iyon, baka ikamatay ko rin! Kaya nga rin I worry about you all the time.”
“Don’t Mama. I’m okay and I’m careful. I will not end up like he did.” Richard assured his mother. Since his father died, his mom was more worried about him. Tawag ng tawag and he understand completely why.
“Be sure son, be sure please.” Esmeralda said. “O sige, I will just tell Maya all the details. I will send you her number after this call, okay.”
“Sure, Ma. Good night.”
“Good night son, sleep well.”
“Kayo rin po, Mama.”
Mother and son said good night. Richard went to shower after sending Joma and Liza’s contact details to her. He headed to bed several minutes after, quite tired really, but also feeling an excitement he can’t define at that moment. He checked his phone and saw the number his mother sent him.
Maya Dela Rosa! He saved her number into his phone book, curious on how she looks like now. He will know in two days time. Richard turned off the light, hoping that he would have a restful sleep as he needed all his wits at work the following day. He closed his eyes and laid flat on his back.
However, before sleep could claim him, a long forgotten image of a beautiful girl, wearing a simple blouse and a long skirt, sitting at the veranda of an old house in Negros crept into Richard’s consciousness. Then, memories just came rushing back.
Richard remembered that Maya was engrossed in the book she was reading at that time. It was his first glimpse of her. He was captivated, his heart beating fast. It was so unexpected to feel like that, and he was not prepared for it. Maybe it was the sole reason he acted the way he acted that long ago summer.
Richard suddenly was very much awake, his heart beating fast as memories of that summer a long time ago, something he had buried deep, rose to the surface.
Richard Lim massaged his forehead with his right hand as he gripped his mobile phone with his left. He had been on the phone with his mother for the past half and hour or so. He had been trying to reason out with her, to no avail. They were going nowhere. Coupled with all the work he needed to do, he felt like going to the nearest bar and having a drink, make that a couple of drinks! He was in the middle of some very important negotiations and some projects still in the pipeline and what his mother wanted him to do is not really going to help things. He had a feeling his mother’s ‘small favor’ would affect it. He needed to concentrate on those instead of ‘babysitting’! Him, babysit! Especially that brat of a girl! He definitely does not have time and the inclination for that, ever!
“Mama, again please, can that girl just stay in a hotel? They have the money for it. They can even probably buy a hotel for her! Or maybe with a friend or rent a townhouse, a condo, an apartment or stay in an Airbnb place! Meron na rin ng mga niyan dito. There are so many options available for her. Wala ba talaga siyang ibang matutuluyan dito? Wala ba siyang kaibigan sa Maynila or kamag-anak kahit isa? That is imposssible, Mama!” Richard told his mother in an already exasperated tone even if he really was trying to be patient. He loves his mother and she is all he has after his father died several years ago. He indulges her most of the time, but this time, she was asking too much.
“Ricky, hijo, her name is Maya. You have been calling her ‘her’ and ‘that girl’ all the time we have been talking. Besides, she is not a ‘girl’ anymore. She had matured like you, you know. Maya is more than 25 years old now, I think. Maybe, you still think of her as that awkward, mischievous and fun-loving girl who bested you, but she is not, anymore. It has been years, son, since you last saw each other.” Esmeralda Lim corrected her son patiently. She almost mentioned that Maya has grown into a beautiful woman. But then decided not to as she knows her son. He would think she is matchmaking again and it would be more difficult persuading him to let Maya stay with him.
Esmeralda Lim was confident that she can make her son see sense, so she tried again. Hindi pa siya natiis ng unico hijo nila ni Roberto.
“Just do this please for your Tita Tessie and Tito Arthur. You know naman na parang kapatid ko na iyang si Tita Tessie mo. Please, son.”
However, her son was not easily swayed this time. He gunned for more questions.
“Mama, she is 25? Can’t she live alone? She is more than old enough to be on her own. In fact, some women her age are already married and have a family. She had even lived in Europe for several years, for God’s sake!” Richard said, still managing to hold on to his sanity, trying to reason out with his mother one more time. He also wanted to argue with his mom about that girl besting him. She did not. She provoked him. That imp did! He retaliated. His mother only know of her retaliation, fortunately. Otherwise, grown up or not, she would have pinched his ears, so to speak.
Richard happened to look at the door while his mother launched into another set of arguments to drive across her point. He saw his executive assistant, Liza Adriano, standing by the door. Apparently, he was already needed in the board room. He thought he had half an hour more to regroup and just get off the emotions his mother’s phone call brought about.
“Ricky, darling, please, please, do this for your beloved Mama na. I just wanted to help my best friend. Besides, I already told them I will take care of Maya’s accommodation in Manila. That’s the only way they will let her stay in the city alone. I vouched for you.” Esmeralda Lim cajoled her son in a voice she knew was guaranteed to make him say yes to her bidding. “Maya does not know anyone in Manila, alam mo naman iyon di ba? Kababalik lang nila sa Pilipinas.”
Richard took a deep breath. His head really was starting to throb. They were really going nowhere and he can’t spare his mom more time as he really was needed in that meeting. He did what he had done countless of times for his beloved mother. He caved in to what she wanted. “Fine, Mama, she can stay with me! But tell her I don’t want her disrupting my life. No more antics like she did before!”
“Oh, thank you very much, son. I love you very much. Ikaw na talaga ang the best son in the world! Kaya nga paboritong-paborito kita eh!” Esmeralda Lim almost jumped with glee with her son’s answer. Yes, he said yes! “Of course, Maya is so much older now and not a teenager, so for sure, no more antics.”
“Mama, you always say that when you got your way.” Richard said, smiling. He can’t help himself. His mother never failed to do that to him, no matter how much she drives him off the wall at times. “Ako lang naman ang anak mo.”
“Well, totoo naman iyon ha. Walang halong bola. Sobrang bait nang anak, que guapo pa! Not to mention responsible. Bakit nga ba wala pa akong manugang?” Esmeralda Lim told her son. “O siya sige, go back to whatever you were doing. And Ricky, hijo, please take time to relax, take a vacation, loosen up a bit. Hindi na lang iyang puro trabaho. Masyadong solitary ang life mo.”
“Yes, Mama, I will.” Richard promised to placate his mother, ignoring her underhanded prying into his lovelife! “Ikaw din, you take care. Maayos po ba kayo diyan ni Manang Fe? Baka hindi ka na comfortable diyan, we can reopen our house here. At least I will be in the same city to look after you.”
“Son, don’t worry about me. Fe and I are perfectly happy here. Nandito ang mga amiga ko, mga kamag-anak. Baka nakakalimutan mo na dito ako lumaki. Saka lalo nang ayaw kong bumalik diyan now that your Tita Tessie is here and living next door!”
“Ikaw ang bahala, Mama. I do have to go na po, I have a meeting with our board. I love you, Mama.”
“I love you, hijo. Basta ang mga bilin ko, sundin mo ha. Hwag naman puro work na lang, Ricky.”
“Yes, Ma. Bye na for now!”
Ricky closed his phone and looked out of his floor-to-ceiling office window, resting a bit before he face his board. He can’t rest like his mom wanted him to do. Still so many things to be done for the family’s corporation. It has been his mom’s standard talk every time they will chat. He does not have the heart to tell her the mess his father made. The company was in a bad shape when he took over. For sure, his father never thought he would die young, before he can correct things. He sometimes wonder to how his father managed to do it as he was a very good businessman, known for his business acumen.
Richard didn’t know about it, he was completely clueless as he had stayed away from Lim Corporation for years. He packed his bags and went back to America where he had studied most of his adult life as he and his father had a falling out. His mother didn’t know about it as one thing his father and him agreed on was to left Esmeralda Lim out of it.
He had successfully made a life for himself in New York as an investment banker. He liked his life in there – the adrenalin rush, the fast-paced lifestyle, the parties, and the women. The beautiful women of the city seemed to have gravitated towards him a lot. He never lacked for dates and evenings to spend with a companion if he chose to, always casual, of course. But he had packed his bags again and returned to the country of his birth after he received a phone call from mother, telling him that his father had died in a car accident and that he needed to take over the company among others. Since then, he had been consumed in making LC the way it was. He had eschewed the pleasures he enjoyed in New York to focus on the company, except maybe for the occasional drinks and a date or two, nothing really serious. He really regretted not being able to patch things up with his father. Now, he is gone forever, Richard mused. What he can do now is to make the company where he wanted it to be. Richard felt that it was the only way to make up for what happened. He should have been there for his father.
“Richard…” Liza poked her head into Richard’s office again and called his attention.
“Yes, Ate Liza, is everyone in the boardroom now?” Richard asked as he straightened his tie and started getting his things.
“Yes ikaw na lang ang hinihintay nila.” Liza said simply. She noticed that her handsome boss was lost in thought. She suddenly remembered the first time he went to the office. He turned heads and the ladies sighed in admiration. It was the first time for most of them to meet the big boss’ son. She, she had known Richard since he was a teenager. She was his father’s EA too. When it was just the two of them, it is ‘Richard’ and ‘Ate Liza’, he had insisted on it.
“Okay, just give me a minute or two.” Richard knew that he is lucky to have Liza by his side. She had helped a lot and had been his sounding board when he assumed management of the company. She knew everyone and everything within the organization.
Liza Adriano left her boss in his office and went back to the board room to oversee things. Several minutes later, Richard Lim entered and presided over the meeting that lasted until late at night. He ended it confident, that he would be able to buy back the airline company that his father sold years ago. The board backed him up. He had also raised enough capital to do that. It also helped that the current company who owns it is willing to sell it back to LC for a price. But having resolved that, he still need to decide what to do with one of the corporation’s subsidiaries, one of his father’s babies, whether it is worth keeping or not. He will make a thorough review of that subsidiary after the airline negotiation.
Richard plopped down on his executive chair, drained by the long hours he spent at work today, coupled with his mother’s phone call. Speaking of his mother’s phone call! He forgot to ask her, and she had omitted to say how long that girl, err, Maya Dela Rosa will be staying with him. She also neglected to inform him, come to think of it, when she will be coming to Manila.
Stretching his tired back against the leather seat as he sipped the cup of coffee Ate Liza left him before she headed home, he thought of the Maya Dela Rosa he met years ago. He vividly remembered her the last time he saw her, her lovely face, defiant, unapologetic. He remembered her sabotaging his date with the girl who lived at the big house beside his mother’s family’s ancestral home in Negros among other things. His mother Esmeralda and Maya’s mother Teresita are best friends, having grew up together. He and Maya, on the other hand, fought like cats and dogs most of that summer that both families were vacationing there.
In hindsight, he should have not retaliated as he was around 10 years older than her. He should have acted more matured. But she really rubbed him the wrong way that summer. That was actually the one and only time he spent with Maya as after that, they have moved to Spain after the tragedy that befell Seth, Maya’s older brother and his best friend while studying in the States. He still miss his boyhood friend until now. He should have asked him to come back to America with him. He would have still be alive if he did.
Richard sighed again. He thought of calling back his mother but decided not too. He also thought, Maya is an adult and they can surely share that huge space he calls home. They don’t have to see each other. They just needed to share the space. For sure, she can fend for herself. With that thought, he closed his computer, turned off the lights and called his driver Joma. Time to call it a night. He needed to recharge his batteries and his home is the perfect place for that.
Several days later, Richard thought that if only he had known what he was really getting into, that his peaceful, solitary existence would have been a thing of the past, he would have probably have done things differently. He would have given his mother a resounding NO when she asked. He and his place was hit by what he dubbed as ‘Hurricane Maya’!
Note: Hello everyone! I hope you will like this story as well. I know I still have several unfinished ones but I realized I really haven’t written a new story for quite sometime. As you probably know by now, I go where my imagination takes me. This was where it took me last night. 🙂 Thank you again for all the comments, the likes, for reading, and for visiting my blog. Have a lovely Sunday everyone. ❤
The ringing of her mobile phone woke up Maya. She groped for her phone, feeling very sluggish, as she and Ricky parted late the night before. Due to the wonderful night they had, it took her a while before she fell asleep.
“Hello. Good morning, Maya here.” Maya managed to say, yawning, not really checking who was calling her. She felt very sleepy, her eyes refusing to open fully.
“Maya, anak? How are you? Did I wake you up? I’m so sorry if I did. I thought you will be up and about by now. Na-miscalculate ko yata ang time difference!” The woman on the phone said in rapid succession.
“Mom? Mom, it’s you!” Maya was suddenly very much awake.
Maya looked at the clock, and noticed that it was already past 8 o’clock in the morning. She really overslept! But she still have time before she is needed at the cafe and the gallery. She hasn’t been in touch with her parents since her return from Ilocos. She had been meaning to give them a call at some point, but so many things had happened since she returned to Manila!
“I missed you very, Mom. How’s Dad? Yes, you woke me up but it’s perfectly fine. Hindi ka nagkamali ng time. I had a late night lang with Ricky so late na ako nakatulog. Dapat nga kanina pa ako bumangon!” Maya said, not realizing that she had mentioned a guy’s name, something that really grabbed her mom’s attention.
“Ricky?…” Marina Ventura-Dela Rosa asked her daughter, curiously and with a voice tinged with hope. She had been wishing that her daughter would find a guy she would like a lot to have a relationship with. For some reason, her daughter has been very picky. She knew she dated but after a date or two, the guy is either history or would just become her friend. As if, her daughter was waiting, looking for a specific someone!
“Oh…” Maya realized that she had mentioned Ricky’s name! She also had been vacillating between telling her parents about Ricky over the phone or when they finally get home in a week or so. She thought of just playing it by ear when she gets to talk to them.
“Errr, Mom, sorry, but I’m planning to tell you naman about him. That’s Ricky, Ricardo Lim III, my boyfriend. Bago lang po kami, Mom.” Maya told her mother.
“Talaga, anak? Kailan pa? Wala nga ngang nabanggit noong huli tayong nagkausap, just before you went to Ilocos. Matagal mo na bang kilala iyang si Ricky?” Marina asked her daughter, wanting to know more about the guy who finally made her daughter take a risk and enter into a relationship.
“Just several days pa lang, Mom. But we met each other while I was in Ilocos. Kanila lang iyong vacation house beside ours.” Maya said, leaning against the headboard to be more comfortable as she tells her mother about Ricky. “Mom, he is the one for me. I love her very much kahit sandali pa lang kami nagkakilala and sobrang bago pa lang ng relationship namin. He was the one I have been waiting for.” Maya said with conviction and so much emotion. She also told her mother about hers and Ricky’s adventures in Ilocos and the fact that he followed her back in Manila.
Marina smiled at the way her daughter said the name of her boyfriend, the way she described her feelings for him and the way she told her of their adventures in Ilocos. Indeed, she sensed that her daughter is very much in love for the first time in her life! She is very happy for her. Magkakaapo na rin sila ni Antonio sa wakas!
“I’m happy for you, Maya.” Marina said. “I’m sure ganoon din ang Papa mo. Good news talaga. Akala nga namin tatandang dalaga na ang unica hija namin.”
“Ma, naman. Wala naman akong intensyon na making old maid by choice! Choosy lang. Di bale nang walling boyfriend kaysa naman napilitan lang. See, there is the right guy for me talaga and tama iyong sabi ni Lola Maya sa journal niya, remember I told you about it, malalaman mo agad ang guy for you when you meet him! Noong unang kita ko palang kay Ricky sa Ilocos, iba na talaga ang pakiramdam ko. Would you believe, napagkamalan ko pa talaga siyang multo.” Maya smiled at the memory. Hers and Ricky’s meeting is really for the books! It was something to tell their children. Whoa, Maya Dela Rosa, children agad, she told herself. But come to think of it, it would be great to have a little boy who looks like Ricky a lot and a girl who is a spitting image of her! She grinned goofily. Then her mother’s voice cut into her daydream.
“Talaga, anak, napagkamalan mo pa talagang multo ang boyfriend mo!” Marina laughed, shaking her head at her daughter’s story.
“Talagang-talaga, Mom! Lola’s journal that I asked you about, it was actually, originally, Ricky’s Lolo Ricardo’s journal. Kasi nga siguro, I was so concentrated on that and the pictures I found inserted into that. Mr. Ricardo Lim and Lola Maya had a beautiful but very sad love story.” Maya replied, feeling a bit sad, remembering again. “You should really read it, Mom, when you get back.”
“I think I really should. Bakit nga ba kasi nawala sa isip ko na balikan iyon at basahin!” Marina said, then suddenly, she remembered something when Maya mentioned the name of Ricky’s grandfather, something her mother had said on her deathbed. “Maya, anak, Ricardo ang pangalan ng Lolo ni Ricky? Tama ba ako?”
“Yes, Mom, the third si Ricky, kasi ang junior ang Dad niya si Mr. Richie Lim. Bakit Mom, may business ba kayo ni Dad sa family ni Ricky. You know them?” Maya asked, curious at her mom’s question.
“I know of them. Pero wala akong maalalang dealings namin ng Dad mo sa mga Lim. Baka sa isa nilang subsidiaries, pero I haven’t met anyone of them in person, I’m sure of that.” Marina said, then she continued. “I asked you kasi I remember something. Noong maysakit na si Mama, and I was the one watching over her, she kept saying a name. She kept saying the name ‘Ricardo’ when she was delirious. Hindi ko naman malaman kung bait she kept mumbling that name. I didn’t tell Papa or asked him about it. I thought then, just to let it be. Although, I was very curious kung sino ang tinatawag niya! Iniisip ko kasi na baka masaktan pa si Papa kapag nalaman na may ibang name na tinatawag si Mama. Saka, I was not sure nga kung sino si Ricardo dahil wala naman akong alam na naging boyfriend niya or kaibigan with that name.”
“Oh, I think Lolo Jaime knew, Mom, that he was not the love of Lola’s life. I think so. I think he had read the journal. Lola continued the entries after Ricky’s grandfather died. The times you probably saw her holding that journal, I think kamamatay lang ni Mr. Ricardo Lim noon. Manang Fe also mentioned that Lola got a visit from Ricky’s grandmother one afternoon. It was her who gave the journal to Lola.”
“Nasa school siguro ako noon. Maya, I never had any idea that Mama had loved another. Okay naman sila ni Papa sa pagkaalala ko. Not outwardly very affectionate towards each other but they got along well naman, and we were happy as a family. I thought na ganoon lang talaga sila! Though, may times nga na parang melancholy si Mama.”
“Mom, Lola wrote about it in the journal. Mom, I really felt the love for Ricky’s grandfather coming out of the pages of that journal. Parang feeling ko nga ako si Lola. Ramdam ko lahat ng saya, lungkot and love na nasa pages ng journal.” Maya said passionately. “Kaya nga noong nakita ko si Ricky, akala ko talaga siya si Ricardo Lim. Magkamukhang-kamukha kasi sila Mom! There was a photo of them among others in between the pages of the journal.”
Hearing that, something clicked in Marina’s brain, and before she can stop herself, she started, “Maya hindi kaya…. but that’s impossible…ah never mind, anak!”
“I know what you almost said Mom. Hindi kaya reincarnation kami nina Lola Maya at Lolo Ricardo!” Maya put into words what her mother was hesitant to say.
“Yes, but as you know I don’t really believe in those. Pero both of you were born after they were both dead and sabi mo, kamukhang-kamukha ni Ricky iyong lolo niya. Ikaw naman, spitting image ng lola mo. Kapangalan niyo pa pareho! Tapos pinagtagpo pa kayo sa lugar kung saan sila nagkakilala at na-in love.” Marina said. “Hard to believe, pero parang you sought each other in this line time para madugtungan ang love story nila na hindi nagkaroon ng realization before.”
“Looking at it that way, Mom, hindi farfetched di ba? Especially as sometimes, Ricky also felt some things na parang na-experience na niya, a deja vu! If it is like that, then I am so very happy, Mom that Ricky and I found each other again and that our love story is progressing quite smoothly. He is the love of my life and like what I have said, the one I have been waiting for. But I do believe rin that Ricky and I are our very own person. Whatever it is, masaya ako na siya that we met and fell in love. In such a short time, we have so much and parang sobrang kilala na namin ang isa’t-isa.”
“Me too, Maya anak. Kahit ano pa ang dahilan, reincarnation o hindi. Masayang-masaya ako para sa iyo and also para kay Ricky. I’m sure wherever your Lola is and also Ricky’s grandfather, masaya rin sila for the two of you. I love you anak and hangad lang naman ng Dad mo ang happiness mo.”
“Thank you, Mom. I love you, and Dad too, very, very much.” Maya said, missing her parents very much. “I’ll introduce Ricky to you as soon as you get back. This evening nga pala, we will have dinner with his parents. Then on Sunday naman, we will visit his grandmother, the one who gave Lola Maya the journal. Pupunta kami sa Batangas to see her.”
“Really, ipapakilala ka na niya sa parents niya, and also to his grandmother?” Marina was happy to know. To her, it means that Ricky Lim is really serious about her daughter and it completely erased whatever lingering fear she had at the back of her mind due to the speed they have entered into a relationship. Yes, she trusts her daughter’s judgment, and the feelings she has for this guy, but she is a mom and worries about her child, no matter what.
“Yes, Mom! I actually met his Dad the other evening. Then Ricky said when his mother found out that his Dad met me na, she had really insisted on meeting me and having dinner at their home.” Maya said, then admitted, “I’m kinda nervous at meeting his mother. This would be the first time I will be seeing her. Besides, this would be my first dinner ever at a boyfriend’s house. Iyong sa lola ni Ricky, for some reason, hindi ako kinakabahan soon. In fact I’m looking forward to meeting her.”
“I’m sure it would be great, Maya. Huwag kang nerbiyusin. I’m sure pasadong-pasado ka sa magiging biyenan mo.” Marina assured her daughter. “Ricky’s lola seemed to be a nice lady. She even went out of her way to see Mama and gave her that journal. Not many wives will do that. In fact, baka nga the opposite pa!”
“Mom, mother-in-law to be talaga! Ricky and I just started.” Maya said, laughing. “And yes, I agree with you, tungkol kay Mrs. Sandra Lim. She is also Ricky and me’s last link to Lolo Ricardo and Lola Maya kaya I really want to meet her in person!”
“Hay naku, Maya anak, base pa lang sa kwento mo, that love is for keeps and I’m sure serious iyang si Ricky sa iyo kasi imagine, this early, ipakikilala ka na niya sa parents niya, and also his grandmother who knew about the past. Sabi mo naman siya ang the one mo! Saka don’t worry, basta handa kang ipaglaban ni Ricky sa kahit sino, then wala kang dapat ipangamba, anak.” Marina assured her daughter.
“Tama ka doon, Mom. I know that Ricky loves me very much, and that he would fight for me always. Napatunayan na niya sa akin iyan. I’m so lucky to have him, Mom. I’m sure you and Dad will like him too. By the way, nasaan pala si Dad? Can I talk to him after you?” Maya asked.
“He is out with one of his college friends, nanonood ng basketball sa Madison Square Garden. Iyong paborito niyang team ang naglalaro. But I will tell him that we talked and about your good news. Anyway, before I forgot the reason I called up, eh, we will be home this coming Tuesday. Natapos na namin ang lahat ng kailangan naming asikasuhin dito and medyo tinatamad na rin kaming mag-ikot, so uuwi na lang kami.” Marina told her daughter. “I’m looking forward to seeing you, meeting your wonderful young man, and being home again!”
“Talaga, Mom! I’m so happy to know. I will tell Ricky too.”
“See you in a couple of days.”
“See you, Mom. And by the way, do you want me to pick you up from the airport?”
“Thank you, anak pero magpapasundo na lang kami kay Manong Dindo. Di ba mag-isa ka pala ngayon sa cafe. Manang Fe mentioned na na-dengue si Emman when I called up when you were in Ilocos. Kumusta na pala siya?”
“He is doing well, Mom. I think makakalabas na rin siya ng hospital in several days.”
“That’ s good to know. O, paano, Maya, anak, I will see you in several days okay. Stay ka muna sa bahay ng several days, please para naman makapag-bonding tayo ng husto. Pakisabi pala kay Manang Fe, I said hello.”
“Sige, Mom, I will stay with you. I will tell Manang Fe that you called. Take care and looking forward to seeing you and Dad. I love you, both, very much.”
“We love you very much too, anak.”
Mother and daughter ended the call.
Maya sighed, thinking it would really be good to see her parents again. She is very close to them, being an only child and not having much of cousins as her mother is an only child and her father’s two brothers have settled in different parts of the world. Her five cousins with them most of whom she seldom sees are also much older than her.
Maya was about to get up and take a bath when her phone beeped. She has an idea on who it is. She smiled when she saw the message.
Good morning my lovely girlfriend, the love of my life! Dinner with my parents later ha! Sorry, sweetheart, ang kulit ko ‘no. I’m just excited for you to meet them, and also my Lola Sandra this Sunday.
Yes po, Mr. Lim, my handsome, and also the sweetest, boyfriend in the universe! I’m looking forward to meeting your mother, chatting with your Dad again, and especially meeting your Lola Sandra.
Great, sweetheart. I’ll pick you up from your place, as we agreed on, sweetheart, at 6 o’clock. How about lunch later? I think I can manage it today as well!
I would love that. But are you sure sweetheart, di ba, you told me last night that you have a lot of meetings scheduled today?
I can manage, sweetheart, really. My lunch one got cancelled, yes! 🙂 I was really happy it got canceled as I really wanted to have my lunch with my pretty girlfriend.
Okay, okay, my handsome boyfriend. I can have something prepared for us at the cafe’s garden so that you can go back to your office fast. Di ba you told me that you have another one at 2PM?
That’s great, sweetheart! I love that place and it will always be special to me. That was where you made me the happiest guy in the world. I love you very much. See you in four hours!
I love that place the more also sweetheart, because of our already beautiful memories there. I love you too, Ricky. See you, sweetheart!
Maya put the phone down with a huge grin on her face. She was very happy and her heart, so full. Everything was just so wonderful. She hoped it will continue to do so, especially now that she will be meeting Ricky’s family and the situation with Lorraine seemed to have been resolved!
Ricky told her about what his father did the day before, without his knowledge, when he picked her up at the cafe late afternoon. They had a romantic dinner at a wine restaurant, somewhere in the neighbouring city, that offers not only a wide selection of wines, but very good food, and then spent the rest of the evening, just chatting, relaxing and cuddling up at the veranda of her house. They didn’t notice the time and only realized how late it was when a car backfired in the quiet of the night. They reluctantly parted for the night, and that was after the several intense kisses they shared.
Maya smiled and flushed anew as she remembered sitting on Ricky’s lap, lips tingling and feeling so thoroughly kissed, and more, realizing the effect of those too on Ricky’s body. They had looked at each other ruefully, grinning. He teased her about forcing himself to move, even if he didn’t really want to, as Manang Fe might run after him with a broom. After one more kissed, they parted for the night.
Maya got out of bed, still smiling. She got some clothes, and while singing the lines of a beautiful love song, she went to bath to start her beautiful and momentous day, very much looking forward to her lunch with Ricky and dinner with his family.
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.