Admin Note: *Contributed Story* Please give credit and thanks to Weng. This is a continuation to So Much for a Happy Ending – part2.
A/N:Hello, ako’y nagbabalik! Thank you muli sa lahat ng mga nakabasa at sa mga nag-komento sa aking unang katha bilang panatiko ng “Be Careful With My Heart.” May kahabaan itong Part 3, please bear with me. Maligayang pagbabasa.🙂 Thank you, Excess Baggage!
Weng (a.k.a. Maya dela Wenggay)
Maya, Luke, and Abby painted a happy picture: Sharing hearty laughs over scoops of ice cream and milk shakes at a dessert shop. Any outsider would probably classify it as a sweet mother-children bonding.
But if there’s someone in that picture that wears the happiest smile, it’s Abby. Knowing that her father, and now, Kuya Luke, love her Ate Maya, too, boosted her innocent, optimistic conviction that her little complete family sketch is bound to come true.
Their conversation flew naturally: From Luke’s excitement over starting college to Abby’s thrill over her first day at a regular school, and even Maya’s hilarious stories during her flights. Doris and Joma, of course, would not be left behind with their punch lines and naughty banters.
Richard gazed at this picture for some minutes, standing at a distance, breathless at the sight. Hearing Maya’s laughter, watching her make funny expressions and gestures, were antidotes to his weary, yearning heart.
“Want to have another round of ice cream? My treat!” he announced as he butted in, surprising everyone. They welcomed him in the mini-feast; however, Maya turned expectedly silent. Her heart was like a race car running in nitro speed.
“Hi Maya,” Richard greeted her with a huge grin that couldn’t contain his happiness.
“Ah, hello, hello Ser Chief… Hindi ko alam… na darating ka pala,” she stuttered as she looked at him while Abby and Luke exchanged teasing glances.
“Sige Dad, mago-order na po kami! Kami na ang bahala sa order niyo ni Ate Maya!” said Luke.
“Yes Daddy I will help Kuya order,” Abby volunteered.
“Ah Sir Richard, samahan ko na po sila,” added Doris.
“Sir, CR lang po ako saglit,” said Joma.
Just as how Richard wanted it, he was left alone in the table with his beloved Maya.
After a slightly tensed exchange of how-do-you-dos, Richard handed Maya the paper bag he was holding.
“Ah, ano ‘to, Ser Chief?” Classic Maya. He knew she would ask first before actually checking it out.
“Open it,” he sweetly said.
It was a sleeping pillow filled with I love yous.
“Para sa’n ‘to Ser Chief?” Here she goes again, making me feel like I’m in a thesis defense, he amusingly thought.
“So that even when you’re sleeping, you won’t forget how much I love you.”
Maya tried to conceal her smile but to no avail – Richard caught it. He softly held her hands.
“We can still make us work, Maya… Abby is happy for us, and so is Luke… It’s only a matter of time before Nikki opens up her eyes about our situation. I miss you so much, and I can’t afford to miss a life of forever with you…”
She tore up hearing his words. She couldn’t deny it, this man really loves her, and would rather go against the tide with her than without her. A wider smile curved in her lips.
“So, is that a yes?” Richard teased.
“Hmmph, wala ka pa ngang tinatanong Ser Chief eh!” she playfully countered, making Richard laugh.
Then he looked straight into her eyes with an affection as deep as the trenches.
“I love you Maya dela Rosa. Will you be my girlfriend, again?”
“Kahit kailan, ikaw lang, Ser Chief ko!” She wrapped her arms around him.
Then she muttered jocularly, “Hindi mo naman ako kailangang suhulan eh.”
“Hindi kaya ‘yan suhol, love offering ‘yan.” Richard planted a soft kiss on Maya’s cheek.
It took them a few seconds to realize that Abby, Luke, Doris, and Joma were ecstatically applauding having witnessed the whole schmaltzy scene.
“Sama ako Daddy, Ate Maya!” Abby chimed in, joining the hugfest.
“Ako rin!” Luke exclaimed.
In the middle of the group hug, Luke whispered to Richard, “Dad, sorry for being immature. I’m really happy for you and Ate Maya.”
“It’s okay son, thank you…”
“I’m so happy Daddy, Ate Maya, Kuya Luke…” Abby said. “Sana Ate Nikki was here too…”
A moment of silence and worried yet hopeful glances exchanged.
* * * * *
In a farther distance outside the dessert shop, two pairs of eyes were peering at the happy group.
“Tingnan mo Niknik, mukhang okay na ulit sina Tito at Ate Maya,” Nicolo said.
“Arggh, we shouldn’t have come to this mall,” Nikki frowned. Neither of them expected that they would end up at the same location as her father and siblings. Talk about fate building a bridge, eh?
Needless to say, Nicolo wouldn’t tolerate Nikki’s “tantrums.” He gently pulled her arm and said, “Mas magiging masaya sila kung nandun ka, tara, puntahan natin!”
“No!” Nikki yelled, letting go of Nicolo’s grip.
“Alam mo bibigyan nalang kita ng salamin.”
“What?” a perplexed Nikki replied.
“Para makita mo nang malinaw kung ga’no kasaya ang daddy mo kasama si Ate Maya, kung ga’no kasaya ‘yung family niyo ‘pag nandiyan siya.”
“You know what Nicolo, I am not buying your hirits. You are not nakakatuwa.”
“Niknik, ang akin lang, bigyan mo ng chance si Ate Maya. Eh si Ms. Ayaw ka naman agad eh. Wala ka nang hahanapin diyan o, para sa daddy mo.” Counting with his fingers, Nicolo continued, “Maganda, mabait, masipag, mapagmahal, matalino, masaya-”
“Whatever Nicolo! I’m going home!” she cried out, walking away from him. He, who wasn’t buying her walkout drama, chased Nikki and blocked her path.
“Nicolo, just stop it! Go ahead and make kampi to Kuya!”
“Teka Niknik wala akong dapat kampihan sa inyo ni Bespren. Dun lang ako sa tama. Hindi mo ba kinakausap ang kuya mo?”
Furrowing her brows, Nikki said, “I don’t want to! He kept talking lang naman about how I should also accept Ate Maya sa family. It’s so nakakarindi na!”
Though exhausted about Nikki’s stubbornness, Nicolo is not about to give up. Eureka moment.
“Oo na, tama ka, ‘di tayo dapat nagpunta dito. Alam ko kung saan!” he told Nikki, grinning ear to ear.
Nikki was confounded.
“Where are you bringing me?”
“Basta! Kailangan mong mahimasmasan.”
“No. I am not coming with you if you’re bringing me to them,” she scowled, crossing her arms.
“Hindi Niknik, pramis! Magtiwala ka sa’kin,” he assured her with a wink.
* * * * *
Of all places, Nikki didn’t expect Nicolo to take her to the cemetery where Alex is buried. Out of all the emotions running like crazy in her mind at that instant, she appreciated his thoughtfulness, of going the extra mile to make her feel better.
Yet her heart felt heavier than ever. She felt like hating him for life, but she realized it was where she exactly needed to be: Close to her mom, and away from the roots of her heartache and disappointment.
Nicolo pulled over upon reaching her mom’s mausoleum.
As they got out of the car, he told her, “O, ayos ba, Niknik? Dito, tahimik, masarap ang hangin, at higit sa lahat, makakausap mo si Tita. Baka sakaling mapaliwanagan ka niya.”
Nikki looked daggers at him. He really wouldn’t give it up.
“Joke lang Niknik. Pinapa-smile lang kita. Masyado kang seryoso eh. Sigurado ako, ayaw ng mommy mo na nakikita kang nakasimangot at malungkot. Ang ganda mo pa naman.” There, he dropped another bomb of compliment that tickled her inside.
She had to divert the discussion or else…
“How did you know this Nicolo?”
“Eh para ano pang naging bespren ako ng kuya mo. Sabi ko na eh, balang araw mapapakinabangan ko rin ‘yung pagkaalam ko kung pa’no ‘to puntahan.” He was beaming like a lotto winner.
“O sige na, mag-heart-to-heart na kayo ni Tita Alex. Dito lang ako sa labas.”
As she approached her mother’s grave, Nikki’s tears gave in. She wiped them off with her handkerchief.
“I miss you so much, mom. I wish you were here. I don’t know what to do. They don’t understand me…
“They keep trying to convince me to accept Ate Maya for dad… But would you, Mom? Do you like Ate Maya for dad? I want the best for him, and you are the best…”
Nikki desperately needed an answer, while Nicolo believes she needed a miracle. He quietly went inside the mausoleum.
What he did next startled Nikki to bits.
“Hi Tita,” he waved at the grave. “May request lang po sana ako. Sana bigyan niyo si Niknik ng sign na boto kayo kay Ate Maya para kay Tito Richard. Kahit ano Tita, basta ‘wag lang po moo-moo, hehe.”
“Nicolo!” she slapped his arm.
“Aray ko naman Niknik! Gusto ko lang naman makatulong. Malay mo, may ibigay ngang sign si Tita Alex sa’tin.”
“Not funny! Whatever! Let’s go na nga, baka Dad’s looking for me na.” Deep inside, though, Nikki was dying to know what her mom thinks.
Suddenly, thunder roared.
“Uy Niknik! Narinig mo ‘yun? ‘Yun na ata ‘yung sign!”
“Whatever with the capital W Nicolo! I don’t believe it!”
“Weh? Uy humahaba ang ilong mo o!” Nicolo argued, pointing at her nose.
“You’re so G-R-R-R talaga! Let’s go na nga!”
A heavy downpour followed soon after just as they were about to exit the mausoleum. They had no choice but to stay in.
Nikki watched the rain bathe the ground, bewildered by the turn of events. She never took signs seriously. But for the first time, it seemed like the walls of her cynicism have toppled over.
Moments later, her phone rang.
“Oh my G! It’s dad,” she told Nicolo. That Richard would get worried and would probably get mad at them for going somewhere they didn’t ask permission to was something they – especially Nicolo – failed to consider.
“Dad?” Nikki shakily uttered.
“Hello Nikki, where are you?” He was calm, obviously thanks to his fresh reconciliation with Maya.
“Uhm Dad, please don’t be mad ha. Me and Nicolo went to Mom,” she replied, casting a worried look at the guy in front of her. He, too, was anxious, yet ready to take the blame in case Richard would launch a raging fit.
“What? And when are you planning on telling me that, Nikki?!”
“Sorry dad. It’s a long story. We were supposed to go home na, kaso it suddenly rained hard so we’re making patila muna… But I think Dad titigil na rin siya in a while so we’ll be on our way na rin…”
“Fine. We’ll talk about this later,” Richard said sternly.
“Okay Dad. Bye.”
He hung up.
“Galit si Tito?”
“More like upset. He said we’ll talk daw when I get home.”
“‘Wag kang mag-alala, Niknik. Sasamahan kitang kausapin si Tito.”
“Really? You’ll do that?”
“Oo naman! Basta para sa’yo, Niknik!”
“Thanks, Nicolo. I know I’ve been moody, but thanks for being there.”
For a moment, they just stood there, face to face, smiling at each other. Alex must be smiling from above, too.
Nicolo suddenly regained his “consciousness” and told Nikki, “Ah… Uy! Mukhang mahina na ‘yung ulan. Tara na Niknik, baka ma-trapik pa tayo!”
“Oh! Yeah. Sige, let’s go.”
* * * * *
The view outside the car looked like a watercolor painting, with droplets of rain resting silently against the glass windows.
Deep in thought from the passenger seat, Nikki said to herself, “If that was really you telling me something Mom, then, okay, I’ll try…”