Posts Tagged On the Street Where You Live

On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 17

Chapter 17

More wine, sweetheart?” Richard asked Maya, seeing that her glass was near-empty. They were sitting in a two-person garden swing at the back veranda of the Lim family home, an hour after they have put Abby to sleep and half an hour after they have finished their wonderful dinner – Manang Fe’s very delicious binagoongan, and Sabel’s pinakbet with bagnet. They were simply stuffed with the rich dinner they had.

Richard asked Maya if she was already sleepy, and she told him she was not yet. Grinning she even told him, “Remember I was the queen of puyatan while I was in law school.” So they ended up at the back veranda, with the white wine they started drinking during dinner, toasting Richard and Abby’s return to Mirasol Street. They had a glass each during dinner and the ones they brought to the veranda was their second.

“No more na, sweetheart, just this one! Baka hindi na ako magising ng maaga bukas. Madi-disappoint ang mga bata.” Maya said, smiling. “I will just finish this one, then I will go home.”

“I wish you are not going home, that you don’t have to go home at all!” Richard said all of a sudden, half-teasingly.

“Ricky,” Maya protested, flushing a bit with the thought! Well, liking it too, she must admit! “I do have a house.”

“Just saying…” Richard said, gazing at Maya lovingly, then grinning, he teased, “But since uuwi ka, I can wake you up tomorrow morning, I can drop by bright and early and wake you up with kisses. I’m sure by my 100th kiss you will be very much awake.”

“Hahahaha, sure ka ba, sweetheart, baka lalo akong hindi magising.” Maya bantered back, riding along Richard’s playful mood.

“I’m sure, sweetheart. Eh si Princess Aurora nga isang kiss lang ni Prince Philip, nagising na kaagad. Iyon pa kayang 100 special kisses ng prince charming mo, sweetheart.” Richard grinned at his joke. It must be the wine or just the sheer happiness at the moment!

“Hahahaha, corny mo talaga, sweetheart! Pataas ng pataas ang corny meter mo.” Maya said laughing. “Pero, kahit ikaw pa ang pinaka-corny na boyfriend, super love pa rin kita. Saka in fairness, sweetheart, you know your Disney princesses ha.”

“That comes with the territory kapag may little girl ka, hahahaha. Pati nga si Dora the Explorer, and her cousin Diego, also Phineas and Ferb, and of course, SpongeBob and Patrick!” Richard said, smiling. Being a parent, he had taken a crash course in the current children’s cartoons so he can watch them with Abby, and understand what they are watching! “Pero siyempre, number one ang Disney Princesses kay Abby!”

“So true. I also did that with Lance. Since I take care of him from time to time, I have to know what kids like to watch these days and to see if they are suitable for his age.” Maya then faced Richard, then cupped his face, lovingly. “You know what, sa lahat ng sinabi mo earlier, may isa roon na hindi corny, pero baka this will sound cheesy naman, hahahaha.”

“Hmmmm, ano? Let me be the judge if it is cheesy or not.” Richard smiled at Maya indulgently.

“Iyong prince charming part. You are my prince charming, Mr. Richard Lim, you know, and just like what happened to Sleeping Beauty, you came back into my life, and woke me up.” Maya said, blushing a bit. “Sabi ko sa iyo, medyo cheesy eh. Basta, since we are talking about fairy tales, why not!”

“Maya, sweetheart, what a beautiful thing to say! Not cheesy at all, slight lang hahaha.” Richard put his glass down, cupped Maya’s face too, then caressed it a bit with his thumb. “I love very much, Attorney Maya Dela Rosa!” Then he added teasingly, “Kahit ikaw pa ang pinaka-cheesy na girlfriend sa buong mundo.”

“I love you very much too, Mr. Richard Lim.” Maya looked at Richard with all the love she is feeling, so very happy at that moment.

Richard lowered his lips to Maya and they shared a kiss. They broke apart after a while, and grinned at each other, very happy to be with each other in such a romantic setting. The Lim household had settled in for the night. The weather was cool, a breeze was blowing and it was very quiet in where they were. They opted not to switch on the lights as the moonlight was enough to illuminate the place, giving it a warm, romantic glow.

“I really like your place, Ricky, it’s so peaceful, especially this veranda! This moment is just perfect. Lahat naman ng moments ko with you, but this is especially so. I just feel very, very content at the moment.” Maya looked around the veranda and all the beautiful flowers that encloses it. Being there, she felt that she and Richard are in into a world of their own.

With that statement, suddenly Richard saw an opportunity to test the water and to let Maya get use to the idea. “Can you see yourself living here, sweetheart? With me and Abby?” He asked all of a sudden.

Maya was startled at Richard’s question. Yes, she had told Doris that she is ready where her relationship with Richard will take her, but hearing this question, she was still surprised. “Ha, why are you asking that, all of a sudden?” She prevaricated as she would like to gather her thoughts first. Saying it to Doris with conviction was way so different from hearing the actual thing, the near actual thing, all of a sudden!

“Because my beautiful and loving sweetheart, me, I can see you living here, with my daughter, our daughter, and the children we will have when the time comes.” Richard got hold of Maya’s now cold hands, and interlaced it with his, then said softly, looking deep into her eyes. “I want a future with you, Maya when the time comes!” Then he kissed her hand gently. “Get use to the idea, sweetheart.”

Maya touched Richard’s beloved face, gently, lovingly, then said softly, “I want a future with you, sweetheart, when the time comes. There is nothing I would rather be, than be where you and Abby are.”

Richard grinned broadly. “Thank you, my sweetheart. You and Abby are my life now.” He put his arm on Maya’s shoulder, then reeled him towards him. Maya leaned against his broad chest, and the two of them enjoyed the night, sharing thoughts, hopes and dreams, talking about the past and their experiences, catching up some more on the time that they were not only apart, but it different countries, at the same time, when they can’t help it, they exchanged sweet kisses.

“You know, parang ang tagal na pero nung Tuesday lang pala nang gabi, when we went here the first time.” Richard said after several minutes of companionable silence. “When I came back to this house after I took you home, I sat in my old room, then nagmuni-muni. It was then that I realized that I feel the same for you. That my love for you is unchanged. It had just laid dormant the past decade. That evening, I vowed that I will court you earnestly and with all of me, until you say yes. I don’t want to waste my second chance with you.”

“Talaga, sweetheart.” Maya was smiling as she listened to Richard narrating this. “So, kahit sinagot na kita, ligawan mo pa rin ako ha.” She teased.

“Of course, sweetheart, never-ending naman iyan eh. As long as we live.” Richard promised, and they have sealed that promise with another kiss.

Richard took Maya home a little past midnight. They didn’t notice the passing of time as they chatted on. Maya asked Richard if he would like to go in when they reached her door. Richard declined, teasing Maya that maybe he wouldn’t want to go home, if he comes in. Maya gave him a big, sleepy smile. They exchanged a good night kiss before retiring to their own beds for the night, for now, as Richard had said. Maya felt into a very nice, dreamless sleep and Richard was the same, considering that he has not sleep in the old house since the night they hastily left for China.

Richard was woken up by the ringing of his mobile phone the following morning.  At first, he wanted to ignore it as when he checked the time, it was just 6 o’clock! However, it may be important so he got out of the bed and retrieved his phone from where he dropped it.

“Ma, good morning!” Richard greeted his mother, trying to shake off remnants of sleep from his system. “Napatawag ka po.”

“Good morning, son! Did I wake you up? I thought I had calculated the time correctly! Anong oras na ba diyan?” Donya Esmeralda Lim asked her son, noticing that he sounded sleepy on the phone.

“Ma, di ba pareho lang po tayo ng timezone!” Richard said, puzzled.

“Son, you forgot. Di ba I told you two weeks ago that your Papa and I are flying to San Francisco to visit some of his cousins.” Donya Esmeralda reminded her son. “Sobrang subsob ka naman yata diyan sa work mo, you forgot na!”

“Oh, yes, I remember! Kumusta naman po sina Tito Carlos and Tita Bella?” Richard asked, remembering that particular conversation with his mother. As usual, that time, Donya Esmeralda nagged her only son about getting married again and having someone to take care of him, someone who will love him and Abby. She also made mentioned of Maya out of the blue, telling him to check on her so he can move on. He was surprised at his mother’s statement and asked her why she thought of that out of the blue. She said, why not, mukha naman daw si Maya pa rin ang mahal niya. Since nasa Pilipinas na siya, maybe he can check and malay niya, single pa rin si Maya and available.

“Okay naman sila. Heto, relax-relax lang muna kami sa bahay nila, we are about to have snacks.” Donya Esmeralda asked. I called since I want to know how’s the move? Hindi pa kanina kayo lumipat ni Abby diyan sa bahay sa Mirasol.”

“Kahapon, Ma, Sunday morning na po rito.” Richard corrected his mother.

“Oo nga pala! Bakit ba laki kong nakakalimutan! May jet lag pa yata talaga ako. I haven’t been sleeping well since we got here. But don’t worry, son, it will pass.” Donya Esmeralda said. “O, back to the move? Okay lang ba kayo diyan nina Abby, Fe, and Sabel, and your new driver?”

“Okay na okay lang kami rito, Ma. Abby slept through the night. Otherwise, tumakbo na iyon dito sa room ko.” Richard replied. “Sina Manang and Sabel naman, of course, tuwang-tuwa na nakabalik na kami rito. You know them, ayaw ng mga iyon sa service apartment, lalo na si Manang Fe, para raw siyang nakakakulong. Manang Fe even cooked her specialty binagoongan for Maya and I last night. Tapos si Sabel naman….”

“Maya??? Wait, is she?….” Donya Esmeralda cut whatever Richard was saying next upon hearing the name.

Richard realized that hearing Maya’s name would certainly piqued his mother’s attention. He had been meaning to ease Maya and them being in a relationship now into the conversation at a certain point, but he had unconsciously mentioned her already, preempting himself! “Yes, Mama, the one and the same. She is now my girlfriend. And tama ka nagdilang-anghel ka, I found her again and she is still single. Instead na closure and moving on, we are continuing what we had started 10 yerars ago.”

“Really, son! Saan at paano kayo nagkita ulit ni Maya? Kailan mo siya naging girlfriend? Kasi di ba magkausap pa lang tayo the other week. Pero, son, hindi naman ako magtataka na kayo na, lalo pa at nalaman mo na single pa siya. I have a feeling naman kahit noon pa na siya ang one true love mo. Mabait si Alexandra and all, pero hindi ko nakita sa kanya ang spark and the chemistry na nakita ko noon nang magkasama kayo ni Maya.” Donya Esmeralda said lengthily, while Don Roberto was signalling to her, and asking what was it all about, seeing her with a big smile on her face. Donya Esmeralda signalled to her husband that she will tell him about it later.

“Really, Ma, bakit ngayon mo lang sinasabi sa akin ito?” Richard was surprised by his mother’s revelation. “I never thought you had an idea on how I felt about Maya ten years ago! The other week, out of the blue you started mentioning her.”

“I did son, I do, pero ayaw ko namang makialam sa love life mo before. Then when we were in China, I didn’t talk about it anymore since you already had a new life there by the time I got okay. I felt sad that the first time we were there, hindi man lang kita ma-comfort.” Donya Esmeralda said. “But all these years son, after Alexandra died, I wished and I have prayed constantly na makahanap ka ng happiness and find your true love again.”

“Thank you, Ma. Okay naman po ako. Ang importante naging okay ka after that terrible ordeal. And in the end I still I found Maya and the love that you were wishing for me. I’m so blessed and lucky. I’m so very, very happy with her in my life again for good!” Richard told his mother. “Not all people gets this lucky Ma! I never thought that I would find her again, even if I had plans on searching for her as soon as I get Abby settled here, especially in our house in Mirasol. Ma, not only did I find her, so unexpectedly, we finally have a chance in continuing the relationship we started ten years ago.”

Richard then told his mother how he and Maya met again, and then how he realized how much he still loves her, how he courted her again and how Maya agreed to be his girlfriend the other night.

“Would you believe it Ma, after all these years, walang naging ibang boyfriend si Maya! She told me wala raw kasing ibang nakapagpatibok ng puso niya maliban sa akin!” Richard said. “I have been thanking God Ma, and fate na pinagtagpo pa rin kami ni Maya! Gaano karaming tao ang nagkakaroon ng ganitong chance di ba?”

“I’m happy for you, and Maya, son. I’m sure naman in Maya’s heart, wala ang mga naging karibal mo. Sure ako na marami, sa ganda at talino pa naman na iyon ni Maya. Ricky, you are indeed very, very lucky son. Imagine mo, meeting her all of a sudden like that, and she is still single! Ganyan talaga ang true love. Minsan, there is really one person for us. That no matter what you do or wherever you go, sometimes di mo malimutan iyong taong iyon. Natutuwa rin ako to know that Maya has achieved her dream, and the same time felt sad on the passing of her sister. Pareho pala kayong may pinagdaaan na matindi that year.” Donya Esmeralda said, happy for her son, at the same, she remembered that hellish time in their family’s life. But the good thing is they are all okay, and her son is on his way to his forever with the woman he loves. “And how is my apo Abby taking all of these?”

“Surprisingly well, Ma. I think it was instant love between Maya and Abby. Maya is used to taking care of a special needs child too, kasi iyong inaanak nga niya na classmate ni Abby, ganoon din ang condition.” Richard told his mother about Abby’s question to Maya the day before, when they finally met.

“Hahahaha, ang bright and bibo naman talaga ng apo ko. Akalain mo iyon!” Donya Esmeralda laughed. “So kailan nga ba magiging bagong mommy ni Abby si Maya, son? Sabihin mo lang kung kailan at ng makauwi kami lahat diyan sa Pilipinas. It is about time na rin naman na bumalik kami diyan after ten years.”

“Really, Mama? Is Papa okay with it already? What do you think his reaction would be if he finds out that Maya is my girlfriend, not that it matters much? I respect Papa of course, and I would like him to like Maya and be happy for us, but if not, then so be it. I love Maya and this time I will stand by her no matter what.” Richard vowed.

“Yes, napag-usapan na namin ng Papa mo ang pag-uwi at some point. We are thinking of Christmas. Gusto ko na rin na bumalik diyan. Matagal na naman iyong nangyari. Iba na ang panahon ngayon.” Donya Esmeralda said. “As for you having Maya as a girlfriend,  I think okay na okay naman ang Papa mo roon. Yes, I must admit, he was against you having a relationship with her ten years ago. But it is nothing personal to Maya. Ayaw ka lang niya talagang magka-girlfriend at that time. Ewan ko ba sa Papa mo, sabi ko naman noon na pabayaan ka na lang sa love life mo! Nakikita niya kasi na iba ang feelings mo for Maya. I’m sure kung ibang girl iyon and he sees that you love that person a lot, ganoon din ang reaction niya. Anyway, I will tell him about you and Maya pagkatapos nating mag-usap. Nagtatanong na nga kung ano ang pinag-uusapan natin.”

“Good to know, Ma. I hope everything is okay with Papa also. I just want to share our happiness with him as well. Let me know lang po kung mapapaaga ang pag-uwi niyo.” Richard said.

“Well, it depends on you, son. When are you planning to propose to her and when are you planning to get married? For sure, we will be there.” Donya Esmeralda asked.

“I’m planning to propose pa lang Ma. Sana pag-uwi namin sa Mindoro. I want to meet her mother first.” Richard smiled, thinking that ten years ago, he was also planning to go to Mindoro to court Maya. “Baka po in the next couple of weeks. The soonest I can arrange the trip the better.”

“Good luck, son, and the earlier the better, para naman madagdagan na ang apo ko!” Donya Esmeralda said.”Ito kasing si Grace, ayaw pang mag-asawa. I’m really happy for you son. O siya sige, please hug and kiss my apo for me.”

“Nasaan po pala si Papa, Ma? Baka pwede rin ako mag-hello.” Richard asked as an afterthought.

“Naku, lumabas kasama ng uncle mo. Baka tiningnan iyong gini-grill.” Donya Esmeralda replied. “Di bale, I will just tell him you said hello. Ako na bahala sa Papa mo. Please send my regards to Maya also. I hope to meet her again really soon. Call your sister din ha. I’m sure she will be happy for you rin. Balitaan mo ako kung kailan ang wedding!”

“Ma, well, pray that she will say yes sa proposal ko. And yes, Ma, I will call Grace this evening. In a while kasi pa-Tagaytay kami nina Maya, Abby and Maya’s inaanak. Ipapasyal namin doon sa amusement park doon. I love you Ma, Enjoy your vacation.”

“That’s very nice. I’m sure Abby will like that. Thanks son, we will. I love you too. Bye.”

Richard looked at the clock after he and his mother ended the phone call. It was almost 7 o’clock in the morning! They are planning to leave at 8 o’clock. He still have time. He grinned and typed a message for Maya.

Good morning, sweetheart. Rise and shine! 🙂

It took Maya several minutes before she replied.

OMG sweetheart, good thing you texted, I overslept! Tanghali na pala! Good morning!

Richard smiled at that.

Sabi ko naman sa iyo, I should have come over and woke you up with 100 kisses! 😉

Maya replied teasingly.

Hmmmm, maybe I should go back to sleep! 😉

Richard laughed.

Maybe you should. I can be there to wake you up in several minutes.

Several seconds later.

Naku Mr. Richard Lim, baka hindi na tayo makapuntang Tagaytay niyan. I’ll see you in 30 minutes. I love you!

Richard pretended to be disappointed.

😦 😦 Oh well, better luck next time, Richard Lim. 🙂 I love you too sweetheart! See you. 

Maya replied with smileys.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Both of them grinned after they have put their phones down, looking forward to spending the whole day with each other and the kids. Both of them were thinking that it would be like this always when they are married!

 

Note: My apologies for not updating the past days!  

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On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 16

Chapter 16

“Daddy, Daddy, you are back!” Abby shouted as she ran towards Richard when she saw him entering the living room of the Lim family home with Maya. She hugged her father’s pant leg tight. Then she looked at Maya shyly, and gave her a sweet, angelic smile that made Maya fell in love with her instantly. She is just the sweetest girl.

“Hello, sweetie!” Richard let go of Maya’s hand, gave the bag he was holding to Sabel, and lifted Abby into his arms, then kissed her. “See, I have Tita Maya with me na. Why don’t you say hello to her properly, sweetie.” He said with a big smile, then he looked at Maya lovingly. “Maya, sweetheart, this is my little princess, Abby, the sweetest and the most kulit girl in the world.” He said then affectionately pinched Abby’s nose.

“Daddy, put me down first, please.” Abby requested her. Richard did. She then went to where Maya was. “Hello Tita Maya.” Then she raised her arms to Maya, in a gesture that indicated that she wants to be hugged.

Maya crouched down to Abby’s level, then hugged the little girl tight, gave her a kiss on the forehead and established eye contact. “Hello Abby, I’m please to meet you. I have been looking forward to meeting you again. Hindi kasi kita masyadong nakausap sa school eh.”

“Me too, Tita Maya! I have been waiting the longest time for you and Daddy. Tita Maya, Daddy said you are his girlfriend now. Are you going to be my new mommy?” The little girl asked directly. “I would like you to be! That would be the best thing ever!” Abby added artlessly, not knowing that she had put the adults on the spot.

“Oh, your daddy told you about me being his girlfriend.” Maya remarked, gathering her thoughts and thinking on how best to answer the little girl. “Yes baby, I am and he is my boyfriend now, but errr….” She looked at a smiling Richard. She was flushing. She can also see from her peripheral vision that Richard’s staff were observing them, with smiles on their faces, especially Manang Fe, whom she can see very clearly, was all ears and eyes!

“Baby, Tita Maya and I are going to talk about that pa. For now, she is my girlfriend.” Richard told Abby, saving Maya. He never thought that his daughter will ask that! For, he guessed, in Abby’s mind, that is the natural progression of things, kaya pala she was asking all sorts of questions earlier when he told her! “For now, why don’t we look at Tita Maya’s treat for you. I’m sure you will like it.”

“You have a treat for me, Tita Maya?” Abby asked, forgetting her question already, getting distracted and looking with anticipation on what Maya’s treat could be.

“Yes, I have, baby. Your daddy said your favorite food is spaghetti, so I cooked my super special spaghetti for you!” Maya said, smiling at the cute little girl.

“Yehey, thank you Tita Maya!” Then Abby did something Maya was not expecting, she hugged her tight and gave her several kisses, then said, “ I love you already, Tita Maya! Really, really!”

Maya was touched at Abby’s gesture. She got teary-eyed.”And I love you too, baby, really, really, really.” Maya hugged her tight also and showered her with kisses and tickled her, which has the little girl in stitches, giggling a lot. Apparently, she likes being tickled.

“Can we eat it now, Tita Maya. Daddy can we have spaghetti na. I’m hungry na Daddy. I was super hungry na waiting for you. What took you so long?” Abby said after a while, complaining a bit, looking at them innocently.

Richard grinned, then looked meaningfully at Maya. Maya blushed. She elbowed Richard, who continued grinning. She mouthed the word ‘later’ to him, playfully threatening him with retribution.

“Come Abby, naihanda ko na ang masarap na masarap na spaghetti mo.” Sabel said from the doorway leading to the dining room. “Hello po Ma’am Maya. Good afternoon po.”  Sabel greeted Maya with deference. Hindi niya ipinahalatang kinikilig siya. Ang ganda naman pala talaga nitong girlriend ni Sir, she mused. Beauty and brains! In love na in love ang amo ko, in fairness, ang lagkit ng tinginan nila. Ay!

“Hello, Sabel.” Maya said with a friendly smile. She didn’t get to meet Sabel when she was in Ricky’s house ten years ago, but she had seen her once on the street. Before she can say something more, Abby tugged at her hand. ‘Yes, baby, ano iyon.”

“Tita Maya, can you go with me to the dining room.” She asked Maya sweetly. “Ikaw po ang gusto kong katabi.”

“Of course, sweetie.” Maya said, touching Abby’s chin affectionately, then whispered to her, “Pero bago tayo kumain, samahan mo muna ako kay Manang Fe. Ibibigay natin itong flowers. Hindi pa kasi ako nakakapag-hello sa kanya.”

“Okay po, Tita Maya.” Then she put her hand with Maya’s then half-ran towards Manang Fe, followed by her father who was just smiling, bemused at the way her little girl is monopolizing Maya’s attention since they arrived. He had not even gotten around to formally introducing Maya to Manang Fe as his girlfriend!

“Manang Fe, Tita Maya has something for you.”  She said before Maya could say anything.

“Good afternoon po, Manang Fe! Mano po!” Then she took the old lady’s hand and put it on her forehead. “Kumusta na po kayo? Para po pala sa inyo.” Maya gave the smiling old lady the roses she had bought for her earlier. “Welcome back po to Mirasol Street.”

“Naku, maraming salamat dito, hija.” Manang Fe said smiling. “Natutuwa nga ako at nakabalik na kami rito. Pero, hija higit akong natutuwa na malamang nobya ka na ni Ricardo. Mahal na mahal ka ng alaga kong iyan, Maya, kahit noon pa man. Masayang-masaya ako para sa inyong dalawa.” Then to add to the surprises and revelation that Maya has been experiencing so far upon entering the Lim mansion, Manang Fe embraced Maya tight. She was also teary-eyed. She then went to Richard and embraced him too. Richard and Maya shared a loving smile, touched at the old lady’s gesture.

Richard had told Manang Fe that morning that Maya is now his girlfriend. The old lady was ecstatic. She told him that she is very happy that he have found love at last, and to a wonderful woman who she is sure will love not only him, but Abby as well. She has not seen proof of this, but she knew the kind of person Maya was 10 years ago and Manang Fe believes that it has not changed. She told Richard na ngayon lang niya nakita na ganito siya kasaya.

It was from Manang Fe that Sabel learned that Maya is now Richard’s girlfriend, after she told her that they will have her as a visitor that afternoon, her Ricardo’s girlfriend. Sabel was also happy for her employer and for Abby na mukhang magkaka-mommy na ulit. Hindi niya na-meet dati si Ma’am Maya pero nakita niya ito sa sala ng mga Lim, kasama ni Sir Richard niya. Nakita rin niya ang dalawa na magkausap at magkasabay na naglalakad galing sa school. Isang beses na rin niyang nakasalubong at nakangitian si Ma’am Maya niya pagkatapos itong ipakilala ni Sir Richard sa mga magulang niya. Tandang-tanda niya kasi nga wala namang ibang isinama noon ang sir niya sa bahay.

Richard told Abby about her Tita Maya as his girlfriend while they were having a father and daughter time that morning while Manang Fe, Sabel and Joma were busy loading everything in the van and doing some last-minute checking on the place they will vacate. Abby jumped with joy. She also asked questions such as if a girlfriend is the first step to getting married and having a new mommy. Richard never thought that he would put forth the question to Maya directly! Uunahan pa siya sa kanyang proposal! Amazing, how biba his daughter is with Maya. Sometimes, she could be shy and reticent with people she just met. He grinned broadly. Everything is going so well. Him and Maya, and now her and his daughter. He can see that she has also charmed his staff.

“Ricardo, uy, Ricardo,” Manang Fe called Richard louder. She shook her head, seeing her alaga with a bemused expression.

“Sweetheart…” Maya also whispered. “Let’s eat na with Abby.”

“Oh okay,” He said with a smile. “Halika na.”

With Maya holding Abby’s hand, and Richard guiding Maya towards the dining room with his hand on her back, everyone trooped to the dining room, where Sabel had put the cake on the table and transferred Maya’s spaghetti into a serving dish. Manang Fe put her flowers in a vase and placed it at the center of the table.

“O kain na kayo. Maraming salamat dito sa spaghetti mo Maya at sa cake.” Manang Fe said.

“Tita Maya, Daddy, can I have cake too after the spaghetti.” Abby asked.

“Of course, baby, pero eat ka muna ng spaghetti at saka kaunting cake lang ha.” Richard said. Abby sometimes gets hyper when she eats too much sweet stuffs.

Maya got Abby’s plate and put a big serving of spaghetti on the little girl’s plate,  then she got Richard’s plate, and served him as well. He mouthed a thank you while looking at her with love. Seeing this, them looking like a family already made Richard very happy. Not only him, Manang Fe, who was seated at the nearby breakfast table with Sabel and Joma also looked happily at them. Hay parang totoong pamilya na talaga sila, nakakatuwa naman talaga, she thought. Joma on the other hand, said to himself, sabi na nga ba eh. Masaya rin siya para sa boss niya.

“Tita Maya, your spaghetti is the best po.” Abby said after her second serving of Maya’s spaghetti. “Dad, Tita Maya, can I have cake naman?”

“Thank you, Abby. Alam mo ba paborito rin ni Lance ang spaghetti ko.” Maya said as she cut a small slice of cake for the little girl. She was very happy at the moment. Everything is just perfect.

“Talaga po.” Abby said. “Thank you, Tita Maya.” The little girl then concentrated on eating her cake.

Richard and Maya looked at the little girl with love, then at each other. Richard put his hand on top of Maya’s and caressed it. He was just so happy.

Manang Fe, Sabel and Joma also thanked Maya for the food. The wine they didn’t get around to drinking. When they were finished, they returned to the living room. Richard asked Sabel for coffee for him and Maya and juice for Abby. The little girl sat beside Maya on the sofa. While they were drinking their coffee, Abby was watching her cartoons. She was lost on the current one she was watching.

“Mukhang everything is okay na Ricky.” Maya said in between sips of her coffee, looking around. “Ang bilis ninyong naka-settle down.”

“Yes, since nga inayos na ng decorator. Sabel and Joma were also here yesterday to dust the house and double-checked kung maayos na lahat.” Richard replied. “Thank you again, sweetheart for the food and everything. The wine we can drink later so I can have my way with you,” he whispered naughtily, then hugged Maya to his side.

Maya elbowed him lightly, then whispered back, “Ikaw talaga, sweetheart, marinig ka ng anak mo. Hindi ka pa off the hook for putting me on the spot kanina. Ikaw kaya ang may kasalanan kung bakit tayo natagalan.”

“Really, sweetheart, ako lang. Parang hindi naman ako mag-isa sa mga kiss na iyon ah, Attorney Dela Rosa.” He teased.

“Okay, okay, this time talo sa kaso.” Maya grinned. Richard kissed her lightly on the forehead and smiled lovingly at her.

More than an hour later, they told Abby that they have to go out for a while. The little girl nodded, but extracted a promise from Maya that she will come back to tuck her to bed. She went with Sabel to her room to finish her homework. She didn’t protest this time as she sometimes does, if the homework requires a lot of writing. She has the trip to Tagaytay to look forward to.

“Maya, Ricardo, dito na kayo maghapunan, magluluto ako ng specialty kong binagoongan.” Manang Fe said when they were leaving.

“Sige po, Manang. Sandali lang naman po kami ni Maya. Nakapag-set na ako ng appointment doon sa car dealership.” Richard had told Manang Fe earlier that he will accompany Maya to a car dealership in the evening.

“Thank you po, Manang Fe. Paborito ko po ang binagoongan. Isa iyan sa mga specialty rin ng Nanay ko.” Maya hugged the old lady. “Sige po, babalik na lang kami ni Ricky mamaya.”

“O siya, sige mag-iingat kayo ha.” Manang Fe said.

Richard and Maya walked to where Richard parked his car with hands intertwined. Before they got in, they shared a quick kiss, just so happy at that moment.

“Kailan mo pala sinabi kina Abby at Manang Fe ang tungkol sa atin? I presumed na alam na rin nina Sabel and Joma.” Maya asked when they were on their way.

“Hahahaha, she did put us on the spot ‘no! Kaya pala ang dami niyang questions kanina. I hope you don’t mind.” Richard said, smiling, remembering Abby’s precociousness. There are really moments, where he doubts if she really has autism as she acts like a normal kid, and at times, sounds older and wiser than her age. “Si Manang, I told naman pagkagising ko kaninang umaga. I was just so happy, sweetheart. Then I guess, sinabi niya kay Sabel. It is a small household so Joma is bound to know too.”

“No, I don’t mind, sweetheart. I’m happy and I want to shout it to the whole world that you are my boyfriend na. I told Doris also.” Then Maya remembered Doris’ phone call. “Speaking of Doris, I forgot to tell you earlier, as you distracted me with those kisses, not that I’m complaining, you know,” she said smiling, “She called to tell me na hindi siya makakasama sa atin kasi may interview siya sa Ilocos. Pero si Lance makakasama, with his yaya. Sabi ko okay lang naman.”

“Oh, sayang naman. But I guess it can’t be helped. Mabuti Lance will be there. Abby is looking forward to that trip, lalo na ng malaman na kasama ka and si Lance.” Richard said, then putting his hand over Maya’s, he said, “Sweetheart, thank you again for being so wonderful and loving to my little girl. I’m so happy.”

“Siyempre naman, sweetheart, precious little girl mo iyon. Lahat ng mahal mo, mamahalin ko kasi I love you very much. Besides, she is so easy to love. I love her already.” Maya said, squeezing Richard’s hand.

“Basta, thank you, thank you pa rin.” Richard said as he raised Maya’s hand to her lips and rained kisses on it. “I love you very much too, sweetheart, more than you know.” He said softly, lovingly.

Two hours later, they were back in Mirasol Street. Maya is now the owner of a red automatic sedan. It will be delivered after all the financing paperwork has been accomplished. Richard thought of offering to pay for the car, and if she refuses, offering her a loan instead of her doing it with a bank. But he stopped himself from doing that. He does not think it will sit well with Maya, knowing how independent she is. He wants her to do things her way pa rin even if they are in a relationship.

“Manang, we are back.” Richard called when they were going up the second level of the house.

But it was not Manang Fe who greeted them, but Abby in her sleep clothes. “Daddy, Tita Maya, hug me to sleep please.” It has been Abby’s nightly request, coupled with lullabies that he usually plays from her iPad.

“Okay, sweetie, let me just talk first to Manang Fe ha.” Richard said. “Sweetheart, go ahead with Abby. I will just tell Manang na maya-maya na tayo magdi-dinner.” On the way back, they both were still feeling full from the merienda they had earlier. “Abby will tell you about her nightly ritual.” He kissed Maya lightly on the forehead, the same with Abby. “Run along, sweetie, I’ll follow soon.”

Maya took hold of Abby’s hand and led her towards the direction of her room. “You know where is my room po, Tita Maya?” Abby asked.

Maya was startled at how observant Abby is. But she shouldn’t be surprised, Lance is like this also, when he wants to and when you thought that he does not pay attention to things. Usually he does, like a recorder. “Yes, baby. I was here before with your dad. Halika na, so we can tuck you in to bed. Remember we will go pa to an amusement park tomorrow. Kaya dapat matulog ka ng maaga.”

They entered the little girl’s room and it is how Maya remembered it to be, except this time, there are more personal touches, like Abby’s collection of stuffed toys, mostly cats, and some dolls, Barbie and some dolls with big heads and buttons for eyes. Maya tucked Abby in.

When Richard opened his little girl’s room a short while later, he heard Maya’s soft voice instead of the usual lullabies that Abby likes. He stood in the doorway quietly for a while as he listened to her tell the tale of a princess who met her prince ten years ago. He smiled. She was telling his daughter how they started. Looking at the scene, he thought, if he had not already decided to propose to Maya, this scene alone would make his decision. But he has already made plans for his proposal. He smiled broadly.

Maya looked up then and saw Richard framed at the door, with a big smile on his face. They shared a loving look.

“So what happens, next Tita Maya, did the princess find her prince again?” Abby asked, breaking into the private world they were starting to get into. Abby saw her father then. “Daddy, I requested Tita Maya to tell me a story, instead of the lullabies.”

“I heard part of it, baby. But maybe, Tita Maya can continue the story next time, you need to sleep na.” Richard said, knowing his daughter, she wants to prolong staying awake if she can get away with it. “Para rin you have something to look forward to.”

“But Daddy…..” She started to protest prettily.

“Baby, promise I will continue the story and finish it.” Maya said. “Good night na muna ngayon. Remember, maaga pa tayo bukas.”

“Okay po. Good night Tita Maya. Thank you again.” The little girl said, then asked for another hug from Maya, then whispered to her ears. “I hope you will be my mommy soon.” Then loudly, she said, “I love you, Tita Maya.”

Maya was startled and touched at what the little girl said. “Awwww,” she thought to herself, you are the sweetest little girl ever. ” I love you too, baby girl.”

“Good night, Daddy. You are the best daddy ever.” She said as her father hugged her and gave her a good night kiss.

Several minutes after, Abby’s eyes drooped and she went to a deep sleep. Richard and Maya arms around each other, looked at their sleeping angel, with love.

 

Note: ❤  Happy Father’s Day! ❤ Mabuti, umabot pa this one sa Father’s Day! 🙂 Hinabol ko, medyo hinihingal pa! 🙂  I hope you had a wonderful celebration with the men in your life – dad, husband, dad-in-law, brothers, uncles, friends who are dads, and those who are both a mom and a dad to their kids! 

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On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 15

Chapter 15

Maya spent the rest of the morning at the nearby supermarket, buying ingredients for the spaghetti that she will cook for Abby. She also decided to buy a chocolate dedication cake from a local bakeshop. She asked the shop staff to write  ‘Welcome back to Mirasol Street’ on the cake. She also brought flowers for Manang Fe, red and white roses, and a bottle of wine.

Her mobile phone rang when she was unlocking the door of her apartment. By the time she was in, and about to answer her call, the phone has stopped ringing. She dropped her groceries on the kitchen table and checked her missed call. It was Doris who was trying to reach her.

“Yes BFF, napatawag ka? Sorry hindi ko nasagot kaagad. Kagagaling ko lang sa grocery eh. ” Maya said when Doris picked up her call. “Magluluto kasi ako ng spaghetti.”

“Hi Maya, okay lang naman. I though na baka nga out on errands ka since Saturday or baka kasama mo si Richard.” Doris said. “Tungkol kasi ito sa lakad natin bukas. Unfortunately, I have to go to Laoag early tomorrow morning kasi biglang na-confirm iyung interview that I was trying to schedule with the elusive retired feisty actress na naka-base na sa Pagudpud, si Miriam Bonifacio. Naalala mo, siya iyong sobrang frank na actress na sobrang galing naman sa acting.  She is not active in the business for several years now. She just walked away, di ba? We would like to include her in the current issue we are working on, kasama nung lawyer that I interviewed recently.”

“Oh, so hindi kayo makakasama sa amin nina Ricky at Abby sa Tagaytay?” Maya said, a bit disappointed. She was looking forward to seeing her bestfriend and Lance again, to their bonding with Abby, and of course, with Ricky. Para na rin sana maipakilala niya si Ricky kay Doris as her boyfriend. However, she understand the nature of Doris’ work. Mas matindi pa sa demand ng work ni Doris ang naging demand sng dati iyang trabaho. “Sayang naman, but I understand BFF. No worries. Nasabi mo na ba kay Lance?”

“No, Maya, ako lang ang hindi makakasama sana.” Doris clarified. “Kung okay lang ba sa iyo na sina Lea and Lance na lang ang sumama sa inyo nina Richard at Abby sa Tagaytay? Lance is over the moon and counting the hours na until tomorrow since I told him about it yesterday.”

“Okay na okay naman BFF. No worries, ako na ang bahala sa kanila. Kahit nga kami lang ni Lance okay lang.” Maya assured her friend. “Akala ko kasi isasama mo si Lance sa Laoag for a little vacation after your work.”

“Naku, hindi kasi bibiyahe pa ako by land from Laoag to Pagudpud. Saka di ba may school si Lance. Isama mo na si Lea sa trip mo para naman on the side eh magkaroon kayo ng you and me time ni Mr. Dremboat. Para makapanligaw siya ng husto at mapag-isipan mo naman nang husto kung sasagutin mo na siya.” Doris said in a teasing tone. “Alam mo na namang support na support ko iyang lovelife mo.”

“Hahahaha, ikaw talaga BFF, walang kakupas-kupas! Dapat magsama kayo ni Attorney Ryan, iyong boss ko na close friend ni Ricky!” Maya said, smiling “Pero BFF, kami na kasi ni Ricky eh!”

“Kayo na? You mean as in sinagot mo na si Richard? Ibinigay mo na ang matamis mong ‘oo’ sa nag-iisang lalaking nagpapatibok niyang puso mo? May boyfriend ka na rin sa wakas!!!” Doris asked excitedly, in rapid succession. “Kailan pa naging kayo? Parang the last time we talked yesterday morning, wala kang nabanggit!”

“Yes, Richard is now my boyfriend. BFF, I’m so happy!!!!” Maya said happily and giddily. “Kagabi ko lang siya sinagot.”

Maya told Doris about her dinner with Richard the night before and the trip home, him letting her drove his car and him telling her he love her very much after they shared a kiss. “Hayun BFF, pagka-park namin ng car kagabi, I was just so happy to be with him. We kissed, then he told me he loves me very much. It was a perfect moment, so I told him that I love him too! Sinagot ko na! Masyado bang mabilis ang mga pangyayari? For me kasi, I have never been surer in my life than at that moment. I love him very much.”

“Maya’ I’m so happy for you BFF. Imagine sa tinagal-tagal man ng panahon at sa dami ng mga nangyari sa mga buhay ninyong dalawa, in the end kayo pa rin pala!” Doris said. “BFF bilang number one fan ng love team ninyo ni Richard at nag-iisang saksi sa pagmamahalan ninyong dalawa, ito lang ang masasabi ko, KINIKILIG AKO TO THE MAX!!!!” Doris shouted on the phone with matching tili!

“BFF, nabasag yata ang eardrums ko doon, pero salamat ha, for everything, for the support you know at maraming iba pa.” Maya laughed at her best friend’s reaction. “I never felt like this before. Iyon bang sobrang saya ka lang. Bigla kang napapangiting mag-isa and kapag kasama ko siya, parang kami lang dalawa ang nasa mundo. Kapag tinititigan niya ako niya ako para akong matutunaw! Kapag magkausap kami, parang tumitigil ang orasan. Just the thought of him makes my heart sing. Tapos siya ang huling nasa isip ko sa pagtulog ko sa gabi.” Maya finished eloquently.

“Ganyan talaga ang true love, Maya BFF! You are lucky to have found love, with a wonderful guy like Richard. Alam ko he will cherish you. The fact kasi that you have surpassed ten years of being apart and all the trials, then kayo pa rin, malaking bagay iyon. He is also lucky to have you. Ikaw ang yata ang pinaka-loving and most giving person that I know. You deserve all the happiness and blessings coming your way after ng mga unos sa buhay mo.” Doris said. “Saka ten years na rin naman ang history ninyo ni Richard kahit most of it magkahiwalay kayo. Sa buong panahon na iyon hindi nagbago ang feelings ninyo for each other and that is a very good foundation na. It does not happen to everyone.”

“Thank you very much BFF. I agree with what you said wholeheartedly. I love you and again, thanks again for being there with me, you and Tito Fernando. Parang kapamilya na talaga ang turing ninyo sa amin ni Nanay.”

“Naku, BFF, talaga naman. Kung pwede nga lang na maging mag-sister tayo. Kaso, iyung pudra ko, na-friendzoned ng mudra mo!” Doris said, teasing. “Teka, alam na ba ni Tita Tessie na sa wakas, may boyfriend ka na? Baka magpamisa iyon sa lahat ng simbahan sa galak.”

“Eh wala akong magagawa, one man woman yata talaga kaming mga Dela Paz ladies! Kita mo si Nanay, then si Manang din.” Maya said. “Yes, alam na ni Nanay ang tungkol kay Ricky. Tatawagan ko na nga sana siya kanina pero naunahan na niya ako, pagkagising ko, tumawag na siya. Like you said, ang saya-saya niya ng malaman na may boyfriend na ako. I told her also Ricky and I’s history. At hindi lang siya, happy, take note BFF, sabi pa naman sa akin, sa wakas daw magkakaapo na siya! Ganyan ka-advance si Mother!”

“Hahahaha, si Tita Tessie talaga, sabik na sabik na sa apo. Lance is so lucky to have her as an honorary grandmother.” Doris said. “Pero, tama naman siya, apo kung apo the soonest.”

“Sabi nga pala ni Nanay, ikumusta ko raw siya sa iyo at ihalik kay Lance kapag nagkita tayo.” Maya said, suddenly remembering her mother’s bilin. “Miss ko nga na si Nanay nang sobra-sobra, more than two months na nga kaming hindi nagkikita. Plan namin ni Ricky na umuwi sa Mindoro the next free weekend that we have. Di ba may parating na long weekend? Titingnan ko lang ang load ko and his schedule and kapag okay, bibiyahe kami pa-San Nicolas. Gusto niyang makilala si Nanay, and I promised Nanay rin that I will introduce Ricky to her the soonest time possible.”

“Talaga, meet the parent na agad-agad? Nakakatuwa naman iyang si Richard, matapos mawala sa buhay mo ng parang bula sa loob ng sampung taon, dinadaan sa santong paspasan ang lahat! Grand bawi kung grand bawi, kumbaga!” Doris teased her BFF, then seriously she asked, “Paano pala iyan BFF, what if Richard propose na to you kahit bago pa lang kayo because he does not want to waste time. Handa ka na ba?”

“Yes, BFF! I am!” Maya replied quickly and with conviction. “When I saw him again and realized that I still feel the same for him, and then when he started courting me, inihanda ko na ang sarili ko kung saan man kami mapunta, kahit sa simbahan, even if I had just started my career as a lawyer. Siya lang naman ang minahal ko, wala nang iba. Hindi naman magbabago iyon. Sabi mo nga ten years na rin ang history namin kahit most of that decade, magkahiwalay kami. He is the only one for me. Tanggap ko kung ano man siya and all the things that had happened to his life during that time. His first wife Alexandra and his precious angel, Abby. Pero for now, I’m enjoying our relationship muna. Hindi ko na muna iniisip ang engagement and kasal. Kung tuloy-tuloy na ito at kami na forever, I hope so, then I’m prepared na and more than willing to spend the rest of my life with him.”

“BFF, naiiyak naman ko sa happiness para sa iyo!!!” Doris said emotionally, sniffling. “Basta BFF matron of honor ako at ring bearer si Lance.”

“Hahahaha, Doris naman! Of course when that time comes! Pero matagal pa iyon. Kasisimula pa lang namin ulit ni Ricky!” Maya told her best friend.

“Naku BFF, malay mo bukas mag-propose na siya sa iyo!” Doris teased. “Sabihin mo lang kaagad if he did na ha, para makapag-diet ako ng husto at ng sexy ako sa matron gown ko.”

“Hahahaha, impossible iyan, bukas agad, as in. Pero promise ko sa iyo kapag nangyari iyan, when the right time comes, si Nanay at ikaw ang unang makakaalam!” Maya said.

“Okay, BFF. Love you. O paano, paalam na, see you when I see you. Bahala ka sa bebe boy ko ha. Hello na lang kay boyfie, saka na lang kamo kami magkumustahan. O siya magluto ka na ng spaghetti para sa future daughter mo, I presumed para kay Abby iyan. Di ba ngayon ang lipat nila pabalik ng Mirasol? I’m sure hit iyan. Iyan na yata ang pinakamasarap na spaghetti para kay Lance, at siyempre para sa akin din ah!”

“Surely BFF. Ingat ka sa biyahe at good luck sa interview mo.” Maya said. “Yes, the spaghetti is for Abby. Ricky said to drop by around 4 o’clock later. Sabi ko ako na ang bahala sa snacks, tulong ko sa paglilipat nila. Gusto ko ring makilala ng husto si Abby. Kasi di ba, isang beses pa lang kaming nagkita, di pa kami formally introduced. Nandoon rin kasi si Manang Fe sa bahay ni Ricky, maghe-hello ako.”

“Naks naman, mommy na mommy at future wife na talaga ang peg ng BFF ko.” Doris added.

“Hahahaha, Doris, ikaw talaga. O siya, goodbye na tayo at magluluto na ako!” Maya said, smiling.

Maya checked the time after and Doris and she finally ended her phone call! “OMG, pasado alas una na pala, kailangan ko nang magluto!”

Maya got moving briskly. She was finished with everything by 3PM. While she was warming the spaghetti sauce, Maya took a bath. She chose to wear shorts and a floral blouse. When she had checked her phone she saw a message from Ricky.

Hi sweetheart, we are here at Mirasol na! Settling in. I missed you.

Maya smiled at that. “Sus, ito talagang sweetheart ko, sobrang sweet! Para iilang oras pa lang kaming naghihiwalay.” She typed a reply.

Hello my sweetheart. I’m done na. I will be there in 15 minutes. I missed you too. See you!

She was about to put the phone in her bag when it beeped again.

Wait, stay there, sweetheart, I will pick you up. No buts. I’m going out of the house na!

Maya just smiled and shook her head. “Ang kulit talaga ng sweetheart ko!”

Several minutes after, Maya’s doorbell rang.

“Hi, sweetheart!” Richard said with a big grin. He looked very happy.

“Hi sweetheart! Parang ang saya-saya natin ah.” Maya said, smiling lovingly at her boyfriend. He looks so handsome and so mabango talaga. She will never get tired of looking at him like this and seeing him with one of his bone-melting lopsided smiles. “Halika pasok ka muna. I will just put the spaghetti in a container.”

“Of course, I’m here with my beautiful and wonderful girlfriend again.” Richard said as he followed Maya inside. He likes her in shorts. It shows off her long legs. He likes her in everything! She is very beautiful, in whatever she chose to wear!

Maya laughed, looked at Richard. “Ikaw talaga, pinapakilig mo na naman ako eh.”

“Siyempre naman, sweetheart, that’s my goal in life and I have an ulterior motive when I offered to pick you up.” Richard confessed, gazing at Maya intently, with mischief in his eyes.

“What is it?” Maya asked curiously.

“This.” Richard said, then before Maya could react, Richard lowered his lips to her and gave her a searing kiss. Maya opened her mouth to let Richard deepen the kiss. Before they know it, they are sharing one of the most heated kisses they have shared so far. Several long moments after, they were both catching their breaths.

Richard traced the seam of Maya, kiss-swollen lips. “I missed that. I needed my vitamins before we face the troop. For sure, mamayang gabi pa ulit kita masosolo pag dating mo sa bahay.” He said grinning. “I love you very much, sweetheart.”

“Sweetheart, ikaw talaga! But I love you very much, anyway!” Maya said, grinning, pinching Richard lightly on the side.

“Ouch, sweetheart, now you have to give me another kiss to sooth the pain you have caused.” He said dramatically, with a matching pained facial expression, but the smile he was trying to hide from Maya betrayed him.

“Hay naku, Mr. Lim, nagda-drama ka na naman! Halika na, baka gutom na si Abby.” Maya said, as she started walking towards the kitchen. But then she smiled sweetly at Richard, stood on her toes, cupped his face, then she lowered her lips to him and kissed him quite thoroughly, “May masakit ba pa, sweetheart?” She whispered  softly.

Richard grinned naughtily at Maya’s innocent question. “Hmmm, meron pa sweetheart, a different kind of pain naman after that kiss.” He said, grinning at her unrepentently.

Maya blushed, getting his meaning. “Naku, Richard Lim, magugutom na talaga ang anak mo!” With a loving smile to Richard, she went to the kitchen. Richard followed and helped Maya with packing the food, the flowers, the wine and the cake that she bought, at the same time, sneaking little kisses to her, which made the task longer.

It was already a bit after 4PM when they managed to get out of Maya’s apartment. Hands, intertwined and with loving gazes, they walked happily towards Richard’s home.

 

Note: Have a nice weekend everyone! Thank you for the likes and the wonderful comments to Chapter 1 of Beyond Forever! I hope you will like this additional Saturday night treat! GV always!

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On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 14

Chapter 14

Maya woke up early the following morning despite the late night she had. At first, she was surprised to find herself still in her office clothes, but then the wonderful things that had happened the night before came flooding back. She had a huge grin when she got out of bed. Boyfriend! Richard is her boyfriend now! Lord, kung nananaginip lang ako, ayoko ng magising! She touched her lips, remembering the searing kisses and more, that she and Richard shared the night before.

The ringing of her mobile phone interrupted Maya’s beautiful reminiscing. At first, she can’t remember where she had left it. Then she realized that the sound was coming from the living room, where she had left her bag, with the phone in it, when she and Richard arrived at her apartment last night. Good thing, that phone is programmed to ring on full volume if it is inside a bag or a pocket!

She fished out her phone from the bag, and saw that it was her mother calling her. “Hello po, ‘Nay! Good morning!!! Kumusta naman ang pinakamaganda kong nanay ngayong umaga!” Maya greeted her mother cheerfully, happy to hear from her. She had been meaning to give her a call that weekend.

“Maya, anak, parang ang ganda ng gising mo ngayong umaga ah!” Teresita Dela Rosa told her daughter while gesturing to Chona, her helper, to serve the tapsilog and longsilog that two of their regular customers ordered. As usual, Cristina’s, the eatery that Maya and her had name after Cristina Rose was doing a brisk business that Saturday morning. They really need to expand the place to accommodate their growing number of customers.

“Magandang-maganda po talaga, ‘Nay! I had the best night po kasi last night!!! Nayyy, sobrang saya ko po ngayon. Para pa rin akong lumulutang sa saya!” Maya said, grinning happily, while getting a glass of water from the fridge, then taking a sip.

“Hmmm, parang feeling ko in love na ang anak ko!” Teresita Dela Rosa said all of a sudden. Iyon ang una niyang naisip nang marinig ang boses ng anak niya na parang may kakaiba talaga.

“‘Nay, paano ninyo naman po nasabi iyan?” Maya asked her mother, surprised at her statement. She thought her mother would just ask about her job since the last time they talked was the night before she started working for RRMA. It had completely skipped her mind to call her mother after her first day at work and the days after that!

“Para kasing may iba sa boses mo ‘nak!” Maya’s mother told her. “Tama ba ako, Maya? In  love ka at may boyfriend ka na, sa wakas!”

“Errrr, ‘Nay, opo. Kagabi lang po.” Maya admitted, then teased her mother. “Daig mo pa si Madam Auring ‘Nay ah. Nahulaan mo agad with matching call pa sa akin ngayong umaga! Ano pa po ‘Nay ang nakita mo sa bolang kristal mo?” She teased her mother.

“Hahahaha, ikaw talagang bata ka! Mas maganda naman akong di hamak kay Madam!” Teresita Dela Rosa bantered. “Siyempre, Nanay mo ako kaya kabisado kita. So, sino naman itong magiging manugang ko? Sa wakas magkakaapo na rin ako! Imagine, ngayon ka pa lang nagka-boyfriend eh malapit ka nang mag-trenta.”

“Nanay naman, advance na advance, kasasagot ko pa nga lang po kay Ricky. Saka Mother, ilang taon pa kaya bago ako mag-30!” Maya said. “Nanay, I’m so happy. I’m sure kapag nakilala mo si Ricky magugustuhan mo rin siya ng husto. He is the best boyfriend in the world!!!”

“I’m sure I will. Maya. I trust your judgment, anak. Sa tinatagal-tagal mo ba naman bago nag-boyfriend, sigurado naman ako na hindi ka pipili ng basta-basta.” Nanay Teresita said. “Saan mo naman nakilala pala si Ricky, anak? Parang wala ka namang nakwento sa akin tungkol sa kanya before. Sa law school?”

“Nanay, actually, I have mentioned him before, pero hindi by name. Remember, noong isang beses na ginunita natin iyong death anniversary ni Ate Cris and the two of us spent the morning sa puntod niya, noong nasa law school na ako, and the one and only time you asked me about a boyfriend?” Maya asked, trying to jog back her mother’s memory to that particular moment.

“Hmmmm, parang naalala ko iyan. Mga 5 years ago? Noong ika-limang death anniversary ng kapatid mo? Iyong huling punta natin sa sementeryo na nagtagal nga tayo ng buong umaga.” Teresita said. “Wait, I think I remember that! I asked you kung wala ka pang boyfriend eh 22 years old ka na, turning on 23! Kasi naman noon ni crush wala akong narinig mula sa iyo simula nang magdalaga ka.”

While remembering thhe good times with her Ate Cris and all the things they wanted to do when she returns to the Philippines after her contract in Dubai is finished, which of course, was not realized anymore, Maya and her mother got into talking how fleeting life is, and that it could be gone in a snap. Hindi mo talaga masabi, they both agreed.

Teresita told Maya that one thing she had learned after Cris died is that life is too short for regrets, for fearing the unknown, for living in fear, and for not taking chances, for setting aside what you can do today, thinking that there is still tomorrow or there is still plenty of time to do the things you want to do, when in fact hindi natin alam talaga if we will still wake up the next morning!

She told her daughter to treasure every moment, and not to shy away from opportunities coming her way, but enjoy life at the same time. She told Maya to live, really live. She told Maya that it includes falling in love, the headiest and most wonderful of emotions, but she must also choose wisely. Maya asked her how would she know if she had chosen the right person. Teresita Dela Rosa assured Maya that she would know when the time comes. Maya admitted to her mother then, that she might have already found the one person she wanted to share her life with, but he disappeared from her life all of a sudden before she can truly find out, and that she had tried to look for him in the other guys she had met, but her heart only beat for that person.

Teresita Dela Rosa, seeing her daughter’s pensive mood while telling her this, and the way her eyes lit up when she spoke of the guy she had fallen in love with, took hold of her hand then told her that if he is really her destiny, then fate will find a way to make them meet again in the future, that some people no matter what the distance and the circumstances are, are just destined to be together, and that love always finds a way! Di ba anak, she told Maya, minsan meron ngang mga tao na hindi mo iniisip na magkikita or magkakakilala dahil sa layo ng kanilang estado sa buhay, magkaibang-magkaiba ng pananaw sa buhay, or magkaiba ng lahi, pero nagkikita, nagkakatagpo and they fell in love. Or kung minsan, may lovers na maraming taong nagkahiwalay, nagkaroon ng sari-sariling buhay at pamilya, pero sa huli, sila pa rin ang magkasama hanggang sa pagtanda nila. Love moves in mysterious ways, di ba, sabi nga ng kasabihan, was her last words to her daughter on the subject.

“Nanay, naalala niyo po iyong lalaki na sinasabi ko sa inyo during that conversation?” Maya asked her mother. “Si Richard Lim, si Ricky po iyon! Siya po ang boyfriend ko simula pa po kagabi.”

“Talaga, anak! Paanong nangyari?” Teresita Dela Rosa asked, surprised, but at the same time, she felt very happy with this development in her daughter’s life.

Maya told her mother how she and Richard met again at the law office where she works and how she ended getting assigned to his account. She also told her mother how she and Richard had picked up from where they left off ten years ago! Maya told her mother din how she and Richard met ten years ago, how his family left the country abruptly, but not the reason for it, and that it happened at the same time they were dealing with the untimely death of her Ate Cris.

“See, anak, tama ang sabi ko sa iyo noon! Kapag kayo talaga, pagtatagpuin at pagtatagpuin ulit kayo ng tadhana!” Nanay Teresita told Maya after she finished telling her a condensed version of hers and Richard’s love story. “I’m happy for you, Maya. I know some people might frown at the speed of your courtship, but I know you anak, hindi ka naman papasok sa hindi mo sigurado, lalo pa at kasama na rin sa pagmamahal mo diyan kay Richard ang pagmamahal sa kanyang anak.”

“Maraming salamat po, Nay! Sobrang saya ko po. Nang makita ko pa lang ulit si Richard, ramdam na ramdam ko na hindi nagbago ang pagtingin ko sa kanya. Nasigurado ko po iyon ng husto nitong nakalipas na araw kahit sandali pa lang po ulit kaming nagkikita. I feel it in my heart, in my soul.” Maya said, conviction and happiness evident in her voice. “Saka po si Abby, kahit isang beses ko pa lang po siyang nakita, mahal ko na po siya at alam ko po na mahalagang parte siya ng buhay ni Ricky. Tanggap ko rin po na widower siya. Naging open naman po sa akin si Ricky tungkol sa naging buhay niya the past ten years. ”

“Natutuwa naman ako sa iyo, Maya. Napalaki talaga kita ng tama. I’m sure kung nabubuhay ang ate mo, tuwang-tuwa rin iyon.” Nanay Teresita told her youngest. “O basta, the first opportunity, gusto kong makilala ng personal iyang nobyo mo. Base sa kwento mo, mukha namang mabuti siyang tao and that you are very lucky that you two found each other again. Hindi nangyayari iyan sa lahat ng tao!”

“Opo, ‘Nay. Kapag may pagkakataon po, and maayos na ang work ko, uuwi po ako diyan sa atin at titingnan ko po kung maisasama ko si Ricky.” Maya assured her mother. She really want to introduce Richard to her mother.

“O sige, asahan ko iyan ha, anak. Mas may linaw iyan kaysa ang pagpunta ko ng Maynila. Hindi ko maiwan itong Cristina’s eh.” Nanay Teresita said. The two of them have talked before of her mother spending a week or so again with Maya in Manila, but unable to have it scheduled because of the eatery and its demands on Maya’s mother time.

“Hindi pa po ba kayo nakakahanap ng magma-manage ng Cristina’s diyan sa San Nicolas? Kumusta na po iyong plano ninyo na magtayo ng branch sa Poblador?” Maya asked. The small restaurant, which had started as a carinderia became a popular eating place not only with the residents of San Nicolas but also those in neighboring towns, as well as the tourists that flock to the beaches of Mindoro, especially during the summer season, since a year ago. A popular food magazine has included it in the list of the things one should do and try while on vacation in Mindoro, making special mention of the kare-kare that Teresita Dela Rosa still personally prepares among the equally delicious dishes that Cristina’s offer. Na-feature rin ang Cristina’s sa isang magazine program sa TV recently. So, because of this, mas dumami pa ang mga customer nila. At times they have a hard time dealing with the influx of customers. They really need someone to manage Cristina’s and also to build a branch in neighboring Poblador para sa mga nakatira roon and to expand na rin now that they can.

“Meron na, Maya. Iyong pinsan mo na si Melinda. Di ba kaka-graduate lang niya ng HRM nitong nakaraang Abril? Ayaw niyang diyan sa Maynila magtrabaho, mas gusto niya raw dito sa atin mag-base.” Teresita said. “Nagpunta sila rito sa atin kagabi ni Kuya Rollie tungkol diyan. Magsisimula nga siya ngayon. Hinihintay ko lang. Dito ko na nga rin sa bahay natin pinatitira para hindi na siya bumiyahe pa at saka maige rin iyon, may kasama ako sa bahay.”

“Ganoon po ba, Nay? I’m happy naman na finally, may kasama na kayo.” Maya said. “Sure na sure po ako na in good hands kayo diyan kay Melinda. Masipag na, matalino pa at saka responsable. Kampante na ako. Naiisip ko nga po na baka nahihirapan na kayo. I will tell you nga sana to slow down na kasi lawyer na ang anak niyo at ako na ang bahala sa inyo”

“Naku, Maya, huwag mo akong intindihin. Okay lang naman ako. Alam mo naman na mas gusto ko itong busy ako. Asikasuhin mo na lang ang sarili mo. Ngayon lang naman sa buong buhay mo diyan na iisa na lang ang ginagawa mo. Mahigit sampung taon mo rin namang pinagsabay ang pag-aaral at pagtatrabaho. Enjoy your life, lalo na ngayon na may boyfriend ka na.” Teresita told her daughter. “Kumusta nga pala ang trabaho mo? Hindi na tayo nakapag-usap simula noong Linggo.”

“Oo nga po ‘Nay. Pasensya na kayo, hindi ko na kayo natawagan pa. Meeting Ricky again turned my world upside down in a very nice way. Tapos po, nag-babysit pa ako kay Doris.” Maya explained. “Okay na okay naman po ang work ko Nanay. Maganda po iyong law firm na napasukan ko. I like the partners, lalo na po iyong senior partner na si Atty. Rafael Reyes, parang grandfatherly, and then iyong senior kung saan ako naka-assign, si Attorney Ryan na nagkataon nga na friend pala ni Ricky since college.”

“Mabuti naman. Good choice nga na diyan ka na lang napasok. Imagine, nakita mo pa ulit ang prince charming mo.” Nanay Teresita said smiling. “Nakakakilig nga ang love story mo anak!”

“Nay, talaga!” Maya said, smiling.

“Pero Maya, aminin mo, parang pang-teleserye ang love story ninyo ni Richard. O kaya naman parang movie ng Star Cinema. Iyon bang mga rom-com anak.” Nanay Teresita said. “O kaya para ba ‘anak na sa mga pocketbook na binabasa mo ng walang bitawan hanggang madaling-araw!”

“Hahahaha, Nay, ikaw talaga, sobrang hilig sa mga romance movie.” Maya said. “Sa iyo ko yata talaga namana ang pagkahilig sa romance stories.”

“Dapat lang. Bakit nga ba hindi, parang pang-pelikula rin naman ang love story namin ng Tatay mo.” Nanay Teresita retorted, smiling, remembering her beloved husband.

‘Nay, alam ko po na si Tatay ang love of your life, pero hindi po ba kayo nakaisip na mag-asawa ulit? Di ba po, nanliligaw sa inyo si Tito Fernando? Hindi nga sumusuko eh!” Doris’ father, a widower, started courting her mother when Maya has just started law school.

“Hay naku, Maya, friends lang talaga kami niyang si Fernando, kahit ano pa ang tukso niyo ni Doris at kagustuhan ninyong magkaibigan na maging magkapatid.” Teresita said. “One man woman yata talaga ang mga Dela Paz women! Tingnan mo si Nanay, ako, and now ikaw. Wala nang ibang nagpatibok sa puso ko kundi ang Tatay mo. Iyon nga lang maaga siyang kinuha sa atin. Tama na ako roon. Hindi na iyon natutumbasan ng iba pa.”

“Well, tama ka naman po diyan ‘Nay. Now, I understand completely. Ganyan din po ako kay Ricky. I will not love another.” Maya said, thinking na wala rin talagang ibang nagpatibok ng puso niya, kundi si Richard. Ganoon din ang Mamang niya, her grandmother Conchita, hindi na nag-asawa pa kahit medyo bata pa nang mabiyuda, mga 50s pa lang siya noon.

Maya’s parents met at the airport in San Nicolas. Nagkapalit sila ng mga bagahe sa pagmamadali. Dayo lang doon sa lugar na iyon si Arturo Dela Rosa. Magbabakasyon sana kasama ng kaibigan niyang si Fernando na taga-San Nicolas, habang si Teresita Dela Paz naman, pauwi noon ng Mindoro dahil semestral break sa college. That incident started a beautiful friendship and an equally nakakakilig na ligawan. Nang magpakasal sila, Arturo, who was originally from Baguio moved to San Nicolas with Teresita, para raw hindi siya malayo sa pamilya niya. Her mother worked at first, but opted to be a stay at home mother when Cristina Rose and Maya were born. Bumalik lang siya sa pagtatrabaho sa kapitolyo nang mabiyuda siya.

“O maiba ako, Maya. Kumusta na si Doris and si Lance? Basta kung may time ka tulong-tulungan mo na lang ang kaibigan mong iyon.” Nanay Teresita said. Parang anak na rin ang turing niya kay Doris and si Lance, parang apo na niya.

“Opo, Nay. Maayos naman po sila ni Lance. Magkikita kami bukas kasi kasama namin sila nina Richard and Abby na pupunta sa Tagaytay. Ipapasyal po namin ang mga bata. I forgot to mention earlier na nagkataon na magkaklase sina Lance at Abby sa progressive school na malapit dito sa Mirasol Street.”

“That’s nice to know, Maya. Maganda iyon at ng makapag-bonding kayo, kasama ng anak ni Richard. Ikumusta na mo na lang ako kay Doris at ihalik kay Lance.” Nanay Teresita said. “O sige, tawagan na lang tayo ulit ‘nak. Nandito na pala si Melinda. Kailangan ko siyang bilinan siya ng mga gagawin bago ako pumunta sa Poblador.”

“Sige po, Nanay. I love you very much.” Maya said.

“I love you din, anak. Be happy. Good luck sa trabaho mo ha.” Nanay Teresita said. “Mag-iingat ka parati and huwag mong pababayaan ang sarili mo.” She added before ending the call.

Maya suddenly realized, with that phone call, one of the longest she had with her mother, that she misses her very much. Maybe, she should go home the soonest possible time she has kahit na weekend lang. Baka sa next long weekend, she could, Maya mused.

Maya put her phone down by the coffee table in the living room and was about to go  back to her room to take a bath and do her morning rituals when the doorbell rang.

“Sino kaya ito, ang aga naman!” Maya muttered to herself. “Baka si Edselyn, naubusan na naman ng coffee. Her next door neighbor and friend, a flight attendant at Time Airways always runs out of stuffs. Hindi na kasi nito maasikasong mag-grocery because of her irregular schedule.

But it was not Eds at the door, but a very handsome Richard Lim in a pale blue shirt and jeans that hugged his muscular body, with a lopsided loving smile for Maya, and in his hand was a big bouquet of tulips and sunflower and a big paper bag.

“Good morning, sweetheart! I brought you breakfast.” He said with a big smile, showing her the big bag he was holding.

“Ricky!!!” Maya said, very, very surprised to see him bright and early! “Good morning! I thought maglilipat kayo this morning?”

“Maaga pa naman. May dala na akong ibang gamit, then babalikan ko na lang sina Abby and Manang Fe in a while. I just want to have breakfast first with my beautiful girlfriend.” He gave her another charming smile, then moved to lower his lips to hers.

“Sweetheart, wait! Hindi pa ako nagto-toothbrush man lang.” Maya said self-consciously, putting her hands over her mouth. “More than 24 hours ko nga ring suot itong damit na ito!”

“I don’t care, sweetheart.” Richard smiling, then gave Maya a quick kiss. “Did I wake you up pala? Kagigising mo lang?”

“No. Kanina pa ako gising. Surprisingly, I woke up early. Sorry pala at tinulugan kita. Thank you for putting me to bed.” Maya said, realizing then that Richard carried her to bed. “Nabigatan ka ba ng husto sa akin?”

“Hmmmm, what’s the safest answer to that sweetheart? Slight?” He teased, then laughed. Maya laughed with him. “Kayang-kaya ka pa naman nitong muscles ko, sweetheart.”

“Mukha naman, sweetheart.” Maya bantered back, then said, “Tumawag kasi si Nanay noong papunta na ako sa banyo. Medyo napahaba ang kwentuhan namin. Katatapos lang naming mag-usap nang mag-doorbell ka.”

“Oh really! Kumusta na ang nanay mo?” Richard asked. “I hope I can finally meet her soon. Ano pala ang sabi mo sa kanya? Sinabi mo na ang tungkol sa atin?”

“Yes, I did. She wants to meet you too. I told her about us after she blurted out pagkabati ko na siguro raw may boyfriend na ako.” Maya said, then smiled. “In fairness sa nanay ko, malakas ang radar. Imagine, she guessed na in love daw ako, after I answered her call. I told her that yes I do, that I have a boyfriend, and I’m in love with a very wonderful guy.” Maya said while affectionately pinching Richard’s cheek.

Richard smiled at that. Happy to know that Maya’s mother know about them. “I’m glad you told her, sweetheart. When are you planning to go and visit her?”

“Hmmm, I’m not yet sure. Pero after our phone call, bigla ko siyang na-miss ng todo. The last time kasi na nagkita kami noon pang nag-oathtaking kaming mga bagong lawyer. I’m planning to go to San Nicolas sa next long weekend.” Maya replied. “By the way, have a seat, Ricky and thank you for these beautiful flowers and the breakfast.”

“Really, you will? Okay lang ba kung sumama ako sa iyo?” Richard asked. “Ten years in the making na rin ang meeting namin ng nanay mo. I would like to finally meet the lady who gave birth to my beautiful and very loving girlfriend.” Richard said, gazing with Maya with so much love.

“Talaga, sasama ka sa akin? Sure! Sigurado ako matutuwa si Nanay noon. Saka para makita mo rin kung saan ako lumaki.” Maya said.

“Okay, just let me know when so I can clear my schedule rin.” Richard said. “Thanks a lot Maya. I’m really looking forward to meeting your mother. Halika na kain na tayo!”

“Oh, is it okay if I take a shower first?” Maya asked. “I can get you coffee muna.”

“Sure, sweetheart. No need to get me coffee. I got us coffee. Ako na ang bahala rito. Go take your shower.” Richard offered.

“Thank you, sweetheart. I will be back in a jiffy.” Maya said.

Maya went back to her room, while Richard proceeded to the kitchen and started setting the table. Thirty minutes after, Maya returned, wearing a floral skirt and a white sleeveless top.

“You look lovely, sweetheart.” Richard told Maya when he saw her walking towards him. This is the first time he had seen her again in casual clothes. ” Ready na ang food natin. I hope you will like it.” For breakfast, Richard got them tapsilog, and some fruits, with a big thermos of coffee.

“Wow, looks masarap, sweetheart. Thank you for setting the table.” Maya sat on the seat that Richard pulled for her.

The two of them chatted about the trip to Mindoro while eating, as well Richard and Abby’s move to the big house.

“What’s Abby’s favorite food, Ricky?” Maya asked as they were sipping coffee.

“Spaghetti! Kahit yata araw-araw, hindi nagsasawa doon si Abby.” Richard replied.

“Okay, I’ll bring that when I drop by your house later.” Maya said.

“Sweetheart, you don’t have to. Pahinga ka na lang today, ito na nga lang ang pahinga mo.” Richard said.

“Sweetheart, I want to, please. It is the least I could do to help you out, bring merienda.” Maya insisted. “Besides, Mr. Lim, hindi mo pa natitikman ang spaghetti ko.” She added, smiling.

“Okay, sweetheart, you are the boss. I’m sure, Abby and I will like it.” Richard said. “Thank you, Maya. I have the best girlfriend in the world.” He then took Maya’s hand and kissed it. “I love you very much.”

“I love you very much too, Ricky!” Maya replied, looking at Richard with a big smile.

She will never get tired of hearing those words from him, and her, saying to him. They shared a deep look, and before they realized it, they moved their heads, angling for the sweet kiss they shared, initially, followed by a searing one, then another. They broke up grinning goofily, with faces flushed.

Richard helped Maya with the dishes despite her insistence that she can do it herself. After their second cups of coffee, Richard   told Maya that he needed to get going dahil idadaan pa niya sa big house ang mga dala niyang gamit.

“I’ll see you later, sweetheart.” Richard said softly, reluctant to let go of Maya’s hand while they were at the door of her apartment. He wished he could just spend the whole morning, cuddling with Maya.

“See you sweetheart.” Maya replied, gazing at Richard’s handsome face. “Thank you for the wonderful Saturday morning treat.”

They shared another kiss before parting for the morning, looking forward to seeing each other again, and spending the evening together. In several hours, they will live in the same street again!

 

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On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 13

Chapter 13

“So, that’s how wonderful it feels!” Maya murmured to herself after she and Richard slowly broke apart, catching their breaths and equilibrium after that earth-shaking kiss. She was taken off guard by that, in a very, very nice way. She never knew it would feel like that, like her whole universe was anchored on the feeling that Richard’s soul-shattering kiss brought.

“What was that Maya?” Richard asked gently, lovingly, cupping Maya’s chin. He heard her, but he wanted to be sure that he heard her correctly. He, too, felt the earth moved with that kiss. It felt like their souls fused with that kiss.

Maya flushed, not sure whether to admit it to Richard or not, but on the other hand, she mused, this is Richard and she is comfortable with telling him such things. “Well, I never knew that a kiss would feel like that, like your whole world is centered on that kiss and the person you are sharing it with. I mean, sometimes I would imagine what it would feel like, especially when I would read about it in the romance novels I was addicted to, but still, my imagination felt way short of the real thing.” Maya finally said with a shy smile, her lips still tingling from that kiss.

It dawned on Richard then that this was Maya’s first kiss and he felt privileged and honored to be the one she had shared it with. Yes, he initiated it but Maya shared it with him. He felt it. He cupped her face, then said softly, for he too felt the difference in the kiss. “With the right person, with the person you love, it is. I felt the same Maya. It was like my first kiss as well. Kisses are not the same.”

“Really, Ricky?” Maya asked, curious to know. She thought it would be somewhat the same with Richard, sort of, as he had girlfriends before and has been married for a number of years.

“Yes, because of what I feel for you when we shared that kiss.” Then taking Maya’s hand, Richard looked deeply into her eyes. “I love you very much, Maya. I never stopped. What I felt for you ten years ago, it is still here, in my heart. It has just laid dormant while we were apart and when so many things and circumstances have kept us apart. When I saw you again, my heart jumped and beat faster. The same way it does every time I would see you years ago. I became alive again. Suddenly, my heart feels so light and I doubly look forward to each morning. When I go to sleep at night, you were my last thought. I feel this indescribable happiness when I’m with you, when I see you kahit across a conference table lang.”

“R-r-ricky,” Maya whispered, not completely believing that she is finally hearing those words from Richard’s lips. Parang feeling niya nananaginip pa rin siya. Yes, she knows he has feelings for her, otherwise, he would have not said he will court her proper this time, but hearing those words, she felt like she was transported to a place that only her and Richard exist. Then taking a deep breath, calming herself, she admitted to Richard. “I never stopped loving you too, Ricky. Wala namang ibang naging laman ang puso ko kundi ikaw. Walang ibang nagpatibok nito ng ganito, kundi ikaw. I only feel this happiness when I am with you.”

“M-maya, you mean…?” Richard asked hesitantly, thinking that he was just dreaming too, that he was not hearing those words from Maya. But he does! He hoped he would hear it from her during the course of their courtship but he was not expecting it this soon.

“Yes, Ricky, I love you too. Ikaw lang ang nandito” Maya said, pointing at her heart, then gazing at Richard with all the love that she is feeling. “And you are right, I may have not kissed anyone like that before you, but I think I would have known the difference too. I felt like it went beyond our lips fusing together. I felt it deep into my soul.”

“Maya, Maya, sweetheart, you are making me the happiest guy in the world.” Richard said, his voice suddenly unsteady! “So this means, tayo na, ha? You are my girlfriend na, finally! Sinasagot mo na ako?” He babbled.

Maya smiled, seeing the happiness and the love on Richard’s handsome face. “Opo, Mr. Lim, tayo na po. You are my boyfriend na po.” She said, touching his face lovingly. “I love you very much!”

“Maya, I’m the happiest guy in the world at the moment! Thank you. I love you very, very much, sweetheart.” Then he lowered his head to hers again and they shared another beautiful kiss.

“I love you very much, Ricky. Parang feeling ko nananaginip ako, and yet, here we are.” Maya said, touching Richard’s face lovingly. “Parang nakikita ko ang mga sarili natin 10 years younger, inside a car din after our first unofficial date. Naaalala mo iyon, noong nag-bookstore tayo. Kung alam mo lang, sobrang happy ko that night.”

“This is real, Maya. Fate made us meet again so we can continue what we started ten years ago. Not so many people have second chances like this. I promise not to waste it. I will love you until the end of my days and it will be my goal to make you happy.” Richard said eloquently. “And sobrang happy ko rin that night. For me, that was our ‘first date’.

“Thank you, Ricky. You are right. Ayaw ko na ring sayangin ang panahon. Ten years na ang nawala sa buhay natin. But you and I, we can’t regret those ten years. It made us better persons. It shaped us to be the persons we are now, and in your case, it gave you Abby pa. Tapos you found love din naman with Alexandra even if it was a different kind of love.”

“I completely agree, Maya. Let us move forward together from now on and let’s not waste our moments.” Richard said, cupping Maya’s face and giving her another kiss, this one more intense than the first kiss they have shared. Maya returned the kiss with all the feeling she has in her. “And thank you very much, Maya, for understanding that Abby is a part of my life now and that Alexandra was part of it.”

“Ricky, I do. I just want you to know. Alexandra was there for you when you needed someone and who can’t not love Abby. She is a precious girl.” Maya assured Richard. “The past is the past and we can’t do anything about it. Good thing, we have the present to build on towards our future, wherever it would lead us.”

“I love you, you know, Ms. Dela Rosa, you and your big loving heart.” Richard said, so overwhelmed at that moment. He is sure already where the present would lead them, to a future together.

“I love you too, Mr. Lim, kahit ilang lifetimes ang dumaan, ikaw pa rin ang nandito sa puso ko.” Maya whispered lovingly.

Maya and Richard stayed in the car for several minutes more, savoring the moment and the change in their relationship status. Maya’s head was pillowed on Richard’s chest as he caressed her hair slowly, interspersing it with soft little kisses.

“Halika na ihahatid na kita sa apartment mo. As much as I want to stay with you here all night, alam ko na you had a long day na rin.” Richard reluctantly said after a while.

“Halika sa itaas na nga tayo magkwentuhan. We will be more comfortable there. Don’t worry, I’m not sleepy pa naman. Besides, wala naman tayong pasok bukas. Though, oo nga pala, maglilipat pa kayo in the morning.” Maya said. She, too, was reluctant for the wonderful evening to end.

“Oh, no worries about that. Hindi naman iyan kailangang sobrang agang gawin. Kami-kami lang naman nina Manang and Abby. Besides, Sabel can help and nandoon din naman si Joma.” Richard assured Maya. “Halika, I will take you up to your place.”

Richard opened the door for her. Hands intertwined and with sweet smiles for each other they went up to Maya’s apartment.

“Coffee, juice, water?” Maya asked as she and Richard entered her apartment. She dropped her things on the table and told Richard to sit on the sofa while she gets them something to drink.

“Nothing at the moment. I just want to be with you.” Richard said softly, lovingly. Then he led Maya to the sofa. But instead of letting her sit beside him, he reeled Maya in and she ended into his lap. “I just want to cuddle with my girlfriend.” He whispered softly, lovingly.

Maya smiled, thrilled at hearing the word ‘girlfriend’ again. “Yes, boyfriend. I love saying it and hearing girlfriend from your lips. Imagine, after all these years, boyfriend na talaga kita, Ricky! Hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala.”

“Sweetheart, ako rin. We are so very, very lucky. Pagkatapos ng sampung taon at ng lahat ng nangyari sa buhay natin, tayo pa rin! You know what, sweetheart, kahit hindi tayo nagkita sa RRMA, I was really planning on looking for you pagkatapos ko lang ma-settle si Abby and the business too. Shot in the dark, pero I was determined to find you and see if I can pick up where we have stopped before. I was hoping for kahit kaunting chance lang or a closure at least if you are not free na to have me. Kaya nga nang sinabi mo na hindi ka pa taken, sobrang saya ko kaya.” Richard said, hugging Maya tight. “I’m been thanking God ever since for this second chance.”

“Talaga, sweetheart! Pero kung hindi sa RRMA, sure ako na magkikita pa rin tayo since you are moving back here at Mirasol. Imagine, pagkatapos tayong paghiwalayin ng circumstances, kahit ano pala ang gawin natin, pagtatagpuin pa rin tayo. You know, there is a part of me, that has been waiting for you. I was so reluctant to let you go and what we had started years ago. Like I have said, in all those years, wala talagang ibang pumasok dito sa puso ko. Not Jason, or the guys that have courted me while I was working as a journalist or even while at law school. Wala akong maramdaman sa kanila na katulad ng naramdaman ko sa iyo. I just wished then, that someday, I will see you again and see if the feeling is still the same, na sana we will end up together pa rin despite the odds kasi the feeling is still there or para na rin maka-move on since we didn’t have a closure if ever man na that you have moved on na rin. Pero nang makita ulit, I felt again what I felt for you ten years ago, like you, parang nabuhay ng sobra-sobra. Hindi talaga nagbago. Even when I thought that you were married and have a kid na. I fought it lang a bit since I thought you were married. Pero nang malaman ko na widower ka, my heart jumped. I’m so happy, Ricky, that we found each other again and that what we felt for each other ten years ago is still here, very much alive in our hearts.” Maya said emotionally, touching Richard’s face softly and his heart.

“I love you very much, Maya.” Richard said with all the love he is feeling. “I can’t find words to describe what I am feeling at the moment. I can’t thank God enough for still making this possible, for us ending up with each other pa rin sa hinaba-haba ng panahon.”

“I love you very much too, Ricky.” Maya replied. “Sobra-sobra.”

Maya and Richard gazed at each other with all the love they are feeling, wanting each other to know, wanting to show it in every way they could. Richard cupped Maya’s chin, caressed her lips with his thumb softly, then his lips replaced his thumb. Richard gave Maya a searing kiss which she responded wholeheartedly. His tongue sought entrance to her mouth and when she let him in, their tongues dueled and mated into a love dance.

“Ricky….” Maya whispered against Richard’s mouth, unable to put into words the effect of Richard’s kisses and caresses on her. He is driving her crazy with emotions that she was feeling for the first time. She felt like she was on fire.

“Maya, sweetheart…” Richard murmured in between kissing Maya. He can’t get enough of her. At the back of his head, he knew that things are going to get out of hand soon, if he does not put a stop to the fire that has ignited between them. But he wanted more, a couple of minutes more of this, of being with Maya like this. He deepened his kiss again. Maya responded. She also started touching him, caressing his hair, seeking what, she can’t fully explained. She just wanted to be with Ricky as close as possible.

Maya somewhat had an idea of effect of what they were doing on Richard. She can hear his shortness of breath and the evidence of his desire for her from her perch on his lap. She felt his hand moving to the underside of her breast and she waited with bated breath for that touch that she knew was coming. She didn’t wait long, as Richard cupped her left breast through the opening of the sheath dress she wore that morning. Maya gasped from the effect of his touch. She felt like she have been singed. She felt the heat traveling to her inner core. She wanted more. Her body undulated against Richard, silently begging for more.

“Maya, sweetheart, what you do to me….” Richard whispered, trying to stop the conflagration that was consuming him and Maya fast. “I love this, but we need to stop, sweetheart while we still can, while I still can.” He said in between gasping for breath.

Maya tried to get out of the haze of desire enveloping her, knowing that Richard was right, they needed to stop, for now. She wiggled and Richard groaned loudly, as if he was in pain.

“Sweetheart, don’t move like that, you are killing me.” Richard said with a pained expression, still fighting off the intense desire he was feeling for Maya.

“Oh!” Maya realized what she had done and the effect on it on Richard’s body. She flushed, realizing the full extent of Richard’s desire for her.

“You are lethal, sweetheart.” Richard said, smiling lovingly at Maya, trying to catch his breath.

Maya just smiled and hugged Richard. She should feel uncomfortable with the level of intimacy she and Richard had reached that evening, considering this was all new to her, but she was not. For her, it was perfectly okay and normal between them. She is ready to go where it would lead Richard and her. But maybe that night is not the time to take their relationship to the physical level.

“Sweetheart, are you okay?” Richard asked after a while, looking at Maya’s thoroughly kissed lips. “I’m sorry, I got carried away.”

“Ricky, sweetheart, don’t be. Dalawa naman tayo roon.” Maya assured Richard. “I maybe innocent in the physical aspect of a relationship between a man and a woman, but I know about it on a theoretical level. Sa dami ba naman ng bodice-ripper novels na nabasa ko, sweetheart,” She finished with a smile.

“Hmmm, really, those sexy poses on the cover, hanggang loob ng books? Mas intense pa?” Richard asked. “There must be something in those books, maybe I should start reading that too!” He teased after Maya nodded.

“Hahahaha, Ricky, ikaw talaga.” Maya laughed. “You don’t need to find out what women found in those. I think you are doing pretty well for yourself.”

Richard grinned. “Really, sweetheart. So kasing-level ko na ang mga bodice-ripper heroes?” He asked still teasing.

“Richard Lim, ang ego!” Maya teased, pinching Richard on the side.

“Ouchy naman, sweetheart! Kasasagot mo pa lang sa akin, battered na ako.” Richard teased, pretending to be hurt, by pouting his lips.

“Oh, poor you.” Maya said, then gave him a quick kiss on the lips. “Better?”

“So much better.” Richard grinned. “May masakit pa dito sa side ko.”

“Ha, sobra na iyan Mr. Ricky Lim ha!” She protested smiling, but still, gave him another kiss.

They shared a big smile after, then gazed deeply into each other’s eyes.  They cuddled for a while, until Richard realized that Maya was not moving or saying anything anymore while he caresses her hair. He checked and saw her sleeping. Her head pillowed on his chest. He also noticed her steady breathing.

“My poor sweetheart!” Richard said affectionately, lovingly.  She must have been very tired. They had a very long, but very wonderful day. He looked at the clock and realized that it was already past midnight.

With Maya still in his arms, Richard stood up slowly, then walked towards the door to the left of the living room, guessing it to be Maya’s room. He opened the door and he was right. A big bed dominated the room, with a small reading lamp by the side. The other wall was covered with a floor-to-ceiling book-case and beside it a small study table and a settee against the big wide window. It was a very nice and cozy room.

He laid down Maya gently on the bed. “Ricky….” she whispered sleepily.

“Shhhh, go back to sleep, sweetheart. I’ll let myself out.” Richard said, covering her with the comforter. He also turned on the air con unit he saw. He went back to the bed and kissed Maya on the forehead. “Good night, sweetheart. I love you.” He whispered to her now sleeping form again.

Richard slowly closed the door of Maya’s room and let himself out of the unit, making sure that Maya was tucked in safely for the night. He got out of the apartment building with a big smile on his face. The love of his life is sleeping safely for the night. In several hours, he will see her again. He can’t wait! Richard doubted if he can sleep very well that night with all the happiness in his heart,

He drove off into the night, leaving Mirasol Street one more time, then he will be back there for good!  He will be with the love of his life everyday, on the street where they started! He found himself humming ‘On the Street Where You Live’ from My Fair Lady while driving home. But unlike poor Freddy Enysford-Hill with Eliza Doolittle, he has Maya’s love. He found the love he had been looking for all his life and that wonderful lady loves him back! Life is just so perfect at that moment!

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On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 12

Chapter 12

“Brod, baka naman matunaw na si Maya niyan sa mga titig mo.” Attorney Ryan whispered teasingly to Richard after their meeting with Mr. Christopher Dy, the operations manager of Time Airways and his team has ended. The meeting took two hours, but they were successful in agreeing to a service agreement between TA and LAS.

Richard asked Maya and Ryan to stay after the meeting as he wanted to discuss the finer points of the contract they will draft for his company. Before they resume, Richard suggested a short break. Maya excused herself to go to the restroom, and get something from the office she was using. He and Ryan stayed in the conference room. Richard had asked Liza to buy food and make some coffee.

Ryan had seen Richard gazing at Maya intently just before she left the room. He had been doing so, the past hours, when he thought that no one was looking at him. Earlier that afternoon, he heard Maya thanked Richard for the flowers and the coffee. He had seen the flowers when he knocked on Maya’s office to tell her they needed to be on their way to LAS. Hmmm, things were really progressing fast, huh, he mused.

Richard flushed at Ryan’s teasing. He thought that he was doing the looking, surreptitiously, and that no one noticed. He can’t help himself. Maya looked so lovely today in the purple sheath dress she was wearing. Her face was almost completely devoid of make-up. But that made it highlights her best features such as her expressive doe-shape eyes, pouty lips and high cheekbones. He had a hard time concentrating.

“Ikaw talaga, Brod, ako na naman ang nakita mo!” Richard quipped at his friend, grinning broadly. “Last time I checked, it’s not a crime to look at the woman you will marry!”

Ryan almost fell from his chair, hearing that. “Ha, magpapakasal na kayo? Magpo-propose ka na? Nag-propose ka na? Kailan pa? Dapat akong best man mo ha!” He fired in rapid succession, astounded at how fast really were the developments between these two the past several days. Daig pa ang whirlwind sa tingin niya! Tornado lang, Richard Lim!

“Brod, you should see your expression. Close your mouth, baka dapuan ng langaw.” Richard said, laughing so hard. “Brod, speedy kung speedy ako kasi nga making up for our lost time, pero hindi naman ako si Flash Gordon! I wish, pero naman, Brod, Maya and I just saw each other again! Nanliligaw pa lang ulit ako. Nanunuyo. It has been ten years! Pero of course, I’m sure that I’ll marry her if she will have me.”

“Richard naman kasi, linawin mo ang statement mo! You can’t blame me for jumping to conclusion! Malay ko ba! Para kasing tuwing makikita ko kayo, may sarili kayong mundong dalawa.” Ryan said laughing hard too. “But Brod, hindi naman ako magtataka na doon nga kayo papunta. It’s a matter of time, kahit pa ang bibigat ng mga karibal mo,” he added.

Before Richard can react again, and ask Ryan about his ‘karibals’ in Maya’s heart, Liza interrupted them. “Coffee Sir Richard, Attorney Ryan!” She offered. “Gawa po iyan ni Attorney Maya! Nasa pantry kasi siya when I went there. She offered to make coffee for you two. Iyong sandwiches po na pinabili ko, to follow na lang, pabalik na siguro si Benjie.”

“Thank you, very much Liza. Nasaan na pala si Maya?” Ryan asked before Richard could.

“She will be along shortly daw po. She will work on something lang daw po while having coffee.” Liza replied, then she excused herself and left the room.

“Oh, okay. Sipag talaga nitong bagong associate ko, parang inspired na inspired.” Ryan said, sipping his coffee, teasing Richard. “Hmmmm, ang sarap nitong kape ah. Parang kakaiba. Parang tinimpla ng may halong pagmamahal.”

“Brod, ikaw talaga, hindi ka nagbabago, still incorrigible, alaskador!” Richard replied. “Hindi pa nga ako sinasagot eh.” He added in between sips of coffee. “And yes, masarap talaga ang coffee ni Maya. You are lucky to have her as your employee. Kahit noong unang kilala ko pa lang sa kanya, masipag siya, responsible and driven.Working student na siya noon. Hindi na bago sa kanya ang dalawang work na magkasabay like she did while in law school, though, that one was tougher on her kasi demanding din naman ang maging journalist. And see, she made it!” He finished, the pride in Maya’s achievements evident in his voice.

“Really, she is really admirable!” Ryan said nodding. “Brod, may I ask, if you don’t mind? Hindi ba talaga naging kayo dati ni Maya? Para kasing naging kayo, base sa mga nakikita ko.”

“If what happened did not happen, then we would have been.” Richard said, sipping his coffee. “I was really planning in following her to Mindoro that semestral break! Hindi ba isinasama pa nga kita sa Mindoro pero hindi ka pwede! Manliligaw pa lang sana ako ng husto when Mama and Grace were kidnapped. Kaya hayun, naunsyami ang panliligaw ko.”

“Yes, I remember that. I can’t remember why I begged off from going with you. Pero hindi na na natuloy di ba?” Ryan asked.

“No, hindi na. Bigla na kaming umalis. Nag-sorry na nga ako kay Maya when we saw each other again. Kasi kahit sa kanya, hindi rin ako nakapagpaalam, mahigpit ang bilin ni Papa na huwag kong sabihin kahit kanino na aalis kami, lalo na kay Maya.”

“You know what, I understood your father and his knee-jerk reaction to what happened to your Mama and Grace, pero to tell you specifically not to inform Maya, parang may kakaiba naman sa instructions niya.” Ryan said, thinking, his lawyer mind going in gears.

“I did wonder about that Brod, for years. There were times I wanted to ask Papa about it, pero ang dami na rin naman niyang worries, and besides, I got married na rin so I let it slide na lang. Pero naiisip ko rin na baka kasi nakita niya how Maya and I were getting closer at that time. That I was acting differently towards her than my old girlfriend, si Inez. Alam mo naman iyon, he didn’t like for me to get distracted while studying. But it is water under the bridge now. Ang importante na lang, nagkita kami ulit ni Maya. Fate made us meet again.” Richard said, took another sip of coffee.

“Tama ka naman doon, Richard. Kasi ang importante ang ngayon and what you are having with her. Tutal naman, nangyari na ang mga nagyari.” Ryan said, nodding his head in agreement.

“By the way, you were saying about my ‘karibals’?” Richard asked, not being able to help himself. He just wants to know, hindi naman masamang malaman, di ba? Actually, may idea na siya doon sa isa, that Attorney James Ventura. But who are the others?

However, before Ryan can reply, Maya returned. “My apologies for taking so long. Have you started? I had to email a document to a client. He texted while I was making coffee.” Then looking at Ryan, she explained, “Attorney Ryan, ito iyung pina-check ko sa iyo kaninang umaga and you told me okay na for sending. I just saw rin your e-mail to me. When Mr. Fernando texted, I e-mailed it to him promptly.”

“Oh, okay. He texted you ha!  I did tell him naman that I will have you e-mail it as soon as we are finished with it. Mabuti we did na.” Ryan remarked. “Anyway, hindi pa naman kami nag-start ni Richard. We are chatting a bit and enjoying your delicious coffee. Thank you for this Maya.” He said, holding up the cup.

“Thank you for the coffee, Maya. Masarap as always.” Richard added, giving her a big smile.

“You’re welcome, Attorney Ryan, Richard.” Maya still finds it a bit awkward to call Richard by his first name when they are in a business setting, but he insisted.

Before, she could say more, her phone rang. She grab it, hoping to put it on silent fast. Nakalimutan niya. However, she saw the name of the person calling, and thinking that it was business related, she started asking to be excused.

“Go ahead, Maya, please answer your phone call.” Richard said.

When Maya was going out of the room, Richard and Ryan both heard her saying hello to a ‘Jason’.

“Iyon Brod, isa iyon sa mga karibal mo.” Ryan said. “Bago naming client. He is the CEO of a company that brought a lot of big name foreign brands in the Philippines. From the prominent Fernando family, one of those young entrepreneurs. He and Maya knew each other before. Maya also disclosed to me that dati iyong nanligaw sa kanya. Siguro, she told me kasi nga magiging client namin. Alam mo naman iyang si Maya sobrang honest.”

“Oh!” It was all Richard managed to say, looking at Maya from the glass window of the conference room and saw her still talking on the phone.

“Brod, hwag kang mag-aalala.” Ryan said, breaking into whatever thoughts Richard’s mind was going into. “Ex-manliligaw ang sabi ni Maya. Saka feeling ko naman nasa iyo ang puso ng beautiful lady ng RRMA.”

“Sorry about that,” Maya said, returning to where she was seated earlier, curtailing Richard’s reply to Ryan. “Sir, si Mr. Jason Fernando po ang tumawag. He just wanted to thank me for sending the documents.”

“He called pa just to thank you!” Richard blurted out before he could stop himself.

Maya, and also Ryan was surprised at what he said. Ryan because he always see Richard as a very affable guy, Maya because she was not expecting him to comment as it was nothing to do with him and LAS, except that she and Ryan are officially on LAS time that moment.

Realizing what he said, and seeing Maya’s surprised expression, and Ryan’s now teasing expression, he flushed a bit and modify his statement. “I mean, errr, he could have texted na lang or replied to Maya’s e-mail since she is in a meeting.” He managed to say, then ended it with by saying, “Oh well, let’s go back to our meeting.”

Maya was puzzled by Richard’s action. Was he jealous? But how would he know about Jason Fernando? Then she looked at Ryan Molina and saw him smiling to himself. Aha, I know why, she mused. Ikaw, Attorney Ryan ha, may pagka-mischievous ka rin ha! Maya let it passed for now. She will just tell Richard about Jason when they have dinner later. Hmmm, jealous much, Mr. Lim! I didn’t know you have it in you. Para kasing steady ka lang diyan. Baka kapag nalaman mo na he called me on the pretext, lalo kang magselos. Jason, after thanking Maya for the mail, did invite her to dinner that evening. However, she declined as she already is going to have dinner with Richard. Besides, she is not interested in going to dinner with Jason.

The three of them concentrated on the documents before them, while having their second cups of coffee and Liza’s sandwiches from a nearby deli. Two hours later, they were done.

“So, everything is good to go. Maya and I will just draft the whole thing and send it here by Tuesday morning, sa next punta sa LAS ni Maya.” Ryan said as he gathered papers and put them in his briefcase.

“Yes, that’s about it. TA and LAS in partnership, long-term! Great.” Richard said smiling.

“So paano, Maya and I will get going. Maya, sumabay ka na sa akin pauwi, Friday ngayon, suweldo pa, mahirap sumakay.” Ryan offered. “On the way ko naman ang place mo, I think.”

Before Maya could react, Richard spoke. “Brod, if Maya is done for the day, ako na lang ang maghahatid sa kanya.” Richard offered, not noticing a silent Maya. “Anyway, we will have dinner later.”

“Maya….” Ryan asked, looking at Maya. He did notice.

” Yes, Attorney Ryan, I will go home later na lang. I will just work from here.” Maya said instead.

“Oh, you don’t have to. You can go home also, anyway it’s a Friday and you have finished the work I assigned to you way ahead of schedule. But it is up to you.” Ryan said. “O paano, Brod, Maya, mauuna na ako. Have a nice weekend.”

Ryan left the two of them in the conference room. At first there was a bit of silence as Richard realized something. Maya got uncomfortable in front of her boss with his offer!

“Maya, I’m so sorry. I should have let you speak for yourself.” Richard said, looking at her contrite. “I know, Ryan is still your boss even if we are friends and he knows I’m courting you.”

“Yes, Ricky, I was going to talk to you about that nga. I know you two are friends, but he is still my boss. As much as possible, I want to separate my personal life from my professional one, which I had just started several days ago..” Maya said, imploring Richard to understand where she is coming from.

“I want to be discreet as much as possible when our personal relationship is concern since you also happen to be a client, even if we have known each other from years back. The other day was different when I saw you two talking at the RRMA building lobby since it was beyond office hours. This one, not yet. I’m still, technically, on company time and I went here to LAS on official business. Had you let me speak for myself, I would have declined and stay here pa rin, to work from here, until we are ready to leave for our dinner. I do have some things I want to finish before I call it a day. The other associates of the firm are working hard, baka nga most of them are still at work hanggang ngayon, and I want to do the same. I don’t want to be accused of slacking because I’m friends with a friend of my boss or the partners of the firm.”

“I’m really sorry, Maya. I understand. That will not happen again.” Richard said, then admitted sheepishly, “I guess hearing about that Jason Fernando unsettled me a bit.”

“See, you even know about him! Judging by your reaction earlier, I know you knew who Jason is. Attorney Ryan had told you di ba?” Maya asked. “I’m planning to tell you about him naman during our dinner this evening, and if you had asked.” Maya continued. “But let’s forget about it. I just spoke because I don’t want to have any misunderstanding between us. I have to juggle our personal and professional relationships. I don’t want to be always explaining to other people that you are a friend, a special one at that, even before you became a client.”

“Yes, Attorney. Sorry na nga.” Richard said with a charming smile. “Forgive me.”

Maya smiled at him. “Oo naman. Kaya nga ha, no holding my hand on company time. Especially if my boss and your employees are around, okay?.”

“Yes po, talo na po ako Attorney.” Richard said, raising his hands in mock surrender, giving Maya one of his cute lopsided smiles.

“Sige na Mr. Lim, pupunta na muna ako sa office ko. I’ll see you in two hours.” Maya said smiling sweetly at Richard. When she was at the door, she had a parting shot at Richard. “And Mr. Lim, you have nothing to worry about Jason Fernando.” With that, she left.

Richard had a huge grin on his face after hearing that. He gazed at Maya’s departing back with a loving expression. Then, he too, stood up and went back to his office, humming a happy tune. Liza, when she heard her boss doing so, smiled and shook her head. Iba na talaga ang in love, was her bubble thought!

Two hours later, Richard knocked on Maya’s door. His employees have all gone home, an hour ago, including Liza

“So, dinner time na Attorney.” Richard said by way of a greeting. “Let’s go na, Maya, I’m hungry na.”

“Okay. I was about to tidy up my desk na nga.” Maya said. She gathered her things and several minutes after they were on their way out of LAS. “Saan tayo magdi-dinner?”

“I’m thinking of trying that nice Italian restaurant in Makati that Ryan has recommended. Friday naman. I had Liza made a reservation earlier.” Richard replied as he opened the car door for Maya.

“Sounds good.” Maya said as she fastened her seatbelt. “So, all set na ba kayo sa paglipat ninyo tomorrow? By the way, I talked to Doris pala this morning. Yes daw, makakasama sila ni Lance sa Tagaytay on Sunday.”

“That’s great! Matutuwa si Abby niyan.” Richard said as he navigated the road going to Makati. “Have you been to that Sky Ranch?”

“Yes, one time with my law school classmates, after the bar exams. We felt like celebrating after four weekends of exams, so we took an impromptu day trip to Tagaytay and went around the place. Our last stop was that amusement park. Nagmukha nga kaming bumalik sa pagkabata lahat.” Maya smiled as she narrated that trip. “I’m sure magugustuhan doon nina Abby at Lance. Meron namang mga ride na pang-age nila. I’m looking forward to meeting her formally and getting to know her better.”

“She is looking forward to that too, Maya.” Richard said. “She had asked me, actually, out of the blue, if you will like her. I told her you will and that Lance loves you.”

“Oh she did!” Maya replied, smiling. “Well that is true, I like her already. She seems like a very smart and sweet girl, Ricky.”

“She is that, Maya.” Richard said. “Abby is worth everything. She is the best of Alexandra and I.”

“Ricky, may I ask a personal question?” Maya ventured, him having brought the name of his wife up.

“Sure, Maya, anything.” Richard said.

“Filipina rin ba ang naging wife mo or Chinese?” She asked. “You met each other in Beijing?”

“Filipino-Chinese like me. We met at the university, but our parents were friends, it turned out. We just gravitated towards each other since we have a similar background. We became good friends. Upon the prodding of our families, I guess, and because we clicked well, we became a couple and then we married. However, after we had Abby, we had realized that what we felt for each other was affection, as one good friend to another, and not the kind of love between a man and a woman that we see in movies, in literary works or, in our friends who are very much in love.”

“Oh!” Maya said. She never expected that Richard will open like this when she asked a bit about Alexandra. But she was glad he did.

“Yes, but Alexandra and I were okay with it at that moment since we didn’t have anything else and there was Abby to think of. Some marriages, we said was built on less. We loved each other in our very own way. Then she got sick. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. After Abby turned two, she died, as if she just waited until Abby had her second birthday.” Richard narrated. “She was a good person and a good friend. She told me to be happy,” he finished.

“I do believe she was, Ricky. You were lucky to have her and she had given you your angel Abby. Thank you for telling me.” Maya simply said, putting her hand on Ricky’s arm. Richard nodded and put his hand on top of Maya’s, driving with one for a minute or two.

Soon after, they arrived at the restaurant. They were immediately led to the table reserved by Liza, at a secluded part of the beautifully decorated and relaxing restaurant. Maya and Ricky started their dinner with mushroom soup for Maya and a seafood one for Richard, followed by two different kinds of pasta and grilled fish, with one glass of white wine each, and for dessert they had Crème brûlée and Panna cotta, with cappuccino.

“I’m so stuffed, Ricky.” Maya remarked while they were sipping their coffee. “That was a very good meal. In fairness to Attorney Ryan, this restaurant is great!”

“I’m glad you like the place, Maya.” Richard said smiling. “So, tomorrow, we will buy your car, don’t forget din.”

“Oh, that. Yes, I need one.” Maya said. “I’m a bit rusty, though. I have not driven one in a while.”

“That’s easily remedied. You can drive on the way home. Do have your license with you?” Richard said, and offered.

“Ha, naku, baka maibangga ko ang car mo, BMW kaya iyan. I’m used to driving a simple sedan.” Maya sounding nervous. “I do have my license and it is current, but I wouldn’t dare!”

“It’s only a car, Maya. And I’m sure, you will do okay.” Richard assured her. “I will be with you.”

“Okay, but don’t kill me ha, if by the end of the evening it has scratches.” Maya said.

“I will not, promise.” Richard said, smiling. “Cross my heart.”

“Okay.” Maya said, gulping.

They chatted some more, had another cup of coffee each and soon, they were on their way out of the restaurant. However, before they reached the door, someone called Maya’s name.  When Maya looked at the source of the voice, she saw Jason Fernando getting up from the table where he was having dinner with three other guys.

“Fancy seeing you here, Maya!” Jason said by way of a greeting. Then he noticed that Maya is with a tall, good-looking Chinito guy, he introduced himself. “Hi, I’m Jason Francisco, a friend of Maya’s.” He offered his hand to Richard.

“Richard Lim,” Richard said, shaking Jason’s hand. “I’m a friend of Maya’s, from way back!” He added.

“Jason, hello!” Maya said politely.

“So you will be here rin pala. Had you agreed to have dinner with me, I would have brought you here too.” Jason remarked, gazing at Maya intently.

“Oh. Well, like I have told you earlier, I had plans for this evening. Ricky and I agreed to have dinner tonight kasi. Di ba, Ricky?” She asked Richard, gazing at him, and taking hold of his hand and slowly interlacing it with hers.

“Yes, we did.” Richard said, surprised at Maya’s gesture that did not escape Jason’s notice.

“O paano Jason, Richard and I need to get going. Nice seeing you again. Have a nice evening.” Maya said.

“Okay Maya. See you around!” Jason said, then politely to Richard, “Nice meeting you, Richard.”

“You too!” Richard said.

Jason returned to his table and Maya and Richard went to where he parked his car.

“So, what was that all about? Not that I’m complaining that you initiated holding my hand.” Richard said, smiling, teasing Maya while they were walking. “Parang feeling ko, you were driving a message across.”

“Well, I just want him to finally take a hint that I’m not interested, not before and not now. Hayun, I wanted to imply lang that I’m taken.” Maya admitted. “I don’t want to lie naman to him and introduce you as my boyfriend eh hindi naman kita boyfriend.”

Richard smiled. “Eh kasi naman that’s easily remedied, sagutin mo na kasi ako.” He teased Maya. “I am not your boyfriend YET! Emphasis on the ‘yet’ Attorney.”

“Hahahaha, confident much, Mr. Lim. Di ba manliligaw ka pa ng husto?” Maya said, bantering with Richard. “Kasisimula mo pa lang ah.”

“Iyon na nga ang ginagawa ko, Attorney.” Richard retorted, then said “Well, sabi niya sa hinahaba man ng prusisyon….”

“So continue, Mr, Lim….”

“Sa hinahaba-haba man ng prusisyon, may naghihintay na ‘Oo’ sa dulo.” He said, grinning.

“Ikaw talaga, corny pa rin. Pero, in fairness hindi halatang nagselos ka sa kanya kanina.” Maya teased.

“Well, di ba sabi mo naman wala akong dapat ipag-worry kay Jason Fernando.” Richard bantered back, gazing at Maya lovingly. “See, tama naman ako kanina, may ibang motive iyang Jason Fernando na iyan when he called you.” He added.

They shared a sweet smile. A horn beeped and that snapped them out of the private world they were in.

“Halika na nga, uwi na tayo. Key please, Mr. Lim.” Maya said, holding out her hand, then she uttered a silent prayer after Richard gave her the key and opened the door at the driver’s side for her.

“Go, Maya, you can do it.” Richard, patting her on the shoulder before moving to the other side and getting into the passenger seat.

Maya started the car. At first her driving was wobbly. But several minutes after she got the hang of it. She laughed, happy to be driving again. Half an hour later, they have reached her place. She parked the car, then made a whopping sound.

“See, I told you, you can do it. It’s just like riding a bike again.” Richard said, grinning.

“Oo nga! Thank you very much for the experience, Ricky! That was fun!” Maya said happily, then hastily unfastened her seat belt, she hugged Richard spontaneously. Richard hugged her back tight.

They loosen their embrace after a while, then gazed at each other intently, meaningfully. Richard can’t help himself anymore, he lowered his lips to Maya’s. Maya knew what was coming and she waited with bated breath, lips half-opened. Their lips met, fused and they shared a searing kiss in the privacy of Richard’s car.

 

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On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 11

Chapter 11

Maya woke up with a big smile the morning after hers and Richard’s ‘first date’. She felt like she wanted to sing, dance, or just open her window and shout to the world what a beautiful morning it was, and that life is so good! She got out of the bed humming, feeling very inspired and so looking forward to the day ahead.

She got ready for work. That day was the second time she will be going to LAS for the morning. At of course, that would mean seeing Richard again after their wonderful dinner last night. Over coffee and dessert, they continued chatting about every topic they could think of. Richard was very attentive, listening to her, at the same time, looking at her in a way that made her very self-conscious. Feeling niya, matutunaw na siya sa mga titig sa kanya ni Richard!

Like the other night, Richard brought her home again. This time, despite the lateness of the hour, he went inside her small apartment. He told her he likes the way she had designed the place, maaliwalas and very homey. They had another cup of coffee before calling it a night. Before he left for the night, he told Maya softly that he had a wonderful time, and for the first time, he actually felt that he is finally home. He also gave her a quick kiss on the cheek when he was about to leave. They shared a long look, and big smiles after it.

Both Richard and Maya went to bed that night with dreamy smiles on their faces. Richard texted Maya when he reached home to inform her that he was home safe, also to say good night one more time.

Maya reached the LAS office an hour after she had left her house. Good thing, she found a taxi readily. She really need to buy herself a car. She had learned how to drive a long time ago, with Doris, but didn’t have money for a car. She had been saving for it.

“Good morning, Liza!” Maya greeted Richard’s EA when she passed by her table on the way to the office that was assigned to her. “May paperwork ka ba for me? I also have the contracts na for signature na ni Ricky, errr ni Mr. Lim.”

“Good morning to you, Attorney!” Liza greeted Maya with a big, teasing grin. “Parang ang ganda-gandang gising natin ah. Parang alam ko na kung bakit.”

“Errr, yes, I had a good night sleep.” Then the second part of Liza’s statement registered in Maya’s brain. “Hmmm, alam mo kung bakit?” She asked, brows knitted.

“Just guessing, Attorney. Putting two and two together and thinking and hoping that I’m right kasi bagay kayo and kinikilig ako.” Liza said, smiling hugely. “Kasi po si Sir, nagpa-reserve ng dinner for two kagabi sa isang romantic place. Tapos ang ganda-ganda rin ng mood ngayong umaga. In fact, he was humming pa nga when he passed by my cubicle on the way out. Sorry for the kulit, pero I have a feeling na ikaw ang ka-dinner date ni Sir. Ayyy, so kilig.”

“Hahahaha, ikaw talaga, Liza.” Maya laughed, then teased the secretary a bit. “Paano mo namang na-conclude na ako? Malay mo active naman ang social life ng boss mo. May hitsura naman siya. Erase, not may hitsura lang, he is guapo naman.”

“Hmmm, ikaw Attorney Maya, pa-showbiz ka rin. Tingnan mo kung okay ang detective skills ko, kasi since nakita ka naming kasama ni Sir the other day, he had been acting out of character. Hindi na sumisimangot. Lagi nang nakangiti. Saka bumabati na sa mga empleyado ng good morning. Tapos biglang nagpa-reserve ng dinner sa akin. Bukod pa sa lunch before that. Eh tatlong buwan na ako rito, wala naman siyang ginawang ganoon.” Liza said, enumerating her boss’ new actions.

“Talaga, Liza?” Maya asked, heart beating faster with the knowledge.

“Yes na yes po, Attorney Maya.” Liza replied. “So, tama ako, ikaw nga ang ka-dinner date ni Sir?”

Maya smiled at Liza, then blushing a bit, she nodded.

Liza did a delightful ‘silent scream’ with matching covering her mouth, then she said. “Oh my gee, nakakakilig naman talaga.”

“Shhhh, Liza, baka marinig ka ni Ricky, errr, ni Mr. Lim.” Maya lightly admonished Richard’s EA and secretary.

“Naku, okay lang Attorney, patatawarin na ako noon, fan na fan ako ng love team niyo. Saka kung tayo lang namang dalawa rito, you can call him Ricky. I don’t think the employees would be that curious pa, seeing how sweet you two were. Saka this one naman, sa ating dalawa lang. Promise.”

“Hahahaha, enough na nga Liza. Let me have the documents I need to work on.” Maya said, shaking her head at the irreverent but very nice LAS employee.

“Okay, Attorney.” Liza said smiling. She handed Maya the documents. “Nasa site nga po pala si Sir. Kaaalis lang before ka dumating. Ang aga nga niya rito, naunahan pa akong dumating.”

“Okay, just give him these.” Maya said, then handed Liza the contracts that Richard needs to review and sign. “I’ll go to my office na.”

“Sure, Attorney. Do you need anything? Coffee? Tea? Breakfast. I can send our utility guy for those.”

“No, thanks, I’m good for now Liza. I will let you know if I do.”

Maya waved at Liza as she walked towards her office, which is besides Richard’s. She was surprised, though, when she entered the office. On her table, there was a bouquet of tulips of all colors, then a tall thermos of coffee, and what looks like breakfast in a brown paper bag. She dropped her things, then inspected the stuffs on her table. Maya found a note attached to the tulips.

Dearest Maya, 

Good morning! I hope you had a wonderful sleep. Since napuyat ka ulit because of me, I got coffee for you. And since baka magpagutom ka na naman, breakfast too. 

Have a great morning. I’ll see you later.

Yours,

Ricky

Maya was grinning from ear to ear while reading Richard’s note. Sino ba naman ang hindi gaganda ang umaga rito, Mr. Richard Lim, she whispered, clutching the beautiful flowers to her chest and smelling them lovingly. Saan naman kaya siya nakahanap ng tulips nang ganito kaaga? She wondered.

She opened the thermos and the smell of her favorite brew wafted into the air. She took a sip and sighed contently. She opened the small brown bag beside it and inside were two bagels and cream cheese. Ah, you are really the most thoughtful of guys, Richard Lim. Sino ba naman ang hindi mai-in love sa iyo!

Maya sat down on her chair, then texted Richard.

Good morning, Ricky! 🙂 Thank you for the beautiful flowers, the breakfast and most especially sa supply ng kape. And yes, I had a good night sleep kahit napuyat tayo!  🙂

Several seconds after, her phone beeped.

Great! I’m glad you liked my opening salvo for my day one of panliligaw and panunuyo!  Pasado ba ako sa initial step, Attorney Dela Rosa?   🙂 

Maya laughed upon reading that.

Hmmm, pasado naman, I think. May extra points ka pa for the tulips. You are very resourceful, nakahanap ka noon kahit sarado pa ang mga shop. May farm ka ng tulips?  🙂 

Richard replied promptly.

Happy that I passed. Hahaha, not actually a farm, but luckily I have a cousin who has a flower shop.

She replied, nodding.

So that’s why! Thank you again, Ricky. You are very thoughtful.

Richard replied one more time.

You’re welcome, Maya. I’ll see you in two hours. Nasa site lang ako. Matatapos na kami ni Engineer Gutierrez sa mga plane na ini-inspect namin.

Maya looked at his message, then typed in a quick reply.

Okay. I’ll see you. Take care and have a good morning too.

Her phone beeped again.

❤ ❤ ❤

Hmmm, Maya said, three hearts. Awwww!  She sent a last text with a big smile on her face.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Maya happily forged on with the documents before her, humming a love song as she did so. The morning passed like a blur. But still, no sign of Richard the whole morning. While she had been busy, the thought that she will see him anytime soon is at the back of Maya’s mind.

Richard arrived at LAS around lunchtime, carrying a big paper bag. There was an unexpected emergency at the site where his company does the maintenance of the planes. It needed his direct supervision and intervention. It was not helping that his new engineer has not arrived yet from Japan.

“Hi Sir, good morning or should I say good afternoon na! Halos lunchtime na pala!” Liza said, looking at  the clock, and seeing that it was already 15 minutes before 12NN.

“Hi Liza, how’s everything?” Richard asked, then unconsciously looking at the direction of Maya’s office, which didn’t escape Liza’s notice.

“Okay naman po, Sir. Tumawag lang po si Mr. Dy ng Time Airways, asking for a meeting tomorrow. I slated him after lunch. Free naman ang schedule mo at that time.” Liza said, briefing her boss. “Saka heto po ang mga contract na dala ni Attorney Maya kanina. She arrived half an hour after you left this morning.”

“Oh good! I think TA is ready to negotiate a long-term deal with us. I will just have Maya relay it to Ryan. Better if the two of them also attend the meeting.” Richard replied. “Thanks Liza. I’ll just to go my office. I’ll just review these contracts then kung okay na, you can send them out.”

Richard walked towards the direction of his office, but instead of going straight there, Liza saw him making a detour to Maya’s office. Ay, sabi na nga ba, doon ang punta muna ni Sir! She thought to herself. Kinikilig talaga siya sa nakikita niya!

When Richard reached Maya’s office, he leaned against the door, observing her. She was unaware of his presence so engrossed with what she is doing on her laptop, her ‘granny’ glasses perched on her cute nose. She looks very lovely in the sheath dress she was wearing, with minimal make-up on, and with a ghost of a smile on her face.

“You look cute in your eyeglasses.” Richard remarked, giving Maya one of his beautiful, lopsided smiles.

Maya suddenly looked up upon hearing that remark, and saw Richard by the door, arms folded across his muscular chest, outlined in the pale blue shirt, sans tie, he was wearing, and smiling at her. “Hi Ricky, ginulat mo man ako! Good morning again.” Maya gave him a brilliant smile, removing her eyeglasses. “Kumusta ang site visit mo?”

“It’s almost lunch Attorney! HIndi mo na naman namalayan!” Richard said. “Okay na sa site, I troubleshoot something pa kaya ngayon lang ako nakabalik. Paalis na sana ako kanina nang magkaproblema, Mabuti I was still there.”

“Oh, kaya pala!  Did you get the contracts I left with Liza?” Maya asked, as Richard walked in and sat at one of the visitors’ chairs in her office, putting the paper bag and documents he is carrying on her table. “I’ll go back to RRMA in a short while, if there is no urgent thing I need to work on pa. Attorney Ryan texted earlier, we have a meeting with a new client this afternoon.”

“Yes, I did. Here na. But come, let’s have lunch before you go back to RRMA and before I work on these contracts. I bought lunch. I’m hungry na rin!“ Richard pointed to Maya the bag he was carrying earlier. “I grabbed some Chinese food from the newly opened Hong Kong style dimsum restaurant near the site.”

“Oh, you did pa! Doon na lang sana ako kakain sa RRMA kasi I ate naman the nice breakfast you gave me.” Maya said. “Ikaw talaga, sobrang thoughtful kahit kailan!”

“For you, Maya, I’ll be, always.” Richard said smiling.

“Thank you.” Maya said with a big smile.

“Halika, let’s go to my office. I have a small pantry there.” Richard said, standing up.

He waited for Maya and the two of them went to his office. This was the first time Maya has been Richard’s office, though she can see it from the outside through its all glass lay out. The view from Richard’s desk is magnificent.

“I like the view.” Maya commented, gravitating towards the floor-to-ceiling windows. “The view from the one I’m using is already nice, but this is best!”

“Yes I like it as well.” However Richard was not really looking at the view but at Maya’s beautiful silhouette by the window. “Very beautiful,” he said admiringly.

Maya saw Ricky looking at her, instead of the view, and got self-conscious when she saw Richard’s admiring glance. “Ikaw talaga, Ricky, iba naman ang tinitingnan mo eh.”

“Ha, but the view from my end is maganda naman talaga.” Richard said, teasing Maya.

“Hahahaha, bolero, let’s eat na nga.” Maya said, then went to the direction of the small pantry to prepare the food.

“Maya, I can do it.” Richard offered.

“No, Ricky, this is the least I can do since you bought the food. Just show me where the plates and the utensils are.” Maya insisted. Richard relented and just sat on the sofa where a big coffee table is and wait for Maya.

Maya came out of the pantry several minutes after carrying a tray. Richard helped her placed it on the table. Maya did the serving. The two of them had a quiet, enjoyable lunch wherein they got to discuss the contracts that Maya finished making, as well as the documents she had worked on the whole morning. Richard also requested her to relay to Ryan about the meeting with Time Airways the following day. From work, the conversation shifted to personal stuffs.

“Maya, I promised Abby pala that I will take her to an amusement park this weekend. Nakalimutan ko na this Saturday ang lipat namin sa Mirasol!” Richard said while they were drinking the coffee that Maya made from the coffee maker in Richard’s pantry.

“Oo nga ano. Naku, paano iyan, nag-expect na iyong bata? If she is like Lance, she will not forget that.” Maya said.

“Iyon na nga, so I’m thinking of taking her to Tagaytay on Sunday na lang and see the Sky Ranch there. Maganda raw. Naisip ko, you, Doris and Lance can join para mas masaya, and so that mas masaya si Abby.” “Richard said. “What do you think, would that be okay with you or Doris and Lance?”

“Hmmmm, ako, wala naman akong lakad sa Sunday. I was just planning to go to a car dealership and see if I can find myself a not so expensive sedan. I can use my savings na as a down payment, lalo at I’m working na.” Maya said, thinking. “As for Doris and Lance, I’ll ask Doris. I’m sure Lance will like it too. I’ll let you know as soon as I get a reply from Doris. I did mention to her nga na nagkita na tayo.”

“Great, please let me know. How’s your friend nga pala?” Richard asked.

“She is okay. She told her dad that she didn’t want to e a lawyer during our second year in college. She is working as a writer for a lifestyle magazine. She is a single mother.” Maya said. “Hindi kasi matanggap ng Daddy ni Lance na autistic ang anak niya.”

“Oh, that’s  so sad! Well, it’s his lost.” Richard said. “Based on what I have seen of Lance, he is a very nice and bright boy.”

“He is.” Maya nodded in agreement. “Ricky, I need to get going soon na pala. Para I have time pa to do other things before our meeting. Thank you for the lunch.”

“Oh okay, Maya. I’ll take you to RRMA.” Richard said, standing up. “Leave everything there. I will just ask Liza to have Benjie, our utility guy put away everything.”

“No, Ricky, thank you, but I will just a take a taxi please. Kadarating mo lang sa office. I’m sure you need to attend to a lot of things pa. Marami namang taxi diyan sa labas. I will just ask Manong Guard if he could call one for me.” Maya said.

“Maya,  I insists, please. Don’t worry I can still manage. Malapit lang naman ang RRMA. I’m sure I’ll be back fast.” Richard insisted, then smiling, he added. “Sa kasong ito, hindi ka mananalo, Attorney. Ako yata ang boss.”

“Ha, dinaan mo ba sa pagiging boss.” Maya retorted. “O sige na nga, pero next time, huwag na ha. Baka kung ano naman ang sabihin ng mga staff mo.”

“Maya, our personal stuff is our business. But I do understand where you are coming from.” Richard said. “Ganito na lang, ihahatid kita and susunduin sa RRMA hanggang hindi ka pa nakakabili ng car mo. Saka pala, I could go with you with the dealer I know.”

“Ricky, remember I told you, a cheap sedan, not a BMW!” Maya said smiling, while walking towards her office to get her things, and the flowers he gave her.

“Yes, I know Maya. I can take you to a car dealership that LAS had used in buying our service vehicles. They will give you a good deal. We can go on Saturday night after we have settled down in Mirasol.” Richard said, carrying Maya’s laptop.

“Hindi ka ba kakapusin sa panahon? Besides, baka pagod ka na by that time.” Maya asked, concerned.

“No worries, Maya. Wala naman kaming masyadong ililipat, clothes lang and other personal stuffs. Let’s have dinner na rin somewhere or would you like to catch a late movie?”

“Okay, Ricky. Thanks a lot. About the movie, maybe next time na lang since we might be going to Tagaytay the following day, di ba?” Maya reminded Richard as they exited the building.

Maya and Richard chatted on the way to RRMA about the possible activities they can do in Tagaytay aside from going to the amusement park. Before they knew it, they arrived at RRMA. Maya told Richard not to get out of the car as she can managed. Richard  for once agreed as there were quite a number of cars dropping off people at the lobby.

“Good bye for now, Maya!” Richard said, then he leaned towards Maya and kissed her on the cheek. “Dinner later, please?”

“Okay, is around 8PM, okay with you?” She asked.

“Yes, I’ll pick you up.” Richard said.

Maya got out of the car and with a final wave to Richard, she entered the building. She greeted Lindsay and chatted with her a bit before proceeding to her office. At quarter to 3PM, Lindsay knocked on her door.

“Excuse me po Attorney, pinatatawag po kayo ni Attorney Ryan.” Lindsay said. “Sa office daw po muna niya.”

“Okay, thanks a lot Lindsay.” Maya said, then she stood up, grab her iPad and phone and proceeded to Ryan’s office.

“Sir, good afternoon.” Maya said after knocking on the opened door of Ryan’s office to get his attention. “Lindsay said pinatatawag niyo raw po ako.”

“Yes, yes, have a seat please, may 15 minutes pa tayo before our client arrives. I will ask lang sana for a briefing ng mga work natin sa LAS.” Ryan said.

“I gave the contracts that we finalized yesterday to Mr. Lim’s secretary when I arrived, Sir. Then when Mr. Lim arrived around lunch from his site visit, I briefed him on what I worked on this morning. Ready na rin po Sir for your review. Mr. Lim said he will go over the contracts we made and if everything is okay, he will sign it and have it sent to the other parties for their signatures too. So far po, we need na lang to give LAS the suppliers and employees contracts they requested. Tapos ko na po ang mga ito, for your review na lang and approval.”

“Great! Thank you Maya.” Ryan said.

“Oh, last na pala Sir, Mr. Lim is requesting that we join them with the meeting with their client Time Airways tomorrow afternoon.” Maya added. “For an extension of their service agreement I think, long-term ang agenda, Sir.”

“Okay, please confirm our attendance with LAS.” Ryan replied. “Sumama ka na since ikaw naman ang point person na natin sa LAS. Good work, Maya. Thank you.”

“Yes Sir, I will.” Maya said. “By the way Sir, sino po pala ang new client natin? You mentioned that I know the person.”

“It’s Jason Fernando.” Ryan said. “He asked after you, actually. He said he heard from a common friend that you work here now. How did you know him if I may ask?”

“Oh! Yes I do know him. I met him when I interviewed him for an article for the paper I was working for.” Maya told Ryan, then hesitated before admitting, “He, errrr, also courted me after that.”

Jason Fernando, the CEO of the retail company that brought a lot of foreign brands in the Philippines pursued Maya quite earnestly actually. However she told him that he is a nice guy but they can’t be more than friends. He simply didn’t make her heart beat faster.

“Oh, kaya pala!” Ryan gave Maya a smile, then teased her, “Mabibigat naman pala ang karibal ng brod ko.”

“Sir, kayo talaga!” Maya said laughing.

“Biro lang, Maya.” Ryan said. “Halika na nga, let’s meet our new client.”

The meeting with Jason Fernando and his team went well, even if it took longer. His company will now get the services of RRMA. After the meeting, and on the way out, Jason had asked Maya if they can have dinner later. Maya declined. However, it seemed like it didn’t dissuade Jason, he said he will ask Maya again and check with her when they can have dinner. Maya gave him a polite noncommittal answer.

That evening, Richard picked her up before 8PM. They decided to have dinner in a restaurant near Mirasol Street. Richard took Maya home around 11PM.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Maya.” Richard said softly, bringing her to her door again. “Can we have dinner again tomorrow?”

“Sure, Ricky! Thank you for my wonderful day, and these.” Maya said, gesturing to the flowers she was carrying in her hand.

“For you, Maya, anything and anytime. I’ll get going. Late na and may pasok ka pa bukas.” Richard said, gazing at Maya. “Good night. I have another lovely day because of you.” Then he kissed Maya on the cheek again. “Sweet dreams. Bye.”

“You too, Ricky. Goodnight.” Maya said.

For another night, the two of them parted with big smiles on their faces, and went to bed very happy.

The following morning, when Maya arrived at work, there was a big bouquet of sunflowers this time, another thermos of coffee and breakfast from Richard!

Dearest Maya,

Good morning. Day 2 of my panliligaw and panunuyo! 🙂 I’m so looking forward to seeing you later.

Yours,

Ricky

Maya grinned happily. She is so looking forward to seeing Richard too.

 

Note: Have a wonderful day, my fellow adiks. Good vibes as always! ❤

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On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 10

Chapter 10

“BFF, here!” Doris waved to Maya when she saw her enter the restaurant that serves comfort food near RRMA. They have agreed to meet there for lunch as she was in the area. She had an interview with the feisty lawyer who is called as legal counsel to the stars as she had handle quite a number of cases involving entertainment personalities. The magazine she is working for is featuring career women in their next issue.

“Hi Doris! Sorry, I’m a bit late. Marami kasing work.” Maya said as she slid down into the booth that Doris reserved.

“Okay lang iyon BFF. Mabuti nga you can still meet me for lunch. Nagbakasali nga lang ako dahil alam ko namang for sure, sobrang busy ka dahil kasisimula mo palang sa work mo.” Doris said. “Order ka na ng lunch.”

Maya waved at the waiter and gave him her order. When the waiter left, she settled more comfortably into the booth as they waited for their food. “Kumusta na? Nakabalik na ba si Lea? How’s Lance? Hindi na tayo nakapag-usap simula noong isang araw.”

“Yes, thank God, bumalik si Lea kahapon. Na-delay lang pala kasi nanganak na iyong ate niya nung paluwas na siya. Hindi naman siya nakatawag agad dahil na-washing machine ang cellphone! Hay, at least di ba, bumalik. Iyon lang ang nangyari. Si Lance, hinahanap ka sa akin noong sinundo ko. Pati na rin iyong papa ni Abby? Alam mo naman ang batang iyon, nothing escapes his notice. I asked Teacher Genevieve about it, sabi lang niya, nagkita raw kayo ng papa ni Abby sa school and magkakilala kayo. A Mr. Lim?” Doris said. “Bigla ko tuloy naalala si Mr. Dreamboat mo.”

Maya smiled at that. “BFF, siya nga iyon!” She told Doris excitedly.

“Ha, anong siya nga iyon? Si Richard Lim ang papa ni Abigail? Si almost boyfriend mo?” Doris asked, very much surprised. “Paanong nangyari iyon?”

“Yes, si Richard nga iyong papa ni Abby.” Maya replied. “We actually met at RRMA last Monday. Client and family friend nung boss ko na si Attorney Reyes iyong pamilya ni Ricky. Sobrang gulatan ang nangyari BFF! Akalain ko ba naman iyon. Naku, BFF, kung alam mo lang. Parang feeling ko mauubusan ako ng dugo nang una ko siyang makita ulit. Tapos sa kanya pa ako ini-assign ni Attorney Reyes. Well, technically sa senior partner na nagha-handle ng account niya.”

“Talaga, BFF! Eh di lumundag na naman ng husto iyang puso mo? Feeling ko siya pa rin ang nandiyan. Imagine, basted lahat ng manligaw sa iyo. At huwag ikatwiran ang pagiging busy sa law school!” Doris told her friend, whom she can see has a different glow when she spoke of meeting Richard again.

“Ikaw talaga, BFF. Welllll, yes, aaminin ko naman iyon.” Maya replied, then she gestured for the waiter to give the white sauce pasta to Doris and the spaghetti bolognese to her.

“Pero, wait teka, papa siya ni Abby. So ibig bang sabihin BFF, may asawa na niya at wala nang pag-asa ang love story niyong naunsyami? Bakit ba kasi bigla na lang nag-disappear iyang si Mr. Dreamboat!” Doris asked, thinking that Richard is very much married. Like Maya, she was also puzzled and at the same time, concerned when the whole family just left, like that. Kahit paano, naging friend din naman niya si Richard through Maya.

“Doris, something terrible happened to Richard’s family kaya they left for China abruptly.” Maya told her friend. “His father did what he thought was best for his family at that time. Sorry, hanggang diyan lang ang pwede kong sabihin sa iyo, BFF. It is not my story to tell, but Richard’s.”

“Ganoon ba, Maya. Grabe, pareho pala kayong may matinding pinagdaanan at that time.” Doris said. “Parang it was not meant to be nga pala at that time. Eh ngayon, married na siya. Hay….”

“Errr, actually ‘no. He is not married.” Maya said, turning red a bit. “He is a widower.”

“Really, BFF? He is.” Doris said. “Hmmmm, mukhang may pag-asa na pala ang love team niyo ni Mr. Dreamboat. Pero ang sad din naman ano, maaga pa lang nawalan ng mommy si Abby. With her condition, medyo mahirap iyon.”

“Well, I think Ricky is very much a hands on father naman to Abby. He is doing his best for her. Siya nga ang madalas na naghahatid kay Abby sa school and isinasama pa niya sa office niya, like today.” Maya said seriously, not realizing that she had made Doris more curious with her pronouncements.

“Teka, teka, parang kahit sasandali pa lang ulit kayong nagkikita, marami ka ng alam kay Mr. Dreamboat?” Doris asked.

Maya smiled at her friend and since it is Doris, she confessed that since she had seen Richard again last Monday and meeting him at Lance’ school, they ended up having lunch and dinner, together, as she works now in his company’s headquarters twice a week. Maya opted not to tell Doris about the visit to the house in Mirasol Street as it was something very personal between her and Richard. However, she did tell her that he is moving back to Mirasol Street.

“Wow, BFF! Nakakakilig naman talaga! You two are back where you started! Solid na solid pa rin ako!” Doris said with a big grin on her face. “Good luck na good luck sa iyo. I’m sure magkaka-lovelife ka na. Saka hindi dahil I had a bad experience eh magiging ganoon ka na rin. I was just unlucky.”

“Oo naman, Doris. Saka I’m sure, somewhere along the way, you will find someone who will really love you through thick and thin, hirap man, ginhawa at kung merong pagsubok. Someone who will love not only you, but also Lance.” Maya said. Her friend is the most loving person and she hopes Doris will find that especial someone too. “As for me and Richard, I don’t know. But I’m in, wherever it takes me. We are lucky to find each other again. Let’s see. One day at a time!”

“Yes, amen to that, BFF!” Doris said. “Halika, let’s finish na our lunch. I’m sure you need to go back soon. Ako naman, babalik pa sa office to finish this article.”

The friends continued with their lunch while chatting about Lance and Maya’s work in between. An hour later, they parted in front of Maya’s building. Doris took a cab to her office which is an hour away from Maya’s.

The afternoon passed like a blur for Maya as she got engrossed in drafting all the contracts for LAS, for Ryan’s review later and for Richard’s signature when she gets back to LAS the following day. However, despite her busy schedule, she was very much aware of the coming evening, and her dinner with Richard. She felt happier going over the papers on her desk as she looked forward to that. In fact, there were times that it was hard to concentrate! James tried to chat her up and invite her to dinner too when they saw each other at the office pantry, both wanting to get some water. However, she declined and told him politely that she already had made plans for the evening.

Richard was the same. Even Abby’s presence was not able to take his mind off completely from the dinner with Maya. He tried though as there was a time that his daughter, and Liza caught him staring into space at one point. Abby complained good-naturedly, while Liza on the other hand, smiled at him.

Liza thought she had an inkling on what’s distracting her boss. She, after all, made the reception to that romantic French restaurant for him and his ‘date’. Imagine, three months of working for him, and this is the first time he had asked him to book a dinner for him. Call it woman’s intuition, but she had a pretty good idea on who the dinner date is.

Liza’s thoughts was interrupted by Joma, her boss’s driver.

“Hi Ms. Liza!” Joma said with a big smile. Sabel was behind him.

“Hi Joma!” Liza gave the driver a big smile. Cute rin naman itong family driver nina Sir ah. May sariling charm. “Hinihintay ka na nga pala ni Sir. Hello Sabel.”

“Hi po, Ms. Liza. Susunduin lang po sana namin si Abby kasi may lakad pa pala si Sir Richard.” Sabel said.

“Oo,  Sir Richard mentioned it. Sige, tuloy na kayo sa office niya. Wala naman siyang ka-meeting.” Liza said.

Richard looked up from the document he was reading when his driver and house helper entered the room by way of knocking at the door.

“Joma, Sabel, tamang-tama ang dating ninyo, medyo inaantok na nga si Abby.” He said, standing up and going to the couch where Abby was playing with her iPad. “Baby, Ate Sabel and Kuya Joma will take you home na. Di ba, Daddy told you earlier na may pupuntahan pa siya later.”

“Yes, Daddy, you will have a date with Tita Maya, iyong ninang ni Lance. The beautiful girl I saw at school yesterday!” Abby said artlessly, which made Richard turned red and his employees, looking at him curiously. Joma was trying to hold his smile. Sabel was trying to catch his attention with a face gesture, asking what’s it all about.

“Errr, yes, not a date, baby, just dinner with Tita Maya like I have mentioned to you earlier.” Richard always made it a point to explain everything to Abby so she does not have to deal with unexpected things and situations.

“But Daddy, isn’t when a girl and a boy go out to dinner and eat, it is called a date?” The little girl insisted to her dad like a grown-up.

“Welll, yes, pero pwede rin naman na they just go out to enjoy each other’s company.” Richard explained as Joma and Sabel looked on. “Where did you learn about dates and stuffs like that about a boy and a girl?”

“It is still a date, Dad! Friendly date.” Abby still insisted. “I learned it from the movies that Manang Fe and Ate Sabel were watching.”

“Ha, Sir, pero hindi naman po namin siya pinapanood noon.” Sabel quickly protested.

“Chill, Ate Sabel. You and Manang Fe didn’t know. You both thought I was taking a nap.” Abby said giggling. “I woke up all of a sudden. You and Manang were very funny while watching so I watched what you were watching also.”

Richard smiled at his precocious and bright daughter. Yes, she has developmental delay, but in most aspects, she is very much advanced. To sum it, her brain is just wired differently. “Okay, baby, friendly date it is. Di ba, you said, it is okay for Daddy to do so.”

“Yes, Daddy.” The little girl nodded, then looked at her father. “Do you think she will like me?”

“Of course, baby, she will like you, and love you like I do. Di ba, love niya si Lance and Lance loves her too.” Richard quickly said. His daughter seemed to be full of questions all of a sudden, considering that she just nodded when he mentioned earlier about the dinner with Maya.

“Okay, Daddy. Have fun,” Abby said while nodding. “Lance said that Tita Maya is the best ninang in the whole world.”

“Yes, she is. Okay, go now to Ate Sabel and be a good girl to her and Manang Fe. Sleep early.” Richard told his daughter while hugging her. Then to Sabel, he said, “Sabel, okay na lahat ng homework ni Abby, nagawa na namin earlier.”

“Okay po, Sir Richard. Aalis na po kami. Halika na Abby.” Sabel said, taking hold of Abby’s hand and some of her school stuffs in another hand. Joma on the other hand, carried Abby’s school bag.

When the three of them left, Richard looked at the time and realized that it was almost six o’clock. It will take him an hour or so to go to Maya’s office. He decided to finish the papers on his table. When he was done with that, he called Engineer Enrique Gutierrez from the site and asked for a status updates on the planes they are doing maintenance on. Finding that everything was in order, he finished the day. He knew that he would be early, but better that than be late. He can still wait at the lobby of the building.

More than an hour later, Richard strode through the lobby of the building where RRMA is. He opted to wait for Maya at the reception area of the building. As soon as he sat down, he took out his phone and sent her a message.

Maya was in the process of saying goodbye to Attorney Ryan after they have discussed the contracts she was working on when her phone beeped. She had a pretty good idea who it might be. Actually, she jumped a little. She hoped Atty. Ryan didn’t notice it. Kalma lang, Maya Dela Rosa, dinner lang ito. Kagabi rin naman nag-dinnner kayong dalawa di ba? She admonished herself. However, for some unexplainable reason, her heart is jumping with joy. Parang iba ang dinner na ito kasi it was set, hindi katulad kahapon parang impromptu lang.

“O sige, Maya, you can leave na. Natapos mo na namang lahat ang mga dapat nating gawin. You area fast worker. Malayo ang mararating mo Attorney Dela Rosa.” Attorney Molina told Maya. He really likes this young lawyer and her work ethics.

“Thank you, Sir, for releasing me early and most especially for the vote of confidence. Good night Sir. Ingat po kayo sa pag-uwi.” Maya said.

“You too, Maya, enjoy your evening.” The older lawyer said. He thought of asking her how she knew Richard, but maybe, they don’t know each other that long for him to do so.

When Attorney Ryan left, Maya checked her message and she was right, it was from Richard, informing her that he is at the lobby of her building already.

“Wow, ang aga niya.” Maya said, smiling while looking at her phone. She texted back that she will be along shortly as she is finished for the night too. She hurriedly put away her things and shutdown her laptop.

Richard smiled when he saw Maya’s message. Looks like they can have an early start on their dinner. Great! Since Maya will be along shortly, he decided to wait for her by the elevator. However, when the elevator opened, it was not Maya he saw, but Ryan.

“O Brod, nandito ka? May meeting ka ba kay Attorney Rafa? Wala naman siyang nabanggit sa akin?” Ryan said, surprised to see Richard at RRMA’s building.

“Hi Brod, wala naman. I’m just waiting for Maya. We will have dinner somewhere.” Richard replied.

“Maya? My new associate? Brod, feeling ko talaga may hindi ako alam.” Ryan said with a teasing smile.

“Hahahaha, ikaw talaga, kahit kailan.” Richard laughed. “Maya and I went a long way back, Brod, college days pa natin. Friends kami. We lost touch lang mula noong bigla kaming umalis papuntang China.”

“Wait, wait, parang naaalala ko na siya. Nabanggit mo na siya sa akin, dati. Iyong kapitbahay mo sa Mirasol Street na gusto mong pormahan noon. Siya ba iyon?” Ryan asked, putting two and two together.

“Yes, that’s her Brod. Kaya I was so glad that we have seen each other here last Monday. I was really planning to look her up when things have settled down.” Richard said, then he saw Maya coming out of the elevator. “Brod, there’s Maya na pala.”

“O sige Brod. I’m happy for the two of you meeting each other again.” Ryan said. His brod looks different when he gave Maya a smile and a wave.

“Thanks a lot, Ryan.” Richard said as Maya reached his side.

“O paano, Brod, Maya, I will go ahead ha. Enjoy your dinner.” Ryan said giving the couple a smile. Hmmmm, bagay naman sila.

“Sige po Attorney Ryan, thank you!” Maya said.

“Brod, sige, kita na lang tayo soon. I owed you a drink.” Richard said, tapping Ryan on the shoulder.

Soon after, Ryan made a final wave at them then left them. Maya and Richard then gazed at smiled sweetly at each other.

“Hi Ricky, kanina ka pa ba? Napaaga ka yata? Nasaan si Abby?” Maya asked as Richard escorted her to where he had parked his car.

“Joma and Sabel picked up Abby. The dinner will be a bit late for her. May school pa siya bukas.” Richard and then smiled and told Maya about his conversation with Abby before she was picked up. “Imagine, she concluded that we will have a friendly date.”

Maya laughed at Richard’s anecdote about Abby. “Nakakatuwa naman si Abby! Please tell her, I would like to meet her rin! She seems like a very bright and bubbly kid, kaya pala magkasundo sila ni Lance. Super bright din for her age ha. Ganoon talaga sila. May qualities na beyond their age group.”

“True, ngayong more than seven years old na si Abby, almost eight actually, mas nakikita ko kung gaano siya ka-advance.” Richard replied as he navigated the evening traffic. “Kung hindi siya na-diagnose, you would think that she like a normal kid. Parang genius pa nga.”

“Ricky, at what age was Abby diagnosed? If I may ask?” Maya asked.

“She was diagnosed when she was two and half years old. Six months after her mother died. Noong una akala namin, she was just grieving, pero noong tumagal, Grace suggested that I have her tested. Anyway, she said, kailangan din naman iyon since I would like to enroll Abby in a play school at that time.” Richard explained.

“Oh, it must have been a very difficult time for both of you.” Maya said, unconsciously touching Richard on the arm. She feels for Abby, and for Richard too, having to cope with the death of his wife and his daughter’s condition.

“It was, but we managed, with the help of my family.” Richard said softly, then he added, “Anyway, Alexandra, my wife, didn’t want us to grieve for her.” He didn’t elaborate and Maya, even if she wanted to know about that aspect of his life, stopped herself from asking more questions. If Richard is ready and if he wants to tell her, for sure, he will, at some point.

Instead, the two of them talked about Abby and Lance, as well as how their day had been on the way to the restaurant. Before they knew it, they arrived at the building where the restaurant is. Richard escorted Maya to the elevator that would take them to the penthouse after entrusting his car to a valet.

Richard led Maya to a beautiful restaurant when they reached the penthouse.

“Beautiful place.” Maya remarked as Richard seated her at the table reserved for them, looking around and admiring the restaurant..

“Thank you. I had Liza booked this place earlier. She told me that it is a very nice place for dinner when I asked her what place she can recommend for me. Medyo lost na rin ako sa mga place here kasi matagal na akong nawala.” Richard said as he sat. “Liza seems to know a lot of good places.”

“Medyo marami na ring nag-change. Marami na rin akong hindi alam. I haven’t been out much. Lalo na past year kasi review lang ang naging life ko.” Maya told Richard.

“Really! So we can explore together pala. Check out places to have dinner or lunch.” Then he admitted, “This is actually the first time I was out like this, you know, on a date, as Abby said.”

“Date? This is a date talaga?” Maya asked, blushing a bit and heart beating faster than usual.

“Yes, isn’t it? Our first, since the last time, a decade ago.” Richard said as he gazed at Maya, meaningfully. “Ayaw mo ba?”

Before Maya can reply and serving as a respite for her galloping heart, their server arrived to take their order. They both opted to try the degustation menu that the restaurant offers. Richard also pick a wine that goes with the meal. When their server has left, they resumed their earlier conversation.

Maya smiled at Richard. “Okay as Abby said, this is a date! Sabi ko nga, date!”

She and Richard shared a smile. They chatted about places they have been, books with Maya telling Richard that she still likes bodice ripper novels as they served as her stress reliever, to movies they have seen and like, finding that they have the same taste in movies. They continued chatting in between tasting and enjoying their wonderful dinner, leisurely. By the end of the courses that were served to them, Maya and Richard felt stuffed. Maya was also feeling the effects of the wine. She was not much of a drinker so she felt its effect after the first glass she had. She and Richard opted to have coffee to go with their dessert.

“So, how have you been the past ten years?” Richard asked Maya as he stirred his coffee.

“Ha, di ba, I have told you na about that, yesterday and earlier?” Maya was surprised  at Richard’s question. She thought they have managed to catch up on each other’s life in the lunch, dinner and the car ride earlier. “Sobrang kwentuhan na nga natin the past hours.”

“Oh, what I mean is….” Richard hesitated a bit, then forged on. “Okay, this is going to be very personal, what I meant was, what I would like to ask is that, how come you are still single, until now? You are very beautiful, bright and a wonderful person.”

“That!” Maya said, blushing a bit. “Well, I was busy with law school, and work. I never really thought of having a relationship. There was no one that I liked, too.”

“None at all? You mean, you didn’t have any relationship at all?” Richard asked surprised. His heart suddenly beating very fast while waiting for Maya’s reply. Does it really meant Maya didn’t have a boyfriend in the decade they have been apart.

“Wala talaga!” Maya said simply as she took a big sip of her coffee. Then took a deep breath, then admitted candidly, “After you, sort of, there was no one who made me feel the way you made me feel. Maybe, my heart will feel that way again, but I consider myself still young, so I’ll just wait until it does. Hindi naman ako nagmamadali.” She stopped at confessing that since she had seen him again, her poor heart is getting overworked with giddiness.

“Really!” Richard replied, suddenly feeling very nervous at what he is going to say next. Maya gave him the perfect opening for it and he does not want to waste his chance and opportunity. “Maya…” He started.

“Yes, Ricky…” Maya said softly and breathlessly, seeing the way Richard is looking at her.

“Would it be okay if I try to make your heart beat like that again?” Richard asked before he lost courage. “May I make it up to you? Can we continue where we left off?”

“What do you mean, Ricky…?” Maya asked wanting to be sure that she is getting Richard’s message right.

“Maya, pwede ko bang ituloy ang panliligaw ko sa iyo?” There he said it, crystal clear.

Maya looked at Richard and see something in his expression that made her heart galloped. Taking a deep breath, she said softly, “Yes, you may.”

Richard put his hand on top of Maya’s. “Thank you, Maya, ” he said, gazing at Maya like she is his whole world.

They shared a look and amid the backdrop of the romantic restaurant, feelings were communicated. Both of them looked flushed and have goofy grins while they continued enjoying the night.

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On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Good morning po, Manang Fe.” Richard greeted his old nanny who was putting a bowl of fresh fruits on the table, when he went to the dining room of the service apartment where they are currenlt staying, to have breakfast. “Si Abby po? Wala na siya sa room niya when I took a peek.”

“Magandang umaga rin, Ricardo! O umupo ka na at ng makakain ka ng breakfast.” Manang Fe said, directing Richard to the usual place where he sits. “Tamang-tama, kakatukin na nga sana kita ulit. Si Abby, nasa school na. Ipinahatid ko na kina Joma and Sabel bago sila mamalengke.”

“Kanina ninyo pa po ako, ginigising Manang Fe?” Richard asked, the he looked at the clock. He forgot to do so when he left the room. “Oh, past 8 o’clock na pala! I overslept ngayon! I thought maaga pa. I forgot to open the drapes in my room like I usually do kaya feeling ko madilim pa! Nakapasok na pala si Abby!  Sayang hindi ko siya nakita this morning. I did manage to kiss her good night pagdating ko.”

“Oo nga. Mabait naman talaga ang batang iyan at nakakaintindi na talaga. Matapos kong sabihin na gagabihin ka at matulog na siya, ang bilis nang natulog. Kanina pagkagising, gustong pumasok sa kuwarto mo to kiss you good morning, pero sabi ko baka tulog ka pa. Di ba sabi mo pupunta ka sa lumang bahay kagabi? Natuloy ka ba? Ginabi ka yata ng husto? Kasi noong lumabas ako ng kwarto ko para i-check si Abby at uminom ng tubig nang magha-hatinggabi, wala ka pa. Sabi ko sa kanya huwag ka na munang gisingin.” Manang Fe said. “Mga 30 minutos ang nakakaraan, kinatok na kita kasi di ba, may pasok ka sa opisina ngayon, pero noong hindi ka sumagot, minabuti ko na munang maghanda ng agahan mo.”

“Opo, Manang Fe. Medyo late na nga po ako nakauwi. Pasado ala una ng madaling-araw na po ako umalis nang Mirasol. Napasarap po ako sa pagmuni-muni sa lumang bahay. It was nice to be back there, Manang. Bumalik sa alaala ko lahat ng beautiful memories natin doon. Richard said, smiling, remembering his trip to his old home, happily. “Pero, prior to that, inihatid ko pa po si Maya sa bahay nila.” He added offhand, not realizing that his statement perked his old nanny’s radar and curiosity.

“Maya? Iyong nobya mo noon na nakatira rin dati sa Mirasol?” Manang Fe asked, surprised. “Doon pa rin pala siya nakatira! Nakakatuwa naman! Saan kayo nagkita ulit? Di ba, nawalan na kayo ng komunikasyong dalawa nang umalis tayo pa-China nang biglaan?”

Manang knew that not being able to say goodbye to Maya affected Richard, maliban ba sa naging epekto sa pamilya ng pagkakakidnap nina Donya Esmeralda at Grace. Siya ang nag-alaga rito mula sa pagkabata, pati na rin kay Grace kaya, kabisado niya ang mga ito. Alam niyang may nararamdaman ang alaga niya kay Maya noon. Unang dinig pa lang niya nang banggitin ni Ricardo ang pangalan nito, parang may kakaiba sa kanyang boses. Narinig din niya minsan sina Don Roberto at Donya Esmeralda, sa hindi sinasadyang pagkakataon, na pinag-uusapan ang pagkahulog ng loob ni Ricardo kay Maya. Para kay Donya Esme, pabayaan na lang si Ricardo na umibig kay Maya kasi mabait na bata naman daw, responsable at masikap sa buhay, at siguradong hindi makakasagabal sa plano ni Don Roberto para kay Ricardo. Pero, ayaw ni Don Roberto. Medyo nagtalo pa nga ang mag-asawa noon.

Richard smiled at his old nanny. “Yes po, Manang Fe. Lawyer na po siya ngayon. Natupad na niya ang pangarap niya, Manang! Hindi lang iyon, Manang, she topped the bar exams pa!  Nagkita kami noong isang araw sa law firm ni Uncle Rafa, iyong kaibigan ni Papa, naaalala niyo po? Doon siya nagtatrabaho ngayon. In fact, naka-assigned siya sa LAS at doon siya nag-o-office twice a week simula kahapon. She is very good kahit bago pa lang siyang lawyer, Manang, and still as lovely as ever. Nalaman ko lang na doon pa siya nakatira sa Mirasol when I offered to bring her home kasi ginabi na kami sa office. Sobrang sipag din kasi niyang mag-work.” Richard said, his voice was tinged with pride and happiness that Maya has achieved her dream, a fact that didn’t escape his old nanny. “Pero Manang, correction, hindi ko naman siya naging girlfriend noon, although I wanted her to be! Umalis na kasi tayo, di ba? Liligawan ko pa nga lang.”

“Oo nga, pero parang nobya na rin ang turing mo sa kanya noon eh. Iyon ang aking obserbasyon, hijo. Kilala kitang bata ka.” Manang Fe said, smiling. “Gusto ko nga rin ang batang iyon para sa iyo. Unang kita ko palang sa kanya, magaan na ang loob ko. Lalo na nung nabanggit mo na masikap siya kasi nagtatrabaho, habang nag-aaral. Maganda siya hindi lang sa panlabas na anyo, kundi pati ang kanyang kaloooban.” Manang Fe said, as she put a cup of coffee, in front of Richard, and started serving him breakfast as they chatted.

“Salamat po, Manang.” Richard said, then after taking a sip of his coffee, he continued, “Yes, she is that, Manang. Di bale, you will see each other again this Saturday. Pwede na tayong lumipat ulit sa Mirasol. Maayos na maayos na ang bahay. Sabi ko kay Maya, punta sa bahay after lunch. She actually offered to help us when we move. But I told her na everything is arranged na. Na-meet na rin pala niya si Abby kasi nagkataon iyong anak ng friend na special needs child din, sa school pala ni Abby pumapasok. Nagkita rin kami doon kahapon kasi siya muna ang naghatid doon sa anak ni Doris, iyong kasama niya dati sa Mirasol.”

“Talaga, Ricardo! Salamat naman at makakauwi na tayo sa lumang bahay. Mas gusto ko nga doon kaysa rito sa pagkataas-taas na apartment building na ito.” Manang Fe said. “Sige, gusto ko ring makitang muli si Maya. Nakakatuwa naman na ilang beses na pala kayong pinagtatagpo mula nang magkita kayo ulit at natutuwa ako at nakilala na rin niya si Abigail. Ano pala ang balak mo ngayong nagkita kayo ulit? Wala ba siyang nobyo ngayon? Sa ganda at bait ni Maya na iyon, sigurado akong maraming nanligaw diyan sa nakalipas na sampung taon. Hindi imposibleng wala pa siyang nobyo hanggang ngayon.”

Richard grinned at his old nanny. “Welllll, Manang…..” Then, taking another sip of his coffee and after digging into his breakfast, he said, “I have a plan.” That was all Richard said to his old nanny.

Manang Fe smiled, seeing the happiness on her old alaga’s face. “O siya, hindi ko na tatanungin pa, parang alam ko na.  Anong oras tayo lilipat sa Sabado?”

“Kahit mid-morning na po, Manang.” Richard replied. “Anyway, clothes lang naman and other personal stuffs ang dadalhin natin.”

“O sige, ako na ang bahala sa lahat.” Manang Fe assured Richard. “Papasok ka na ba sa opisina mo ngayon, pagka-almusal? Magkikita ba kayo ulit ni Maya sa opisina mo?”

“Yes po, Manang, I will, papasok ako. Pero after lunch na siguro kasi ako na ang susundo kay Abby. I missed her. Wala siyang therapy today, di ba? Isasama ko na lang siya sa office.” Richard replied. “Si Maya naman po, bukas pa ang balik niya sa LAS.

“Wala today. Bukas pa.  Matutuwa si Abigail niyan na ikaw ang susundo sa kanya at makakapunta siya ulit sa opisina mo.  Ihahanda ko na ang ekstrang damit para sa kanya para madala mo na pag-alis mo.” Manang Fe said.”Pati na rin ang iPad niya.”

“Thanks, Manang Fe, for that, and the breakfast. I’ll be in my room lang po. I need to check some e-mails pala this morning.” Richard said. He walked back to his room with a fresh cup of coffee in hand.

However, checking his emails was the last thing Richard did when he sat on the small table by the window that he is using as a temporary office table in the apartment. He looked out, took a sip of his coffee, and remembered the night before again, especially the time he took Maya home and ‘stole’ a kiss from her. He knew he surprised Maya with that. But he was not, just able to help himself when with the emotions he was feeling last night.He felt very, very happy being with her. He smiled happily at the memory, then, he hastily looked for his phone, to text her.

Richard: Good morning, Maya! I hope you slept well kahit pinuyat kita with the side trip to the old house. Are you at RRMA na?

Maya: Good morning to you too, Ricky. Yes, I am. I slept okay. I think will survive the day with several cups of my favorite brew. And you, what time did you manage to go home from Mirasol?

Richard: I left the place at past one o’clock in the morning. Traffic was non-existent naman at that time of the night so I got home fast.

Maya: Wow, that late, huh! Looks like hindi lang ako ang kailangan ng maraming kape! Are you at work now?

Richard: I’m drinking my second cup now. No, I’m still at home. I’ll work from here this morning. I’ll go to work after lunch. I’ll pick up Abby from school and take her with me to work.  Hindi pa kami nakakapag-bonding simula last night. I woke up late kaya hindi kami nagkita kanina.

Maya: That’s nice. I’m sure Abby will like that. And lucky you, having your second cup! I haven’t had one here at the office. Just the one I had at home and that was two hours ago. Sonny, the other lawyer assigned to Atty. Ryan and I have a meeting with him, in just about now. I’ll have coffee after that, hopefully!

Richard: Okay. I will not keep you. Have a nice day, Maya. I’ll see you tomorrow at LAS.

Maya: You too, Ricky. See you. Have a great day and have fun with Abby later!

Richard: I will!

Richard put his phone down with a big smile on his face. He just felt very happy. He was humming and was about to open his laptop when he thought of something.

“Joma, nasaan na kayo ni Sabel?” Richard asked when his driver picked up the call.

“Sir Richard, paakyat na po kami ni Sabel, Sir. Dala po namin iyong mga pinabili ni Manang Fe pagkatapos naming ihatid si Abby sa school niya.” Joma said, holding two eco bags while Sabel held the phone to his ear.

“Great! Knock on my door when you get here. May iuutos lang ako sa iyo.” Richard said.

“Sige po, Sir.” Joma replied.

Several minutes later, Richard heard a knock on his door. “Come in, Joma.”

“Sir?….”

“Joma, could you please go to the Starbucks near Uncle Rafa’s law office, iyong RRMA, then buy the stuffs listed on this.” He handed the driver a piece of paper. “ I have instructions there for the barista also. Ibigay mo lang ito doon sa counter ng Starbucks. Tapos, ilagay mo itong envelop sa loob ng paper bag from the coffee shop, kapag nakuha mo na ang order mo, and please  deliver everything to Atty. Maya Dela Rosa sa RRMA. Oh, and by the way, kapag wala iyong nakalista diyan, please find another Starbucks na meron ang mga iyon.”

Joma tried very hard to hide his curiosity at his boss’ order, but he is mighty curious. In the three months or so he started working for Richard Lim, this is the first time he is having him deliver something for a lady, who seems like a very important person in his life, judging by the way he was giving him all these instructions. This is a bit out of character for his boss. Sabagay, wala namang masama, and mabuti nga iyon, para hindi masyadong serious ang employer niya, at saka single na naman siya ulit, Joma thought. He used to work for Richard’s cousin, and he had mentioned before that he is a widower. In all the time he had been working for him, Richard Lim’s life had just revolved around his office and his daughter. Bahay-opisina lang talaga ang employer niya!

“Sige po, Sir. Gawin ko na po kaagad, Sir.” Joma said.

“Oh by the way, Joma, ako na ang susundo kay Abby mamaya. Isasama ko na lang siya sa office. I think Maya is in a meeting now. Hintayin mo na lang matapos and then give the bag to her. Make sure na sa kanya mo mismo iaabot ang mga iyan.”

“Okay po, Sir Richard. Areglado po.” Joma nodded, then gestured to Richard that he would get going.

Richard nodded, and thanked the driver. When Joma was out of the door, he grinned. He is very happy at his idea. He opened his laptop whistling.

When he returned to the old house after taking Maya home the night before, Richard went inside his old room again. He sat by the window and thought of his wonderful day, and evening. At the same time, being there, he remembered the time he would see Maya passing by the window and his heart beating faster than usual with the sight of her, that just the sight of her made his day complete. He thought of the time he had seen her again at RRMA, the day before, and he remembered feeling the same, a feeling that was reinforced when he spent the day and most of the evening with her, including the emotional trip to the old house.

In the middle of the night and amid the quiet but oh so familiar surroundings, he came to a realization, something that he knew all along, after their paths crossed again, that he still loves her, that his love for her has not changed through the years, but that just laid dormant, and that in all his relationships, including the good one with Alexandra, Maya is the only one who made him feel this way. His heart sang with the realization. He was drawn to her again, like a magnet as soon as they met, and despite the passing of a decade without seeing or hearing from each other.

He thought of her from time to time. She was never out of his mind completely. However, circumstances both personal and professional prevented him from looking for her when he can already. Until the other day, with fate bringing them together again. There is really a truth in the adage that there is always a right time for everything, and this is the right time for him and Maya!

There in his old room, in the place where he first caught a glimpse of her, he came to a plan to court her again earnestly and to continue where they left off ten years ago. He does not want them to start anew, so to speak, as what they had before was already great, he would like to built on that beginning. They have laid down the foundation and it is now time to build the whole beautiful structure, albeit, it is ten years after! He went home the night before in a very high spirit and it was a while before he managed to sleep.

Now, he just hopes that Maya is of the same page as him. She did admit indirectly that she does not have a boyfriend at the moment. But Manang Fe is right, she is very beautiful, inside out, for her not to have a relationship in the last decade. Did someone make her heart aflutter in all the years that they have been apart? While he does not care about her past relationships, on a level, he would like to know a bit about those, so he knows where he stands, where he could continue on with her. She seems to enjoy his company. He is banking on the fact too, that Maya admitted last night that she would have said yes, if he had courted her ten years ago. That kind of feeling does not disappear completely, isn’t it? There is only one way to find out, Richard thought, his resolve firmed, and that is to make an all out campaign to win Maya’s heart again, starting now. With that in mind, Richard happily went through his e-mails again.

More than two hours later, Maya went out of the conference room where she had the meeting with Atty. Ryan and Atty. Sonny. She was about to go to her office when Lindsay waved at her, and called her attention.

“Good morning again, Atty. Maya! May naghahanap po sa inyo, medyo kanina pa nga po siya.” Lindsay said. “He insisted on waiting for you. Nasa waiting area po siya.”

“Ha, sino, Lindsay, wala naman akong ini-expect na guest? Saka not so many people know pa that I work here na.” Maya asked, curious on who is her guest be since it is just Doris, and two of her law school friends, know where she works.

“Driver daw po siya ni Mr. Lim.” Lindsay replied. “Hindi ba po sa kanya ka naka-assign? Baka may ipinadala pong papers si Mr. Lim. Though I offered naman to the driver na pwede niyang iwan sa akin  kung ano man iyong ibibigay sa iyo at ako na lang ang magbibigay sa iyo, pero sabi niya bilin daw po sa kanya ni Mr. Lim na hintayin ka.”

“Oh, baka nga papers.” Maya simply said. Her heart started beating fast since she had an inkling that the driver’s mission is something personal. Kagabi lang naman sila naghiwalay ni Richard, wala namang nabanggit sa kanya. Then, kanina sa meeting, wala ring nabanggit si Attorney Ryan sa kanya. Pero, Maya Dela Rosa, huwag kang assuming, she admonished herself! “Thanks a lot Lindsay. I’ll go and see him na para malaman na natin.” Maya said with a smile.

Maya saw a guy, wearing a polo barong, and holding a big paper bag, sitting on one of the arm chairs in waiting area. He looked up and smiled when she entered.

“Good morning, ikaw ba iyong driver ni Mr. Lim?” Maya greeted the guy, with a big, friendly smile. “I’m Maya Dela Rosa.”

Joma looked at the smartly dressed lady before him, and smiled. Now, he understands why his boss is acting this way. She is very lovely! Mukhang mabait at siyempre matalino, abugada nga eh. “Good morning po, Atty. Dela Rosa, yes po, ako po si Joma Adriano, iyong driver ni Mr. Lim.”

“Nice to meet you, Joma. Ikaw ang naghahatid kay Abby sa school, di ba?” Maya asked conversationally. “May pinadala raw si Ricky….errr, si Mr.Lim for me. You could have left it with Lindsay para sana hindi ka na naghintay.”

Joma was a bit surprised at that question, and the almost use of a nickname for his boss, realizing that maybe, his boss and this lawyer know each other very well talaga. “Yes po, may pinadala po si, Sir Richard. Pero bilin din po niya sa akin na hintayin kayo. Okay lang naman po kasi libre naman na ako dahil si Sir na raw ang susundo kay Abby.” Joma offered the information without intending to, liking the friendly lawyer.

“Yes, he did mention that this morning.” Maya replied, but didn’t elaborate.

“Heto po pala ang padala ni Sir.” Joma gave Maya the paper bag he was holding.

“Oh, thank you for this, Joma.” Maya smiled at Joma and then looked at the bag closely and noticed the logo. She has an inkling now of what’s inside the paper bag, and it has something to do with her conversation with Richard that morning.

“Walang anuman po, Attorney. Mauuna na po ako.” Joma said. He also noticed the lawyer’s face lighting up when he handed  her the bag. He has a feeling that there’s more to this really than what he sees. Parang masayang-masaya rin si Attorney ah sa padala ni Sir Richard!

Maya went back to her office after Joma left. Lindsay saw her carrying the paper bag and just uttered a silent “Oh.” She is very curious, though.

When Maya looked inside the bag, she found a hot thermos, a slice of blueberry cheesecake, and a bottled water. When she opened the beautiful purple thermos, with a floral design done in watercolors, the smell of her favourite brew wafted into the air. Richard was very observant, and very thoughtul, parang noon lang una siyang binigyan nito ng books! It was the coffee brew she had ordered for lunch the day before. The blueberry cheesecake harks back to the time they were going out ten years ago. He still remembers that this is her favorite dessert!

She saw a small envelope inside, and grinned broadly, her heart somersaulting with joy, touched by Richard’s sweet gesture, when she read what he had written, and the way he wrote it.

Dearest Maya,

Thank you very much again for last night. I hope the coffee will be enough to fortify you for the day! I remember that you have a weakness for blueberry cheesecake! I hope that you still do! 🙂 If you are not too tired by the end of your day or too sleepy, would you like to have dinner with me? Let me know.  

Enjoy your coffee!  

Yours, 

Ricky

Maya took a sip of the still very hot coffee. Then she took out her phone and called Richard.

“Hi Maya,” Richard greeted Maya with a smile in his voice, when he picked up the call. He is very happy to hear from her this soon. “Tapos na ba ang meeting mo?”

“Ricky, thank you very much for the coffee and the cheesecake. You are a lifesaver.” Maya told him happily. “I was not sure nga if I could grab a cup pa kasi may pinatatapos si Attorney Ryan, pronto, this morning. And yes, katatapos lang ng meeting namin.”

“You’re welcome, Maya. I thought as much na baka hindi mo na maasikaso.” Richard said. “Your workload must be heavy. Minsan kasi, kapag nagkukwentuhan kami ni Ryan, nababanggit niya kung gaano kabigat ang workload sa firm.”

“Oo nga. But I don’t mind. I like keeping myself busy and the work is very interesting.” Maya said. “About the dinner, would 8PM be okay? Sorry, medyo late na ha. Baka kasi mga ganoong time pa ako matapos.”

“Yes, it is okay with me. But sure, you are not too tired by then? I know that the schedule at the firm could be very gruelling, especially for new associates.” Richard replied, thinking that maybe, going out on a weekday twice in a row is too much for Maya. He does want to be with her, but he understands the demands of her job and a career she just started. Baka kasi nahihiya lang tumanggi sa kanya. He told her so.

“Yes, I will be okay. Thanks Ricky. No worries. I’m used to long hours and a lot of hard work. Remember, I worked and studied at the same time. Sanay na ako sa ganitong schedule at sa deadlines and demanding na job.” Maya assured him. She likes the fact that Richard understands the nature of her work and is willing to adjust. But she wants to see him too.

“Great! I’ll be seeing you then. Sunduin na lang kita sa RRMA.” Richard said, his voice tinged with happiness and he was smiling broadly.

“Okay, I’ll see you then, Ricky.” Maya replied, a smile in her voice too.

“O sige, work ka na. Enjoy your coffee. Don’t forget, again, to eat lunch.” Richard said, then added softly, “I’m looking forward to our evening, Maya.”

“Thank you, again, for the coffee.” Maya said, then with her face turning crimson from the kilig she was feeling, added sofly too, “I’m looking forward to that too, Ricky. See you later.”

Both of them have big smiles plastered on their faces when they ended the call, anticipation for the evening ahead crowding their minds.

Richard took another sip of his third cup of coffee, and Maya, hers, both of them were with dreamy smiles on their faces, as they savored their caffeine fix.

 

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On The Street Where You Live – Chapter 8

Chapter 8

“This is Mirasol Street now?” Richard exclaimed, amazement in his voice when he finally saw the street where he had lived since childhood, after ten long years! “Amazing! I like the new look of the street, with all the plant boxes and the old-fashioned lamps! I’m very sure, Abby will like it here!” The street looks neat even at night, and wider. On closer look, he noticed that the plant boxes were filled with bougainvilleas and sunflowers!

Maya looked at Richard. “You are planning to bring Abby here? Kailan?” She asked, not sure if him saying that Abby will like it here, means that Abby would like it when he takes her here for a visit or something much more permanent. Her heart beat faster, waiting for his answer.

“Oh, not just bringing her here, Maya! We are actually moving back here!” Richard said with a grin. “Iyon nga dapat ang aasikasuhin ko bukas kaya ako late papasok. I’m planning to inspect the house in the morning. I need to be sure na makakalipat na kami nina Abby, Manang and Sabel this Saturday. I’m tired of living na rin in a service apartment. Saka I want a yard din where Abby can play, like Grace and I used to do when we were kids.”

“Really! That’s great! You have a beautiful house and I’m sure Abby will like it there. Tapos, for sure naman, si Manang Fe, also Sabel, will be happy to go back here. This is a pretty quiet neighborhood still, kahit malapit sa gate ng PUS. As you can see, medyo OC ang bagong kapitan ng barangay sa lugar na ito. Inayos lahat at she made sure na malinis ang paligid. Bawal ang kalat.” Maya said smiling, at the same time, it also finally registered in her brain that Richard will just be several houses away from her again! Her heart was surely, and truly, beating faster!

“That’s why I decided to move back here, for Abby. I’m sure she will thrive here. Kaya nga when you told me earlier that you still live here, I’m happy. What a wonderful coincidence, Maya! Like the fact that I met you unexpectedly again yesterday, and now, I found out that you still live here! Isn’t it great!” Richard said happily, as he slowed down in front of his old house. On impulse, he asked Maya, “Are you sleepy na? Maybe, we can just both check the house now, since nandito na tayo.”

“Ha, kasama pa ako?” Maya asked, surprised. She was not expecting that. For some reason, she felt nervous and excited to be going into that old house with Richard!

Richard looked at Maya intently. “Kung okay lang sana sa iyo, Maya. I must confess, I have been putting this off a bit, kasi nga I was not sure if I’m ready to deal with all the memories, when I see the old place again. But after having met you again, thank God, this seems to be easier now. I don’t know why.” He finished softly.

Having put it like that, Maya didn’t have the heart to say no. She understood completely what Richard meant when he said that. It felt like looking at old photographs in a photo album, there are those you can just take a look and smile readily, remembering the instance those photos were taken. The emotions and the happiness. There are photo albums where you need to prepare yourself when you look at it. There are just things and situations where you really have to take a deep breath and fortify yourself before you can go, look, and dwell into those that ask too much from you, emotionally. “Okay, sige, I will go with you. Hindi rin naman ako sanay matulog kapag hindi pa past 12MN, maaga pa naman! I guess, remnants of my law school days and puyatan for exams or recitations.”

“Really Maya? You will go with me?” Richard asked with a big grin. “Thank you so much. I appreciate it very much.”

Richard parked his car in front of the tall gate of the house. He asked Maya to stay in the car while he opened the gate with a key he fished from his messenger bag. Then he drove inside and stopped at the car port of the huge, dark house.

“Maya, sandali lang ha huwag ka munang bumaba, I will switch on some lights lang.” Richard said as he hastily unfastened his seatbelt, then got out of the car.

Several minutes after, the whole place was illuminated. Richard opened the door for Maya and assisted her out of the car.Maya took his hand. His hand felt a bit clammy. She pressed it reassuringly. Richard smiled at her and mouthed, ‘Thank you.’

“Wow, parang hindi ten years na walang nakatira!” Maya remarked, looking around the beautiful grounds, and the stairs that led to the second floor of the house which, like old houses built during the early 1900s, serves as the living area of the house.

“Mama and Papa made sure that the house is well-maintained kahit walang nakatira. Kaya nga they hired Manong Lando and Manang Lucing. Tapos, before Abby and I moved back to the Philippines, I asked my cousin to have the house renovated para pagbalik namin dito na kami titira ni Abby for good. Iyon nga lang, there was a delay in the works being done here, kaya hindi kami nakalipat kaagad. We had to stay in a service apartment muna. Last week, Manong Lando and the decorator that my cousin hired said everything is okay na, pero I want to see first bago ko i-uproot si Abby from that apartment.” Richard explained. “Halika, let’s go up and see the rest.” He put his hand on Maya’s elbow and escorted her upstairs, to the small balkonahe there. He unlocked the big narra doors.

Richard gestured for Maya to step inside first. The first thing that Maya saw was the living room of the Lims, looking as it was before, except for the sofas, which are now done in light colors, maybe because of Abby. However, the gleaming hardwood floor is the same. The floor lamps are new additions too. The grand piano is still there. Maya remembered Grace playing the afternoon she finally met Richard’s parents.

Stepping into the house is like stepping into a time machine that takes her back to the past, to ten years ago. Maya suddenly remembered her one and only time inside the house. It was towards the end of that semester. She remembered Donya Esmeralda welcoming her warmly, Richard’s sister Grace who was very friendly, as they have met the week before that in PUS. Grace saw her and Richard eating at one of the kiosks inside the campus. Richard introduced them and they got on very well, especially after Richard told her that Maya loves those bodice ripper novels that she devoured too. She remembered thanking Donya Esme, who insisted on being called Tita Esme, for the food she sent to her and Doris on her birthday. Maya smiled at her fond memories.

“O bakit ka naka-smile?” Richard asked, smiling as well, as the two of them walked around the spacious living room. He was actually looking at Maya’s facial expression instead of the insides of the place as he noticed her looking around and then, she got lost in her thoughts and has this dreamy smile on her face.

“Wala lang, naaalala ko lang iyong time na pumunta ako rito, nung kukunin natin iyong books na ipapahiram mo sa akin, and your Mama welcomed me so warmly, pati  na si Grace. Nagpa-piano pa nga siya nang dumating tayo, di ba? Though, iyong Papa mo parang serious ng kaunti, as far as I could remember. Di ba, he just nodded when you introduced me to him?” Maya recalled. “Medyo nakakatakot nga siya. Tapos iyong Mama mo naman, so warm and accommodating talaga.”

“Yes, I remember that.” Richard smiled at the memory. He actually wanted Maya to meet his parents. So, on the pretext of getting the books, he asked her to come inside one afternoon when he had picked her up from her college and they walked home together.

Richard gazed at Maya, then made a decision to admit something.“Mama acted like that kasi I think she was sensing something, call it mother’s instinct. Papa also acted like that since I think he was reading something in the situation, especially into my actions those days.” He took a deep breath, and proceeded with his admission.

“They were like that kasi ikaw pa lang ang unang girl na isinama ko sa house to meet my parents. Mama thought I was courting you or that you were my girlfriend na, I think. Papa reacted that way, kasi he thought that too. He didn’t approve of me having a girlfriend in college kasi raw madi-distract lang ako. Then he saw me with you. Prior to that, he had seen us together, walking down the street. Grace also mentioned in passing while we were eating dinner, the same day you met her, that she have met you. She really liked you and even teased me about courting you seriously as she would like you to be her sister-in-law in the future.”

Maya looked at Richard and felt herself blushing, the blood rushing to her head, making her feel dizzy. “Really, Ricky! I never knew! Wala ka bang ibang friends na girls at that time? Wala kang dinala rito, close friends na girl. Sa birthdays mo?”

“I have, pero hanggang school lang. Saka they were more of my classmates.”  Richard said. “I never thought of bringing them here, to the house because this is something private and personal to me.”

“How about iyong girlfriends mo noon?” Maya asked, wanting to know after all these years! Come to think of it, they never discuss much that aspect of Richard’s life, the life before they met each other and became very good friends or more than that, maybe, if the things that had happened didn’t happen.

Richard gave Maya one of his charming lopsided smiles. “Yes, I had one during my first two years in college, my high school girlfriend,  but it was nothing serious. We parted okay as we both realized what we had in high school was just that – a teenager kind of thing. Saka nung last years ko sa Engineering, wala,  kasi nga Papa seemed to be against it, tapos wala naman rin akong ibang nakita that I liked very much, until you came into my life.” He finished, looking at her meaningfully. “You were the only one I wanted to introduce to them at hindi iyon dahil dito ka lang nakatira sa same street.”

“Ha, pero hindi mo naman ako girlfriend at that time!” Maya blurted out. Her heart is beating loudly too, hearing these revelations after all these years, out of the blue, and when she least expected it. She felt there is more to come. She wanted to sit down as she felt her knees are getting wobbly.

“Well, may I ask you something?” Richard suddenly said, realizing that now he has the perfect opportunity to get an answer to a very important unanswered question from the past. When Maya, nodded for him to proceed and ask his question, he forged on. “I know it is water under the bridge, pero if I had courted you then, and ask you to be my girl, would you have said yes?”

“Ha, err…..” Maya was suddenly at a lost for words. She took a deep breath and tried to reply, getting tongue-tied all of a sudden. “Well, you see….Well, I…..”

Richard grinned at Maya, encouraging her to reply, and dying to hear her answer too, if he must admit! “Maya Dela Rosa, don’t take the fifth on me……” He teased her to lighten up the mood.

“Well, since it is water under the bridge…..errr, yes! I think, I would have said yes to being your girl then. I liked you a lot and I liked your company.” She finished in a rush.

“Really, really, Maya?” Richard felt suddenly very happy, but at the same time , felt a bit sad that it didn’t happen. Maya felt that too. Pero, what can they do, the circumstances were against them. “Thank you for admitting, Maya. It meant a lot to me. And so that you know, if I didn’t leave I would have courted you properly until you say yes.”

“Oh…..” Maya’s heart somersaulted with that relevation, another bombshell from Richard!

“Yes, I would have!” Richard said softly, seriously. There is really something about the night that makes one confessed one’s innermost thoughts and feelings.

“I was actually going to follow you to Mindoro several days after I took you to Batangas if circumstances didn’t intervene, and I was planning to declare my feelings for you there. I thought it would be more memorable, more special since that place have a lot of wonderful memories for you already. I was really counting the days until the semester was over so I can do that. I had a crush on you even before we, formally, met. I used to watch out for you passing by when I’m home, and when I knew you might pass by. I can’t believe my luck when I chanced upon you at the fast food place. I usually eat at home, but that evening, I studied with Ryan at the library and was very hungry so I gravitated towards the fast food place.”

With that admission, Maya felt like she just lost her breath and she was plummeting weightless, as if she sky jumped and the initial adrenalin rush, and the strong winds, had hit her senses full blast. Ricky had feelings for her that time too! She was not alone with she felt then. She just looked at Richard, who was gazing at her intently with a big warm smile on his face. It took several more seconds to recover her equilibrium.

“Thank you for telling me too, Ricky. You know, I was not really on duty that night. I was covering for someone who was absent. I guessed we were destined to meet that time, huh.” Maya smiled, suddenly feeling shy and a bit out of sort. She felt like she will melt the way he was looking at her, she needed a diversion and to process this whole wonderful day and night!  She blurted the first thing she thought of. “Halika, let’s inspect the rest of the house na so we can go home. Baka wala akong mabasang briefs and contracts bukas sa antok ko. Tapos baka hinihintay ka na rin nina Abby at Manang Fe.”

“Okay…..” Richard said, smiling. He wanted to say more to Maya, but it can wait, everything can wait, but he know, soon and too long. The past is gone but they have the present and he is willing to make the most of it. Seize the day, iyan ang motto niya ngayon. Baka rin he had overloaded Maya na with too much stuffs for the day, and night.

“Halika. Medyo late na nga rin pala. We don’t have to look at the whole house. Iyon lang room ni Abby ang kailangan kong i-check na mabuti, then the kitchen. Downstairs naman are guests rooms lang. Iyong room ko, I think okay naman. It was my old room.”

From the living room, they went to the room at the side, which will be Abby’s room. The room is painted in pale yellow with a mural of princesses and a big castle on the side. It is a beautiful room, fit for a little princess. Then off they took a peek at the next room, Richard’s. The two of them moved to the other parts of the house on the same level, a companionable silence between them. Maya likes the renovations done to the house. It didn’t destroy the charm of the old place. The decorator that Richard’s cousin had hired is very good. When they reached the back veranda, they went down through there to where Richard parked his car.

“Halika na, ihahatid na kita.” Richard said. “Can we just walk, I want to see more of the street? Would that be okay?”

“Sure, pero paano itong car mo?” Maya asked.

“Babalikan ko na lang. Anyway, since I don’t have to go to work early, I may stay a bit longer. I realized now how I missed this house. The good memories came flooding back.” Richard said. “Before kasi, mas naaalala ko iyong one week of hell that Papa and I suffered while Mama and Grace were at the hands of the kidnappers, and our evening flight out of here. Kaya nga I was reluctant to go back here, initially. Of course, I know I have to deal with it since living in this house would be the best for my daughter. I missed this house rin and this street. This is home, no matter where I have been. Mabuti the circumstances were right already and I can come back to this place, to this country.”

“Yes, this street feels like that, to me also. Ako nga ilang years pa lang dito. Ikaw dito ka na lumaki. Saka sa una lang naman talaga mahirap balikan something that touched us negatively and sadly, eventually, okay na rin naman, we adapt and adjust, and I guess, fully accept na rin. Sabi nga minsan di ba, there is nothing to fear, but fear itself.” Maya said.

“You are so correct, there, Maya.” Richard agreed. “Thank you again for helping me out. It means a lot to me, really, you never how much you are making things easier for me. I’m okay na, staying here a bit pa after I take you home.”

“I’m glad to have helped you, Ricky.” Maya said. “O huwag kang masyadong magpakapuyat. You will drive home pa.” Maya reminded him.

“Yes, Attorney Maya!” Richard said smiling, liking the way Maya said it. “I will not. I will go home soon.”

They smiled at each other, then walked down Mirasol Street to Maya’s place. Richard really liked the newly paved street and the clean look. Except for the houses getting newer and bigger, the street didn’t change much in terms of charm. He was also delighted to see the little store near Maya’s place.

“Nandito pa pala ang tindahan nina Manong Tony and Manang Bising!” Richard remarked. “Sayang sarado na. Maghe-hello sana ako.”

“Then you can do that when you move.” Maya said,smiling broadly, seeing the happiness in Richard’s face. “Here’s home na.” Maya stopped in front of a five storey-building with a small terrace in front of each apartment, that is now standing where her and Doris’s apartment and several others used to be.

“Pati pala ito, nabago na! But I think mas maganda ngayon ang place ninyo.” Richard said looking at the place. “Which one is yours now?”

“Iyong nasa dulo, second floor, end unit siya.” Maya pointed to the last unit on the second floor with a small terrace covered with plants. “Why don’t you come up so I can give you a ‘small tour’.” She suggested, smiling since it is a small apartment, especially as compared to Richard’s spacious family home.

“I would love to, Maya, pero gabi na rin. Kailangan mo nang magpahinga. Next time, I will take you up on that. “Richard said. “I’ll walk you to your door.”

“Dito na lang, Ricky. I’ll be okay. Ilang taon na rin akong umuuwi rito.” Maya said, assuring Ricky that she will be okay going up alone.

“Yes, maybe, but I will feel better if I deliver you to your door.” Richard insisted. He was thinking of the long, empty corridor at that time of the night. The place looks safe, but you never know.

Maya didn’t argue anymore. She and Richard climbed up to the second floor of the apartment building, using the stairway at the side of the lobby, instead of the elevator.

“This is it, Ricky! Thank you for bringing me home and for today, and for everything.” Maya said, when they have reached her door. “This has been a very wonderful day!”

“Thank you for today and tonight too, Maya.” Richard said. “You are right. It has been a wonderful and momentous day. I’m so happy. Good night, Maya! I’ll see you on Thursday at LAS.”

“Good night, Ricky! Yes, see you. Then if you need help pala when you move, let me know. Wala naman akong pasok sa Saturday!” Maya offered.

“Really, thank you Maya. I think everything is set. But please, just drop by the house in the afternoon so you can meet Abby properly and say hello to Manang Fe and Sabel again.” Richard suggested. He knows that Abby will like Maya and vice versa.

“Sure, I’ll do that.” Maya said smiling, then unlocking her door. “O paano, papasok na ako. Hindi ka ba talaga papasok, have coffee or juice?”

“No, I’m good. Pasok ka na. Good night, Maya.” Richard said, then he made a move that so surprised Maya. He kissed her good night on the cheek. “See you.” He said softly. Then he gave her a big lopsided smile before walking back to the stairs.

Maya just stared at him, touching her cheek. Her heart rate has not yet recovered from the sudden burst of feelings she felt with that kiss. Yes, it was just maybe a beso, but it felt differently.

Richard looked one more time at Maya, smiled again, before disappearing down the stairway. He was grinning hugely and happily as he took the stairs. He was very happy to be back in Mirasol Street!

 

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