Chances 9

This is a continuation of Chances 8

Author : christine24m

CHAPTER 9

“You have the camera with you?” Richard asked as he took a glance at Maya who was sitting on the passenger’s seat. They’re on their way to the architecture firm since it’s been a part of Maya’s punishment for Richard. At first, Richard thought that Maya was just kidding about coming to work with him but he was actually surprised when Maya was already awake when he got up. It seems like she is excited to come with him.

Maya nodded her head. “Nasa bag ko.” She answered. It was still early and Maya kept looking outside the window. The sky was now alive because the sun already rose. Even if buildings interrupted her sightseeing, Maya didn’t mind. There’s nothing that can stop her from admiring such a lovely morning.

The car came to a halt as the stoplight turned red. Maya quickly pulled the camera from her bag and took a photo of the scenery they stopped at. Almost instantly after she pressed the button, the printed picture came out from the camera. Maya blew on it to dry it quickly and as she did all of that, Richard was just watching her.

Maya immediately smiled when she saw how the photo turned out. It was exactly what her eyes saw. She was still holding it while she returned the camera back in her bag. “May I see it?” Richard asked, bringing Maya back from her thoughts. She nodded happily and gave Richard the photo.

Richard thought that it would be a mistake for Maya to be taking a picture out in a busy road like this. But what he saw proved him wrong. In the little piece of photo, a tall building was on the right side while the sun’s orange rays seeking behind it. The skies were blue on top and below, there were two figures. It was a little bit dark on that part but Richard could distinguish that it was a scene where a mother is kissing her son goodbye since he’s off to school. Everything in the photo has a story to tell. It was the first time she saw the photo she took and he couldn’t help but admire it.

“Wow.” Richard said. It was the only word he can utter after seeing the photo. When the light turned green, he kept the photo in his hand as he started driving again. “This is a beautiful photo, Maya.” He said.

“Thank you.” Maya simply said as she reached for the photo in his hand. “Ang ganda nga no?” She said as she stared at the photo she held in her hands.

Richard nodded. “I’m starting to think na hindi ka drug dealer. Maybe you’re really a photographer.”

Maya chuckled. “Hindi nga kasi ako drug dealer eh! Wala namang masamang nangyari sa’yo nung kumain ka kagabi.” She defended, making Richard laugh. “Siguro. Siguro nga photographer ako. Hindi ko rin alam eh.” She said. She felt sad because of it. It’s been days since her accident but none of her memories seem to come back, except for her birthday. Not even her surname, which would help her a lot.

“Maybe you taking photos will remind you what your life was like before.” Richard said. He took a glance at her and saw that her face is sad. He knew that it’s because she’s trying to recover her memories but she can’t because of her amnesia. “Maya, did you capture the mother-son scene by accident? The one below the building?” He asked, trying to change their subject.

Almost immediately, Maya smiled again. She shook her head. “Yung scenery lang dapat talaga yung kukuhanan ko tapos nakita ko silang dalawa dun sa baba. Hinintay ko lang yung right moment ng pagpapaalam nung bata tapos kinuhanan ko na.” She explained.

Richard smiled. “Nah, fluke yan.” He teased. Maya hit him lightly on his arm. “Oy, hindi ‘no. Nakita ko talaga siya.”

“Fine. Well, I think you have a talent for capturing things not everybody can see through their eyes. The photo of yours is really worth a thousand words.” He said.

Maya smiled foolishly. It was the first time that Richard complimented her. Even if it’s on her work, it feels something more, something extra. “Thank you.” She simply said, afraid that the blush on her cheeks would deepen. “Ikaw din naman ah. With your house designs.”

Richard gave her a small smile. “Mine’s different. The houses I drew are for those families who decided to start a happy home together. I draw them because .. because it’s something I wished we had.”

Maya felt the urge to comfort Richard right at that moment. She might’ve seen Richard angry but she had never seen him so sad like this. Since they’ve met, this is the first time that Richard told her something about what his family is like.

She suddenly envisioned Richard as a little boy with those little chinky-eyes of his and those chubby cheeks running around their house, looking for someone to play with. But no one went out to play. She suddenly wondered what his mom was like, or even his dad. Besides Luke, does he have any other siblings? What he was like when he was still a child? And what really happened that made him like this now?

Maya was about to ask him something but Richard beat her to it. “How come you only take photos of things? As I remember, last night, kinuhanan mo rin ng picture yung kandilang sinindihan mo sa living room. I honestly thought that you’re first photo will be yourself.” He said.

Maya stared at Richard first before she answered. She can see that he’s trying so hard to change the topic. His face is even telling her that he’s feeling uncomfortable in talking about his family. “Mas maganda kasing kuhanan ang landscape, maraming kwento sa sideline. Hindi katulad ng pag tao, na kapag kinuhanan mo, pwedeng hindi yun yung totoo nilang ngiti. There’s a deeper meaning behind it or they’re trying to hide something. Pag landscape, kapag kinuhanan mo, yun na yun. You’re already seeing the story behind it.” She explained.

Richard nodded, perfectly understanding what she meant. He can clearly see himself as that particular person that Maya was saying. There’s always something that he’s trying to hide between his smiles. Something that he doesn’t want anyone to be involved with.

When they got to Aero Designs, the day passed by like a breeze. Richard gave his schedules to Maya and told her that she must inform him about his calls, his documents, and his meetings, everything that is related about work within the day. Maya thought Richard was just doing a light job whenever he’s at work, like he’ll just be sketching the whole day but it really was not. Richard’s pretty much booked up for the day. He’s got meetings one after the other, leaving him a very little time to have lunch. She was trying to sort everything out so that Richard could get at least an hour of lunch but she can’t manoeuvre everything. Richard’s tight schedule can just provide him half an hour.

It was lunch time and Maya was feeling very famished. They’re still under a meeting with one of the suppliers. Maya kept drinking glasses of water just to fill her stomach and Richard noticed it. He excused himself to them for a minute and brought Maya back to his office. He told her that she should go eat lunch but Maya doesn’t want to because Richard would be alone in the meeting. Good thing James arrived and Richard asked him if he can take Maya with her for lunch. Maya was left without a choice but to go with James.

“So I guess may something serious na nangyayari sa inyo ni Richard.” James said as they waited for their food to arrive. Maya was silent the whole car ride. She was simply worried about Richard. It wasn’t really part of her job to worry but she couldn’t help it. He was working really hard yet he doesn’t have any reason or anyone to do it for. He was doing it all for his self.

“Pwede ba nating i-order si Richard ng pagkain dito? Hindi pa yun nakain eh. Masama yung nagpapagutom ‘di ba?” Maya said, completely ignoring what James said. James just laughed at Maya. “Hindi na pala guess. Definitely, there’s something going on with the two of you.” He said.

“Ha?” Maya reacted. “W-Wala James. Tinutulungan lang talaga ako ni Richard.” She defended.

“Really?” James reacted back. “Well, after knowing Richard through the years, I knew for a fact that he doesn’t let anyone sleep inside his condo, besides Luke. Kahit nga ako ayaw niyang patulugin dun eh! And then he bought you clothes, gave you his phone and he even bought a camera for you. Eh si Luke nga hindi niya mabilhan ng phone. What do you call that, Maya?” James asked, grinning teasingly at her.

“Uhm, kindness?” Maya answered. “Look, Richard is just helping me. Walang mali dun, nilalagyan mo kasi ng malisya eh.”

James chuckled. “You know, if I were on Richard’s shoes, I wouldn’t just buy things for someone without a reason. Masyadong out of league yung mga binili niya kung grateful siya and if he’s really helping you, sapat na siguro kung papatirahin kita sa condo ko.” He stated. “Believe me, Maya. He’s more than helping you.”

Maya flushed. She doesn’t know what to say. Would it be possible if Richard would reciprocate the developing feelings she’s having for him? Would it be totally wrong if she mistook the feelings of gratitude to love?

As Maya was busy in her thoughts, the waiter arrived, carrying two paper bags. James thanked him and after paying the bill, he stood up. “Let’s go, Maya. Sa firm na tayo kumain. Ayaw mong magutom si Richard di ba?” He said.

James and Maya entered the meeting room and as James expected, the meeting Richard was in just finished and Richard was sitting at the end of the table, reading the contracts Maya left on his table. “He’s always like that.” James whispered to Maya. “Richard!” He called. “We brought food!”

“I’m not hungry.” Richard muttered as he signed one of the contracts. James put the paper bags on the table and started reaching for the food inside it. “We ordered Chinese. Chinese ka ‘di ba Lim?”

Richard smirked. “Stop mocking me with my Chinese blood, James. You and I both know that I don’t really like that side of me.” He said.

Maya just watched the two of them but she was still bewildered about Richard. He’s been dropping hints on what could’ve happened but it wasn’t enough for Maya to get a good look at the whole picture. “I’m not really hungry, James.” Richard said.

“Don’t worry. Hindi pa rin kami nakain ni Maya.” James said as he sat beside him. Richard’s head rose up to Maya. “Hindi ka pa nakain?” He worriedly asked. Maya also saw James’ head shot to her, with his brows cocked up, teasing her.

“Dito na raw kami kumain eh.” She simply answered. Richard groaned and reached for Maya’s hand. He ushered her in the chair opposite of James and took one of the dishes they bought and placed it in front of her. “Kumain ka na.”

James was just smiling at them as he watched. He has never seen this side of Richard. He knew that his friend is smitten about the lady in front of him, though he doesn’t realize it yet. Richard went back to his seat and continued reading as James munched on his food. “Richard, hindi ka kakain?” Maya asked.

Richard shook his head. “Nope. I’m busy.”

Maya nodded. “Pwes, hindi rin ako kakain kung hindi ka kakain.”

“What? Masasayang yung pagkain.” Richard said. “Kumain ka na.”

“I don’t mind eating all of this. Kaya ko.” James said, obviously enjoying watching their argument.

“O, kaya raw ni James.” Maya said.

Richard rolled his eyes. “Fine, I’ll eat. Happy now?”

Maya made a single clap. “Oo! Kasi kakain na ko. Kanina pa kaya ako gutom.” She said and reached for one dish and put it in front of Richard. “Kain na.”

As they eat, James remained silent as Richard and Maya talked. He’s now sure that Maya has feelings for Richard but his friend remains clueless of his feelings. James has a feeling that he’s holding back because of his past. He made it clear to him that he doesn’t want him to be involved, that’s why he never really told him the story. James knew that if Richard opened up to Maya, that’ll be the start of something new for the both of them.

 

Richard and Maya were both exhausted when they got home, especially Maya. Even though she was just Richard’s secretary, she was too mentally exhausted from all of the work. Richard on the other hand, looks, well, looks like his ordinary self. He was used to the exhaustion and somehow immune to stress. Both of them decided to call it a day when the doorbell rang. Maya volunteered to open the door and when she opened it, she saw a boy standing behind it.

“Uhm, where’s Kuya Richard po?” The boy asked. Maya immediately recognized him as Luke. He has those chinky eyes of Richard too and she was sure that he’s the kid Richard’s with at the photo inside her room.

“You’re Luke, right?” Maya asked. The boy nodded. “Pasok ka muna, nasa loob si Richard.” She said and the boy entered.

It seemed like Luke already knew where Richard is and he went straight to Richard’s workplace. “Maya, would you mind if you bring coffee here?” Richard said and when he looked up, he saw that it was Luke. “O Luke, what are you doing here?”

“Can I sleep here Kuya?” He asked.

“Is Dad mad at you?” Richard asked. Luke shook his head. “You didn’t respond to my text. I already told Dad that I’ll be sleeping here.” He said. “He misses you, Kuya.”

“Seriously Luke? Naniwala ka sa kanya? Well if you do, please tell him that I don’t.” He said. Luke didn’t flinch. It was perfectly normal to hear those words coming from his big brother. “Anyway, you can sleep in my room. Your room is occupied.”

“What? No, Kuya, I refuse. Minsan na nga lang ako matutulog dito eh. I miss my bed here. Who’s occupying it anyway?” Luke asked.

“Si Maya. The one who opened the door.” He replied.

“I see. Girlfriend mo Kuya?”  Luke asked. He stepped further inside Richard’s workplace in attempt to ask him more about Maya. “I thought we had an agreement na ipapakilala mo sa’kin yung mga girlfriend mo –“

“Hey hey, step back.” Richard warned. “It’s my rule. No one steps inside here.”

Luke raised both of his hands in defeat. “Fine fine. No need to be grouchy.” He said. “I still insist na sa kwarto ko ako matutulog. Tabi na lang kayo ni Ate Maya sa kwarto mo since she’s your girlfriend.”

“She’s not my girlfriend.” Richard said. “Really? How come she’s staying here? As far as I know, ako lang ang pinapatulog mo dito Kuya.” Luke said.

Richard sighed. “She’s just a friend.” He simply said. Right after he said that, he questioned his self. Just a friend? Or there’s something more? He was aware of the foreign feelings he’s experiencing when he’s with Maya. I’m just grateful. But grateful for what?

As he was having those thoughts, Maya came, holding a cup of coffee. She walked passed through Luke and entered his workplace, putting the cup of coffee carefully on his table. “Kape mo.” She said.

Richard smiled at her. “Thank you.”

Luke gaped at what he just saw. He attempted to step inside Richard’s workplace but Richard noticed him immediately. “Luke, bawal nga di ba?”Richard said.

“Eh bakit si Ate Maya pinapapasok mo?” He amusedly asked. Richard could feel the blood from his head drain. For the first time, he was lost for words. “Well .. she .. she brought coffee, and … and it would be inconvenient kung .. kung tatayo pa ko para .. para abutin.” He stammered.

Luke smiled meaningfully at them as he nodded slowly. “Friend pala Kuya.” He said. “I’ll be in my room. Goodnight Kuya. Goodnight Ate Maya and it’s nice to meet my Kuya’s girlfriend.” He said and left the two of them.

Maya swallowed the lump in her throat. Girlfriend? She suddenly wondered why Luke accused her of that. Did Richard introduce her like that? She looked at Richard to find that he, too, was somehow affected by what his little brother said. He was completely still, as if he just froze.

“Uhm, don’t mind him. He’s still a kid.” He simply said. Maya nodded and walked to leave Richard’s workplace when he called her. “Maya.” He said.

Maya turned around and saw Richard looking at her intently. “I .. I guess you’ll be sleeping in my room tonight.” He said.

Maya’s eyes widened. Her heart started thumping fast. “H-Ha?”

Richard swallowed hard. “Gawa ni Luke. He’ll be sleeping in his room. He’s claiming it back. So .. dun ka muna sa kwarto ko matulog.” He said. “D-don’t worry though, sa sahig na lang ako.”

Maya nodded. “S-sige.” She answered. She can still feel her heart thumping loudly. They’re going to be sleeping together for the first time. Together, even if she’ll be on the bed while Richard will be on the floor. For the first time, she knew that it’ll be the first time that she’ll be sleeping with her crush near her. It’s all inconvenient but as what Jerry told her, the odds are forever in their favour.

 

Heart’s True Desire – part 27

A/N: This is a continuation to Heart’s True Desire – part 26.

“Seeds of doubt”

After the scene with James and Arlene, Richard and Maya returned to LBH’s main restaurant where they spent time talking with their friends as if nothing happened.

As Richard’s ex-club mates were predominantly male, their respective wives also took time to bond with each other. Together with Maya, the ladies decided to go to D’mall to shop for some souvenirs. In that shopping trip, Maya ended up buying a new pair of shorts that she thought more modest after her discovery of her husband’s tendency to be conservative.

Everything seemed to be going well for Maya until dinnertime. They have set-up dinner buffet at the beachfront, which is one of the popular attractions of their hotel. For that particular night, a live band was going to have a show. As expected, their restaurant was fully booked.

Maya was seated beside Richard when the band started. They were enjoying the night with their friends when the lead female singer started to go around for some audience interaction. The singer was looking for someone that she could sing with. There was a loud cheering from Richard’s table as the guys started pointing at each other. When the lead female singer went to their table, she took notice of Richard.

“Hi, Sir, good evening.” The singer greeted him. She was good-looking in a sexy attire.

“Hi” Richard responded as the microphone was placed in front of him.

“Sir… may naka pagsabi na ba sa inyong gwapo kayo?” The singer flirted with him. The crowd cheered on. Maya who was just beside Richard was looking at him with amused expression.

Richard replied. “Meron na rin.” He played with the singer.

“Ay si sir, okay ang confidence level. By the way sir, may I know your name and phone number?”

“It’s Richard. But for my phone number, you’ll have to ask her.” Richard pointed at Maya who was still grinning with their bantering. Their table group was laughing as they were enjoying the exchanges between Richard and the singer.

“Richard, what a nice name. Pero bakit ko naman kukunin kay Ma’m ang phone number mo?” The lead singer kept on talking to Richard. She tried to flirt some more.

Richard just smiled as he responded. “Well, she is my wife. I’m not sure if she would want me to give away my phone number.”

Upon hearing Richard response, the singer immediately stepped back and said. “Ayy… sorry… taken na pala si Sir. Sorry ma’m. Nagbibiro lang po.” Then the singer returned to the stage. Maya just smiled as she knew that it was all for fun.

“Alright, ladies and gentlemen let’s move on to our next song.” She took a piece of paper from her band-mate who whispered something in her ear. She looked at the direction where Richard and Maya were seated. “Well, well, well, our next song is actually requested by sir Richard for his lovely wife, Maya. Here it goes…”

The band started to play Now that I have you.

In the middle of the song, Richard whispered in Maya’s ear. “I love you honey.” He didn’t mind if they were in a public place.

She smiled at him. “I love you too Ricky.” They held hands while they listened to the song.

Unknown to the two, Sugar was within the area. She heard everything and her devious mind started working double time. She was very upset with what she witnessed. She decided to execute her plan that same night.

~*~

The live band continued with the show while Richard’s group stayed at the restaurant having drinks. The band was already on its second set when Auldry, their hotel manager, approached Maya to talk to her privately.

After excusing herself from Richard, Maya met their manager a few feet away from the crowd.

“Ma’m Maya, may bisita po kayo.” Auldry informed her. She seemed uneasy.

“Visitor? This evening. Lahat ng expected guests natin have arrived Auldry.” She clarified with her staff.

“Ehhh, Ma’m hindi ito kasama sa group n’yo. Bagong dating lang po. Andoon po naghinintay sa function room. Doon daw po kayo hihintayin.” Auldry added.

Maya started to walk towards the main hotel while Auldry walked beside her. “Sinong bisita ba? Bakit sa function room pa. Pwede namang hinatid mo na lang sa restaurant.” Her curious started to really get curious.

“Ma’m Maya, si Ma’m Sugar po kasi ang bisita. Kilala n’yo po ba s’ya?” Auldry stopped walking as she finally informed Maya who was waiting for her at the function room.

Maya was taken aback for a while. Then, she quickly recovered. “Oh, si Grace? I know her pero kayo, kakilala n’yo ba siya?” She asked. Her curiosity got the better of her.

“Opo. Dati na s’yang naisama ni sir Richard ng magbakasyon silang dalawa dito. Alam n’yo siguro na dating girl…” Maya cut Auldry to save her from her discomfort. Their hotel employee really seemed concerned with the sudden arrival of Sugar in their hotel.

“Auldry, I know. So, don’t worry.” She assured the other woman. She then walked towards the function room on her own. As Maya came nearer the place, she wondered why Sugar was visiting her at that time.

Although Maya felt so much love from Richard that night, she didn’t know that her faith in hr husband would be tested minutes later.

~*~

Maya knocked at the door to announce her arrival before opening the function room. When entered the room, Sugar was waiting at the far end of the place. She had a serious look on her face.

Maya walked towards her while her heart was pounding. But before she could say anything when they stood in front of each other, Sugar struck Maya’s face with her bare hand.

“You sly bitch!” Sugar’s hand produced a stinging pain on her face. Maya was so shocked that she failed to react immediately.

“I told you to keep an eye on him but instead, you decided to steal him away from me.” Sugar exclaimed and was about to hit her again but Maya was quick to hold her hand this time.

“How dare you come here and accuse me of that.” Maya hissed back. She has regained her composure as she pushed Sugar’s arm away from her.

Then, Maya kept her distance from Sugar. “I guess my husband has spoken to you and told you about us?” She glared at the other woman.

“Yes, your husband who happens to be my lover wants to break up with me. Unfortunately, I have no plans on giving him up that easily. I don’t believe that he even loves you. You’re just one of his playthings.” Sugar spoke with full contempt.

“Grace, I don’t want to argue with you about Richard. He has told you about us and I don’t want to waste my time having this discussion with you.” Maya was still in shock and hurt. However, she didn’t want to fight with Sugar. She turned around ready to leave the visitor. She didn’t want to dignify the woman’s accusation. Her heard was starting to ache.

However, Sugar wouldn’t let up. “Don’t be so sure about him Maya. How long have you been together? Married for a few months, a real couple for a month? I have been with him for four years in the States. If his grandfather didn’t force him to agree on this arranged marriage of yours, we would be engaged by now.”

Maya turned around and faced Grace again. “Yeah, but obviously, he chose to marry me and he wants to stay married to me.” She flaunted her confidence about her position in Richard’s life.

Sugar let out a sarcastic laugh. “Why? Do you really believe he loves you? Just because he showers you with flowers, kisses, and asked you to have children doesn’t necessarily mean he loves ONLY you.” Maya noticed the emphasis in the word only.

Maya’s eyes grew wide with Sugar’s statement. She got confused. She wondered how the she knew about what’s happening between them. Sugar was quick to recognize Maya’s feelings and capitalized on it.

“Are you curious why I know all these things? Because, those are not unique to you. You are not that special. He has done that to me in the past. Has he told you about us? We almost had a baby last year but we lost her. I allowed him to marry you only on the condition that he would be returning back to me. I knew all about the condition of your marriage. He told me that when he went to see me in Chicago. Do you remember that he left you right after the wedding?”

Maya’s heart pounded loudly as she processed everything that Sugar told her. While she knew that Richard love her, a part of her started to get affected by the other woman’s revelation. It was as if she swallowed her tongue so she couldn’t lash back at Sugar.

“He tells you he loves you? Well, ganoon din ang sabi niya sa akin. He intends to keep our relationship. However, I don’t want to share him with anyone. I’m done with that stage in our relationship. It’s the reason why I am here. I want you to leave him. Don’t confuse him by making himself believe he loves you. He only wants your body because you are there.” Sugar uttered more words that were hurting Maya.

Maya tried to keep her composure but deep inside she had mixed emotions. She was angry for being insulted, she was confused trying to connect Richard’s actions the past weeks and Sugar’s allegations. She was also jealous because Richard used to have a relationship with the woman in front of her and the details Sugar shared with her was too much for her that night.

“Richard is passionate man, he is quite physical as you may have discovered by now. So, bago pa kayo magka-baby which will complicate our situation. I advise you to stay away from him. He will not give me up and neither will I.” Sugar finally said. She walked towards the door.

“By the way Maya, if you want proof that we are still together, you can come and visit me in my room at Red Suites, I am at room 225. Ricky will be seeing me tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m.”

~*~

Instead of returning to the beachfront and rejoin Richard, Maya went back to their room after her meeting with Sugar. She managed to walk although she felt so weak after Sugar poured out everything to her.

As soon as Maya entered the room, her tears started to stream down her face. She was very upset and confused. Her head started to ache. She didn’t want to believe Sugar but a part of her doubted her husband. Richard had not told her what happened to his conversation with Sugar.

Then, she recalled the tone of his voice when he spoke to Sugar on the phone the other night. It was really possible that Richard still love the other woman. She remembered that he didn’t categorically answer her when she asked if he still love her. His response has always been about loving her, Maya.

She stayed in the shower for several minutes to calm herself. While she was there, she made a decision to ask Richard about Sugar. She prayed that he would answer her question satisfactorily. Otherwise, she was afraid that her doubts might compound.

~*~

Maya was already on the bed when Richard entered their room. He immediately went to her side of the bed and checked.

“Maya, why are you here? Hinintay kitang bumalik sa restaurant but you didn’t. I just left the group to check where you are.” He sounded concerned.

“Napagod na ako. So, I decided to just return to our room. Masakit na ang ulo ko.” Maya’s head was throbbing in pain. In her head, she was having an inner conversation. Would she confront him that night or wait until the morning. However, her headache was becoming unbearable.

“Alright, then, hindi na rin ako babalik doon. I’ll stay here with you.”

Richard went to the bathroom to take his shower. After thirty minutes, he lied down the bed beside Maya. He turned to his side so he could face her. When he crossed his arm on her waist and pulled her close to him, he whispered. “Are you sleeping? You want me to help you get rid of your headache?” He started caressing her tummy and she knew what that would lead to.

“Ricky… I’m tired. Let’s just go to sleep pwede?” She turned her back against Richard. At that point, she decided she would not confront him that night. Her thoughts were in disarray again.

“Okay, if you say so. Goodnight honey.” Richard moved closer to her so they could sleep in a spoon position. He didn’t sense any wrong with his wife.

Maya didn’t respond. She pretended to have slept but in reality, she was thinking how she would confront Richard the following day.

Heart’s True Desire – part 26

A/N: This is a continuation to Heart’s True Desire – part 25

“Protecting Her”

Maya remained at the kitchen for a few minutes giving herself time to calm down. Although she felt the pangs of jealousy earlier when she overheard Richard’s conversation on the phone, she repeatedly told herself that her husband loves her. She needed to trust him.

When she finally came out of the dining room, Richard was already in their bedroom. She followed him there and found him in the bathroom taking a shower. While waiting for him to finish, she started to prepare her nightclothes and open her computer first to check on her emails.

Maya noticed that his shower time took longer than usual. And when Richard came out, he looked pensive. He didn’t talk even when she passed him by as she entered the bathroom for her turn to take the shower.

Later, when she was done with her nightly beauty routine, he was already lying on their bed with his eyes closed. For the first time since they became a couple, he slept earlier than her. When she joined him thirty minutes later, he instinctively reached out to her to hug her. He was asleep as she heard his steady breathing on her neck.

~*~

The following day, Richard called up Maya at around 10:00 a.m. to tell her a change in his plan for the day.

“Hon, I’m going out to see Arnold for lunch and then will attend a meeting this afternoon.” He informed her over the phone.

“Ricky, di ba magkikita naman tayo nina Arnold tomorrow? Aren’t we all going to Boracay?” She was curious what they would be discussing about.

“Yeah, but he wanted to discuss another matter. I think it’s a business proposal so I am going to see him.” He explained.

She went silent for a while. She recalled what she overheard the previous night. She was thinking when would he actually meet Sugar during that day. Obviously, he wasn’t telling her everything and she wondered why. She didn’t want to ask as she hoped he would be honest with her.

“Ahh, ganu’n? O sige. So, I’ll just wait for you here later para sabay tayo umuwi.” She responded calmly. However, deep inside, her heart was pounding. She knew she shouldn’t feel that way but her instinct was telling her something else.

~*~

At about lunchtime, a special food delivery arrived at her office. She was surprised to receive a Japanese set lunch that came from her favorite Japanese restaurant. It turned out that Richard ordered lunch for her and her assistant picked it up.

“Ms. Maya, here’s your lunch.” Mica placed the package on top of Maya’s table.

She was about to say something when her assistant added. “Ang sweet naman po ni Sir Richard. Early this morning, pinagbilin pa niya yan sa akin. He made sure that I follow-up baka daw kasi hindi ma-prepare on time.”

“Thanks Mica. Si Ricky talaga. Eh, may Asian food chef naman tayo.” She took the package and checked what was inside.

“Well, sabi po ni Sir Richard, favorite n’yo raw po yang Japanese restaurant na ‘yan.”

Maya smiled as she saw her favorite dishes in the package. In the end, she shared her lunch with her assistant as the servings were good for two people.

The gesture of Richard alleviated her worries. She has a loving husband; he takes care of her in every opportunity he has. So, for the rest of the afternoon, Maya stopped worrying. She will give him time and will wait until he tells her how he managed Grace.

~*~

Maya was watching TV when Richard arrived home that night. She went home by herself taking the hotel car service after Richard sent her a text message that he would be late coming home.

When he entered their condo unit, he looked so tired that she instantly came to him to check how he was.

“Hi, hon.” She greeted him lovingly.

“Hi, have you eaten?” He returned her smile after giving her a kiss on her lips.

“Uhumm.” She nodded. “You look tired. Kumain ka na?” She probed.

“Hindi pa nga eh.” He placed an arm around her shoulder as they walked towards their dining room.

“Sige, I’ll just warm some food for you. Upo ka muna diyan.” She asked him to sit on the dining chair as she went to the kitchen to take out some food from the fridge.

Maya was waiting for the microwave to finish heating the dish she was going to serve him when she suddenly felt being enveloped in his arms. He hugged her from behind and when she turned around, Richard was looking into her eyes tenderly.

“Hon, may problem?” She asked out of curiosity. There was something in his eyes beyond the love he was trying to convey to her.

“Wala. I’m just so in love with my wife.” He smiled and then kissed her in the lips. His arms still around her. The kiss he gave her was breathtaking and if not for the sound coming from microwave reminding them that the food was ready, they would have stopped.

“Ricky…gutom lang ‘yan.” She pushed him lightly away from her as she was about to take the dishes and set them on the table.

“Yeah…I am hungry for you.” He replied as he stole one more kiss from her.

Moments later, Maya accompanied Richard while he ate his dinner. She served him ensuring he got the full meal. She also thanked him for sending her lunch that day.

“You’re welcome, hon. Naiisip ko kasi talaga na mag Japanese food tayo for lunch kanina. But, Arnold called me up. Hindi naman ako makatanggi sa kanya.” He explained.

“So, what business ba ang napag-usapan n’yo?” She asked like a normal wife would ask her husband.

“Well, he wants to enter the hospitality industry pero sa province nila. He was offering a partnership. I told him I’ll have to discuss with the board lalo na kay Lolo Liwen.” He shared with her.

For the rest of the evening, Richard shared with her the opportunities that could open for them if they enter into a partnership with Arnold’s family.

Later that night, they went to bed with Maya feeling secure that everything was well with Richard. As she slept well that night, she didn’t see that Richard actually woke up in the middle of the night and worked on his computer. He looked as if something was troubling him.

~*~

A day later at Lim Boutique Hotel, Boracay

Richard and Maya got out of the LBH’s van with smiles on their faces as their hotel staff welcomed them. They have just arrived at Boracay’s station 1 where their hotel was located. It had been a long time since Richard visited them while it was Maya’s first time. The hotel staff already knew that they are newly weds.

“Good morning Sir Ricky. Good morning Mrs. Lim.” The hotel manager, Auldry, greeted them. Then, the two hotel staff, placed a lei of sampaguita and puka shells on their necks.

“Good morning, Auldry.” Richard responded. “Bagong welcome ito ah.” He was referring to the lei.

“Opo sir. Actually, it was an idea from Mrs. Lim.” Maya and Auldry have spoken on the phone two weeks ago and that was one of the suggestions Maya gave them to improve their service.

“Good morning Auldry, ikaw naman don’t be so formal. You can call me Maya.” She responded as she offered her hand and pulled their hotel manager towards her to give her a kiss on the cheek.

“Thank you, Ma’m Maya.” The other woman responded. “Ahh, Sir, may nauna na pong dumating sa grupo n’yo this morning. May 4 couples na po na naka check-in. The next group should be coming in within 2 hours.” She immediately reported.

“Okay…thanks again. We’ll just settle our things first and then pwede mo na rin pa-ready yung lunch.” Richard instructed after Auldry handed him their room key. He took Maya’s hand. “Hon, punta muna tayo sa room so we can change to a more comfortable attire before lunch.”

~*~

Maya was already in a fashionable red short shorts and sleeves white blouse when Richard came out of the bathroom. He too has changed into a light blue shirt. After seeing his wife dressed the way she was, his eyes narrowed a bit.

“Maya, are you going out like that?” He asked as he scanned her generously exposed legs.

“Oo Ricky, bakit? Pangit ba ako dito?” She asked innocently.

“No” Richard’s quick response. “But, do you feel comfortable in it? Hindi ba masyadong maiksi yang shorts mo?” He added.

“Hindi naman. Sanay naman akong ganito. Di ba when I am at home ganito rin naman kahaba ang shorts ko, ah.” She argued back. She was beginning to sense that Richard wanted her to change her shorts.

“Sa bahay, tayong dalawa lang and so I don’t mind kung ganyan ka-iksi ang shorts mo. But here, there are lots of people.” He sat down on the bed as he scrutinized her attire one more time.

“Mr. Lim, we are on the beach. I think I am properly attired. If you want me to change into something else, I am sorry to tell you, I will not. Besides, 2 pairs of pants lang dala ko for this trip. So, you might have to get used to seeing me in shorts.” She told him while she tried to pull him to stand up and leave the room.

Instead of standing up, Richard caressed her legs that it jolted her. His hand touching her inner thighs sent electric shock to her body. Richard felt her reaction. “See that’s the reason why I don’t want to expose your legs. I get distracted. Have I told you that you have very beautiful legs?” By this time, he was already embracing her.

She smiled as looked into her husband’s eyes. “Hmm, hindi pa. Pero ngayon alam ko na.” She cupped his face between her two hands.

Richard chuckled as he pressed his body closer to her. “Ricky, let’s go. Naghihintay na sa atin yung mga friends mo.” She tried to distract him as she anticipated what he was thinking.

He took a deep sigh in frustration. “I thought we could have one round before lunch.” There was disappointment in his tone.

“Well, Mr. Lim, hindi pa po pwede. Alam mo na kung bakit, di ba?” She disengaged from him and walked towards the door.

“Yeah, the red flag is up. Ilang araw ba talaga yan? Parang tagal naman.” He was in his complaining tone as he approached her.

“Around 1 week.” She teased him and saw the dismay in his expression.

“One week? Naman!!!” was all he could say as they left their room.

~*~

Throughout lunch and as they welcomed Richard’s friends in their hotel, Maya stayed close to Richard. Most of them were aware that Maya worked for Richard but when he announced that he and Maya were actually married to each other, they were surprised. They’ve seen Richard with Steph in one of their dinner parties and so one of his friends couldn’t help but tease him.

“Uy pare, kasal ka na? Di ba noong isang araw lang iba ang kasama mo?”

“Wala ‘yon.” Richard let out a soft laugh as he glanced at Maya who sat comfortably beside him. There was no reaction from her. “Huyy, wag n’yo naman akong biruin ng ganyan at baka maniwala si misis.” He added.

The group laughed especially after one of his friends said. “Oh, oh. I think we have a new member in the Takusa club.”

That started the men’s bantering about their married life. While most enjoyed the sharing of experiences, Maya noted the one person who had a forced smile on his lips. It was James. James, being one of Richard’s clubmates, was there with them for that welcome lunch.

~*~

It was an hour after lunch that the group went for their individual plans. Richard remained with his friend Arnold at the restaurant. Maya, on the other hand, took the opportunity to sit by the beach as there were fewer people that time. She laid down on the lounge chair taking a sip of her fresh orange juice with the intent of appreciating the ocean view.

Then, James joined her. She wasn’t surprised that he followed her there since she had noticed that on several occasions during lunch, he was looking at her.

Since their arrival at Boracay that morning, she had purposely avoided him. She was aware that his wife, Arlene was going to join them too in Boracay. She didn’t want to speak to him nor his wife and wasn’t interested in any developments with regards to their separation.

“Hi, mind if I join you?” James sat on the other chair opposite her. Maya sat up.

“James, di ba sabi ko, I’d rather not see you for the meantime. Hindi ka kasi makaka move on if we keep on seeing each other.” She replied as she sat up and planned on leaving him.

“Maya, wait. I know you said that but I am not sure if I could really do it.” James was about to move to her chair to be closer to Maya when another female voice spoke from their back.

“So, dito pa talaga kayo nag-usap?” It was Arlene, James’s wife. Maya had not seen her in a long time. Although they were friends in college, they didn’t really have that close relationship unlike James.

“Arlene, don’t make a scandal here.” James stood up as he warned his wife.

“Don’t worry James, wala akong planong mag-eskandalo dito. I won’t stoop down to her level.” Arlene looked at Maya with full of disdain in her eyes.

It was at this point that Maya stood up and faced her former classmate. “Arlene, whatever it is with you and James, I hope hindi n’yo ako idadamay. I have no interest in your husband.” She responded firmly as she looked at the other woman straight in her eyes.

“Wow, ang galing mong mag-deny. As if naman hindi ko alam na matagal ka ng nakakapit tuko sa asawa ko pretending that you are friends with him.” Arlene accused.

Maya’s brows furrowed as she exclaimed “Excuse me?”

James uttered in disbelief. “Arlene, ano ka ba?”

The three glared at each other. It was at that Richard joined them. He actually heard most part of the conversation but just listened as Maya held her ground. However, it came to a point that he couldn’t take it anymore. He needed to step in.

“Arlene.” Richard took the attention of the woman who immediately turned her heard when she heard another man’s voice.

“Richard?” Arlene was surprised to see him there. Although she was aware that the hotel they were staying was his family’s property, she wasn’t sure why he would be butt in in their conversation. She soon found out why. She wasn’t aware about Richard and Maya relationship having missed lunch with their group.

“I understand that you are James’s wife and that you are one of the guests of our hotel. However, I couldn’t just stand here and listen as you malign my wife. I will not tolerate disrespect towards my wife or any member of my family. So, kung may issue kayong mag-asawa, I suggest that you move out of our premises.” Richard had a stern look. Then, he took Maya’s hand who was just staring at him. She admired how he came in to her rescue.

“Let’s go honey. The other guests are waiting for us.” He pulled her away from them. After taking a few steps, he stopped and instructed her, “Hon, can you go ahead? May sasabihin pa pala ako kay James.”

Richard retraced his steps and called James who was glued to where he was standing watching the couple leave. Arlene who got embarrassed left James seconds earlier.

Facing James, Richard had his final words. “By the way James, please stay away from my wife from now on. Konting respect lang sana sa amin, sa akin. When Maya and I weren’t a real couple, I respected her. I was aware that you were pursuing her even if you were married and I didn’t say a thing. Hinayaan lang kita. Pero ngayon, our situation is different. She has told you about us so I expect you to back off.”

Richard stared at James squarely. He waited for James’s reaction or even get into a brawl with him but James didn’t say a word. Instead, he just moved away and left Richard standing with his arms akimbo.

A minute later, he felt Maya’s hand on his upper arm. “Ricky… let’s go.” He looked at her with a tentative smile. “I love you Mr. Lim, thanks for the rescue.”

Richard’s smile became wider. “Of course I’d rescue my dear wife. I’ll always be here to protect you.” He assured her. “And by the way Mrs. Lim, I forbid you to come near that guy again.” He declared in a tender tone.

“Opo, sir.” She gave him a kiss on the cheek before they walked back to the hotel.

Heart’s True Desire – part 25

A/N: This is a continuation to Heart’s True Desire -part 24

Author: Hanah6181

~*~
“Out in the Open”

Maya proceeded directly to her office while Richard went to his own office when they reached the 5th floor of the hotel. All the executive offices were located on that level.

Maya’s thoughts were still with the two women who congratulated them. She wanted to check with Richard but didn’t get the chance to. He was already on the phone the moment they got out of the elevator. Before they went separate directions, he just managed to put on hold his call to say goodbye to Maya.

“I’ll see you later, honey.” He gave a quick smack on the lips and left her.

She wondered why her husband was so openly sweet to her that morning and she discovered the answer when she opened entered her office.

A large flower arrangement of red roses was waiting for her at the top of her table. There was a card that had her full name in it. It indicated Maya Dela Rosa Lim written quite visibly. And in a smaller sized script, there was Richard’s name. When she opened the card, there was a message from him. “You take my breath away. I love you.”

Maya’s blushed at the gesture of Richard. Her heart was jumping with joy seeing the flowers and the message from him. She completely forgot what she was mulling over a while ago. She just wanted to go see him instantly and give him a kiss. She was about to leave her room when her assistant came in with some papers. Mica was smiling looking very excited.

“Ms. Maya… congratulations!!! Kayo pala ni sir Richard. Oh my gee, all along akala namin you were dating different people. Yun pala kayo. Kaya pala si Sir nag-panic when you collapsed sa lobby.” Mica was evidently giddy over the turn of events.

Maya smiled at her secretary. “Thank you Mica.” Then, she remembered that people seem to know about them. “By the way, marami bang nakaka-alam?”

Mica nodded. “Yes, ma’m. It’s the latest news.”

She gave her assistant a quizzical look. “Really, when?”

“Well, this morning po nang dumating ang flowers, nagkagulo kasi nga po yung name mo may naka lagay na Lim. The flower shop confirmed that it was for you. Then, someone from HR confirmed that tama ang last name mo.” Mica explained.

“Huh? But I never…”Maya didn’t finish her statement as it all dawned on her.
Richard might have changed her record in their HR department. With that realization, she decided that she must see him.

~*~

Richard was typing in his computer when Maya came into the room. When he noticed her walking towards him, he stopped working and moved his chair away from his table. He looked at her intently trying to read her expression.

A serious looking Maya stood in front of him seconds later; there were creases on her forehead and had pouty look. He pulled her towards him such that she ended up sitting on his lap.

“I guess you got the flowers Mrs. Lim.” There was a wide grin on his face. He wrapped his arms around her. “Are you upset or what?”

Maya started to smile. “No, I am not upset my dear husband. Kaya lang, when did you change my hotel records?”

“What? Change your record? I didn’t.” He let out a soft laugh. “All I did was send you flowers. Is it a sin to send flowers to my wife.”

“Hmmm, you sent me flowers but it had my full name in it. Do you know that many of our hotel staff now know that I am married to you? So, wag ka ng palusot, you changed my status sa HR ano?” She asked him. She placed her two arms around his neck.

Richard just laughed. “Well, since pinag-iisipan mo pa kung paano i-announce sa buong mundo about our relationship, I decided to help you. Besides, I want everyone to know about us, that way wala ng aaligid-aligid sa’yo.”

“Mr. Lim, anong pinagsasabi mga aaligid-aligid sa akin. Wala naman ah. Anyway. I’m going back to my office.” She tried to stand up but Richard held her in place.

“Not so fast, Mrs. Lim. Paki-kiss muna bago ka bumalik sa office mo. Wala bang thank you kiss?” Richard puckered his lips that Maya started to laugh. She gave him a light kiss.

“O ayan na. Thank you pala. I’m going back to my office.” She was finally released.

When she was at the door, Richard told her. “Hon, I didn’t change your record. But I updated mine. Since we have group insurance and hospitalization plan, I updated my dependent list.”

Maya was surprised by the information she shared. She retraced her steps and came to him. “Hon, thank you. I didn’t realize that. Pero…hmmm, if I know talagang nagpa simple ka lang gusto mo lang talagang i-broadcast na we’re married.” She ruffled his hair.

He caught her hand and kissed it. “He,he,he, parang ganoon na nga. At least one shot deal lang, I love you.”

With love overflowing between them, Maya suddenly sat on his lap again and kissed him on the lips thoroughly that they almost fell on the floor. “Love you too.”

~*~

Maya was out with James that afternoon when her phone vibrated. There was an incoming message from Richard.

“What time should we be getting home?”

She took a deep breath. As she read the message, it was as if he was reminding her about his existence. She responded. “Will be back at the office before 5 p.m.”

After sending her message, Maya turned her attention to James who sitting on the opposite side of the table. They were in a restaurant for lunch but the lunch has extended to mid-afternoon. She chose to meet him outside their hotel to avoid potential talks about her if they see her with James.

“James, I think I should go back to the hotel. Naghihintay na sa akin si Ricky, eh.” She informed James.

There was sadness in James’s eyes. “Maya, are you really sure about Richard? Weren’t you over him years ago. The two of us are better suited.”

‘James, mag-uumpisa na naman ba tayo? Di ba na explain ko na sa’yo several times? Mahal ko si Richard. I want to stay married with him. The reason why I accepted this lunch invitation is because I want us to remain friends.” She explained to him.

“Yeah, Maya. I appreciate that you want us to stay friends. It’s just that, I thought once I am free from my marriage, from Arlene, pwede na tayo. We’ve always gotten along very well. We are a natural couple.” James justified where he was coming from.

“Dahil nga magkaibigan tayo, kaya magkasundo tayo. Magkaibang-kaiba yung feelings ko for you and Richard. With Richard, lahat ng klase ng emotion naramdaman ko and I love every moment of it. Kahit there were times I was hurt, but in the end, I feel so alive with him.” Maya’s eyes showed how much she loves her husband. Then she added. “James, I hope maka-hanap ka rin ng para sa’yo.”

“I don’t know Maya. Matagal na kasi kitang mahal but when I finally admitted it and decided to do something about it, I am already late.” James shook his head and there was defeat in his tone of voice.

“James, I can only offer friendship with you. This is the last time na e-entertain ko itong ganitong usapan. Otherwise, it will be awkward if we continue having this discussion. May asawa na ako and ikaw din.”

“Maya, I’ll always be here for you. Please remember it.” He professed to her.

“James, I think I won’t be seeing you for a while. It would be better that way para makapag-isip kang mabuti and also settle your issues with Arlene.” Those were the last statements from Maya before she finally left him. She realized she had to make that instant decision if only to make it easier to disengage from his advances.

~*~

Richard was quiet on their way back home. Maya occasionally glanced at him and wondered what was keeping him silent. In the end, she asked.

“Hon, you’re quiet. May problem?” She touched his forearm to catch his attention.

He glanced at her and shook his head. “Wala naman. Anyway, how was your lunch with James?” His eyes were on the road. He asked the question that he has been dying to ask since her return to the hotel earlier.

“Hmm, okay naman. We ate at the Chinese restaurant sa may 29th street. Okay pala doon. We should eat there one of these days.” She shared with him.

Richard glanced at her with an arched eyebrow. “Ang tagal ng lunch n’yo. The restaurant must be really good.”

She caught something in his eyes and recognized that there was jealousy there. “Ayyy, Ricky, nag-seselos ka?”

“Nag-seselos? Do I have a reason to? I trust you.” He responded. Those statements were actually contradicting in his mind.

Maya was quick to respond. “Wala po. At again, I told him how much I love you.”

Richard started to smile although he didn’t look at her. He looked at the side mirror as if checking the traffic but in reality, he just wanted to hide his smile. However, Maya know his face even the contour of it so she knew he was trying to hide his expression.

“Ohh, naka-smile na po ang husband ko. So, I think I was right to assume na nagseselos ka.” She suddenly hugged him.

It was good that Richard had a good grip on the steering wheel and their speed was slow because of the traffic that afternoon. Her sudden embrace surprised him.

“Maya, get hold of yourself. Mamaya, madisgrasya tayo.” He scolded her but he was already smiling.

“Sorry po. Na-aaliw lang po sa’yo.” She rubbed his face.

He took her hand and intertwined it with his right hand. So, he used only one hand to steer the wheel until they reached their home.

~*~

“Honey, have you completed packing our things for the Boracay trip this Wednesday?” Richard asked while they were having dinner together.

“Yeah, I am almost done. I’m excited to go. It’s been a while since I’ve been on the beach. Magagamit ko na rin saw akas yung mga swimming attire na nabili ko sa L.A. few months ago.” She sounded so excited.

“Hmmm, I hope they’re not too revealing.” Richard jested.

“Well, yung definition ng revealing is relative.” She quipped back. She sensed that her husband is somewhat conservative in that aspect. It was contrary to his playboy image.

“Now that you said that, I want to see those sets that you got. Baka we need to get you a more decent ones.” He alarmed her by that comment.

“Ricky, excuse me. My swim suits are modest.” She countered.

“Well, I’ll be the judge of it.” He arched his eyebrow. At that point, Maya didn’t want to argue anymore. She found it too trivial and she knew that whatever his view of her attire, she could get away with it later.

Then, his telephone rang. As Richard checked his phone to see who was calling, Maya caught the change in his facial expression. He placed down the phone on the side table after putting it on mute. He didn’t want to pick up the call.

“Hon, sino yung tumawag? Why didn’t you pick-up the call?” Maya got curious so she asked.

“Ahhmm, we are still having dinner. I’ll return the call later.” He responded as he started to eat the ice cream she scooped for him.

“Baka importante eh.” She pointed at the phone with her lips. She noticed the phone was still vibrating on the side table.

“I will return the call later. Come on let’s finish the ice cream, baka matunaw.” He turned their attention to their dessert. He didn’t seem to be disturbed by the phone call.

~*~

After dinner, Maya cleaned up their dining table as Richard helped her put all their used plates and glasses in the dishwasher. She eventually told him to just leave her in the kitchen since she can handle everything by herself. He did follow her request.

A few minutes later, she finished her task and returned to their living room. It was then she overhead him talking on the phone.

“I’m sorry…I’ve been busy these days.” His back was turned against the dining area so Richard didn’t see Maya was already in the living room.

His hand was akimbo while he was looking at the window as he spoke on the phone. “I know…Yes….we have to talk about it…in person… I’ll see you at your place tomorrow.”

Hearing Richard utter those words, Maya slowly retraced her steps back to the dining area, out of hearing distance. She guessed whom he was talking to on the phone. Although he had repeatedly told her he loved her, she felt threatened that the two were going to meet the following day.

She felt uneasy especially after hearing his last sentence. “Sugar… you better take food… you can’t starve yourself. Okay?” He sounded concerned about Sugar and something inside Maya ached from jealousy.

Heart’s True Desire – part 24

A/N: This is a continuation to Heart’s True Desire – part 23.

Author: Hanah6181

~~*~~
“Disclosures”

The day after the couple returned from San Nicolas, they settled into a routine like
real husband and wife. They reported for work together and left for home together. At the office, they maintained a business-like demeanor but at home, they were normal couple on their honeymoon stage.

For a few days, they didn’t discuss their previous relationships as they were more focused on each other and their newly established bond. They spent late nights making love fulfilling their insatiable need for each other.

It helped that the Boracay get-together of Richard’s ex-club mates got postponed at the last minute for various reasons. Since some of their friends had a conflict with their respective schedules, they’ve decided to move it a week later. The few who wanted to push through didn’t get a chance to even land there because of the typhoon that hit the province; hence, flights got cancelled for a day.

It was fortunate that it was lean season for the resort and so, the postponement and re-scheduling didn’t have an adverse impact on their room sales. Richard and Maya chose stay in Manila and travel to Boracay the following week.

One evening, the two were in their bedroom with Maya sitting comfortably on the bed with her back on the headboard and Richard’s lying on the bed with his head resting on her lap. Maya was reading a book while Richard was watching the evening news.

Then, Maya’s phone rang. When she reached for her phone on the side table, she instantly knew it was James calling. His face was flashing on her phone screen.

“James.” She picked up the call. She felt Richard’s head move and saw him Richard look up to her to see her expression.

“Maya, how are you?” James asked from the other end. “Can we meet tomorrow?”

“I’m okay…why?” Maya asked James. She noticed Richard’s eyebrow raised as he continued staring at her.

“Wala lang. I just want to see you. Almost two weeks na tayong hindi nagkikita eh. How about lunch?” James explained.

“Ahh, meet with you? Naku, ehhh busy lang sa work. I’m not sure if I am available but I have to check with Richard, baka may lakad kami.” She looked at her husband who was shaking his head. It meant he was not agreeable to the invitation. She made a face at him while rubbing his hair with her free hand.

“Really? Andyan ba si Richard?” James sensed Maya’s hesitation. So, he immediately assumed that the two were together.

“I’ll confirm later. Mag-uusap muna kami, kasi nga baka may lakad or business meeting kami.” She repeated her answer. She was non-committal. Richard’s face turned serious as he sat up and positioned himself beside Maya. He also leaned on the headboard.

“Sige. Hope you can make it tomorrow. I just need to speak to you, as a friend, Maya…Bye” James said with a hopeful tone.

“Bye, JV.” Her last words as they ended the phone call.

The moment Maya returned her phone on the side table, Richard asked. “What was that about?”

“Si James, he was asking if I could see him tomorrow.” She told him.

“And?” He raised an eyebrow as he asked.

“And you heard what I told him, I will check with you first.” She said in a matter-of-fact tone.

“Have you told him that you are married? Have you told him about us?” He checked as he reached for her hand and clasped it with his. The pangs of jealousy was eating him up but he knew he shouldn’t.

“Yes, Ricky… he knows about us and that I love you even before this marriage has become real for us.” She disclosed to her husband. She intertwined her fingers with his.

“So, na-una pa pala siyang naka-alam na mahal mo ako bago ako. I’m not sure if I should be glad or not.” He replied as if he was hurt.

Maya stifled a giggle while she shifted her position to face him. She didn’t release their hands but instead pressed it tighter.

“Rickyyy, sinabi ko ‘yon kasi I wanted him to stop pursuing me. You know that he is interested in me, right? I had to tell him para hindi na niya ako ligawan. But, he remains to be a friend. May pinag-samahan kami as friends for many years.” She explained.

Richard was quiet for a few minutes before he spoke again. “Alright…actually my real issue is that… you are very close to him. I can’t help but get jealous.”

Maya cut him off as she suddenly hugged him. “Hon, yung ba ang issue? You have no reason to be jealous of him. I love you.” She looked straight into his eyes. “I love you very much Richard Lim.”

Richard’s lips started to curve into a smile as if pacified by her assurance. He took a deep sigh. “I’m sorry. Medyo nagseselos lang ako kasi I saw how the two of you looked at each other one time. Then, there was a time that you’d change your plans whenever you were with him. Do you know how that made me feel?”

Maya recognized the feeling as she had those jealous moments as well. So, she explained further to him. “Ricky, to be honest, at one point in the past, I really thought I was in love with him. But that was when he wasn’t married yet. When he got married, I realized that having him as a friend was much better. He did say he loves me but I told him I am very much married and very much in love with you. I may have lead him on so now medyo guilty rin ako. So, I hope you’d understand if I still talk to him.” She released their hands so she touch his face. She looked at him tenderly. “I’m telling you the truth, hon.”

‘Okay, honey…I’ll try not to get jealous. This is all boils down to trust. I love you and so I should trust you.” He kissed her forehead.

“Thank you, honey.” She kissed him on his lips. Then, it was her turn to ask him.

“So, ako nasabi ko na ang lahat about James. How about the other women in your life?”

Richard looked at her with amused expression. “What women? Plural pa talaga ang ginamit mo ha?”

“Yes, since we are here talking about other people in our lives, you might as well explain to me who Stephanie and Grace is in your life.” It was her turn to become serious.

Richard was quick to explain about Stephanie. “Steph is our consultant. Yes, she’s a bit flirty and I dated her in the past but that was before we got married. She just liked to hang around with me and I allowed her to. She knows that I am married.”

“Hmmm, so you were not serious with her?” She eyed him carefully.

“Nope, never.” He was quite firm with his response.

“So, what about this Grace? Why do you call her sugar?” Asking about Grace made her heart pound. She was aware that there was something between the two especially after meeting Grace in the hotel one time. She prayed he would be honest with her. Her fear compounded when Richard’s expression changed. It was as if he wanted to be careful on what he would tell her.

“Uhumm, Grace and I were together when I was in the U.S. Then, I returned to Manila to focus on the hotel and get what I believe is mine. Then, Lolo came up with this idea.. you know… about our arranged marriage. My taking over LHR is conditional. So, I left her in the States.” Richard disclosed.

“Ricky…we got married under a certain condition. Pero ang tanong ko ngayon, mahal mo s’ya?” She asked tentatively. She felt tiny pins pricking her chest. Why did she even ask the question, she told herself. She could have just ignored it and believed that everything was rosy between them.

Richard saw the fear in her eyes, the fear that he might say he loves another woman other than her and his own heart went out to Maya. “Honey…I love you. I may not have recognized it earlier but I have fallen for you without me realizing it. Since we got married, ikaw na lang ang nasa isip ko.” He took her hands again and held them close to his heart.

Maya didn’t seem to be satisfied because he didn’t answer her question directly so she rephrased her line of questioning. “Ang tanong ko Richard, kung mahal mo si Sugar. Bakit nag-pupunta pa sa’ya sa hotel. I still remember yung conversation sa parking lot. She said kayo pa rin.”

“Ohh yeah. Dahil nga nandito tayo and she was in the U.S., I have completely forgotten about her. I didn’t communicate with her for a while. When you repeatedly told me that our relationship is purely business, her return to Manila was just the right time for me. She has always been there for me and so I thought I could just go back to her.” He looked down and couldn’t look straight in her eyes.

“Maya, I know you might say I used her but I thought I had no chance with you and I needed to move on. I was really hurting that time especially when I saw you and James together. I was very jealous and hurt.” He looked so apologetic and Maya found herself believing him.

“Ricky… at that time, I was also hurting. It was only then I realized how much I love you and I thought I already lost you.” She countered.

They looked into each other’s eyes and knew that they were being honest with each other.

“Honey, if only we talked, sana pala nag-usap tayo noon para hindi tayo nahirapan pareho.” Richard concluded as he wrapped her his arms.

She nodded. “Tama ka. At sa tingin ko, I made a bigger contribution to our heartaches by being so stubborn and not allowing you to enter into my life completely. Sorry, honey.” She kissed his cheek.

He smiled at her and with their nose and foreheads against each. “Let’s just trust each other. Pwede?”

She nodded again. Then, she remembered to ask one more thing. “Pero, ano nga si Grace sa’yo ngayon? Have you broken up with her?”

“Ahhh, I am going to see her on Wednesday. I’ll tell her about us.” Richard told Maya. Although a part of her was unsure and afraid of what could happen next, Maya held on to Richard’s pledge of love. She needed to trust him.

~*~

The following day, Richard and Maya came to the office late. They would have been much earlier if only Richard didn’t start fooling around with her when she was about to take a shower that morning. They ended up taking a shower too long when he joined her there.

When they entered the hotel lobby, their front desk staff greeted them. There were smiles on their faces that made Maya looked puzzled.

“Ricky, bakit ganyan ang mga tingin ng mga staff?” She turned to him. They went past the front desk to proceed to the elevator area.

“What?” Richard responded with an amused smile.

“Parang ngiting-ngiti sila at kung makatingin sa atin, as if they know something.” She told him.

Richard put an arm around her as they continued walking. “Don’t mind them, nagagandahan lang siguro sa ‘yo.” He chuckled.

“Mr. Lim, please… your hand. Please remove it from my shoulder.” She warned him.

They haven’t really disclosed their relationship to their staff. She wondered how will they do it considering the scenes they have seen with her, Sugar and James. She knew they will be the topic again in their office.

“Why? Masama bang akbayan ang asawa ko?” Richard responded in a louder than normal voice that Maya cringed. They were already in front of the lift waiting for it to open.

“Ricky, ano ka ba?” She warned him again. “Kailangan pala natin planuhin ang pag-inform sa mga staff about us.”

He just chuckled. Then, the elevator door opened. “Come on Mrs. Lim.”

The moment they took the lift, Maya noticed there were already two lady hotel staff inside the elevator. They must have come the other floor and took a round trip ride. The women greeted them. “Good morning sir, good morning ma’m.”

The couple responded simultaneously. “Good morning too.” Maya was sure that the two ladies heard Richard refer to her as Mrs. Lim.

Maya got confirmation of her suspicion when one of the ladies further commented. “Congratulations po, sir and mam.”

Maya couldn’t respond but it was Richard who responded in their behalf. He was all smiles when he said. “Thank you.”