Posts Tagged Sir Chief & Maya
Richard parked Maya’s car in his designated slot in the underground parking of his building, half an hour after they left her place. After getting out of the car, he assisted and led Maya to a private elevator which opened directly to a foyer leading to the single unit on the topmost floor. He swiped his card, and ushered Maya inside.
“Welcome to my place, sweetheart,” Richard said as he switched on lights, hoping that Maya will like his place. If things go according to his wishes, her agreeing to be his partner in life, his wife, this would probably be their home until they have kids. It is not as homey and brightly decorated as Maya’s but he is sure she can turn this place into their private paradise in no time at all. However, if she would rather stay in her place, he would defer to her. His first priority is making her happy. He can live there too.
“You have a big and beautiful home, Ricky.” Maya looked around, taking in everything at once – the big open layout of the living room, the floor-to-ceiling windows, the white walls adorned only with two big paintings, and the minimalist but very functional furniture. Yes, they have different styles when it comes to their homes, but in its own way, his place is very beautiful and inviting. It has a positive aura too.
“I hope you will consider this your home as well. What is mine is yours, sweetheart,” Richard said softly, guiding Maya towards the sofa by the window.
“Thank you, sweetheart. I will.” Maya walked towards the big floor-to-ceiling window by the living room, instead of sitting down. She looked out, admiring the thousand of lights twinkling like fireflies in the night. “The view is incredible! I like your place, sweetheart!”
“Thank you, sweetheart. I like this place very much. It is home to me for several years now. Like you, not many people have been to this place. My ex-fiancee Lucy had only been here once, and that was with her parents and mine, for dinner.” Richard volunteered as he would like to assure Maya that Lucy had not touched his place at all and that there was no memory of her in that place.
Maya understood right away what Richard wanted to convey with that statement. “Thank you for telling me, sweetheart, I appreciate it,” she said, appreciating his candor.
“It can be our special place too. But of course, your place will always be the most special one.” Richard looked at Maya, remembering all that had happened at her place since they got there the day before, especially the intimacies, not just physical or the act of it, but the emotions and feelings that went with it.
Maya gazed back at Richard, remembering also what he was remembering. Her cheeks flushed. She felt warm despite the air conditioning in Richard’s place!
Richard moved to where Maya was standing, hugged her from behind and nuzzled her neck. Maya gasped and turned. Her senses coming alive again. They looked at each other and without words, their lips met for a searing kiss. It led to another, and another until all their awareness was centred on their fused lips and the effects of those kisses on their highly sensitized bodies. Maya felt a tug on the ribbon of her wrap-around dress. Seconds later, it fell on the floor. She heard Richard gasped and looked at her with so much desire on his eyes. Then suddenly, she was off the floor and into Richard’s strong arms.
Richard carried Maya to the room nearest the living room. His bedroom. He placed her gently on the bed, and then slowly undressed. Maya looked at him with eyes dazed with desire as he removed his shirt, his pants, and finally his boxer shorts. The bed dipped slightly when Richard joined Maya in there. He started caressing her, driving her deliriously crazy until her only thought, what she sought, was the relief his touch would bring. Richard gave it to her. He moved to join their heated bodies. They flew together. It took a while for them to move after that mind-shattering union.
“So how about dinner, sweetheart?” Maya asked softly as Richard caressed her idly and maddeningly, while she nestled in the crook of his arms, her head pillowed against his chest. She can’t really think straight and just wanted to stay in Richard’s arms forever. She felt boneless.
“Hmmm…” Richard murmured against Maya’s hair. Instead of answering her, he hugged her tighter, moved a bit, and started kissing her on the neck again. She never thought it as a very sensitive part of her body, but Richard’s mere touch proved otherwise. His hand also started moving, seeking the parts of her body which he knew gives her, and him, immense pleasure.
“Food, sweetheart. Dinner at that wine restaurant…” Maya managed to say as Richard increased his assault on her senses.
Richard remained deaf to her softly spoken words. Instead, he suddenly moved, took hold of Maya’s waist, and flipped her over but gently. Maya found herself on top of him, his arms around her. She blushed, getting his meaning. He smiled tenderly, lovingly, beseeching her. She smiled back, and gave him what he wanted, what they both wanted. His instantenous reaction to her every touch, became Maya’s guide. And with that, all thoughts of dinner got forgotten again.
Maya and Richard surfaced from their bliss when their stomachs started grumbling. They giggled. Richard sighed. He got of the bed to get his phone and ordered food from the restaurant in the building that caters to the residents after asking Maya what she would like to eat. They complete abandoned their earlier plan of having dinner in that wine restaurant. He and Maya ate a hearty dinner of dim sum, yang chow fried rice, peppered squid, shrimps, and nido soup.
“Why are you looking at me like that.” Maya asked softly, as Richard looked at her heatedly while she unconsciously licked her fingers after peeling the shrimps by hand. She was wearing one of Ricky’s t-shirts. He was wearing a similar t-shirt and shorts that he hastily put when he got the food from the delivery guy. It hugged his muscled chest. Looking at him, Maya had a hard time concentrating on her food as well. He looked rumpled, his hair tousled, and very handsome. She was very much aware of him and his gazes.
“Well, that t-shirt will never be the same again. I actually envy it at the moment. So close to your body…” Richard said, his gaze heated. The t-shirt was white and thin and he can see the outline of Maya’s beautiful body from where he was sitting.
“Ricky…” Maya protested weakly, blushing profusely, getting self-conscious still despite the intimacies that they have shared. She pulled at the shirt, but it didn’t help.
Richard put his hand on top of Maya’s. He told her gently, lovingly, “You have a beautiful body, Maya. Don’t be embarrassed by it. You are beautiful inside out. I will still look at you like this until we are old and gray. You should always remember that, my love.”
Maya smiled at her wonderful, handsome boyfriend. Old and gray! It very much imply of a future together, and she is very happy with that thought and that possibility. She was really very happy that she had taken the leap with this guy.
“Thank you, sweetheart. I love you very much.” Maya said simply, overwhelmed with emotions.
“I love you very much, too, Maya.” Richard said, his face serious, conveying the intensity of his emotions, He lifted his glass. “To us, sweetheart and a future together.”
“To us….” Maya replied, clinking her glass with Richard’s.
They drank to it, then Richard stood up, offering his hand to Maya and carrying his glass and the wine bottle with his other hand. “Come, sweetheart, let’s be more comfortable.”
Richard led Maya to a couch that faces the floor-to-ceiling window of the unit. He sat and pulled her into his lap. They enjoyed looking at the city at night as they sipped their wine, cuddled together, whispered words of love to each other, and at times just chatted about things they both enjoyed doing.
When he saw her yawning, despite her valiant effort to remain awake, as they savor their wonderful time together, Richard placed his and Maya’s wine glasses on the small glass table by the couch, then carried her to his room. Just like the night before, they ended up spending the night together.
The following morning, Maya was woken up by butterfly kisses from Richard. When she opened her eyes with a big smile, she saw a tray with a single, beautiful sunflower in a glass vase, and bacon, eggs, jams and two steaming cups of coffee, by the side table. They ate breakfast together, then headed to the shower together. The simple and normally mundane act of bathing was turned into an unforgettable one.
Wearing her clothes from the day before, Maya went back to her place with Richard, in his office clothes, in tow. He waited until she changed into office clothes, then they drove together to their offices.
“Sweetheart, dinner later?” Richard asked as Maya parked her car at the drop off point of Richard’s office building.
“Sure sweetheart. Is around 6PM okay?” Maya asked, liking that they will see each other again in several hours.
“Yes, and please, I’ll pick you up this time, I will bring you home and take you to work tomorrow. Di ba, you will be at LC naman tomorrow? Would that be okay?” Richard asked, as he unfastened his seatbelt.
“Sure, sweetheart.” Maya replied. “That would be fine. I will just leave my car in my slot.”
Richard took hold of Maya’s face with both hands, then gave her a searing kiss. “That would have to tide me over until we see each other again.” Richard said, giving her one of his bone-melting lopsided smile.
Maya smiled back, her face lighting up. “Have a great day, sweetheart. See you later.”
“You too. I love you.”
“Love you too. Bye for now.”
Richard got out of the car while he was able to resist giving Maya another kiss. Maya waved one more time before she drove towards the direction of her office. Richard waited until he can no longer see Maya’s car before entering the building. When he reached his floor, he had on a big, happy smile, a fact that didn’t escape his secretary’s notice. She also heard him humming. Richard Lim, humming! She never thought she would witness it!
“Welcome back, Sir Richard.” Liza greeted her boss who seemed to be in the best of mood. it looked like he had a wonderful impromptu vacation in Mindanao. Not only he had acted strangely several days ago, he looked different. He looked happier and if she will hazard a guess…in love? Could it be that he is? Hmmm, the plot thickens, she thought. “How was your vacation, Sir?”
“Hi Liza, thank you.” Then he gave his secretary a lopsided grin, “It was the best vacation ever. Thank you again for all your help. I presumed the office ran well while I was away as I didn’t receive calls from you or from Adrian.”
“Yes Sir, everything was okay. I put all the papers for your signature and review on your table, including the report Ms. Maya had sent after you left for Mindanao.” Liza said, following her boss into his office.
“Thanks a lot Liza. Maya mentioned that to me. She said she had emailed me an initial report. I’ll check on it later.” Richard said absently as he put his things on his table.
Liza looked closely at her boss, and the way he had said Ms. Maya’s name. ‘Mentioned to him’?
“By the way, Liza, can you book me a table at that very nice wine restaurant in Mandaluyong for 7Pm. Can you also order me a bouquet of sunflowers to be delivered here at 5PM.” Richard said as he sat down.
Oookay, someone is really in love! And she thinks she knows with whom. She had seen how her boss looked at the beautiful, events manager the week before. She also saw them going to the Lim private cafe after that meeting. Well, she is happy for him, especially after that witch Lucy jilted him. She likes Maya and she is more beautiful than Lucy.
“I will do that, Sir. Would that be all?” Liza asked deadpanned and trying to hide the fact that she was very curious.
“Yes, and thanks a lot, Liza.”
Liza left after that. She did what her boss requested of her before going back to the papers she was working on before he arrived. Richard, on the other hand, started tackling the stack of papers on his desk before checking his emails. When he had finally gotten around to his inbox, he saw that he had a lot. It was going to be a long day. Good thing he will be seeing Maya later. He had something wonderful to look forward to. He buckled down to work.
While Richard was plowing through the papers on his desk, Maya was walking towards her office at MEP, holding a tumbler of coffee from the cafe at the lobby. Before she reached her office, her cousin intercepted her, as if he was lying in wait for her.
“Cuz!!! Welcome back to the land of the mortals and the land of brokenhearted.” Emman said as he gave his cousin a hug and a beso. “I’m so happy to see you. I miss you.”
“Cuz, how are you? I’m happy to be back. Why did you not wait for me yesterday?” Maya asked as she returned her cousin’s hug. “You could have had lunch with Ricky and me.”
“Cuz naman, I don’t like to be a third wheel kaya! I didn’t want to intrude into your private world yesterday!” Emman quipped with a raised eyebrow. “Pero, cuz, you and Richard Lim almost gave me a heart attack yesterday, though I’m so happy for the two of you. So kiligggg malaga hay!!!! Sana I will find my prince charming na rin like that!”
“Sssshhhh, Emman, your voice.” Maya told her cousin, as she had noticed that they were attracting the attention of their employees! “Let’s go to my office.”
“Sorry naman, Cuz. I just got excited.” Emman whispered, contrite. “We can talk about it over lunch. But I will go with you to your office to discuss some projects.”
“Okay…” Maya nodded then led her cousin to her corner office.
The two of them discussed their current projects and clients. Maya also ran with Emman the execution of her campaign for Lim Corporation’s 50th anniversary as she needed to make a report to Richard and do another presentation to the management committee of LC as per Adrian’s last e-mail to her. It was what she was working on before Richard showed up in Camiguin. It felt like ages ago, when it fact, it just happened several days ago. It was just that so many wonderful things that happened. Emman agreed with most of her ideas, and in some instances, suggested from improvements which Maya liked.
“Thanks a lot, Emman. I think I have everything for the update presentation to LC tomorrow.” Maya told her cousin as she take a sip of her coffee.
“Do you know who will handle the new TVC of LC, in line with this anniversary?” Emman asked as an afterthought when he was about to return to his office.
“Not yet. Adrian said they haven’t pick one the last time we talked. Ricky and me naman didn’t talk about business while we were together, so no idea until now. Maybe we will know by tomorrow!”
“Of course, if my boyfriend is as handsome and as hunky as Richard Lim, I will forget everything except him also. Keber ko sa work!” Emman teased his cousin. “Come, since it is almost 11AM, let’s have an early lunch at that organic restaurant we like. You owe me lunch, dinner, whatever, and a truckload of kwento. Besides, I think I have to settle for lunch. I have an inkling that you are not free for dinner. Am I right?”
“Errrr, yes. Ricky and I will have dinner. He will pick me up at around 6PM.” Maya admitted to her cousin, her whole face lighting up. “Emma, I never thought I could be this happy.”
“I knew it!” Emma exclaimed, then taking his cousin’s hand and playfully swaying it as they walked towards the elevator, he said, “You really deserve to be happy like this, Maya, after all the heartaches. I’m so happy for you. I’m sure if you tell it to Mom, she would be very happy also.”
“Thank you, Emman. Ah yes, I’m planning to tell her about it tomorrow also. I’ll ask her to lunch.” Even before she tells her, Maya knew that Tita Margarita will be happy that she is finally taking another chance at love.
Maya gave her cousin an abbreviated version of what happened since Richard followed her in Camiguin. She omitted in the telling the intimacies between her and Richard. Emman knew that they were intimate but the details, it was just for Richard and her. Her cousin, respecting her privacy didn’t actually ask for details. He just screamed silently and was very giddy as she told him about Richard’s romantic gestures and how they spent the vacation. They returned to the office two hours after, very relaxed and happy. The rest of the afternoon was spent working on their accounts. Tita Margarita was unable to report for work that day so it was just the two of them who dealt with clients.
Maya finished her work around 5 o’clock in the afternoon. She was glad to have some spare time to get ready for her date with Richard. Luckily, she keeps some clothes in her office, just in case she needs to meet clients unexpectedly in the evening. She took out a black sheath dress from the closet and started to get ready.
Richard texted several minutes before six o’clock. He told Maya that he was at the lobby of her building. When Maya got down, she saw him standing by the entrance, wearing a navy blue shirt and dark slacks, looking so devastatingly handsome. It seems, she is not the only one who store spare clothes at work. He was holding a bouquet of sunflowers, her favourite. He saw her, and gave her a bone-melting smile, only for her, while walking towards her. He took her breath away no matter how many times she was bestowed that beautiful smile. She smiled back.
Richard gave Maya the flowers. “For you, sweetheart,” he said as he gave her a kiss on the lips, unmindful of the people around them.
“Thank you, sweetheart,” Maya said softly, smiling, as she surreptitiously wiped the smudges of lipstick on Richard’s lips. They shared an intimate smile.
With hands intertwined, Richard and Maya happily walked towards his car, looking forward to another beautiful evening together.
While Esmeralda Lim was informing Tessie Dela Rosa that her son Richard agreed to her daughter Maya staying with him in his place in Makati, the subject of their conversation was sitting at the azotea of the family’s ancestral house in Talisay, Negros Occidental, drinking coffee, and deep in thought.
Maya was plotting her next move in the escalating battle of wills with her parents. It was the first thing she thought of doing after her parents rejected her latest plea. But her next move really, and everything for that matter, would really depend if that ‘SSS’ will let her stay in his place. Before she can execute her next move, she has to know if he had agreed to it. She hoped not. Why would he, as the one and only time they were together, they fought like cats and dogs. Maya was so sure that the ‘SSS’ still harbours a grudge towards her after all these years. He never bothered to get in touch with her, though why he should since she is just a family friend and the sister of his friend. He also begged off from going when her parents invited the Lims to spend the holiday with them in Barcelona one summer.
However, despite that and because it happened a long time ago, when she and Richard were both younger, her in her late teens and him in his late 20s, Maya knew that she shouldn’t call Richard that acronym she coined for him many summers ago, but she can’t help it. Towards the end of that long ago summer, before everything has fallen apart, she had taken to calling Richard Lim, ‘supladong sungit na singkit’ behind his back!
I wonder how he looks like now, after all these years? Maya tried to imagine. Hmmm, maybe, hindi na siya super guapo. Maybe he has started losing his hair, may beer belly and gained a lot of weight. I-Google ko kaya? Bakit nga ba hindi ko man lang siya na-check online. I’m sure there will be entries on him, having taken over the reins of the family corporation.
Maya was about to stand up to get her laptop from her room, when she saw their kasambahay, Sabel, approaching her, like a girl with a very important mission.
“Señorita Maya, tawag po kayo ng Mama ninyo,” Sabel said, then hesitating, she added, “Saka ngayon na daw po as in now na! Sabi po ng Mama ninyo huwag na kayong mag…mag…mag-dilly-dally, kung ano man po ang ibig sabihin nun. ”
Maya knew why her mother insisted on relaying that through Sabel. Teresita Dela Rosa knew that her daughter will try to procrastinate, not wanting to discuss their latest discord. She sighed. “Okay, Sabel. Nasaan ba si Mama?”
“Nasa sala po, Senorita Maya.” Sabel said promptly, relief in her voice.
Maya walked to the living room through the dining room of the beautiful old house that her mother inherited from her parents. When they returned to the Philippines several months ago, they opted to stay here than his father’s family’s house in Bacolod. The house in Talisay was much more beautiful, comfortable and quieter that his father’s family home which was situated neat the main street of the city. Anyway, it just takes several minutes to drive to Bacolod.
Maya found her mother by the small table near the window, sipping coffee. Her mobile phone was beside her.
“Mama, Sabel told me you were looking for me.” Maya said simply, not sure what mood her mother was in at that moment. It has just been several hours since she and her mother had their latest argument on how she should live her life.
“Please have a seat, Maya.” Tessie Dela Rosa told her daughter. And when Maya did as she told, she continued. “Katatapos lang naming mag-usap ni Tita Esme mo. Sabi niya, you can stay with Richard while you are taking that special Spanish course. Pumayag na raw si Richard.”
Maya was surprised that Richard Lim agreed to having her stay with him. She really thought that he would decline. All she managed to say was, “Really, Mama!”
“Yes, he did, so it is final you will stay with him.” Tessie Dela Rosa looked very satisfied with the outcome of her chat with her best friend.
“Mama, hindi ba talagang pwedeng payagan ninyo na ako ni Papa na….” Maya started again, despite the fact that her plea had fallen on deaf ears several times. She just needed to try one more time.
“Maya, hija, please, pagtatalunan na naman ba natin ito.” Tessie sighed, with a closed expression on her face.
“Hindi ka ba napapagod. Hindi ka ba naaawa sa amin ng Papa mo. Why can’t you understand that we just want you safe. You know naman kung bakit ayaw ka naming payagang mag-isa sa Maynila. Ikaw na nga lang ang anak namin ng Papa mo. Paano kung mangyari rin sa iyo ang nangyari sa Kuya mo. Hindi na namin kakayanin!” Tessie Dela Rosa continued, getting agitated. “Kung hindi nga lang kailangan ng Papa mo na i-manage ang family business ng Lolo Francisco ko, was gusto ko na lang sana na doon tayo sa Europa. Mahirap maging safe sa bansang ito!”
Maya held her mother’s hand, seeing that she was getting distressed. “Mama, please calm down. Nothing will happen to me. We all grieved for Kuya Seth pero we have to live Mama. Hindi naman dahil babalik ako ng Maynila, may mangyayari na sa akin.”
Her mother was about to say something, but Maya pleaded with her with her eyes to let her finish.
“Ma, I’m almost 26 years old and yet, I still live with you and Papa kahit noong nasa Spain tayo. We have to move forward. I want a life. Hindi naman sa ayaw ko kayong kasama ni Papa, but please let me find my way in the world.” Maya’s voice was a bit hoarse with the emotion it took to plead her case again. “I can’t exist in a bubble. Marami na naming nagbago sa Pilipinas in the past several years we were abroad.”
“I know that, anak. But please, pagbigyan mo na kami ng Papa with this. You will be staying with Richard and that it final.” Tessie stressed. “That is the only way we will allow you to go to Manila for two months.”
Maya looked at her mother’s mulish expression and know that she will not win. It is no use appealing to her mild-mannered father as he usually defer to her mother. Since her Kuya Seth died when she was 19, it has always been like this in this family. Now, the only option left for her is to execute her plan B. She said a silent sorry to her mother, and also to Richad Lim, for what she will do.
“Okay, Mama.” Maya said, sighing. “I will just stay with Richard.” The best thing to do is get herself to Manila first.
“Good, I know you will see it my way.” Tessie Dela Rosa said, completely unaware of what her daughter was plotting. “I will call back Esme and tell her that you will be at Richard’s place in two days time. I have your flight details from Doris. Just go and pack your bags.”
Doris is her father’s secretary. She made all the arrangement for her trip.
“Hmmm, why don’t I call Richard and arrange with him.” Maya suggested, as there was a part of her that is curious to know how Richard’s voice sounded after all these years.
“Esme said she will just do it herself. She just needs the details.” Tessie told her daughter. “Wala ka nang dapat intindihin.
“Muchas gracias por tu ayuda, Mama.” Maya just said, lapsing into Spanish, seeing that her mother was so insistent on controlling everything about her trip. What can she do except thanked her for all she did so that she has a place to stay in Manila even if it was not what she wanted.
“De nada, mi hija. I was happy to do it for you.” Tessie replied, then taking a sip of her coffee, she looked at her beautiful daughter. “Bakit ka nga ba kailangan pang mag-aral ng Spanish eh fluent ka na naman? You speak it so much better than some people I have known who practically lived in Spain most of their lives.”
“Mama, di ba I told you and Papa that the course I am going to take is for Spanish language teachers. I need that so I can teach Spanish here as a foreign language. Hindi naman kasi ako language major sa Spain, di ba. I majored in English Studies.”
“Kasi naman if me and your Papa had our way, gusto talaga naman namin na business course ang kinuha mo so you can take over our business, lalo na ngayong wala na ang Kuya mo and you are our only child. Ikaw naman lahat ang magmamana nito.”
“Mama, I love you and Papa and I do appreciate what you have done for me, but I am not Kuya Seth. He would have been a great CEO of our businesses, but he is gone and we have to live with that. I am not a business person and I have other interests. I wish you would really let me pursue them.” Maya said emotionally, hoping that her mother will understand this time. They have been at this countless of times. She just need to try to let her see reason, her reason, every opportunity she could.
“Well, Maya hija, we did let you pursue the degree you want to take. And now we are allowing you to take that course, for what, just to teach Spanish at some school!” Tessie countered. Really, sometimes, her daughter’s head is in the clouds.
“That is what I want Mama.” Maya said, patiently. She does not want to argue with her mother anymore as it will just get nowhere. She needed to concentrate her efforts in making them let her to live on their own. She just has the plan and it is a bit drastic, but she hopes it will work.
Maya returned to her place in the azotea after kissing her mother on the cheek and getting her laptop from her room. She Googled in Richard Lim of Lim Corporation and ended up with quite a bit of entries from society magazines and social media postings of some of his activities. Not by him but by others, some by employees who have apparently asked for a photo with him, and most of them women!
In fairness, mas lalo ka pang gumuwapo, Mr. Richard Lim! Maya muttered to herself as she clicked photo after photo of Richard Lim she found online. Her heart also skipped several beats as she stared at his photos. If she must be honest to herself, then she admits to the fact that there is a part of her that is looking forward to seeing him again after all these years.
But despite that, Maya was determined to make her parents see reason and let her be, and Richard Lim would have to a part of that plan. She sighed, closed her laptop and just stared out of the azotea without really seeing anything. When it got dark, she went back inside, ate dinner with her parents who reminded her again to be careful while in Manila. Before she went to bed, she packed her bags for her two months or more stay in Manila. She went to bed both excited and nervous about her trip, her adventure, on her own, at last!
While Maya was trying to quell down her excitement so she can sleep, Richard arrived back at the penthouse unit of the newest and the most exclusive address in Makati. It is what he had been calling home since he returned to the Philippines. He refused his mother’s offer of opening their house in a nearby exclusive village. It was too big and too traditional for him. He likes his penthouse place and the magnificent view of the city it offers, aside from its proximity to his office.
Richard ate a solitary dinner, left by his housekeeper who does not stay with him. He prefers it that way. After putting his empty plates in the dishwasher so that Manang Sol can clean it the following day, he poured himself a glass of Scotch and while sipping idly inspected his place.
Yes, Miss Maya Dela Rosa and I will fit here nicely! I don’t have to see her. She can have the room farthest from mine. If she does not like that, there are other rooms to choose from, as long as it is not the closest one to his room. He mused, determined to maintain his privacy even if he has to share his space with that girl….errr… with Maya.
Richard was about to hit the shower after downing the rest of his drink, when his phone rang. He looked and saw it was his mother again.
“Hello, Mama. Gising pa po kayo?” Richard said as soon as picked up the call.
“Oh, you know me son, I can’t sleep early and I know you also sleep late. How was work? Kauuwi mo lang ba? Kumain ka na ba?” Esmeralda Lim asked her son. She worries about him and what se perceived is his unhealthy lifestyle. She wished he will find someone who will take care of him, and love him of course as he deserves to be loved! Para rin magkaapo na siya, lalo na ngayong wala na ang Papa ni Richard.
“Work was okay, Mama. Tiring! As you know there are just a lot of things that needed to be done. I’m sure ganoon din si Papa dati di ba? And yes, I have eaten na and I got home an hour ago.” Richard said, walking towards his bedroom as he talked to his mother.
“Napatawag po kayo, Ma. May problema ba? But mabuti you called also kasi I need more details on Maya’s visit.”
“Wala naman, son. I called din because of Maya’s visit. Your Tita Tessie sends her thanks, by the way, also your Tito Arthur for letting Maya stay with you. Tessie said Maya will take the 11am flight from Silay on Wednesday. Sa Terminal 2 siya lalapag.” Esmeralda said, noticing that her son seemed to have resigned himself to Maya staying with him. He even stopped calling her ‘that girl’ and ‘her’! “Masusundo mo ba siya?”
“I can’t, Mama. I have an important meeting. Pero this is what I can do, I can send Joma to the airport and also Ate Liza, to pick her up. Ate Liza can also open the place for Maya. I will inform security that she will be staying with me so she can be issued a pass for the elevator as well. I will give you their contact numbers after this call, and you can give them, and mine too, to Maya.”
Richard was about to do that when he realized something. “Teka Ma, bakit hindi na lang si Maya ang tumawag sa akin and inform me of her arrival and arrange the details. Bakit kayo pa ni Tita Tessie. Ayaw ba niya akong kausapin directly? Di pa naman kaya na niyang gawin ang mga ito!”
“Oh, hindi naman sa ganoon, son.” Esmeralda said quickly, too quickly. Tessie mentioned to her that Maya had been pleading them to let her be on her own instead of staying with Ricky! “I just insisted to your Tita Tessie that I will be the one to talk to you and that I will take care of all the details. It is the least I can do. Besides, baka naman mahiya si Maya sa iyo. Di ba, you last saw each other around seven years ago, if I remember correctly.”
“Yes Mama, more than seven years ago na I think!” Then Richard added softly, “The summer before Seth was killed.”
“Oh you were correct, son. That was one very sad thing to have happened. Poor, jolly Seth, gone forever.” Esmeralda Lim said. “I thought the whole family will not be able to recover from his death. I don’t blame them at all for just packing their bags and leaving the country afterwards. I would have done the same, God forbid if you were taken from me like that, son. Hindi lang iyon, baka ikamatay ko rin! Kaya nga rin I worry about you all the time.”
“Don’t Mama. I’m okay and I’m careful. I will not end up like he did.” Richard assured his mother. Since his father died, his mom was more worried about him. Tawag ng tawag and he understand completely why.
“Be sure son, be sure please.” Esmeralda said. “O sige, I will just tell Maya all the details. I will send you her number after this call, okay.”
“Sure, Ma. Good night.”
“Good night son, sleep well.”
“Kayo rin po, Mama.”
Mother and son said good night. Richard went to shower after sending Joma and Liza’s contact details to her. He headed to bed several minutes after, quite tired really, but also feeling an excitement he can’t define at that moment. He checked his phone and saw the number his mother sent him.
Maya Dela Rosa! He saved her number into his phone book, curious on how she looks like now. He will know in two days time. Richard turned off the light, hoping that he would have a restful sleep as he needed all his wits at work the following day. He closed his eyes and laid flat on his back.
However, before sleep could claim him, a long forgotten image of a beautiful girl, wearing a simple blouse and a long skirt, sitting at the veranda of an old house in Negros crept into Richard’s consciousness. Then, memories just came rushing back.
Richard remembered that Maya was engrossed in the book she was reading at that time. It was his first glimpse of her. He was captivated, his heart beating fast. It was so unexpected to feel like that, and he was not prepared for it. Maybe it was the sole reason he acted the way he acted that long ago summer.
Richard suddenly was very much awake, his heart beating fast as memories of that summer a long time ago, something he had buried deep, rose to the surface.
Richard Lim massaged his forehead with his right hand as he gripped his mobile phone with his left. He had been on the phone with his mother for the past half and hour or so. He had been trying to reason out with her, to no avail. They were going nowhere. Coupled with all the work he needed to do, he felt like going to the nearest bar and having a drink, make that a couple of drinks! He was in the middle of some very important negotiations and some projects still in the pipeline and what his mother wanted him to do is not really going to help things. He had a feeling his mother’s ‘small favor’ would affect it. He needed to concentrate on those instead of ‘babysitting’! Him, babysit! Especially that brat of a girl! He definitely does not have time and the inclination for that, ever!
“Mama, again please, can that girl just stay in a hotel? They have the money for it. They can even probably buy a hotel for her! Or maybe with a friend or rent a townhouse, a condo, an apartment or stay in an Airbnb place! Meron na rin ng mga niyan dito. There are so many options available for her. Wala ba talaga siyang ibang matutuluyan dito? Wala ba siyang kaibigan sa Maynila or kamag-anak kahit isa? That is imposssible, Mama!” Richard told his mother in an already exasperated tone even if he really was trying to be patient. He loves his mother and she is all he has after his father died several years ago. He indulges her most of the time, but this time, she was asking too much.
“Ricky, hijo, her name is Maya. You have been calling her ‘her’ and ‘that girl’ all the time we have been talking. Besides, she is not a ‘girl’ anymore. She had matured like you, you know. Maya is more than 25 years old now, I think. Maybe, you still think of her as that awkward, mischievous and fun-loving girl who bested you, but she is not, anymore. It has been years, son, since you last saw each other.” Esmeralda Lim corrected her son patiently. She almost mentioned that Maya has grown into a beautiful woman. But then decided not to as she knows her son. He would think she is matchmaking again and it would be more difficult persuading him to let Maya stay with him.
Esmeralda Lim was confident that she can make her son see sense, so she tried again. Hindi pa siya natiis ng unico hijo nila ni Roberto.
“Just do this please for your Tita Tessie and Tito Arthur. You know naman na parang kapatid ko na iyang si Tita Tessie mo. Please, son.”
However, her son was not easily swayed this time. He gunned for more questions.
“Mama, she is 25? Can’t she live alone? She is more than old enough to be on her own. In fact, some women her age are already married and have a family. She had even lived in Europe for several years, for God’s sake!” Richard said, still managing to hold on to his sanity, trying to reason out with his mother one more time. He also wanted to argue with his mom about that girl besting him. She did not. She provoked him. That imp did! He retaliated. His mother only know of her retaliation, fortunately. Otherwise, grown up or not, she would have pinched his ears, so to speak.
Richard happened to look at the door while his mother launched into another set of arguments to drive across her point. He saw his executive assistant, Liza Adriano, standing by the door. Apparently, he was already needed in the board room. He thought he had half an hour more to regroup and just get off the emotions his mother’s phone call brought about.
“Ricky, darling, please, please, do this for your beloved Mama na. I just wanted to help my best friend. Besides, I already told them I will take care of Maya’s accommodation in Manila. That’s the only way they will let her stay in the city alone. I vouched for you.” Esmeralda Lim cajoled her son in a voice she knew was guaranteed to make him say yes to her bidding. “Maya does not know anyone in Manila, alam mo naman iyon di ba? Kababalik lang nila sa Pilipinas.”
Richard took a deep breath. His head really was starting to throb. They were really going nowhere and he can’t spare his mom more time as he really was needed in that meeting. He did what he had done countless of times for his beloved mother. He caved in to what she wanted. “Fine, Mama, she can stay with me! But tell her I don’t want her disrupting my life. No more antics like she did before!”
“Oh, thank you very much, son. I love you very much. Ikaw na talaga ang the best son in the world! Kaya nga paboritong-paborito kita eh!” Esmeralda Lim almost jumped with glee with her son’s answer. Yes, he said yes! “Of course, Maya is so much older now and not a teenager, so for sure, no more antics.”
“Mama, you always say that when you got your way.” Richard said, smiling. He can’t help himself. His mother never failed to do that to him, no matter how much she drives him off the wall at times. “Ako lang naman ang anak mo.”
“Well, totoo naman iyon ha. Walang halong bola. Sobrang bait nang anak, que guapo pa! Not to mention responsible. Bakit nga ba wala pa akong manugang?” Esmeralda Lim told her son. “O siya sige, go back to whatever you were doing. And Ricky, hijo, please take time to relax, take a vacation, loosen up a bit. Hindi na lang iyang puro trabaho. Masyadong solitary ang life mo.”
“Yes, Mama, I will.” Richard promised to placate his mother, ignoring her underhanded prying into his lovelife! “Ikaw din, you take care. Maayos po ba kayo diyan ni Manang Fe? Baka hindi ka na comfortable diyan, we can reopen our house here. At least I will be in the same city to look after you.”
“Son, don’t worry about me. Fe and I are perfectly happy here. Nandito ang mga amiga ko, mga kamag-anak. Baka nakakalimutan mo na dito ako lumaki. Saka lalo nang ayaw kong bumalik diyan now that your Tita Tessie is here and living next door!”
“Ikaw ang bahala, Mama. I do have to go na po, I have a meeting with our board. I love you, Mama.”
“I love you, hijo. Basta ang mga bilin ko, sundin mo ha. Hwag naman puro work na lang, Ricky.”
“Yes, Ma. Bye na for now!”
Ricky closed his phone and looked out of his floor-to-ceiling office window, resting a bit before he face his board. He can’t rest like his mom wanted him to do. Still so many things to be done for the family’s corporation. It has been his mom’s standard talk every time they will chat. He does not have the heart to tell her the mess his father made. The company was in a bad shape when he took over. For sure, his father never thought he would die young, before he can correct things. He sometimes wonder to how his father managed to do it as he was a very good businessman, known for his business acumen.
Richard didn’t know about it, he was completely clueless as he had stayed away from Lim Corporation for years. He packed his bags and went back to America where he had studied most of his adult life as he and his father had a falling out. His mother didn’t know about it as one thing his father and him agreed on was to left Esmeralda Lim out of it.
He had successfully made a life for himself in New York as an investment banker. He liked his life in there – the adrenalin rush, the fast-paced lifestyle, the parties, and the women. The beautiful women of the city seemed to have gravitated towards him a lot. He never lacked for dates and evenings to spend with a companion if he chose to, always casual, of course. But he had packed his bags again and returned to the country of his birth after he received a phone call from mother, telling him that his father had died in a car accident and that he needed to take over the company among others. Since then, he had been consumed in making LC the way it was. He had eschewed the pleasures he enjoyed in New York to focus on the company, except maybe for the occasional drinks and a date or two, nothing really serious. He really regretted not being able to patch things up with his father. Now, he is gone forever, Richard mused. What he can do now is to make the company where he wanted it to be. Richard felt that it was the only way to make up for what happened. He should have been there for his father.
“Richard…” Liza poked her head into Richard’s office again and called his attention.
“Yes, Ate Liza, is everyone in the boardroom now?” Richard asked as he straightened his tie and started getting his things.
“Yes ikaw na lang ang hinihintay nila.” Liza said simply. She noticed that her handsome boss was lost in thought. She suddenly remembered the first time he went to the office. He turned heads and the ladies sighed in admiration. It was the first time for most of them to meet the big boss’ son. She, she had known Richard since he was a teenager. She was his father’s EA too. When it was just the two of them, it is ‘Richard’ and ‘Ate Liza’, he had insisted on it.
“Okay, just give me a minute or two.” Richard knew that he is lucky to have Liza by his side. She had helped a lot and had been his sounding board when he assumed management of the company. She knew everyone and everything within the organization.
Liza Adriano left her boss in his office and went back to the board room to oversee things. Several minutes later, Richard Lim entered and presided over the meeting that lasted until late at night. He ended it confident, that he would be able to buy back the airline company that his father sold years ago. The board backed him up. He had also raised enough capital to do that. It also helped that the current company who owns it is willing to sell it back to LC for a price. But having resolved that, he still need to decide what to do with one of the corporation’s subsidiaries, one of his father’s babies, whether it is worth keeping or not. He will make a thorough review of that subsidiary after the airline negotiation.
Richard plopped down on his executive chair, drained by the long hours he spent at work today, coupled with his mother’s phone call. Speaking of his mother’s phone call! He forgot to ask her, and she had omitted to say how long that girl, err, Maya Dela Rosa will be staying with him. She also neglected to inform him, come to think of it, when she will be coming to Manila.
Stretching his tired back against the leather seat as he sipped the cup of coffee Ate Liza left him before she headed home, he thought of the Maya Dela Rosa he met years ago. He vividly remembered her the last time he saw her, her lovely face, defiant, unapologetic. He remembered her sabotaging his date with the girl who lived at the big house beside his mother’s family’s ancestral home in Negros among other things. His mother Esmeralda and Maya’s mother Teresita are best friends, having grew up together. He and Maya, on the other hand, fought like cats and dogs most of that summer that both families were vacationing there.
In hindsight, he should have not retaliated as he was around 10 years older than her. He should have acted more matured. But she really rubbed him the wrong way that summer. That was actually the one and only time he spent with Maya as after that, they have moved to Spain after the tragedy that befell Seth, Maya’s older brother and his best friend while studying in the States. He still miss his boyhood friend until now. He should have asked him to come back to America with him. He would have still be alive if he did.
Richard sighed again. He thought of calling back his mother but decided not too. He also thought, Maya is an adult and they can surely share that huge space he calls home. They don’t have to see each other. They just needed to share the space. For sure, she can fend for herself. With that thought, he closed his computer, turned off the lights and called his driver Joma. Time to call it a night. He needed to recharge his batteries and his home is the perfect place for that.
Several days later, Richard thought that if only he had known what he was really getting into, that his peaceful, solitary existence would have been a thing of the past, he would have probably have done things differently. He would have given his mother a resounding NO when she asked. He and his place was hit by what he dubbed as ‘Hurricane Maya’!
Note: Hello everyone! I hope you will like this story as well. I know I still have several unfinished ones but I realized I really haven’t written a new story for quite sometime. As you probably know by now, I go where my imagination takes me. This was where it took me last night. 🙂 Thank you again for all the comments, the likes, for reading, and for visiting my blog. Have a lovely Sunday everyone. ❤
Richard certainly felt at home in Maya’s kitchen. She is a very organized person. He deduced that from seeing how things were arranged in her cabinets and also in her refrigerator and freezer. Her system makes sense, actually, he mused as it was easy to find everything. He had just finished cooking the omelette when Maya’s doorbell rang.
Thinking that Maya will hear it, Richard continued with what he was doing. Besides, he was not sure also whether he should answer her bell or if she is expecting anyone as she had told him that not so many people have been at her place, her sanctuary. The doorbell rang a second time.
Richard called Maya loudly. When she didn’t reply, he went back to her bedroom. Upon entering, he heard loud music coming from the bathroom, with a louder voice singing along with the music. He smiled. It was Maya singing loudly in the bathroom, like she was staging a concert. She was singing Achy Breaky Heart!
Maya sang the Billy Ray Cyrus’ hit at the top of her voice with gusto. Richard grinned and shook his head. Now he knows, where Maya’s talents does not lie, and that is in singing! Honestly, her voice is more fitted for the bathroom than the ‘The Voice’s stage. She sounded so cute, singing to her heart’s content. He called her through the door. When there was still no response, he tried knocking, but it seems it was not enough with all the loud music vibrating inside, drowning even the sound of the water coming out of the shower.
Richard was in a quandary as the doorbell rang again. He decided to go to the door himself thinking that it must be important for the person at the other side to ring t the third time. At least he could check who it is. He grabbed his crumpled shirt and jeans from the pile on the floor. He grimaced when he put it back as he had traveled with it the day before. He does not like wearing clothes he had worn before even during emergencies.
He looked through the peephole and seeing it was Emman, he decided to open the door to Maya’s cousin.
“Cuz, what took you so long! Grabeeeee…” Emman’s voice tapered off, looking fully at who opened the door, almost dropping the phone he was holding. “ Grabe talaga kasi….R-richard…!” Maya’s cousin managed to say, his eyes like saucers. “What are you doing here?” He blurted out.
“Hello, Emman! Please do come in. Maya is in the bathroom. I think she will be done soon. I tried calling her but she was singing at the top of her voice and can’t hear me. ” Richard said calmly with a smile. He barely stopped himself from laughing, seeing Emman’s expression. He had shocked Maya’s seemingly unflappable cousin. “Maya and I were just about to eat.”
Emman, still looking shell shock, followed Richard to the living room. Richard’s clothes were obviously yesterday’s clothes! Emman also knew that he was here late at night. So, does that means, his cousin’s new, and hunk of a boyfriend stayed the night! OMG, his cousin must really be very much in love to have done all of this. He knows her very well. James didn’t manage into talking her into something like this in all the time they were in a relationship, considering that they were practically childhood sweetheart. At the same time, Emman felt worried that she had jumped so deep in such a short time. He was afraid that her cousin might get hurt again, and this time, she will not be able to recover from the heartache!
His thoughts might have been reflected on his face as Richard chose that moment to speak seriously and frankly with him.
“Emman, may I be frank?” He started and when Emman nodded, waiting for what he would like to say next, he proceeded.
“Maya mentioned that she told you about us. I can see the worry in your eyes, seeing us like this. I obviously have stayed the night. This may seem so far ahead of our relationship, us having known each other a short time, but I have never been surer in my life. I love your cousin very much and what I found with her is different, unique and something that I have been looking for all my life.”
Taking a deep breath, and looking earnestly at Emman, Richard continued.
“She had told me a bit about the past, though not the whole story, but it was enough for me to catch a glimpse of how she had been hurt badly. I will never ever knowingly do that to her, hurt her like that. And if I do hurt her inadvertently, as I am only human, I’ll make it up to her double. My goal in life is to make her happy as she had made me very happy by agreeing to have a relationship with me.”
Emman gulped and digested what Richard said, from the heart, he can see that. He was not expecting that much frankness, but he was glad for it.
“Thank you for being direct Richard. I just want Maya to be happy, for her to find a man who would love her the way she deserves to be love. When you asked me for her whereabouts, I thought you could be the guy for her. Don’t ask me why, I just instinctively know. I will hold on to your promise, Richard. My cousin had been hurt enough. I’m happy for you and her, you should know that.”
“Thank you Emman and my eternal gratitude again for telling me where she was. If not for you, our relationship will not be at this stage now. But it will get there at some point. Your cousin is my one and only!” Richard smiled, looking very much in love. “Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.”
“Ohhh, so great to hear that Richard. I’m so happy for my cousin.” Emma said, holding his heart, he teased Richard. “Basta, I will be the maid of honor at your wedding ha.”
“Sure, Emman and the godfather to our first-born!” Richard quipped with a grin, then seriously, he added, “That is if I can make your cousin say yes to marrying me. She may have cold feet na because of what happened to her.”
“She managed to tell you about ‘the jilting’?” Emman asked, very surprised, as his cousin never talk about it at all. When Richard spoke about knowing a bit of Maya’s past, he thought her cousin just mentioned that someone had hurt her in the past, and not about being left at the church. But it seemed like his cousin and Richard had really gotten really very, very close while in Camiguin!
“Yes, she did.” Richard said. Seeing Emman’s expression he was overwhelmed on how Maya had trusted her and gave him her love in such a short time.
“O-okay….” He just said and went back to what Richard said earlier. “You are thinking that far ahead, huh?” Emman asked Richard as he can say that he was serious about his cousin. Besides, him having been left at the altar, he would think that he would be wary of marching done the aisle again, like Maya.
“Of course. This relationship with your cousin is for keeps.” Richard said seriously. “I want a future with her.”
“Well, in that case, welcome to the family, Richard.” Emman was grinning, happy that finally her cousin had finally found someone who loves her very much. “And it should be godmother to your first-born! I will the cute little Dela Rosa-Lim’s fairy godmother. By the way, get use to my cousin singing like that in the shower. Wait until she gets to the Aegis songs!”
Richard laughed. “That would be fine with me, she can sing to her heart’s content. Thank you, Emman. But please, don’t mention my plans to Maya. I want to give her a proposal she can tell our children and grandchildren.”
“Surely, and if you need help with anything, let me know, Cuz-in-law to be.”
“Thank you, Emman. I would be honored to be your cousin-in-law, or brother-in-law or a sister-in-law. I know you like a sibling to Maya instead of just a cousin.”
The two of them shared a smile. Emman stood up.
“I’ll go back to the office now. I just want to check on her since she has not replied to my text messages and calls. I got worried lang. I’ll let you two lovebirds be.”
“Oh, you can stay and join us for our breakfast/late lunch.” Richard said, standing up too. “She must have left her phone somewhere last night.”
“No, no, no, I don’t want to be a third wheel.” Emman said, teasing. “Just tell my cousin I’ll see her at the office tomorrow.”
Before Richard can say anything else, Emman was off. He was still smiling when he closed the door on Maya’s cousin.
“Someone was at the door, sweetheart?” Maya asked, coming out of the bedroom, barefooted and wearing denim shorts and a sleeveless white lace blouse. “I thought I heard the door just closed. Sorry, it took me a while.”
“It was your cousin, Emman, sweetheart. I tried knocking on the door, but your music was loud and your voice was louder.” Richard said, smiling.
“Oh! Why did he left without waiting for me?” Maya asked, thinking that they were busted by Emman, seeing Richard was wearing his crumpled clothes. But it was okay with her, still no regrets, then she said, sheepishly, “Sorry it took me a long time to bath. I’m like that, no matter how hard I tried, especially when I’m in my own bathroom.”
Then what Richard said, sank in.
“Errrr, you knocked. So you heard me singing.” Maya asked, reddening.
Richard grinned. “Yup.”
“OMG!” Maya covered her face. “You heard my kokak voice.”
“Don’t be shy, sweetheart. It was not so bad. You will never make it to The Voice’s stage, but it was not for lack of feelings when you sang.” Richard teased, removing Maya’s hands from her face, then kissing her lightly on the lips. “Me, I’m a terrible dancer! See, I admitted that so you will feel better. You were actually cute while singing that Achy Breaky Heart song!”
“Really, sweetheart! That I need to see. I love dancing.” Maya said earnestly. “But singing in the bathroom at the top of my voice is a ritual. I feel better and ready to face my day when I do that. Now, I’m so hungry after that ‘concert’!” She added, grinning.
“We will go dancing one day so I can show how terrible I am. You have to teach me. Come, let’s eat. I made omelette and coffee. I asked your cousin to join us but he said, he does not want to be a third wheel.”
“Oh…!” Maya said, smiling. “Did he say why did he drop by?”
“I think he was worried about you. He had been trying to reach you daw, through texts and calls. But otherwise, he said, everything is okay.”
“Naku, I think I left my phone in the kitchen last night after talking to him. I will just call him after we have eaten, I think he is still on the way back to the office.”
The two of them walked back to the dining room where Maya saw the table nicely laid.
“Wow, you did all of this earlier. I really like that you know your way around the kitchen, Mr. Lim.”
“I’m a man of many talents Ms. Dela Rosa. You ain’t seen the best of me yet!”
The way Richard said it and the way, he was looking at her, Maya knows he meant more than his culinary skills.
“Hay naku, Richard Lim, let’s eat and don’t look at me like that. Otherwise, we will starve.”
“Okay, sweetheart. I will stop teasing. But one more thing, you look very beautiful as you are now.”
“Yes, sweetheart, you are.”
Maya indeed looked very lovely without any make-up on, and wearing that shorts and blouse that hug her curves. Richard was having a hard time concentrating on the food before him.
“Coffee, sweetheart?” Maya asked, breaking into his not so innocent thoughts. “I see that you made a new pot.”
“Yes, please, sweetheart. I really love the way you make my coffee. Different and the best! Just like you, sweetheart.”
“Sus, ikaw talaga, sweetheart!” Maya said, then grinned. “But thank you, sweetheart, I know, right.”
The two of them laughed and then proceeded to enjoy their first meal of the day.
“That was good, sweetheart. Really, really good! You can cook me breakfast anytime!” Maya said after they attacked their food, realising how hungry they were. Maya realized what she blurted out. She blushed. “I mean, err…”
Richard grinned, wanting to see how Maya will extricate herself from her double meaning statement. But seeing her blushed, which was cute, he teased her.
“Of course, sweetheart, everyday, if I have my way.” Then he looked at Maya heatedly.
Maya turned redder, remembering their passionate night and morning. “Ricky…”
“I love you, sweetheart. If I have my way, I would spend every moment with you. We will only surface when we are hungry or when we have too.”
Maya felt herself flushing, imagining what Ricky had just said.
“So, what would you like to do for the rest of the day? I’m right, isn’t that we will spend the rest of the day, and the evening too, together?” Richard asked after several long seconds of them just gazing at each other while they sipped their coffee absently.
“Yes, sweetheart, which reminds me, I need to call Emman. After that, it is up to you what you would like us to do. We can talk about it after I talk to him.”
Maya stood up and look for her phone. It wasn’t in the kitchen. She found it on the coffee table in the living room. She must have left it there when she brought Richard’s coffee and found him asleep on the sofa. She had several missed calls from Emman and text messages. She read the latest one, first. She was still smiling when she returned to the dining room.
“Why are you smiling sweetheart? Have you managed to reach your cousin?”
“Sort of. He texted me not to call him. Told me to just spend the rest of the day with the love of life. However, he told me that I owe him a whole day of kwento. My cousin has quite a colorful vocabulary and he teased me, that’s why I was smiling. But everything is okay. I think my cousin likes you for me. He seemed to be your number one supporter. It must have been quite a talk you had with him earlier.”
Richard answered Maya with a grin.
“I like your cousin. I’m sure he and Rafi will really get long. And since we are spending the rest of the day and the evening too, together, can we please swing by my place so I can change clothes. We can also plan our evening while we are there. Or if you want, we can stay in for dinner. I can cook us dinner.”
“Hmmm, as much as I want to taste more of your cooking, sweetheart, maybe we leave it for some other time. I just remember, are you not supposed to see a doctor also for your shoulders?”
“Okay, sweetheart. We can just go to dinner at a place that I think you would like. And I don’t think I need to see a doctor, I don’t feel any pain now. My shoulders must have just gotten bruised from impact.”
“If you say so, sweetheart! Let me just change clothes. I don’t think my clothes are suitable for dinner there.” Maya replied.
“It is not that fancy a place that it requires a dress code, sweetheart. But the food is the best.”
“Okay, but let me change first. I’ll be quick, promise. Go watch TV first.”
“Take your time, sweetheart!”
Maya was back after 15 minutes, wearing a beautiful red wrap around dress that hugs all her curves. It was fastened at the side with a ribbon and upon seeing it, Richard wanted to tug it so the dress will unravel and he can see Maya’s beautiful body again.
“Sweetheart, you look very lovely.” Richard said, his heated gaze on Maya and then as if he can’t himself anymore, he lowered his lips to her.
They stood, with nary a space between them in Maya’s living room, kissing each other as if they have not done it in weeks, instead of just hours, so hungry they were for each other. But before it could turn into another conflagration, Maya stopped Ricky.
“Ricky, I think we better stop.” She said reluctantly. “We need to get going if you want to make it to your home and dinner.”
“Yes, I know, sweetheart.” Richard replied, then stole another quick dip on Maya’s lips before he loosen his hold on her. “You are one potent lady, Ms. Dela Rosa.”
Maya smiled, then lovingly caressed Richard’s face. “And you are one irresistible guy, Mr. Lim.”
Hand in hand, they left Maya’s place. They only had eyes for each other.
“Sweetheart naman, good night na, really, really!” Maya whispered lovingly, giving in to another smouldering kiss from Richard that left her catching her breath. They have been trying to say good night for the past several minutes. But both of them were very reluctant to part for the night as it will be the first night since they have been to Mindoro that they will be sleeping in different places, and the first night they will be sleeping on different beds.
“Okay, okay, I’m going. I’ll you see tomorrow for our dinner with my parents.” Richard stole another kiss, then grinned naughtily. “I need something to tide me over, until tomorrow.”
“Sweetheart, ikaw talaga. Humirit pa!“ Maya pinched Richard’s cheek lovingly. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Sweet dreams.”
Richard gave in and with a wave of his hand, left Maya’s condominium unit to go back to his own. He has not been home for a week now. He was reluctant to go home as he just wanted to stay in Maya’s place. He wanted to be with Maya, always. Soon, it will happen, he sighed. He just needed to be patient pa. Three months na lang, and he and Maya can be together under one roof for the rest of their lives.
Maya was already missing Richard too, even before the door fully closed on his departing figure. She is used to being with him everyday, especially when she wakes up cuddled up in his arms. For sure, it would be difficult to sleep without him by her side this evening. She sat on the sofa, and sighed, remembering their wonderful vacation. It was just a week, and so many wonderful things have happened. She looked at her beautiful ring and smiled. She remembered Richard’s unforgettable proposal dreamily and their night together after that. She blushed a bit, remembering them coming together as one, and the fireworks they created in the privacy of the bungalow as they welcome the new year.
If Maya will be asked what would have been the most perfect new year’s day celebration for her, she would say that it was the one she spent with Richard two days before. She and Richard just lazed around the bungalow, ate brunch, took a nap after, made love when they woke up as they couldn’t get enough of each other and this overwhelming passion for each other, then when the sun was not so hot, they spent the rest of the day in the beach, swimming and lazing around in each other’s arms as they watched the sun set, then later, the stars. After dinner, they retired early, not to sleep but to be with each other again, finding out more what pleasures the other. They slept in each other’s arms, naked and sated.
The following day, the last day of their vacation, Maya told Richard she had a special treat for husband-to-be. She told him they will stay somewhere for the night. She also packed their bags so that they don’t have to do it the following day. Maya took Richard to her family’s ancestral home which she had asked Mang Larry to open for their stay. She wanted to give Richard a special treat too after the many wonderful treats he had prepared for her. She wanted to pamper her fiance too.
Richard loved the architecture of the Dela Paz’s house. When Maya mentioned that it needed to be restored, Richard told her he has a friend from university who is into restoration work, especially ancestral homes. They spent the rest of the day exploring more of San Nicolas. It was capped with a dinner at the San Nicolas Golf and Country Club where they met of all people, Rebecca Bermudez, and her family! The elegant older lady was very happy to know, got very teary-eyed in fact, when she found out that Richard and Maya are together and that their incredible love story started the night of the pageant she organized seven years ago.
Richard and Maya spent the night in Maya’s old room in the ancestral home which Manang Vilma and Sabel cleaned to perfection. Maya felt very happy to be sharing that special place with Richard that night.
The following day, it was time to go back to Manila. James and Andy arrived at ten o’clock that morning to pick them up. However, they had to wait 30 minutes more before Maya and Richard made it to the helipad, running. James, seeing Maya’s ring, offered his congratulations. He told them, now he knows what he was carrying several days ago and why! Andy also offered his congratulations. James even teased them that they were forgiven for being late for the pick up.
Maya and Richard thought it was a good thing they packed their bags before heading to San Nicolas, otherwise, they would be very much late from the agreed pick up time, as they overslept. They didn’t exactly go to sleep promptly when they retired to Maya’s antique bed. They made love several times throughout the night, their passion for each other getting more intense.
When Richard saw Maya looking longingly at the place they were leaving behind, when the chopper was taking off, he promised her that they will be back there as soon as possible. Mindoro has became the most special place for both of them. It holds most of their milestones and moments as a couple.
James and Andy let them off again at Lim Corporation’s helipad. Instead of going off on their separate ways when they arrived back in Makati, they went straight to the Francisco’s residence. Maya called her Tita Lulu when they were driving back to Makati from Eastwood and found out that both her and her Tito Mario are home, In fact, the whole family was about to have lunch, and that included her Ate Cris, Kuya Jeff, Cho, Lino and Lindsay! Lulu invited them to join if they are not too tired from the trip. Maya took that as an opportunity to tell everyone hers and Richard’s good news. Everyone was elated at their news, especially her Tita Lulu who cried. She promptly told Maya that it was tears of happiness, and that her Mamang would have been happy for her too. Maya and Richard told the family that the wedding is in three months time, prompting a ribbing and a teasing from Jeff and Lino about the paspasan na wedding. The newly-engaged couple just looked at them and grinned happily.
Realizing that the wedding is quite near, and with Maya, just about to start a new job, Lulu offered to help with the preparations, so did Lindsay. Maya thanked them gratefully. With her Tita Lulu, Lindsay, even her Ate Cris and Richard’s mom, she is sure she will have the best support in preparing for hers and Richard’s dream wedding.
Richard and Maya stayed at the Franciscos not only for lunch, but until dinner earlier as the day became a party of sorts, for their engagement. Tito Mario took out his whiskey, and the guys have a round of drinks in the veranda, while the ladies on the other hand, made food and chatted about the upcoming wedding. Lulu, Lindsay, and Maya had wines, while Cris and Cho had juice. It was only an hour ago that Richard and Maya left the Franciscos to go home to their places. As it was, it was difficult for them to say good night to each other and sleep in different places after being together as close as too people could be.
Maya sighed happily, hugged the throw pillow she kept there, and the same time missing Richard. She took comfort in the fact that they will see each other the following day. She was about to get up and go to shower when her phone beeped. She fished it out of the bag she dropped at the entranceway, very distracted by Richard’s kisses. She checked the message. The text was from Richard.
Ricky: Sleeping now, Sweetheart?
Maya: Not yet. I was about to go to bath.
Ricky: Good. I’ll join you! 🙂
Before she can ask how, there was a knock on the door. Maya knows who it is. She opened the door with a smile. She found a sheepish Richard leaning against the wall beside the door, with a bag in hand, still wearing the same clothes he wore earlier.
“I missed you very much. My place is so lonesome. Can I stay here with you, super please?” Richard asked with a loving, beguiling expression. “I don’t think I will be able to sleep without you by my side.”
“Ricky, ikaw talaga.” Maya said lovingly, but nevertheless, very happy that she will not be spending the night without Richard beside her. “Come in.”
“Thank you, Sweetheart.” Richard said happily, giving Maya a searing kiss. Then whispered naughtily, ‘Now about that bath, let’s go.”
Maya giggled, but led Richard to her bedroom. However, it was an hour after that before they made it to bath and two more hours before they succumbed to a very restful sleep, bodies sated, and intertwined. They both woke in the wee hours of the morning, smiled sleepily at each other, then the awareness again. Richard lowered his lips to Maya and it started another fire between them that needed to be doused.
“Rise and shine, sleepyhead.” Richard rained little kisses on Maya’s face as he tried to wake her up the following morning.
“Rickyyyy, I want to sleep some more.” Maya protested sleepily, then burrowed deep into the warm of Richard’s chest.
“But, Sweetheart, hindi ka ba pa gutom, it is almost noon!” Richard remarked, caressing Maya’s near the underside of her breast, as if his hand has a mind of its own. “Come, I have ordered lunch.”
Richard woke up more than an hour ago as his stomach was already protesting. He didn’t have the heart to wake up Maya who was sleeping so peacefully beside him. He decided to order food as he knew that Maya’s pantry is empty. Then he took a shower. The food arrived 10 minutes ago so he decided to wake Maya up. She also mentioned last night that she wanted to run errands before they go to his parents house. At first he tried calling her name, but she didn’t wake up. Instead, she seemed to have been looking for him in bed the way her hand groped sleepily where he had lain down. It touched his heart very much seeing this. He laid down beside her again and gave her little kisses to wake her up slowly and because he can’t help it.
“Ha, tanghali na!” Maya suddenly sat up. “I slept a long time. Bakit hindi mo ako ginising kaagad.”
Richard grinned. “Sweetheart, kanina pa kita ginigising. Masyado ba kitang pinagod,” Richard added naughtily. And that earned him a loving pinch from his beautiful, sleep-tousled fiancee.
“Ricky, ikaw, ha, ang aga-aga pa.” Maya said with a big smile. “Halika na nga, bangon na tayo. Suddenly, I feel hungry. I will just make myself presentable.”
“Maganda ka na. You are the most beautiful girl in the world kahit bagong gising.” Richard teasead her lovingly. Then he too, got out of the bed, gave Maya a quick kiss. “Okay, do what you have to do. I’ll just wait for you in the dining room.”
Fifteen minutes or so later, and after a quick shower, Maya sought Richard and found him sitting on the dining table, drinking a cup of coffee. Before him, were mouthwatering Chinese food of all sorts. “Wow, a feast! Lalo akong ginutom. Thank you very much for this, Sweetheart. You are the best!”
Richard stood up and seated Maya. “I hope you will like the food. Coffee, Sweetheart?”
“Yes please.” Maya said as she started serving Richard yang chow fried rice, hakaw, siomai, broccoli with garlic, and salt and pepper spare ribs. “Enough na ba ang mga ito, Sweetheart?”
“Sobra na, Sweetheart. Thank you. Here’s your coffee. Sorry, hindi iyan kasing sarap ng timpla mo.” Richard sat down on Maya’s left.
“Thank you, Ricky! Okay naman ah. Kasing sarap na rin ng sa akin kasi with love ito.” Maya said with a smile.
Maya and Richard looked at each other and smiled happily. They proceeded to enjoy their hearty lunch. After they have put away the left overs, they got ready for their trip to the nearby shops and the supermarket to replenish Maya’s pantry. They returned to Maya’s condo two hours after. Since they had time, they just rested on the sofa, watching Maya’s favorite old films while driving themselves crazy with little touches here and there. When they can’t take it anymore, Richard carried Maya to the bedroom and they passed the rest of the afternoon delightfully.
Richard parked his BMW in the driveway of a beautiful and huge mansion at a corner lot inside La Vista, three hours later. Maya felt a bit nervous meeting Richard’s mother, though she seemed very nice when she interviewed her. More so, in meeting Roberto Lim, whom according to Richard does not know yet that they are engaged. He asked him mother to keep it between them as he wanted to tell his Papa himself about it.
Richard opened the passenger door and assisted Maya out of the car by offering his hand. “Don’t be nervous, Sweetheart.” Richard assured Maya noticing how cold Maya’s hand is. “They will love you. Mama does already. I’m sure, Papa will be the same.”
“Okay.” Maya said, putting her other hand on top of Richard’s and smiling at her. “Halika na.”
“Maya welcome to our house!” Donya Esmeralda greeted Maya warmly as soon as the door opened. She was waiting for them by the living room. “Ricky son, so nice to see you. Thank you for bringing Maya here, finally. Congratulations to the both of you.”
“Congratulations, on what or why?” Don Roberto asked, upon hearing his wife’s statement. He walked towards them from the direction of his study. “You must be, Maya. Welcome to our house, hija. Finally, nakilala ka rin namin.” He said with a friendly smile to Maya.
“I’m please to meet you po, Mr. Lim, Mrs. Lim.” Maya said, unsure of whether to make beso or shake their hands. However, Donya Esmeralda made the decision for her. She went to Maya, kissed her on the cheek and hugged her. Don Roberto did the same.
“Thank you for inviting me to your home.” Maya said, a bit overwhelmed at Richard’s parents warm welcome to her.
“Naku, nga pala Maya hija, please call me Mama, and ito namang si Roberto, Papa.” Donya Esmeralda said, then looked at her husband. “Roberto, about that congratulations thing, may wonderful news sa iyo ang mga bata. Ricky, ikaw na nga ang magsabi sa Papa mo, tutal iyan ang request mo.”
Richard took hold of Maya’s hand and intertwined it with his. “Papa, Maya and I are getting married in three months. She agreed to be my wife while we were in Mindoro. I told Mama, ako na lang ang magsasabi sa iyo.” He told his father while looking at his fiancee with all the love he is feeling.
Don Roberto looked at his son, then at his fiancee. He was startled when Richard mentioned that they are getting married already! He thought they were just in the initial stage of being boyfriend and girlfriend, based on what his wife has told him. But he know his son, they may butt heads in business, but he is not the type to rush into something he is not sure of. Besides, from where he was standing, he can see how much his son loves Maya and she is the same, judging by the way she was looking at him and supporting him while he tells him about their engagement.
“Indeed, congratulations to both of you! Welcome to our family, Maya.” Don Roberto said with a big smile. “Son, I’m happy for you. Sa wakas, magkakaapo na rin kami nitong Mama mo.”
Richard breathed easily with that. So far, so good with his and Maya’s road to forever. “Thank you very much, Papa. About the apo, Maya and I need to work doubly hard for that pa.” He said teasingly.
Maya blushed a bit. “Donya…errr, Mama, Papa, thank you very much po, especially sa pagtanggap.”
“Maya hija, this maybe the first time we met you, but I know how much my son loves you. Saka, base sa kwento sa amin ni Ricky, swerte nga siya sa iyo.” Donya Esmeralda said.
“I agree with Esme, Maya.” Don Roberto assured Maya. “Saka, sa tinagal-tagal pumili nitong anak ko ng makakatuwang niya sa buhay, I’m sure, he picked the best girl for him and the one he would love for life. Di ba, Ricky.”
“Yes Papa. Like I have told you before. I will just get married to the girl I will love very much and can’t live without.” Richard said, with Maya’s image entering his consciousness when he was telling his father about it, years ago.
“Naku, teka, bakit ba nandito tayo. Let’s go na nga sa kumedor at let’s have our dinner. Doon na lang tayo magkwentuhan.” Donya Esmeralda said. “Roberto, halika na.”
“See, I told you, everything will be okay, Sweetheart.” Richard whispered to Maya as he accompanied her to the dining room. “I love you. I’m so happy.”
“I love you too, Sweetheart. Walang pagsidlan. I’m happy that we have your parents’ blessings too.” Maya said, looking at Richard lovingly and with a big smile.
Maya and the Lims had a wonderful dinner. Partly, it was them getting to know Maya more as they ate the wonderful food prepared by the Lim’s cook, Sabel, and also celebrating Maya and Richard’s engagement. From their vacation in Mindoro, with Maya and Richard telling the Lims about the trip they took around San Nicolas, to their stay in the resort and the ancestral home of Maya’s family, the discussion shifted to the preparations for the wedding, with Donya Esmeralda offering to help like Tita Lulu did. Maya mentioned that her aunt also offered to help, also her cousin-in-law, Lindsay.
“Maybe, the four of us can have lunch soon, so we can discuss the preparations.” Donya Esmeralda suggested.
“Sure po. I’m sure, Tita Lulu would like to meet you also.” Maya replied.
“I have a better idea,” Don Roberto said. “Maybe it’s better if our families meet over dinner, para magkakilala na rin tayo ng husto. Parang, sort of, pamamahikan nitong si Ricky.” He suggested.
“Brilliant idea, Roberto.” Donya Esmeralda seconded happily. “Isn’t it Maya? Can you please ask your aunt and uncle if they are free next Saturday. We can meet at the Polo Club.”
“Sige po, I will ask them tomorrow.” Maya said. She also likes the idea of the two families meeting each other and getting to know each other. Richard felt the same.
Maya and Richard stayed with the elder Lims until past 10 o’clock in the evening, just chatting and having a wonderful time. As the evening wore on, Don Roberto got more than convinced that his son has found his lifelong mate. Whatever tiny misgiving he had at the start of the evening was gone. He likes Maya a lot. Earlier, he must admit, he had a bit of misgiving due to the shortness of their courtship, but he realized that his son made the right decision. He is looking forward to gaining a daughter and some grandchildren soon. Donya Esmerald was feeling very happy, looking at her son and Maya. It reminded her of the time she and Roberto fell in love and was about to get married. Her son chose well. She is glad to finally have a daughter.
“O paano, Ma, Pa, magpapaalam na po kami ni Maya.” Richard said after their last round of coffee and dessert. “May pasok na pala tayong lahat tomorrow.”
“Oo nga, but we can take it easy naman, son. Start pa lang ulit ng office, and we own the company after all.” Donya Esmeralda teased. “Maya, I’ll see you at the office tomorrow. Thank you for coming to dinner. Hwag mong kalimutan ang dinner invitation to your family, and a lunch out, with us ladies lang.”
“Yes po, Mama. I will remember. Thank you for having me. Papa, magpapaalam na po kami ni Ricky.” Maya said as she hugged Richard’s parents one after the other.
“O sige, mag-ingat kayo. By the way, if there will be a ladies lunch out, maybe I can invite your Tito Mario na mag-golf.” Don Roberto said.
“Sure po, he will like that.” Maya replied, smiling.
“Pa, Ma, aalis na kami. See you po sa office.” Richard gave his parents a hug and a kiss.
More than an hour later, Richard and Maya were inside Maya’s condo. They went there by default. There was no question now of Richard going home to his place.
“Ricky, paano pala ang office clothes mo? Did you bring those too?” Maya remembered when they were about to sleep.
“Hmmm, I’ll just go to my place tomorrow morning while you are getting ready for work.” Richard said as he reclined against the headboard. “Kayang-kaya ko iyon.”
“Ikaw, okay lang ba. Di mo naman ako kailangang samahan. Baka kailangan ka ng mas maaga sa work.” Maya said.
“I want to take you to work my Mrs. Lim-to-be. First day mo yata. Siyempre dapat full support ako sa iyo.” Richard said. “Halika na tulog na tayo. Enough of talk about work.” He then reeled Maya towards him, then started planting little kisses on her face, then her neck.
“Hmmm, parang hindi naman tulog ang nasa isip mo ngayon.” Maya said teasingly, liking what Richard is doing.
Richard grinned naughtily, gazing at Maya heatedly, then he shut Maya’s half-hearted protest with a searing kiss as he dimmed the lights with his other hand. It was after midnight when they finally managed to sleep.
“I love you my wife-to-be.” Richard whispered before sleep claim them.
“I love you too, my husband-to-be.” Maya replied as she settled in into the crook of Richard’s left arm.
Note: Errr, double treat! 🙂 Pambawi ko sa inyo! 🙂
Richard Lim strode through the busy airport, unmindful of the people, especially women, who were taking a second look at the handsome, confident man with eyeglasses, wearing jeans and a polo shirt, in their midst. He looked serious and in deep thought.
Home! Richard mused as he waited for his luggage. It is good to be back. He had been pretty restless lately. He didn’t know if it has something to do with the death of his Papa and being the new CEO of LHI. He does not think so. The truth is, he had been restless and unsetttled for eight years. It felt like a big part of his life stopped after the painful incident that happened eight years ago. Maybe, this is better, he mused. Taking the reins of the company will keep him very busy that he will not have time to think of the unresolved issues from his past. Besides, he will at least see his mother more often, especially now that she can’t seem to get over his father’s death. There were times that he had a hard time understanding his parents’ dynamics. For him, his father was very strict and forceful, and yet his mother loved him so much until the end. His father seemed to be very devoted to his mother too. Such contradictions!
Richard was about to exit the terminal with his luggage when he saw a seemingly familiar figure. His heart skipped a beat. He can’t breath all of a sudden.
“Maya!” He muttered.
The lady turned, as if she had heard him. And with it, came another disappointment. It was not Maya, the one and only woman he loved, still loves, he admitted. When will he stop yearning? Maybe, it is about time he confront the past and his big role in hurting her. Even if she can’t forgive him, isn’t it better than this? He tried to forget, but he was unable to do so. He avoided finding out about her in an effort to forget and let her be, after what he did, after what happened, but there were times when he found it so very difficult to do so. In hindsight, he knew that there were things he could have done, but it was just in hindsight. What had happened, happened and no matter how much he wanted to go back and change it, he can’t anymore. He needs to move on. Maybe, it is time to confront the past and laid it to rest.
“Sir Richard, Sir Richard!” Joma, the Lim family driver, called Richard’s attention several times before he reacted and looked at him.
Joma rushed to Richard and helped him with his luggage. “Welcome back, Sir.”
“Thank you Joma, it is good to be home. It has been a while.” Richard got in the front seat of the car, then looked straight ahead.
If Richard had looked sideways at that moment, he would have found out that after so many years imagining seeing Maya in a crowd, he would have finally found her! At that moment Maya was also coming out of the airport. She just came back from Bangkok, meeting her UNICEF colleagues there.
“Rafael, hola! ?Que tal?” She greeted her longtime friend, Rafael Rodriguez. They met each other when they were both stationed in Geneva, in between assignments. When she was assigned to the Philippines, Rafael soon followed. He is a doctor working for WHO.
“Bien, Maya! And you, how are you? Did you have a nice trip? How’s Lizbeth and the rest of the team in Bangkok?” He asked as he took care of her luggage and guided her to his waiting car.
“It was great. We can sync our projects. I just need to meet with our private sector counterpart here and finalize our project and its implementation.” Maya told Rafa.
What she was not telling him was that, the counterpart she mentioned would bring her to the same world inhabited by the one and only man she loved, especially now that she knew he is coming back to the Philippines for good. For the past months, she had been working closely with the head of LHI Foundation who happened to be Mrs. Esmeralda Lim, Richard’s mom, for a literacy campaign. At first, she didn’t know she is Richard mom, until they got to know each other more and she told her that her only son was in charge of the LHI office in New York. Then she mentioned that her son Richard is still single. It seemed that Mrs. Lim was trying to matchmake between her and her son. Maya, at that time, didn’t know whether she would disclose that she knew Richard. She was saved by one of her colleagues who arrived and the discussion shifted on to another topic. Thankfully, Mrs. Lim has not mentioned Richard since then.
Maya asked Rafa if he would like to come in when they reached her house in a nice subdivision in Quezon City. She knew a house an impractical choice as she is not home much, but she wanted a house of her own. She came to a point that wherein she wanted a permanent base after eight years of living everywhere. She wanted to settle in the Philippines too, and not in the States. Lately, she had been thinking of leaving the UN and establishing a non-governmental organization that would help people living in the countryside, but she haven’t made up her mind.
“Thank you, Maya. Maybe another time. I have to be at the office later for a meeting.” Rafa said. “How about lunch tomorrow?”
“Oh sorry, I can’t. I’m meeting Mrs. Lim in BGC.” Maya said. “Anyway, let’s check if we are free by Friday night, would that be okay? We can go out with Emman and Edselyn.” Like her, Emman returned to the Philippines and is now working for a public relations firm. His cousin Edselyn is currently in Manila at the moment, visiting for two months.
“Hmmm, can we just go out, the two of us, I mean, on a date?” Rafa suggested. He made his intentions known to Maya, but until now, she had not given him any indication that he likes her beyond friendship.
“Rafa, about that, can we just be good friends for now? I’m not still sure if I’m ready for a relationship.” Maya said carefully.
“But Maya, I have known you for five years and all those times, I haven’t seen or known you to be with anyone. I know it is your life, but maybe, it is about time you open your heart again.” Rafa pointed out. He knew he can speak frankly with Maya as they have been friends a long time. “Give me a chance. That is all I’m asking.”
“Rafa, Rafa, please give me time. It is not fair to let you hope when I can’t give my 100 percent to you. Let’s just be friends for now, okay.” Maya pleaded.
“Okay, Maya. I respect your decision. I will get going. Take care of yourself.” He said, resigned to the fact that it seems, he is destined to be just a good friend to Maya.
“Thank you, and thank you for being a wonderful friend.” Maya said, then wave at Rafa as he got into his car.
“Ma’am Maya, welcome back!” Sabel, Maya’s kasambahay shouted from the door.
Maya smiled at Sabel. “Sus, Sabel, parang ang tagal ko namang nawala this time, para ilang araw lang ah!”
“Naku, Ma’am Maya, kapag mag-isa ka lang naiiwan sa bahay gaya ng nangyayari sa akin kapag wala ka, parang taon ang dating sa akin.” Sabel quipped. “Si Sir Rafa po ba ang naghatid sa inyo? Sayang hindi ko man lang nasilayan ang kaguwapuhan niya ngayon.”
“Yes, siya nga.” Maya replied.
“Ma’am, hindi mo pa po ba sasagutin? Aba eh, saan ka pa ba makakakita ng boyfriend-material na kamukha ni Antonio Banderas, saka nung tennis player na paborito niyong panoorin.” Sabel said. She knew she can tease Maya as they had known each other for quite a number of years na. She was one of Maya’s playmates when she visited Mamang in San Nicolas. When Maya moved back to the Philippines, Mamang asked Sabel if she would like to work for Maya. Even if Maya kept on insisting to just call her ‘Maya’, Sabel insisted on using Ma’am!
“Si Rafael Nadal! Ikaw talaga, Sabel! Halika na nga. Anong dinner ba ang inihanda mo?” Maya asked.
“Naku, masarap na masarap na kare-kare po.” Sabel replied.
Maya suddenly stopped walking. Sabel had cooked kare-kare in the past, but this time, hearing the word, the memory of her last day with Richard came rushing back. She flinched a little. Maybe the article she had read about Richard opened the floodgates of the past for her.
“Bakit po, Ma’am Maya? Ayaw niyo po ba? Magluluto na lang ako ng iba.” Sabel looked worriedly at Maya.
“No Sabel, it is okay. May bigla lang akong naalala. Halika na, ipaghain mo na ako. I will just bring my things upstairs.” Maya said.
“I wonder if he here is now.” Maya mused as she plopped down on her bed to catch her breath before she goes back downstairs.
“I wonder where she is at the moment.” Richard mused while he was on his way to his family’s home in Makati from his condo unit in BGC. He just dropped his things and decided to see his mother whom he hasn’t seen since his father’s funeral.
Since he left the Philippines in 2009 for good to head their international operations, a year after the divorce with Alexandra, he was rarely in the country. His trip got more frequent, though, when his father got sickly and he had to take over his responsibilities. He was in the country for the funeral of his father, but returned to New York the day after it, while the board was deciding if he will be the CEO or his Uncle Patrick. Ryan informed him that he was the one the board picked, several minutes after the final voting.
“Ricky, hijo!” Esmeralda Lim greeted her son as soon as she saw him walking towards the front door after parking his car in the driveway. Joma had told her earlier that he dropped off his Sir Richard first at his condo unit. He also informed her, as per Richard’s instruction, that he will have dinner in the family home and stay the night. “I missed you a lot, son.” Donya Esmeralda hugged her son tight.
“I missed you too, Mama! How have you been?” He asked.
“Heto, I get by. I still misses your Papa a lot. Pero tanggap ko nang wala na siya. Life has to go on.” Donya Esmeralda said. “I just keep myself busy, hands on na hands on ako ngayon sa foundation natin. Doon nalilibang ako and fulfilling naman ang work.”
“It is good to know, Ma. Tama iyon.” Richard was glad to know that his mother is moving on. “What’s your latest project?”
“Tungkol sa literacy! Tamang-tama, di ba, you are staying the night. You can come with me to my meeting with the UNICEF Communications Officer here, sandali lang naman iyon, tomorrow. Please, son.” Donya Esmeralda pleaded. “Di ba sa susunod na araw ka pa magre-report sa LHI.”
Richard knew that when his mother take that tone, he better say yes, so he did. Besides, he wanted to indulge his mother, especially now that he only had one parent left. He does misses his father, despite the fact that he could be exacting and that he had a hand on how things turned out differently from what he wanted eight years ago.
“Okay, Ma, I will go with you.” Richard agreed.
“I’m glad son. Come let’s have dinner. Fe cooked your favorite food, kare-kare.” Donya Esmeralda chatted on.
Upon hearing the word, Richard stopped and thought of the last night he had been with Maya. It was the food she cooked for him lovingly, and how he repaid that with what happened afterwards.
“Ricky, hoy Ricky, is something the matter son? Ayaw mo ba ng kare-kare? Di ba, tama ako, favorite mo ito.” Donya Esmeralda had to call Richard several seconds more before he reacted.
“Oh, I’m okay, Ma. May naalala lang ako.” He said simply. “Halika na. I want to see Manang Fe too. Na-miss ko rin siya ng husto.”
Mother and son went to the dining room. Upon seeing her alaga, Manang Fe got teay-eyed and hugged him. “Ricardo, kumusta ka na?”
“Mabuti po Manang. Ikaw talaga, Manang, parang ilang linggo pa lang ulit tayong hindi nagkita ah.” Richard said affectionately.
“Iba naman iyon, anak. Ngayon natutuwa ako na dito ka na ulit sa Pilipinas titira.” She said.
“Me too, Manang. It seemed right po na bumalik na ako dito.” Richard said as he pulled the seat for his mother. “Manang, sabay ka na po sa amin ni Mama.”
“Oo nga naman, Fe. Saluhan mo na kami nitong si Ricky.” Donya Esmeralda added. “Huwag nang magpaka-others.” Fe is like a friend to her, though, when she insists that she eat with her, she refused.
“Sige po, Ma’am. Na-miss ko nga ang mga kwento nitong si Ricardo.” Manang Fe finally agreed and sat across mother and son.
The three had a nice dinner. It was Donya Esmeralda who mostly talked. Manag Fe noticed Richard getting silent at times and looking at the kare-kare intently, as if remembering something. Later on, after dinner, Donya Esmeralda excused herself and said she need to make some phone calls. Richard walked to the veranda.
“Ricardo, kape o.” Manang Fe handed Richard a steaming cup of coffee.
“Thank you po, Manang. The best ka talaga.” Richard said, smiling at his old nanny.
“Naku, wala iyon. May gusto ka bang pag-usapan, anak?” She asked. Manang knew what Richard went through with Alexandra and felt that there was something he didn’t tell anyone, even to her. All the time he was married to Alexandra, she can see that he was just half-alive. Parang walang sigla sa buhay. “Napansin ko kasi na tahimik ka kanina at parang may iniisip. Naisip ko rin naman na baka pagod ka lang sa biyahe.”
“Meron nga po akong iniisip Manang, Pero saka ko na po sasabihin, Manang, kapag naayos ko na ang lahat.” He simply said. “Ikaw po and si Mama ang unang makakaalam, promise.”
“O sige, basta, nandito lang ako kung kailangan mo ng kausap.” The old lady said.
“Maraming salamat po. Magpapahinga na po ako, Manang.” Richard said as he put down his coffee cup.
“Okay, sige, ayos na ang dati mong room. Pinalinis ko ng husto iyon kay Lea kahapon.” Manang said. “Good night.”
It took a while before Richard fall asleep. There were so many thoughts in his head, but it was not about work, it was about Maya.
The following day, mother and son arrived at the restaurant where Donya Esmeralda will meet the UNICEF officer she mentioned the night before.
“Naku, son, mabuti, we are early. Halika doon na lang tayo. Parating na siguro iyon.” Donya Esmeralda sat on the chair facing the door so she can see the coming and goings of people. She was ordering coffee when the door opened, she looked up and smiled.
“Mrs. Lim, good afternoon po. I think I’m a bit late this time.” The woman greeted Donya Esmeralda. “Pasensya na po.”
Upon hearing the voice, that voice, Richard suddenly whipped round to face the woman who greeted his mom. He needed to be very very sure, but he knew he couldn’t be wrong.
“Maya…..!” He said with wonder and with a huge smile on his face.
“R-ricky….!” Maya uttered, realizing who is the man sitting with Mrs. Lim, not being able to say anything anymore.
“You know each other?” Donya asked, very surprised at this turn of event. Yes, she had an ulterior motive when she asked her son to go with her. She wanted him to meet Maya. She really likes this young lady and is hoping that she can matchmake between her and her son. It is about time her son smiles again. She wants him to be happy.
Donya Esmeralda’s question fell on deaf ears as Richard and Maya only had eyes for each other. The years just fell away, and all the bad things that had happened suddenly forgotten, as they both looked at each other with longing and yes, love.
Richard was in the middle of telling an anecdote about his student life in Harvard, when he realized that Maya has fallen asleep, and was snoring lightly, while half-lying on his chest. He smiled at her lovingly. She must be tired from all the activities they have done the past several days, coupled with the extra work she did at the hotel while serving her notice. She took in extra hours so that some of her colleagues can go on leave. She told them, it was her way of thanking them for taking her in. Maya told him that they were so happy for her, that one evening, they organized a surprise going away party for her.
He was reluctant to move Maya as he might interrupt her slumber, but she will rest better if she is in a regular bed. Slowly, he lifted her into his arms, then stood up, carrying Maya to his bed. She stirred a bit, but didn’t wake up when he put her down. He covered Maya with the comforter after removing her shoes.
Richard stared at his beautiful, sleeping girlfriend. How he loves her! He never expected this when he took that flight to New York, but he is very happy at this wonderful and unexpected development in his life. He has not gotten around to telling Maya about his tumultous relationship with Alexandra. The truth is, he just wanted to forget it and start anew with Maya. He wanted to put the whole thing in the past where it belongs. Maya never asked him, anyway. He thought it was because she is that kind of person, positive, happy and believes in the best of everyone. For sure, she would even find a goodness in Alexandra and all her actions. Richard wanted to be the best person, the best man, for her.
Maya stirred a bit, then burrowed herself deep into the comforter. Richard dimmed the lights. He decided to take a shower before going to bed. When he was done, he laid down beside Maya, hugging her, then slowly succumbed to sleep too. He was comforted by the fact that Maya was sleeping beside him, for the first time. He promised to be a perfect gentleman and he will be. Richard had the most restful sleep that night.
During the night, positions shifted as both Richard and Maya unconsciously sought the warm of each other body while sleeping. By morning, Maya was half-lying on Richard’s chest, while Richard’s arms were around Maya’s. They were lying like one person in the middle of Richard’s big bed.
Maya woke up with a start, and realized that she was not alone in the bed, and that she was not lying on her own bed. She didn’t panic as the arms around her felt familiar. She looked and saw Richard sleeping peacefully. He looked so much younger, but still as handsome, without his glasses on. She smiled and caressed his face gently, lovingly. Richard slowly opened his eyes, looked at Maya, and offered her his lopsided smile.
“Good morning, my love!” Richard turned and cradled his head on his hand and arm. “Did you sleep well?”
“Good morning, Ricky.” Suddenly Maya felt shy, conscious that she and Ricky were on the same bed, even if she was fully clothed and so was he, in a white t-shirt and pajama bottoms. “Sorry, I seemed to have just conked out on you. The last thing I remember was us, watching the night in the terrace. Grabe, tinulugan kita! I’m so sorry!”
“Yes, na-bore ka yata sa kwento ko kaya bigla mo na lang akong tinulugan.” Richard teased Maya.
“Sorry na nga. Promise, babawi ako.” Maya said smiling. “I will make breakfast. What do you want?”
“How about a good morning kiss?” Richard said smiling.
“Well, aside from that.” Maya said, but gave him a quick kiss on the lips, anyway. “Iyan lang muna. I haven’t brush my teeth. Saka, I look like a fright na yata.”
“Ms. Maya Dela Rosa, are you fishing for a compliment? You are beautiful my love, kahit bagong gising.” Richard lovingly caressed Maya’s cheek. “And I don’t care kahit hindi ka pa naka-toothbrush.” Then he kissed her gently.
Maya responded to Richard’s kiss, and in that lovely morning, they shared several heated kisses and caresses, before Richard stopped, while he still can. He wanted to take things slow with Maya. This, being her first relationship.
“Maya, my love, we better stop. I promised you I will be a gentleman. I would like to honor that promise, and it is getting quite hard to do so, with your tempting self here in my bed.” Richard said lovingly while catching his breath, and hiding from Maya the evidence of his desire for her.
Maya blushed and buried her face on Richard’s broad chest. “Ikaw kasi.”
Richard smiled at that. “I know. I love you, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa.”
“I love you more, Mr. Richard Lim.” Maya replied.
They smiled at each other, then Richard got out of the bed. He held out his hand to Maya. Maya asked if she can use the bathroom. Richard said there are some spare toiletries in the guest room. He got it for Maya so she can take a bath. He also loaned her one of his dress shirts to wear, and he found a pair of leggings Maya can wear in the room that Rafi used. An hour later, they were in the kitchen, drinking coffee.
“So tuloy ba tayo sa Central Park, today?” Richard asked.
“Yes please. But I needed to go back to the apartment. I don’t have a change of clothes.” Maya said, conscious that she is naked under the clothes Richard loaned her. “We can go there after our coffee.”
“Okay, we can eat breakfast after, then pick up the food I ordered for our picnic.” Richard suggested.
“That’s sounds like a good plan.” Maya said, smiling at Richard, looking forward to their day together.
Three hours or so after, they were walking at the Conservatory Garden inside Central Park. This is Maya’s favorite place in this huge park. They chatted while they enjoyed the beauty of the garden divided into three styles, English, French and Italian. When they got tired of walking, they found a nice spot for a picnic in Cherry Hill, overlooking Bow Bridge. Maya spread the picnic blanket at the base of a big tree. Richard sat down and leaned against the tree and then put Maya between his legs, leaning against him.
“Coffee, my love?” Maya asked as she held the coffee thermos they brought with them.
“Yes, please. Ikaw?” Richard asked.
“I will have a cup too.” Maya said as she handed Richard a steaming cup of coffe after putting two sachets of sugar in it and stirring it slowly.
“Thank you, Maya. Your coffee tastes very good.” Richard said as he took a sip of his steaming coffee. “When will you know if you will be assigned abroad?”
“I don’t know yet. But there is a big chance. They need a radio and TV producer, actually, in Kabul and that I can do. Pero baka naman it is a job for a more senior staffer. Ako naman, I will start pa lang.” Maya shrugged. “Pero I’m okay naman. Handa naman ako kahit saan ako ma-assign. Iyon nga lang maiiwan kita.”
“I hope, not so soon. Pero if ever, okay lang naman sa akin. There are a lot of ways naman to communicate these days. I will just be here.” Richard assured Maya. “Like I have told you before, we can find ways to make this relationship work despite the distance. Basta, don’t let go of your dreams. I love you with all my heart and all of me and it will not change, no matter what.”
“Thank you, my love.” Maya gave Richard a kiss. “You are the best. I’m so lucky to have you. I love you very much also, and the thought of life without you is unthinkable.”
“I’m the lucky one, Maya.” Richard said as he hugged Maya tight. “Hindi mo alam kung paano mo binago ang buhay ko.”
They shared a loving look as they continued to drink their coffee, then ate the sandwiches and cold cuts the deli packed for them. More than two hours later, they decided to head out of the park. Richard took Maya home.
“Good luck again on your first day of work, my love. I’m sure you will be great.” Richard said while standing on the doorsteps of Maya’s apartment building. “Dinner tomorrow night?”
“Thank you, Ricky.I’m excited na nga. Baka hindi ako makatulog nito!” Maya smiled at Richard. “Okay for dinner. Can I text you tomorrow on what time we will meet? I don’t know yet how long will have to be at work.”
“Of course, no hurry. And if you can’t, just call me and let me know.” Richard assured Maya. “I’ll get going. I love you. Good night.”
“I love you, too.” Maya gave Richard a quick kiss. “Good night. Drive carefully.”
Maya went inside the apartment, still smilling, so happy with the way her life is turning out.
“Hi roomie, I’m back!” Emman greeted Maya as soon as she entered the apartment. “I will not ask kung saan ka galing. Kasama mo na naman ang guwapong-guwapong Prince Charming mo. Pero di ba, dapat kahapon ka pa bumalik from your parents’ house?”
“Yes, kahapon pa. Nag-picnic lang kami ni Ricky sa Central Park.” Maya replied as she put her things on the table by the door.
“Wow, talaga naman! In this weather, medyo malamig na ah! Sabagay, meron ka namang human warmer. Eh ako man iyan, go na go.” Emman teased Maya.
“Ikaw talaga, Emman.” Maya smiled. “O kumusta naman si Edselyn?”
‘Hayun, ganoon pa rin. Luka-luka pa rin ang pinsan ko na iyon! Kalog na kalog. We had fun the whole weekend.” Emman replied. “O siya, magpapahinga na ako at maaga pa akong papasok bukas. Kadarating ko lang rin. Good luck sa bagong work ha. The hotel will not be the same without you there.”
“Thanks Emman.” Maya said. “I passed by there yesterday. May ibinigay lang ako kay Doris. Pakisabi na lang sa kanila na dadalaw ako the soonest.”
Maya went to her room, thinking that by then, Richard was already home.
Indeed, Richard was home. He was waylaid by the doorman/reception staff, Franklin, when he entered the building holding a small package he got from the convenience store near the apartment. He needed a can of shaving cream.
“Mr. Lim, good evening, Sir.” Franklin greeted Richard as he approached him. “Someone came looking for you earlier. In fact, she has been here thrice the past several hours. I rang your place, but no one answered, then I remembered you leaving with Ms. Dela Rosa earlier. The lady said she will be back.”
“She? Did she leave a name?” Richard was puzzled on who could that be since he and Maya just parted, and Rafi naman was spending the Thanksgiving weekend with Charlie’s family in Virginia. Besides, Franklin knows both of them. Wala na siyang ibang maisip na nakakaalam ng place niya, or that he was back in the apartment.
“Yes, she did. Let me just check my log.” Franklin went to his desk and checked the name he jotted down. “She said her name is Alexandra Coronel.”
Richard was so surprised, he was not able to react quickly. “Alexandra Coronel!”
“Oh, you don’t know her then?” Franklin remarked.
“No, I know her. But I was not expecting her nor I’m aware that she is in New York at the moment.” Richard clarified. “But let me know if she comes back, okay. Thanks a lot.” He added, wondering why is Alexandra looking for him. First, she badgered his mother on his whereabouts, then Rafi too. What gives?
“I think, there is no need for that.” Franklin suddenly said. “I think I saw her, about to enter the lobby. Yes, that’s her.”
True enough, the revolving door revealed Alex, chicly dressed in a designer coat, haute couture dress, and Manolo Blahnik boots.
“Hello, Richard.” She said upon seeing Richard standing by the strict doorman she encountered earlier. “At last, I have caught you. You are a difficult man to pin down.”
“Hello, Alexandra!” Richard said politely, not saying anything more.
“Can we talk? Can we go up to your apartment. I have something important to tell you.” She said, straightforward, quite impreriously, then added, “this is too private for an audience.”
Richard looked at Alexandra for a while, then nodded. “Okay, let’s go up. But you can only stay for a short time Alexandra. I’m tired and I will have a full day at work tomorrow.”
Thy rode the elevator silently. When they got inside Richard’s apartment, he told Alexandra to sit on the sofa, and asked her if she would like a drink. She decline. Instead of sitting, she walked towards the big window.
“Richard, I’ll be quick and straight. I’m pregnant. And before you ask, if you are thinking of asking that insulting question, yes the baby is yours. It probably happened the last time we made love.” Alexandra said.
Her words didn’t sink it with Richard, at first, then it penetrated his consciousness, and he felt like there was a sudden buzzing sound in his head. “W-what? How did it happen? I thought you were on the pill?”
Richard remembered him and Alexandra having a making up sex after they got back together in September, just before the fight that ended their relationship. He was not really into it, but she insisted, saying that it would prove that they were really okay. She initiated the whole thing. But he participated in it, he admitted to that, hoping that it will help patch their relationship faster.
“Well, I stopped. I wanted to get pregnant.” Alexandra said defiantly.
“Without even telling me? Don’t I have a say in it also?” Richard felt like raising his voice and getting mad at Alexandra’s selfishness, but he controlled himself. He need a cool head and shouldn’t be surprised with this attitude, with this action of hers.
Instead of saying sorry, Alexandra just said “It’s my body, anyway.”
“Now, you are telling me that you are pregnant and that we are having a baby, out of the blue!” Richard was having a hard time believing Alexandra’s gall. “Ganoon na lang iyon Alex? Hindi mo ba naisip ang consequence ng action mo. Are you even ready to be a parent?”
“Yes, I am telling you that I’m pregnant and that you are the father. That was why I was trying to reach you. But your mother, and also your cousin won’t tell me where you were staying!” She said, her voice rising.
“So, how did you find me?” Richard asked, wanting to buy time to process everything, and at the same time, calm Alexandra.
“Well, I lucked out before your cousin and her family moved out. It was your niece Abigail who answered the phone when I tried calling here one more time. I was planning to appeal to Rafi and tell her why I was trying to reach you. Abby told me that they were moving back to their place so her Uncle Richard can have his place again. I pumped her for information. Luckily, that cousin of yours didn’t tell your niece to lie!” Alexandra said sarcastically.
“Rafi will not do that. And don’t you have any shame, doing that to an innocent child!” Richard is starting to get angry at Alex’s actions.
‘Why not, I didn’t do anything wrong. I just chatted her up. Besides, the end justifies the means, isn’t it?” Alexandra continued. “So, when do you want us to get married? It better be soon. I don’t want to walk down the aisle with a big tummy. Sayang naman ang Vera Wang gown ko!”
“What, get married! No way, Alexandra! I’m so sorry. I will do right with the baby, support you and our child, give her or him my name and if you don’t want the baby, I will take care of the child, I will raise the child but I will not marry you.” Richard said clearly and in a very calm tone. “I thought that you understood that you and I can never be, especially now.”
“Why is that Richard? Is there someone else? Kaya ba iniiwasan mo ako?” Alexandra said agressively. She was thinking that if there is another girl in Richard’s life, she will find her.
Richard realized then that he can’t drag Maya into this situation. Alexandra sounded unpredictable and unstable at the moment. He tried to calm himself and reasoned out with her. “Alex, Alex, please listen to me. We should get married for the right reasons, with the right person. We are not. Somewhere out there is a guy for you. I’m not that person. We will just make each other miserable if we get married.”
Unfortunately, Alexandara was not up to listening to reason. “No Richard, it’s marriage or I will have this baby aborted! Think about it. I will be at my parents’ apartment. Don’t take long.” Then she stormed out of Richard’s apartment.
Long after she left, Richard just stared at the New York skyline, having a drink at the terrace where he spent a very nice time with Maya the night before, trying to think of a way out of this situation. He love Maya will all his heart and the thought of marrying another is killing him. However, Alexandra has not given him much room to maneuver.
“Oh God, what a mess!” He exclaimed, at the same time praying he will find a win-win solution, no matter how difficult it will be, especially now that he found the love of his life.
Richard thought, he will be a father, there is another human being involved in this, a defenseless one at that. He was not so sure if Alexandra will not make good of her threat to have their baby aborted. He needed to think. One thing was foremost in his mind at that time, aside from the welfare of his unborn child, he need to resolve this without dragging Maya in. She does not deserve this. He loves her too much for her to get drag into this situation which he already had an inkling then will not have a happy outcome no matter what.
Love sweet love
“Richard drive carefully, hijo.” Maya’s mom, Tessie Dela Rosa-Winters, told Richard as he and Maya were about to get into the car to drive back to New York that Saturday after spending Thanksgiving with them. Richard and Maya arrived at the Winters family home Wednesday afternoon.
“Maya anak, ingat ha, and update me, please if possible on Monday evening. I want to know how’s your first day at work. Tapos if they will assign you somewhere soon, let me know also kaagad. I know it would not be like you being in the Philippines lang. I just want to know and prepare na there is a possibility na matagal kitang hindi makikita at baka nga mahirap ang communication sa lugar na pupuntahan mo. Good luck ulit anak and congratulations. I’m so proud of you.”
“Yes Mom, I will.” Maya promised her mother as she hugged her one more time. “Thank you for everything. Daddy Mark, than you very much also.” She went to her stepfather and gave him a tight hug too. She really owes this wonderful man a lot.
“Yes, Mrs. Winters, I will be careful po.” Richard promised Maya’s mom. “Thank you again for having me. Mr. Winters,” Richard shook Daddy Mark’s hand, who not only shook his hand in return, but gave him a pat in the back.
“It was nice meeting and having you, Richard. Take care of our daughter.” Maya’s stepfather told Richard. “Maya, honey, you take care okay and wow those diplomats at the UN with your skills.”
“Please see us again, ha.” Mommy Tessie told Richard. She was happy to meet Maya’s boyfriend, her daughter’s first. She was surprised when Maya called up several days before she came for a visit to ask if she could bring with her, her boyfriend. Mommy Tessie had no idea that her daughter already had a boyfriend. But she knew that Maya is of age and has been pretty independent and responsible most of her adult life. She didn’t give her any grief. She also knew that her daughter is not the type to rush into something she hasn’t thought about very well.
“We will, Mom, Daddy Mark. Pakisabi na lang kina Luke and Nikki na umalis na kami” Maya told her mother. Her siblings were still sleeping. All of them had a late night last night. They had a very nice family bonding time. They chatted, played cards and board games, had midnight snacks, and teased each other mercilessly, especially the kids. Richard fitted well in into their family dynamics. He also spent quite some time chatting with Maya’s stepfather.
Maya, on the other hand, during the visit, had an opportunity to talk to her mom alone about Richard and the circumstances of their meeting, and how they became a couple. She told her mother that she and Richard had been inseparable since they met each other and especially so, when they became boyfriend and girlfriend more than a week before the Thanksgiving week. Maya assured her mother that Richard is the nicest guy and a gentleman, who always takes care of her, and a very loving boyfriend. Mommy Tessie told her daughter that she is happy for her, and she will always be there for her if she needs advice. She also told Maya that she trusts her judgment and she is old enough, anyway, to forge her way through life. All she can do for her from then on, is to be there for her if she needs her.
“Did you have a wonderful time, my love?” Maya asked Richard after a while. She invited Richard to celebrate Thanksgiving with her family after she found out that he will be alone on that day. She wanted to from the beginning, but Richard might have made some plans already even before they became a couple. She was really glad that he said yes.
“Of course I did. I was very happy to meet your family. I like your parents, and Luke and Nikki are a joy. Tama ka ang kukulit nila. Pero at the same time, good kids. Maayos ang pagpapalaki ng Mom and Dad mo sa kanila.”
“True. Nakaka-miss nga rin sila.” Maya said. “But anyway, I will still see them from time to time. Hindi naman malayo ang New Jersey sa New York.”
“What are your plans for tomorrow, Maya?” Richard asked as tomorrow would be Maya’s last day before she started working for the UN.
“Wala naman. I’m planning to stay at home, rest before I report for work.” Maya replied as she settled more comfortable into her seat. Bakit pala?”
“Hmmm, baka you want to spend it with me since baka last day na natin ito to be together ng medyo matagal. From what I heard, baka you will have long hours din in your new job.” Richard suggested as he want to spend more time with Maya before both of them get very busy again. “How about a picnic at Central Park?”
“Great idea, Mr. Lim. Tara, sige. I will prepare everything na lang.” Maya suggested. “What would you like to eat?”
“No Maya, rest ka na lang. Di ba dapat relax ka nga lang. I will take care of everything. I will order a picnic basket at the deli near LHI.” Richard said. “This is my treat for my brilliant and beautiful girlfriend.”
“Thank you, my love. Ikaw talaga ang number one cheering squad ko.” Maya grinned. “Okay, if that is more convenient. I would need to go pa nga to the shop when we return if I will prepare the food. I’m looking forward to spending more time with you rin. Parang bitin ang three days natin with my family. I’m glad, though, that we got to spend those days with them.”
Most of the trip back, they just chatted about their visit to her family. Richard was touched when Maya asked him if he would like to go with her to New Jersey. He wanted really to spend Thanskgiving with her and her family, but was waiting for Maya to issue the invitation as her family might have a plan already for this occasion. He wanted to meet her family and got to know them. He knew that Maya is just starting her life, younger by five years, and still have a lot of goals and dreams to achieve, but in the long run, he wanted a life with her. He can wait. They are both young. He needed to forge his way within LHI too, but he, sort of, know know already where he will be and what he needs to do for the next couple of years.
Richard parked his car at the usual spot when they reached Maya’s apartment. He took out her bag and accompanied her to the front door.
“Dinner later?” He asked all of a sudden. “I will cook for you. Di ba, nasa Philadelphia pa si Emman. Wala kang kasama.”
“Really! Masarap ka bang magluto Mr. Lim?” She asked teasingly. “Or mali yata ang tanong, dapat ang tanong, marunong ka bang magluto?”
“Ha, ha, ha, of course I know how. Sayang naman ang mga itinuro sa akin ni Manang Fe.” Richard said, grinning
Maya grinned back. “Okay, pero don’t fetch me na. I need to go back to the hotel one last time din this evening to give something to Doris. I will walk to your place from there.”
“Hmmm, sure it would be safe to do so, on your own?” Richard asked. He got used to walking with Maya all the time.
“Naku, safe na safe, Mr Lim, hwag kang mag-aalala. I have been walking on my own, often, before I met you.” Maya assured her protective boyfriend.
“Okay, I will see you later. Bye, my love.” Richard said then kissed Maya lightly on the lips. “I love you.”
“See you. Ingat sa pagmamaneho.” Maya said. “I love you too.”
Richard waited until Maya was inside the apartment building before he drove off towards the direction of his apartment. As soon as he entered his unit, after parking his car at his slot, he inspected the place and was glad that it is very tidy. The cleaning lady did a thorough job of cleaning the apartment while he was away with Maya. This will be the first time that Maya will see his place and he is looking forward to that. He had been meaning to invite her here, but she was busy since she submitted her letter of resignation to the hotel.
More than an hour later, Richard was finished with the pasta sauce he cooked. He let it simmered while he took a shower, then changed into a polo shirt and a pair of jeans that suits him very well. He set the table. He wanted everything to be special. Several minutes after he was done, the doorbell rang. He had left intstructions with the doorman to let Maya in, so this must be her.
“Hi my love, welcome to my home away from home.” He happily greeted Maya, then gave her a quick kiss on the lips. “You look very lovely, my love as always.” Maya was wearing another sheath dress, violet this time, that hugged her curves and reached above the knee, showing her shapely legs.
“Hi my love. Thank you.” Maya said as she returned Richard’s kiss and gave him the flowers she was carrying and the beautiful vase that goes with it. “My ‘welome back home’ gift to you.”
“Thank you, it’s lovely, just want this place needs, some flowers to brighten things up, aside from your presence.” Richard smiled and gaze at Maya lovingly. He put the flowers on the console table. “Come, let’s eat na. Are you hungry? What would you like to drink, red wine, white wine or soda?”
“Hmmm, white wine please.” Maya said as Richard led her to the dining room of his spacious apartment. She saw that the dining table was beautifully set for two, with fine china and candles. “Wow, mukhang pinaghandaan mo ang dinner natin. Lovely table setting. Ricky. Saka parang ang sarap ng food. Kahit hindi ko pa natitkman, naniniwala na ako, that Manang Fe taught you well!”
“For my the most special lady in my life, maganda dapat parati ang lahat.” He said as he cupped her chin, then kissed her. They shared a sweet kiss. “Have a seat, my love. I will just get your drink.” Richard told Maya as he pulled a chair for her, then opened the fridge to get a chilled bottle of white wine. He poured a glass each for Maya and him.
“To our first dinner here, my love. I hope you will consider this place as your home away from home too.” Richard said as he looked lovingly at Maya.
“Thank you, Ricky. To our first dinner here. Thank you for being the best boyfriend in the world!” Maya felt so happy at that moment. It was just so perfect. She felt like she was seeing a glimpse of what life would be like if she and Richard end up together. She was wishing then, and praying, that he will be the one she will spend the rest of her life with, no matter how far into the future would that be. She can’t think of another one, only him.
Richard and Maya had a lovely dinner, marked by their normal chatter and loving gazes. They got wrapped up in their own world again. After dinner, Maya offered to help Richard clean. At first, he told her to just relax, but she insisted, saying that they will finish the task faster if they work together. They went to the living room after they have started the dishwasher.
Richard carried with him, his and Maya’s wine glasses, then asked her to sit down in one of the armchairs by the window. He sat on the other one. He also opened the curtain and what was revelead was a breathtaking view of Manhattan at night. Maya loved it very much. They enjoyed their wine while chatting.
“This is a very nice place Ricky.” Maya remarked. “How long have you had this place?”
“I think, around three years. I fell in love with the location. Hindi lang kita masyado ngayon, pero this place as an incredible view of Central Park. Dapat the next time you are here, araw.” He said, in between sipping his wine and caressing Maya’s hand.
“Come, I will give you a tour.” Richard stood up and held out his hand to Maya, intertwining their fingers, he led her to the guest rooms of the house, then to his study, and finally his bedroom. It was huge, occupying half of the house, and decorated in masculine tones. “There is a terrace on one side of the bedroom, that corner, and the view there is very nice too.” He said as he pointed to the left side of the room.
Maya liked the whole place. Everything just flowed, uncluttered. “Thank you for the tour. I really like your place.” She said after their return to the living room, which she now notice has floor-to-ceiling windows.
“Well, my love, like I have told you earlier. Consider this your home too, In fact, here….” Richard gave Maya a key he got from his jeans’ pocket.
Maya was startled. “What for?” Her heart skipped a beat.
“Mi casa es su casa, my love.” Richard said as he closed Maya’s hand with the key, then lifted it to his lips and kissed it. “My house is yours. Just come and go.”
“Ricky…..” She started to protest.
“Uh oh, no arguments please.” Richard put his index finger on Maya’s lips, then started caressing it. Maya caught her breath and looked at Richard.
Seeing the expression on Maya’s beautiful, expressive face, Richard lowered his lips to Maya’s and kissed her. Before long, they were exchanging heated kisses.
“Maya I love you very much.” Richard muttered in between driving Maya senseless with his kisses.
“I love you very much too, Ricky, so very much, that sometimes, it is making me afraid.” She said.
Richard stopped kissing Maya, and gently cupped her chin. “Why is that, my love?”
Maya took a deep breath and said, “The feeling I have for you is so intense. Minsan, I feel like my heart will burst from sheer happiness. In such a short time, you became the center of my universe. I guess, I’m overwhelmed, sometimes. Ngayon ko lang kasi ito naramdaman. My youthful crushes was nothing, not even a speck, of what I am feeling for you. Sometimes, I had a hard time believing you are in my life, parang feeling ko panaginip ang lahat.”
“I’m real, Maya, you and I, what we have, it’s not a dream. We are real. Don’t be overwhelmed. I feel the same. I’m so happy and so very, very thankful that you came into my life, that we met in the most unexpected place and in a unique circumstance. You made me so happy. Trust me on this, my love. I had relationships and those were nothing compared to what we have, to what we feel for each other. I’m so happy to know that I’m loved by you. I know you still have a lot of dreams and we still have a lot to face, but I want a future with you, no matter how long it takes.”
“Oh Ricky….” Maya said with so much emotion, then hugged Richard tight.
They hugged each other tight, and they stayed like that for quite some time. Then Richard loosen his embrace to kiss her gently on the forehead and said, “I love you.”
“I love you too.” Maya told him with a tremulous smile, and a look that conveyed all the love she is feeling.
“Dance with me.” Richard asked after while. “You know, it is something we haven’t done.”
“Now, without music?” Maya said, smiling.
“Madali lang iyan, wait here.” He went to the corner, powered up his iPod, and soon after the beautiful melody and lyrics of one of Richard’s favorite songs, Only Love floated into the speakers discreetly placed in the living room. He first heard of this song through his mother.
“May I have this dance, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa?”
“Of course, Mr. Richard Lim.”
Richard and Maya swayed to the beautiful music, savoring their special moment together. They danced as close as two person could be. Richard’s cheek, against Maya’s, and from time to time they exchanged sweet kisses too.
“Maya, will you please stay the night?” Richard asked softly, still not letting go of Maya. “Promise, I will be a gentleman. I just want to spend every moment I could with you. I don’t know, there is this feeling that I have to hold on to whatever we have, to enjoy every moment I could with you.” He said all of a sudden. “Maybe it is beause you might be assigned to a far-flung corner of the world.”
“Yes Ricky, I will.” Maya replied as she touched Richard’s face lovingly as if committing everything to memory. Maya also felt the unexplained need to seize every moment with Richard. She attributed it to the big change in her professional life.
“Thank you, Maya. It means a lot to me.”
Richard kissed Maya tenderly, before taking hold of her hand, leading her to the terrace adjacent to his bedroom. They cuddled and watched the New York night lights from there, enjoying their quiet time together, declaring their love for each other from time to time with sweet kisses, heated looks, and caresses.
Out in the open
Richard was busy typing away on his laptop, drinking the coffee he ordered earlier, unmindful of the comings and goings of the people in the busy hotel, and the second, and admiring, glances, of some of the women who passed by his table to go to the hotel restaurant or to the reception area. He was sight to behold in his dress shirt, his tie loosen a bit, and his coat draped neatly over the back of the chair beside him. He looked rumply handsome.
He was waiting for Maya at the cafe at the lobby of the hotel where she works and where he stayed for over a month, his home away from home, and where he met Maya weeks ago. Several days ago, he moved back to his apartment. His cousin Rafi and her family vacated it over the weekend as their house renovation was finally done.
Richard was sad to leave the hotel as it had meant no more notes and flowers for Maya, but at the same time, he was happy to have his own place back. He rectified the situation by picking Maya from the hotel and taking her home most evenings, either after they have been to dinner or after seeing a Broadway show. They also talked on the phone on the nights they were not able to see each other. This afternoon, early evening actually, Maya was finishing up late for some reason she refused to elaborate. She just told him that she would have to stay at work late and it is okay if they don’t see each other. However, Richard requested that that they still meet since they haven’t seen each other for two days due to his busy schedule. He assured Maya that he can wait for her. They agreed to meet at the lobby cafe.
“Ricky, hi!” Maya rushed to Richard’s side with a big smile. From her work clothes, she changed into a long, flowing skirt, a purple top, a cardigan, and her favorite walking boots. Her big saddle bag was strapped across her body and her coat, in her left forearm. She and Richard are planning to walk around that evening, in whatever direction it would take them. The weather is getting colder but she had bundled up. She needed to get use again to the cold, after living in the Philippines for four years. Autumn in New York is beautiful, but it could also get very cold, especially for someone used to the hot Philippine weather. Her coat is pretty warm and the boots are her most comfortable pair.
“Hi Maya!” Richard stood up and gave Maya a kiss on the cheek. He had been doing that every time they will meet. It ever fails to make Maya feel kilig. “Give me a second. I will just put away my stuffs.” He said as he started gathering his things.
“No hurry, Ricky. I can wait. Baka, kailangan mo iyang ginagawa mo. Tapusin mo na muna. No hurry.” Maya said, as she knows Richard was pretty busy the past several days with all the stuffs he needed to finish at LHI before he goes back to the Philippines or take a vacation, what he decided on, she does not know yet. However, she was hoping and wishing that Richard will stay longer in the States. She does not want to think of the time that he will go back to Manila.
Richard smiled at Maya. “No, it’s okay. I was just killing time habang wala ka pa.” He put his MacBook in his backpack, then put on his coat. “Let’s go. Saan mo gustong pumunta? Kain muna tayo? Are you hungry na?”
“Hmmm, I know just the place. I have something to tell you.” Maya said excitedly, a little mysteriously. “We can eat later.”
“Now, I’m intrigued.” Richard said, smiling broadly at Maya. “But I can wait. I don’t want to spoil your surprise.”
They started walking with Richard intertwining their fingers. Maya is used to him doing this from time to time, while they are walking the streets of Manhattan, but still, her heart never fails to beat fast every time he does. Maya dragged Ricky towards the direction of Times Squares, and when they were in the middle of the place, amid the huge, brightly-lit billboards, she stopped.
“I think, this is a perfect place to tell you this. These huge signs will serve as my ‘fireworks’!” Maya said happily. “Rickyyyy, I got in!!!! I got into the UN! I will work for the UN!”
“Really!!! Congratulations, Maya!!! Wow. I’m so happy for you!” Richard said, sharing Maya’s happiness. Then to Maya’s surprise, he hugged her in the middle of Times Square. “Kailan mo nalaman? Parang wala ka namang nabanggit na interview sa akin.” He asked as he embraced her tight and she can’t breath , not because of the embrace, but its effect on her senses.
“This morning. They called me up the other day, asked me to go to the UN office today, and there I was told that they evaluated my exams and my qualifications. I also went through a panel interview and afterwards, they told me, I’m hired!” Maya narrated as she hugged Richard back. “It was nerve-wracking, at the same time, quite exciting. Plus, talaga sa akin the languages that I know. I thank God for giving me the talent to learn languages fast! I wanted to tell everything to you in person.”
“When will you start?” Richard asked as loosened his embrace, but still not letting go of Maya completely, unmindful of the people that hurriedly passed by them, his concentration, only for this lady he loves and her dream that is now starting to become a reality.
“I will start on December 4.” Maya replied. “Good din that I still have several days to spend with my family. I’m going to Jersey for several days until after Thanksgiving. Ricky, I’m so happy I have been dying to tell you kanina pa! Ikaw pa lang ang nakakaalam.”
“Really, I’m honored that you told me first!” Richard said, touched at Maya’s gesture. “I’m sure your family will be happy to know. You can call them now.”
“Mamaya na. I’m still trying to absorb everything pa. I can dance here in the middle of Times Square from sheer happiness.” Maya said her face lighting up, making her more beautiful to Richard. “Thank you Ricky, for listening to all my prattle about my dreams and my goals, and also for the encouragement.”
“They are not prattle, Maya. I like the fact that you shared your dreams and aspirations with me. I’m glad to have been a part of your dreaming and to see your dreams becoming real.” Richard replied, cupping her chin, gazing at her warmly.
“Thank you pa rin. You are a very good friend in such a short time I have known you. Para ngang ang tagal na kitang kilala.” Maya replied, her heart skipped with Richard’s latest gesture. She felt instinctively that the two of them are on the brink of something. Then said innocently, artlessly, “I will surely miss you and your company when you go back to the Philippines.”
“Maya, I love you.” Richard suddenly blurted out, the overwhelming emotion he was feeling at the moment coming to the surface, especially after hearing that Maya will miss him and that the reality of them getting separated in the future, when he goes back home, reared in.
“Ha, what did you say Ricky?” She thought she misheard him, after all there is a cacophony of voices of people of different nationalities around them.
“I love you.” He repeated, cupping her chin and looking deeply into her eyes. “I have been in love with you for quite sometime. I want to be more than friends with you. I don’t want to think of the time I will go back to the Philippines and not see you, not being with you.”
Suddenly, all the other sound faded away in Maya’s brain and her being got concentrated on Ricky’s face, so full of love for her, and what he just said, she was finally absorbing.
“I don’t expect you to say anything now, Maya. I just want you to know, seeing you so beautiful in your happiness and the start of the fulfillment of your dreams, made me very happy too.” Richard added when Maya was still not saying anything. “I want to be there with you as you make more milestones in your life.”
“Ricky, Ricky,” she said earnestly, then proceeded to cup his face. “You love me!” She said in wonder. Then she smiled, a smile that lit her whole face. “I love you too,” she said softly, lovingly.
Now, it was Richard’s turn to be speechless. He was hoping that Maya feels the same, but he never expected that his declaration will have an answer so soon, the answer that he was hoping for, wishing for.
“Maya, really! You love me too?” He asked, not really sinking in, completely, what she said.
“Yes, Mr.Richard Lim, I love you too!” Maya simply said, looking at him with all the love she feels for him. “Ayaw mo ba?” She teased.
“Maya, you made me the happiest guy in the world!” Richard said as he hugged Maya exuberantly, tightly, at the same time, he caressed her hair. “I love you very much.” Then he cupped her face, lowered his lips to hers, and kissed her gently, lovingly.
In the middle of Times Square and all the tourists taking pictures and absorbing the larger than life brightly-lit signs around them, Maya and Richard sealed their love with several more kisses. They broke apart after a while and grinned happily at each other. Maya blushed a bit, realizing that she had her ‘first kisses’ in the middle of a busy tourist area, but Richard will not have it. He intertwined their fingers and caressed her face, gazing at her heatedly, lovingly.
“Ms. Maya Dela Rosa, the love of my life, where do you want to celebrate? Double celebration na ito.” Richard said, looking at Maya like she was the only person in the whole world.
“Kahit saan, Ricky, basta kasama kita, okay lang naman sa akin.” Maya said shyly, all of a sudden.
Richard looked at his girlfriend, he likes the sound of it, then remembered something. “Oh, we can combine my treat for you with a dinner in the same place!”
“Treat? You have a treat for me this evening?” Maya asked, curious.
“Yes, you mentioned something that you missed while in the Philippines. So, I was plannng to take you there.” He said smiling.
“Hmmm, alin doon? Ang dami ko kayang nasabi sa iyo.” Maya asked, her brows knitted trying to remember.
“Basta, halika na.” Richard said, and let Maya towards the direction of Fifth Avenue.
They walked leisurely. Then they stopped at the Rockefeller Center. Maya smiled. She now know what is Richard’s treat for her. “Ice skating! We are going ice skating!”
“Yes. You said you missed this. I’m a bit rusty, but I think I will get by. Besides, hold me na lang and drag me around.” Richard said with a smile. “Don’t let me fall ha, except for you.”
“Hmmm, turning cheesy, Mr. Lim. Saka, baka nga you will be the one to guide me. I haven’t skated since I was 18 or so. Remember, the Philippines school season is different from here so I was there during autumn and most of winter.”
“Then we can just glide and fall together.” Richard said, looking forward to skating with Maya, another experience they will share.
Fifteen minutes or so later, they were in the rink. They helped each other with their ice skates. Contrary to what he said, Richard skated like a pro. He held Maya’s hand and they glided gracefully across the ice. They were lost in their own world, not noticing the envious glances of some of the women skaters. They looked so in love. Around an hour later, with the cool wind turning making Maya’s cheeks rosy, they stopped to catch their breath.
“Ikaw, Richard Lim, hindi naman pala rusty ang skills mo. Para ngang pang-olympics!” Maya teased Richard as they rested on the side of the rink.
“Hmmm, maybe, it is like riding a bicycle, it just comes back to you, the skills, I mean. Saka, I don’t want to fall naman in front of my beautiful girlfriend.” He said with a teasing smile.
“Sus, bola, Mr. Lim. Nambobola ka ba, sinagot na nga kita!” Maya bantered back.
“Hindi kaya iyan bola, Ms. Dela Rosa. Kahit nga noong I was sick, I found you so beautiful. I fell in love fast!” He said, gazing at her lovingly. “I love you.”
“Ricky naman, ikaw talaga.” Maya blushed prettily. “I love you too.”
Richard and Maya shared a brief sweet kiss before heading back to the center of the rink, gliding as they were one, as close as they could move around in their skates. They stayed there for half hour more. Afterwards, they headed to one of the restaurants wherein they can see the skaters as they enjoyed their dinner. The unexpected exercise in the rink made them very hungry.
“That was wonderful! Daig ko pa ang naglinis ng 10 rooms sa exercise natin sa rink.” Maya said smiling while they were having coffee after their delicious dinner. “Thank you for this very nice treat, Ricky.”
“For you, Maya, anything.” Richard said as he put his hand on top of Maya’s. Maya then put her other hand on top of Ricky, and smiled at him sweetly. They stayed like that for quite sometime, enjoying and savoring their newly-declared love for each other.
When they got out of the restaurant, Maya and Richard were both reluctant for the evening to end, so they decided to go for a walk while thinking of what to do next.
“I know na. We can go for a carriage ride.” Richard suggested to Maya as he spotted the line for the carriage ride near Central Park.
Maya liked the idea and soon after they were ensconced snugly and warmly inside the carriage as it moved around. They were happy to enjoy each other company quietly. Sometimes they exchanged sweet kisses and loving gazes.
Richard took Maya home, as he always do, close to midnight. Maya asked Richard if he would like to come in for a cup of coffee before he goes home. Richard agreed, knowing that he and Maya can stay up until the wee hours of the morning, as the following day is a Saturday and they both don’t have to go to work.
“Here, home sweet home.” Maya said as she ushered Richard to her and Emman’s small living room. “Please have a seat, Ricky. Make yourself at home. I will just make the coffee.”
“Thank you, Maya.” Richard said as he proceeded to the usual place he has gotten used to sitting in while in Maya’s apartment, in the sofa near the window. He has been here several times, but mostly, only a short time, just while picking Maya up. In those cases, Emman was also home, unlike this evening. They usually chatted while he waited for Maya. He likes Maya’s friend. He is a very jolly person and he always tease him about introducing him to his twin. Sometimes, Emman also asked Richard teasingly if he can have him cloned, sayang daw ang lahi niya since only son pala siya, much to Richard’s and Maya’s amusement. They both told Emman he is incorrigible!
“Here’s your coffee, Ricky. I also found some cookies. I think Emman made these.” Maya came back to the living room, carrying a tray with two steaming cups of coffee and several chocolate chip cookies on a plate.
“Baka hindi na tayo makatulog nito, my love.” Richard said. “But still, I’ll have one.” He then grabbed a cookie and took a bite.
Maya was startled at first to hear the endearment from Richard, then smiled, liking it. She really need to control her kilig with Richard’s actions, her boyfriend! But how can she? Just the thought that he is now her boyfriend is sending her to kilig heaven.
“So, when are you going to New Jersey?” Richard asked as they enjoy their ‘midnight snack.’
“Hmmm, two days before Thanksgiving, I need to inform the hotel also that I’m resigning.” Maya replied. “Ikaw, what are your plans? Matagal pa ba ang work mo? When are you going back to the Philippines?” Maya asked, dreading the answer. Yes, they are now in a relationship, but there are a lot of unknown factors in it. But she is confident with Richard by her side, they can deal with everything. The important thing is their love for each other.
“I still have a month or so, maybe, until before Christmas to wrap up everything. Then I will take a vacation here, and think what I would like to do next, since we are now in a relationship. But one thing is sure, I want to be with you. Baka I will ask for a transfer in NYC na lang if possible.” Richard declared earnestly. “How about you? Will the UN send you somewhere?”
“That I don’t know yet.” Maya replied. “I would know when I start working, I think. But there is a big possibility that I will be sent somewhere. Would that be okay?”
“Of course, Maya, this is your dream. Us, in a relationship does not mean you will let go of that just to be with me. Somewhow we will make things work. I know this is so new to you, and despite the fact that I had relationships before, this is new to me also. This is the first time, I fell in love. This is the first time, I feel like this. I love you. We will make things work.” Richard vowed to Maya.
“Ricky! Thank you. I never felt like this. You are my first boyfriend. I love you with all my heart. I want ‘us’ to work too.” Maya said earnestly.
“We will Maya.” Richard promised. “Now that I found you, I will not let you go.”
They looked at each other lovingly, then slowly their faces moved closer and closer until their lips touched and they ignited. Before long, they were kissing hotly. Richard moved, then lifted Maya on to his lap, then they started touching each other in between their heated kisses.
“Maya, I love you….” Richard whispered before he lowered his lips and used his tongue to open the seam of Maya’s mouth. When he gained entrance, his tongue sought Maya’s and before long, their tongues were mating as Richard lowered his hand to the underside of Maya’s breast. Maya was also doing a lot of touching of her own.
They were reaching the point of no return, when their passionate interlude was interrupted by a loud click in the lock. Someone was opening the front door. Maya scrambled out of Richard’s lap, straightened her clothes and her hair. She just remembered that Emman was out, so it must be him. Richard grabbed a throw pillow to hide the evidence of his desire for Maya. When Emman managed to open the difficult lock, all he saw at first glance was Richard and Maya drinking their coffee. But when he came nearer to say hello, he saw Maya’s well-kissed lips, and smiled. He quickly said good night.
Richard and Maya smiled and looked at each other sheepishly.
“Maya, my love. I think I better head home. Rest ka na. I will see you tomorrow.” Richard said as he stood up.
“Okay, my love. Ingat sa pag-uwi. Thank you for the most wonderful night of my life.” Maya said as she intertwined her hands around Richard’s neck, then lightly kissed him on the lips. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” Richard said as he kissed her back. “I better stop at baka hindi ko na makayanang umuwi. Hindi na makaya ng willpower ko.” He said ruefully.
“Oh,” Maya uttered, understanding what he meant, then blushed. “Good night. Sweet dreams.”
“I’ll dream of you.” Richard said sweetly. “Lock after me. Huwag mo na akong ihatid sa labas. I will text you na lang when I’m home na.”
Maya nodded, waved at Richard, then locked the door. After she did so, she leaned against it, with a big smile on her face, so very happy and in love.
Richard on the other hand, happily drove home. It was hard to pay attention to where he was going, with thoughts of Maya and their wonderful evening, filling his head. He is so looking forward to being with her again and starting their journey as a couple. He entered his apartment whistling, then sent a message to Maya.
Home now, my love. Good night. I love you, my beautiful girlfriend.
Maya smiled broadly when she saw his message.
Good night, my love. I love you too, my handsome boyfriend.
Maya arrived at the Italian restaurant near Central Park, where she was supposed to meet Richard, at exactly seven o’clock in the evening. It took her a while to find a taxi from her place. She is familiar with the restaurant as she had dinner here with her family just after she arrived back in the States. Her mom and Daddy Mark insisted that they celebrate her graduation from university since they were not able to make it to the Philippines for the ceremony. Only Mamang went with her. Mamang turned emotional when she saw her in her toga. She was very proud of her achievement too, having received the highest honor from her college. After the ceremony, they went to dinner with her Tito Jose, Tita Pilar, Cristina Rose and Simon. Her parents, brother and sister did a video call and congratulated her.
The maitre d’ greeted Maya as soon as she entered the elegant restaurant’s main dining room after depositing her coat. She took an instant liking to this place. It is very relaxing and very welcoming. “Maya, bella, nice to see you here again! Are you with your parents?” The burly and jolly man greeted Maya effusively.
“Uncle Bobby! Hello! How are you? Good to see you! I was not so sure you will be here this evening.” Maya happily hugged Roberto Antonini, ‘Bobby’ to friends and family. He is a close friend of her parents, and their neighbor in New Jersey. He is like an uncle to her also as she grew up with two of his children. “I’m meeting someone here.”
“Today is my rest day, yes. But we are understaffed so the Signora asked me if I could work this evening.” Bobby told Maya as he looked at her closely and her nice dress. “You are very beautiful this evening, my dear Maya. Are you meeting your special someone here? Your boyfriend?”
Maya laughed. She is used to Uncle Bobby asking personal questions. He has been trying to fix her with one of his many nephews. “No, Uncle Bobby, not a boyfriend, just a friend. His name is Richard Lim. Is he here?”
“How’s your job at the hotel? Any news on your job applications at the UN?” Bobby asked as he checked in their register for the reservation under the name of Maya’s friend. He is good with faces, so he had an inkling who among the guests he seated earlier is Maya’s ‘beau’. A handsome young man politely requested earlier if he could give him one of the best tables in the place as he wanted to make his first date with the lady he likes a lot a very memorable one. Bobby’s romantic bent kicked, and led the guy to a secluded, and the nicest table, in the restaurant.
“It’s okay. I like my colleagues and it’s not difficult. I know the experience will help me in the long run, especially if I will make it to the UN.” Maya replied. “No news yet about the applications. But I just sent them out so it may take time before someone replied. If not, I will just go to graduate school next semester.”
“I’m sure you will get hired, with your qualifications, top honors from your school, and you being multilingual.” Bobby said confidently.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Uncle Bobby. For always believing in me.” Maya told the old guy affectionately. “If I get accepted, I will come back here and treat everyone, my family and yours.”
“If you get hired, Maya, the treat is on me.” Bobby said generously and patted Maya’s arm and said happily, “I’m right, that was your young man whom I gave best table in the restaurant earlier. Come, I will bring you to him.”
Richard, looked at his watch for the nth time. He knew he was early. But he can’t concentrate anymore with what he was doing so he dressed up, took his car out, bought something for Maya, parked it back. Then, he walked from the hotel to the restaurant 20 minutes early than his agreed time with Maya. He had called the restaurant earlier and made a reservation. He likes this elegant place which he discovered during one of his previous trips to New York. The food is superb and the ambiance is very relaxing and inviting.
He saw Maya walking towards him, chatting with the maitre d’ who gave him this very nice table. When Maya got nearer, she took his breath away, If she was beautiful in her plain uniform, she was very, very lovely in her evening clothes. She was wearing a classic cut white dress that hugged all her curves, her hair down, and from what he could see, wearing minimal make-up. She walked gracefully and elegantly towards him, unaware of his admiring look, and the equally admiring glances of all the males within the vicinity.
“Here you go, Maya. Hello, again Mr. Lim .” Bobby said as they reached the table, and Richard stood up.
“Uncle Bobby, this is my friend Richard Lim, from the Philippines too.” Maya said, smiling, trying to still her galloping heart. Richard looked dashing and very handsome in his evening clothes. ”Richard, this is my Uncle Bobby, Roberto Antonini, the best maitre d’ in Manhattan, a friend of my family and like a dad to me too since I am friends with his youngest daughters Carolina and Isabela.”
“Good evening Sir, please to meet a friend of Maya’s.” Richard shook the old man’s hand.
Bobby likes Maya’s ‘young man’. “I’m glad to meet a special friend of Maya too. ”Then, he can’t help it, he teased Richard, “I hope the table is special enough for a very special night, Mr. Lim.”
Richard smiled broadly at the maitre d’, remembering his request to him earlier. “I hope so too, Mr. Antonini. Call me Richard please.”
“Call me Uncle Bobby too, like Maya here.” Bobby said. “Maya, I will leave the two of you. I will just send Cesar, to attend to you. I will just tell your parents that we saw each other when I see them tomorrow. Have a wonderful evening and nice meeting you, Richard.”
“Thank you, Uncle Bobby.” Maya said.
“Thank you, Uncle Bobby.” Richard added as he pulled the chair for Maya and seated her.
Soon after, Cesar arrived, and after exchanging some pleasantries with Maya, took their order. Richard ordered one of their best wine vintage to go with their dinner.
“Parang kilala mo ang buong restaurant, Maya.” Richard remarked, teasing, when they were alone and waiting for their food and drinks. “Madalas ka ba rito?”
Maya laughed. “Not really. This is actually my second time here. Cesar is Uncle Bobby’s nephew. The first time I was here was several weeks ago, when my parents, that is my mom, stepdad and my siblings had a wonderful dinner here. Graduation treat daw nila sa akin.”
“How many brothers and sisters do you have?” Richard asked, wanting to know Maya’s family too.
“One brother and a sister, both years younger than I am since they are my mom’s kids with my Daddy Mark, my stepdad, pero we are close naman. Makukulit nga lang ang mga iyon.” Maya said fondly. “Ikaw?”
“I’m an only child. Kaya heto, I’m 27 years old na pero my mom calls me pa rin regularly to check on me.” Richard said, smiling. “When I was a kid, I wished I had siblings too. Parang mas masaya. I do have cousins, though, na almost the same age as me, kaya not so bad naman not having a sibling.”
“Masaya naman ang may mga kapatid. Iyon nga lang, minsan, I don’t see them often. I also have cousins in the Philippines na parang mga kapatid ko na rin. They are in Oriental Mindoro.” Maya added.
“Oh, so your family was from there!” Richard remarked. “Marami ka pang relatives doon or nandito na rin sila sa States?”
“Marami, including my Mamang, that is, my maternal grandmother. Kami lang ng mom ko ang nandito, though may mga iba siyang medyo malayo nang kamag-anak here. Mas gusto ko nga roon.” Maya said. “Iyon nga lang, this is home na rin since my mother migrated here after she married Daddy Mark. My dad died when I was a kid.”
“I agree. Me, too, I prefer the Philippines.” Richard said. “Nandoon rin ang parents ko and immediate family. Meron din dito, and the closest would be my cousin Rafi who is currently staying in my apartment with her family. Inaayos kasi ang bahay nila. So, in the meantime, dito ka muna sa New York and New Jersey?”
“Yes, depende pa rin. I promised kasi my parents I will return to the States after college so heto.” Maya said as she made a sweeping gesture and shrugged. “Then, I’m also applying for a job sa UN. Hopefully, and I’m really praying, that I will get in, kahit saan pa nila ako ipadala.” Maya told Richard as Cesar approached their table with the wine Richard ordered, and some antipasti.
Cesar showed Richard the wine for inspection. Richard nodded in acknowledgement that he had read the label and that it was the wine he ordered. The waiter then went through the ritual of wine tasting. Richard swirled the wine, tasted it, then nodded to the waiter, that everything is okay. Cesar, then poured wine in both Maya and Richard’s glasses. Then, he left them again to attend to other customers and check on their main course being prepared by the restaurant’s talented chef.
Richard lifted his wine glass, and offered Maya a toast. “Here’s to meetings and beginnings. Here’s to us, Maya. I’m glad to have met you.” He finished gazing at Maya warmly.
Maya smiled, felt herself blushing a bit, for some reason. “Here’s to us, Ricky. I’m glad to have met you too.”
They toasted, drank and then smiled intently at each other, hearts beating faster. Both felt that they are on the precipice, that something wonderful is starting, and it is just a matter of whether when they will take a leap for it.
“So, you plan to work for the UN? That’s good. In line also with your course.” Richard said, picking up the thread of their previous conversation.
“Yes, it’s a dream. It is one of the reasons why I took this course, and also why I learned all the languages I could learn in between, para mas may advantage ako when I apply.” Maya told Richard in between sipping her wine. Then she proceeded to talk animatedly about her adventures in language learning, that sometimes, she dreamed in whatever language she was studying.
Richard listened intently, talking passionately about her ideals and dreams, and what she would like to do to help make a better world. In the warm glow of the night, she looked so beautiful and full of life. He can listen to her for hours. In that instant, Richard had a realization, he is falling in love for the first time, despite his previous relationships, Alex included! His heart galloped and he felt breathless with the sudden rush of feelings for the wonderful woman before him. He needed to slow down, though, he just met her.
Maya, after a while, noticed that Richard was silent, and was just staring at her, while she was talking.
“Oh, sorry, Ricky. I got carried away. You should have stopped me.” Maya said sheepishly. “My mother said I have a tendency to talk a mile long when really feel strongly about something.”
“No, no, no, don’t be sorry Maya. I enjoyed listening to you. I admire your idealism and your dreams.” Richard assured Maya, at the same time, he was also thinking that if Maya directs the same passion for the man she loves or would love, then that person would be the luckiest guy in the world. “In fact, I can listen to you the whole night and I don’t think I will get bored.”
Maya blushed and gave Ricky the sweetest smile, and simply said, “Thank you.” She felt very happy at that moment. Normally, she is not chatty with a guy she just met, but she felt very comfortable with Richard. His dinner invitation was the first one she has accepted from a guy since she returned to the States. Others have invited her before, but she declined, not really interested.
Soon after, the rest of the food they ordered arrived and they proceeded to have a wonderful dinner. They chatted in between courses and never ran out of things to say and find out from each other. Before they knew it, they finished everything, including the wine, and the restaurant was about to close. They just forgot about the time and everyone around them as they were focused on finding everything they could about each other.
Maya found out that Richard studied at Harvard Business School for his postgraduate degree, that he spent a lot of years living in Boston, and also in New York while doing so. Now, he is here to study their operations here, as when he returns to the Philippines, he will assume a higher management position than the one he had at that time. She was surprised to know that he belongs to the Lim family that owns quite a number of big companies in the Philippines. He is so down to earth, acts like a regular guy, and dresses simply, though very elegantly.
Richard and Maya also found out that they have similar taste in literature, differ in the movies they enjoy watching, and that they both like the theater a lot. They promise to see all the show in Broadway while they are both in New York, or while Richard is there, as Maya said, she may have to wait for those job applications a while and continue with her job at the hotel.
“Hindi pa mahirap ang job mo doon, Maya?” Richard asked, thinking about Maya’s welfare. “It is an honorable job, of course, don’t get me wrong please.”
“Okay lang Richard, I like the job. Hindi naman siya ganoon kahirap. Mostly naman madali lang linisin the rooms. It was also something that came up when I was getting restless, staying at my parents’ house.” Maya replied. “I know, I could probably find something related to my course. But I consider this naman as part of that. I get to practice my language skills. Iba-ibang nationalities kaya ang guests sa hotel. Tapos the work naman will be a useful skill and experience if I get a job in the UN, doing work in remote parts of the globe.” Maya finished with a smile.
Richard liked Maya’s attitude and positivism. She is not a spoiled, rich girl, unlike some he knew that the measure of their universe was whether they have the latest designer stuffs or not. They got into talking about housework. Richard told Maya that his old nanny, Manang Fe, also taught him some housework. It was a useful skill when he moved to the States to study. They were laughing at an anecdote that Richard was telling when they both noticed the time!
‘Wow, we have been talking for hours, Ricky!” Maya remarked, realizing how late it was already. “Magsasara na yata sina Uncle Bobby.”
“Ikaw kasi, I like chatting with you. I forgot about the time.” Richard teased Maya. He really had a wonderful time and was feeling a bit sad that his evening with her was about to end. He then signaled for Cesar to approach them, and when waiter did, he asked for the bill.
Several minutes after they got Maya’s coat, said their goodbyes to Uncle Bobby and thanked him, they were out in the street leading to the hotel.
“Maya, I will take you home please, and no arguments on it.” Richard insisted. “I have a car in the hotel. Let us just get it.”
Maya was about to, but seeng Richard’s determined expression, she said yes. While they were walking back, she told him where she lives with Emman. They asked the hotel valet to get Richard’s car, which turned out to be a BMW. Richard opened the door for Maya, after thanking and tipping the valet. Soon after, they were on their way. Several minutes later, they arrived infront of a brownstone, which Maya told Richard has been converted into several small apartments. The apartment was a gift from her parents also. She didn’t want to take it, but it was one of her mother’s conditions in allowing her to live on her own in New York.
“Here we are.” Maya said as they were standing near the steps. “Would you like to come in and have coffee?”
“Thank you, Maya. Maybe next time na lang. Late na rin. Kailangan mo na ring mag-rest.” Richard said, gazing at Maya. “Thank you for a wonderful evening, Maya. I hope we can do this again.”
Maya smiled at Richard. “I had a wonderful time too, Ricky. Sure, just let me know.”
“O, you go in na.” Richard said.
“No, I will wait for you to drive away. Ingat ha.” Maya insisted. “Huwag kang mag-aalala sa akin, teritoryo ko ito, kahit paano.”
Richard gave Maya a warm smile, then said softly, “Good night, Maya.” Then turned to his car, when he remembered something.
“Maya wait.” He said, as he grabbed something from the back seat of the car. Then went back to where Maya was standing, holding a beautiful bouquet. “For you, thank you again for taking care of me.”
Maya was surprised, touched and she admitted, felt kilig, when she saw the flowers. “Ricky, you don’t have to, but thank you. It’s lovely.”
“Thank you again for a lovely evening. Good night. Bye. I’ll see you.” Richard said softly, meaningfully, then gave Maya a kiss on the cheek, before getting in his car, and driving off into the night, leaving Maya looking at the departing car, her mouth agape, hand on the cheek he just kissed.