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.”

Heart’s True Desire – part 23

A/N: This is a continuation of Heart’s True Desire – part 22

Author: Hanah6181

~*~

Richard saw Maya’s eyes turned teary, he calmed down. He suddenly felt guilt for almost scolding her. He sat on the bed beside her.

“Maya, I’m sorry. I was just concerned.” He looked at her directly in her eyes. There was tenderness in his tone.

She nodded. “Thank you sa concern mo.” Her pride was still hurt but she managed a weak smile.

As they spoke, their eyes were glued to each other. Slowly their expressions changed. As if there was a force that pulled them, their faces moved towards each other. Then, their lips touched as their eyes closed at the same time.

She felt his warm lips touched her lips tentatively as if waiting for her reproach. But nothing came out of her mouth. She pressed her lips closer to his and she felt him move away a bit. She opened her eyes and found him gazing at her.

“Maya?” He looked at her with question in his eyes.

She smelled the alcohol he consumed but she found it exciting. It was the moment she was waiting for. She instantly snaked her arms around his neck and pulled him back to her. There was no escape from her as she kissed him.

Richard’s lips opened when he realized she wanted the kiss. Although unsure where the two of them would lead to, he was drawn to her sweet lips. A second later, he took over and lead their kissing to become more passionate.

Then, they heard a loud knocking on their door. Their kissing stopped but their eyes mirrored each other’s need for each other. Then, another knock was heard and followed by a voice calling out Richard name.

“Richard…. Richard.” It was his father-in-law. Richard heaved a deep sigh of frustration as he sat up.

“Wait a while.” He touched her blushing cheek before leaving her on the bed.

When Richard opened the door, he found Papa Arturo outside. “O anak, matutulog ka na ba? O bakit basa ang T-shirt mo?” Papa Arturo noticed the water stains in Richard’s T-shirt.

“Ahh, sa sink lang ito Pa. Nabasa when I splashed water on my face. Anyway, bakit po n’yo naitanong kung matutulog na ako.” Richard quickly thought of an alibi so as not to unnecessarily make his in-law worry about Maya’s fall on the bathroom.

“Meron pa pala akong iko-konsulta sa’yo. Ehhh, tutal eh… hindi pa naman kayo tulog… wala naman pa siguro akong naistorbo sa inyo.” Papa Arturo seemed to have an urgent issue in his mind that he really wanted to share with his son-in-law.

Richard took a deep breath. He was tempted to tell latter that he actually interrupted them. In the end, he chose not to say anything.

“Ah ganoon po? Sige Pa, sandali po. Sabihan ko lang si Maya at magpapalit lang din ako ng Tshirt.” Richard closed the door and returned to the bed. Maya was still there and fully covered by the comforter.

“Bakit daw, Ricky?” She asked.

He kissed her on her forehead and then lovingly informed her. “Hon, may pag-uusapan pa daw kami ni Papa. I’ll join you later.”

She just nodded. “Sige. ‘Wag ka nang masyadong uminom ‘ha.” She reminded him.

He smiled at her and then turned to get a new t-shirt from the closet. He changed into a new one before leaving her in the room.

~*~

It was past midnight when Richard returned to their bedroom. When he came back, he found Maya sleeping soundly. He proceeded to the bathroom for a quick shower and minutes later he was out, ready to join her.

He stood on the side of the bed where Maya sleeping and gazed at her lovely face. He bent down and kissed her lightly on the lips as her angelic face tempted him.

“You’re such a beauty.” He whispered near her ear. She didn’t move. She was really asleep.

So, he turned off the lights leaving their room dimly lit with a faint light coming from window. It was full moon that evening. He laid down on the empty side of the bed. Lying beside her with his arms behind his head, he mind was in turmoil. After the kiss earlier, he thought he couldn’t just lay there beside her and do nothing. He turned on his side to face her. While her back was turned against him, he could smell her sweet scent. In the end, he succumbed to the temptation.

He shifted his position so he could be closer to her. With his legs touching the back of her legs, his chest pressed on her back, he caressed her hair.

He gently turned her so he could have access to her face. He uttered. “Maya… I love you.”

Maya stirred in her sleep. She felt his warm body pressed so close to her. “Honey… I love you.” This time, Maya seemed to have heard him.

Maya opened her eyes and saw Richard’s face close to her face. “Hmmm, Ricky you are here.”

“Yeah.” He nuzzled her hair. Maya hands started to move and hugged him. Then, she hesitated.

“Nananaginip ba ako?” She whispered as she felt Richard’s kisses were trailing from her earlobe to her cheek and then to her eyes.

“No, honey, you are not dreaming.” Richard’s voice was husky when he responded.

Maya’s heartbeats raced when she became fully aware that she was indeed not dreaming. Their bodies were so close to each other that she could hear the loud thudding of his heartbeats. And so, when Richard kissed her mouth, she was ready to receive him.

“I love you too, Richard.”

~*~
Richard and Maya woke up the following morning still in other’s arm. Her head was on his chest and an arm was over his hip. Richard’s arm on the other hand was around her waist keeping her comfortably close to his body.

When she opened her eyes, she realized that it was already morning as she saw the sun was already shining. It must have been late morning because the sunlight was no longer directly shining in her bed.

“Good morning, Ricky.” She reached up to him. She removed the hair covering her face as she planted a kiss on his lips.

“Good morning, honey.” He smiled at her as he received her kiss.

Then, they heard a voice outside the bedroom. “Richard, Richard… Maya.” The two heard knocks at the door.

“Sandali lang po, Mang.” Richard responded. He finally stood up and walked inside to gather all their clothes that were lying on the floor.

“Don’t leave the bed baby… I’m coming back.” He instructed and then gave Maya a wink.

Seconds later, Richard opened the door and found Mamang in the living room waiting for him.

“Richard, Good morning.” Mamang stood up from where she was seated and walked towards him.

“Mang, pasensya na po. We overslept.” Richard informed their grandmother.

“Ay hindi, okay lang matulog pa kayo. Kaya lang kasi, kanina pa itong phone mo na nag-ri-ring. Parang importante kasi kanina pa may tawag ng tawag. Pasensya na kayo at nagising ko yata kayong mag-asawa.” Mamang explained. She peeked thru the door and noted that Maya was still in bed covered up to her neck. She smiled secretly.

“Thank you po, Mang. Pagising na po kami ni Maya. May flight po kami pabalik sa Manila ng lunchtime. So, timely naman po ang pagkatok n’yo. We’ll just have breakfast before we go.” Richard informed Mamang. He didn’t realize he forgot his phone in the living room until that morning.

“Ano ‘ka mo? Lunchtime ang flight n’yo?” Mamang looked surprised.

“Opo, bakit po?”

“Eh naku apo, lunchtime na. Eleven thirty na. Mukhang napuyat kayong dalawa, ah.” Mamang facial expression brightened especially after seeing the guilty look in Richard face.

“Hindi naman po.” He let out a soft laugh. “Anyway, we’ll just have to take the afternoon flight then.” Richard hoped that the Sunday afternoon schedule was not fully booked. Although, he wanted to stay longer in San Nicolas, he had a morning appointment with the following day. So, needed to be in Manila by Monday.

“O s’ya sige. Maghanda na kayong mag-asawa at maya-maya lang ay mag lu-lunch na tayo.” Mamang left Richard to instruct their maids to prepare the dining table and check on the dishes.

~*~

Richard returned to bed and lied down beside Maya again. He pulled her body close to him so he could feel her whole body in his.

“So, what was that, Ricky.” She cuddled with him.

“Wala. It was just my phone.” He responded. He really loved the feeling of having her in his arms. “Hon, much as I am tempted to have you for my meal. We have to go out of this room, it already lunchtime.” He told her.

As soon as she was up, he wrapped his arms around her. “Love you. You want me to help you in the shower?” He whispered. Maya caught the twinkle in his eyes.

“Ricky…tantanan na ha. I thought you were sincere in your offer to help me.” She tried to disengage from his embrace. But, he kept her still and even hugged her tighter.

“Oo naman, sincere naman ako ah. Ikaw yata ang may iniisip na magada eh. Game ako dyan.” He smirked.

“Ewan ko sa’yo. Ang cute mo!” She gave him a smack on the lips and finally disengaged from his hold as she hurriedly went to the bathroom.

Once inside the bathroom, she heard him knock. She locked the door so he couldn’t get in. “Hon, be careful there. Baka madulas ka na naman. How about I accompany you?”

She replied from the other side of the door. “Thanks but no thanks. Mr. Lim. I need to take a shower alone. Tanghali na po.”

~*~

Richard and Maya were holding hands as both were sleeping on the plane on their way back to Manila. She was on the window seat but her head rested on his right arm. They were a picture of an intimate couple.

When the plane landed 1 and half hours later, it was Richard who woke her up.

“Maya, we’ve landed in Manila.”

She opened her eyes and smiled at him. “I slept throughout the flight.”

“Yeah, hon. I must have really exhausted you out last night.” He commented as he returned her smile.

She touched his face and gently turned it to another side. “Uumpisa ka na naman. Lets’ go, Mr. Lim. Pwede dinner out tayo tonight?” She requested.

“Sure, my dear wife. We need to celebrate. Let’s just drop by the house to leave our luggage and get my car.” He replied as they deplaned.

A/N: If you read this chapter and thought there were missing scenes, you are correct. This chapter has been edited to pass the general patronage rating. :-) :-) The cut scenes will not affect the whole story.

Heart’s True Desire – part 22

A/N: This is a continuation of Heart’s True Desire – part 21.

Author: Hanah6181

~~*~~
“Bruised Pride”

Maya’s eyes squinted as she slowly opened her eyes. She was lying on her left side facing the window of her room. It was a Sunday morning and she was at San Nicolas. She went home to her ancestral home alone on Saturday. As expected, Richard didn’t join her since he other plans that weekend. It was good her parents and her grandmother didn’t probe deeper about Richard’s absence. Otherwise, she may have been forced to lie.

She spent her Saturday mostly in the farm where she could get fresh air. She didn’t even go to La Esperanza hotel, as she knew she would end up working. She wanted time to be alone to think about her situation.

She was slowly warming up to Emman’s suggestion. Maybe, he was right, she thought. She would need to fight her battle soonest. She can’t be crying forever. If he likes playing the field, then it will be up to her to tow him line.

She fell asleep that night praying and thinking about him. She knew she dreamt of him again because she was hugging him in bed. When she woke up in the middle of the night, she was alone. She went back to sleep hoping to resume her dream.

With the sunray directly hitting her eyes, Maya turned her back so she could lie on her right side. She just wanted to shift her position but her eyes popped open in surprise. Her heart thumped loudly because beside her on the bed was Richard’s sleeping figure. In fact, his face was just few inches away from her. He was in deep slumber.

Although initially surprised, Maya’s heart began to celebrate. It couldn’t be a dream because when she pinched herself, she felt pain. He was there in San Nicolas. Waking up beside him was like a morning gift to her. She had longed to be close to him and it was a fortunate moment at that time.

Then, Maya saw his eyelids move as he stirred. So, she immediately closed her eyes to pretend she was still asleep. Her heart beat fast while she waited for his next movement.

Then, she felt his lips on her forehead and heard him whisper. “Good morning.”

She felt his weight leave the bed which meant he was really up. She knew he went to the bathroom because she heard him close the door. Maya couldn’t contain her giddiness with his gesture that morning. Regardless of what it meant, her morning was very good, full of promises. Prayers indeed work, she thought. She closed her eyes again to savor the moment.

~*~

“Maya, Maya.” She heard his voice. When she opened her eyes, a freshly showered Richard was seating on the side of the bed.

“Ricky, nandito ka?” She asked. She pretended it was the first time she realized he was there.

“Yeah, I arrived last night. I didn’t wake you up anymore. Besides, mahirap kang gisingin pag himbing ka.” He chuckled at the memory of the previous occasion when they slept together in his room.

“I thought you weren’t coming here.” Maya sat up, ready to leave the bed.

“Natapos ko na yung inaasikaso ko. Anyway, let’s go for breakfast. It’s already 9:00 a.m., they might be waiting for us.” He looked at his watched as if to confirm the time.

“O sige. Mauna ka na sa labas. Maliligo lang ako.” She finally stood up and went to her closet to get fresh clothes.

~*~

Richard and Maya were having breakfast while her parents and grandmother sat with them at the dining table. They were done with breakfast when the young couple joined them.

“Ehhh, mga anak, kaylan kaya tayo magkakaroon ng maliliit na tsikiting dito sa bahay? Napaka tagal ng walang maingay dito sa bahay. Naka-miss din lalo na pag ako lang ang nasa bahay.” Mamang asked the controversial question. It was the question that their respective parents have been talking about behind their back.

Richard choked on the rice and danggit he was eating while Maya seemed to have missed the question. She was busy putting eggs on Richard’s plate and pouring orange juice on his glass.

Richard coughed several times that Maya had to pat his back while she gave him water to drink.

“Ricky, okay ka lang?” She checked with him since his face was all red.

He nodded as he stopped her hand from massaging his back. “I’m okay, Maya. Thank you.”

Mamang and her parents were all smiling as they observed the two. “Awww, how sweet.”

Mamang further commented. “Ricky, bakit nasamid ka naman. Ang tanong ko lang eh kung kelan ako magkaka-apo sa tuhod. Sigurado ako ang Lolo mo nagtatanong na rin.”

“Okay lang po Mamang. It’s not about your question. May sumabit lang po danggit sa lalamunan ko talaga.” Richard responded. He has fully recovered and glanced at Maya who finally heard the question.

“So ano nga ang sagot? Wala pa ba?” This time it was Mama Teresita who asked the question.

Maya responded without hesitation. “Wala po, Ma. Don’t worry po, pag meron unang-una kayong makaka-alam.” She glanced at Richard who was observing her as she responded. He had a blank expression on his face.

“Naku eh, bilis-bilisan ninyo. Hindi kayo makakarami niyan. Mahirap ang isa lang ang anak, malungkot.” Mama Teresita added.

Richard had picked up on the conversation and did his share. “Bata pa naman po kami.”

“Anong bata? Ikaw Richard ay 30 na at si Maya 26. Ngayon ang magandang time na magka baby, para habang lumalaki ang mga anak n’yo para lang kayong barkada.” Mamang emphasized her point.

Knowing her parents and grandmother, Maya knew that the conversation will drag on. So, she uttered what they wanted to hear. “Sige po, mag-do-double time kami sa pag-gawa ng apo n’yo.”

Richard seemed to think her statement was funny since he chuckled.

Maya glared at him. “What? Bakit parang tawang-tawa ka dyan?” She didn’t mind the olds observing them.

“Parang totoo ah. Convincing!” He chuckled some more. He really couldn’t help but get amused at her facial expression. It looked real in his eyes.

~*~

It turned out that Richard and Papa Arturo had a business meeting at La Esperanza that day. As such, the two men spent most of the day at the hotel’s conference room with their some of their managers. It was a Sunday and yet they maximized the presence of Richard that day.

Maya, on the other hand, chose to stay at home in the morning. But after lunch, she went out to visit one of the children’s foundation that she used to support and visit at least once a month. She enjoyed her time there and momentarily forgot Richard.

She returned to their house at around 5:30 p.m., which was the same time that her father and Richard went back home too. Papa Arturo went immediately to the main house while the two walked slowly. It was as if they were waiting for the other to start the conversation.

“So, how was your day?” He asked. They stopped walking as they reached the foot of the stairs leading to the main door of the mansion.

“Okay lang. Nanggaling ako sa hospisyo kanina. Dinalaw ko lang ang mga bata.” She responded with a smile on her face.

He looked at her intently. “So, you like kids?”

She nodded as her eyes brightened. “Yeah, actually. Nakakatuwa sila especially yung mga ages between 2 to 5. Ang sarap na nila kausap.”

“Hmm, so I assume that you’d want to have your own kids in the future?” He smiled but the smile didn’t reach his eyes.

“Yeah. Hopefully.” Then, her eyes became sad. “Ricky…” She was to add something more when her phone rang. When she checked, it was James calling her up.

“James, bakit napatawag ka?” She didn’t expect his call.

“I’m just checking Maya. Arnold confirmed that from Wednesay until the weekend, we’re booked in your hotel. So, tuloy pala ang grupo. Will you be there? You’re in San Nicolas, kasama mo ba si Richard?” James asked his questions.

“James, Yes. Andito si Ricky.” Richard eyebrows arched as he heard his name mentioned. They were still standing in front of each other. Maya thought that the call was somehow business related.

“Anyway, Na-free up yung ilang room so we can accommodate 15 rooms as requested by Arnold. I understand yung flights were also confirmed so I think your group is good to go…. Yeah, I will most likely be there…. Mag-uusap lang muna kami ni Richard.” She and Richard glanced at each other.

“Anyway, if you are going then we can have time together. Baka pwedeng mag-extend ka ng one or two days, I mean no commitment, no pressure.” James requested from the other end.

“Huh?” Maya’s facial expression turned serious. She couldn’t respond to his request with Richard within hearing distance.

“Excuse me Ricky.” She walked away from him. Richard stared at her back as she returned to the lawn area. Not waiting for her to turn around, he entered the house.

“James, I’m sorry. I can’t entertain that proposal. I’m married.” She told him directly. When Maya turned around, she saw Richard’s back as he closed the door. She heaved a sigh of regret.

“But the circumstances that you got married…”James countered but Maya cut him off.

“The circumstance of my getting married is different to my choice of staying married. James, I don’t have to explain pa siguro why the reason kasi nasabi ko na sa’yo.” She a little irritated. She and Richard were doing well in their conversation until she picked up the call of James.

Maya and James spoke for a few more minutes until the call ended with the latter still hoping that Maya would give him an equal chance. He was bent on pursuing her.

~*~

Papa Arturo and Richard were in the living room of the 2nd floor of the Dela Rosa mansion having a drink. After dinner, all the women have excused themselves to go to their respective rooms leaving the two men to talk about business, as usual.

At the Dela Rosa mansion, the 2nd floor living room was where they usually congregate as a family. Everyone feels comfortable there including Richard who is the latest member of her family. Around the living room are the bedrooms including Maya’s room.

As the two men drank alcohol, their conversation topic shifted to Richard’s relationship with Maya.

“So, ano bata, parang ang hina natin ah. Wala pa ba talaga?” Arturo asked his son-in-law whose face was already red with all the alcohol they’ve consumed.

“Pa…” Richard shook his head. There was sadness in his response.

“Kaya ko nga kayo pina-uwi dito so I can see for myself what you were telling me. Ehh, mukhang okay naman kayo, ah.” Arturo continued. “Marunong na ngang sumabay sa usapan ang anak ko. Di ba sabi n’ya, you’ll work double time so you can give us grandchildren.”

Richard smiled as he shook his head again. His eyes were red and were tiny slits. “Papa, sa totoo lang, I was amused by her comment but she was just joking. There is no progress in our relationship.” Richard declared as his face turned serious.

“Ano? Ilang buwan na? Akala ko binibiro mo lang ako noong magkwento ka sa akin. So talagang wala?” Arturo couldn’t believe what he was hearing. His daughter was conservative but Richard, as far as he knew, had a way with women and so he wondered what was wrong with them.

“Pa, mahirap ligawan ang anak n’yo. It was like when I took a step forward, the following day, it would result to two steps backward. Hindi ko siya mabasa. I practically asked her directly and I was turned down.” Richard confided to his father in law but choosing not to disclose his agreement with Maya. He was confiding how he was turned down.

“Aba… ang alam ko lang…kaya nag-aalangan ang anak ko sa’yo ay dahil diyan sa mga ex-girlfriends mo. Niligawan mo na pala, wala pa ring effect.” Arturo shook his head.

“Wala, Pa eh.” Richard drank some more.

“Hmm, eto ang payo ko sa’yo ‘no. Dahil parang anak na rin kita at saka gusto ko naman maging maayos kayo, bakit kaya hindi mo daanin sa santong paspasan?”

Richard found the suggestion preposterous especially as it was coming from Maya’s father. “Papa!” Richard’s voice raised in response.

“Uy, wag kang magalit. Hindi ko naman nakakalimutan kung sino sa inyo ang anak ko. Pero kasi sa pagka-alam ko, noong araw ay patay na patay sa’yo yang batang yan. Kaya taking-taka ako at bakit hindi mo mahuli ngayon.” Arturo’s facial expression evidently showed his confusion.

Hearing his father-in-law’s statement, Richard slowly smiled. Somehow the mention that Maya used to be head over heels with him was flattering. He needed a boost to his already bruised ego. He thought that he had tried everything with her even flaunting in front of her his girlfriends but he didn’t get any reaction from her. She had not shown any emotion that she even cared.

Maya was so different with the other women he had dated before. More than conservative, she kept her feelings well hidden. So, when she repeatedly told him that their relationship was purely business, he believed her. He had to because he would go insane if he kept on hoping they have a future. And so, moving on was his final recourse.

The in-laws continued their drinking when Richard heard a thud coming from Maya’s bedroom. While he was outside, subconsciously, his mind was with Maya. His senses were attuned to her and so, he heard her faint voice calling his name.

Richard stood up. “Pa, excuse lang po at parang tumawag si Maya.” He immediately went to their room.

~*~

Moments earlier, Maya was in the bedroom waiting for Richard. She wondered what the two men were discussing about. She thought that she’d have a chance to spend time with Richard alone in their bedroom but her father was monopolizing his time. In the end, Maya decided to take a shower and get ready for bed.

She continued mulling over what to do with Richard as she took her shower. It was the first time that they will sleep in the same bed together. In the past occasions when they slept together, she was the one who slept first and she would wake up finding him in bed. She wondered if she could sleep that evening knowing that he will join her.

After a few minutes under the warm bath that calmed her nerves, she was ready to dry herself. As she stepped out of the shower area, she lost her balance as the floor was slippery.

As she was about to fall and with nothing to hold on to break her her fall, she yelped. “Rickyyyyy!!!!” His name came out of her mouth naturally because she was thinking of him.

Seconds later, she found herself on the floor, butt first followed by her upper torso. “Awwww…. Awww…god…” She whimpered in pain. She was wanted to rise up but she couldn’t move.

It was then Maya heard Richard’s voice outside the bedroom. “Maya? Maya?” He knocked.

She suddenly felt panic and attempted to stand up again but she still couldn’t. She whimpered his name. “Ricky…” She wanted to tell him not she was okay but the door suddenly opened.

Richard’s eyes grew big when he found Maya sprawled on the bathroom floor without any clothes on.

“Honey, what happened?” He asked as he immediately went to her side. “Are you okay?” He looked at her full body and noticed her face was very red. Without waiting for her response, he instantly scooped her in his arms.

“Nadulas ako. Hindi ako makatayo.” She replied. Although embarrassed, she can’t do anything about her situation.

She was still dripping with water when he settled her on the bed. He covered her with the comforter that was on top of their bed. She slowly adjusted herself in bed so she could sit upright. She rested her back on the headboard and could feel a slight pain in her behind.

“Maya, could you be a little bit more careful next time?” Richard looked at her intently. “You seem to be getting into little accidents lately. It’s a good thing I’m around. What if…” He was getting upset with scenarios running in his head.

Maya’s eyes started to water as she felt she was being scolded. She wanted to lash back but she couldn’t. How could she tell him that the two recent accidents she had was because her mind has been so preoccupied with the thoughts of him. How could she tell him that she loves him? Her bruised butt and pride made it hard for her to tell him the truth.

When Richard saw Maya’s eyes turned teary, he calmed down. He suddenly felt guilt for almost scolding her.

He sat down on the bed beside her. “Maya, I’m sorry. I was just concerned.” He looked at her directly in her eyes.

She nodded. “Thank you sa concern mo.” It hurt a bit but she managed a weak smile.

As they spoke, they were looking at each other intently. Slowly their expressions changed and their faces started to move forward to each other. Seconds later, their lips touched as their eyes closed at the same time.

Heart’s True Desire – part 21

A/N: This is a continuation to Heart’s True Desire – part 20.

Author: Hanah6181

~*~
“Dying Inside”

“Maya, Oh my gee! Ganoon?” Emman blurted when Maya told him what happened to her the previous day.

“Shhhhh. Sobra ka naman maka react.” She asked her friend to keep quiet because some customer on the other tables looked at them when Emman exclaimed.

They were in a restaurant in Ortigas Center where Emman works. Richard had given Maya a day off so she could recoup on her lost sleep but instead of sleeping, she decided to invite her friend to go out. She needed someone to talk to and it was only Emman whom she could trust and knew her whole story.

“So ano? Anong plano mo?” Emman asked his friend. She confided in him that Richard was already seeing other women.

“Hindi ko alam. Pero one thing for sure, Emman, it hurt when I saw him with Stephanie and this new other woman. I don’t even know her name. Tapos hindi pa siya umuwi ng dalawang gabi.” She was teary eyed as she shared more details with Emman.

“Ayan na nga ba ang sinasabi ko eh. I told you mag-usap kayo. Hinintay mo pa talagang umabot sa ganyan para lang ma-realize mo na mahal mo yung tao.” Emman shook his head.

“Emman naman, ‘wag mo na akong sisihin. I just need a shoulder to cry on right now.” Her tears started to fall. Emman’s heart went to his friend.

“Girl, I think may natitirang pang feelings ‘yon sa’yo. Hindi naman ganoon kadali yung mawala. Sabi mo nga, it felt like he was courting you tapos tinanong ka pa niya if there’s a chance for the two of you.” He tried cheer her up.

“Oo nga. Tapos, I think I told him indirectly that there wasn’t. Kasi after that, he said he won’t bother me again. Yun ang naging umpisa. He started going out with other women. Yung ang dahilan kung bakit ako nagkanda puyat puyat at nauntog sa office.”

“Ha,ha,ha. Ang mga babae talaga. Ako, Maya, girl din naman ako. Pero hindi ako pakipot. Pag gusto ko, go ako. I don’t want to regret later on.” Although sympathetic, Emman couldn’t help but find something in her situation funny. He thought she must be going crazy.

Maya glared at him. “Emmanuel!!”

“Ooopps. Sorry po.” He apologized as he stifled a laugh. “Anyway, are you sure love mo na ‘yang Papa Ricky mo?”

Maya just stared at him and then she looked down. Tears fell from her eyes.

“Okay ‘wag mo ng sagutin dahil alam ko na ang sagot. Sigurado ka na ba talaga at si James, paano?” Emman asked. He was aware of the latest development between James and his wife. Maya had also confided to him about James.

“Last night, I told James about my marriage with Richard. Nakita kasi n’ya yung wedding ring namin kahapon ng nasa hospital ako.” She shared while her finger circled her wedding ring.

“Talaga, so anong sabi?” Emman was excited. His friend’s love story was getting more complicated he thought.

“Well, he felt that the situation makes us even. He thinks there is hope for us. The problem is he still holds on to the belief that I still like him. Na sense naman daw niya before that I liked him but I kept my distance because he is married.”

“Oh my, oh my. Magulo yan. Hindi mo ba sinabi na you’re in love with Richard?” Emman leaned forward with greater interest in her story.

“Yes. But he said that it is probably because I live and work with Richard so I am confused. Okay lang naman sa kanya if I have a crush on Ricky. Ma-oo-overcome ko naman daw ‘yon, like what happened during college days.” She continued.

“Bakit na-overcome mo nga ba?” Emman’s eyebrows arched.

“Uhmm, Oo. Pero nag-relapse eh.” She smiled weakly. “Emman, I hate this feeling. James is my least concern now. Pero si Richard, girl, what do I do?” There was desperation in her tone.

“Hmpp! Tinanong mo ako, are you sure you will follow my advise? At saka, bakit ka naging ganyan? Noong araw naman ang lakas ng loob mong mang-stalk kay Richard tapos ngayon di mo alam ang gagawin mo? I think you know what you have to do, napapakipot ka lang.” Emman scolded her.

“Emman naman. Can you give me an advise? Sige na, please.” Maya requested again.

“Okay, I have a recommendation. However, this will require courage, confidence and conviction.” Emman’s eyes twinkled.

“What is it?” Maya got curious.

“Hmmm, what is one thing that you don’t like about Richard?” He asked.

“Uhhm, may pagka playboy. He flirts a lot.” She declared. It was an easy question. It was the reason why she had been very careful with him.

“Bingo! Then, play his game. If his weakness is women, why can’t you be the woman that he’d go crazy with.” Emman suggested with a wide grin on his face.

Maya’s face turned red. “Emman, anong klaseng suggestion ‘yan.”

“Hayy, naku girl. Iyan muna ang first step. Once you get his attention back, saka ka na lang uli magpa cute-cute, pa manang-manang diyan. Minsan girl, seduction works! Remember how he can’t get his hands off you sa club last time. Extreme situation require extreme intervention.” Emman’s laughter reverberated the restaurant to Maya’s consternation.

~*~

Richard arrived home and immediately noticed the smell of food coming from the kitchen. Out of curiosity, he went there.

He found Maya cooking and when she saw him, she smiled at him.

“Good evening Ricky. Kumain ka na? I’m almost done with this kare-kare.” She told him excitedly. She recited an old saying in her mind, the fastest way to a man’s heart is thru his stomach. She was still unsure whether to follow Emman’s advise but for now, she will test the water.

“Hi. Yes, I had dinner out. So, it seems you are okay. Did you sleep well?” He commented as he took water from their fridge.

Maya’s heart sank when he said he had already eaten. However, she tried to keep her spirits up. “Medyo naka pag pahinga naman ako. Then, I went out with Emman kanina.”

“Good for you then. O sige, I’m going in. I’m tired.” He walkeds towards the door leading to the living room.

“Okay, goodnight Ricky. Ipagtitira na lang kita nitong kare-kare for breakfast tomorrow.” She glanced at him. It was enough that she got a glimpse of his face that evening. She looked forward to seeing him the whole day and spending dinner with him. Unfortunately, she didn’t get the chance.

“Thank you. Good night, Maya.” He finally left her in the kitchen.

It must be the heat coming from the pot, but Maya felt her eyes started to get misty.

The following day, Maya woke up alone in their condo unit. When she checked the dining table and the kitchen, she found out that Richard didn’t eat breakfast. The dish she cooked was still in the refrigerator. If in the previous night, her eyes only got misty, that morning, she cried.

~*~

“Ms Maya” An excited Mica greeted Maya as she entered their office. “Okay ka na.”

“Good morning Mica. Yes, thank you. I am well.” She sat on her chair and noticed a pile of documents waiting on her incoming tray.

Then, she remembered the package she brought. “Mica, nagluto pala ako kagabi ng kare-kare. I brought some, baka gusto mong matikman. Wala kasing kakain sa bahay, baka masayang.” She offered. She decided to bring her dish to the office but she left a small portion for Richard. She still hoped he would try it.

“Ayyy, thank you, Ma’m. Ang generous mo talaga.” Mica accepted the brown bag that Maya gave her.

“Alam mo Ma’m, ikaw at si Sir Richard ang flavor of the week.” Mica’s tone would have anyone get interested in her story. Maya knew the meaning of flavor of the week in their hotel, it means they are the main topic of employees that week. Every week, there are situations or events that people talk about a lot.

“Mica, anong tsismis naman ‘yan.” She turned serious and momentarily stopped flipping thru the documents in front of her.

“Hindi tsismis. Napag-usapan lang ‘yung pag collapse mo and then si Sir Richard pa talaga ang nagdala sa’yo sa hospital. Sabi nila, napatakbo siya ng malamang hinimatay ka. Tapos kinuha ka niya kay Aries. Sinabihan niya si Aries na siya mismo ang magdadala sa’yo sa hospital.”

Maya’s eyes narrowed as she listened to Mica. It was as if her secretary was implying something. “So, eh ano ngayon. Syempre boss ko siya, he would be concerned.” She tried to justify Richard’s action.

“Well, may point ka diyan, ma’m. Pero, first time lang kasi na nakita yung sobrang concern niya sa employee. Iniwan pa nga niya yung girlfriend niya.” Mica continued with her story. “Tapos, ng nasa hospital kayo, tinawagan ako ni Sir. Tinanong ako kung ano ang pinagkakabisihan mo rito sa office. Sabi ko, the usual, mga operations issues.”

Upon hearing the complete story from Mica, Maya couldn’t make out on why Richard acted that way. She thought he probably felt obligated to take care of her being his employer. However, he gave her last name as Lim. Maybe there was a meaning to it. But then again, he left her with James. She didn’t even see any slight emotion of concern from him. Even the previous night, he acted quite civil with her.

In the end, she gave up trying to understand him. It felt like she was going in circles. She didn’t want to raise her own hope. At it was, her heart was still in pain over the love she may have lost.

~*~

At around 4 p.m., Richard came into her room unannounced.

“Maya, are you in talking to someone?” He asked.

“Huh, wala, bakit?

“Tumawag ang Papa mo. Anyway, here let’s call him. Gusto daw tayong maka-usap na dalawa.” He pressed the phone number of his father in law.

When the phone was answered, Richard put it on speaker mode.

“Richard, Maya.” Papa Arturo called them.

“Pa.” Richard and Maya responded simultaneously.

“Buti at naka-usap ko kayo. Umuwi nga kayo sa San Nicolas this weekend. Simula ng kinasal kayo, hindi pa kayo umuwi dito. Nagtatampo na ang Mamang n’yo. Nakalimutan n’yo na raw siya.”

Richard and Maya looked at each other. He signaled for her to answer his father’s request.

“Papa, busy lang po talaga kami sa trabaho. Anyway, sige po, uuwi kami this weekend.” She declared.

Richard’s eyes widened as if he was surprised by her decision. And when they disconnected the call, he let her know her concerns.

“Maya, are you sure you want to go home with me in San Nicolas?” Richard clarified with her.

“Yes, ayokong magtampo si Mamang.” She replied in a matter-of-fact tone.

“You know that when we are there we will have to share a room, right?” He clarified again.

It was a scenario that Maya forgot but something she now doesn’t mind. “Huh, Oo nga ‘noh…. Hmmm, pero we’ve done it the past. I think we can survive it.” She declared positively.

“Well, I am okay with it. However, I have to check on my calendar if I am available this weekend. I think I have something personal to attend to.” He told her.

“If you are not free, then just tell me. Pwede naman re-schedule ang pag-uwi sa San Nicolas. Or, ako naman muna ang uuwi.” She replied while trying to hide the hurt she was feeling. She had a suspicion about his personal appointment over the weekend.

“Alright, I’ll let you know then.” He left her in her room.

~*~

At 6 p.m., Maya found herself sharing the elevator with Richard on the way to the parking lot. She smiled at him as she asked.

“Pauwi ka na rin?”

“Ahh, yes, parang ganoon na nga. Work’s done.” He returned her smile.

They were quiet for the rest of the ride and until the elevator door opened.

“So, how is James. I mean you and James, kumusta kayo.” He suddenly asked as they stepped out of the lift.

“James is okay. We’re okay, I guess.” She replied. She saw his eyebrows furrowed.

While they walked towards the driveway where their cars were parked, red car suddenly stopped beside them.

Richard stopped and walked towards the driver’s door. With a smile on his face, he opened it. The woman, whom Maya saw the other day, emerged from the car.

“Hi babe.” She kissed his cheek.

“Hi, why are you here? I thought I was going to fetch you.” He held the other woman’s hand.

“Well, ako na lang. It’s the least I can do. Bumabawi lang sa mga months that I was away.” She responded as she traced her fingers on Richard’s collarbone.

Maya was glued to where she was standing feeling out of place. Her heart was bleeding as she watched them. She hoped it wouldn’t be too obvious. Richard seemed to have remembered her because he finally introduced the two.

“Ahh, Maya. I’d like to introduce you to Susan Grace Chua. Sugar, this is Maya.”

The other woman’s eyes grew big as if something dawned on her. “Hi, please call me Grace. So, it is you who married Richard.”

Maya tried to smile although she was also surprised why Grace made that comment. “You know that we got married?”

Grace chuckled. “Yes, dear. Sinabi niya sa akin months ago that he was going to get married and it was an arranged one. So, apparently the two of you struck a deal. How are things going for you?”

It felt strange talking to a stranger about her relationship with Richard and more so with the woman who appeared to be another Richard’s girlfriend.

“We are fine. We manage; it is just like work.” She responded coldly. She couldn’t tell them that it felt like she was dying just seeing them together.

“Good then. At least I am assured that he won’t stray away from me. We should become good friends Maya, I need you to keep an eye on this guy.” Grace wrapped her arms around Richard. Richard on the other hand maintained a smile on his face.

“Hey, we better get going. Ma-traffic sa labas.” Richard motioned Grace to enter her car while he walked around to take the passenger seat beside her. “Maya, see you tomorrow.”

Maya’s tears were streaming down her face as she saw them drive away. If she thought the pain the other day was unbearable, that evening was the worst she ever felt. Her heart was torn to pieces. He has moved on and how else can she take him.

Then, her phone beeped for an incoming message. When she checked her phone, there was a message from Richard.

“I can’t make it this weekend.”

With tears blinding her eyes, she texted back. “Okay. I’ll tell Papa.”

Heart’s True Desire – part 20

A/N: This is a continuation to Heart’s True Desire – part 19.

Author: Hanah6181

~*~
“Lights Out”

Maya paced back and forth in their living room arguing with herself whether she would call Richard or not. It has been two nights since he came back from San Nicolas but he has not returned to their condo. She didn’t get enough sleep in last two days.

She saw him in the office but his busy schedule kept her from having a solo time with him. She wanted to ask him where he was sleeping at night. His back-to-back meetings didn’t even allow her to update him about the operations of their boutique hotels. The layer in between them, his father who is her immediate supervisor, added the wall since all her work must pass thru him.

It also bothered her that for the last two days, Stephanie was coming regularly at their hotel. She had seen the two leave together in the afternoon. She had mixed emotions whenever she thought of Richard.

Deep inside, she was jealous. It was her pride that held her from unleashing her anger. At the same time, she was convincing herself that probably there wasn’t anything going between the two. Additionally, she doesn’t have the right to meddle in his affairs, just like what she told him not to meddle in hers.

Then, she heard the clicking sound of their door. Richard has arrived. He was even surprised to find her standing in the middle of the living room.

“Hi! You are still up?” Richard spoke to her as he placed his computer bag on top of table beside the main door. He removed his shoes and placed them in the shoe cabinet.

“Yes….Uhmmm… papasok na sana ako sa room ko ng dumating ka.” She responded. “Ahhh, kumain ka na?” Her spirits slightly went up.

“Yeah, I just had dinner.” He smiled and walked towards the direction of his room.

“Ehhh, Ricky.” She called out his name.

“Yes, Maya?” He turned around and gave her a quizzical look.

“Two days ka kasi di ka umuwi dito sa condo? If you don’t mind, saan ka natulog?” She finally asked. After she asked the question, she realized that she might get ignored or worst, he might get mad at her for snooping in his personal time.

“Hindi sa nakiki-alam ako, ha. It’s just that I was alone here. Nagtataka lang ako.” She added an alibi for asking.

Richard smirked. “I’m sorry hindi kita nasabihan. I thought you wouldn’t be interested. Anyway, I needed to go be alone. I also thought it would be good to give each other the space. I think you are right; I was being presumptuous about us. But you don’t have to worry now, okay na ako. I won’t bother you again.”

Richard response to her question was worst than she anticipated. She realized that he practically told her that he was moving on. It tore her heart to pieces. It dawned on her that despite everything and her doubts, she cared and she wanted him. She realized that she could see herself going to the distance with him. But now, it seemed she had lost him.

She couldn’t respond because of the overwhelming emotions within her. Additionally, her pride kept her mum but she wanted to cry.

“Alright, Maya. I’m going in my room. By the way, tomorrow, we’ll have a meeting with the marketing team. They’ll present the plans for La Esperanza. I think their proposal is great and I believe you’d be excited to hear how LE can get back to its feet.” He sounded excited as he informed her of the meeting.

Maya’s heart sank further. When La Esperanza is back on its feet, she knew their marriage contract would need to end.

~*~

Richard, Maya, the group VP for marketing of Lim Hotel &Resorts, the marketing managers of La Esperanza and LHR, 2 other operations officers were all gathered in the conference room the following day. They have just ended the meeting pertaining to the revival of La Esperanza hotel.

They will start a marketing campaign to position it as a heritage hotel, a hotel that survived through the years and tied with the history of San Nicolas. With that plan, they will need to tie up with the tourism department, local travel agents which also had international connection. The work and projected revenue got everyone excited except for Maya. While there was a permanent smile plastered on her face, the smile didn’t reach her eyes. She was distracted.

She kept on glancing at Richard and Stephanie. Stephanie was also in the meeting together with her team of two staff. It turned out that she was the consultant that worked with LHR’s marketing team. She felt more jealous realizing that Stephanie wasn’t just a body but also had brains and capabilities of her own. She knew more about the hospitality business than her.

As everyone started to leave the conference room, she saw how Stephanie tried to get close to Richard, which the latter seemed to have gently avoided.

“Richard, I’m going. Are you sure you wouldn’t want to go and have a drinks with me?” Stephanie used her flirty tone.

“No, Steph. It’s still too early for that. I still have meetings to attend to.” He declined her offer.

“Okay. But in case you change your mind, you know where to find me.” She patted Richard’s face. Then, she turned to Maya whom she noticed was watching them. “Ahh, Ms. Dela Rosa, thank you for the support in our proposal. I didn’t realize you are the granddaughter of the La Esperanza family until today. Anyway, I better get going.”

When Stephanie exited, Richard and Maya were left in the conference room.

“So, are you excited with the plans?” Richard asked her with a smile on his face.

“Ahh, Oo naman Ricky.” She responded while she tried to smile. She was about to say more when his phone rang.

Ricky took the call. “Hi, sugar….what? Uhmmm, alright if you are in the vicinity… sure, of course I’d want you to come over.” Then, Richard just signaled to her that he was going ahead leaving her alone in the conference room. There was a big smile on his face.

As Maya unintentionally listened to his phone conversation, her heart began to thud loudly again. Creases started to come out of her forehead as she tried to decipher whether she heard him right. He referred to the caller as Sugar. Was there anyone other than Stephanie? Was it the same sugar that disrupted their wedding night in what seemed to be like ages ago?

Maya got the answer to her question when she was at the main lobby of the hotel fifteen minutes later. She was checking on something at the front desk section when a beautiful woman arrived at their lobby. The woman went straight to the information counter and asked.

“Hi, good morning. I’m here to see Richard Lim. Could you please tell me where his office is? He is expecting me.” The tone of her voice indicated she was well mannered. Maya can’t help but get curious with the woman.

“Ma’m may I know your name please? I’ll inform Mr. Lim’s secretary so she could assist you.” The front desk responded. Maya thought their staff handled her well considering they shouldn’t just allow anyone to come to their offices without properly checking.

But out of nowhere, Richard appeared. “That won’t be necessary, Glenn.” He said to the hotel staff.

The woman turned and saw Richard’s smiling face. “Ricky… babe. You came down.” She wrapped her arms around his neck as she kissed him on the lips. It was light kiss that Richard received.

“Of course I did. I waited for you. What took you long?” Richard draped an arm around her waist. He was about to guide his visitor towards his office when he noticed Maya at the front desk counter. Their eyes met and locked.

Maya upon being caught observing the two suddenly dropped the key she was holding. As she was in frantic mode trying to hide her emotion, she immediately bent down to pick-up her key. Unfortunately, the speed of her motion and miscalculation caused her to bump her forehead on the corner counter just below the main counter. The impact resulted to her fall where she literally saw the world around her spin.

“Ma’m Maya!!” Those were the last words she heard before the lights went out.

~*~

Maya felt someone touched her cheek. Slowly, she opened her eyes to find James seating beside her bed. She looked around and realized she was in a hospital bed. She gave him a half smile.

“Hi” James touched her hand. “How are you feeling?”

“Hmm, okay lang.” She was to lift her left hand but James held on to it. She noticed that James’s eyes widened as he looked at her ring finger. She was wearing her wedding ring that day. She hasn’t removed her ring for the past few days.

“What happened? Bakit ako nandito?” She asked.

“Well, you hit your head in the counter and passed out. Nasa emergency section tayo.” James responded.

“Ahh, Oo nga pala. Naalala ko na.” She smiled as she released her left hand from his hold. She touched her forehead.

Then, the curtain at the entrance door opened and Richard went in.

“Hi sleepyhead, so you are awake.” Richard went towards her and touched her forehead too.

“Yes. Pasensya na ha kung naabala ko ang schedules n’yo. Pareho pa kayong nandito ngayon.” She responded apologetically.

“It’s nothing. And next time, be careful.” He touched her hair before turning to James. “So, bro. thanks for coming over. Mukhang okay na ang patient.” He told him.

James responded with a chuckle. “Oh yeah. I just got worried about her.” As James looked at her and Richard’s hand on her hair, he noticed that their rings were identical.

His expression changed to a look of confusion. Immediately, he suspected that something was going on between the two. However, their behavior towards each other was contrary to his suspicion.

“You have identical rings. Is that coincidental?” He asked with wonder in his eyes. He tried to allay his fear.

Maya’s face turned pale while Richard’s expression turned serious. Richard realized that the ring was something that he has to take off if he really was moving on. He couldn’t respond immediately.

O, parang natuka kayo ng ahas?” James tried to lighten up the mood.

It was then Richard responded. “Oh, this ring? Well, I think Maya can better explain this to you. Mas maganda if the whole story comes from her. But one thing bro that I can assure you, I respect her.” With James query, he thought that it would be better to have Maya explain their situation than him.

Maya looked at Richard. She appreciated his expression of respect for her. “Thank you Richard. James, I’ll tell you the story later, pwede?”

“Alright. I guess I better check with the doctor what’s your condition.” James stood up.

Richard stopped him from leaving. “James naka-usap ko na ang doctor. It was just a bump, bukol lang in short. Medyo nabigla lang kaya nag-collapse si Maya. Also, it seemed she lacked sleep so she was just actually sleeping in the last 3 hours. So, wag ka ng mag-worry.” He turned to Maya and gave her a smile of reassurance.

Maya blushed when Richard smiled at her. She couldn’t help feeling giddy and yet embarrassment crept into her too. She lost sleep because she waited for him on the nights he didn’t go home.

“By the way, you just need your clearance from the doctor. I’ve settled the bill. So, mauuna na ako.” He added as he bid them goodbye.

“Bro, you didn’t have to. I could settle the hospital bill.” James volunteered as if he had the right to take care her bills.

Richard smirked. “No, James. Maya is my responsibility.” Then, he left the two of them.

“It’s okay James. Tama siya. I was in our hotel premises when the incident happened. We can always claim sa medical insurance naman.” She told James.

~*~

Later when the nurse came with the release clearance, Maya smiled from ear to ear. It wasn’t because she was being released from the hospital but because of what was written in her medical record.

Surname: Lim
Firstname: Maya
Middle Name: Dela Rosa
Civil Status: Married

Aside from her marriage contract, this was the second document that reflected her relationship with Richard. She secretly hoped they could make it real.