Posts Tagged Richard and Maya Fan Fiction
“I love you very much, Maya!” Ricky whispered to Maya, in between their heated kisses. “Finally we are together again! That was the longest 24 hours of my life!”
Framing his handsome face, and looking at him with all the love she was feeling, she said softly, “I love you very much too, Ricky. I’m so happy that you are here in Manila now!”
Ricky, at first, thought that he just imagined it, or misheard her, then finally it registered what Maya had just said, catching him unawares as he was not really expecting to hear it at that moment. “Maya… you mean…that you…you….?” He had to ask, not really believing he just heard the words he had been wishing he would hear from Maya’s lips soon.
“Yes po, Mr. Ricky Lim. Mahal din kita.” Maya said, giving Ricky a sweet, happy smile, caressing his face gently, and looking at him with all the love she is feeling for this wonderful, wonderful guy!
“Maya, sweetheart, you made me the happiest guy in the whole universe!” Richard hugged Maya tight, then rained in little kisses all over her face, then he swung her around suddenly, laughing as he twirled her around!
“Hahahaha, put me down na, Ricky.” Maya said laughing, her heart full of joy! “You are making me dizzy. Baka tayo ma-fall!”
“Matagal na akong na-fall, Maya!” Ricky said, grinning, teasing her, then he slowly put her down and cupped her beautiful face, kissed again! “I’m sorry, Maya. I got carried away! I’m just so happy. I never expected to hear those beautiful words from you so soon. I wished, of course, very much, often! But I also thought that Lorraine had done something that will make you rethink about loving me and being with me.”
“Ricky, nothing that she will do will change what I feel for you. I almost admitted it to you when you took me home yesterday. Had we had that dinner last night, I would have declared my love for you then, I think!” Maya said with a smile. “I’m just so happy too that you are finally here. And that was the longest 24 hours of my life too. I can’t imagine my life without you.”
“Thank you again, Maya.” Then looking Maya in the eyes, he said, “You know, when I jumped into my car last night to follow you in Manila, my only goal was to be with you, but this is so much better and very wonderful. I didn’t know then what kind of lies Lorraine had fed you! I know you will not believe her, but I just want to be completely sure that we are still okay. Besides, Ilocos was not the same without you! I missed you terribly.”
“I didn’t give much credence to her words, really!” Maya assured Ricky again. Then brows knitted she asked, while still in Ricky’s loose embrace,“Did you get my long message? I have sent you one when I was unable to reach you, explaining everything, about why I needed to return to Manila promptly, and that you shouldn’t worry. I even said, I will just call you and that you can call me when you see my message.”
“Maya, we better sit down, while I explained to you what happened when I got home from the hospital.” Richard said, taking a deep breath. He remembered what Lorraine did and he was still annoyed at her action! He never thought really that she would sink that low!
“Okay, we can sit on the bench over there.” Maya said, pointing to a two-sitter wooden bench at the other side of the small garden, with a matching driftwood table. “Sandali lang, Ricky, I will get you something from the cafe. Coffee, pastries, pasta? What would you like to have! Nag-breakfast ka na ba?”
“Coffee is okay Maya, and some food if it is not too much trouble.” Ricky replied, then sheepishly, he admitted “I haven’t had the chance to drink coffee or eat anything this morning as I wanted to be here as soon as I have rested a bit. Nagbaka-sakali nga lang ako na nandito since sabi ni Manang Miring, may sakit si Emman.”
“What time did you leave Ilocos? And what time did you arrive?” Maya asked, carrying her coffee and flowers to where Ricky and her would sit.
“Well, a little past 10PM, I think, and I arrived home at around 5AM!” Ricky replied, cupping Maya’s elbow and guiding her while they walked the short distance to the bench.
“Five in the morning! That meant you drove all the way, no stopping at all?” Maya looked at Ricky in surprise.
“Well, I stopped just twice for a toilet break and to stretch my legs! I wanted to get back here fast, and before the morning traffic in all the towns I’ll be passing by. I only slept a bit when I got home. I don’t want to look like a fright when I finally get to see you! But I can’t keep still, until I see you again. So here I am. But don’t worry, I’m okay. I don’t feel tired.”
“Oh, Ricky!” Maya felt overwhelmed with Ricky’s gesture, and the fact that he thought of her first instead of food. He even managed to bring her that beautiful bouquet. “So, go and sit, please, and I will get you something to eat.”
“Thank you, Maya.” Ricky taking hold of Maya’s right hand before she went back to the cafe, then giving her one of his devastating smiles that never fails to make her heart beat faster. “I love you.” Then he kissed her hand softly.
“No worries, Ricky. I’m happy to do it. Thank you for loving me. I love you too!” Maya said softly, felt herself flushing, as she is still getting used to the fact that she is exchanging ‘I love yous’ now with Ricky! She touched his face and then she was off to the cafe.
“Ma’am Maya, ang guwapo guwapo naman, and parang ang bango-bango ni Sir! Oh my God, sana ganyan din ang maging boyfriend ko!” Jocelyn blurted out giddily as soon as she saw Maya entered the cafe. “Saka Ma’am ang pa-flowers, ang bongga.”
Maya smiled at Jocelyn. “So tama ang hula ko na ikaw ang kakutsaba ni Ricky sa surprise na pagpunta sa garden.”
“Guilty, Ma’am!” Jocelyn admitted sheepishly. “Pagdating kasi kanina rito ni Mr. Lim, hinanap ka. Papaghintayin ko lang sana sa loob ng cafe, crossed my heart Ma’am kahit gaano siya ka-guwapo sa paningin ko, tapos I will inform you, pero he explained that he came all the way from Ilocos to see you. Eh di ba doon ka galing? Saka Ma’am, in fairness, di ba naman napaka-romantic noon. Parang tinawid ang pitong bundok para sa iyo, makita ka lang. Then, he asked nicely naman if he can surprise you. Kaya hayun, sabi ko nandoon ka sa garden. Abswelto na po ako, Ma’am?”
Maya laughed. “O siya sige, oo na. But please bring Ricky a cup of coffee also, then a blueberry cheesecake and our mushroom truffles pasta.”
“Right on, Ma’am. Balik ka na po kay Sir, and ako na ang bahala.”
“Thank you, Jocelyn.”
“Basta sa love life mo Ma’am, 101 percent ang support ko.”
“Ikaw talaga, para ka nang si Emman magsalita.”
“Basta Ma’am, kapag kulang ka ng bridesmaid, pwede ako. Baka sakaling ako ang makasalo ng flowers mo.” Jocelyn quipped.
“Hahahaha, eh how sure are you na kami na?” Maya teased Jocelyn. She really likes the girl and she is used to her being familiar and her irreverent teasing like this.
“Naku Ma’am, feeling ko na naman kayo na talaga. Tapos kung not ‘yet’ naman, medyo malapit na iyon sa ‘yes’. Isang letter lang kaya ang difference nun, Ma’am.”
“Jocelyn, ang mga napupulot mo talaga diyan sa kaka-online mo! O sige please make Ricky’s food na. Thank you. And please you can still call me kapag na-swamp kayo ni Henry, since absent si Marigold. I’m sure Ricky will not mind me pitching in sa cafe while he is here.”
“Surely Ma’am Maya. I’m really happ for you. Imagine, may napili ka na rin. Maraming magiging miyembro ng Team Sawi kapag nalaman nilang taken ka na!” Then seeing Maya’s mock angry expression, Jocelyn raised her hand, “Okay na talaga Ma’am, last na iyon, off to the kitchen na ako!”
Maya was still grinning when she returned to where Ricky was waiting for her.
“O, why are you grinning!” Ricky asked Maya when she sat down beside him on the bench.
“Ito kasing si Jocelyn, kung ano-anong kalokohan ang nasa ulo. Kaya yata sila nagkakasundo ng husto ni Emman.”
“Jocelyn? The nice girl who told me where you are.” Ricky smiled. “I told her I wanted to surprise you.”
“Well, she did admit as much. And you are such a wonderful surprise! I thought medyo matatagalan pa talaga bago tayo magkita ulit. I was getting worried na nga rin na hindi kita matawagan. I called up Manang Miring to get Manang Auring’s number kanina. Then she told me na nagpunta ka nga raw sa bahay! After talking to her, medyo napanatag na ako.”
“Maya, I’m sorry if you got worried. Good thing, that Manang Miring explained everything to you! I thought of texting you while I was on the road, na-drain naman ang phone ko.”
“It is okay Ricky. Manang even called up Rosario when I was unable to reach you still. Then si Manang Auring din tinawagan niya when Rosario was unable to tell her kung saan ka pumunta, and nalaman ko nga na on the way back to Manila ka na. Sobrang thank you ko nga kay Manang Miring, sobrang resourceful. I thought nagpapahinga ka pa. If you haven’t gotten in touch with me by lunch, I was planning to call you again.”
“I have to thank her as well, Maya. I’m really sorry for what had happened, especially with Lorraine! Did she say bad things? Nabastos ka ba niya? After what she had done last night, I would have not put it pass her! Really, Maya, sobrang mali ng pagkakilala ko sa kanya.”
“Well, she was a bit antagonistic towards me, pero hindi naman siya outright na nambastos, or anything. She was, how to put it, indifferent and uncooperative, as if she knew something that I don’t know and she had that over me.”
“I think, my phone! She knew I have left it behind and that you were calling. That was not the only thing she did, Maya! I never thought she would sink that low! But she did!”
“Bakit, what did she do ba?” Maya asked, wanting to know at what extent Lorraine went to, just to get back Ricky, one more time.
“Well, when I got home, I was really surprised that she was there! Naputol lang ang usapan namin noong naaksidente si Manong Tunying. Then I rushed him to the hospital. When I returned after I have been to your house and Manang Miring told me that you went to my place, I asked her what did she tell you. She actually denied at first that you have been there! Then I got my phone to check if you had called or left a message. I was puzzled na wala kang message. Then, wala ring missed calls. I checked my call logs and it was cleaned. Wiped out!”
“Really, but Ricky, I sent you a long message!”
“I know Maya! Lorraine when she was cornered admitted that not only she wiped out my call logs, she also deleted your message! Maya, I barely held on to my temper. But in the end, I realized that it was a waste of energy to get mad at her. Mahirap siyang makaintindi. I packed my bags and just left. I just arranged for Rosario to stay in the house. Kahit paano naman kasi may pinagsamahan kami and she is a friend of the family.”
“She did that! That’s so terrible!” Maya said, and admired Ricky for his patience and concern for Lorraine despite the bad things she did. “But bayaan mo na nga lang si Lorraine, Ricky. I’m sure she will eventually get it. No harm done naman when we met.” She was about to ask something when she saw Jocelyn approaching them.
“Kain ka na muna, Ricky. Jocelyn is here!”
“Hello po ulit, Mr. Lim, Ma’am Maya.” Jocelyn said as she put down Ricky’s tray on the table.
“Hello, Jocelyn. Thank you very much again for earlier, and this.” Riky said, gesturing to the food. “I’m sure these are masarap.”
“Talaga pong masarap iyan, Mr. Lim. Recipe po ni Ma’am iyong pasta.” Jocelyn said. “Sige po maiwan ko na kayo.”
“Thanks a lot, Jocelyn.” Maya said. Jocelyn nodded and with a final wave of her hand, she went back to the cafe.
“Really, sweetheart, this is your recipe?” Ricky said, the endearment just slipping in, naturally.
“Sweetheart…? Maya said, smiling, feeling giddy with the endearment.
“Yes you are, my sweetheart? Bakit ayaw mo ba, sige palitan na lang natin. Anong gusto mong itawag ko sa iyo? Huwag lang darling ha!” Ricky said, giving Maya another of his bone-melting smiles.
“No, Ricky, ‘sweetheart’, is fine, more than fine!” Maya said, softly, then flushing she admitted, “I just have to get used to it. I haven’t called anyone ‘sweetheart’ before, and no one has called me that before, you know.”
Ricky grinned, his love for this wonderful girl, overflowing, taking hold of both of her hands, and slowly caressing them! “Then, get used to it, sweetheart. I’m really a very lucky guy to have you.”
“I’m lucky to have you, Ricky. I know that.” Maya replied, putting her left hand on top of Ricky’s hand. “O you better eat your brunch na. And yes, that is my recipe. One of the things my mother taught me.”
“Thank you, again, sweetheart,” Ricky said lovingly.
“You’re welcome, sweetheart,” Maya replied sweetly, rolling it around her tongue and she liked the feel and sound of the endearment. “Kain na, please. Ayaw ko na nagpapagutom ka.”
“Yes, Ma’am!” Ricky said with a grin.
Their eyes met and locked again. Unable to help it, they shared another kiss. They just both felt the strong need to physically connect to each other like that, before Ricky finally answered the call of his grumbling tummy. They chatted in between, enjoying the beautiful morning in each other’s company.
“Good morning, sweetheart!” Richard greeted Maya cheerfully when she emerged from her bungalow the following morning. He was sitting on the veranda of his bungalow. Obviously, he was just waiting for her to get out of hers. He stood up, then walked towards her, smiling broadly. The way he was looking at her, it felt like they haven’t seen each other for a long time, when in fact, they just parted several hours before!
When she woke up that morning and found herself tucked in her bed with the clothes she was wearing the night before, she felt a bit disoriented. Then she remembered everything!
Richard carried her in his arms to her bungalow, probably after spending more than two hours by the driftwood, enjoying the quiet night and taking advantage fully of their last evening in Camiguin. She had apparently fallen asleep as they were chatting, with his arms around her, keeping her warm and her, half-lying against his chest, listening to the musical cadence of his voice. The last thing she remembered, before she nodded off, was Richard telling her about another of his and his South African friend Mattheu’s funny adventures while studying for a post-graduate course at Harvard.
By unspoken agreement, they shied away from talking about their exes or any part of the painful past that affected their ability to love before they had, luckily, crossed paths. They just resolved to enjoy that beautiful place in each other’s company, one last time, getting to know each other more. Richard told Maya how it was to grow up as an only child of Filipino-Chinese parents and his wish that he has a brother or a sister, or both! Maya also told Richard that she wished for the same. But her Mom was unable to conceive anymore, after giving birth to her due to a medical condition. Luckily, Emman is like a brother to her and her Tita Margarita, like a second Mom after her parents untimely death. They also talked about their growing up years, and the scrapes and misadventures they got into, to their college days and the courses they opted to take, among other things.
She realized that she had conked out on Richard, when he was gently and slowly putting her down by her door. She started apologizing, but Richard gently hushed her away, then asked softly for her key. She fished it from her pocket, feeling groggy. He got it from her hand, opened the door with one hand, at the same time, continued supporting her, lest she fall. He carried her inside after opening the door, gently putting her down on the bed. He tucked her in, placing the blanket securely around her, then he gently kissed her on the forehead before whispering a soft good night and ‘I love you’. The last time she remembered in her sleepy state was her whispering good night as well, then mumbling something, which she can’t remember anymore, and the gentle closing of her door. She had a rested, dreamless sleep.
Maya smiled, a smile that lit up her already beautiful face, appreciating very much Richard’s gesture, sweetness and thoughtfulness! If she hasn’t yet fallen for this guy, she would surely have with what he has been doing, to show his love for her. He is a perfect gentleman and just so very wonderful! She closed her eyes a bit, thanking God, that after the heartache caused by that cad, James, she has found someone like Richard. Opening her eyes, slowly, she gave Richard a smile that lit up her face, love in her eyes.
Richard smiled back, and gazed at Maya, with all the love he is feeling for her. Each day that passes by, she looks more and more beautiful. Despite what had love has caused him in the past, he is still willing to try again. For this lady, he will take the leap into the unknown in a blink. Loving her is worth it. Those were his thoughts as he gazed at her.
Besides, Richard mused, Maya may not have said the words aloud, but he heard her whispering a soft ‘I love you too, Ricky’ after he had tucked her to bed. Richard doubted on whether she would remember it now as she was in that state, the thin line between wakefulness and sleep when she mumbled it. But he is happy to know. He hopes he will hear it soon, when Maya is very much awake, and them looking at each other’ eyes with all the love they are feeling for each other! But he can wait. Knowing that she loves him back is enough for him. He felt like he was at the top of the world that morning! Maybe, it was the reason why he woke up early despite the fact that he made it to bed at 3AM, and why he feels very chirpy despite the lack of sleep!
“Ricky, good morning! You are up early too! Were you waiting for me to wake up? You should have just texted me or knock at my door. I have been awake for an hour or so! I was just arranging my things! I also called Emman to tell him not to pick me up at the airport as you will take me home!” Maya said happily when Richard reached her side. Emman ribbed her a bit, wanting to find out more. But she deflected her cousin and promised him that they will go for a ‘cousin time’ when she gets back, meaning, drinks in his favorite watering hole and a chat.
“It is okay, sweetheart, you needed your sleep. I just woke early despite our late night. But strange, despite the lack of sleep, I feel rested and happy. It must have been because of you, and another wonderful night with you!” Richard said with a big smile. “How about you, did you sleep well?”
Hearing Richard called her ‘sweetheart’ never fails to give Maya a thrill. “Yes, I slept very well. Dreamless, just restful sleep too, no nightmares at all about the accident. I think our wonderful time by the driftwood helped a lot. Sorry again I conked out on you. Thank you for putting me to bed. That was so sweet of you. I hope I didn’t tax your tender shoulder. You should have just woken me up instead of carrying me like that, even if I like very much that you did!” Maya added with a smile.
“I’m glad you slept well. My shoulder is not so tender. Now it just felt like I pulled a muscle while at a gym. I was happy to carry and put you to bed.” Richard put his thumb on her chin, gently, then said softly, “I love you. I will never get tired of saying that to you, and in showing you.”
Maya flushed, so very happy to hear it. “Thank you, Ricky.” She touched his face and caressed it softly, wanting to communicate to him that she may have not said the word yet, but she does love him back, very much. She just needed a little bit of time, to conquer her lingering fear. She had drilled it into her being, and it was a bit difficult to erase it overnight! But she wanted to, very much. She wants to love Richard fully and completely!
“Errrr…. Ehemmmm!” A masculine voice teasingly said, breaking into Maya and Richard’s private world. “Good morning!”
Maya and Richard looked and saw a smiling and sheepish Jeremy with a tall, handsome guy, wearing glasses who looked vaguely familiar.
“Good morning, Maya, Richard! I’m so sorry for barging in on you so early in the morning. This is Rafael Reyes, from last night.”
“Hello Maya, Richard, how are you? I just thought of checking on the two of you before I travel to Cebu!” Rafael Reyes said, smiling at Maya and Richard. “How’s your shoulders, Richard? I saw you massaging it last night. I think it was what cushioned your fall. Sorry I was unable to check on you last night!”
“Oh, that’s why you look familiar!” Maya said, having placed him as the guy who almost hit Richard and her! “Hello, Rafael! So nice of you to check on us!”
“We are okay, Rafael, no harm done. The right shoulder is a bit tender, but it will be okay in several days.” Richard assured the guy, who he thinks is probably the same age as him.”You are not from Camiguin, too? I thought you live here.”
“I am from Camiguin. But I don’t live here anymore. I’m base in Manila. I was just visiting the family, and we were having one of our rare family dinners when my sister has gotten ill last night.” Rafael explained. “I’m staying in Cebu today and tomorrow to see some friends, then flying back to Manila the day after.”
“Oh! How’s your sister now?” Maya asked. “I hope she is better!”
“She is still in the clinic, but doing so much better. Thank you for asking after her. The doctor needed to hydrate her so she stayed overnight. Like Richard suspected, it was food poisoning. The oysters we had as appetizer! She ate a lot of it, her favorite.” Rafael said. “I will not keep you two. Sorry to ambush you even before you can have breakfast. Maybe I can just invite the two of you to dinner when you get back to Manila. I’ll just ask Jeremy for your contact information.”
“Okay. Just give us a call, please.” Maya said, liking the other guy. He was under no obligation to see how they are, knowing that they were okay when they parted. But still, he took time to see them.
“Yes, Rafael, do give Maya and I a call.” Richard offered his hand to the other guy. Then Rafael was off.
“So you do know him, Jeremy?” Maya asked when Rafael had left.
“Yes, most of the island does, actually. He is the eldest son of a businessman from around here. But he is quite a low profile guy as compared to the father.” Jeremy replied. “He is a very nice guy, an architect.”
“Oh! His father is Mr. Juancho Reyes? I think my father knows his father. He was at a party or two at my parents’s house.” Richard remarked. “Though, you are right. I just know there is a son, but haven’t seen him in social gatherings. I just met Marixi, the sister, the one who got food poisoned!”
“Small world eh?” Jeremy replied. “So, you two, would you like to have some breakfast? Here or at the restaurant?”
“Maya? Here or at the restaurant?” Richard asked, deferring to Maya.
“Here please, Jeremy.” Then looking at Richard, she smiled and said, “Nice that we can enjoy the beautiful view before us one more time, di ba?”
“Sure, Maya, you the boss!” Richard said, smiling back, gazing at her. Then looking at Jeremy, “Here it is please, Jeremy. Thank you very much, for everything.”
“No worries, Richard, Maya.” Jeremy said, smiling, seeing the new intimacy between the two. Things have really progressed well, really well, between these two, he thought to himself! “Anyway, I’ll see you later, before you leave.”
Maya and Richard sat on the wicker sofa, waiting for Marina to serve their food, after Jeremy left with a wave. They held hands, Maya snuggled against Richard again.
“Back to Manila in several hours!” Richard said, playing with Maya’s hair . “I wish we don’t have to leave yet.”
“Yes, me too!” Maya said. “But the responsibilities and ‘real life’ await.”
“We can always come back!” Richard said, then cupping Maya’s face, he said. “I promise you, we will.”
“I’m with you there, Ricky. Thank you.” Maya said gazing at Richard, then she saw Marina approaching with her nephew. “There’s Ate Marina and our brunch. By the way, have you packed your things?”
“Yes, I did! How about you?” Richard asked.
“Done! That was what I was doing earlier. We can leave immediately after our brunch!”
“Okay, I will settle our bill after eating, then we can go.” Richard replied as he stood up and guided Maya up so they can eat.
“Ricky, I will pay my bill, okay.” Maya insisted, having read into Richard’s intention to settle everything. “Please no arguments, on this.”
Seeing Maya’s adamant expression, Richard can really sense that it is really important that she pays her way, he relented. “Okay, but I will pay for our meals since I arrived, please.”
“Okay. Thank you, Ricky.” Maya pressed Richard’s arm, communicating to him that she was glad that he understood her insistence on paying her way. “Shall we eat?”
“Okay.” He gave her another lopsided smile, then pulled the chair for her.
“Thank you, Ate Marina.” Maya said as Marina was about to leave to go back to the restaurant.
Marina prepared a feast for Richard and Maya’s last day at the resort. Over cups of coffee and mango juice, Richard and Maya enjoyed their sumptuous breakfast while looking at the beautiful view before them, with a cool breeze blowing from somewhere, thrown in.
“It felt like we have been here a long time, when this is just the third day for me!” Richard remarked as he enjoyed his second cup of coffee. “It felt like a lifetime since I left Manila!”
“Yes, I feel like I have been here in months instead of just a week, because I feel right at home on my first day here, then came you, and made the place much, much more for me.” Maya finished with a smile.
Richard took hold of Maya’s left hand, then pressed it gently. “So many wonderful things had happened to us here. Even the near accident has its silver lining.”
“Yes, but that’s something I wish will not happen again ever!”
Half and hour later, Richard and Maya were at the restaurant saying good-bye to Jeremy after they have settled their bills and thanked the staff who served them. Richard even gave a big tip to Marina and her family for all the help they did, much to the delight of the older lady, her sister and nephew.
“So come back, please!” Jeremy said to Richard and Maya. “Mimosa is always open for you guys.”
“Of course, we will Jeremy, thank you very much again, for everything!” Richard shook Jeremy’s hand, his animosity towards him, gone! “If you are in Manila and you need a place to crash, let me know.”
“Thank you very much, Richard. I’ll take note of that.” Jeremy said.
“Jeremy, really, let me know if you are in Manila. Richard and I will treat you to dinner!” Maya added, then hugged Jeremy. “Thank you for everything.”
“No worries, Luv.” Jeremy hugged Maya back, then whispered to Maya, “Don’t forget to invite me to the wedding. Or you and Richard can have it here, Mimosa and me, having played cupids, eh!”
Maya laughed, then pinched Jeremy lightly. Richard looked on, smiling indulgently, a complete change from his expression the day before. “You are indeed incorrigible! Take care, my dear friend, and keep in touch, okay!”
Richard and Maya left after that, but not before looking back wistfully at the resort, then the receding island when they were at the ferry. Several hours later, they were at the Laguindingan International Airport, waiting for their flight, which was already delayed by an hour due to air traffic congestion in Manila.
“Coffee, Maya!” Richard handed Maya a steaming cup of coffee he got from a cafe in the airport.
“Thanks a lot, Ricky. Maybe we can just postpone our dinner to tomorrow, since we will be arriving late home. It is more important to see your family doctor for your shoulder!” Maya suggested, taking a sip of her coffee.
“Oh, I would rather have dinner with you, Maya. The doctor can wait. I’ll see him tomorrow. I feel really okay Maya.” Richard assured her. “But if you are too tired, we can do it tomorrow, and the next day and the next day.”
“Fine, fine, fine Mr. Lim. You win.” Maya said, laughing.
They enjoyed their coffee while smiling and teasing each other. Halfway through, there was a boarding announcement for their flight.
”Finally!” Maya said.
Richard took hold of his and Maya’s bags while Maya disposed of their coffee cups.
Hand in hand, they boarded the flight that would take them back to the real world, holding on to the love for each other that was realized in that beautiful island!
It took several attempts before Maya managed to get out of bed the morning after she arrived back in the house that she had shared with her grandfather. It was strange not seeing her Lolo Jaime at his usual place by the veranda. Even late at night when she goes home from manning the cafe, he was there, waiting for her. She was not yet used to him gone forever! She wondered if she will ever be. She felt extremely sad when she entered the darkened house. But she tried to snap out of it. Maybe, she was just tired, and a bit frustrated that she was unable to reach Ricky.
She checked her phone as soon as she had landed at Terminal 2. There were no messages from Richard! She found it strange since she had sent him a message and his call log would have reflected all her missed calls. That was not like him not to call or text her back! She thought of calling him again, but decided against it as it was already late. She was getting worried too, but didn’t want to think about that. For sure, Ricky is okay. She believed so. Maybe, he just got busy dealing with Lorraine. She took a taxi home. While on the road, she called up and assured Manang Fe again that she was okay and on the way home and she needed not wait up for her. The old lady was not feeling well the past several days. Her voice was still hoarse when Maya called her before boarding the plane in Laoag.
Maya just dropped her bags somewhere in her room, so very tired from her long trip. She took a shower and then plopped herself down the bed. She thought of Ricky and she hoped, before sleep and tiredness claimed her, that he had managed to straighten out things with Lorraine, and that it didn’t get ugly. She hoped Ricky was okay after his latest run-in with Lorraine! She had a feeling that Lorraine was so used to getting her own way, and that, defeat and surrender are words that are not in her vocabulary.
Maya stretched her arms, yawned big, then dragged herself out of her bed. She needed to get going early, and gear up for her long day! She will visit Emman first, then go to Cafe Arts. But before she hit the shower, she retrieved her phone from the bedside table, checking again if Ricky had phone. Still no messages from him! Ano kayang nangyari roon, she muttered, getting really worried. She decided to give Manang Miring a call. Why didn’t she think of it earlier!
“Good morning po, Manang, si Maya po ito! Nandito na po ako sa bahay sa Makati. Nakarating naman po ako ng maayos. Hindi ko na po kayo na-text kagabi. Medyo gabi na kasi, baka tulog na kayo.”
“Ma’am Maya, mabuti po at maayos kayong nakauwi at mabuti rin po at napatawag kayo. Nagkausap na po kayo at ni Sir Ricky?”
“Hindi pa nga po. Medyo worried na nga po ako. Tanong ko nga po sa inyo kung pwede ko makuha iyong cellphone number ni Manang Auring. Baka po kasi alam niya kung nasaan si Ricky. Baka kasi may nangyari sa kanya. Kahapon ko pa po siya hindi ma-contact! Hindi rin po siya tumatawag or nag-text. Hind po kasi ganoon si Ricky, Manang!”
“Okay naman po siguro si Sir Ricky, Ma’am Maya, kasi dumaan pa nga po siya rito kagabi, hinahanap kayo, mga halos dalawang oras po siguro simula noong umalis kayo.”
“Talaga po, Manang! Ano po ang sabi niya? Kumusta naman po siya?”
“Okay naman po siya Ma’am. Mukha lang pagod na pagod. Hindi pa po siguro nakapagpahinga mula sa biyahe ninyong dalawa. Mangyari po, dinala nila ni Manang Auring si Manong Tunying sa hospital kahapon pagkauwi niya sa bahay. Naaksidente po si Manong Tunying habang naglilinis ng alulod, sabi ni Sir Ricky!”
“Ganoon po ba, Manang! Kumusta naman po si Manong Tunying? I hope maayos naman po ang condition niya!”
“Sabi naman po ni Sir Ricky, maayos na si Manong Tunying. Kailangan na lang daw pong ma-confine pa ng ilang araw sa hospital. Iniwan na raw po niya roon si Manang Auring. Dito nga po dumiretso si Sir, galing sa hospital kasi nga raw po, may usapan kayong magdi-dinner sa bahay nila.”
“Naku, good to know naman Manang na okay si Manong. Sayang nga lang po, hindi kami nag-abot ni Ricky.”
“Iyon din po ang sabi ni Sir. Hindi niya rin po pala kayo natawagan kai naiwan daw po niya sa bahay iyong phone niya nang isugod nila si Manong Tunying sa hospital. Kaya po pala hindi ninyo siya ma-contact, Ma’am!
“Oh! Kaya pala, Manang! I’m glad naman po na okay siya. Kaso po Manang, hindi ko pa rin siya ma-contact hanggang ngayon.” Maya said, at the same time, she realized that Lorraine was not very forthcoming with her when she went to Ricky’s place. In fact, she concealed this information from her. What else did she didn’t tell her?
“Ma’am Maya, sandali lang po. Para mapalagay ang loob ninyo, mas mabuti po, tatawagan ko si Rosario, iyong anak nina Manong Tunying at Manang Auring. Siya po kasi ang nandoon sa bahay nina Sir Ricky ngayon habang nasa hospital ang Tatay at Nanay niya. Nabanggit po sa akin ni Manang kanina nung tumawag ako at nangumusta sa lagay ni Manong!”
“Sige nga po, Manang, please. Tatawag po ulit ako, maliligo lang ako.”
“Sige po, Ma’am Maya. Tawag po ulit kayo.”
Maya proceeded to take a shower. But as soon as she got out of the bathroom and got dressed, she called back Manang Miring, hoping that she has news about Ricky by then.
“Ma’am Maya, good news po, nakausap ko na po si Rosario.” Manang Miring told Maya as soon as she had picked up the call.
“Talaga po, Manang! Ano pong sabi niya? Nandoon po ba si Ricky? Okay lang po ba siya? Manang pasensya na po sa mga tanong, nag-aalala na po kasi talaga ako sa kanya.”
“Ma’am, sabi po ni Rosario, hindi na niya inabutan roon si Sir Ricky. Wala na rin daw po iyong mga gamit. Umalis din daw po kaagad kagabi, gamit iyong kotse niya. Parang hindi na raw po muna babalik doon sa beach house.” Then the caretaker continued, “Bilin lang po ni Sir Ricky na asikasuhin niya kagabi iyong bisita nila at walang kasama roon, saka ipahatid sa airport ngayong umaga.”
Maya was surprised to hear that information. Ricky left last night? Did it mean, he returned to Manila too, after her? She felt her heart hammering against her chest all of a sudden! Glad of the news. Wait, Maya Dela Rosa, baka naman may ibang pinuntahan. However, malakas ang kutob niya na bumalik na ng Maynila si Ricky, kasunod niya. Pero bakit hindi pa siya tumatawag? Baka naaksidente? O baka naman pagod lang sa biyahe, Maya Dela Rosa, or nasa biyahe pa! Ikaw kung ano-ano ang pinag-iisip mo, she admonished herself!
“Ma’am Maya…?” The caretaker asked, breaking into Maya’s runaway thoughts. She didn’t realized that she had just gone silent on Manang Miring.
“Yes po, Manang, nandito pa po ako. Pasensya na po.” She said, then the last part of what her caretaker said, sunk in, as well. Ihatid sa airport! So it meant, Lorraine stayed at the beach house while Ricky left, just like that!
“Tinawagan ko na rin po ulit si Manang Auring, kasi po baka mas alam niya kung nasaan si Sir Ricky. Ipinaliwanag ko rin po na hinahanap ninyo siya. Sabi po niya, bumalik na raw po sa Maynila si Sir Ricky. Nagulat nga po siya, kasi ang alam niya magtatagal pa s Sir Ricky dito sa Ilocos.” Manang Miring said, confirming Maya’s suspicion!
“Manang Miring, sobrang thank you po, sa lahat!” Maya said happily upon hearing that Ricky, indeed cut short his trip and had returned to Manila last night, just like she did. “Hintayin ko na lang pong tumawag si Ricky!”
Maya checked the time and calculating the estimated travel time, if Ricky had left around 10PM, he should have been in Manila by around or before 6AM. She hopes that she gets to see him soon. But if had driven like he did on the way to Ilocos, then he needed his rest. Maya grinned, remembering hers and Ricky’s first meeting. Sa guwapong iyon, napagkamalan niya talang multo. It is really something to tell their children! Maya, children agad? Where did that thought come from? But still, she grinned! Just very happy with the thought that Ricky is okay and they are in the same city!
“Walang anuman po, Ma’am.” Manang Miring replied, then added, “Sana po magkita na kayo ni Sir Ricky. Para po kasing ang lungkot niya kagabi nang hindi niya kayo naabutan.”
“For sure po, Manang, magkikita kami noon. Maraming salamat po ulit. Paki-padalhan nga po pala ng prutas si Manong Tunying. Kunin ninyo na lang po iyong pamibili sa iniwan kong budget natin sa bahay.”
“Sige po, Ma’am. Magpapabili na lang po ako kay Manong Sonny paghatid niya kay Ms. Lorraine sa airport. Ipapadaan ko na rin sa hospital.” Manang Miring said. “Sana po makabalik kayo ulit dito.”
“Huwag po kayong mag-alala, Manang. I will. Kayo na po muna ang bahala diyan. Kung may kailangan po kayo, i-text ninyo lang ako or tawagan ninyo rito sa bahay si Manang Fe.”
“Sige po, Ma’am Maya.” Then before she ended the call, the caretaker said, and Maya can sense the smile in her voice, “Sana po magkatuluyan kayo ni Sir Ricky. Bagay na bagay po kayo!”
“Manang, ikaw talaga!” Maya said, laughing, before she ended the call from her end.
With something like spring on her feet, Maya got moving fast after the phone call. She changed into her favorite comfy clothes, ripped jeans and loose blouse, and slip-on sneakers! Then went down to greet Manang Fe and chatted with her. Manang still had a bit of a cold, but she insisted that she’s okay. She also insisted on Maya eating breakfast first before she goes to hospital and visit Emman.
Maya told Manang Fe a bit of her trip North while she was eating the omelette she had made for her. She also asked Manang if it is okay that she ask a couple of questions about her Lola Maya, later that evening. The old lady nodded. Sometimes, when Manang Fe looks at the young Maya, she felt like she was looking at her beloved Señora Maya, and even most of their mannerism are the same! It was uncanny!
Maya left for the hospital an hour later. Emman was still in the ICU but his mother said he was improving steadily. Since it was not yet visiting hours, Maya was unable to talk to him. She just told her Tita Roni that she will come back later in the day.
She then proceeded to Cafe Arts. She realized how much she had missed the place, when she gazed at it after parking her car in her usual spot. She entered the bustling cafe, greeted their regulars and then looked for Jocelyn, the staff she and Emman would like to groom as their assistant manager. Jocelyn was so happy and relieved to see Maya. Over a cup of her favorite caffe americano, Jocelyn updated Maya on how the cafe had been the past several days, when Emman was unable to report anymore due to his recurring fever and hospitalization.
“Thank you for holding the fort, Jocelyn! You did a very good job! Hindi mo na pala ako kailangan. Gawa lang ako ng checks and then babalik na ako sa bakasyon ko sa Ilocos.” She teased Jocelyn, in between sips of her coffee.
“Ma’am Mayaaaa, noooo, please!!! Baka sumunod na ako kay Sir Emman sa hospital for a different reason. Nervous breakdown ang sa akin!” Jocelyn said, smiling!
“Hahahaha, biro lang. I’m back for good.” Maya said. “Tulong na lang tayong dalawa dito sa Cafe Arts habang nasa hospital pa si Emman.”
“Of course po. Thank you Ma’am!” Jocelyn said happily. “I’m so glad you are back, Ma’am. Welcome back talaga! And with matching imaginary cartwheels iyan Ma’am.”
“Hahahaha! O sige, balik ka na sa counter. I’ll just be in the back garden, doing my paperwork. The weather is nice and I don’t want to be cooped up in my office.”
“Sige po, Ma’am. May kailangan pa po ba, kayo? More coffee with a slice of cake, or pastries?”
“Hmmm, wala na for now! But have Henry bring me another cup of caffe americano in an hour, and a blueberry cheesecake!”
“Okay po Ma’am. Ako na po ang magdadala. I’ll also bring some of the papers that need your signature. Aayusin ko lang po.”
“Thanks Jocelyn. Bahala ka na sa labas, ha! But if there are a lot of people and you need me, just holler, okay!”
“Yes Ma’am, will do.”
Several minutes after, Maya was at her special place, with her laptop, and a stack of sales reports in front of her, as well as contracts for review on some exhibits that the gallery will handle. She sat down and inhaled the late morning air. It does not feel like she is in the city, while she sits at the garden. She knows Ricky will like it there. She hopes he gets enough rest. She is also a bit excited and looking forward to seeing him again, hopefully soon! She buckled down to work, with that in thought!
She was so engrossed in the report she was reading, when a slight movement behind her broke into her concentration. Thinking that it was just Jocelyn, she didn’t look up right away.
“Is it an hour already, Jocelyn? Please put my food and coffee na lang on the table. Thanks a lot ha. Saka iyon palang mga kailangan ko i-sign, nasaan na.” She said in between jotting down a note at the edge of the current report she was reading. She didn’t notice at first that there was no reply from Jocelyn.
She suddenly looked up, heart pounding fast, when a tray was placed on top of the documents she was reviewing, and on it, aside from her coffee and cake, was a beautiful bouquet of red roses and sunflowers! And she saw what she had been hoping to see!
“Hello, Maya!” Ricky greeted Maya, giving her one of his bone-melting smiles. For someone who had traveled throughout the night, he looked rested and as handsome as ever. He was also gazing like he hasn’t seen her in months, instead of just 24 hours!
“Ricky!!!” Maya exclaimed, getting out of her chair very fast that she almost toppled down the coffee he brought, so happy to see him! She launched herself to him, without thinking, and then hugged him tight. “I’m so happy to see you.”
“Me too, Maya, me too! I’m so happy to see you!” Ricky said, hugging her tight, at the same time, caressing her hair. “I miss you very much.”
Maya loosen her hold a bit, then looked at Ricky’s handsome face, she touched it gently with both hands, not quite believing still that finally he was there. “Me too, Ricky, I miss you so much.”
They gazed at each other intently, as if memorizing each other’s beloved face, that they missed so much in the short time that they have parted. It felt like ages! It was not enough for both of them. Ricky lowered his head, and captured Maya’s lips for a searing kiss, that was followed by another, and another. They forgot where they were. Their awareness was concentrated on the fusing of their lips. It felt like they have waited for it, forever!
Maya gave up. It has been more than an hour since she went to bed after her wonderful evening with Richard, and yet she was unable to sleep! She did everything, from reading a book, to listening to some music, to remembering their wonderful evening, but still, she failed to catch that elusive sleep. In the quiet of the night, when her mind was at rest, she can’t get the accident out of her head. She kept seeing in her head the split second where Richard was almost hit by the speeding car. What if he was and he ended up in the hospital, gravely injured? What if he died on the spot? She also suddenly remembered all the motorcycle accidents that she had seen in the evening news. What if Richard is gone forever!
She sat up on the bed, shaking her head, trying to shake off the image from her head! She can’t bear the thought of losing him, of not seeing him again, not seeing his bone-melting smiles, not experiencing the effects of his heated gazes and intense kisses! Strange, she had known him in such a short time and she was feeling like that! Does it means that she has already fallen in love with him? That love just happened to her like that! That despite her caution, she had done what she was shying away from, for years, afraid of getting hurt again?
She is very much attracted to him physically, and she likes him a lot as person. What is not to like? He is funny, caring, sincere, honest and a gentleman. They get along pretty well! But is it love? The deep down one that speaks of forever and happily ever after, something she had been wary of for five years, something she swore not to believe anymore. Something she thought is overrated? If ever that she has fallen for Ricky, already, it is really such a big step for her after her experience with James. And what happened to the baby steps that she and Ricky was supposed to be taking! Thrown to the wind!
Maya knows instinctively, and base on what she had seen so far, that Richard is not like James, but still, she only have known him such a short time, and James, she had known for a long time, and yet she was betrayed by him. Yes, she had known Richard a short time, and yet, she seemed to trust him more than ex fiancé. There was also this overwhelming attraction between them. She never felt like that with James, and there, lies the problem with what went wrong with their relationship. With Richard it’s different. She feels she will not recover if it is Richard who will betray and hurt her! Just the thought of losing him or being betrayed by him, is sending her to a sleepless night. She believes Richard will not do to her what James did, but she had been burned once, and while she had healed, she was still carrying the scar from that relationship.
Since she can’t sleep, anyway, with all the thoughts crowding her head and agitating her, she might as well go for a walk, just in front of her bungalow, to her favourite driftwood. Maybe the cool night air will clear her head. At the back of her mind, she knows that she is just probably having a delayed reaction to the accident. But nevertheless, she wanted to think about things and usually, that place is a happy place for her.
Earlier, Maya was able to put the accident at the back of her mind, with Richard’s wonderful surprise for her, making their last evening in Camiguin a truly memorable one. They spent more than an hour cuddling and enjoying the cool breeze in the quiet of the night before they turned in. Richard waited until she was inside before going to his bungalow. It took a while before they parted as just like the night before, they were reluctant to part and go on their on way for the night. They spent several minutes saying good night, with a lot of heated kisses in it.
Maya walked to where her suitcase was, and got a shawl. She wrap it around her shoulders and over her thin sleep shirt. At that time of the night, she was sure that she would be the only one out, so she didn’t bother changing into street clothes. Besides, it was just Richard and her at that side of the resort. It was one of the reasons why she picked that bungalow. Not only does it has the nicest view, it, together with the one Richard was occupying, is away from the main cluster of bungalows. For sure, Richard was in deep sleep by now, she mused. He looked sleepy earlier when they said good night. She also had a feeling that Richard’s shoulder was acting up, and he was just trying to bear it so as they will have the best evening. She thought he really needed a rest after what happened.
Maya was wrong. She wasn’t the only one who was unable to sleep that night. Richard tried reading a book, and playing a game on his iPhone, but to no avail. What had almost happened set it! Despite all his efforts to divert his attention, he kept reliving in his head the moment where he first saw the intense headlights of the oncoming car, and thought that it was his end. Until then, he does not know how he managed to avoid the car! He was stunned when he realized that he did, and that he was still alive. Then Maya rushed to his side, crying and at the same time, trying to be brave. He called her ‘sweetheart’! It was so right, especially at that moment. He realized that his feelings for her went deeper. The initial intense attraction has turned into so much more.
He has fallen in love with her! He loves Maya. It was what he was thinking while he was staring out in the blackened night and watching the twinkling lights. Suddenly, love happened to him, it snuck on to him when he was not looking and not thinking of it anymore. Beautiful, wonderful Maya, happened! He almost told her while they were snuggled together, but stopped himself, barely. Maya had enough of a shock to her system for one night. It can wait. Besides, they agreed to take baby steps, and him declaring his love like that, is, surely one giant leap! Maybe, she is not ready to hear it. He did promise her that they will take it one step at a time. He just decided that he will show it to her in every way he could. Maybe, that would allay her fears and the scars he thinks she has, inflicted by the guy who left her at the altar.
Richard got out of bed. Since, he can’t sleep, he might as well, walk a bit, to tire himself out and maybe the fresh air will make him sleep better. He wished, though, that Maya was there to walk beside him, and chat a bit. Had she had been beside him at that moment, for sure, he would not need the walk, though! He would just be content to look at her. But Maya needed her rest. He saw how rattled she was earlier. He smiled, remembering their protracted good night, laced with all those wonderful kisses.
Richard ventured into the night. His feet led him to the driftwood where he had that memorable first dinner with Maya the other night, and that was where he saw her! She was sitting on the fallen wood that has been fashioned into a beautiful bench for two, arms around her knees, gazing in the night. His heart beat double, seeing her, all the love he is feeling for her, rushing into his system!
“Maya…” Richard called softly. “It’s me, Ricky!” He added so as not to alarm her.
“Ricky!” Maya looked at Richard, surprised to him up and about that time of the night. “I thought you would be asleep by now. Are you in pain?” She asked worriedly.
“No, Maya, I’m okay. I just can’t sleep so I decided to go for a walk.” Richard said as he sat down beside Maya. “How about you? Why are you here? You should have woken me. It may not be safe for you to be alone here at this time of the night. How long have you been here?”
“Oh, I’m only had been here for half an hour. I can’t sleep also. I think I was having a delayed reaction to the accident. Like a song on a loop, it kept playing and playing in my head while I was trying to sleep! I can’t help it. So, to clear my head, I decided to go for a walk!” Maya said, hesitating a bit in telling Richard about the other reason why she was unable to sleep.
“Maya, don’t think about it anymore, please. Just think of happy thoughts.” Richard said, putting his arms around Maya and hugging her tight. “We are okay. Just think of that and the continuation of our adventures. You know, we still have a lot of those baby steps to take! “ He teased her. Then remembering his thoughts earlier, he mused, at least not on his side.
“Okay, Ricky. I feel better now, with you by my side! ” Maya smiled. “How about you, why can’t you sleep?”
“Well, like you, I also thought of the accident and what could have happened.” Then taking a deep breath, he forged on, life could be so fleeting, so he will say this since he was given another chance. Holding Maya’s hand, he said. “The thing is with what happened on the road, I also realized something, Maya, that is, that I have fallen in love with you. Love happened to me. I think I have done so when we met each other again last week!”
“R-ricky…! Maya was so surprised by Richard’s admission, that she was unable to form a coherent reply right away.
Richard continued on, touching Maya’s face with both his hands and looking deep into her soul.
“Maya, I was not actually planning on telling it this evening. I thought you had enough of a shock, but then I saw you here, and I realized that what happened shook the two of us more than what we let on. For me, I realized that life is fleeting and it could be gone in a snap, just like that, by the road, without you having any say in it. I have this moment with you, so I would like to take, make good use of that moment fate gave me to tell you how I feel about you. I’ll show you how much I love you. I know you have fears, I’ll be here, I’ll wait until all your fears are gone. I, too, had fears before, but my love for you is stronger than those fears! I love you very much, Maya!”
Maya felt tears in her eyes, and her heart pounding double time with each word that coming from Richard’s lips. They vowed completely honesty, everything laid down, so she made a decision too. With her hand on Richard’s face as well, she told him what was in heart.
“Ricky, the reason why I can’t get off the accident from my head, and why I can’t sleep, was the thought of losing you! I can’t bear it, thinking that I could have lost you there by the road. It opened a floodgate of strong feelings. Suddenly you became the most important person in my life right now. You awaken dead emotions and the thought of not seeing you again forever was driving me crazy. Is that love? Have I fallen in love with you? My answer is yes, I think I have fallen in love with you. That is also making me afraid. I have been hurt before. In such a short time, what I am feeling for you is much more than I have felt for my ex fiancé in all the years we have been together, and we grew up together. That was young love. What I am feeling right now for you does not compare to that. So yes, I am very afraid because you can hurt me in a way that James was not able to do!”
“Maya, sweetheart! I understand your fears. I will never knowingly hurt you. I will do my best to make you happy. I know what it is to be hurt also. We will conquer your fears together. We are in this together. I’m so happy to know that you have fallen in love with me. Let me just you, how much I love you and how good we are together in every way I could. Can you give me that?” Richard asked gently.
“Sure, Ricky! I can do that. Thank you for being so understanding. If there is someone whom I would take the final leap, Ricky, it would be you.”
“Maya, that is more than enough for me, for now. Thank you. Let us enjoy our journey together to wherever this would lead us.”
Maya nodded and then for the second time that night, snuggled closely to Richard, contented. Richard was also very much happy with the unexpected turn of events. He vowed to conquer all of Maya’s fears! He was surprised at himself. He too should have been wary, but with her, he does not feel any fear at all. He believes that they can hurdle every obstacles towards their happily ever after, with the love they are feeling for each other.
“So, how’s your island experience, so far, Ricky?” Maya asked Richard while they were drinking coffee after eating the delicious lunch that Marina had prepared for them. They were sitting at one of the picnic benches facing the majestic Katibawasan Falls, which at that time, they had to themselves. There were other tourists when they arrived there, a family, but after they have taken some pictures, they left for their next destination. Maya unpacked their picnic lunch. Ricky helped. After everything was spread out on the table, they proceeded to have their late lunch. It was just what they needed after all the sightseeing they did since they left the resort that morning.
They travelled northwards from the resort, stopping at the beautiful Station of the Cross built uphill. It was quite a climb up but the view from the top was worth it. They stayed there for half an hour, then journeyed on to their next stop, which was the sunken cemetery, marked by a big cross in the bay. Beside it was the ruins of an old church.
Richard and Maya walked hand in hand on the grounds of the church ruins and admired the centuries-old tree still standing there. They even had a selfie before the really huge and very old tree. They checked the hot and cold springs along the way, but didn’t take a dip in any of it, and the place where all the giant clams are being cultivated. The beach leading to it was beautiful and has white sand, as compared to the blackish ones in other parts of the island. They sat for a while by the beach, soaking in the beauty nature has endowed on that place.
Maya mentioned to Richard that they can also take a boat tour to White Island, which is something like an atoll with white sand and nothing much, no structures there, and it’s something one can explore in a minute. The view from the island is also incredible. She was there the day after she arrived in Camiguin and it was quite an experience. Richard said that it might take too much of their time if they will have to go there by boat. They agreed to forego that one until next time. Richard told Maya that he does not think it will be their last trip to Camiguin.
Instead, they just cruised around in their scooters, enjoying the wind, and the beautiful scenery they passed along the way, beautiful sea, under an intense and bright sunshine, and of course, most important of all, each other’s company. Sometimes, they waved at the kids who curiously looked when they passed by. They circled the island in no time at all, until they reached the Katibawasan Falls after lunch. They were still full from their breakfast so they decided to have a late lunch, and a dip in the cool water of the falls to cap their day.
“Great, Maya! This place is simply very beautiful, and I’m really glad that I took the chance, and followed you here.” Richard said with a grin. Then gazing at Maya, intently, he said softly, “But of course, it is just a bonus, it is beautiful to me because of you. Because you are here!”
Maya smiled at that, her heart jumped at what Richard that said. “Thank you for that, Mr. Lim.” She said, simply, then she teased him, “And what would you have done had I not said you can join me in my vacation?”
“Well, I would have probably camp at your veranda until you say yes!” Richard said with a smile. “Honestly, Maya, all I thought was following you and being with you. I never get pass by that stage when I impulsively left Manila to follow you! I never really thought of a fall back plan, which was so unlike me. I think I have shocked Liza when I asked her to book me a flight here out of the blue! And I guess, I would have just return to Manila the same day if you have turned me away.” He finished with a smile. “Lucky me, you are not that cruel. Had you said no, at least, I have tried to be with you. Then, I’ll just wait then until you return and our dinner. So thank you, really, for letting me join you in your vacation!”
“Oh…!” Maya felt giddy hearing that Richard acted out of character for her! “Thank you, Ricky. I’m glad you took the chance, you know.” She added softly.
“I’m glad too, Maya! I am so very glad that I took the chance.” Richard said, taking Maya’s hand, then raising it to his lips and kissing it gently. He caressed her hand then he put it back on her lap. “This is worth everything.”
Maya put her hand on top of Richard’s. They shared a meaningful gaze and stayed like that for several minutes, enjoying their beautiful moment and the wonder and tranquility around them.
“So, how about a dip into that inviting water to complete my Camiguin experience?” Richard asked after a while.
“Okay, and to complete my experience of Camiguin as well!” Maya replied, standing up from the bench. “I haven’t taken a dip in that water.”
“Really! I thought you did when you and Jeremy were here yesterday!” Richard said, liking the idea that it would be shared first time experience for him and Maya.
“No, we just stopped here to chat and rest after going around the island.” Maya said. “You know already what we have discussed here mostly.”
Richard smiled. “Ah yes, and it completely changed him, in my book, so to speak.”
Maya smiled back, remembering what transpired that morning. “I’ll just go and change.”
“Okay, I’ll just change here.” Richard said. “I already have my swim shorts on.”
Maya went to the toilet and removed her blouse and shorts. Even if she was already wearing her swimsuit underneath, she was conscious of removing her clothes by the waterfalls, even if she knows that Richard will not watch her do it. She just felt self-conscious disrobing like that. She went down to where Richard was, after several minutes, carrying her street clothes and the towel she brought with her.
Hearing Maya’s footsteps, Richard looked up. He caught his breath. Maya was wearing what can be construed as a modest swimsuit on initial look. But on a closer look, Richard can see that it maybe a modest one piece swimsuit but it flatters her body. It concealed and yet it also revealed to him Maya’s beautiful form.
Maya got self-conscious at Richard’s heated gaze. She blushed. She took a look closer at Richard, and it was her turn to lose breath for several seconds. His swimming shorts was on the modest side too, but he was shirtless. She gulped and took a deep breath to calm herself.
“Maya, you look very lovely in that.” Richard managed to say after barely being able to control his reaction to seeing Maya in that swimsuit. “Shall we take a deep!” At that moment, he felt like he would welcome the coldest water he could immerse himself into.
Maya nodded. They walked towards the stone steps that led to the natural pool by the waterfalls. Richard went in first.
“Wow, this is quite cold! But refreshing!” He said grinning, then he held out his hand to Maya. “Come, Maya. Just go down slowly, the rocks are a bit slippery.”
Maya slowly went into the water, holding on to Richard’s hand. But despite Richard’s warning, she slipped and ended up in his arms. She thought there was one more rock, but there was none!
“I got you, Maya.” Richard assured Maya, embracing her tight so she stays upright.
“Thanks a lot, Ricky. Sorry I slipped. I thought there was one more rock before my feet touch the bottom.” Maya said, still holding on to Richard.
Richard smiled. “No worries, Maya. It happens. The important thing is, I got you.”
The two of them smiled at each other, then realized how intimate their position was, with nary a space between them, and there was just Maya’s swimsuit, serving as a thin barrier between their upper bodies! Richard’s eyes darkened with passion he can’t help but feel at that moment. Before he can stop or control himself, his body had reacted to Maya’s nearness. He heard her gasped as well. So, he was not the only one!
They shared a heated gaze, passion and desire in both their eyes. Richard lowered his head, aimed for Maya’s lips. Hers opened readily to receive his. Their lips met and melted into the very heated and intense kiss that followed.
The kiss just went on and on. They were not aware of their surroundings anymore nor the cold water enveloping them and the little waves that the water from the falls created. Richard kept them afloat by bracing himself against the edge of the natural pool. They were only jolted out of the passion that enveloped them completely when a noise penetrated the haze they were in. A noisy group was going down the steps leading to the waterfalls. They broke apart a bit, both catching their breath and reining in the passion that ignited between them.
They shared a beautiful smile. Then Ricky gestured for Maya to take a swim with him towards the deeper side of the falls until the evidence of their desire for each other subsided. Maya followed and for the next several minutes they cooled down their heated bodies while watching the group, mostly teenagers posing for pictures. They swam around for half an hour more, just enjoying the cool water. However, at the back of both of their minds was the earthshaking kiss they have shared.
The intense attraction has always been between them. Richard had felt in from the start, even before he got to know Maya better. Maya on the other hand, knew that she was intensely drawn to Richard and he evoked a very strong physical response from her from the start. She just tried to ignore it. Maybe this is the reason, why they just flare up like that, so fast and so intense every time their lips meet. She was just so very much aware of him all the time. Ricky was thinking the same. He can’t even keep his eyes off her and concentrate while she was doing that presentation!
“Maya, are you okay?” Richard asked after a while. Both of them were floating on their backs aimlessly, relaxing, soaking the rays of the sun that found its way into the almost secluded place where they were, and thinking about the passionate kiss that they shared, their second one now!
Maya looked at Richard and smiled at him. “Yes, I am. Don’t worry.” She said. She knew what Richard was asking even if he didn’t elaborate.
Richard gave her a relieved smile. He also touched her lips gently. Maya did the same, smiling at him, assuring him that she is okay with everything. At that moment, a silent mutual understanding was forged between them.
They got out of the water when Maya started to shiver from the cooling temperature, with the sun slowly getting lower in the horizon. They went back to where they have put their things.
“Coffee, Ricky, why we are waiting for our swimsuits to dry?” Maya asked, sitting on the concrete table, and her feet on the bench she had sat on earlier, patting herself with the towel she brought with her.
“Sure, Maya! That would be great! Thank you very much.” Richard said, getting a towel from his backpack and started drying himself.
Maya who was going to pour coffee from the thermos was transfixed at the sight before her for several long seconds. She forgot to pour the coffee into the styrofoam cup! OMG! She muttered, wanting to fan herself. Then realising what she was doing, she pulled herself and concentrated on making the coffee like it is a very important chemistry experiment.
When Richard looked at her, after putting on the shirt that he had on earlier, Maya was the epitome of calm and innocence. She handed Richard his coffee cup.
“Thank you very much, Maya.” He grinned at her. Unknown to Maya, Richard saw her reaction to him drying himself, from his peripheral vision. She is really cute when flustered, and how he likes her the more! “You?”
“Here, I got one too.”
Richard said beside Maya on the concrete table and both enjoyed their coffee while waiting for their clothes to dry.
“So, dinner at the resort this evening?” Richard asked, in between enjoying Maya’s delicious coffee. She has a way of making it that he likes very much.
“Yes, I would rather we have dinner there, our last night there.” Maya replied, then sighed. “Back to city and reality tomorrow.”
“Okay. I would love that as well. Let me take care of it.” Richard said, then he fished out his phone and send a text message to Marina.
“Who did you text?” Maya asked, curious.
“Marina! I’m not sure what would you like to do, so I told her I will text her if we will have dinner there. I want our last night here in Camiguin to be very special.” He said, grinning boyishly, excited for his treat to Maya again. He loves making her happy and planning special treats for her.
Maya just smiled and shook her head. “Why do I have the feeling that I’m in for a special treat again!”
“Hmmmmm…!” Richard smiled and then took a sip of his coffee and refused to say anything else.
Maya didn’t ask anymore. She was just looking forward to seeing what Richard has had prepared for their last evening in Camiguin. She will never forget this place!
“Let’s have another selfie before we hit the road.” Maya said after she had finished her coffee.
“Okay, for the photo, but we are leaving?” Richard asked, looking at the time. “It is still is early for dinner.”
“Yes, but don’t you want to see the rest of the sights we will pass by on the way back to the resort since we are leaving tomorrow for Cagayan de Oro?”
“Well, I would rather we stay here a bit longer, Maya. It is so nice and quiet. We can always go back, you know to this place, anytime. Like I have told you earlier, this will not be our last time here. I love being here and I will never forget this place and the memories we have here.”
“I was just thinking the same, Ricky.” Maya grinned. “Okay, we stay here longer.”
Maya dug into the picnic basket and found some fruits. She offered a banana to Richard and she got an apple for herself. They enjoyed watching the water from high above falling loudly into the pool below in companionable silence. Still, very aware of each other and the intense attraction between them. Aside from the teenagers who were there earlier for just about 15 minutes or so, no other tourists came. They had the falls to themselves. It was like they were in their own private paradise. Both of them were reluctant to leave that place.
However, when it got a bit dark, hands interlaced, they walked back to where the scooters were parked, looking forward to celebrating their last night in Camiguin. Indeed, that night was a night to remember, in a way they both didn’t foresee, plan for, or expect!
“Bakit kaya hindi sumasagot si Ricky?” Maya asked herself as she put her phone down on her bed. “Baka naman nakatulog! Pupuntahan ko na lang siya bago ako umalis.”
Maya went back to sorting out and putting her clothes and her other stuff in her suitcase. She needed to return to Manila. Emman is in the hospital. He has dengue. Half an hour after she returned from her trip with Ricky, and while she was enjoying the cup of coffee that Manang Miring brewed for her, her phone rang. It was Emman’s mom on the phone.
Veronica Castro told Maya that Emman requested her to call to inform her that he has dengue. Emman’s mom, Tita Roni, told Maya that his condition is serious as it took several days before Emman dragged himself to the hospital to have a blood test. He basically ignored his recurring fever. Luckily, it was not yet too late for him. He was having blood transfusion that afternoon.
Maya told Tita Roni that she would return to Manila as soon as she can arrange a flight. She went online after that and luckily, managed to book a seat on the last flight from Laoag that evening. If not, she was planning to take the bus back. She wanted to be with Emman, and she know that Emman insisted that his mother phone her, because one of them has to be at the cafe. They have a staff who can man Cafe Arts, but she is not yet capable of handling their day-to-day operations single-handedly, longer than a day. Likewise, only Emman and she, can sign checks for their employees payroll and for paying the suppliers, and it was almost the end of the month.
When she was finished packing, she looked for Manang Miring. She found the older lady in the garden. “Manang Miring, sasaglit lang po ako kina Ricky. Hindi kasi siya sumasagot sa phone. Magsasabi lang po ako na alis na ako mamaya. Dapat po kasi doon ako magdi-dinner.”
“Sige po, Ma’am Maya.” Manang Miring replied. “Okay na nga po pala iyong sasakyan ninyo papuntang Laoag. Mabuti po at hindi bumiyahe pala ngayon ang sasakyan ng pinsan ko. Pagbalik ninyo po, nandito na si Kuya Sonny.”
“Salamat po ng marami, Manang.”
Maya opted to rent a vehicle to take her to the airport instead of requesting Ricky to take her. He has already driven a lot the past several days. Then if he takes her, he needed to return pa to the beach house. It is too much for him as the trip to the airport is more than an hour from where they were, in the evening.
She walked to Ricky’s place via the beach. When she arrived at the entrance to the Lim property, she immediately saw someone sitting on the veranda, engrossed in something she was reading. Maya’s heart lurched. Even before the lady looked up and gave her an initial curious stare, she knew who she is! So, Lorraine found Ricky after all, she thought to herself!
She took a deep breath and in the most calm manner she could summoned from deep within her, she approached Ricky’s ex-fiancee. Lorraine stared at her intently as she approached. Maya saw a pretty, sophisticated, and not exactly very friendly woman, waiting for her to reach the veranda. Lorraine looked familiar. She had seen her before. Ricky’s ex-fiancee tilted her head a bit, and it was than that Maya suddenly remembers a weird play Emman dragged her to one evening. Lorraine was one of the actresses in that play she had to endure for almost three hours.
“Hi! Good afternoon! I’m Maya, Maya Dela Rosa, I’m looking for Ricky.” Maya said with a polite, friendly smile. “Nandiyan ba siya?”
Lorraine looked closely at the beautiful, poise girl before her. As she had watched her approach, she knew instinctively that she was her rival in Ricky’s affection. Most probably, she was the girl with Ricky on that nearby. She lives nearby pala! Ricky just returned and now this girl suddenly showed up here from the direction of the beach! Siguro dito sila nagkakilala.
“Lorraine Tan, I’m Ricky’s fiancee!” She told the girl, whom she now remembers was the name of Ricky’s caller earlier. “Honey is not here at the moment. Just tell me why you are looking for him and I will relay it to him when he returns.”
“Nice to meet you Lorraine.” Maya said politely, offering her hand to Lorraine which she ignored, whether deliberate or not, she was not so sure.” May I speak with Manang Auring na lang, if Ricky is not around.”
“Wala rin siya. I’m the only one here.” Then in a voice tinged with annoyance, Lorraine said, “Why can’t you just tell me what you want, anyway. I told you I’m his fiancée. Do you doubt me. By the way, who are you in Ricky’s life?” She also asked point-blank.
“Oh, I’m a friend of Ricky’s.” Maya said simply, seeing the hostility in the other girl’s eyes.
“Friend…? Really?” Lorraine asked with a raised eyebrow. “Parang hindi na naman niya nababanggit sa akin.”
Maya decided then that she does not have time for this, and all the hostility coming from Lorraine. She really needed to leave or she would be late for her flight.
“It’s okay, Lorraine, I’ll just call Ricky again.” Maya said calmly. “If he returns, please just tell him also that I dropped by. I have to get going. Thank you.”
“Yeah, just do that.” Lorraine said, sounding uninterested at Maya’s plight. In her mind, she was thinking, do that, and he will not answer you still. She deliberately didn’t tell Maya that Ricky accidentally left his phone in the house.
Maya left through the direction she came from. Lorraine saw her took out her phone again. She went inside to check. Several seconds later, Ricky’s phone rang. She smiled. She heard a beep from it after it stopped ringing. She got the phone and shamelessly read Maya’s long text message to Ricky.
“So, she is returning to Manila. Good riddance!” Lorraine muttered. She looked at the phone, tinkered with it, deleted Maya’s message. She also went to Ricky’s call logs and ‘cleaned’ it. Ha, all is fair in love and war and Ricky loved her first than that girl. She loves him despite the wrong choices she had made recently and she will fight for him to the end and no slip of a girl will get him from her, and their long history.
Maya left for Laoag with Manang Miring’s cousin several minutes after she returned to the beach house. She was a puzzled where Ricky is, especially after seeing Lorraine residing comfortably in his grandfather’s beach house, and why he was not answering his calls. At least she had left a message for Ricky explaining her unscheduled return to Manila. Baka his phone is on silent mode na naman like what happened when they were on their road trip. She is sure that Ricky will get in touch with her as soon as he can, especially since they were supposed to have dinner. Baka may pinuntahan lang na importante, or emergency, and Lorraine was just refusing to tell her. Judging by Lorraine’s attitude, mukhang di naman si Ricky ang may emergency.
Maya understand that Ricky needed to deal with Lorraine also. In the short time, she had known him, he had been honest with him. She also does not doubt what Ricky feels for her. She does not have enough proof, having known him in such a short time, but she just knows that Ricky loves her and that everything he said about falling in love in a short time is true. She feels it deep in her heart. Kampante naman siya kay Ricky. Maya said goodbye to Manang Miring and promised her that she will come back again as soon as she can.
More than two hours after Maya left for Laoag, Ricky finally was able to leave the hospital. Manong Tunying will be confined there for several days as he has concussion, broken shoulders and legs. The doctor told them that Manong was lucky because mababa lang ang kinalalagyan niya ng bumagsak and he fell on the sandy part of the garden.
He went straight to Maya’s house instead of his own, hoping that he can still catch her there. He wished that he had memorized Maya’s cellphone number so he could at least borrow a phone while waiting earlier. He does not know the landline number in Maya’s place, either.
“Manang Miring, magandang gabi po, si Maya po.” Ricky greeted the caretaker as soon as she opened the gate after he rang the bell.
“Naku, Sir Ricky, kayo po pala. Hindi po ba kayo nagkita pala ni Ma’am Maya kanina? Nagpunta po siya sa bahay ninyo para sabihin na kailangan niyang bumalik ng Maynila kasi may dengue po si Sir Emman, iyong business partner niya sa negosyo niya. Ipinahatid ko nga po sa pinsan ko sa airport para sa last flight pa-Maynila. Tinawagan niya po kayo sa phone ninyo. Nung hindi kayo sumasagot, naglakad po siya sa beach papunta sa inyo.”
“Ganoon po ba, Manang. Dinala ko po kasi si Manong Tunying sa hospital. Nahulog sa hagdan habang nagkukumpuni ng bubong.” Ricky replied, at the same time, it registered in his brain that Maya has been to the house and that she and Lorraine had probably met!
Before he can asked the caretaker for additional information, she asked worriedly. “Naku, kumusta naman po si Kuya Tunying?”
“Medyo okay naman po siya. Napilay po ang balikat at medyo masakit pa ang buong katawan. Inoobserbahan po muna siya sa hospital kasi nabagok ang ulo niya nung nahulog.”
“Naku, sana naman po, wala nang ibang epekto. Di bale po, Sir, tatawagan ko na lang si Ate Auring, baka kasi may kailangan silang mga gamit.”
“Okay na po, Manang. Pinapunta na rin doon ni Manang iyong isang anak niya to help her our and to get things for they stay in the hospital. Sige po, uuwi na muna ako sa bahay. Tatawagan ko na lang po si Maya.” He also wanted to ask Manang how was Maya when she left. Was she upset, sad or annoyed? But he felt that if would just invite more questions and curiosity on the part of the caretaker. Besides, she may not be able to tell him, anyway.
“Sige po, Sir. Talaga pong hindi umalis ang batang iyan nang hindi nakakapunta sa inyo. Baka raw po kasi maghintay kayo. Pero mamaya ninyo na po tawagan kasi po nakalipad na po siya ngayong mga oras na ito.” Manang Miring said, checking the time.
“Sayang po, hindi ko na siya inabutan. Naiwan ko po kasi ang phone ko sa bahay kanina nung dinala namin si Manong Tunying sa hospital. Sana po ako na ang naghatid sa kanya sa airport. I will call her na lang po as soon as soon as she had landed in Manila.” Ricky said, calculating the time on when he can do so. “Sige po, Manang, mauuna na po ako. Thank you po.”
When he reached his home, Ricky took a deep breath before he entered the house, as if preparing himself for another round of battle with Lorraine. He already missed Maya terribly. He also needs to deal with a Lorraine in such a way that she will finally able convinced that they are really, really over. He was not worried that Maya met Lorraine as he had told her about his ex-fiancee. He was more concerned on what kind of lies and poison, Lorraine in her current state of mind, had tried or had fed Maya. What kind of damage she tried to inflict? Was she even civil to Maya?
“Hi Ricky!” Lorraine greeted from the direction of the living room. She stood up from where she was watching TV. “Are you hungry? I made dinner. Sandali lang ha, I will just heat the food for you. Kumusta pala si Manong Tunying!” She said as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
“Lorraine, what did you say to Maya?” Ricky asked instead of answering Lorraine’s question. “Manang Miring said she went here earlier.”
“Maya…? Maya who? And who is Manang Miring? Di ba Auring ang pangalan ng caretaker ninyo?” Lorraine asked, playing innocent, confident that she had removed all traces that Maya has been here and that she had tried to reach Ricky. “Wala naman akong narinig na naghanap sa inyo. I rested in your room after you left.”
“Really?” Ricky asked, not really believing her. Then the second part of what she said, registered. “Resting in my room? And why are you using my room? Didn’t Manang put in you in the guest room?”
“Well, why not. We are about to get married, and as if we haven’t shared a room before.” Lorraine said nonchalantly. “I told her I will use your room since that’s what we have been doing at ikakasal na naman tayo. Besides, do I need to justify my preference to her din kasi?”
“Lorraine!” Ricky said, trying to control his temper at Lorraine’s bullheadedness. “Ah never mind!” He decided to deal with her later. He looked for his phone. Maybe, Maya left a message for him.
Ricky found his phone among the things he had dropped on the sofa earlier. He checked his messages. No messages from Maya! Strange! So unlike the Maya he had come to know. No missed calls either and that kind of had him thinking as Manang Miring told him that Maya called him. He checked his call logs and found it empty. He looked at Lorraine.
“Lorraine, what have you done?” Ricky said, still trying to hold on to his temper. “I don’t want to accuse you of anything really, but I found my call logs empty! I haven’t touched that since last week. Did you mess with my phone?”
“Ha, baka, there is a virus lang in your iPhone. Nabura lahat ng call logs mo. You know naman all these smartphones, feeling nila mas smart pa sila sa owner nila!” Lorraine said, fidgeting, realizing that she made a tactical mistake when she deleted the logs.
Ricky knew then that Lorraine has not changed and will not change at all that she was lying through her teeth again. She was like that when he caught her in the act with that actor and the drugs.
Lorraine knows that tone of voice too. If she has to recover from her blunder and to get to Ricky’s good side, she needs to come clean!
“Okay, okay, that girl came here looking for you after trying to reach you. Your phone rang several times before she came through the beach. I introduced myself as your fiancée, then asked her to leave a message with me since you were not here.”
“Then….” Ricky asked, holding on the tiny thread of control he still has.
“Well, she didn’t leave any, just left.” Lorraine said. “Nung wala ka, umalis na. Wala naman siyang ibang sinabi.”
“That’s it?” Ricky asked. “It’s so unlike Maya to not leave a message or send me a text message, unless you did something bad that she is needed to run away from the situation.”
“Well, she is just returning to Manila! What’s the big deal? Sino ba kasi iyon? Don’t tell me, bago mong girlfriend. We just broke up. Ano iyon, your major rebound girlfriend?” Lorraine said, taking the agressive stance.
“Wait, wait, wait, how did you know that she was going back to Manila kung wala naman pala siyang ibang sinabi sa iyo?” Ricky asked, getting very suspicious.
OMG, Lorraine, you and your wits! Lorraine felt like banging her head against the wall with all the miscalculations that she made that evening.
“Errrr, she left you a long text message.” She reluctantly admitted. “I was jealous so I deleted it, before I deleted the call logs.”
Ricky lost it. In a very calm manner, he said, “Lorraine, how could you? You used to be a decent human being!”
Lorraine knew than that he was very angry at what she did. “Ricky, sorry! Please, I only did it because I was so jealous of her. I love you very much and I will do everything to save what we have. I don’t want to lose you.”
“Lorraine, you have lost me long before Maya came to my life and there is nothing to save! How many times do I have to tell you that. And it is not love anymore if you can’t see reason and if you are hurting other people, thinking only of yourself. I pity you.” Ricky didn’t mince words. “Feel free to stay in this place. I will arrange for your transportation in the morning. I’m really sorry it has to be like this.”
With that, he went to his room, and hastily packed his bags. He was about to leave the room, when he remembered his and Maya’s grandparents journal. Thank God, he put it somewhere safe before he went on vacation with Maya. Several minutes after, he was in the living room again.
“Wait, where are you going?” Lorraine asked, panicking a bit, seeing Ricky carrying his bags.
“I’m leaving. You should be okay here. I will send for our caretaker’s other daughter to be with you. She lives nearby. Her name is Rosario.” Ricky said, having made up his mind, he felt calmer. Despite coming there uninvited, Lorraine is still the daughter of a family friend and they had shared some good times together. But he refused to tell her where he is going. “Good bye, Lorraine. I hope you realized that this is really the end for the two of us. I love Maya, very much and I want a future with her.”
Lorraine just stood there, shocked at what she heard, and at Ricky’s tone when he declared his love for that girl. It was different, very, very different.
Ricky loaded his things into the car, took a deep breath, called Manang Auring, explained that he will leave the beach house at that moment, and requested that she send Rosario to the house for Lorraine. He also requested her to have Rosario arrange Lorraine’s transportation to the airport in the morning. He also told Manang Auring that he will take care of Manong Tunying’s hospital bills. Having done that, he got into the car and started his long journey back to Manila. He had decided to follow Maya, instead of just calling her when she reach Manila. He does not care if he has to drive all night, nonstop, just to be with her again!
“Home, sweet home, soon!” Maya remarked when she and Ricky reached the turn-off to the village where their families’ beach houses are. She felt very happy to be going back, unaware of what await her and Ricky there. She was looking forward to being in the beach house again and spending more time with Ricky, either at his house, her home or by the beach. She and Ricky were both looking forward to returning to the place that is already very special to them as this was where the two of them started.
While eating dinner the night before, and they were discussing their plans for the following day, they both realized that they would rather go back to the beach place as they have seen most of the interesting spots in the area where they were, and also because they have decided to go to Miguel’s place and the areas near it, some other time. Maya admitted to Ricky that she kind of, miss the beach place, and their laid back times there. Ricky admitted that he, too, suddenly thought of the beach house. They have checked out of the hotel the following morning after an early breakfast and started their journey ‘home’.
Maya and Richard decided to take the Laoag-Batac route on the way back. They stopped at Batac and visited the Marcos museum there and the crypt of the former president. They had snacks in town and then continued on back to their beach places southwards, passing through all the places that by then have were special places in their hearts because of all the beautiful memories they shared there.
“Yes, it will be! Home, sweet home! We can continue our vacation here, and I’m looking forward to spending more time with you, walking along the beach, dining, swimming, and also watching you while you paint, if I may.” Ricky said, then smiling, taking his eyes off the road for a while, and gazing at Maya with a big smile on his face, he remarked. “But it was a wonderful and very memorable road trip isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is, Ricky. I wouldn’t exchange it for the world!”
“Me too, Maya. Me, too!” Ricky said, love for Maya in his eyes.
They gazed at each other, then shared a sweet and meaningful smile, both remembering the rest of their first wonderful vacation together. Like they have agreed the morning after their date, Ricky and Maya took the car again and traveled back towards the direction of Paoay from Fort Ilocandia. They first went to the Malacanang of the North, overlooking Paoay Lake. It is a beautiful house with a magnificent view of the lake. It was apparently built to take advantage of that beautiful view.
Maya remarked to Ricky that despite everything, it is a very beautiful piece of architecture. It took advantage of the nature and the beauty around it and incorporated it in the house’s brilliant design. She especially liked the tall and wide windows on the second level of the house, as well as the terrace on the ground floor where one can sit for hours and pass the time by just staring at the view. They explored each and every room, mainly because Maya would like to do so. Ricky just went with her, happy to see her enjoying herself.
When it was a bit cooler, they traveled to the famous Paoay sand dunes. They rented an all-terrain vehicle to see the magnificent sand formation Ricky had been there before, during the Lim Corporation’s planning conference, but still, seeing it again through Maya’s eyes made him appreciate it more, and made it more special.
Maya and Ricky were jostled around and had to hold tight, Ricky holding Maya tight with arms around her, as they went around this majestic product of mother nature. Maya also managed to snap some really beautiful pictures of the place. When the sun was setting, they asked their driver if they can be let off at the beach and will just walk back to where their car was parked. They spent the rest of that day, watching the setting sun, hands intertwined and with Maya leaning against Ricky’s chest. Even without a declaration from her, Ricky was sure at that moment that Maya loves him too. He can feel it. He just knew. He was that attuned to her.
When it got dark, they traveled towards the direction of Laoag City. However, instead of finding a restaurant in Laoag, they opted to return to Fort Ilocandia and had a marvelous dinner there. They felt so full after another sumptuous meal in that place. Ricky asked Maya if she would like to walk around the resort, and its beautiful grounds before they turn in. She readily agreed. They walked around for an hour, chatting or at times, or just enjoying each other’s company in companionable silence. From time to time, they would share a heated gaze, then just smiled at each other happily. No words needed. Both of them, just enjoying the moment very much!
Ricky brought Maya to her door at around midnight. It was there that they almost kissed if not for some noisy hotel guests who had a bit of a drink. They smiled sheepishly at each other, then Maya said softly that she will go in. Ricky wished her good night and sweet dreams and just before she entered her room, touched her cheek gently, then gave her one of his bone-melting lopsided smiles.
Both of them slept well that night. In the morning, like the day before, Ricky picked up Maya from her room for breakfast. He was carrying a bouquet of the most beautiful red roses. Maya teased him that her room was turning into a flower shop. She thanked him for the flowers and put it with the sunflowers on top of the bags she had packed before she went to bed the night before. After breakfast, they went back to their rooms and got their things, and among Maya’s things were the flowers that Ricky gave her. She wanted to take all of them back to the beach place. She also packed the violet dress that Ricky gave her. She had offered to pay for it, but he refused, insisting that it was a gift, and considered it a remembrance of their first ‘official date’!
“You are smiling.” Maya remarked when she saw Ricky with a goofy smile as he was parking the car in front of her family’s beach house. “Bakit, Mr. Lim?”
“Wala lang, naalala ko lang ang very happy memories natin the past days.” Ricky replied. “Eh ikaw din kaya ang laki ng ngiti mo just now.”
“Well, pareho tayo ng naalala. Thank you for the best several days, Ricky. I wouldn’t forget it for the world. Thank you for everything.” Maya said, then she looked where she had put the flowers and the dress, and smiled happily.
“ Maya I should be the one thanking you. I have never felt this happy before.” Ricky said. “The more time I spend with you, the more thankful I am that our paths have crossed. My heart is just full of love for you every time I see you. I love you much, Maya and I will prove that to you, every moment I could!”
“Ricky…..” Hearing those words, and Ricky’s vow, Maya’s heart somersaulted. Ah, to be loved by this guy very much. “I……” She swallowed, it felt like all the oxygen in her system went to her head and she felt dizzy, giddily dizzy if there is such a term to describe her state then!
“Maya, like I said, I can wait. Manliligaw muna ako sa iyo ng husto. I would like us to get to know each other as close as two people can get. I would like to savor and enjoy each and every moment with you.” Ricky said, cupping Maya’s chin and looking at her intently. He does not want to pressure her. He felt that Maya needed time as this is the first time she is entering into a relationship if ever. He can wait. He wanted her to be one hundred percent sure.
Maya nodded and gave Ricky a smile, grateful to this wonderful and patient guy. He went out of the car and opened the door for her. Despite her protestation, he walked her to the veranda of the house, carrying her things.
“I’ll go ahead, Maya. I’ll see you later for dinner. Have a good rest. I’ll just pick you up from the beach.”
“Thank you for everything again, Ricky. Pasok ka muna and drink coffee with me.” Maya said. “No need to pick me up. I can walk to your place like I usually do.”
“Thank you Maya. You need to rest din. I’ll just see you this evening and that means picking you up, too. Let me just do that please.”
“Okay. Ikaw ang bahala. Pahinga ka na rin ha. You have been driving us around for several days na.”
“Yes, Ma’am! Though I don’t feel tired naman doing that. Basta ikaw ang kasama ko.” He quipped with a boyish grin.
“Ikaw talaga, Ricky!”
“Totoo naman, hahahaha. Okay, aalis na talaga ako. Sige, pasok ka na.”
“Thanks a lot, Ricky.” Maya said smiling, then she gave him a peck on the cheek.
Ricky was startled at first, then he smiled, liking her spontaneous gesture very much. “See you later, Maya.”
Maya waited until Ricky drove away, before she entered the silent house with a big smile on her face. She felt very happy. She wondered where Manang Miring is. She went to the kitchen to find her after putting her things, and her flowers on the coffee table in the living room.
Ricky was also still smiling when he parked the car at the driveway of his grandfather’s house. He got his bag from the backseat of the car, then remembering his phone, which he earlier placed in the side pocket of the car, he retrieved it. No one seemed to be at home, he mused, when entered the house. He dropped his things, including is phone on the sofa. He was about to look for either Manang Auring or Manong Tunying, when a voice from the second level of the house stopped him.
“Ricky, you are back!” Lorraine said happily from the spot where he first saw Maya the week before.
Before Ricky can reply, she ran down the stairs and hugged him tight. “I miss you very much, honey!”
“What are you doing here, Lorraine? How did you find out where I am?” Ricky said in a tight voice, disentangling himself from Lorraine’s embrace. He should have expected this, that she will find him here. She can be quite tenacious when there is something she really wants.
“I asked your father for this place. I figured out that you will be at this beach house.” Lorraine said smugly. “Ricky, hindi ka ba natutuwa na makita ako? Please let’s patch things up. Promise I will shape up and be a good girl from now on. Let’s give our families the marriage they want and expect. I still love you, Ricky.” She said rapidly, not wantingto give Ricky a chance to send her away before she can say her piece, before she can plead to him to give her another chance. “I know you love me too. Hindi naman tayo tatagal ng ilang taon kung hindi. Please forgive me na. Hinding-hindi na talaga mauulit. It was just a lapse in judgment.”
“Lorraine, I don’t want to sound like a broken record. I’m really sorry, I thought we understood each other the last time we talked. We are over. Mas mabuting naghiwalay tayo ng maayos. We were friends once, our families are friends and we will see each other kahit paano in gatherings. We are not just meant to be. It was not just the drugs and the infidelity that broke us, you know. It was just the catalyst!” Ricky said firmly. “Magbago ka for your sake, please, and not for my sake. Please iayos mo na ang buhay mo. You have seen what drugs had done to Bettina, gugustuhin mo pa bang matulad sa kanya?”
“Ricky please, please give me another chance.” Lorraine pleaded, not wanting to hear what Ricky just said and refusing to accept defeat. She tried to hug and kiss Ricky. He sidestepped it and moved a little farther away from her.
“Lorraine, I’m really, really sorry. You traveled here for nothing.” Ricky stressed. “I hope you will find that someone you can really love and who can make you a better person. I think it is best if you return to Manila as soon as you can. You see, I’m….”
Before Ricky can continue, he and Lorraine heard a scream and a loud crash from the direction of the veranda.
Ricky ran to checked and saw Manong Tunying on the ground, groaning, while a semi-hysterical Manang Auring was cradling his head on her lap.
“Manang, ano po ang nangyari?” Ricky asked urgently. “Tara po, dalhin natin si Manong sa ospital.”
“Nahulog po siya hagdan, Sir Ricky, habang nagkukumpuni at naglilinis ng alulod.” Manang Auring said tearfully.
The two of them, with Lorraine’s help, brought Manong Tunying to the car. The older guy was complaining of a pain in his head and all over his body.
“Lorraine, I will take you the airport when I return. Please pack your things.” Ricky said hastily before going into the car. Then he and the caretakers were off to the hospital in town.
While Manong Tunying was being attended to, Manang Auring was with him, Ricky remembered that Maya was supposed to come for dinner. And there was also the added complication of Lorraine being there! He decided to give Maya a call to tell her that Lorraine is at the beach house. That was when he realized that he didn’t have his phone with him!
He decided to wait until the doctor gives the diagnosis on Manong Tunying’s condition before leaving the hospital. He wanted to be sure that he will be okay and that the injuries are not serious. He will just go to Maya’s house and explain the situation to her, than he will go back to the house and deal with Lorraine. Thank God, he had told Maya about her! He sat on one of the chairs by the emergency room and waited for the doctor.
While Ricky was waiting in the hospital, his phone started ringing. On the third time it rang, Lorraine got curious on who had been calling him the past several minutes. She looked at the screen. Maya Dela Rosa? Who is she? She had a bad feeling about this girl. Baka ito iyong kasama ni Ricky sa trip niya! There’s only one way to find out. She grabbed the phone, however it stopped ringing before she can press ‘Answer’.
Lorraine looked at Ricky’s phone before putting it down again where she got it, and vowed that she will not give up. She does not have any plans of going to that airport and go back to Manila unless Ricky is going back with her and that he had agreed to push through with their wedding. Instead of packing her things, which she had put in Ricky’s room, she decided to make herself a merienda, and with a magazine, she settled in the veranda to wait for Ricky’s return. She might as well relax and enjoy the view while waiting, she mused.
Maya was humming as she got herself ready for bed after her wonderful date with Ricky. She hoped she will be able to fall asleep fast after that beautiful, wonderful, and very unforgettable evening! Who can forget being treated like a real princess by her handsome prince! It is every girl’s dream! Maya Dela Rosa, you and your fairy tales, she tried to admonish herself, but lost!
Ricky has fallen in love with her! He admitted his feelings! He wants to court her properly! The thought sent her in a tailspin earlier! Her throat constricted, her heart beat doubled and her face became flushed, especially when he looked at her with so much love and intensity! She felt like dancing in the middle of the hotel’s beautiful garden. To let out her giddiness, she did actually make a silent scream as soon as she had closed the door after Ricky escorted her up to the door of her room before turning in himself for the night. It took her a while to drag herself to the bathroom after falling headlong into the bed and staring at the ceiling with a goofy smile on her face.
She looked at the big inviting bed in the room. The room was so much nicer and more luxurious than the one she had shared with Ricky for two nights, and yet she yearned for the room and the beds they had in that hotel in Vigan. She already missed seeing Ricky’s face across her, that early, even if his mere presence on the bed beside her, sent her heart fluttering like a butterfly on a headlong flight to somewhere beautiful, wonderful and dizzying!
Maya does like the fact that Ricky just didn’t assume that since she had agreed to sharing a room with him, and that since they have shared a room for two nights, they can just continue to do so. To her, it meant that he really is, a gentleman. Maya also admitted to herself, that had he asked her if they can continue sharing a room, she would have said yes, most probably! She sat on the bed and to help her adrenaline go down, she took out her iPad. While going over the books she had stored in her iBooks library, she remembered the PDF copy of the journal there that she had been meaning to tell Richard about.
Staring at the page of the journal she had last accessed, she thought of Ricky’s dream, or rather nightmare while they were in Vigan, which was exactly the same as the events narrated by Ricardo Lim in the journal! A thought entered her head before she can stop herself from thinking about it, before she can stop herself from going there! What if, what if they are really reincarnations of their grandparents, and it was not Ricky telling her that he loves her, but his grandfather telling it to her Lola Maya again? But if they are one and the same persons, is it bad that their beautiful, but ill-fated love story, found a way to continue? A love that beautiful finding its way across time and space?
Maya took a deep breath and heaved a sigh, trying to overcome the convoluted thoughts suddenly crowding her head all of a sudden. There are so many mysteries you can’t really find explanation in this world, even faith, and fate! You just believed and it just happened, it is just the way it is. She would rather live in the present than dwell on whether they were reincarnations of two people who had loved at the wrong time. Besides, it is not so bad, not so bad at all, if they are, and that they found a way to continue their love story, isn’t it, especially now that it has a better chance of having a happy ending! She and Ricky are singles and free to love! He already told her he loves her and while she hasn’t said it to him yet, she does love him with all of her! With that thought in mind, she attempted to fall asleep, reliving Ricky and hers wonderful evening. She had a beautiful smile on her face when sleep claimed her.
The next thing Maya knew, there were rays of sunlight slipping through the drapes that she forgot to close fully the night before. She checked the time, and got out of the bed, so fast, panicking a bit, when she saw that it was already past 9 o’clock in the morning! While she and Ricky, did not agree on meeting on a specific time that day, by unspoken agreement, usually, they both have breakfast at around eight o’clock in the morning! She hastily checked her phone. There were no messages from him. Maybe he overslept too, or maybe, he was waiting for her to wake up. She decided to phone his room, and he answered on the first ring. She can hear a news channel in the background before he muted it.
“Good morning, Maya!” Ricky said cheerfully, even before she can tell him it’s her! “Had a good sleep?”
“Ricky, good morning! I’m so sorry, I overslept. Are you hungry? You should have phoned me earlier.” Maya said. “Just give me a couple of minutes, and I’ll be ready.”
“Take your time, Maya, no hurry! I can wait.” Ricky assured Maya. “I purposely let you sleep longer, so you can rest. I was planning on knocking on your door in an hour pa.”
“Thanks Ricky! I don’t know why, I slept like a babe and before I know it, it’s morning na.”
“Hmmm, you didn’t miss me sharing the room with you? I’m sad!” Ricky teased Maya before he can stop himself. He sounded like he was flirting with her. Well…. “Errr, biro lang, Maya! You probably had looked forward to having your own room.”
“Well, I did miss sharing a room with you, you know.” Maya answered candidly, blushing a bit at her admission! “But I know you are just nearby and I’m safe with you just a knock away!”
“Thank you, Maya. I miss sharing a room with you too.” Ricky said softly, a goofy grin on his handsome face. “I miss looking at your beautiful face across me. Kaya yata hindi ako nakatulog kaagad!”
“Ricky naman, ang aga-aga, pinapakilig mo ako!” Maya said giddily. “Pero, hindi nga nga nakatulog kaagad? Okay ka lang ba?”
“True naman iyan, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa!” Ricky said, with a goofy smile on his face as he cradled the phone, wishing that he could see Maya’s reaction. He likes looking at her flustered face when he says things like that. “Okay naman ako, Maya, couldn’t be better. I managed to fall asleep after an hour or so of tossing and turning, thinking of our beautiful evening, and besides, when I did, I had a wonderful dream din.”
The way, Ricky said that, Maya felt that the dream had something to do with her, and him. But huwag assuming Maya! Well, she just remembered her beautiful dream and it also has Ricky in it. Kaya rin siguro siya hindi nagising kaagad kasi the dream was so real. Parang ayaw na niyang magising. She blushed a bit, remembering the vivid dream.
“Thank you also, Mr. Ricky Lim. O sige, baba ko na ito ha, para nakapag-ready na ako. I’ll see you at the hotel’s restaurant in 30 minutes?”
“No, I’ll just pick you up from your room, then we can go together. Manonood na lang muna ulit ako ng news while you are getting ready. Text me kung okay ka na.”
“Okay, see you in a bit.”
“See you, Maya. Take your time, like I said.”
Ricky leaned against the headboard of his bed, and thought again of the beautiful night with Maya, and the dream he had, which had her starring prominently in it. He was very happy, and he felt like he was on the top of the world, having finally told Maya of his feelings for her! Now, he just need to show her how much he loves her, automatically looking at the flowers he ordered earlier. Cristina worked miracles. He was not so sure she will be able to procure sunflowers in such a short notice, but she did.
He realized at some point the night before, that aside from forgetting about the dress shoes, he forgot to give Maya flowers on their first ‘official’ dinner date! His mind was very much into other matters. The night really ended beautifully and he couldn’t be happier. He is looking forward to his and Maya’s journey, there in Ilocos and when they both go back in Manila. He felt that there wouldn’t be much of a problem meshing their lives together. The past week, they have lived practically with each other, smoothly and seamlessly.
While they were walking along the beach last night, he asked Maya what her favorite flowers are and she told him, sunflowers, just like her grandmother, and also roses. He woke up early, then thought of that, and on the off-chance that Cristina can get it for him, he would like to give some to Maya, like his grandfather did, to her grandmother. He remembered reading about it in the journal. Speaking of the journal, he will read it completely when they return to their beach places. He would like to check the part that Maya mentioned was exactly like his dream, or nightmare. He felt that it was important that he do so.
Thirty minutes after Maya’s phone call, Ricky was out of his room after receiving a text message from her. With the flowers on his left hand, he softly knocked on Maya’s door. She opened it after the second knock, looking so lovely in her dress of choice for that day, another knee-length skirt, and a white sleeveless blouse.
“Hi Maya!” Ricky said with a big smile, taking in her lovely self. “You look very lovely. These are for you!” He added giving her the bouquet of sunflowers.
“Ricky, where on earth you got these! They are so lovely! Thank you very much.” Maya exclaimed, happiness in her voice and her face lit up while looking at the lovely flowers. She felt giddy again. Ah, he is really such a wonderful guy, she mused.
“You’re welcome, Maya. I’m very glad that you like it.” Ricky replied grinning, happy to see her so happy with his gift. “Well, I got lucky. Cristina helped.”
“She is one very resourceful lady.” Maya said. “Let me just put the flowers inside. By the way, what are our plans for the day pala? We forgot to make plans for today last night. I just want to know what to bring, also if my dress is okay for our trip.” Well, she thought, who would be able to make plans with the way the evening went!
“Hmmm, how about we go to Malacanang of the North, then if you are up to it pa, to the sand dunes? I heard it could be quite an experience.” Ricky suggested.
“Oh, you haven’t tried riding in those ATV too, that I have seen on TV. Sounds fun. Tara lets. I’ll just change into shorts after breakfast, if it is okay.”
“Okay, then sand dunes and sightseeing in Paoay today. We can also go around Laoag a bit and have dinner there before returning here.” Ricky said. “We can go back to our room after breakfast to change out of this pair of jeans. I think a pair of shorts is better for our trip.”
Maya put the flowers on the bed, taking a lingering look at it, before she went out again. She saw Ricky leaning against the wall, looking so breathtakingly handsome in his faded jeans and t-shirt, with a goofy smile, and then when he heard her, he looked at her with love in his eyes. Maya still was not used to it or dealing with the fact that a guy really looks at her like that, so she blushed and gave him a tremulous, happy smile! Ricky took Maya’s hand, and with interlaced fingers, they walked towards the direction of the restaurant through the resort’s beautiful, landscaped gardens.
While Ricky and Maya were starting their day, Lorraine Tan has started her day much earlier than them. She asked her family’s driver to take her to the airport for her flight to Laoag.
Yes, she knows where Ricardo Lim III, and he and the girl, she is sure of that, that he is spending time with, are in for a surprise. It was not so difficult to deduce where Ricky is, once she started recalling everything she knew of him and his family, and since they have a long intertwined history, she figured out where Ricky ran to. She remembered hearing from her mother that the Lims have a vacation house that they don’t really use, but refuses to sell, in Ilocos.
She paid her Tito Richie a visit. On the pretext of catching up with him, she let Richard Lim, ‘Richie’ to family and close friends, know that she was sad since Ricky and her had a tiny bit of misunderstanding and she does not know where he is, so she can say sorry properly and patch things up. It was her fault, she told the older Lim. She used all her acting skills on Ricky’s father and it worked.
Richie Lim had always had a soft spot for her, anyway, and he has his vote as his future daughter-in-law. She mentioned to him that she knows that Ricky is in Ilocos, but not where. She also told him that she very much wanted to surprise him and patch things up, so they can concentrate on the wedding preparations. Richie Lim thought for a bit, and she got a bit nervous while waiting for his reply. She heaved a sigh of relief when he told her that Ricky might be staying at the Lim family beach house in Ilocos Sur.
On her request, Ricky Lim made a phone call to the house to confirm if Ricky is there. Lorraine was pretty confident by then that it is not Ricky who will answer the phone. She had an inkling that he was on the road. She just wanted to know if he using the beach house as a base. She also requested Ricky’s dad to inform the caretakers that she is going there, and tell them that she would like to surprise Ricky, so no word to him that she is arriving, if he is there.
The older Lim, told her afterwards that indeed, Ricky is staying there, but had been away for several days according to their caretaker. Manang Auring told him that his son will be back at some point as his things were still there. He told the caretaker that Ricky’s girlfriend will be going there as well and that she wants to surprise his son. He gave Lorraine the address and the phone number there. He also arranged for Manong Tunying to pick up Lorraine from the airport in Laoag. He was completely unaware of her machinations!
Lorraine packed her bags and then told her parents, so they will refrain from checking on her, that she and Ricky will just go on a short vacation and that they will finalize their wedding plans while spending quality time together. They believed her. Yes, she will wait until Ricardo Lim III returns to the beach house. She needed very much to salvage their relationship and she was prepared to do everything to get him back.
“Maya, Richard, good morning! Lovely day, isn’t it?” Jeremy greeted them cheerfully from the entrance of the resort’s restaurant, at the same time, he looked at them intently. He saw their interlaced fingers. Hmmm, things have really progressed rather well last night, he thought to himself. There was a tiny little pinch in his heart, seeing first hand that indeed, the lovely lady he was interested in, is very much taken! As soon as he had seen Richard Lim the day before, he knew instinctively that he does not stood a chance with Maya Dela Rosa. Too bad, in all his several years in the Philippines, she is the most interesting girl, lovely too, that he had met so far.
“Hi Jeremy, good morning! You’re up early!” Maya remarked with a big smile, disentangling her hand from Richard’s as they approached the bar where Jeremy was doing some paper works. Her hair got a bit windblown and a strand was teasing her face. She took care of that as she sat down on the bar stool in front of Jeremy. “I thought you wanted to get up late to make up for your drinking binge the other night.”
“Hello Jeremy, good morning!” Richard politely added, trying to quell the, just a tiny bit, of animosity he still feels for this guy. He took the bar stool beside the one Maya took.
“Not really a binge, Ms. Dela Rosa! Well, duty calls to this mere mortal, as Scott and Laura left for Cagayan de Oro early this morning to visit a friend who had an accident while river rafting. Someone has to man the resort as we have new guests coming. Quite a big group actually.” Jeremy explained, then added, “Marina said you and Richard are planning to go around the island today in scooters. I double checked the one I used yesterday as I noticed a bit of a weird noise coming out of it when we were on our way home yesterday, just to be sure that everything is A-okay for your excursion! They are ready for your trip.”
“Thanks a lot, Jeremy.” Maya said, then asked him, “Join us for breakfast?”
“Oh, I had mine earlier. Thanks a lot, Luv.” Jeremy said quickly, then leaned on to Maya and whispered, “Besides, I don’t want to be a third wheel! I think things are progressing rather well, eh, between the two of you.” Jeremy teased Maya.
“You are so incorrigible!” Maya laughed heartily, flushing a bit, then she hit him playfully on the arm before pinching him lightly as she would sometime do to Emman when he is being makulit.
“Ouch.” Jeremy said, laughing, forgetting for a bit, that maybe for Richard who was silent during the whole thing, what was harmless between him and Maya took a different meaning. He looked at him to check at the same time Maya did. Uh-oh!
Maya gazed at Richard since she noticed that he was not saying anything, and saw his expression before he can hide it.
Richard’s eyes had turned into slits before he can stop himself. He frowned at the easy camaraderie between Maya and Jeremy, even if his rational self knows that for Maya, Jeremy is just a friend. He tried hard to overcome the jealousy he felt. He really did!
Maya seemed to have sensed his bout with it, though. She touched his arm, and gave him a beautiful smile, then mouthed that she will tell him about it later. That action pacified him, and to get a message to Jeremy perhaps, as he doesn’t know actually what prompted him to do it, he moved closer to Maya after they told him that they will go eat their breakfast. He also took hold of her hand again and interlaced it tightly with his as they walked towards their table. To Maya’s credit, she held on to him tight, putting her other hand, lightly on his arm, and gave him a sweet smile that seemed to exclude everyone in the restaurant while they were walking to the vacant table near the veranda.
Jeremy saw the whole thing and grinned good-naturedly. Ah, he completely understands being ‘territorial’! If that was not it, then he will close his resort and enter the priesthood like his Mum is still wishing for! Well, Richard Lim does look like the right guy for Maya. He had an inkling that he had deliberately followed Maya to Mimosa, and judging by the glimpses he had yesterday, Maya is on her way to falling in love with Richard hard, if she is not yet there!
“So what was that all about?” Richard asked abruptly before he can stopped himself as he took his place after seating Maya across him. “Oh, sorry Maya! Ignore the question please.” He said, realizing that he was being presumptuous and way out of line. He needs to control himself. Richard Lim, what is happening to you! Where is that cool and collected guy! Jealousy is for poor, insecure fools! He does not have the right and Maya already agreed to taking baby steps with him. It is not a decision she does spur of the moment, he knows!
Maya, however, gave Richard a reassuring smile. She understands him getting a bit put out with the inside joke between Jeremy and her. Besides, early on, she had decided that for her and Richard to take the steps together, they should be completely honest with each other. She does not want a repeat of all the secret, subterfuge, and the ultimate betrayal she had experienced with James. Maya believes that this is crucial in finding out whether she will take the final leap into having a relationship with Richard. She had resolved also to tell him about her aborted marriage too. Fair is fair as she knows about his.
“It is all right, Ricky. I know what you were asking, about what Jeremy whispered to me, right?”
“Errr, yes!” Richard admitted sheepishly. “Sorry, for just asking you like that, Maya! I have more finesse than that!”
“No worries, Ricky.” Maya smiled at Richard reassuringly. “Jeremy just told me that he does not want to be a third wheel to us. That is why he declined my invitation to have breakfast with us. He also teased me a bit since he saw us holding hands earlier!”
“Oh….” Richard managed to say, really ashamed now of being irrational earlier and his reaction. Guilty also for, in a split second, he wanted to punch Jeremy on the face when he was whispering something to Maya!
“Yes po!” Maya said, then looking Richard straight in the eye, she continued with candor, “Jeremy and I are just very friends, you know. He would have wanted to be more than friends, I get that much, but I told him it can’t be more than that. He had accepted that. We really had quite a nice and deep talk while at the Katibawasan Falls yesterday. He helped me sort out things in my head, and really thought about the baby steps you were offering. He is a friend I would like to keep. He is a good guy!”
Richard took Maya’s hand, and said earnestly, “Maya, thank you for telling me. I appreciate it very much. My apologies again! I really don’t have the right. It just that you are making me feel emotions I have not felt before, and one of that is jealousy. Yes, the green-eyed monster reared its ugly head for a short time earlier.”
“Don’t think about it, Ricky.” Maya said, putting her hand on top of Richard’s. “My one and only relationship failed because of the secrets, the misunderstandings and things that were left unspoken between me and my fiance. I vowed to myself that I don’t want that kind of thing to happen again, should I open myself to the possibility of another relationship. Before you, I hardly entertained the thought since I was not really interested nor attracted to anyone. But since you entered my life, so to speak, and since we have agreed to take the baby steps together, I thought it would be best if we start it with all cards laid on the table, and us talking things through and thoroughly. No secrets please. If there is something in your mind say it. Everything should be out in the open. I hope it is okay with you.”
“Of course, Maya. I appreciate your candor. I will do the same. And if there is something you need to ask me, just ask away and I will answer it. I hate dishonesty also. It was what soured me on love. I was taken for a fool once. It happened a long time ago, when I was young and believed the best of people. Promise, I will tell you about it at some point, not just right now.”
“I also promised to tell you about my aborted wedding, since I know of yours.” Maya told Richard, which surprised him.
“Sure about it, Maya? You don’t have to, you know, if by doing so, would mean dredging up painful memories you would rather leave in the past.”
“Thank you, Ricky. No worries, I’m over it, and I would like you to know about that too. Consider it part of the clean slate thing between us, part of our baby steps together. But not right now, we better eat breakfast so we can start our adventure today. My stomach is starting to grumble.”
“Okay. Deal.” Richard said happily, then gestured for Marina’s nephew to approach their table so they can order their breakfast.
Both of them ordered continental breakfasts and freshly brewed coffee. They ate in companionable silence when their food and coffee arrived. They gazed and smiled at each other at times, or sipped their coffee while staring at the view, both pondering on what they discussed earlier.
Richard vowed to himself that he do his best to give Maya the same honesty and trust she is giving him and that he would not do something that will make her sad or make her lose faith in taking another chance at love and relationship. He was very grateful for that trust and honesty. He also believes that for them to build on something lasting, it has to have a very strong foundation, aside from love, both physical and emotional, there has to be friendship, affection, trust and honesty. Both of them have been through bad relationships and should be able to know better by now. He is holding on to that.
Maya thinking the same stuffs. She is very happy at the progress of hers and Ricky’s relationship. Relationship! Maya Dela Rosa, calm down.
“Shall we get going?” Richard asked, breaking into Maya’s thought. “Maya…?”
“Oh, sorry! I got lost in my thoughts.” Maya said sheepishly.
“No worries, Maya! I also did.” Richard stood up, helped Maya up from her chair, then with his hand on her back, guided her towards the parking area of the restaurant.
“Richard, Maya, wait.” Jeremy said, getting out the restaurant’s bar area. “I moved the scooters at the entrance. Here are the keys.”
“Oh, good, thanks a lot Jeremy.” Maya said, getting the keys from Jeremy. “Ricky and I will just go there ourselves.”
“Thank you, Jeremy.” Richard said, offering his hand to the other guy, who looked surprised at his gesture, but nevertheless, shook his hand. Richard was actually thanking him not just for the scooters but for being a good friend to Maya and for stepping back, when he knew that Maya is not interested in more than friendship with him. But he was unable to put it into words. He hoped Jeremy got it and it looked like he did, anyway.
“Have fun you two! If you need anything, just let me know.” Jeremy said with a smile. Maya must have cleared the air between them as he felt that Richard’s attitude towards him is warmer now as compared to the polite treatment he had been receiving since they met the day before, and the mutinous expression he had when he saw him whispering something to Maya earlier. He smiled and shook his head. Ah, what love can do to a person!
“We will!” Maya said as she and Richard walked to the restaurant’s front, where they saw the two scooters with their helmets hanging on the handlebars.
“Ready, Ricky?” Maya asked Richard as she climbed on her scooter and put on her helmet while chatting with Richard on the places they will see that day.
“Wait, Maya!” Richard said, suddenly. He was about to climb into his own scooter when he saw that Maya’s helmet was crookedly fastened and seemingly loose. He went to her and gently arranged and tightened it a bit. “Okay, is it tight? Are you comfortable?”
“Thanks a lot, Ricky. Yes, it is perfectly fine now.”
“You’re welcome!” Richard gave her one of his bone-melting smiles.
He was about to start his scooter, when Marina called him.
“Sir Richard, you forgot this!” Marina said, hefting a picnic basket! “You asked me to prepare this for you and Ms. Maya.”
“Oh, I completely forgot about that, Marina!” Richard exclaimed. With all the things that had happened since he started planning this outing, he completely forgot that he also requested Marina to prepare food. “Thank you, Marina.”
“You’re welcome, Sir Richard. Ma’am Maya, take care and have fun.” The smiling older lady told them.
“We will, Ate Marina. Thank you.” Maya said, then after Marina left. “Hmmm, I never thought of that. Good, that you did. We can stop at the Katibawasan Falls for lunch. There are picnic tables there. That would be very nice.”
“Since you will be my special tour guide, I thought the least I could do would be to provide the food.” Richard said, smiling. “Picnic at the falls, sounds like a great plan. I’m looking forward to that, Maya.”
“Great! I’m really looking forward to that, and showing you around the island I fell in love with.” Maya said, grinning happily. “Shall we get going Mr. Lim, Sir?”
“Ms. Dela Rosa, after you, Ma’am!” Richard said, grinning happily. At the same time, he wished then that it was not just the island that Maya will fall in love with. Ah, he is so looking forward to this day with her, an understanding of sorts, between them. He felt content with the steps they have taken so far. Maya felt the same. There are so many things to look forward to, from then on.
The morning after his beautiful and very memorable evening with Maya, Richard woke up before the alarm he had set the night before. He slept fitfully, when he managed to do so, after more than an hour of tossing and turning late into the night. It took him a long time to get down from the emotional high he was in after the wonderful night with Maya. He didn’t really know what to expect when he took that leap to follow her in that beautiful island paradise. The outcome of his out of character, impulsive decision was more than he had hoped for. He felt extremely happy at that moment.
Richard smiled broadly, remembering how his and Maya’s beautiful night had ended, at the veranda of her bungalow, touching his lips, remembering that moment when their lips touched and connected, in a way he never imagined! Baby steps together, she had finally agreed to that, which is already a big deal for him, having gotten a glimpse of a painful experience in what she had shared with him so far, and what he can deduced from what his mother hinted! Emman seemed to be very protective of his cousin as well. It was really a surprise, but he was very grateful, of course, that he even told him her whereabouts and the schedule of her return to Manila.
He can wait until Maya is ready to take bigger steps or the complete leap with him. They can do this together. He himself is not sure of where this ‘thing’ with her will go or take him. He is not even sure he can take another walk down the aisle in the future. But what thing he is sure of, and seem helpless to stop or ignore, is this intense attraction and fascination for her. Really, he is feeling feelings for her that he has not felt before even with the girl who broke his heart, eons ago. Andrea is nothing but a dim memory now! He was so young and believed the best of people despite his father telling him otherwise. He had a very rude awakening. He had forgiven her but he hasn’t forgotten the lesson from that first time he had fallen in love, or he thought of.
Richard heaved a sigh, shaking his head. He does not want to dwell on that part of his life. Nothing positive and productive will come out of doing so. He is here in paradise with a beautiful girl he can’t get out of his head and he was thinking of that! He stretched his arms, then got out of the bed to get ready for the day. He is planning another beautiful time with Maya and he better check if everything is moving according to his plan.
While Richard was taking a shower, Maya was still staring at the ceiling of her bungalow, with a goofy smile, at the same time, touching her lips, remembering the unexpected ending to her and Richard’s beautiful night. Baby steps, indeed! It felt like they have unexpectedly taken a giant step with that kiss, that she was sure, both of them were not expecting to happen that night, nor were they prepared on the effect it would have on them. Both of them had startled looks on their faces when they broke apart.
It just happened! The two of them walked to her bungalow after their stroll down the beach. At her door, Richard told her again what a wonderful night he had. He also asked her if she would like to go around the island with him the following day after their breakfast. That is, if it is okay with her as he knew that he had been around the island the past several days and she might be tired of going around, especially she was also out earlier with Jeremy. She assured Richard she would be happy to do so, smiling at him. He was cute to be a bit unsure and hesitant in asking her, especially after the way he barged in on her vacation.
Richard softly thanked her again for everything and they said another rounds of goodnight, without actually making a move to, for her to unlock her door and him, to go back to his bungalow. They found themselves gazing at each other, and they lost sense of everything, except this intense awareness of each other. Richard took a deep breath, Maya sensed it, then he started lowering his lips to hers. As if they have a life of their own, her lips slowly opened anticipating Richard’s kiss. Their lips fused for the first time and it felt like a high voltage of electricity traveled through Maya. She gasped in surprise and she had felt Richard’s sudden intake of breath.
They broke apart after several long seconds. It did feel like it went on forever, but it only lasted several long seconds. Both of them were flushed, unable to say anything, gazing at each other with wonder, Richard caressing, unconsciously, Maya’s lips that he had thoroughly kissed. They stayed like that for several more seconds until a night sound, broke into the stunned state they were in. Richard started apologizing for the kiss, telling her that they did agree on baby steps and he seemed to have broken it so fast. She assured him that he need not apologize for what happened as it takes two person to kiss and that she was an active participant in it. They shared a smile, embraced each other as if they have been doing it a long time, then whispered a soft good night to each other again. Richard waited until she got into her bungalow before traveling the short distance to his.
The beeping of her mobile phone interrupted Maya’s recollection of that beautiful moment between her and Richard. She checked the message and muttered, about time, Cuz! She knows her cousin inside out and the fact that she has not gotten in touch with him was probably worrying him, thinking that she got mad when he gave Richard the information on where she was staying and her flight details. Emman was asking on the text if he can call, seemingly testing the waters. Maya decided to call him herself, as she had been meaning to, to put him out of misery.
“Cousin!!!!” Emman shrieked on the phone as soon as Maya picked up the call after the second ring. “Super sorry! Are you mad at me? I hope not too mad, super please!!!”
“Good morning to you, Cousin dear!” Maya greeted her cousin, slowly putting back her phone closer to her ear. Her ears were still ringing from Emman’s shriek. “Emman, calm down please. My ears are still ringing from your shriek.”
“Maya!!! You’re not mad at me?” Emman said in a, still high-pitched voice. “I have been waiting for your call. I was so sure you will after giving Richard Lim the information on your whereabouts and flight details. We always talk everyday and update each other on what has been happening at MEP, so when you didn’t, it occurred to me that you might be mad and that maybe, I should have not disclosed those information! So, have you seen each other? What is the latest on the two of you?” Emman asked rapidly.
“Hmmm, now I know why you called. You just want to know what the latest tsismis.” Maya teased her cousin, going further by saying, “You know, not only I have seen him, I spent the evening with him, and I have said, yes.”
“What???? You and him in a relationship? You have said yes that fast? OMG, Maya Dela Rosa, is that you? My anti-relationship cousin!” Emman asked incredulously.
“Hahahaha, gotcha!” Maya laughed heartily at Emman’s reaction. “Serves you right for selling out on your cousin, Emman.”
“Cuz, naman, I thought you are not mad at me!” Emman pouted at the other line. “Besides, I really had this feeling that I should tell him your whereabouts when he called me out of the blue. You know, instinct, female intuition at work, that sort of thing. Besides, I will not have given you out to a complete stranger, and Richard asked nicely and directly. I really thought that you and him have some sort of unfinished business six months ago. I saw you with him, you know, when you went to give him Lucy’s note and I also saw you two gazing at each other before you left the church. On both instances, there was something there, was my first thought.”
“Emman, you are telling me this now? Why? I didn’t even know you went inside the church again. I didn’t see you. I thought you were consoling Mrs. Ventura.”
“Well, I also got a bit worried about you. I knew you were placed in a difficult situation by Mrs. Ventura and you must have felt that you were reliving your experience with what happened to you with that good for nothing James Madrigal. When I saw you and Richard Lim gazing at each other, it was different, I swear. I knew the two of you were clueless, and I was also puzzled at what I sensed then. But I’m right di ba? There was something there.”
“Thank you for looking out for me, Cousin. I love you.” Maya said, touched at Emman’s concern. “Errr, yes! There was something then which I can’t define. It was still there when I saw him again at Lim Corporation last week. Technically, that was our first meeting. We had coffee afterwards and chatted for hours.”
“Wow, I didn’t even know about that. So, what’s your status now? I mean, you really haven’t said yes to him, right. Kind fast, especially for you who is allergic to relationships?”
“Of course, not yet, Emman.” Maya said quickly, not realizing the ‘yet’ she had put into her sentence.
“‘Not yet’, hmmmm, so does it means, what I think it means, that Richard Lim has a better chance than your poor suitors for the past five years.” Emman asked, teasing his cousin.
“Emman, you are incorrigible.” Maya laughed. “Let’s see where this thing will take us. All I have agreed to, is taking the baby steps with him. And that is all I can tell you at the moment.”
“Okayyyyy, if you say so.” Emman said, smiling at the other line. Even if his cousin refused to say much, he can detect something in her voice. She seemed so much happier and there is a different lilt in her voice. “Good luck, Cuz! I’m happy for you, whatever that thing is, at the moment. I’m just here for you, you know. ”
“Thank you, Emman. I do appreciate it. I’m glad you are my cousin. I love you Cuz.” Maya said happily. “I’ll call you again, before I leave Camiguin tomorrow. I’ll take Ricky around the island today.”
“Oh my, I’m kinikilig.” Emman said, laughing, taking note that Maya calls Richard Lim, ‘Ricky’ now. “But you still owe me more details ha. I know there are things you have not told me.”
“Okay, promise.” Maya told her cousin, grinning happily, her heart lighter and happier for some reason.
Emman was still smiling, minutes after his and Maya’s call ended. His intuition tells him that his beloved cousin, more of a sister, actually, is on her way to falling in love, if she is not yet in love! He just wished that Richard Lim would really be the one for his beautiful and loving cousin. He believes so, despite the fact that a lot of girls had been linked to him, and that after his aborted wedding, he dated casually a lot, if the gossip columns are to be believed. Emman believes that he is good in reading people and he likes Richard Lim. He also had heard good things about him and that he is a good guy.
Maya hastily went to bath after the call. She checked the time and realized that she was supposed to meet Richard for breakfast in less than an hour. She put her swimsuit over her ripped shorts and light, sleeveless blouse, as she and Richard were planning to take a dip in the Katibawasan Falls. The weather was on the warm side that day so she thought it is best to wear comfortable clothes.
Thirty minutes after, she was out of her bungalow. Richard called her from his veranda the moment she had closed her door. It looked like he was waiting for her to come out of her bungalow. He put his iPhone in his pocket the moment she looked at him. He gave her another of his lopsided smiles that never fail to make her heart beat faster. He walked briskly towards her.
“Ricky, good morning!” Maya said, giving Ricky a smile that, again, lit up her beautiful face. Seeing him waiting for her, was a happy surprise. “I thought we will just meet at the restaurant!”
“Good morning, Maya!” Richard said, taking hold of Maya’s tote bag from her hand, hefting his small backpack, and guiding her by the elbow, down the steps. “I was up early, so I just thought of waiting for you at the veranda so we can go together. The view is nice also and it was great sitting out there while I was waiting. How are you? Did you sleep well?”
“I did, surprisingly well. It must have been the walk along the beach, and the company I had last night.” Maya said with a smile, artlessly, looking at Ricky, then blushed a bit as she remembered again how their night ended. “How about you?”
Richard smiled, seeing Maya’s reddening face. He knew then what she was remembering in particular. The kiss was on his mind also, since he woke up and when he was sitting at the veranda waiting for her. He caught his breath, when he saw her in that shorts and sleeveless blouse. She is very lovely and then his gaze zeroed in on her lips, and the memory flooded back in full force. It took supreme effort to control and compose himself.
“I did okay, when I managed to fall sleep. It took me a while.” Richard admitted.
“Oh, it must be because the place is unfamiliar to you. Isn’t it there is a term for it, ‘namamahay’?” Maya looked at Richard inquiringly.
“Hmmm, yes, but it was not because the place was unfamiliar to me. I slept okay yesterday morning, remember.” Richard replied, than gazing intently at Maya, he continued, “It was more of waiting until the excitement and the happiness I was feeling after the wonderful time I had with you, subsided.”
“Oh!” Maya managed to say, unable to stop the giddiness she felt on hearing that. She gave him a sweet, beautiful smile, face flushed.
Richard smiled back, then as if is the most natural thing in the world, he took hold of her hand, interlaced it with his, tightly while they happily walked towards the restaurant. Both of them are looking forward to another memorable day together in that island paradise.