The Guardian Angel – part 1

A/N: This is a continuation to The Guardian Angel – Prologue.


Author: princemackaroo




Elle, together with her father Edmund, sat at the waiting lounge. She and her mother Susie were on their way to Megamall in Ortigas when an over-speeding bus unceremoniously cut them out causing Susie to lose control over their car and slam it against a post. Elle miraculously survived the crash and much to everyone’s bewilderment, unscathed. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of her mother. She suffered a severe head trauma, a couple of broken ribs, and broken left femur and right fibula. Her chances of survival are very minimal.

I was standing at one corner, watching Elle sleep in her father’s arms. She looked so peaceful, oblivious of everything that’s happening around her.

“Everything will be okay Elle. Mommy will be okay,” Edmund whispered in Elle’s ear. The troubled expression never left his face. He’s been anxiously waiting and praying for Susie to wake up, for her to survive this. But Father has different plans for them.

“It’s time.” The good angel Simon stood by my side, looking impassively at Susie’s frail body. We both knew what he meant. I turned and looked at Elle and her father. “They’ll be fine. Father will see them through it all,” said Simon.

I looked at him and nodded my head. We may be a higher form of being and cannot feel pain the same way a human does but we know how to have compassion and love, the same way the Father does.

In a couple of seconds, loud disturbing noises came from the apparatuses that are attached to Susie. Edmund got up on his feet, looking frantic more than ever. Nurses were scampering around, followed by a doctor.

I watched through the glass window how the nurses and the doctor tried to save Susie and stabilize her dropping heart rate, all to no avail. Her heart rate continued to drop until it went flat. Susie’s soul detached from her body and she was approached by Simon.

“Come,” Simon called out to her.

Susie smiled at him and took his extended hand. She stopped momentarily in front of me and smiled. “Thank you, for saving my baby.”

“Her time has not come yet. She still has a full-life ahead of her.”

Susie nodded her head in understanding and was ushered by Simon to her now new home. I watched as they disappeared in thin air. I was about to glance back at Elle and his dad when the people inside the ICU caught my attention. Almost a minute had already lapsed but the doctor is still adamant and determined in bringing Susie back to life. He discarded the CPR equipment and tried to manually pump her chest. The nurses were already calling out his attention, asking him to stop, informing him that it is all over but he would not hear any of them. He continued to give Susie CPR. And when his strength waned down, he finally stopped. With much resignation, he turned to one of the nurse and informed them of Susie’s time of death.

I watched as the doctor hung his head low for a few seconds before he straightened up and went out of the room and approached Edmund and Elle. His vigorous efforts to save Susie and the sincere anguish he felt when he failed to save her impressed me. Even when half of mankind had gone bad and went on with their evil ways, there still are a lot of things that are admirable about them, and this is one of them.

As the doctor finally reached Edmund and Elle, only then have I noticed him closely. He was relatively tall, approx. 5’10” in height, well-built, and a Chinese who possess a pair of expressive eyes. Eyes that reminded me of someone – Richard.

With an apologetic tone and sincere sympathy, the doctor informed Edmund that Susie had passed away due to the internal injuries that she sustained. The doctor placed a hand on Edmund’s shoulder, as the latter broke down and cried over his deceased wife.

“Dr. Lim!” A nurse approached the doctor, stopping from his tracks as he was already about to leave. “Doc, kailangan niyo pong i-sign ito.”

The doctor took the papers from the staff and signed it. After handing it back, he continued to walk away and for some reason, I found myself following him. He rode the elevator, disembarked, and entered an office where his name is nicely etched on the glass door, Richard T. Lim, M.D. Neurosurgeon. And I smiled. For the first time, after the night that I left him, I saw him once more, the boy who holds a very special place in my heart.

I passed thru the door and stood before him. He was sitting on his swivel chair, leaning back with his eyes closed. One can easily sense his somber mood. This somehow tells me that he was still the same old Richard that I knew. The Richard who is compassionate, selfless, and loves helping other people, especially those in need.

“Everything okay brod?” A man, wearing a lab coat on top of a white polo, tie, slacks and leather shoes entered the room and approached Richard.

Richard opened his eyes. “Not really brod.” He sat up straight and heaved out a sigh. “I just lost a patient.”

Richard’s friend nodded his head in understanding. “I heard. But I don’t think there really is anything that could be done to save her. From what I heard, grabe daw ang injuries na na-sustain niya from the crash.”

“Yes. The injuries she sustained from the crash are what caused her to die. But still, it’s not an excuse for me not to have saved her. You should’ve seen her daughter. She was still so young. And now she’ll have to live her life without her mother by her side.”

“Brod, you know how everything happens for a reason. Besides, kung talagang oras na niya, oras na niya. You really won’t be able to do anything about that fact. Nothing we do can ever save her from her fate,” explained Richard’s friend.

“I know Ryan.” Richard let out another sigh. “Naaawa lang kasi ako sa naiwan niyang mag-ama.”

Ryan smiled at Richard, and I can tell he too was amused by Richard’s kindness and compassion. “They’re being watched over brod. They’ll get through this. Hindi naman sila bibigyan ng ganitong pagsubok ng Diyos kung hindi nila ito kaya eh.”

After a few more minutes, Ryan eventually got up on his feet. He informed Richard that he still has a couple of rounds before he call it a day. As he was making his way towards the door, Ryan turned his head and looked my way giving me a sense that he somehow knows I’m here or that he could actually feel my presence. But before I could further ponder on the possibilities, Ryan continued to walk and went on with his way.

Richard leaned back on his swivel chair and closed his eyes once more. I don’t know what’s going on in his mind but I can feel his sadness. It shows in his aura.

Without shifting from his position, he took out his mobile phone from the pocket of his pants and started dialing a number. After a couple of tries, he’s still getting the same response. He tried scrolling down on his phonebook and called a different number. After a while, a smile emerged from his lips and he started to speak.

“Hi Ma!” Richard said.

“Ricky hijo! Napatawag ka?” His mother Esmeralda asked.

“Wala naman Ma. I just missed you.”

“Ang anak ko talaga! Well I missed you too hijo!”

“How was Papa?”

“Your papa is doing fine son. Ikaw? How are you doing there? Is everything okay?”

Richard heaved out a sigh. “Okay naman Ma. Just another day in the hospital.”

“You sounded tired son. Baka hindi ka nagpapahinga ng maayos ha? Hindi naman tama yan hijo! You’re a doctor and you yourself should know that too much work isn’t good for your health! You should rest as well!” reprimanded Esmeralda.

Richard chuckled at her mother’s rant. “Ma, I’m okay. I don’t take my health for granted. I don’t overwork myself. Na-mi-miss ko lang talaga kayo ni Papa.”

“Aww.. Well I miss my unico hijo so much as well. Don’t worry son. I’ll ask your Papa na umuwi kami diyan para magbakasyon at makasama ka namin.”

Richard smiled. “That’ll be a wonderful idea Ma. I’ll look forward to it.”

“Well you definitely should!” chuckled Esmeralda. “By the way, how was Alex?”

“She’s doing fine Ma. We’re doing great.”

“That’s good to hear son. Ang gusto ko pag-uwi namin ng Papa mo, makapag-bonding naman kami niyang fiancé mo. And sana naman ay pag-usapan narin natin ang details ng wedding niyo.”

Richard let out a laugh. “Ok Ma. I’ll tell her.”

“Good. O pano son? I got to go. May pupuntahan pa kasi ako. I’ll catch up with you soon okay? Always take care of yourself ok?”

“Yes Ma, I will. You guys take care of yourselves as well. I love you.”

“I love you too son. Bye.”

After the phone call with his mom, Richard’s mood visibly changed. He’s now smiling though the hint of sadness is still there lingering in his eyes. He pressed the speaker on his desk phone and dialed an extension.

“Yes Dr. Lim?”

“Hi Liza. Do I still have any scheduled appointment?”

“Wala na po sir. You are free for the day.”

“Thank you. I’m leaving early today. Just call me for any emergency.”

“I will Doc.”

After the conversation, Richard packed his things up and went out of his office. He rode the elevator once more and this time hit the basement. As he got out, he went to his car and started driving. Am not really sure where exactly he is going but I just sat back at the backseat, contented to simply watch him, look over him just like how I used to when he was still a young kid.

He stopped by a flower shop and bought a bouquet of red roses. A couple of minutes more, we rounded a corner and entering a basement of a high rise condominium building. We boarded the lift once again and disembarked on the 20th floor. We turned left and I watch him stop in front of a unit and enter the code onto the security pad.

As we entered the unit, a nagging sense hit me. Something isn’t right. I brushed the feeling off. In a way, I know what I doing was wrong. I shouldn’t actually be loitering around and following another human who was obviously beyond my jurisdiction. By now, I should’ve been back to heaven and inquiring about my next assignment but I got too preoccupied by Richard that all I want at the moment is to catch up with him and know how and what he has become.

“Alex? Babe?” Richard called out but got no answer. He walked to the living room and found everything in place. He then walked to the kitchen and got himself a glass of water. Rinsing the glass, he placed it back on the rack. He was already on his way back to the living room when he stopped on his tracks. He turned right and started walking towards one of the bedrooms. His face had a darkened expression and only then did I start to notice the noise coming from the bedroom. Before I could react any further, Richard was already opening the door.

I may not have the ability to read minds or know everything that’s happening or that’s going to happen, but the dark, hard as stone and cold as ice expression that looms over his face and the menacing look he has in his eyes are already enough to predict the things that are running in his mind. Without thinking twice, I reached out to him, touched his shoulder and washed him with some calmness.

Reluctantly, he turned his back. With tears rolling down from his eyes, he started walking out of the unit.



I Heart You 2, BCWMH!

Written: July 9, 2014


by iamgarie


First off, Happy 2nd Anniversary, Be Careful with My Heart! Thank you for 2 amazing years of unforgettable happiness, kilig, love, laughter, tears (happy or otherwise) and good vibes! To Richard Yap, Jodi Sta. Maria, and the entire cast & crew, thank you for all those long days of hardwork and numerous sleepless nights to give us the best show ever. Thank you!

The Big Change

The Big Change has finally happened. 1 and 1/2 years have passed in the lives of our most beloved Richard, Maya and their beautiful family, and here we all are still hooked to this show we love and adore like no other. Isn’t it amazing how this show continues to keep us glued to the boob tube even after 2 wonderful years on air? We simply can’t get enough of BCWMH as it never fails to surprise us with its never ending heartwarming moments and brilliant, unconventional storytelling. There is never any room for lengthened bad vibes or prolonged fights or conflicts in this wonderful show that always leaves us feeling good about ourselves and happy, and hopeful & excited about life.

Fast Forward

The fast forward that came about was truly a welcome development for the show as we are now all the more excited to find out how our favorite Lim family, their extended families and their friends are. The Big Change led us through several fast forward scenes that showcased several milestones for the family– 2 Christmases, 2 New Year’s Eve celebrations, several of the twins’ firsts including their first birthday, Nikki’s high school graduation, Sabel’s wedding, and so on… Just like in the episode One Month After last December 2013, things start “in medias res” and we are all the more curious than ever to find out not just what’s up with our favorite Lim family at present, but what we have somehow missed out on in their workaday world in the past one and one-half years because of the fast forward. What an exciting new development for a two year old show that feels and looks brand new!

Here’s what we know so far since the fast forward that occurred.

Richard, though he is excelling as CEO of Lim Aviation Services with his company amassing awards left and right, remains the sweetest husband and the most loving Dad.

Maya, the homemaker who now knows how to bake pandesal and confidently run the household, is still the best wife to her Ricky and the best Mom to all 5 Lim children.

(Of course, we are totally loving the new look of our beloved couple. Richard, with his slimmer figure, new Swissflex frames and brand new shirts and polos that make him look younger and handsomer than ever, and Maya, with her new addition to her wardrobe: sexy nighties and what looks like a never ending supply of shorts which highlight her very beautiful legs.)

Luke is in 4th year college and has an OJT to busy himself with, a girl intern to argue with and his very own condo to come home to, Nikki is having a hard time adjusting to college life as she remains friendless (to top that off, her Nicolo is at present courting Georgina), and 11- year old Abby is bothered by the reality that she is the shortest in class and has become a butt of jokes among her obnoxious boy classmates. The twins, Sky and Sunshine, remain everyone’s stress tabs as they continue to bring joy and elicit love and laughter from their loving family with every little thing they do.

As for other developments, here goes: Kute is back in school, Tay Arturo and Nay Teresita are back in each other’s arms, Sabel is now a married woman, Joma is a Daddy to a cute little boy, and Doris is finally done with make up school (and oh, in case you did not notice, she’s done with her bangs, too! Ha!)

Savoring and Embracing Change

Change is inevitable and we are amazed at how our favorite Lim family has learned to savor and embrace all the changes that have come their way. With a beautiful, astonishing and massive new home sweet home, exciting new challenges and adventures for every member of the Lim household, and a promise of even better, brighter things to come, I cannot help but still wish that this show stays on forever, as I still have endless questions that need answers and endless scenarios that need to be played out—

When do we get to finally see the entirety of the beautiful new home of the Lims? Will we finally see Richard take a dip in the pool with Maya and the kids? Hehe.

Now that Richard is hell-bent on spending more time at home with the kids, what exciting new adventures will he and the kids get into? How will he handle the twins? Will he take them to the park and to the zoo? Will he teach them to make toy airplanes as well?

Aside from pandesal, what else has Maya learned to bake (and to cook) for her family during her 2-year hiatus from work?

Has Maya built a small vacation house in San Nicolas yet? The one she intends to build for her family so they have a place to come home to every time they visit San Nicolas?

What exciting new adventures will Maya have as an international FA? What conflicts/ problems will she encounter at work? Will her unpredictable schedule eventually pose a problem for her family? (While their family was having dinner at Luke’s condo, the kids already made Maya promise that she has to be present in all the important occasions of their lives.)

How long can Luke keep his secret from his fellow on the job trainees? Who will eventually make a major slip of revealing his true identity? Will it be Liza, Minerva, Sonny, Engr. Yamaguchi or Ms. Madrigal? How will Joni find out? Is Aira still in the picture? Are she and Luke still as close as ever? Who will Luke eventually end up with? I think Team Aira pa rin ako. Haha!

What new adventures will Luke get himself into now that he’s living on his own? Despite their endless banter, Luke and his little sister Nikki are so close. Will Nikki be Luke’s constant visitor in his crib?

As it seems, Nikki is still in love with Nicolo, and Nicolo is still obviously not over Nikki yet as we see him constantly accompany her everywhere in school every chance he gets. BUT… What prompted Nicolo to court Georgina? Why did he waver? Why did he not wait for Nikki to grow up?

When will Nikki open that “ugly” jar and read the last note Nicolo put in? Could that last note be a profession of his love?

How will Nicolo finally find his way back to Nikki? Would an introduction of a new suitor for Nikki be the only means for him to finally confront his true feelings for her?

What other adventures will Abby get herself into in her pursuit of becoming taller? And why has she suddenly become a know it all who corrects Nikki every time the latter speaks Taglish? Her Ate Nikki used to be her idol in everything. What happened? And, where is her bestfriend, Lance?

I have a feeling that Simon is the suitor Eds is talking about. I’m hoping I’m right! :-) ‘Can’t wait to witness their budding romance unfold.

Have Rafi and Charlie tied the knot yet? Did the Lims attend the wedding? It would be exciting to have Rafi visit the mansion while she is heavy with child.

How is Jeff? Has he come home for a visit in the last 1 & 1/2 years? Has he finally met Kute and Cho’s Tatay Arturo? How are things with him and Kute?

Is Kute destined to find love in school as Maya insinuated? Is she going to fall for a girl? How will Cho and everyone react to this if it happens?

How will LAS manage with less of Richard and more of Ms. Madrigal, the current COO?

When will Doris find the man of her dreams? ‘Hope the love story the show spins for her is just as exciting and kilig as Sabel’s.

When will Don Roberto and Donya Esmeralda visit Ricky and Maya in their new home?

Shouldn’t Don Roberto and Donya Esmeralda be celebrating their golden wedding anniversary soon given that Sir Chief would be celebrating his 49th bday in the show anytime? (It is already June 2016 in the world of BCWMH now.) Waah! It would be interesting to have Richard and Maya surprise the elderly Lims with a simple yet elegant and memorable wedding ceremony and reception to celebrate fifty years of their love and togetherness. Truly, a kapit bisig moment for the Lim family!

When will Richard and the Lim kids board a plane with Maya as FA and Capt. James Ventura as the pilot? ‘Would still love to see Capt. James in the show one more time. ‘Would want to know if he has found himself a girl to love as well.

When will the Lim family take an out of town or out of the country trip again? Their Baguio adventure in 2012 is unforgettable. ‘Would love to see them in a similar adventure again.

This may sound a bit lame for some already, but I still would want to know some more about Alex’s family and why none of them have ever checked up on Luke, Nikki and Abby. Tsk, tsk!

My list can go on and on and on…

Cheers to Family

We love the Lims because they represent the family we all aspire to have: a loving, caring family who will forever remain our support system (kapit-bisig!) as we all embark in our individual journeys to become the persons we are meant to be.

Richard is a fine example of a husband and dad who is selfless. He understands that “a person who reaches for his dreams is a person that’s fulfilled and is able to give more love.” Hence, we see him encourage Maya to go back to work as an FA as he knows this will make her truly happy and fulfilled. He has also allowed Luke to leave the family nest to find himself and learn to be on his own. He knows that leaving home will be good for him. I was also initially in shock that he allowed Nicolo to drive Nikki to school on her first day in college. I didn’t realize then that it was also a statement of sorts. He wants Nikki to know that now that she is more mature, he will start to trust her with the decisions she will make in life. Richard is an almost perfect husband and dad. Haaay!

Their story also reminds us that we should all continue to remain hopeful and positive even if major setbacks come our way. When the show started, we all felt Richard’s pain of losing a wife. We all saw how he and his three kids struggled to exist back then as they were each devoid of life, hope and love. Thankfully, Maya eventually came into their lives and like magic, made everything alright.

Friendships Formed

I am not surprised that beautiful friendships have been formed among the cast and crew of BCWMH in the past two years as we all have witnessed and enjoyed their constant banter on Twitter & Instagram and interviews on TV.

What is surprising though is the fact that friendships have also been formed among the very loyal viewers of the show. Isn’t this show truly amazing?


RY and JSM, The Best Reel Couple!

BCWMH did not only give us the best love story ever, it also gave us a love team unlike any other. Richard Yap and Jodi Sta. Maria are perfect in their roles as Sir Chief and Maya. Their chemistry is undeniable! They register so well on a screen as a happy couple who are so in love with each other! Waaah! How we love them! Let me say it again. I cannot imagine anyone else essaying the roles of Sir Chief and Maya with conviction as much as RY and JSM!

I hope their partnership, their love team, will not end when the show ends. I would surely love to see RY and JSM on the big screen, as they figure out in various love stories to remember for all time. I’m sure that their love team will make a killing at the box office once they start making movies! Paging Star Cinema! ‘Would love to see RY and JSM on the big screen come Valentine’s Day next year. I do believe that their partnership deserves several movies! :-) (I don’t know if ABS-CBN and the show is aware of this, but there are various blogs on the net devoted to writing fan fiction about Richard Lim and Maya Dela Rosa. And wow! The stories that have been written about them always leave the readers giddy with love and excitement, as well. For starters, visit Excess Baggage.)


Happy Lang, Walang Ending

If the show is truly ending this December 2014 (I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t just yet!), would another fast forward be too much to ask for? I would sure love to see Luke graduate from college and work at LAS for real. I would also love to see Nikki celebrate her debut. It would also be exciting to see the 3 year old twins finally start preschool and bond with their Mommy and Daddy, Simon and Eds getting married, and Maya getting pregnant again (There’s an overload of sweetness between her and Richard these days. Then there’s even that promise of you and me time. Tsk, tsk. She’s bound to get pregnant again one way or the other. Haha!) Like I said before, BCWMH is a story of life and endless possibilities. I hope it never ends para happy lang lahat kasi walang ending!

Truth be told, I HEART YOU 2, BCWMH! You are truly unforgettable!


Maya to Richard: The only thing constant is you and me time.

For us avid viewers of the show, the only thing we want to remain constant is to see BCWMH on TV for the rest of our lives. Ha!

Thank you, BCWMH, for coming into our lives exactly two years ago today, for touching our hearts and souls, for giving us hope, for always relieving us off our stress, for inspiring us to become the best that we can possibly be and for constantly giving us an insurmountable amount of happiness, kilig, love, laughter and good vibes. You are simply the best!

Congratulations, Team BCWMH, Richard Yap and Jodi Sta. Maria for all the awards you have reaped, endorsements you have made, world tours and Kapamilya caravans you have performed in, countless magazine covers you have graced, DVD’s and music CD’s you have sold, high TV ratings you have consistently gotten and all the other worthy achievements you have gained since the show started. For sure, there will be more to come!

Here’s one to look forward to. ARANETA, here they come!


For the nth time, let me say it again, I’ll remain a fan and a staunch supporter of this show no matter what. It’s simply the best show to ever grace Philippine television in years!

Mr. and Mrs. Stag – Part 2

Admin Note: *Contributed Story* Please give credit and thanks to AttyMayiVR.  This is a continuation to Mr. and Mrs. Stag – part 1 .

A/N:   Finally after 300 years!  I hope you’ll like this one. :-)

Author: AttyMayiVR


  Previously in Chapter ONE
 Maya: Batchmates? Kaya naman pala… so Atty. Lim and Atty. Molina, I was right all along. You were just accommodating Atty. Reyes!
 Angelo: You’ve met them, Mai?
 Maya: Naku Tito, sila yung mga lawyers na pinagalitan ng judge kasi mga sinungaling! If they could lie to the judge with a straight face, I’m sure they lie to their wives as well!
           Tito, I’m sorry, will you excuse me? I see some friends waving at me. Dan, Mitch… looks at Ivy too ….. Atty. Molina, and Atty. Lim, excuse me, dun muna ako, see you around.
 Chapter  TWO
 Mitch: Kasali ka dun Dan?
 Dan: Hindi ah.
Ivy: Hon, siya ba yung kinwento mo sa akin before?
Ryan: Yes Hon, wala akong kasalanan dun.
Ivy: She looks nice. Mitch, let’s get some food?
Mitch: Sige. What about you, boys?
Dan: Mauna na kayo, maganda ang usapan dito.
Angelo: So, what was that all about?
Richard: She’s your niece?
Angelo: Yes she is! My most favorite in fact.
Ryan: Naku, favorite niece daw Stag!  What a revelation!
Angelo: So? Anyone? She sounded upset and disappointed.
Ryan: Ito kasing si Richard, binwisit yang pamangkin mo sa isang maritime case. Kami nila Anthony ang mga kalaban nya. Anthony wasn’t ready for trial so nag papa reset. Then itong si Stag, kada suggested date for next hearing, nag imbento na may hearing kung saan saan kaya hindi raw siya available.
          Richard didn’t want to admit that he felt slighted and provoked by Maya’s frankness and straightforward statements made in open court, embarrassing him in front of other lawyers and litigants. It was actually his first. With his good looks and charm, Richard always found his way to make things work to his advantage. But with a young lady lawyer like Maya not being smitten by his chinito charisma, Richard not only felt frustrated but that he got a big slap on his ego.
Richard: Hindi ko siya binwisit. Come on, that usually happens in court. Ginagawa nyo rin yun.
 Ryan: Grabe naman din pala yang pamangkin mo, madetalye! When Richard said he has a conflict of schedule in another court, she asked which court may conflict.
            Eh sa lahat ba naman ng korte, Quezon City Court ang naisip nito, at sa lahat ng branch ha, yung sa mother ni Atty. Dela Rosa pa ang ang dinahilan. Hayun, buking, napagalitan tuloy kami nung judge. Mabuti na lang hindi kami na contempt at na-sanction eh.
 Richard: I didn’t mean to offend her. I just didn’t find postponing the trial of the case a big deal. It’s very typical, normal nangyayari sa korte. She just assumed we were accommodating Anthony.
 Dan: Eh hindi nga ba?
 Ryan: Yeah right. Dinamay pa nya ako. Eto pa, ang yabang pa mag-suggest ng date nitong si Stag, June 19, Linggo pala! Hahahahaha!
 Richard: Sige, ilaglag mo ako, eh sumagot ka naman! Sabi mo “I’m not available.” Hahahaha!
 Ryan: Mabuti na lang hindi nila napansin.
 Angelo: Hahaha! Mga gago pala kayo eh, kaya napikon yung pamangkin ko.
 Ryan:  So, Angelo, is she really like that? I mean, it’s been about 6 months and she still remembers it?
 Angelo: I’m sure wala na yun sa kanya pero now that it all came back to her memory, nainis lang siguro kasi nalaman nya na magkakabatch kayo at pinagkaisahan nyo siya.
           She does not have any chips on her shoulder. She is such a nice person.
 Richard: Brod, I did not mean to instigate na pinagkaisahan siya. I just did not like the idea of going to Manila for trial during the rainy season. It’s so hard, ang trafik, lalo na binabaha. Don’t you agree with me?
 Ryan: I get your point pare. Pero sabi nga, the end does not justify the means. Pati tuloy sa akin nagalit pamangkin nito.
 Angelo: She’s just upset. Hindi galit yun. Give her some time, maya maya lang wala na yun.
 Dan:So what happened to the case?
 Ryan: She got what she wanted, the trial was reset to June 21, pero hindi lang din natuloy because the Mayor declared suspension of work sa Manila kasi baha na sa konting buhos ng ulan. Tama nga itong si Richard.
 Richard: See? Is it not annoying? You go to court prepared tapos i-rereset lang dahil baha. Eh di lalo lang nag cause ng delay.
 Angelo: At talagang annoyed ka rin up to now ha.
 Richard: ‘Tol hindi naman. I just remembered what happened that time. Kasi, the judge already warned the three of us. Remember, we were accused of coming to court unprepared, so, we made sure that we’ll be in his court ahead of time prepared on that next trial date.
 Ryan: Lunch pa lang magkakasama na kaming tatlo nila Anthony. At take note ha, lahat kami, naka suit! Hahaha! Para talagang obvious na pinaghandaan namin ang kaso.
 Dan: Saang branch ba yung kaso?
 Ryan: Sa Branch 38, kay Judge Vicente Cruz.
Richard: Hahaha! We decided to have lunch somewhere near para siguradong hindi kami male-late. Pero nagtalo muna kami where to eat kasi nga we were in suits.
 Ryan: Eh sa NAPOCOR Building yung Branch 38 diba, sa Bonifacio Drive, sa port area lang.
 Richard: Kaya we ended up at Manila Hotel kasi nga mga naka suit kami.
              Nakakatawa kasi when we entered the lobby, we were being ushered to this wedding reception.
 Ryan: Sabi agad nung lobby attendant kay Stag “To the Yap-Sta. Maria wedding reception sir? This way to the Maynila Ballroom.”
 Richard: Tawa kami ng tawa nun. Ito kasing si Anthony ang kulit eh. Sagot nya, “Thank you!” sabay hatak sa amin sa gilid.
 Ryan: Sira ulo nga, pagka gilid namin, sabay sabi kay Stag “May wedding pala eh. Stag, papasa kang relative nung groom! Let’s go! Lauriat yun!”
 Angelo: Hanggang ngayon trip pa rin ni Anthony ang mag gate crash?
 Ryan: Don’t worry, we still ended up at Café Ilang Ilang. Yun nga lang while enjoying lunch, biglang umulan. Buhos ha!
 Richard: Buti na lang sa may likod lang ng Manila Hotel yung court.
 Ryan: Nagtalo na naman kami. Which car to take. Lahat kami may dala eh.
 Dan: Hirap pa naman ng parking dun.
 Richard: Exactly….at umuulan pa.
 Ryan: We ended up taking a cab. Kontrata, ang lapit lang ng tatakbuhin eh.
 Angelo: I thought hindi natuloy yung trial?
 Ryan: We got there at about 1:30. Then after a while, lumabas sa court room yung Branch Clerk of Court, sabi baka ma reset ang trial.
 Dan:Pero ready ba naman kayo with your witnesses?
 Ryan: Ready! Pinapunta ko dun ng 1:00 pm kaya when we got there, nasa court room na sila pareho.
 Richard: Parusa yung suit, ang init! Nag brown at pare!
 Ryan: Likot mo kasi! You kept on looking back at the door behind us, inaabangan mo yung kalaban.
 Richard: I was making sure walang makaka kontra sa resetting ng hearing.
 Ryan: Maya-maya, dumating na nga ang kalaban…yung pamangkin mo. We were expecting yung handling lawyer talaga na si Atty. Villacorta.
 Dan:Anung nangyari? Inisahan nyo uli?
 Ryan: Anung uli? Hindi naman kami naka isa sa kanya nung una diba? Siya nga ang naka isa sa amin eh.
 Angelo:Let me guess, binwisit uli ni Richard?
 Richard:No! I behaved the entire time.
 Ryan: Hahaha! Tahimik nga yan the whole time, wala ng imik from the time na dumating si Atty. dela Rosa at tumabi sa kanya.
 Richard:Pare walang laglagan.
 Ryan: Hahaha! Can’t forget that face, she really looked disappointed.
 Richard:Kasi nga na postpone lang yung trial.
           Richard, Ryan and Anthony were waiting at the lawyer’s table in the court room. The two witnesses of Anthony were seated at the front row just behind them. After a while, Atty. Santos, the Branch Clerk of Court went inside. “Naku mga attorney, ma re-reset ang hearing.”
           “What?” Richard asked in an upset tone.
           Ryan followed and asked “Why? Readying ready pa naman kami. Ang aga nga namin eh.”
           Anthony confirmed by saying “Yes, my witnesses are ready. Nandito na sila kanina pa.”
           “Baha na po kasi. We’re just waiting for the announcement by the executive judge. He is still confirming if the Mayor really declared suspension of classes and work here in Manila.”
           Annoyed, Richard blurted out “Ayan na nga ba ang sinasabi ko eh! Such a waste of time.”
           “Lalabas pa ba si Judge? Or we do the resetting now?” Anthony inquired from the Branch Clerk of Court.
           “Wala pa po yung confirmation of suspension Atty. Reyes eh. Paki intay lang po ng kaunti. Anyway, wala pa namang 2:00 pm.”
           “You’ll make us wait until 2:00?” Richard was getting impatient.
           “Atty. Lim, we’re still waiting for the confirmation. Ganun din naman po, if wala naman palang suspension, then matutuloy ang hearing and your case will still be called at 2:00 p.m. Besides, baka parating na rin yung plaintiff’s counsel, better para you can all agree on the resetting date.”
           Within seconds, power was out. “Naku, ayan brown out na. Don’t worry, in a while ma restore ang power pero generator lang. Sige po, paki intay po, pasok muna ako sa staff room at tatawag sa executive judge para alamin.”
           “Bad trip!” Ryan said. “Sayang yung suits, napagastos pa tayo sa lunch. Buti na lang may mga appearance fee tayo at bawi dun.”
           Richard did not have plans of waiting for long. “Pare pag wala pa si Atty. Villacorta by 2:00 let’s insist on resetting right away, even without her.”
           “Ayan ka na naman pare, conspiracy na naman yan eh.”
           “Tama si Stag Ryan. We can’t wait beyond 2:00 p.m. We need to go back to Manila Hotel and get our cars, baka tumaas yung tubig, will get stuck in Manila.”
           After a while, the Branch Clerk of Court went back and informed them that the Mayor has indeed suspended classes and work in the area but the Judge requested that they wait at least until 2:00 p.m. since it was just 15 minutes away.
          Richard was really getting bored and impatient. Then, he recalled what happened during the last hearing which is his first court encounter with Maya, when the judge admonished him, Ryan and Anthony. Court proceedings were already on going for another case and the lady lawyer beside him was obviously attracted to him with how she smiled and looked after every question thrown at the witness. Richard was just glad that the lady lawyer has remained standing as she bombarded the witness with questions in an exaggerated tone, making it obvious that she was trying to impress him.   This gave him visual access to Maya who was sitting next to the lady lawyer.
             So, while he was waiting for his case to be called, he pleased himself by stealing glances at her while she remained focused on the mobile phone she was holding.   Unmindful of his surroundings, he was surprised when Maya moved beside him after the lady lawyer left. His thundering heartbeats have not yet subsided when finally his case was called and Maya almost simultaneously stood with him. He got very excited to be in the same case with her though in opposite positions. Then all of a sudden he was in the middle of an awkward situation and she embarrassed him.
          Coming back to reality, the possibility of Maya appearing that afternoon for the scheduled trial entered his mind, making him anxious. Ryan noticed that Richard kept on glancing at the door behind them looking uneasy. “Pare, okay ka lang? Kanina ka pa tingin ng tingin. May inaantay ka ba?”
           “Huh? Uhm…because we were asked to wait until 2:00, so I’m hoping she comes in right now so we can reset and leave.”
          “Ahh…pa ra ka kasing kiti kiti diyan eh…” Ryan informed him of his behavior, then turned his head to glance at the door. “Naku, pare! Nagdilang anghel ka, plaintiff’s counsel is here…pero si Atty. dela Rosa.”
          Richard immediately turned his head and saw Maya just entered the court room. He watched her place her things on the bench nearest to the entrance and remove her khaki trench coat that appeared with traces of rain drops. She looked so elegant in her black pants paired with a double breasted black blazer. Richard hurriedly looked away when he saw her gather back her things together with the coat and was about to approach the lawyer’s table.
          “Hi, work suspended na daw?” Maya made her general inquiry as she approached the three other lawyers.
          Anthony was quick to answer. “Oo eh, actually reset na tayo, we were just waiting for you for the resetting date. Wait, tawagin ko lang yung Branch Clerk.”
          Richard looked at Ryan who moved his eyes telling him to offer the space next to him. It was the only space left.   Richard glanced at Maya then moved to his right, giving her space to sit on. “Thank you.” she said without looking. Richard’s heart was pounding faster than usual. He smelled her perfume and felt her arm brush his when she moved a little to look at Atty. Santos and Anthony who just walked in.
          “Reset na daw Atty. Santos?” she immediately asked. “Oo eh, nagsuspend na si Mayor baha na kasi sa maraming area ng Manila.”
          “Sayang naman, nandito pa naman ata ang mga witnesses?” she looked at Anthony.
          “Oh yes! They’re here since 1:00 p.m. actually.” Anthony proudly answered.
          “Can we not proceed with trial? We’re all here anyway, para hindi naman masayang yung pagpunta natin dito sa court. Sandali lang naman yung re-cross ko eh. Besides, traffic naman na rin sa labas.”
          Richard looked at Ryan with creased brows but kept mum. The two other male lawyers did not say a word too. Then she went further. “Atty. Santos, can you ask if okay kay Judge?”
           “O sige po, kaya lang baka hindi pumayag yung stenographer. Itanung ko lang po muna.”
           Maya smiled and gracefully said “Okay, thank you.” She swung her body to her left and got something from her bag. Then she leaned back with her right shoulder overlapping Richard’s.   After composing a text message, she sent it right away. Richard stayed still even when Ryan kept on nudging him. He painstakingly took out his phone from his pocket and starts to type a message.
 Richard’s Text: STOP nudging me, she might think I’m pushing her, sampalin ako!
 Ryan’s Text: Hahaha! Bakit wala kang imik diyan? Tinabihan ka lang umurung na dila mo. Since when did you behave like that with a woman around? Are you even breathing? You look frozen.
           Upon reading the message,Richard nudged Ryan back and was about to reply to his message when the Branch Clerk of Court entered the court room.   “Atty. dela Rosa, sabi po ni Judge reset na kasi kawawa naman yung staff na maiiwan, baka mabaha pauwi.”
              She heaved in frustration but conceded. “Okay Atty. Santos, reset na natin so we can all go home.”
                “Anong date po? Wag lang po sa July kasi inventory period, puno na ang calendar ng court.”
              “May I say something.” Anthony interrupted.
                The Branch Clerk of Court accommodated Anthony right away. “Yes Atty. Reyes?”
           “Yung witnesses ko kasi hindi available for the next coming months of the year.”
           “Both witnesses po?” The Branch Clerk politely asked.
           “Yes, yung witness for re-cross dapat today is bound for US this August for operation sa knee cap nya and will be back November na depending on his progress sa therapy after. Yung next witness from PPA naman may special assignment sa Cebu for the second semester, so January na ang balik nya sa PPA Manila.”
           “We went here prepared for anything, so I have here medical certificate and personal order. Here, I have copies for everyone.” Anthony distributes the documents.
      Maya wanted to clarify and so she asked “Are you telling us that we cannot have the resetting this year?” Richard glanced at her unnoticeably.  
          “Yes at least for my witness from PPA. Yung for re-cross, we can have a setting mid-November but I cannot guarantee his attendance kasi nga its contingent.”
           “Don’t you have any other witness to present?” Maya asked further, sounding really frustrated.
           “Wala na eh…in fact I was also prepared to make my formal offer orally kung natapos din sana today yung last witness ko.”
           “The best option I can suggest is to have 3 settings for this case. One in November, another in December and the last in February. We blocked January for inventory and forfeitable leave ni Judge.”
           “I’m okay with that. May judicial affidavit naman eh. If we’re done with the witnesses by December, I’ll make my formal offer right away and we will not even need the February setting.”
           “What about you Atty. Molina?”
           “Okay with me.” Ryan answered.
          “Anything goes for me as well.” Richard volunteered before stealing another glance at Maya.
           “Atty. dela Rosa?”
           Maya was looking at the calendar on the wall. “Kung one setting na lang sa February, can you give us at least 2 hours?”
           “Pwede naman po. Wala pa naman masyado naka schedule sa Feb next year so I can block off the entire morning or afternoon of the date chosen.”
 Dan: So kalian na reset yung
Ryan: February next year!
 Angelo:Si Maya talaga…kaya pala
 Angelo:Naalala ko na. That was June 21 right?
Richard:Yes, why?
 Angelo:Well, there was this one time that she called me saying she’s stuck in Manila at nagpaturo how to reach QC court riding the LRT. I remember it was a few days before Manila day, so yan yung time na yun.
 Richard:What happened to her?
 Angelo:Coding kasi si Maya pag Tuesday so she parked her car sa QC Court then took the cab. Sabi nya kinontrata nya yung cab kaya the driver was asked to wait. Pag labas daw nya ng Manila RTC, wala na yung cab. Wala na raw gusto tumanggap na cab to QC kasi baha na so ang option nya mag LRT.
           Gabi na nakarating sa Quezon City at sinundo ko na sa Kamuning station sa EDSA. Pagod na pagod at nabasa pa sa ulan. Nilakad pala from NAPOCOR Building to UN Avenue, the nearest LRT station tapos naglakad uli from EDSA Taft to transfer to MRT. She was sleeping like a baby in the car when I brought her home.
 Ryan:Buti na lang pala naka kuha agad ng taxi itong si Stag!
 Richard:Ahh…uhm, Manila Hotel lang naman kasi tayo eh.
           Richard was feeling guilty as he recalled how he convinced the taxi driver to bring them to Manila Hotel.
           Richard saw the cab parked near the entrance of the building where a number of Regional Trial Courts are housed. He approached the cab and opened the front door.
 Richard:Boss sa Manila Hotel lang kami.
 Driver: Ay boss, pasensha na po, may pasahero po ako sa loob, inaantay ko lang. Kontrata po kasi ako
Richard: Ahh…ganun ba? Kanina pa ba pumasok?
 Driver:Wala pa pong kinse minutos eh. Pasensha na po, sa iba na lang kayo.
 Richard:Bago pa lang naman siya pumasok eh, so matagal pa yun sa loob. Sa Manila Hotel lang naman kami, yung berdeng building sa tabi.
 Driver:Baka bigla po lumabas yung pasahero ko, kawawa po ang bait pa naman.
 Richard:Sandali lang naman, Manila Hotel lang, wala pa namang limang minuto yun eh. Balikan mo siya agad. Limang daan para sa limang minuto, ayaw mo pa? Mas malaki pa yun kesa diyan sa pinatak ng metro mo eh.
 Driver:Sige na nga po, bilisan na po natin.
          The program was just concluded with the raffle of prizes to some lucky attendees. Couples, including Ryan, Dan and their wives, are now on the dance floor enjoying the music.   Left at the table by himself, Richard decided to get some drink. When he reached the bar, he saw Judge Teresita dela Rosa at the dessert table. He approached her and gave his courtesy.
Richard: Good evening Judge.
 Teresita: O, Atty. Lim! Hello! It’s nice to see you here.
 Richard: Brod ko po si Angelo and he is really a good friend of mine.
 Teresita: Really? Kaya pala ang gaan ng loob ko sa iyo, you’re good friends with my youngest brother.
 Richard: Angelo is your youngest brother Judge?
 Teresita: Yes…oh well, it’s a complicated story. He’s the son of my mother sa second husband nya…of course after my father died. Teka, if you’re good friends with Angelo, how come I have never seen you before with him?
 Richard: Si Angelo po ang madalas tumambay sa bahay. When we were younger, madalas po sila mag over night sa amin…I’m an only child and my mother was over protective of me.
 Teresita: I understand. Nanay rin ako eh. Ganyan din ako ka protective sa mga anak ko, lalo na kay Maya. She’s also a lawyer.
 Richard: Opo, I already met her Judge.
          Coincidentally, Maya was walking towards the door with the intention of making a phone call outside, away from the noise.
Teresita: Maya! Anak, halika rito sandali.
 Maya: Yes Ma, you need something?
 Teresita: Nakilala mo na pala itong si Atty. Lim.
 Maya: Opo, ahh…he’s the one I told you before, yung ginawamg excuse yung court nyo…
 Richard: That was really an awkward and embarrassing moment. I’m sorry about that. ah…nakakataranta po kasi anak nyo eh…para akong na corner sa cross-examination.   I admit, sa panic ko po, it was your branch that first came to my mind, I guess kasi madalas po ako dun.
 Teresita: Ikaw Atty. Lim ha, pilyo ka…
 Richard: I’m really sorry. Hindi naman po umubra sa anak nyo eh…
 Teresita: ‘Nak, itong si Atty. Lim madalas kasi sa korte ko. You know, family court eh, yung isang mabigat na kaso, minor yung akusado and siya yung abogado. Halos every 3 weeks may bista siya sa amin.
 Maya: Ah…ganun po ba…
 Teresita: Pag wala yung PAO lawyer ko, siya ang ina-appoint kong counsel de oficio ng mga akusado na i-a-arraign. Mabait ito eh, may mga akusado na hindi na nya binitawan kaya siya na humawak pero libre.
 Maya: Such a revelation, Atty. Lim.
 Teresita: O, papunta rito si Angelo.
 Angelo: Ate, pahiram muna itong pamangkin ko. Isasayaw ko muna. Brod, excuse ha.
                Angelo took Maya’s hand and led her to the dance floor.
Teresita: Si Maya talaga…ikaw pala yung binuking nya…hahaha…don’t worry, wala yun sa akin. Sige, dun muna ako sa mga retired judges.

 Richard: Sige po Judge.
          Richard walked back to the bar station and finally got his drink. He stood there and watched Maya and Angelo dance.  After a while he looked at his watch then hurriedly went outside.
           After making an important call, Richard settled himself on one of the sofas at the spacious lobby of sports club. His friends were still on the dance floor and he was feeling bored by himself at the table. He also wanted to avoid crossing paths with some lady guests of Angelo as he was not in the mood to socialize with anyone else inside the function room.
          A familiar scent caught his attention. There she was, just passed by where he was sitting, and stopped at a particular spot at the lobby, holding her mobile phone. Again with her around, his heart began to beat faster and louder. He stared at her back as he straightened up and waited for her next move. Within seconds after Maya put the phone to her ear, he heard her speak.
           “Hi honey! How are you? … Aaawww, I miss you too baby. Are you not sleeping yet?….Okay…well I’m still here at the party…yes, and Mama is here too…..later pa eh……don’t wait up for me na……before you know it, nasa tabi mo na ako, okay? Yes, I promise…….I love you too.”
           Maya turned around with head facing down. She was composing a text message while slowly walking. She looked up momentarily then looked down again as she heard her phone give an alert tone. She reads the message then smiled. She was to walk back inside the function room when Richard stood up from his seat and approached her.
           “Hi!” He greeted her warmly with a loving smile showing his dimple. Maya looked up and saw Richard smiling at her. She smiled back and replied. “Oh hi! Ingay sa loob noh?”
           Relieved that she responded positively, he nodded and said “Yeah, I just made a phone call too.” His smile faded and his face turned serious and apologetic then said   “Uhm….look, I’m really sorry for what happened at the trial…I mean the first time that we encou -… when I made those stupid excuses…I didn’t mean to offend you or be unethical. It’s just that I was used to lawyers being okay with resetting the hearing. It was actually the first time I’ve encountered one who objected vigorously to resetting.”
           “Vigorously?…such a strong word…”
           “I mean…well..” Richard struggled for words to say.
           “Hahaha! Totoo naman eh, vigorously nga. I’m sorry too for being difficult at that time. Muntik pa kayo ma-contempt because of me. Pasensha na ha, I was just doing my job. S-sorry na rin for my behavior kanina.”
          “So, are we okay now? I mean, hindi ka na galit? Angelo is a very good friend of mine and you are his favorite niece.”
           “Yes, wala naman na yun eh, nainis lang talaga ako kanina kasi nalala ko bigla pinagkaisahan nyo akong tatlo. We’re okay.” Maya assured him.
           “Good! So, hi! I’m Richard Lim.” Richard removed his right hand that was resting inside his pocket and offered it to Maya.
           Maya looked at his hand then took it for a shake. “Hi! I’m Maya dela Rosa.  I see you are a very good friend of my favorite uncle.”
             “Yeah…we’ve been friends since grade school!”
               “Wow! Ganon na katagal?  You are both luck to have good friends.”
             “This may really make you angry and make your blood boil, but I have to reveal something to you because I do not want you to doubt later the sincerity of my apologies.”
            Maya looked at him intently with creased forehead and said  “So it’s not like you have any other choice, right?”  Richard nods at her full of anxiety.
             “Then why don’t you say it now?”
            “I didn’t know that uhm…well…I did not mean to steal…I was only borrowing…and I – “

              “We’re both lawyers, so stop going around the bushes.”  Maya calmly said.
              “We took your cab.”  Richard finally released the information.
              “My cab?….”  Maya confusingly asked.  “Oh!  You mean that cab?!”  she continued with an incredulous tone.
              Richard panicked and held Maya’s crossed forearm  “Maya I’m sorry.  I was tasked to talk to the driver.  He said he was waiting for his rider but I didn’t know it was you.  I only asked him to drive us to Manila Hotel which will only take about 5 minutes.  I convinced him because I said  makakabalik agad siya in and wait again for his rider.  Of course if I had the slightest idea that it was you, i would not have  done that.”  Realizing he was holding on to Maya, Richard hurriedly removed his hand. “When Angelo casually told us earlier what happened to you, I really felt so guilty.  I still do, that is why I am explaining and apologizing to you.”
               Maya kept silent for a moment while still looking at Richard.  Then she took a deep breath and said  “Thank you Richard for being honest even if you didn’t need to.  You didn’t have to but you did anyway.  That was a long time ago I have forgotten about it.  But you made an effort to explain and apologize.  For that, I have to be honest too.  Its very much appreciated.  Kaya let’s move on…anyway, nakauwi rinnaman ako unharmed and full of learning experience.
                 Richard felt very relieved.  “Really?  Your not mad at all?  Thank you.”
                 “As I have said, tapos na yun.  There is no point of getting mad about it.  Besides, as I’ve said, dami kong learning experience.”
                    Richard smiled and said  “Like riding the LRT and MRT?”
                    “Yes!  at hindi lang yun.  I learned the importance of giving more value to myself than work at pati na rin ang bawasan ang kakulitan ko.”  Maya proudly shared.  “O sige na Richard, mauna na ako sa loob ha. I need to talk to my mom eh.”
           “O-of course! You go ahead, Maya…and thank you.” Richard watched her go smiling.  He raised his eyebrows and shook his head once. He sat back on the sofa and heaved a sigh of relief.  He was busy with his thoughts when he felt someone sat beside him.
          “Why are you alone here outside? Ang daming tao sa loob.” Angelo asked. He took a cigarette stick and offered it to Richard.
           “Ingay so loob pare, I had to make a phone call.” Richard explained as he took the stick and secured it to his lips. He took the lighter from Angelo and started puffing.
           “How will you meet someone if you will not mingle?”
           “Brod, I came here to show support for your candidacy, not to find someone.”
           “Ang suplado naman! Kaya pala, hindi mo pinansin yung mga babae kanina! Buti na lang hindi sila botante. They’re from IBP Mandaluyong, just in case you are interested to know.”
           Richard chuckled and shook his head. “Don’t tell me isa duon yung sinasabi mong ipapakilala mo sa akin.” He puffed some smoke again then asked.  “Seriously brod, you want me to be with someone like them?”
           It was Angelo’s turn to chuckle and shake his head. “Pare, you thought I was just hooking you up with a girl? I’m getting married soon. Ikaw na lang sa barkada ang matitira. I actually wanted you to meet someone special. Malayong malayo naman dun so klase nung mga sinupladuhan mong girls kanina.”
           Richard took a lungful from the half cigarette stick before putting it off on the ashtray. “Okay, that’s clear enough. So, where is this special someone that you want me to meet? Kailan mo ipapakilala sa akin?”
           “Hindi na pare.” Angelo answered as he tapped off the cigarette ash of the stick he was still smoking.
            Richard looked at him with raised eyebrows. “But why?”
           “Hindi na kita kailangan ipakilala. You’ve met her already.” Angelo said in as-a-matter-of-fact tone.  Then he continued. “I wanted you to meet Maya.”
           “W-whaaat? Si Maya?” Richard asked incredulously.


Please Be My Legal Wife – Part 17

Admin Note: *Contributed Story* Please give credit and thanks to AttyMayiVR. This is a continuation to Please Be My Legal Wife – part 16.

A/N:  As promised po… may next part na agad para lahat ng stories ko may double treat  :-)  :-)

At the latter part of this update, you’ll see a video link from you tube. Please, just please play it before you read on the remaining paragraphs …. It’s  the best video that I could find.   May konting glitch so just go on…
Atty: AttyMayiVR
PREVIOUSLY on Please Be My Legal Wife – Part 16

Liza’s text: Okay, looking forward sa ipapadala mo.Thanks! Good luck, he’s on his way now!
Maya’s text: Thanks din Liza  :)  Siguradong matutuwa ang mga bata nito, I won’t tell them na pauwi na ang daddy nila para surprise  :)

 Lim Mansion 7:15 p.m.
      Table set and food served. Kare-Kare with home made bagoong on the side and toasted Chicken-Pork Adobo with Chicharon to compliment it. The Lim kids were about to start eating. Maya was putting food on Abby’s plate when she saw Richard enter the front door and walked towards them, still carrying his laptop and some folders. Out of excitement, Maya momentarily forgets the memory of last night.
Maya: Look who’s here!
Nikki / Luke: Daddy?!/Dad! 
Maya: Abby, go bilis!
               Abby runs to Richard to do the mano, gave him a bear hug and yummy kiss! She was followed by Nikki.Luke was just so happy. He hugged Richard so tight. Maya gave her courtesy without looking at him.
Nikki: Dad! I made it to the theatre club! Tita Maya prepared all these for a little celebration. 
Richard: Congratulations Nikki! Expected naman na natin na makakapasok ka eh. 
Maya: Good evening po.
                   Maya’s evasive eyes didn’t escape Richard. He noticed too that Abby is the one sitting to the chair nearest to his right, instead of Maya.
Richard: Hi, Maya. Thank you for all these.
Nikki: Yeah, thanks again Tita Maya.
          Maya continued putting food on Abby’s plate, purposely doing it so slow to make an excuse for not looking up. She also didn’t directly respond to Richard.
Maya: Welcome. So ano, GAME! Kain na!
 Richard: You go ahead. I’ll just put these in the office and wash my hands.
            When Richard returned, the kids were already eating. He noticed though, that Maya was just sitting on the seat next to Abby chatting with Nikki.
Maya: So the list was posted just before club time?
 Nikki: Basta when we were dismissed, nandun na po yung list, naka post na sa bulletin board. Since club day, may note rin for us to attend.
            Dad! You try the Adobo, the best I’ve tasted so far! I’m sure if Lolo’s here, he will devour this!
Luke: Masarap yung Kare-Kare, the sauce is really smooth at lasang lasa yung peanuts, tignan mo si Abby, binahog talaga sa kanin nya.
 Richard: Okay, I’ll eat Kare-Kare first, kasi ito talaga ang mas paborito ko. Maya, bakit hindi ka kumakain?
        Without looking directly at Richard, Maya faced his direction so that the kids wouldn’t notice anything. But Richard was watching every detail of her actions.
Maya: Ah, nabusog na po kasi ako Sir sa katitikim kanina while cooking.
           She immediately faced Nikki again and continued with their conversation. So Nikki, kasama na agad kayo sa first club meeting of the year?
Nikki: Yes! Pero sandali lang po yung meeting, para lang i-welcome yung new members and a little talk, kaya maaga kami naka uwi. Oh my gee! They welcomed us one by one. And when it was my turn, may intro na “and the one who will most likely get the lead role…”
 Luke: Akala ko “the most maarte of all…” hahaha!
 Nikki: Kuya ha! It was actually Ate Joey who said that intro!
          Richard was just observing them while enjoying the feast prepared by Maya. After a while, Manang Fe came to refill the rice and bagoong.
Manang Fe: Buti naka uwi ka ng maaga Ricardo. Tamang tama, pareho pala kayo ng paboritong ulam ni Maya. Masarap ba?
 Richard: Yes…really good. Masarap rin yung bagoong Manang, saan nyo binili?
 Manang Fe: Si Maya lahat nag luto nyan, pati bagoong. Espesyal para kay Nikki.
 Richard: Really? Wow, ang galing mo pala magluto Maya.
 Maya: Thank you po Sir.
             “That’s the second time” Richard said to himself with creased forehead. It felt weird hearing Maya refer to him as plain “Sir” without the “Chief” after it.
Luke: Sarap nung Kare-Kare. Pero masarap rin nga itong Adobo!

 Maya: Thank you Luke. Pero mas masarap siya kainin with Chicharon. Try it! Look at Abby, enjoy na enjoy sa chicharon.
 Nikki: Oh! Kaya pala may chicharon here!
        Abby gave them an OK sign while chewing her food. So Luke and Nikki tried it too.
Luke/Nikki: Sarap nga! / Perfect combination!
 Maya: You may want to go further, lagyan mo pa ng konting sukang Ilocos yang Adobo meat and rice bago mo isubo, heaven, promise!
             Maya was putting some more food on Abby’s plate when Manang Fe spoke.
Manang Fe: Maya, bakit hindi ka kumakain?
 Maya: Eh…nabusog na po ako sa katitikim kanina habang nagluluto eh. Ah…sabay na lang siguro po ako sa inyo mamya.
            Richard was quick to react and said with a victorious smile “Manang Fe, tawagin nyo na po sila Sabel, sumabay na kayo sa amin. Let’s all celebrate and eat together.”
Manang Fe: Siya sige, tawagin ko sila sandali.
             Ah…Maya siguro lumipat ka na lang sa tabi ni Ricardo para dito na kami tabi-tabi nila Doris.
            Maya was sure that she’s not ready to rub elbows with Richard again, much more to be sitting beside him during meal. So in panic, Maya diverted the food she took for Abby to her plate and made an excuse.
Maya: Ay Manang Fe, kayo na lang sa tabi ni Sir. Hindi na po ako pwede oh, may pagkain na po ako sa plato eh…bawal po diba? Sige kayo, baka dalawa pa maging asawa ko.
             “Third…” Richard said to himself again.   “…and she’s still not looking at me.”
             Without warning, Manang Fe took Maya’s plate together with the placemat and utensils.
Manang Fe: Tama yan KUNG naka subo ka na. Hindi pa naman eh, kaya ililipat ko na ang mga ito sa tabi ni Ricardo. Tumayo ka na diyan at si Doris na ang tatabi kay Abby. Ricardo umurong ka na at pang dalawahan naman ang upuan sa mag-kabilaang kabisera.
                 Richard looks at Manang Fe with his lopsided smile, showing not only his dimple but his delight and approval as well.
Richard: Sure Manang!
Maya: Manang Fe, hindi po ba dapat yung mga nakatatanda yung nasa kabisera?

              Since Richard is very much aware now that Maya is trying to avoid him, he does not get a bit affected about his age or being referred to as a senior member of the family.   Instead he decides to mess around with her.
Richard: Exactly Maya, dito ako at duon sa kabilang kabisera si Manang Fe. Kaya halika na dito sa tabi ko para maka kain ka na rin.
              As she reached the end of the road, Maya had no choice but to bite the bullet. So, she stood up and gracefully sat on the empty space beside Richard. “Abby,magkatabi pa rin tayo oh.” she said to hide her irritation. Not satisfied though, Richard teases her some more by purposely moving closer to her, making their arms touch. When Maya moved away her left arm to get Kare-Kare, Richard followed and took the serving spoon as well, covering Maya’s left hand.
Maya: Ay! Sorry po, sige mauna na po kayo kumuha.
          Optimistic that Maya will do a repeat of how she attended to his breakfast yesterday, Richard yielded.
Richard: No, go ahead Maya. Paki lagyan mo na lang din ako sa plate ko please.
 Maya: Eh kayo na lang po mauna, senior first. Besides, baka sumobra po lagay ko eh.
          Maya forced a smile then scooped some bagoong on her plate instead. Richard had an idea and helped himself with a grin.
Richard: Okay then.
               After putting some Kare-Kare on his plate, he scooped some more and carefully served them on Maya’s plate.
Richard: Here, this is the best part of Kare-Kare, segments of the ox tail. You know, the sauce is really good! This must be your specialty.
          Surprised with his gesture, Maya felt a little uneasy but happy because the tail part is what she really likes in Kare-Kare.
Maya: Thank you po.
             After a little while, Manang Fe came and sat at the left side of the other kabisera, then Joma sat beside her. Doris followed and sat beside Abby while Sabel positioned herself beside Nikki.
              In the middle of the dinner, torrential rain poured. In due course power outage followed. Almost everyone shrieked in surprise, including Maya “Ay! Sir Chief!” Unconsciously, she clinged to the arm of Richard making the latter smile especially after hearing her speak spontaneously.
Sabel: Waaah! Brown out! Naku, kabilugan pa naman ng buwan, tapos nasa kabundukan tayo Manang  Fe!
            Richard noticed that Maya tightened her grip on his arm and instinctively shoved herself closer to his body after hearing what Sabel said. He noticed too that Maya was not moving a bit while listening to the ongoing conversation.
Joma: Anu naman ngayon kung nasa kabundukan tayo, ha Sabel? Feeling mo papansinin ka ng mga multo at engkanto rito? Sila kaya matatakot sayo!
 Doris: Ang yabang ng kambing na to!
 Manang Fe: Magsi-tigil nga kayong tatlo! Ang iingay ninyo! Nabulabog na ang mga yun sa ingay nyo eh!
 Doris/Sabel: Waaah! Manang Fe naman eh!
 Manang Fe: Panay kasi kayo kalokohan diyan! Hala sige, tayo na at kuhanin ninyo ang mga lamp.
 Joma: Ayan ang napapala nyo! Hahaha!
 Manang Fe: Samahan mo na sila Joma para hindi na matagalan pa.
 Doris: Ayun! Bilis ng karma no?! Halika na!
 Sabel: Let’s go sago! Bilis! Tayo na diyan, mabibitin naman sila Sir sa pagkain.
Joma: Kailangan talaga nakayakap kayo sa akin?
Doris/Sabel: Oo!
Luke: Nakakatawa talaga sila. Naniniwala sa mga ganun.
Nikki: I agree!
               Richard took advantage of the darkness and loud banterings of Sabel and the others. So, while it was going on, he moved closer to Maya and leaned to her left ear to tease her.
Richard: Ikaw rin Maya, ang higpit ng kapit mo dyan. Naduduwag ka rin pala despite that strong personality. Sumiksik ka pa talaga.
          Coming back to her senses, Maya released her grip at once without saying anything. She moved away from Richard but the latter immediately retrieved Maya’s arm and softly said“Wait! I was just teasing. It’s okay to be scared.”
              However, Maya still didn’t say a thing and jerked her arm from Richard. She stood up without warning. Impulseively, Richard pulled her back down to the chair but said her name so loud for everybody to hear.
Richard: Maya! Uhm…where are you going? Sige ka, baka may masalubong kang halimaw diyan, tangayin ka.
 Nikki: Dad! You’re scaring me!
Manang Fe: Ricardo! Sumali ka pa sa kalokohan nung tatlo, pati mga bata tinatakot mo.
 Richard: I was just joking around!
 Luke: Joke po yun?
 Maya: Hindi kasi marunong mag joke ang Daddy nyo Luke kaya corny.
 Richard: Eh saan ka ba kasi pupunta, ang dilim dilim nga?
 Maya: Tatabihan ko lang po sana si Abby Sir, baka natakot kina Sabel eh.
 Richard: Abby, come here. Sit with us ni Tita Maya mo para hindi kayo masikip dalawa riyan sa upuan mo.
                Abby did as told, forcing Maya to sit down again to welcome Abby who sat on her lap. Maya moved and purposely positioned herself near the edge of the chair to make a gap between her and Richard.
Maya: Are you scared Abby?
              Abby nodded, took Maya’s arms and wrapped them around her. To close the gap between him and Maya, Richard put his right arm around her from behind and slipped his hand down to her right hip, surprising Maya “Ay!”   He looked at Maya and shoved her back towards his body while saying“Don’t be scared now baby,come here closer to me, so you’ll feel more secured.”
Nikki: Aawww, so sweet of Daddy, don’t be scared now baby.
 Luke: Yes Abby, andiyan na sila Ate Doris oh, may mga candle ng bitbit.
 Manang Fe: Asaan ang mga emergency lamp? Ba’t panay kandila bitbit nyo?
 Joma: Mga wala pong karga eh.
 Richard: Since it’s already the rainy season, you better charge all of them for times like this. Now let’s go back to dinner.
              Richard leaned and whispered to Abby.   “Abby, baby can you go back to your seat now so you and Tita Maya can finish eating?”
           Abby nodded, kissed Maya on the cheek then went back to her seat. Maya immediately moved away from Richard causing him to shake his head while chuckling.
Nikki: This is nice…it’s like were having dinner in a fancy restaurant…it’s so romantic!
 Sabel: Ay! Oo nga Ma’am Nikki! Ganito pala yun?!
Joma: Alam mo Sabel, para ka palang kandila, ang ganda mo tignan sa dilim. Sana lagi na lang madilim.
Sabel: Ah ganun ha, sana kandila ka din Joma para isang ihip ko lang sa ‘yo, siguradong pat –
Maya: papalakpak lahat.   Hindi ba Sabel? Naririnig ka ni Abby oh.
Sabel: Ehehe, yes Ma’am, papalakpak ng todong todo. Hindi ba Abby noh? Pag nag blow ng birthday candle pumapalakpak lahat? Saya diba?
 Manang Fe: Mabuti na lang malamig ang hangin sa labas, hindi mainit kahit brown out.
 Doris: Ang ginaw na nga po Manang eh, humangin pa sa labas.
 Joma: At giniginaw ka talaga Doris?
 Doris: Oo Joma, giniginaw ako, kasi kahit walang kuryente, nag yeyelo yang ngipin mo!
             Everybody laughed, including Richard who took advantage of the moment and moved his body closer to Maya, leaning over to make it obvious to her.
Nikki: They’re so funny!
 Sabel: Waaaa! Sapol ka dyan!
 Doris: Nag yo-yosi ka noh?
 Richard: Nag yo-yosi ka Joma?
 Joma: Hindi po sir! Ikaw Doris ha, ipapahamak mo pa ako.
 Sabel: Ay Sir Richard, in fairness naman, sa sobrang kape nya po nakuha yan.
 Doris: Ay onga po Sir, lakas ni Joma sa kape kaya naninilaw ang mga ngipin. Siya nga po taga ubos ng kape eh.
 Manang Fe: Hay naku, sana transistor radio na lang kayong tatlo.
 Joma/Doris/Sabel: Po?/Bakit po?/Bakit naman po?
 Manang Fe: Para isang tanggal ko lang ng baterya, mananahimik na kayo!
 Maya: Hahaha! Ang cute nyo naman po Manang Fe, pati kayo humirit ng pick up line!
 Sabel: Pang asar na pick up line pa! Cool na cool talaga ‘tong si Manang Fe oh.
 Nikki: Eh kayo po Tita Maya, may alam rin kayong pick up line?
 Maya: Oo naman!
 Ricahrd: I can attest to that! Champion si Tita Maya mo humirit ng mga ganyan.
 Luke: Talaga po Tita Maya? Sige nga, isang hirit naman po diyan.
 Sabel: Onga po Ma’am, para madagdagan ang alam naming pick up lines.
 Maya: O sige na nga, ito original pa ito ha.
               Para ka palang Mighty Bond, kasi soooobrang dikit mo, ang hirap humiwalay sa iyo!
Doris: Waaaah! BFF sobrang dikit daw! Yun na, alam mo na! Nakaka kilig talaga!
 Sabel: Onga BFF! Pero Ma’am Maya, bakit hiwalay naman ang gusto mo, ang sweet nga eh. Sobrang dikit, ayaw mahiwalay sayo. Kaya dapat po ganito ang linya nyo: Para ka palang Mighty Bond kasi sobrang dikit mo sa aking puso, ang hirap mo pang tanggalin sa isip ko!
 Sabel/Doris: Ayeeee!
 Nikki: Oh my gee! That is sooo cheesy!
 Luke: Okay yun Sabel ah! What about you Dad, alam mo rin bang mag pick up line?
 Maya: Naman Luke, joke nga hindi marunong, pick up line pa.
 Richard: Are you challenging me, Maya? Si Manang Fe nga marunong eh, ako pa. At hindi lang ikaw ang may original, yung sa akin original rin.
Nikki: Talaga Dad? This I have to hear!
 Richard: You sound like you don’t believe what I said.  Okay, listen to this.  Para ka palang internet connection, kasi naiinis ako at umiinit ang ulo ko kapag nawawala ka…lalo na kung matagal pa.
                  While Maya appeared unaffected, the girls shrieked in delight.
Doris/Sabel: Ayeeee! Nakakakilig! Nikki: Eeeeeeeee! That is oh so nakakakilig!
 Luke: Wow Dad, mukhang patok yan sa girls! Pwede ka ng manligaw uli.
 Manang Fe: Kilig na kilig naman kayo.

          Doris consciously leaned towards Manang Fe and said in private “Ow my G Manang! Yung alaga nyo, ayaw mahiwalay! Gusto lagi sila magkasama! This is it pansit!”
              Excited with what her ward has become, Manang Fe joined the fun and dropped her share.
Manang Fe: Kaya ba bigla ang init ng ulo mo kagabi Ricardo? Dahil ang tagal niyang nawala?
             Caught insurprise, Richard looked at Manang Fe who had a meaningful grin and raised eyebrows. But before he could react, Luke spoke, saving him from the confrontation.
Luke: Ay Dad FYI lang, hanggang ngayon wala pa rin pong internet connection. Kahapon pa nga daw po nawala.
 Manang Fe:Malakas ang kidlat at kulog kahapon eh baka yun ang dahilan.
 Luke: Akala po namin ni Niks, you just turned off the wi-fi when you came home early kasi nga it’s a school day. Nainis rin pala kayo kagabi?
 Manang Fe:Inis na inis, hindi ba Ricardo?
 Richard: Ah…don’t worry Luke, I will check with the network provider soon after the power is restored. You use it for school, so I will not cut it off just like that. I trust you guys on proper internet use.
             Within seconds, power was restored to everybody’s relief.
Doris/Sabel: Haaay salamat!
 Nikki: Finally!
Luke: Naman Niks, ang bilis nga lang eh.
 Manang Fe:Nag-dilang anghel ka Ricardo.
          Maya was relieved as well and finally spoke.“Tamang tama, dessert time na! Abby, let’s get it!”
Nikki: Oh this is the best part!
              Maya and Abby stood up and went to the kitchen.
Manang Fe:Doris, Sabel, itabi nyo na ang mga plato at magpasok kayo dito ng mga platito. Tulungan nyo na rin sila Maya sa kusina.
 Joma:Excuse me lang po, tignan ko lang po muna ang mga ilaw at pinto sa labas at sa baba, may mga nakabukas pa po kasi kanina nung nag brown out eh.
 Richard:Sige Joma, ikaw na bahala. Pati na rin yung pool. Make sure that the drains are working baka mag over flow because of the rain fall.
 Joma:Opo Sir.
           Sabel and Doris came back carrying the mango cream pie and ultimate chocolate cake Maya and the girls baked earlier. Maya and Abby trailed behind with Abby holding a bottle of cramel syrup while Maya carried the gallon of vanilla ice cream.
Luke:Wow! Ang dami naman nyan!
 Richard:San galing mga yan?
          Maya ignored the question and without answering, she began slicing the mango cream pie.
Nikki: She baked them Dad. Abby and I helped. You should try them both! Grabe, ang saraaap. But try the mango cream pie first kasi sabi ni Tita Maya, it might taste different na if you eat the chocolate cake first.
               Maya put a slice on one side of a dessert plate then followed it with a slice of the chocolate cake.
Nikki: Tita Maya I’ll help with the ice cream.
Maya:Sure Nikki! But let Abby put the syrup ha.
 Nikki:Of course!

               Richard focused his attention to Maya but glanced at his daughters too. Nikki put a scoop of ice cream on top of the sliced chocolate cake. Abby completed it by swirling with caramel syrup. Then Maya took the first complete dessert plate and placed it in front of Richard.
          “Thank you.” Richard said while smiling at Maya. He didn’t get any response from her again. He released a sigh after Maya ignored him and proceeded with plating the other plates. Richard went on and complimented Abby  “Wow Abby! Ang galing naman, you made a perfect design on top of the ice cream. Abby ran to him and hugged him tight.
Richard:  So, can I go ahead of you guys and try these now?
Nikki: Sure Dad! And please do remember that Abby and I helped in making them ha.
 Luke:Okay Nikki, we won’t forget that.
                 Richard winked at Luke then said“Ang galing galing naman mag bake ng mga babies ko! Patikim nga…”
Luke:Niks, pwede paki bilisan with the ice cream so I can have my dessert plate too?
 Richard: Mmmmm…this is really good! The mangoes are perfectly sweet and the cream is just right. The crunch of the crust adds texture to it. Maya, you can make money out of this.
Nikki:Oh Dad, wait ‘til you try her chocolate cake. It’s really the ultimate one. You know your favorite chocolate cake that you always order in the restaurant? It’s no match to her chocolate cake. I swear!
            Hearing Nikki reveal the information that Richard has a favorite chocolate cake made Maya apprehensive that he might not like her version. She stole glances and saw that Richard has almost consumed the mango cream pie.
Luke:Dad ang bilis ah! Parang natapon lang?
 Manang Fe:Excited kasi kainin yung chocolate cake. Yan ang gusting gusto nya mula pa nung bata pa siya.
            When Richard was about to taste the chocolate cake, Maya busied herself so as not to appear worried. She continued putting her creations on each dessert plate so that everyone else could eat.
Richard: Mmmmmmm….mmm…this is delectable…you’ll keep asking for more…wicked because you can’t stop…really really the ultimate one. How did you make the ganache so gooey chocolatey yet not sweet? Wow, there are even chocolate bits in the filling…mmm…it complements the vanilla ice cream and the sweetness of the caramel syrup is a nice finish…this is simply divine Maya.
        Maya was very glad Richard liked her chocolate cake but pretended not to be paying attention to him. On the other hand, Richard has gotten offended by Maya’s continued disregard of him. Nevertheless, he still sought her attention and called her name so that she’ll at least look at him. “Maya…Maya…”
               “Po?” She responded as if she heard him talk the first time. She looked at him and saw his disturbed facial expression.
                 Finally got Maya’s attention, Richard half smiled at her and spoke at once “I said your mango cream pie is really good and your chocolate cake is really the ultimate one…it’s a divine dessert.”
               Maya just nods at him and said “Thank you po, Sir.” Maya hurriedly looked away. She was certain that she saw sadness in his eyes even as he smiled at her. She tried to look unaffected and invited the others while quickly glancing at him. She saw Richard looked down on his plate and heaved a sigh.
Maya: Sabel, Doris, halina kayo para mag dessert. Manang Fe ito po ang sa inyo, niliitan ko talaga ang portions para hindi kayo magreklamo.
 Luke: Grabe Tita Maya, super sarap!
           “Talaga Luke, masarap?! I’m so glad you liked it. Bihira kasi sa guys ang maka appreciate ng dessert eh” Maya reacted at once while smiling at Luke.
Nikki: Kuya, kasama kami ni Abby diyan.
Joma: Wow! Ang sosyal sosyal naman tignan.
Maya: Naku, nasa style lang ng paglalagay sa plate yan.
            Richard frowned. This time, he was as he noted the difference on how Maya conversed with the others. It was full of life and enthusiasm, in contrast to how she responded to him. It easly confirmed that Maya was not only avoiding him. She is disregarding him as well. So, he stopped pushing his efforts in trying to make a conversation with her and instead kept quiet while finishing his dessert.
            Maya noticed the sudden change in Richard’s mood. Gone were the playful tone in his voice, the teasing gestures and mischievous smiles he exhibited earlier. He suddenly became quiet and appeared very upset.
Sabel: Naku Ma’am Maya, para ka palang Smart Communications…
 Nikki: Smart Communications? Why naman?
 Sabel: Because she’s simply amazing! Oh ha! Bago yun ha!
 Doris: Ow my G Ma’am Maya super sarap nito. It’s you na talaga! ♫Nese eyo ne♪ eng lahat♪! Para ka palang…
 Luke: Alam ko na kasunod ng pick up line na yan…Kathryn Bernardo?
 Doris: Hindi Sir Luke. Para ka lang SM ShoeMart Ma’am Maya, kasi you’ve got it all!   Pwedeng pwede ka na mag-asawa! You’re perfect!
Maya: Hahaha! Ayan na naman kayo sa pick up lines ha. At asawa agad? Eh boyfriend nga wala pa.
Manang Fe: Bata ka pa naman eh, tapusin mo muna pag-aaral mo at tuparin ang pangarap mo. Yung mapapangasawa mo, nandiyan lang sa tabi-tabi yun. Huwag mong pakinggan ang dalawang yan. Palibhasa matatandang dalaga na eh.
 Doris: Wow, Manang ha, talagang kami ang matandang dalaga?
 Isabel: Parang kayo lang yun eh…may pag-asa pa kaya kami.
 Joma: Asa pa talaga…
             Feeling on the edge, Richard suddenly stood up.
Manang Fe: O Ricardo, ba’t bigla kang tumayo, san ka pupunta?
Richard: Magpapahangin lang po sa veranda. Magpapababa ng kinain. I’m really full.
               Without looking at anyone, Richard took his water goblet then said “Excuse me everyone.”  
               Everyone kept mum as they watched Richard walk towards the veranda. Sabel couldn’t help but ask.
Isabel: Anyare kay Sir Richard? Biglang tumahimik?
Joma: Ingay mo kasi, lakas ng boses mo eh. Baka narindi.
Doris: BFF, parang alam ko kung bakit. Halika dito bilis! Ibubulong ko sa i –…
Nikki: Ay Ate Doris it’s rude to whisper. You have to share it with everyone.
Doris: P-po?
Nikki: Anu yung alam mo?
Joma: Ayan, ang daldal kasi…yan ang napapala ng mga tsimosa.
Doris: Eh wala po, haka-haka lang naman po eh. Huwag na lang po at baka magalit po –
Nikki: No, walang magagalit. So, wnu yung alam mo?
Manang Fe: Doris, mag ingat ka sa salita mo ha.
        Manang Fe knew what Doris is about to say because she also has the same idea in her mind. Doris understood why Manang Fe warned her. She became jittery and played with her hands as she tried to think of another thing to say for the satisfaction of Nikki. Maya remained silent and waited for Doris to answer.
Doris: Eh…ano po…kasi po…ano….ah! Baka po sa sobrang kabusugan sumakit ang tiyan at na-uutot! Kaya nag sungit-sungitan na lang para makasimple makalayo sa veranda.
                 Everyone laughed at Doris. “Naku huwag masyado malakas, baka marinig naman ni Sir, lagot ako! Doriswarned.
Nikki: That theory is so funny Ate Doris!
 Luke: Hahaha! At nag sungit-sungitan pa talaga si Dad, ha Ate Doris?
 Doris: “Naku naman, ulit-ulitin ba ang pangalan ko. Maka alis na nga dito. Akin na nga mga ito, ako na maghuhugas nito Sabel. Ay, Abby, kay Teacher Maya ka muna ha, tutal may bedtime story pa kayo diba? Babay!”
         Doris then sped to the dirty kitchen with the dishes.
         Before retiring to bed, Luke and Nikki went to the veranda to bid Richard good night.
         “Good night Dad!” Nikki said as she kissed Richard. “Thank you for coming home early, it was a wonderful dinner.”
        “Yes it was, Nikki. I had a wonderful time myself. But you should say thank you to Maya again. It was her idea after all. The dinner was for you.” Richard reminded Nikki.
         “I know Dad…she is such an angel…she makes me happy….she makes everyone happy, especially Abby!” Nikki declared and pointed to Maya and Abby who were left alone in the dining area. “Uhm, are you feeling okay, Dad? Do you want me to prepare tea for you?” Nikki asked.
Richard:  Tea? Why?
  Nikki: Ah… kasi you were feeling full kanina, diba? I just thought you might want some tea to aid in the digestion?
 Richard: No, I’m okay Niks.
 Luke: Sige na Niks, mauna ka na sa loob so you can say thank you to Tita Maya.
 Nikki: Okee-dokee! G’night Dad!
               Luke went to his dad and hugged him tight. “Thank you Dad…It was really a wonderful night because you’re here with us…I hope we can do this more often…we really miss you…”  Luke pulled away and said “Good night po” then kissed Richard.
Richard: Good night son, don’t worry I’ll fix my schedule.
 Luke: Okay Dad. No pressure. I’m already happy with how things are going. Pero FYI lang Dad, hindi pa naman po ako matutulog at baka mabangungot po ako sa sobrang kabusugan. I’ll just be in my room papalipas muna ng oras. Baka kasi po hindi ka patulugin nung nasa isip mo eh.
 Richard: W-what?
 Luke: Dad, what Im trying to say is, mahirap po magmukmok mag-isa…hindi ka patutulugin. So, if you need someone to talk to, I’ll just be in my room.
             Richard gave a soft laugh and shook his head.
Richard: Okay son, your information is noted. By the way, I talked to the network provider just kanina. They’re looking into their system now and promised restoration of connection by tonight. So just check on it once in a while habang nagpapalipas ka ng oras. But don’t stay up late, okay?
Luke: Okay Dad, thanks po.
               Luke went inside the dining area to where Maya is and kissed her. She was still talking to Nikki.
Luke: Thanks Tita Maya, it was the best family dinner after a long time.
 Nikki: Yes, as I was saying, if not for your ideas and efforts, we wouldn’t have dinner like this with Dad.
 Maya: Kayo talaga…sabi ko nga, kulang lang kayo ng little push. Nikki, ikaw na magsabi kay Luke ng plans for Sunday…tuloy na tuloy na yun ha.
 Luke: Really? Tuloy tayo? Kasama ka siyempre Tita Maya!
 Nikki: Shhhhh! Kuya naman, Dad might hear you!
 Luke: Sorry naman, na excite lang. Eh di tara na sa taas so we can talk!
 Nikki: Oh no, Dad is approaching! Tara na kuya bilis!
                 Abby tugs on Maya’s blouse, telling her that she also wants to go upstairs to her room. “Napagod ka na ano? Gusto mo na rin umakyat? Okay, let’s go.” Maya gladly said as there was another reason to avoid Richard.   She swiftly turned to the direction of the stairs and took Abby’s left hand but Richard called her name.
                “Maya wait…” he said softly.   Maya stopped but bowed her head and checked on Abby’s back to avoid looking at Richard who went in front of her and said in a pleading voice “Can we talk?”
              Maya knew what facial expression came with that pleading voice.   So, she continued looking down at Abby to avoid seeing Richard’s face and answered “Naku Sir basang-basa na po ng pawis si Abby eh. She needs to change clothes.”
                Richard persisted and desperately said “But we need to talk. So why don’t you let Doris do her job. You’re Abby’s tutor, not her yaya.”
               When memories of Richard bellowing invectives at her flashed her mind, Maya felt pain in her heart and became more unyielding. So, she finally looked at him in the eyes and adamantly said “But Sir, I am just doing my job because I promised her a bedtime story for doing well in our hands on learning when she helped in the kitchen earlier.   I want to keep and fulfill that promise Sir, so please let me do my job too.”
               Richard was also hurting as he incredulously listened to what Maya was saying. As pain crushed him, he uncontrollably heaved a deep sigh. He pursed his lips and swallowed hard. He nodded once then in a conceding tone, almost whispered “Okay then, Maya…if that’s what you want.”   He leaned down at Abby and kissed her on the forehead. “You were great Abby and Daddy is very proud of you…now enjoy that bedtime story with Tita Maya… Good night baby.”
               Richard stood straight and looked at Maya once more without saying anything. Then, he hurriedly walked towards his home office. Maya closed her eyes and breathed deeply, inhaling the traces of his scent.
              Maya purposely stayed in Abby’s room longer even after the little girl has fallen asleep to make sure she avoids Richard. She knows that her efforts to elude Richard have become obvious to him and she is not ready with his confrontation. She opened the door and took a peek of the surroundings. She crept outside, then carefully closed the door behind her. Sure that no one was around, she quickly ran down the stairs. Feeling relieved that the home office and the study were empty, she confidently walked to her room and took a shower.
             Moments later, Maya kept tossing and turning, trying to fall asleep. As her attempts were futile, she sat up, took her phone and browsed the web. After a couple of minutes, she went to the kitchen to make herself a cup of warm milk.
            When she came back, she turned on the TV and looked for an interesting show to watch while sipping her milk. Finding nothing, she slumped herself onto the sofa and opened a novel. “Anu ba naman, naubos na ang gatas hindi pa rin ako tamaan ng antok. Maya, para ka ng si Kung Fu Panda sa itim ng mata mo!”  She looked up and thought of what else to do. “Maybe I need to unload my pent up emotions. Ah, tawagan ko si Emman.”
              Maya went out of the room to take the empty cup to the kitchen before calling her best friend. However, she was lured by the sight of the baby grand piano so she went to it instead. She placed the empty cup on the console table near the piano then opened its cover, pulled the chair and began to strike the keys.
             Unknown to Maya, Richard was in the kitchen, drinking water.   When he heard the sound of the piano, he knew it was Maya. In a fast pace, he slithered his way to the piano area and settled himself at the lounge chair aganst the wall just outside Maya’s room. It was the better spot than the sofa at the adjacent sala. Maya would definitely sense his presence if he sits at the sofa. He listened to the song Maya was playing. He was sure that it’s Invisible War by Julia Fordham. When Maya stopped in the middle of the song, Richard froze anticipating her next move.
               Seconds later, Maya started playing the theme from Love Affair. She played it beautifully and so well, anyone would feel the emotion of the song. Richard was no exception. The music moved him. It sounded so full of love and passion it put Richard in a reverie. Suddenly memories of the wonderful moments with Maya flashed in his mind.  He recalled when Maya sent him coffee with sandwich and mints  for his Clark trip, the time she put so much effort in endearing him to calm him down after getting upset at her summer dress, the time she made him laugh with the ant and the elephant story,  the time she wiped the catsup from his mouth,  and finally the time when she  audaciously brought Abby to LAS and the lunch out at pancake house.  He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, careful not to make any sound.
              Then Maya started humming the melody as she played the song in the piano. He visualized the night he became emotional after hearing Nikki sing, the moments she attended to his children’s needs, the natural high he felt when she attended to his breakfast as well, and of course, their coffee moments together at the veranda. He wanted to go near her and hold her. He stood up and walked towards her.  He momentarily stops…then he walked further  until he was right behind her.  No longer able to hold back, he finally said her name and touched her shoulder. “Maya…”
               Just like in the movie, the music ended unceremoniously with the unpleasant sound of the piano keys smacked by the hands of a very surprised Maya.


Please Be My Legal Wife – Part 16

Admin Note: *Contributed Story* Please give credit and thanks to AttyMayiVR. This is a continuation to Please Be My Legal Wife – part 15.

A/N: Inabot na naman ng isang buwan…thank you for your understanding, patience and support…. :)

Author: AttyMayiVR
PREVIOUSLY on Please Be My Legal Wife – Part 15
Maya: Good evening Sir Chief!
                   Without moving his head from reading position, Richard took a deep breath then looked at Maya. His flushed face and wrathful eyes gave away his enraged state, causing Maya’s enthusiasm and sincere smile to fade away.   This time, it was Maya who took a deep breath and felt pain deep inside. She bowed down and braced herself for all possibilities, then spoke once more.
Maya: Sige po, mauna na po ako.Excuse me po.
               When Maya turned and started to walk away, Richard lost his control. He stood up and bellowed at Maya.
Richard: So, that’s it? You act as if it’s nothing? You seem so nonchalant! How dare you Maya!
           Maya stopped and faced Richard.
             Maya stood still and looked at Richard in the eyes. It was then she realized that he was not just in another enraged state. He’s very much angry and that anger is directed at her. For what ever reason, she doesn’t exactly know. All the same, she resolved to handle the situation in a very calm manner even when she’s hurting inside, something she’s not accustomed to when being confronted and reprimanded by her Sir Chief.
                    Since she was not certain on how to take his accusatory remarks, all she could say was“S-sir Chief?”
Richard: Bakit ngayon ka lang umuwi?! Where have you been?
Maya: Po? Sir Chief, 8:30 pa lang po. Maaga pa naman po, dba?
Richard: You’re under my employ and you’re my responsibility! So I have the right to know your whereabouts! 
            For a moment, Maya stared at Richard while breathing sporadically and without saying anything. She had seen him unleash his fury and heard him shout his lungs out so many times in the past, even threw offensive words at her but she didn’t get affected. In fact, she just dismissed them all.   However, seeing him now in that infuriated state and hearing him say those words to her, surprisingly hurt this time.
Maya: Sir Chief, hindi ko naman po nakakalimutan na empleyado nyo po ako. Nagsabi naman po ako earlier, nag text po ako sa inyo that I’ll be buying books. You said K, and I thougth it was really okay. 
             Richard knew Maya felt affronted as he saw the transition in her facial expression and heard the crack in her voice, a reaction that he never expected from her.  He has gotten used to Maya retorting at him with so much confidence and conviction, taking him lightly when he’s in that mood, giving him maximum tolerance, making efforts to endear him to calm him down, and even initiating an apology even if not at fault just to buy peace and get good vibes. Richard took a deep breath, controlled his temper and tried to speak in a composed manner.
 Richard: Maya, I didn’t mean it that way. You are more than Abby’s tutor… you’re very much treated like family and you know it!    But you left early afternoon and you’ve been gone for more than 6 hours!
 Maya: Sir Chief, I didn’t mean to be abusive of your kindess and consideration. Hindi naman po ako dapat puputa today as I was scheduled to go this Sunday with my mom. Kaya lang po may biglaan lang pong important event that I need to supervise for some special people this Sunday and wala na po akong ibang time that is why I was constrained to go today.
           I am very sorry if I went overboard and my work was compromised. I-vacation leave ko na lang po today but I’ll make up for the lost time on a Saturday. Pasensha na po, hindi na po mauulit Sir Ch –
             Feeling uncomfortable with Maya’s unusual reaction, Richard got a little annoyed with her poignant statements and cut her off.
Richard: Oh don’t be so sensitive! I am not particular with your working hours and you very well know it too!
           But seriously Maya,you spent more than 5 hours in the bookstore?! You certainly owe me an explanation and that is the whole point of this conversation!                                               
Maya: Sir Chief, majority po ng law books that I need are not found in an ordinary bookstore in the mall. Sa Rex Bookstore lang po. The nearest branch in this area is in Shopwise, Cubao. Ang traffic po going to Cubao. Tapos nag transfer na pala ang Rex Bookstore ng location. Hinanap pa namin ni Sir James – 
                 The sound of Maya saying the name of James irritated Richard and caused his temper to rise once more.
Richard: Yeah right!
            Maya was getting frustrated because Richard refused to listen, but continued with her explanation.
Maya: When we found the bookstore, alanganin pala po yung new location nya and walang parking sa area. So we had to drive around and park in Gateway, walk and cross some streets para balikan yung bookstore. Then we had to wait kasi there was a long queue,  marami na po nauna na customer and matagal din ang pa-engrave ng name sa mga codal and mga hardbound books, add to that, may kasama na rin kasi na pag plastic cover sa service nila kaya–
               Richard was visualizing what Maya was saying and pictured James walking so close to her side by side, holding on to her when they crossed the street and enjoying every moment with her.
Richard: But the fact that you were with your former professor will not justify your inadvertence, Maya! You should have informed me…the people in this house, kung nasan ka na, kung anung oras ka uuwi!
 Maya: Ang bilis namn po kasi ng oras, hindi ko na po namalayan na ala–
           Richard assumed, from the words of Maya, that she enjoyed the company of James, that they enjoyed their moment together and lost track of the time. These frustrated and exasperated Richard because he went home early expecting Maya to be there. He was looking forward to her company and spending time with her and the kids, but he ended up eating dinner alone.
Richard: Maya, while you were enjoying someone’s company, merong naghihintay sa iyo sa bahay na ito!
Maya: Po?
           Richard thought that it would be risky to drop hints but was certian that it’s too early for him to make admissions, more so that he resolved to act as normal as he could to ensure that he’ll keep their friendship secured. Besides, he wasn’t really ready to lay down his cards on the table especially not after Maya went out with James earlier. His pride helped him in keeping the truth to himself.
 Richard: Si Manang Fe! She couldn’t go to sleep kasi she was waiting for you!
            Ni hindi ka nag text or tumawag! Hindi mo man lang ba naisip na may mga nag aalala dito?! Tapos dadating ka and act as if okay lang? Bale wala lang? We’ve talked about this! Bakit hindi ka na naman nag text o tumawag?!
Maya: Sir Chief drained na po yung batt –
           For the nth time, Richard did not let Maya finish her explanation. He lost control of his temper. He smacked the table and even let out a line of invective.
 Richard: Oh shit Maya! What a LAME alibi! It is so UNACCEPTABLE especially coming from you! Such a disgraceful act of falsehood!
           The invectives hurled against her felt like stabs in her heart. Maya wanted to run away from Richard but stood still and stared at him without blinking. However, the tears that have pooled in her eyes already gushed down her cheeks as she breathed unevenly trying to control her silent sobs.
           But sensible that she is, Maya just absorbed everying with open mind. In fact even in that predicament, she had the urge to give Richard a lecture on alibi, but knew that it isn’t the appropriate time. Besides, she was ready to acceptdefeat. Richard was not ready to listen so there was no point in going further with her explanation.
          Then too, she thought that Richard was right. There is really no excuse for not texting or calling. She realized early evening that she doesn’t know the contact numbers of anyone in the Lim family by memory, not even Liza’s. She should not have relied on her phone’s contact list and memorized at least the land line of the Lim Mansion. James tried to help. Unfortunately, his card case where he put the calling card of Richard was in his other car which he did not use because of the color coding scheme.
         She swallowed, took a deep breath and pushed words out of her mouth with hope that she would say everything without breaking down.
Maya:  O-okay po Sir Chief…pagpasenshahan nyo na lang po ako for my inadequacies… Sorry po for being inconsiderate and negligent.
                  Richard looked away from a tearful Maya and sat down. Then he spoke sternly with an upset face.
 Richard: Sige na Maya, you’re excused. Just go and proceed with what you want to do. We’re done talking here.
             Even if he wasn’t looking, Maya nodded to acknowledge his directives. Then, she rushed to her room and immediately placed everything she held in her arms on the study table. She took a very deep breath to stop herself from crying then went to the bathroom to wash her face with cold water. After drying it with towel, she rushed outside her room without looking at her reflection in the mirror. She quietly ran to the front door and discreetly went out to get the eco bag which she left earlier.
             After being able to drag the eco bag inside the house, she slowly locked the front door, careful not to make any noise that would catch Richard’s attention. She doesn’t want to deal with him once more as she’s very sure that she wouldn’t be able to endure any hurtful words that he might throw at her again.
                Maya inhaled deelply then squat down to lift the ego full of books and ran with it to her room. Richard was still in a reading position but saw her in his peripheral view. He is still a little puzzled at how Maya reacted, on how she easily succumbed to his fury without her usual smart and quick responses.
           Still catching her breath, Maya wasted no time and headed downstairs to Manang Fe’s room.
 Manang Fe: Maya, nakarating ka na pala.
Maya: Opo Manang Fe, mga 8:30 po ako naka uwi. Pasensya na po, na-abala ko pala kayo sa paghintay sa akin.
              Maya went on to tell her journey to the bookstore and explained in detail why she decided to go earlier instead of the weekend, and why she failed to make a call or to send a text message to inform them of her whereabouts.
Manang Fe: Maya, huwag kang mag-alala, patulog pa lang naman ako eh. Hindi ka naka abala. Kailan man ay hindi ka magiging abala iha. Bakit namumula ka? Ang ilong mo, pulang pula.
Maya: Po? Ah…eh…b-baka po sunburn? Kasi nga po naglakad-lakad po kami sa Cubao ng nakatirik pa ang araw.
 Manang Fe: Eh bakit pati mata mo namumula? Umiyak ka ba?
Maya: Ah…eh sa paglalakad po, pakiramdam ko nga po lahat ng dumi at alikabok ng Edsa Cubao at Aurora Cubao eh nagsalubong sa magkabila kong pisngi, ang lagkit at makati sa pakiramdam. Kaya po pinang-gigilan ko po ang paghilamos, nalagyan po ng sabon yung mata ko, kaya po ganyan.
           Maya hesistantly answered with a lie. She had to do it to avoid further inquiry from Manang Fe if she finds out she cried, but she really felt guilty and uncomfortable not being honest at all.
 Manang Fe: Ganun ba? Eh, nag-kita na ba kayo ni Ricardo? Hinahanap ka sa akin kanina eh.
Maya: Opo, Manang Fe, nagkausap na po kami. Ay magpapa alam na rin po ako ngayon. Mas mahuhuli po ang pagbalik ko bukas ng umaga mula sa misa, Miyerkules kasi, may novena po yung misa eh.
Manang Fe: Sige, sa hapon na lang ako.
                   Maya sensed that Richard was still in his home office when she came back from Manang Fe. So, she locked herself in the room and focused her attention to her purchases instead of dwelling on what transpired earlied. She was highlighting some words in the latest Revised Penal Code she purchased when her mobile phone rang.
Maya: Hello, Emman.
Emman: Bestie! I’m here in the beautiful Flower Island in Taytay Palawan!   Na-miss kita!
 Maya: Eh kasama mo naman yung balik-bayan best friend mo diyan eh, kaya nga hindi ka na makaka nood ng VG concert diba.
Emman: Huwag ka naman na mag tampo. You know, overflowing ang South Sea Pearls dito, you’re favorite jewel! Naalala nga kita eh and I really miss you!
 Maya: Buti naman naalala mo ako. Truth is, I really wanted to call you ayaw ko lang maka istorbo sa vacation mo. Wala kasi ako maka usap eh.
 Emman: Naku, Maya ha, don’t tell me krung krung at prem prem matter ito.
 Maya: Sinigawan na naman ako kanina, at ang sakit ng mga sinabi nya.
 Emman: Nasa liking each other palang LQ agad? At talagang affected ka ha. Baka hindi na yan just liking, baka nahulog ka na nga at love na yan…
 Maya: Emman, how can you not be affected, ang sakit talaga ng mga binitawan na salita. Tagos sa dibdib, masakit.
 Emman: Tagos talaga? As in, it penetrated your rib cage and it pierced your pink heart?
 Maya: Oo, na-iyak ako sa sakit…ayoko na –
 Emman: Ha? Ayaw na? I thought you’re looking forward to the days ahead and what the future lies for the two of you? Tapos break na agad hindi pa nga kayo? So ano, ex-future na lang ngayon si krung krung, ganun?
 Maya: Emman, I was about to say ayoko na muna siya makita at makausap kasi na-iyak na nga ako kanina, ayoko na uli umiyak sa harap niya! Besides, baka hindi ko na kayanin ang mga sasabihin pa nya.
 Emman: Dahil you shed tears for him, alam ko na ipapasalubong ko sa iyo! I’m sure it will make you happy! Kaya nga pala ako tumawag kasi I wanted to know ano ang gusto mo na pasalubong!
 Maya: Ah…ganun? Sige, I really really like the golden south sea pearls…
 Emman: You mean the most rare and most exquisite of all pearls from anywhere in the world?
 Maya: Yes…because it is completely natural and the most difficult to produce. Sa Pilipinas lang –
 Emman: Oh this is the one declared by President Ramos as the National Jewel!
 Maya: Yes…and as I was saying, it’s only produced there in Palawan sa Jewelmer Golden Pearl Farms.
 Emman: Yes, that’s very near this island resort! Ang ganda rin dito, it’s such a beauty like us! Okay, sige yun ang pasalubong mo.
 Maya: Emman, dehamak na mura siya diyan compared to the retail stores here in the Philippines at lalo na around the world, pero mahal pa rin siya. I was just joking, kinagat mo naman. Kahit wala naman okay lang. Hindi ko tatanggapin kung ibibili mo ako.
Emman: Okay, sige na. I’ll just get you pearls of the other kind. I already have something in mind. Pero huwag ka na sad ha…I’ll see you on Monday na kasi gabi na kami makaka uwi sa Metro Manila.
          Kalma lang at…palipasin mo na yan, I’m sure nabigla lang yang si Sir Chief mo at inataki lang nag pagka krung krung kaya wag na rin magpaka premprem diyan, okay?
Maya: Sige Emman, mag-enjoy ka na diyan. See you Monday.
                 The next morning, Manang Fe was already helping Sabel clean up the table when Richard came.
Manang Fe: O Ricardo, nahuli ka ata ng gising. Kanina pa naka alis mga bata. Gusto mo ba ipainit ko ang almusal?
 Richard: Nagbawi lang po ng tulog sa nakaraan na puyat. Sa office na lang po ako kakain. May meeting naman po ako ngayong umaga, and Liza will surely prepare something for everyone to eat.
                Richard purposely went down late to skip breakfast. He didn’t know how things will be with Maya after what happened the night before, but what he is certain of is that there will be some awkwardness between the two of them and he didn’t want anybody to notice anything, especially the kids.
             Richard is not aware that Maya leaves the house early morning everyday to attend the daily masses at the nearby chapel because she’s home before 6:00 a.m. Today though, Maya planned to stay on even after the novena to find serenity and to avoid crossing paths with Richard. She didn’t know how she will act with Richard around after what happened, but what she is certain of is that she will probably continue avoiding him and she didn’t want anybody to notice anything.
                  Inside the chapel there were still a few people left inside after the novena mass. Maya transferred to the courtyard and sat on one of the rot iron benches. She looked around and enjoyed the green grass, the bamboo trees and other ornamental plants. The sound of the birds chirping relaxed her. She watched the people busy lighting candles in one corner while thoughts were running in her mind. “Maya, kahit saang anggulo mo tignan, may fault ka talaga.” “Pero still, hindi naman din justified yung mga binitawan nyang salita, lalo na he didn’t let you finish your explanation.”
                Maya recalled everything that happened from the text message informing Richard about her trip to the bookstore, until she came home at about 8:30 in the evening. “Kung ayaw maraming dahilan, kung gusto maraming paraan. Did you really exhaust everthing Maya?”   “No.” she admitted to herself when she realized that there was another way to reach Richard, that is, through James’ dad, Jaime Eduardo Ventura. Richard knows him and had business transactions with him in the past. That was enough reason to ask James to try asking his dad for Richard’s contact number. But she didn’t.
            “Pero they know where I went. Besides, it was still early and so I thought it’s no big deal para ihingi ng pabor yun kay Sir James at tawagan pa yung dad nya eh pauwi naman na rin kami.” Maya rationalized. “But still, you should have done so just the same. It’s what a prudent person would do.”
              Admittedly, she failed to walk an extra mile. “Kaya Maya, palabasin mo na sa kabilang tenga yung mga binitawan na mga salita ni Sir Chief, at paliparin mo na sa langit.” “Palampasin mo na ang lahat at kalimutan ang sama ng loob mo. Then move on…and bear in mind that he is your boss more than a friend.”
LAS – Richard’s Office at around 8:30 a.m.
                 Richard arrived with a straight face.  He was just in time before the start of the scheduled morning meeting that day.
Liza: Good morning, Sir! Ready to start the meeting at your call.
Richard: Good morning Liza. I’m a bit hungry so please tell Minerva to serve the snacks right away. Mauna ka na sa taas, susunod na ako.
Liza: Okay, Sir.
                It was a very busy day for LAS and Richard worked quietly in his office after the morning meeting. He skipped lunch because work kept him preoccupied. By 2:00 p.m. Liza thought that he might already be hungry but probably has no appetite for a regular lunch so she asked Minerva to buy gourmet sandwhich and brewed coffee at a nearby coffee shop.
              Richard was reading some documents when Minerva came with the food tray which she placed on the upper left corner of the table, the only area that is clear from clutter. He didn’t notice her until she spoke.
Minerva: Sir, dito ko na po nilagay ang lunch nyo, pinabili po ni Ma’am Liza. Pina-serve na po dito at busy po kayo.
 Richard: Okay, thank you.
           Richard could not resist the coffee as the aroma filled the room.  He took a sip and remembered Maya.   He took a bite of the sandwich and finally recognized his hunger. Then he vividly recalled the night Maya prepared coffee and sandwich for him. He unconsciously smiles but the image of Maya coming home last night with James came to mind and the smile faded away. He was still upset. What’s more, it’s already past 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon and he has not received any text message from her. Even without his directives, she would send him text messages everyday during tutorial sessions to let him know how Abby was doing. Today there was none. He felt frustrated, so he decides to call the house.
Manang Fe: Ricardo.
Richard: Kamusta po si Abby.
 Manang Fe: Marami nakain kaninang tanghali. Masigla at masaya. Nandun na sa kwarto ni Maya. Pero palabas na rin sila mayamaya lang, magme-merienda si Abby eh. Magbonding daw silang dalawa at simula sa Lunes mababawasan na ang oras na magkasama sila eh.
 Richard: That’s right Manang, may pasok na kasi si Maya. Baka pati sa hapunan hindi na siya makakasabay kasi night class po eh.
Manang Fe: Bakit baka? Hindi mo pa ba alam ang schedule ng mga klase ni Maya?
 Richard: Hindi pa po namin napag usapan. May nabanggit ba sa inyo?
 Manang Fe: Wala pa naman. Hindi masyado naimik kanina eh. Tahimik.
 Richard: Sige na po Manang, I need to go back to work now.
               Richard suddenly became very eager to know the class schedule of Maya. So he sends Ryan a text message requesting him to secure it from the lawschool and email it to him ASAP.
             Later in the Lim mansion, Maya is busy sorting out the items she requested Sabel to buy from the market earlier. She thought of cooking dinner since Nikki will most probably get accepted in the theatre club. She was also craving for her comfort foods and decided to cook Kare-Kare and Adobo.
            It  was past 4:00 o’clock when Maya and Abby finished preparing what are needed for cooking. While waiting for Abby change her clothes, Maya thought of Richard. She wanted to know if he’ll be able to come home early and join the mini celebration for Nikki. It would have been easy for her to ask Richard if last night didn’t happen. But it did and she is simply hesitant to ask.   She was staring at the message compose box, contemplating on whether to text, and how to word her question but accidentally pressed the send button in the touch screen.
Maya: Ay! Naman Maya! Arrrgggghhh! Naku, sana nasa meeting at naka silent mode para hindi mapansin!
             Richard’s phone gives off an alert tone indicating that he received a text message. Richard pulled out his phone from his pocket and when he saw that it was from Maya, he became anxious with his heart beating so loud. So, when he saw the message box empty, he got a little peeved. He sent her back a message.
Maya: Patay! Ayan na nga ba sinasabi ko Maya eh! Siguradong mahabang interrogation na naman ito. Anu ngayon ang sasabihin mo?
Richard’s Text: What was that Maya?
Maya: Ayan na nga ang mga tanung.
Maya’s Text: Pasensha po sa istorbo, na press agad ang send, wala pang message.
Richard’s Text: Okay. So?
Maya’s Text: Busy pa po kayo?
Maya: Hala ang bilis naman sumagot!
Richard’s Text: Why?
Maya’s Text: I needed to ask a question.
Richard’s Text: What?
Maya: Naman hindi ako maka isip! Ang bilis ha.
Maya’s Text: Hindi na po kayo busy?
Richard’s Text: That’s your question?
Maya’s Text: Hindi po. So, hindi po ba kayo busy at pwede na po ako magtanong?
           Annoyed, Richard frowns. But because he’s too proud to call, he types his reply.
Richard’s Text: Maya, it doesn’t matter if I’m busy or not, I’m actually replying to your texts!
 Maya’s Text: Ah, okay…
 Richard’s Text: So what’s the question?!
                  He doesn’t get a reply from Maya. He goes back to what he’s doing while he waits.
  Maya: What’s the question daw. At may exclamation point pa talaga! Anu nga ba Maya? At ang sungit talaga ha! Ah…teka, ma text na nga lang si Liza.
 Maya’s Text: Hi Liza, quiet lang pls., kasama mo si SC? Would you know what time siya uuwi?
 Liza’s Text: Hello! Yes, we’re in the same room right now, may ka-usap. Have no idea at all what time he will go home. He’s been working quietly since morning at parang wala sa mood  :(   Ayan, naka kunot ang nuo. May ka text ata eh.
 Maya’s Text: Ahhh…na krung krung na naman pala dahil sa akin. Ako kasi ang ka- text eh, hahaha!   :)    Ang sungit nga sa text kaya ikaw na lang tinext ko.
 Liza’s Text: Hahaha! Nakakatawa ka.  :)  What’s up, importante ba?
 Maya’s Text: Kasi today ang release ng results ng audition ni Nikki sa theatre club. Eh most likely naman pasok siya. So I thought of having a mini celebration for her para ma enganyo. Abby and I are preparing na sa kitchen. I was wondering lang if makaka uwi si SC ng maaga or mag o-OT kayo.
 Liza’s Text: You’re so sweet Maya! I’m sure Nikki will appreciate it. Sana umuwi ng maaga para hindi kami OT! Ganito, I’ll text you once malaman ko his plans.  :)
 Maya’s Text: Super thanks Liza!
 Liza’s Text: Anything for you and for my inaanak.  :)
 Maya’s text: Really? Inaanak mo si Nikki? Cool!
         Several minutes passed and Richard was done with the meeting. He was left in the room with Liza and checked his phone but there was still no reply from Maya, so he calls her. Little did he know that Maya was purposely not answering his calls. He texts her again instead.
Richard’s Text: Maya?
 Maya’s Text: Po?
 Richard’s Text: Your question?
 Maya’s Text: Wait lang po.
 Richard: Unbelievable!
                 Liza was startled as she placed some documents on top of Richard’s desk.
 Liza:May problema ba, Chief?
 Richard: Si Maya, she can really be annoying. Ang kulit. Here, read the thread. Liza takes the phone from him and reads the message. Liza laughs.
 Liza:Chief? How’s everything in your house with Maya around, riot siguro. Richardjust shakes his head. Liza was about to finish reading when his phone receives another message. Ay! Sorry Chief, nag text uli si Maya, what time ka daw uuwi? Liza gave Richard a meaningful look and smile as she hands him over his phone.
 Richard: And why would she ask that?
 Liza: Why don’t you just go home early and find out, baka importante pala. Naku Chief ha, nakakakilig na yan. Parang husband-wife lang ang dating ninyong dalawa! Liza said as she exits his room while Richard makes a call to Maya.
              At the same time at the mansion, Nikki and Luke arrived from school. While Luke headed upstairs, Nikki went to the kitchen to look for Maya.
Nikki: Tita Maya! Tita Maya! We’re home! Tita Mayaaaaa! I made it! I’m so in!
 Maya: Congratulations! Expected naman na natin yun eh, kaya nga eto we’re cooking. There is a mini celebration for you!
 Nikki: Aaaaaww, that is so sweet of you Tita Maya! Thankee! I’ll help!
 Maya: Sure! Palit ka muna ng damit.
             It was this time that Maya’s phone began ringing. When she saw who was calling, Maya immediately grabbed the meat for Adobo and started mixing it with garlic and soy sauce using both of her hands.
Nikki: Tita Maya Dad’s calling! Is he coming home for dinner?!
 Maya: Actually I wanted to ask him nga, kaya ikaw na lang sumagot, madumi na kamay ko oh. Basta dinner will be served at around 7:00.
 Nikki: Okee-dokee!
           Nikki swipes Maya’s phone and placed it against her ear.
 Richard: Why are you asking me kung anong oras ako uuwi?! You plan on going out again?!
 Nikki: Ah…Dad! This is Nikki, madumi po kasi yung hands ni Tita Maya eh. She’s cooking dinner. Abby and I will help her.
 Richard: Oh hi Nikki, so why is she asking?
 Nikki: Ah…she wanted to know lang if maaga ka makakauwi kasi it means makakasama ka mag dinner, in that case, we’ll wait for you. If late as usual, hindi na po namin kayo aantayin. Kakain na po kami at 7:00.
            Richard heard the noise in the background.
Luke: Wow! Kare-Kare ang ulam later? Uy! May Adobo rin? Bigla naman ako nagutom!
 Manang Fe: Handa ni Maya para kay Nikki kasi matatanggap daw sa acting club ba yun?
 Doris: At tsaka nagke-crave daw po si Ma’am Maya ng comforts zone nya.
 Sabel: Hoy Doris! Anung comforts zone? Comfort foods!
 Doris: Comforts zone, comforts food, comforts room, isama mo pati na comforts women, pare pareho lang naman sila ng silbe, it comforts you! Nagpapagaan ng loob diba? Yung pikakahuli nga lang sobrang gaan, ililipad ka sa langit! Hahaha!
 Sabel: Hahahaha! Tumpak BFF! May tama ka! Yung lola nga ng kapit bahay namin sa probinsya naging comforts woman eh.
 Manang Fe: Kayong dalawa tumahimik diyan. Ihanda niyo na lang ang mesa at mabawasan ang kaguluhan dito sa kusina.
 Maya: Ay! Naku Baby, wait lang. What’s that? Gusto mo na mag bake? Okay sandali ha intayin natin si Ate Nikki mo so she can help us with the dessert.
Nikki: Dad, I have to go, I think Tita Maya needs me na eh… Ingat na lang po pauwi! She hangs up.
           Richard is thrilled. He looks at his watch, and then calls for Liza via the intercom.
Richard: Liza.
 Liza: Sir?
 Richard: Are these all the papers that need to be signed?
 Liza: Yes, Sir.
                After 15 minutes, Richard goes out of his office.
Liza: You’re going home, Sir?
 Richard: Yes, the kids are preparing dinner.
 Liza: REA-lly! Oh I’m sure, pakana ni Maya yan!
 Richard: You may go home too, Liza. Bilinan mo na lang uli si Minerva.
 Liza: Really?! Wow! I am so liking the changes in you Chief.
 Richard: Okay, I’ll go ahead. Bye!
           Richard immediately walked away and headed towards the elevator.
 Liza: YES! Si Maya lang pala makakapag hinto kay Sir mag over time eh!
 Richard: I heard that Liza!
 Liza: Enjoy your dinner Chief!
           Liza immediately sends a text message to Maya.
Liza’s text: Maya, SC just left the office! And I was told to go home too :) Wow! No more OT na, early off pa for me… Thanks to your oplan-dinner! Nawala ang kunot-nuo! What did you tell him at nagbago ang mood?
Maya’s text: Hindi ko nga sinasagot ang text ang sungit kasi. Tumawag! Eh I am not in the mood to deal with his kasungitan at hindi ko naman magagawang i-talk-to-the-hand sha. Si Nikki pinasagot ko! Hahaha!
 Liza’s text: He looked excited.   :)
Maya’s text: Baka naamoy yung niluluto ko? Hahaha!
 Liza’s text: Nakakatawa ka talaga! What are you cooking anyway?
 Maya’s text: My favorite, Kare-Kare and Adobo.
 Liza’s text: Talaga ha? FYI, pareho kayo! Lalo na yung Kare-Kare.
 Maya’s text: Naku, na pressure naman ako bigla. Baka my cooking will fall sort of his expectation magsungit lalo. Sige Liza, tutukan ko muna niluluto ko.
 Liza’s text: Sure! Sarapan mo ha :)
 Maya’s text: Will make sure to send some to you tomorrow :)  Then you tell me.
 Liza’s text: Okay, looking forward sa ipapadala mo.Thanks! Good luck, he’s on his way now!
 Maya’s text: Thanks din Liza :) Siguradong matutuwa ang mga bata nito, I won’t tell them na pauwi na ang daddy nila para surprise ;)