A/N: Thank you for the warm reception to this story. Gusto ko kasing balikan ang mga sweet moments nila nung hindi pa sila kaya naisip kong mag start uli from the beginning.🙂
A clap of thunder jolted them back to the present. The rain poured down from the skies so suddenly that neither of them reacted quickly enough. They got soaked in the few seconds they stood there.
“Oh no!” Maya whimpered.
“Get in the car, Maya. Ihahatid na kita,” Richard commanded as he picked up her bag and quickly stuffed it in the trunk of his car.
Maya had no choice. The boarding house was at least two kilometers away and she had no way of getting there except by walking. He seemed trustworthy enough. She got in the car, nervously looking at Richard as he got into the driver’s seat.
As he got in, he gave her a soft smile. Maya allowed herself to relax. Sa lahat naman ng malas na nangyari sa akin ngayong araw na to, ikaw na ang pinaka gwapo. She smiled and settled into the seat.
Richard closed his door then turned to Maya. “Saan ka ba papunta, Maya? Ang lakas ng ulan, ihahatid na kita.”
“Naku, salamat po, sir,” she replied. “Naghahanap po ako ng boarding house. May nadaanan ako kanina, papunta nga po ako dun nung makita nyo ako. Derecho lang po tapos turn right sa may gas station.”
Richard drove the short distance until Maya pointed out the old, decrepit-looking boarding house. The rain continued to pour but thankfully, the entrance was covered. The two of them got off and Richard got her bag from the trunk. Maya rang the doorbell.
A stern faced, middle aged lady came out.
“Anong kelangan nyo?”
“Good evening po,” Maya smiled at the woman. But she continued to scowl at her. “Naghahanap po ako ng boarding house na matutuluyan. May bakante po ba kayo?”
“Hay naku iha, kung nagbabasa ka sana, hindi ka na nang-gising ng kapwa!” She pointed at the small sign near the door that said “No Vacancy”
“Ay, naku, sorry po! Malakas po kasi ang ulan, hindi ko po nakita yung sign nyo! Pasensya na po kayo.”
The landlady slammed the door shut while Richard stood there, shocked at the woman’s rudeness.
Maya sat on the front steps of the door, unable to stop the tears. She couldn’t believe her streak of bad luck. Richard sat beside her and hesitantly put a hand on her shoulder.
“Maya, wag ka na umiyak. May mga taong ganyan talaga, hindi marunong kumausap nang maayos sa kapwa. Hayaan mo na sya,” he said gently. “Halika na. Saan nalang kita ihahatid?”
Maya looked at him sadly, not knowing how to reply. She didn’t know where else to go. Suddenly, an idea came to mind.
“Sir, saan po ba may malapit na simbahan dito?”
“Simbahan? Wala nang misa ng ganitong oras, Maya. Wait, don’t tell me sa simbahan ka nalang magpapalipas ng gabi?” Richard asked incredulously.
Maya nodded slowly then straightened her shoulders. The last she wanted was pity from him. She put on a confident smile.
“Oo naman, sir. Magdadasal nalang ako buong gabi. Tapos bukas, maghahanap uli ako ng ibang boarding house. Saka na ako matutulog,” she replied bravely.
“What? No, that’s crazy, Maya. Nasa Maynila ka, hindi safe sa gabi dito, kahit pa sa may simbahan may nananakawan.” He glanced at his watch, it was almost eleven pm. He remembered that he still had to work on the presentation.
“Tell you what… sumama ka nalang sa akin sa bahay…” Maya’s eyes widened, so Richard clarified himself quickly, “May extra bed sa kwarto ni Manang Fe. Dun ka na muna mag stay tonight, I insist. Besides, kailangan ko na umuwi, madami pa akong papers na aayusin tonight. Hindi naman kita pwedeng iwan nalang dito. I’m involved now.” He smiled at her charmingly. She realized he was giving her a very tempting offer. She was tired, cold and hungry.
Richard watched her struggle to refuse his offer. “Maya, wag ka nang mahiya. I always believed in paying it forward. This is my chance to do something good for someone. Please?”
“Sir, talaga po bang okay lang yun? Sa totoo lang po, wala talaga akong matutuluyan. Medyo nagka problema po kasi ako sa recruiter kaya naipit akong bigla dito sa Maynila…” Maya said hesitantly.
Richard nodded. “Yes, it will be perfectly okay. Tatawagan ko na si Manang Fe to prepare the bed for you.” He whipped out his phone and called the house to give instructions. When he was done, he helped her up and put her bag back in the trunk.
On the drive back, Maya told him about the illegal recruiter and how she was duped. He told her about his predicament at the office. They swapped a bit more info on themselves. Richard talked having three kids but never mentioned his wife. Maya was curious. He wore a wedding ring, so she knew he was married.
“Eh sir, hindi po kaya magalit ang asawa nyo dahil patutuluyin nyo ako sa bahay nyo?” Maya asked, trying to fish for more information.
“My wife died five years ago, Maya,” he replied quietly.
“Ha? Naku, I’m sorry sir,” Maya cringed upon seeing Richard’s face grow sad. She knew how it is to lose someone so precious to you. And what a coincidence. It was also five years since that fateful day.
Richard noticed her discomfort. “It’s okay Maya. It’s been five years…”
“Naiintindihan ko po. Habang tumatagal, nawawala unti-unti yung sakit. Pero yung lungkot, palagi pa ding nandyan,” she replied sadly.
“Did you lose someone close to you too, Maya?”
Maya simply nodded. She wasn’t ready to talk about Simon. Richard understood. They drove the rest of the way in companionable silence.
“Napakabait nyo talaga, sir. Sana po balang araw, masuklian ko din ang kabaitan nyo,” Maya told him as they entered the driveway of Richard’s house.
“Don’t worry about it, Maya. Naku, malaki lang ang pasasalamat ko na hindi kita nasagasaan!” He replied with a laugh. Maya chuckled too as she got out of the car, the silence between them broken.
Manang Fe opened the door and smiled kindly at Maya.
“Good evening po, Manang Fe. Pasensya na po kayo at nagising pa tuloy kayo dahil sa akin,” Maya said shyly.
“Naku, iha, wag mo yun alalahanin. Nag hapunan ka na ba?” Manang Fe asked her.
Maya had forgotten when she last ate. From the airport, she immediately went to the address of the recruiter, only to find that there was no such office. Then she went to POEA, then to one office after another, trying to look for a job. Apparently, she hasn’t eaten anything since the tapsilog that Nanay Teresita cooked for breakfast. Her stomach grumbled at the thought of food.
Richard laughed at the telltale sound. “Manang Fe, pakainin mo muna si Maya, nagpaparinig na ang tiyan nya eh!”
Maya was so embarrassed that she laughed nervously and blushed deeply. Richard saw her blush and for the first time this evening, he noticed she was beautiful. The pink tinge on her face and her genuine smile made her look like an angel.
Manang Fe smiled and nodded. “Halika na Maya, sumama ka na sa akin sa kusina” Manang Fe took her arm.
“Ikaw na bahala kay Maya, Manang. May mga tatapusin pa akong trabaho. Maya, magpahinga ka na, si Manang Fe na ang bahala sa yo”. Maya nodded in gratitude and followed Manang Fe.
Maya looked around the kitchen while Manang Fe got the ingredients out for her sandwich.
“Manang Fe, ako na po dyan,” Maya offered to make the sandwich herself but the older woman refused.
“Maya, mag relax ka muna. Maupo ka muna, anak. Mukhang pagod na pagod ka na. Hayaan mo na ako dito, mabilis lang naman ito.” Manang Fe felt her heart go out to this young woman. Mukhang napakabait na bata, kawawa naman.
“Sige po, pero matulog na po kayo pagkatapos. Ako na po ang magliligpit at maghuhugas,” Maya said with a big smile. Manang Fe reminded her so much of Nanay Teresita.
After Manang Fe left, Maya ate her sandwich quickly and noticed the electric kettle and coffee cups under the counter. Ay, baka gusto ni sir ng kape, ipagtitimpla ko muna sya.
Richard was already working in his office when he heard a tentative knock. He looked up and saw Maya holding a cup of coffee.
“Sir, baka po gusto nyo ng kape. Ipinagtimpla ko po kayo.” Maya said shyly.
Richard smiled at her thoughtfulness and reached for the cup. “Thanks Maya. I really need this tonight.” He took one sip and jerked his head back in surprise. It was delicious. Just the right amount of sweetness and creaminess.
Maya smiled happily as she watched him taste the coffee. Her mother always said that Maya made the best coffee in the world. She saw that Richard seemed to like it a lot too.
“Masarap ang timpla mo, Maya. Thanks again,” he smiled.
“You’re welcome po,” Maya smiled back. She looked around the office and saw lots of papers and a laptop with an open Power Point presentation. “Uh, sir, ano pa ba ang kelangan nyong gawin, sir? Baka may maitulong po ako.”
“Well, the report is complete naman, I just need to go thru the slide presentation kasi hindi pa final ito and possibly do some minor corrections,” Richard told her.
“Sir, kung Power Point po yan, I can help you po. Marunong ako nyan. Nung college ako, ako lagi ang naka-toka na gumawa ng presentations namin!” she stated proudly. “Besides sir, napakaliit lang pong tulong nyan kumpara sa binigay nyo sa akin” Maya added.
“Well well, sige Maya. I really do need help with this. Thank you,” he looked into her eyes, and for a moment, Maya held her breath. She felt her face grow warm and her heart flutter. Then she shook her head. Maya, ano ba yang nangyayari sa yo?
Richard couldn’t help but hold his gaze longer than necessary. Not only was she beautiful outside, she was also beautiful inside. He saw her shake her head slightly, then look away. What’s wrong with me? Why am I feeling nervous? He shook his head as well and sat down to continue.
They worked quickly and finished earlier than expected. Richard was very thankful for Maya’s help. It was now 2am and Maya was beginning to nod off.
“Okay na ito, Maya. Matulog ka na. Ako na magliligpit dito.”
“Salamat po uli, sir. Um, pero po, saan po ba yung kwarto ni Manang Fe?”
“Ah, oo nga pala. Nasa baba, samahan kita.”
Maya got her bag from the kitchen and followed Richard to the veranda. There was something very intimate about the situation that didn’t escape either of them… they were together in a dark, quiet house, in the wee hours of the morning. Maya’s hands were cold, and it was not because of the temperature outside.
When they got to the veranda, Richard took the bag from Maya, intending to carry it down the stairs for her. As he reached for the handle of the bag, his hand accidentally brushed hers, and both of them jerked their hands back in surprise. Maya gave a nervous laugh while Richard mumbled a ‘sorry’. He picked up the bag and they went down the stairs to Manang Fe’s room.
Once they were right outside the room, Richard oddly felt like a teenager bringing a girl home after their first date. He remembered the feelings of awkwardness, excitement, and wanting to kiss the girl goodnight… exactly what he felt now.
“Goodnight, Maya. Swee- Ah, um magpahinga ka na. Thank you ulit sa tulong,” Richard bit his lip, embarrassed at what he almost said, ‘sweet dreams’. Uh-oh.
Maya looked at Richard. He looked nervous and flustered. It was dark but she thought he had blushed too.
“Goodnight din po. Ako po dapat ang magpasalamat sa inyo sir…,”
“My name is Richard, Maya. You don’t have to call me ‘sir’.”
“Ah… ok po”
“Wag na din yung ‘po’. You’re making me look so old,” Richard laughed softly.
“Hindi naman po kayo, ah, hindi ka naman mukhang old, uh, Richard,” Maya said his name for the first time, savoring the feel of it on her tongue.
“That’s better. Sige na, matulog ka na Maya,” he smiled and turned to leave.
“Goodnight, Richard,” Maya whispered to herself after she turned to enter the door.
Richard heard her whisper, and he smiled to himself, as he walked back upstairs.
To be continued…