This is a continuation of Learning to Love Again – Chapter 5
I want to think that there can be something more than friendship between me and Maya. We’ve only started getting to know each other, but I feel like she’s someone I can be with, someone who can make me fall in love again. Is she the one, Alex? Sya na ba?
Just then the door burst open and Maya strode in towards him.
“Sir Chief, ako na” she declared with a smile as Richard’s mouth fell open in surprise.
“I-ikaw na?” Richard stammered, his heart pounding as he stood up from his chair, still clutching the coffee cup.
Maya looked amusedly at him, wondering why he looked so surprised.
“Oo naman, Sir Chief. Ako na talaga.” Maya went around his table and stopped right beside him. Richard gulped. He started feeling light-headed. She was so close that he could smell her perfume. Then she got the coffee cup out of his hands. “Ako na ang maghuhugas nyan, alangan naman ikaw pa.”
Richard choked back a chuckle and managed a ‘thank you’ before slumping back into his seat.
He looked up and thought, Alex, you are such a tease!
Maya was tired by the end of the workday. There was so much to prepare and they were still behind schedule, even with a working lunch. Richard had ordered burgers for them so that they could continue to work over lunch. It was already a Thursday and the designs had to be emailed by Friday afternoon.
It was beginning to get dark when Richard walked over to her desk.
“Maya, I think we should call it a day. I’m sure you’re already tired.”
Maya looked up. “Kaya pa, Sir Chief. Tapusin ko lang itong design na ito para bukas konti nalang. Mahirap na, deadline na nito bukas. Sige na, mauna ka na umuwi. Baka hinahanap ka na ng mga bata.”
“No, Maya. Sabay na tayo. It’s really not safe on the streets anymore pag gabi na. Besides,” he added, smiling impishly, “baka masagasaan ka pa sa kalye.”
“Sir Chief naman eh! Hindi mo pa ba yun kinalimutan?” Maya pretended to pout.
“Hahaha, joke lang! How could I forget how we met? Anyway, sige na tapusin mo na yan then let’s go home. I might as well finish signing this stack of papers that Liza left for me.” He grinned at her and went back to his desk.
Maya nodded and went back to work.
By 7pm, Maya turned off the computer and started preparing to leave. She looked towards Richard’s desk but he wasn’t there anymore. She stood up and found him sitting on the sofa, asleep.
She walked towards him silently. He looked tired. She took the opportunity to look at him closely. Although he was in his forties, he had a buff body. What betrayed his age was the few strands of grey hair and the faint lines near his eyes. Nevertheless, he was really good looking. Maya had to force herself to stop staring.
She decided to let him sleep for a few more minutes. She leaned over him, trying to remove his glasses, so he could be more comfortable. But the movement was enough to rouse him from sleep. Maya got startled when he blinked his eyes open and she took her hand back quickly.
Richard’s eyes focused on Maya’s concerned face, on her lips that were set in a straight line, the way it was when she was nervous. He felt a strange warmth in his body as he stared at her for a moment, allowing himself the luxury of taking his time, letting Maya assume that he was still shaking off sleep. But what was in his head was something that even he was shocked at… she was standing so close, and he wanted to kiss her. His heart was hammering in his chest as she hovered just a few inches above his face.
Then Maya stepped back a bit, disconcerted at their closeness. “Sir Chief, sorry ha. Ang kulit ko kasi, dapat nga umuwi na tayo kanina. Pagod ka din nga pala.” Maya’s sweet, melodic voice brought him out of his current train of thought.
Richard straightened up in the seat and adjusted his glasses, waiting for his heartbeat to go back to normal before speaking. “I’m okay, Maya, nakaidlip lang ako sandali. Are you ready to go?” He replied in an even, unaffected voice, making sure that Maya couldn’t read what was on his mind. He didn’t want to scare her away.
She nodded. “Tara na, Sir Chief. Aabutan pa nating gising ang mga bata. Nag promise ako kay Abby na magbabasa kami ng story bago sya matulog.”
“Talaga?” Nagawa pa nyang isipin si Abby kahit alam kong pagod na din sya. Richard’s heart melted.
“Kumain na ba kayo?” Manang Fe greeted them as they arrived home.
“Hindi pa po,” Richard replied.
“O sige, ipaghanda ko na kayo ng hapunan. Tapos na kumain ang mga bata.” Manang Fe told them.
“Tulungan ko na po kayo,” Maya said, following her to the kitchen.
Richard went upstairs to check on the kids. He saw Nikki on the sofa, watching TV.
“Hi Dad!” She kissed his cheek.
“Hi Nikki. Where’s Luke and Abby?”
“Kuya is typing a report. Abby is taking a bath lang.”
“Wala ka bang homework?”
Nikki shook her head. Richard sat beside her. She turned the TV off.
“Where’s Ate Maya pala?”
“Downstairs, helping Manang sa kitchen.” He shook his head smiling. “Grabe ang energy ni Maya, para syang bata, hindi nauubusan ng energy,” he added.
Nikki watched her dad closely. The sparkle in his eyes was unmistakable. “She’s not boring, isn’t she Dad?”
Richard looked at Nikki with raised eyebrows, remembering their conversation a few days ago. His face softened. “No, she’s not,” he admitted.
Nikki could barely suppress a squeal, “Oh my gee, Daddy! You’re blushing!! I’m so kilig!”
“Nikki,” Richard admonished her. “Don’t get too excited. We’re just friends. And please don’t do that in front of Maya ha. I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable. She’s had her share of heartache too.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that. Sorry Dad,” Nikki nodded somberly. Richard looked at Nikki and decided she was old enough to understand. “I admit, I like her. But I don’t know if either of us are ready to try again.”
Nikki gave him a tight hug. “Oh Daddy. It’s okay. I just want to see you happy again.”
“Thanks sweetheart,” Richard hugged his daughter and felt like everything in the world was right again.
After dinner, Richard requested Maya to make him a cup of coffee.
“Magta-trabaho ka pa ba??” Maya asked, incredulous.
“No, no. Decaf lang please, Maya. I just want to sit and relax at the veranda for a while. It’s a nice evening.”
“Okay, Sir Chief,” Maya replied automatically and turned to leave. But she felt his hand on her arm.
“Maya, you don’t need to call me that. Nasa bahay na tayo,” Richard reminded her.
Maya had to suppress the feeling of kilig when he said, ‘nasa bahay na tayo‘. It sounded like something a man says to the woman he shares his home with.
“Pero, Sir Chief…”
“No buts, Maya.” He smiled. “Ako naman,” he added, his eyes dancing.
“Okay, sige na nga, Richard.” Maya smiled back at him.
“Um, if you’re not so tired, why don’t you make yourself a cup as well? Samahan mo ako sa veranda?” Richard asked quickly, before he lost the nerve.
Maya noticed his hand fidgeting with the edge of his shirt. She knew he felt nervous. For some reason, so did she.
“Uh, okay,” she replied weakly.
“Thanks! I’ll meet you there, Maya. Magbibihis lang ako.”
Richard was already there when Maya arrived. He had his back to her, looking at the dark expanse of the sky.
She had never seen him dressed for bed before. He had a white cotton shirt on and light blue pajama bottoms. The shirt hugged his body, showing off his ripped arms and toned back.
Maya stood frozen for a moment as she looked at him, admiring the view. Suddenly, the object of her attention turned around, startling her. The tray in her hand jiggled and the coffee spilled a bit onto it.
Richard quickly strode to her and put his hands on the tray handles, their hands touching for a moment.
“Let me get that, Maya,” he said as he took the tray from her.
Maya let go of the tray, took a deep breath and fanned her face a bit before following Richard to the table.
“Natapos ba ang story nyo ni Abby?” he asked her as they sat down.
“Oo, short story lang kasi late na at mukhang inaantok na din si Abby,” Maya replied. “Ang sweet ng mga kids mo, Richard. Ang babait nila.”
Richard nodded. “I’m very lucky to have them.”
The sat quietly sipping their coffee. Richard stole a glance at Maya, who was frowning a bit.
“Maya? Are you ok?”
“Oo naman. Itatanong ko lang sana kung whole day tayo sa office sa sabado,” Maya replied.
“Well, I don’t usually require people to come in on saturdays pero kung kelangan because of a deadline, half day lang naman. Actually, we’ve all been working almost every saturday for the past two months. Why do you ask? May lakad ka ba sa Saturday?”
“Kasi, Richard, gusto ko sana makapag-ikot na para maghanap ng malilipatan. Sobra sobra na kasi itong binibigay mo sa akin,” Maya answered shyly.
Richard frowned. “Di ba sinabi ko naman sa yo that it’s perfectly alright. It’s no imposition at all. Unless… ah, ayaw mo ba dito Maya?”
“Ha? Hindi naman sa ganun. Masaya nga ako dito eh. Tuwang tuwa ako sa mga bata, lalo na kay Abby. At si Manang Fe, ang bait bait nya sa akin. Para syang si Nanay.”
“O, yun naman pala eh? So bakit ka pa aalis?”
“Richard, nahihiya na talaga ako sa yo. Binigyan mo na ako ng trabaho, napaka generous ng sweldo, nililibre mo pa ako ng lunch, sinasabay mo pa ako papunta at pauwi. Eh parang ano kasi…” Maya hesitated.
“Parang ano, Maya?” he finds it adorable how Maya fidgets and doesn’t look straight at him when she’s shy. He leans closer.
“Ayokong…” Maya paused… ma-chismis tayo? Mapagkamalang may relasyon tayo? She decided her thoughts were too embarrassing to say out loud…. Maya shook her head instead. “Ah, wala naman. Nahihiya lang talaga ako sa yo,” she finished, lowering her eyes.
Richard put a hand on her arm, causing her to jump and look up at him.
“Maya, we’re friends” he looked straight into his eyes. “And friends help each other. But even if you don’t want the help, I told you already, the work you do is worth what we pay you for. What we will earn from Clark is more than what the company needs to pay your salary and whatever expenses from your staying with me. If it makes you more comfortable, then you can pay me for board and lodging.”
Maya thought about it for a moment. The truth is, she really liked it here. She just was not comfortable with the fact that she was getting too many ‘freebies’ from him. Ayokong isipin nya na sinasamantala ko ang kabaitan nya.
“Alam ko naman yun, na you’re a friend and you’re being nice to me. Still, mas comfortable ako na hindi naman patong-patong na ang utang na loob ko sa yo. Sige, Richard. Payag ako dun. Board, lodging and transportation fee ha? Ibawas mo nalang sa sweldo ko please, para naman magaang sa loob kong tanggapin ang lahat ng binibigay mo. Sobra na talagang nakakahiya eh.”
Richard smiled. She’s staying here. He breathed a sigh of relief. “Ok, Maya. That’s a deal.”
Maya nodded. “Okay,” she replied in a small voice.
“So now that Saturday is free, do you want to go back to Clark so we can visit the site for the new hangar? Sama natin yung mga bata. We can spend the weekend there.”
Maya’s eyes widened in surprise and excitement. “Naku, talaga Richard? Sige! Exciting naman! First time ba ng mga bata dun?”
“Yes, actually. Usually kasi business lang ang inaatupag ko dun so I don’t bring them with me. But this time, I think we all deserve a break.” Richard replied.
Maya smiled, thinking of all the fun things to do in Clark, already looking forward to Saturday.
Richard watched her smile and leaned back, excited for the weekend to arrive as well.
To be continued…
A/N: Hmmm, ano kaya ang mangyayari dun? Tara na sa Clark! Sinong sasama? 🙂