Heart’s True Desire – part 20

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

Author: Hanah6181

~*~
“Lights Out”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~

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

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

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

Long Distance Relationship – Parts 5 & 6

Admin Note: *Contributed Story* Please give credit and thanks to AlyssaGrace. This is a continuation to Long Distance Relationship – Parts 3 & 4.


 Author: AlyssaGrace

~*~

Long Distance Relationship Part V
Maya: Uyyy! Richard,Ano yun???
Richard: Wait tignan ko….Relax lang.
-Pinuntahan ni Richard pagkalapit niya..-
Sila: Waaaaaaah!
Richard: -Nakatingin lang-
Doris: Di ka nagulat?
Sabel: Wahhh!
Nikki: Kuya,Di ka nagulat?
Liza: Tibay ahh…
Richard: No,Hindi..
Nicollo: Di nga kuya?
Luke: Kuya,Aga niyo magdate.
James: Richard,Dami mo pa lang kapatid.
Richard: Oo nga eh..
-Tawanan-
~Habang sila ay nagkwekwentuhan,At ng napagod na silang magkwentuhan……
Doris: Uy,Ano na gagawin natin?
Liza: Pumunta ng school kasi may laro diba?
Luke: Maaga pa..
James: Oo nga…
Richard: Road trip gusto niyo?
Emman: Gusto ko yan!
Nicollo: Ako din syempre..
Nikki: Me also!
Sabel: Oh ano tayo na?
Maya: Malelate tayo dito na lang tayo.
Sila: Okay po….
Doris: Girl,Maya.. Okay ka lang ba?
Maya: Oo naman. Syempre may laro tayo kaya kailangan natin mag-relax.
Sabel: Sa bagay..
Emman: Okay fine…
Luke: -naglalaro ng bote-
James: Luke! Peram nga niyan.
Nicollo: Aha!
Richard: Get’s kita…
Nicollo and Richard: -nagtinginan- Spin the bottle tayo!
Nikki: Ayyy! Gusto ko yan…
Maya: Sige kayo muna…
Richard: Tara.. Let the game begin!
~They started the game, Enjoy na enjoy sila habang umiikot yung bote na biglang tumapat at huminto kay Nicollo…
Richard: Hahaha! Gotcha! So,Nicollo kelan mo balak ligawan pinsan ko?
Nicollo: -Nagulat- Ah,,Eh Kuya Richard siguro kapag pwede na siya…
James: May nasasaktan si Luke.
Liza: Awuhhh.. Okay lang yan.
Sabel: Naku,Naku.. Haba ng Hair.
Doris: Sayo na ang korona..
Emman: Nasa bahay ko kaya ang korona..
Maya: -natawa- Emman: Tignan mo yun tumawa,Nababaliw na.
Maya: Hahaha,Na sayo pala ang Korona ko ah!
-Habang nagbabangayan sila biglang tumawag si Joma kay Richard….-
Joma: Hello,Ricky.
Richard: Oh,Kuya.
Joma: Punta na kayo dito mag-start na.
Richard: Sige po,Kuya..
Joma: Mukhang masaya ka?
Richard: Kasama ko po sila kasi.. Dito lang kami sa Moldex.
Joma: Kaya naman pala..Mga gala.
Richard: Konti lang,Kuya.
Joma: -natawa- Sige bilisan niyo na. Bye.
Richard: Sige po,Bye kuya.
Sabel: Sino yun carding?
Richard: What did you call to me?
Sabel: Carding..
Richard: Funny.. Si Kuya Joma.
Doris: Hinanap ba ko?
Emman: Ako?
Richard: Tayong lahat hinanap.
James: Narinig niyo naman TAYO na LAHAT pa.
Luke: Sobrang liwanag….
Nicollo: Tara na…
Liza: Una na kami.. Richard.. Si Maya oh busy na busy.
Richard: Oo nga eh bising-busy kay Richard Yap.
Nikki: What? Richard Yap? Gwapo kaya yun,hahaha.
Richard: Oo nga eh,Kapag kapangalan ko talaga GWAPO.
Sabel: Wushhhu. Nangarap ka pa.
Doris: Chinito si Richard Yap,Chinito ka din aba. aba…
Liza: Tara na at malelate na tayo.
-Umalis na sila pagkatapos ng kanilang enjoy moment,Nakarating na sila sa School. Start na nga… Basketball Boys ang unang laban..
Grade 8 vs. 3rd Yr HS. Mahahangin pa naman ang mga Grade 8 kaya..-
Mark: Tanggapin niyo na matatalo kayo.
James: Okay fine.
-Nagsimula na ang laban nagliliyab sa loob ng court,Ramdam na ramdam ng mga manunuod kaya hiyawan ng hiyawan.-
Richard: James,Magpatambak muna tayo. Papahinga muna ko mamaya na ko maglalaro.
James: Sige may tiwala naman ako sa team natin.
Nicollo: Ilang points?
Luke: Mga bente? Hahaha.
Richard,James,Nicollo: Sige!
-First to Second quarter lamang na lamang ang mga grade 8,Feel na feel nila mananalo sila. Si Richard hayaan lang relax relax lang siya lalong lalo na sila James,Nicollo,Luke pati si Emman.-
Richard: Third quarter na! Emman di ko akalain na ang galing mo maglaro haha.
Maya: Kahit pabakla-bakla yan,Magaling yan.
Emman: Tama!
James: Ang score nila 35 satin 15..
Luke: Masyado naman natin pinagbigyan.
Richard: Simulan na ang totoong laban.
-Nagsimula na ang Third Quarter syempre third year ball binigyan agad ni Richard ang ring ng three points. Three pointer kasi siya lalo na si James,Nicollo,Emman,Luke halos lahat sila kaya sa loob ng third quarter nasa kanila ang bola hindi nila pinagbigyan ang grade 8 shoot dito shoot doon kaya ang mga Grade 8 nganga kasi akala nila matatalo nila ang Third Year kaya naman..
Maya: Akala niyo ah..
Sabel: Pinagbigyan lang namin kayo.
Doris: Go mga Boyssss! Kaya niyo yan.
Liza: Oh, mga girls selfie selfie muna haha.
-CHEESE-
~End ng third quarter
Joma: Grade 8 – 40 Third Year- 60
Luke: Nasatin na yung bente.
James: Wag muna kayong pakampante kasi may binabalak yan sila. Baka mandaya ang mga iyan.
Richard: Babanggain nila tayo?
Nicollo: Hmmm…
Emman: Babanggain? Magaling ako jan ganeto plano natin. Magpalit palit tayo ng pwesto every seconds and minutes. Nicollo,James,Luke,Richard: GAME!
~Naglaro na sila,Sinunod nila ang plano ni Emman at ito na nga naging mas masiklab ang laban puntos lagi ng Third Year talagang talo na ang Grade 8 hanggang sa….
Richard: Awww.
James; May aso! May aso.. Joke lang. Richard!
Luke: Kuya.
Nicollo: UY,Dumugo.
Emman: Guys,Di pa tayo tapos mga 50 seconds na lang oh..
Richard: Emman akin na yang bola.
James: Sigurado kaba?
Richard: Oo..
-Ang oras 20 seconds,Binilisan ni Richard kahit binangga na siya may nakaharang shinoot niya ang bola for three points pasok ang bola saktosa pag end ng game….-
Mga tao: YESSSSSSSSSS!
-Dahil wala doon si Maya nung naglalaro sila dahil na sa quarters siya,Tinext siya ni Emman na may sugat si Richard sa gilid ng kanyang kanan na kilay kaya naman nagkanda-aligaga siya pumunta sa court.-
Maya: Richaaard! Ano nangyari sayo? Sinong may gawa niyan?
Richard: Wala ito.
Maya: Anong wala? Dumudugo wala?
Doris,Sabel,Liza,Nikki: Ayieeeeeeeee.
Luke: Nakanaks,Mag-asawa lang ang peg.
Maya: Asawa agad? Diba pwedeng caring muna.
Emman: Asus,CARING? o KERIng hahaha.
James: Ikaw talaga Emman..
Nicollo: Ate Maya. Ito po betadine,cotton,alcohol,band-aid.
Richard: Ano sabe mo?
Nicollo: Betadine,Cotton,Alcohol,Band-Aid po,Kuya.
Richard: I dont like alcohol! -tumakbo-
Maya: Habulin niyo yung duguan na yun.
~Hinabol ng lahat hanggang sa mahuli nila si Richard tawang tawa sila sa itsura ni Richard dahil kung umiyak parang bata na ewan haha. Kaya naman..
Maya: Nagpaghabol-habol ka pa. Ito ang sayo..
-Nilagyan ng Alcohol ang sugat ni Richard-
Richard: AWWWWWWWCCCCCCCCH!
Doris: Hahahahaha! Yan ang dapat sayo pinagod mo kami.
Sabel: Sige pa Maya,Lagyan mo pa ng lagyan.
Nikki: Ang hard niyo naman po kay Kuya Richard.
Liza: Eh inaasar niya tayo yan ang tama sa kanya.
Luke: Ate Maya,Pagtapos nito may laro pa ba kayo?
Maya: Di muna kami mag-lalaro kasi may ibang gagamit ng court natin.
Nicollo: Ahhh.. James: San niyo balak kumain?
Emman: Jan na lang sa Canteen,Bakit libre mo ba?
James: Aba,Oo naman.
Luke: Guys,Libre daw. Paunahan na!!
-Nagsitakbuhan na sila…-
Maya: Ohyyy! Susunod na lang kaming dalawa jan.
James: Sige sige.
Richard: Maya,Ang saket ah.
Maya: Natural lang yan.
Richard: Siya nga pala. Bakit di na tuloy relasyon niyo James? Mukhang okay naman kayo ah.
Maya: So pinapabigay muna ko kay James?
Richard: No. Maya: Kasi sabi niya saken na.. Tsaka na lang namin ituloy relasyon namin in the right time.
Richard: Eh paano ako?
Maya: Sa tingin mo,Magkakabalikan pa kami?
Richard: It depends kasi to the situation..
Maya: Wag ka ngang nega jan. Ang drama mo naman pag may sugat.
Richard: Sorry po..
Maya: Hahah. Tara kain na tayo paunahan!
-Iniwan si Richard sabay takbo-
Richard: Hey! Wait for me!

———————————————————————————————

Long Distance Relationship Part VI
Nasa canteen na sila at kumain na sila..
Doris: Bukas nga pala back to lesson na.
Sabel: May assignment ba tayo?
Liza: Oo ata..
Nikki: Kay Ser Joma tas kay Maam..
-Pinutol ni Luke
Luke: Oo nga sa Chemistry.
James: Diba sa Geometry din?
Emman: Alam ko sa AP din eh..
Richard: Tsaka sa english din.
Maya: So lahat meron ganon? Buti na lang tapos ko na lahat. Kayo ba?
Lahat: Hindi pa eh.
Maya: Sige send ko na lang senyo sagot mamaya.
Nicollo: Astig talaga si Ate Maya,Ayaw kami pahirapan.
Maya: Kasi pag nagsasagot ako sa PC ko nilalagay para marebyu ko diba haha.
Nikki: What a nice idea.
Richard: So pano ba yan? Ginabi tayo..Uwian na.
Lahat maliban kay Richard: Tara na!
Richard: Maya,Hatid na kita?
Maya: Seryoso ka?
Richard: Oo naman,Baka nililigawan kita?
Maya: Nanliligaw ka pala.
Richard: Hindi ba obyus?
Maya: Akala ko kasi asawa na kita.
Richard: -ngumiti- Ikaw talaga ang dame mong alam.
Maya: Bakit ikaw? Hindi ba?
Richard: Tara na nga,At kung ano-ano pa naiisip mo.
Maya: Baka naman ikaw ang may iniisip jan.
Richard: Oo,Ikaw at ikaw lang talaga iniisip ko.
Maya: Hahah,Naks naman bumabanat din si Ricky.
Richard: Hindi kasi pwedw yung ikaw lamg kelangan ako din para patas tayo.
Maya: Hahaha. Ewan ikaw nga mas madameng alam jan.
Richard: Hahaha. Kakain ka pa niyan? Ng dinner?
Maya: Oo naman.
Richard: Ang takaw naman.
-Habang nagmomoment ang mag love birds di nila alam na pinagchichismisan na sila ng kanilang truepa….-
Emman: Look at them oh! Ayaw talaga nilang maghiwalay.
Sabel: At ayaw pang umuwi.
Doris: Kaya pala nag-aaya na yung isa.
Liza: Para masolo.
Nikki: Kelan kaya magpropropose si Kuya Richard?
Nicollo: Ang sabe niya pag dating nila Tito and Tita pero surprise.
Luke: Ang astig naman ni Kuya Richard.
James: Oo nga eh..
Liza: James,Okay lang yan nanjan naman si Sabel o kaya si Doris.
-Tawanan-
Maya: Anong oras na oh,Tsak pinag-uusapan na tayo ng mga yun oh..
Richard: Maya,Pano kung makipagbalikan sayo si James? Sasagutin mo?
Maya: Hindi ko alam.
Richard: Kasi I feel na mahal ka pa din niya,Pinipigilan niya lang kasi ano.
Maya: Ano?
Richard: Just nevermind it. Tara na?
Maya: Lets go!
-Sumakay na si Richard sa motor at pinaandar na ito at sumunod naman si Maya na sumakay umalis na sila.. Nagpaalam na sila sa kanila…. Habang umaandar…
Richard: So,You mean Cool Off kayo ni James?
Maya: Parang oo.
Richard: Baka bukas kayo na ulet ah.
Maya: -Nagtataka kung bakit ganon ang mga tanong ni Richard kaya..- Eh pano kung kami na ulit? Ano gagawin mo?
Richard; -Nagulat,Napa-preno bigla- Huh?? Gagawin ko? Enjoy single.
Maya: Enjoy single ka jan,Mukha mo. Hindi ka manliligaw?
Richard: Hindi.
Maya: Wehh.
Richard: Yes…
Maya: Hindi nga?
Richard: Oo.
Maya: Talaga?
Richard: Oo.
Maya: Galit ka na niyan?
Richard: O-Hindi ah.
Maya: Asus galit ka na eh..
Richard: No.
Maya: Yes.
Richard: No.
Maya: Okay nandito na tayo..
-Bumaba-
Richard: Ingat ka ah,Text kita kapag na sa bahay na ko.
Maya: Galit ka ba? Ang seryoso mo kasi.
Richard: No,I’m not.
Maya: Yes,You are.
Richard: -nagtanggal ng helmet- Hindi nga kasi,Pramis.
Maya: Honesto?
Richard: Honesto. -sabay ngiti-
Maya: Sige Ingat Babay. -Lapit kay Richard sabay kiss sa left cheek ni Richard-
Richard: -Nagulat,Namula- Buti na lang gabi hindi nakita kung pano ako namula. -bulong niya-
Maya: Babay! Ingat ka ah….
Richard: Babay.
-Umalis na si Richard abot tenga ang kilig at tuwa dahil kay Maya,Ramdam niya na mahal na siya ni Maya at kinalimutan na ni Maya si James-
Richard: Hinding-hindi kita iiwan Maya,Baka paglingat ko nasa iba kana,Di kita bibitawan.
-Nakarating na ng bahay si Richard nagbihis na siya at nagpahinga gaya ng sabi niya kay Maya,Tinext niya ito na nasa bahay na siya..-
Richard: I’m home na.
Maya: Good,Kumain kaba?
Richard: Hindi na,How about you?
Maya: Ako pa tinanong mo,Syempre.
Richard: Sabagay automatic na..
-Tinawagan ni Richard si Maya.-
Maya: Oh bakit ka pa tumawag?
Richard: Mag-gogood night lang ako…
Maya: Ahh ganon ba?
Richard: Oo. Good Night.
Maya: Good Night din.
Richard: Ingat.
Maya: Ingat din.
Richard: I Love You.
Maya: I Love You.
-Nagulat si Maya sa sinabe niya kaya binabaan siya agad ni Richard….-
Maya: Halaaaaaaa! Nag-I LOVE YOU ako sa kanya. Maya kalma.. Kalma lang… Maya…
Richard: Ayos! She loves me too pala. Akala ko ako lang ang nagmamahal sa kanya. Yeah,I’m gonna sleep well na.
-Natulog na si Richard at si Maya nakatulog na din pero hindi pa rin maalis sa isip ni Maya iyon.-
‘Kinaumagahan…
Manang Fe: Good Morning,Maya.
Maya: -nag-uunat- Good Morning din po.
Manang Fe: Mukhang blooming ah? Sige ligo na.
Maya: -Nagulat- Blooming? Ako? Sige po.
Manang Fe: Ikaw talaga,Maya. Dalaga ka na.
Maya: Hallaaaaaaaa!
Manang Fe: Naku,Natural lang yan bilisan mo at dadaan na dito si Kuya Pogi mo.
-Binilisan na ni Maya ang pagligo,pagbihis,at pagkain. Dumating na si Kuya Pogi at nagmadali na siyang bumaba papunta sa jeep….Nag-paalam na siya kay Manang Fe-
(Eksena Sa Jeep)
Nicollo; Good Morning Ate Maya.
Nikki: Hi Ate Maya.
James: Magandang Umaga Maya.
Emman: Hello Maya.
Sabel; Hi Girl.
Liza: Gandang Morning Maya.
Luke: Hey! Ate Maya.
Doris: Ehem! Mukhang blooming? Hahaha.
-Tawanan-
Maya: Hello,Hi,Good Morning din sa inyo. Naku,Blooming trending yan ah.
Kuya Pogi: Bakit hindi ba?
Maya: Ewan ko po di ko po kasi alam.
-Tawanan-
`Nakarating na sila sa school sakto pagbaba nila kakarating lang din ni Richard at binati nila ito.’
Sabel: Hi Richard.
Doris: Good Morning dre.
Emman: WazZup Pare.
James: Magandang Umaga.
Luke: Kuya Richard!
Nikki: Hello Kuya.
Nicollo: Kamusta po?
Liza: Hallo’h Ricky.
Richard: -nakangiti- Hello. -nakangiti-
Kuya Pogi: Naku,Ang mga ngiti ni Ricardo oh.
Doris: Hashtag ALAM NA THIS.
-Tawanan-
‘Habang naglalakad sila papunta sa kanilang classroom’
Sabel: Day,Kayo na ba ni Richard?
Maya: Naku hindi pa ah.
-Narinig nila Nikki,Liza,Doris-
Nikki,Liza,Doris: Pa?
Nikki: May pag-asa.
Liza: Alams na.
Doris: May chance….
Maya: Uy,Wag nga kayong maingay. Kinikilala muna namin ang isa’t-isa…
Emman: Naku,Bandang huli magiging kayo din naman.
Doris: Tamaaaaaaaa.
Sabel: Sino una?
Liza: Saan?
Sabel: Na magtuturo…
Nikki: I think Sir Joma.
Sabel: Akalain mo nga naman ang gwapo ng umaga.
-Lahat nagtinginan kay Sabel-
Richard: Naku.. Sabel dont tell me may pagnanasa ka sa Kuya ko?
-Tawanan-
Sabel: -namula- Gurabeee! ka naman…
Doris: Naku,May pagnanasa.. Hahahaha.
Liza: Tama na nga yan!
Maya: May nagseselos,hahaha.
Emman: FYI,WALANG SA INYO AKIN AKIN LANG SI SIR JOMA!
-Habang naglalakad sila hindi nila alam si Joma na sa pintuan na ng kanilang classroom binuksan ni Richard ang classroom at sige daldalan pa sila nagtago lang si Joma sa pinto at…..-
Sabel: Hindi akin lang siya!
Liza: Hindi akin!
Doris: Parang walang away akin siya!
Nikki: No,His mine na!
Emman: Ano ba wag nga kayong mag-assume kami na!
Maya: Ano ba! Manahimik nga kayo! Mga kabit labg kayo! KASAL NA KAMI.
-Sinira ni Joma ang pinto at nagulat sila-
Joma: Oo kasal na kami ni Maya. -sabay ngiti-
Maya: -namula- Hala! Si Sir nandito pala sa loob nakakahiya tuloy.
Sabel: halaa! Hahha Sir..
Doris: Ang bangs ko..
Emman: Oxygen di ko carrybels ito.
Nikki: Oh My Gee!
Liza: Sir lahat ng narinig mo ay…
Richard: Totoo.
-Tawanan-
James: Sir,Ano ba shampoo mo?
Joma: Huh baket?
Luke: Haba ng hair.
Nicollo: Sayo na ang korona.
Richard: Kuya,Akala ko ba may Girlfriend kana?
-Nanahimik lahat….-
Joma: Ah-eh…. Richard: Uy, Oh! Nanahimik sila oh, Syempre joke lang single pa ito si Kuya.
‘Nag-sigawan lahat…..
Doris: May chance..
Sabel: Starting Over Again lang ang peg?
Liza: Hahaha! Pagtripan natin si Sir mamaya.
Nikki: Game!
Maya: Sali ako jan ah..
`Nagturo na si Sir Joma at lahat sila nakinig at sinabihan niya ang mga ito na may quiz sila bukas di naman sila nagreklamo kasi its a part hahaa. :))`
Liza: Ayan na girls!
-Nagkumpulan na sila-
Joma: Good Bye Class!
Class: Good Bye Sir..
Joma: Sige you may take your recess….
`Break time na at maraming mga estudyante na pakalat-kalat sa hall way lalo na mga teachers especially Mamang nandon din siya lalo na si Kute,,,`
Liza: Game na ba kayo?
Sabel: Oo
Doris: Yes. Nikki: Ahuh.
Maya: LETS DO THIS…
SILA: WE LOVE YOU SIR JOMA!!!!!
Liza: I Love You Sir!
Doris: Labyu Sir.
Sabel: Sir,LOVEU.
Nikki: Sir,Mahal kita.
Maya: I Love You Sir Joma! Mahal na Mahal kita…
`Lahat ng mga nakarinig kilig na kilig lalo na sila Mamang at Kute hagalpak na hagalpak ang kanilang pagtawa syempre ganon na din sina Richard,Joma,Luke,Emman,Nicollo-
Joma: Ang lakas ng trip niyo ah! Hihirapan ko quiz niyo.
Maya: Halaaaaaaa! Sir naman.
Joma: Joke lang..
`Nagsibaba-baan na sila…
Richard: Ohy! Baka naman sa ginawa niyo na yun madamay pa kami ah.
James: Kaya nga… Hahaha pero sa palagay ko kinilig si Sir kay Maya.
Luke: Haha. Syempre lahat naman ng tao kinikilig,.
Emman: Agree. Nicollo: Eh kinilig din naman si Ate Maya nung ano eh.. Yung Umo-o si Sir na asawa niya siya.
Maya: Naku kayo talaga that is just for fun…
Sabel: Oo nga naman.
Maya: At tsaka alam niyo naman na bawal ang student-teacher relationship noh…
Doris: Naku,Naka-depende na sa inyo yan kung itatago niyo o ibubulgar niyo diba.
Liza: Tama…
Nikki: At tsaka kaya nga na imbento ang SECRET ON.
Richard: Naku mukhang may pinanghuhugutan kayo ah…
James: At tsaka Age doesn’t matter diba?
Lahat: Oo!
James: Tara guys! E-kain na natin yan gutom lang yan…
———————————————————————————————

ABANGAN ANG PART 7-8 maglalagay na po ako ng pasabog yung talaga maE-STRESS po kayo :) JOKE lang APRIL FOOLS XD

Long-held Torch – Part 16

Admin Note: *Contributed Story* Please give credit and thanks to Cyndi. This is a continuation to Long-held Torch – Part 15.


 A/N: This was a rather difficult chapter to write which was why this update  took a long while.  As it is, I have only skimmed over Maya’s strength of character and I guess I still need to delve deeper.

Thank you to EBU for their continued support for wannabe writers like yours truly. Thank you very much to  Ms Alpha Grace, Ms Liza and Ms Dianne for generously giving their time to critique and proofread this chapter. Thank you to my dear readers for patiently (or impatiently…lol) waiting for the  next  installment of my series.  You can also find the complete chapters of LHT at  http://cyndiresti.wordpress.com/

Please don’t be shy to leave a comment or to hit the like button. God bless  :).

Author: Cyndi

~*~

With Maya’s condition remaining critical for days, she was slipping in and out of consciousness while her uterine haemorrhage continued.  Her elevated body temperature caused by infection  was also making Maya delirious at some point.  With glazed eyes, she  would try to say something but her words were coming out incoherently. Agitation was getting the better of her when no one could understand what shas saying. 

 

Intuitively, Richard knew she was asking about their baby.

 

“Everything is okay, Maya”  his tone was soothing  as he held her hand “Everything  will be alright.  Just rest, sweetheart.”

 

Maya’s deep frown cleared  as she settled down. After a few minutes, she  closed her eyes after Richard’s  reassurance.  Her bleeding had significantly lessened on the third day,  effectively taking her out of immediate danger.   Her fever had also abated on the fourth day.  However, Dr de Guzman was still monitoring Maya very closely. Since the human body has a tendency to overcompensate for trauma, the ICU team were on high alert for signs of hypercoagulation, another life-threatening  condition.

 

However, when Maya finally woke up,  tears filmed over her eyes.  Without anyone telling her,  she knew that she had lost the baby. She did not have to see Richard’s sombre expression to know. Her hand went to her flat abdomen and felt nothing.  Tears started falling  silently at first and then  she was sobbing. It was so heart-wrenching for anyone within earshot.  Even the very  experienced  ICU nurses’ eyes  were getting watery.

 

Dr. de Guzman was notified that the patient was conscious. The elderly doctor tried to do some tests but could not do so with Maya’s state of mind.   She was inconsolable as sobs racked her supine form.  In the end, Maya was sedated again so that she can continue to heal within a state of  induced sleep.

 

As Maya’s lids became heavy,  the last thing she heard was Richard saying he was sorry.  The next time she regained consciousness,  Maya could still feel Richard’s presence even though  he was not by her bedside.  Maya  could hear a variety of monitors beeping monotonously. She turned her head and she could see  that she was last in a row of beds.

 

 A nurse in light blue scrubs approached and was smiling at her.  Maya underwent a series of tests in the next hour and was kept in the ICU for the next three days.  Her family had been alternately staying with her for long periods and they would normally wave at her through the partition glass. Maya never saw Richard  until  the very early  morning of the next  day.

 

Maya had woken up when  her  IV  monitor alarmed.  Her assigned nurse had quickly silenced the beep but she was already awake  despite keeping her eyes closed.  This was when she felt his presence again.  She could feel him by her bedside standing quietly while she continued to feign sleep.  With eyes kept closed, Maya waited anxiously for what he would do next. Maya did not wish to speak to him.

 

Then, she felt his fingers lightly sweeping the strands of hair from her face. A small frown  creased between Maya’s closed lids at this unwelcome caress. Involuntarily, she turned her head away to avoid his touch.

 

Maya heard Richard pull a deep sigh. Then her senses felt him come much closer.  So close that she could smell his clean musky scent.  Maya’s airways felt constricted  when she felt his warm breath fanning the side of her face.

 

“Pagaling ka,” Richard murmured  before lightly kissing her temple and then moving away. And as quietly he came, he also left just as quietly.

 

Maya’s  lips wobbled.  She squeezed her lids in a vain effort to keep the tears at bay but they still came.   Maya wished that she could also shed the pain. But even after tears subsided, the pain remained.  

 

The day came when she was transferred to a private room. Maya had glimpsed Richard speaking with Dr. de Guzman when she was wheeled out of the inner sanctum of the ICU but he did not follow.  It was Nanay Teresita who  was with her during  the transfer and helped her settle in. Mamang,  Tatay Arturo and Kute arrived a few hours later. Her Kuya Ryan promised to pass by later.   Everyone was very thankful that she had pulled through.

 

Maya tried to smile at them but she just couldn’t.        

 

“Pasensiya na po.  Medyo pagod na po ako,” she apologised as she closed her eyes.  She could hear their muted conversation but she did not have the energy nor the inclination to join in.  She feigned sleep until sleep truly reclaimed her.

 

When she lifted her lids again, the room was in darkness except for the singular subdued  wall light. Her eyes adjusted and her gaze scanned the private room that was resembling a  hotel room  and was just as impersonal.  There  was a big bowl of fruits  and a couple of magazines on her bedside table. On her other bedside table was a huge bouquet of red roses which made her frown. She was still connected to an IV drip  but  she was blessedly alone. 

 

Maya  wanted  to be alone.

 

Her hand went to her flat stomach and felt  deep sadness and regret for she will never have the opportunity to see her first baby.  Tears welled in her eyes as she wondered if it was a boy or a girl. She will never know anymore.

 

Her gaze started to go blurry with tears again.  She bit her lip, vainly trying to control herself. But the pain  was reverberating  through her soul.  Then, she felt a movement in the dark and knew that he was with her.  Straining her eyes, Maya tried  to see the whole room. When she could not, she braced her elbows to sit up.

 

“Please don’t get up!” his familiar deep throaty  voice pleaded anxiously.

 

“Anong ginagawa mo dito?”  Maya asked, anger in her tone.

 

From the darkest corner of the room, the lazy boy springs and hinges creaked as Richard unfolded the leg rest to get up. “You are not supposed to sit up on your own yet.  It might re-trigger  your bleeding.”

 

“I don’t really care!  I have lost my baby! And nothing matters anymore!” Maya shouted in a shrill voice. 

 

“Maya, you need to lie down again,”  Richard gently instructed as he approached Maya to  place his hands on her shoulders.

 

However, this seemed to further anger Maya  as she slapped his hands away.

 

“Huwag mo kong hawakan!”  Maya hissed  at him as Richard’s hands  lowered  to her upper arms in his attempt to lie her down the bed.

 

“Calm down, Maya—”

 

“Sabi kong bitiwan mo ko!!!” Maya yelled at the top of her lungs as she started beating his chest.  Each close-fisted punch conveying the pain that was tearing at her heart. And Richard just took all her punishing blows.

 

“Maya—”

 

“Hindi mo ba ko narinig? Ayaw kitang makita!!!” Maya was getting hysterical as she kept on hitting him.

 

“Maya, please!  You really need to lie down—!”  Richard was getting more worried for Maya was moving jerkily.  In frustration, he reached for the bell and pressed  for a nurse who came immediately.

 

“Sir?” asked a third voice from the door.

 

Distracted, Maya turned her head. “Please, paalisin mo siya!!!”  she half-pleaded and half-demanded from the uniformed nurse who was standing uncertainly by the door.

 

The nurse took the scene at a glance and  requested for Richard to leave.   Richard took a few steps from the bed but remained  in the room, beyond Maya’s line of vision.  With Maya’s agitation escalating, she was sedated again. Tears were still streaming down her cheeks when she felt the calmative effect of the drug course through her bloodstream once more.

 

“I-I am very sorry for what happened, Maya—” Richard whispered almost inaudibly.

 

Unfortunately, Maya heard the words.

 

“Umalis ka na. Ayaw na kitang makita…”  was her dull response while silent tears kept on flowing. 

 

“Maya—”

 

Then, sleep claimed her once more.

 

The next several days  went by slowly.  While Maya  was constantly in the company of her parents, siblings  or her grandmother, she was feeling restless. She was on edge, half-expecting Richard to arrive anytime. Digging her own nails into her palms, Maya clenched her fists at the memory of their last encounter.  Maya’s anger was boiling over.

 

However, ever since she found out about her ‘insufficient cervix’ condition,  she realised she can not entirely heap the blame on Richard’s head.  Dr. de Guzman had patiently explained that the condition was likely genetic as evidenced by her family history.  With such condition, it was said that when a woman gets pregnant, the cervix weakens, opens and expels the fetus. This occurs from the very early stages of pregnancy wherein  the fetus  will likely have no  chance for  survival.  Hence, a miscarriage occurs.  Dr. de Guzman offered that  the same may have happened to many of her paternal female relatives. 

 

Maya would have lost her baby regardless of what Richard did.

 

This was echoing in her head when Richard’s parents arrived.  Maya’s smile was strained while her mind was at loggerheads with herself. Part of her wanted to ask where Richard was while another part wanted nothing more to do with him.   Instead, they exchanged the usual pleasantries.

 

“Nag-usap na ba kayo ni Richard, Maya?”  Esmeralda Lim asked  when  Roberto Lim excused himself to leave the room to answer an overseas  phone call.

 

Maya shook her head wordlessly, unwilling to discuss the matter.

 

Esmeralda Lim sighed deeply.

 

“Look, Maya. I know you two were fighting before you were rushed to the hospital—-”

 

Maya’s eyes rounded as she refocused her attention back to the older woman.

 

“Sinabi niya sa inyo?” Maya asked incredulously.   Maya has not breathed a word to anyone what events transpired before she got rushed to the hospital. Maya could not believe that Richard actually owned up to what he did to her.

 

“Well, actually Ricky did not tell me much. He did not even tell me what you were fighting about.  But all relationships go through rough patches, Maya.”

 

Maya closed her eyes.  She thought it was best that she should not enlighten Esmeralda Lim what her son did.

 

“Richard told me that there won’t be a wedding anymore. Of course, with you being very sick and getting hospitalised, a postponement is understandable. But to cancel the wedding altogether—?” the older lady’s voice was questioning.

 

Silence stretched for several minutes. The older lady pulled another deep sigh.

 

“Maya, hindi mo na ba mahal si Richard?” Esmeralda Lim asked point blank. 

 

Maya asked herself that same question. In all honesty, she did not know how to answer the older lady.

 

“Maya—?”

 

“Tita Esme, naguguluhan po ako. Hindi ko na po alam…” she replied uncertainly while tears silently rolled down her cheeks.

 

“I see.”  Esmeralda Lim’s face went very serious. “Well, I know for a fact that my son loves you very much. He was beside himself when you became critically ill. He never left the ICU and stayed awake for days while you were in there.”

 

Maya bent her head as more tears fell.

 

“I know you are still grieving, Maya.  Believe me, I know how you feel.” The older lady reached out and covered Maya’s right hand with her slightly gnarled hands.

 

Maya looked up,  the unspoken question in her eyes.

“Yes, Maya.  I have lost a child as well.” Informed the older lady with sad eyes.  “I miscarried a baby girl when Richard was just about two years old. It was a very traumatic experience for me.”

 

“D-does  the pain ever go away?” Maya almost choked on the question.

 

“I can not speak for every mother, of course. But I have never really gotten over it.  The pain lessens through the years until it just becomes a dull ache. But  with each year, I acquired the maturity to consciously choose to be happy and to count my blessings.”

 

Count my blessings.

 

A simple enough task but difficult to do while grieving.  Esmeralda Lim recognised this and did not press Maya further.   Maya silently  cried herself to sleep hours after the older lady left. 

 

Days passed and Maya’s mood  became silently despondent. Her flatmate Emman has visited twice. Her fellow TA flight attendant Edzelyn and Capt James  Ventura  arrived one afternoon to deliver flowers from Time Airways  but  Maya could not even  muster a smile.  Even  when her nephew Luke  and nieces Nikki Grace and baby Abby  visited,  Maya  remained  a forlorn figure with a faraway look on her face. 

 

“Maya,  kumain ka muna,”  her Ate Celine, her  Kuya Ryan’s wife encouraged.

 

Silence.

 

“Nangayayat ka na ng  husto.  Baka hindi na magkasya ang wedding dress mo.”  

 

It does not matter anymore for there won’t be a wedding anyway.  

 

Maya was responding in her head but remained outwardly  incommunicative. Maya’s mood slightly altered when her Kuya Ryan arrived that afternoon. She was in the shower cubicle but could hear the muffled conversation beyond the door.

 

“Nay, asan si Maya?” asked Kuya Ryan.

 

“Nasa banyo naliligo.”

 

“Nagpunta  ho ba si Richard dito?”

 

“Hinde. Simula ng malipat dito sa private room ang kapatid mo, hindi ko na nakita si Richard.  Nag-away yata silang dalawa dahil umiiwas ang kapatid mo kapag si Richard na ang pinag-uusapan.”

 

“Malamang nga nag-away sila kung hindi nagagawi si Richard dito.”  Ryan mused almost to himself.

 

“Bakit?  Ano bang problema? At pwede bang maupo ka at nahihilo ako sa kalalakad mo.”  Nanay Teresita ordered her older child “Bakit ba hindi ka mapakali, Ryan?”

 

Maya turned off the shower so that she could better hear the conversation outside the door. She grabbed her towel to quickly dry herself. Rivulets of water were still streaming down from her hair as she pressed her ear against the wooden panel.

 

“Tumawag sakin si Tita Esmeralda kanina. Umiiyak sa pag-aalala. Halos dalawang linggo nang hindi nauwi sa kanila si Richard.   Hindi rin sumasagot sa phone. Ang buong akala namin dito siya naglalagi sa ospital—”

 

“Gaya ng sabi ko sayo, nandito si Richard nung unang lingo, nung nasa ICU si Maya pero nung naging maayos yung kalagayan niya, umuwi  na si Richard.” reiterated the older woman.

 

“Pero, Nay, hindi pa ho nauwi si Richard sa kanila. Hindi rin pumapasok sa opisina. Tumawag din ako kay Lino para tingnan kung nasa lumang bahay si Richard pero sabi daw ni Tata Igme  wala daw duon si Richard.”

 

“Naku, baka napaano na si Richard. Sana naman walang masamang nangyari sa batang yun,”  Nanay Teresita commented, worry in her voice. “Susubukan kong tawagan. Nagbilin kasi yun na tawagan siya kung magkakaproblema sa lagay ni Maya.”

 

Maya’s elbow accidentally nudged the bottle of lotion that was on the tiny vanity shelf. It clattered on the small ceramic basin  as she moved away from the door.  She sat down on the closed toilet seat to retrieve and replace  the bottle back on the vanity.

 

“Maya, anak? Anong nangyari?”  Nanay Teresita asked through the door.

 

“Wala ho, Nay. May natabig lang po ako.”  Maya replied.

 

“Sigurado ka anak? Baka kailangan mo ng tulong?”

 

“Hindi po, Nay. Okey lang po ako.”

 

What Maya  said may have been true physically but her emotional state was another matter.   Her feelings for Richard were ambiguous at the moment but the fact remained that she was getting worried.  She could not help but feel worried.

 

Where could Richard be?

 

That night, Maya had a different visitor.  She glided through the room and touched her hand. Maya languorously opened her eyes to look at a face that was very much her own. It was like looking at her own reflection in the mirror.  The lady had an ethereal quality about her as she moved with a very refined feminine grace. She was smiling serenely while her hand was beckoning for Maya to get up.

 

As if in a trance, Maya followed the lady whose centrally parted long hair went beyond her waist.  She was wearing a traditional kimona top and a long black and white full skirt that brushes the ground as the wearer walked. Maya smiled when she glimpsed that the lady was barefoot.

 

After awhile,  Maya looked around her and saw that she was on the private beach in front of the Spanish villa. Tiny grains of warm sand was squeezing between her toes. She frowned in confusion. How did she get back to San Nicholas?

 

Then, the lady turned to see if she was still following her. Despite her confusion, Maya crossed the distance between them.  She went through the door like she has done countless of times before. It was the same Spanish villa that she loved  yet it was not the same at all.  The shiny wooden floorboards were lighter in shade. Everything was gleaming like new. Even the furniture was different.

 

They were going through the hallway towards  the master suite. With each step, the sound of women wailing were getting louder.   There were a few people in the alcove. Maya could see a couple of women huddled together crying while trying to comfort one another. One was carrying a bundle in her arms.

 

The lady with her features  finally stopped just behind the man who was crouched down.  The profile that Maya saw was that of an elderly gentleman with a full beard, dressed in a grey suit. To get a better look,  Maya had to sidestep to avoid stepping on bottles. And there were countless of  bottles of  liquor   scattered around. Her nose crinkled as the place was reeking of alcohol.

 

Then she saw that the crouching man was actually trying to wake up an individual who was lying on the ground. Maya could not properly see the face of the sleeping man.  All she could see that he was wearing a pair of dark grey baggy pants  and a long sleeved white muslin shirt. And judging from the colour of his hand, the man lying motionless was very fair.

 

“Lo siento. Soy demasiado tarde,”  the elderly gentleman declared as he sighed deeply.

 

Lo siento. Soy demasiado tarde. I am sorry. I am too late.

 

Then the elderly gentleman straightened to remove his hat, a gesture indicating that he was paying his respects. Then it hit her. The man lying on the ground was dead.  And she was afraid to  look at his face, fearing it was someone she knew.  

 

In the background, the women’s wailing went louder, almost drowning the sound of a newborn baby’s very faint  mewling.  Distracted, Maya  looked up to see that the bundle in the woman’s arm was actually a  baby aged a few days at the most, judging from its tiny scrawny fist that escaped from its swaddling.

 

Involuntarily, her gaze returned to the man on the ground. Her gaze travelled over his length and then  stopped at the ruffled front of his muslin white shirt. Unhurriedly,  her gaze went over his unshaven jaw and hawkish  nose. Then finally, Maya saw his closed deep set eyes and Maya shuddered with  relief. It was the face of a stranger, yet his features were familiarly dear.  He was a very fair version of her paternal grandfather.  Maya was just a toddler when her paternal grandfather passed away but she still remembered his face each time she looked through the old family photo albums.

 

Then, right before her eyes, the features changed. Slowly the features morphed into another face.  Lips became thinner, nose acquired a finer straight bridge, his lids took on the epicanthic fold and his eyes became mere slits as they remained closed. His entire body remained motionless on the ground.

 

Maya’s breathing hitched. She almost doubled over in pain. Maya can clearly see Richard lying lifeless by her feet  but refused to accept what her senses were perceiving. Then she heard someone sobbing as the vision turned hazy.

 

Sea breeze drifted in through the rose bushes enclosing the alcove. It teased her long hair causing a lock of hair  to fall over her face. She brushed it aside and felt that her cheeks were wet.  Her chest shuddered and realised that the sobbing she heard was her own.

 

“Maya…”

 

Maya bit her lip to control her sobs.

 

“Maya…”

 

She felt someone tapping her cheeks and she frowned.

 

“Maya, gising anak,” her mother urged “binabangungot ka.”

 

Then she opened her eyes.  She was back in her private hospital room. And her Nanay Teresita was worriedly looking down at her. 

 

Maya gulped down her sobs as she sat up.  Her mother raised the upper portion of the bed so that Maya can comfortably lean back in a semi-sitting position. Nanay Teresita gave her a glass of water which she gratefully took. Maya felt much calmer as she gave the half-empty tumbler back to Nanay Teresita.

 

“Okey ka na ba, anak?”

 

Maya nodded. But she really wasn’t feeling right.

 

“Gusto mong pag-usapan natin yung panaginip mo?”

 

Maya shook her head. Nanay sighed but refrained from pressing her youngest daughter who was still reeling from the shocking vision. Remembering Richard lying deathly still on the ground was enough to let another  shiver run through her core.  It left her with a feeling of dread.

 

“Nay, dumaan na po ba si…”  Maya was unable to finish her question. She felt silly worrying about him because of a bad dream.

 

Nanay Teresita smiled understandingly at her daughter. In turn, Maya was turning pink with embarrassment.

 

“Hindi pa anak,” her mother replied “Gusto mo tawagan ko si Richard?”

 

Maya wanted to know whether Richard was fine but declined her mother’s offer. “Huwag na po.” 

 

“Sigurado ka?” her mother probed “Sinasagot niya ang tawag ko.”

 

Maya tried to avoid her mother’s observant gaze. She was not ready to answer questions. The important thing was that Richard was okey. 

 

“Maya, kahit hindi mo sabihin sakin, alam ko meron kayong problema ni Richard…”

 

“Nay—”

                                         

“Anak,  hindi ko alam kung ano ang pinag-awayan ninyong dalawa. Pero dapat mag-usap muna kayo ng maayos. Diba nga kahit kriminal binibigyan ng pagkakataon na i-depensa ang sarili nila sa husgado bago parusahan?”

 

Maya merely nodded her head, choosing not to speak at all.  She chose to let the matter be. Richard is a grown man. He should be able to take care of himself. Her bad dream was just that — a bad dream.

 

Later that same day, however, she could no longer  suppress her concern when Richard’s mother  called and spoke to Nanay Teresita.  Richard’s mother was beside herself with worry. Richard was still incommunicado. He was not answering his phone nor answering his emails.  Esmeralda Lim also said that Lisa, Richard’s secretary, was also  in a panic because there was a major accident at the tunnel site.  And the respective families of the affected employees were threatening  a class action against Lim Infrastructure Inc.  It was imperative that they get hold of Richard.

 

“Hayaan nyo po susubukan ko pong tawagan si Richard. Baka sakaling sagutin nya ulit yung tawag ko.” Nanay Teresita promised before ending the call.

 

Maya watched her mother ring Richard’s number but the call was no longer connecting.  Nanay Teresita tried for almost twenty minutes before finally giving up.  A worried frown was etched into the older lady’s features when she broached the subject with her youngest daughter.

 

“Naku, Maya” Nanay Teresita fretted “hindi na sinasagot ni Richard yung phone niya.”

 

The feeling of dread has been multiplying the last twenty minutes.  Each time her mother’s call failed to connect, the vision of Richard lying deathly still on the ground became more and more of a possibility. Maya hugged her middle in the effort to calm her nerves.

 

Richard must be alright!  For all they know, he could be in an exotic location where wireless communication was difficult.

 

What if he wasn’t?  What if he ends up like Senor La Rosa?  He was found lifeless on the ground, dead at the prime of his life…

 

Nooooooo!

 

Maya took a minute to normalise her breathing pattern. She looked up to check the time from the wall clock.  It was already mid-afternoon. She made a mental calculation  and finally made a decision.  She  sat up and took the cotton blanket off  to put on her slippers.  She got up and opened the bedside cabinet to bring out her bag of clothes. She was fishing out a pair of jeans when her mother questioned her movements.

 

“Anong balak mo, Maya?” 

 

“Hahanapin ko ho si Richard.” Maya needed to know that Richard was okey. Maya was unsure if she still loves him but she knows that she cares for him. She still cares a lot.

 

“Pero hindi ka pa discharged dito sa ospital. Di ba meron ka pang mga tests na naka-schedule bukas?”

 

“Pakitawagan po yung nurse. Magpapa-discharge na ako, Nay. Pwede naman po akong bumalik para sa mga tests.” Maya  replied  “kailangan na ho naming mag-usap ni Richard.”

 

“Mainam  naman,” her Nanay Teresita smiled at her daughter’s bent head “Sige kakausapin ko yung nurse mo.”

 

The nurse had to refer the matter to the duty medical officer who did not want to discharge Maya.  But Maya was insistent that she was feeling fine. In the end, Dr. de Guzman also had to be consulted in the process.  Maya was then released on the proviso that she returns as an outpatient the  next day for various tests. Nanay Teresita also found that they do not have any bill to settle  since Richard already made payments and left strict instructions that any outstanding bill will be sent to him.

 

When the doctor left her room,  Maya took her phone out to ring Lisa. She needed a big favour from Richard’s secretary. In any case, what she intends to do is in the interest of both Lim Infrastructure Inc and herself. Lisa needed to speak with her boss while Maya’s private conversation  with Richard was long overdue.

 

Despite not liking helicopter rides, she needed the quick transport this time. Still, her nerves were thoroughly rattled by the time she reached San Nicholas.  Her mother was insisting to accompany her but Maya adamantly refused. She really needed to do this alone.

 

When they touched down on the expansive green lawn of the Spanish villa, it was almost twilight with the horizon taking on orange and purple hues.  Maya thanked Capt. Lem profusely before disboarding.  She waited for the helicopter to lift-off before turning her attention to the villa.  There were  no visible movements inside. And everything was in darkness.

 

Maya went round the house to check the beachfront side. There was no one about. It certainly looked as if no one was home.

 

“He must be here…” Maya said to herself.

 

Walking up the steps, Maya crossed the veranda to try the lever-type door handle of the front engraved wooden door. It was locked. She went back to the side  to see if she can have access through the kitchen door.  The door was closed but when she tried the door knob, it readily turned and opened the heavy panel door.

 

Maya stepped inside and waited a minute before her pupils adjusted to the darkness inside. Her hand groped along the walls until she found the light switch. It illuminated the kitchen area and the family room. No one was about.

 

As she went through, she opened wall lights on the hallway.  She saw that all renovations have finished.  The family room was carpeted with a gleaming new billiard table and a plush L-shaped couch already installed.   Even the dining room had a 10-seater glass-topped oval mahogany dining table with hand-carved chairs.  Her fingers traced the entwined roses detail  on the back rest.  It was the perfect match for the mural wall of the room. Maya peered into the huge ballroom and saw that except for the gleaming baby grand piano in one corner, it was empty.  The same was the case of the three bedrooms  that remained unfurnished.

 

Maya knows she was just delaying the moment as she took her time noting all the changes since she last visited.   Maya sighed as she walked towards the master suite of rooms.  The sun has properly set as she went through the villa so everything was in darkness when she finally reached the sitting room. She flicked the lights on. Richard was nowhere in sight.  She crossed  the sitting room to search his bedroom. His bed was in disarray but the room was likewise empty.  For good measure, she checked the ensuite bathroom which was also unoccupied.

 

Maya sighed as she sat on the four-poster bed.  She was so sure he was here. It seems she was mistaken. 

 

Where could Richard be?

 

After a few minutes, Maya got up and left the master suite.  She went out of the house again and was making her way back to her parents’ house when she decided to retrace her steps and check the carport.  She wanted to check if the Land Cruiser was where it was normally parked. If it wasn’t, then Richard may have gone out.

 

The Land Cruiser was there. And right beside it was Richard’s navy blue BMW!

 

So, she was right! Richard has been holed-up  in the Spanish villa. He must have taken his car on the RORO or the roll-on/roll-off ferry.  And judging from the film of dust on the navy blue paintwork, it has been parked there for several days.

 

Richard must be inside the house.  But she has searched every room.

 

Except for the alcove. You never checked the alcove for some reason. Afraid?

 

Petrified!  Maya was scared of what she would find there.

 

With a feeling of impending doom, Maya slowly retraced her steps back into the house. She crossed the sitting room to open the bi-fold doors. As she stepped on the cobbled pavement, Maya’s foot nudged a bottle of alcohol. With a feeling of déjà vu, she picked it up and saw that it was a bottle of Scotch. She picked up another and then another. 

 

Then, she caught a glimpse of Richard lying motionless on the ground. Maya froze in dread. She waited for him to move but he didn’t. With her breathing uneven, she placed the bottles against the wall. Then, her unsteady hand searched  the wall nearest the bi-fold doors until she found  the switch of  the spotlights.

 

“Arrgggh!  Shit! Turn off the bloody lights!” Richard moaned from the ground. 

 

Maya closed her eyes as she released a shaky breath of relief  that her bad dream did not become reality.  She never thought she would gladly hear him yell profanity. But in this rare instance, she did.

 

Maya saw that Richard was actually lying by the foot of the statue. He was wearing black jeans with a half-buttoned shirt. And he had crossed his arm across his eyes to protect himself from the spotlight’s glare.  He also had  a beige-coloured cloth  spread over his face to cover  his eyes.

 

Now that Maya has found him. She was unsure what to do next. For several minutes, she just stood there looking down at him. Slowly, Maya went down to kneel beside him and got a good whiff of alcohol mixed with sweat.  Her hand shook his shoulder tentatively.

 

“Richard, get up!”

 

When he wouldn’t budge, she pried the beige cloth off his face. It took a couple of tugs  for he was clutching it between his fingers.  Maya frowned for the beige cloth had a little white bow that looked very familiar. She held it up to unfold it. It was her beige singlet,   the same piece of clothing she could not find the last time she was at the villa!  He must have found it in his bedroom.

 

And Richard had been grasping it. He even had it spread across his face. The significance of his actions tugged at her heartstrings. Maya dampened down the feeling and shook him again by the shoulders. Harder this time.

 

Then, Richard opened his blood shot eyes and looked up at her. Groaning, he shut his eyes once more. “Not again! Can you not leave me alone?”

 

Well, that was not exactly a warm reception! 

 

With firm resolve, Maya leaned over again and strongly shook his arm with both her hands. Richard groaned but captured one hand that was shaking him. He took the beige singlet off her hand and looked up at her. His arm reached out and slowly touched her face.

 

“You are really here…” he said in wonder.

 

“Uhmmmnn” Maya confirmed  while she quickly straightened to put some distance between the two of them. To say that she was ill-at-ease was putting it mildly.

 

Richard slowly shook his head as if to clear it.  He continued to stare at her, following her movements with his bleary eyes. Richard slowly sat up while Maya stood up to collect more alcohol bottles to avoid tripping over them. She was already regretting coming over to find him. She was unsure if she was ready for this post mortem.

 

“Siguro dapat maligo ka muna. Magluluto lang ako ng makakain.” Maya went towards the sitting room but had to look back to see Richard remaining sitting on the ground staring at her with a dazed look on his face. “Richard?”

 

As response, he just continued to stare at her.  This made Maya very uncomfortable, making her  shift her weight from one foot to another.

 

“Richard?” she prompted again.

 

“Yeah, I will. Just give me a second. Everything’s spinning.”

 

Maya heard him stifle a groan of pain as she turned her back to walk towards the hallway. She reckoned  he must have a monster of a headache with all the amount of alcohol he has been imbibing. Serves him right, she thought unsympathetically. 

 

Maya retraced her steps back to the kitchen area where she looked into the pantry. There were frozen meat in the freezer but she was hoping to cook something fast like scrambled eggs.  There weren’t any. There was also no bread either.

 

In the end, she decided to fetch some supplies from her parent’s house.  Thinking that Richard was still in the shower, she left the villa without letting him know.  She should be back before he even becomes aware that she had been gone.

 

At her parents’ home,   Kute was very surprised to see her back in San Nicholas.  She quickly explained  the situation before going into the kitchen. There was pork adobo and rice kept warm in the rice cooker. She decided that taking cooked  food would be a much faster option instead of cooking from scratch.  Her sister offered to walk her back to the villa but she declined, needing the quiet time to gather her chaotic thoughts.

 

Maya admitted to herself that she was very much troubled by how Richard looked. He looked very pale and thin. He was obviously neglecting himself.

 

When she got back to the villa, she set the plates and cutlery on the breakfast bar.  She heated up the pork adobo in the microwave and set off to fetch Richard from the bedroom.

 

Maya peered  into the sitting room and heard sounds from the alcove. 

 

Damn Richard for being difficult!  She has been gone awhile and he still did not make a move. She crossed the distance and  would have told off Richard for not taking a shower  but she saw that he was no longer on the ground.  She also noticed that Richard’s hair was damp and was wearing a  different shirt and pair of slacks. He was sitting on the round daybed with his bent head in his hands. His shoulders were shaking and he was  sobbing!

 

Maya was rooted at the spot for this was a sight she never envisaged to see. And Maya’s heart went out to him.  She quickly went to his side and her arms went round his very thin frame. Maya was now very sure of one thing.  Despite everything that has happened, Maya still cares very deeply for Richard.

 

“Richard, what’s wrong?”

 

to be continued…

Heart’s True Desire – part 18

This is a continuation to Heart’s True Desire – part 17

Heart’s True Desire – 18
Green Monsters

Sunday morning was cloudy and chilly. It was as if the climate was foreboding what was to happen in Richard and Maya’s blossoming relationship. Neither one sensed that rough patches were forthcoming.

That morning, the couple sat together in their dining table having breakfast in silence. It was a silence that was more typical of people comfortable with each other. There was no awkwardness between them.

Maya secretly peered at Richard while he was reading the morning paper. She was appreciating the good looks of her husband. She smiled as she thought of him as her husband.

After the previous week’s concerted efforts of Richard including the impromptu singing at the restaurant, Maya’s wall of defense came crumbling down. . Having spent a few months with him, she was seeing him a different light.

Richard placed the paper down and turned to Maya as if he remembered something.

“Hon, tumawag pala si Arnold, last night. You remember him, he’s my friend from college. It’s about the medical mission and fund drive for Leyte. He’s organizing a dinner get-together this Friday. Punta tayo.” Richard invited her.

“Huh? This coming Friday?” She clarified. Her thoughts about the man in front of him prevented her to immediately connect to his invitation.

“Yes, why?” He was curious.

“Naku, I have a conflict in my schedule. I agreed kay Emman to accompany him sa isang fashion event niya, eh.” She explained.

“Ahh, really?” He sipped the coffee that she prepared for him. “Hmm, okay, if you are not available, I’ll go alone. So, where are the two of you going? Do you want me to drop you or fetch you from the venue?” He further offered.

“There’s no need. I can drive myself to the place. D’yan lang naman sa SMX Convention center. I’ll be able to manage.” She declined his offer.

He continued with their conversation. “Sayang, I think there is a big group coming to that dinner. I think it will be like a reunion with college friends. Sa bahay niya gagawin.”

“Maybe next time na lang. Okay? At saka, tuloy pala ako sa Gen San this Tuesday. I’ll be there for 2 days lang to do operations audit. Sabi ni dad, we need to consolidate the report soon. He wants to review it before he leaves for China.” She shared her plans for the week.

“This week na ba yang Gen San? I thought next week pa. I planned on joining you in that trip.” Richard informed her. Then, he got his mobile phone from the mobile counter and checked his calendar. He was looking at it seriously and then began to dial a number.

“Lisa, good morning. Is my calendar updated? I’m looking at it right now.” He waited for the response from his secretary. “Ahh, okay… no, no don’t cancel that. I need to meet Rafi for the La Esperanza marketing…Yeah…. Thanks.” Richard sighed after he ended the call.

“Ano yun Ricky?” Maya barely understood his conversation with his secretary.

“Sorry, hon. I can’t travel with you this week. I’m expecting a friend, who is also our consultant, to help review some marketing plans for the revival of La Esperanza.” He explained to her.

Maya became excited. “So what is it? Pwede mong e-share?”

Richard eyed her carefully noticing her excitement with the mention of La Esperanza’s revival. Suddenly, he was hesitant to pursue his business plans. “Uhmm, I’ll let you know once the plan is clearer, okay?”

~*~

Monday

“Hon, I’ll have business lunch today and then attend directly a meeting with the hotel association in the afternoon. I might be late coming back to the office.” Richard informed Maya while they were on their way to the office.

Maya just looked at him quizzically but there was a smile on her lips. “Ehhh, nagpapa-alam ka ba?”

He grinned. “Not really, I just thought that you might wonder where I am. At saka baka ma-inip ka sa paghihintay sa driver mo.” He jested. He was referring to himself as the driver. For almost two weeks already, they’ve been going to the office together using his car.

“I can always take a taxi pag na-inip ako.” She quipped. Then, her mobile phone rang. When she saw whose number was flashing, she turned serious.

“Hello.” She answered the call on its third ring.

“How are you?” Maya said and then she listened to the caller. “Ahhh, yeah sure. I am available. ….. Yes but I don’t have a car today… So…O sige, I’ll meet you here then. Yes, sa Serendipity side….. Yes…See you later, JV.” She ended the call with a smile plastered on her face. She didn’t see that Richard glanced at her when she mentioned the name JV.

“Hon, who was that?” Richard asked although he had a suspicion tha the caller was James. He doesn’t like it when she smiles for him and he saw it again a few seconds ago. He pretended he wasn’t interested in her phone conversation moments ago but in reality he was listening.

“Si James… nag-invite ng lunch today. Susunduin na lang niya ako sa side entrance ng hotel.” She shared. It’s been over three months since she had lunch out with James and admittedly; she was excited about his invitation.

“So, you and James are really close friends? How about Arlene, are you friends with his wife?” Richard asked her after he glanced at her again.

“Yes. I am closer to James than Arlene.” She replied. After Richard’s somber facial expression, an unfamiliar feeling came over her. She felt uneasy telling him that she and James were close friends. It was as if she needed to defend their friendship.

Richard didn’t say anything anymore. He chose to keep quiet while he tried to understand his own emotion. Somehow, it affected his mood knowing that Maya was going out for lunch with James.

~*~

By four thirty, Richard was back from his meeting and he immediately went to Maya’s office. He was surprised that she wasn’t there and he was more surprised with what he found out.

“Sir, si Ms. Maya po?” Mica asked.

“Yes, Mica, where is your boss?” He repeated his question. He was standing in front of Maya’s secretary who was beaming at him.

“Kanina po, sinundo noong si Sir James? Tapos po, around 3:00 p.m., tumawag sinabing a-attend daw po sila ng symposium ng Yolanda victims.” Maya’s assistant gave the details.

Richard expression became serious after realizing that Maya was still out with James. Then, he got curious. So in a subtle way, he probed more. “Hmm, by the way, how did you meet James?”

Mica giggled before she responded. “Hi,hi,hi, Sir. Pumunta po siya dito sa office. Ayan nga po, may dala pang flowers for Ms. Maya. Yun po siguro ang boyfriend ni ma’m, kasi everyday kung magpadala ng flowers with chocolates pa.”

It was only then Richard noticed the basket of assorted flowers on Maya’s table. Richard’s ears turned red as pangs of jealousy bit him. The tiny stabs on his chest were quite new to him and so without saying goodbye to Mica, he left the room.

Later that evening, Richard found himself in a bar taking an alcoholic drink. He was trying to manage his emotion. He knew he shouldn’t be upset but the thought of Maya with James produced that effect on him. He needed to calm himself.

Then, he read again her short text message to him earlier. She told him she will go home by herself and that she will be late because she will have dinner out after the symposium she was attending. What was adding to his upset was that, Maya seemed to have just changed her plans that afternoon after James called her up.

~*~

Thursday

After two days of being out of town, Maya was back in Manila. Instead of going home directly, she decided to report to the office. Her flight arrived Manila at mid-day. She looked forward to seeing Richard.

On the two days she was away, they still managed to have a phone conversation every morning. However, those conversations were short and very business focused.

He sounded distant and emotionless and that actually started since Monday night. He gave her a cold shoulder that night when she arrived home. So, she wondered if something was bothering him.

Back at the office, she was told that Richard was at Serendipity, one of their restaurants, entertaining a guest. Thinking that it was okay for her to join him, she decided to follow him there.

The moment Maya set her foot inside the restaurant, their eyes met and locked. He motioned for her to come over. She noticed that he was with a female guest. She couldn’t see the latter because her back was turned against the entrance. She walked towards them.

“Hi Maya. I thought you’d go straight home after your trip.” He was smiling at her as he pulled a chair for her.

“Ahh, I decided to come over. I have a lot of work to do.” Maya sat on the chair and it was then she had a face-to-face view of the female guest he was with. Maya’s smile slowly faded.

“Uhmmm, Rafi, please meet Maya dela Rosa, our group operations manager.” Richard introduced the two women. “Maya, this is Rafi Alcantara, my friend.”

Maya eyed Rafi carefully. The latter had a lovely face and being introduced as his friend, she wondered if there was more to their friendship. The two looked good together, she observed. She couldn’t help but think that there might be more than friendship between the two.

“It’s good to meet you Maya.” Rafi extended her hand. Her tone was charming and her smile disarming.

“Thank you. It’s also nice to meet you too, Rafi. Anyway, I think I disturbed you. I’ll have to return to my office. Nag rounds lang naman ako.” She suddenly felt awkward joining them in their table. Maya stood up and readied to leave to them.

She half-expected that Richard would ask her to stay but he didn’t. Instead, he allowed her to go. “Alright, I’ll see you later Maya.”

As Maya turned and walked away, she was uneasy. She realized she was jealous of Rafi. This is the same familiar feeling she had years ago whenever she saw him with other girls. It was also the same feeling she felt when James told her that he was getting married three years ago. She hated the feeling. So, she decided to just go home.

~*~

Friday

The following day, it was Maya was quiet over the breakfast table. She prepared breakfast that morning although she didn’t intend to go to the office that day.

“You’re not going to the office?” He asked seeing she wasn’t dressed for office work.

“No. I’ll just work from here. Half-day lang naman since I’m going to Emman’s event today.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to come to the dinner get-together at Arnold’s place? A lot of our friends will be there.” Richard asked as Maya started to leave the table.

“Nope. Next time na lang.” She went back to her room.

~*~
The cocktails drinks were being served as Richard’s college friends were in a merriment talking to each other. After almost 8 years, it was like a reunion that of their batch-club that night. There were 40 of them batch mates and some of them brought their spouses and partners with them. Since Richard and Maya had common friends, some of Maya’s friends were also there.

Richard was alone since Maya went to another event with Emman. Despite that, he was enjoying the night. Then, suddenly, an arm clung to his arm as he was walking towards a group on the left side of the pool area.

“Hi Ricky, it’s been sometime.” A sexy figure moved close to Richard.

When Richard turned, he smiled. “Hi Stephanie. Kumusta?” He asked after the lady kissed him on the cheek.

“Well, I am good. I am still single. Ikaw kasi eh. Why did you leave me in the States?” Stephanie flirted openly with him.

Richard just chuckled. “Steph… You know there’s no future for us.” He was going to step away from her but Steph held on to him.

“Hmmm, well, we always say that don’t we?” Stephanie purred closer to him.

“I’m already married Steph.” Richard declared as he tried to disengage from her.

Steph just laughed. “Ricky, don’t try that married trick to me. I know you’ve used it in the past to keep away girls. Anyway, let’s mingle around.” She steered him towards left side of the pool area.

Richard then looked around to find his other friend, Rafi. She and Stephanie are close friends. “Steph, have you seen Rafi? She should be around here with her husband.”

“I believe they are coming in late. She told me Charlie still has a meeting before this event.” She responded. Richard and Steph then joined the conversation of the first group they saw.

The way Steph clung on Richard’s arm would lead an onlooker to think that they must be in a relationship. Without embarrassing Steph, Richard tried to put a little distance between them. Unfortunately for him, he was unaware that Maya was in the party. Maya saw him with Stephanie.

~*~

Emman and Maya planned to attend the designers’ dinner party that night. However, their plan got modified with James’s surprise arrival at the fashion event. He also extended the invitation to the two to join him at their batch’s get-together party. He thought it would be a good idea to reconnect with their common friends. It was the same reunion party where Richard was that evening.

After almost thirty minutes of convincing, Maya and Emman relented to come along with him to the reunion. They intended to just drop by and then later proceed to Emman’s party. It was compromise that the three of them agreed to.

And so, Maya anticipated to see Richard at the party. She knew he would be surprised to see her there. However, she didn’t expect that she too would be surprised.

Maya’s eyes narrowed with jealousy the moment she saw Richard with a woman whose arm clung to his. They looked like they were flirting with each other. She has not yet recovered from her previous day’s jealousy with Rafi and now, she was seeing him with another woman. She wondered if he was really like that when they were not together.

Maya was teary eyed as she shifted her gaze in another direction. James noticed the change in her mood and her watery eyes.

“Beb, are you okay?” James asked Maya as he touched her shoulder. Emman was still in the parking lot attending to a call. So, it was only James and Maya who entered the host’s house. They were in the lanai leading towards the pool area.

Maya tried to hide the sadness in her eyes but it was obvious that tears were welling up in her eyes. “I’m okay James. Parang na-overwhelm lang ako sa pagpasok natin dito.” She lied.

James took out his handkerchief and dabbed her tears with it. “Ha,ha,. Iyakin ka talaga.” He then guided her towards a group on the right side of the pool area.

~*~

Richard thought he saw a familiar figure at the lanai with James Ventura while his eyes searched for Rafi. James was slightly covering the woman whom he thought was Maya. And when James moved as he took out something from his pocket, Richard recognized Maya. She was with James. Then, he saw that tender moment when James dab a handkerchief on her eyes and she smiled at him.

The pang’s of jealousy bit him again. This time, it was sharper, more painful. He decided to approach them.

~*~

“Maya!” Richard called her from behind. Her heart jumped upon hearing his voice.
She turned around and responded dryly. “Ricky.”

“Hello James.” He acknowledged James beside Maya but then focused his attention to her. “I thought you’d be in Emman’s party.” He looked serious as if angry.

“Richard, pare.” It was James who answered. “We’re just dropping by to say hello to everyone.”

“Really?” Richard tone was full of sarcasm. “Excuse us, James.” He pulled Maya aside.

“So, looks like his invitation has more weight than mine.” A tone of resentment was evident in his voice.

Maya stared at his squarely and with a cold tone remarked. “Not really. Pero, meron ka na rin namang kasama eh. So, it didn’t really matter that I declined your invitation.”

He moved close to her so he could whisper in her ear. “I don’t’ know what’s between the two of you but I’m starting to get jealous.”

She smirked and with sarcasm, replied. ‘Yeah I’m sure you are.” She saw Stephanie was already approaching them. “Your date is coming over Mr. Lim. As for me, don’t worry. As far as I know, I am still married.”

Maya walked out on Richard and joined James in the table.

~ End of Flashback~

A/N: Please read Chapter 1 and half of Chapter 2 to connect to present time.

Chances 8

This is a continuation of Chances 7

Author : christine24m

CHAPTER 8

The next day, Richard woke up early. He intends to go to the firm earlier than he does to fill his work yesterday since he was absent. He prepared a simple breakfast, leaving some for Maya. A familiar smile flew on his face as he remembered what they shared last night. It was not the first time that he held hands with a woman but it all felt different when he held hers. He can even feel his hand tingling like he was still holding her hand. Everything was new. He didn’t like the thought of change but this time, he’s willing to make an exception.

Before leaving, he couldn’t resist the urge to check on Maya. He was fighting it so hard but he gave in, knowing he couldn’t really win. He carefully opened the door of her room, shutting it gently to avoid the doors’ creaking sound. Maya was curled up on the edge of her bed, making her look so small on the bed she was sleeping on. He slowly sat on the edge and brushed the hair that got in the way of her face.

He suddenly remembered how she admired the camera she saw at the mall. And when she told him that it’s calling her, Richard had a hunch that she might be a photographer, or something like that. He also experienced that when he was young. Even up to now, he can still feel that he needs to draw whenever he sees paper. It’s also one of the reasons why he took architecture.

Richard left his unit with a smile on his face. It was way too early to be working but he needs to so that he could leave early. He forgot something to buy at the mall.

 

Maya woke up an hour after Richard left. She was feeling so much better than yesterday. Jumping was never in her to-do list last night yet she accidentally did it. She made a mental note that she needs to tell Richard about it.

Richard.

A huge smile automatically crept on her face. She started squealing again when Richard’s face flew to her mind. Would it be possible to be so happy even if you just woke up? If people would find it absurd, Maya will be a living testimony of it. She hadn’t even seen Richard today yet her heart is already filled with gladness.

She excitedly got up from her bed and walked outside. Her eyes immediately searched for that man who makes her heart thump fast. As she continued to linger around, she realizes that Richard already left. The breakfast he left on the table proves it. Although she was touched that he left some leftovers for her, she felt a little bit disappointed that she didn’t even see him leave.

Maya ate her breakfast with a heavy heart and returned inside her room to take a bath. It was then when she noticed that a paper was on her bedside table with something on top of it.

When she sat on the edge of her bed, she saw that a phone was on top of the paper. She put it aside to pick up the paper. She immediately smiled when she saw the name at the end of the note.

Maya,

I’ll be leaving early. I’ll be back a little late. Stay safe.

Richard

P.S. You can use this old phone of mine. My number is already in there.

Maya swooned as she held the letter close to her heart. She reached for the phone and checked the contacts. Richard’s name was the first name that popped out. She decided to send him a message to let him know that she got the phone.

 

Richard’s phone beeped as he was checking the house plan at his project in Alabang. They were a little behind schedule and he was just waiting for some of the constructors to give them a piece of his mind. He pulled out his phone from his pocket and looked at the message.

 

Hi Richard! Dapat hindi mo na ako binigyan nito. Hindi naman necessary eh. Pero thank you! :D

 

A smirk flew on his face. He instantly knew that it was Maya. He knew his old phone would come in handy one day. He was planning to give it to Luke but when the kid saw that it was a little late model of the iPhone, he just said thanks and said that he wants the latest one like Richard has. Both Richard and their father disagreed to Luke’s idea and Roberto even said that he would only buy him one if he graduated high school and he’s the valedictorian.

 

It’s okay. I don’t use it anymore. You can keep it. Btw, how’s your leg?

 

He texted back. Almost instantly, his phone beeped again.

 

My leg’s fine! I was going to tell you about it. If possible, pwede mo bang papuntahin si Doc Jerry dito? Just to check on me.

 

After reading that, he immediately called Jerry to tell him about Maya’s leg. He gave him his address so that he could check on her since he can’t personally bring Maya there because of his site work. When he ended the call, he decided to call Maya.

“Good morning Richard!” Maya excitedly answered. Good thing that she’s not talking personally to Richard. If ever, he might’ve asked what’s wrong with her reddened cheeks.

“Hi Maya.” Richard greeted back. “I just called Jerry and he said that he’ll be there this afternoon. Binigay ko na yung address sa condo.”

Maya nodded. “Sige. Thank you!” She answered.

“Be careful, okay? Look through the peep hole before opening the door. Mahirap na. Dapat nag-iingat.” He cautiously said.

Maya instantly smiled by Richard’s advice. She was feeling too giddy that Richard was telling her to take care. “Yes boss. You don’t need to worry. Dito lang naman ako sa loob ng condo.”

“Okay. But I mean it, Maya. You’ll never know. Baka mamaya, may humahabol pala sa’yo kaya ka naaksidente.” He said. “What if you’re .. you’re wanted, or a killer o kaya drug dealer ka pala.” He teased.

“Oy grabe ka naman.” Maya reacted as she giggled. “Kung gano’n ako, eh bakit sabi ng mga pulis, nanakawan daw ako kaya wala akong na-retrieve na gamit.” She said.

Richard gave a soft laugh. “Alright, alright, you have a point there.”

“Saka hindi naman ako mukhang magnanakaw, o kaya murderer at lalong-lalo nang hindi ako drug dealer.” She continued to defend herself.

“Really? Hindi ka mukhang drug dealer?” He continued to tease and burst out laughing. “Richard naman eh!” Maya said on the other line but she was also laughing. “Sige na. Busy ka pa ata. Iniistorbo kita. Nasa firm ka ba?”

“No. I’m in Alabang. On-site visit ako.” He said. “Sige na. I’ll hang up so you can do your drug dealing stuff while I’m gone.” He continued with his tone full of amusement.

“Hindi nga ako drug dealer!” Maya defended trying to sound irritated but her laughter gave it away.

“Fine, fine. I’m sorry –“

“HA! You’re busted!!” Maya immediately said, almost shouting. “You said the ‘s’ word, Richard!” She said that made mouth gape. “Yan kasi, inaasar ako. Nakarma ka tuloy.”

“Damn it. Akala ko ikaw lang yung mabibiktima ko.” He said. “What’s your punishment then?”

Maya was thrilled when Richard asked her that. Her mind was screaming that she should ask him to take her out on a date or to hold her hand forever, but she held back at the last minute. If in some way, Richard doesn’t feel the same way she does and she punishes him with that, they would remain distant and awkward from each other because of it. “Hmm. Ewan ko. Pag-iisipan ko muna. Sasabihin ko na lang mamaya kapag nakauwi ka na.” She said, deciding to play safe.

Richard sighed. “Fine.” He scrunched his nose and said. “If I knew that this call would end up like this, I never would’ve called you.” He said.

“Richard, nasa huli ang pagsisisi. Ikaw kasi eh. Ang kulit mo.” Maya commented.

“Do you know na nagiging makulit lang ako kapag kasama kita? What are you doing to me Maya?” He asked.

Maya giggled. Her plan is finally in motion. “Can you just say thank you?” She said, using the words he said last night. “Sige na. Magtrabaho ka na. Bawal ang grumpy.”

“Fine, thank you. I’ll check up on you after Jerry visits you later. Bye Maya.” He said.

“Bye Richard.” Maya said with a smile on her face.

As if on cue, the constructors that Richard asked to go inside his office entered with nervous faces. Their heads were bowed down and they kept on fidgeting their hands as if his office was the most uncomfortable place on Earth. Richard was trying to find his rage but he just couldn’t find it, and he knew it was because of the phone call. It was because of Maya.

“S-Sir, sorry po. Ang .. ang dami po kasing tinrangkaso nung isang linggo, nagkulang po kami sa mga trabahador.” One stammered. His voice was soft and almost wobbly.

Richard just sighed. He was intending to scold them because of their slow work, and they knew that too since he already did that before. If he didn’t call Maya earlier, he would do that but he did and his anger seemed to just simmer down.

“I’m still expecting this project to be done at its deadline. Just do your the work faster this time but I’m still expecting quality.” He said, retaining his business tone. The constructors dared to look at him and was surprised to not see the anger he was expecting to see. “You can go now.” He said.

“Yun lang po Sir?” One asked.

“Yes.” Richard shortly answered. “Time’s ticking. Lumakad na kayo.”

The constructors nodded with smiles on their faces and thanked him before they quickly went outside. Richard knew it was because they were not scolded. Well, they should really thank Maya for giving their boss a light mood.

 

 

“Your leg is healed now. Kahit marikot pa siya ng konti kapag nilagyan ng pressure, hindi na siya katulad dati na kailangan mo pa ng alalay para maglakad.” Jerry said as he sat on the couch, opposite of Maya. “I guess Richard does help you.” Maya smiled politely and nodded at the doctor.

Jerry scribbled some more notes on the file he brought and when he’s done, he closed it and lifted his head to look at Maya. “So, kumusta naman ang pagtira mo dito?”

“Ayos naman po. Maliit lang naman po itong condo ni Richard kumpara sa mga bahay kaya parang naging advantage na rin po siya sa lagay ko.” She answered.

The doctor nodded. “Bakit nga pala sa condo nakatira ‘tong si Richard? I searched for his works on the internet and they are all good. Wala ba siyang bahay?”

Maya smiled apologetically. “Tinanong ko na rin po siya tungkol dyan eh. He didn’t give me an answer.”

Jerry nodded. “How are you? Alam mo bang tinatanong ka parati ni Gina sa’kin? Akala niya siguro araw-araw akong napunta dito.”

Maya giggled. “Can I ask for her number po? Ako na lang po ang bahalang magtext sa kanya.”

“You bought a phone?” Jerry asked as he pulled out his phone and handed it to Maya. “Hindi po. Lumang phone ni Richard. Gamitin ko raw po muna.” Maya answered as she punched in Gina’s number.

“Hmm. I can smell something going on between you two.” Jerry commented. Maya handed his phone back with her cheeks blushing. “See? You’re blushing, Maya.”

“Naku, doc. Wala po ‘to.” Maya defended. “Rosy cheeks po ata talaga ako.”

“I doubt it. Your smile is different.” Jerry said making her to blush more. “For once in my life, I think I would like to believe what my wife says.”

“Na ano po?” Maya dared to ask.

“That the two are you are meant for each other. Lahat daw kasi ng nangyayari sa inyong dalawa, nasa favour niyo, walang nasalungat. It’s not that I don’t believe my wife. Well, at first, yes. I find it impossible but when Richard asked me if you could stay with him, I had a feeling that Gina’s right.” He said truthfully. “So, do you like him?”

Although Maya was blushing like crazy, she still shrugged. “It’s too early to tell. I don’t even know if he feels the same.”

Jerry smiled at her. “Maybe talking to Gina will help. Anyway, I should go. May rounds pa ako. I’ll text Richard to inform him that I’ve been here.”

Maya walked Jerry to the door and said her thanks before he completely leave. Her mind was clouded with what the doctor said. Is she and Richard really for each other? And would the odds continue to be in their favour? She sighed as she sat on the couch again.

I guess I just have to find out.

 

As Richard parked his car outside the mall, his phone beeped. It was a text from Jerry saying that he just finished visiting Maya in his condo. He also informed him that her leg is doing okay. Richard felt relief on his part. He was worried about Maya after she felt pain when she jumped. He went out his car and went inside the mall to buy a present. Just as he was about to enter the shop, his phone rang.

“Liza?” Richard said.

“Ah Sir, good afternoon po.” His secretary said. “Sir, itatanong ko lang po kung pwede po akong umabsent bukas.”

“Uhm, sure. Why?” He asked.

“Na-confined po yung tatay ko. Uuwi po sana ako sa probinsya. Nasabi ko na po kay Sir James pero ang sabi po niya, sabihin ko na rin po sa inyo.” Liza replied.

“It’s okay Liza. Just inform me when you will be back. Take care.” Richard said.

Liza was taken aback when Richard said his last sentence. It was way out of his character to say those words. “Thank you po Sir. I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Liza managed to say and then she hung up.

After talking to Liza, Richard went inside the store and bought the present he’s willing to buy. It wasn’t what Maya was looking at but this will do for now. After buying, he went back to his car and drove home.

 

Maya was busy cooking dinner when she heard the sound of the front door creaking. She quickly head towards the living room to welcome Richard. Sure enough, he was there.

“Hi Richard!” Maya greeted with a smile.

“Hi.” Richard greeted back. “Well someone’s in a good mood.”

“Ha? Eh kasi ..” Kasi nakita na kita. Kanina pa kaya kitang umaga sabik na makita. “ ..kasi okay na yung leg ko! Hindi na siya broken.” She said instead. “Gutom ka na ba? Nagluto ako.”

Richard nodded. “Baka may droga yan.” He teased and then he started laughing. “Wala no! Promise!” Maya replied as she laughed with him. “Ay teka! May utang ka pa sa’kin. Yung punishment mo pa.”

“Right, right. I thought you completely forgot about that.” Richard said. Maya shook her head frantically. “Well, you’re mistaken, Mr. Lim.”

“Fine. Ano pong ipag-uutos niyo?” Richard asked her, sounding like he was addressing a queen.

Maya giggled. “Since my leg is finally okay, isasama mo ako bukas sa firm mo. Nakakasawa na dito sa condo eh.”

“You really want to?” Richard asked. “Mas nakakabore dun.” Maya nodded. “Yes please.”

Richard nodded. “Okay. Pero wala nang bawian yan. I need a secretary. My secretary will be absent tomorrow. Uuwi raw sa probinsya.”

“Edi ako muna ang secretary mo.” Maya said. “Tara na, maghahain na ko.” She turned to leave but Richard caught her hand in his. “Wait.” He said.

They both looked down at their hands together and the both of them immediately smiled. Maya was about to let go of his hold but Richard just held it tighter. “I have something for you.” He said as he tugged her hand to let her sit on the couch. When they were settled there, Richard reached for the blue box he bought earlier and gave it to Maya. “For you. It’s my pre-birthday present.” Maya was about to say something but Richard beat her to it. “Just open it and say thank you.”

Maya nodded and started opening her gift. Her face lit up with her smile as she saw the box of Richard’s present. It was an instant-camera, like the Polaroid brand used to have. Maya instantly squealed and her arms flew to Richard’s neck, hugging him tight. “Thank you thank you thank you!” She kept saying.

Maya was about to pull back when she realized that she hugged Richard again when she felt his arms on her waist as he hugged her back. “You’re very much welcome, Maya.” He said near her ear. Maya almost melted out of what she was feeling inside and when she felt that Richard kissed her head, she felt like what Jerry was saying is really true.

 

..

thoughts? :)