Admin Note: *Contributed Story* Please give credit and thanks to Xy. This is a continuation to Tampuhan Blues – part 6.
A/N: Hi, salamat po for tuning in to Tampuhan Blues and sparing some time. I’d like to say na na-appreciate ko po talaga ang mga comments niyo and guide ko sila para mapabuti pa ang Tampuhan Blues series. Sorry if the storyline and some lines in this story sounds like from the show pero ganun talaga siguro ang plotline na naisip ko and I’m happy na may similarities kami. Anyway, sana hindi kayo ma-confuse and if ever, links sa previous Tampuhan Blues are provided naman (thanks admin!) so don’t worry, you can always go back. Once again, happy reading!
The door leading to Emman’s condo swung open and in came Richard with Maya tailing behind him. The former, after setting the trolley aside, immediately went to the kitchen and told the lady to sit and wait for a glass of water. “You know, I didn’t even expect Nikki will say ‘yes’,” Richard said from the kitchen. “I guess she’s starting to get used to us, which is good.”
“I could let Joma pick you up if you’re feeling some cold feet,” Richard said as he came back with a glass of water and took the space beside her. “Maya,” he called out finally getting the woman’s attention.
“Ha? Ano yun Sir Chief?” the lady asked to which the man could only sigh on.
Maya had been silent throughout the ride back to the condo and it didn’t go unnoticed by the man who now had his Chinese pairs landing on her face. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Ha? Wala,” she lied and when Richard stared at her without blinking his eyes, she knows he caught her. Well, like he always does. “Eh kasi… Sir Chief…”
“Ano… kinakabahan ka?” the man finished.
Maya briefly nodded making Richard took her left hand and clasped it gently. “Relax,” he said, “I’m here and it’s not like you and Nikki didn’t shop before. Remember the time when you helped her choose her gown for the prom night?” The lady nodded. “You two were great.”
“Eh Sir Chief, iba naman yun eh. Iba na ngayon,” Maya said.
“I know, I know. But who knows, maganda ang pagkaka-iba ngayon?” he suggested with a smile.
Sighing with a smile, Maya hoped that the man beside her is right. She badly wanted him to be right.
By 5:30 in the afternoon later that day, Maya found herself scanning through dresses inside one of the high-end fashion stores in the city but the price tags didn’t really calm her now rumbling nervous nerves. Thankfully, some were too short for her liking while others were too revealing as commented by the man beside her; that way, they won’t have to buy in that store that sells a fifteen thousand worth of semi-formal wear when you can easily get it with just a five hundred cash at hand.
“Sir Chief, kalma lang,” she soothed after hearing Richard sounded a ‘tsk.’
“I am calm Maya pero bakit wala pa si Nikki? She was the one who suggested this place in the first place,” he said.
“Baka na-traffic lang. Rush hour diba? Tsaka five thirty pa lang oh. Nauna lang siguro tayo. Kalma lang,” Maya explained before watching him took in a huge amount of air and take a seat on the round chair placed at the center of the store.
She watched him rub his temples from where she stood and she can tell how impatient her boyfriend was beginning to get. When he looked at his watch for the nth time that day, she knew that only Nikki’s presence will calm his nerves again. Well, somehow…
After six stores, Richard finally agreed to drop by at the cheaper side of the mall. She was almost flying through dresses while the man tailing behind her felt his feet were as if tied to a metal ball as he looked down at his watch again. Eight thirty it read.
“She can’t do this, she’s just late,” was all Richard could think of as he pulled his cellphone from his pocket, scanned through names before the name ‘Nikki’ came big and bold in the screen.
“Sir Chief, ito kaya?” he heard Maya say. When he looked up, he saw her holding up a dress that he knew he won’t even remember after ten seconds. His thought was running free and he couldn’t grab it back. He wanted to, for him, for her, for them. He needs to say something but before he could, the woman in front of him had already pressed her lips together and walked away to the counter with the dress at hand.
The tension at the car was brought into the unit later that evening. None of them wanted to talk more than commenting on the traffic and the rain that suddenly poured over the city. As soon as they got in, Richard immediately sat on the couch while Maya casually offered him coffee on which he agreed to have.
She sneaked a peek from the kitchen at the living room and there was him, silently staring at the ceiling with his back completely laid back on the couch. She know why he’s like this and she even guessed that her little walkout did a little scratch on him too. Sighing, some part of her convinced her she’s right to walk away, after all he doesn’t seem to be in the mood to shop anymore when the reality that Nikki won’t be coming over hit them.
As soon as the coffee’s ready, she walked out and handed it to him. He said an almost inaudible ‘thank you’ and she took it as a signal to give him some space. “Ah, Sir Chief, bihis lang ako,” she said before taking the paper bag that encloses the dress she bought and turning her heels to leave.
One step, two steps, three steps. It took her four steps before she heard him called out her name that made her turn and face him.
“I’m sorry,” he sincerely said that made her bit her lower lip. She’s not used to seeing him this down and she did what she knows she could offer to let him know they’re okay – her closeness.
“Ano ka ba, okay lang yun,” she said as soon as she took the space beside him.
“Okay?” Richard asked as he sat up straight again, “Maya, inin-dyan tayo ni Nikki, tapos okay?”
“Sssht, oy, Sir Chief, ‘wag ganyan pwede?” she pleaded in the manner he knew by heart, “hindi kasalanan ni Nikki na hindi tayo siputin ngayong gabi.”
“Are you listening to yourself Maya?” he asked in a tone higher than he used earlier, “She said ‘yes’ tapos hindi naman pala sisipot! She can’t do this! I didn’t raise her para magsinungaling, and worse of all, sa ama niya!” he added as soon as he stood up.
“Nagsinungaling? Ganyan agad ang naisip mo?” she incredulously asked as she rose from her seat as well. “At kay Nikki pa ha?”
“Wait,” he began as he held up his hand, “what side are you taking?”
“Wala Sir Chief, wala. Ano ka ba naman? Hindi mo man lang binigyan si Nikki ng chance mag-explain ng side nya?” Maya protested.
“Explain? Maya, I called her every chance I get AND sent her almost a hundred messages pero she didn’t bother to reply sa kahit isang text dun tapos you’re talking about chance?!” Richard returned.
“Oo Sir Chief, kasi sabi ko nga diba, kahit isang milyong tyansa, kaya kong ibigay, mabigyan lang ng linaw ang mga bata sa sitwasyon natin, at hindi magbabago yun Sir Chief,” Maya reminded him. “At bakit hindi mo naman chineck kila Kuya Joma kung a’san si Nikki? Parte ng tyansa yun ni Nikki.”
“Because I thought she’s old enough to explain her side and stand by her words. She disappointed me Maya and no one could change my mind. She’s grounded,” with that, Richard turned his heels and left the unit with a slight bang at the door.
“Nikki! Nikki!” his voice roared into every corner of the house as Richard made his way towards the second floor. His call pulled Luke out of his bedroom and even Manang Fe, Sabel and Doris who were at the kitchen when he arrived.
“Dad, bakit po…” his eldest asked.
“Where’s Nikki?” Richard asked before they heard Abby’s bedroom cracked open.
“Dad?” Nikki came out. With slow strides, she let herself be fully seen and felt her body shivered slightly as he looked at her father’s eyes that were shooting daggers on her. “Look, I can ex…” she tried.
“No,” Richard firmly said. The house was dead silent soon after as his eyes continued to bore holes unto Nikki’s now bowed head. He could tell his daughter was about to cry but he’s far too angry right now to forgive and console her.
“I didn’t like what you did earlier Nikki you should know that. I also don’t like how you’ve been treating Maya. I’m not forcing you to like her nor did I forced her to love you. But she did and I know she will always do. Hindi ko hinihingi na mahalin mo siya tulad ng pagmamahal niya sa’yo but for God’s sake Nikki, irespeto mo naman ang babaeng mahal ko!” Richard hard and heavily said. “Now, what’s your problem with Maya?” he asked after a beat.
“Ano?!” he pushed an octave higher than he did earlier that made his daughter flinched.
“Dad…” Luke tried to butt in but his father continued speaking. He wanted to stop him but fear took most of his system. Thankfully, he saw Manang Fe beginning to hike up on the stairs after a few urgings of Doris and Sabel.
“Dati, I shrugged off the little walkout you did but I could no longer let this pass. Lumalaki lang ang ulo mo eh now, go to your room and think about what you did,” Richard ordered.
“What? You can’t do that just because -–“ Nikki protested.
“I said, go to your room!” the man of the house firmly ordered again.
“Ricardo!” Manang Fe called out as she came near the duo. Nikki was crying, Richard was on his tiger mode, and Luke was helpless, in short, Manang could only sigh on the hot mess in front of her.
“You know what dad? You’re so unfair!” Nikki burst before stomping her way towards her room, closing it with a loud thud that reached every corner of the house too.
“Ricardo, ano ka ba? Bata pinatulan mo?” Manang Fe asked as soon as she reached the man’s side.
“I’m tired Manang,” was all Richard could say before walking towards his bedroom and heavily closing the door as worse.
“O heto, uminom ka nga muna ng tubig,” Emman said as he held out a glass of water to Maya.
He wasn’t around when the couple came home but he knew something bad happened when he saw his friend curled up on the couch, pillow clutched near her chest and cheeks streaked with fresh tear lines as soon as he swung the door open upon reaching his unit. He immediately threw in a hug without bothering to ask what happened that only opened the floodgates again in Maya’s eyes. A round of crying after, the lady calmed and a glass of water was offered to be served.
“Salamat,” the flight attendant said after gulping a few swigs.
“So, ano ba talaga ang nangyari roomie?” Emman asked once he’s settled on the couch as well.
“Ayun, hindi sumipot si Nikki sa usapan nilang mag-ama.”
“And then ano? Nagalit yang Sir Chief mo?” The lady nodded. “Hay naku yang batang yan ha, napaka-bratnella,” he commented that earned him a gentle tap from the woman beside him.
“Oy Emman, hindi naman,” Maya defended.
“Eh ano ba ang tawag mo diyan sa inaasta ng Nikki na ‘yan?”
“Pagmamahal,” the lady answered before watching her friend scowled at her words and asked “Ha?”
“Oo, pag-mamahal yan Emman. Kasi diba, mahal na mahal ng mga bata ang daddy nila kaya natural na lang na ganyan ang reaksyon ni Nikki. Naiiintidihan ko siya Emman.”
“Eh yun naman pala eh. Naiiintidihan. Pero bakit you’re here? Crying your eyes out?” her friend asked that made her fell silent.
“Kasi medyo… nagka-usap kami ni Sir Chief na may kataasan ang boses eh,” Maya admitted.
“Nag-away kayo?” Emman cited.
“Hindi. Nag-usap nga lang ng may kataasan ang boses,” the lady pushed.
“Uy, bargaining. Alam mo roomie, okay lang yan, normal namang mag-away kayo,” she heard her friend say that made her drop her shoulders. Yes she knows it’s normal for them to have fights, they had petty fights before but somehow this recent was different. It involves his kid and truth be known, she doesn’t like that one bit and forever she won’t like it. She may just be their former ward but she knows, she’ll stand front row when they’re in danger (emotionally or physically) without hesitation even if it means, shielding them from their father.
“Eh anong gagawin ko?” she asked, her voice almost admitting defeat.
“Eh di magpa-party!” her friend sarcastically answered.
“Roomie lookie ha. Wala kang kailangang gawin. Kailangan niyo lang ng space. Kahit konti lang. You know naman, medyo heavy ang mga recent events sa inyong love life kaya siguro it’s taking a toll sa inyo. Stress ka, stress ang Sir Chief mo, ay wis mararating yan girl,” Emman adviced.
With a brief and forced smile, Maya internally agreed. “Halika ka nga dito,” she heard her friend say and saw him opened up his arms which she thankfully received, before landing her head on his chest and feeling his arms around her.
“Kaya niyo yan roomie,” Emman softly and seriously reminded, “Kapit-bisig diba?”
Maya nodded. “Kapit-bisig,” she repeated and with that, she let one last tear roll down her cheek.
It was just a little past three in the afternoon the next day when Luke peeped inside his father’s office. Richard had his back facing the doorway but his son could tell his father had been drinking due to the half-touched bourbon that stands on the table. Feeling another presence, the chair swivelled a bit and the father and son eyes finally met.
“Maaga ka,” Richard plainly stated.
“Wala na po kasi akong klase, dad,” Luke answered before eyeing the bottle of alcohol again.
“Just fuelling up. It’s been awhile,” his father said after following his gaze.
In return he nodded before speaking again and walking further inside the office, “Dad… about last night…” His father sighed that halted him for a few seconds. “’Wag po kayong mag-alala kung narinig kayo ni Abby, tulog na po siya last night. I asked her naman kung may narinig siya, wala naman daw po. As for Nikki naman…”
“Nothing’s going to change my mind Luke. She’s grounded. School and bahay lang,” Richard firmly reiterated only to receive blank glances from his young man. “I just don’t know what I’m going to do with your sister but I can’t also just sit back and watch how she treats Maya.”
“Baka hindi natin siya kailangang intidihin lang Dad, baka kailangan natin siyang makinggan AT intindihin,” Luke said, watching his father divert his eyes on something in the office. “You haven’t dated since… mom died. Nasanay lang siguro si Nikki na solo flight ka, na wala kaming kaagaw. She has her reasons too Dad, you might want to give her some chance.”
Richard sighed as his son’s last word rings a bell. “That’s what Maya also said.”
“Really?” Luke asked on which his father could only nod on. “E’di mas mabuti po kung ganun.”
“I don’t know son. Masyadong kinampihan ni Maya si Nikki which I didn’t agreed on.”
“Nag-away po kayo?”
“Yes,” Richard plainly said that gained the office a deafening silence.
“Dad,” Luke began, getting his father’s attention, “sorry ha. Dahil sa’min, nag-away kayo.”
“No, don’t say that. Couples have fights. The other side of me just got the better side of me and I lost it. But we’ll fix it… eventually.” As the younger Lim pressed his lips into a thin smile, his eyes watched his father tilted his phone that was placed beside the bottle of bourbon. He could tell that there’s no message displayed as the elder Lim let go of the phone almost immediately.
“Dad, iba po talaga si Ate Maya no? Kita mo, kinampihan pa si Nikki kahit iba na ang trato nito sa kanya,” Luke praised before noticing the sudden glow of his father’s eyes at the mention of the woman’s attitude.
“Well, that’s Maya,” was all Richard could say.
“Ang swerte mo naman dad sa kanya at syempre, maswerte din po kami sa kanya. Nikki just have to re-realize that. In fact, why don’t we go out of town uli, baka sakaling…”
“I know what you’re doing Luke but no, you guys already have classes, we can no longer go out of town. Don’t worry, things will be okay in its own time. For the meantime, I was thinking of tagging you guys along sa launch ng Clark hangar this Saturday.”
“Really dad?” His father nodded with a smile. “Oo naman, sure. Pwede na din yun na pang-unwind pero dad, di’ba andun si Ate Maya? And you want us to be there and…” Luke traced, his voice tinted with worry.
“Relax, things will be as I planned it to be. Maya will be there, you three will be there. No excuses,” Richard said.
“Yes dad,” his son agreed with a smile, “but before that, suyuin mo muna ang Cinderella mo.”
Hearing his son’s words, the older Lim couldn’t help but smile and matched it with a slight chuckle. Never in his young life did he imagined that his eldest son will be the one who will give him advices especially when it comes to love life. He should be the one who should give and not be the one who receives but screw it, his son’s words are right. He better woo his Cinderella soon.
“Sya dad, punta na po ako sa kwarto,” he heard his son bid on which he nodded on. Plans of how he’ll woo Maya back were playing in his head when he saw Luke turned and faced him again. His brows nearly knit in union as he await for his son to speak what seems to be playing at the tip of his tongue.
“Luke?” he asked.
“Wala dad… Just wanted to thank you for choosing Ate Maya for you and for us,” and with that, the young man left the office failing to see his father genuinely smile before keeping the bottle of bourbon and dialling the number he knew by heart.
The sun was already bidding good-bye to the sky when Nikki found herself seated on one of the chairs at the veranda. Her cheeks were still freshly streaked with tears while her eyes – that were slightly swollen – were set somewhere at the hills before their house. The sound of the cars passing by their village was the only background as she replay the event that happened in their house last night. A lot of questions were still left unanswered and the possibility of them being left hanging in the air bothers her; but nothing irks her more than the fact that her father can’t see her reasons behind her actions.
For all she knows, she has every right to act the way she did but how come, somewhere inside the chamber of her heart which she decided to forcefully bury, lies the irksome feeling on herself for treating their Ate Maya that way.
She was fighting not to let the new batch of tears to fall when incoming footsteps brought her back to reality. She knows it’s not her father nor Abby. When she look up, a hanky was the one that greeted her instead of a face.
“Kailangan mo ‘to,” said the afternoon uninvited presence. Her eyes moved passed the piece of cloth and there was her Kuya Luke, arm stretched and his lips painted with a small yet assuring smile.
“Thanks Kuya,” was all she said before taking the hanky from her brother’s grasp before Luke took the chair adjacent to her. Silence owned the siblings as the young lady wiped the tears that didn’t go unnoticed to her brother.
“Alam mo Niks, naiiingit ako sa’yo,” Luke said after a beat earning his sister’s questioning stare. “Kasi ang tapang mo pero sana… sana marealize mo na hindi sa lahat ng oras, tama ang tapang na ganyan. Kasi minsan, ang tapang na nagbibigay sa’tin ng lakas, yun din ang nakaka-sakit sa ibang tao.”
“You know what Kuya, if you’re just going to make kampi speech about Ate Maya, you may go,” Nikki said before crossing her arms in front of her chest, her eyes, briefly looking at her brother before eyeing on something ahead of them.
Hearing such spat made Luke took in a huge about of air. No wonder Dad already gave up, he thought as his eyes traced the sour expression of his sister. “Niks,” he once again began, thanking God that the young lady didn’t bother to leave.
“Di’ba noon, alam naman nating nagdi-date si Dad? Okay naman sa’tin yun diba?” he asked.
“Because we didn’t know that it’s Ate Maya, Kuya,” Nikki reasoned.
“Eh di’ba mas mabuting si Ate Maya? At least kilala na natin.”
“That’s the point!” the young lady burst as she once again set her eyes on her brother, “She’s family,” she added while holding herself back from further opening her other reasons.
“Eh anong masama dun?” Luke asked as he watch his sister looked away again.
“Basta, nothing’s going to change my mind. I don’t like Ate Maya for dad. It’ll always be mom and you siding with them only means your letting Mommy go,” the young lady softly said as she wipe a tear that rolled down her cheek.
“What?” the young Mr. Lim incredulously asked. “Niks, it’s not like that. Alam mong walang pakaka-take place kay Mommy and call it kampihan pero hindi mo ba nakita? Masaya si Dad kay Ate Maya. Si Abby. Sila Manang Fe…. Tayo. We were happy once she became part of our family. Sana kahit yun lang… Makita mo.” With that, Luke stood up and left the veranda.
On the way back inside the house, he was greeted with Manang Fe’s presence. Turns out, the eldest ward had been in the kitchen all along. She internally feared Luke will not welcome her presence but thankfully, the young Lim curved up a small smile before making his way further inside.
Nikki was wiping her tears when Manang came out at the veranda. Seeing the view in front of her, the elder woman couldn’t help but to feel sorry for the child because after all, well, she’s just a child. Emotions ran like a crazy rush hour traffic in her system. A lot may not understand Nikki’s actions but she does and she did the only one thing she knows the young lady needs – she walked towards Alex’s living young replica and hugged her gently enough which, she gladly realized, was tightly returned.
Meanwhile, almost twenty blocks away was Richard Lim quietly seated inside the condominium cafeteria. He had been there for twenty minutes now but still no sight of Maya. Truth be known, it’s beginning to send fearful thoughts in his head. Their little fight didn’t just unleashed his tiger mode last night on Nikki but it also left him lightheaded almost the whole day. He didn’t even bother to go to work thinking it’ll lessen the emotional load but obviously it didn’t. All it did was to guilt trip him of what he did with Nikki and Maya and his unanswered messages and calls to the latter was the one that pulled him from his seat and lead him to where he is now.
“Miss,” he began, as soon as he reached the reception area, “sigurado ka bang walang flight si Maya?”
“Ay Opo sir, hindi ko naman po kasing nakitang umalis eh,” the lady answered.
“Have you tried calling the unit again?”
“Opo sir, kaya lang wala po talagang sumasagot.”
“Baka pwedeng akong umakyat? I mean, I’m not an uninvited guest, I’m her boyfriend for heaven sake,” Richard pushed for the third time since he came in the building. Obviously, the receptionist was new hence the strong stand not to let him go upstairs. If this was Janice or Claire I would be in the unit by now, he thought.
“Sorry po talaga sir pero hindi po talaga pwede, tawagan niyo na lang po uli si Ma’am Maya,” the lady answered in a voice that was almost shaking.
Fearing he’ll be the cause of the woman’s termination, Richard decided to turn his heels as he pulled his phone and tried calling the number that filled his recent call list.
‘The subscriber cannot be —‘ He ended the call before the voiceover could even say half of the line he bet he could now say even during his sleep. With a sigh, his eyes landed on the screen that says his thirty calls were left unanswered.
As soon as he sent his sixteenth text message, he decided to leave the answering to Maya’s hands now. True, he doesn’t like the idea of being left hanging in the air but he could see why she’s “running away”. As he leads himself towards the entrance of the building, he was forcing himself to give his girlfriend the space she was indirectly telling him she wanted. He had been harsh, he may had pushed the limits and today, that afternoon, he’ll let it have her way.
“Sir Richard?” came a voice that shook his from him from his reverie.
“Emman, hi…” he said, forcing a smile to play on his lips as she shook his girlfriend’s friend’s hand.
“Ano… uhm, nagka-usap po ba kayo ni Maya?”
“No,” Richard sadly returned, “I’ve been trying to call her but she wasn’t answering. Guess she turned off her phone or something. Maybe she just wants some space and…”
“Oh baka tulog lang?”
“Tulog as in sleep.”
“I don’t think so,” Richard said though hoping Emman’s right. Before he knew it, the younger man already had his wrist and was tagging him along towards the elevator. He heard Emman asked something on which he answered on auto-pilot, “Eh kasi, she wouldn’t let me go up.”
“Hoy Stella?! Sa tingin mo ba magnanakaw ang ganitong pustura ng lalaki?”
“Ay Sir Emman, sorry po kasi…” the receptionist nervously answered.
“Sa susunod, kilalanin mo ang kausap mo. Next time na hindi mo paakyatin ang CEO ng Lim Aviation, you’ll be answering to me,” Maya’s friend playfully threatened.
Richard saw how the lady swallowed as a relief and the last thing he head from Emman as the elevator door closes was, “Echoserang froglet ‘to…”
The room leading to Maya’s room slowly swung open. Emma and Richard’s silhouette was formed as the room was not lit when they opened it and sure enough, her friend’s right, Maya Dela Rosa was peacefully in deep slumber as she clutched a pillow her mother had just sent to her a few days ago.
“See Sir Richard? I told you,” Emman said, getting a nod from the man. “Sige, may aayusin lang po ako sa kusina, maiwan ko po muna kayo.” With that, he left Richard on the doorway of his friend’s room.
As soon as he was alone, the CEO urged himself not to go in further and wake her up. Even in her sleep, he thought, she was peaceful. Even in the midst of their trouble, she was peaceful and he couldn’t help but to smile at this fact. He watched her inhaled a huge amount of air and held the pillow some more before slowly walking towards the nightstand and placed the paperbag that he had been holding all this time.
Fearing his presence would wake her up, he slowly turned his heels and walked a few tiptoed steps before looking at her face again. You’re lovely you know that? He mentally asked as he traced every feature of her face before giving in to his dream of kissing her while she’s asleep.
His lips landed soft against the side of her forehead before his fingers glazed on one side of her hair. His Chinese pairs were moving delicately as he eyed every facial detail that made Maya Dela Rosa.
“We’ll be fine, right?” he whispered as his thumb voluntarily rub her hair; and with one “I love you,” he kissed her forehead again and turned to leave the room with a soft closing of the door.